How to Be a Trans Ally; For The Love of Ashlie


There was a time when I was a quiet, almost timid ally of the transgender people who passed through my life. When my daughter Ashlie revealed her true gender in 2008, the level of my engagement in trans-issues changed forever. Tomorrow would have been her 20th birthday and every year now, as the date approaches, I try to find something to focus on besides the great gaping hole in our lives.

This year I've been thinking a lot about specific people whose small gestures of kindness and acceptance touched our lives in that final precious year and today I challenge you to consider these simple ways in which you can be an effective trans ally and join with me in supporting and encouraging our transgender brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons.

  • Be the kind of person who doesn't ask a single question about genitals when someone reveals their true gender to you.

  • Be the kind of person who donates books on trans issues to the local PFLAG or LGBT organization.

  • Be the woman who doesn't cause a scene when someone who seems unexpectedly masculine steps out of the stall beside you.

  • Be the teacher who calls out the bullies and schools administrators on the issues facing transgender students in their school.

  • Be the nurse who, after stumbling over a trans patient's gender or new name, apologizes and says “I'm going to make a note right here on the chart to make sure I never do that again.”

  • Be the scruffy guy at the recycling bins who replaces his “hey dude” with “Good afternoon ladies” without missing a beat when one of his regular customers shows up in a skirt for the first time.

  • Be the cashier in the drugstore who leans over to whisper “It is such a joy to watch you bloom”.

  • Be the grandmother who marches into the fancy ladies' tea at the local charity benefit with her not-yet-passing granddaughter in tow.

  • Be the grandfather who buys his transitioning granddaughter false eyelashes on the eve of her first real dance.

  • Be the uncle who crosses the yard at the big family BBQ to hug the newly-identified niece whom every other man and boy in the place is avoiding like she's contageous.

  • Be the one guy in the room who doesn't laugh at tranny jokes.

  • Be the friend who doesn't out the trans people they know simply to shock or impress those around them.


There are of course laws to be passed, rights to fought for and serious activism needed to address the discrimination, health concerns, violence and daily risks that gender non-conforming people face, but for today, I am focused on the little ways in which we can effect change and support those whose lives knowingly or unknowingly intersect with our own. I hope that you will join me ain this effort nd challenge me to do more.


*This piece is cross-posted at The Daily Kos and is part of the 7th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day hosted by and co-sponsored by the Family Equality Council

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9 Responses to How to Be a Trans Ally; For The Love of Ashlie

  1. shelley says:

    I continue to strive to be that person. Thank you for reminding us of why it matters so very much.

  2. B. says:

    It's not my intention to be negative, I think your message and intent is admirable, but can I ask that we stop for a second and each take a brutally honest look at society and what we all KNOW and what can be SEEN (typically) of human nature.
    Ask yourself, do you honestly think that LAW and "activism" will change human nature?
    In a short time I've learned a tremendous amount about human nature and NOT from greater society but from EVERY SINGLE PERSON that ever mattered to me. Those who were closest, who I thought cared, who (if anyone) I thought should've been the ones who understood.
    Please, take a serious look at the people and motivations that make up the "transgender" community, and ask yourself: how my family could possibly have any chance of understanding me?
    I'd like to believe the world can be perfect, but realisim is the only thing that has helped me survive.
    My heart is very much with you at this time.

  3. The poet says:

    I just want to say that I was really touched by this post and it reminded me that even as a queer identified trans guy that I can still use the reminding to go just a little further in offering others kindness and acceptance. I believe I have got some books to donate, thanks for the reminder.

  4. M. says:

    Good post.  I'm not sure what you meant by 'laws that should be passed."  But the fact of the matter is that change needs to happen.  And that is about changing people's minds and thoughts…  There are cultures in America that don't think twice about transgendered people and some of them celebrate it and don't blink an eye.  The next task is showing people around us daily that it isn't a big deal, that transgendered people are just like everyone else.  
    Seriously, I laugh at a good gay joke and strike down the bad attempts, but the difference with this is that I am a grown man that can laugh at myself.  The gay community has in its history turned the 'bad' words around on some levels and used them to their advantage.  'Queer as folk' – helped on some level destigmatize many levels of gay culture, and then on some level reinforced other bad stereo types.  I'm gonna repost this on FB to reinforce the idea that it truly matters.  Have a good evening darling.

  5. Jill says:

    Yes, yes, and yes.

  6. kristin says:

    Such good pieces of advice!

  7. Laurustina says:

    M – You asked what I meant about "laws should be passed" and while there is a long list, the case of CeCe McDonald illustrates some of the most serious issues that need to be addressed. 

  8. Dana says:

    Thanks so much for participating in Blogging for LGBT Families Day!

  9. Pingback: Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2012: Contributed Posts – Mombian

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