By Max Ricci
Should you reach out to the only trans person you know about your trans related question, concern, or comment?
Do you want a gold star for reading an article about our vibrant trans community or watching a trans focused movie?
Sorry, all out of gold stars.
Should you tell them how brave they are?
You sure shouldn’t.
I would like to preface this piece by stating that I am in the minority of trans folx in America. I am white, in a straight passing relationship, own a home, am gainfully employed, have all the gender affirming medical care and therapy I could ever need, and have a wonderful group of supportive friends and family.
Because of these privileges and my love for the LGBTQ+ community, in addition to the shared trauma trans people so often feel, I know now that I need to tell all the cis people out there to step up.
Over the years, I have fielded so many inappropriate questions about my vagina, my breasts, my sex life, my dating life, and my medical history. I have been stopped in the middle of the hallway at work by acquaintances, surrounded by students, and been asked to please share my story with them because they read about it on social media. Pharmacy techs have asked me what advice I have for their friends who are questioning their identities while I pay for my hormones and syringes. Coworkers have asked my ex-partner if they wanted a real man instead. Facebook friends from high school and college have messaged me asking to tell them about my transition, tell me how brave I am, or to share an anecdote about a trans person they tangentially know.
The times I did speak up to higher ups, friends, or leaders regarding these situations, nothing was done, so I stopped bringing it up when it happened and tried to shrug it off.
For a very long time, I answered these questions and endured these comments. In the past three months, these questions or comments have become more frequent. Now more than ever, I am happy to leave my cis friends, coworkers, and acquaintances in message purgatory.
Cis friends, you are not entitled to the personal details of your trans friends’ lives unless they actively choose to share that with you. You do not impress me when you tell me how brave I am. I have to be brave because instead of showing public support with words, actions, or money, you privately treat me and other trans folx as a walking fetishized dictionary and token.
If you know me, you know that I truly try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but I am out of time and energy. The trans community has been suffering for too long while you idly watch and then message me privately with what you perceive as support and false allyship.
Not one single person outside of the LGBTQ+ community has ever asked me what would actually be helpful for the trans community or offered to support me in any way, other than my wonderful parents and siblings who donate and speak up as often as they can for me and other marginalized communities.
Trans folx, non binary folx, gender nonconforming folx, particularly transwomen of color, are traumatized, discriminated against, and oftentimes murdered for living their authentic lives. We do not have time to answer your very Google-able question or pat you on the head for being supportive behind closed doors.
It is long past time to step up.
You can be an important ally for our community by speaking up for trans folx publicly, confronting your own biases, and donating to or volunteering with the following incredible organizations that work tirelessly to help lift up our LGBTQ+ family:
- Casa Ruby
- Started by Ruby Corado, an incredible transwoman, this DC organization provides programming, community, and key resources such as emergency housing for the Metro DC trans community.
- House of Tulip
- The organization House of Tulip is currently raising money to restore a property to provide housing to trans and gender nonconforming people in New Orleans. House of Tulip cites a recent survey that revealed 1 in 3 trans people living in Louisiana experience homelessness at some point in their lives.
- The Transgender Law Center
- I know many people donate to the HRC and ACLU, but The Transgender Law Center does amazing work and is among the largest trans-led organizations in America right now!
- The Sylvia Rivera Law Project
- The SRLP provides so many life saving and gender affirming services. Not only can you donate, but you can also look for volunteer opportunities with them.
- Immigration Equality
- Allyship is intersectional, and our LGBTQ+ immigrant community needs us now more than ever. They work tirelessly providing legal services and working on policy change to prevent discrimination against immigrants and asylum seekers based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.
Max Ricci, MAT (he/him) is a proud and out transman. His background is in secondary education, and he is starting his 7th year in public education. He is based just outside of Denver, Colorado.