Author’s note: This article is adapted from my forthcoming book, Network Beyond Bias.
Being an ally is simple, but it doesn’t happen by chance.
- Educate yourself by reading memoirs by or biographies and articles about trans people.
Some accessible trans authors and icons I’ve learned about include:
- Jennifer Finney Boylan is an author and professor. Her book She’s Not There is an autobiographical account of her life before and after her transition. Boylan’s memoir is relatable, easygoing, and candid.
- Laverne Cox is an actor, producer, and activist. She is everywhere lately, and is perhaps best known for her role as a transgender inmate in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
- Martine Rothblatt is a lawyer, author, and entrepreneur. She literally invented satellite radio. Then, when her daughter was diagnosed with a terminal childhood illness, she researched, invented, and delivered to market the medicine that has saved over 30,000 lives, including that of her own child. She has also written several books like Virtually Human: The Promise and Peril of Digital Immortality.
- Vivienne Ming is a scientist & entrepreneur who is leading cutting edge innovations in neuroscience and predictive analytics.Yes, these are all trans women. Check out this more exhaustive list of trans role models to find trans men and nonbinary individuals.
- Speak up if you witness someone being disrespectful. Your example and presence can go a long way toward helping someone feel safe and toward helping someone else question their own prejudices.
- If you are in charge of computer systems, paper forms, or other registration / identification processes, allow individuals to self-identify beyond the traditional labels of “male” and “female.” Include options such as nonbinary, transgender, or simply “other” so that everyone feels they can answer the question honestly. Bonus points if you can provide space for the individual to list their pronouns!
Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my longer article, Gender Identity: A Primer for People Who Just Don’t Get It