It's great that you want to advocate! As someone who isn't within the community you're advocating for, it can be tricky to know when you're being helpful, and when you're not. Here are some general tips for being a sensitive, effective advocate from outside of the community you want to support:
Support in numbers is always fantastic. To be effective and respectful, it's always important to listen to the people you are advocating for. You get to use your position to help spread their ideas, rights, and experiences to people who may not otherwise listen to them; you can only do that if you listen.
2.) Know when to take a step back
Everyone's experiences are unique and important, including yours. You may have some stories you want to share to help support what you're saying. With that in mind, try not to superimpose your experiences onto theirs when you're advocating. You are not advocating for yourself, and your experiences might not be applicable to the cause, or perhaps gloss over some really important things that are unique to the people you're advocating for.
3.) Don't yell louder than you can hear.
Your voice is important to the cause you're supporting, and you get to use your position to spread some really important ideas. Try not to let your voice overpower the voices of those you're advocating for. If you are 'too loud', you can't listen, the focus shifts, and you can lose track of what's important.
Refer to Step 1.
By listening. Seriously, it's the most important thing an ally can do is listen to the experiences of those you want to support. That doesn't mean bombarding them with questions, but it means seeking out the spaces where trans people have chosen to speak up (books, vlogs, websites, magazines...), and just listen. Empathy is key. Then, take to heart what you hear and work first on your own actions, thoughts, and words. It begins with things like using proper pronouns, but it doesn't stop there! Remember that allies are _always_ learning and working at being better allies. Then, you can start speaking up around your cis friends/family/peers and talking about trans issues and helping them think about their assumptions, cease overt transphobia, and eventually (hopefully) start trying to be allies themselves which means: listening to trans people, and working on their own behaviors/thoughts.
I personally know two trans people and I personally am cis and I believe that us cis folk can be a great advocate by supporting any trans people we know or supporting any movement we may stumble across online
Being an advocate does not always come with having experience. Sometimes it's as simple as listening and lending a helpful hand where you can. Being a cisgender individual may help those who are trans realize that there is nothing wrong with the person they are, we are all equals
Alright - I think most of the good stuff has been answered already, but I'll add in my thoughts here.
Do not put your voice above trans people! I see this a lot, unfortunately - cisgender people who believe that because they have done their research, their voice is more important than the people this affects. For example - a trans woman tells you that she does not like it when someone refers to a group she is included in as "guys" - you don't say "Oh I just use it for everyone", you go "Alright, I won't use it again." Obviously this doesn't apply to your situation - that was an example.
The other things relate much too closely to that - so I'll leave it as is. I hope you do a great job, and the fact that you want to make sure you're doing it right makes me happy.
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February 22nd, 2016 11:02am
You need to listen to trans community. Also, maybe even more important - you have to help to make them heard. Cisgender individuals can be great allies and supporters, but they need to remember that the most important thing is to listen to transgender people, because who knows their issues better than they do? Good luck!
By being part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I cannot express how much it means to me when a straight individual tells me that he/she supports me. I'd say by educating other people who are unaware of gender fluidity or just being vocally supportive would be of immense help.
Just let your trans friends speak before you, and listen to them when they tell you something is hurtful to them even if you don't understand why. Share things that educate about trans-related issues with others, learn as much as you can yourself so you can in turn teach others. Call people out around you who are acting transphobic. Most importantly, just respect the trans people in your life; call them the right names and pronouns, don't out them, and don't speak over them.
As a cisgendered person it is important that you respect the pronouns that I trans or non-binary person chooses to use. Another key aspect to helping someone who is in the trans community is not bringing up their dead name (birth name) around other people, unless they ask you to.
As a trans individual, i think supporting us is the number one thing you can do to be a good ally for trans people. Educate yourself about the trans community (and perhaps the LGBTQ+ community in general), listen to what trans people have to tell you and dont try to talk over us or question our opinions on our gender. Go to pride parades (if possible) and be supportive there as well. Stand up for us and make an effort to learn and use preferred name and pronouns if you have friends or family who are trans as well, and (if asked or if a trans person say its alright that you can) correct people who misgender or deadname them.
Thank you for wanting to be an ally to us, I really appreciate it!
Congratulations for your great goal! You can make a difference by being there for trans people and making them feel welcomed and supported. You can spread the knowledge about the reality of transexuality and the challenges that trans people face, in an attempt to spread awareness and sensitivity about their issues, and contribute creating a more acceptive society for them. You can take to part to Pride events and other LGBTQ+ related events and activities, becoming an active part of the movement that support their rights. Your support is a great gift for the trans community!