Think 2017 has been tough? For the transgender community, it’s been worse, a battering shitstorm of injustice largely driven by the guy in the White House.
In his first year in office, President Donald Trump has taken aggressive steps to make life more difficult for transgender Americans. Over the past 11 months, his administration has appointed actively anti-transgender senior officials, rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools and attempted to ban transgender troops from serving in the military. (That effort was later dialed back to block new transgender recruits, and earlier this month a federal judge upheld a court ruling forcing the administration to accept new trans military enlistees beginning January 1, 2018. )
Yet, Trump’s attacks have served to amplify public and judicial attention to transgender rights. In an effort to #Make2018SuckLess, we’re here to help you be a better trans ally in the coming year. (And no, sitting on your couch and not being an asshole doesn’t count.)
For some guidance and advice, ABP turned to 20-year-old Ryan Jacob Flores, a well-known YouTuber and Instagrammer, who uses his platform to engage with and discuss issues pertinent to transgender identity. For his more than 79,000 Youtube subscribers, Flores has fearlessly and transparently documented his transition (via testosterone) from female-to-male.
Now a third-year college student at Cal State Fullerton pursuing a major in Cinema and Television Arts and a minor in English, Flores is a little over two years into his medical transition. His videos tackle subjects like dating as a trans man, how he administers his hormone shots and what you should say when someone comes out to you. Suggestion No. 1: “Thank you for trusting me with this information.”
“You may be the first person that someone is coming out to,” says Flores, “and you may be the only person they want to come out to for a while. … So, in a way, you should feel honored that they chose you.”
As a trans activist breaking boundaries and shattering stigma, Flores knows what it takes to be a meaningful ally to trans and gender non-binary people. So heed these tips, then go forth and #Make2018SuckLess.
Don’t out people
“This might seem like a ‘duh’ sort of thing, but it still seems to go over many people’s heads. If somebody is trans and they want to tell people, they will tell people. It’s up to them who gets to know this sort of information about themselves. It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes it’s not safe for someone to be out, so make sure you have their consent before sharing this information.”
Do your research
“Remember: Google is free. If you have questions about trans terminology, it’s on the internet. Sometimes it’s exhausting [for transgender people] to continually explain the difference in pronouns, surgeries, hormones, etc. Take the time and put in the effort to learn some things on your own. Most likely, someone online has already answered your questions.”
“Recognize where your boundaries are when talking about specific topics, especially if you don’t know the person who is transitioning very well. An example of this is asking them what their birth name was. Realize that there is a reason they changed it, and if they thought it was important enough for you to know, they’d tell you.”
Learn to listen
“Transgender people are slowly being allowed to speak up on a global scale to voice their opinions and address political problems they want to see improved. Let us do so! You appreciate when someone sits back to hear you out, right? Same here.”
Be an ally in your actions
“If you’re really an ally, you don’t always have to announce it. Be an ally in your actions by fighting for us, even if we’re not in the same room. Defend us when there’s no one around to pat you on the back. Then we’ll talk.”