Ally Tip #1: It is not hard ask someone their pronouns. If you are meeting someone for the first time, start by introducing yourself stating your own pronouns. When you do this, you open a space for them to also do so, and you can create a layer of safety.
Ally Tip #2: If you know that a person is figuring out what they need in terms of a name, pronouns, etc. it is wicked appreciated when you say “what do you want me to use?” “please let me know if anything changes at all.” It is appreciated when you check in with your friend to make sure nothing is changing, and to see how they are feeling; they may not want to talk about it though, so simply say “I wanted to check in, and I want you to know that you can tell me anything if you need to talk.”
Ally Tip #3: Let your friend know that you respect what they do and do not want to talk about.
Ally Tip #4: Know that not every space is a safe space. Be flexible if your friend needs different pronouns or a different name in different spaces. There is nothing wrong with checking in with them- it is wicked appreciated.
Ally Tip #5: Restrooms can be weird things. Be open to going with your friend or waiting outside in settings where restrooms are gendered.
Ally Tip #6: Do not make the jump to correct others for your friend. They may have a reason for not having corrected them. However, if the reason has more to do with feeling worried about being the one to say it, or simply feeling anxious about talking at all, rather than the space or person possibly not necessarily being safe, a cool idea could be to develop some sort of code with your friend. Perhaps you can respond to comments by simply stating something about your friend and using the correct pronoun. Maybe you and your friend can have a look you give each other that gives you the go ahead to support your friend if they are shy or anxious. There is nothing wrong with asking them what helps them feel validated and what helps them feel safe.
Ally Tip #7: Remind your friend that you love them.
Ally Tip #8: Listen.
Ally Tip #9: Ask questions respectfully and respect if they do not want to answer.
Ally Tip #10: If you use the wrong name and/or pronoun apologize, but not profusely; if you make a huge deal out of it, that only makes your friend feel bad for you and probably feel guilty. Correct yourself and move on.
Ally Tip #11: Tell your friend not that “it will be hard” or “confusing” or “weird“ for you- they don’t need to hear that- they get it. Say simply “Of course, I love you, and if I make a mistake, please feel safe correcting me.”
Do you have any tips for people who are allies to the trans community that were not listed here?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org