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How to be an ally to trans people

Published: 17 May 2019 Tags: By Joe Nellist

To mark this year’s IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia), today we have launched an easy-to-read guide on how to be an ally to trans people.

The guide includes information on asking about someone’s pronouns, how to support a friend if they come out as trans and how to show your support for trans people. It also covers what to do if you make a mistake, what to do if you have a friend or relative who keeps making jokes about trans people as well as a range of other topics.

The guide has been launched to coincide with IDAHOBIT, a worldwide co-ordination of events and campaigns to fight discrimination against people from LGBT communities. IDAHOBIT takes place annually on May 17th, chosen on the anniversary of the day the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.

Emma Meehan, Assistant Director of Public Affairs for LGBT Foundation, says:

“We know that for many, seeing the recent wave of vitriol and attacks against trans people has motivated them to take a stand and be a better and more vocal supporter of the trans community. This can often be a daunting place to start, as many people want to be allies but feel like they don’t have the knowledge and worry about making mistakes. This guide gives people the tools to stand with their trans siblings in the fight for equality, whether that be advice on standing up against transphobia, or offering a hand of support in times of need. We know that in the end, equality wins, and together we can secure an equal future for all LGBT people”

The full guide can be found at:

To mark the launch of this guide, we have also brought together members of LGBT communities and prominent allies, including politicians, activists and campaigners to recognise the importance of allies in the creation of a fair and equal society where all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people are able to reach their full potential.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says:

““We’re proud that our city-region is a place where people are free to be themselves. But the sad fact is too many trans people face hatred, abuse and violence simply because of who they are – even here in Greater Manchester. That makes it all the more important for all of us to step up and be good friends and allies to our marginalised communities. I am proud to be Mayor of a city-region that celebrates our diversity and I have a simple message for all of our LGBT community: I support you and stand with you. In Greater Manchester you are not, and never will be, alone.”

Juno Roche, writer and campaigner, says:

“An ally listens, really listens to us and rather than speaking for us they step aside and support us in talking up and talking out. An ally helps us to create and fund trans and non binary specific space(s), spaces like cliniQ. An ally doesn’t just see us as a ‘cause’ or as a ‘set of tragic data’ an ally sees us as someone they could fall in lust or love with.”

Councillor Bev Craig, Lead Member for LGBT Women at Manchester City Council, says:

“LGBT+ equality is not inevitable and the progress of recent years has been hard fought by our communities and our allies. Allies play an important role in standing up for our rights, providing effective services and supporting LGBT+ people to raise their voices and be heard. Allies can take many forms from organisations to individuals, there is a role for everyone to play in fighting for equality for all. I'm proud that Manchester; our people and our institutions stand alongside our community”

Christine Burns, MBE, writer and campaigner for trans civil rights says:

“Trans people need YOU. Yes, you! We are three years into a calculated, cynical, well-connected and well-organised backlash intended to reverse the gains we’ve made over the last 25 years. They seem to have an open door to parts of the media, giving them an immense reach for their bad faith arguments. We don’t. This is where allies come in: We don’t expect allies to have all the answers or superhuman powers. More than anything it’s lonely and frightening facing this kind of onslaught and moral support goes a long, long way. Be there for the trans people you know. Signal that you understand the injustices they feel. Hold their hand — it could be as simple as organising things to take their mind off the worrying things seen online and in the press. And, if you can, watch our backs. Don’t let people around you repeat the lies about us without challenge. If that sounds daunting to YOU, imagine the weight you’re lifting off a trans person’s shoulders. Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”. Let that be the slogan for all trans allies. Thank you.”

Rachel Waterman, Director of Operations at LGBT Foundation says:

"I’ve been asked why, as a straight person, I work for an LGBTQI charity and I never know how to answer it because why wouldn’t I? I have an exciting, fulfilling job in an organisation where I’m surrounded by brilliant, funny, talented people. Who wouldn’t want to work at a place like that, and let’s be honest, do you need to be a fish to be a marine biologist?? The question frustrates me as though I might not have lived experience I have passion and compassion for LGBTQI issues and I want to do all I can to help make sure that LGBTQI people are valued by, and seen as valid in, society. Bigotry in all its forms makes me angry and frustrated and sad. Actually, it makes me livid. So I’m proud to be an LGBTQI ally as, to put it simply, I don’t understand how someone can be discriminated against / abused / hated based on who they are or who they love. I call on my fellow allies to stand with me on IDAHOBIT to show their love and drown out the noise from all the misinformed hate that exists out there.

And why do I work for an LGBTQI charity? Well, of course it’s the enormous amount of rainbows that I’m surrounded by!! Who wouldn’t love that!?"

Dr Meg-John Barker, author says:

“allies can support trans people - including non-binary people - by supporting our projects, learning about how gender works, and calling out transphobia and misgendering where they see it.”

Fox Fisher, campaigner and film-maker says:

"We need our allies to challenge everyday transphobia. Most people have probably never been challenged on their views or jokes or they may not realise they are being offensive and rude. Standing up for us, supporting our endeavours by participation in campaigns, sharing articles (and My Genderation films!), donations or simply being there for us is something that ever #TransAlly can do."

Owl, campaigner and film-maker says:

"Allies are important because they can reach spaces and people that would otherwise just hear about trans people from other people that haven’t actually met or spoken to trans people. They can help elevate our voices and our liberation is contingent on solidarity from others. Speak up for us - we need you"

Clare Marshall, Pride and Practice Coordinator at LGBT Foundation says:

"Cis allies can support trans and non-binary people by being affirmative of their gender identity – this can be as simple as using someone’s preferred names and pronouns! Trans and non-binary people face a range of barriers and challenges within healthcare, sport, education etc. I proactively create safe spaces for trans and non-binary people to disclose their gender identity, to feel affirmed and valued without judgement. I engage in conversations with friends so that they can be more aware of trans and non-binary people’s needs."

Oliver Thorn, creator of Philosophy Tube says:

"Any good I've done as an ally has come about through sharing ideas that trans people themselves have already crafted. Listen to them, not me. Read trans philosophers and writers and let them lead your way."