Jewish transgender activist Hannah Simpson gives us a few tips from the trans and nonbinary world to help you be an amazing ally this Thanksgiving and beyond
Coming out as myself meant coming out for everyone around me. Embracing my female identity was not a choice, nor was facing this new reality for my immediate and extended family. As the holiday season begins, countless families around our country are welcoming home (or, tragically, not welcoming) children or adults who are bravely expressing themselves in different genders than they did last year. It could be your own child or parent. Here are a few tips from the trans and nonbinary world to help you be an amazing ally this Thanksgiving and beyond:
1. Learn — then use — our names and our pronouns.
Referring to a trans person by an old name is like calling out your last partner’s name while in bed with your current partner. It’s irrelevant, hurtful — intentionally or not — and nothing good comes from hearing it. Mistakes are human, but try to avoid them. Some individuals prefer “they,” as a neutral singular pronoun, rather than “he” or “she.” If you aren’t sure, just ask, “What are your pronouns?” Practice offering your own, too, even if they feel obvious.
Around the table, correct yourself, or anyone else who slips up, quickly and politely. Long apologies or excuses aren’t needed. We’re not mad — it’s more of a facepalm feeling — so don’t drag it out. Use a person’s current name and gender pronouns when referring to their past, too, even if you’re talking about a time before they came out.
2. Gender transition is nuanced; be careful what you say.
Say, “Congratulations on your bravery.” Ask, “How are you doing?” or stick to discussing any aspect of our diverse lives and interests. Many comments we hear can be inadvertently hurtful. Avoid “You must be so happy now!” or “Well, if it’s what makes you happy.” Coming out and transitioning is pain in the ass. It doesn’t inherently make anyone happy. It makes us us, and gives us our best chance at fulfillment. Just like any new romantic relationship could be “the one” or could leave you devastated, the potential reward justifies taking leaps of faith.