As the holiday season rolls in, a lot of talk centers on celebrating the people in your life. One goal anyone can add to their holiday (and frankly, everyday) priorities? Center and support the transgender men, women, and nonbinary people in your life. Studies report that over one million people in the United States identify as transgender; and as we all know, due to discrimination and risk of violence, many transgender people aren’t entirely out. This is actually a great reason to always be trans-inclusive and affirming: You never know whom you might be helping to feel more at home.
There are obvious—and great—ways of supporting your transgender peers. Donating to transgender-specific groups and nonprofits is a popular one. So is wearing merch, like pins or T-shirts, that display your allyship. Even sharing memes, articles, or emojis on social media can communicate that you’re a friend to the transgender community.
Those are all great, but if you’re looking for other options to support your transgender friends, family, neighbors, and others in your community, the following suggestions might be a good place to start.
As always, everyone is different. Transgender people are not a monolith; what one person appreciates might ring poorly for someone else. Treat everyone as they wish to be treated. Just ask!
1. Share your pronouns
If you’re comfortable sharing your pronouns (“she,” “he,” “they,” “ze,” and beyond), this can be a great way to model for others to the same. You can share your pronouns online, such as in your email signature, in your social media presence, or even in your work profiles. You can also add pronouns when you introduce yourself: Think about every time you might go around in a circle and introduce yourself for work or at a new social event. Smoothly adding in your pronouns can communicate a level of awareness, as well as open up the door so that clarifying your pronouns doesn’t have to be a negative or scary thing.
2. Explore trans-inclusive media and media made by and for trans communities
This suggestion (obviously) works best if you’re trying to support a friend, family member, or partner. Cisgender people are usually centered in books, movies, TV series, and other media. Spend some time digging into the wide range of content made by transgender creators, though, and you’ll probably be surprised by the incredible talent that’s often invisible in the mainstream.
3. Use your privilege to ask questions or make suggestions
Don’t leave it up to your transgender peers to ask about trans-inclusive spaces! For example, if you notice that your workplace doesn’t have inclusive bathrooms, you can bring that up as an issue, even if it’s not something that directly impacts you. In fact, as a cisgender person, it can feel a lot less scary for you to bring up these issues as an advocate.Then transgender people aren’t in the vulnerable position of outing themselves (which can literally result in job loss, among other traumas) in an attempt to get more fair or equal access.
4. Support trans-owned businesses or individual creators
Transgender people, historically speaking, have been left out of economic opportunities. Transgender people report being evicted because of their gender identity, fired after coming out, and struggling to gain employment to begin with, due to issues with identification paperwork, deadnames (the names people are given at birth, as opposed to their chosen names), and, frankly, deep-rooted transphobia. One way to support the transgender community is to literally put your dollars into trans-owned (or at least trans-affirming) businesses.
5. Let people know you’re available to offer support
At risk of leaning into cliché, sometimes what people really want is a trusted person to listen to them. Have information on free mental health resources ready in case someone needs them. Otherwise, if you feel you have the emotional space to do so, let people know you’re there for them and offer your ear. The transgender community reports higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. Studies show that acceptance can make a significant difference. Whether it’s a friend, a significant other, a family member, or even a neighbor, that acceptance can start with you.
You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255. The Trans LifeLine offers free support at 1-877-565-8860.