Not Your Mom’s 101:

Showing Up in Solidarity with Trans Communities

February 2016 DC Trainers Network Event Held 2/3/16 at Washington Peace Center

Facilitated by Jessie Sheffield and Malcolm Shanks


The Basics: Pronouns, Names, and Respect

DON’T make assumptions; DO ask questions

  1. When in doubt
    Use that person’s name
    Use a gender neutral pronoun like “they”
    “Do you NEED to know this?”

Is Your Space Accessible to Trans/Gender Non-Conforming People?

  1. Respectful questions, not prodding curiosity
  2. Avoid gendered language
  3. brothers and sisters” à “siblings” or “family”
  4. “ladies and gentlemen” à “my friends”
  5. DO NOT separate out folks by gender

What does “solidarity” really look like?

  1. Presence in decision-making
  2. Authentic welcome and curiosity
  3. Inclusive and relevant content creation
  4. Representative messengers

Transgender (adj.) – An umbrella tem that can be used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth
Cisgender (adj.)  - A term used to describe people whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth
How the whole world got two genders.

  • “Imperialism…is an unequal human and territorial relationship…based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another”

Often, myths & theories created to justify the imposition of one culture on another explicitly rely on the idea that the gender norms of that society are wrong, or “backward”
Genderbread person

  • Expression : Gender (brain) , Orientation (heart), Assigned Sex ( genitalia)
  • These three categories exist on a movable scale from male to female with everything in-between from intersex, genderqueer, to bisexual.

The Basics: Names, Pronouns, & Respect
DON’T make assumptions
DO as questions
Use the person’s name or a gender-neutral pronoun like “they” when you don’t know
Don’t refer to pronouns as “male” or “female” pronouns
Don’t imply the trans person isn’t being “real” or is being “deceptive”

  • Ex. Asking for “real names” or speaking about “real  women/men
  • Do not ask to see old photos
  • No need to discuss someone’s appearance/whether you identified them as trans
  • DO NOT ask personal questions about someone’s genitals or medical status
  • “Outing” a trans person can result in a dangerous situation/ open them up to discrimination
  • Take into account other differences that could affect misgendering
    Ex. English not being primary language

Is your Training/ Action/ Discussion Accessible to Trans People?

Giving and sticking to community norms to create a safe space in your trainings

Respectful questions, not prodding curiosity

  • “Our transgender ‘brothers and sisters’”
  • Miss/Ms./ Mrs./ Mr.
  • Sir/ Ma’am
  • Not separating by gender (verbally/written)
  • Creating physically accessible spaces

Avoiding gendered language. What does Solidarity really look like?

  • Remember that the trans and gender-expansive communities are very different. There’s no one “trans experience” or “path”
  • Be proactive rather than reactive (self-education)
  • 6 phases:  [need to do all 6 and in this general order – people often skip to #4 because they want a spokesperson, but they haven’t involved a trans person in the decision making process]
    1. Being present in the decision-making process
    2. Authentic welcome & curiosity
    3. Inclusive & relevant content-creation
    4. Representative messengers
    5. Intentional intervention in “icky” moments
    6. Taking serious feedback

It’s ok that we don’t all experience discrimination and oppression in the same way. We just have to be careful that we’re not dismissing other people’s experiences because they don’t match our own.

For more information, check out the Prezi here.

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How To Be a Trans Ally