“I support you, but I think you’re making the wrong decision.”
“I accept that you feel like a girl, but you’ll always be my son to me.”
“I respect your identity, but I can’t see you as a man.”
“I’m an ally to the transgender community, but I don’t think trans women should be allowed to use the women’s restroom.”
We’ve all heard these types of statements from people who call themselves allies. And I think it’s time we stopped letting them slide.
Privileged folks of all kinds need to wise up to the fact that words like “support,” “accept,” “love” and “ally” have meanings—meanings that (excuse me) get shit all over when they make statements like these.
The act of supporting someone means more than tolerating their presence and cherishing some vague idea that they probably don’t deserve to be murdered. Supporting a marginalized person means listening them when they say they need something, and taking their demands seriously.
Acceptance means believing someone when they say they know who they are.
Respect means not acting like you know a marginalized person’s mind better than they do.
And “ally” means showing up to help us fight our important battles.
You cannot support, accept, respect, or ally with somebody while gaslighting them, feeding their self doubts, belittling their identity, undermining their aims or dismissing their needs.
You cannot support, accept, respect, or ally with a trans person while misgendering them, questioning their motives for transition, giving them “helpful advice” on how to look more cis (or otherwise criticizing their trans appearance), or in any way acting like or believing that your gender is more valid than the gender of a trans person.
Is this so hard to understand?