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Be a Heart-Centered Transgender Ally

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

How to be a transgender ally

While preparing to do a recent client training, my business partner came across research highlighting the minority stress that LGBTQ+ people experience. Linda was surprised by her findings, but I told her, “That’s not shocking. As a trans woman, I experience minority stress every time I leave my apartment.” She asked, “What do you mean?” I said…

  • Every time I go to a restaurant, I don’t look at other people now because I don’t want to see what I’ve so often seen – people staring, laughing, or making jokes about me.

  • When I go to the women’s restroom, I don’t talk to other women for fear of being harassed.

  • When I take public transit, I keep to myself so as not to place myself in an unsafe situation.

  • When I have to seek medical care beyond my primary physician, I prepare myself for the worst so I am not shocked if it happens.

  • When I navigate highly populated areas, I’m conscientious of my surroundings so I can have an exit plan if needed.

  • And this is just the tip of the iceberg…

When I shared these daily experiences with her, she was floored! You see, for the ten years that Linda has been my best friend, business partner, and biggest cheerleader, she saw me and what I experienced through her own accepting and affirming lens, and she assumed that others saw me in the same positive light. Consequently, she had no idea of the minority stress that I have to navigate on a daily basis.

Her not knowing this wasn’t because she’s not a good ally and advocate; rather, it was because she had not personally experienced these microaggressions herself. It wasn’t until she recently witnessed a stranger being disrespectful to me that it became personal for her. It was at that moment that she became a heart-informed ally and her advocacy for me shifted.

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou: “When you know better, you do better.” For allies, “when you know better” happens when you understand an individual’s lived experience through that person’s lens…even though it may be very different from your own. It’s not just having head knowledge that makes a good ally; it’s being willing to develop an empathetic, heart knowledge of what a person experiences by imagining yourself in the same situations as the one who is experiencing the daily discriminations and microaggressions that can end up feeling like death by a thousand paper cuts.

So please, as you lean into this Pride month’s conversations, listen with ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand. By doing so, you will set yourself up “to do better, because you’ll know better” as a heart-informed ally.

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