Have you wanted to be an ally for the transgender and non-binary community but don’t know where to start? The first step is to increase your understanding of the issues facing the transgender and non-binary community so you know how to take meaningful action.
We know it can be intimidating if you’re not clear on what’s helpful. The most important thing is that you’re learning, which enables you to go from bystander to ally for transgender (trans) and non-binary people.
Here are 10 ways to better understand the challenges transgender and non-binary individuals face so you can show your support.
1. Be prepared for the people in your life. While the population of trans people is small—estimated at 1.4 million in the U.S.—there may be trans or non-binary people in your life who have not yet transitioned or may not currently be out to you. Just reading this document is a step in being open to learning about them and understanding their journey.
2. Pay attention to the news in your area. Whether it’s proposed legislation that’s overtly harmful to the trans and non-binary community, or broader defunding of healthcare and resources, be aware of the impact current events have on these communities.
3. Engage when and where you can. That means calling or writing to your elected officials and others who have the power to make change happen. Every time you elevate your voice in support of the trans and non-binary community, you’re helping elevate their voices, too.
4. Declare and use your pronouns. Trans and non-binary people have fought for—and in many cases paid for—the right to use their correct pronouns. By using your pronouns in places like your email signature, social profiles, and more, you’re helping normalize the general use of pronouns. This is a big step toward helping everyone feel safe and included.
5. Have age-appropriate conversations with your kids about trans and non-binary people. Some people mistakenly believe that being trans or non-binary is related to sexual orientation, but it’s not. It’s about identity and being who they truly are. Kids of all ages can understand what it means to feel like they’re being themselves. No more detail is necessary! If you need help getting a conversation started, try these resources.
6. Better understand hormones. Part of transitioning may include taking hormones, and for some, that can feel like going through puberty all over again. But this time, the hormones help them feel aligned with who they are. Imagine receiving medical care just to feel at home in your body. That’s what hormone treatment does.
7. Not everything happens because a person is trans. Imagine going to a doctor to treat a broken arm, and the doctor hesitates because you had your appendix out. That would be weird, wouldn’t it? The two are completely unrelated. But for many trans people, medical care is delayed or denied because they’ve transitioned, even when what they’re being treated for has nothing to do with their transition.
Generally speaking, this hesitance isn’t rooted in bigotry but rather the fear of doing the wrong thing. If you have medical professionals in your family, talk with them about their knowledge and support of transgender patients. And next time you see your doctor, ask them if they treat transgender patients. By simply talking about trans topics and assuring folks that a broken arm is treated the same for all gender identities, or that a hysterectomy is done the same for a trans man as for a cisgender woman, the fear of the unknown is removed.
8. Be a defender by demonstrating integrity without compromise. Whether or not a trans or non-binary friend or co-worker is in the room, defend them if you hear negative or ignorant remarks. Being a true ally means doing the right thing, even if no one’s around to see or hear it.
9. Be open to feedback. You may get it wrong sometimes when talking to or about transgender or non-binary people, but don’t get upset, defensive, or embarrassed if you’re corrected. Just keep a mindset of learning and doing better next time.
Two of our trans employees connected as they shared their experiences about transitioning. They didn’t want their team to feel badly or apologize for using the incorrect pronoun by mistake but instead asked them to “Strive for 5” – a framework they created to describe levels of transgender allyship.
Strive for Five:
Five: An ally, not only with friends or loved ones, but in public.
Four: Consistently use the correct name and pronouns.
Three: Always uses the correct name. Uses correct pronoun on occasion.
Two: Usually gets the name and pronouns correct. Does not catch themselves when they get things wrong.
One: Never uses the correct name and pronouns
Zero: “You’ll never be that person and pronoun to me. You will always be (birth name).”
10. Speak up and reach out. It doesn’t have to be traditional activism. Consider donating to charities that support trans youth, or even to charities you already support but channel your donations to trans- and non-binary-related programs. Look for charities that have a trans-positive policy, like your local food bank, or donate to non-profit organizations supporting transgender and non-binary individuals, like GenderCool.
Foundation for Change
In conjunction with International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, we hosted our 3rd annual Trans+ Summit. Continuing our mission to build a foundation of change for employees in and outside of Intuit who identify as transgender and non-binary, our summit offered both employees and external participants a unique opportunity to learn, share, and connect with members of the transgender and non-binary community and allies from all over the world.
As a company, we are deeply concerned by the various legislative and executive actions targeting the LGBTQ+ community, especially those targeting transgender and non-binary youth. We’ll continue to support human rights and help foster discussions about why they matter to our employees, their families and the community. We’re making a $500,000 corporate donation to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. We’ve also joined America Competes, a national, non-partisan business coalition that supports non-discrimination for LGBTQ+ people.
Each of our collective actions can make a difference. Together, we’ll be able to shine a light on transgender and non-binary experiences and cultivate work environments that celebrate diversity and inclusivity.