Can we speak about trans allies and their reception within the trans activist community for a minute? I understand that we as trans people are sick to death of “allies” who come from an uneducated space without the humility of knowing they know nothing, without the willingness to learn, who are simply jumping on a popular bandwagon to earn MAs and PhDs.
BUT: I am more sick to death of trans activists who approach all allies with a sense of dismissiveness and unwillingness when those allies come from a humble, respectful space where they approach trans people because they do not want to speak for us or co-opt our stories and they acknowledge their ignorance and display a concerted effort to learn.
Wtf is up with that?! We know that the problem with trans in a cis society, we know and frequently say it is not our responsibility to educate cis people, implying that cis people must educate themselves and each other, and yet when part of that sincere cis person’s education is humbly reaching out to the trans activist community, we react to them with suspicion and outright hostility?!
Come on, people, get it together. Pick your battles. Recognise your allies. Respond to respect with respect and instead of insisting on trans-correct language and content and responding to incorrect language and content with anger and dismissiveness, simply supply an alternative that, let’s be honest, took us ourselves a long time to educate ourselves about. Every trans person began their journey as uneducated, ill-informed and judgemental. Can we afford the same learning curve to our allies as well?!
I get the exhaustion. I too am exhausted, being approached constantly by cis and trans people alike. If I can’t, I refer. But if I can, I make the effort because it is an acknowledged part of my visibility, and one that pays off in emotional labour in that I help others and, more importantly, that cis research, with collaboration from trans activists and researchers, is going to benefit the trans community. I’m all for anything that benefits the trans community. I am under no illusion that the trans community can achieve what we want to achieve without cis buy-in, and so I see collaboration with cis people as an integral part of my activism.