Inside the guide to being a trans ally, you’ll find a number of short comments from people who submitted their story about being an ally. On this page, you’ll find even more narratives to illustrate what the journey to support (or what it has meant for people) looks like.
I’m gay and have been out since I was 16. While I never excluded people who are trans, I wasn’t actively supportive. I didn’t understand how it fit into the whole gay community, and when it came to legislation, being trans-inclusive wasn’t a priority for me at all. Then I met a trans woman who shared her coming out and transition story with me, and I immediately got it. I suddenly understood that her experiences were a lot like mine, and I needed to use my cis privilege to support her just like I want straight people to include me. I’m not perfect, and I still have a lot of learning, but I’m proud to be an ally to people who are trans. It was all about hearing that story.
Our daughter was only three years old when she informed us she was a she. We showed up at a family’s home who wouldn't allow her to come in unless she was dressed like a boy. When I saw the utter destruction of her soul that day, I made the decision then and there, that I will always advocate for her right to express how she feels.
I truly became an ally when I met someone at church who is a female-to-male (FTM) transperson and planning to have his top surgery (double mastectomy with reconstruction). His mother wouldn't allow him to recover at home. This is not covered by insurance and is an outpatient surgery. He recovered in our guest room, allowing us to realize we all need to support each other because our families may not.
Chances are that trans allies will never know the role that they have played in my child’s life. I doubt that he will reveal that he is transgender to anyone other than his doctor or to an intimate partner. This is sometimes the toughest part of trans activism – not knowing the immediate reward of who you are helping. It could be anyone.
I began to really understand what a trans ally was about when I met an incredible Latter Day Saint (LDS) mom whose oldest child began to express their gender creativity at age two. This was strengthened as I met adult transpeople who shared their stories of adult transition and the struggles they faced. The bravery of these people is not only amazing but they have also been patient and willing to share their experiences to educate me.
As a middle school educator, I watched the teacher next to me line up her class every day by separating boys and girls. The sole gender nonconforming person in the class hid in the back, hung their head, and slouched a little more each morning. Their absences increased, and then I saw the marks on their arm where they had started cutting. Although my room was a safe space on campus, one ally is not enough when a child feels like they don’t fit in the rest of every school day.
I became a trans ally, not because of a single turning point, but because of mileposts on the journey. Over a period of years, I came to understand that several people I knew – several friends – were gay or lesbian. When I learned I would be participating in a church vote on ordination of those in same-sex relationships, I spent time studying social, theological, and scientific perspectives on sexual orientation. As part of that study, I also started to become aware of differences in gender identity, and understood that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity were matters of choice. By the time I met my friend (who is transgender) and her spouse, accepting, welcoming, and being an ally wasn’t even something I questioned.
I have been out as a lesbian since I was 17 years old. At that time I do not think I knew anything about trans people...not even that they existed. In fact, I didn't know much about lesbians. I thought I was the only one. In any case, when I did become aware of the trans community and the fact that they are targets of discrimination in employment, housing, etc. it certainly was no surprise. People fear what they don't know or don't understand. As a lesbian, I know that, too. And it's wrong. It's all wrong.
I found out that my new friend from my church choir had been born a man and had gender reassignment surgery. She talked frankly about her experience coming out in a small town, about her surgery and finding happiness and love in her female body, and about the daughter that still won't speak to her 20 years later. Although she seems to have general acceptance in our choir, there are a couple of women who very deliberately continue to use male pronouns for her. At around the same time as I was getting to know my friend, I discovered a wonderful blog about raising a gender creative child Without the blog, I wouldn't have known the terminology to call myself a trans ally, and without my friend, I am afraid I wouldn't have bothered.
When my much-loved eldest granddaughter was 15, she came out to me one day saying that she’d known since she was four that she was meant to be a boy. To me, he was the same grandchild that minute as he was the minute before. His mother could not accept his being trans. His father had vanished when he was 12. I was his only relative living in the state willing and able to help him become the man he was born to be.
I don't know if I really count as an ally, because I'm not politically active on this cause. The turning point for me was when an acquaintance of my daughter's came out. As a public health nurse, I knew the statistics on suicide, and had always been accepting, but not really knowledgeable. But that's when it became real--this was just a kid, like my kid, and it triggered my protective mom instincts.
I consider myself to be a trans ally, but I wasn't always. Three years ago my deeply troubled son came out to us as trans. It completely threw me. I went through all the stages of mourning (denial, anger, and sadness) before I came to realize that my child wasn't gone, My child was just changing and needed my acceptance and support. I am ashamed to say that it took me almost two years to fully get on board with her new identity, but now that I have we are all happier for it.
My family lives in a small St. Louis suburb, and I am mom to a five-year-old transgender boy. He is currently as fully transitioned in all parts of his life as a five-year-old can be. Ever since he could talk, he expressed that he was a boy in every way possible, and we always just rolled with his wishes. It was always a possibility in our minds that our gender-creative child might be a boy, and when he officially asked to be called by a male name "for real, until I die" this past Halloween, that's when we began actively seeking information and support as to how to navigate the waters of supporting trans kids and keeping them safe.