Written by Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s (GSWW) Rainbow Folks Affinity Group
Yesterday was Transgender Day of Visibility, which has been celebrated annually on March 31 since 2009! It acknowledges the contributions of people within the Trans and Non-Binary communities while also raising awareness. It’s a day to remember Trans folks’ fight, empowerment, joy, and more.
In honor and support of our Transgender community, with the help of resources from content creators like @pinkmantaray, NPR, and the HRC, GSWW’s Rainbow Folks affinity group put together six ways you can work on creating a safe place for Transgender youth. Together, we can make the world a better place for EVERY Girl Scout.
1. Learn the Language
Gender is complex, and there are important differences between gender identity and expression.
- an individual’s personal sense of having a particular gender.
(Oxford Languages Dictionary)
- the way in which a person expresses their gender identity, typically through their appearance, dress, and behavior.
(Oxford Languages Dictionary)
This educational video from AMAZE.org gives a brief overview on how different people define and affirm their gender. If you’re confused, that’s okay. You don’t have to fully understand someone to respect them.
Here are a few ways you can start using gender-respectful language.
- Don’t make assumptions about gender.
- Use gender-neutral language.
- They, them, folks, y’all
- Parent, sibling, child
- Firefighter, postal worker, flight attendant
- Use correct names and pronouns.
2. Take Action
There are at least 44 anti-trans bills in this country right now. Most of these bills target Trans children. Our actions can have a massive difference. Now is the time to get educated about these bills and how they affect our friends, family, and loved ones. For a good place to start, learn about the anti-trans legislation that just passed in Arkansas, which targets minors and is expected to be signed by the Governor.
NPR recently interviewed a trans youth living in Alabama whose state is looking to pass similar legislation as Arkansas. Trans influencer @Pinkmantaray (pictured on the right) created helpful slides on his Instagram account that breakdown the inequity and transphobic messages behind the anti-trans bills.
Take the time to build your empathy and compassion. By learning how Trans lives nationwide are targeted by government policies, you can better understand the impact on growing children who need love and support, not hate.
Ready to take action?
@Pinkmantaray created a blog post with action items, email templates, and resources. Get started here.
3. Be Intersectional
Content Warning: Facts included on violence against Trans people and Trans People of Color.
No issue stands alone in a vacuum. When talking about Trans rights, it is important to consider all the communities affected. This is called being intersectional.
- the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
(Oxford Languages Dictionary)
The Transgender community is affected by many intersectional issues. Two major ones are racism and sexism.
In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign recorded 44 deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people. In 2021, there have been 12 so far. A staggering amount of this violence has been against Trans People of Color, especially Black Trans women. In our work to uplift & protect the Trans community, we must also continue to combat white supremacy culture. Learn more here.
4. Share Your Pronouns
Lately, you might have noticed a new addition to greetings in public, in meetings, and in email signatures. It sounds a little like this.
“Hi my name is Shawna, and my pronouns are she/hers”
“Shawna” included her pronouns. Which might bring you to the question of.
Why do I need to know Shawna’s pronouns? I know Shawna is a woman…
Sure, Shawna expresses herself as a woman AND identifies as a woman, so she uses she/hers pronouns. However, that is not the case for everyone, as we learned from AMAZE.org’s video on gender identity above! You can’t know anyone’s pronouns from their name or appearance alone.
Sharing your pronouns also creates a safe space for Trans and Gender-Nonconforming folks to share their pronouns and be gendered correctly.
So, what can you do to start implementing your pronouns?
- Spend some time thinking about your gender expression and identity. Cartoon Network created a helpful cartoon using Steven’s Universe characters (pictured on the right) with examples of how different people identify. You can also explore your gender expression and identity using MyPronouns.org’s resource page.
- Include your pronouns when you introduce yourself in person or virtually.
- Make your pronouns visible on your online presence!
- Put your pronouns in your social media platform bios.
- Add them to your email signatures.
- Add your pronouns to your Zoom or Teams username.
5. Listen to & Amplify Trans Voices
Everyone’s lived experience is different. One person or organization cannot speak for all LGBTQ+ people and certainly does not have all the resources out there. Make sure you’re following a variety of amazing trans creators and educators! Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Munroe Bergdorf @munroebergdorf
- Alok @alokvmenon
- Meg @megemikoart
- Schuylar Bailar @pinkmantaray
6. Educate Yourself and Others
Use resources like these to be the best ally you can be. Correct people when they misgender folks. Engage in conversations and stand up for queer folks even when they’re not around. Create an environment of open communication starting with you.
By valuing conversation over confrontation, you can call out others and yourself while letting go of any defensiveness. You don’t have to get everything right all the time as long as you are open and actively accepting that you and others need to change. Even the smallest actions can still have tremendous value. Gendering or naming someone correctly can still be incredibly powerful. YOU can be part of affirming someone’s own sense of self.