Trans Awareness Week – the part you can play

By Sandy Downs on Monday, 16 November 2020

Covid-19 has shot to the top of both personal and corporate agendas this year. It has also exposed inequalities, bringing them to the forefront of discussion and reinforcing the need to focus on and discuss diversity and inclusion.

Next week we have an opportunity to focus our activism on a cause which needs support more than ever. Trans Awareness Week takes place every year between the 13th and 19th of November. It’s a week where people and organisations around the world work to help raise the visibility of trans people, and address issues that members of the community face. The dates are such because November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day which honours the memory of the trans people whose lives were lost in acts of transphobic violence that year.

Transphobic hate crime reports have quadrupled over the past five years in the UK (BBC), and there is a rising tide of transphobia in the press and on social media. As a small minority, the trans community needs strong, loud, and proud allyship to fight this tide. I am by no means the authority on this issue, but here are some top tips on what the part you can play, next week, and in the future.

Call out hate

Calling out things you see or hear which are hateful can be really difficult, but there’s lots of resources which can help – check out this Everyday Feminism video, and these GLAAD tips for allies. If you see transphobia on Twitter, report it – Twitter is a numbers game when it comes to hate speech, and reporting hurtful tweets can stop the people they’re aimed at from even having to see them in the first place.

Add your pronouns to your signature

For cis people (those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, so who aren’t trans), putting your pronouns in your email signature or Twitter bio costs nothing but helps a lot. There’s no risk in doing so, but you normalise the action for others, making it a safer environment. You also demonstrate that you understand the issues, and, in the case of email signatures, it is an obvious gesture that we’re an inclusive and diverse workforce. Here’s a medium post if you’d like more information.

Watch your language

It's not always easy, but try your hardest to be inclusive in your wording. Instead of 'ladies and gentlemen', which could be seen as exclusionary, maybe 'esteemed guests' would work – here's Teen Vogue with some great gender-neutral alternatives to common phrases. For those working in PR, it's also worth making sure things like surveys / forms are inclusive – instead of 'sex: male / female' (or worse, 'gender: male / female' which is just incorrect!), at least have 'gender: man, woman, non-binary, other'. If you want examples which are fully inclusive, get in touch and we can help (or there's some Human Rights Commission options here too).

Do your research

The main thing I hear from would-be-allies in this space is that a lack of understanding or knowledge stops them from speaking up. That's understandable, but there's no better time than now to learn more. Check out Stonewall’s Trans Report, or follow some amazing activists in this space; consider Charlie Craggs who runs Nail Transphobia, Munroe Bergdorf, Jay Hulme, or the work of Mermaids or TransUnite. If you want to read more, check out this Independent article on what trans people want you to know, or this piece in the Metro on the role of allies.

Finally, if you’re looking to hear from people with far more authority & expertise than me, check out Trans in the City’s Trans Awareness Week Calendar. Teamspirit signed the Trans in the City pledge to support trans employees this summer, and this is a core area of focus in our diversity strategy and our work as ChimeQ, the employee LGBTQ network across Chime.

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