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With actor Elliot Page (Juno, Umbrella Academy) coming out as a trans man, can we learn how to be a trans ally to our loved ones?
As actor Elliot Page comes out as transgender, we must educate ourselves and other people with some basic trans etiquettes, in order to become a better and more supportive ally. Especially when a friend, colleague, or any other loved one comes out as trans, making their transition easier.
In a statement put on Instagram, actor Elliot Page announced that he is transgender. He also said that his pronouns are he/they.
Elliot expressed gratitude to all the people who supported him in this journey and wrote that he’s endlessly inspired by many in the trans community; he thanked the community for its courage, generosity and ceaseless working to make this world a more inclusive and a compassionate place.
He acknowledges that despite being profoundly happy and knowing how much privilege he carries, he is also scared, scared of the invasiveness, hate, ‘jokes’ and violence. He also highlights the discrimination and violence transgender people face in their lives.
Elliot, who has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ+ people says that he will continue to strive for a more loving and equal society, and would do everything he can to change this world for the better. He will be an inspiration for many transgender and non-binary people.
Most of the time, allies or people not a part of the LGBTQIA+ community stay uneducated and unaware about how to extend support, or approach their friends, family members, or anybody close to them who has come out.
Coming out as transgender means that a person has owned publicly that they are not of the gender they had been assigned at birth, and are living their life as their authentic self. Their ownership of their identity should be respected.
We can educate ourselves about some basic trans etiquettes that can be used in order to become a better ally to transgender people.
Here are some tips for allies of transgender people, excerpted from GLAAD –
Gender Identity is different from Sexual Orientation.
Sexual orientation is about who we’re attracted to. Gender identity is about a person’s own sense of being male or a female (or someone outside these binary genders). Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, anywhere else on the spectrum or straight.
Be polite and respectful when you ask a person which pronoun they prefer.
If you must ask which pronoun the person uses, start with your own. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, apologize quickly and sincerely, then move on.
For some transgender people, birth name is simply a part of their life they wish to leave behind. In LGBTQIA+ lingo, it’s called a deadname.
Respect the name a transgender person is currently using. If you already know someone’s prior name, don’t share it without the person’s explicit permission. (Hence we have not used Elliot’s deadname here!)
Listen with an open mind to transgender people speaking for themselves.
Check out books, films, real life stories and trans blogs to learn more about transgender people and the issues they face. Listen and learn about transgender people and activists around you.
Like in India, transgender activists like Gauri Sawant and Akkai Padmashali are fighting for the rights of transgender people and sexual minorities. Akkai Padmashali has founded a human rights organisation called ‘Ondede’ to advocate the rights of children, women and sexual minorities.
A lack of awareness, education and sensitivity around transgender issues and rights still exists in society – insensitive examples like the recent Akshay Kumar film Laxmii abound. Let us be better people, and better allies to those around us who will feel safer coming out as their true selves.
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