LET’S USE THIS MOMENT TO BE BETTER ALLIES
The media erupted with the news that Elliot Page has come out as transgender, and it’s amazing to see the wave of love and support that he received. The media outlets were quick to fix their pronouns and skillfully avoided deadnaming them. In his coming out letter, Page made an excellent point that is becoming lost in the noise; he expressed a very real fear, saying that he is “scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the ‘jokes,’ and of violence.”
With the amount of love being given to Elliot Page, it can be easy to forget that not all trans people are so lucky. It was great to see Page not only come out with his truth, but also remind the public that trans people face high levels of discrimination.
They called out political leaders and media figures who constantly attack trans rights and trans people. “To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands,” Page wrote. “You unleash a fury of vile and demeaning rage that lands on the shoulders of the trans community, a community in which 40% of trans adults report attempting suicide.”
In the midst of everything, this serves as a great moment to remind people how to be good trans allies. There are resources out there that provide not only basic term definitions we should know, but also directions on how to put being an ally into action. GLAAD, The Trevor Project, The National Center for Transgender Equality are great places to start.
Now is an important time to remind people that a transgender person’s pronouns are not for your comfort or for you to understand or question; your place is to respect them, even if you don’t understand. Do not ask what their real name is; they told you their real names. It is your job to educate yourself on terms and issues about the transgender community, not your trans loved one’s job to educate you.
A good reminder is also that when a trans person has more than one pronoun, they are not saying you can choose to use the one you like. Elliot Page saying their pronouns are he/they doesn’t mean you get to pick between he and they. Again, someone’s pronouns aren’t about you. Instead, alternate between a person’s chosen pronouns.
The hope is that with more exposure and representation of the transgender community, people will begin to not just “tolerate,” but to move on from, that antiqued term into something that is more understanding and loving. Elliot Page loving himself enough to come out and being met with so much love is incredible, and it’s important that we keep building on this energy to further help the trans community. Change isn’t a moment, it’s a movement.