Claire Mullaly's tips on how to be a great trans ally

Published date
09 Nov 2018
Trade unionists have always been allies to the most oppressed in society, which is why being a trans ally is so central to our movement

I’m an LGBT+ trade unionist from Belfast, a member of the TUC LGBT+ Committee, and a firm believer and exponent of LGBT+ and trans liberation through trade unionism.

Trade unionists have always been allies to the most oppressed in society, which is why being a trans ally is so central to our movement.

But what does it actually mean to be a trans ally?

Here’s six things for starters:

  1. Always listen to trans people.
  2. Remember that being a good trans ally means educating yourself first.
  3. Call out discrimination and lack of opportunity wherever you see it.
  4. Call out lack of representation too.
  5. Make sure your workplace policies support trans colleagues and union members.
  6. Be outspoken, get political and stay political.

When you look at this list, you can see that being a trans ally is simple.

It’s about making sure trans people never have to fight alone, just as we have done for other marginalised groups throughout our history.

That means listening to trans people and challenging transphobia, discrimination, bigotry, and misinformation wherever we encounter it.

And this is the message I recently took to Dublin when I was asked to speak at the city’s first ever Trans Pride in July.

My speech outside the historic Custom House in Dublin brought a message of solidarity from the TUC that was cheered from the crowds on the banks of the River Liffey.

There were no borders and no division that day – only solidarity.

My speech also delivered a strong political message from UK Black Pride, where performers wore green for Grenfell.

Shouts of ‘Justice for Grenfell!’ came from the Dublin crowd, because those who suffer oppression can recognise the suffering of others too.

It was also inspiring to meet so many politically active and confident young trans people at that event.

Their demands for healthcare, action on hate crimes and action on the treatment of LGBT+ asylum must be respected.

After my speech, I asked Thomas White, one of the inspirational organisers of Dublin Trans Pride, if he had a message for trans workers in the UK. He told me that:

It is possible via collective action and by struggling together with other workers to change prejudiced and backwards attitudes. We should be confident that when we struggle together, we have the power to overcome all forms of hate.

Thomas’s words reminded me of my own journey as a trade unionist. They re-affirmed my belief that we must never lose sight of those who need our solidarity.

So trade unionists will keep fighting for trans healthcare, for trans rights at work, trans rights in schools and colleges, trans rights as asylum seekers and the right for trans people to walk the streets in safety.

Because the trade union movement will always be a strong ally to the trans community.