The trade union movement is built on solidarity among workers in an explicit acknowledgment that we are stronger together. This is why it’s important all working people, union members and trade union representatives are trans allies.

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness at work. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for all workers. Our research has found that trans workers experience high levels of discrimination in the workplace with almost half of trans people reporting being bullied or harassed at work.

With seven in 10 trans workers saying their experience of workplace harassment or discrimination has a negative effect on their mental health.

The trade union movement is built on solidarity among workers in an explicit acknowledgement that we are stronger together. This is why it’s important all working people, union members and trade union representatives are trans allies.

Being an ally isn’t difficult but many members have told us they aren’t sure how to be a good trans ally and are unsure how.

What is an ally?

A ally is someone who is a member of a group which has a level or type of privilege but who takes a stand against oppression, bullying and harassment of group that do not have that privilege. There are many examples of what this looks like;

  • a white person who speaks out against racism;
  • a straight person who works to end heterosexism/homophobia
  • a man who calls out everyday sexism

What is a trans ally?

A trans ally is a non-trans person who is committed to being open-minded and respectful to people who may have a different gender identity then them or presents their gender is a different way.

They have taken the time to learn more about trans people and their lives and confront assumptions and stereotypes around trans people. Ally’s work to ensure trans people are treated with respect in and outside of the workplace.

What is important to understand is that every non-trans person can be a trans ally and work to ensure trans people are treated with dignity and respect.

There are some simple things you can do to equip yourself to be a trans ally and to help you feel more confident to speak up when you encounter transphobia. A lot of transphobia is born out of ignorance rather than malignant

5 tips on how to be a good ally

To help ensure everyone can be a trans ally we compiled these 5 tips on how to be a good ally.

Educate yourself

Tip One: Educate yourself

Many people have said they want to be a trans ally and support the trans community but feel they don’t know enough about trans people to speak up.

If you feel this way there are many resources you can use to learn more and empower yourself so you are able to be an ally. Below are a few links to help you start the journey. And there are many online resources you can find using google, YouTube and by looking at LGBT friendly media sites.

There may be times when you might use the wrong terminology or misunderstand something. You are human and no human is infallible. If you use the wrong terminology or have misunderstood something and are made aware. Do not let that stop you being an ally. You have the right intent and trans people will appreciate that. Use the opportunity to learn more.

Challenge

Tip Two: Challenge Transphobia

Speak up for trans people, for trans equality and against transphobia.

Don’t forget your voice and your actions have weight and can change hearts and minds.

Be the first to challenge and correct misconceptions or transphobia and speak up when there are trans people in the room and when there aren't.

Don’t leave challenging transphobia to trans people.

Be inclusive

Tip Three: Include trans colleagues

Many trans members have told us how isolating work can feel with some explicitly stating their colleagues did not speak with them, allow them to join into their conversations and specifically took active steps to exclude them.

Make an effort to include trans colleagues in both work and social conversations. It is general good workplace practice and a courtesy which should be extended to all colleagues.

Listen

Tip Four: Listen

Speak to and listen to trans people and colleagues. Listening to how they describe themselves will enable you to follow their lead. And active listening will help you ensure you use the right pronoun and name if you are unsure.

If you realise you’ve used the wrong name, pronoun or terminology apologise, correct yourself and move on. Don’t make a big deal about it but make an active effort not to make the same error.

Respect

Tip five: Respect boundaries

If you’ve read this far it is likely you want to be an ally and have taken the decision to support the trans community at work and more widely. That’s great!

One good way to be an ally is to understand and respect people’s boundaries. You would not ask a stranger, acquaintance or close friend, about the appearance or status of their genitals. It is equally inappropriate to ask a trans person those types of questions.

A general rule is not to ask a trans personal questions about their transition for example if they are going, have or are having surgery. Each person’s transition is different, there is no right or wrong way to transition. Understanding that and respecting a person’s privacy are key attributes of an ally.