“This is insane! He can’t do this!” I exclaimed Wednesday morning after reading Trump’s tweets, where he unapologetically banned transgender individuals from joining the U.S. military. Sadly, my response seems to be repeated on a daily basis. I don’t know why his actions continue to shock me. This hatred, intolerance, and pure ignorance shakes my faith in humanity constantly. I sat there, staring at my computer, dwelling on the facts that clearly show this decision is fiscally unreasonable, let alone morally corrupt. I texted my friends, and we all wondered how our leaders could turn their backs on marginalized individuals willing to risk their lives for a country that doesn’t support them enough.
In the midst of my anger and confusion, I came across this article written by Angela Dumlao. I received a wake-up call that I desperately needed. As a white cisgender member of society, I could do so much more to be supporting my trans brothers and sisters. And however you identify, you can too. Inspired by the eloquent Angela Dumlao, here are some things you can do to support the transgender community.
- First and foremost, use the pronouns people ask you to. Whether or not the individual is transitioning or not, they deserve to be called whatever they please. Respect their identity by using their preferred pronoun when they are present AND when you are speaking about them with other people. Make sure to politely correct others when they misgender. It doesn’t have to be awkward, and you will be encouraging destigmatization of preferred pronoun usage. If you’re unsure of someone’s pronoun, a good rule of thumb is to use they/them until you find out. Also, feel free to ask! I’ve done this and every time the individual has been grateful and more than happy to provide their preferences.
- Acknowledge that over 15,000 transgender individuals are CURRENTLY serving in the military. They are already facing so much discrimination as they serve, and still, trans people are willing to enlist and protect all of us. Multiple transgender military members have been discharged without the benefits other members receive. Often, they are deemed mentally unstable. This stigma must be stopped. Research and discuss it!
- Make sure you don’t just use a hashtag online to support transgender vets, military members, and trans people in general. Put your words into action! Write and call your representatives. A very easy way to do this is to text “Resist” to 504-09. This free service will contact your representatives for you and fax over any message you want to be sent to them. Facebook statuses are great, but contacting your reps creates a lasting impact that will legally benefit the trans community.
- Shut down the stigma surrounding the entire community. Shut down jokes about gender-neutral bathrooms or mental illnesses. Laughing along is just as hateful as making the joke.
- Acknowledge and research the terrible epidemic of transgender women of color being murdered in the U.S. Read this or this and make sure not to shy away from the horror. Things won’t get better if we don’t talk about them.
- Lastly, know that you are work-in-progress. Be open to being corrected, and know that you will make mistakes (for example — if there are any issues with this article, please leave a comment so I can ensure all parties feel respected). As long as you are making a constant effort to improve and use your privilege to stand with the trans community, your mistakes are minuscule in the journey to a more loving society.
“You likely won’t get Trump to stop being terrible. But you can look in the mirror and be better.” -Angela Dumlao
Please share this article if you feel as though it could help spread awareness and love. It’s what we need most right now.
This article was originally posted on Bold Magazine on July 28, 2017.