It’s not enough to sit on the sidelines if you support the trans community. According to Dani St James, the chief executive of Not A Phase, the impact of allyship is “majorly underestimated by cis counterparts”.
“They tend to be unknowing about the power of their own voices,” she says. “The truth is, without people exercising their own social privilege, our fight would fall flat, the weight of our message is carried on the shoulders of those that support us.”
This weekend, she’s among the speakers at London’s Trans Festival, which is back after a two-year pandemic hiatus and promising a “much-needed opportunity for the community and its allies to come together”.
Organised by gender-free makeup brand Jecca Blac, the festival will see some of the biggest names in the trans community come together to “celebrate gender diversity in all its glory”, with the likes of Shon Faye, Juno Dawson, Jake Graf, Eva Echo and Freddy McConnell taking to the stage.
Attendees will also find a host of retailers which are either trans-owned or cater to the needs of the trans and non-binary community.
St James will be there discussing the multitude of ways trans adults can become better supported in Britain today.
Ahead of the event, she told HuffPost UK her five top tips for actively being a better ally:
1. Do the learnings Gone are the days where one can claim to have simply not heard about what’s going on. When we talk about doing the learning, we can simplify this down to steps as simple as following and engaging with things people are teaching online. There are some fantastic social accounts, books, podcasts and resources available if you want to understand why our cause is so important. Check out these accounts: @transactualuk @genderedintellegence @transplaining (there are tonnes more) and read The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye.
2. Pass it on! Here’s the t, you have access to the spaces and ears that we simply do not, this applies to all people that are not trans. You’ve just soaked up all of that lovely colourful knowledge from social media, you’ve listened to the podcasts, you’ve read Shon’s book, now its time to put it into motion, talk about it to your colleagues, your friends at the pub, your relatives etc. People will listen to you because they trust you and because they aren’t going to feel silly getting it wrong around you, that’s so, so important.
3. Inclusive language When we start talking about using inclusive language, there’s a danger zone of slipping into the territory of becoming hyper fixated on pronouns. Pronouns are very important, they’re affirming and changing them is usually one of the first steps someone takes in their journey to authenticity, but they aren’t the whole picture. Neutralising the way you talk to groups or individuals that haven’t introduced themselves to you yet can make a real difference to the way that someone feels in a new environment. This is one example and there are loads of points within this that I could talk about, so check out the aforementioned resources, we have a load over on our accounts at @notaphaseorg too.
4. See something, say something Here’s another heavy hitter for you, when you witness something that you know isn’t right, educate the person involved. Obviously this only applies if it’s safe for you to do so, but it can be as simple as you hearing someone use someone’s former name, refer to them as the gender that they are not, or hearing someone talk about someone’s medical journey. Again, this comes back to how important your voice is in changing the world.
5. Support the cause There are lots of organisations that are working in various ways to create social change or to support the needs of the community now, you can support them in lots of ways, it doesn’t only have to be financial, you can share their resources, promote the work they are doing or see how you can get involved. This doesn’t only have to be one of the big national ones, it can be a local grassroots org that could do with the boost!
Trans Festival will take place on Saturday August 13 at 110 Pennington Street, London E1W 2BB with tickets priced at £15.