I will preface this, not with a content/trigger warning, but with an explanation of why I feel I can write about this subject.
I'm a cis woman and a loving ally of the trans community. My first partner was trans and, although we didn't work out, I have always had respect and love for the trans community. I've also been a volunteer with Sparkle for 7 years.
Gemma, Claire and Lydia Volunteering at Sparkle 2017
I first volunteered in a fundraising capacity performing in bars all over Manchester to raise money for the event for several years. In 2015 and 2016 I hosted on the Main Stage at Sparkle in the Park. Last year I decided to make my support more formal by joining Sparkle as a Key Volunteer as Social Media Manager.
I've fought against terfs - repeatedly, I've been kicked out of "feminist" Facebook groups because I deigned to say that trans-women are women. I've argued with transphobic bigots and I've removed people from my circle because they refuse to be educated about trans issues, and I've supported friends who have struggled with their gender identity. I yell about trans issues wherever I go, I want visibility for my trans siblings. I check my privilege. I don't speak on behalf of the community, I just tell my story as it relates to it. I'm nothing special, I'm just a decent human being.
I used to "see past gender" but now I "acknowledging the T". But I also understand when people stop identifying as trans and start identifying as nothing/cis, I know why some trans people want to see past gender. As a mixed-race black woman, I used to "see past colour" too - but then I got real. "Seeing past colour" and "seeing past gender" are erasing. If you're not trans or black, you might not understand that, but that's ok. Just know that we all have an identity and, as I said to my colleague at work this morning, you don't have to understand it, you just have to accept it.
DJ Scotch Barnes
If you want to understand how it works, might I suggest an improv class? In improv, you don't question the reality. Whatever is said is the new reality you work with. If an actor tells you they're a tree, they are a tree. This isn't to denigrate the trans struggle, but some of us cis kids need a simple explanation for how to behave like a good person.
The next big hurdle is non-binary. I've been acknowledging the t for a long time, but acknowledging the NB is equally important. I've heard trans people, and cis people dismiss non-binary as "just another fad" (I don't need to mention India and Piers but I will). It's really not difficult to us the singular 'they'. "Where's Sam?" "They are in the kitchen." So quit whining about how hard it is!
As a caveat to ALL of the above, I'm by no means perfect. I've found myself cis-splaining (I apologised and stopped that cis-nonsense!) Although I try hard, I sometimes misgender by accident (again I catch myself and apologise). I still find myself surprised when someone tells me they're trans if I've always thought they were cis. Deep down, I'm curious about dead-names, previous gender identity, life before transition and, if I'm completely honest, surgery. I'm a nosey bugger. But as I said before, I'm also a decent human being. I don't ask, because it's none of my damn business.
It's OK to be curious.
It's NOT OK to ask.
To find out more about Sparkle - The Transgender Celebration just go to www.sparkle.org.uk