Question about being a good trans* ally... (self.SRSWomen)

SRSWomen

25 ups - 2 downs = 23 votes

I apologize for my ignorance in advance.

Where is the line between standing up for the trans* community/calling out bullshit when I see it and cissplaining by "speaking for them"? I've been reading various blogs on the subject, but do any trans* women or knowledgeable allies want to weigh in on this?

(I have huge respect for the knowledge and sensitivity in this subreddit. I was hesitant to bring this to r/AskTransgender because I'd heard some unsavory things about a couple of the mods there. Or maybe that was r/transgender. Hmm, I can't remember now.)

I guess I feel like, since it's not the responsibility of any given marginalized group to educate people on their own marginalization, then it must be the responsibility of allies to step up, when possible, and shoulder some of the burden, but I don't want to step on any toes or do or say something that comes across as appropriative. Is that reasonable?

12 comments submitted at 18:11:04 on Dec 31, 2012 by The_Reckoning

  • [-]
  • JustAnotherQueer
  • 23 Points
  • 19:01:14, 31 December

The difference is between leading the charge and backing us up when we need it. I will never turn down some help when I'm too tired to call out shitty attitudes, but sometimes "allies" will start trying to run things and tell us what is a problem and what our priorities should be. Just listen when we want to speak and you'll be fine.

BTW, this goes for any oppressed group. Listen first. Act when you won't get in the way of the oppressed. Don't expect to get cookies for being a decent person.

  • [-]
  • The_Reckoning
  • 18 Points
  • 19:11:09, 31 December

>Act when you won't get in the way of the oppressed.

Oh, that's a really excellent way to think about it. Thanks, I really appreciate it.

>Don't expect to get cookies for being a decent person.

Yeah, humility is a good trait in general. Luckily I make my own cookies.

  • [-]
  • AliZaybak
  • 16 Points
  • 19:41:26, 31 December

I agree with JustAnotherQueer's statement, and I want to add that you'll see a lot of absolute statements on these issues, some of which contradict each other. Some people think that a member of an oppressed group should never be expected to speak for themselves, some people think that no one should ever speak for an oppressed group. You need to come up with a distinction that makes sense to you while keeping the humanity and dignity of the oppressed individuals in question first and foremost.

  • [-]
  • The_Reckoning
  • 11 Points
  • 20:13:26, 31 December

Right, that makes sense. I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing, too. Like if I'm hanging out with a few friends all of whom I know to be cis, and one of them makes a cruel comment about trans* folk, I will call it out. If someone makes such a comment in the presence of trans* folk who then call it out, I'll keep my mouth shut and listen.

  • [-]
  • Laurelai
  • 3 Points
  • 23:08:22, 31 December

/r/transgender and asktransgender have the same mod and her sockpuppet account

  • [-]
  • goodbyecaroline
  • 19 Points
  • 21:13:40, 31 December

Well, you never have to speak "for" us. You could say things like, "Um, as far as I know, that word's not really ok for us to use," or, "I know several trans* people who aren't okay with what you're doing here" - in each case there you'd be pointing a metaphorical finger to the trans* authority you're respecting. That way you're not just standing up against transphobia, you're each time you're doing it reinforcing the rule that says authority on trans* issues should come from trans* people.

  • [-]
  • The_Reckoning
  • 9 Points
  • 21:27:11, 31 December

>That way you're not just standing up against transphobia, you're each time you're doing it reinforcing the rule that says authority on trans* issues should come from trans* people.

Oh, okay, that's an awesome point. Thanks!

  • [-]
  • champselysees
  • 10 Points
  • 23:36:32, 31 December

I'm cis. I've said things like "actually, that term is typically derogatory towards that group" or "genitals don't matter to some trans* people" or something like that to people I hear talking about things that frankly, they have no business talking about in the way they are. I've always thought this was okay, but maybe not?

  • [-]
  • kbrooks
  • 7 Points
  • 01:03:17, 1 January

trans* here (maab genderqueer lesbian).

It's fine

  • [-]
  • seankealiher
  • 10 Points
  • 21:29:36, 31 December

I don't want allies, I want comrades who realize what they have over me and check that shit but will still help me take down the oppressive institution that gave them that privilege.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 0 Points
  • 21:33:47, 31 December

[deleted]