An anonymous trans* student talks about his experiences with allies.
Transitioning to male within an all-female environment made the last few years of school very hard. More so, when I was encountered by people who could not understand me and felt it was their place to try and stop me. Heeding advice from LGBT+ people I began to get very defensive, and hid away from the questions which left me feeling very isolated.
I couldn’t help thinking that there was something fundamentally wrong with this advice, however. After all, how can you preach tolerance when you force people outside the circle? It was in fact one of my greatest allies who told me that, but she hadn’t always been an ally to me – far from it.
Nobody is born to hate, but we are all raised in different families, with different ideologies and views. I know that had I not been born transgender myself, I would probably hold a very different view on trans* people and indeed the whole LGBT+ community than I do now. Not because I am full of hate, but because from the day I was born I was being raised under a set of beliefs and never had a chance to explore them, or understand more about them.
I realised that just as it had taken time for me to explore these new opinions and beliefs, it would take others time too. I allowed people to ask me questions, I tried to educate people, I showed compassion and tolerance when I saw people were trying to change but maybe hadn’t quite got there yet, and it worked. Whereas before, cutting out people who did not understand had led to loneliness and isolation, now I feel the most accepted that I have ever been.
As for my friend, despite her refusal to accept me at the start, she took some time to get her head around things, she learnt from me, she gained knowledge and her opinions changed and now she teaches about LGBT+ tolerance within her church. I think that’s a great testament to the understanding and tolerance of human nature, if only someone takes the times to want to change.
My allies are the people who accepted me straight away and the people who didn’t. In my opinion anyone can be an ally, if we can help them become one.