Steps to Solidarity: How to Show Up For Trans Comrades

In the backlash to the Trump administration’s recent HHS memo, many of us on the left have been pushing back against the idea that support for trans people looks like “voting blue no matter who” in November. The Democrats have shown that they’ll take any opportunity to throw marginalized people under the bus, and Trump’s latest actions are just the tip of the iceberg of state transphobia. But what actions, in lieu of or in addition to voting, can cis people take to help support trans people in our communities?

I’ve put together a list, loosely categorized by theme, of ways to provide material support to trans people in your everyday life. While my target audience is pro-trans socialists, most of these possibilities apply regardless of political ideology or organizational affiliation.

2015 Trans Solidarity March in Washington, DC, © Ted Eytan

Donations

Organizational

  • Make sure your school, workplace, etc. has guidelines in place preventing discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Make sure transgender health protections are included in your work- or school-provided insurance plan. If they don’t/aren’t, organize to make that happen! There’s lots of resources out there on how to organize a campus and/or workplace; if you need specific guidance, feel free to post in the comments and I’ll see if I can connect you with resources.
  • Make sure your school, workplace, church, socialist organization, etc. is trained on issues facing trans communities and how to engage respectfully with trans people. Even if you don’t deal with the public and you don’t think you have any trans people in your organization, building a healthy environment will make your org safer for trans people in the future.
  • Get your union or socialist organization to take an official stance against transphobia, and the HHS bill specifically. Familiarize yourself with the ways in which trans struggles are class struggles, and incorporate trans issues into your organizing whenever you can.

Care and Social Reproduction

  • Offer to cook a meal for a trans friend. Better yet, organize a potluck, ask your cis friends to bring food, and invite trans people in your community to come eat!
  • Help a trans friend do their dishes, mow their lawn, fill out their name change paperwork, change a bike tire, etc. Or organize a skill-share where cis people can offer free services to trans people in need!

No Platform

  • Deny transphobes a platform. If they’re speaking near you, show up and shout them down. Yell at anti-trans pundits and politicians in restaurants.
  • Familiarize yourself with anti-trans arguments, and learn how to shut them down. Take the time to learn about TERFs and other forms of popular transphobia.
  • If your friends are sharing transphobic articles or spreading anti-trans ideas, call them on it. Don’t let transphobia or transmisogyny slide. The same goes for family, though of course only you know your family situation and your safety is paramount.

Boosting Trans Voices

  • Boost trans voices. Share trans people’s writing, art, organizing, etc. on social media. If you’re in an editorial position, help make sure trans writers get hired- not just for writing on trans issues, but certainly that at the minimum.
  • Help trans people in your field get access to resources we’re usually denied. If you’re a journalist, connect them with leads and offer to look over their pitches. If you’re an academic, connect them with researchers in their area of interest. I list those fields because those are some of the ways cis people have helped me, but you know best what kind of support you can offer for your field.

Other Mutual Aid

  • Sign up on Trans Housing Network to offer a bed or couch to a homeless trans person. Trans people are disproportionately likely to end up homeless, and most shelters are unsafe or inhospitable to trans people, so having a safe place to stay is vital.
  • Sign up through Black and Pink to become a penpal for a trans prisoner. Trans people are at a heightened risk for abuse in prisons, and receiving mail makes a prisoner significantly less likely to be targeted. Additionally, regular contact with supporters on the outside helps prisoners fight off isolation and despair.
  • If you’re licensed in a relevant profession, connect with an organization to provide pro-bono legal, medical, or therapeutic services to trans people in need. Your local LGBT community center is a great place to start your search.

While this list focused on individual and community-level solutions, trans liberation can only come through the abolition of patriarchal capitalism. Unfortunately, I’m unable to provide a roadmap to revolution in just one medium post. That said, many of these suggestions can serve as a jumping off point for broader socialist organizing, and I encourage you to try to connect this work to basebuilding efforts in any way you can.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and readers are welcome to comment with additional suggestions. Or let me know how you’ve been taking steps to support trans people, or what you plan to do in the future! Your support matters; an injury to one is an injury to all, and we can’t win this fight alone.