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Prioritising Trans Allyship in our Queer Future.

Updated: Apr 9

In this open letter Jon-Paul Vicari appeals to cisgender lesbian, gay and bisexual people to practise trans allyship and pledge their support to the transgender community in a time of crisis.

A photo of Jon-Paul with an illustrated though bubble beside him. Inside the thought bubble are pink and purple hands holding protest signs with a trans symbol and the phrase "Queer Power". The image has a dark purple background.

Dear reader, 

Across the globe, our LGBTQ+ community is increasingly under attack. Many societies are witnessing the widespread political demonization of queer people, targeted legislation against our human rights, and the degradation of the trans community. While this is tiring and defeating, for me it is an indication of a more positive underlying fact: our collective empowerment as a queer community has become such an enduring force of change that the historical and institutional power wielded over us is retaliating. 

However, like all systems of oppression, the forces holding us down will not give up easily as they dissolve bit by bit. In the meantime, the increasing legal and physical assaults on trans and non-binary people cannot be tolerated. We must urgently examine and respond to the ways that trans hatred is challenging our notions of intra-community care and allyship. 

To be clear, trans and non-binary people have always existed. They have been visible and celebrated in many cultures throughout history. They exist in every space, every job, and every aspect of humanity. Unfortunately, however, trans people have also been taught to hide themselves. Due to this shame, and since there is no singular way to express trans identity, we cannot rely on trans visibility alone to advocate for inclusion and acceptance. In fact, it is a common misnomer and microaggression to assume that someone “looks trans”. Thus, the creation of safe and inclusive spaces before and independent from trans visibility is that much more important. Even if you feel like you don’t know any trans people at your workplace or in your network, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Within the LGBTQ+ community, the struggle for human rights among cis and trans people has been forever intertwined. Trans people have been and continue to be on the front lines of LGBTQ+ civil rights movements around the globe. In the US, trans power has fuelled moments as significant as the Stonewall Riots, supported our community during the AIDS Crisis, and fought for marriage equality, equal pay, reproductive rights, and everything in between. Our community has been held together by trans people. It’s why we have marched, danced, celebrated, grieved, advocated, created, fought, loved, and protested together for decades. For the betterment of all queer people. All of us.

And now, when a vulnerable population in our community needs support, when hate crimes against trans people have risen 1211% over the last 10 years in the UK, where is everyone? Where are we? Where are the global marches filling the streets? Where are the millions of voices we know are outraged? If this were a coalmine, the canaries would have been silent long ago. The alarm bells have sounded more times than I can count, and yet many of us are not showing up. 

I am concerned that cis queer people in particular are not aware of the need for their support, or of the ability they have to do harm through silence. I have seen fewer and fewer public displays of allyship for and with trans people. I have seen posts by gay men and feminist movements (TERFS) arguing for the removal of the “T” in LGBTQIA+. Not only is this hateful and intentional exclusion inherently wrong, but it also erases the decades of allyship and support that our movement has gleaned from the active participation and sacrifice of trans people. 

Rallying to the cause of supporting our trans community may not be easy. The laws and actions that societies and legislatures are taking against trans people are often surreptitious and confusing. Transphobia, misogyny, transmisogyny and male privilege continue to infiltrate our queer spaces. Nevertheless, it is our duty to stay informed so that we can help. We as a broader queer community must take stock of our power and privilege and put them to good use. 

Whether it’s reading about the financial burden of being trans, tracking and pushing back against anti-trans laws, finding and sign-posting to local trans charities like Mermaids, or holding your employer accountable for trans-inclusive policies, there is no shortage of ways to stay informed and active. It is not every trans person's responsibility to teach us everything, nor should their voices be left to advocate alone.

As a cis queer man, I realise that I hold power and privilege in spaces that many trans people do not. Since our power divided is much less of a challenge for those who seek to do us harm, now is our time to reaffirm our solidarity and practise active allyship.

Here are some practical ways that we all can leverage our power to be an active ally.

  1. Examine our own unconscious bias with self-reflection and model this practice for other cis people.

  2. Speak up when we witness transphobic comments, microaggressions, and policies.

  3. Don’t assume we know what’s best for trans people and instead be willing to learn.

  4. Show up when asked emotionally, physically, and/or mentally for other trans people without taking up space.

  5. Educate ourselves on a local, national, and global level to best serve our communities, including by registering to vote.

The necessity for cis people to be active allies cannot be underscored enough as trans rights and lives are threatened globally. We have the opportunity to do something about this now. Today. Right at this moment. Let us use our voice and power. In the words of Audre Lorde, “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

A photo of Jon-Paul, a Lebanese man with tanned skin, short dark hair and a dark beard. He wears brown tortoise shell glasses, a black t-shirt and a necklace.

Jon-Paul Vicari (he/him)

Jon-Paul is the Managing Director at We Create Space and a queer Lebanese man living with depression. Since coming out in 2004, Jon-Paul has been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. He has volunteered with HIV/AIDS NGOs, organized community events for LGBTQ+ youths, created DEI programming, advised on inclusive products and services, supported LGBTQ+ political candidates, and worked on recruiting diverse talent.

Find more information about Jon-Paul here.


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