“Being an ally is not a label, it’s an ongoing action. Allies need to remember that how they feel about any given situation is pretty much irrelevant, it’s all about how the community they are representing feels about it. We have to take the time to listen and learn and use our privilege to bring more attention to the people who are trying to make change”
I love this quote from the sister of our very first special guest, Mack. And, I love to hear stories of how family and friends step up as allies. But I have been thinking a lot lately about how our ability to be an ally is actually based on a lot of things. As allies, we need to have the education to support our child, we need to build a vocabulary on how to respond to others, and we need to emotionally process our own biases. All of this needs to happen before we can successfully be an ally for a loved one. Sometimes this can happen in what seems to be overnight … and for some this might take years or decades of struggle.
As a parent to a young transgender kiddo, the timeline of his social transition followed along with where we as parents were in our ability to be an ally for him. We started with not “correcting” people in public when they addressed J as a “brother”, or “little boy”. And then sat on that until we were ready for the next step. Then came clothes, hair, help from doctors … With each step came a period of calm as we saw our child be affirmed for who he is. Each period of calm was also a space for my partner and I to arm ourselves with more knowledge, learn to address questions from others, and process our feelings around the transition. By the time we got to changing pronouns and name, we were as ready as we were ever going to be!
It was never about how we as parents felt about the transition, but we did need to process our feelings in order to be a good ally for our son. Each action we took in J’s transition was an opportunity to learn how to be a good ally for J. And it taught us how to stand up for him and others in the future.
This week on the podcast, Mack joins us to talk about his life as a trans guy growing up. Mack is a “pizza-loving feminist” with an inspiring position on how he is an ally for women. He also speaks eloquently about the allies in his life. Check it out in Episode 4!