Whether they are in your family, one of our friends, a coworker, or your neighbor – you know someone who is part of the LGBTQIA+ community. And many of them want to be, will be, or are parents. If you can’t think of one person – let me help. Hi! My name is Tori, my pronouns are she/they, and I am a queer nonbinary parent. There! Now you know someone. I’ve decided to put together this guide for a few reasons. First, because I know there’s interest. I share and talk about this subject and the things in this guide almost every day. Second, because I think it’s important that everyone should strive to be the best ally that they can be. And finally, because I want to help make the world a more inclusive, affirming, and safe place for other queer and trans parents!
Before we get started, a few reminders:
- This isn’t meant to be a be-all-end-all comprehensive guide. Learning to be a good ally is a lifelong journey, and this is just a jumping-off point.
- You don’t have to understand someone’s identity to respect it.
- There is no one way or right way to be transgender, non-binary, queer, etc., and no one person or group of people can speak for the whole community. All of our identities and experiences are totally unique to us.
- Be gentle with yourself as you learn and unlearn.
Let’s start with some easy first steps!
First, spend some time educating yourself on sex, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. What they mean, the differences between them, and how they connect. This will give you a great foundation to then move forward on to learning about what it means to be transgender. This will include learning about other gender identities that usually fall under the transgender umbrella, like nonbinary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, etc. A great beginning resource for both of those things is the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender and Non-Binary People FAQ.
A good next step is to learn about the different pronouns that folks can use. This could be a whole post in and of itself, but some quick points to touch on are:
- Pronouns do not equal gender – anyone, with any gender identity, can use the pronouns that feel best to them.
- Some people may also choose to use a mix of pronouns, such as she/they or he/they
- In addition to the pronouns we are more familiar with, there are neopronouns that may not feel as familiar to you, such as ze/hir/hirs and fey/fem/feir.
- You can practice using gender-neutral pronouns in real-life situations with strangers (since you don’t know someone’s pronouns until you ask or get to know them anyway!)
- Ex: “Do you see that person over there by the playground? I love their baby carrier! I’m going to ask them where they got it.”
- A simple way to learn about people’s pronouns is to introduce yourself with yours! This will encourage the other person to share theirs when they introduce themselves.
- Ex: “Hi! My name is Tori, and my pronouns are she/they.”
- You can also share your pronouns in your Instagram bio, email signature, website ‘about me’ page, and anywhere else where you may have a short bio.
Now that you’ve got a good foundation of knowledge to build off of, I feel like I can address some specific tips for allyship! After consulting with a few other trans and nonbinary parents in my community, here is what we’ve come up with. And remember: we don’t speak for all trans and nonbinary parents – these are just some ideas to get you started!
Some of our suggestions for allying yourself with trans and nonbinary parents:
- Adjust your language and understanding to be more inclusive of all parents and families! Some examples:
- Instead of addressing a post in a parenting Facebook group to “Hey mamas!”, you can simply say “Hey everyone/friends/parents/folks!” instead.
- Learn about the different parenting holidays other than Mother’s Day and Father’s Day! While some trans and nonbinary parents may be okay being included on those days, there are also parenting days specifically for us! Non-Binary Parents day is the 3rd Sunday in April, National Parents Day (which is open to all parents) is on the 4th Sunday in July, and Transgender Parents Day is the 1st Sunday in November!
- Did you know that parents can have many different parenting names? Some examples include Baba, Maddy, Mada, Mapa, Ren, and Pama!
- Along those same lines: remember that there are lots of ways to build and have a family. Don’t make assumptions about who carried the pregnancy, whether kids are biologically related or adopted, how many parents a kid may have, etc.
- If you recommend a resource to a new parent who’s queer or trans, make sure to put in some work first to make sure it is inclusive, affirming, and safe. Just having a rainbow flag or having something be marketed towards us isn’t enough. A demonstrated commitment to the community and/or being owned/written by/run by/etc. queer and trans people are great things to look out for or ask about before making a recommendation.
- Diversify your bookshelf and any other media you share with your kids! Help teach them about the incredible and beautiful diversity of other people and families! Some of my favorite suggestions are:
- A Kids Book About (they have books on Gender, Being Transgender, Being Non-Binary, and Being Inclusive)
- It Feels Good to Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn
- Be Who You Are by Jennifer Carr
- Julian is Mermaid by Jessica Love
- My Family, Your Family by Kathryn Cole
- Educate yourself! While I am very open about my life, identity, and experiences – not everyone chooses to be. You shouldn’t expect your queer and trans friends and family to educate you about being a good ally. There are plenty of books, documentaries, articles, podcasts, Instagram accounts, etc., to learn from! Here are some suggestions to get you started:
I hope that you’ve found this all informative and useful. As I’ve alluded to, this guide barely scratches the surface of all there is to learn about the queer and trans community. Please don’t let that intimidate you – everyone starts somewhere. This first step may feel overwhelming, but the first step is the most important. Thank you for allowing me to help you with yours.