By Alessandra Bryant and Kendal Edwards
YWCA has always been at the forefront of the women’s rights movement, empowering women since our inception over 160 years ago. For this reason, we remain committed to centering the experiences of BIPOC communities, LGBTQIA+ folks, survivors of gender-based violence, people with disabilities, and immigrant, low income, and unhoused people in our work to eliminate racism and empower women. Moving forward, we will continue to work to ensure that our platform centers ALL voices. Especially the voices of Black women, trans women, and other women of color who are often diminished in the conversations about our collective truth. The movement needs ALL of us to normalize women of all experiences at the forefront of change.
During pride month and year-round, it is critical for us to be allies to our trans sisters, taking on the responsibility of using our privilege and platform to promote education, camaraderie, and to rebuild trust across the spectrum of womanhood and sisterhood. Our collective liberation demands cooperation. Together, with common goals of gender equity and collective liberation, we can transition from general awareness to actions for mutual empowerment.
To assist those interested in bridging the gaps between individual women, we have come up with considerations and steps allies must take to welcome and support trans women:
Accept that every woman has the right to define her own womanhood.
All women experience life in different but overlapping ways. Our collective struggle has the potential to unify our mission and bolster our calls to action because they are one in the same. Our voices are amplified as we stand together against a common enemy: misogyny, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Understand the harm isms and phobias cause trans women and the feminist movement.
Listen to trans women.
Trans women, especially trans women of color, often experience a dangerous cocktail of misogyny, sexism, and homophobia, which puts them at high risk of harm but also arms them with a unique intersectional experience. This experience allows them to understand the myriad ways that all marginalized are affected by persecution, providing them with unique insight into how our movements can be inclusive to all people and centers them as pioneers at the forefront of civil rights, gay liberation, and women’s movements. By embracing trans women and listening to their experiences, our collective work can change the world!
Uplift trans voices and center trans women, especially trans women of color, in women’s movements.
Because trans women sit at the intersections of many forms of oppression and have a deep understanding of the work that needs to be done for forward-moving resolutions, centering the experiences, voices, and wisdom of trans women of color helps us all be free. Recognizing our trans siblings does not minimize or diminish your value but adds another unique experience and perspective to our collective voice. Uplifting their stories normalizes their existence and contributes to their quest for equity in the process.
Educate yourself on the transgender reality – be an ally.
Implicit biases hold no value when the lives of women are at stake. Being an ally means you are here to help. To assist you on your quest to continue to include and uplift trans women, check out the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Guide to Being a Good Ally for guidance on how to support the trans community.
Engage with trans women and their communities to find out the best ways to support them.
Engage with trans women to get to know them as the people they are. One of the best ways to be in solidarity with a community is to open a line of communication. This ensures that we continue to grow together, creating lasting and effective change for women everywhere.
All of these steps are essential in the work towards providing equity for trans women and equality amongst all women. Without it, we cannot build a world where peace, freedom, and dignity for all is more than a slogan but an undeniable reality. We hope that all of you will utilize this resource and transition from acceptance to empowerment with us, uplifting our fellow trans sisters in the movement to eliminate racism and empower all women and marginalized genders, because none of us can be free until all of us are free!