Don't Be Ashamed, Support With Whole Heart: Laxmi's Guide to Being a Trans Ally
"If I come and confide in you, it's my secret, plus your secret," says trans activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.
Video Editors: Harpal Rawat & Rahul Sanpui
Camera: Athar Rather & Ribhu Chatterji
"The first thing that people want to know is what is between our legs," rues Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.
A prominent transgender activist, 43-year-old Tripathi says that whenever an individual comes out as transgender, the person being confided in should be sensitive and should keep "pre-conceived notions" at bay.
So, dear reader, if anyone – known or unknown – comes out to you as a transgender person, here are six things that Tripathi would like you to remember.
1. Pose the Pronoun Question
2. It's Not Your Secret to Tell
Coming out of the closet isn't easy and often requires a lot of courage. So, if a person confides in you, it is a secret you must keep intact – unless the person themselves want you to discuss it with others.
"If I come and confide in you, it's my secret, plus your secret. You have no right to go and tell others. If you do that, you'll be torturing the person who has come out to you. You'll be an enemy, not an ally."Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
3. Home is Where Support Is
Often, a person coming out as transgender doesn't enjoy the support of their family. In such cases, Tripathi says that the person being confided in should try their best to find a "safe shelter where the former will not be exploited."
However, if it is possible to counsel the family, the person being confided in should try their best to convince the parents to support the person coming out.
"I always tell parents that your child is your child. You have to accept your child you have to give shelter to your child and the child will always be with you," Tripathi adds.
4. Do not Judge
By asking a transgender person what's between their legs, you will definitely come across as judgemental. Hence, Tripathi suggests that it's best to listen to the person with an open mind and keep one's own biases and notions aside.
It's good to be cautiously curious, but too much curiosity "may hurt the trust of that person" and turn the conversation about what you want to know, as opposed to what the person coming out wants to say.
The key, as Tripathi points out, is to keep in mind that the conversation is about the person confiding in, not about the person listening in.
5. Educate Yourselves
Not everyone is equally aware of what the term transgender really means, let alone the realities that transgender individuals may face in their day to day lives. But that's not an excuse for refusing to read up on the matter.
If someone comes out to you, you may seek help from "community-based organisations like United Nations Development Programme UNAID, and many other UN agencies," says Tripathi.
6. Support With Your Whole Heart
If you decide to support a person who comes out as transgender, you should walk the full road and be an ally in thoughts, words and action. You shouldn't be "ashamed to go out with that person to the market, shopping, malls, theatre salon, or going to picnic anywhere."
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