Self Advocacy

Trans and gender-nonconforming people have a long history of having to advocate for ourselves due to the discrimination, prejudice and stigma we experience. We are worthy of dignity, respect, and a life free of discrimination and violence. Here are some tips for how we can advocate for ourselves when we feel we have been treated unjustly.

First, take a moment to assess for yourself:

  • What do you want for yourself? What’s your goal in responding?
  • How much energy do you want to invest in this?
    Even though the discrimination you experienced is wrong, you do not have to challenge it, especially if you don’t feel safe, fear backlash, or feel too angry or upset to want to respond.
  • What resources do you have for helping the situation change?
    It can be draining to advocate for yourself. Do you have a self-care plan? Do you have friends or community members who can help you advocate?
  • Who should you advocate to? In some cases, this might be directly to the person, in others it might be via more formal feedback or to a supervisor.
  • Keep a log. It’s very helpful to be specific when making a request i.e. “I’ve been misgendered by the receptionist during my last three visits” is more effective than “I am always being misgendered here.”
  • Express your needs rather than judgments of the person or organization i.e. “I need my housing to be safe for me” is often more effective that “You are being transphobic.”

This portion was Adapted from Self-Advocacy for Trans People (PDF)