As transgender people, we all need cheerleaders, supporters and allies. In fact, everyone does and everyone should have them. We may need them at different times in our journey, or perhaps, at the same time on certain occasions. So, what’s the difference? Well, and this is only according to me, here is what I think it is.
A cheerleader is exactly that. Positive, upbeat, and somewhat lost in the “pink fog” of transitioning. Nothing is bad, it’s all a good. Reality has been temporarily suspended, all for the purposes of making you feel better about yourself or a situation. They will tell you how awesome you are, how amazing you look, how terrific you are doing, etc. etc. etc. Basically, they do an excellent job at lifting your spirits. They are a godsend when you are in a bit of a funk.
Supporters, well, they are a lot like cheerleaders, but have both feet in reality. They are the ones that will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They protect you from yourself at times, and prepare you for the cold reality of what you are, or about to, face. They have the magical ability of being able to see through the pink fog, and ground you. Amazing to have in your arsenal of resources to get through all the crap that accompanies transitioning.
Allies? Well they are a very special breed. They don’t really have any skin the game, no relationship attachments to you, and quite honestly, their life goes on relatively intact regardless of how you are doing. However, They are supporters of the LGBTQ community in general and trans community specifically, and strive to create and support an accepting and tolerant environment in which they work and/or live.
We all need these wonderful people in our lives. If you don’t have all them, get them. Find them. They will make your life easier, and generally make you feel like you are not loosing your mind and constantly trying to push a rope up hill. Sometime, they may all be wrapped up in one person, but that is hard to find. There are times you may rely on one more than the others. But at least they are there for you.
I am so fortunate in that I do have all three. Early on in my journey, I relied heavily on my cheerleaders, to make me feel supported and strong and get through some tough times. They lifted my spirits and gave me the desire to continue on.
Right now, I am in the supporter stage. Listening to my supporters keeps me grounded. They slap me upside the head when I need it, to get me to focus and deal with reality. They tell me what I need to hear. They don’t let me do something stupid, despite myself, and force me to really look at the situation and what I am doing, or what I was about to do, to re-examine my thoughts and/or actions. Sometimes, its about my interpretation of comments or behaviour of others, which, I admit, I can over analyze and over think. They are like the friend that won’t let you go out the door in a sequin mini skirt to do groceries, and won’t tell you that you look great in it because, quite honestly, you don’t, which is what a cheerleader would do.
Allies abound in my world. From my work environment, to my consulting company, the law firm and agencies I volunteer with. They are all re-examining polices and processes etc to be able to assist and support not only trans people, but the LGBT community in general. From hiring and accommodation policies (washroom signage, etc) to formalizing protection of jobs, to changing their advertising to indicate that they are a LGBTQ Safe Space.
It was a lot of work to find them, to develop them, but holy…..has more than paid off! And the relationships that have developed are amazing, and not to jinx it, for a lifetime.
Just one more way to make your journey easier, and anything that does that, is welcome in my books!!