It’s Transgender Awareness Week — a time to collectively recognize and uplift the lives and contributions of the transgender community. As we look at the world we’re living in today, we should be inspired by the fact that history isn’t static — it’s a living, breathing thing that’s shaped by the actions and choices we make today. Together, we can create a more equitable and inclusive future, where everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can live authentically and without fear of discrimination.
“Our community has seen a lot, and these times that we are living in are truly unprecedented. I don’t want anyone to think that what we are experiencing is normal,” said Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “This is not the world that we should be living in.” Robinson is right — we all have a role to play in supporting LGBTQ+ communities and creating a better world for us all.
Why it’s crucial to support LGBTQ+ communities
Nearly 1.64 million Americans over the age of 13 identify as transgender, and 20 million adults identify as LGBTQ+, including 1 in 5 members of Generation Z. The vast majority of people in this country — whether they identify as members of the community or not — support non-discrimination protections. Despite these facts, LGBTQ+ people continue to face challenges and barriers simply existing and trying to go about their day-to-day lives.
Not only is supporting human rights for all the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. The enhancement of inclusive policies and environments results in reduced attrition rates and heightened employee engagement, fostering a sense of belonging and enabling diverse voices to contribute their best ideas, thus fueling sustainable progress.” Employees are 4.5 times more likely to want to work at a company that supports LGBTQ+ rights,” Robinson points out. “Consumers are twice as likely to buy or use brands that support LGBTQ+ rights.”
How businesses can support LGBTQ+ communities
This week is Transgender Awareness Week, Pride Month is in June, and October is LGBTQ+ History Month, but investing in the lives of LGBTQ+ folks should be done year-round. Robinson shared some ways that employers can support:
- Have inclusive healthcare benefits and non-discrimination protections
- Think about more things you can do, like providing relocation benefits
- Empower your employee resource groups
- Increase trans visibility — particularly lifting up the voices of trans employees and leaders across the organization
- Advocate for equal protections for the community such as The Equality Act
Use your voice
There’s power in storytelling. Particularly when it comes to recounting the narratives of LGBTQ+ history. It humanizes issues, fosters empathy, and forges solidarity — a crucial step in the journey toward creating a more just and equitable world.
Additionally, silence perpetuates falsehoods and misconceptions — when you see an injustice, speaking up and speaking out helps create positive change. “The number one thing I think about with allyship is not being silent in the face of something that’s wrong,” Robinson emphasizes. “We have to educate ourselves and then be a part of that conversation. Because every time we are silent, it’s allowing that lie to proliferate.”
Advocacy is versatile — there are many ways to show up for underrepresented communities. Every person can contribute to the collective efforts of creating a more equal society. “Coming up, my auntie would say, ‘Baby, if you care about something, you’ve got to give it your time, your talent, your treasure, and your testimony.’ If you have time to give, volunteer at an organization that’s doing good work. There are amazing local organizations, particularly BIPOC-led, that you can join. Give of your talents, whether that’s in your workplace or giving it to organizations. Give up your ‘treasure’ by donating to these causes,” said Robinson.
“Finally, there’s your testimony. Telling your story is the easiest way to get engaged in the work. Maybe that’s your story of allyship, or maybe that’s your story of being a member of the community. Sharing your story is such a powerful tool that anyone can do, whether on social media, through a campaign like ours, or even just sharing it with people in your network and space so that they know that you’re a trusted ally.”
As we recognize Transgender Awareness Week, we should all be encouraged and inspired by the fact that progress is attainable through collective efforts and partnerships. As we look forward, we should reflect on the resilience of LGBTQ+ communities, commemorate the strides made, acknowledge the present challenges, and reaffirm our commitment to creating a world where everyone can live authentically and with dignity — free from fear and discrimination.
Commit to being an ally year-round
Allyship is not about reaching a finish line or winning a medal — it’s an ongoing journey.