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Headshot of me wearing red lipstick Kara Babcock


A quick reminder to cis allies about how small words of affirmation have an outsize importance on the lives of your trans friends.

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I’m marking online summer school courses, which we open up not just to our usual adult learners but also to regular high school students seeking to earn credits over the summer. Whereas my adult learners always call me Kara, these students are defaulting to Ms. Babcock (and in some cases, through what hilarious assumptions I know not, Mrs. Babcock…).

I didn’t expect this to make me so happy, but it does. I think it’s the aggregate effect of seeing it so much, on so many assignment headers and “Dear Ms. Babcock, …” in emails. Y’all have been so good about calling me Kara, and I appreciate it, but there’s something extra affirming about this gendered honorific being applied so … casually to me.

I can’t speak for any trans person other than myself, of course, but I would wager that most of us like and crave words of affirmation. The particular words and phrases will vary from person to person—I personally love being called “girl” or “sister”, but probably don’t apply those to your non-binary friend unless they’re cool with it. If you ever think you are going overboard or laying it on too thick with your trans friend … chances are you are not.

There is a huge amount of imposter syndrome that comes with transitioning, let me tell you. It’s not just outright compliments that help (though I heart those, obvs)—it’s the really subtle things, honestly. When you recommend a place that has dresses in my style. When you use my name properly when discussing me in the past, or in conversation with someone else. When you talk to me as a woman—not just about trans stuff, not as a trans woman, but just as a woman. These things validate me and my journey and help stave off those times I doubt myself.

I just thought you should know how the smallest of gestures on your part goes such a long way. Because you never know when someone is having a rough day, and your casual compliment or small affirmation will make all the difference. Because sometimes we forget the outsized impact our words and our actions can have on people, and we forget that kindness and grace are two of the most powerful qualities anyone can wield.

Thank you for making me feel cute. Thank you for making me feel accepted.