How to be a trans ally

Kathryn Knowles, award-winning protection adviser, shares why being a trans ally is something that should be a part of every aspect of our lives.

Kathryn Knowles
Kathryn Knowles

We are in a society made up of many different people and as advisers it’s our job to make sure that we are inclusive of everyone. Being a trans ally is something that should be a part of every aspect of our lives and there are a number of things that we can do to ensure that we are accepting and supportive of everyone.

People that are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, should be treated just like anyone else and it’s our job to do this. This acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning and asexual. There are more terms used to describe gender identity and it’s a good idea to do some extra research on what these are.

A really important thing to know is that you might sometimes get things wrong. We are all human and we are all learning. The important part is recognising when you have not been inclusive, listen to advocates and try to be better next time.

Things to do and say:

  • What are your pronouns? She, he, they, ze, ey.
  • What gender do you identify with?
  • For many insurance applications you will need to ask about previous medical history. All you need to do is ask the questions that you would ask of anyone else. This will include: have you had any surgery or been taking any prescribed medication in the last 3 to 5 years? Are you due to have any upcoming surgeries?
  • Include trans allyship training in your onboarding programmes and a clear statement on your website and social media about steps that you take to be inclusive.

Things not to do or say:

  • I would never have guessed.
  • Sensitivity over your questions is key. Don’t say ‘So have you had “The Surgery”?’ or XXXXX
  • Don’t assume that if someone tells you that they are married, that it is to someone of the opposite physical gender.
  • Just because you are talking to a same sex couple, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have children.

In many ways there is not much more than this that you need to know when arranging protection insurance for someone. Quite simply: be respectful, don’t be intrusive and listen.

No matter how inclusive you are, when it comes to insurance applications, you will still face some barriers in supporting your client. Personal insurance policies no longer gender price, which is something that is a huge positive for the trans community. We now don’t need to have copies of gender reassignment certificates to be able to allow people to put their true gender on application forms - a hugely positive step.

But we still face the issue that some insurance application forms need us to choose either a male or female gender, to have the application processed. This is a very sensitive conversation to have with your client if they are non-binary. You will need to explain that this is what the insurer’s systems are set to, and that what you can do is ask the insurer the best way forward.

You are likely to find that for someone that has been through gender reassignment, that they have seen a psychiatrist. This would usually bring up a whole list of mental health questions that will unfortunately need to be answered to be able to push the application through for the underwriters to assess. It is really important to make sure that you engage with the underwriting team so that they know the circumstances surrounding these appointments, as your client does not have a mental health condition, they have taken the steps so that they can truly become themself.

Kathryn Knowles is an award-winning protection adviser and managing director and owner of Cura Financial Services. She founded and hosts the Practical Protection Podcast and recently launched Advice for Advisers, offering training to help advisers better their understanding of protection insurance.