After spending an amazing week of learning, growing and making some wonderful friendships with fellow LGBTQIA activists, I was headed to the airport.
At the Phnom Penh International airport, in Cambodia, getting ready to fly back to Thailand, I was waiting in the ‘passport line’ to get stamped out. I noticed a young trans woman in another line. She seemed fidgety. Having trans friends, I know that a procedure that most cis gender people don’t even think about can bring up a lot of anxiety and stress for trans people.
In fact, most of the times, cis gender people are excited to pick up another stamp. Traveling domestically for trans people is already bad enough, just imagine crossing international borders.
I was there with two fellow activists, who were on the same flight as me. As I kept my eye out to make sure this young trans woman would be ok, I already had a list of things in mind that we could do to intervene.
That moment made me realize that one of the big parts of being an ally is keeping my eyes, ears, mind and spirit open in situations where the people I care for and support may be vulnerable to harassment. It’s in those moments that they may not be able to think clearly. That is why we need to step in and be their voice - say what they would say - so that they don’t go home, and upon reflecting on what they would have done, have a thought like: ‘Damn! Why didn’t I say this or that?’ Or ‘I wish I could I have said...’ As for that young trans woman, she made it through Cambodian Immigration. On the plane we made eye contact and smiled at each other. She also made it through the Thai Immigration.