Trans people—and particularly trans youth—have come to the forefront of political and educational discussions, especially as legislation has aimed to ensure that school personnel act as enforcers of state-level policies targeting trans youth. For this reason, and because research demonstrates that youth in schools form attachments to and receive support from school personnel, our research looks at school personnel’s development as allies. By analyzing focus group data following a training workshop, we explore how participants understand their roles as allies to trans and gender non-conforming youth. We found that trans issues were salient and participants expressed new knowledge about and openness towards transgender youth, as well as care and concern for their wellbeing. Nonetheless, many participants retained frames of understanding that relied on trans people as Other and that situated their roles as allies through the frameworks of protection and care. We argue that these understandings of trans youth and the role of allies reinforces cisnormativity, and we push for a more nuanced understanding of allyship that moves beyond knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and intended behaviors as markers of allyship to ensure that allies do not reproduce cisnormativity even in their support of trans and gender non-conforming youth.
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