Allyship to the queer community is so important, especially in an age when LGBTQ+ folks are constantly being attacked–not just socially, but also politically and legally. I’m so excited that you’re here to learn how to be a better ally.
In summary, there is no such thing allyship is not quiet. It does not bystand while others are bullied and experience discrimination. Allyship is loud. It is active. That is, if you are not actively protecting us as trans and queer folks, we are complicit in our oppression. Hate is more insidious than you might notice. Hate is taught and affirmed through our silence and inaction. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SILENT ALLY. Let’s dive in.
STEPS TO BEING A GOOD ALLY:
① GENDER & NAME PEOPLE CORRECTLY
Use the individual’s name and pronouns correctly. Gendering and naming someone correctly is the fastest, simplest, and probably most powerful way to say: “I see you. I support you.”
If you mess up, I always recommend apologizing immediately and quickly, correcting yourself, and moving on. Do not make the mistake about you. Do not make a big deal. Correct & move on.
Check out this page for more on working with pronouns.
② CORRECT OTHER PEOPLE
If someone is misgendered or misnamed by other people, correct them, even if the person getting misgendered isn’t in the room or you don’t know them personally.
NOTE: Be careful not to out folks. They might use different pronouns in different scenarios. Make sure you’re aware of where they use which pronouns because they might not be out in all places.
③ EDUCATE YOURSELF: YOUR QUEER FRIEND IS NOT YOUR QUEER DICTIONARY. USE RESOURCES LIKE THIS INSTEAD.
Recognize it is not on the LGBTQ+ person to educate you on everything LGBTQ+. That is your responsibility.
Visit the following webpages to learn about trans related topics:
- Appropriate terminology (start here!)
- What is transitioning?
- Tips on coming out
- Resources for parents of trans kids (for both the parents and the kids)
- More FAQs
Follow trans folks on your social media channels and learn from them. If you read or see something that you disagree with or that makes you feel something, ask yourself why. Consider what is coming up for you–if the content angers, frustrates, or upsets you, why? Does the content threaten something within you? Know that this discomfort is okay. Welcome it. Dive into it. Here are some suggestions of folks to follow: Indya Moore (they/them), Ashlee Marie Preston (she/her), Alok Menon (they/them), Munroe Bergdorf (she/they), Mila Jam (she/her), Leo Sheng (he/him), and Wednesday Holmes (they/them). Please find plenty more suggestions here.
④ EDUCATE OTHERS
Remember there is no such thing as a passive ally.
Correct people when they misgender trans folks; engage in conversations when people exhibit bigoted behavior, and stand up for queer folks, even when they’re not around.
Always call in > call out.
Value conversation over confrontation.
Know that small actions are still valuable.
You don’t have to speak in front of thousands or have a large social media platform to be a good ally. Smaller actions like gendering or naming someone correctly can also be powerful.
⑤ REMEMBER THAT LOVE > UNDERSTANDING
You don’t have to understand everything about someone to love someone or walk through a journey with them.
I encourage you to consider this analogy: I don’t understand multivariable calculus; I never have and never will. But that doesn’t make multivariable calculus nonexistent, its theorems any less proved, or the people who study it any less valid. It just means I don’t get it. Being transgender is far less complicated than calculus in my opinion, but you still don’t have to understand everything about a trans person to love, support, and stand by them.
⑥ ACCEPT REJECTION
If someone declines to answer you or doesn’t want to engage, apologize and then LET THEM BE.
NOTE: Expecting a queer person to educate you constantly puts 100% of the onus on them, which is inappropriate and unkind. If they invite you to ask questions, do so respectfully, but if they decline to answer or anger, please be respectful and remember that it is not their responsibility to educate you.
⑦ SET BOUNDARIES
If you are attempting to converse with someone who is exhibiting hatefulness or bigoted behavior and are clearly not listening or indicating any intent to learn, set boundaries. Boundaries can be physical (leaving the room), they can be technological (blocking, deleting, unfriending), and they can be contextual (refusing to discuss certain topics).
A post on this–