Stand up to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
Being an LGBTQ+ Ally means speaking up. You can’t stay silent when you see homo/bi/transphobic abuse as staying silent betrays your beliefs and makes others think you think it’s OK. Stand up for strangers in public as well as your friends, and speak out any time you see abuse online. Tell the person that they are being offensive and their behaviour is unacceptable. Report homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
Recognise your privilege
Have you ever had to come out? If not, it’s likely that your sexuality and gender fits what society expects. This is a privilege. Take time to think about how not being LGBTQ+ has given you an advantage in life. Understanding yourself better will help you try to empathise with LGBTQ+ folks and how it feels to be marginalised and oppressed.
Pronouns matter to many LGBTQ+ people. Don’t guess pronouns, instead ask for and respect pronouns. Make sure you don’t just do this if you think someone might be trans; get in the habit of doing it with everyone. If you make a mistake, apologise, correct yourself and move on; don’t make a big deal of it but try to get it right next time.
Start with gender neutral language
If you are not sure what someone’s gender is or don’t have the opportunity to ask, it’s best to start with gender neutral language (such as ‘the children’ rather than ‘the boys’) and gender neutral pronouns (such as they/them). Get in the habit of doing this in your day-to-day life so that it comes naturally.
Don’t ask invasive questions
Just as you wouldn’t ask cis people what’s in their pants it’s totally disrespectful to ask trans people this. Being a good ally involves respecting the privacy of trans people’s bodies and also being aware that being trans doesn’t always need to involve hormones or surgery.
Don’t rely on your LGBTQ+ mates to educate you. Sure, they might be happy to answer some questions but really you need to take the time to do your own learning.
LGBTQ+ people have created a huge number of resources, and lots have recorded their journeys. Educating yourself with these books/blogs/films is a good place to start.
Do some research into the history of LGBTQ+ laws and learn what challenges the LGBTQ+ community is facing right now.
Educating yourself to become a better ally by spreading more information to the general public can help counter the attack on LGBTQ+ people and encourage our society to become more aware.
Lastly, please share this with as many people as you can and help create more LGBTQ+ allies.
If you want to talk more about how to be an ally, why not join our wonderful online community – a judgement and safe place to be who you are, and ask questions that might be on your mind.
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Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.