Topics Within this Training
- The Importance of Being an Ally
- The Basics of Community Support
- Simple Steps
- Community Brainstorming
The Importance of Being an Ally
Ally isn’t just a noun, it is a verb. The most important role of an ally is to use their privilege to help make our communities safer and more inclusive of transgender individuals. Transgender individuals can only do so much to advance their cause. Visibility helps to inspire and embolden other transgender individuals to live open and affirming lives. However, visibility can put transgender people at risk for increased violence and social problems.
Allies, on the other hand, can be visible with less risk to their personal safety. Moreover, allies tend to have more respect, privilege, and economic resources than transgender individuals. For this reason, allies must be a visible presence, support system, and force for change for the transgender community. Here are some simple steps for radical change:
Be Aware of your Privilege
As a cisgender and/or straight ally, you do not face the same struggles as your LGB+ or TQ+ peers. As a result, you are much more likely to finish school, get a good job, find safe and adequate housing, and face little discrimination at home, at work, or at the store.
Stop and Listen
The role of an ally is to be sensitive to the experience of the LGBTQ+ community and to help them in the ways in which they need help, not the ways you want to help. The only way you can accomplish this is by listening.
No one is an expert. Even transgender people who have lived the transgender experience for a lifetime cannot claim to be an expert because all of our experiences are different. The same goes for other members and identities within the LGBTQ+ community. Take every opportunity to learn more by listening and attending lectures, talks, and training sessions conducted by transgender people.
Use Your Privilege for Good
Use your privilege to speak out against the oppression of the LGBTQ+ community, to fund LGBTQ+ organizations, or to defend an LGBTQ+ person who is being verbally or physically assaulted. Most importantly, by listening to what LGBTQ+ people need from you, your privilege can be used in conjunction with their efforts to fight for themselves and improve the likelihood of systemic change.
The Basics of Community Support
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are four easy things you can do every day to show your support.
Stand up, speak out. Speaking out requires that you listen and learn. If you listen to LGBTQ+ individuals and learn more about their identity and struggles, then you will be better equipped to speak out against oppression. This doesn’t mean that you have to hold rallies or give speeches on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, it is preferable for trans voices to be the more prominent voices in these arenas. Sometimes, standing up and speaking out is merely stopping homo/bi/transphobic jokes or comments, correcting myths and information, or stepping in when an LGBTQ+ peer is victimized. Be a peer educator and compassionately and firmly educate your friends, family, and colleagues about gender identity. Be an ally and use your privilege to stand up and speak out.
Being an ally isn’t a part-time job. You cannot be an ally at work but ignore homo/bi/transphobia at home. You cannot be an ally when you are with other allies but silent when you are alone among unaffirming people. When you take the pledge to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, you have to be passionate about supporting the LGBTQ+ community all the time. It can be hard to be an ally and to stand up and speak out, but with practice you will become better and stronger at being an ally. The takeaway: Be passionate about social justice in every facet of your life.
Demand change in your community. Social acceptance is only one part of creating social change. Until all LGBTQ+ people, but especially transgender individuals are protected equally under the law, our communities will not be truly safe, inclusive, or affirming of all people. Be bold and demand that your government, the businesses you support, your school, your workplace, and your community be inclusive and affirming of your LGBTQ+ friends and family members. Remember, that you are not an ally unless allyship is part of your entire life. If you say you are an ally but vote for a homo/bi/transphobic lawmaker, then you aren’t an ally. If you say you are an ally but support businesses which openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers, then you are not an ally.
Show consistent support. Many people who claim to be allies say that they support LGBTQ+ individuals. While this is great, if you are not actually actively supporting LGBTQ+ individuals or organizations, then your allyship is incomplete. Your LGBTQ+ loved ones need your affirmation and support as they go through their transition to an open and affirming life. This is especially true for your transgender loved ones who during the early stages of transition are especially vulnerable. Be there for them and make sure to follow up and follow through when you say “I’m here for you.” Transgender individuals particularly need your help because the needs of transgender people are so much different than the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. The majority of support for transgender individuals comes from organizations and foundations created specifically for transgender individuals. Major LGBTQ+ organizations, and most state-level organizations, have to serve the community equally. Transgender individuals have very unique needs, and their organizations provide the exact support they need. Giving financial support to these organization helps them help transgender people and demonstrates how serious you are in your pledge to support of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Four Simple Steps to Make your Organization , Congregation, or Club More Inclusive
Another way you can be an ally is by holding an organization, congregation, or club you are a member of (or a business you work for or own) accountable for being inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals. Here are four easy steps you can take to make this happen.
Step 1: Do a Full Audit. Use our Inclusivity Audit Worksheet to determine how inclusive your organization is. The audit involves doing a walk-through of your facility and looking at your website, brochures, forms, posters, signs, practices and procedures, organizational structure, and other printed or published materials to see if they are accessible to LGBTQ+ users, contain outdated language, or exclude LGBTQ+ identities in unintentional (or intentional ways)?
Step 2: Make a List. After completing your audit, make a list of what you need to change, how you can change it, who is responsible for changing it, and when you will change it. Don’t be afraid to consult members of the local LGBTQ+ community (especially among your team or group) for assistance. We can provide offsite, video-based mentoring for a fee. Remember to remove explicitly offensive materials immediately.
Step 3: Follow Through. Make the changes you say you are going to make when you say you will make them. Remember, it’s okay to adjust your timeline to do it correctly.
Step 4: Acknowledge Your Actions. Once you’ve finished the work you’ve promised to do, you need to make a public statement which acknowledges your lack of inclusion (intentional or unintentional) in the past, apologizes for intentional or unintentional exclusion, what steps you’ve done to correct the problems you identified, and your pledge to be more intentionally inclusive in the future.
While it can seem like an impossible task, it is possible to change the world for LGBTQ+ people and make the world a better place for them. As an ally, you have the incredible ability to make all of this possible. Using the steps outlined in this training will help you accomplish this.
Take the next step: Take the Ally Pledge ›
Asking For Help
We are available to provide mentoring through this process either in-person or through video chat. In-person mentoring is $500 per day (onsite) plus travel reimbursement at the current GSA rate and/or $150 per day for offsite consulting work (e.g., document editing/creation, report writing) and is contracted through an external consulting service (we receive $50 of the onsite fee + 30% and $50 per day of the offsite fee). Video-chat mentoring is $50 per session and is conducted by members of our team (we do not provide additional consulting services). For more information contact us at 701-630-6838.
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