Being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ requires awareness of this community, understanding how your own biases impact the LGBTQIA+ community, and creating changes that allow you to become a true ally. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning, intersexual and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people want to be treated with the same respect and dignity as their peers. However, with one-third of non-LGBTQIA+ Americans reporting discomfort being around same-sex couples holding hands, equality, respect, and empathy have been difficult to achieve. As society more openly discusses the injustices experienced by populations that were once considered taboo, these conversations must also include self-exploration regarding attitudes about non-conforming gender identities and expression (e.g. transgender men).
Reflecting on ones’ own prejudices and biases allows for true acceptance of LGBTQIA+ friends/family. Lack of awareness of our biases and negative attitudes toward nontraditional binary gender roles can lead to hurtful, if not discriminatory, behaviors. While as seemingly harmless as jokes and comments may appear to be, they can be a sign of our biases that can leave a devasting imprint on the receiver. These types of microaggressions place those attempting to be themselves, in potentially dangerous situations such as physical abuse or bullying. These ongoing factors, feeling chronically rejected can contribute to increased anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts/attempts. Meaningful reflection is non-judgmental. The purpose is to clarify beliefs and values potentially and realign with behaviors that are more representative of being an “Ally.” We have the ability to change our behaviors if we value and seek change.
Questions to ask yourself when considering LGTBQIA+ Allyship
Below are just a few questions you can use to help reflect on any biases that you may carry and begin, or continue the process of becoming an LGBTQIA+ ally.
- How did gender influence my behavior or how I was expected to behave?
- If I did not behave according to gender expectations/roles, were there any consequences?
- How have my parents, family members, friends, romantic partners influenced my beliefs about gender?
- What was the process I went through to define my gender identity? (How did I decide what gender I align with?)
- How have I contributed to reinforcing binary gender socialization? (e.g. making jokes, participating in gender reveal parties, imposing traditional gender norms on my loved ones, etc.)
- When someone brings potentially harmful behaviors towards LGBTQIA+ individuals to my attention, do I feel compelled to quickly defend myself and my intentions? Why is that? What am I hoping to communicate with this?
- How do I feel about being asked to use or corrected for failing to use non-binary pronouns (they/them, etc.)?
Once you have awareness of your biases you can begin to realign and be an ally. Joining a group such as Gay-Straight Alliances which have been created at schools throughout the county might be a way to show your support to the community. While this may feel like a big leap, remember that this underrepresented community needs our support. They fear being bullied in the same we feel fear of being bullied if we join such a group. United in a cause, the fear can lessen. Always keep your heart and your mind open to someone who may need a friend.
One simple guideline for being an ally, is respect.
Treating others as you would want to be treated. We may have different stories and that doesn’t need to separate us or our ability to demonstrate empathy and kindness. Being LGBTQIA+ is not simply a lifestyle rather it is, “who you are.” Each of us have moments in our lives where we struggle to find our place, but not all people have to go through the fear of acceptance to get there.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their identity, there are mental health professionals that can help. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help, please contact me at email@example.com
These questions were taken directly from https://thepsychologygroup.com/how-hidden-gender-biases-harm-the-lgbtq-community/
A Clinician’s Guide to Gender-Affirming Care: Working with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Clients by Chang, S., Singh, A., and dickey I.