Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Tips for Allyship: GSWNY Celebrates Pride Month

This month, the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee is celebrating Pride! Throughout June, we’ll share more about the history of Pride, as well as highlights from LGBTQ+ representation in pop culture, highlights of community members, tips for allies, as well as local resources.

As we’ve covered in previous weeks, Pride Month is a time of celebration, but it’s more than just rainbows and parades.

Understanding the significance allows us to understand why those who don’t identify within the LGBTQ+ community need to stand with those that do as allies. Being an ally is about supporting equal rights, social movements, and gender equality in all situations.

It’s important to understand, however, that being an ally is about more than just saying “I’m an ally.” A recent trend toward performative allyship shows people who act like they support people for the social recognition, but don’t really do anything to support the claim. In some cases, they could even take a stance while doing harm.

On a larger scale, this is seen when brands engage in what is known as rainbow-washing: they change their logos, profile pictures, and cover images to some sort of rainbow design in “support” of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month, but engage in activities that are counter to the claim.

For example, these brands add the rainbow to be seen as an inclusive and accepting organization because it can get them attention and potentially higher revenue. Meanwhile, they might have outdated company policies or use their profits to support organizations or politicians with anti-LGBTQ+ agendas. As we move into the final week of June, it’s important for us move beyond performative allyship and continue finding ways to show up and be supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. To help, we’ve gathered some tips and resources, included below.

10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend from GLAAD.org

  1. Be a listener. 
  2. Be open-minded. 
  3. Be willing to talk. 
  4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family. 
  5. Don’t assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need. 
  6. Anti-LGBT comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive. 
  7. Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. 
  8. Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination. 
  9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. 

If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact glaad.org. 

Ways to be an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary People from GLAAD.org

If you don’t know which pronouns to use, listen first.  If you’re unsure which pronoun a person uses, listen first to the pronoun other people use when referring to them. Someone who knows the person well will probably use the correct pronoun. If you must ask which pronoun the person uses, start with your own. For example, “Hi, I’m Alex and I use the pronouns he and him. What about you?” Then use that person’s pronoun and encourage others to do so. If you accidently use the wrong pronoun, apologize quickly and sincerely, then move on. The bigger deal you make out of the situation, the more uncomfortable it is for everyone. 

Don’t ask a transgender person what their “real name” is. For some transgender people, being associated with their birth name is a tremendous source of anxiety, or it is simply a part of their life they wish to leave behind. Respect the name a transgender person is currently using. If you happen to know the name someone was given at birth but no longer uses, don’t share it without the person’s explicit permission. Similarly, don’t share photos of someone from before their transition, unless you have their permission. 

Be careful about confidentiality, disclosure, and “outing.” Some transgender people feel comfortable disclosing their gender history, and some do not. A transgender person’s gender history is personal information and it is up to them to share it with others. Do not casually share this information, speculate, or gossip about a person you know or think is transgender. Not only is this an invasion of privacy, it also can have negative consequences in a world that is very intolerant of gender diversity. Transgender people can lose jobs, housing, friends, or even their lives when other people find out about their gender history.

Be patient with a person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity. A person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity may take some time to figure out what’s true for them. They might, for example, use a name or pronoun, and then decide at a later time to change the name or pronoun again. Do your best to be respectful and use the name and pronoun requested. 

Understand there is no “right” or “wrong” way to transition, and that it is different for every person. Some transgender people access medical care like hormones and surgeries as part of their transition to align their bodies with their gender identity. Some transgender people want their authentic gender identity to be recognized without hormones or surgery. Some transgender people cannot access medical care, hormones, and/or surgeries due to a lack of financial resources or access to healthcare. A transgender person’s identity is not dependent on medical procedures or their physicality. Accept that if someone tells you they are transgender, they are. 

Support all-gender public restrooms. Some transgender and gender non-conforming people may not feel like they match the signs on the restroom door. Encourage schools, businesses, and agencies to have single user, unisex and/or all-gender restroom options. Make it clear that transgender and gender non-conforming people are welcome to use whichever restroom they feel comfortable using. 

Listen to transgender people.  The best way to be an ally is to listen with an open mind to transgender people speaking for themselves. Follow thought leaders in the transgender community. Check out books, films, YouTube channels, and trans blogs to find out more about transgender people and the issues people within the community face. 

Pride at Work: 50 Ways You Can Show Up as an Ally 

  1. Not sure about someone’s pronouns? Use “they” to be safe, or ask, when appropriate. Even better, start by offering your own when you introduce yourself. 
  2. Add your pronouns to your work e-mail signature to normalize disclosing pronouns. 
  3. Accept that you can never know someone’s gender just by looking at them. 
  4. Correct people when they misgender your trans or non-binary coworker, not just when the coworker is present. In fact, especially when they’re not present. 
  5. Correct yourself when you misgender someone. 
  6. Remove gendered language from job postings. 
  7. Understand that it takes a tremendous amount of energy for GSD individuals to explain terms, definitions, and language. 
  8. Make an effort to learn up-to-date terminology, and accept that you will probably get things wrong on occasion. 
  9. Understand that while your Millennial and Gen Z coworkers are typically comfortable using the term “queer” as a catch-all for GSD, many Boomers and older Gen X-ers still view it as a slur. When in doubt, just ask. 
  10. Recognize that if you have a brain, you have bias. Work to combat that bias, especially as it pertains to hiring practices. 

READ MORE

Resources

Did we miss your local celebrations? Email communications@gswny.org to let us know!

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