Action Tips For Ally-Ship
What Does it Mean to be an Ally?
And how can we all work together to uplift the LGBTQ+ community?
Being a Good Ally Requires Constant Ongoing Actions
One’s ally-ship is only as strong as one’s current behavior. And of course, this page is not exhaustive and cannot include all the “right” things to do or say—because often there is no single, easy, or “right” answer to every situation a person might encounter, and the work is always ongoing! Our goal is that this page will inspire visitors to be more aware of their actions and the behavior they can employ to be a better ally.
Take initiative and confront your own biases
Take the initiative to educate yourself about LGBTQ+ experiences and stories. Don’t rely solely on the LGBTQ+ people in your life to explain everything. Look up videos, articles, books, podcasts, and organizations and do the work to learn more about and understand the great diversity of LGBTQ+ experiences, and to know the current terminology and resources available.
Learn the laws, policies, and resources related to gender and trans inclusion and rights in your field, organization, and county.
Don’t ask a trans* person their “real name,” how they have sex, or what their genitals or surgical status is
It’s not your business. Just don’t.
If an individual identifies themselves as woman, then they are a woman, period. If an individual identifies as a man, then they are a man, period. To ask someone how far they have transitioned or questions about their body is invasive and harassment.
Don’t harass trans* people in public restrooms
Using public restrooms can be a particularly stressful and even dangerous experience for many trans* folks. Let trans* folks pee in peace. Do not question, harass, or allow other people to harass trans* people in bathrooms. Recognize that gender variant people may not match the little signs on the restroom door—or your expectations! Encourage schools, and organizations to have all-gender bathroom options
Listen to LGBTQ+ voices and be inclusive
Don’t talk for or over LGBTQ+ people and make sure to ask for and include them in conversations and spaces. They are experts on their own lives, and do not all hold the same opinion/perspective. Let them tell you their story, and the labels and pronouns they like to use. Remember that LGBTQ+ people are whole people--not just their gender/sexual identity! Treat them as such.
Use the correct name and pronouns. Speak up against anti-LGBTQ+ comments and be ready to educate your peers
Be vigilant and correct yourself and others when you misgender someone, or when anti-LGBTQ+ comments are made. If you don’t know someone’s current name or pronouns, just ask. And remember, this is important regardless of who is (or isn’t) in the room. Even when the person can’t hear you, it is important to get their name and pronouns correct and call out the discriminatory remark in order to not normalize this behavior, and to help each other learn and grow as allies.
When you make a mistake--which you will, because we’re all human--offer a real apology, without excuses or making it about you. Apologize, correct yourself, and move on.
i.e. Jo uses feminine pronouns (she, her). A coworker says to you “Jo needs to pick up his medication at the local pharmacy before the appointment”. You respond “ok, I can make sure that she gets to the pharmacy before the appointment”.
Note: It is always a good idea to make sure that the person you are working with is out about their gender before correcting someone’s pronoun. There may be instances when an individual may choose not to be out. Someone may make this decision for safety reasons, because they are afraid they will not have access to the service, or because they simply don’t want to deal with explaining their gender identity to yet one more person.
Don’t Out People
Some trans* and LGBTQ+ people feel comfortable disclosing their gender identity and/or sexuality to others, and some do not. Knowing someone’s identity is personal information. Do not casually share this information, or “gossip” about a person you know or think is trans or queer. Not only is this an invasion of privacy, it also can have negative consequences in a world that is very intolerant of gender difference—LGBTQ+ people can lose jobs, housing, family, or friends due to unwanted outing, and sadly many LGBTQ+ people have been killed upon revelation of their identity.
Outing a person to other staff, clients, or other community members is not empowering, and can put the person at risk for further harm and violence. Instead, have a conversation with the person and ask them if they want you to tell people they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and/or transgender. If the person does not feel safe in letting people know that they are LGBTQ+ then do not tell anyone.
Be patient and don’t try to tell a person what identity they are
A person who is questioning their gender identity might shift back and forth as they find out what identity and/or gender presentation is best for them. Do not apply labels or identities to a person that they have not chosen for themselves. If a person is not sure of which identity or path fits them best, give them the time and space to decide for themselves.
Make offers to show up emotionally, financially, or logistically for your LGBTQ+ friends and community members. Transition-related medical care can often be expensive and taxing - offer to cook a meal, help with household tasks, fill out paperwork, provide a ride, or help crowdfund for costs. Additionally, dealing with the onslaught of discrimination many LGBTQ+ people face in our government bureaucracies, schools, workplaces, families, and day-to-day tasks and chores can be very challenging and emotionally draining - offer support how and when you can.
USE ALTERNATE CRISIS RESOURCES when you can
Research the alternate crisis response resources in your area and when you can, utilize these resources when appropriate. If police show up or are involved, offer yourself as the liaison for the situation and know who is in the room. LGBTQ+ people, especially queer and trans people of color, experience disproportionate rates of arrest, incarceration, and violence with police and may be triggered in these situations. A Trans* person could potentially be publicly outed in such a situation as well, as not everyone’s legal IDs match their current name, gender, or presentation.
Don’t make assumptions about gender, pronouns, sexual orientation, biology, or story
Not all people are cisgender or straight, and that should never be assumed. Make sure to use inclusive language and spaces. Additionally, it is important to never assume a person’s gender, pronouns, or sexual orientation. Not all LGBTQ+ people look the same, use the same pronouns, or have the same life story.