What does it mean to support the LGBTQ+ community even when you are not part of it? In these blogs we explore what being an ally means and we speak to some staff and students about how they champion the community.
PA to Director of Marketing and Communications, Marketing and Communications
I believe being an ally is important because I feel not enough people normalise and make everyone feel comfortable for being who they are, or wish to be. Being an ally for the LGBTQ+ community has meant a lot to me as having friends within the LGBTQ+ community who weren’t always completely out at the time, meant I witnessed the stigma those within the community are subjected to. Without even realising, I quickly became defensive over those that weren’t always strong enough to defend themselves and I’ve always carried myself with the pride of knowing everyone is the same and yet we’re different. I want to show that we can embrace change and welcome it rather then shy away from it or use harassment out of fear of misunderstanding.
The trans community are facing some serious challenges right now and needs our support. But what can a cis person (someone whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth) do to be a trans ally?
Sean Hourigan/The Peer Partnership:
Being a trans ally is the easiest thing in the world. Simply respect the identity of those you meet, understand that this is who they are, and clue yourself up on the issues they face. Some people who are trans or non-binary might be happy to talk to you about it, some might not. Again, you’re talking about individuals, not some homogenous group, treat them as such. If you’re willing to be more active, don’t accept others treating trans or non-binary as anything other than the people they are, whether it’s to their face or behind their back. Challenge their views, ask why they think it, and be clear you don’t agree. You don’t need to get into an argument, just let them know you don’t support their views. A lot of people see it as the responsibility of those who are discriminated against to gain acceptance, whereas in reality, it’s up to all of us to make sure we create communities of acceptance and mutual respect where everyone can thrive.
Aaron Grice, Student Inclusion Officer
To help you get used to using they/them pronouns, I suggest going for a walk with a friend and using ‘they’ pronouns to talk about every stranger that you see. Everyone finds using ‘they’ pronouns hard at first (that’s just how our brains are wired), but continuing to practice will help you start using ‘they’ pronouns without even thinking about it. If someone you know has changed their name or pronouns, and you’re struggling to get it right, then I’d also suggest practising talking about them when they’re not around to help the new name or pronouns stick in your head. Finally, if you use the wrong name or pronoun, don’t make a big thing of it, just correct yourself and move on. It is normal to make an honest mistake, people will appreciate you correcting yourself and not drawing more attention to it than needed.