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CREDO Tip: How to be a better LGBTQ ally

For many of us, we consider ourselves allies (or members! or both!) of the LGBTQ community. We love and support our friends and family who do — or do not — identify in the community. We support inclusive policies and lawmakers who fight for justice and equality. We lift up the stories and voices of trans, non-binary and genderqueer people.

But what does it really mean to be an ally? We all know it goes beyond wearing a rainbow pin and marching at Pride events. It means listening, making space and having respect. It also means understanding your own biases and, for straight allies, checking your heteronormativity at the door. It means publicly standing up for LGBTQ people, especially trans people and people of color.

This Valentines Day, when Love is Love is Love, we wanted to share a few tips on practicing allyship with LGBTQ communities, adapted from the UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center.

  1. Use the pronouns and name that someone wants to use. If you don’t know, ask them! Politely correct others if they use the wrong pronoun or name. Include your preferred pronouns in your social media profiles.
  2. Recognize the difference between sexual orientation and gender. Trans people, just like cisgender people (those who generally identify as their birth-assigned sex), can be straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, etc. 
  3. Be respectful of trans people’s bodies and stories. Don’t ask about surgery, hormones, sexual preferences, or any other incredibly personal aspects of their lives. But do listen if they want to share their stories with you.
  4. Gender isn’t binary — i.e. boy/girl, man/woman. Don’t assume trans people or others in the LGBTQ community identify as one or the other.
  5. Learn inclusive terminology. Here’s a great glossary of terms from the National LGBTQ Task Force.
  6. If you are cisgender, understand and identify your prejudices and biases. Popular culture, the news media and even friends and family can be very heteronormative (the idea, belief or assumption that gender binary and heterosexuality is the norm) and can reinforce those biases.
  7. Be aware of the physical spaces your LGBTQ friends may prefer or require. Think ahead if your trans friends feel more comfortable at inclusive spaces or public places with all-gender restrooms. If you run an event, be sure to designate gender-neutral bathrooms. Ensure “women-only” spaces for trans women.
  8. Advocate for better policies for the LGBTQ community — at the federal and local levels. Support lawmakers who stand up for equality and LGBTQ rights.
  9. Spend your dollars with LGBTQ-friendly businesses and avoid those who are not allies. Check out #GrabYourWallet as a good place to start. 
  10. Or, join us at CREDO Mobile — we’ve donated more than $6 million to progressive groups, like the Transgender Law Center the the National LGBTQ Task Force, who are fighting for LGBTQ rights every day.

For more tips, check out LGBTQIA Ally Tips from the LGBTQIA Resource Center at UC Davis.