By: SJ Jany
As we approach McMaster’s annual Pride Week (November 5th-9th), you might be curious about what you can do to show your love and support for your queer and trans* friends. Good intentions are half the battle: here are some pointers on the ways in which you can be an ally to this fabulous and diverse community.
Tip 1: The golden rule The absolute number one tip to keep in mind here is this: be nice. Seriously, it’s often that simple! It’s okay if you don’t know all of the lingo and the history and the bajillion fancy flags; if you try your hardest to be kind and respectful to the people around you, you can’t go too far wrong!
Tip 2: Don’t assume It’s very common to assume that everyone around us is heterosexual and cisgender, since that’s what we’ve been told for a very long time! Part of being an ally is refraining from making these assumptions
Tip 3: Pronouns! Quick grammar lesson… Pronouns are those words we use (e.g. I, it, he, we, they) to take the place of nouns. Most of the time, we judge someone’s gender from their appearance and use the pronouns we think fit. However, in conjunction with Tip 2, to be an ally to those with diverse gender identities and expressions, it is important to find out someone’s preferred pronouns. Ask people (politely!) which pronouns they prefer and make sure you use them.
Tip 4: Respect privacy Although it’s totally cool to ask questions when you’re confused or uncertain about something, there are some topic areas that should be avoided unless you’ve specifically been given the green light by the individual with whom you’re chatting. For example it’s invasive and rude to ask people about their genitals (including genital surgeries) or about how they have sex.
Now you know a little bit more about being an ally to the queer/trans* community. Remember that part of being an ally to any group is taking the time to learn new things, so always keep your mind open to new information!