Be an Ally
What does that really mean?
There is a great need for allies for transgender, non-binary or gender diverse people, who may or may not be our loved ones.
There is a lot of misunderstanding in regards to the community.
These are specific resources on how to support transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people including what not to do.
GRAPHIC CREDIT: Pflag Canada
"The first step to becoming an ally to transgender and nonbinary people is to learn more. It can be tough for transgender and nonbinary people to bear the burden of educating others about their lived experience. You’ll be able to better support the trans and nonbinary folks in your lives, and help to create a safer, kinder and more accepting world.
Learning is an ongoing experience, so it’s okay to acknowledge that you might not know some things, even after reading. Part of being a good ally is continuing your education."
--- Excerpt from The Trevor Project's
“Guide to being an ally to transgender and nonbinary youth”
INFOGRAPHIC CREDIT: Mama Bears. 2022.
Gender Creative Kids, Quebec. Canada.
Queer Halftime by Bekah and Kelsey. Podcast. Outloud St Albert.
"Do you consider yourself an ally to a marginalized group? Are you wondering how you can maybe do that better? We certainly want to improve! So let's look at it together."
ARTWORK CREDIT: Ally is not something you can self-identify as, it's a title that you earn. By artist Sophie Labelle. Assigned Male Comics.
Looking to become a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community?
Here’s 6 simple ways to help!
By Liz Dyer, Founder of the Mama Bears
1. Do your own research and ask educated questions
Don't know where to start? Begin educating yourself! The internet is full of amazing resources that can help you learn more about how to support the LGBTQ+ community. And we have lots of helpful resources on our website: https://www.realmamabears.org/resources
2. Know that language matters
Make the effort to use LGBTQ+ people’s names and pronouns.
And check out the Mama Bear Glossary of LGBTQ terms at this link: https://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/.../glossary-of.../
3. Speak up for the underrepresented
If you hear or see something that is damaging towards the LGBTQ community, gently point out the problem and use it as a teachable moment.
4. Offer financial support if you are able to
One of the best ways to ensure an LGBTQ person’s livelihood is through direct financial support to organizations that support the community.
5. Follow the lead of your LGBTQ+ peers
Ask leaders of the community how you can get involved and assist with what they need. Listening to our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors is the best way to learn!
6. Ask your LGBTQ+ friends how they are doing and listen
The LGBTQ+ community often faces hateful messaging that can be damaging to their mental health. Check in with your friends and listen to how they are feeling and what they need.
By Liz Dyer, Founder of the Mama Bears. Aug 2021.
Here's my advice.
Always speak up! Speak up and let the person know that what they are saying or doing is transphobic, biphobic or homophobic, tell them that what they are saying or doing is harmful to lgbtq people and educate them by sharing some good information or insight with them. Sharing your own story or something you learned along the way can be very helpful. People tend to listen and understand better when they realize there is a personal connection.
Is there something you can say that will change someone's mind?
There's not a secret phrase or fact or resource that will change someone's mind. You might want to say something that makes it personal before you share a fact. For example, you could say "being the parent of an lgbtq child has helped me understand this better" or something similar to that before sharing other information that will be educational and informative. But, technically you can't change someone's mind. People have to change their own mind, However, you can plant a seed that has the possibility of growing.
Is it always going to be hard to speak up and confront transphobia, biphobia or homophobia?
It will probably always be hard, but this is something that lgbtq allies should plan to do. If you want to be a good lgbtq ally you are going to have to do some things that are hard and uncomfortable. Going to a pride parade is great, but it's easy to be an ally at a pride parade. The most important work an lgbtq ally will do will be hard and uncomfortable. Allyship is not for the faint hearted, but neither is being a Mama Bear. Mama Bears make great lgbtq allies because we are brave and bold when it comes to protecting our kids and we know that making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for ALL lgbtq people is the best way to protect our own lgbtq kids. Speak up even if your voice shakes.
What is biphobia/homophobia/transphobia?
A lot of people think biphobia, transphobia and homophobia only refers to the fear of lgbtq people, but that isn't true. Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia encompass a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward lgbtq people. The accepted definition is the fear, hatred, discomfort with, mistrust of and/or discrimination of lgbtq people.
What should you say?
Do some research and come up with 3 or 4 things you are prepared to say. Memorize a couple of important and informative facts that are meaningful to you. You will be more likely to speak up if you have something prepared. Remember, you don't have to say anything mean or harsh. You don't have to raise your voice or shake your fist. You can speak in a calm tone and be civil. For example, you can even start out by saying "I assume you don't intend to be transphobic or intend to hurt trans people" and then go on to explain that what they are saying or doing is transphobic and harmful. You can then share some helpful information and even offer to send more resources their way if they are interested in knowing and learning more. Sometimes, a friendly conversation can spark a change. But, at the very least, you have done your part and now the rest is up to the other person.
Is it really worth your time?
YES!! It's definitely worth your time. Education is the key element when it comes to diminishing transphobia, biphobia and homophobia. Even if the person doesn't change this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to your lgbtq child and other lgbtq people you care about that you really are their ally, on their side and willing to do hard things to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for them to live and thrive and that alone makes it worth it your time.
Remember ... Together we can change the world!"
INFOGRAPHIC CREDIT: How to be a trans* ally. Q Soc - Trinity LGBT
US & INTERNATIONAL
Video message by Liz Dyer, founder of Mama Bears and Sara Cunningham, founder of Free Mom Hugs. Mar 2021. (US)
“In honor of 'Transgender Day of Visibility', Sara Cunningham and Liz Dyer share some tips for parents of transgender and gender diverse kids."
"It's not really that hard"
By Fiona Dawson. March 31, 2021. (US)
10 Things you can do to be an ally to people who are trans
By Straight For Equality, a project of Pflag National. 2020. (US)
One-page PDF to guide allies of the trans community.
“Looking for simple ways to start being a more engaged and active ally? Try using a few of these suggestions to build your ally skills and start creating change”.
By Anna Bianchi. Book. 2017.
"When Anna Bianchi's grandchild asked, 'Nanny, you do know I'm a girl, don't you?', Anna recognised this as a pivotal, and daunting, moment in their relationship. She knew that to answer her grandchild, who had been assigned male at birth, her own attitudes, assumptions and beliefs about gender would need to be examined.
With reassuring honesty and openness, Anna draws deeply on four areas: her own experience, current research, interviews with children and their families, and a discussion of power, both in society and between children and adults. She shows how the inner journey of the adult inevitably impacts on the outer journey of the child and, given the significance of this, offers a step-by-step guide to becoming an ally to the gender-expansive child.
For anyone eager to understand their child's gender experience, or to learn how best to accept, support and protect them, this book will provide knowledge, reassurance and the confidence to do so."
Anna Bianchi has a background in social work, personal development and training and facilitation work. She is grandmother to a gender expansive child.
"As the grandmother of a transgender child, Anna Bianchi provides a much needed perspective on an ally's journey through the Gender Matrix. Guided by her own family's process, and by the love for her grandchild, Bianchi gently coaches others to challenge their own gender assumptions, moving not only through acceptance, but towards an actual social transformation". -- - Rachel Pepper, LMFT, author of Transitions of the Heart and The Transgender Child
A beginner’s guide to being an ally to trans people
By Ted Ravago. Nov 2019. (US)
"As a part of uplifting the trans community, it’s important that allies also take part. Of course, everybody is at different levels of knowledge on how to support trans people. So, as someone who is currently discovering their transness and also had to do a lot of learning and internal work on my journey, here is my beginner’s guide to being a trans ally."
Beyond the gender binary
by Yee Won Chong. Ted Talk video. 2012. (US)
“Yee Won Chong shares a story about the challenges of navigating the world while transgender, and provides suggestions on being a good ally. Yee Won Chong converts practical skills and experiences to train hundreds of grassroots activists on effective communication and fundraising for social, economic and environmental justice.”
Everything you ever wanted to know about trans* (but were afraid to ask)
By Brynn Tannehill. Book. 2018. (US)
“Leading activist and essayist Brynn Tannehill tells you everything you ever wanted to know about transgender issues but were afraid to ask. The book aims to break down deeply held misconceptions about trans people across all aspects of life, from politics, law and culture, through to science, religion and mental health, to provide readers with a deeper understanding of what it means to be trans. The book walks the reader through transgender issues, starting with 'What does transgender mean?' before moving on to more complex topics including growing up trans, dating and sex, medical and mental health, and debates around gender and feminism. Brynn also challenges deliberately deceptive information about transgender people being put out into the public sphere. Transphobic myths are debunked and biased research, bad statistics and bad science are carefully and clearly refuted. This important and engaging book enables any reader to become informed the most critical public conversations around transgender people, and become a better ally as a result.”
"Brynn Tannehill is a military veteran who felt that the United States military’s discriminatory policies forced her to make a choice between continuing serving her country and living openly as a transgender woman. Brynn was born and raised as a boy, but that never felt right, and so she came out as transgender, transitioned, and now lives every day as the woman she has long known herself to be. Brynn has become a vocal advocate for the transgender community, in particular transgender soldiers, because of her own experiences and previous fears about openly serving her country."
The gift of language: Learning what it means to be transgender
By Vanessa Nichols. Dec 2019. Blog post. (US)
“Let’s continue to give the gift of passing on definitions and education and language for our trans community. Our entire lives are based off of education and learning and raising awareness. We can do this for our trans loved ones. It’s up to us, allies, to share the language we’ve learned with others who are uninformed. The onus isn’t on the trans community to educate. It’s on us. We know knowledge is power. It was a gift to learn the language I needed to understand my transgender son.”
Guide to being a trans ally
By Straight for Equality, a program of Pflag National. Washington, DC.
A PDF booklet with information to guide allies of the trans community.
A guide to being an ally to transgender and nonbinary youth
By The Trevor Project. (US)
“Our Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth is an introductory educational resource that covers a wide range of topics and best practices on how to support transgender and nonbinary people.”
"Allyship to trans people involves a number of different actions: some are necessary and relatively easy, while some require more commitment and activism. I will make several lists in order of priority. Some of these are behaviors that you must engage in to treat trans people respectfully; some are goals to aspire to, but they may take a while and require some more courage!"
Having a trans child has made me aware of how desperately the community needs allies
By Molly Mulready. Dec 2020
"Wherever you are and whoever you are, you can make a difference to the life of a trans person by not being a quiet bystander when someone makes a joke at their expense, and by being compassionate if someone tells you they are trans and need support. Many trans people are rejected by their family, and so friends become family, and that could mean you."
NowThis News YouTube video. Nov 20, 2021.
"A new study proves that being an ally to trans and non-binary youth can save their lives — here’s how. [warning: distressing themes] "
By Ruth Beach for Teen Vogue e-magazine. Nov 2020.
By Nicole Pecoraro. Parents magazine online. June 04, 2021. (US)
"Parents and allies of transgender youth have the duty to listen, learn, and be gender-affirming caregivers. It takes a village of support to thrive — here are ways you can be part of theirs."
Importance of your story as an LGBTQIA+ parent
By Sarah Kennedy Coaching. Blog post. (US)
“Your story is important. Your full experience of being a support for yourself and the LGBTQIA+ population is important. A marginalized population cannot make change on its own. We must own our role in becoming educated allies who are emotionally present and ready to support. To those who say it is not our lane, I offer a map to choose a different highway.”
Mama Bears organisation in the US.
Canadian moms can participate in this supportive group.
"Mama Bears to the Rescue is a private Facebook group made up exclusively of moms of LGBTQ kids who love, support and affirm their own LGBTQ kids and want to share love and support with other LGBTQ people who don't have that kind of support from their own family.
The Mama Bears do things like attend same sex weddings as an affirming stand-in mom, visit an LGBTQ person in the hospital, include LGBTQ people in their holiday gatherings, send notes of encouragement, talk on the phone, text, get together for coffee or lunch etc.
The focus is on performing small acts of kindness, making connections and being a loving presence in the life of LGBTQ people who have lost support from friends and family members due to their LGBTQ status.
Fill out this form if you would like to request support for yourself or someone you know. By filling out this form you are giving permission for the information to be shared.
We accept requests for support from residents of the US, UK, Canada and Australia. For more info about the Mama Bears organization visit our (website)."
The process of coming out: A parent’s journey
By Vanessa Nichols. Feb 2019. Blog post.
“We essentially come out with our kids in many ways. We have our own process to reconcile. Our story is important. We can empower other parents walking this path, helping them to continue to affirm trans youth, who obviously become trans adults. So we can start by letting our children be who they are. We are in a position of empowerment to amplify the conversation as frontline allies. We need to tell our stories, too, for ourselves, for other parents, and for our kids’ health. I’m here, with my transgender son, loud and proud. My story matters because I made a lot of mistakes. And I hope someone learns from them.”
Resources for parents
By Schuyler Bailar. Pinkmantaray blogger. (US)
“To any parents – I’m so glad you’re here. I hope that you find these resources helpful. If you have further questions, I’m always available over email or video chat consultations.”
"....tips that can be used as you move toward becoming a better ally to transgender people. Of course, this list is not exhaustive and cannot include all the 'right' things to do or say because often there is no one 'right' answer to every situation you might encounter. When you become an ally of transgender people, your actions will help change the culture, making society a better, safer place for transgender people and for all people (trans or not) who do not conform to conventional gender expectations."
"GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love."
By Davey Shlasko. Book. Oct 2017. (US)
“Revised, updated and expanded for 2017 - the new Trans Allyship Workbook is everything you've been wanting to read about trans allyship. A workbook to help you build your understanding of trans communities and develop concrete skills for supporting trans people in your life, with over 100 pages of explanation, activities, illustrations and reflections including: New sections on intersectionality, singular they, and philosophies of allyship. Tips and 'best practices' for the special allyship situations of parents, teachers, healthcare providers and therapists. Tons of new color illustrations. New activities - it really is a 'workbook' - to help you deepen and practice your allyship skills. Extensive glossary to get updated on recent evolutions in trans terminology. Resource lists to help you take the next steps in your learning, whether for personal or professional development.”
Transgender School Podcast Episode 12. Video. Dec 2, 2021. (US)
Mom Bridget and daughter Jackie created the Transgender School. This is one of their podcasts.
"Although most of us might have (or might think we have) a clear idea of what it means to be an ally or an adversary to transgender people, we may not be aware of all the specific choices that can make a huge difference. What might cause someone to be seen as an ally by a trans person? What might cause someone to be seen as an adversary by a trans person? And what about all the people who fall somewhere in between, despite the fact that they may believe that they’re coming from a place of love and support to transgender people? We attempted to answer the questions above, from our perspective, because though the differences can be subtle, they’re deeply meaningful and important.
Today's episode is about clearing up some misconceptions about what it means to be an ally, to not be an ally, and to be an adversary. We go through what is expected from allies when interacting with trans people and even more important, the importance of being an ally even when a transgender person is not present. We discuss the importance of going beyond superficial performative actions and actually demonstrating true allyship, even when it’s uncomfortable and difficult. We delve into how actively advocating against the transgender community, even if it is only behind a keyboard, validates and encourages continued hate and violence against transgender people."
...for Parents of a Gay or Transgender Child
By Telaina Eriksen. 2017. Book. (US)
"... provides parents of a LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning) child with a framework for helping their LGBTQ child navigate a world that isn’t always welcoming.
Author Telaina Eriksen, a professor at Michigan State Univ and the mother of a gay daughter, explains what she and her husband have learned through experience.
Gender dysphoria and other concerns: Eriksen also covers the science on gender and how to help a transgender child through the various stages of development. Throughout the book parents and kids who have been there, share their stories. (She also directs gay family parents to various resources online for help)
How to help your child navigate locker rooms, sleepovers, proms, etc.
When to involve the police or school administration when it comes to bullying
How to advocate for local, state and national policies that protect your child
Ways to educate well-meaning, but misguided extended family members
How to help start a Gay-Straight Alliance at your child’s school
Strategies for keeping your child talking after he or she comes out
Signs of unhealthy relationships
When to consider therapy for your child and/or your family
How to find an LGBTQ-friendly community (including inclusive churches) "
When will we listen to trans people?
By Vanessa Nichols. Oct 2019. Blog post.
“Many people don’t understand why I bother engaging in these online arguments. And the answer: because allies have to. We have to speak up more. It’s our duty to elevate the existence of trans people.”
Deadnaming: How using the wrong name can affect mental health
Deadnaming is when someone refers to a trans or nonbinary person by a name they no longer use - Here’s how it can affect mental health
"For many transgender and nonbinary people, a name change is a powerfully affirming part of living their true gender. It’s an opportunity to choose a name that feels like a better representation of their gender identity.
After changing their name, many people find that reminders of their old name — typically the name they were given at birth — induces anxiety, gender dysphoria, and a sense of not being seen as their true gender.
While occasional slip-ups from family and friends are inevitable at the start, if your name, pronouns, or ultimately your identity aren’t respected and used by those around you, it can feel deeply invalidating, with various mental health effects.
Specifically for trans and nonbinary people, hearing your old name can induce feelings of anxiety, gender dysphoria, and a lack of acceptance. And depending on the situation, it can make you fearful of your safety."