How to Be a Better Ally

by Simone Dougherty, LPC

Want to be a better ally but unsure where to start? Here are my best resources for you!

Know the terminology.

Language and culture are dynamic, and the queer community reflects these shifts. Take the word “queer,” for example. Once thought of as derogatory slang, most folks now embrace queer as a reclaimed representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Using the correct terminology acknowledges and affirms authentic identity because it confers acceptance, support, and validates being. 

Outdated terms and phrases include transvestite, hermaphrodite, homosexual, and sex change, while modern terms include transgender, intersex, gay and gender affirming surgery. GLAAD is a great resource for up-to-date terms.

Check implicit bias.

Implicit bias is related to thoughts we have that are counter to our vocalized beliefs. For example, you may catch yourself thinking “that’s so gay” when you see someone that appears male dressed in feminine clothing.

Behaviors that originate from implicit biases hurt members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether they are intentional or not. Stereotyping cis gender, heteronormative culture sends the message that any other representations are wrong, which leads to internalized trans/homophobia and creates a sense of shame. 

Everyone has internal bias. But the important thing to remember about being a good ally (and a better human being) is to challenge implicit biases and make sure your behaviors match your stated beliefs.

Be a visible ally.

LGBTQ+ folk are being targeted every day. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of LGBTQ+ youth experience anxiety and 58% experience depression. Increasing numbers of laws are being passed that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, hate crimes are on the rise, and nearly half of the LGBTQ+ community considers suicide.

Wear rainbow pins, tee shirts that affirm all identities, speak up against bigotry and use your social media platform to promote inclusivity! While these gestures may seem trite, acknowledging the community can help instill hope and feelings of inclusion.

If you’re a parent of an LGBTQ+ kiddo or are interested in learning more about being a better ally, check out the episode “Raising LGBTQ+ Kids with Simone Dougherty” on the Therapy for Women Podcast!

Simone is an out-of-state provider at Therapy for Women, specializing in LGBTQ+ mental health, anxiety, depression, substance use, and parenthood. To learn more about Simone or find out if she serves your state, read her bio here.

Looking for a therapist or unsure where to begin? Get started on our booking page.