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Raising voices of LGBTQ+ birth workers and parents, especially during times when we are under attack is essential activism and allyship. Ensuring that are not staying neutral in situations of oppression is allyship. You will be actively directing people to our work and therefore improving the knowledge of all who follow you and are in your digital space.
Education for yourself (work through the recommended lists)
There is no one book or workshop that provides complete LGBTQ+ education. This is a lifelong commitment to learning and to do better by marginalised groups. The list may seem daunting, but you don’t have to do it all today. This is a list to sustain you for a good while in your journey towards LGBTQ+ competency.
Employ LGBTQ+ people
Remember that learning from and listening to the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people is important. No matter how many books or podcasts you consume on a subject, your knowledge cannot match the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people. Our voices should always be centred in discussions regarding our rights. Often, we are expected to give our lived experience and knowledge for free, or for the promise of exposure (which doesn’t pay any bills). Paying LGBTQ+ people is basic allyship.
Stand up against anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, and ensure your products / services are LGBTQ+ competent
Allyship isn’t always arguments on twitter. You can ask the hard questions before LGBTQ+ service users have to. You can add to your language and terminology, even in spaces where you think there aren’t any LGBTQ+ people. Raising concerns with co-workers can feel scary. However, the alternative is that it is left to LGBTQ+ people to speak against harmful behaviours. When raising concerns with people you can share your knowledge, and direct them to LGBTQ+ people’s voices.
Lead by example with inclusive language & imagery.
Adding to language is often a real cause for concern from new and emerging allies. You do not have to delete your whole website and start again. Additive language doesn’t mean removal of anyone’s language. As much as LGBTQ+ folk have the right to have language available that serves them, cishet people also deserve that. Adding to our language to expand who is included is not taking away. Adding cannot be taking away. +≠-
Sending us anti-LGBTQ+ stuff
We’ve seen it. We don’t need continual reminders that people hate us just for existing. What we need is a friend to reach out. Offer a phone call and a chat if needed. Support us rather than re-traumatise us. If you think it is essential to make us aware of something that is happening (for our safety etc) then practice asking for permission before sending screen shots or articles that may be damaging.
Speaking on our behalf rather than employing LGBTQ+ people
No amount of education on LGBTQ+ issues will ever match the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people. You can ally by sharing our voices, recommending us and our paid services, linking to our posts / blogs etc, or by employing us directly.
Self-centring & fragility
When we centre ourselves, we make the conversation all about us and our feelings.
rather than examining the oppression of someone else. Learning to acknowledge and work out your self-centring and fragility is no easy task. Ensuring that you are listening to oppressed people to hear them, rather than to justify your own actions is basic allyship.
Expecting the LGBTQ+ people in the room to continually explain and educate you without warning, compensation, or thanks.
If you want to ask us about LGBTQ+ experiences, you should be asking if that is okay first. Ideally you should also be offering to pay for our time and knowledge. Listening is not enough; you must be prepared to act based on our recommendations.
Allyship is a journey, not a finish line.
Don’t justify or argue if you are told you have got something wrong, treat this as a learning opportunity. You will get it wrong.
Going into this with the understanding that you will probably get it wrong at some point (and that that is okay) is essential.
There is so much to learn and discover.