By Ricardo Martir
Monday’s LGBTQ+ Inclusivity and Awareness for Allies event focused on urging allies of the LGBTQ+ community to be actively involved in making all public spaces open and free of judgment for everyone.
While the world continues to advance in some ways, one subject, the LGBTQ+ community, has not necessarily progressed in terms of acceptance and inclusivity.
One of the ways members and allies can be supportive is by educating themselves and others on the basics of genders.
It is important to understand that regardless of the gender people are assigned at birth, it is not always the gender they may decide to carry in life.
Event host Alex Morse said, “Transgender is a person whose gender identity and their assigned sex at birth do not correspond. Somebody is born and the doctor either says it’s a boy or it’s a girl, and that baby grows up and says ‘That’s not true and I know that because of how I feel about myself internally,’”
At times, people think they have decided their gender and sexual orientation, but later on they might find they have a different opinion or view of themselves and believe a change is necessary.
Morse said assumptions are another thing that allies can avoid when thinking a person is a certain gender or has a certain identity.
“Sometimes we might say things without really thinking and these statements can make our friends or acquaintances uncomfortable. Not assuming that they are a certain way and therefore not acting surprised if we find out that they are some LGBTQ identity,” Morse said.
She said often times some of the things people take for granted are things that are consistently fought for in the LGBTQ community.
Representation, whether it be in movies, sports, or anything business and media-related, is something allies should support and encourage. Morse said current celebrities are making efforts to normalize and bring awareness to the situations people experience on a daily basis.
“Some cool big time representatives we have in the LGBTQ community are people like Elliot Page and Janelle Monae who are really famous people and present and explain their situations in public outlets to bring awareness to other people who still might not be aware of our community,” Morse said.
People in the LGBTQ+ community continue to be afraid to come out for a number of reasons.
Some of the fears that make people unsure if they should come out or not include fear of homophobia or transphobia, fear of being excluded in relationships and overlooked in career opportunities, as well as the fear that a person’s gender identity or sexuality can overshadow them as an individual entirely.
In recent years there has been a rise in inclusion and representation throughout media. However, true inclusion and representation can only be possible when everyone is truly included, accepted and respected, Morse said.
Some things allies can do immediately to contribute to an open and accepting environment are:
• Let LGBTQ+ job candidates know they are welcome.
• Include gender-neutral options on forms for both employees and clients/customers.
• Update anti-discrimination policies and ask all staff to sign a form stating they have read and understood its content.
• Create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.
For guides and resources on this topic people can check “The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+,” a guided journal by Ash Hardell and the Human Right’s Campaign Glossary at hrc.org.