Misc //

How to be a good ally

An ally guide written by the Queer Honi team.

ally pic

To a queer person

1. Tell them that you love and support them. (Not “despite” their queer identity. Just that you love them for who they are.)

2. Don’t out them to other people unless they ask you to. (This includes: your family, friends, workplace.) You might not have a problem, but this world isn’t totally safe for queer people. Don’t be surprised if they’re comfortable being out with their friends, but not at university, or with their family, but not at work.

3. Call out other straight people when they do something fucked up. If someone says “that’s so gay”, tell them, “You shouldn’t say that. It’s hurtful.” Use your privilege for good, but don’t speak over queer people.

4. Don’t shout your straightness to the high heavens while defending queer people. “I’m not gay, but I support them!” “I’m in favour of marriage equality – but I’m not gay!” By doing so you’re implying
the queerness is something distasteful that you need to distance
yourself from.

5. You’re going to fuck up. Accept that. Because you’re straight, you (unintentionally) benefit from a bunch of systemic oppression, and there’ll be moments when you say something hurtful and don’t realise it. Be graceful. Respect that queer people are the best and only authority on what is hurtful to queer people.

6. Learn to apologise. “I’m sorry” is enough. Not “I’m sorry you were offended”, or “That’s not what I meant, but I’m sorry.”

7. Queer people are not here to educate you. If there are things you
don’t know, or are curious about – google it!

8. Don’t assume that everyone is straight until proven otherwise. There are probably queer people in your life that you don’t even know about.

9. Being an ally to queer people is the bare minimum of human decency – not something that you get rewards or cookies for. Don’t make it about you. The A in LGBTIAQ is not for Ally.

10. Above all, ASK! Ask how you can help and support them. Everyone has different needs.

To a trans person

1. Tell them that you love and support them. (You haven’t lost a friend or a child, and you don’t need to mourn that loss. The person you have in front of you is more important than the imaginary cis version of that person.)

2. Use their preferred name and pronouns. If you don’t know, ask. It’s okay if this is awkward. If you’re meeting a new person, say something like “Hi, my name is Queery McQueerson, and I use she/her pronouns. How about you?” If you already know this person, just tuck it into conversation – preferably tactfully and not in public. (“Hey, what are your preferred pronouns?”)

3. Use their pronouns even if they sound weird to you – for example, singular they, zie/hir, or xe/xir. It’s weirder/harder for them than it is
for you.

4. If you misname or misgender them, apologise. But don’t make a huge deal of it – that puts them in the position of having to reassure you right after you did something to hurt them.

5. Don’t ask intrusive questions about their genitals or their ‘status’. For example, don’t ask “So, have you had THE SURGERY?”, “Why do you have/don’t you have breasts/a dick/a vagina?”, and “What does your junk looks like?” But don’t make their body a taboo subject, either – let them speak about it if they want to.

6. Ask your friend what their preferences are in situations where you’re not sure if they’re out or not. Don’t misgender them unless they ask you to. Another option is just to avoid using their name or pronouns.

7. Brush up on your language. Nuance is important. It’s “transgender”, not “transgendered” or “trans-gender” (it’s an adjective, not a verb), and the asterisk in trans* has some uncomfortable history.

8. Understand that there is no one way of being trans. Your friend might get surgery, or not. They might use breast forms or binders or packers – or not. None of these things invalidate their gender.

9. Don’t assume gender when you meet someone new. Really. Even if they ‘look’ cis. You don’t have laser vision or telepathy. The best way to get around this is to always introduce yourself using your pronouns, and ask new people for their pronouns too. That’s all you need to know (unless they want to share more).

10. Above all, ASK! Ask how you can help and support them. Everyone has different needs.

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

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