Action Items for Allies: Check Your Biases

Content Warning: Transphobia 

North Shore Pride hosted a community forum on Thursday, August 27 titled Violence Against the Transgender Community. During the forum, the panelists discussed action items for allies – individuals who want to support the Transgender individuals in their communities. 

These action items include:

  • Check Your Biases
  • See Something, Say Something 
  • Do Your Homework 
  • Do What You Can 
  • Support Transgender experiences 

We will be posting a series of Blog posts in the coming weeks centered around these topics. First up this week is Check Your Biases. 

Action Items For Allies: An Introduction

Action Items for Allies – Check Your Biases

“Check your own biases” – Laura Assade: LGBTQ Liason for the City of Salem

“It’s systemically ingrained in us that it’s ok to exert power over other people.” Erica Perez, @thenetworklared*

“There are feelings of guilt and shame that go along with being transgender, that come with not being able to meet society’s needs, that you’ve not been able to meet their norms,” Grace Rousseau, Veteran Educator, Past President of the City of the Lakes Cross Gender Community, Advisor to GSAs

We all come into conversations with built-in ideas and biases, many of them unconscious. 

When talking with Transgender individuals and learning about their experiences, it’s essential that take a moment to reflect on what those biases might be, so that we can become better listeners, and by extension, better allies. 

What is a Bias?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a bias as being in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Many of our biases are unknown to us, as they are the result of the things we have been exposed to, how we were raised, and our socioeconomic backgrounds. Fortunately, once we identify our biases, we can work to break down the ones that are harmful to members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

According to the National LGBT Health Education Center in their study of implicit bias towards LGBTQ patients, “It is not easy to accept that we may have biases, especially as people who have chosen a helping career. However, studies have shown that no matter how we feel about prejudiced behavior, we are all susceptible to biases based on cultural stereotypes that are embedded in our belief systems from a young age.” 

What can we do? 

Apart from acknowledging biases when they come up and working through them, there are a couple of things that we can do to learn more about them and expedite the process: 

  • Take a Test: Harvard’s Project Implicit developed The Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure hidden social attitudes and beliefs
  • Get a new point of view: seek out firsthand accounts, articles, and books written by or about Transgender experiences to expose yourself to a new perspective. 
  • Learn about Microaggressions: this photo series by GLAAD is a good place to start. Content Warning: Transphobia

Next week we will be discussing the next action item: If you see something, say something. On the same topic, we invite you to join us for our next community forum: Speak Up, Speak Out on Thursday, September 24 at 7:00 pm. 

*All quotes are from the North Shore Pride Community Forum: Violence Against the Transgender Community 

 

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