How to Be a True Ally

There’s always that one person who verbally says that they’re an ally, but their actions say otherwise. Someone will say that they stand by their transgender friend, but still address them with their dead name. Someone will say that they work for racial equality, but continue to support politicians who work against it. Someone will say that they respect their non-binary friend’s identity, but say that they/them pronouns are “grammatically incorrect.” So how can you REALLY be an ally?

 1) Check yourself.

Becoming an ally is a learning process; so like anything, we’re bound to make mistakes. However, it’s about how we deal with those mistakes. Allow yourself to be corrected on your mistakes. Learn from them rather than continuing to do damage.

2) Be open-minded.

There are some things that you may just not fully understand, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to hate on them. This is a chance for you to look at things from a new perspective and perhaps learn something that you didn’t know before. Take some time to expand your learning; visit your campus diversity office, queer center, WRC, etc. Planned Parenthood has great resources as well!

3) Accept constructive criticism.

If someone confronts you about something you said or did, don’t be so quick to get defensive, they’re just trying to help you learn how to be a better ally.

4) Speak out when something doesn’t sit right.

We’ve all had those moments where we’ve heard or saw something that clearly wasn’t right. If it is safe for you to do so, say something! Call them out on their bullshit and it can be something as simple as, “Hey, that isn’t cool”.

5) Be a good listener.

Being an ally means being able to listen when someone needs to talk. You may not have ever truly felt what that person is going through, so this is where you just listen. You don’t have to try to act like you understand personally what they’re going through, just listen.

6) Respect identity.

Everyone identifies in their own way; you may not understand it, but that’s okay because it’s not your identity. If someone tells you that they go by they/them pronouns, or would like to be called something that they were not called before, RESPECT THAT. Don’t be that asshole, no one likes that asshole.

7) Check your vocabulary.

Our identity changes throughout our lives, and even though our society doesn’t always recognize that, it is important that we do. The only default that we are is human, nothing else. Please don’t be that person that still says “that’s gay,” or thinks that it’s okay to say the N-word when the history behind that word hasn’t personally affected you or your family. Just don’t be that person. Get with the program.

8) Understand that intersectionality plays a role

Major parts of someone’s identity include, but are not limited to race, class, and gender. Understand that everyone has a different experience; a queer individual who is white has a totally different experience than a queer individual of color. Don’t try to simplify things, intersectionality is a thing. 

9) Even if it’s uncomfortable, check your privilege/bias.

There’s no need to hide your privilege, if you have privilege, then use it! Use your position of privilege to be a better ally.


Allyship is a lifelong learning process; together we are working toward a better world. Shout out to all of my allies, I don’t know what I would do without you.