7 Ways To Be An LGBT Ally During Donald Trump's Presidency
As the inauguration of one of the most contentious and scandalous presidents in American history draws ever nearer, members of the groups within the crosshairs of the newly-emboldened political right are scrambling to figure out exactly who they can count on as allies under the incoming regime. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans are among the communities most affected by Donald Trump's soon-to-be presidency, particularly because their rights are fairly recent, tenuous, and under attack. And after his inauguration, there are still ways to help LGBT Americans during Trump's presidency.
Despite extending the world's weakest olive branch to the LGBT community while on the campaign trail, the people Trump has chosen for his cabinet are overwhelmingly against queer and trans rights. What's more is that Trump, as the troublesome figurehead of the Republican Party, represents a political organization that has trampled upon the rights of LGBT Americans for decades. While the president-elect himself appears fairly nonchalant about LGBT rights, there's little doubt that his administration and the Congress that supports it will be, at best, socially regressive — and at worst, could begin rolling back the hard-fought wins queer and trans people have achieved over the last decade.
Below are some ways you can fight back against the anti-LGBT stances of the Trump administration, and stand up for the rights of your LGBT friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens.
1. Take A History Lesson
Alongside the civil rights, feminist, and anti-war movements, gay and trans activists began campaigning for their rights during the political upheaval of the 1960s and 70s. The Stonewall riots of 1969 are considered the first instance of organized LGBT resistance, and a decade later, the community was rocked by the AIDS epidemic of the '80s and '90s — largely without any government assistance or even acknowledgement. Since the '90s, things have improved considerably for some segments of the population, but the numbers of queer homeless youth and trans murders and suicides continue to skyrocket. These issues build the legacy of the today's LGBT communities, and you can't be an ally without knowing the history of the people you intend to be allied with.
2. Know What (And Who) You're Up Against
If knowing LGBT history is important, knowing the dangers posed by the incoming administration is even more crucial. Much of Trump's cabinet, especially including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, are incredibly anti-LGBT, and there's little doubt that attacks on 2015's landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and laws similar to North Carolina's stunning anti-trans "bathroom bill" will begin cropping up. Knowing just how much more dangerous and difficult life may soon become for LGBT people is an essential part in the battle for queer and trans rights.
3. Understand The Intersections With Other Communities
One important factor in better understanding the LGBT community is discovering that not only is the "community" itself far from a monolith, but that those within and outside the movement are not immune from racism. Many queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) have called for greater intersectionality in the LGBT movement, or a push to understand that the lives of, say, Black trans women, will be different from that of white cisgender gays and lesbians. Those outside the movement should resist any narratives that present white and cisgender stories as the overarching LGBT story so that they can help the entire community at large.
4. Join Reputable Pro-LGBT Organizations
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of active LGBT advocacy organizations in the United States, and choosing one to join or take part in isn't always simple. When it comes to grassroots organizing, going local is always your best option — connecting with your local LGBT center, nonprofit or collective will always be more beneficial to your immediate regional community than joining larger, nationwide ones. Many organizations, such as Southerners on New Ground, the Audre Lorde Project, and the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund focus their lens specifically on queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) who will likely be the most vulnerable and under attack. This list from The Huffington Post, compiled just after the election, is an excellent resource to help you find your local QTPOC organizations.
5. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
There are so many worthy and essential LGBT organizations out there, and picking just one to donate to can be difficult. If you can, ask your queer, trans, or LGBT-allied friends what their favorite pro-LGBT organizations are, or what groups or individuals they wish they could give more to. Often, there are people within your networks who are in need of money or shelter, and donating to individual crowdfunding campaigns is one powerful way to make change within your community.
6. Remain Vigilant, And Speak Up
While it's both easy and honorable to hold pro-LGBT views yourself, you can turn those beliefs into action when witnessing street harassment of queer or trans individuals (or any other minority group, for that matter). Hate crimes and harassment against minorities spiked dramatically in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, making the need to intervene in situations of public harassment greater than ever. There's a ton of information out there about how to calmly de-escalate tensions in these scenarios: this article on bystander intervention during street harassment is one of many tools to help you learn how to help others when you see bigots target LGBT folks on the street.
7. Do It For The Right Reasons
While it naturally feels good to want to help those less privileged than you, engaging in "ally theater," or acting like an ally in public while continuing to speak over or for the communities you claim to be allied with, is not okay. Be sure to ask yourself at every turn if you are overstepping your bounds or trying to publicly claim allyship for attention rather than because it's the right thing to do. If an LGBT person calls you out, don't get defensive — acknowledge that their understanding of their oppression is intrinsically deeper than your own, and work to not partake in the offensive behavior in the future.
There's no doubt that things are about to get way scarier for LGBT folks, but with the right mindset and the right tools, you can help queer and trans people across the country survive and resist the regressive and dangerous anti-LGBT forces within the Trump administration.