This weekend, we bore witness to the coming out of Angelina Mead King, business mogul and owner of the popular Car Porn Racing shop in Taguig. Social media response has been generally supportive and haters were kept at bay, which signifies the possibility that our society is actually progressing. This is becoming a good time to be alive.
Given that our country’s new favorite catchphrase is “change is coming,” it’s high time that we put the homophobia and transphobia aside and focus on becoming advocates for equal rights. Someone you know may come out and though you harbor no hate in your heart, you may feel as if you don’t know what to do or say. Keep the following in mind when navigating the colorful waters of the quest for equality:
Before opening your mouth (or typing up a storm on Facebook that you secretly wish would go viral), listen to what the person has to say. This is not about you and how you actually think “it’s okay.” They are not coming out to make you comfortable, but to make themselves more comfortable by showing their authentic selves. Coming out is a big deal for many people in the LGBTQ+ community and this may signify many things, which you would only begin to understand once you start listening. Hear their stories, their struggles, their realities.
Respect their identities
Use their preferred name and pronoun. Chances are these bits of knowledge will be available to you if you listen enough or read enough. Should you make a mistake, apologize and simply start using the correct pronouns. Also, never out someone on their behalf, unless they specifically ask you to! It’s not your job no matter how well-intended you are.
Respect their privacy
There is no reason for anyone to ask a transgender person about “the status of their surgery” because you’d be asking about their genitals, which is probably something you don’t really do in the first place. In the same vein, it’s just rude to ask about their sex lives or how their partners reacted to their transition. The same courtesy should be extended to transgender people when it comes to intimate personal and relationship details.
Use inclusive, non-divisive language
It’s 2016 and it’s time to drop “ladies and gentlemen” as our go-to in addressing crowds—“everyone” works. The key is to stop assuming that everyone is heterosexual, as someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be identified solely through appearance. Instead of referring to someone as “yung bakla na naka-orange,” say, “yung naka-orange” and pick descriptors that are not centered on gender and its stereotypes. Practicing inclusivity will normalize inclusivity.
Take note of Intersectionality
Sometimes, someone is not just a trans-woman, but a trans-woman who is deaf/poor/Muslim. Ethnicity, gender, class, religion, and ability, are just some of the elements that come into play when shaping one’s identity. Intersectionality deals with the overlapping of biological, social, and cultural elements of an individual’s identity and lived experiences. There are varying degrees to which someone can experience oppression and it’s true that some have it worse than others by belonging to more than one category of minority. By acknowledging and being aware of the possibilities, we can be more understanding of a person’s life.
Read up on definitions and familiarize yourself with terminologies. Did you know that there is now an honorific, Mx, to address the lack of neutrality presented by centuries-old “Mr,” “Ms,” and “Mrs.”? These things are essential and good to know. Watch videos and read blogs written by LGBTQ+ people because their perspective is best.
The most important thing you can contribute to a progressive society is to listen. Oppression begins when we drown the voices of minorities, because it is then that we fail to acknowledge their plight, their needs, and their existence. Listening is the cornerstone of becoming a true LGBTQ+ ally.