Hey! I'm Linds. I came out as nonbinary this past year and since then I've received so much love and support from my friends and companion.
But with news like that, there will always be questions: How do I refer to you now? Are you okay with these nicknames? What can I do to be a strong ally to you?
Here are a few ways to help with becoming a better ally to your transgender, nonbinary, and gender-queer friends.
Why is it so important to have an open discussion with your gender non-conforming friends?
When you find out that one of your friends is now openly trans, nonbinary, etc, it may feel intrusive to ask questions about their identity -- and sometimes this is true.
It is very important, though, to ask generally about their identity because it shows us that you care! Personally, I feel respected when people ask me about my pronouns because that person is showing they are willing to adjust their previously-known labels of me to make me feel comfortable.
Obviously, it is up to the gender non-conforming person to dictate what they would like to share, but letting them know that you are listening is crucial.
What steps can I take to become a better ally to my friends and to gender non-conforming people in general?
The first and most obvious step is to ask about their pronouns. Some nonbinary and transgender people don't prefer pronouns that differ from those assigned to them at birth and others do.
Whatever they prefer, it's important to try and fix the way you refer to them as quickly as possible, but don't worry if you screw up — we know that it can be an adjustment for our friends and family. If you do happen to slip up, it's important to correct yourself and apologize out of respect for that person.
Not only should you be using the proper pronouns face-to-face with the gender non-conforming friends, but make sure to respect them in private as well.
If they are publicly out, make sure to correct others when they misgender your friend, even if they didn't know. Respect is only measured in its consistency.
It is also crucial that you do your OWN research on their community and different identities. Genderqueer people have enough on their plate already between confirming their identity and finding comfort as a refined person in the world. If someone offers to let you know more about the subject, that's great! Just remember that it isn't a queer person's duty to educate you.
Besides continuing your love and support for the gender non-conforming person in your life, it is so important to check up on them from time to time. Dysphoria, depression, and anxiety are prevalent in these communities, and giving your transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer friends a safe haven is something that shows true care.
I hope you can find something in this article to help you and the beautiful gender non-conforming people in your life!