To improve the health and well-being of LGBTQI+ patients, we must commit to being lifelong learners and teachers in this continually evolving space.
Pride month has existed since the Stonewall uprising in 1969. However, these days it looks much different than the protest led by transgender women of color from which it began. June 2021 ushered in tons of Pride merchandise sold by giant corporations. Supermarkets have rainbow window displays, restaurants have themed dinners and drinks, and storefronts hang iconic flags.
This large outpouring of products and marketing sits uncomfortably against a backdrop of some of the most intense and violent anti-trans and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation this country has ever seen. With only some of these corporations putting forth statements against this legislation, the touting of consumer goods is almost meaningless.
To just perform allyship is easy. It’s not hard to wear a rainbow lanyard or hang the pride flag outside of a hospital. But it’s critical to actually do the work that will improve the lives of our LGBTQI+ colleagues and patients. As this month comes to a close, we must commit to actual allyship. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Educate yourself.
Take responsibility for learning about topics you don’t understand.
2. Educate others.
Share your learning with coworkers, friends, and family, who may not be aware of they/them pronouns, bisexuality, or other topics you can speak about knowledgeably.
3. Advocate for and work toward change at your workplace.
For example, critically examine the standardized forms at your workplace. Do they use unnecessarily gendered or outdated language? Could they be more inclusive? Here are some guides to aid in this process.
4. Fight anti-LGBTQI+ legislation.
There are hundreds of anti-LGBTQI+ bills awaiting legislation in states across the country. Three anti-trans sports bills, one trans healthcare ban, and four religious refusal bans have already passed. Know what’s going on in the U.S. and in your state. Leverage your power in professional medical organizations (local and national) to issue statements and lobby against these bills.
These are just a few ways to move from performing allyship to doing it. As June draws to a close, I hope these suggestions help you more actively improve the lives of all LGBTQI+ people.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.