Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How to be an ally- (from one marginalized perspective)

I have been thinking a lot about allies and what it means to be an ally. What do we want an ally to do? 

I consider myself an ally for many marginalized groups that I am not a member of. I certainly have considerable privilege. I think the biggest thing is to listen to members of those groups though. See what they think it means for you to be an ally for them. I try to do those in things if/when I am able. And I think it is very ok to not be able to do lots of things for people. It's ok to have limitations. 

Activism can look like using your own platform to amplify marginalized perspectives. It can be as simple as retweeting marginalized voices. I think that is really important. You don't really need to add your own voice. You can simply give them your platform. Because if you are in a position of power, more people respect what you have to say, or what you share, than people respect that marginalized person. Share their Facebook post. Don't add commentary like, "what do you think?" Just share the marginalized perspective. 

Activism can look like listening to marginalized people with an open mind. Be less ready with your reason for why they are wrong. Be more ready to say, "I learn so much from you. Thank you for taking the time to teach me." Don't judge our tone. We are angry for a reason and it may hurt your feelings a bit, but that's ok. It's part of the process. 

Yes communities are wide and diverse and opinions vary. Sometimes it's ok to take a step back and refrain from judgment. I do this a lot. If I am not part of a community, I wait, I listen. But I also think that once a community has spoken, and has a general group consensus, that consensus should be respected and not debated by people outside the community. (It's always ok for people within a community to continue to discuss and evolve.) If a community is not at consensus, it's still not your job to tell that marginalized community member that they are wrong. Their experience and opinion are not wrong.

I hear people all over simply asking to be heard. Listen to us, accept our words as valid. Share our message. That's how you ally. 


  1. Hello,

    I’m Lysander, an autistic reader of your blog.
    I would totally understand if you wouldn't answer, I know that having a discussion with a total stranger can be tiring. (I appologize for my english, I’m french. Sorry for my mistakes !)

    I’m 21 years old, and I’m thinking of maybe having a child one day with my lover. I have 5 years to study, and maybe, after that, I’ll try to live with my loved one, and a few years later, if it works, we’ll think more seriouly about it !
    So, it can sounds strange that I’m thinking a lot about it right now, because, it’s not for today, but the fact is I’m very scared.
    I don’t know anyone who is nonbinary and having children. I don’t know anyone who is vegan and having children, or who is an autistic parent.

    And I’m all that,autistic, vegan, and non-binary. And my lover is also in the way to become vegan, and he’s non-binary and neurodivergent too. So we’ll probably have neurodivergent children.
    I feel a bit lost and alone with my questions. The vegan part isn’t too scary, I think. But the others are.
    I don’t know why I’m so scared, but I guess it’s just because I can’t imagine how it is. I can’t imagine me as a parent, because my parents, and the society, are telling me I can’t be a good parent.

    Could you please tell me how it is ? For example, your children know you’re nonbinary ? Are your children using gender non-conforming terms to refer to yourself ? Like the pronoms they, or I don’t know, something else ? Or do you know somebody who is doing this ?

    (sorry if you find my questions intrusive. Again, it would very nice of you to answer, but I’d understand if you wouldn’t. )

    And do you have sometimes specifics problems about being an autistic parent ?
    Do you have some advices for me ?

    I’m sorry, it’s a very long message.
    I give you my email adress if you prefer to answer by email : lysandreduval@gmail.com

    Have a nice day,


    (I have maybe sent the same messae twice, I'm not sure ! I'm not good with computers...)

    1. Hi Lysandre,
      Thank you for writing to me. I just got home from a very long day, and I don't think I can properly address this right now. I do want to reply to you though! So, I just wanted to let you know I got your message, and I will write more to you again soon! :)

  2. Thank you very much ! :)

  3. Hi,

    Ok, so I am thinking about all you are saying. And I get why it all feels overwhelming..... And for sure, society sends us all these messages about who we are being wrong, and I hate that, and society as a whole, is wrong about that.

    But no, it is not bad or scary for me to be who I am and to also be a parent. I think it makes for a living and accepting parent that loves their children for the unique people they are.

    Yes, my kids know I am nonbinary. They know I am bisexual too. All of this identity stuff is still pretty new to me, and thus, to them.... But they know I am proud of my identity. I use they pronouns in company that can handle that, but not all the time. My kids use that sometimes. They are still learning, and for me, that is ok. It's still new.

    I am wishing you best as you contemplate all of this. I hope this helped some. If you want to talk more, I'd be glad to do that. Are you on Twitter? I use @autisticvegan as a handle there, and talk more about this kind of stuff over there sometimes. So if you are there, we could talk there too, but this is ok too. :)

    Thanks for reaching out. :)

  4. Thank you, it's quite reassuring :)
    I think I should just try to develop more self-confidence. The problem may not be me, but more the education I had that told me I can't be a good influence on a child.

    I have another question. Have you ever experienced a shutdown or a meltdown in front of your children ?
    I made a meltdown once when my little sister was here, and she just came to me for giving me a hug, but I wonder if it can be harder for another child to see an adult having a meldown, or just a shutdown. Do you have any advice for that situation ? (or to avoid this situation ?)

    I don't have twitter, unfortunately.

    I wish you a beautiful day !

    1. Hi,

      Yes, I am sorry for the ableist and cissexist messages you have gotten. It can be hard to get past that. I struggle with it too.

      Yes, I have melted when my kids were around. And shut down. I don't love that, but it is ok. This summer that happened in a pretty obvious and difficult way. I talked with a friend at that time, worried about my kids, and my friend had good advice. They said the important thing is that they see that that can happen, and that you can be okay again after it is done. And my friend was right. One of my kids helped me through it, drawing pictures for me to color. And all my kids were ok and saw that I was ok on the other side of it. And it is good for kids to see this because they melt too, and they can know that they will get through it too. (My kids are also Autistic.)

      So yeah, I can't really avoid. It is part of what happens sometimes, but I guess it is ok. :)

      Have a good day. :)

  5. Hey,
    Thank you for your advices and for sharing this experiences with me.
    I'll write it down, and I'll try to keep it in mind.:)

    All good wishes !