Very Informative article regarding Sexual/Gender Orientation and rude questions

Hi Constance…I am still on slow burn from this morning’s disheartening news…but this article covers several good points regarding what not to do or say when you encounter a person who is different than you.  She writes of the LGTBQ community…but I find these ideas extremely applicable under any circumstance with anyone.

Blessings to you, and grace to have courage!!

Charissa

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Why Your Disbelief in My Queer Identity Doesn’t Negate Its Existence

July 14, 2014 by Erin Tatum

LGBTQ folks have to put up with a lot of ignorance.

One of the most obnoxious forms of said ignorance comes in the form of identity policing, which often manifests as other people providing “theories” to explain your sexuality.

These microaggressions can ruin your day and even erode your confidence about your identity. A microaggression is a small, intentional or unintentional statement or action that is often repeated, to the point where the person experiencing them feels worn down or attacked.

Microaggressions occur in everyday environments, and as their name implies, they often go unnoticed and easily accumulate.

Identity policing certainly falls under the umbrella of microaggressions. When someone makes an assumption about an identity that isn’t theirs, particularly in regard to sexuality, it comes off as interrogating the other person’s self-perception, with the implication that their understanding is somehow flawed or inferior.

Being queer means that people who aren’t in your community always feel entitled to an explanation or worse – they think they know better.

Let’s explore how ridiculous this notion is by going through the various incarnations of queer identity police.

1. The Judge

I always cringe internally whenever anyone outside of my queer bubble brings up anything that would give away my sexuality. Not because I have any problem with my orientation or because I fear rejection, but because I’m never in the mood to go through the inevitable point-by-point analysis to justify how I identify.

Whether you’re coming out for the first time or simply mentioned your sexuality offhand, the obligation to explain your queerness to someone outside your community is cumbersome and irritating.

This is doubly true with cis and/or straight people, who always play the role of heteronormative defense lawyer, no matter how genuinely curious or non-queerphobic they claim to be.

They expect you to lug around your mental briefcase of citations, detailing when you first felt the way you did and when your first experience was and all the times you felt “not normal” since you were a fetus–bonus points for self-loathing or anything that sounds like they may have heard it in a Macklemore song!

Apparently, you can’t be queer without having enough history and credentials to fill an encyclopedia. After all, you’re clearly just craving their approval and validation, right?

As a woman who has considered herself bi/pansexual with leanings towards ladies for several years, I’ve frequently tried to convince myself that I’m actually a lesbian because people understand that so much better than “I realized I don’t really consider gender as a defining factor in who I’m attracted to.”

That’s right, I was allowing any skeptical rando to gerrymander my orientation into something that it wasn’t. I paradoxically used everyone else’s reactions as a barometer for how I ought to define myself.

No one owes you an explanation of their gender or orientation.

Conversely, if you don’t understand someone’s gender or sexuality and you don’t recognize it as legitimate, that doesn’t mean you can pretend it doesn’t exist.

2. The Detective

Then there’s the next level of intrusive – people who think that they have all the answers to your identity. You can say almost anything about your gender or orientation and they’ll always have an objection or a suggestion.

Sometimes these comments are benevolent; sometimes they’re offensive. They range from stereotypical (“you’re bisexual so you must be obsessed with sex”) to just flat out rude (“you’re asexual so you must’ve been though trauma”).

People also have an impulse to conflate gender or gender presentation with sexuality, when in reality there may not be any correlation. For example, straight trans* individuals are frequently accused of pretending to identify as a different gender to avoid the pressure of being gay.

Newsflash: Although it may be tempting, it’s time to take off the Sherlock Holmes hat. If someone you know identifies as queer, it’s not a gateway to interrogate them.

People who are in the majority can go through life with their identities unquestioned. Even if the majority person is well intentioned, the marginalized person should not be forced to jump through hoops to educate or cater to the status quo.

Beyond that, it’s incredibly insensitive to steamroll someone else’s already hard-won identity with your own opinion just because you think your perspective is superior to or more sophisticated than theirs.

Gender and sexuality is not a fun whodunnit mystery or an opportunity to show off your liberalism or level of education. You don’t have to insist on creating a rationale for every piece of the puzzle.

Frankly, queer people couldn’t care less about your analysis.

3. The Authenticity Jockey

Perhaps the most galling is queer people who have the audacity to question or put down the identities of other queer people. Really? Just… really?

We face so much prejudice already, you’d think more of us would have the good sense to respect everyone’s autonomy to define their own identities.

Given that so many outside of our community preach to us about how we are or how we should be, it’s unfortunate that we sometimes treat others with the same scrutiny and skepticism.

The LGBTQ community has been derided as all about the LG with only a reluctant willingness to acknowledge the BTQ, which regrettably holds true too often.

Bisexual and trans* individuals are thus more inclined to be subjected to a volley of “interpretations” – often thinly veiled insults or discrimination – from fellow queer people.

Unfortunate confirmations of this include the alarming consensus that bisexuals are promiscuous or untrustworthy, or that being trans* is a trend that’s now perceived as merely an evolution from being gay.

There seems to be a bias in every subset queer community against just about everyone. Drawing briefly from my own experiences with queer women, feminine women routinely face objectification and misogyny, while others scoff that masculine-identified women “aren’t real women.” You just can’t win.

So, why do we feel the need to cut each other down? By questioning the legitimacy of someone else’s queer identity, Group X asserts that their identity is superior to Group Y, therefore implying that their identity is more respectable.

A hierarchy of authenticity soon forms as everyone works to reaffirm their superiority in the imaginary battle to determine what the best type of queer is.

Here’s a secret: there isn’t one! There’s no manual or checklist on how to get the most queer brownie points.

Queerness is yours to explore however you want and we should all embrace that rather than inexplicably recycle asinine heteronormative policing.

If you’re queer and you feel the need to inform another queer person of how you think their identity works, think about how irritating you would find the same behavior if it came from a straight/cis person. You wouldn’t like it, so don’t inflict it on someone else.

Everyone’s Experiences Are Valid

It may sound like a kindergarten lesson, but it bears repeating: treat everyone with respect. If what they’re doing isn’t hurting you, leave them alone and let them do their thing.

It takes a lot of determination and passion and confidence for many people to be queer. Queerness obviously has a complex and often tumultuous history. Turning it into a platform for your own monologue or a silly game of 20 Questions for the sake of giggling at your own knowledge demonstrates an unbelievable disregard for the person’s journey.

Queer experiences are crucial. They constitute the cornerstone of our understanding of ourselves as individuals and our community in a broader sense.

Queerness usually involves a great deal of reflection and introspection, so don’t pretend you know our sexuality better than we do because you took one gender studies course or watched a documentary.

At the end of the day, your theory amounts to little more than white noise.

The integrity of our experiences and identities will never fail to transcend your “theories.”

Very well written post about a paradigm shift happening right now

I was truly impressed with this post by Jen Richards…she has recognized and chronicled an event that will later be looked back on as a true moment in history.

Will you find yourself on the right side?

From Piers Morgan to Stephen Colbert: How Janet Mock is redefining history

BY JEN RICHARDS

The tide has turned.

The media’s treatment of and engagement with trans people is now moving in another direction, and we are in the middle of a historic moment that will be looked back upon and recognized as a turning point.

It’s worth bearing in mind from the outset that historic moments are greater than their actors. History seizes upon some often singular aspect of a person or time. It uses them to tell a story, a story that exists in a way that no individual in their inevitably contradictory complexity can. Making history requires more than a person. It demands the right person, with the right story, at the right time, in the right place, in the right context and with the right support. It is precisely the collision of such utterly unpredictable and uncontrollable factors that makes for a moment that can be recognized as historic.

We are having such a moment. And the person at the center is Janet Mock.

Janet Mock is a transgender writer and advocate whose first book, the memoir Redefining Realness, details a truly American story. Its poor heroine winning independence, success, and love through intelligence, determination, and hard work makes it timeless, while its portrait of a society grappling with issues of fragmented families, race, drug addiction, abuse, sex work, poverty, sexual orientation, and gender identity make it more timely and relevant than anyone expecting a “transgender memoir” could possibly predict.

Mock recently taped an appearance on Piers Morgan Live, her first interview outside of the “bubble” of social justice circles and sympathetic peers. There’s little about the interview itself that would presage the coming fiasco. It is clumsy and awkward, but utterly predictable. The whole of the exchange can be summarized as “I can’t believe you used to be a boy,” an approach to which trans people are forced to become inured.

Some viewers would have gawked along with Piers Morgan, some would learn, hopefully a few would buy the book, and trans people would have seen it as little more than a teaching moment and another small step forward.

And here we have the first history-provoking accident. The producers chose not to air the segment for nearly a week, and it happened to air the very night of Janet Mock’s book-launch party. Many of Mock’s most ardent supporters and closest friends were together celebrating, away from any televisions. None saw the segment, the way the producers had edited it, or the graphics they used.

However, all of us saw Twitter. We saw the official show feed ask the question“How would you feel if you found out the woman you are dating was formerly a man?” And we saw the reactions of our community, as outrage poured in on social media. Janet was not alone that night, and in this heightened context of solidarity and celebration, she, along with actress Laverne Cox, snapped a photo summing up the collective reaction to the way producers has framed the interview.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, Piers Morgan himself jumped into the fray, eventually dismissing trans people as “enraged” and “stupid” and saying he would “deal with” Janet Mock the next night.

How do we explain why someone with a primetime show on a major network, someone with 3 million followers, would feel bullied by a young author promoting a first book, and her 17,000 followers?

What happened that night happened because of a larger unspoken context, because of what had been happening for years in countless other ways at a smaller scale, to Piers himself and undoubtedly to countless of his peers and colleagues.

Cisgender people have been confused and threatened by trans people, by anyone not conforming to inherited and unquestioned gender norms. Straight people have been uncomfortable with different sexual orientations, or even the implication of such possibilities. White people have been anxious around black people, any people of color, and afraid of discussions about racism, its history, and their ongoing complicity in it. Men have been scared of women, their power, and their refusal to remain the second sex.

In short, those with power have known that they’re losing their exclusive hold on it.

The reactions to the realization of such loss range widely, from fear to compassion to humor. We can see three embodiments of points along the spectrum in Bill O’Reilly, Piers Morgan, and Stephen Colbert: the conservative, the liberal, and the parody.

Next to Bill O’Reilly’s reactionary politics, Piers Morgan is a “good guy,” a classical liberal and self-appointed ally. We can forget he’s another rich, straight, white guy with a huge platform. Likewise, Stephen Colbert can make fun of both Bill O’Reilly and Piers Morgan, the entire edifice of egomaniacal white male privilege, while still benefiting from it himself.

As the mediocre middle, Piers Morgan can lean in either direction. He could have reacted to the backlash against the initial interview with humor and openness, more Colbert-like. Instead, he went full O’Reilly, indignantly framing himself as a victim and revealing an astonishing blindness toward the real power dynamics at play. At least with O’Reilly, there’s a smug self-awareness of the theatrics at play. Morgan seemed to honestly believe he was the victim.

This happened—was able to happen—only because of the wider cultural anxiety around difference and the ever-loosening grasp of power by those constituting the invisible “normal” by which all else is defined.

In this system, women are less than men, black is less than white, and trans is less than cis. In this world of less, Janet Mock’s more is simultaneously a novel wonder and discomfiting threat. It must be controlled. Dignity is not innate for the less, but rather bestowed. Piers Morgan, as an embodiment of the liberal, compassionate aspect of power, did the “right” thing by giving Mock space, by allowing for difference. When such an allowance was not simply accepted with unqualified gratitude, it evoked every anxiety around the place of that difference.

When he had Janet Mock back on the next night, it was for one purpose: to address a threat to power. Morgan’s second interview, little more than a public tantrum, did not go as planned however. And here we see the moment the tide turned:

In this moment, Janet Mock and Piers Morgan are historical actors playing out a dynamic centuries in the making. The most perfect possible embodiment of privilege in Western culture is desperately trying to reinforce the existing power structure by controlling the place of the most perfect possible embodiment of those denied privilege in Western culture.

A straight white man is trying to give advice to a black trans woman. And she doesn’t need it.

This is not historic because she said she doesn’t need his advice. It’s historic because she is telling the truth. She doesn’t need his advice. She can take care of herself, and by extension so can her community and anyone embodying difference.

If the tide turning was that rejection, the further evidence of receding waters was Mock’s appearance on Stephen Colbert.

He is no less comfortable with trans women than Piers Morgan, as has been revealed repeatedly in past jokes that clearly fall on the side of mockery rather than parody, but he’s self-aware enough to know his place in relation to such discomfort.

By siding with Janet Mock, with trans people in general, he acknowledged that his ignorance and confusion were his problem, and that one solution was openness. His response to the anxiety was humor. As another straight white man, he can only maintain his place in the system by knowingly making fun of it, which is the beginning of a shift. Humor is the truest signal of change because it acknowledges and accepts the inevitability of such change rather than fight it.

Tides do ebb and flow. We are still in the moment, and there will be more surges in all directions. It took centuries of resistance by countless people and movements to create this particular moment, and the wider one for trans people includes Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera jumping on stage at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally, Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera’s appearance on Katie Couric’s show, and events yet to come.

There is still an incredible amount of work to be done, and none of this yet translates into a guarantee of safety for anyone embodying difference, much less other trans women of color. Nonetheless, an acknowledgment of the moment lends further support, and helps allow us to contextualize our actions.

The final proof of this shift in power came soon after the show aired. And though it can’t be attributed directly to the interview, the timing is far too auspicious not to get wrapped into the historical nature of the moment: Piers Morgan’s show was canceled.

Meanwhile, Redefining Realness is now a New York Times bestseller.

Jen Richards is the codirector of The Trans 100 and creator of We Happy Trans, a website dedicated to celebrating positive transgender experiences that has received national media attention, as well as the websites WTF Trans Dating,Trans Love Stories, the Chicago Trans News, and the Activism Facebook group. She’s the cohost of Sugar & Spice, an advice and news podcast, and organizer of No Boys Allowed, a group for trans feminine individuals in the Chicago area.

What an Edifying and wonderfully encouraging article.

My sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Adam Hunt, who posted an amazing apology and educational article about what we transgender humans face regularly.  Coming from the gay community, this is huge, for it is exactly like he says, and unfortunately some of the worst hatred and vitriol directed at us comes from Gay and Lesbian identified humans, and that hurts even more than the regular kinds of hatred, for they really ought to know better, and have more empathy.

Thank you sooo much, Adam!!!

Dear Trans Persons Everywhere, I’m Sorry for Being a Bad Gay

Posted: 12/20/2013 8:27 pm

 

Apology
I wasn’t always an ally to the trans community. In fact, it was only a little over a year ago that I had pretty awful opinions about the trans community and the struggles they face. (“Why can’t they just accept that if they have a penis, then they’re a dude?”)

But then something happened. I met some people who changed my life and the way I see the world, the gender binary, and so forth. You see, it was really easy to judge what a trans person goes through, because I didn’t know any trans people. I thought drag queens were exactly the same as trans people (with a little more makeup and an extra boa or two). I also just assumed that a trans woman was just an overly effeminate gay male who wanted so much to be submissive that he decided to get an operation to have his dick chopped off. I know. I wasn’t a great human being, but is it really that far off what many members of the gay male community think? Or society at large? Maybe not, but that doesn’t make it okay.

I have these friends, and they’re some of the greatest parents I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Their fabulously autistic daughter was working in her phonics book when she came across the question: “Would a prince wear a fancy gown to the ball?” Her answer: “Sure! If he likes the dress, he should wear it everywhere!” It’s astounding that the one diagnosed with a social interaction “disability” is also the one with the purest innate understanding of gender identity and expression. It’s not a complicated notion for her, yet many of us in a progressive educated community can’t wrap our heads around the concept.

What it really comes down to is this: if a trans person is telling you he or she or ze is offended by the language you’re using, are you going to be the asshole that keeps doing it anyway? If a person says they’re a particular gender, whether you agree or not doesn’t change how they want to live their life. Does that sound like anything you’ve faced in the struggle for acceptance?

We’re an LGBT community, but somehow in our gay agenda we have lost sight of the misunderstandings and external ignorance transgender persons face on a day-to-day basis. So to keep it simple for now (because there is indeed so much more to learn), here are five things you can do to be a better trans ally. I mean, if we don’t stick together, what sort of community are we?

1. Pronouns: A person who was pronounced male at birth but identifies as a female (M2F) is a female. Don’t identify her with male pronouns (he, his, him…). It’s one of thosemicroagressions that can really tear at a person’s heart. The same goes for someone who is F2M, but the opposite.

2. “Cisgender” v. “Normal” or “Regular”: Refer to a non-trans person as “cisgender” or “cis” when needing to disclose their non-transgender status. When you refer to a non-trans person as “normal,” you’re effectively calling a trans person abnormal. Not cool.

3. Operations: No operation necessary to identify as a particular gender. It’s not about body parts, remember?

4. Gender and Sexuality: Very different things. Just because someone is trans does not mean they’re gay or lesbian. There are straight trans people just like there are straight cis people.

5. Verbiage: How dumb do you think a person sounds when he or she says, “Moving to L.A. gayed that boy,” or, “I heard Jennifer has been lesbianed by her friends at Hot Topic”? The same goes for when someone is “transgendered.” “Transgender” is not a verb. I can’t “transgender” a person any more than a church in Idaho can “straight” me, so make it easier on yourself. Drop two letters, or eight! It’s “transgender” or “trans” (or even “T”).

Gay dudes, we’re awesome. We have an awesome culture and history. We live awesome lives and go to awesome parties. We volunteer for awesome causes and we have awesome taste in just about everything. It’s hard to believe we can be more awesome, but we can! Be an awesome ally. Don’t you remember being told you were unnatural or against God’s creation? Were you ever isolated? Haven’t we been fighting for the rights we deserve? We have a lot of work to do to gain full acceptance and equality, and our trans brothers and sisters have even more. We’re stronger together, so if we can change some minor behaviors and pave the way for understanding, then why not?

If you’re looking for some additional resources to continue learning how to be a better ally to the trans community, Being Transgender in America with Melissa Harris-Perry is fabulous, as is Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook.

Follow Adam Hunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AdamTopherHunt