I’m pretty passionate about what I believe in. Those that know me well will definitely confirm that!! Getting more involved with press and media articles has given me the chance to speak up for what I believe in. I love that I can. However, sometimes that does also mean having to tackle issues that just make me…angry.
I was recently asked by Andrea Oldereide from Out News Global to contribute to an article she was writing about the LGB Alliance – a group who have often been accused as being transphobic. During Andrea’s interview with their co-founder, Bev Jackson, she was told that the LGB Alliance is “a UK-based group of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. The group is based on sexual orientation. The Alliance consists of people who do not have a gender identity and do not believe in gender identity. They do not see gender identity as progressive. They see it as a regressive idea based on gender stereotypes. The Alliance believe that mainstream LGBT organisations like Stonewall now say that people are attracted to someone’s “gender” instead of their sex. They reject that view. and believe that sexual orientation is about sex, not gender.” Bev also stated to Andrea that “those who fought for the rights of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals many years ago are horrified to see Stonewall and other mainstream LGBT organisations abandon their original mission.” Andrea noted that the Alliance has a strong belief that trans people do not face the same struggle “at all” (as Bev has put it) as lesbian women, gay men and bisexual people and that the letter “T” does not belong with the “LGB”.
Wow. Just wow. If only they put as much effort into their flag?
Now, it’s all too easy to say that T doesn’t belong with LGB – after all L, G and B are about sexuality, whilst T is about gender. But, like life, nothing is clear cut. As scientists are discovering, gender exists on a spectrum – it’s non-binary. Sex is also non-binary. (Might wanna re-think that LGB Alliance flag…) The world we live in is no longer black and white. Like the Pride flag, it’s becoming more colourful, as more and more people come out against the norm, forcing us to re-evaluate the way we once viewed the world around us.
People having the strength to come out is a result of those that previously fought hard for equality and acceptance. They essentially paved the way for people to now stand up and declare that they are more than society’s black and white labelling. Let’s be clear about one thing though: just because you fought for something in the past, it doesn’t mean you own it. You simply played a part in moving society forward. The original mission was a success in that L and G gained acceptance and equality. However, the results of the original mission exposed further issues – other groups of people also needed help and support. Should Stonewall abandoned them, leaving these other groups to fight their own battle? No. Is it abandoning the original mission? No. Basically, mission simply grew into an even bigger campaign. It evolved. If you don’t want to be involved in the new fight, that’s fine. We respect that. Stick to what you know and the parameters of your original mission, by all means…but don’t stop or get in the way of those who embrace change and are willing to welcome others that have struggled too. And they have struggled. We all have. Whether it’s fighting for the right to vote, freedom of speech, abortion, gender identity or same-sex marriage…people have struggled to exist, to be accepted for who they are and to be treated as equals. It’s not a sliding scale. Each and every struggle has been very real and valid for those experiencing it. Is it not a bit arrogant and hypocritical to say that one group’s struggles are more important than another’s? That one group is allowed equality, rights and acceptance but another isn’t? George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a stark reminder of how that one played out…
In 2006, Pluto was declassified as a planet simply because it didn’t fit with rules. Rules which were created. But rules that are created can be changed and adapted. It’s just a case of whether you are willing to or not. With that in mind, here is something to consider: would this argument even exist if another name or term was used instead of LGBTQ+? What if LGBTQ+ was simply be called something like “The Rainbow Movement”? Wait, what if we abolished the labels “male” and “female” altogether?! For so many years, we have worked hard to not be defined by rules or labels, so we can be equal – yet here we have letters saying what group we can or can’t be a part of, not to mention groups claiming to believe in equality and acceptance, but not for everyone. Maybe we’re at the point where we should let go of being defined by letters of the alphabet and rules…and simply embrace being individuals with the common goal of supporting one another’s struggles?
But it’s not simply a case of who is allowed in which club is it? According to the LGB Alliance, I don’t have a gender identity. That I’ve been misled earlier in my life, resulting in “harmful medical procedures”. No. As someone who pulled away from people at a young age, choosing to live in my own bubble, I knew who I was back then and it certainly wasn’t because I was taught about it in school. I was just too young to articulate it what I knew. What I felt. I’m also bisexual too. Now does that mean I’m only allowed half an LGB Alliance membership card??! Or would I have to denounce my gender identity first?? To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t want a membership card. The LGB Alliance doesn’t speak for me. Nor do they speak for so many of the people I’ve met or helped on their journey to being themselves. The LGB Alliance doesn’t believe in gender identity simply because it’s not fact-based. Well, sorry LGB Alliance but homosexuality wasn’t originally fact-based. Even today, scientists are still uncovering evidence for its origin, with nothing definitive as yet. Given that research into homosexuality started way before the idea of gender identity coming into the mainstream, is it therefore not a bit premature to write off the latter which is still relatively in its infancy? When you have something as complex as the human brain, the facts may not always be obvious. It could take years of and theorising and research but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We know so little about the human brain and how it works that anything is possible when it comes to gender and sexuality – both of which are part of our identity. In the meantime, if anybody is worried about society getting confused between the two: educate. With education and awareness, we can work towards finding the answers without the need to dismiss or invalidate the other.
Despite not being about sexuality, the T does belong with L, G and B. And so do all the other letters which have subsequently been added. It’s no longer about individual letters or groups fending for themselves but about a real alliance that allows us all to move forward. The original movement of organisations such as Stonewall put into motion change and acceptance. Including the other letters is exactly that.
Main image: via Google