Gender Expression

I get a lot of weird questions when I’m presenting to LGBT groups about trans issues. Usually the top of the list  of most commonly asked questions have to do with my genitals or my former name. But one of the questions I always found the most odd were when the queer audiences would ask why transgender rights were advocated alongside gay and lesbian rights. On some level, I could understand why they would ask that; on the surface, trans rights may seem very different from gay/lesbian rights. But it still seemed odd to me, and I’m quick to point out to others, a gay man doesn’t get beaten up because he is attracted to men; he gets attacked because he expresses in a way that is outside of the typical expectations of a man; he is not being ‘man enough.’

Likewise, a lesbian woman doesn’t draw discrimination from being attracted to a girl, but by expressing those feelings, by not wanting to wear makeup or being more aggressive than women are ‘supposed to be’ in conversation. Maybe its something physical, like walking down the street holding her girlfriend’s hand. Regardless, it is not the internal feeling of attraction that draws discrimination; its the expression of these feelings. In fact, one of the most common arguements against gay rights is that we want to be so “in people’s faces with our gay-ness” which means, we wont just quietly love eachother in the closet; we want to come out.

The LGBT community has fought for 50+ years to earn the right to express ourselves. We do not want to be afraid to walk down the street. We do not want to lose our homes, our jobs, our families. But when we are forced into the closet and we cannot express ourselves, we suffer as we have for decades if not centuries in the past. We have, in the last 50 years, earned the right to express ourselves. By being free to do so, we can live fuller, happier lives. Whether you want to express yourself as a gay man, a bisexual genderqueer person, or a straight transsexual person, the fight is for the right of expression.

I think its time we as a movement consider that idea; gender expression is the glue that binds the LGBTQIA community together. It’s the thing we all strive for together, and its an objective we can all fight for, united.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m fighting, as much as I can. Losing a few friends and family along the way, but as one of my favorite quotes go, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”


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