I’m sure a lot of ya’ll saw Rihanna’s brief, but direct speech during the NAACP Awards last week, but if not – here’s a clip:
Now, I suspect her speech was directed primarily towards all privileged individuals in our society as a whole, however – I’m going to take it a step further and let it be known that for the many black people in my community, it’s time to take accountability for your actions – and lack thereof relating to the further oppression of multiple marginalized identities.
This is for all of my privileged, cisgender, and heterosexual black friends.
I’m sure you’ve gathered that this is about Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union’s daughter, Zaya who recently came out to the public, preferring to be addressed by the pronouns she/her.
I took some time and listened to the many ignorant opinions of people specifically in the black community and compared it to the thoughts of people from other races.
What I’ve come to conclude is that black transgender and homosexual individuals often experience more oppression from black cisgender, heterosexual individuals, compared to any other race.
And I know … many black people seem to think that because they experience oppression – they, themselves cannot be the oppressor.
Bullshit. You CAN, you ARE, and I’m going to tell you why:
To be an oppressor, you must have some form of privilege that the oppressed doesn’t have. That includes black people, regardless of how little privilege we do have. In this case, it’s being comfortable and identifying with the gender we were born with and being attracted to the opposite sex.
How can you be a black person repping black lives matter, but when it comes to the increasing number of black, transgender womens deaths, you’re silent. We should be asking ourselves why our protection isn’t being extended to black, lgbtq and transgender women.
Further, how can you rep black lives matter but have the audacity to make assumptions and speak negatively on issues you don’t understand.
In Zaya’s case, this is a child – why isn’t our first thought to protect her? Sometimes, the best thing we can do is be quiet and educate ourselves before speaking on things we do not understand. Listen more, talk less!
And this is not just for the black people who are oppressive, but for those who have friends that are oppressive. You’re not an ally if you’re representing only in public, and most definitely not an ally if you’re ONLY supporting your marginalized “friend/family”.
Keep the same energy you use in public and hold your friends, colleagues, and family accountable for the things they say/and don’t say relating to the transphobia and discrimination in our communities.
Black lives matter shouldn’t only represent cisgender, heterosexual individuals, but in fact represent ALL issues within the black community – regardless of orientation, gender identity, religion, and ability – because it affects us ALL.
Black LGBTQ individuals are easily the most oppressed group, but yet always finds time to pull up and protest the many issues of our community. Why ya’ll don’t have the same energy?
Black LGBTQ issues and black issues are equivalent. Stop discussing them as if they’re different – there’s no one without the other.
It’s bad enough we live in a country where black people as an oppressed community have to deal with racism and misogyny, do we really need to double down on oppression due to anti-black transphobia? What people in our community fail to realize is that black women – whether trans or not – are the most disregarded group in America.
Although this should go without saying, we have a responsibility to protect each other regardless of our differences because who tf will? I can’t speak for every individual, but I know so many black, LGBTQ advocates that protect hetero/cisgender black women AND men during adverse situations – why is it so difficult for some women and ESPECIALLY black men to do the same?
We need to confront the discrimination and transphobia in ourselves, as much as we do in other people. To do that, we need to have those conversations, take responsibility for the things we do, and take the initiative to learn and understand the true meaning of human rights that we are all due, but especially those of black LGBTQ experience.
So I went on a date this weekend and had such a weird experience, one that I know a lot of women have unfortunately experienced. From the moment I entered the car to the moment I was dropped home, I experienced sexual harassment from my date. My date gave me innocent compliments to begin with, but gradually diverted the conversation to their sexual desires with me. They expressed how I was turning them on, and how they wanted to perform sexual favors on me, and further insisting to have sex at the end of the night.
Something that is really important to me when dating is the ability to share great conversation; amongst other reasons, it’s one way to know if you guys have a good vibe or not. Good conversation also makes the other person more attractive. However, they were more interested in their sexual desires based on where the conversation kept leading to after each question. By the end of dinner, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. Repeatedly, they would disclose their intention wasn’t to pressure me but would somehow follow up with a sexual comment. It was like the whole night was built up just to have sex.
What made it uncomfortable was that in a way, they made it seem like they were entitled to getting sexual favors because they asked to take me out and covered the tab. Now, I have no problem paying for dinner or anything else for that matter. But with the suggestive comments and their assumption that they were entitled to have sex at my house, I began to feel overly pressured.
With the #MeToo movement being so significant in this era, we often think about women being victims to men relating to sexual abuse and harassment. Unconsciously, this is how I viewed the campaign. I never really considered the experiences of individuals in the LGBTQ community who have their own survivorship experience with the #MeToo campaign, until I’ve experienced it myself.
Queer individuals who live in the intersections of gender identities and expressions should have a voice and a place in the #MeToo movement. When we take a look at the intersection of LGBTQ individuals, it’s alarming that LGBTQ people of color, with disability, homeless, in prison or those who perform sex work are more likely to experience all forms of violence, abuse, and harassment.
It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow, it was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.
Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist from The Bronx founded the Me Too movement in 2006 to raise awareness of sexual abuse, harassment and violence of women of color in our society. 11 years later, Alyssa Milano tweeted a message to her followers requesting that if they were ever sexually harassed or assaulted to “#MeToo”. Hours later, thousands of women responded, commenting on their experiences with men. Naively, I didn’t consider that queer stories weren’t being represented until I tried to find similar experiences like my own.
SEX, UNCOMFORTABILITY, AND CONSENT
Until my experiences this weekend, I was naïve to the idea that LGBTQ individuals could be part of the #MeToo movement. As the night became more uncomfortable for me, I felt like I had to act normal and cool, as if what they were saying didn’t bother me. I consider myself to be a very strong person, but in that moment I felt like it was easier to go further than I wanted – just to avoid any discomfort on their part, or making it into something it didn’t need to be. I stood firm in my decision, but the next morning, I realized there were many women like me who didn’t make the same decision as I did.
In certain situations, feeling overly pressured can lead to doing things that you aren’t fully comfortable doing. Many individuals in these circumstances find themselves avoiding having honest conversations about what they are comfortable and uncomfortable with out of fear of causing a scene.
No means no, but so does “I’m not ready,” “Can we take a break,” “I’m not sure,” “I don’t like this”, “I’m uncomfortable,” “Let’s just chill”, and so forth.
Mary Macrae Lynch
When we talk about #MeToo we need to be inclusive of Queer experiences around sexual abuse and harassment. It’s not just heterosexual, cisgender individuals that have these experiences, but LGBTQ identities as well. I didn’t understand the magnitude of my situation until I separated myself from them. The crazy part of it all is that this wasn’t a bad person. This was possibly, not being able to differentiate between sexual harassment and flirting on their part, and not feeling comfortable or safe enough to have a conversation about boundaries on mine.
I was very uncomfortable with the things they said and did, and although – or so I thought, my body language expressed that, it may have been unknowing. I felt like I shouldn’t have to be in a situation where I had to clearly say no. What I learned this past weekend was that two people can perceive the very same situation differently because of how our brains are wired. We see things based off of what we believe.
HAVE THOSE DIFFICULT CONVERSATION
Start an open dialogue that represents all identities, orientations, race, genders, and experiences around sexual harassment and abuse. Specifically relating to Queer identities, it’s important to determine the red flags in these vulnerable situations because I didn’t realize the signs until I was safely back home.
It’s important for people to understand verbal and nonverbal cues. For me, I sometimes smile or laugh out of discomfort. However it can be perceived as me being okay and consenting. Me accepting a drink or kissing someone doesn’t mean that I’m open to anything more than that. We need to emphasize on verbal consent to avoid more cases of #MeToo. We need to teach youth that being assertive when it comes to our personal boundaries is just as important as being nice.
The media doesn’t represent the experiences of the LGBTQ community who are at greater risk of being victims of sexual abuse/violence. It’s a priority to end sexual harassment and violence amongst women, but what about the unrepresented narratives of the LGBTQ community? The media is lacking visibility when it comes to marginalized groups.
We need to have the difficult conversations and come up with solutions to sexual harassment and abuse of LGBTQ and all other marginalized identities in the media, classrooms, and conference rooms, to create a climate that is inclusive to all identities and expressions. It’s also important to share that the #MeToo movement shouldn’t be gender based, but be focused on the experience of all those that experience sexual abuse and/or harassment.
So Mattel, a toy manufacturer just came out with a doll line about three weeks called Creatable World. According to Mattel, a “doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in—giving kids the freedom to create their own customizable characters again and again”.
This innovative line offers children various combinations of self-personalized styles from various wardrobe options, hairstyles, and accessories that allow children to style their dolls according to themselves. This dope ass creation can potentially create representation for each child – within the various complexions, gender expression, and abilities – all creating sense of self.
When I heard about this new release, I was genuinely hopeful – mainly because becoming a suicide counselor, I connected with many youth who identified outside of the norm. Whether relating to gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression, all called either to just talk or seek support about the challenges of being different and a lack of representation. So when this line was released, all I could feel was hope, because for the first time, I believed this would lead to more open conversations between children and parents, and more education about the feelings many children having trouble expressing and identifying.
But instead, with this release, it opened the door to a lot of ignorance – and I don’t mean it in a negative way, however upsetting it is to hear some viewpoints. I pride myself to be someone who is open to hearing and discussing difficult conversations and hearing various perspectives, however, what makes it difficult for me to do so at times is when it’s coming from a place of lacking knowledge and choosing to be uninformed. But, let’s talk about it.
According to the Vice President of Mattel Fashion Doll Design:
Some options are more feminine-presenting, while others are more masculine-presenting, which allows kids to combine the elements anyway they want to.
In their promotional video, a couple of points that stood out to me was that ‘children see and experience gender very differently’ and it’s all about ‘storytelling, imagination, and self-expression’. Two points that I completely stand by, however, many disagreed.
I’ve heard concerns about where are children being guided with gender neutral dolls and that realistically, no child can verbally express or understand what gender expression or identity is. There were many concerns further evolving around exposing children to binary and non-binary, transgender individuals. What I realized was that many people are just uninformed and should use this as a learning opportunity.
Where Are Children Being Guided with Gender Neutral Dolls?
No Child Can Verbally Express or Understand What Gender Expression or Identity Is
Well to be frank, that’s completely inaccurate. As far as where children are headed with the release of gender neutral dolls, I can easily say acceptance. With this release, it will potentially create a conversation with parents that will lead to tolerance, acceptance, and most importantly respect for those individuals different than your child.
This world will continue to evolve, so this is an opportunity as parents and adults to instill morals and principles in yourself, as well as the youth. This is a conversation that we need to have. Further, with the release of these dolls, it creates representation for our youth who are currently experiencing the gender or expressive differences between them and another child who meets society’s ‘norm’.
This allows that child the opportunity to live outside, or in between femininity and masculinity – creating a variation of both, or neither – a reflection of who they are. It’s confirming that what they’re feeling is not unusual or weird, and their experiences and gender expressions are just as valid as someone else’s.
Watch this dope TEDxAdelaide talk with Audrey Mason-Hyde about their experience:
Gender Expression is NOT Gender Identity
It’s time to challenge people’s assumptions on the way they think boys and girls should look. There are a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities – however that in itself doesn’t determine if someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual, non-binary, or a binary trans individual. And I think that’s what makes people nervous about these dolls.
Many people fear, and are closed off to the idea of having to teach their children anything outside of two genders – girl and boy. They assume these dolls will introduce them to various genders and I somewhat understand the concern. As a parent, you have that right to determine what you want to expose your child to at whatever age.
However, regardless of how much you try to “protect” your child from these topics, those conversations will still happen. So why not do it at home where you can control the narrative?
It is not necessary to explain the complexities of gender identity and sexual orientation to your child at a young age because they may not understand it, however you have a responsibility as a parent to teach your child to be a good person and treat people differently than them with respect – that includes individuals who express their gender in a non-traditional way, individuals who identify as binary, non-binary, or other, and those who identify with a particular sexual orientation.
Furthermore, I think the creation of gender neutral dolls was purposed to allow children to self-express themselves through clothing without having to settle for gender based clothing. It’s to challenge gender spectrum and include them into the picture. This does not mean that they are transitioning into a different sex. It simply gives children the option to choose. This can be for anyone – wear what the f*ck you want and how you want – honestly.
The takeaway is that only you know who you were born to be, and you need to be free to be that person.
Identity is ambiguously transient, it is constantly shifting. When I see these dolls, I think of all people – not just children who don’t fit into the traditional gender categories of a man or woman, but instead – fluctuate between the two. My god brother has made jokes about me sometimes looking like a little boy, and I identify as cisgender (meaning I identify with the gender assigned to me at birth).
Some days I feel more feminine and other times I’m a mix of the two. We are all multifaceted beings, and I believe that is what these dolls were created to represent.
“Are you a boy or a girl?” I’m an experience.
Said one bad ass individual
Celebrities Who Have Mastered Androgyny
Gender nonconformity is a thing – it doesn’t always have to do with someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, unless they say it is. We need to recognize the differences between someone’s sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression for EACH person. No one’s experience is equal to another’s. It’s time to acknowledge a wider range of expressions and experiences. Many of our favorite artists and creatives have challenged gender stereotypes.
Take Prince for instance, in a 1997 interview he did on VH1 with Chris Rock posed a question about his gender expression. “The androgynous thing … was that an act, or were you searching for your sexual identity?” Prince, simply responded, “I don’t suppose I was searching, really … I think I was just being who I was…and there’s many sides in that as well”.
Prince repeatedly transgressed boundaries, not caring how he was perceived by the masses. He was a man who confidently wore makeup, heels, and ‘feminine presenting’ clothing. But that was just him – he didn’t feel the need to accept the conservative choices of what a man should wear. He was effortlessly him, and that’s what his true supporters saw. Ruby Rose, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Da Brat, Aaliyah, can’t forget my fav; Ellen DeGeneres – they all have challenged gender stereotypes! What is the issue with gender neutral dolls doing the same thing?
I think we should have less conversations about whether this is right or wrong, and more questions about how we can better educate ourselves, and raise more accepting and openminded individuals. We should further ask questions on determining when the best time to spark these conversations with youth.
Questions about the experiences of LGBTQIA children and those individuals who don’t feel right sticking to a traditional feminine or masculine presenting role. These discussions need to happen and talked about in school because it will create an open door policy, decrease the amount of youth who contemplate suicide and kill themselves, and avoid other children from being bullied and isolated.
Side note: If anyone wants to buy me a gender neutral doll, I’m here for it.
Labels are like a double-edged sword – they can be very subjective to each individual, especially when one has gained clarity on their sexual identity or gender – describing who they are, as THEY see fit. Labels have many complexities, but what I love and appreciate most about them is that it gives individuals the language to articulate and define who they are for themselves.
Although I believe we aren’t as progressive as I would like when it comes to accurately describing and addressing the diversity that exists within people, I do believe, and acknowledge how liberating it is for so many. Furthermore, how it has positively affected and created community for others.
My issue with labels in the LGBTQ+ community and the general population stem from personal experiences – based on the challenges of not connecting with the traditional labels of being either straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Although I know I’m not the only one whose experienced this, often times it feels that way. Honestly, what makes it so frustrating at times is feeling forced to choose a side. Even though I don’t have the language to accurately define my sexual orientation, I personally don’t feel like I need one. However, society and especially the LGBTQ+ community has this way of pressuring you to choose between one or the other – making me feel somewhat confined.
I’m all for resisting labels that don’t necessarily connect with who I am as a person. Some people are either 100% heterosexual, 100% homosexual, or 100% male, 100% female, but many are somewhere in between, and that is perfectly okay.
Labels allow us to describe who we are, however, I feel like the discomfort or uneasiness of others not understanding someone on the spectrum, who doesn’t connect with any of the ‘readily available’ labels, often adds pressure of having to limit yourself to one, while trying to find the language that accurately describes who you are.
My – and anyone else’s sexual orientation and gender identity is not decided to make you feel comfortable. It may be more difficult to understand, but it’s not something required of you to figure out.
This is not to say that I would be opposed to answering questions about my identity, but don’t try to force a label on me that will help you better understand, or force a vocabulary that I have never used for myself. Please be mindful about someone else’s experience – you can either choose to accept it or not, that’s your prerogative.
Just to avoid having to give an explanation, I embrace queer – it’s the umbrella term used for individuals who don’t identify with the sexual or gender norms of society. I use it because my identity is more than a label that determines who I choose to have intimate relationships with.
I’m not here to be likable. I’m not here to please your ears. I’m not here to visually attract you. I’m not here to satisfy your fantasies and become an object of fetishization. I’m not here to be your secret. I’m #queer. And I’m here to constantly PLEASE ME, LIKE ME, AND REINVENT ME.
It can be really awkward when you catch yourself avoiding saying a specific gender pronoun based on who you’re speaking with. For example, I often avoid speaking about my intimate relationships with friends, family, and even colleagues because I feel pressured to have to categorize my sexuality when asked.
It’s much easier to not talk about it at all instead of having to use gender neutral pronouns like “they and them”. Even with friends, they’ll know you for dating a specific gender and automatically label you to others with a sexual orientation without your approval. LITERALLY Grinds. My. Gears.
This is all to say, sexual orientation and gender identity is constantly evolving as we grow – stop trying to figure it out and just take a moment to live in the ambiguity of life’s experiences. Take more time in getting to know someone and appreciate the relationships you already have.
Be mindful in how you approach sensitive topics about someone’s gender or sexuality. Just be in the moment and allow them to initiate that conversation with you, and if it’s something that you can’t just flow with – do you and that person a favor and part ways.
I also want to validate those like myself who don’t accurately fit into a label in the community – don’t feel pressured in trying to figure out your exact identity, most of us don’t ever fully figure it out. Further, you may never fit in to a specific category, but that’s what makes you all the more special – explore that. Be true to yourself, find joy in understanding your power, and soon enough … you’ll draw in YOUR people.
I am a person with multiple identities. A queer, Haitian young woman who falls under middle class on the American economic class system. In addition to middle class, this system comprises of poor, lower-middle class, upper middle class, and wealthy.
Despite the challenges and disadvantages of my narrative, I am 100% proud of who I am. Even though I have multiple marginalized identities, I can’t help but to feel privileged and conscious of the experiences of other marginalized identities.
When thinking of intersectionality, think about your identities that intersect. We are not just one, but a multitude of different identities that form who we are as individuals. In this case, these are the identities that are marginalized in society.
Think race/ethnicity, economic class, gender identity and most commonly omitted, disability. It’s no secret that black people are the most discriminated people in America. But as people overall, I think we tend to focus and only prioritize our disadvantaged narratives over others.
But if there’s anything that I’ve learned over the past year, it is that we all experience radically different narratives.
We unfortunately live in a world where minorities are systematically oppressed – culturally, personally and institutionally. Race has played a major role in many black and colored lives including mine when dealing with discrimination.
I think it’s especially important that we recognize the intersections of race and class. Classism is discrimination or prejudice behavior on the basis of social class. It is often with policies designed to favor the upper class/wealthy individuals at the expense of individuals in the lower class.
My mom is a single parent – she alone was the person supporting me financially from Pre-K up until college. Although there were very difficult times, I was fortunate enough to not have to drop out of school to assist her with finances. Even when things were really bad, I had family as a form of support. I am privileged in this sense.
The disparities among African Americans and people of Latin descent are widening when it comes to education in lower income neighborhoods compared to their white upper class peers.
Parents in these neighborhoods have to make a choice whether to send their child to college and take on additional debt or having the child contribute to avoid accruing debt. Either way, the child loses the opportunity for social development because of their or their parents burdens.
In addition, many colored students attending schools in these areas often are given inexperienced teachers, limited resources, and lack of opportunities for growth and mentorship. Further, students who were able to attend colleges and universities outside of their neighborhoods experience difficulty adapting to the culture of the campus and curriculum.
They are susceptible to experiencing high levels of psychological pressures from being a student of color when challenged with micro aggressive comments and racial biases from their white peers.
Black and colored people in lower income neighborhoods have also been susceptible to discrimination when it comes to home ownership (redlining), government assistance, and the labor market. There are algorithms literally created to prevent people of Latin descent and African Americans from getting ahead in the economy.
As a result it becomes a cycle of poverty, either staying in the same poor neighborhood or landing in prison – a confinement center specifically designed for black and colored people as a form of control.
When talking about gender, transgender women and non-binary individuals are rarely represented. There aren’t enough diverse and inclusive programs/organizations that speak on the issues being faced in the trans community.
In 2019 alone, twelve black transgender women were killed as a result of hate crimes; and that’s just the ones reported. In addition, individuals in these groups are also marginalized because of the language barrier when identifying an individual, and the unknown language for those we have yet to learn.
Further, women in general experience the disparities between their male counterparts, especially when discussing the gender wage gap. Women don’t make nearly the same as their male colleagues – given the same or higher education level and years of experience.
However, this disparity specifically marginalizes black and colored women. We only make 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes; whereas the white woman makes about 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day shows that we have to wait an additional 200 days to make what our white colleagues earned the year before.
Additionally, many black women are hesitant to be assertive when it comes to this issue because of the narrative that we already have as being difficult, aggressive, or too much.
Part of the problem lies with the biases and stereotypes that are presented to African American women. Black women pursue higher educational degrees compared to any other race, work tirelessly in their industries, and are more frequently pursuing entrepreneurship than any other group.
The most difficult thing to process about this issue is that black women are acknowledged for their career success, capabilities, and skills – but still won’t be paid their worth.
Individuals who have physical or mental disabilities face a multitude of disadvantages. A few include social acceptance and how they’re perceived, discrimination for being disabled (how does that even work?), stereotypes leading to believe that people with disabilities have a poor quality of life and are unhealthy, and just choosing what kind of disability is acceptable over another.
Further, people of color who are disabled are even more disadvantaged (shocker). They often don’t get the best form of healthcare treatment, lack of quality education, and trouble with finding employment and housing. Employers also believe that hiring a person (of color) who is disabled can cause more accidents in the workplace and lowers levels of productivity. Further, the cost to accommodate a person who is disabled is extremely high – an expense that most aren’t willing to spend.
The purpose of intersectionality was to identify forms of discrimination that coexist with marginalized identities and how we can learn to understand each of our personal experiences, and work together to end systematic oppression. However, I found myself getting frustrated as I made it towards the end of this post.
The sole purpose of this topic was to acknowledge the discriminatory experiences of people with different identities than myself (disabilities, different gender identity, the issues of gender in the workplace and society).
But, each topic I spoke about clarified how much more disadvantaged black and Latino/as were BECAUSE of our skin color alone. I realized that we can have any of these identities, but having a black one on top of it all just makes it more racially alarming.
Nonetheless, I think it’s still important that we realize our privilege – however that may look. For me, it’s acknowledging that I can walk without difficulty compared to someone with a physical disability. It’s being able to hear and talk clearly without having to rely on speech to text functions or a hearing aid.
It’s also not being forced to come out because of how I express my gender, or how easily it is for me to walk into a female restroom without having to be questioned about whether I belong there.
My privilege stops when I am the minority in the room, but it begins in every other aspect of my life. For that, I am fortunate.
So, I had the most amazing opportunity. I was fortunate enough to interact with four amazing human beings. Four amazing people who individually identify somewhere on the spectrum in the trans community. Initially I was a little bit nervous about sharing this post.
One, I feared not being able to effectively share the 3% of what I learned about the lives of people in the trans community. Two, I didn’t know if this post would resonate with people. Regardless, I felt this was so necessary to share.
There are so many misconceptions about people in the trans community from the way they stereotypically look, the way they feel, and how they’re treated by society and the LGBT community. I decided to share this information in hopes of creating allies who would help create safe spaces for transgender people in our society.
Difference between Transgender and Cisgender
Although there are complexities, transgender simply means a person that does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. If you are someone who feels this way, I just want to reaffirm that it’s perfectly okay and that is for you to decide.
If you’re a person who agrees and identifies with the gender assigned to you, then you are cisgender. The variation between the two is just that simple.
Further, within the trans community, there are people who consider themselves to be either binary or non-binary. A binary person is someone who identifies as a man or woman but does not identify with the gender assigned at birth.
For example, a binary trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth and did not identify with that gender and decided to share their true identity with the world.
The term non binary can mean different things for different people. It can mean someone who doesn’t identify as a woman, doesn’t identify as a man, or their gender is both feminine and masculine, or neither feminine nor masculine.
At the core, it’s a way to describe someone whose gender identity isn’t exclusively male or female. If you meet someone who identifies as non-binary, it’s so important to ask what their identity means to them and what they feel comfortable with you calling them.
If you think about it even a little, you realize we all have pronouns. He/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/their – and we all use them every day with people we’re either talking to or talking about.
So why is it difficult for some people to use the correct pronouns when a specific person clearly expressed that’s what they like to be identified as? With many binary individuals, they often identify with he/him pronouns, she/her pronouns, or a combination of the two – he/she/him/her pronouns.
It all depends on their true identity and what makes them feel good about their gender.
With non-binary individuals, using pronouns like she/her or he/him just doesn’t always fit. Although many non-binary people use the pronouns they/them, it’s always best to follow up and kindly and respectfully ask what they prefer to be addressed as.
This is needed because I’ve seen so many scenarios where people just don’t understand something and choose to be ignorant and hurtful to those who don’t fit into societal norms.
But what people don’t realize is that is their normal. When it comes to pronouns, it’s so important to be sensitive and conscious of how you’re using them.
Many trans individuals experience difficulty of not having to just come out with new pronouns, but also having to teach the people closest to them how to use them appropriately and consistently.
It truly helps when you have people in your life who are open and willing to learn because it can be really hard and invalidating for a trans individual when people don’t get their pronouns correct. It can be very exhausting having to constantly correct someone all the time.
‘…sometimes it’s easier to feel sad than to advocate for yourself and explain why that’s important’
Don’t get me wrong, people make mistakes and it takes some personal adjustments when having to learn a new set of pronouns. I get it and I’m right there with you. But the reality is, there are people who are disingenuous with pronouns.
Sometimes people misgender the individual requesting the change in pronouns, and makes the other person feel shitty for their errors. It’s not cool to misgender someone and make them feel like they’re the problem – it’s extremely insensitive.
Another way is if a person finds it hard to use specific pronouns when interacting with a non-binary person because they feel like it’s hard to see them other than being a woman/man. Have you ever considered how hard it is for them?
Sometimes you don’t bother to correct people because it’s one or two slipups and you don’t want that to suddenly become the focus of the conversation, because that’s even worse’ – Kya
Gender dysphoria is the emotional distress a person feels when their birth assigned sex and gender does not match their gender identity. No one shares the same exact experience, as it can look very different for each person.
You should never assume that just because someone has dysphoria, they have dysphoria with their entire body. People who identify as transgender have various forms of dysphoria that presents differently for each of them.
For example, specific body parts can be a form of dysphoria for an individual, causing a lot of anxiety and stress rooted in that specific area. Something else that I learned was that dysphoria can change over time.
Imagine being in a room with seven stereos turned all the way up, and as you start turning each one down, you start hearing the others more acutely – that is what dysphoria is like. – Keisha
Hearing that really gave me a better understanding of what dysphoria is like for a person. It was such a powerful moment to know that this is the experience of so many.
I remember her voice expressing how she didn’t start with a lot of dysphoria, but each time she fixed one thing, something else replaced it. I think what was so powerful about that moment was her ability to be so vulnerable and transparent.
I felt lifted knowing that she experienced something that exceeded what she once thought she would never get. This is where gender euphoria comes in. It’s those moments when you feel great about yourself and confirming how you truly feel.
Another misconception is the idea of being in the wrong body. This narrative is only how some trans people feel, not all. Not every trans person feels like they were born in the wrong body. Some people just feel like they need to make some adjustments and their body will reflect who they are as a person and that’s completely valid.
Did they always know that was their identity?
Most trans individuals know there is something wrong or something is off with what they are personally experiencing. The challenge for them was identifying what it was due to the language barrier.
Growing up, they all agreed they had this feeling of uncertainty about the way they felt inside but not having the vocabulary to describe it. A lot of people who identified as trans seemed to be able to identify exactly who they were when they learned the word transgender in their early/mid-twenties. It can vary for each person, but often enough it’s your college years when you have the opportunity to explore who you are.
For nonbinary people, it can potentially be a little bit more challenging in owning the fact that they’re transgender. For some, they battle with the misconception that to be trans, you have to be a boy or girl.
There was a lack of representation available for these identities; aside from the negative ones we typically saw on Jerry Springer. For non-binary trans identities, there’s also a lack of support from the LGBT community and the trans community.
Many people would express that non binary trans people aren’t apart or welcome in the trans community. They felt that non binary people would take away access to hormones and surgery opportunities from people that deserved it. It was believed that you have to have an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria to be a trans person.
This post was so important for me to share because it allowed me to address a few stigmas involving the transgender community and to also educate you about what I learned.
Prior to this conversation, I knew very little of what it meant to be trans and what it looked like for a person. I truly appreciate that there are people who are out here willing to teach me and others about their experiences.
Here are a few more things I feel it’s important to share:
Gender identity does not directly correlate with sexual orientation.
Gender identity is all about how you perceive and identify yourself; this is often done with gender expression.
Sexual orientation is the emotional/physical/mental/spiritual attraction to other people.
We need to get comfortable with people and ideas that may not necessarily conform to societal behaviors and characteristics.
Transgender people do not all look one way; they are not visibly trans.
Gender dysphoria is not a mental condition called Gender Identity Disorder. Many trans people do experience dysphoria and emotional distress because of prejudice behavior they experience within their community, families, and society.
There is not onetrans experience. Contain your curiosity, be conscious, and respectful of the people you interact with.
One last thing, we will never truly understand the experiences of a trans person and that’s something we need to accept. It’s not an experience that can be given unless you, yourself identify as someone who is trans.
Be open to understanding someone else’s experience. At the very least, respect the person next to you. How would you feel if you constantly felt overlooked and ridiculed for just being yourself?
At the end of the day, we are all humans, and so are trans people. We are fortunate to not experience being misgendered. When we disregard someone else’s gender because of our lack of acceptance, we are essentially oppressing them.
We need to do better, and be better. It takes a lot for a person to own who they are and then own it publicly. The best thing we can do is be allies and validate their ability to come into their true self.