Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia 🙂
This year, I am giving away an ebook of your choice to one lucky commenter, and I will also donate $1 per comment to Youth Pride, Inc. (an LGBT charity local to me) So please leave a comment, and then take a minute to visit the other bloggers on this hop, all of whom are offering prizes or donations to charity!
For my post, I want to talk about understanding, and representation. (It will be rambling and long. I’m sorry.) I think that railing against bigotry here would be kind of a waste, considering the audience of my blog. (I hope no one reading this is actually homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic)
So I want to share something I read a while ago that has stuck with me. It was one of those things you read as you’re scrolling through your tumblr or twitter feed, just some short thing. I read this thing, I said, “huh. nice,” and I kept scrolling. The next day, I thought about it again. I went back and found it and re-blogged it. And I have thought about it a few times since, even though it has probably been over a month. Here it is:
I think a lot of people have trouble understanding transgender issues because they try to see themselves as trans, but come at it from the wrong direction. i.e. a cis woman tries to understand transness by going, “what if I felt like/wanted to be a man” when she should be approaching it as “what if I, a woman, was so easily mistaken for a man that I had to pretend to be one”,
–grumpypedant via tumblr
I am sure there are as many different trans experiences as trans people, and that for many people this post’s description would not apply. But still…
When I read this post, it was actually a little embarrassing, what a revelation this was to me. How simple. How stupid I was for never “getting” it! For most of us, empathy is the first step to understanding, and this post helped me take that step. Because I really had been thinking of it like, “what if I wanted to be a man,” and that never quite worked. So I am grateful to grumpypedant for the post.
The truth is, I don’t know if I will ever understand what it feels like to be trans, and I don’t know that I need to. What is more important, I think, is acceptance, and keeping an open mind and heart. I’m working on it ❤
I’ve also been trying to work on my language lately. My kids are getting older, and more aware, and I think that the small, daily things we do, the phrases we use, have an impact. So I’m trying to make small changes to the way I phrase things. One of those is I am really trying to eliminate referring to gender in a binary way. Once I took note of it, I was surprised how often I phrased things in an either/or kind of way when it comes to gender. So now, I’m trying to be better about saying “any gender” instead of “either gender” and not using stereotypes, and not making sex and gender synonymous. I think I’m doing okay.
I think those small changes make a big difference. When I was a kid, people who worked for the police department were called “policemen” and I never thought twice about that. But gradually, when I was older, I consciously began using “police officer” instead. When I had kids, I made absolutely sure to do that. Because I didn’t want my daughter, or my son, to overhear me saying “fireman” or “male nurse” or some stupid shit like that and assume they were not the right gender for a particular occupation. I’m trying to treat this adjustment in the same way. I want them to know that all genders are acceptable and valid. I want them to be more open than I am.
I think as writers we have the ability to do this on a much larger scale, and we should use that opportunity. I’d love to see more bisexual characters, more happy-endings for trans characters, more clearly identified LGBT characters in plots that do not revolve around their sexuality.
Junot Diaz gave a talk, about being an immigrant kid growing up in New Jersey, but I think this excerpt is relevant to the subject of representation of all marginalized groups:
“You guys know about vampires?” Diaz asked. “You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”
For International day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, I hope that you will consider making a small change in your own life. Change your everyday language, or write a new kind of story, or speak up against bigotry when life gives you the opportunity to do so. You can make a difference!
For every comment, I will donate $1 to Youth Pride, Inc. (an LGBT charity in my area) and I will pick one commenter for my e-book giveaway! (make sure you fill in the e-mail or check back to see if you’ve won) Contest ends May 24th.
And please, PLEASE, head over to the main page and visit the other bloggers on this hop!