Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Do You Deal With LGBT?

It's a question that might offend a lot of LGBT individuals, and I want to make clear that I mean it in pure innocence, not with the implication that we LGBT individuals are a problem that needs to be "handled."  But we are different, and we do challenge the worldview of a lot of people, and I think we need to be aware of that.  It's all well and good to say that prejudice and discrimination shouldn't exist, and that it's everyone else's job to get their facts right, but I don't think that's neither true nor realistic, at least not yet.

This is probably more prevalent among the transgendered than anyone else considering how ingrained a binary view of gender is in people's minds.  It's something (as I said yesterday) that a lot of people will always have a disconnect with, and while that may not be as evident among gays, lesbians, or bisexuals, I think it also exists there to a certain extent.

I think the most important point to make at the base of it all is that we're just people.  Some of us like sports, some of us like art, some of us like redheads, some of us like blondes.  Movies and media can put as much of stereotype (or as they would have it, thereotype) on LGBT culture as they want, but the fact of the matter is that there is no physical evidence that differentiates us from straight or cis (non-transgendered) people (you know, when we're not naked and/or with our partners).  Which presents a conundrum, a sort of secondary closet.  It's one thing to come out as gay, bi, or transgendered, but the next step is conveying what that actually means.

I'll use transgenderism as an example again since I think it inspires the most questions.  I think it's natural for people to be curious about the mechanics, the medicine, and the biology behind transgenderism.  People like to know what they're dealing with, and while transgendered individuals don't have to tolerate that, it would benefit them greatly if they at least understood that curiosity (no matter how annoying what are basically questions about their genitals get).  I think it's natural for us to be abrasive when confronted with these things considering how horribly we've been treated (and in some places continue to be treated), but I also think we do ourselves and our friends a far greater service if we're patient and take the time to bridge a little bit of that gap.

Which is where cis and straight people come into the equation, because the effort has to be there as well.  A lot of the questions that LGBT individuals get asked are things people wouldn't even dream of asking a straight person.  Do you pitch or catch, are you pre or post-op, which one of you is the girl/guy...these are questions about our genitals and sexual encounters.  I have to think that the average straight person would be a little offended if I blurted out a question or commentary about their penis or vagina (and I may in fact have to try this).

So to answer the question, you deal with us the same way you'd deal with any other person, with respect.  Curiosity is good, and a lot of us are more than willing to answer questions because we're touched that you want to have things right.  But some of us aren't, and you need to be aware of that.  Take the time to think about what you're asking and make sure that it's okay within the context of your relationship with that person.  Because if it isn't, we might just ask you if you have a small dick or cavernous vagina in retaliation. 

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