My twin sister from another mister recently posted about the use and misuse of labels when it comes to dealing with people, and really, she did a fabulous job as always. It did get me thinking though because her inspiration was one of those ubiquitous Facebook placards people like to share on their status. I really think I’m in the wrong line of public blathering by the way. With those things all you need is a semi-clever blurb with either a colorful eye-catching background or old-timey line drawing and the thing goes viral. Nevertheless, Becky’s post along with one of those blurbs that keeps showing up in my newsfeed got me thinking. Look, the day has barely begun and I’m already tired, so I’m not even going to apologize for my blatant copy-catting, nor the use of 4 hyphenated words in one paragraph.
The one that was really showing up a lot for a while was a message that attempted to differentiate the labels of transgender and gay. Clearly someone got torqued enough about the public confusion on the matter and created a loud graphic to convey that “No. No, they are not the same thing.” Enough other people saw this and also decided they were torqued as well, but maybe not enough to create their own graphic, so instead restrained themselves to just hitting the ‘share’ button. That’ll show ‘em! Don’t get me wrong, because I do agree. Something about it bothered me though, and I decided to write it out. Honestly, at this point I’ll be just as surprised as you are as to how this post ends.
If you are a regular reader, you already know the difference between gay and transgender, so bear with me. I’m certain that just by typing “flying monkey” here, some search engine will draw someone who was looking for Wizard of Oz memorabilia; a chance I just increased by typing this. So for you who are way off track and stayed, I’ll clarify. Many people think LGBTQ is a classification or label unto itself instead of an ever expanding acronym representing a bunch of disparate groups jammed together under the banner of “not regular guys and gals”. I think it grew to LGBTQIA since I started typing, kind of proving my point. Basically the assumption is that if Carl the Cobbler can stretch his understanding past a binary, the best he’s probably going to do is make it to guys, gals, and other.
Everyone under the LGBTQIA banner is tired of this of course. Homosexuals have been dealing with this for a while. Since for a long time people couldn’t imagine a relationship that didn’t involve a gender binary, one of the same gender partners obviously had to take the role of the opposite gender. “So which one of youse is the girl anyway?” The fallacy of course is that even a gay guy attracted to a man, would need that man to be more like a girl for some reason. As I like to use ‘Glee’ as an example, we saw this when Sue wanted Kurt to wear a dress to compete against Unique in the Nationals and was surprised he didn’t want to since he’s gay. With lesbians, same thing, and yes, even in the butch crowd.
Transgender people have been dealing with this equally as long. If you don’t fit the stereotype of your birth gender, then you must be some kind of gay. This of course is what the nifty Facebook placard is trying to combat. “I’m trans, not gay! Well, unless I’m both which is true some of the time, but not always.” The gay folks and the trans folks are on the same page here. Mostly. Jim says he likes men, but doesn’t feel like a woman. Jean says she’s really a woman, but not a gay man in spite of the lingering penis. It gets a little messier when Jill pops in saying she’s really a woman, but likes women, but the penis doesn’t make her straight, so her gender identity makes her gay. The gay cisgender crowd doesn’t really have an answer for this, so it gets kind of mucky.
Now Carl the Cobbler is really confused. “This guy I known as a dude says he’s really a woman, but he likes men, but isn’t gay?” Time for a refreshing Genny Cream Ale pounder or twelve. Carl’s confusion annoys the crap out of us because nothing tweaks one’s beak so much as being misunderstood. Just ask Pink. To clear everything up in a jiffy, exciting Facebook placards were put together, along with the frankly well thought out ‘Genderbread Person’. I love the Genderbread Person because it’s a nice easy visual to show to people who have questions. That’s really the rub now, isn’t it?
Most people don’t have a lot of questions because they simply don’t care. It’s not at all important to their lives, so they gloss over it just the same way you gloss over your friend’s constant updates her passion for Clydesdale Rescue. “Yeah, yeah, big beer drinking horse is endangered or something. I just want to know if the Whiskerville Cooters won last night!” Making people interested enough to want to know if they don’t know you personally is a hard thing to do. The real question then comes down to, is it really worth all the effort?
In my opinion, no. People can speculate about my sexual orientation all the live long day and it doesn’t matter a tiny bit to me. This is because it doesn’t affect my life at all, nor do I expect it to. We have a big enough hill to climb just to get the world to recognize we exist and should thereby have equal rights and protection under the law. Compared to that, speculation on who I might be attracted to seems like a wee little hill of beans. If anything, we benefit from the association. Being gay is rapidly becoming more socially acceptable and rights and protection appear to be following. Hitching ourselves to that bandwagon isn’t the craziest move out there. Explaining to a weary state senator that yeah, they passed SONDA and since we are kind of the same after all, so GENDA should naturally follow, seems more effective than making a big deal that no, this is totally, totally different.
In a world where Carl the Cobbler is your average voter, I’m all right with “regular guy, regular gal, and other”, so long as other is perfectly equal. If it’s really that important that people know exactly what kind of other you happen to be, start a blog and broadcast it all out there. Unless they really know you, doesn’t it matter that much anyway?