Month: June 2017

27 Jun

Learning to Identify Micro-aggressions

It’s getting easier to identify blatant homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. A lot of people are familiar with all of the different words and phrases that have been rightly deemed offensive. However, some people might still harbor some of these ideas without really knowing it. These ideas could still come out in their speech without their conscious awareness. This is the nature of micro-aggressions.

Many people probably already know what micro-aggressions are, because they have used them or they have heard them. In order to conquer micro-aggressions, you have to be aware of the bad ideas contained within them. You should not just learn all of the phrases that you should not say. This is not just about changing language, although that helps. This is about changing the bad priors that even some allies can have.

For instance, a lot of people still believe that queer relationships are less valuable than straight relationships. A lot of people tend to sexualize queer love in the case of men. In the case of women, a lot of people de-sexualize it. People often tend to project sexist gender binaries onto LGBT men and women.

It is not funny to ask lesbians ‘which one is the man?’ Neither of them are men. Really, asking a straight couple about who does all of the vacuuming is a sexist question, since plenty of men vacuum and plenty of women do not and the idea that housework is for women is dated and offensive. Asking lesbians or gay couples ‘who does the vacuuming’ adds a layer of homophobia to the whole thing.

These are micro-aggressions that are fairly straight-forward. However, some allies will say things that are supposed to be complimentary but that will ultimately prove to be insulting instead. Trans people do not like to be told that they look ‘cis’ as a compliment, because it still implies that there is something wrong with being trans.

Some straight allies and even some LGBT people will compliment one another for not adhering to LGBT stereotypes. However, queer men who are more feminine in terms of their gender presentation and interests are not doing something wrong. They can experience their own brand of prejudice within the LGBT community. Queer men who are more conventionally masculine are not more virtuous as a result. This is just how they are. Saying otherwise once again implies that conventional masculinity is inherently good and that conventional femininity is bad. It supports the gender binary, leaving out so many people and perpetuating sexism.

Anyone who identifies as a man is a man and anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman. There are people who do not identify with either, and that is also valid. Queer love is equal to straight love. All gender identities are valid. The people who learn to internalize these priors instead of many of the destructive ones that society has handed down to them will have a much easier time when it comes to being effective allies.

It should be noted that LGBT people need to internalize these priors as well, because they can fall victim to bad ideas just like straight people. Some gay people are biphobic and imply that bi people are not queer enough, or that all bi people are ‘wrong’ in some way, or that bi people are just confused. Some cis queer people are transphobic. Some LGBT people are cruel to people outside the gender binary.

All of us were raised in a society where these sorts of prejudices were a problem. This makes it that much more important for all of us to look at the destructive priors that we have inherited in order to be better at living and working with one another. The important thing is to move forward and acknowledge mistakes.

20 Jun

How to Handle Tough Situations

No one wants to handle tough situations. The media makes it look easy. It never is, even for the people who have been trained for this sort of thing. LGBT people have to handle situations like this all too often, which makes their lives so much more difficult.

Some tough situations are so bad that people cannot really do anything other than defend themselves or try to diffuse the tension. However, in the case of tough situations that are not life-threatening, people will usually have other options.

Even some of the basic parts of being an LGBT person can present tough situations. If you are planning on coming out to your parents, you can try to make things easier for yourself by having someone you trust with you at the time. A therapist or an adult professional or other trusted adult might be able to help.

Ultimately, having a social support network of any kind can make all the difference in the world for the people who are trying to deal with tough situations. These people can help you when it comes to the traumas that you will face. These people can offer direct and indirect support. There is a huge LGBT community and you do not have to feel as if you are alone in a well-connected world.

Preparing for the tough situations is often the best strategy. You can also try to avoid them to the best of your ability. In a world where LGBT prejudice is still very real, LGBT people will have to cope with some of the tough situations eventually, and they should try to get as many people behind them as they can.

This is very much the sort of area where straight and cis allies can help. If you are straight as cis, you have some power in these situations. Some straight and cis people are able to defend LGBT people from prejudiced individuals with their words or actions. If you are straight and cis, you do not have to deal with LGBT prejudice unless you are interacting with an LGBT person or a prejudiced individual. You are not worn out from years of doing so in all likelihood. You can use your power to help others, and this will make things better for the people who are really stuck in a tough cycle and in a world where tough situations are recurring.