Published on September 3rd, 2013 | by Wild Gender
Hope, Change & Concern
In early 2004, I had a conversation with a friend about Massachusetts’ pioneering achievement to legalize gay marriage. I was dubious that further change would happen across the nation but concerned that marriage would dominate the cisgender LGBQ political movement.
Today, I am much more hopeful about change in America but still concerned about the movement’s focus. I feel very grateful and proud that activists, the Supreme Court, and other individuals made the ending of DOMA possible, and realize that DOMA can have beneficial consequences on not just marriage. However, I believe there are some areas in which much more progress is needed, especially regarding bullying, health care, intersecting identities, and discrimination against transgender people.
Indeed, Healthy People 2020 also identified the following goals and issues for LGBTQ+ communities: “prevention of violence and homicide toward the LGB community, and especially the transgender population; nationally representative data on LGBT Americans; resiliency in LGBT communities; LGBT parenting issues throughout the life course; elder health and well-being; exploration of sexual/gender identity among youth; need for a LGBT wellness model; [as well as] recognition of transgender health needs as medically necessary.” The suicide rate for LGBTQ+ youth continues to be tragically high as is the number of sexual minorities who abuse substances. For more information, click here.
A 2012 needs assessment study among Chicago LGBTQ residents found the following to be of highest priority to them: “affordable health services and care (66 percent); access to government benefits, rights and services (43 percent); sustainable employment (33 percent); community safety and violence (25 percent); [as well as] protections discrimination based on class, [and] race or age (21-24 percent).” LGBTQ seniors and youth responded as having more challenges than other age groups. For more information, click here.
There also needs to be much more progress regarding transgender equality and more acceptance of people who do not identify within the gender binary. More bridges between cisgender LGB and transgender communities, including continued conversations about the effects of bullying based on perceived and actual gender identity/expression, would indeed be helpful.
Also very much needed are laws protecting all people from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act needs to be inclusive of all individuals. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) lists smaller and larger ways that people can be allies to trans folks. Here is a link: http://transequality.org/52things.html
Moreover, the intensely hateful practices and laws that perniciously invade and destroys the lives of LGBTQ-identified people in Russia and other parts of the world is frightening and saddening to say the least.
On a more subtle level, cisgender LGB-identified communities can benefit from examining their own views and biases regarding gender variance. Whether due to sexism, heteronormativity, internalized or institutionalized homophobia and/or transphobia, many gay-identified men seem to endorse effeminophobia, or negativity towards people who have feminine gender expression and/or identity. Lesbian spaces can also be more inclusive of transmen and transwomen. These micro- and macro-aggressions can have awful effects. The community as a whole can be more accepting of people who identify as pansexual.
We all have rich, intersecting identities. LGBTQ+ communities also need to be more embracing of its members who have been marginalized (sometimes by other sexual and gender minorities) due to their age, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, ability, language, and/or religion as well as spirituality.
Please do not get me wrong; I realize that there have been many efforts in other domains of life affecting LGBTQ+ people especially by organizations and campaigns such as It Gets Better, NCTE, as well as Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN). I just want change to be plural.