As a recently post-op transgender woman this past February, this year’s Pride Parade and Festival this weekend in Santa Fe and in many communities around the country and the world, has taken on a complete new meaning for me, as you might be able to imagine. For one thing, I still tend to think in the gender binary and its hard to think of myself as trans anymore because few people see me that way which is the way I like it and have always wanted to be regarded. They see me as a woman, no more and no less and unless I say so, probably couldn’t tell the difference especially those who don’t know what transgender means or really cares. If I don’t regard myself as just a woman, I generally just regard myself as queer, except on Pride Day, when I am transgender.
I live in Santa Fe New Mexico, a city known for it’s progressive attitude toward the LGBTQ communities. I say communities in the plural because under the umbrella of LGBTQ, there are diverse communities all having their own specific agendas and in many ways it feels to me more like a dysfunctional family squabbling over which issues should take precedence over another or even if they should be considered at all. The list of initials seems to be growing all the time and who knows, we might use up all of the 26-letter alphabet at the rate we are going. Personally, I would like to include the letter “X” which is the mathematical symbol for the universal unknown quantity.
You may notice that the politically correct umbrella term for “queer” is never presented as QTBGL or TQGLB or any other permutation you can devise. Why is that? There have been studies that demonstrate that the order of names, words or letters even when used in alphabetic order will more often connote importance by the order in which they are presented, the first being the most important and the last the least important. On television and in movies, the credits will often put, regardless of the amount of time on screen, a more recognizable star last by adding the conjunctive “and.” I am not suggesting that there was a conscious consensual effort to order the initials LGBTQ that way, but I believe that our struggle for equal rights for all people affects everyone, not just those marginalised for not falling within a societal norm of one kind or another, whether it be gender, race or anything else.
While I can appreciate that all of us in the struggle for equal rights and acceptance by our peers, have issues more important to us than they will be to others, but is that a good reason for focusing on issues that already have more acceptance by the majority of Americans over others in the name of politics, such as marriage equality versus discrimination in employment, housing, right to access to business services and public accommodations like public toilets for anyone who feels more comfortable in one form of gender expression or gender identity that does not conform to the gender binary societal “norms”.
According to at least one poll that I have read, 53% of all Americans believe that who one will fall in love with and or have sexual contact is a matter of choice leaving 47% who don’t believe it is a matter of choice. Allowing for a standard deviation of +2 or -2 (47%+2 %= 49% and 53%-2% = 51%) we can conclude that in America, it is now roughly 50-50 with regard to one’s sexual orientation as a choice or not. At the same time, the poll shows that of all Americans, the split is 75%-25% in favor of all Americans who believe that being transgender is a choice.
That makes me wonder when organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as one example and many Pride organizations and events will ever decide when it is time to shift their focus toward the now more marginalized groups than the non-straight folks who at least have an equal chance of being accepted or not accepted for who they love or with whom they have sexual contact. When all is said and done, the decision to shift focus will likely be an arbitrary one. However, the many who will continue to suffer and even be summarily executed for wanting to live authentically as they were born to be, because of some arbitrary decision is not acceptable collateral damage, at least not to this writer.
I also wonder if we could use the term “Queer” instead of LGBTQ. I’m queer and proud of it. Then again, I’m not your average queer person, but on the other hand, who is?
Deanna Joy Hallmark