Lemons, Grapes, Bananas, Turnips

Which one of those, Lemons, Grapes, Bananas, and Turnip, is not like the others?

That’s correct! The answer is “Turnips”, the only vegetable of the four.

Here’s another one. Which one of these is not like the others?:

Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender

If you said “Transgender” you are correct again! Congratulations!

Not everyone seems to realize that. Because transgender makes up the “T” in the commonly used “LGTB” nomenclature, there seems to be occasional confusion about what it means to be transgender.

Lesbian, Gay, and Bi-sexual all refer to Sexual Orientation, and Transgender refers to Gender Identity. They are quite different in fact.

Gender Identity means how one sees oneself in regards to gender. In my case I understand myself to be female… I KNOW I am female, despite the case some would make against it because of how my physical body is constructed. Gender Identity is a very core knowing of most people. It’s something most people take for granted. Just as I know I am female, so others know themselves as female, male, in between, both, etc, just by being.

Sexual orientation has a similar ‘knowing’ but it refers to who we are attracted to. The sexual orientation of a transgender person can be anything – hetero, gay, bi, pansexual, asexual, etc. It has little to do with gender identity.

Occasionally, when I reveal to someone that I am transgender, they will mention something about a gay uncle, or liking the drag queens at a gay club they used to attend, or try to introduce me to their gay friends.

While I appreciate the support and encouragement, this kind of reaction does give me pause. I’m not sure exactly why the person has made this instant connection between me being transgender and the gay community. I can only assume that it’s because they understand that LGBT are all in the same boat, so one must be like the other.

We actually have some friction at times within our umbrella group, because sexual orientation causes and transgender causes, while more often overlapping, can be very divergent. Most gay people are cis-gendered, ie; they naturally identify as their assigned at birth gender. Some cis-gendered people do not understand gender identity variance, and sometimes this ignorance leads to transphobic thoughts and remarks. There  are many instances of trans persons being disregarded and disrespected by the very people who are supposed to be allies. A transwoman friend of mine overheard two young lesbians at a Pride event say “she’s not a real girl” as they passed her. That kind of lack of respect for our truths is marginalizing and hurtful. To have it come from people who are supposed to be a part of our ‘family’ makes the hurt sting more.

It’s a very complicated and sometimes uneasy alliance, the LGBT, but together we are stronger, and the fact is most people are inclusive, and understand that when we are marginalized, everyone is more at risk of being so also.

In the LGBT alliance, transgender people are kind of like the half-sister or brother, sharing a home, but coming from a much different place.


About transpacificgirl

I am a transwoman from B.C. Canada, in the middle of my life (I hope!). I'm also in the middle of the river, and this ride is wild. I work for a living, write for clarity, live for love and laughter.
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