Are LGBT Labels Good or Bad?

I feel like LGBT labels are seen by some as an amazing concept and by others as the worst thing in the world. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m that opinionated when it comes to labels which is surprising seeing as I’m opinionated about pretty much everything else. So naturally, rather than leaving it be, I thought I’d take a look at some of the different advantages and disadvantages of labels today. I thought it might be interesting to look at some varying viewpoints from other people. You can write your opinions in the comments and stuff and we can start a little discussion thing…if people want to 🙂
Some disadvantages of labels I’ve heard:

  1. Bullying/discrimination: Some people think labels encourage bullying, discrimination, and exclusion. This can happen when people change the meaning of the word ‘gay’ to insult someone or use nasty slurs such as ‘tranny.’ Discrimination like this can ruin people’s lives and in extreme circumstances, even put individuals in danger.
  2. We don’t need them: Lots of people think labels serve no purpose because they argue that ‘we are all human.’ They think we should be able to accept everybody for who they are without needing labels to categorise people into different groups.
  3. Pressure to meet society’s expectations for labels: Some people think assigning a label to yourself pressures you to meet societal expectations, for example dressing or acting a certain way to fit a stereotype. This pressure could potentially make individuals act differently from who they really are.

Some advantages of labels I’ve heard:

  1. A sense of belonging: Many people in the LGBT community know the feeling of being an outcast all too well. Some people argue labels like ‘gay’ introduce individuals to a group of people they can relate to where they can discuss any struggles they may face with others who empathise.
  2. Empowerment: Lots of people argue they are proud of their identities and like being able to use LGBT labels to tell the world who they are. Labels can also lead to events like Pride being organised which benefit those within the community.
  3. Labels themselves don’t cause problems, the people misusing them do: People argue words like ‘gay’ and ‘transgender’ aren’t the concern here but the people turning these well-meaning terms into harmful insults are. They argue people like this shouldn’t make us cut these words out of our vocabulary entirely.

I asked some people I know how they felt about labels and here’s what they said:

Boyfriend – ‘I don’t care for them at all, (I think the world) would be a much better place if we stopped using labels entirely.’

Friend 1 – ‘I think labels are good because they tell people where they stand or what they go for but they are by no means necessary. It’s okay to still be figuring things out. I think especially at uni labels aren’t the best because people are still very closed minded still and rely heavily on stereotypes in my experience which frustrates me A LOT.’

Friend 2 –  ‘I do not like the idea of labels because I feel like assigning yourself in a particular box will always cause controversy from people who may not understand what it means. I also feel like for people discovering themselves as LGBT in a traditional household may not feel as though they are comfortable ticking a certain box. For a lot of them the way they feel is a lot more than just a word, and I feel like that very label may isolate them because of the stigma related towards it whilst growing up in such households. They may think it’s a crime to act like the way they do when it is perfectly normal!’

If you have any opinions on labels, write them in the comments below as I’m sure there are many points I haven’t included in this particular post. Hope you found this interesting!

Thanks for reading,

ranterwrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ranterwrites

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My Thoughts On Transgender Bathroom Bans

As you may know, a few days ago Donald Trump revoked a law issued by Obama allowing US transgender public school students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. Here are my thoughts on laws preventing transgender people being allowed to use bathrooms they feel safest in:

One of the main arguments for bans like these (used by people who aren’t claiming transgender people are ‘mentally ill’ or ‘don’t exist’) is that cis males will take advantage of this situation. Many advocates of the ban say cis men looking to sexually assault women will dress up as females and pretend to be transgender in order to enter girl bathrooms. They fear this will give sexual predators the chance to sexually assault, rape, or carry out other inappropriate behaviours towards women. In a world where one in five US women will be raped during their lifetimes (2015), of course these concerns are legitimate fears for females to have. Trust me, I am in no way trying to undermine that. However, we can clearly see that transgender women using female bathrooms aren’t the problem here. The concern revolves around cis men looking to sexually assault women.

Some might argue that men who assault may be the problem, but that transgender women being allowed into these spaces will still allow these men to put women in danger. The thing is though, this argument completely prioritises the safety of cis people over that of transgender people. Transgender people are put at risk when denied access to public bathrooms.  As I previously said, sexual assault is a legitimate concern for cis women, however transgender people are the most likely group to experience sexual violence, with 64% having been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.  Those who say transgender people are the ones posing a threat to people’s safety are labelling the most vulnerable group as a dangerous one.

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Police, school officials & sexual assault and domestic violence organisations say non-discrimination laws allowing transgender people to use bathrooms matching their gender identities haven’t seen ‘a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues.’  One police department spokesman stated ‘I doubt [non-discriminatory laws are] gonna encourage the behavior. If the behavior’s there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they’re gonna behave no matter what the laws are.’

The National Press Secretary for The Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Mcbride, notes that if sexual assaulters were waiting on ‘loopholes’ like this to appear, they could be entering female bathrooms already.  Laws preventing transgender people using the bathrooms based on their gender identities state that everyone must use the bathrooms matching their ‘biological sex’ instead. This is defined by the sex on people’s birth certificates. Mcbride points out that transgender men are likely to have birth certificates which state they are ‘female,’ and that a lot of the time they are indistinguishable from cisgender males. So in places where it’s the law to use bathrooms matching the sex on your birth certificate, men looking to sexually assault could ‘skip the trouble of dressing up and go into the women’s room, pretending to be a transgender man.’

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Time Magazine also points out that sexual assault remains sexual assault regardless of your gender identity. Many advocates of the ban work on the assumption that if a male sexual assaulter enters a female space by posing as a transgender woman, their actions will have no consequences. However, if a woman claims she was sexually assaulted, the gender identity of the assaulter doesn’t change the fact that this is a crime. Human Rights Campaign attorney Cathryn Oakley points out: ‘If you are a man who dresses as a woman and goes into a bathroom and commits a crime, whether you have a non-discrimination protection on the basis of gender identity or not, that behavior is illegal and criminal and you could be arrested and go to jail.’

The last and rather ironic point I am going to make is that Donald Trump, the person who revoked Obama’s guidelines based on ‘the safety of women ’ has infamously bragged about getting away with sexually assaulting women because of his fame. This is the man who has set an example to millions by trivialising sexual assault and sexualising women. As president of the United States, his words have real consequences when it comes to the attitudes of people towards these topics. Does this man really care about preventing the sexual assault of women? Or is this just, as many have claimed, an excuse for prejudice and hatred?

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The Trump administration rescinding protections for transgender students means these children and teenagers are in more danger now than they were under Obama’s rules. In order to fight this prejudice, we need to educate people about these things. Whatever your gender identity, do your best to teach people, write blog posts, write articles, post on social media, go to peaceful protests, support organisations, etc. Basically, do whatever you can to spread the message that transgender people deserve better than this. I’m a cis female, so obviously I can’t understand how terrible these restrictions must be. But, if anyone reading this is transgender, then what I do know is that you’re strong as hell and that there are tons of people out there that completely support you. And I’m sorry Donald Trump is such an asshat.

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London Pride 2016

On the 25th June 2016 I went to my first ever Pride in London. Now, I realise this isn’t very up to date seeing as it’s currently October and I’m sat at home typing this in a jumper and fuzzy socks – but bear with me.

Being an eighteen year old nuisance who fights against the heteronormativity of life and constantly questions my sexuality, I’m sure you can imagine this was a rather prominent day in my life. During the parade I wanted to document every moment and share it with the online world. Unfortunately my blog was non-existent at this point, thus I knew the documenting would have to wait.

I thought I’d create a list of five reasons I enjoyed Pride so much, mainly because Pride was so amazing for me, but also just because I really enjoy making lists:

  1. Everyone (and I mean everyone) was so damn positive. You couldn’t see a miserable face for miles. Myself included. I almost cried happy tears at one point.
  2. Amongst the crowd, I felt more accepted than I’ve ever been. Everybody was celebrating everybody and I think this has become rare within human behaviour. We can be so quick to judge.
  3. I had a lot of fun because the atmosphere was so vibrant. Despite being forced to stand for hours, the event remained buzzing so we all managed to keep dancing.
  4. There was lots of cool merch, which I personally love. I got an awesome pride flag, free badges, and tons of stickers. Who doesn’t want free stickers?
  5. I had never, in my life, been surrounded by so much gay – and it was fabulous.

Things I did not enjoy about Pride:

  1. I got sunburnt. Wear sun cream, seriously.
  2. It involved lots of standing so my feet started hurting.

So all in all I had a brilliant time! I can’t wait to go again next year – I’ll be bringing my LGBT flag and as much pride as I can carry.