International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia: A Long Road
Making A Difference
Just Be Good
"I don't care if you identify as a teddy bear; as long as you're a good person, I'm good."
As a high school teacher and the parent of two young-ish girls, I find myself having conversations with my kids about gender representation and things that I'm seeing with other kids who, for one reason or another, are struggling with either their sexuality or their gender identity. Very frequently, it's been my experience that these kids end up with a tense relationship with their parents or family members as a result of the coming out experience, and while I try and keep an open mind, it's something I just don't understand.
I gave birth to two kids, and love them both very much even though very frequently the "psycho mom" voice comes out and they drive me crazy. If either of them come out as gay, trans or anywhere along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, that is not going to change anything about how I feel about them. They're my kids, and I want them to be happy and good people. If they tell me they're in love with a man or a woman, I honestly don't care - love is love.
Now, neither of my girls have come out, and they may never identify along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and that's just fine. However, there are occasions where I look at some of my students who have come out and I realize that in some instances, there's also that underlying concern for their safety should they come out as anywhere along the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The fact that these fears for safety still exist, and they're centered around someone's love of a member of the same sex (or both sexes) or their gender identification, is more than a little disturbing to me.
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and the very existence of a day dedicated to eliminating hatred against the LGBTQ+ community only highlights the fact that no matter how enlightened or open minded we believe we are in North America, we still have a long way to go.
Case in point? The deaths of two transgender individuals in 3 days in Dallas, TX.
The stereotypes that exist about bisexuality in Rita Ora's song "Girls."
These are just two of the examples which highlight the need for us as a society to quit worrying about how people identify with their gender and who people love. If someone's in love, should that not be celebrated? There's really too little love stories out there in today's world; why worry about the gender or sex? Just embrace the fact that someone's loving someone else.
There are so many people who are fighting each other over ideologies and basic differences. It continues to be hard for me to read about anyone's murder because they are transgender, or kids being beat up because they are happily in a romantic relationship with someone other than a heterosexual.
The statistics facing those living in the LGBTQ+ spectrum are still challenging. In the United States alone, according to Human Rights Campaign, 28 transgender individuals have been killed so far this year. According to USA Today, over 100 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced, with at least five of those States passing them. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs also reported in June 2017 that 2016 had seen a 17 percent uptick in hate killings in the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition, kids who identify as LGBTQ+ seem to be at greater risk for bullying and hate crimes. According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), LGBTQ+ youth are 140 percent more likely to not attend school at least one day in the 30 days prior to the survey being taken due to safety concerns, and 34 percent of the youth surveyed reported having been bullied.
Hatred of someone simply because of their gender identity or sexuality is unacceptable in the extreme. While I understand that everyone's got their own set of beliefs that influence how they view the world, it should not matter an iota whether someone identifies as gay, straight, bi, pan, trans, or otherwise. There's already more than enough hatred going around - on this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, let's try and embrace each other because we can love and be who we are as consenting adults (or consenting youth). If you are operating within the law and involved in a consenting relationship with someone regardless of gender identity or sexuality, who cares? Let's be happy for each other.
Let's also look at lobbying for change in those countries where people aren't as lucky as those of us in North America - where people could be jailed, violated or killed for being LGBTQ+. This is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and so long as both people in the relationship are at an age of consent, support that. There seems to be so little positive in the world making the news today - shouldn't we encourage love and respect regardless of sexuality and gender identity?