Molly O'Hara is a pet blogger and freelance writer with a background in LGBTQ+ advocacy and nonprofit work.
The Forgotten Ones of the #MeToo Movement
When I first saw the beginnings of the #MeToo movement, I joined right in, excited that women were speaking out. Except there was a problem for me. As I have written in the past, these movements tend to forget the LGBTQ+ community.
My #MeToo story is not about a man enacting some violence or assault upon me, but instead, one of date rape by another woman. When I started to write on social media about this, I realized there was an even bigger problem.
No one was talking about transgender or other gendered individuals, and no one was talking about men. While the highest prevalence is male on female violence, the #MeToo is just as much about the transwomen and men and the cisgender men with stories to share as it is about the women who have been assaulted.
When I began to respond to the posts about #MeToo, I would add, "I've decided to answer all of these with love. Because we are standing together across platforms, pointing out the fact that almost every woman/transwoman and likely transman and men have been victims of some kind of sexual harassment or assault. Some stories are harder to hear than others, some stories may feel like they are too simple, too "little" to matter, but there is no too little, and there should be no too hard to hear. We have to listen to everything. We have to know it's not just man on woman violence, too. We have to stand and love each other. I send you love. #MeToo".
My friends who did not fall into the category of cisgender female began to write #MeToo. I started to see transgender individuals, cisgender men, posting in other places, written by people I didn't know. It was exciting.
However, men were also writing things like this from Nick Jack Pappas, “Men, Don’t say you have a mother, a sister, a daughter … Say you have a father, a brother, a son who can do better. We all can.”
While I agree with the sentiment, what about also teaching that mother, sister, daughter what assault looks like when committed by them, too? How about teaching that father, brother, and son what assault looks like when done TO them and what to do about it, also? Men are the least likely ever to speak up.
And then the #HowWillIChange hashtag began. Men were acknowledging former transgressions. It seemed then that the pattern of men speaking up with the #MeToo hashtag went down. It's hard to tell your story when your gender shoulders 99% of the blame.
Cover Photo of TIME's 2017 Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers
TIME Magazine Missed an Opportunity With the Silence Breakers
Like many this morning, I was looking forward to TIME Magazine's reveal of their Person of the Year. TIME chose to celebrate those who have broken the silence against abuse in a variety of work industries, which is, in my opinion, an excellent choice. These women have brought an incredible number of long-term abusers to face their crimes, and more so have revealed the hidden world where they look for help and are told they must not, or they will lose their jobs. I can't possibly imagine the pain of having to work with your abuser, or for many in the service industry, with abuse, every day, especially because you are financially dependent on it.
These women are strong. They have broken through, and their stories are out, loud and heard.
But, again, the #MeToo movement is considered a mainly women's movement. According to the article, over a six week period, TIME interviewed dozens of people about sexual harassment at work, however, there were only two men included in the entire story, one gay and one straight, and no transgender men or women.
During that six-week period of interviews, could TIME not have made an extra effort to reach out to more minority groups, particularly the one that is often isolated from women's movements, the LGBTQ+ community?
TIME's article does include one statistic about transgender individuals. According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47% of transgender people report being sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, both in and out of the workplace.
That's quite the statistic to introduce without including a single transgender person in their story.
Why Does This Need to Change So Badly?
- The Women's movement and the LGBTQ+ movement have long been known to be isolated from each other. It began because each group thought they should advocate for their own rights and not be watered down by another; now we know the rights fought for are rooted in the same issues.
- Transgender individuals such as Laverne Cox, Gavin Grimm, and Avery Jackson are making waves in the news and changing lives for kids and teens everywhere.
- There is legislation circulating regarding public bathrooms. Are we going to move forward in this decade or drop back about 70 years?
- Neither you (unless you identify as a trans woman) nor I are ever going to experience the humiliation of someone leaning over to ask, "hey, do you still have your, 'you know'?"
Amid this discussion is an entirely different kind of sexual harassment experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace. Consider the humiliating question I wrote in the last bullet point; that is both a potentially likely scenario and sexual harassment. Well, what if that question comes from that person's work friend who just wants to know, between the two of them.
I started a project last year working with a Gay/Straight Alliance in a local school and found out after a few weeks that my boss had outed me to the school counselor who led the group. The counselor, who also happened to be gay, asked me if I knew my boss had done that. My boss didn't mean to do anything wrong of course; she knew the counselor was gay too, I was going to help with a GSA, etc., so she assumed that it was ok to tell another person about my sexuality.
Would she have bothered to stop and mention that I was straight if I was still driven to start that same project but wasn't gay?
Where does that fall?
The statistic regarding sexual harassment of transgender individuals does not take into account the other aspects of bullying LGBTQ+ individuals face that, perhaps, straight individuals don't in the workplace.
What if they live in a state that is currently still arguing about bathroom use, and therefore they feel uncomfortable going to the bathroom at work?
What if they work somewhere that forces them to present as the wrong gender?
Where does that fall?
If the LGBTQ+ issue is not talked about more in the same context as the #MeToo movement, and TIME Magazine's The Silence Breakers, these "other" gendered stories will be forgotten, and we will miss a chance to make a considerable difference.
What Do You Think?
Gavin Grimm's Story: Gender Revolution, National Geographic
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 Molly O'Hara