Lets keep the rainbow flag flying

I am somewhat baffled by recent assertions that objecting to people saying “trans men and women” is somehow erasing the identities of non-binary folk. The logic, as best I can figure out, seems to be that if you dare to mention that some people do not fit on the binary then it weakens your own identity by association. Or perhaps you are entirely one extreme of the wibbly wobbly blob that is sex and gender and gender roles and identity… but you’re feeling a little uncertain, perched out there on the edge.

If you have insecurities about your identity, please don’t push them on the rest of us. Yes, I prefer female pronouns. But on a weekend I spend my time, as one person put it, up to my eyeballs in mud. If I get Sir’d occasionally running around a training area instead of Ma’amed as an honest mistake, so be it. I may occasionally get angst about it, but I don’t use that to beat others up with.

Gender is complicated, as Sarah Brown points out and over-simplication does not help our cause.

There are plenty of other terms to use. “Trans folk”, “Trans people”, “Trans community”. Personal objections to how one particular phrase sounds does not suddenly give one the right to trample over others by using a problematic phrase. The onus must remain to find an alternate phrase yourself, otherwise we give free license to bigots to use whatever terms they like because they can’t find one they don’t object to.

Yes, as members and activists within a community we’re expected to abide by a higher standard than the mainstream, because people look to us to set an example.

There are parallels with another problem within the LGBT community – and yes, it’s still a problem – that of bisexual erasure. Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon recently caused a fuss by saying that for her, “sexuality is a choice”.

Rightly, she was criticised. What she seems to really mean is that she is bisexual, but she portrayed her position as flipping between two binary states rather than existing somewhere in the complex n-dimensional space of attraction and romanticism.

Lets not fall into Cynthia’s trap when it comes to gender. I’m a Kinsey 5 when it comes to sexuality, and I guess on the same zero-to-six scale applied as male-to-female, my gender identity and presentation is somewhere around a four or five, but with a pretty narrow window I’m able to operate within. Dresses and Barbies at the six end of the scale make me uncomfortable, although not as bad as the catastrophically dysphoria-inducing concept of being any closer to the male end. I’d say a perfectly androgynous three is my hard limit.

Yet even that is a simplification.

It’s a rainbow flag for a reason. Lets keep it that way, with all its colours.

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