Today’s the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, and I’m participating in the HAHABT Hop 2015. I’m going to be giving away a prize (yay!) as well as sharing my thoughts as someone who’s subject to both Biphobia and Transphobia. Then you can hop along to the next blog and check out all the great prizes and blog posts from the participants. What joy, what mirth!
How to be a better ally — to your friends, to dangerously marginalized minorities, and to yourself.
Allow me to offer up some basics you might have overlooked.
- We’re often the harshest on what we fear inside ourselves. Most people know this, but knowledge isn’t enough. What you might not realize is that gay, bi, and trans* people often internalize prejudice and are actively homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic even against their own kind and sometimes especially against others under the same umbrella. We all–however enlightened–have to do the difficult work of reaching inside ourselves and questioning why and where these things take root. For every trans* woman who cringes at being called a gay man–not because of the man part, but because of the gay part, for every bi person who rushes to point out they’re not “really gay,” and for every gay man or woman who refuses to consider a trans* person as a lover because they’re “not really” male or female, we need this day. And for every reader and writer of queer fiction, for every ally, we need to be alert to these internalized biases and what they mean for us and those we’re trying to reach, help, and love.
- Biphobia often manifests where we least expect it. Some of the most vicious biphobia I’ve ever encountered came from gay and bi people–including myself. For years I identified as pansexual instead of bisexual even though they’re close to the same thing. For me, as for many people, pansexuality was just a way to be bisexual without the baggage. How maligned does an orientation have to be for people to create a new word for a very similar thing just to get away from the bad press? Many readers and some publishers seem to believe a character’s not bi unless they’re with both a woman and a man in the same story, and bisexuality seems to imply menage in LGBT romance. This can perpetuate the cycle of belief that a bisexual can’t be happy in a monogamous romance–a false and harmful misunderstanding. Most of the characters I’ve written are bisexual, and just because they’re men who–in the course of the story–end up with another man does not mean they’re “gay now” or that they’ll someday stray. They’ve found a forever love, but their innate sexual orientation and their lived experience doesn’t disappear–and it doesn’t make them a cheater, insatiable, greedy, or anything but a human whose wiring allows them to find love on either side of a gender divide.
- Biphobia and Transphobia are often overlooked despite the toll they take on our community. While homophobia is often a blatant evil that surfaces repeatedly in our media and systems of governance, biphobia and transphobia are often latent, insidious, and all but invisible. I’m not saying for a moment that they’re worse, only that the gay lobby has achieved a level of power and influence that helps them combat such negative stereotypes and portrayals. If you look at the website for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, you’ll see what I’m talking about: Even this website is named “day against homophobia” and the title text in the tab still reads “IDAHO” or International Day against Homophobia. The rest of the text, when I hover over it, reads “| International Day Against Homophobia, Lesbphobia and Transphobia”. I’m still participating, but I’m very aware of how desperately Biphobia and Transphobia need the visibility they can only achieve right now by being grouped in with Homophobia.
- Transphobia is a prolific killer, and too many of us are averting our eyes. It’s time to “fight like hell for the living!” Tragically gay people are still bashed and murdered, but trans* people are being murdered at a terrifying clip. Every time I go outside my house presenting as my true gender, I wonder if I’ll be hurt, harassed, or even killed. As a trans* man, I still have it better than trans* women. My sisters are dropping like flies. Trans* women of color die at an even worse rate–if Freddie Gray and the Baltimore riots weren’t enough to convince you racism is still alive and well, consider the disparity of death rate between white trans* people and trans* POCs. If you don’t use your voice to remind people of the ongoing war these women are fighting, you’re not an ally, you’re an observer. Share and like and comment on Facebook, of course, but take it offline too, where these murders are committed. Leave no room for doubt that you support the trans* community and respect those brave enough to take a stand for who they truly are in a world that validates and promotes conformity and compliance.
- Consider that intersectional feminism is fighting for all the same things this hop represents: equality and freedom for all, across races, classes, orientations, and identities, across gender lines. Most of the best education and thought I’ve processed about these issues, tackling various -phobias and internalized biases have come from reading critiques, blogs, essays, and handy-dandy infographics from the intersectional community. Avail yourself of it, even if you’ve never considered yourself a feminist. You might be surprised. I was. It’s not about female superiority or even being a woman–it’s about the way we’re all in this together.
And now for the prizes! (Yay!)
On May 25th after this hop ends, I’ll draw a name through random.org and select at least one winner to receive any title in my backlist! If you’ve already read all my titles, then I’ll send you your own copy of my new book, Asher Beauregard Attempts to Give a Damn, as soon as it comes out in June. Sound good? Then leave a thoughtful comment responding to this post and include an email address or contact method. Good luck! And don’t forget to check out all the other fantastic bloggers on this hop: