Tonight's Himitsu no Arashi-chan was pretty much an after-school special on trans people. It just reminded me oh so much
of university when I was outreach coordintor for Pride UBC
. I ran an "Ally Workshop" with my friend for 2 years, actually. Sho and Aiba escorted this girl around Tokyo as she talked about growing up and going to an all-boys school and how she dealt with being trans.
Now for a little vocabulary lesson because who actually knows what all those letters in the GLBTTQQIA* acronym actually mean? I do. Here's what you would learn if you went to our workshop!
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual... these terms define your sexual orientation. Who do you like to sleep with? People choose them based on their gender. Straight:
people who have relationships and sex with people of the opposite sex: boys with girls, girls with boys. Also known as heterosexual and, in most uptight conservative circles, the "normal" sexual orientation, which is here the term heteronormative
comes from -- the assumption that everyone is, or should be, straight.Gay:
technically men who choose to have relationships and sex with men. It can be and is used as an umbrella term for people who have same-sex relations (for both men and women). Lesbian:
women who sleep with women. Comes from a the Greek isle of Lesbos where the homosexual poet Saphos lived with other women.Bisexual:
people who have relations with both men and women, both the same and opposite sex. Transgender:
when the state of one's "gender idenity" (self-identification as man, woman or other) does not match one's "assigned sex" (your physical sexual characteristics). The term doesn't encompass anything to do with your sexual orientation (i.e. who you want to sleep with). Transsexual:
a person who identifies as, or desires to live and be accepted as, a member of the sex opposite to that assigned at birth. Transsexual people can sort of be lumped into "pre-" and "post-operative" camps but after surgery most will just choose to identify as their chosen gender.
I still get confused as to which term to use...they are pretty fluid and very, very similar. I think a good guideline is those who have or plan to transition genders are transsexual
while those who just believe themselves to have differing gender identities and physical characteristics are transgender
a former derogatory term for homosexual folks, this word has been reclaimed by the GLBT community and is now used in an empowering and positive way. Some people are a little touchy when non-GLBT people use it, however. It is an all-inclusive umbrella term for people of gender and sexual minorities, but has a distinct political slant that not everyone likes. (i.e. Andrew says he's gay, not queer because he hates activism but my old roommate would identify himself as queer and went to Pride every year.)
And now an embarrassing picture: a queer boy in his natural habitat, protesting GAP (Genocide Awareness Project) on UBC Campus.Questioning:
pretty self-explanitory. You're not sure what your gender/sexual identity is and are working it out.Intersex:
the 20th century term for people born with ambiguous genitalia, or characteristics that don't fit into the cookie-cutter "male" or "female" catergories. It used to be common practice for the doctor to look at a baby and give a best-guess at to what the baby should be and operate, sometimes without parental permission. This, more often than not, caused problems for the child later in life if the chosen gender did not match their gender idenity. The new line of thought is to leave the child alone and they will show their indentity as they grow up and can choose for themselves whether or not to have surgery.Ally:
people who support GLBT folks who don't identify as GLBT themselves.*:
the acronym keeps changing so some places just use the first 4 letters and *. It's kind of ridiculous. XD
How do you be a good ally? Reflect a persons language: if they identify as gay, use gay. If they identify is intersex, use intersex. If they don't indenify themselves... just ask. Rather be a little awkward and ask, "What word should I use?" than be an ignorant douche. You can be really aggressively active and speak up when you hear people using "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" and march in parades and fundraise and all that noise. You can also be passive and do small things like wear a pin that says "ally" or have a rainbow stripe on your car.
I hope you learned something! :D