I’m bisexual+ and genderfluid, and as such, I’ve learned from first hand experience how much intolerance, prejudice, and lack of understanding there is against individuals who are bisexual+, genderfluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, transgender, asexual, intersex, and so on (BTNIA for short) from both inside and outside the LGBTQ Community. Unfortunately, experiencing intolerance from cisgender, straight people is not a surprise despite the fact it’s the 21st century. But having to deal with it from fellow members of the LGBTQ Community can be even more painful since we wanted to believe that we’d at least find acceptance from other LGBTQs. But acceptance even here is not always the case. And let me tell you, it really hurts and can adversely affect innocent people’s lives.
Why is there still so much intolerance against BTNIA individuals? Lack of understanding is a big factor I would say. People often fear, are intolerant towards, and shun what they see as too different and don’t understand. They are more likely to listen to unfair stereotypes and jump to premature conclusions that they then base future behavior on. This is compounded by the problem of how so many individuals only seek out people, groups, information sites, etc that agree with them and shun or ignore those that don’t. This sort of behavior reinforces close-mindedness and ends up seriously hurting innocent people (in this case, BTNIA individuals) who are seen as too different.
The result is many of us who are BTNIA feel isolated and alone without a sense of community, and trust me when I say that this can be brutally hard. Human beings are social creatures as a species, so feeling like we don’t belong anywhere usually goes against our nature. A great number of BTNIA people suffer in the closet as a consequence, afraid of what might happen if their secret was discovered. Others who are out often find dating extremely difficult (sometimes near impossible) so that it’s common to find BTNIA individuals grappling with the very strong likelihood that we’ll never find someone special and that we’ll always be alone. Establishing close, genuine friendships can be terribly difficult too since we are often seen as at least a bit too different.
It’s way past time for people to open their minds and educate themselves. To push outside their comfort zones and learn about other people who are different from themselves. They should seek out information from a variety of different sources, not just from those that agree with them. And they need to stop automatically believing stereotypes that are frequently unfair and not true for many BTNIA individuals.
If more people would open their minds, it would help BTNIA individuals live happier, more fulfilling lives, and it would also help those individuals who are opening their minds to live better lives themselves.
People’s fear and/or discomfort of what they don’t understand hurt others far too often. And unfortunately, there are plenty of examples in society today.
In general, it seems that many people only want to be involved with individuals, organizations, places, ideas, and so on that fit into their comfort zone. This means they tend to just associate with others who are similar to them. It can manifest in many ways, like people only socializing with others who share their views (such as in religion, politics, and interests). Whether they consciously realize it or not, these individuals frequently avoid those whom they see as too different, and this can be detrimental to all concerned in numerous ways.
For one thing, this tendency can insulate people far too severely so that they often fail to open their minds. As this happens, they don’t adequately consider other ideas and points of view and as a result, usually don’t give such things anywhere close to a fair chance. The consequences of this sort of behavior end up hurting themselves as well as others.
We can see the effects of this in a plethora of ways. One is in politics. Many people today focus their political discussions and fervor only with others who already agree with them and immediately reject ideas coming from individuals they see as too different. Just because one may disagree with another in numerous ways politically, doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t have some good points or ideas. If both parties would open their minds, they may find some common ground in places and perhaps the potential for compromise. They may also learn from each other and thus broaden their minds even further.
Another area where the consequences are seen far too often is in the social realm. It is terribly common how so many people only socialize with or date others they see as similar enough (and not too different). The result is that many people get hurt and end up feeling rejected and lonely. This is especially true for individuals whom too much of society don’t understand and end up closing their minds to. For example, many bisexual+ people find dating brutally difficult despite the fact that they can be just as faithful as anyone else. Numerous others (such as individuals who are transgender, genderfluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, asexual, and so on) have terrible challenges in trying to date because of being seen as too different. Most people automatically reject them in a kneejerk type of reaction without even trying to get to know them. The result is that far too many individuals feel isolated and alone. Plus, those who are so quick to reject them may be missing out on what could potentially have been a wonderful relationship.
These are just a few examples. People in general need to open their minds and cease being so quick to judge. They should stop being so fearful of what they don’t adequately understand and instead, work to educate themselves and broaden their horizons, for doing so would likely make the lives of themselves and others so much better.
Think about the fact that transgender women are four times more likely to be murdered than cisgender women. I mean really think about that. It’s heartbreaking, disgraceful, and a real sign that intolerance and prejudice are still far too common in today’s society.
It begs the question: why?
Why are so many people so intolerant towards others just because they are different from themselves.
People often are uncomfortable with, fear, and sometimes even hate things that are different and that they don’t understand. While some strive to overcome this by opening their minds and educating themselves, others don’t and sometimes sink further into prejudice and hate.
The current state of affairs needs to change. People should open their minds and educate themselves. They also need to stop automatically believing stereotypes that are frequently untrue. So I’m going to use this piece to try to educate people on some terms and ideas that many in today’s society don’t have a good grasp on. And I’m going to be clear about the fact that I am queer myself having a fluid sexuality (bisexual+) and a fluid gender (genderfluid).
A transgender person is an individual who identifies as a different gender than the physical body the person was born with. For example: a transgender woman was born physically male but identifies as a woman. Transitioning is the process of trying to get her physical body to match how she identifies. A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They don’t relate with the traditional male/female binary. A genderfluid individual is someone whose gender identity is fluid (a mixture of male, female, and in between); how much they feel one way as compared to others can fluctuate. Thus, the fluid aspect of the term. Genderqueer refers to individuals who don’t subscribe (either fully or in part) to the traditional gender binary. Bisexuality refers to the potential to be attracted to more than one gender (male, female, non-binary, etc) while pansexuality is attraction to someone regardless of that person’s gender (like gender doesn’t matter in a way). Bisexual+ (bi+) is an umbrella term used to describe anyone who can be attracted to more than one gender (or regardless of gender), whatever term(s) they prefer (bisexual, pansexual, fluid, etc). Queer is essentially a catch-all word referring to anyone who is LGBTQ+. Clearly, there is overlap and interconnection with some of these terms, and many people will use more than one to describe themselves.
People who are bi+, transgender, genderfluid, non-binary, genderqueer, and so on are living, breathing human beings who deserve open-mindedness, tolerance, decency, and respect. We are not disturbed or diseased. We are not a bunch of confused, cheating sex maniacs. We want to live happy, productive lives just like everyone else. We want to have friendship and love too. As to romance, most of us are monogamous individuals while others choose polyamorous or open relationship lifestyles.
So please, take some time to educate yourselves and open your minds. Be respectful of others and don’t automatically be intolerant against someone just because they are different from you.
I’m going to be up front about the fact that I am queer with a fluid sexuality (bisexual+) and a fluid gender (genderfluid). As such, I unfortunately have first-hand experience about how so many cisgendered people often have a serious lack of understanding with regards to genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender (GfNT) individuals. This in turn leads to intolerance and prejudice.
Maybe I should start with explaining who we are. A transgender person is an individual who identifies as a different gender than the physical body the person was born with. For example: a transgender woman was born physically male but identifies as a woman. Transitioning is the process of trying to get her physical body to match how she identifies. A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They don’t relate with the traditional male/female binary. A genderfluid individual is someone whose gender identity is fluid. A mixture of male, female, and in between. How much they feel one way as compared to the others can fluctuate one minute to the next. Thus, the fluid aspect of the term. Genderqueer refers to individuals who don’t subscribe (either fully or in part) to the traditional gender binary. Clearly, there is overlap and interconnection with some of these terms, and many GfNT people will use more than one to describe themselves.
Often, people fear, ridicule, and make fun of things that they don’t understand or are uncomfortable with. This is especially common among cisgendered individuals with regards to GfNT people. But when a person makes fun of and ridicules a community that is hurting and suffering, it worsens the pain and intolerance that community is already being forced to endure. It reinforces and exacerbates the lack of understanding and prejudice that is so pervasive in this society.
Consider this: many GfNT people are afraid to use public restrooms because of the risk of verbal and even physical abuse. Using public restrooms is something cisgendered people take for granted. Dating is another area that GfNT individuals such as myself often find brutally difficult because most cisgendered people won’t even consider dating us, even if they were interested before realizing our gender identity. The result of all this is that too many GfNT people feel very isolated and alone. Studies have shown that the transgender community suffers higher rates of depression and suicide than the cisgendered community. This is obviously connected to intolerance, prejudice, lack of understanding, isolation, and loneliness.
For things to get better, people need to educate themselves and open their minds. Put themselves in other people’s shoes so to speak. Imagine being afraid of the simple act of using a public restroom. Think about how hard it would be going through life feeling isolated and alone because you are trying to be true to who you are. If more members of the cisgender community would do this, perhaps there would be fewer ridiculing and making hurtful jokes about the GfNT community.