The LGBT community has fought for equality in modern America since the days of the Stonewall riots in New York (a movement sparked by transgender women of color like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson), but just like the intersection of privilege in mainstream culture, the movement and community suffer from emphasis on the issues of some groups more than others, to the point that it seems more like the LGBt community, to say nothing of the other gender identities and sexualities the community supposedly represents, since in reality it’s supposed to be the LGBTQIA+ community. A small breakdown of terms:
G: gay men
B: bisexual (attracted to both male and female genders)
T: transgender (a woman assigned male at birth, or a man assigned female at birth)
Q: queer, an umbrella term for anyone in the community to adopt, or questioning
I: intersex, a person born with the biological characteristics common to both males and females. Note: no one has full reproductive male and female parts, and there are many ways to be intersex. Also, intersex people, like everyone else, have the right to determine their own gender.
A: asexual, people who don’t experience sexual attraction, and/or aromantic, people who do not experience romantic attraction
+: pansexual (attracted to people across the full gender spectrum), non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, and agender: people who don’t identify as male or female, or as both male and female, or have a fluid gender identity, demisexual: people who only experience sexual attraction when they have an emotional bond
This list, while exhaustive, is by no means comprehensive, but it does shed some light onto communities that are frequently ignored when we discuss the advancement of civil rights for all the non-straight, non-cisgender people who brighten our world and make us so beautifully diverse. One of the issues that I’ve seen get more attention is the infant genital mutilation of intersex babies, where doctors perform unnecessary surgical procedures to make intersex children “girls” and “boys”, even though infants by definition cannot give consent, even though the procedures can be dangerous with cosmetic results at best, and even though it’s barbaric to assume a) that genitals determine gender, and b) that determination of either gender or genitals is anything but a decision to be made by an individual.
This is but one of many issues facing the queer community, and while marriage equality was a huge win, there are other problems facing these people that have gone ignored and unnoticed for far too long, simply because there’s less coverage. Mainstream media chooses to highlight the “others” that “pass” more easily–Neil Patrick Harris and his husband are the go to couple when a mainstream publication wants to highlight a same-sex family, neck and neck with Ellen and Portia, and on Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show, she surrounds herself with equally conventionally beautiful trans women, while their siblings in arms remain on the fringe.
Inclusion means exactly that, that everyone is part of the conversation, not just the white, the rich, and the pretty. Like with most else, those of us with privilege need to be more mindful of when to put down the mic, take a step back, and listen.
Suggested reading: Gender Outlaws by Kate Bornstein, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Annabel by Kathleen Winter