Bi and Trans Erasure
By Deanna Davenport
While we are in an era that allows same-sex couples to get married, we are far from done with the fight for what’s right in the LGBTQ+ community. In a society that is more inclusive than ever, why do we have to continue to fight for anything? The answer is simple: people don’t like what they don’t understand. That’s what started the fight to begin with. When Marsha P. Johnson threw that brick at the Stonewall Inn, creating a ripple that would ultimately lead to the Stonewall Riots, it wasn’t because she was understood and respected. Actually, the fact that Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman, and not the gay man they tried to replace her with in the movie Stonewall, was the one who threw the brick, brings me to my point.
There is an issue involving erasure that affects the LGBTQ+ community and it’s the silent movement that attempts to make bisexual and trans individuals invisible within the community. People who identify otherwise have created this idea that the “B” and “T” don’t need to be part of the acronym because these groups, although marginalized, are capable of having heterosexual relationships and therefore, don’t belong in a group of people that cannot do such a thing. Let me restate that. A group of people who are oppressed by “normal” society have certain ideas about who is “normal” for their community and as a result, have created a loop of oppression. Something has got to give.
What can you do to make yourself more visible if you fall into one of these groups? Well, for starters, Bi Visibility Day, a day used to celebrate bisexuals, highlight biphobia, and bash the myths associated with this orientation, is September 23rd. You can celebrate by wearing the colors of the bisexual flag (pink, lavender, and blue), going to some of the poetry readings, festivals, or picnics (events may vary per area), or creating an event of your own by connecting with local GSAs and government officials. You might have more luck with the GSA. Education can also help fight the good fight. Pointing out how many famous people identify as bi seems to open people’s eyes, but that’s just from personal experience. Different things work for different people, so find what works best for you. The goal is to let people know that bisexuals love like everyone else and whether they end up with a man or a woman is up to how interested they are because no one, regardless of sexual orientation, is attracted to everyone they see.
Keeping that idea in mind, Trans Day of Visibility is on March 31st and the trans flag colors are blue, pink, and white. I’ve gone to a couple of events before and as an ally, I usually wear white. This day isn’t about cisgender people and as such, we should leave the representation of the blue and pink to those who need it. Again, education is important and while not everyone loves Laverne Cox, everyone can agree that to some degree, they have felt like they weren’t in the place they wanted to be. Whether that means they wanted to lose weight, wear makeup, or have clear skin, remind them of that. Then tell them that as bad as that felt, it can’t compare to the feeling of body dysphoria. Dysphoria, not dysmorphia. Everyone has an idea of who they are meant to be. It’s unfair to allow others to tell you that you’re wrong because who you were meant to be changes their idea of you. If they get angry and make it about them. They don’t matter. You do.
Of course, everyone has their arguments as to why they think what they do and trying to change that is a difficult task, but my advice is: don’t try to change their mind. Find a comeback to their argument. If the argument is that “men in dresses” don’t belong in a women’s bathroom, flip it on them. I’ve seen plenty of trans women in pants and leggings and “I don’t think you understand that women don’t just wear dresses” makes sense to me. There’s no world in which women wear dresses every day. This isn’t the 1950s. If they tell you that bisexuality isn’t real, tell them that they’ve found out that you aren’t real, run away, and come back to see if they realized what a strange the argument was that they just proposed. There are so many options. Just choose the sarcastic route. It saves you a lot of wasted words and tears over feeling like you don’t belong. If that isn’t your route, go to your capital. Find out when people are lobbying and help them fight the good fight. Show the world that bisexual or transgender people can do good by the rest of their community. Aiding those among us can make someone change their mind and wonder why they thought someone of an even more marginalized group couldn’t help them.
While we can’t make all decisions based on feelings, people can’t deny that you’re real or important based on how you identify yourself. The world is full of different types of people and some of them are different, while some cannot be convinced that different is okay. This may be harder on some than others, but educating your peers is important and even when doing that, know that you aren’t their teacher and if they’re more willing to come to you than look on Google, it’s okay to say no every once in a while. You aren’t paid to teach someone something they don’t understand about a culture just because you’re a part of it. As long as you are comfortable with who you are and how you identify, it’s no one’s business what you do or who you love. If that means they stay curious about you being in a relationship with a woman and thinking a guy is cute, or changing your name from Justin to Ashley, you are valid and they don’t have a right to know everything about you. It’s about what you choose to share.