This LGBT Pride Month Is More Important Now Than Ever

This LGBT Pride Month Is More Important Now Than Ever

The fight rages on.
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It's Pride Month! Which if you're not familiar, June marks the LGBT history and celebration where thousands of cities will host parades and other events for the LGBT community; it's basically like gay Christmas. However, the LGBT has faced many obstacles within the past year since the Pulse Nightclub Attack and the Trump Administration. But as they have done in years past, the LGBT community isn't going down without a fight.

Monday, June 13 marked the one year anniversary since the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Fl. The day was full of ceremonies and services to honor the victims and families of the 49 killed and 50 injured in the attack. Since the attack, the LGBT has recognized and expressed their condolences at every Pride event following that day. Florida Governer, Rick Scott, declared Monday "Pulse Remembrance Day" and ordered all flags at half mast.

Sunday, protestors took to the D.C. streets as a political march rather than the typical celebration. Protestors demanded that President Trump takes more action in protecting the LGBT community. President Trump has remained silent on LGBT issues, even though his party traditionally disagrees with them. Earlier this year, President Trump rolled back on Obama-era protections for transgender youth in public schools. Now, thousands of trans-children face harassment and potential violence as they are forced to use the restrooms that do not coordinate with their gender identity. Trump has also become the first president in years to not publically dedicate June as Pride Month. Trump's silence along with Vice President Mike Pence's anti-LGBT beliefs and conversion therapy has the LGBT community going back to their Stonewall roots and are ready to protest. There is no doubt we are living in a turning point in history, not just for the LGBT community, but for all minorities.

Cover Image Credit: Time Out

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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Manafort's Met His Match in T.S. Ellis III

The first trial of the Mueller probe has only just begun, but all people can talk about is the judge appointed to hear it.

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Paul Manafort's trial for embezzling money from Ukranian lobbyists with links to Russia began Tuesday, and it's already clear who the hero in the courtroom is: not the prosecuting team of the Robert Mueller probe, but the judge, Justice T.S. Ellis III of the 4th U.S. District Court of Appeals.

The 78-year-old justice has a reputation for cutting short any lines of inquiry that are intended to confuse a jury. He quips, he prods and he lets everyone in the courtroom know that he's the smartest one there.

Maybe it's the numerous one-liners that have already emerged from less than a week into what's expected to be a short trial. Maybe it's nice to see someone who can cut through all the witch hunt and political drama-esque bullshit by pointing out the obvious--that Manafort's personal finances aren't as interesting as what Manafort could offer Mueller's probe, in exchange for time off a maximum 305-year sentence. I'm just cackling at the fact that one of Trump's inner circle is almost certainly going down after he was almost undeniably promised immunity by now-President Trump.

The snark is practically a job requirement. Judges need to be able to put people in their place in as few words as possible (Hello, Judge Judy). They need to be smart in their written remarks and effective in demonstrating their reasoning in a decision (See Kimba Wood in Leonard v. Pepsico -- her dry wit will make you think of Rihanna tweets). Being a great public speaker is a given, so why is it so funny that the most clapback-iest president ever is now trying to weasel his way out of a lawsuit that would, at the very least, land him in front of a judge with just as much wit (and willingness to use it) as Ellis?

Remember the 2016 Presidential debates. If anything, they demonstrated how comfortable Trump was taking audible digs at proctors and an opponent who couldn't, as a rule, require that he check his demeanor, ask him to clarify or demand that he offer evidence as support of his claims. If candidate Trump had appeared before a judge, he'd have been held in contempt. But President Trump? Harder to say, given that his most vigorous speeches are usually given from a post-election victory lap rally in a state where his base shows up in force because, well, that's what you do on a Thursday in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Chances are, Manafort will get off with only a few years in prison along with a hefty fine. But that's a matter for a jury to decide, and it's always difficult to tell what arguments will sway the average Joe. Given America's general distaste for corruption, there's probably some desire to punish those who commiserate with foreign governments, but only time will tell. Poetic and actual justice are best served in the same course.

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