Are the B and T in LGBT silent?

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By Shaina Silverman, Walt Whitman High School

While certain rights for people within the LGBTQA community are finally being granted, there are still some people who lack the recognition given to cisgender gay men and women. For those who don’t know, “cisgender” refers to a person born with “male” genitalia who identifies as a man, or a person born with “female” genitalia who identifies as a woman. Cisgender homosexuals are best known to society: men attracted to men and women attracted to women. Those who are in the “BTQ” (bisexual, transgender, questioning) group receive far less recognition than those in the “LG” group (lesbian, gay).

To begin with, many people do not think bisexuality actually exists. They are hardwired to believe that men and women should be attracted to each other, and only to one particular gender. However, bisexuality means being attracted to multiple genders. Many people label bisexuals as “going through a phase” or “secretly gay.” Bisexual people receive almost no recognition or respect. While it is hard for some parts of our society to understand homosexuality, bisexuality is even harder to comprehend and accept. What makes it even more difficult for bisexual people is that they are discriminated against within both the gay and straight communities. Within the gay community, bisexual people are considered to be “posers” and unworthy of support. While these statements are generalizations, the number of people who do not give bisexual people their deserved recognition is much larger than those who are accepting and tolerant. A source within the gay community has said to me, “I think that it is completely fine to be bisexual and I wish that everyone would realize that being bisexual is a thing. It’s not a phase…bisexual people are people. They are not unicorns—they do exist, and they’re everywhere.”

The truth is, the only way to get trans and bisexual people the recognition that they deserve is to spread awareness of these issues. We have evolved far as a society in how we accept people over the last 20 years, but we still have a long way to go.”

Another concept that is difficult for the general majority to understand is being transgender or transsexual. A person who is transgender does not conform to societal gender norms, and a person who is transsexual identifies as a gender different from what was assigned at birth (i.e. someone born with female genitals who identifies as a male). Many people who have known a transgender person prior to their transition refuse to accept that he or she has transitioned; if people knew you as a boy, they believe that you are still a boy. Another source says, “I think recognition is key to a better society for trans people. I think the media needs to be the gateway of learning about the trans community.” The trans community gets minimal recognition and many people– myself included– have no idea how difficult it is to be trans in our society. For instance, a common issue that a straight cisgender person would never have to worry about is where to go to the bathroom. If you don’t identify as either male or female, you will feel out of place in both the men’s room and the women’s room. There is also the issue of cisgender people not wanting trans people in their selective bathrooms because they think that they will be hit on or harassed. This ideology is misinformed and completely fabricated by transphobic minds. All trans men and women actually want to do when they enter the bathroom is, shockingly, go to the bathroom. While some schools do have gender-neutral bathrooms, they are incredibly rare and usually further away than the conventional male/female bathrooms. Furthermore, there is a darker side to the discrimination that transgender and transsexual people face. Trans people are at a higher risk for suicide due to their lack of acceptance within the gay community, and are also often the victims of various hate crimes, including murder and sexual assault. Recognition needs to be brought to this aspect of living as trans. No one should be at a higher risk for danger just because they’re trying to be themselves.

The truth is, the only way to get trans and bisexual people the recognition that they deserve is to spread awareness of these issues. We have evolved far as a society in how we accept people over the last 20 years, but we still have a long way to go. All people deserve equal rights, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other factor.