Not only does the number of letters for the LGBTQ+ group continue to grow, so does what the Pride flag includes continue to expand.
(Trigger and content warnings: I am using old-school terms for transitioning. I am using the socially-accepted terms for the human anatomy. NSFW content.)
Old Ways of Thinking
I once argued that LGB issues and trans issues shouldn’t intertwine. The fight for marriage equality was not the same thing as the trans community’s fight to have their transitions recognized. Many corners of society still only see us as the gender we’re assigned at birth, so our fight to recognize our transitions overlaps with the fight for marriage equality, as conservatives and reactionaries would see my relationship with a woman not as “straight” but as lesbian/queer, because they don’t recognize me as a man.
I also argued that being transsexual was different from being transgender and non-binary. Transsexual should have their identities validated legally and socially, because of the lengths we went to “heal” our bodies, change our names legally, update our gender markers, resocialize. Transgender and non-binary individuals usually didn’t want to undergo gender affirmative treatments, didn’t want to pay to change their names and correct their legal documents, didn’t want to resocialize at least update their wardrobes to try to fit in with the gender identity they associated with; so why they should have the same benefits I earned? I also argued a trans man was complete without a penis as the bottom surgeries available to us wasn’t “perfected”, but a trans woman couldn’t legally be recognized until she got a neovagina. Talk about the double standards I had!
I didn’t think was there any difference between being bi, poly, pan.
I also argued for “genital preference”, that lesbians should be allowed to date only women with vaginas, and gay men with other men who had penises. I was willing to accept that there would be women who wouldn’t date me for my vagina, as much as I didn’t want to date a “pre-op” trans woman, and at that time in my life I was willing to live with the consequences of that thinking.
I also argued that the Rainbow Pride Flag should represent sexual orientation, and the trans flag for gender identity. Which by the way…
The New Flag
While many intersex individuals do identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, others do not. There’s also argument between the intersex and trans communities over trans appropriation of acronyms like AFAB (“assigned female at birth”) and AMAB (“assigned male at birth”).
I am not intersex, and I can’t speak for the community. However, I don’t like how some trans people say being trans is a form of being intersex. The argument using the brain theory, a “woman’s brain inside a man’s body” narrative, perhaps the most extreme version of being intersex, is perhaps cultural appropriation at its worst.
As with all the groups within our community who want all kinds of flags? While at Pride events I can see why they should all be displayed, when it comes to try and remain concise in our communications, it is best we find one flag to represent everybody.
Until this flag is perhaps more greatly adopted, I don’t plan to update my favicon soon. This flag for now is too decisive, nor well-known, and I want to use something that is common and widespread.
Expanding Beyond the LGBT Acronym
LGBT. LGBTQ. LGBTQIA. The additional (+) and asterisk (*) signs, should it be added or not? How many letters must we add to the ever growing “alphabet soup”? Should we use alternative terms and acronyms to be more inclusive? Or should we just generally call ourselves “queer”?
(Here’s one I came across a long time, and you can actually pronounce it like a word: QUILTBAG.)
Those of us who number more (the LGB for sure, as well as us who can easily identify as “trans”) can easily argue away that those within the community whose numbers are nowhere as big should “stop arguing semantics” and “concentrate on more important things”, like our continued fight to make sure the rights we have won in recent years remain, against the increasing number of bills targeting trans youth, to stop underhanded tactics to cover up continued discrimination against our community. That sex-negative asexuals need to realize we need our safe spaces, parades, and event because we’re the ones persecuted, not them, so we can safely be with our partners publicly without fear of harassment and discrimination for once. Yada yada.
If I were someone who used a label that wasn’t easily as available, I would perhaps argue for inclusion. Especially as there are others who may not easily identify with one of the more populous groups, and these other terms better describe me. That if my subset of the community isn’t visible and part of the conversation, issues specific to us won’t be addressed.
As a lingual descriptivist, I think language and labels matter. If we have a word to describe ourselves, it validates our existence. As conservatives still try to label LGBs as “homosexual”, they try to reduce us to our sex acts, and try to deny that who we’re attracted to has a romantic and emotional component. By calling trans folx “mentally ill cross-dressers”, they try to reduce the trans experience as one of delusional transvestism. By claiming and advocating for language that more accurately describe who we are, we not only validate our own experience, we can also find others who share a similar sense of self, we can find a community we identify with. (It’s just that, so long as you don’t pigeon-hole yourself, or overload the definition of the term.)
Other and Closing Thoughts
Unlike how I was till the end of last year, I have adopted a mindset of live-and-let-live. I even tried to let a friend who’s polyamorous (though straight) know he could technically be considered family, as polyamory has long fought alongside our community for rights and recognition, as polyamorous relationships sometimes have at least two partners within the group of the same gender attracted to each other.
Kink is often shown and represented at Pride. My feelings? I have my fetishes and kinks, and because Pride is meant to fade off sexual shame of (almost) any kind, why not include them? (Fuck pedos and zoophiles, though. That’s not a relationship; that’s assault and rape.)
If you’re attracted to more than one gender (bi, pan, poly, omni, etc) but otherwise in a relationship with someone born of a different gender from you, you’re still included at Pride events. People have perhaps tried to shame you at some point, so you should be included so you can show that it’s about love.
If you claim to be “ex-gay” or “ex-trans”, go on and live your life however you want. Just don’t tell those of us who choose to accept our sexualities and gender identities, rather than “convert”/”revert” them, that we shouldn’t be allowed the same rights as our cishet siblings.
I had a hard early adulthood that has left me behind others around my age from achieving certain milestones. I’m making up sorely for lost time, wisdom, and experience. Last thing I need to do is get involved with pedantry and trivialities. Even if I still have reservations about something, I’m about building bridges, not walls.