In honor of Transgender Remembrance Day, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance (LGBTA), revealed the issues that LGBT students face during a discussion held Nov. 20, in the University Student Union’s Flintridge Room.
Transgender Remembrance Day is a day to remember transgender people who’ve been hurt or killed due to hate crimes and was established about 17 years ago when Gwen Arroyo was murdered in the North Bay because of her refusal to conform to gender rules.
“I’ve had a hard time explaining my sexuality,” said LGBTA treasurer, Paul Grosart, before explaining that transgender people don’t necessarily fit into societies’ dichotomous ideals of gender.
Grosart expressed the importance of Transgender Remembrance Day, stating that transgender people are 10 times more likely to be killed as a result of a hate crime than lesbians, gays, or bisexuals, whether it’s due to situations such as being denied health care in serious conditions or blatant murder.
Mary Thornton, president of LGBTA, said, “Your gender is not your sex.”
“Gender is societal, what if we didn’t have gender roles, how much less limited would that be?” Thornton said.
“I’ve heard of people who have a sex change to be with a same-sex partner,” Thornton said. “People say, ‘I don’t understand, why would you change your sex to be a lesbian?’ But they don’t understand. That person may have been born a man and attracted to women, but when it comes to gender, they feel like a woman.”
The group also pointed out that parents of inter-sex children that are born with ambiguous genitalia, which occurs in one in every 2,000 births, must choose which sex they want their child to be, and that sex may or may not coincide with the gender that the child may feel.
“There’s a whole spectrum of gender that is continuous,” LGBTA member Scott Cher said. “I don’t think sex and gender are dependent on each other, nor do they have to line up.”
During the discussion, LGBTA members and interested students also discussed the animosity and discrimination that LGBTs and queers face daily outside of, as well as within, the LGBTQ community.
“It’s not about the gender, it’s about the person,” said Mindy Greenberg, who considers herself bisexual. “But within the gay community, it’s like I’m not fully committing.”
Other participants noted that some gays consider bisexuals as being greedy, and wonder why they don’t just choose.
Thornton also mentioned that one doesn’t have to be sexually active to know that they’re lesbian, gay or bisexual. She said she has heard many heterosexuals ask, “How do you know you’re bisexual?”
“Sometimes you have to turn it around on (heterosexuals). I just ask them, ‘How do you know you’re heterosexual?'”
You don’t have to have sex to know to whom you are attracted, Thornton said.
The group also discussed the numerous terms that are developed to express one’s sexuality every day, such as the difference between pansexual and bisexual. The term bisexual implies there’s a dichotomy between genders, and pansexual individuals consider themselves as having the capacity to fall in love with anyone, regardless of gender.
“There are so many words to define sexuality,” Thornton said. “Why do we force ourselves to label and a have a title for our sexuality?”
“Our goal with this discussion was to educate people,” said Thornton, after an attendee said that just living in this world makes people prejudiced after being immersed in and bombarded with preconceived ideas about people that need to be unlearned.
LGBTA has open meetings every Thursday in the Flintridge room of the University Student Union from 7 to 10 p.m. and encourages all students to attend.