National Coming Out Day 2017

Happy National Coming Out Day!

For those who do not know, National Coming Out Day began on October 11th, 1987 when half a million people marched on Washington for LGBT Rights. Since that day, October 11th has been used to celebrate coming out and being out. Many people also use this day to come out for the very first time, or come out to a new person/group.

I remember when national coming out day came around while I was still in the closet. I felt a sense of urgency to do it that day, but got nervous and waited some more. National Coming Out Day is not supposed to pressure anyone to come out when they’re not ready, so if you’re in the closet and don’t feel ready – don’t come out today! This day did give me a little nudge to bit the bullet and tell my parents. I think it was beneficial to me to have national coming out day take place during the time I was deciding when to come out.

Part of me feels like we shouldn’t have to “come out” per se. We should be able to just start seeing someone, or have it come up in conversation. A big dramatic “let’s sit down and cry moment” isn’t always necessary or wanted. If that is your experience, there isn’t anything wrong with that, coming out to my parents was mildly dramatic, but if that’s not the experience you want then it doesn’t have to be that way.

For me, being out is liberating and incredibly important. I always try to be the “out person” that I needed when I was questioning my sexuality. Being out for me can also be very political, especially right now. Having out role models is crucial for people in the closet. It’s also really important for everyone else to see that LGBTQIA+ people are not some far off distant idea, but rather are your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family members.

I hope everyone has an incredible National Coming Out Day, and is able to celebrate being LGBTQIA+!

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Gender and Chronic Illness

Most abled people assume that if you get sick there will be a doctor there full of empathy and ready to save the day – this however is not the narrative of many people who have chronic illnesses.

While I personally have never been straight up told I’m faking it, it’s been implied and stated multiple times that I was being dramatic or “just had anxiety.” I feel like it’s important to note that every time this has happened, it was coming from a man. I came to the realization a long time ago that a lot of medical professionals see me as a teenage girl who’s over dramatic and just wants to get a few days off school. This profiling happens before I open my mouth and once that decision has been made in their mind it is nearly impossible to change it.

Many people who end of being diagnosed with endometriosis or ovarian cysts are told that it’s “just their period” and that they need to learn how to deal with cramps.Women and feminine presenting people are disproportionally targeted when it comes to doctors disbelief of their symptoms. Men and masculine presenting people on the other hand often try to “tough it out” and don’t go to the doctor until long after it’s necessary due to being afraid of not “taking it like a man” ; or they do go to the doctor and the doctor essentially tells them to “man up.” These gender stereotypes are incredibly harmful, especially within the medical world.

Back in February of this year I had an electrophysiology study, and the experience was less than pleasant. After the study I had a reaction to the medication they gave me to speed up my heart rate, and my whole body began to tremor. A rapid response team was called and all of the nurses were visibly concerned, and knew something was wrong. The doctor who came in however, was super nonchalant about everything and left the room while I was still having the tremors.

Later the next morning when my doctor (at the time) came to see me he said he thought I had anxiety and that’s why the whole incident occurred. Obviously that was not the case, and he just didn’t want to figure out what is actually wrong with me. There are two conclusions I’ve drawn from this situation: 1) because I’m a teenage girl he thought I was being dramatic, 2) it was going to take time and testing to figure out what’s wrong with my heart (plus I’m considered a “complicated care”) so my situation would not be easy money for him.

This is just one of many events where men downplayed my symptoms / disability and reduced me to “just an anxious teenage girl.” Not all chronic illnesses are created equally and not all experiences with chronic illness are the same. Gender and Sex can be a huge factor is getting a diagnosis, even when your illness has nothing to do with either of those. Have you ever had a bad medical experience due to your gender? Did gender or sex affect your diagnosis process?

 

The Language of Disability

Not that long ago I didn’t consider myself disabled. Society had taught me disabled people were in wheelchairs, had some level of impaired mobility, or had moderate to severe cognitive disabilities. Sure chronic illness had completely taken over my life, but in my eyes I wasn’t disabled enough.

Fast forward to maybe nine months ago, I realized I was in fact disabled by my chronic illnesses and took on the label with pride. For me disabled is both a description of how chronic illness affects my life and a political label. I don’t have a problem with being referred to as disabled, because it’s true.

A lot of people however don’t seem to like the word “disabled.” When I was in high school I applied to become a “Best Buddy” which is a program where you befriend someone in the special education program. Fortunately or unfortunately for me (depending on how you look at it) they didn’t have enough special ed kids for all of the volunteers to have a buddy, so I never got one.

I did go to a training class after school one day, and something from it has stuck with me. They talked about how you shouldn’t ever say someone is disabled, instead say “a person with a disability, differently abled, or handi-capable.” The funny thing about the language of disability is I only see parents/caretakers asking people not to say disabled, never actual disabled people. I’m sure there are disabled people out there who don’t like the term, but I personally haven’t run across any. Many people take on the label with pride and try to advocate for themselves and others with disabilities.

I personally have a problem with the term “differently abled.” Disabled people aren’t differently abled, they are disabled. There are things we can’t do, point blank, end of story. For me some days I can do something and the next day I can’t, but there are also things that I’m never abled to do no matter the circumstances. “A person with a disability” isn’t offensive, I just find it unnecessary. The argument for the other side is that you should put the person before the disability. I feel you don’t have to take that literally. As long as someone is being respectful and isn’t  using a demonizing or belittling tone, then there isn’t anything wrong with saying “disabled people” or a “disabled person.”

Of course you should treat someone like a human being, and not reduce them to their diagnosis. However I don’t fid it necessary to say “person with a disability” every time you speak about disabilities. What are your thoughts? Do you use the term disabled to describe yourself?

Trumps Latest Attack on Trans Rights

I would like to say I was surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find the tweets about banning trans people from the military, but honestly nothing he does shocks me anymore.

This however did seem out of the blue to me. No conversation, only a declaration. While technically nothing is set in stone or law yet, even stating these kinds of hatful things is harmful. This is the slow way to eventually ban trans people from existing. If they can’t go to the bathroom and can’t in the military, where can trans people exist then?

I wouldn’t say that I personally support the military in all of its endeavors, but being pro-military or not isn’t what this is about. Your gender shouldn’t determine what you can and can’t do or what you can and can’t be in life. If your willing to put your life on the line, you should be welcomed with open arms and allowed to live an authentic life.

Trump claims trans people are a “burden” due to their medical costs. The US military has quite the track record of not taking care of their veterans, or active duty member for that matter when it comes to health care of any kind. Not to mention not all trans people medically transition, and you shouldn’t assume they will or want to.

There are also over 15,000 trans people currently serving in our military. What’s going to happen to them? He acts like he’s stopping trans people from joining the armed forces, but no trans people are already serving.  You cannot end sometimes career because of their gender identity. Are you going to discharge them like they did back when “don’t ask don’t tell” was a law? We’re going backwards on the progress we’ve made.

I believe this is just the beginning of an attack on the LGBTQIA+ community. He’s gone after trans people multiple times now, and it isn’t going to stop unless there is enough backlash. Even then it may not end. Gaby Dunn made a video about this, and she believes that Trump is going after trans people first, because they don’t always get the support that other members of the LGBTQIA+ members receive. I completely agree, and since that’s probably true everyone in the community, and everyone who is a decent human being, should show up and support trans people.

The LGBTQIA+ community is resilient and we will not let him get away with this.

Reclaiming LGBTQ+ Slurs

In the past five years or so “Queer” has become an increasing popular label for many people to describe their gender and/or sexuality. However not that long ago it was widely used as slur to harm the community. Is it okay to “reclaim” slurs?

I’m coming from the stand point of someone who has never been called a slur. Sure I’ve heard them many times, in both positive and negative ways, but no one was referring to me. Queer is a word I sometimes use to describe myself and the community. When writing “Queer community” I often wonder if that phrase is offensive to some people in the community. To be honest I use it mostly because saying LGBTQIA+ community over and over is long, and begins to feel repetitive. I would never mean for it to make someone feel uncomfortable or bring back bad memories for them.

For many people like me, we’ve never heard “queer” used in a negative connotation so it doesn’t seem like a negative thing. Recently I was watching Ash Hardell’s video about this topic and they had some really great things to say. Ash talked about how “Queer” is not commonly used as a slur anymore, and they felt that in order to reclaim a slur is shouldn’t be commonly used. Maybe it’s just the area I live in but I’ve never heard someone say “queer” as a slur. They also brought up the point that “Queer” originally meant “peculiar or odd” and didn’t have a violent background like some of the other slurs.

There are other slurs like the f word, or the d word, or the t word that haven’t been completely reclaimed. A handful of of people will use the word to describe themselves in order to try and take back the power from the bullies and hateful people who have used it towards them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing this, but using the word to describe a whole group of people can be problematic. Some people who have been deeply hurt by a certain word do not want to be called that in way, shape, or form. Labels are all about personal preference, and some words shouldn’t be used to describe a group of people as a whole.

How to you feel about reclaiming slurs?

Do you use any reclaimed slurs to describe yourself?

Self-Expression After Coming Out

A few months ago BuzzFeed released a video on how people’s style changed after coming out, and they had a group of people dress like their closeted selves for a day. Honestly I didn’t think other people had thought this through as much as I had.

Before I came out, and before I accepted my sexuality I was overtly feminine. I worse lots of skirts, dresses, jewelry, heavy makeup (ugh someone should had told me I looked terrible), and I had long hair. I never had a girly style before but I felt more pressure as I got older to trade in the messy bun and basketball shorts, for long curled hair and a mini-skirt. A lot of it was sub-conscious and I didn’t really realize what I was doing until years later.

I would see things I wanted to wear, but thought “no that’s too masculine.” In reality it wasn’t masculine at all, it just wasn’t nauseatingly feminine like I had made myself used to. After coming out something just switched. I wore whatever I wanted, which was usually still leaning towards feminine, but I felt more comfortable. I normally wear jeans, a shirt, and vans or clarks. So does sexuality affect style?

I would say yes and no. In some instances once people are comfortable with themselves and come out, then they feel they can dress how they’ve always wanted to. Like any culture or community there is a specific style that a lot of people follow. Some stereotypes are here for a reason, I mean a lot of lesbians do wear flannel, like a lot. I don’t think it’s bad thing though, unless you feel like you have to change the way you dress in order to be taken seriously or fit in.

My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.

Did your style or general self-expression change after coming out?

What changed?

 

Should Non-Binary People Identify as Gay?

It’s come to my attention that some people don’t think those who are non-binary should identify as gay or a lesbian because their gender doesn’t conform to traditional definitions of male and female, but I couldn’t disagree more.

Labels are a very personal thing and I don’t think we should tell one another how to label themselves. If someone who once identified as a lesbian now realizes they’re non-binary and feels like the gay/lesbian label invalidates their experience as someone who is non-binary, then by all means they should use another label. If they have taken comfort in a specific label and want to continue to use it, then they should. LGBTQ+ people have been challenging the ideas and traditional roles of gender since the beginning of time, especially lesbians. I saw something on Tumblr ( aka home of all lesbians) that I really agreed with, but unfortunately can’t find the post.

Essentially the idea was that lesbians have always challenged gender stereotypes and roles, even before there was language to describe the experience of being non-binary. Policing someone else’s identity and telling them what they can and cannot identify as is not okay and goes against Queer history and what many people have fought for. Not to mention it’s transphobic to try and keep non-binary people out of gay/lesbian spaces.

Everyone defines their sexuality differently. Even the “most common” sexualities are defined differently by different people. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you get to police other’s identities within the LGBTQ+ community. You don’t get to decide if they’re gay enough or not. We’ve all had someone question our identities at one point, so why do we do it to one another?

We should be lifting up one another, instead of trying to make sexuality an exclusive club.