What it says on the tin.
A response to various facets of Discourse…and if you cringed just reading that phrase, feel free to skip the whole thing. I’ll completely understand.
In no particular order…
- Before you use an acronym: take a minute to think about whether you actually mean all the letters. “This is a great LGBT character” — no, a single character can’t be all those things at once, try again. “That policy discriminates against LGBTQIA people” — well, it’s possible to hit all of them at once, but it takes some effort, so are you sure that’s the case here? And so on.
- Similarly: don’t unthinkingly find-and-replace things like “I saw a group of women” with “I saw a group of AFAB people.” It’s admirable that you’re trying not to misgender people, so you’re not just assuming they’re women without asking. But did you ask if they were AFAB? Did you look up anyone’s birth certificates? Probably not! So don’t assume that, either.
- I still don’t like the whole concept of “AFAB” and “AMAB” being used to describe anyone other than intersex people, as if “assigned sex” and “assumed gender” are interchangeable. And yeah, I get that that ship has pretty much sailed. I just don’t like it.
- If you keep pronouncing it “siss”, then geez, no wonder some people react like it’s a slur/insult. Especially queer men, towards whom “sissy” is actively used as an insult to this day. But this one’s really easy to solve — you don’t pronounce it “trance”, do you? Sizzz and tranzzzz.
- “Queer” is a slur. Also: “gay” is a slur. “Lesbian” is a slur. Half the terms we use to talk about each other are reclaimed slurs! Decide for yourself which one(s) you prefer to use…and respect the fact that other people are allowed to make a different decision.
- Sidenote: your preferences in this area have zero relationship to how woke/inclusive/valid/whatever you are. Really. I promise.
- As people grow and change and come to understand themselves better, they may change the label(s) they identify with. A gay-identified person may realize they were trans all along, an ace-identified person may realize they were bi all along, etecetera, etcetera. This is fine and normal and valid! It’s not an attack on anyone’s identity to recognize that it happens. You’re allowed.
- Corollary: if you, as an outside observer, have a hunch that someone else is currently wrong about their own label, and will end up revising it later…you might be right! But also: confronting them about it is not going to help anything. Let it be.
- If asexual people are allowed to identify as ace+gay, or ace+bi, they’re also allowed to identify as ace+straight. Again, all of these are fine and normal and valid, and acknowledging them is not an invitation to attack anyone.
- It’s very silly for lesbians to categorically swear off “dating bi women” because they had one bad experience where a bi woman hurt them. It’s also very silly for bi women to swear off “dating lesbians” because they had one bad experience where a lesbian hurt them. We’re all on the same team, here.
- Special head-meets-desk award for that trope where a bi woman/character says “lesbians don’t accept me, so that’s why I’m only dating men!” You can also date bi women. (If a given woman wants to date men, that’s obviously fine, but just say so.)
- The English language is in a stage where we’re frantically trying to come up with gender-accurate and nonbinary-inclusive terms for experiences that did not previously have them. Along the way, we get terms that end up sounding contradictory. Or, you know, ridiculous. I get why it’s happening, this is a complicated linguistic process that we’re not gonna work through overnight, but I’m really looking forward to the stage when we’re through it.
- Said this one on Twitter recently…femme trans men are valid, butch trans women are valid, but there are also a heck of a lot of trans people who don’t want to present that way, they just live in an environment where it’s the only safe thing to do. So don’t harass anyone for not conforming to gender norms, but don’t overcorrect by congratulating them for Bravely Destroying Gender Norms either — it won’t make the world any safer, and it’s very likely to add to their self-consciousness and dysphoria. Just let them be.
- You’re allowed to have preferences when it comes to, well, genital configuration. What’s not okay is saying “I’m [gay/straight], therefore I don’t like [genital configuration],” or “I won’t date trans [people of preferred gender] because I don’t like [genital configuration].” Those things are not automatically related. You’re just (wait for it)…being a dick.
- Also not okay: announcing your preferences to random strangers who did not ask in the first place. (You’d think this one would go without saying, and yet.)
- Be thoughtful, and be chill. Most of these points are just extended corollaries of those two basic precepts. No matter what the situation, no matter who you’re dealing with, strive in all things to be thoughtful and be chill.
- Okay, gonna end this on a fluffier note: We should have more fun flags. More flags that aren’t for deadly-serious identity segments, but for random subcultures based on shared interests. Less emphasis on distinct new combinations of colors, more emphasis on cute little icons in the corners! I realize that last part makes them harder to mass-produce, but come on.