As society progresses*, we must start asking ourselves some serious questions. If socially liberal people are determined to break down barriers and move toward a more tolerant world, it is perhaps time to take a fresh approach in our method. In particular, has the time come to have an open discussion about boxing together certain minorities into an ‘LGBT’ society?
Frequently on television, radio or in written interviews I see/hear people use phrases like: ‘the struggles of an LGBT person’, or ‘LGBT people will recognise that …’
If I’m honest, comments like this are becoming increasingly exhausting.
Is it really still relevant, for example, to suggest that a gay person understands the difficulties of someone who is transgender? Similarly, are we still naïve enough to think that people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual tackle exactly the same social hurdles?
I can only speak from personal experience and of those around me, but I see otherwise. Suggesting, for instance, that I have had the same emotive journey as someone who feels they have genuinely been born in the wrong body, is both untrue and offensive to both parties.
In what way therefore, can I even try to comprehend what they have been through? I of course could offer help and guidance to an extent, but nothing much more significant.
Since April 2015, when the transition of Caitlyn Jenner began playing out in the international public eye, dialogue over the lives of trans-people has become more fluid. While I am not saying that Caitlyn is by any means the experience of the common person, her transition has certainly lifted a lid on new social discussion.
In Britain alone, Channel 4’s Born in the Wrong Body Season and the BBC’s creation of its own Transgender section have lifted the lid on the real-life experiences of trans-people.
As this lid has been opened, I have become more convinced that these experiences are incomparable to my own.
Equally, they are incomparable to the experiences of the many gay, lesbian or bisexual people that I know. Where, therefore, does this ‘common struggle’ come from? Moreover, does it become somewhat regressive to force a bond where one is perhaps far weaker than we believe?
This article in no way suggests that LGBT societies are redundant.
They are a safe haven, or at least should be, for people to be themselves and to constructively voice concerns over their identity without fear of prejudice. Indeed, for this reason — and many more — they can be extremely positive.
What I am instead suggesting is that grouping together minorities who have had entirely different emotional experiences won’t sit well forever. As dialogue shifts and as discussion becomes more active on individual experiences, it will likely become clear that the common struggle may be slightly less ‘in common’ than once thought.
With this change, there is every chance that LGBT societies will wither away into separate L, G, B and T groupings to match the divergence of people’s experiences. Of course, it’s difficult to predict the future, and in such a polarising and fast-changing world, only time will really tell.
* Immediately, I understand that this is presumptive. As we have seen recently, this can be sorely tested. Especially with the Trump administration’s determination to roll back progress on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, and removing LGBT and other sections from the White House website.