Posts Tagged ‘ conflating

Variations On A Theme

I know I’ve certainly mentioned it before, but I came across a couple articles recently that reminded me, once again, of the dangers of conflating similar, but unrelated, things. Now when I say things, I specifically am thinking about the wide gulf between concepts of gender identity and sexual identity and how they get rolled under one big umbrella in the minds of a lot of people through the use of LGBT (or LGBTQ or GLBT or however many other letters you feel are appropriate for that acronym). Now I’m a strong advocate of unpacking all of those letters because they all mean pretty different things, each with their own unique challenges, but I understand. It just seems to be in our nature. But it isn’t always the most useful way to think about things.

Over the weekend, I noticed an article from last week from the AP about the growth of mainstream advertising featuring gay themes. It’s certainly nothing earth-shattering to anyone who’s been paying much attention to anything recently, but it’s still a nice thing to see in the AP featured in papers around the country. It carries some pretty standard undertones of a lot of writing of this type, in my opinion, in that it’s kinda got that “look, things getting better!” feel to it. Frankly, it’s nice to see, if a little fluffy and light on much of any real information. It’s nice to see that rather than vitriolic statements that one doesn’t have to go that far to find coming out of, say, the Minnesota state legislature’s current public hearings about whether to even have the body vote on same-sex marriage. And I’m a big supporter of stuff like this because I think it’s a good thing to see.

But (you knew there was a but, didn’t you) correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not seeing a whole lot of T to that article. Call it my inherent selfishness, or my inherent disbelief that there’s any mainstream advertising that features people like me, but I’m not seeing it. I’m not saying that there has to be in that article. Frankly, I still think we’re a number of years away from a modicum of comfort with trans issues in regard to it being something that’ll just be in an ad. Besides, there’s plenty of rightful questions about how you show that or what that really means. Right now, people can get pretty comfortable when it’s not something that’s right in front of them, so it’s an issue of passing. Whatever that means. And I, while, I’m perfectly comfortable with who I am and how I put myself out there in the world, obviously I cause enough problems for the majority of people to not fit into that category. Or I wouldn’t get called sir so much. So while there may be advertising that features trans people out there, there certainly isn’t advertising that’s particularly worried about making people who might not be able to go stealth. There’s nothing out there that’s trying to convey any sense of normalcy as the article intimates about gay and lesbian advertising. And I don’t necessarily think that needs to come up anywhere in the article. That’s not really what it’s about and I’m okay with that. I’m a big booster of gay and lesbian issues (bisexuality, too, but in the sense of advertising, I am not sure how that’d be treated, so let’s just set that aside). But I do think it’s important not to conflate things by using LGBT when there’s obviously not any concern with the T. I mean, it’s used 8 times in the article, and while it certainly saves some column space, this is the internet, I don’t think that’s a huge concern. It’s the carelessness of conflating things once again. Not that I felt bad, or that their use of LGBT in that article made me feel bad; I just think it’s important to realize that conflating is going on, and I do feel like a lot of people don’t realize that they are doing that.

Conversely, here’s an article I saw today in Citypages highlighting some of the depressing issues around the state of LGBTQ health care. Unsurprisingly, this article has the opposite issue of the previous one. Its focus is mainly on the T. And frankly, that’s understandable. Short of a sore throat, I’ve been seeing the same doctor both pre and post-op. She works at the Center for Sexual Health, and as a part of that job, is obviously far more aware of the concerns of trans people as we make up a fair amount of the clientele there. And while the article does seem to tangentially touch on non-trans issues, the fair conclusion from the article seems to be that the risks for transgender individuals are definitely there. And while I certainly understand why someone wouldn’t be forthcoming about sexual orientation, I am just not as aware of what issues there might be in regard to one’s medical treatment due to that. But I definitely can understand how not knowing someone’s birth gender could have a huge impact on medical treatment. I can equally understand the desire to not say something about it if you don’t have to. Though it seems sad that someone should have to worry about who they are affecting the quality of care, or even their ability to get it as the first respondent sampled states. I definitely took a lot away from the article and spent a lot of time nodding my head. But I did wonder, what are some of those issues that one might face not disclosing orientation. Of course, there’s the obvious impact if one has a doctor who might discriminate on that basis. But that’s really all I could come up with, and I didn’t really get a good feel as to what those other problems might be, other than outright discrimination. Since the article talks about hidden disparities, I was left wondering, well, what’s that hidden ?disparity for a gay or lesbian or bisexual individual other than outright discrimination. And that doesn’t seem like one that’s all that hidden. That seems like one that’s being dealt with every day. But again, it seems like there are unique issues present for all of those groups, and conflating makes it a little more difficult. Non-trans people don’t have to spend time educating their doctors about what being trans means, for example. Certainly, please, feel free to do that, but it’s not a risk anyone but a trans population faces. So it feels a little weird to attach that to a larger group that doesn’t face those same issues.

Anyway, those were just some thoughts I had in response to some recent reading. And something to think about. I’m sure I do it in my own ways in response to issues that I conflate in my head that I just haven’t unpacked. And by all means, tell me that. Challenge me on that kind of thinking. I’ll keep challenging you on that kind of thinking, at least in regard to trans issues, because I can. When you start looking at everything that falls under the umbrella of LGBT (etc, etc, etc), I think there’s plenty of great things to think about. Just remember that it’s not necessarily all tied together. Gender identity and sexual identity are different things, they have different impacts, and they can be combined in far more ways that you can imagine if you think about all the variations therein. Gender, specifically, is not static poles, but a fluid range with multifarious expressions that vary greatly.

 
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