Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression

My friend, Don Charles, sent me an excellent essay by Gabriel Rotello that I want to share with you, and that deserves to be read by everyone who is committed to full equality for LGBT people.

His essay appears on The Huffington Post, and it is entitled, “If ENDA Doesn’t Protect the Transgendered, It Doesn’t Protect Me.”

The following is a small excerpt from that essay:

“The decision by the Democratic leadership in Congress to eliminate transgendered people from ENDA, the bill to ban discrimination against gays in the workplace, has ignited a genuine firestorm in gay political circles.

“It’s heartening to see that LGBT activists are coming out of the woodwork to insist that any meaningful bill that does not protect the transgendered isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

“But criticism that the bill is a betrayal of the most vulnerable among us, while well-intentioned, doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

“A bill to protect gays from discrimination that excludes transgendered people isn’t merely a betrayal of the transgendered — it’s a betrayal of all gay people. Because (as I wrote in an Advocate column a few years back, which I will quote from liberally here), in a very real sense, all gay people are transgendered.”

Please read the whole essay, as it opened my eyes to a crucial dimension of LGBT studies and issues that I had not thought of before, and that Don Charles had long ago (See, for example, his essay, “Why Gay People Exist”) pointed out in his posts, utilizing the Bible as well as Gnostic writings to support his thesis.  It was only after reading Rotello’s essay that I was able to see and appreciate the interface between his thesis and that of Don Charles’ contention that supports that thesis in the spiritual sense.

The major cause of antipathy toward Gay people has largely to do with many of them not behaving according to established, taken-for-granted, gender roles: in mannerisms, sexual positions, sensibilities, and other assorted sentiments and behaviors that offend what most people consider to be “normal.” 

If, in fact, androgyny (or any departure from typically expected binary sexual identity and stereotypical gender expression) is part and parcel of one’s being Gay, stigma and discrimination against Gay people have much, if not most, to do with the perceived “abnormality” of  many Gay people’s gender identity and expression, and that contention makes it that much more important that Transgender rights become embodied into law, for to do anything less doesn’t get at the heart of many of the causes of the hate directed at Gay people, and will do virtually nothing to remove the effects of discrimination against Gay people.

Sexual orientation and conscious and unconscious gender expression might well be coterminous, inextricably enmeshed with each other, undoubtedly by God’s design.  Being Gay is a gift from God, and it doesn’t matter that those who see gender expression and sexual orientation in binary terms vehemently disagree!  God is sovereign, and He doesn’t make any mistakes!

So, to deny Transgender people civil rights in the ENDA Bill, might well be cutting off the very reason that Gay people are discriminated against in the first place, thereby doing virtually nothing to reduce prejudice and discrimination against Gay people; thwart the very reason that ENDA was proposed in the first place.

As I’ve long contended, misogyny lies at the heart of homophobia!  However, Rotello has taken this contention one giant step further.  He contends that gender identity and expression are inextricably linked with sexual orientation, and that contention forces us to see that the fundamental basis of antipathy toward Gay people is not so much their sexual orientation (although that certainly is a factor), but is largely due to the fact that their sexual orientation is frequently (though certainly not always) enmeshed with their mannerisms and sensibilities that are not culturally and anatomically consistent with what many define as “male” and “female.”

If for no other reason, Transgender rights must be included in ENDA!  And, being Gay should also be seen as God-given (For it is!), displaying all of the varieties and complexities regarding sensibility, mannerisms, interests, and identity that are parallel to the seemingly infinite varieties we see in all aspects of God’s creation.

[Also posted at A Christian Voice For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender Rights.]

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