Before I begin I should probably clarify that the sex I am concerned with is not that which occurs between two people, but instead the biological sex an individual is born with. Between you and me, I’m pulling a bit of a Daily Mail trick with the ambiguity of the term, but I suppose if you’re reading this then it worked and I can only urge you to continue; It’ll be worth it, promise.
Most of you probably have some knowledge of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, whereby homosexual acts performed in private between two consenting males over the age of 21 was at last decriminalised. For those of you who didn’t know, yes being homosexual in the UK was considered an offence as little as 50 years ago. Since then, progress has been pretty slow; The first same-sex marriages in the UK took place a mere 14 months ago, as most of us probably remember. In fact, many Conservative MPs, mine included, voted strongly against that law being implemented. Although social attitudes have been steadily improving, there still seems to be some noticeable stigma around the topic. Even I, (the politically correct justice warrior I am today), used to use the word “gay” as an insult. Fortunately, I soon realised the implications of this and got myself out of the habit, but I wonder why I thought that was an acceptable practice in the first place. My parents have always set open-minded and accepting examples for me, so I can only assume it was something I picked up from peers. Perhaps simply the lack of education and lack of appearance of public gay figures influenced it somehow, who knows. The fact of the matter is, being anything other than gay is still not seen as acceptable at least on some level. The whole concept of ‘coming out’ is bothersome enough to me; How about we just stop assuming all kids are straight?
Before I become distracted and go off on a tangent regarding gender stereotypes and girls vs boy toy departments, I should probably redirect your attention to the matter at hand. Over recent years more varieties than mere sexual preferences seem to have surfaced. A few months ago I watched a Louis Theroux documentary about transgender kids, which followed the stories of children as young as 5 years old who believe to be born in the wrong body. The episode was filmed in San Fransisco, where transitioning from a young age seemed to be encouraged, whether that be through hormones or counselling to adjust the child. What struck me most when watching was the amount of people claiming these kids are too young to know if they’re male or female, (or somewhere in between). Well, to me that seems like an absurd thing to say; Would you ever tell a cis kid, (someone who aligns with the biological sex they’re born with), that they’re not sure of their gender? In many ways I understand why you’d be drawn to ask questions like this, it’s a new concept and may be hard to grasp initially, but some questions just seem illogical. The programme raised a few questions for me but ultimately I was just pleased to see something of its kind on mainstream television, if only to shed some light on the issue.
In even more current news, you’d have been hard pushed not to have noticed Caitlyn Jenner, (previously known as Bruce Jenner) appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair last month. As an avid Keeping Up With The Kardashians fan, I’d noticed speculation following Caitlyn regarding her gender for some time now. To say the media has been invasive would be an understatement, but that’s not exactly a surprise. However, to my amazement, after the cover was released I saw nothing but support; Social media and mainstream media both seemed to welcome Caitlyn with open arms. Unfortunately, since then I’ve seen a few things to the contrary, namely boys on Facebook referring to her as “some bloke”. I’d be more inclined to forgive these people for mere obliviousness, but I just don’t believe using correct pronouns is a difficult concept to grasp. If someone wants to be referred to as a she, you refer to them as a she. People may pass it off as mere “banter”, but it’s more vital now than ever to ensure we don’t accept that as an excuse for being intolerant. We’re making so much progress lately, with stars such as Laverne Cox making headway by being the first trans person to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. Let’s remember it was not that long ago that being gay was considered odd, if we’re to learn from experiences we won’t let that happen again and we will not ostracise people for things they cannot and should not change.
Obviously intolerance is not the only issue here, the concept of how we grow children up seems to be problematic in itself. I mentioned briefly before about the gender divide in toy departments, well that’s a divide which has been integrated into almost every part of our lives. Until now, I’d never questioned why we have male and female specific clothing. Naturally, some clothes such as boxers may need to be designed to fit a physically male body, but most clothing is genderless, is it not? For those of you scoffing at the idea of unisex clothing and men walking around in skirts, I’d like to remind you that people used to feel the same about women wearing trousers. Perhaps the reason the LGBTQ community has faced so much adversity is simply because of our society’s culture. It seems obvious, yet it’s only come to my attention within these past for months, that if we didn’t make such sweeping generalisations regarding sex and gender this wouldn’t be an issue at all. Only earlier I was browsing the internet for a father’s day gift and all that was presented to me were hammers and beer. What if my dad wants a personalised, sparkly heart shaped pendant, huh?
So my challenge to you, and I hope you’ll accept, is to educate yourself. Only through education and openness can we ever hope to progress as humankind, and hopefully this time we can progress faster than before. We all know that future generations are going to be face palming at our archaic attitudes just like we face palmed at previous historical intolerances.
If you didn’t understand any of the terms used or simply want to read further, click here for a glossary of LGBTQ terms and their accurate definitions.