There's been a recent subject in the news that is vaguely trans and gay related, and it has a particularly squicky feeling about it that's causing issues with all manner of people that's somewhat startling to me.
In this case, it's the recent news that a couple is having a baby. Two men who are running down a dream of family, and, in doing so, they are defeating an age old canard used by the opponents of marriage equality.
But instead of taking it and holding it up and shining a positive light on it and using it to empower the LGBT community as a whole, people are doing something I think is actually pretty negative and defeatist.
You see, one of them is pregnant.
The problem, of course, is based in multiple intersections, but a large and abiding portion of it is due to a concept called cognitive dissonance. This is when someone is uncomfortable holding two contradictory ideas in their heads at once. In this case, the ideas are that here you have a pregnant man and men can't get pregnant.
There is, at this time, a burgeoning effort going on to scold the radio disc jockeys of a radio show where the woman essentially expressed disgust at the idea of a bearded man being pregnant. It should be noted that the hosts followed the basic rules of talking about trans people - there was no misgendering going on. But some pretty blatant anxiety about the idea of a man being pregnant. Note that in this case, I'm using the word anxiety in a more clinical sense: aversion, fear, or intense dislike. You can go from there where you want. When you call a person icky and say eww it's a pretty clear case of having some aversion there to me.
However, this reaction, in studying the particular transcripts of the radio show, is due to the aforementioned cognitive dissonance, if you happen to hold with this structure instead of something like D. J. Bem's self-perception structure. If one does go with D. J. Bem's model, then we are talking about a crapload of actual bigots, and I'm disinclined to find that as accurate here.
For reference, this is the Cornell University researcher who wrote "The Exotic Becomes Erotic", and established the finding that 63% of both gay men and lesbians reported that they were gender nonconforming in childhood (i.e., did not like activities typical of their sex), compared with only 10-15% of heterosexual men and women. His wife created the Bem Sex Role Inventory.
In any case, the reactions to these two men having a baby within the LGBT community is a kind of free-falling discord. Instead of focusing on their usefulness in terms of being legally married and one of them being pregnant and their being gay, people are focusing on their being trans.
Why do you think that is? (That's not a rhetorical question.)
Even if you intentionally misgender them, they are still gay, so it really is a pretty serious part of the whole thing.
One of the reasons is the social concept within the LGBT that since they are trans, they don't count as gay. This creates a liminal situation, and part of the rational underlying much of that is the idea that "they aren't really men." This is not a small thing, either.
There are stories all over the LGBT community about LGB couples adopting and LGB couples going through custody battles, and here we have a couple that is having a kid and standing in pretty strong defiance of what people are actually out there arguing in front of Congress and in Courts and in chatrooms and forums and coffeehouses across the US (and beyond) and instead of finding a way to use it for the benefit of gay couples, they are trying to find a way to avoid doing so.
Because they are trans. I mean, this is news. Truly. This is something that could be used in the Perry case. This is something that folks could show and say "Well, gee, Mr. Bigot, guess ya missed out on that one, huh?"
Because of that cognitive dissonance that's there - that men aren't supposed to be having babies and yet we have one that is - there is an uncomfortable feeling, and so we seek a way to make it less uncomfortable. We look for a means of justifying our own personal attitudes about it so that it isn't a problem in our heads.
And the easy thing to do is say "Oh, well, he's trans." And in doing so, people come up with all sorts of things that make it possible to step away from that idea of two men having a baby.
Well, why is it important that they are trans? Why is it important that they are gay? What difference does it make? Neither of these things is really all that important. These are not things that would count if we really did believe that being LGBT was socially equal.
In order to solve this mental conundrum, we're challenging the idea "Here's a man having a baby," instead of the other one causing cognitive dissonance, "Men can't have babies". Indeed, challenging the latter is the point of the effort to achieve equity and equality.
They can. Not all men, mind you. Not even a significant majority of men can have babies. But some men can indeed have babies.
And here's another scary thing: they don't always have to be trans. But that's another article.
The radio show covered an interestng point as well: why would they want to have a baby? And the underlying concepts in asking that are that being a man means not wanting to get pregnant. It's reinforcing a gender paradigm (or, for those out there who might figure on being a flat earther or creationist - that is, irrational - sort and not believe in Gender, a Sex paradigm) that says is you are a man, you can and cannot do this, this and this.
Which is heteronormativity, something the entire LGBT community is constantly persecuted with. It is, in fact, the equivalent of saying "Well, why does he want to love another man?" about a cis/gay guy.
The radio personality's comments of "eww" and "wrong wrong wrong" are the same reactions of people to the mere idea of two people of the same sex getting their groove on with each other. For the same reason - it's against the notions of what is ordinary.
This is an example of "erasure" by the LGBT community of an element of it. In this case, it's an egregious erasure, because it is erasing the fact that they are gay men, in order to make it easier on the people encountering the story.
Some might say that I'm calling for erasure here. Which is possible, although I suspect that erasing the fact they are also trans as well as gay, simply isn't going to happen if they are discussed, and not merely because of the cognitive dissonance involved. There's still the factor that they are one of the few gay couples who can have kids - not something new, either, given it was done in the late 90's as well by some people well known within the LGBT community.
There is a wrong going on here, and it is on the internet, and the conventional wisdom says that if there's something wrong on the internet, someone should speak to it. Here we have two men who were on top of the world one night, and this American girl is wondering why it is that the LGB community is refusing to step up to defend them, step up to acknowledge them.
Because this is a rampant problem within the LGBT community as a whole, and so long as we keep doing this sort of thing, this kind of least common denominator effort to achieve things, we will never gain the momentum we need to truly have success in our efforts that is resounding and unchallenged.
We are a house that is dividing itself, and this is one example of how we do that. It is an opportunity to look at the full depth of who we are as a whole - and maybe come to realize that the right to be unconventional, be uncommon, be atypical, and to do all of those things without having someone deny us a job, or a house, or an adoption, or a marriage, or a family, or our very selves, is what we are ultimately fighting for.
Because for all our effort to show how we are just as normal as anyone else, what we are saying is that we are not different from the het/cis people out there. In fact, we are different. And those differences shouldn't matter. We speak of how coming out is so awesome - how it frees us to be ourselves, how it loosens the shackles of conformity and enables us to truly be ourselves, how when we do so, we are learning to fly - to be an individual, different from others.
Or am I fighting a different fight than all of you?