This declaration has its own page on my website:
I BELIEVE THE FOLLOWING THINGS TO BE TRUE:
- Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is neither a choice nor a disorder.
- Human sexuality is fluid, and it is normal for sexual/affectional preference to change many times over the lifespan.
- It is also normal for sexual orientation to remain static over the lifespan.
- Human sexuality exists on a continuum, and it is normal to be at any place on the spectrum at any time.
- Sexual behavior is not always synonymous with sexual orientation or self-identity.
- Questioning one’s sexuality at any point in life is normal.
- Some people’s gender identity is non-binary.
- Sexual behavior among consenting adults is not a moral issue.
I added the page about this so that anyone looking for a culturally competent counselor would be able to identify me as someone safe and informed. I think many cisgender (which means identifying/agreeing with the biological sex assigned at birth) heterosexual people don't fully appreciate the degree to which the medical, mental health, and other helping professions have historically been quite harmful to sexual minorities.
With that said, familiarize yourself with the statements above. Think about each one. Do you agree with all of them? Which ping you as harder to understand or accept? Are there some you've literally never even considered? What could that suggest about your friend circle? Is it possible you need to branch out a little?
(Side note: Much like those studies showing that some majority of white people don't have any black friends, I imagine a similar study would suggest many cis/het people don't have gay or trans friends, as well as that probably many Christians don't have any Muslim friends, or that many able-bodied people don't have any friends with disabilities, etc etc. But how do we learn and expand our worldview if we don't have relationships with people who are different than us in some way? Make a conscious effort to not only educate yourself in theory, but connect in meaningful ways to people outside your immediate social circles.
I realize some people disagree with this, but my personal opinion is that no change is ever possible without building human connections and establishing real relationships cross-culturally, interracially, etc etc . Every system, from a family to a school to a corporation to the government, is made up of human beings with prejudices and misconceptions and blind spots that meaningful relationship can ameliorate.)
Transgender issues have been in the media for the past couple of years with that heinous so-called "Bathroom Bill" and Caitlyn Jenner's coming out as trans, etc. But it seems safe to say that most people have no idea what it really even means to be transgender.
People online especially seem to have no problem demonizing or outright dismissing the very notion of transgender, like it's this pretend thing or that it means people just like to dress up as the opposite sex or something trite like that, rather than a clear misalignment of body/mind/spirit. I talk a lot about how it's difficult to find happiness if you're living out of alignment. Imagine if you were literally in the wrong body. How uncomfortable that must feel. How liberating it must be to find alignment.
I've worked with trans clients and watched the joy inside them grow as they became more and more comfortable with their true identity. It's a cool thing to be part of. I also have a few personal friends who are trans. I'm super proud of anyone who is courageous enough to come out as transgender; it can be a difficult thing for families, friends, and society to wrap their collective heads around. It can be very painful, and trans people are at high risk of mental health issues and suicide (not to mention being victims of hate crimes and sexual assault).
So with all that said, I more than advise, I implore you to educate yourself about trans issues, so that you can be a reliable ally and you can help to dispel some of the ridiculous and cruel myths you'll encounter when you start paying attention. Here is one place you can start, at GLAAD's "FAQ about Transgender" page. It enrages and/or saddens me (depending on the day) when I see people being trans-exclusionary and transphobic. We could really use more educated people having these conversations.
I could go on and on but I have a class to teach in a few minutes (How To Do Conflict Well aka Don't be an A**hole) so I guess I'm really just here today to say:
Love your LGBTQIA friends and family extra hard right now. Understand that this presidency/political climate has them worried, and for good reason. Much like Muslims and POC, sexual and gender "minorities" are at greater risk of experiencing harm and bigotry right now. (Not to mention all the healthcare stuff; it's a new and terrifying reality for many of us for many different reasons). As trite as this may sound, we really have to love and support each other now more than ever.
PS (edited to say) I used "disabled" originally, and then immediately realized that was probably not the correct term. This was very helpful for me. I apologize for not using person-first language initially. I do know better.