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Sunday, 17 March 2013

I Need a Sexuality Cheat Sheet

As much as I like to think of myself as a believer and practitioner of full equality, I just learned a valuable lesson. My editor at Feminspire schooled me a bit on transgender relationships, etc. Gently, of course. The article she just edited of mine was more than a little exclusionary. The fact is, I make absolutely no judgments when it comes to people and their sexuality or gender identity, but I'm at a loss when it comes to all of the variations the world is currently faced with.

My editor used the term cisgender, which I had never even heard of and had to look up on Wikipedia. Basically cisgender means a person's self-perception of their gender matches their sex. So, if a person who is physically a woman actually feels like a woman, that's cisgender.

It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I heard the term pansexual either. I saw omnisexual at the same time and that term was actually used in what I thought of as humourous context in the movie Three to Tango. I hope people who are actually omnisexual weren't offended by it, because I love that movie.

Quite frankly I'm stymied by the number of variations in sexual and gender identity. I'm what would be termed heterosexual cisgender I guess (I think?) but I honestly feel for anyone who has to explain their identity to others in this world because it can't be easy. To be truly politically correct we have to allow people to define their own reality. This is true with respect to race and religion, as well. Inuits do not like to be called Eskimo, and considering the fact that the term has no meaning I can understand why. How anyone started using it is beyond me.

Many people get tired of political correctness, but the fact is there should be a level of respect for all people. Is there supposed to be a line that says you have to respect women, but you don't need to respect a Native American? Should we respect people who are gay, but not those who are transsexual? That's hardly the fair way to go about things, is it? We don't demean people for being straight  - that I'm aware of - so how do we demean someone who isn't?

If we accept homosexuality, we have to accept all forms of sexuality, and I honestly believe we have to accept homosexuality. If you want to brag about living in a free country, all the citizens in that country need to be free, not just you because you happen to be a heterosexual or white or male. Women have to be accepted. Homosexuals have to be accepted. Hermaphrodites have to be accepted. People of every colour have to be accepted. There can be no line whatsoever. A country is not free if the majority of its citizens are persecuted just for being themselves.

Since I'm now writing a weekly piece for a website that prides itself on being non-exclusionary, I have no choice but to brush up on politically correct terms. It's more than that, though. I'm ashamed that I don't already know these things and what they mean. I understand that there's no way I can know of all the inequities in the world. I can't know how bad things are for every person in every country and every culture. It's not possible. However, I do try. As a human being who values other human beings, even when I don't spend a lot of time with them, I feel I should do everything in my power to know the people who inhabit this world.