Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
October 28, 2011
Is The “T” In LGBT More Difficult To Understand Than The “LGB?”
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
A Blog For Transgender Persons Written By A Professional Ally
A friend of ours pointed us to Darlene Tando’s Gender Blog. She writes about transgender persons. Tando is a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in San Diego. Her blog is full of information that furthers our understanding of the fabulous diverse community of which we are a part.
Our son is gay and it took us awhile to wrap our minds around the reality that he is a man who is attracted to other men, but still, he remains a man. We can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for a parent to come to grips fully with a child whose gender identity is different from what they thought it was from birth. The child does not feel like and does not want to be the gender assigned at birth based on observed genetalia.
Meet and Greet and Read To Learn And Understand
We mentioned this before: to understand the new world that opened up when first we learned that our son is gay is difficult. Totally alien concepts are dressed in totally foreign words. Yet, vocabulary must be mastered first before the layers of meaning subsumed in words can be understood. What does it mean to be gay? What is transgender? Bisexual? Questioning? Sometimes we ask ourselves whether it is necessary to learn all those terms and their layered meanings, after all, our son is just gay. But learning all is necessary if ever we want to see discrimination and prejudice based on sexual diversity disappear.
Tando’s September 10 blog has this wonderful explanation:
[An] expectant couple had the ultrasound technician find out the sex of the baby, write it on a card, and the couple didn’t peek at it. . . They gave the card to a bakery, and a special cake was made based on what the card read. At the “Gender Revealing” party, when they cut it open, a pink or a blue cake was discovered, thereby revealing the “gender” of the baby to be. My response? “I went to a party like that! Except they called it a ‘Sex Party’, which is what it was… they were revealing the sex of the baby, not the gender. The true gender won’t be revealed until the baby is much older.”
To those of us for whom the words sex and gender are interchangeable without loss of meaning, this is revealing and a prompt to learn more.
First Comes The Understanding Then The Sharing
A personal appreciation (we are avoiding the word understanding) only goes so far, it is necessary that everybody begin to recognize and appreciate and accept all the diversity that exists around us. We hear and read about the extra difficulties transgender persons have. For example, health insurance plans have an exclusion list for procedures that are not covered. Transgender persons’ needs are usually on those lists. Or, while transitioning, what bathroom at work will they be allowed to use? What about this case: if a biological male whose gender identification is female commits a crime, what prison does he go to? Or should that be: she goes to? According to our friends at the Transgender Law Center, it is usually not even a question: the person goes to a prison that matches his or hers biological sex and all the consequences that that has for the transgender person.
We need to understand first and then we must make others understand. It is the only way to attain equality.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org