Posts tagged ‘gender diversity’

LGBT Identities & Intersectionality: A Little Research

Last night I went to Chic Chat, a gathering of bisexual women (trans/genderqueer inclusive) hosted by the Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) and had a good time. I have been to their events in the past but hadn’t made it to one in a couple years, due to my many competing interests! I was excited to find out that they are going to be doing a series this year of community education sessions about racial/ethnic diversity and discussions of white privilege. We also discussed the cross-section of disabilities and bisexual community. I decided to start doing some research on racial diversity among LGBT populations and possibly bisexuals in particular.

2012 Gallup Poll: 3.4% of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender  A couple of limitations are noted by the way the poll was taken: differences among the GLBT identities can’t be accounted for, and it is purely based on self-identification, not on past or present sexual behavior or other traits.

My own thought: People with other identities, such as queer, genderqueer or intersexed might not respond in the affirmative. This is much less than Americans often think, due to the prominence of GLBT issues in the media, as well as the oft-used statistic that 1 in 10 men has had sex with a man from Alfred Kinsey’s research (it’s suspected that this was a result of selection bias on Kinsey’s part, due to his interests!) It’s often been thought that it was less for women. Due to media framing and the history of the movement, it’s also assumed GLBT identities are primarily a “white” thing, sometimes even implied to be symptomatic of privileged white decadence- an effete elite. Based on the findings of the Gallup, these assumptions are quite false!

Non-Hispanic White: 3.2 Black: 4.6 Hispanic: 4.0 Asian: 4.3

Altogether- a third of LGBT identified people are non-white (33%) whereas 27% of the non-GLBT population is non-white. Also- slightly more women than men. (I suspect the number of women who identify as bisexual vs. men may have an effect on this)

Men-3.3. Women 3.6

Being gay, lesbian, bi or trans is also often assumed to correlate with going to college, and being gay or lesbian in particular is somewhat assumed to go with a middle-class or higher status. Also wrong!

High School or less 3.5

Some college           4.0

College grad             2.8

Post grad                  3.2

Under $24,000             5.1

$24  k- less than 60 k 3.6

60 k to less than 90 k 2.8

90,000+                          2.8

The numbers related to income, education and racial diversity also correlate with the higher number of younger Americans who self-identify as LGBT-

18-29 6.4

30-49 3.2

50-64 2.6

65+     1.9

Broken down by gender: 18-29 Women 8.3 18-29 Men 4.6

So yeah- make way for young, queer women of color- with kids! LGBT women are just as likely to be raising kids under 18 as non-LGBT identified women. More than 41% of Hispanic and African-American lesbian, bisexual or trans women are raising kids. 38% of Asian-American les/bi/trans, and 28% of whites. (I’ve also heard that queer women of color are more likely to be raising biological children from heterosexual relationships) I have also seen some stats that higher number of people with disabilities identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (not sure if trans was included) and vice versa, particularly lesbian and bi women, and that there are higher percentages of people with disabilities in communities of color. I’ll save that for another post- this is a lot of info for now! But in short, if we want more people to come to our events, they should be affordable, at different times (not assuming 9-5 Monday thru Friday schedule) so people who work evenings/weekends/nights may attend, are kid-friendly or provide childcare if not. We could try holding events in different neighborhoods than usual and reaching out to more community organizations.

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September 18, 2014 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

Women-Only Space Does Not Mean Safe Space

I am really sick of the assumption by *some* feminists that women-only space is necessarily safe space. To begin with, I don’t want to have anything to do with all the transphobic crap that usually surrounds it, and furthermore even as a cis woman I don’t feel really welcome in the Girls Only Club. If these folks are so insistent on their narrow definition of womanhood, I’m sure at some point I’ll violate their pre-conceived notions. Too straight or too queer, too butch or too femme. Too something. I’m fine with participating in “anyone who IDs as a woman is welcome” spaces, but I do not go into them with the assumption that they’re automatically safer than spaces with men. 

I was never really a part of your “sisterhood” or “shared girlhood“, so save your cutesy speeches about sleepover parties and announcing when you got your period to your friends. I was That Weird Kid. I did have friends, growing up, but as I grew into puberty being a girl became less about having fun on my own terms- dressing up, having tea parties- as well as catching bugs and playing in the mud- and more about a list of obligations and rules that I had to follow. A few of these things I learned from my mother, who is a feminist herself and not inclined to push me into forms of femininity that weren’t my thing. But most of them were proclaimed and enforced with bullying, shaming, staring and shunning by other girls. In junior high, I got bored with all the fuss over makeup, clothes, diets, boys (really is anyone impressed by junior high boys?) and dances. I retreated to my books. Same with high school. Boys, for most part ignored me, but girls obsessively enforced “the rules”. 

After taking women’s studies classes in college, and observing how my experiences compare to other women, I’ve realized how much gender performance is part and parcel of faking being neurotypical. It’s suspected that women and girls are less often diagnosed with autism, or are labeled later in life because we are often better at passing as neurotypical, often by mimicking others, and just being quiet and withdrawn. My partner jokes that I have “male pattern autism”- I threw tantrums, I expressed loud opinions. My behavior was impossible to ignore, so I was labeled at fairly young age (at about 8 or 9) Anyway, I’ve gotten to the point that whenever I see a book or article, or hear a statement that “women think this way, communicate or develop this way” or whatever, I just think “That’s neurotypical women they’re talking about.” And most of the time whatever generalization was made doesn’t fit me very well, and may not even fit a lot of neurotypical women, but least of all me!

Now, I have indeed been bullied, harassed and sometimes abused by men but those experiences haven’t taught me that men, as a category of human beings are to be feared. I’m equally cautious with men and women in general social settings, though more cautious with men when walking down the street. 

So really, I ask you is really so much better for womanhood, girlhood, femininity or whatever to be defined and enforced by women rather than by men? I think the nastiest tool of the patriarchy is not the average man, but rather other women, even ones who call themselves feminists. We are our own worst enemy. I’m not letting off the men off the hook here, certainly they should be held accountable *as individuals* for their actions, but let’s not pretend we have this glorious utopian sisterhood. 

From transwomen and transmen, and cross-dressers and all manner of gender-diverse folks, I’ve learned that there are so many more options of who I can be as a human being, I feel more comfortable with being a woman in my own way *because of them* They are not in any way threatening to my identity as a woman. If they threaten yours, I think you’re the one who needs to work on having a healthy gender identity, one that’s based on being yourself rather than worrying about how other people identify.

August 29, 2014 at 1:29 am 2 comments


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