Isn't it crazy that someone can be judged on their sexual orientation or gender identity instead of their personality ~ they are instead defined by a label and prejudice. This angers me greatly and I fully support the work of Amnesty International UK in their work supporting LGBT+ rights for those people tortured, imprisoned or negatively judged because they are just being true to who they are. The article on amnesty international website explains (to those who don't know) what gender identity and sexual orientation means as "Sexual orientation is the way you identify yourself ~ through desires, feelings and sexual activity, whether that's towards people of the same sex or opposite sex from you. Gender identity is rooted less in physical identity and refers to the way you identify with and express yourself in masculine and/or feminine notions of identity. When talking about issues of sexual identity we often use the initialism LGBT+, a shorthand version of the full acronym LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, panssexual). But we acknowledge that individuals may define their sexual identity in ways not limited to just these terms ~ and terms to describe sexual orientation and gender identity vary widely from culture to culture."
My eldest daughter "came out" as pansexual to myself and The Dave when she was 14, although she has only recently started dating women openly. She told us she was really nervous about it and so was pleasantly surprised when we just laughed (nicely I hasten to add) with her when she told us because we already knew and all she had done is confirmed our suspicions. To be honest we have absolutely no issue with her dating women, she feels more comfortable with them and is happy which in turn makes us happy. She explained to us that she loves people, not their gender, so may fall in love with either men or women or anybody that identifies as anything in between dependent on the person they are. It's not all that complicated really when you think about it - instead of putting herself in a box of must only date men or only date women she has freed herself and allowing herself to explore more widely and love the person not their gender. She is also questioning her gender identity and so whilst discussing this with me she has taught me about the complex issue of gender. For example, many people prefer gender neutral pronouns such as "they/them/their" which I confess I find difficult to do as it is an alien term for me to use when talking about a single person and not in the plural form. Until recently, I had no knowledge of all the different genders because I'd never come across anyone that didn't fit into the binary. I fully understood gay and straight, and people that got surgery to become the gender that they identify with, but anything in between was foreign to me. I have met so many new people through groups, forums, and support networks online as well as my daughters' social groups that have shown me that there is so much more to the LGBT+ community. There are trans folk that feel intense dysphoria about their bodies and opt to go through hormone therapy and surgeries, and there are trans folk that experience little to no dysphoria and are perfectly content living as their gender without any cosmetic changes, and there are people somewhere in between. Keisha actually did a really simple explanation of these different factors in someone's gender on her blog here. It is important for friends and family to support trans kids through exploration of their gender identity and any treatments or surgery they choose to get so that they can be healthy and happy in their own skin, which I think is any parent would want for their child. We fully support any decision that Keisha makes in regards to her gender or sexuality, and we encourage other parents to do the same.
I have to be perfectly honest with you too, I don't fully understand all the subgroups of gender identity although Keisha does her hardest to patiently try and explain it to me ~ all I know is how you choose to dress, what gender you identify with and who you love is irrelevant to me ~ who you are, your personality, what you do with your life is what matters. I am glad that very slowly the tide is turning and more and more people are standing up in support of those who don't conform to the traditional norm and say "so what" we are all deserving of equal rights. I feel that it is important that when somebody builds up the courage to come out to the world, that you acknowledge and respect that faction of their identity and give them all the acceptance, love, and support that you can provide.
My children as they grow are teaching me so much about understanding what it is like to be different, to not fit into that pigeon hole of a "normal acceptable person". We struggle with mental health, chronic illness and combating other peoples perception of our lives ~ our struggles are not visible, you can't see ME or mental illness and so understanding from outsiders is limited and we are often judged negatively. I used to be anti piercing and tattoos but that too has changed, I love the way my girls look and how they are finding themselves by experimenting with their fashion sense, hair styles and colours, piercings and tattoos. They are all accepting of people no matter what creed, colour, gender identity or sexual orientation ~ all they ask is for you to treat them well they will treat you well in return, It's so very simple, so why can't others see it that way too?
I am hopeful that the tolerance and understanding of the younger generation will help dissipated the ignorance and hate of those who think that anything other than a straight, cisgendered male/female union is wrong, that you should stick with the gender you were born and hope that days of being convicted, imprisoned or tortured for expressing yourself as you truly are will be just a distant memory.
I am an ally, I support equal rights, shouldn't love be unconditional, affection without limitations, love without conditions ~ don't judge what you don't understand, instead try to learn more about it and be open to change.