Queer Stereotypes

As I said a few months ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being queer. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be queer and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are queer.

Let me start by saying that the definition of “queer” is not one that everyone uses in the same way. The term queer has a history of being used in a derogatory way, and depending on the generation you come from, you may still view queer as a derogatory term.[1] However, more recently, queer has turned into a term that is often used to either: a) describe all people who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender[2] or b) describe non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender people who feel that other LGBTQ+ terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. don’t accurately describe who they are.

Given the multitude of definitions of what it means to be queer, there are many stereotypes associated with being queer. Here are a few such stereotypes:

  1. If you are queer, you must be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or some other identity. Not so. As I said in my previous paragraph, one major reason that some people describe themselves as queer is that terms such as lesbian or transgender may be too limiting to describe themselves and their experiences.
  2. All queer people face the same struggles. Once again, not so. It seems like the people who oftentimes battle the most for inclusion, even within the LGBTQ+ community, are queer people of color and queer people with disabilities. This is truly a case where it is important to understand the concept of intersectionality, where different forms of discrimination overlap, combine, and even intersect, with each other. In the case of queer people of color or queer people with disabilities, for example, it is important to understand how being queer and being disabled can overlap and intersect with each other to result in exclusion among other queer people (for being disabled) or other disabled people (for being queer).
  3. Queer people are confused about their identity. This stereotype comes from the fact that many queer people don’t view themselves as specifically any other identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc.). Queer does not equal confused. However, people who are uncertain about their gender or sexual identity fit under a different “q” term that is sometimes used in the LGBTQ acronym instead of “queer”: that term is “questioning.”
  4. “But you don’t look queer…” Even though certain “looks” are still associated with being queer, the reality is that there is no single way that someone could possibly “look” queer. Being queer has nothing to do with how one looks.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with being queer. If there are other stereotypes about queer people that should be discussed and/or if anyone wants to expand upon the queer stereotypes mentioned here, please feel free to post a comment below!

Previous posts in my series on LGBTQ+ stereotypes:


[1] https://abcnews.go.com/Health/gay-man-millennial-term-queer-word/story?id=20855582

[2] Cisgender people are people whose gender corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The LGBTQ Pride Flag. Ludovic Bertron from New York City, Usa [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5DThe LGBTQ Pride Flag.

Transgender Stereotypes

As I said a few months ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being transgender. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be transgender and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are transgender.

The consensus definition is that being transgender means that your gender identity differs from the sex that you were assigned at birth.[1] I should note, though, that not everyone has the exact same definition of the word transgender.

Now that we’ve defined what it means to be transgender, we can start to understand what sort of stereotypes are associated with being transgender. Here are a few such stereotypes:

  1. Transgender people are not “real” men or women. People who are transgender may not be “real men” or “real women” to certain individuals, but separating the real men and women from trans men and women is dehumanizing (as if trans men and trans women are somehow “fake”). Just please avoid categories of realness and fakeness.
  2. Trans women athletes have an unfair advantage. A journalist (I forget for which outlet), when covering the success of a transgender collegiate athlete, said that trans women are forgotten when they fail and delegitimized when they succeed. It is true, though, and I should add that not all trans athletes who transition from the male category to the female category (or vice-versa) succeed.
  3. Transgender people are still fundamentally the same people they were at birth. I can’t begin to emphasize how problematic this sort of attitude is. This is the sort of attitude that leads to deadnaming, which is calling someone by their birth name instead of their new chosen name. It’s also the sort of attitude that leads to deliberate misgendering of transgender people. Having an attitude that leads to deadnaming and misgendering is problematic, because for most transgender people I know, their birth name and previous pronouns are a reminder of a period of life when they tried to live as someone they were not—a great source of pain indeed.
  4. Transgender people are predators. For whatever reason, there is this stereotype among some that transgender people are predators. Because of that stereotype, some states look at, or even pass, laws that keep transgender people from using the bathroom that fits most closely with their own gender identity. In reality, however, the overwhelming majority of trans people just want to use a bathroom they feel comfortable using, without all the harassment and discrimination. Is that too much to ask?
  5. All transgender people have/had gender dysphoria. This was something I used to think and had to unteach myself, by the way. I had to unteach myself—by remembering that gender dysphoria is when someone experiences distress because their biological sex does not match their gender identity.[2] However, many transgender people do not experience discomfort from the fact that their gender doesn’t match with their biological sex, and therefore never had gender dysphoria in spite of being transgender. I would also note that by assuming that all transgender people have/had dysphoria, it promotes an attitude, whether intended or not, that being transgender is a disorder.[3]

This post hopefully covered some of the major stereotypes associated with being transgender. If anyone wants to add to any of my stereotypes, or has stereotypes of your own, feel free to comment below!

Previous posts in my series on LGBTQ+ stereotypes:


[1] This is pretty close to the definition that Merriam-Webster had for transgender: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transgender

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/#targetText=Gender%20dysphoria%20is%20a%20condition,the%20appearance%20of%20the%20genitals.

[3] While doing research for this piece, I found out that gender dysphoria used to be called gender identity disorder. When you connect the term “gender identity disorder” with being transgender, one can see how being transgender was considered a mental illness (not that I defend this, by any means, and in fact it was awful that being transgender was once considered a disorder).

Introducing a Series on LGBTQ+ Stereotypes

Sometimes, this blog is a smorgasbord of social justice issues, and I’m fine with that. However, given this time in history with LGBTQ+ issues, I want to spend a bit more time on LGBTQ+ issues, and particularly stereotypes that go with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,[1] intersex, and asexual. 

To elaborate on the time in history we are at right now (just to give a quick summary for those who aren’t fully aware), here are some important LGBTQ+ events going on, all at the same time:

  • The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is coming up at the end of June. For those who don’t know about this piece of LGBTQ+ history, these riots were a series of violent confrontations between the police and gay people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. To read more, read this Encyclopedia Britannica piece.
  • Numerous governments across the world, including the federal government and some state governments in the United States, have tried to undermine or take away LGBTQ+ rights.
  • Several religious institutions, most notably the Methodist Church, are grappling with LGBTQ+ issues.
  • The United States Supreme Court is considering a case on whether current federal law bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Given all these events, as well as the fact that so many of the bad things that happen are the result of some of these LGBTQ+ stereotypes, it’s important to address those stereotypes here and now.

So, my plan is to dedicate a post a month (or so) to stereotypes with regards to a major group in the LGBTQ+ community. Many of the stereotypes discussed will be ones I’m aware of, but I would definitely encourage my readers (and especially people with firsthand experience of being LGBTQ+) to let me know of stereotypes that I should cover, as well.

This way, by the time the series is done, probably around December by my calculations, we are hopefully all ready to confront some of those harmful stereotypes, both within ourselves and others.


[1] The “q” in LGBTQ could also stand for “questioning.”

Hafuboti [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

LGBTQ+: Beyond Marriage

Given the fact that October is LGBT History Month, I think that it is both important and appropriate to dedicate a blog post during the month to the topic of LGBTQ+ issues.

In particular, I want to use this post as a warning against viewing LGBTQ+ history in the way that many of us view the civil rights movement for African Americans: ending with one or two major events.

In history classes, the African American civil rights movement is often taught as having ended decades ago, with legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is the case, even though many civil rights problems still remain in 2017.

I fear that many of us in future generations will view the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in a similar way: ending with one or two major events. The only difference is that instead of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act with African American civil rights, we have the allowance of same-sex marriage in all fifty states and the lifting of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” with LGBTQ+ rights.

The problem, however, is that there are many LGBTQ+ civil rights which should exist but don’t. Here are a few examples:

  1. Most states have no laws regarding discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. Most states do not prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. Many states do not address hate crimes that are on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. Most states do not prohibit discrimination at public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

I can add many other things to the list, but the point of having this list is to show that the LGBTQ+ rights movement should not be viewed as ending just because the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal. That was one step in the process for securing LGBTQ+ rights, but it is by no means the only step or the last step.

If people view the decision to legalize same-sex marriage as the last or only step in achieving LGBTQ+ civil rights, then issues such as the ones I mention above will continue to exist for decades to come. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.

Here is a map showing states and where they stand on a variety of LGBTQ+ issues—this map from the Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/state-maps