What Is…TGNC?

Pride flags

My “what is” series was initially designed to understand terms that are sometimes viewed as social justice jargon. However, as this series has gone on, I’ve come to realize that it is not just terms, but also acronyms, at times, that make people feel a little confused or lost.

One such acronym is TGNC. This acronym stands for transgender and gender nonconforming.

Before going any further in this post, it is worth defining what the terms transgender and gender nonconforming mean, as well as defining what birth sex, gender, and gender identity are:

  • While gender can be a challenge to define, the best definition I’ve heard about gender (in relation to one’s birth sex) is that birth sex is “between the legs” while gender is “between the ears.” In other words, birth sex refers to the sex one is assigned at birth, based on one’s body parts (e.g. seeing a penis and determining that it is a boy; hence, between the legs). As for gender, it refers to one’s own sense of how they align internally with masculinity, femininity, a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither masculinity or femininity (hence, between the ears).[1]
  • A person’s gender identity is a person’s sense of what they understand their gender to be.
  • A transgender individual is someone whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • A gender nonconforming individual is someone whose gender doesn’t conform to the norms expected of them based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

This acronym is that it is meant to cover people who do not have the experience of feeling like they have a gender identity that falls perfectly in line with the sex they were assigned at birth. In other words, it’s an acronym that covers transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Even though not everyone who identifies as transgender also identifies as gender nonconforming, and even though not everyone who is gender nonconforming identifies as transgender, the TGNC acronym can still be useful. The reason is that many TGNC individuals, regardless of whether they identify as transgender or gender nonconforming, have that shared experience of being treated awkwardly or poorly, in one way or another, because of their gender identity. And, speaking as someone who knows a number of people in that community, many of those experiences are similar, whether you are transgender or gender nonconforming. In a way, the TGNC acronym is one meant to capture people with two different identities who have, in many cases, similar experiences.

A few of my readers may ask the following: What about people who identify as non-binary? After all, individuals who are non-binary—people who feel they don’t fall into one of the typical “binary” categories for gender (male and female)—also have that experience of feeling like their gender does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth (an experience shared with transgender and gender nonconforming people). To answer this question, TGNC is usually the acronym I see when talking about people with the aforementioned experiences, which is why my “what is” post is on what TGNC stands for. However, some prefer to use the acronym of TGNCNB (transgender, gender nonconforming, and non-binary), in order to include individuals who identify as non-binary. Regardless of which acronym you prefer, we should not lose sight of the use of this acronym, which is to talk about people with a shared experience not held by people whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

So, with all of this in mind, I wish individuals in the LGBTQ+ community a Happy Pride Month in June, and I hope individuals not in the LGBTQ+ community come away from this post a little better informed than they were before reading this.


[1] I should note that how one presents oneself in terms of clothes, makeup (or a lack thereof), hair, etc., doesn’t necessarily determine one’s gender identity, though for some how they present themselves can relate to how they identify themselves gender-wise.

Gaslighting in Contexts Other Than Relationships

I was absolutely overwhelmed with the response to my “what is” post last week about gaslighting. I never know when a post will resonate with my readers, and I could tell that my post resonated with quite a few of you. It’s unfortunate that so many related to the post because of their experiences as victims of gaslighting, but I’m also hopeful that some people will come to a better understanding of their experiences through reading that post.

However, I think it is worth doing a follow-up post because of things I’ve learned even since last Monday, and things people should learn as well, about gaslighting in contexts other than one-on-one relationships with other people.

In saying this, it is worth remembering that gaslighting is “a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions.”[1]

Phrases like the following can be commonplace:

Of course that didn’t happen. You’re being crazy.”

“Your mind must be playing games.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You’re being too sensitive.”

These challenges to one’s reality, memory, and perceptions happen a lot in relationships, as I said in my post last Monday, but they can also happen in other contexts.

One other context in which gaslighting can happen is politics—something that a couple of the comments in response to my post pointed out last Monday. When a politician makes a person, or a whole group of people, question their own reality, that is political gaslighting. In fact, as controversial as it may be for me to say this, I think that the American people are a victim of President Donald Trump’s gaslighting regarding the election results—he is trying to get the entire country to doubt the basic reality that he lost, so that he could be president for four more years (or for life). Thankfully, no amount of gaslighting can result in giving Trump an election that he undoubtedly lost, but in the meantime the American people have to deal with the fact that he has successfully convinced a group of people of a reality that simply does not exist. And, when you have someone with a large platform who engages in an act of political gaslighting, the result is that a group of people gets convinced of a reality that does not exist (as is the case here with the election and President Trump).

Yet another context that gaslighting can exist is in the experiences of people with disabilities, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and other groups that face discrimination. Reading a post from Jackie at Disability & Determination helped me recognize that gaslighting absolutely exists in this context. Jackie’s post talked about gaslighting in the context of the disability community—it is painfully common in the disability community for someone to question or doubt the reality that there are certain things you aren’t able to do, or at least not do in the same way, as an able-bodied individual (or dismiss the reality of the disability in general). It can exist in the context of LGBTQ+ individuals through people who counter their perceptions of their sexual or gender identity, in the context of Black people through people who try to divert attention to how difficult they also have things in life, in the context of poor people by countering any notion that they are working hard yet struggling to still get by (saying that they simply need to work harder), and much more. Groups of people face discrimination and are gaslit about their own experiences of discrimination—a double whammy.

There may be other major manifestations of gaslighting that I did not cover either in last week’s post or this post; if so, please let me know in the comments section below. However, it is clear to me now that in addition to gaslighting rearing its ugly head in relationships, it can also rear its ugly head in other forms, such as in politics and the experiences of people in groups that face discrimination.


[1] My definition comes from here: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-gaslighting-how-do-you-know-if-it-s-happening-ncna890866

Lesbian Stereotypes

As I said a few weeks 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 the “l” (for “lesbian) is the first word in the LGBTQ acronym (or LGBTQIA), I think that it would be good for me to start this post (and LGBT Pride Month) by talking about what it means to be lesbian and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are lesbian.

A lesbian is a woman who is only sexually attracted to other women. If a woman is attracted to men and to women, she is bisexual, not lesbian.

Now that we’ve defined what it means to be lesbian, we can start to understand what sort of stereotypes are associated with being lesbian. Well, in addition to the general stereotypes that are associated with people with same-sex attraction and relationships (link to previous post), here are some additional stereotypes often associated specifically with lesbians:

  1. Lesbians hate men. No, lesbians do not necessarily hate men. They’re just not sexually attracted to men. And just because one is not sexually attracted to someone else doesn’t mean that they hate the person.
  2. Lesbians have just never found the “right man.” In terms of finding a man for marriage, this is true—lesbians haven’t found the right man. The caveat I would add, however, is that since lesbians are attracted to other women and not to men, people who are lesbian will never find the “right man”; however, maybe people who identify as lesbian will be able to find the “right woman” (if they haven’t already found her).
  3. Lesbians aren’t feminine. There is this idea that lesbians like sports, are butches (which would basically be women dressed in a more masculine way), and like other things that men do. While there are some lesbians who are into those sorts of things, doing a Google search for “lesbians” will help you discover that there are also many lesbians into feminine things too, and that does not make “feminine” lesbians any less valid or lesbian than anyone who is a “masculine” lesbian.
  4. In a household with two lesbian parents, one person has to be the “dad.” Please, let’s not apply heterosexual standards to a homosexual relationship. A mom is a female parent, so both parents in a household led by two lesbians are both moms. If a lesbian couple decides that one of them should take more of the dad-like roles while the other one should take more of the mom-like roles, that’s the couple’s decision. However, once again, we should not force heterosexual ideas onto a homosexual relationship of any kind.
  5. Lesbians like all women. No. Just as heterosexual people have standards and aren’t attracted to everyone of the opposite sex, lesbians have standards and aren’t attracted to everyone of the same sex.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with lesbians. If anyone feels that there were other lesbian stereotypes I neglected to mention, or if anyone wants to expand upon the lesbian stereotypes I discussed in this post, feel free to talk about that in the comments section below!

This is the main Lesbian Pride Flag I see, though I do see other flags labeled as “Lesbian Pride Flags.”

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Stereotypes Associated with People with Same-Sex Relationships

As I said a few weeks 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.

However, before going into stereotypes associated with being lesbian, gay, or bisexual, I feel that I should address stereotypes associated with same-sex attraction that I’ve heard from LGBTQ+ friends, writers, celebrities, and others; as all three identities can (in the case of being bisexual) or do (in the case of being lesbian or gay) involve same-sex attraction and feelings, I felt that it was important to address stereotypes associated with people in same-sex relationships in general.

Stereotypes related to same-sex attraction and relationships include, but are not limited, to:

  1. The thought that people who are in same-sex relationships are living out the “homosexual lifestyle.” Yes, people with same-sex relationships are indeed homosexual, just as people attracted to the opposite sex are heterosexual. But people with same-sex relationships aren’t living the “homosexual lifestyle” any more than people in opposite-sex relationships are living the “heterosexual lifestyle.” And yet, the term homosexual lifestyle is used in a negative way and as if it’s a choice that could be easily opted out of.
  2. People with same-sex relationships can’t be Christian. This stereotype, I think, is the result of two things: a) the belief among some Christians that homosexuality is a sin worthy of kicking people out of a congregation and b) the fact that this attitude of rejection pushes many people in same-sex relationships away from a belief in Christ (or at least away from church attendance). The reality, however, is that a Christian is a believer in Christ as Messiah, and is someone who tries to follow Christ in all one is and all one does. Those two requirements for being a Christian are not limited to people who identify as heterosexual.
  3. Same-sex couples “destroy the fabric of families.” This statement begs the question of what makes up the fabric of a family in the first place. Is that fabric a heterosexual couple, or is it something else? Speaking from the experience of being in a loving family, what makes the fabric of families is love, not heterosexuality.

These, of course, are just a few of many unjust stereotypes associated with people in same-sex relationships. If any readers are aware of other stereotypes about same-sex relationships/people with same-sex attraction, or have anything to add about the stereotypes I have discussed above, please feel free to comment below!

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