Intersex 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 intersex. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be intersex.

Intersex people are people who have variations in sex characteristics (examples: sex hormones, genitals, chromosomes) that do not fit the typical definition of a male or a female body. One example of an intersex person is someone with external genitals that don’t appear to be clearly male or female.[1]

Now that we’ve talked about what it means to be intersex, here are a few stereotypes associated with being intersex:

  1. Only men and women were made; therefore, there are no intersex people. This is a belief most commonly held by conservative Christian churches. My counter to this is science—sometimes there are people who are born with both male and female body characteristics, or body characteristics where it’s not clear if the body is clearly male or female.
  2. Intersex athletes are cheats. For this stereotype, look no further than the treatment of Olympian Caster Semenya. She is ostracized, marginalized, and is just about treated as the equivalent of a cheat for the simple reason that she was born with intersex traits,[2] which in her case means that she was born with an abnormally high level of testosterone. Some have come to her defense and argued that she’s successful because of her skills and not her testosterone, but additionally, athletes should not be punished for the way they were born.
  3. Intersex people must be “made” into a man or a woman. If intersex people want to undergo transition so that they are a man or a woman, that is up to them. However, non-consensual surgery to make an intersex person into something they don’t want to be is harmful mentally, not to mention the fact that such surgeries can be physically harmful if not done properly.
  4. Even if they don’t get surgery to be made into a man or a woman, intersex people must be raised as a man or a woman and behave as a man or a woman. This seems like a product of ideas about gender as a binary—the idea that someone must be clearly a man or a woman. However, intersex people should have the freedom to choose their own path as to whether their gender identity is as a man, as a woman, or as somewhere outside of the gender binary.

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

Other posts in my LGBTQ Stereotypes Series:
Introducing a Series on LGBTQ+ Stereotypes
Lesbian Stereotypes
Gay Stereotypes
Bisexual Stereotypes
Transgender Stereotypes
Queer Stereotypes


[1] There are other examples too, aside from the one I mentioned here.

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48120228

The Intersex Pride Flag.

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).

Bisexual Stereotypes

As I said in May, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify 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 have already talked about lesbian and gay stereotypes, I will talk about bisexual stereotypes today. But before talking about bisexual stereotypes, it must first be understood what it means to be bisexual.

A bisexual person is someone who is attracted to more than one sex and/or gender.[1] For example, a man attracted to both men and women is bisexual, and a woman attracted to both women and men is bisexual.

Now that readers who didn’t know about bisexuality now hopefully know what it means to be bisexual, here are a few stereotypes associated with being bisexual that has been brought to my attention from other people:

  1. Bisexual people are attracted to all genders and sexual identities. No, that’s not necessarily true, though the stereotype I just stated is closer to a description of what pansexuality is, as pansexuality involves attraction regardless of one’s sex or gender identity.
  2. A bisexual man is only attracted to men and women, and a bisexual woman is only attracted to women and men. For some bisexual people, that is what bisexuality looks like. However, as bisexuality involves attraction to more than one sex or gender, a person’s bisexuality may look different from that.
  3. Bisexual people are “confused.” Someone who is unsure or confused of their sexuality usually goes under a different label: questioning. “Bisexual” does not necessarily equal confused.
  4. Being bisexual is easy because you can “pass off as straight.” Yes, it is true that the majority of bisexual individuals end up in heterosexual marriages,[2] and that therefore one might be able to “pass off as straight.” As to whether this means that bisexual people have it “easy,” I think that this question is best answered by people who have the lived experience of being bisexual themselves.

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

Previous posts in my series on LGBTQ+ stereotypes:


[1] I should note that not all people have the same definition of bisexuality, so my definition might not be exactly the same as someone else’s definition. That being said, it seems like a lot of bisexual people have accepted that definition, so this is the definition I will go with for the purposes of this piece: https://www.hrc.org/resources/bisexual-faq

[2] A Pew Research Survey from 2015 said that only 9% of bisexual people in the survey had same-sex partners while 84% were in heterosexual relationships: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/02/20/among-lgbt-americans-bisexuals-stand-out-when-it-comes-to-identity-acceptance/

The Bisexual Pride Flag

On the Acceptance of LGBTQ+ People in Families

In my Christian denomination, which is Catholicism, there is significant emphasis on protecting all human life, from conception to a natural death. However, some of us only talk about abortion, while in the process ignoring a variety of other pro-life issues.

With LGBT Pride Month having drawn to a close, I want to put a spotlight on a pro-life issue that rarely gets discussed among many pro-lifers: the treatment of LGBTQ+ people. How is this a pro-life issue? I’ll tell you.

The statistics on LGBTQ+ people and suicide are absolutely staggering. According to The Trevor Project, LGB youth are three times as likely to contemplate suicide, and five times as likely to actually attempt suicide, as heterosexual youth. 40% of transgender adults also attempt suicide.

It is no coincidence that suicide attempts and rates are so high among LGBTQ+ people, because this population experiences high levels of rejection. This rejection makes a major difference in suicide rates—”LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.”[1] The same goes for transgender individuals: rejection from family is one reason why somewhere between 32% and 50% of transgender individuals in various countries attempt suicide.[2]

On the other hand, people within the LGBTQ+ community who experience little or no rejection from their families often have much better outcomes. According to the National Institute of Health, “Social support from family is found to be a general protective factor which is associated with reduced risk for lifetime suicide attempts among transgender persons.”[3] Many other organizations, including The Trevor Project (which I cited earlier), note that low or no family rejection significantly reduces suicide risk for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.[4]

I could cite even more statistics and quotes, but my point is that the treatment of LGBTQ+ people could save (or take away) many lives.

While being accepting and even affirming of someone who’s not “straight male” or “straight female” may go against some people’s personal or religious beliefs, such affirmation is extremely important.

I understand that there is a conflict-of-values here with LGBTQ+ issues for many individuals: supporting “right to life, from conception to natural death,” on one hand, and the moral difficulty of someone identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or some other identity, on the other hand. This conflict may make some of us feel uncomfortable. However, I challenge us to break through this discomfort and uphold the dignity of all individuals, including people who identify as LGBTQ+.

Having just one accepting adult in the life of an LGBTQ+ youth can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt by as much as 40 percent.[5] If you know an LGBTQ+ child, I beg that you be that accepting adult in the child’s life. This acceptance may literally be life-saving. 


[1] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.0001yyaiwhn8gds8r6z2r9ksp1fyj
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5178031/
[3] Ibid.
[4] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.0001yyaiwhn8gds8r6z2r9ksp1fyj

[5] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2019/06/27/research-brief-accepting-adults-reduce-suicide-attempts-among-lgbtq-youth/