Guest Blogger

Transgender & Being Sexual: The Double-Edged Sword of Transphobia

Filed By Guest Blogger | July 29, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Transgender & Intersex, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: fetish sex, intersex, sexual attraction, taboo, transgender, transphobia

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Bayne MacGregor (aka Battybattybats et al) is an Australian crossdresser/genderqueer/bi-gender goth who has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for around 19 years.

Waggingfinger.jpgThere are a myriad of issues about sex and Transgender.

Just the word sex alone is a problem. Our inability to deal with the subject meant that euphamisms became standard for any polite discussion of coitus, of copulation of humans. So it became 'the sex act' and then 'sex' making any discussion of the differences between sex and gender in ordinary english with people uneducated in TG issues a mess to begin with.

Transgender has often been cast as a fetish, a going-wrong of sexual desires. So this sets up a conflict where ordinary sexual expression of a transgender person is labelled fetishistic so some reject such behaviour in themselves and others, condemning the sexually expressive as bringing problems onto the whole transgender community.

Others internalized transphobia results in them trying to excuse their transgender nature as purely sexual. This may be conscious or unconscious. But as they grow in self-acceptance many self-proclaimed fetishists find that the more they accept being transgender to some extent the more non-sexual TG aspects of themselves get unlocked after years of repression.

Seems a bad 'devil and the deep' scenario already huh? But it gets worse.

Many wonder why if studies suggest TG is comparably common to GLB then why is it so invisible, so closeted?

Ah, well, here you come to the worst part of the dilemma.

While there are a very significant number of transgender-attracted people as the market for TG pornography indicates, transgender sex workers show this is considered further taboo.

Despite the many women who have had posters of folk from David Bowie to Marilyn Manson to Davey Havok and Jefree Starr on their walls in their teens few seriously consider a relationship with gender non-conformists let alone taking them home to meet their parents. The attraction is there but the social pressure is strongly to conform and have relationships with cis folk. Same for those who visit transgender sex-workers, they'd happily pay for the sex but not consider openly dating the same person or openly admitting their sexual attraction to transgender people to their friends, family and workmates.

And those who do find TG sexually attractive are further condemned by parts of the transgender community just for finding TG attractive! Now sure if a TG wishes to transition fully then someone who finds the combination attractive may not be for them, but plenty of transgender people do not transition fully.

And in fact it is the fear of not finding a long-term partner that keeps a huge proportion of transgender people in the closet, keeping the knowledge that they are transgender secret form their current and prospective partners.

The desire for sex in fact keeps TG people trying to be Cis!

The sexual drive is the most powerful social force in our and most other species. Yet for transgender people it is condemned if present and used to invalidate their gender identity and expression. And yet the taboo of TGs being attractive sexually to others is also one of the major forces holding transgender people back!

The sexest and transphobic notion that a TG person cannot be sexual without their transgender-ness being a fetish causes horrendous harm. Cis men and women are sexual constantly. Much of media revolves around Cis sexual expression both male and female.

The transphobic notion that non-gender-binary attraction is wrong also does horrendous harm. This is perpetuated by some binary-identified transgender people (and cisgender transsexuals for those who prefer another term) too which can perpetuate the sexual-phobia in the transgender community.

And in society at large the many TG-attracted people need to start coming out about their attraction. That taboo needs to be undone.

Transgender people are sexual beings but no moreso than any cis straight or gay or lesbian or bisexual. We need to be seen in public as sexual beings and more than just sexual beings. We need to be acknowledged as attractive just like cis-folk get acknowledged as attractive.

And transgender people will not make sufficient headway by trying to cast sexuality out of the community. That only keeps the majority of transgender folk closeted and lonely and miserable. The reactionary fear of the sexual taboo and fetish label is holding us back. We have to find ways to claim our sexual expression and attractiveness as being as valid as everyone else's.


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well said.
for me, I am a sexual being, but I am not attracted to sex as much as the individual.
attitude, intelligence,humor,and being a responsible adult are the biggest attractions.
but hey a cute face can't hurt.

Bayne,
It is so refreshing to see someone else willing to broach the "taboo" subject of sex in the transgender community. When I had an article here on that subject, it brought out many people expressing their dislike (the weak word of what I wanted to use) of the subject, of transgender-identified people and and me in general. You may even remember that. Let's see how long it will take them to find your article.

You do have a Kevlar bra, right? (grin)

Perhaps the rank and file transgender feel what you say is accurate, but I find it difficult to relate to anything you are saying and wonder what basis you have for some of the statements you have made. Perhaps I could understand more if you would link to your sources...or simply state that the essay is your own personal feelings.

battybattybats battybattybats | July 29, 2009 11:18 PM

Rank and file?

As for your relating to what I am saying.. well that may depend on how you relate to the subject in toto and to the experiences of others. I'd be interested in any way your own experiences of peoples attitudes to transgender sexual expression, and especially non-binary transgender sexual expression and the effects of those attitudes on others differ from what I've written.

What is my basis? These aren't my personal feellings but my observations and the answers I have received in talking to closetted TGs locally and online (crossdresser forums for example are after all quite filled with closetted TGs) as well as TG-attracted people including some I knew as friends before I came out.

Who would know better why they stay closetted than thosee who stay clossetted? Who would know better why they look at TG porn or find TGs hot yet have a cis-partner but a ciswoman or cisman who does?

If your experiences on this subject differ by all means share them. Its not like I say there are no exceptions. After all I do know a couple of people who are publicly open about being TG-attracted. But do you in your experiences find thats the majority or a generally socially acceptable view?

Overall, a nice article on sexuality in the transgender community. I must comment on one major flaw, however:

"The desire for sex in fact keeps TG people trying to be Cis!"

This is a twisted synecdoche that is more hurtful than helpful. By using this syntax to make your point -- trans women want to be more like cis women for sex -- you simultaneously paint trans women as sex-starved people whose only reason for transition is sex itself.

By and large, trans women want to be more like cis women. That's sort of a central tenet of transition; we shuffle ourselves from one gender role to another, and attempt to fulfill that role in the most complete way possible. However, this is not to say that the decision is based on sexual relationships, sexual partners, or a desire for stealth. A woman is more than the sum of her parts, and the intricacies of transition are part of the magic of the process. To suggest instead that transition is born entirely out of a desire for sex screams of a Freudian analysis that does not take into account the greater issues facing transitioners.

That being said, I do feel that fetishism does stand as a roadblock between someone's desire to have sex with me and their desire to be with me. This point you do make quite clear.

"The desire for sex in fact keeps TG people trying to be Cis!"

Actually, it does apply, but could have been explained a little better. And "desire for relationships" might be a better, broader phrase.

It boils down to fear, fear of losing partners or at least losing the sexual bond with them if they find out we're any sort of trans (indeed, I know many transsexuals who saved relationships, but those relationships became essentially platonic). This drives people to hide the need to transition (TS) or the need to express a different gender (CD, sometimes genderqueer) for longer than they should. For single people, it can be the fear of not being able to find a compatible partner sexually or even emotionally because of transness being a roadblock.

It applies, yes, but I was disagreeing with the way it was said in the article. For example, if I said "boys' desire to be Bruce Willis drives them to go to the gym," I would leave out the boys who would rather be fast talkers, or effeminate men, or any other myriad expressions of what a boy could be.

We have to be very careful about wording when it comes to these issues. People reading this article may get the impression that sex is a driving force in a trans-person's life. This is complicated by the sentence I pointed out -- doubly so, since it was presented as a single-sentence paragraph.

I agree with you that "Desire for relationships" more accurately reflects the point of this article. Sex is easy to get -- there are plenty of trans admirers to choose from. Its the relationship part that trips us up sometimes.

battybattybats battybattybats | July 29, 2009 10:27 PM

Hi.
The statement (of course a generalised one) is refering to the general reality of many Transgender people.. the larger portion of the transgender-spectrum population, the ones largely still deeply closeted from most of the world. The less strongly-gendered transsexuals capable of at least trying to suffer through acting as Cis, the bi-gender, the crossdressers and the gender-queer.

True i say sex rather than relationships in that sentence, that's because this article is about sex and the way sexual expression is used against transgender people. Romantic relationships are substantially (sure not always but rarely are they not at all) about or for sex on a biological evolutionary level as well as a social and cultural level and sex plays a large part of the emotional dynamic of most romantic relationships.

That many will visit TG sex workers and watch TG pornography but in secret and not discuss their attraction to TG nor openly date nor wish to marry a TG shows how the effect of the social judgement of transgender and sexual attraction controls this.

It's not like people openly and publicly say 'TG's are hot, but not loveable'. Or tell their friends and family 'I'd sleep with a TG but not fall in love with them'. No, most of them secretly feel TGs are hot and look at them online or quietly purchase videos and magazines of them. The social-sexual taboo is the crux of the effect on the romantic relationships.

Socially acceptable media is utterly filled with sexual messages. Sexual desire and sexual expression drives technological innovation, it drives culture and is a foundation for much commerce.

You say: "By and large, trans women want to be more like cis women. That's sort of a central tenet of transition; we shuffle ourselves from one gender role to another, and attempt to fulfill that role in the most complete way possible."

That may be true of the majority of the minority.
The small number of transsexuals who are out and transition.

But when some estimate figures put the larger transgender spectrum at 4% 6% or even 10% of the general population most of whom are still closeted and only communicating online via aliases they are indeed trying to be non-transitioned cis. Every day crossdressing forums are filled with messages like 'is there a cure?' or 'I wan't to tell my wife but can't'. Many of those messages come from TSs still trying to deny and defy their nature, others from bi-gender people trying to crush half of their nature to fit in.

And where TS or otherwise there are often the feellings and needs of wives and husbands (lets not forget the FtMs!) and children involved. Where wives and husbands are all thought to become sexually widowed at discovering their partner is TG ignoring that some at least find it attractive. Where children are thought to be at-risk of supposedly sexual-predator-fetishist transgender parents. And so even when the imediate family are told they get dragged into the closet most of the time rather than the TG coming out further.

And the fear of these effects are not just about losing friends, parents, children, spouses and partners but also the fear of never finding future relationships. Many single TG people say they won't come out because they feel they will be forever single. Dateless and sexless.

Something common is the nagging / building fear that the admirer will have that his (or her) date will be read, and that this will reflect on him also. It's quite the let-down the first time you realize that not only is your date not showing you off, he's actually trying to hide you or nervously trying to be inconspicuous. And I don't get read that much (almost never), but just the fact that he thinks it could happen grows exponentially so that actual dating etc. becomes impossible. Not to mention his terror about bringing you home to mom.

This is a common roadblock to admirers falling in love with the girl of their dreams. And yes, there are definite corollary situations for the guys.

battybattybats battybattybats | July 29, 2009 11:34 PM

Very true!

One person I know, a cissexual woman who sometimes presents as genderqueer and sometimes a female-to-male crossdresser and who is a Goth found her binary-identified MtF transsexual partner was getting upset because the public mixed-gender expression and eye-catching Goth subculture expression was making her feel far more vulnerable to being read and was trying to get my friend to be more conforming to fashion norms and binary gender expression.

So these factors can become sources of conflicts even for trans/trans relationships.

I've yet to find a Trans Body Owner's Manual. But one thing I'm sure about it, is that they didn't leave out the chapter on sex.

I'm on record saying that dismissing things as "fetish" is a farce -- that's a ploy by a few clinicians to lump anything we don't necessarily understand into a big box of "paraphilias" that they can maintain province over and make people feel guilty of (and centuries of anti-sex teaching by the church plays into this beautifully) so that they can keep business coming in. They make $#!t like "nymphomania" and "autogynephilia" up purely because it lines the pockets. If a practice is safe, responsible, respectful and has mature, informed consent, then people really have no business condemning or pathologizing it.

Part of the transsexual objection to anything sexual stems from the squick most (but not all) TSes get from the birth body parts. It becomes uncomfortable to do anything other than keep clean in the shower, and therefore they can't fathom other transsexuals being comfortable with their use. And yet there are some folk genuinely TS that just don't experience the body squick part as much, or else learn ways to block it out when necessary (I'm the latter, and learned that many years ago, back when I didn't really know what consent was, but realized that it seemed to come with money). The effect of HRT on libido makes it easier and even logical for people to migrate from sex-positive to asexual also.

I know that you're not speaking strictly about transsexuals, but you'll find a larger part of the objections there, and that has a lot to do with why.

Keep in mind that there are people out there who are strictly interested in the climax and that's it. In the past, I've seen reason to attribute a lot of that to possible submerged identity issues, or the effect of testosterone, but am finding that it doesn't account for everyone in this category. At which point, I refer back to what I said about safe, responsible, respectful and consensual, even if I haven't figured the rest out.

Trans + Trans relationships: to me that simply boils down to shared understandings. I've been in a number of different relationships, but found that my current partner simply had a much better understanding which allowed us to get past transanything and reach deeper levels. We've gone through the endstage parts of transition relatively together, so as the issues become more distant and forgettable, it will probably happen to us both at relatively the same time.

Re: Trans Admirers: what probably doesn't help is the immense divide between what they usually believe and reality. Granted, occasionally someone takes the time to really understand who we are, but most of what we see of admirers are people who derive their knowledge from porn. Not that I'm critical of porn, it's just not a particularly good source for knowledge of any gender, class or race of person. And some admirers just don't want to get it, either, they have this notion of the "shemale" which goes like this: "so you're really a guy, right?" And you can explain it until you're blue in the face, but the pull of the taboo might be so strong that they return to: "so you're really a guy, right?" It's folks like this that keep our opinions of other admirers unfairly in the toilet. I know the good ones are out there, but I have to admit it's not immediately obvious in the community. It gets worse when someone wants surgery and their partner can't bear the thought of it.

Thanks for bringing up the topic, and I hope you have your flak jacket on.

Very interesting article. Really causes one to sit back and think.
So many years dealing with friends who are trans and I have never really thought about these things where they are concerned.
It makes me ask myself some questions about my own attractions to various genders. Being bi there is no taboo toward me dating males or females in particular. But still I have never dated anyone who is trangendered either transitioned or not. But I have a history of being attracted to people who are genderqueer in the androgynous way and not specifically gender identified or not particularly gender conforming.
I'll have to think about this a lot.

batty,
thank you for posting this here.
TG people of all types are seen as SEX OBJECTS,but often not as HUMAN BEINGS with a "normal"@tm sexual appetite like all other human beings.

my question:
do people see those who transition as BEING the gender they feel?
or are we TG only?

and genderqueer people are often disliked in the GLB community.that's really wrong and also needs to be addressed.younger people are cooler with all this(emo, goth, etc)but the previous "rainbow flag" generation needs a wake up call....

it's not enough to just fight for the "rights"
of the "TG", we want to be SOCIALLY and sexually included in this community, or it truely will ONLY be the GLB....
"liberalism" is not enough.

if we are not SOCIALLY in the community,
then we are not in it AT ALL.
(tho i willalways fight for GLB rights myself, no matter what...)
J
so, what is the verdict?
are we us or them?

I feel that there's nothing wrong with the sexual drive behind someone being a "tranny chaser". It makes sense, different parts do different things and some prefer one over the other. Gender and sex are fluid.

There is an issue, as you pointed out, with people who deny any possibility for relationships with trans folk because of societal pressure. I've had a few friends express concern that I might get used and hurt by these kinds of people. It's a real risk.

Thanks for the article. As another member of the trans community, my sex life seems to be the first question (ok maybe the second question) that gets asked after coming out to someone.

As a rivet-punk third gender male-presenting bio-fem pansexual in a long term relationship with a cisgendered straight male.. yeah. It gets confusing to people at times. :P

I feel fortunate that my partner was willing to embrace me as a person first, transgender second.

Frankly, I'm quite confused by the article.

As a transsexual woman, not a transgender woman, I do not see myself in the piece, though trained, as we all are to accept that transsexual people are really only transgender, I cannot help but see this as a commentary on us also.

This is precisely the routine, and invisible, category error caused by the indiscriminate imposition of the transgender umbrella.

While early in transition many, if not most transsexual people appear to be transgender--that is, there appearance (their gender expression) seems to be only that of crossdresser--this usually changes as they progress and as hormones alter secondary sexual characteristics.

However, for those who wish, after reconciling their body--their apparent sex--with their inner certainly, they may certainly then seek to present themselves as transgender.

Say, as one of female sex who seeks in ways to present with a masculine gender presentation.

I wouldn't, because this is neither my sexuality nor my sex. But that is just me.

battybattybats battybattybats | July 31, 2009 1:30 PM

But Jessica, your experiences belong to a very small minority but are in fact the experiences most often and best represented.

It is not the experiences of the transsexuals who need to and seek full SRS that are invisible. It is the experiences of the much more common and much more closeted and much more condemned mocked and reviled who need less surgery or none. The ones with less binary and/or singular gender-identity are not so visible and not so respected even though they appear to drastically outnumber the others.

However.. and here is where I suffer the confusion.. the trouble that you express with the article seems merely to be with the word transgender and it's application to transsexuals rather than the substance of the article itself..

Well the word does still certainly apply to many as a self-accepted self-identifier, community-identifier and marker of common cause and common opression but if you do not feel it accurate enough I reccomend adopting the replacement umbrella term S&GD or Sex and Gender Diversity which is even more inclusive and incorporates Intersex issues less divisively into a common human-rights framework and for those transsexuals whose views on the sex/gender definition divide sees them not considering themselves transgender I reccomend adopting the replacement term CisGender TransSexual (which i actually did mention in the article) which makes a clear distinction and nevertheless remains under the broader and innately diverse S&GD umbrella.

Now that we have terminology dealt with what about the ACTUAL point of my article? As where one fits in self-identity to the definition of an umbrella term has next to no bearing whatsoever as to whether or not someone elses social taboos and stigmas will be applied to you or effect your dating and sex-life or have an effect on natural voting allies, people with shared needs and on the broader community as a whole.

And to take it to an extreme, but a plausible one, if transphobic murderers and assaulters are themselves often severely repressed transgender people, say crossdressers for hypothetical example, in much the same way as is often considered the case with homophobic violence being believed to be often perpetrated by repressed homosexuals then progress on this issue may well be the difference between yours or another cisgender transsexuals life or death.

Now looked at that way surely this is now more clearly directly pertinent to you?

Or is there something I've missed?

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | July 31, 2009 5:40 PM

Thanks for posting this thought-provoking piece! It's a topic that needs to be addressed, and I pretty much agree with your take on it--especially the parts about how cis peoples' fears and society's pressures to conform prevent folks from openly dating and falling in love with transgender partners.

I transitioned in the San Francisco Bay Area, and while worried beforehand that I might never find a partner again, found after transition that there were more people interested in me than I had time or energy for.

But the Bay Area is the exception that proves the rule. Since I've left there, I've found partners in VERY short supply. Were I interested in casual sex, I suspect I'd find as much as I could handle. As I'm not, however, I find that people's interest tends to disappear once they find out I'm trans.

Given how challenging it is for ANYONE to find a compatible partner from among even a large pool of prospective partners, I've found it downright impossible from among the teeny-tiny (and lately, nonexistent) pool of people interested in FtMs in my current city. And I'm bi and queer-identified, which enlarges the pool somewhat!

Had I known it would be this hard, it would have given me serious pause before transitioning; although the need was so great, it wouldn't have prevented me.

That said, it might be the single most difficult aspect of my post-transition life.

Well . . . you could . . . ah . . . always . . . ah . . . move to Atlanta. (giggle)

I don't believe I ever made the claim that relationship seeking difficulties, or violence, doesn't affect either transsexual people in general or myself in particular.

Though I continue to wonder why only the self-identification of those who identify as transgender is respected whereas that of those who identify as transsexual is not.

In my experience in Canada, probably not considered by many as relevant to their experience elsewhere, the absence of transsexual people who do not identify as either transgender or gay can be simply explained by the requirement their experience be filtered through the prisms of either transgender or gay or both, regardless of whether it is appropriate.

Those who see the world through these prisms have great difficulty understanding those who do not--and routinely seek to impose their understanding upon them.

battybattybats battybattybats | August 1, 2009 3:11 AM

Jessica, the article is a discussion about those issues, if you don't disagree with the relevant points then your in fact in agreement with the relevant points of the article yes?

So your comments are then off-topic and erroneuos? Off-topic because they are about nomenclature that is in effect largely irrelevant to the article and erroneuos because your complaint is reasonably incorrect.

Becaus I DO respect the tiny minority of transsexuals who have issues with the term transgender (and to some extent I agree that as a umbrella term it has some flaws, like most other terms) and as I point out transsexuals are again a minority of the broader sex and gender diverse population.

I DID respectfully mention CisGender TransSexuals in the article. A term which has none of the invalidating-of-others connotations that other terms sometimes used by and about gender-binary-identified transsexuals have and which still clearly denotes the differentiation between sex and gender quite neatly and fairly.

So as I do and the article above does respectfully acknowledge those few who have issues with the term Transgender as an umbrella then whats your beef?

S&GD is by and large a better term (especially as it's more inclusive of Intersex) though very underused and you being considered a CisGender TransSexual and I being a currently CisSexual TransGender may be more accurate descriptors, but as Transgender is by and large the most commonly used umbrella term I still use it as such, while acknowledging those who don't where space and time permits and acknowledging the diversity within that umbrella is in fact something i point out often.

The Nomenclature Nonsense has for far too long been allowed to be an excuse for internecine conflict between related groups with related causes, largely driven by Internalised Oppression. There is no one TG, CD, TS, GQ, IS G, L or B experience or view or attitude or prism. We are all complex diverse individuals with commanalities and trends of experience not seperate unconnected species.

I may dress like a vampire but I'm no diabolical villain. If you'd like to work with me to spread awareness of S&GD with an emphasis on the D and terms like CG-TS, TG-TS and TG-CS etc then cool :) that way we can get more people out of the closet and active and helping meet the needs of you and me and themselves and the rest of humanity.

Too often though the Nomenclature conflict is a transphobic response to being associated with transgender expression and experience (or the transsexual, homosexual and/or bisexual ones such as happens in groups like parts of Tri-Ess) that attempts to invaldate it, increases harm to everyone and is used to demonise and oppress the closeted majority of crossdressers and bi-gender and genderqueer people (and others such as the homophobia and anti-transsexual nonsense in some crossdresser organisations etc, often there to dissuade and calm the fears of spouses that their partner will get SRS or turn Gay!).

So it's time to put aside the nonsensical internecine conflicts. Thousands upon thousands of people are suffering, perhaps as much as 10% of the population, a group maybe as large again as GLB put together and in many places thats an election-changing chunk of people. Getting enough of them on side would seriously improve your own chances of getting your needs met. Same with the rest of GLB.

Lets work together to make a real, positive difference in peoples lives.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | August 1, 2009 3:02 PM

The Nomenclature Nonsense has for far too long been allowed to be an excuse for internecine conflict between related groups with related causes, largely driven by Internalised Oppression.

Bravo!! Your comment here is the most concise and well-stated response to this ongoing, never-ending conflict I've read to date! Thank you!!!

Thanks BBB.

I think I should just mention that Batty has been kind enough to teach me more about Transgender than anyone I know. OK, I'm IS/TS, but that didn't mean I knew anything about TG. I had many misconceptions, and probably still do. But Batty has helped me a lot there.

No worries Zoe.

After all just being something doesn't mean we really understand it, having a pancreas doesn't mean i understand how it works and all that goes on inside it.

Society doesn't teach what it should, instead it teaches harmful myths and negative stereotypes. Many of us grow up believing even those false myths which are applied to ourselves and unlearning those that apply directly to us is hard in itself, unlearning the myths about those similar to us and yet said to be closer to those negative sterotypes, that is harder still. Many just shrug off those myths that were applied to themselves, but not to others who are similar and push all the negative stuff onto them. Its a common problem amongst the unfairly vilified people of society, this self-harming belief in the myths told about ourselves and then hypocrisy where people manage to shrug off some of the lies said about themselves yet refuse to apply the same to others.

It's an inconsistency born perhaps of not wanting to admit that society is still so wrong, that social mores are an inherantly unethical corrupt and false source for moral reasoning, but whatever the source its an insidious problem that every oppressed group must face up to and deal with lest they become the very vile oppressors themselves, just as the bullied risks becoming a bully.

But despite all the harm and the difficulty, as i know Zoe that you already know, our compassion is always required. It's not easy to face the realisation that one of the most common ways of determining right from wrong, what most other people think and say, especially what was thought and said when we were growing up, is completely useless and perpetuates wrongs. It tears away the ground from people. Similar to when a religious person must face moral questions in a system not geared solely for their faiths moral teachings but which allows for other faiths too... people aren't taught rights-based moral reasoning despite all modern democracy being founded on enlightenment principles that allow for determining a fair and just right and wrong accross and between cultures and faiths and ideologies.

It's just not easy to unlearn all the myths, to be as objective as possible, to judge others and ourselves by the same fair yardstick rather than one rigged to endorse ourselves and damn the rest. Still it's something each of us and our community at large is obliged to do.