Antonia D'orsay

Description, Affinity, Politics, and Identity

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | January 06, 2010 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: affinity groups, Bisexual, education policy, Identity, Identity Politics, Lesbian, LGBT, peer groups, peer pressure, Social Description, Society, Sociology, Stigma, Trans, transgender, transsexual, umbrellas

This is a continuation of previous columns: What Is Trans, What Is Sex, What Is Gender, and Situational Membership.

For the next couple columns, I will examine aspects of group dynamics within the LGBT milieu that are affected by the earlier stuff. As with previous articles, how a given individual identifies is irrelevant, and while some of my terminology is different, the aspects here are based on current science and knowledge.

And I'll still be as annoying as ever. Indeed, let's click over and see how I can annoy this time, shall we?

It's Not Me!

When discussing LGBT issues, one of the things that often comes up is some individual stating that they are not part of a particular group, and that as a result, they are opposed to the stuff being discussed. An example of this is LGB people who dislike the presence of Trans folk in the mélange, or trans folk of one sort or another who feel that some term or some group does them an injustice.

Part of what underlies the unwillingness on the part of many to deal with situations of dissent there is that there is an almost unspoken requirement to respect an individual's personal self identity. To avoid being disrespectful of that person's self identity, people go to great lengths to talk around aspects, or else they become embroiled in a contest where the argument descends into the logical fallacy of arguing the general from a specific or vice versa.

An example of this logical fallacy is readily available: there are some people who feel that the only real transsexuals are those who seek to have SRS. To justify this, they use personal, specific examples that are not applicable to the transsexual population as a whole. This is a logical fallacy - arguing from a specific (the personal examples) to a general (the transsexual population as a whole). To discuss the transsexual population as a whole, you cannot use what separates them, but only what they have in common, and you can only discuss it in terms of the group, not an individual within that group.

The reverse is common among those transsexuals they annoy - arguing from a general to a specific, where those general commonalities are employed specifically against them to show how they are unlike transsexuals because they as individuals don't meet common group traits.

I use this example only because I am familiar with it, not for any other reason. Both arguments have a great deal of emotional or "common sense" appeal - we generally know our own experiences better than others, and the arguments when made have a certain sense and reasonableness to them. That doesn't make them logically sound, however - what sounds good isn't always what really is. As I am fond of noting, one of the chief differences between fiction and reality is that fiction always has to make sense. Reality doesn't.

Another example of this is the LGB minus the T concept, where some folks feel that there is no commonality between T issues and problems and LGB issues and problems. Often, this is escalated into a further attack on the B, which is all too often not seen as actual or real, despite the decades of evidence showing that its more prevalent than anything else descriptively, but not necessarily in terms of identity.

One part of the problem involved in all of this is that people do not understand where the boundaries of personal identity end, where the boundaries and the nature of Political Identity begin, and how their particular affinity group fits into the whole thing.

Personal Identity

Personal Identity is personal - it applies only to the individual so concerned. One can be respectful of one's personal identity and no quite so much so to the Political identity to which that person may or may not belong.

Since personal identity is limited to the person themselves, for me to say that everyone is Toni D'orsay or like Toni D'orsay, and is indeed, D'orsay-ish, people would, rightfully, sorta have a cow. They are not Toni D'orsay. Indeed, there are very few Toni D'orsay's out there. (some are thankful for that, I hear).

This is what happens, however, when a person identifies, as an example, as a transsexual, but then applies their particular specifics of being a transsexual to others who fit the social description or happen to be aligned together under to collective political identity of Transsexual.

The same can be said of Gay, of Lesbian, of Bisexual, of Queer, of Bear, of Butch, of Femme, and so forth.

Political Identity

Political Identity is a form of affinity group. Affinity Groups are groups which share a commonality, something that binds them together despite the other differences. In my article on What is Trans, I describe the affinity group of Trans. A quick look will note that it is made up of several very different categories - some of which are generally antithetical in terms of how they exist. In that, I took what is the one thing trans folk hold in common and then noted how the various types of trans folk differ from each other in brief.

I could, of course, taken the time to break it down further, to show how the various types I note within the categories all interrelate - their differences and their commonalities. I didn't for a simple reason: that wasn't the point. The point was to give a brief reference of some fairly basic variances in the Trans community, and to show what it was that tied them together.

So from the very simple thing that ties all those diverse groups together, you get Trans. As I've pointed out, this is not an umbrella term. Unless, of course, you consider human to be an umbrella term, or perhaps Citrus, or maybe Stone Fruit. If, as an individual, you consider things like Human, Citrus, or Stone Fruit to be umbrella terms, well, you have a problem, and it is not one I share with you.

Within Trans, there are umbrella terms - I provided a general listing of them. Transsexual, for example, is an umbrella term. Transgender is an umbrella term. Each of them cover a wide range of persons who have something more specific than the Trans classification in common.

In looking at the parts of Gender, one can see how these different groups approach gender within the Trans community, and that creates a lot of internal friction. Transsexuals, for example, tend to seek to remain within gender boundaries, while other groups do not.

Nevertheless, it is an affinity group - or a set - that shares something in common, which was discussed in the column as a whole. They are bound together only by that commonality.

Political Identity is a social gestalt. It is not something that is planned or created typically (and certainly not in the era of identity politics), it is something that grows up out of shared experience. It happens "naturally", as an outgrowth of social networking and interrelationships. A good example of this is the idea of a "Homosexual Agenda". In the worldview of those unfamiliar with basic sociology, the Agenda exists because why else and how else could this massive collection of people who all have a strong common want come to be? It is assumed there is an agency, a directing force, and that it has plotted out and planned such a thing. There is none of that -- this is why there is not a copy of the Agenda sitting on shelves and why their saying it seems so silly and yet has some kind of ring of truth to it at the same time.

Political Identity, then, is essentially, a really advanced from of Clique. A social group that simply grows up because people have things in common with other people.

The Membership Factor

That commonality may be fleeting, resulting is a situational membership in that group. And that situational membership may be something the individual feels is bad or terrible. This is typically due to the stigma, real or enacted, felt as a result of the situational membership.

Situational Membership, as I noted earlier, does not mean that a person is actually part of that group from their perspective - only from the perspective of others. Situational membership can, in fact, reduce privilege and subject someone to discrimination, but in and of itself is not something that is within their control.

A couple examples of this in effect can be found here in the comments section at Bilerico, where some people have felt as if they were being forced into somehow being Trans when they do not see themselves that way, as well as the example of transsexuals who want to not be related in any way shape or form to other kinds of trans people.

In both cases, the reaction on the part of the individuals is visceral, and because there is a strong worry about being disrespectful to an individual's identity, people make efforts not to include them in order to appease them.

Falling prey to the logical fallacies mentioned earlier.

A transsexual who does not see themselves as having that commonality with the whole of Trans is not immediately a member of the Political Identity. Nor does the fact they are not a member of that Political Identity make *other* transsexuals not a part of it. Since political Identity comes from the collective presence of *several* people, it can only apply in a situation where there are several people with commonality.

Since situational membership is not something an individual does of their own accord, but is based in others, that means they cannot change that membership. This is even more true if they become involved with that particular Political Identity.

Political Identity is a social gestalt. It is not something that is planned or created typically (and certainly not in the era of identity politics), it is something that grows up out of shared experience. It happens "naturally", as an outgrowth of social networking and interrelationships. A good example of this is the idea of a "Homosexual Agenda". In the worldview of those unfamiliar with basic sociology, the Agenda exists because why else and how else could this massive collection of people who all have a strong common want come to be? It is assumed there is an agency, a directing force, and that it has plotted out and planned such a thing. There is none of that -- this is why there is not a copy of the Agenda sitting on shelves and why their saying it seems so silly and yet has some kind of ring of truth to it at the same time.

Political Identity, then, is essentially, a really advanced from of Clique. A social group that simply grows up because people have things in common with other people.

Mechanism of Action

Social Description, then, is the mechanism of situational membership. If you can be described as such, you may find yourself a member of a particular group situationally.

TThat is, for an individual, their social description may be altered by the efforts of the Political Identity, but that still doesn't make them part of it except situationally.

As an example, an MtF Transsexual involved in a relationship with a cis man may find themselves with a social description of Gay.

That situational membership is based on the social description of the person viewing them. They may not (and, in truth, most likely are not, but its always possible) identify as gay, and may not identify with Gay men (rather obviously, since they are a woman), but it can and does happen.

By that measure, there can be a social description that is incredibly insulting to transsexual women, as recent events have shown. Again, in strong part, because of the stigma relted to such. There's nothing wrong with being gay, but if it is not accurate as a description, people get peeved. I bristle at the description "straight", and yet, as a woman that likes men, its accurate. Calling me gay is trying to descrbe me as a woman who likes women, and while there's some small truth to that (I am, after all, technically still married to one), its not exactly something I like. In this case, not because of stigma, but because its simply not accurate. And it is, truly enough for me to say just that in response to such: it's not accurate.

So situational membership can be detrimental to a person's sense of self, but that is, in the end, the problem of the person themselves. Compassion and empathy would suggest to us that we should avoid such things out of an interest in getting along, because as the agents of that social description, we want to honor their personal identity.

"Stop Forcing Your Lifestyle On Me"

Political Identity, however, cannot be forced on someone. Political identity is not social description, as it arises from the collective shared experience of the members, not from the external understanding of others.

This is important as a distinction. Political Identity - the affinity group, for example, that creates the LGBT or just the L or just the T, and so on - is based on self perceived commonality, while social description is based externally perceived commonality.

Indeed, claiming that Political Identity is forced on someone is making a claim logically akin to the claim that gay people force their lifestyle on others. Since the lifestyle of a gay person I pretty much the lifestyle of any other person in the same demographic group (say, middle income Asian Americans in their mid thirties), we can see that lifestyle isn't forced on anyone, and since we know gay isn't a choice, they can't exactly force it on anyone either.

By this measure, if someone doesn't perceive themselves to be a member of the LGBT Political Identity, they are not. But they do not have control over whether or not they have a membership in the social description of LGBT.

This underlies a great many of the arguments seen of late in the comments here at Bilerico, where persons seeking to change the Social Description that creates a situational membership for them are attacking the Political Identity they do not have for causing it.

Causality

This is, sociologically speaking, reverse causality (putting the cart before the horse). The social description often gives rise to the shared experiences that create the Political identity. Negative experiences with social description create resentment and foster prejudice ("you faggot", "you freak", "you pervert") which results in a shared experience of prejudice which in turn leads to a formation of Political Identity.

An example: there is an argument extant that the activism of "transgender" persons places "transsexual" persons in a bad way. The basis of this argument is social description. In order to combat that social description, some transsexuals have decided to attack the Political Identity group for creating this social description, and seek to not be part of it.

A lot of people have a hard time with this, as it seems counter intuitive, but this is primarily due to the usual lack of familiarity with social systems, which are not always immediately intuitive, despite arising from what is an intuitive source.

The Political Identity group is not the source of the problem, since they are, in fact, caused and created by it. It is the wider society in which they all exist that is the problem. The effort to change things may indeed work -- if they can gain enough of the particular segment to create a gestalt, and establish, ultimately, a new Political Identity.

One of the problems currently going on within the T community overall (and one day I'll get into why there is indeed a T community, and it will touch on all of this, but suffice to say that without a community, there would not be a T as part of a political Identity) is that due to social injustices and continued prejudice and persecution both indirect and direct, some Trans folks have come to the conclusion that the T needs to move on its own. This jibes will with some in the LG community who feel the same. The B is sorta here and there on it.

So its possible that it could happen, but there is a very strong force pushing back against that from outside the LGBT community as a whole, and that is why, thus far, it hasn't happened.

Conflict Unbecoming

What's usually used to justify exclusion, as well, is social description. "'I'm not like those other gay people because I'm more like a man than they are." The social description part is "more like a man than they are", while the identity part is the "gay".

So the problem is not so much the Political Identiy, but the social description and the lack of awareness that Political identity is outside the realm of it.

This is fostered, in part, by the nature of political activity - in explaining to the wider society what is shared in common by the particular Political Identity, one must use social description, and as a result people may find that they share or do not share those things in common as a part of self identity.

This creates a potential conflict, between self identity, political identity, and the social descriptions they encounter. And, thus, we end up with nasty arguments in comment threads throughout the LGBT sphere of influence about how lesbians aren't gay, how gay men hold back the movement, how trans folk are just riding the coattails, and so forth.

The solution to this is, in the end, awareness. Not everyone will choose to be aware, however, so it is not a universal awareness, but rather a general awareness of all the various aspects of our particular Affinity Group. It need not reach every person, just a substantial majority of them.

A Closing Question

Given the last four segments, now, I'm going to end this part with a question. The next part will look more closely at the interrelationships of all these elements within the wider community we are part of (in this case, the US), whereas this one looked at the more internal parts.

Key concepts introduced here are Social Description, Political Identity, Affinity Groups, and Personal Identity.

Given this, and the previous articles, let me ask a question that many will choose not to answer, and I suspect others will answer improperly.

The reason there is an LGBT is that there is a commonality of experience that creates the affinity group.

Rather than looking at the things that divide and separate us - those things we do not have in common - let us look at what we do have in common that creates that LGBT.

What do you think the common thing shared by all who are LGBT is?


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Let's throw some heat on the subject. How else ya gonna cook them "Free Cheeseburgers?

Toni asks:

"What do you think the common thing shared by all who are LGBT is?"

The growing belief by all, excluding yourself, of course, that the things you say are, simply, ridiculously self-serving?

Ah crap. Caught a mistyping. THere is a point where it should say gay isn't a choice, but it didn't. I will correct that now, and my apologies for having included such in the post by mistake.

I caught one too: the entire post.

Funny, but I don't recall a lesbian having to write 10,000 words on TPB - with the contrivance of five capitalized "key concepts" no less - to explain the logic of LGB. The logic of LGB can be explained in one sentence. The concoction of "LGBT" requires a turgid, circular, condescending sermon that relies on invented terminology and bald assertions to mask the absence of logical argument.

Oh, and in the comment above where you point out typos in your piece, there's a typo. You were a lawyer?

Hi Sara.

I can think of at least three lesbians who wrote far more words on the particular subject and are rather well known for having done so. One of them, in fact, is deeply involved in ending the human trafficking issue in Russia/Baltic Nations via Turkey and Slavic nations.

And that's without even trying. If I put effort into it, I could probably find another 50 or 100.

Incidentally, one does not need to be a lawyer to be a judge, nor does one need to be a lawyer to argue before the state supreme court. It's *typical*, however.

Oooh, you got me digging and learning :D

Wasn't who I was thinking of off the top of my head, but wow -- outstanding work on her part.

Sadly, the one's that popped into my head immediately had a heyday in the early 80's and late 70's, and, well, let's just say that while I rarely throw out the good with the bad, in general, they've had their names rendered to mud within the trans milieu.

Sucks that my first thoughts were to a negative.

The one I was thinking of in particular is involved with CATW at present.

Toni,

Is this the end of this series?

@Eric... no, because she gets paid by the word. No one would write this stuff voluntarily.

Incorrect. I don't get paid by the word (indeed, I don't get paid at all).

So I do, indeed, write this stuff for free.

As for Eric's question, it was already answered in the post, but he would, of course, have to read it.

You're correct, Toni. I had not read the posting, merely scanned it prior to my asking. Since Christmas Eve, I've been extremely ill; I've lost almost 30 pounds in that time, simply worshiping at the porcelain altar, so to speak. Already feeling most unwell, I didn't take the time to actually read the continuation of your series.

I'm sorry to hear of your personal difficulties, Eric. I truly do hope that things get better soon for you.

In part because the porcelain God is such an unyielding sort that old testament yahweh is far more appealing at times.

In part because you are a person, and a reasonably sharp one, and I give a damn.

That wasn't snark in my comment, merely an observation. I realize its a long posting -- indeed, it would have been significantly longer but a dead PC and a lot of effort into trimming it down to something less unwieldy saved us from that.

As for the growing belief by "all" (which is, demonstrably, incorrect), well, I'm not entirely self serving.

Self serving would, as ginasf noted, involve my being paid for this stuff, as it does require a substantial amount of time.

Self serving would be something akin to doing what the majority of trans folk do, in the end, which is to not even bother with such things as taking the time to explore these issues.

Outside of the argumentum ad hominem, which contributes nothing to the overall discussion except additional acrimony, is there anything you have to add of substance and value that might actually have something to do with the column itself?

I haven't finished reading yet, but there's another error in the post as well. The last two paragraphs of "The Membership Factor" and "Mechanism of Action" are the same. I think they belong in the first section, but I can't tell if they just need to be deleted from the second, or if there are other paragraphs missing as well.

And...you already fixed it.

I can't remember who I'm quoting, but the best answer I know to the question "What do LGBT people have in common?" is that we all get beat up by the same people.

That's what I was going to say. But I'd like to add that we're all human.

I hear hoof beats in the distance. They are coming, My Lady.

is ok. I've got a really big wall, a stockpile of stakes, and even a few cruciforms here.

;)

"Stakes?" I'll have mine medium-rare.

Should I light the fires under the vats of oil, My Queen?

I think there may be too much text for the frequent fliers to absorb -- you know how an excess of actual thought weighs them down beyond flight capability.

So not quite yet.

Besides, its a new year. I feel like meeting them outside the gates on the fields of honor!

bwahahahahahahahahahahaha

One of the problems with this kind of sociology in my view is that it necessarily orders persons and institutions based on assumptions that cannot always be tested. And it makes generalizations which cannot always be true.

It is one thing for an observer to see similarities, from her perspective, in groups of people. The assumptions underlying that perspective may, in the absence of testing, be affected by that person's point of view. And, even if accurate in general terms, no assumption will be accurate with respect to 100% of the sample.

For example take the notion of "race" -- putting aside the point that the concept is based on faulty scientific assumptions and is inherently offensive to many. One might conclude, as a general matter, that anyone with some African American blood is black in this country, at least when viewed (in your terms) "situationally."

OTOH, it is not hard to think of exceptions to this rule. There are thousands of people in this country that probably have just a bit of African or creole blood somewhere from past generations. Some may not be aware of it themselves. It seems to me difficult to assume that they all fall in the African American community in any meaningful respect. Seeking them out and insisting that they do is not necessarily a productive social or political activity on behalf of civil rights advocates.

I believe there are at least some on the fringes of the GLBT community, as you or others may define it, who are effectively in the same position as one of the persons in my hypothetical. Perhaps by some theoretical construct they fit, but not otherwise in a substantial or meaningful way.

I understand that this viewpoint is in tension with the taxonomy of individuals offered by some forms of social theory, and I do not mean to pick a fight. But I do not think it productive to tell other people what they are. It was not necessary to tell blacks they were the same as women, and to tell women they are the same as Seventh Day Adventists, and to tell Seventh Day Adventists they were the same as parents with children, and to tell parents with children they were the same as persons with disabilities to get all these persons protection from discrimination under the federal civil rights laws.

To be fair, OTOH, I do think the visceral reaction of some to any hint that the GLBT community may include them can suggest that, in some respects, perhaps they are not so distant from that community after all.

FWIW. No offense intended to anyone.

Hi Dianakat,

This kind of sociology is multidisciplinary. The particulars of the elements involved can be tested mathematically using set theory and social networking theory.

Generalizations about a group, as this does, are indeed, typically true for the group, if the particular factor is small enough. APplying a generalization about a group to an individual is, however, always the same sort of fallacious resoning I describe in the article.

Since the above is based on human interaction in general and LGBT interaction in particular, it can be (and has been) tested. Effort on the part of the reader to learn some of this (I recommend U of A's outstanding Sociology department, as one starting point) will show that.

You are correct in that statistical sampling (which is not used in particular in this column) requires such -- but statistical sam0ling is not the only, nor even the best methodology for the subjects in discussion here.

As a point of note, for the significant majority of persons presently inhabiting the United States, if you have black in you, you are, indeed, black. As I know all too well :D

But, more to the point, you are assigning fixed constancy, wheras I am not -- hence the nature of the situational membership the nature of the social description. These are not concretes, they are cultural points that vary according to a particular demographic and point of reference.

Social description does not tell people what they are. If you are perceiving that as its function, then you are not stepping back far enough.

I love the depth of your response, and thank you greatly :D

No, not all assumptions can be tested. I may be branded as a heretical for saying this, but it is reasonably common in science to have such assumptions. The important thing, though, is to be open about them and keep an open mind regarding competing assumptions: after all, the fact that it can't be tested means one can't be sure either way. And it isn't easy to predict what can be tested a decade from now, or a century, or a millennium.

One of the important differences between humanities -- such as sociology in general -- and hard sciences is the nature of various observational errors and biases. In hard sciences and engineering, errors typically result from something out of immediate human control, while in humanities the subjective assumptions and biases of the researcher often play a much larger role. This has to be kept in mind, but at the same time it's also important to realise that both are scientific areas of study. The fundamentals of scientific method apply to both, most notably the notion that if observations don't match theory something is seriously wrong. All scientific theories make generalisations which cannot always be true; the goal is to gradually get a better and better match with reality.

For what it's worth, while I don't know anything about sociology this column makes quite a bit of sense based on my background in linguistics. It takes off to a rather different direction, but in the end we are still dealing with how human cognition works and how this manifests in the interaction between people. In that way, too, it was an interesting read.

*gasp*

Not all assumptions can be tested!

OMG, Ana!

HERETIC!!!

(proceeds to run around with hands held high in a circle screaming heretic and terrified the world shall end at the will of first cause)

Oh, wait...

I think the same way. Hell, half my actual work in my fields is based on making assumptions about shifts overall, both large and small, and then projecting their future impact.

Used to pay pretty well, too.

:D

Angela Brightfeather | January 6, 2010 5:02 PM

In a word, the common bond and experience that we all face in the GLBT community up to a few years ago is HOMOPHOBIA.

Yes there is Transphobia, but I can tell you that they are one and the same for many reasons. I think that Transphobia was only invented as a word so that it could distinguish some very unique characteristics of hate directed only at Trans people which may or may not only be distinctly directed at them.

And if you want the common source word for both homo and trans phobia's, then simply use DISCRIMINATION. A word that I define as the most evil sin ever invented and the reason for every war, conflict and countless millions of lives lost since the beginning of the human race.

The answer I give people when I make my Transgender 101 Presentation is "The number one trait used to "Identify" and "Out" an LGBT person is their gender expression. As the woman in Atlanta wrote to her Minister "outing" over 100 members of her church said "There are tenors in our choir that are more feminine than me."

What is the common thing shared by everyone who is LGBT?

The one thing that we all share we have inherited through a long line of many generations from our ancestors (who also had this same thing). For want of a better word, I will call it "Columbianism" after Columbia, the deity of freedom, liberty, and equality, and the face of God to the New Age.

What is Columbianism? What is special about Columbians?

Basically, we are blessed from birth with an enhanced and refined sense of empathy for our fellow humans. We are able to sense their experiences to a limited degree. We uniformly derive joy and satisfaction from giving erotic pleasure, especially culminating in orgasm, to a fellow human. Not only do we experience the joy of giving, but we also sense the flood of divine joy that floods our partner's being.

Many people are unaware of this underlying sixth sense or fear its manifestations. But we who embrace it learn early to seek out others who share our sense. And thus an unlimited varieties of different communities and pairings determined by all the different modes of erotic enjoyment (as well as other, less physical forms of pleasure).

We enjoy this wonderful gift from God in any way that gives us joy and allows sharing. And we do so without guilt. We all have preferences developed from both genetic and social variations as we have matured, but the entire range of erotic sensuality is open to us if we care to explore it.

Many of us are "breeders". If this were not so, our unique, common genetic endowment would have disappeared from the world long ago.

I have more thoughts to offer on this subject, but this is, to me, the answer to the question.

We are the face of the new generation
We are the ones who have no reservation
Don't give a damn 'bout your cold calculation
Welcome to the Masterplan
Don't care if you understand
Don't care if you understand
Welcome to the Masterplan
--Adam Lambert's Queer Anthem "Masterplan"

You read it here first...

That's not an answer, that's a manifesto, lol

Another good one :D

Thank you.

I'm going to pull a logical fallacy out of my hat. ;) My answer's in bold at the end though.

I carry a pink card in my wallet from 1993. It reads:

Seacoast Outright
Don't Hideout -- Hang Out!
Ages 21 and Under
Questioning Youth,
Transgendered,
Bisexual,
Lesbian,
Gay

There was usually about 10 of us or so. Every meeting started out with each person saying "My name is _____, I'm [sexual orientation] and I identify as [gender]."

This mostly seemed like a formality, as we never ended up talking about our identities or how we arrived at them. Sometimes someone would change how they identified from how they identified last week during the introduction. But there was never an explanation given nor did anyone ask for one.

The only thing we ever talked about was family, school, relationships and sex education. Most of the conversations had to do with getting bullied or our family not accepting us because we don't conform to whatever behaviors we're supposed to conform to based on the sex we're assigned at birth.

Then after the meeting we'd all go out to eat creating a scene and confusion along the way. A passerby might mistakenly call one of the gay boys a dyke, or one of the gay girls a fag. Or a passerby might call all of us fags, or all of us dykes, or all of us queers. At least one of us would probably be referred to as the wrong gender either by accident or intentionally, and you didn't have to be transgender for this to happen.

We'd either respond with laughter or obscene hand gestures--as long as we were in a group for that moment, it was safe.

That sounds like the most awesome time.

Good story. And thanks for reading not merely here :D

I have a few ideas...

We are judged as differing from the ideal.

We are considered radical for accepting our differing genders and sexualities.

Our lives become defined by what makes us different because other people can't see past it.

We are forced to make choices based on safety instead of wants and needs.

We have been erased from history books.

We are misunderstood by the majority of people.

We bear the burden of having to explain our choices to other people.

We are often forced to lie for self-protection and thereby threaten our own dignity.

Our sexualities and genders are dissected and repackaged for public consumption.

We eat our own.

That's what *I* think is the best example so far, and yet the people who are avoiding this thread would probably disagree.

Good thought.

At least some degree of self-awareness and self-acceptance. A variation on the standard accepted gender-based behaviour, including sexual attraction. And I suppose you could include discrimination, but to be honest, not everyone faces discrimination. There are places where pretty much everyone is just generally accepted, my school/neighbourhood/city/country being one of them. And on the other hand, LGBT people living in the US don't experience nearly as much homophobia as some people living in places where homosexuality is illegal or strongly condemned. So no, I wouldn't say it's something we all experience, and it's certainly not something we all experience to similar degrees. Also, it's less fun for the thing LGBT people have in common to be something negative.

BOOM!

You sure know how to stir up the controversy, Dys, and that's why I love you so dearly!!! :-)