LGBT rights

A Message to the LGBT+ Community from a Current White Cis-Het Male/Former Right-Wing Conservative

by Jeph Johnson

 

Few are going to like reading this but I think it's pretty important to say. I am a huge supporter of LGBT+ rights yet am not welcomed at a few of their parties simply because I once referred to a pre-op transgirl's bits as a "penis" and it wasn't even in her presence! After being informed of the inappropriateness of this, my unrealized insensitivity made perfect sense, but by then it was too late.

 

Look at the term LGBT+ on Wikipedia. The article contains arguments of which letters to include and which order the letters should be in; so even among the politically correct there is dissension and political correctness!

 

I'm chubby and tall. I get called "big guy" all the time. I don't like the term at all. To me it feels like my size is defining me. The same way people often haphazardly use phrases like "he happens to be black", "tranny", "dyke", "colored" or "the man in the dress". In no way is "big guy" remotely equivalent to those words rooted in hatred and misunderstanding, but I must use the comparison to help others understand the workings of the human mind, privilege is not relevant. Privilege only comes into play AFTER someone realizes their privilege.

 

But ya know what? Other people, despite me not liking it, still see me as "big." So I deal with it and don't immediately condemn those people who use that description of me. I sure as hell let them know I dislike it during a future private encounter, but more often than not it falls on deaf ears even then.

 

Now my "problem" of not liking being called "big guy" pales in comparison to the struggles gay and especially trans people face. And that's exactly why I need to make the comparison! In order for white cis-het males like myself to see things differently we cannot always have our experiences belittled by being reminded of our privilege.

 

Please show some genuine compassion towards white cis-het men if you want to get genuine compassion back in return. That's not a threat from me (I try to show compassion to all underprivileged people all the time) it's a warning, because many white cis-het men are not apt to show compassion until/unless it's shown back to them. It's shitty, and shouldn't be that way, but it's the way it always will be and therefore important to understand. Telling your personal story, including the nuances and describing your struggles goes a lot farther to the cause of acceptance than scolding people due to their ignorance of terms and concepts foreign to their own experiences.

 

Gently explaining things works better than smugly being condescending. The smug condescension is something white cis-het privileged men take for granted, and since it is so ingrained, to be told it's inappropriate is their biggest frustration with what they call "political correctness". I completely understand the appeal in wanting to be smugly condescending too; and it surely is a deserved right for you to do it; I'm just saying that you have to take the higher road and try not to if you want it to slowly erode from the modus operandi of white cis-het males.

 

Terms like "mansplaining" for instance (though I know to most anyone who's not a white cis-het man) are hilarious, but it really discourages inclusion nor does it show respect for a man's views (whether those views are right is not what initially is important, what is important is that they are acknowledged). Imagine if someone used the term "transplaining" to belittle the experience of a transgender person? When someone's views are not acknowledged we get people like Donald Trump to rise up and force those views upon us, and that's no fun at all.

 

I'm on your side, and due to my experience with white cis-het privilege, I hope I can share these thoughts.

 

I have LGBT+ friends who already employ this patient manner and LGBT+ friends who don't and don't have a problem with any of them. I'm not telling you what to do or even asking you to not do something, I'm simply explaining how, quite often, unrefined white cis-het men react, and also how white cis-het men's minds can change. Obviously it's totally up to you how to present this obvious frustration; I just hope the information I've given can be of use to you in these dangerous and troubled times.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

2016 

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