One way homophobia hides within us

Homophobia and transphobia area more embedded in us than some of us would be willing to admit.

Sure some homophobia and transphobia show up in pretty obvious ways, such if someone uses a slur or pathologizes sexuality or gender (such as calling them a mental illness) or even dismisses them outright by saying they’re not real or that they’re simply choices or lifestyles.

But there are subtle ways that homophobia and transphobia present in our lives, too. Maybe even in how you speak about sexuality and gender.

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Take the phrase “identify as”, for example, as in, “He identifies as gay” or “She identifies as trans”.

People don’t identify as gay; they are gay.

People don’t identify as trans; they are trans.

People don’t identify as non-binary; they are non-binary.

If you say a gay person “identifies as gay”, but you don’t say that a straight person “identifies as straight”, then you may be just using “identify as” to hide your homophobia.

If you say one person “identifies as trans”, but you don’t say that another person “identifies as cis”, then you may be just using “identify as” to hide your transphobia.

I’ve seen people say, “She identifies as non-binary”, for example, but who can never seem to bring themselves to say, “She is non-binary”.

If you find yourself using “identify as” in place of using their actual descriptor, perhaps ask yourself why you do it, what’s holding you back from accepting their sexuality/gender.

This is just one more way to reinforce societal norms and other those who don’t fall within those norms.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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