I love Texas. It’s hot and it’s cheap! Well, it was cheaper when I moved to the state 22 years ago, but quite frankly having been raised in the UK, lived in two other countries, in addition to New York and DC, I can confidently tell you that even as a queer woman, Texas feels like where I belong.
The people are warm and friendly, and studies report that 70 percent of Texans – of many political persuasions – believe that discrimination against the LGBTQ community is wrong. Hell, I was at a crawfish boil yesterday afternoon during South by Southwest and hugged a woman wearing a t-shirt that boldly stated, “Mothers Against Greg Abbott.” She shared with me that she’s seventh generation Texan, but if Abbott is reelected she’s just going to have to leave because his actions are “murdering children.”
She was beside herself with a mixture of anger and sadness because within days of a new Gallup poll reporting that 21 percent of American Gen Z identifies as LGBTQ, Texas Governor Greg Abbott pulled a move that would culturally fit better in the 1950s by directing Family and Protective Services to prosecute parents for “child abuse,” should they meet the life saving healthcare needs of their transgender children.
The governor seemingly thinks that using his supporter’s lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender is an opportunity to use their ignorance for his political gain. But the ripple effects of his actions are like a tsunami against kids, who are already staggeringly more likely to self-harm and/or be attacked by others simply because their sense of gender does not align with the label they were given at birth.
His actions boost a stigma that kills. And leading healthcare organizations including The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, and The American Psychological Association agree that healthcare for trans* kids saves their lives.
Basically, Governor Abbott is throwing Texas LGBTQ families into a pit, using them as bait for his base, at a time when the number of LGBTQ-identified American adults has doubled in the last ten years.
We could say it’s okay to not understand what it means to be trans* as long as harm is not inflicted onto trans* people. But this ignorance is causing harm, as politicians are manipulatively using it to stay in power. If we become an educated electorate, then we the people can’t be used in this way.
Let’s start by questioning why 7.1 percent of all adult Americans identify as LGBTQ, with 57 percent of that number being bisexual. And why numbers are remaining stable in older generations, but being LGBTQ is rising within youth.
Firstly, being LGBTQ is not new. It just feels new because we’re talking about it in ways we haven’t expressed before. Gender and sexuality have always been on a spectrum, but older generations have been conforming to social structures that were put into place during colonization. And the younger generations are refusing to stay in those boxes. We are becoming more conscious as a collective of who we actually are and how we’ve been humanly created.
When you take a look back in history you can see how gender and sexuality have ebbed and flowed. Starting with the very earliest pornography, which is 3,000-year-old rock carvings in China depicting bisexuality. In India, Hijras trans* women who are recognized as having a third gender, have long been deeply respected for their place in society. Their existence, which has been documented for over 4,000 years, writes nonbinary gender firmly into history (or should we say, ‘theirstory’?).
Across the world, indigenous people did not have two strict gender boxes into which every person must fit. Trans* people were documented thousands of years before Jesus was documented in the Bible. And while women and men were known for their unique contributions to society, they were not confined by the social structures that were later imposed upon them.
Now I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture as we know horrific acts of violence happened too. However, before colonization, cultures around the world already had a concept of gender and sex as being nonbinary. People were liberated to express their internal sense of self as they wished. Intersex people were not forced into nonconsensual surgery. And Two-Spirit individuals were put on a pedestal for their binary-breaking superpowers.
But we’ve become a little mixed up on our biology over the years. Not only is gender on a spectrum, but so is sex; primarily visible by our genitals between our legs. About one in every 100 people are intersex, meaning that they have any variation of male and female sex tissue, chromosomes, and/or hormones. Humans have a whole spectrum of possible sexes, not just two.
Our gender identity is programmed in our brain. Gender is who we know ourselves to be. How we express ourselves to the world. And how the world sees us. Some people know that their gender is 100 percent male, some people know that they’re 100 percent female, and others, like people who are genderqueer or nonbinary, know that their gender feels anywhere in between. And some people know they are not on that binary spectrum at all.
Yet here we are still being dictated into a gender, genital, and sexual orientation structure that was designed to control us.
Being a white European woman living in this century in the United States, I can’t take back what my forebears did, but I can help expose the spectrum of gender and sexuality that has always existed. Non-native people that “discovered” the Americas imposed not only violence and genocide against indigenous people who’d already been living on this land for centuries, and then stole African people from their homes and made them work as slaves, but they also forced strict rules within two buckets for gender—male and female—and one bucket for sexuality; straight.
Now we know better. It’s time to open the curtain and realize that there’s actually a whole stage full of people of different races, ethnicities, and cultures, with a natural spectrum of gender, genitals, and sexuality who’ve been here all along. And we’re now seeing this fact in the numbers reported by Gallup.
Thankfully, so far Texas judges are blocking these unconstitutional child abuse investigations against parents seeking gender-affirming healthcare for their children. At a spiritual level, I can only hold faith that we as a community will prevail in ensuring the safety and protection of all families. And if any Texas Governor truly wants to lead with the best interest of all people in their heart, and keep kind-hearted Texans like my new friend at the crawfish boil, then they should empower parents to provide for their children rather than use them as political pawns. Because my dear friends, the future is very queer.
Emmy®-nominated and award-winning filmmaker, author of the forthcoming book, “Are Bisexuals Just Greedy? And 20 other rather direct questions asked of the LGBTQ+ community.”