Commemorating IDAHOBIT Day (17 May),
Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day (24 May),
and Mabo Day (3 June).
Earlier this month, we commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia (IDAHOBIT); last week we also commemorated Pansexual Visibility Day, and this week we commemorate Mabo Day. This blog article, deliberately coming in between all of them (but close enough to those days to remain topical), is designed to acknowledge their fight, while attempting to avoid the tokenism of having only one day per year set aside for each of these important social issues.
And yet I also believe that such days can point to an optimistic and better future.
Just as the fight for LGBT+ rights began as ‘gay liberation’ and evolved and expanded to embrace an ever-growing alphabet of terms and cohorts, IDAHOBIT Day began as IDAHO Day to tackle homophobia, and then expanded its mandate and terms to also include biphobia, transphobia and interphobia. IDAHOBIT Day challenges us to reconcile with an ever-expanding variety of oppressed cohorts of people. Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day – also undergoing its own expansion of terms – adds to this increased awareness and activism. I find such social evolution to be both exciting and encouraging.
Meanwhile, Mabo Day offers us a perspective on another form of entrenched and institutionalised discrimination, and while it does not directly link to the other days in question, it does offer us an opportunity for intersectionality. People within one marginalised group should surely empathize with those within other marginalised groups. If we wish to confront one form of discrimination and oppression, we should surely confront them all.
Transgressions and Transformations
In a pluralist world, some people – many of them falsely presenting themselves as being feminist, progressive, in leadership, or otherwise enlightened – nevertheless manage to display discriminatory attitudes and behaviours against varied cohorts of people. Today, such bigotry is often displayed against trans women, who are seen as the most vulnerable members of the LGBT+ community. I see cisgender heterosexual white men (or heterosexual women who support patriarchal structures) – who have spent a lifetime promoting their privilege – bleating about protecting women’s sport as an excuse to promote transphobia: in Australia over recent weeks, even our Prime Minister aligned himself with such views – and this may be at least partly why his government was effectively wiped out by voters at the subsequent election.
Trans and gender diverse people have actually been part of their human societies for as long as there have been human societies. Even during the homophobic and transphobic bogan Australian society of the 1960s, I recall as a young child seeing other boys who wore clothing or makeup that transgressed gender binary norms for the era. Later, as a teen in the 1970s, I met my first trans friend, who was accepted unconditionally by my cohort of forward-looking, progressive young adult friends. I see the same acceptance today among younger people who often ‘come out’ as trans at younger ages, and in greater numbers, than they did in previous generations. I celebrate the era to come, despite the problems that older people – bigoted, hateful people – create for these young and free spirits.
It seems tragically ironic that some of the most bigoted people on the planet – those who subscribe to particularly narrow and archaic understandings of sexuality and gender, preach the unconditional love of their favourite deity while practising the opposite. The irony of their situation is self evident when considering that although their proclaimed form of divine love for their neighbour appears to be pansexual (loving all humans regardless of whether they are cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, genderfluid, or agender, and straight or LGBT+), their lives are a tragic denial of the concept of pansexual human love.
And in fuller recognition of intersectionality, I acknowledge that indigenous LGBT+ kids remain some of the most marginalised people in our country. Their lives challenge all of us to be better and to care more; to all experience a transformation or transition to be the best authentic humans that we can be.Trans Humanity
This brings to my mind perhaps the most lateral and optimistic intersection of all: the concept of TransHumanism is a philosophy that advocates the advancement of humans through the application of science and technology. It is another form of trans* that challenges us to evolve and become a better species because it implicitly presumes that we will amass the wisdom to suitably use our new technology.
Whether through ethical advancement such as might be found in our treatment of our trans siblings, or scientific advancement as proposed by TransHumanism, we have the potential to be better. This reveals our fullest intersectionality: that of being most fully, authentically human. I do not fear change and evolution, advancement and expansion of our LGBT alphabet; I find it to be exciting and I fully embrace it.
© 2022 Geoff Allshorn