Being queer or trans in the holiday season

Posted by Ayesha, Volunteer Mentor @ayeshasharma, Nov 27, 2019

I thought I'd post about this to speak a little about how LGBT folks experience this time of year

There are a number of things we as LGBT people are managing when it comes time for the holidays. Just some that I can think of:
1) family conflict
2) our relationship with religion
3) misgendering
4) sobriety
5) political discussions
6) spending time with or introducing significant others to family

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7) queer couples separated due to incarceration or difficulties with immigration

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Some things that can help are self-care, boundaries, and empathy for our family members when possible. It all depends on our situation and what we find to be best for us. Here are some tips for queer and trans folks and their loved ones during the holidays: https://pflag.org/blog/pflagstipsholidays

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As I think of some more to share, I'll continue adding to this discussion so as to foster a discussion for any LGBT people interested in joining or just reading if you prefer. Sending love to everyone having a tough time or feeling like they don't completely belong. Though it may feel like you're going through it alone, we're here for you as your community.

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@ayeshasharma I couldn't pick just one post to reply to. We live in a complex world of perceptions, it seems, these days. I am so sad to hear about a human, or a group, being treated with less-than-respect, when that is what each should have as a starting point. The article pointed out had very good thoughts, as did your words. Many thanks for your insight, and helping all of us.
Ginger

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Hi @gingerw thank you for expressing your thoughts as a consistent ally to people experiencing marginalization/disadvantage. You're right. The world is complex in the way you're describing and I'm still figuring it out every day.

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I wanted to share some more thoughts after the weekend. From being an observer of my community and myself, I've recalled that there is an even wider spectrum of experiences we experience as LGBTQ+ folks during this holiday season…

8) mistreatment during travel–by TSA officials, security, or others

I myself was just going through passport control a week ago when moving through countries (to get to the United States and meet my family for the holidays), and I was consistently misgendered (being called sir and ma'am) and had officers even tell me they didn't like the way I look with short hair. It's so deeply exhausting sometimes to be gender non-conforming. The stares, the questions, the assertions of who I appear to be. I know that gender is seen as a natural part of our society, and so, much of the time, I'm able to exercise compassion and understanding for that. But sometimes, especially if I've been traveling for 36 hours or I just don't have the energy to teach people, it wears me down.

9) deadnaming

Deadnaming, for those who might be unfamiliar with the term, is when someone calls a transgender person by the name that was assigned to them at birth or a young age, as opposed to their chosen name. This happens a whole lot during the holidays, and I know it's really tough for people.

10) Being excluded from holiday festivities

This one breaks my heart. A surprising percentage of the homeless youth population is LGBTQ+. I personally have conducted research and written about this issue, and I also know people who have been affected by youth homelessness. It often happens because youth are kicked out of their houses by their parents who reject them for their sexuality. It can also occur because of abuse in the home, which is fueled by the parents' rejection of the young person's identity and/or expression.

It's tough to spend a time that is meant for family without family. Lots of people go through this, in and out of our community, and nobody deserves it.

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@ayeshasharma

I wanted to share some more thoughts after the weekend. From being an observer of my community and myself, I've recalled that there is an even wider spectrum of experiences we experience as LGBTQ+ folks during this holiday season…

8) mistreatment during travel–by TSA officials, security, or others

I myself was just going through passport control a week ago when moving through countries (to get to the United States and meet my family for the holidays), and I was consistently misgendered (being called sir and ma'am) and had officers even tell me they didn't like the way I look with short hair. It's so deeply exhausting sometimes to be gender non-conforming. The stares, the questions, the assertions of who I appear to be. I know that gender is seen as a natural part of our society, and so, much of the time, I'm able to exercise compassion and understanding for that. But sometimes, especially if I've been traveling for 36 hours or I just don't have the energy to teach people, it wears me down.

9) deadnaming

Deadnaming, for those who might be unfamiliar with the term, is when someone calls a transgender person by the name that was assigned to them at birth or a young age, as opposed to their chosen name. This happens a whole lot during the holidays, and I know it's really tough for people.

10) Being excluded from holiday festivities

This one breaks my heart. A surprising percentage of the homeless youth population is LGBTQ+. I personally have conducted research and written about this issue, and I also know people who have been affected by youth homelessness. It often happens because youth are kicked out of their houses by their parents who reject them for their sexuality. It can also occur because of abuse in the home, which is fueled by the parents' rejection of the young person's identity and/or expression.

It's tough to spend a time that is meant for family without family. Lots of people go through this, in and out of our community, and nobody deserves it.

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@ayeshasharma I feel upset that they had a negative experience while traveling. If they could educate me how to address someone when I don't know their preference, it would help me understand how to behave appropriately, please. In the past I have endured snarky comments from others, and sometimes just refuse to deal with those situations, other times replying to them in a way that I hope will throw it back in their faces. It's a tough place to be. I would be honored to be called part of their family. If I have misplaced preferred pronouns, please accept my sincere apologies. A friend was dead-named and I had to standup and correct the speaker, as she wasn't there to do it herself.
Ginger

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A few other members I'd like to introduce to this discussion on being queer or trans during the holidays and some of the challenges that can arise include @gibbie53 @rmftucker @mamacita @tallpitchersf @zoobditty @strawberry500 @janieak.

@ayeshasharma – you mentioned that much of the time, you're able to exercise compassion and understanding for things like stares, questions and assertions of whom you appear to be. In instances like that when you were traveling recently, what kinds of things do you say or do in response?

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@ayeshasharma

I wanted to share some more thoughts after the weekend. From being an observer of my community and myself, I've recalled that there is an even wider spectrum of experiences we experience as LGBTQ+ folks during this holiday season…

8) mistreatment during travel–by TSA officials, security, or others

I myself was just going through passport control a week ago when moving through countries (to get to the United States and meet my family for the holidays), and I was consistently misgendered (being called sir and ma'am) and had officers even tell me they didn't like the way I look with short hair. It's so deeply exhausting sometimes to be gender non-conforming. The stares, the questions, the assertions of who I appear to be. I know that gender is seen as a natural part of our society, and so, much of the time, I'm able to exercise compassion and understanding for that. But sometimes, especially if I've been traveling for 36 hours or I just don't have the energy to teach people, it wears me down.

9) deadnaming

Deadnaming, for those who might be unfamiliar with the term, is when someone calls a transgender person by the name that was assigned to them at birth or a young age, as opposed to their chosen name. This happens a whole lot during the holidays, and I know it's really tough for people.

10) Being excluded from holiday festivities

This one breaks my heart. A surprising percentage of the homeless youth population is LGBTQ+. I personally have conducted research and written about this issue, and I also know people who have been affected by youth homelessness. It often happens because youth are kicked out of their houses by their parents who reject them for their sexuality. It can also occur because of abuse in the home, which is fueled by the parents' rejection of the young person's identity and/or expression.

It's tough to spend a time that is meant for family without family. Lots of people go through this, in and out of our community, and nobody deserves it.

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You are absolutely right nobody deserves it but unfortunately this type of behaviour is not restricted to LGBTQ community but is much more widespread at one time due to a wave of suicide bombings and especially after 9/11 people in the west started suffering from islamophobia labelling Muslims as terrorists the label hasn’t entirely changed unfortunately for LGBTQ is more stressful it is one thing to be getting rude treatment from complete strangers but being ostracised by family takes it to another level why it happens is difficult to analyse but in my opinion it can be because of lack of tolerance for views different from the majority and also not be able to give respect to the individuals space true love is unconditional and if the close family gives that to you that is what should really matter but the attitude in general will still hurt but to a lesser degree people in general are judgemental and they judge in a very narrow range can one change that? I don’t think it can be done so how to go about maybe writing articles about it trying to pinpoint society about it’s bias directed towards LGBTQ community even that may not work so working upon oneself might be the answer LGBTQ are as worthy as anyone else so the treatment rendered to them by opinionated people should not matter easy said than done but being a Muslim and to top that up being a Pakistani I definitely encountered the disdain from strangers but definitely not from my family in my opinion strangers don’t matter but family does so basically it is all about family and to bring a change in their thinking and ultimately families make up a society

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Exclusion is unacceptable. I appreciate learning more as things can become complicated and confusing. Any type of behavior that is not accepted can result is being mistreated. Sad but true.

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Hi @gingerw thanks for your kindness and openness as always. So, to refer to me, you can say "your name is Ayesha" instead of "their name is Ayesha." Just like you would speak about anyone directly. Then, if you're speaking about me to @lisalucier, you can say "Ayesha lives in South Africa. Did you know they live that far away?"

Lol. I had fun with that. Hopefully that makes more sense. Basically, "they" is just a replacement for "he" or "she" but not for any other pronouns like "we," "us," "you," etc.

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It's as if you don't know someone's name or gender (like if you know I have a sibling but don't know any more info than that) and you ask me, "Oh, how old are they? What's their name?"

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@lisalucier I asked him, "is that your job to be telling me how I should look?"
It was completely unprofessional and I could've reported him but I really didn't have enough time since I was catching a flight.

It may not be tasteful or respectful to some but I also have to have a sense of humor about it, cause it keeps me sane. I said, "and where are your inches?" (meaning his hair – he was bald)

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@abida and @parus thank you for your valuable thoughts.

True love is indeed unconditional. A lot of the time, parents and guardians may be taught from religion and society that they need to take a stand against certain sins of humanity. This is often the way homosexuality and trans-ness (being transgender) is perceived in the southern U.S. for sure, as I know from growing up here. I appreciate the efforts of Christians, Muslims, and people of religions and spiritualities across the world in countering that popular, discriminatory belief system. It takes hard work to go against the grain to discern between what you were taught and what is the truth.

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