THINGS NOT TO SAY TO QUEER PEOPLE
① “IT’S JUST A PHASE!”, “YOU’RE MAKING THIS UP!”, “THIS IS JUST A TREND!”
Being LGBTQ+ is almost never a phase. People are not gay or trans or bi because ”it’s cool.” Being LGBTQ+ in this world is often very difficult and many queer folks I know spent years trying desperately to be straight or cis to avoid the pain and discrimination we experience. We don’t come out because it’s trendy or a phase, we declare our identities as survival.
Note: even if it was a phase or just trendy, you should still affirm someone’s declared identity. It does NO harm to affirm them.
② “WHEN DID YOU BECOME GAY?” or “WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO BE TRANS?”
Queerness is not something we become or decide to be. We do decide to come out and to share it with the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s something we’ve suddenly become. That is, I’ve always been me—I’ve always been transgender and male. I just haven’t always had the words, resources, and courage to describe myself and my identity to others. I didn’t decide to be trans. I discovered I am trans and I decided to tell people about it.
③ “I’M NOT HOMOPHOBIC/TRANSPHOBIC, BUT—”
If you are truly NOT homophobic or transphobic, you’ll never need to add a “but.”
④ “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU TO MAKE YOU THIS WAY?”
Nothing happened to LGBTQ+ people to make us the way that we are. We just are.
If you’re struggling on this, think about yourself—what happened to you to make you cisgender or straight? Nothing. You were just born that way!
⑤ “THERAPY / RELIGION CAN FIX YOU”
Conversion therapy seeks to eliminate a person’s feelings of same-sex attraction or change their gender identity. The word “therapy” is misleading. There is no scientific basis for conversion therapy. Practices often vary wildly and are not regulated. It can include electric shock therapy or forcing an individual into sexual activity with the opposite sex. Conversion therapy is not medically certified or affirmed by any medical or psychological association. It is, in fact, condemned by them. The most common result of conversion therapy is NOT conversion to cishet identity but rather increased depression, mental illness, and suicidality. That is, conversion therapy is torture and it can be deadly.
That is, LGBTQ+ do NOT need to be fixed. Society does. There is nothing wrong with being trans or gay or bi or queer. There is a lot wrong with how society treats us.
⑥ “HAVE YOU THOUGHT THIS THROUGH?”
Of course we have. We don’t come out as LGBTQ+ without thinking about it. In fact, we’ve likely pent months—if not years—agonizing over it. I know so many queer folks who even spent years pretending they were straight or cisgender to avoid having the bullying and hardship that comes with being queer in this world.
That is, our queerness is not a whim or an afterthought. It is not impulsive or poorly thought-through. If we are declaring ourselves to you, it means we have thought deeply about it for a long time.
So don’t ask us if we’ve thought it through. This is often invalidating and dismissive of the difficulty this process begs. Instead, welcome and accept with open arms.
⑦ “GOD DOESN’T LOVE YOU” or “YOU’RE GOING TO HELL”
Although I do not consider myself religious, I do NOT hate Christianity or religion. I hate when people use it to fuel or justify their hate.
I also believe Jesus existed. It seems clear that he was a very good person who effected radical change in the world.
And Jesus’s message was love. Was compassion. That is also clear. I absolutely aspire to practice and hold the values that Jesus did. Integrity, hope, forgiveness, peace-giving, generosity, compassion, and love. I wish these values (not Religion, necessarily) on everyone.
⑧ “I DON’T AGREE WITH ‘IT’”
Our identities do not depend on others’ opinions of our identities. It does not matter if you agree with it, if you understand it, if it makes sense to you or if you like it. It only matters who we know ourselves to be.
That is, you don’t get to disagree with someone’s identity. You can disagree with someone’s choice of restaurant or if pineapple belongs on pizza, but you don’t get to disagree with someone’s gender, sexuality, race, ability, or any other facet of their identity.