What's in a name?
Why it matters that we have clarity of definition of the 'Q' and the '+'
Over recent years the ‘LGB’ has gradually morphed into the ‘LGBTQ+’ - the ‘+’ apparently necessary to stop the acronym running off the page due to the sheer weight of gender numbers that require admission. And I think this is very interesting for a a number of reasons.
First, the acronym is used to claim legal and moral recognition of and protection for the ‘rights’ of the community referred to. This was a simple enough matter when we dealt only with the LGB. Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act and you - rightly - cannot be discriminated against at work or in the provision of services because of who you love. Sexual orientation appears to be known at an early age, is fixed over time and capable of objective verification.
Things get more complicated when you come to the ‘TQ+’ - Trans, Queer/Questioning and ‘etc’. Gender identity is NOT a protected characteristic under the Equality Act - gender re-assignment is, but that protects a person who is contemplating a ‘transition’ from one sex to the other, not a person who likes to dress up as a dog or wear nappies when having sex. ‘Transgender identity’ is a ‘monitored strand’ for the purposes of ‘hate crime’ but again there is no clear definition of what this means or who exactly is included within it.
Of course, whatever consenting adults want to do to each other in the privacy of their own homes, to gain sexual excitement, is not my business or my concern. What is very much my business however is when it is suggested that adult sexual activities become not merely something I must tolerate but that I must accept and celebrate. This pushes very hard at the boundaries of what it is possible or acceptable for the law to enforce; I may not abuse, harass or sack a coprophiliac who keeps their interest out of the work place - but nor can I be compelled by operation of law to agree that this is a desirable activity, or declare at work that I am ‘poo positive’.
So I thought it would be interesting to ask people what exactly they thought was meant by the ‘Q’ and the ‘+’ given that these attributes are being presented as analogous with sexual orientation.
I am no gender studies scholar or expert and I don’t consider that a disadvantage, given that proponents of this discipline appear to delight in deliberately obscure language and thus make themselves an easy target for a variety of hoaxes.
What I am good at is asking questions. And noting that what people refuse to say - or get angry about refusing to say - is often just as illuminating as the answers they give.
Twitter as a research tool
Twitter and social media has without doubt contributed to the present poverty and increasing polarisation of debate over many important issues. The ‘disinhibition effect’ short reaction times and tribal instincts, do not lend themselves to mature reflection. But, there remains no other way that I can quickly get access to people’s views from all over the world, some of them actual, rather than self declared, experts.
So I asked - who exactly is in the ‘Q’ and the ‘+’. And if this doesn’t include Minor Attracted Persons (MAPs) aka paedophiles - why not?
Filtering out the many responses which were variants on a theme of ‘STFU bitch’ ‘how dare you assume gay people are paedophiles’ etc etc, a few people did try to answer the question and I summarise the results here.
‘Queer’ can mean ‘questioning’ your sexuality/gender or simply anyone who rejects heteronormativity.
‘+’ simply means ‘etc’ ‘or other terms’
Paedophiles are criminals and therefore not included
Padeophiles Zoophiles and necrophiles aren’t included because they have sex with bodies that can’t consent, either because they are a child (lacks capacity) animal or dead.
I couldn’t get any further than this so let’s unpick what we have.
The problems with the answers
If ‘queer’ means what I am told it means, what then is the point of the LGBT and +? Why doesn’t everyone who isn’t a vanilla straight simply fall under the same term ‘queer’? Why is it included in the acronym? If the ‘+’ denotes something more/different - why can’t people tell me what that is?
If criminality is the reason for exclusion - then are men who get sexual excitement out of exposing themselves to women, or coercing women into sex excluded; even if they do identify as a woman while doing so?
Paedophiles who do not act on their desires are not criminals - but run a clear risk of becoming so - so why is a MAP who commits no crime excluded? We don’t ask consent of animals before killing and eating them, so why are zoophiliacs excluded?
What isn’t being said
It is interesting however to see recognition of the protected characteristic of age and the importance of consent being explicitly recognised. Why that recognition doesn’t appear to extend to the protected characteristic of 'sex’ or show awareness of the need to protect women’s rights to consent to admit male bodies into their own, is another matter that this movement will have to explain more carefully than it hitherto is willing or able to try.
So we are left in the very unhelpful and actively harmful position of people campaigning for legal recognition and protection of a group which they cannot define. Some are groping towards a definition that reflects issues of immutable characteristics and the importance of consent but at the moment it seems that what is predominant is the ‘ick’ factor which determines if you are in or out. And this of course has historical precedents to show why one has to unpick very carefully a prohibition on adult activities just because they make YOU feel sick. This was exactly the argument used against recognition of sexual orientation as a protected characteristic.
If this refusal or inability to explain who exactly is in the Q and the + continues, then I and many others will have to continue to assume the worst. That what we are seeing is yet another PIE or NAMBLA attempting to Trojan horse its way into legal protection under the cover of the ‘Q’ and ‘+’ umbrella.
The PIE baton appears to have been passed to other organisations that wish to present a front of support for those who are sexually excited by children’s bodies, to express that excitement without acting on it, in order to keep children safe. But the abuse and aggression directed at those who challenge such organisations, indicates to me that they are not the credible and professional institutions they profess to be. And therefore make me suspicious that their ‘end game’ is something rather more pervasive than chat forums for questioning teens.
So where do we go from here?
We keep talking about it. We insist on clarity of thought, workable definitions and an acceptance of the limits of the operation of the law to compel ‘acceptance’. The law demands tolerance, it may not compel celebration.
Because something else interesting was revealed in my Twitter discussions. Because ‘no debate’ is off the table, when insulting or threatening me doesn’t work, I am told I must feel ‘shame’ for wanting to have these conversations. This is simply an attempt to appeal to my assumed female socialisation as compliant and eager to please.
I feel no shame in attempting necessary discussions, nor ever will. You have a right to ignore me but you have no right to try and stop me. The sooner we can all direct our energies to proper conversation about the best way to protect minority groups, the better for all of us. But we cannot protect what we cannot define. And we ought not to protect what we know to be dangerous.