Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Erin Aulfinger (Central High School)
In recent years gay rights and equality have become hot social and political topics. This has brought many everyday plights to the forefront of society, including issues of identity and religion. Many teens can now feel much more comfortable calling themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Many of them may not know the half of it.
When it comes to such an identity, there are many factors. The most obvious is sexuality; however, to understand these, you first must understand gender.
Society usually puts gender in two slots: male or female. This is based on physical sex (no, they’re not the same!) and, due to psychology and the phenomenon of “nature vs nurture,” gender and sex are often related. However, there are some members of the LGBT community—specifically the T—who identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth.
Most often you’ll find male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM). However, other classifications, such as bigender, genderfluid, agender, and non-binary exist. One of the main points of the transgender community is that there’s more than just boys and girls; there’s everything in between and all around.
After gender, is sexuality. Sexuality is most easily defined by how many genders you are attracted to. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are the two most commonly known, followed by bisexuality. There is also pansexuality—attraction to all genders—and asexuality—attraction to no gender. These basic identities are all important in someone’s overall sense of self.
One little-known element of the LGBT community is romanticism. Often an individual’s sexuality and romanticism are aligned. Romanticism is a non-physical attraction to someone. For example, an individual can be bisexual, but heteroromantic; they only find the same gender as themselves romantically pleasing. All of the sexualities have romantic counterparts, with the exception of pansexuals; instead the word “alloromantic” is used.
All of these labels may seem confusing. However, it’s the ability to define yourself that makes it worth it. In a culture obsessed with sex and beauty, knowing who you are is extremely important. Someone who is asexual or aromantic may feel broken because they are unaffected, or even repulsed, by the mere thought of being in a physical relationship.
It can be hard to find the right label. There is no set of rules to guide you; every word has 1,000 definitions and every section of the community has self-appointed gatekeepers who don’t want to let others in. In the end, it’s all about what you feel, what you identify with. However, just be who you are if that is what makes you happy. Society has us accustomed to labeling everything so sometimes it is easier to be yourself without a conclusive definition, just know that you’re not alone, there are plenty of people experiencing the same as you.