By Fran Springfield
As an out gay woman I have always loved going to Pride. From small events to the big London parade, I have always felt part of a wonderful celebratory community. But not this year.
The posters and Equinox alphabet video, as part of their ‘Commit to Something’ campaign, do not resonate with me at all. The furore of complaints in the gay press has assured me I’m not alone in my unhappiness.
Let me dissect the video, a short film entitled “LGBTQ Alphabet: Six Letters Will Never Be Enough.” The music was good, great dancers too. I like the idea of of using the LGBTQI alphabet soup as way of being inclusive. But they just got it so wrong. This is the list they used:
Here is the full list of the alphabet definitions described in the video:
A – Ally
B – Bisexual
C – Coming out
D – Drag
E – Exhibitionist
F – Femme
G – Gay
H – Heteroflexibile
I – Intersex
J – Justified
K – Kink
L – Lesbian
M – Masc
N – Non-binary
O – Out
P – Pansexual
Q – Queer
R – Real
S – S & M
T – Trans
U – Undecided
V – Vogue
W – Womxn
X – Xtravagant
Y – You
Z – Ze | Zir
A for Ally – because? Is the implication that we still need allies? This is a Pride video – the hint is in the title – why do we need to be proud that we have allies? Pride is about celebrating our community. Having “straight” allies is fine, but Pride is about us.
Why not have A for androgyny? What about asexuality or agender?
B and C are fine, but D for drag should mention Drag Kings too and what about D for Dyke?
E I can cope with, but F for Femme? Acceptable but hardly used these days.
Surely F for Fluid as in Gender Fluid is much more relevant? Especially as it is an identity which more younger people are comfortable with.
H, works, even though it includes “hetro”.
I’m particularly pleased that I for intersex was included is being more visible. For people who are born with any of the complexities involved in that diagnosis, more visibility, awareness and understanding can only be a good thing. Though again, it could have been used to show that being intersex is a diverse identity, with some people presenting as male, others as female and a number of identities in between.
J to M are self-explanatory – though Masc is a new descriptor to me – and is very male-centric.
I’m delighted that N for non-binary is there – again this is giving greater visibility for an identity that is often poorly understood.
O and P make sense too.
But Q just being for queer? There’s also Gender Queer – a term that is being heard much more often and is often regarded as the twin of Gender Fluid.
What about Q for questioning? Something nearly all of us have gone thorough at some stage of our lives. Because there are multiple gender and sexual identities visible these day, it can take time for many children and teenagers to find where they are on the gender and sexuality spectrums.
We need to send the message that questioning is fine, if done of ourselves. But by others? That’s a whole other conversation. No-one has the right to question how we see ourselves and who we love. That message should be part of Pride and who we are. Anything less demeans us.
Real and S&M speak for themselves.
However T for trans does not. The word is transgender or transsexual. Trans if often regarded as a term of abuse and is disliked by many who are proud to be transsexual or transgender. Which of those identifiers to use is an argument all of its own, which I’m not going to to even attempt to begin here. There are strong views on both sides. So use both, but not just trans. Remember too that not all transpeople identify female, at least 25% identify as male.
Whilst not often encountered in the UK, Two Spirit people, often from Native American heritage, are equally valid to be part of the T within our community.
The remainder of the letters from U to Y work fairly well. Though Vogue strikes me as something fleeting and transitory.
It’s great to see Ze/Zir included as gender neutral pronouns. I look forward to their increased use over the years to come. For me they are friendly and easy to use and work well in everyday speech. Whilst I respect people who wish to use “they, them and theirs”, I personally feel uncomfortable using these pronouns. I guess that’s because of my years working within the transgender community, where for transsexual people “they” is seem as term of derision. Its use by family, friends and work colleagues who don’t want to deal with the realities of somebody’s transition is hurtful and shaming.
Sorry Equinox, you’ve really missed people out. Definitely could do better. More inclusion needed for next year please!
About the Author
Fran Springfield RGN MSc, is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gender Identity. 25 years ago she became the first Specialist Nurse in the UK to gain that designation. She has written and lectured on gender identity issues both in the UK and internationally. Throughout her career she has been an advocate for transgender rights and equality.