OPINION: Queer women’s voices must be heard

by Olga Maksimovica | National Student Pride
Thursday, 20 February 2020 12:25 GMT

Protestors chant during the first ever Trans Pride March in London, Britain September 14, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Womxn are fed up hearing that our relationships are not considered real enough

Olga Maksimovica is Co-Chair of the UK's National Student Pride

I want to believe that we are a society no longer stuck on patriarchal ideas of gender roles.

I want to think we have outgrown misogyny, homophobia, racism.

LGBT+ culture definitely seems to be mainstream enough for us to be out and safe at all times, right?

Rainbow stickers can be seen all over local shop fronts and everyone watches the TV show “Drag Race”, yassss?

Unfortunately, every time I read the news, talk to friends or openly display queer behaviour in public, I understand that it is not true. We are not there yet.

In a traditional heteronormative society, “womxn” – and as an organisation we add the ‘x’ to woman to show solidarity and inclusiveness to transgender and non-binary people – have always been viewed as a second sex.

Add “queerness” – or being part of the wider LGBT+ community – to being a womxn – and the struggle becomes even harder. 

It is fun to make memes about never being able to please the male gaze, though it is much too real not to sting.

Either too modest or too vulgar – there is no middle ground to be the right kind of womxn, and if there is – she is labelled boring!

And I for one, am fed up of it.

Add female sexuality to gender identity, and the question of gender expression becomes even more complex.

Especially when the safety blanket of ambiguity of gender expression is gone because you kissed your femme girlfriend in the street.

Queer womxn have always faced judgement and abuse from others. But haven’t we moved on and became more accepting as a society?

Unfortunately not.

The use of LGBT+ culture for marketing purposes has created illusions of inclusivity and acceptance. Well-covered debates on equality trapped us in the false beliefs that the gender gap no longer exists.

Supporting various political debates on social media is important as it gives the problems, we face more exposure.

Though by only sharing and liking the content that highlights these issues we are far from really solving those. For me, the real change starts with giving the voice and therefore the power to all womxn.

Listening and truly hearing what they have to say, learning and educating ourselves.

Does this mean it’s wrong to ask questions? Of course not. But should we take more care? Absolutely.

Most of the time, questions directed at queer womxn are not asked with a malicious intent, but simply fuelled by genuine desire to better understand us.

Nevertheless, I took part in this video for National Student Pride because it’s clearly a conversation we still need to have.

While all of us are different, we do share the same frustration when asked questions that are rooted in the toxic belief that womxn cannot make autonomous decisions, are inferior, overly sexualised and judged much more harshly than anyone else.

We are fed up hearing that our relationships are not considered “real” enough.

As a community, we need to now ask: how can we keep the conversation going, while educating our allies, and make sure we do not hurt each other in the process?

It is difficult as not all of us can relate to each other’s experiences and not all of us share the same stories.

But before you ask a question about someone you don’t understand, please make sure it comes from a place of genuine interest and not the attempt to hurt someone’s feelings or satisfy a curiosity that might itself be offensive.

Ask yourself, how would you feel if someone asked you that?

If you don’t want to answer the question, chances are they don’t either.