I’m posting this to pick up on a few things that i got involved in over the last week…and also because I realised that the issues involved are still upsetting some people in the LGBT community. Natascha Kennedy, for one, who has just posted about this on facebook.

Anyway, it was also something i picked up on for my Guardian piece last week – and appears to represent a particular strand running through discourse in this area like bigotry through the centre of a seriously normal stick of rock.

(Hmmm. That metaphor doesn’t exactly work…but i hope you get my drift).

My own focus last week was on surgical attitudes. However, the origins of that story lie in Prof Alice Dreger’s exposé of how some physicians have been using “dex”.

I share general abhorrence at this. Nonetheless, it also highlights an issue that i feel the GLBT community have never fully addressed, because so much campaigning for “rights” has been based on a seriously heteronormative view of life. We deserve rights NOT because we do…but because a) we can’t help it (genetically) and b) because we are just as normal as the next fucked-up human being.

This has always struck me as a massive bear trap that the community has dug for itself. The counter-question is always “what if?”

What if it turns out to be lifestyle choice after all? Do we just unpick gay rights…or put them back on a par with all other sexual rights (which is, very unsteady).

What if a genuine “cure” for LGBT-ism can be found?

My own answer is clear: fuck off. In fact, fuck off with extreme prejudice. I am what i am. We are what we are. And if we are not harming others in the process: if we are doing what we do consensually, with adults; then it is no-one’s business but my own.

It is not for some over-stuffed, badly dressed psychiatrist, surgeon, physician or other busybody to tell me i or anyone else is abnormal. Or rather…they can say “abnormal” til the cows come home. But so fucking what!

(Can you tell that i am a bit cross about this?).

It doesn’t matter. I’m not normal. I’m not “normal, and i’m proud to be not normal. So there.

Much the same argument applies whenever anyone is judged on the basis of how they look…how they conform to some abstract standard of normalness.

Unfortunately, any and every time anyone from the LGBT world argues “we’re just as normal as the next guy” as basis for granting us rights…they implicitly, absolutely cut the ground out from our feet.

No (repetition here!). We don’t deserve rights because we are normal. We deserve rights because we are human. And any medical bod who attempts to impose their own view of normality on the rest of us…deserves to have their own normality re-arranged.





About janefae

On my way from here to there
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3 Responses to Heteronormalisation

  1. Jennie Kermode says:

    Nature loves variety; society abhors it. This is worth remembering for one very good reason – populations that become too homogenous are unable to adapt to chance (whether cultural or biological) and don’t have a good life expectancy. We should be grateful for our variety and should seek to preserve it not simply because it seems wrong to interfere, or because we find it pleasing, but because it has intrinsic value.

  2. Natacha Kennedy says:

    Hi Jane,

    a very good post – I especially like the “Fuck off with extreme prejudice” part which represent my thoughts entirely.

    I think on of the clear distinctions we need to draw, and this may be where the LGB (as opposed to T, although some T organisations have also gone down this route) have made a mistake, is between “normal” and “natural”. Whilst being trans may not be “normal” since normality is a socially defined concept, there is no evidence (other than the repeated malicious and culturally-infected output of some shrinks) that being trans is at all unnatural.

    Joan Roughgarden makes this point very clearly and backs it up with a considerable amount of biological evidence not only relating to humans but also relating to other species who share elements of our DNA. And she ought to know because she is professor of biology at Stanford.

    As far as I’m concerned, being trans (or LGB or intersex for that matter) is simply within the range of behaviour which is natural for the human species. As such trying to ‘cure’ or ‘prevent’ LGBT people is unnatural because it imposes socially-defined constructs on a species for which binary gendered heteronormativity is inappropriate and itself unnatural.

  3. Unfortunately, any and every time anyone from the LGBT world argues “we’re just as normal as the next guy” as basis for granting us rights…they implicitly, absolutely cut the ground out from our feet.

    I’ve been struggling with this myself. I’m bi and non-monogomous. I’ve been really excited about a site called Lesbian Life, on about.com. The moderator is a really wonderful woman who shows true openness and acceptance to all kinds of people, and has brought up non-monogomy, polyamory, bisexuality, and many other topics in a very sex positive way. Some responses I’ve seen from other users, however, have left me horrified.

    On non-monogamy, the couple of women who responded said that they didn’t think it was necessarily a bad thing, for other people, but that they wouldn’t want to see lesbians being public about it–bad PR if we want to be accepted by straights. There was also a lot of talk on the subject of bi-phobia that bisexuals can choose. It wasn’t clear what we can choose, although I suppose what they mean is that we can choose men or women. I won’t go into all the ways I find that disturbing and prejudiced. But it’s the same thing that you’re saying, that it marginalizes differences based on whether or not it’s a choice, instead of acknowledging that we’re all people to be accepted for who we are.

    I think it’s also a problem that we’ve gotten so caught up in the marriage rights game. Yes, that’s a human right like any other, but the way it’s been handled makes it more about being “normal” than about claiming rights.

    And hi. 🙂

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