Mumbai

Busting common LGBTQAI+ myths

Jerin Jacob, CEO of One Future Collective, conducting a workshop at Wilson College.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Sexuality and gender is a complex subject which often gets reduced to myths, stereotypes and over-simplification. Jerin Jacob, COO of One Future Collective, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at building compassionate young social leadership in India, debunked some common misconceptions about queer people at a workshop called ‘Gender Sensitisation and Queer Myths and Facts’ recently organised by the Political Science Association of Wilson College. Here are a few commonly misunderstood terms and concepts associated with the queer community, according to Ms. Jacob.

Myth: Asexuality is a mental or medical condition

Fact: Asexuality is a sexual orientation and not a psychological condition. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others. Asexuals have sexual desire, but it is void of sexual attraction. “Sometimes, it is confused with impotency but that is a biological condition, unlike asexuality. It is not a result of abuse and trauma, which does not make it a mental or medical condition,” Ms. Jacob says.

Myth: There is no difference between being intersex and transgender

Fact: Transgender is different from intersex. Being transgender means having a gender identity that is different from the one assigned at birth. When one feels a mismatch between the two, they can choose to correct it socially, or even surgically, making them transsexual. On the contrary, being intersex is being born with genitalia that does not fit the typical definitions of a male or female. Due to the stigma around these concepts, the misconception exists. “When a child is born intersex, the parents can choose what gender they want their child to be. But they have no right to decide for the child. Which is why Tamil Nadu has banned sex normalisation surgeries on infants and children,” Ms. Jacob explains.

Myth: Sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender identity

Fact: This is true, the two of them are unrelated. One’s sexual orientation is their sexual identity concerning the sex they are attracted to, like being bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, pansexual or asexual. It is simply the person one shows physical and emotional attraction towards, whereas gender identity, is the gender that an individual identifies with.

Myth: Children having same-sex parents are likely to have gender and psychological disturbances

Fact: This is a myth, and one that is very largely believed. “Research has shown that children of same-sex parents were, in fact, happier than children who didn’t have parents of the same sex,” Ms. Jacob explains. This has more to do with a child’s upbringing and the environment at home. If there is a supportive environment, the child will most likely grow up to be happy. Also, queer parenting has very little representation in the media, which is why there is invisibility around the concept. It goes against the heteronormativity prevalent in society and is difficult to digest.

Myth: Being transgender is not a psychological disorder

Fact: This is true. Choosing to be transgender comes from the innate experience of an individual and it is a personal choice. It is a subjective experience. This is being confused with gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and the gender they identify with. “Being transgender is a gender identity. It is you reflecting, identifying and then accepting your gender identity. It is who you identify yourself as,” Ms. Jacob says. It’s important to note that the transgender population have poor mental health and high rates of depression, but this is not because of the gender mismatch but because of their plight and a transphobic society which is always subjecting them to prejudice and discrimination. But in no way is being transgender equated to having a psychological disorder.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 9:11:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/busting-common-lgbtqai-myths/article30291103.ece

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