Is there a right way to be gay? A right way to be lesbian or bisexual? By that I mean, are there universal constructs that many in these subcommunities of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community embrace as models for the entireties of their subcommunities?

Well, I’m not as immersed in the gay subcommunity as perhaps I should be to know what the gay “universal” constructs are, but I am aware of some “universal” models in the lesbian and bisexual subcommunities.

For example, in the lesbian subcommunity, there’s some typing in play, with labels like lipstick lesbian, Chapstick lesbian, femme, fierce femme, blue jean femme, pillow queen, butch, soft butch, stone butch, dyke, andro-dyke, sporty dyke, power dyke, bulldyke, diesel dyke…One Way Signwe could go on and on here with the lesbian labels. Per a certain orthodoxy of being lebian, it seems you must be able to be subcategorized as a recognized subtype of lesbian.

And, for a second example, in the bisexual subcommunity, I know there are some who want to impose a 50-50 rule for attraction to the “opposite sex,” meaning that one is equally attracted to those who identify as male, and those who are identified as female. In this model of bisexuality, if let’s say one is attracted  more to women than men, then one isn’t considered a true bisexual because one is “supposed” to be equally attracted to men and women.

In other words, there are some in the broader LGBT community who want to impose universal standards of what it is to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual on broader communities, and deviation from these standards isn’t acceptable or “allowed.”

In the trans subcommunity, we have similar kinds of orthodoxies. Among the trans orthodoxies, there are those who could be identified as trans who seek to impose standards of “the best” way one is to identify, and the “right” way one is supposed to transition — if one identifies a transsexual.

This past week, I’ve had two classic transsexuals tell me I should reconsider transitioning (as in I’m not really a transsexual), and a transman another transsexual woman tell me to “hurry up and transition already.” In all of these cases, trans people (or people self-identified as classic transsexuals, people of transsexual history, etc.) appear to have embraced constructs of what it is to be transsexual and/or transgender, and have attempted to externally impose a model of what it is to be transsexual and/or transgender on me.

And, of course, it’s not just me that they attempt to impose their models on, but on the entire trans community — or trans subcommunity of the LGBT community.

To quote my friend Gwen Smith:

It’s okay to have a construct that works for oneself. The problem is when you impose it, unwillingly, on others…We should be the *last* to impose constructs involving identity or expression on others.

And yet “we” do impose constructs on our own communities and subcommunities.

The “should” I wish I could impose on our broader community is the one of embracing the diversity of people and experiences within all of our broader communities and subcommunities. Embracing our differences while searching for our commonalties — those are “shoulds” I could live with.

But then, I’d be imposing my construct of the perfect LGBT community on everyone too. D’oh!

Update: Corrected where I got the identification of a trans person wrong. My sincerest apologies for getting the identification inversed.

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Further reading:

* Transmissions: What’s In A Name?

* Transmissions: I’m okay — you’re a freak

* The Pink Pink Elephant: Whose Community Is It Anyway?: White Privilege in the LGBT Community