LGBT+, also known by a varying number of letters (see below), is an initialism used to denote the various different types of people that belong to the queer community; that is, people who either do not identify as heterosexual, cisgender, or neither. This community encompasses a wide range of different sexualities, genders and identities, and many people in the community either take on multiple identities or have their identities change over time. The "LGBT" term originally only referred to those who were either gay, bisexual or transgender, but today the term is much broader, hence the "+" added to it. LGBT+ people tend to be stigmatized, discriminated, and materially oppressed due to their sexual and gender identity and expressions, as a result of centuries-old - usually Western - conceptions of such people being predatory, deviant, unnatural, parasitic, mentally ill, "sinful", etc., despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that none of these things are inherent to them, and that LGBT+ behaviour is perfectly normal and does not otherwise alter anyone's normal personality. As such, LGBT+ people are often revolutionary and stand in opposition to the status quo. The main symbol that identify this community is the rainbow flag, although there are many different flags used to represent the different types of people within it. Inside some communist circles some other symbols can be used to represent the community, like the proposed symbol representing cisgender and transgender in the classical hammer and sickle.
However, even though LGBT+ people suffer bigoted oppression by the bourgeoisie just as any minority group does, there is still a tendency to discriminate against/exclude them even amongst some communists. Some communists - particularly those in more socially conservative countries - may view LGBT+ identities in the traditionally bigoted ways, as well as the idea that LGBT+ behaviour is "bourgeois degeneracy" imposed on the proletariat. This idea comes from the misguided belief that LGBT+ people are somehow put at an advantage above cisgender-heterosexual people, and that therefore they are part of the privileged class. In reality, most bourgeoisie attempts to "normalise" the LGBT+ community boil down to pinkwashing, and are not genuine efforts to make society at large more accepting of these people.
Each term in the acronym refers to a specific group and the surrounding community. The acronym was originally created in the mid-1980s as simply "LGB", though by 1988 the term had evolved to "LGBT". Nowadays, the acronym is technically much longer, so much so that "alphabet soup" has become a tongue-in-cheek nickname for it. However, most people simply say it as "LGBT", "LGBTQ", or "LGBTQ+", for the sake of brevity.
The unofficial full acronym is 2S/LGBTQQIAAP+
- Two-spirit: refers to LGBT+ indigenous people; usually those who are transgender.
- Lesbian: refers to women with a homosexual sexual orientation, i.e., exclusive to other women.
- Gay: generally refers to homosexual men, although "gay" is also often used to denote both homosexual men and women.
- Bisexual: refers to people who are attracted to both men and women.
- Transgender: refers to those who, although their body is female or male, their ideas, feelings and desires do not correspond to their biological sex.
- Queer: catch-all term for anyone does not identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender.
- Questioning: someone currently in the process of questioning their sexuality or gender identity.
- Intersex: someone born with both male and female reproductive organs; a condition that is extremely rare but generally has no adverse health affects.
- Allies: heterosexual-cisgender people who support the community.
- Asexual: someone who does not experience sexual attraction to anyone. They may however still experience romantic attraction; if they don't, they are referred to as aromantic.
- Pansexual: someone who is attracted to anyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. Different from bisexuality, because while bisexual people tend to have certain genders they prefer over others, pansexuals do not have such preferences.
- et al. (+): encompasses all other identities in the LGBT+ community, mostly alternative gender identities such as non-binary, agender, genderqueer, etc.
How one identifies themselves in the LGBT+ community can change drastically over time, and many identifies often intersect with each other. For example, non-gender-conforming people usually also identify as transgender, or even gay/bi depending on their identity. Simply put, gender and sexuality are incredibly fluid, and hardly the rigid concepts that society generally makes them out to be.
Refuting Myths About Homosexuality
"It's not natural"
This is an inherently weak and uncogent objection. This argument is a blatant rendition of the appeal to nature, as it assumes that what is natural is acceptable or better and what is unnatural is not, and it does not define what "natural" even is. What this would entail logically is that adultery, infanticide, cannibalism, and nakedness must be acceptable as they are "natural", while playing checkers, sleeping on a bed, wearing clothes and indeed cooking meat are not "natural" and thus unacceptable. Most homophobic persons typically do not advocate creating laws outlawing things such as sleeping on beds, not to mention that using computers isn't natural either — yet homophobes clearly use computers, if only to try to defend themselves on various wiki sites.
Moreover, even if it did logically follow that what is "natural" is good, it turns out that homosexuality occurs in nature; biologists have extensively documented same-sex behavior in over 500 species of animals and observed it in a total of 1,500 species of animals. Bonobos, for example, are known for indulging in almost any "perversion" humanity has thought of — and perhaps some we've missed out on. Mammals are far from the only kind of animal that do this.
"It's a perversion"
This is simply a variation, with added bigotry, of the "It's not natural" argument. It implies that being gay is a mental disorder or disability even though there is no evidence to support such a claim. Defining homosexuality as a disability is a classic argument from definition fallacy. But the definition of disability does not include sexuality or gender. Being LGBTQ+ in no way impairs your ability to function as a human being in and of itself. In addition, drawing a parallel with sexuality and disability is a very troubling false equivocation, especially because it assumes that disabled people also do not deserve respect and empathy.
"It's against God's law"
Before we try to address this issue: Why do the infidels have to pay attention to your God? Then comes the presuppositional argument that everything is contingent on the God of your religion, or double standard of saying that freedom of religion does not apply to those people, or that separation of church and state does not really exist.
Conservative Christians claim that God condemns homosexuality, but Jesus actually never brought the subject up, as it was apparently not very high on his list of important things to do or not do (although he did give some forceful condemnations of hypocrisy and those who used their temporal or religious authority to oppress others and enrich themselves). While this argument may be relevant for some religious practitioners, it has no relevance to those people who read Scripture in a more accommodating fashion, or to those simply do not believe in God, those that are are followers of a different religion, or to the law that respects the divide between church and state.
While the strongest religious criticisms of homosexuality (at least in Western countries, especially Poland and Germany) usually come from Christians, but Jesus Christ himself is not recorded as saying anything whatsoever about homosexuality. Biblical condemnations of homosexuality come from the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus (You know, along with not eating shrimp, Leviticus 11:10, and not wearing clothes made of multiple materials, Leviticus 19:19) and later apostles such as St Paul. Back then, many people in Ancient Rome disapproved of gay marriage before Christianity came along. Christians may just have wanted to make themselves look homophobic to look acceptable in the eyes of the average Roman.
The Old Testament is explicitly against homosexuality, because it claims it has perverted many ancient civilisations (homosexuality, that is, not the Old Testament). Evidence of impacts on any civilisations remains to be found.
This is simply a value judgment which has no weight outside the mind of the person expressing it. Some people might consider mental images of heterosexual sex as equally repulsive, while others might consider the mental image of Donald Trump having sex to be disgusting.
If the standard chauvinist opinion of "disgusting" is being used, we can assume that God is fine with lesbians. That might be why there's no real mention of female homosexuality in the Bible aside from a questionable reference in Romans 1:26. That claim rests on a very shaky foundation, as the full context of the passage seems to be more of a condemnation of shrine prostitutes than of lesbians. It might be the most honest reason, even if it's the most ridiculous.
"It allows corruption, or sexual abuse, in single-sex communities"
Some communities are sensitive to corruption due to sexual relationships, or sexual abuse. How is that problem solved? Gender separation rules out the opportunities for heterosexual relationships. But to rule out homosexual relationships, the gays must be thrown out, too. The Boy Scouts of America is an example. The Catholic Church also intends to end sexual abuse by throwing out gay people. Except abusive priests. They can stay, provided the Church can shuffle them around to another (unsuspecting) congregation. The problem is that sexual abuse is very different from consensual sexual relationships. Prison rapists are usually not gay, though they are men who have sex with men. The reason is that rape isn't really about sex, but about dominating and abusing others.
"Marriage has a traditional, ancient definition"
Homophobes might say that marriage is an ancient institution, clearly defined as a union between man and woman (though they don't specify what ancient institution they're referring to). They ignore that ancient institutions have included slavery, polygamy, forced marriage and child marriage, and that ancient traditions have banned interracial and inter-religious marriage. Also, conservatives' precious Old Testament disagrees with that definition, since its model for marriage seems to be polygamy.
Many conservatives claim that extra-marital sexual relationships are sinful. So if same-sex marriage is not allowed, all same-sex sexual activities would be sinful, by definition.
Homophobes might say that gay marriage would ruin the sanctity of straight marriage. Typically, the sanctity of marriage is only ruined when one partner in the marriage has sex outside of the marriage so it is difficult to see how same-sex marriage could impinge on the sanctity of marriage between straight individuals. Some use vague non sequitur explanations as to why it would devalue their marriage. For example, "If we recognize counterfeit money, it devalues the real thing. Therefore, if we recognize SSM, traditional marriage is devalued."
Besides, straight people have beaten up and devalued marriage on their own with no help from the gays. Straights have allowed divorce, unregistered cohabitation, the de-criminalization of adultery, quickie Vegas wedding chapels where people can get married by Elvis Presley impersonators, dog and cat weddings, and pathetic marriage-themed reality television shows where people can marry strangers they just met before divorcing 48 hours later as soon as they actually had to get to know each other. And many years later, when some gays want to marry, they get the blame for ruining straight marriage?
"Homosexuality might encourage other perversions"
Homophobes might claim that acceptance of homosexuality might be a gateway to acceptance of pedophilia, zoophilia, incest or other perversions, in the same manner as public acceptance of Earl Grey tea is a gateway to public acceptance of heroin. That is a slippery slope fallacious argument; in other words, bullshit. In the past, pederasty certainly existed in Western culture, especially ancient Greece and Rome (and likely fueled some of the early Christians' animus against it), but today's gay communities overwhelmingly condemn pederasty and other such acts just like the rest of us.
"Homosexuals choose to be that way"
Homophobes often claim that those living the "gay lifestyle" have simply chosen to be gay. This could be correct for any given individual making this argument, but only if they are bisexual. Most people are attracted primarily to either men or women, and can exercise very little, if any, choice in the matter. Bisexual people, however, could conceivably choose to act on their attraction to the opposite sex and ignore their similar attraction to the same sex. But this would not make a bisexual person heterosexual.
Also curious and rarely discussed is why this should even be relevant; it's not as though societies routinely ban behaviors just because they appear to be choices rather than innate and inflexible preferences, whatever that distinction can be said to mean in an apparently deterministic universe. Blind to their own irony, the same people who revile the gays with the non-argument that homosexuality is a "choice" and thus wrong (…implying that it'd be okay if it weren't, as most evidence suggests?) are often very pleased to attempt to inflict a distinctly choice-based religious lifestyle on anyone who'll sit still and listen to their crazy, and none of them ever flips on his gay switch to show us just how easy it is to swap boning preferences.
Also, why would people choose to be gay when they have a higher risk of being harassed?
Sexually transmitted infections
Men who have sex with men are prone to some sexually transmitted infections, most notably HIV. This is mostly because anal sex transmits HIV and other infections and a rate 18 times higher than vaginal sex. Some people have transmitted these infections to heterosexual partners.
STIs are indeed a public health problem. However, most gay people are not infected. And most know how to protect themselves. Just like straight people. It is simply not a problem unique to homosexuality. Also, some STIs may not really be much more common among men who have sex with men, such as genital herpes.
If one is to believe Warren J. Blumenthal, homophobic conservatives might well be shooting themselves in the foot: "Anti-gay bias causes young people to engage in sexual behavior earlier in order to prove that they are straight. Anti-gay bias contributed significantly to the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Anti-gay bias prevents the ability of schools to create effective honest sexual education programs that would save children's lives and prevent STDs."
HIV rarely spreads through lesbian sexual intercourse. Does this mean we ban all marriages except between two women? I mean, stopping AIDS is super important enough to justify criminalizing loving relationships, right? Nope.
"Homosexuals are promiscuous"
First, even if this were universally true and demonstrable with convincing evidence (which it clearly isn't), it wouldn't mean anything. Promiscuity is not a vice in and of itself, unless you're religious and want to force everyone else to be as miserable as you. Second, while some gay communities encourage casual sex, some straight communities do too. Meanwhile, many gay people prefer lifelong, monogamous relationships. All people, no matter their sexual orientation, have different tastes.
Many homophobic jokes and arguments center around anal sex, taking as read that it's a despicable act and implying that The Gays are obsessed with it. Male-on-male anal sex seems to matter more to homophobes than to gay men. There are some health issues with penile-anal penetration, but these also apply to male-on-female anal fun, which is popular among some young Christians and usually not condemned in the same way. Also, some gay men don't do anal sex anyways. Furthermore, due to the invention of that newfangled piece of technology known as the "strap-on", straight female-on-male anal sex is also possible and regularly indulged in.
"Homosexuality is not reproductive"
Most sexual encounters, including those within marriage, are non-reproductive. These include barrier birth control, biochemical birth control, fertility awareness, non-penetrative sex, sex with sterilized people, sex with less fertile people (due to old age or other reasons), and homosexuality. Oddly enough, when someone makes the claim that it's all about children, they tend to become very unhappy if someone suggests that sterile couples should also be banned from marrying… almost as if that wasn't their real reason for opposing same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couples also commonly do something that is arguably more humanitarian than creating new people: they adopt children. There is also no requirement to make new people anyway, and a growing childfree movement against the entrenched emphasis on family and reproduction, while the world's population is still increasing. Does the planet desperately need more reproductive sex that badly? Same-sex couples can also procreate using artificial means, such as artificial insemination or surrogate mothers. Some closeted or semi-closeted homosexuals also have children through marriage before coming out.
"Homosexuals don't even exist, anyway."
Some organizations (and even entire countries) simply deny the existence of homosexuality, seeing it as a rebellious phase, a simpler way to "get some," or simply bisexuality, as opposed to a genuine lack of opposite sex attraction.
- Most homosexual men enjoy women as friends. (Answers in Genesis used this argument.) People making this argument may be thinking that opposite sex friends (sometimes thought of as a psychological impossibility) are some sort of repressed desire for the opposite sex. This argument is even more ridiculous when considering the fact that most heterosexual men enjoy men as friends.
- All homosexuals have some degree of OS attraction (also used by the same AiG "Scientist" on the same article). First of all, there is some confirmation bias in the study. He was a reparative therapist, who deals with people who want to "change". People who are in accepting communities, who are content with the same sex, may not feel the urge to change. Secondly, having past straight relationships does NOT make a person straight, any more than eating soup makes it your favorite food. Third, if homosexuals DO feel heterosexual feelings, they are very weak, in the same way that straight people may have faint homosexual feelings. Does that make everyone bi? Fourth, many homosexuals do not find the opposite sex attractive, describing it as "indifferent". Some may describe forced heterosexual relationships as feeling "unnatural" and like "doing it with my sister." Sorry to leave you with that image.
- There are no gay men. They are just too lazy to be with a woman (Used by various homophobes) The homophobe's train of thought probably goes like this:
- Men are naturally promiscuous.
- Women are naturally choosy, slow, and hard to get.
- Men have to go through great struggles just to "get some".
- Since there is no woman in the mix, homosexuality provides men with a simple, lazy, unsophisticated way to "game the system".
- I can't even imagine how you would like a man instead of a beautiful woman with beautiful breasts and luxurious hair! (used by various homophobes to deny the orientation). That's because you are straight. Also, how could heterosexual women like a man instead of a beautiful woman with beautiful breasts and luxurious hair?
Refuting Myths About Transgender People
Transphobia remains disturbingly common, and it is typically "justified" with various lies and slanders about trans people. In order to combat this bigotry, it is necessary to provide solid and easily understandable rebuttals to these common myths. All sources will be listed at the end of the post, if anyone would like to read in more depth.
"Trans People Are Dangerous!"
Perhaps the most common and pernicious myth spread about trans people is that they are somehow dangerous. This was the main line of argument behind the so-called "bathroom bills" in the United States, and it still sits at the root of much transphobic bigotry in countries like the US and UK. Trans women typically bare the brunt of this particular slander, with the claim being that they are supposedly just men lying about their gender identity in order to commit crimes.
The primary source for this claim is typically a study from the Swedish Karolinska Institute, which (supposedly) found that transgender women "retain male-pattern violence." This is (unsurprisingly) nonsense, and the lead author of the study (Dr. Cecilia Djehne) has denounced this interpretation of it. In an interview for TransAdvocate, Djehne stated that those "making claims about trans criminality, specifically rape likelihood, [are] misrepresenting the study's findings... we were certainly not saying that we found that trans women were a rape risk."
So, what exactly was the study saying? Well, while trans women studied from 1973 to 1988 did demonstrate a "male pattern of criminality," Djehne states that this pattern was not present in trans women studied from 1989 to 2003. She makes this quite clear in the interview, where she says "for the 1989 to 2003 group, we did not find a male pattern of criminality." She attributes this change over time to differences in trans healthcare and social stigma:
What the data tells us is that things are getting measurably better and the issues we found affecting the 1973 to 1988 cohort group likely reflects a time when trans health and psychological care was less effective and social stigma was far worse.
In other words, the study was demonstrating that when trans women are given access to proper gender-affirming treatment and reduced social stigma, they don't retain a "male pattern of criminality." Transphobes have literally flipped the study's findings upside-down, in an attempt to justify their irrational fear and hatred of transgender people. Keep this study tucked in the back of your mind, by the way; it comes up again later.
Clearly, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that transgender people pose a violent crime risk; if anything, it is far more likely that they will be the victims of violence. Let's look at public restrooms again; according to a report from the UCLA School of Law, 68% of trans people reported experiencing at least one instance of verbal harassment in gender-segregated public restrooms, while 9% had been physically assaulted at least once in gendered bathrooms. Our priority should be protecting transgender people from bigoted harassment and violence, not "protecting" bigots from transgender people.
"Gender Affirming Treatment Doesn't Work!"
Another common claim made by transphobes is that gender-affirming treatment (hormones, surgery and the like) does not work, and may even increase the risk of suicide among people with dysphoria. The primary source for this claim is - you guessed it - the Karolinska study, which was cited as providing "the most illuminating results yet" by former Johns Hopkins psychiatrist (and religious anti-LGBT activist) Dr. Paul McHugh.
So, what does the Karolinska study actually say? Well, it did report that post-transition trans people had a higher suicide rate than the general population; however, it clearly states that "the results should not be interpreted such as sex reassignment per se increases morbidity and mortality. Things might have been even worse without sex reassignment." For further clarification, we can once again turn to lead author Cecilia Djehne's interview with TransAdvocate, where she says the following:
Medical transition alone won’t resolve the effects of crushing social oppression: social anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. What we’ve found is that treatment models which ignore the effect of cultural oppression and outright hate aren’t enough. We need to understand that our treatment models must be responsive to not only gender dysphoria, but the effects of anti-trans hate as well. That’s what improved care means... People who misuse the study always omit the fact that the study clearly states that it is not an evaluation of gender dysphoria treatment.
In other words, trans people who receive gender-affirming treatment continue to be a high risk for suicide due to external social oppression, not because the treatment doesn't work. Later in the interview, Djehne gives her actual view on gender-affirming treatment:
Of course trans medical and psychological care is efficacious... If we look at the literature, we find that several recent studies conclude that WPATH Standards of Care compliant treatment decrease gender dysphoria and improves mental health.
The links contained in the above quote are to studies which demonstrate the positive impact of gender-affirming treatment, which we will now assess in more detail. However, before we dive in, it should be noted that some of these studies use the term "gender identity disorder" to refer to dysphoria; this term is generally no longer used, as it is considered stigmatizing. With that said, let's get clinical.
First up, we have a 2014 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which found that "A marked reduction in psychopathology occurs during the process of sex reassignment therapy, especially after the initiation of hormone therapy." That's rather self-explanatory, I think.
Secondly, we've got a 2009 paper in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which looked at a group of Swedish adults with gender dysphoria "after 5 or more years in the process [of transitioning] or 2 or more years after completed sex reassignment surgery." The researchers found that "almost all patients were satisfied with the sex reassignment; 86% were assessed by clinicians at follow-up as stable or improved in global functioning."
Next up, there's a 2010 meta-analysis from the Mayo Clinic, published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, which looked at various studies discussing hormonal therapy and sex reassignment. The results were as follows:
Pooling across studies shows that after sex reassignment, 80% of individuals with GID reported significant improvement in gender dysphoria; 78% reported significant improvement in psychological symptoms; 80% reported significant improvement in quality of life; and 72% reported significant improvement in sexual function... sex reassignment that includes hormonal interventions in individuals with GID likely improves gender dysphoria, psychological functioning and comorbidities, sexual function and overall quality of life.
Moving on, we've got a 2015 study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior. According to the authors, the aim of this study was "to re-examine individuals with [gender dysphoria] after as long a period of time as possible. To meet the inclusion criterion, the legal recognition of participants’ gender change via a legal name change had to date back at least 10 years." In other words, these were all people who had begun the process of changing their gender at least a decade prior to the study. The results were as follows:
[Participants'] overall evaluation of the treatment process for sex reassignment and its effectiveness in reducing gender dysphoria was positive. Regarding the results of the standardized questionnaires, participants showed significantly fewer psychological problems and interpersonal difficulties as well as a strongly increased life satisfaction at follow-up than at the time of the initial consultation.
In short, there is an enormous amount of evidence for the efficacy of gender-affirming treatment, and it should be made more widely available to those who need it. Treatment should also take into account the effects of social oppression, and work to resolve them.
"Many Trans People Regret Transitioning!"
This is another very common claim. Simply googling the phrase "trans regret" will result in an immediate deluge of articles from conservative news sites, claiming to have hundreds of stories by regretful trans people, who wish they had never transitioned.
In reality, such people are extraordinarily rare. A 2018 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reviewed all the patient files of a gender identity clinic in Amsterdam from the years 1972-2015. They found that "Only 0.6% of transwomen and 0.3% of transmen who underwent gonadectomy were identified as experiencing regret." This is an extremely small percentage, and when taken alongside the earlier cited studies on the efficacy of gender-affirming treatment, it indicates that the vast majority of trans people are satisfied with their transition.
Of course, the Netherlands is a more progressive country than the United States or Britain, and so it could be the case that trans people in the latter two countries would experience a higher rate of regret due to harassment and social stigma. However, this would say nothing whatsoever about the efficacy of gender-affirming treatment; rather, it would be a comment on the damaging effects of transphobia.
The propaganda spread by transphobes has no basis in reality, and ought to be cast aside as the despicable crock of nonsense that it is. Transgender people are not dangerous, gender-affirming treatment does work, and most people do not regret transitioning. It's time we move past these damaging and bigoted notions, and create a society where all people can live freely.
LGBT+ by country
Although Taiwan being the first asian region to legalise the modern form of same-sex marriage, such unions have been recognised across the continent in various guises for centuries. Southern China, in particular, was known for a widespread acceptance of homosexual relationships. Shen Defu, a Chinese writer during the Ming dynasty, wrote that it was common for men of all social classes in Fujian province to take male lovers. These forms of gay “marriage” were prevalent enough in Fujian that there was even a patron deity of homosexuality, the rabbit. In the early modern period, marriages between two people of the same assigned sex but who identified as different genders, were fairly normal in many parts of Southeast Asia, we know this primarily from the records Europeans kept when they landed on Asian shores.
When Europeans first encountered Chinese society, they were shocked and repulsed about one aspect of Chinese society: the “abominable vice of sodomy”. Later the acceptence of gender and sexual diversity began to be eroded through the introduction of world religions (particularly Christianity), modernity, and colonialism. After the Chinese were defeated by Western and Japanese imperialists, many Chinese "progressives" in the early 20th century sought to modernise China, which meant adopting “modern” Western ideas of dress, relationships, science and sexuality. It also meant importing European scientific understandings of homosexuality as an inverted or perverted pathology. These “scientific ideas” were debunked in the 1960s in the West, but lived on in China, frozen in time, and have only recently begun to thaw with the rise of LGBT+ activists in Asia.
"We must remember so that it will never happen again." – Mariela Castro, Director of the Cuban Center for Sex Education (CENESEX)
It would be intellectually dishonest to pretend that Cuba was always a socially progressive society – in the early days after the Revolution, in a time when many other countries were dealing with typical homophobic and transphobic ideas, and later, poorly thought-out attempts at containing the AIDS crisis (the US government mired in homophobia refused to even acknowledge the existence of the virus until over 10,000 had died; while in Britain under Thatcher hostile police raided gay clubs), the island nation was not an exception to this rule of backwardness in social issues. However, this is also a fact that Cuban people and the Cuban government acknowledge as a fault and something that the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) has fought hard to overcome. In the past, Fidel Castro made a public apology for the poor treatment of LGBT+ people in the country's history. It is rare to see a leader take full personal responsibility for a wrong committed against its people, and even rarer to hear a promise to do better; but the PCC is fully committed to LGBT+ rights and to improving the situation of some of its most marginalized citizens, and their past wrongs are always present in the contemporary dialogue.
This sort of attitude toward promoting social progress is almost nonexistent among governments and officials in many countries across the globe. Amnesia to history comes up often as a response to the complaints of the oppressed. Those with legitimate political demands are expected to sit down and remain silent, as they lack the ability to hold their governments accountable. However, this is not the case in Cuba, where the push for change is done not because there were too many complaints and too much noise and thus the state wanted to restore order; change comes because not only is it the right thing to do, but because the success of the revolution depends on the support of all people – which includes the most marginalised who live on the frontlines of that revolution every day.
Part of what Cuba does to ensure the success of its revolution is for officials to meet its citizens in their own environment and to see the issues that are important to them so that they can begin to work on solving them, especially for the most marginalised. This can be seen in the many photos of Fidel playing sports with average Cuban people and going out to generally interact with them regularly – not simply for a photo op, but because the only way to effectively lead is to know about the concerns of the people. The same can be said of Mariela Castro, Director of CENESEX and a member of Cuba's Parliament, who has spent a great deal of time getting to know members of the LGBT+ community in Cuba and championing their needs through not only legal channels, but material ones, as well. This has manifested in increased protections for LGBT+ Cuban people in labor laws and the Constitution. Simultaneously, this has also helped to change popular perceptions of LGBT+, and especially trans, Cuban people for the better. Coupled with the push against machismo and gender inequality, along with racism, Cuba attacks bigotry on all fronts. There is even a Gala Against Homophobia and Transphobia that is held yearly on the eponymous day as a recognition for the need to improve material conditions for LGBT+ Cubans. While an event such as this may seem performative, it is part of a larger push to end inequality and marginalisation that can persist both materially and ideologically.
Ultimately, though, what Cuba does for trans people goes beyond legal protections and changing hearts and minds. It attacks the issue of inequality at the root – through material support. This of course can become complicated due to lack of supplies and resources as a result of the suffocating blockade placed on Cuba by the US, which makes trade very limited, even with countries that Cuba should be allowed to trade with happily. But that does not stop Cuba from ensuring all citizens regardless of background have somewhere to live with public, state-subsidised utilities, food and water, access to education up to postgraduate level (nearly 100% of Cubans are literate), and high-quality universal public healthcare with some of the best doctors in the world. To put it in capitalist jargon, Cuba invests in its human capital – it creates conditions favorable to social and political development of its people so that they are educated, skilled, and have their basic needs taken care of.
For trans people in Cuba, however, this means that gender confirmation surgeries (GCS) [more commonly known as sex reassignment surgeries (SRS)] are available for trans Cuban people who desire it, free of charge, as of 2008, making it the first Latin American country to do so. GCS includes not only what is known as bottom surgeries (vagino- or phalloplasty, among others) but also top surgeries (mastectomy or augmentation mammoplasty, among others) and numerous other surgeries that allow trans people to feel more like themselves. These procedures can be life-saving for many trans people, and Cuba recognizes this as a material way to help this marginalised group of people live more dignified lives. This comes, in turn, not only as a result of the efforts of the Communist Party to ensure its people have the best medical care possible, but also through a fundamental understanding of what is required to make the revolution successful.
Homosexual activity was originally decriminalised in the USSR in 1917 as part of the repeal of the Tsarist Penal Code.
Critics of the Soviet Union often lambaste Stalin for having recriminalised sodomy in 1933. Although same-sex sexual activity between men was recriminalised throughout the entire Soviet Union in 1933, several Soviet Republics implemented their own sodomy laws throughout the 1920s, such as Azerbaijan and the Central Asian republics. Acceptance of homosexuality throughout the Soviet Republics was rare, especially in regions dominated by the Russian Orthodox Church or influenced by Islam. Religion played a role in the wording of the law, confusing male homosexuality with pederasty.
Georgy Chicherin served as the first People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union. Chicherin went to Weimar Germany to seek treatment for his homosexuality. In spite of this revelation, Stalin was a great admirer of Chicherin, and Chicherin continued to serve in his post until 1930 when he was replaced as he had become too ill, suffering from terminal illness. Chicherin died in 1936, having never been subject to punishment despite being openly gay.
Same-sex sexual activity amongst men remained illegal in the Soviet Union up to its dissolution. In some former republics homosexual activity remains illegal to this day. Although countries of the Warsaw Pact were under Soviet influence, they had the freedom to decide their laws. The German Democratic Republic, for example, was much more progressive than the Soviet Union (and even the West) in terms of LGBT+ rights.
The United Kingdom has historically been hostile to same-sex relationships. Before the formation of the United Kingdom, the ecclesiastical courts of its pre-existing sovereign states such as England dealt with matters concerning homosexuality. The first law touching on same-sex relations to be promulgated was the Buggery Act 1533 that made the act of buggery (therein defined as unnatural sex that goes against God's will) punishable by death. This act was superseded by the Offences Against the Person Act 1828; however, the death penalty remained in force until the introduction of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. James Pratt and John Smith were the last people to be executed for the crime of sodomy in England, as well as the entire United Kingdom.
Sodomy remained illegal until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was introduced, over 100 years after the previous law that rescinded capital punishment for homosexuality. In spite of this, however, the legacy of British colonialism meant that homosexuality remained illegal in many of the British Empire's territories. Many former territories to this date punish sodomy, and some jurisdictions such as Victoria, Australia retained the death penalty for sodomy as late as 1949. Some of these territories had never punished homosexuality until colonial interference. Prominent people persecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 1967 include socialist Oscar Wilde as well as mathematician and logician Alan Turing, whose eventual suicide rekindled the debate on homosexuality legalisation. As the law targeted sodomy primarily, female same-sex sexual activity was technically legal. As a result, many gay men resorted to other forms of communication, such as Polari, in order to evade persecution.
The Sexual Offences Act 1967 legalised same-sex sexual activity in England only. The legalisation of same-sex sexual activity in other constituent countries occurred later, with Scotland in 1981 and in Occupied Ireland in 1982, making them among some of the last countries to do so in Europe. The Age of Consent remained unequalised and at 21 (in comparison to 16 for heterosexual same-sex activity) until the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, castigated homosexuality during her tenure. The topic of homosexuality remained taboo even well into the 21st Century.
The United Kingdom legalised civil partnerships in 2005. Same-sex marriage was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014; however, the far-right DUP in Occupied Ireland was vocally resistant and delayed the implementation of equal marriage until 2020 in Occupied Ireland. Although the population of the United Kingdom is mostly accepting of homosexuality, the government has approved of the overseas territory of Bermuda briefly revoking the same-sex marriage law.
Transphobia remains a major issue in the United Kingdom. TERFs often harass and attempt to prevent funding to charities that seek to help transgender people. The phenomenon is tragically rampant amongst the British Left just as much as the Right, with the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Britain adopting party lines that are incompatible with the well-being of transgender comrades.
- Trans Advocate | Interview with Dr. Cecilia Djehne
- UCLA School of Law | Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress
- Journal of Sexual Medicine | Effects of Different Steps in Gender Reassignment Therapy on Psychopathology
- Archives of Sexual Behavior | A Five-Year Follow Up Study of Swedish Adults with Gender Identity Disorder
- Clinical Endocrinology | Hormonal Therapy and Sex Reassignment: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Quality of Life and Psychosocial Outcomes
- Archives of Sexual Behavior | Long-Term Follow-Up of Adults with Gender Identity Disorder
- Journal of Sexual Medicine | The Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria Study (1972-2015): Trends in Prevalence, Treatment, and Regrets