To Be, Or Not To Be?

It happened again. Godaddy deleted the new version of my website in a series of blunders that I like to call ‘one massive mess up after another’. It’s fine, I was never really invested in the previous one, but it is still an enormous waste of time and money.

For new visitors to this website: I’m Charlotte Bowyer, (a) writer. Ergo, a functional website from which I can blog is very important to me. Like Hamlet, I am very much about ‘words, words, words’, so the constant deleting and moving of my data is enough to make me rather annoyed. It is an inconvenience, more than anything, but still. Whilst I tidy everything up, here’s one of my more important archived posts (posted June 2018):

LGBT+ FAQ

How many letters are there in the LGBT+ acronym?

As many as you want! I use LGBT+ because it’s short and inclusive but the longest acronym I have seen is LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, aromantic, pansexual)! It really depends on what context you are using it in and your own personal place on the sexuality spectrum.

What is your definition of ‘woman’?

A classic question asked by people who are confused about non-binary genders, my answer to this is deceptively brief. A woman is an adult person who genuinely identifies as female. A man is an adult person who genuinely identifies as male. People who identify as neither fall somewhere in between and can choose for themselves what word best describes how they feel about their gender identity. Simple!

Is there a letter in the LGBT+ ‘alphabet soup’ that stands for paedophilia?

No. The ‘p’ in LGBTQIAP+ stands for pansexual. Being sexually attracted to minors is not accepted in gay communities any more than it is in straight communities.

My friend/sibling/child is trans+! What should I do?

I think the main thing to do is to be an ally. Whilst you shouldn’t make a huge deal out of it, there are many simple things that you can do to make your loved one feel that their gender identity is valid. These include:

  • Using their preferred pronouns (in front of them and when talking about them).
  • Using their preferred name (see above).
  • If you are in a position of responsibility over them, allowing them age-appropriate transition tools. For example, whilst binders and hormone injections are not advisable for young people, there are many brands of sports bra that can flatten the growing breasts but not harm the tissue.
  • Showing your support for other trans+ individuals in the media.

Is it abusive for a parent to deny their child’s gender identity or sexuality?

This is a difficult question and not one which I really feel that I can answer satisfactorily for every given situation. Denying someone’s beliefs is clearly a shitty thing to do when they are questioning who they are because it does not allow them to explore their own identity, a bit like someone in an improv scene ‘blocking’ the other characters. Yes, many young people are fluid in regards to how they identify since you change so much during puberty that it is difficult to know who you are, and there is no problem with a parent reasonably pointing that out. That said, when a parent allows no conversation about their child’s gender or sexuality and actively goes out of their way to disparage them, be it on the internet or in person, that is emotional abuse. 

My advice to parents of trans+ kids is to be compassionate. Your child may not hold the same identity in ten years’ time but they will remember how you reacted to them confiding in you a deep and important part of who they are.

How did you come out of the closet?

On a domestic scale, I don’t think I ever have – it’s just always been kind of obvious. On a wider scale, I have always had a flair for the dramatic and so I came out of the closet in an article written about me in ‘The Times’.

Catch the full interview here.

What do you think of the term TERF?

I think that the term TERF is perfectly fair to use when referring to a trans-exclusionary radical feminist as it is fair to use the term Nazi to refer to someone who subscribes to Hitler’s national socialist beliefs. However, this label cannot be used effectively when people simply use it to describe people with whom they disagree (as people on Tumblr sometimes do with the word Nazi). In short:

Is it hate speech to use it when the feminist in question does not consider transwomen women? No.

Is it rude to use it as an insult when speaking to someone who does not necessarily have your exact view on transgender rights? Yes.

Do you have any LGBT+ novels to recommend?

A lot of these of these are Classics-based because I have been in a Classics mood for the most few months. In no particular order:

  1. ‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller
  2. ‘The Persian Boy’ by Mary Renault
  3. ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh
  4. ‘Fire from Heaven’ by Mary Renault
  5. ‘Fun Home’ by Alison Bechdel
  6. ‘His Frozen Fingertips’ by Charlotte Bowyer

Come on, you can’t have expected me to write a list of LGBT+ novels and leave mine out; I happen to quite like it. Here’s the link if you want to buy it.