I don’t have a lot to say in this post, mostly because I’m physically unable to type most of it without being overwhelmed by anxiety. You see, I live in a constant state of being afraid to tell people who I really am. Being closeted like this isn’t fun. But since I constantly see people making horrible hurtful attacks against anyone who doesn’t conform to the binary heteronormative standard, I end up having to keep silent.
So here’s the short version.
I suffer from serious depression, and its roots are directly tied to the issues I won’t be getting into. My depression has led to suicidal thoughts in the past, and one actual suicide attempt. I am forced to suppress certain aspects of my identity in order to avoid conflict, and that is a daily struggle. It becomes a bigger struggle when certain individuals who claim to be defending marginalized groups do so by excluded other marginalized groups.
Don’t make assumptions about who someone is. You have no right to label another individual. Maybe they’re not who or what you think they are. And maybe if you actually understood who they are, you’d realize that all of the assumptions you’ve made about them are completely wrong. Making assumptions about anyone in any situation is bad, but it’s even worse when those assumptions don’t apply by default because the person in question isn’t even a part of the group you’ve lumped them in with.
Maybe the way you make those assumptions is part of why they wish they could stop pretending to conform. Maybe the exact way that you label them is part of what they hate about themselves, because they hate being seen by that false label, and want to show their true inner self. Maybe you make it harder for them to ever come to terms with their true self because of your irresponsible behavior. Maybe you’re silencing them and making them even more afraid of ever speaking up.
And maybe, once you learned the truth about this person, you’d realize how wrong everything you said to them was, because it was all based on your perceptions of the person; perceptions which aren’t true. And just maybe, that’s all the more reason not to make broad generalizations about any one group, because the person you’re talking to might not actually be a part of that group after all.
Maybe they’ve actually had to fear for their life just by being out in public. Maybe they’ve had panic attacks. Maybe they sometimes regret ever trying to be themselves, because being who they are means being a target. Maybe they’ve broken down crying in a parking lot because they were too afraid of the people inside the building. Maybe they’ve heard stories about people just like them being assaulted, murdered, or worse just because of who they are.
Labels are bad. Corn is good. I found my corn today, and it’s the only reason I’m able to write this right now. If you don’t know what I mean by “corn,” you should read this article on depression, which pretty much sums up my life.
Next time you think about accusing someone of not understanding your perspective, stop and think about theirs. It may not be what you assumed. They may have gone through things you could never understand.
And maybe they see brave people who share their true selves and fight for equality, they build up their courage, they’re almost ready to speak up, and then you destroy that by attacking and silencing them based on your flawed perspectives and false labels.
And that’s just sad.