On Movements and Imposters
Over the past ten years, I have been involved with the intersex movement (after finding out I was intersex) and the LGBT equality movement (after coming out as lesbian). I also obtained a history degree where part of my concentration was history – specifically the Civil Rights Movement. Much can be learned from various groups and their movements toward equality. The first lesson is that while some in the intersex movement are not really intersex, they will have a voice because they use their voice. The second lesson is that many have the same goals, but different ideas of paths to get there. Understanding these lessons will help our own movements.
In the first lesson, I am referring to the Intersex movement. Ever since my first day in a support group, I’ve seen people accused of “posing” or being a fake. And while that may be the case, is it really our concern? We’ve seen that only few voices get to the policy making. Most people within the movements get a voice because they use their voice. Is it important to have accurate information? Absolutely, but can we halt speech just because someone is deemed to be a “poser”, a “fake”, an “imposter”? No, we cannot halt anyone’s speech whether it is good info from an imposter, false info from an imposter, or false info from the real deal. Not everyone feels the same way when it comes to treatments and/or courses of action. That’s why we have so many paths for the same outcome.
The second lesson is referring to current movements and movements of the past. Notably is the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality, the Feminist Movement for gender equality, and to some degree the LGBT Movement for equality (marriage, sexual, etc). These movements began with different views, but they had one common thread…to gain equality and independence from those who were oppressing them. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois were two figures of the early Civil Rights Movement. Both of these influential men had very different paths to equality. Who was wrong and who was right? We’ve seen both of their ideologies evolve into eventual racial equality and fights for injustice.
During the Feminist Movement, we saw sexual equality come to the forefront and organizations such as the National Organization for Women come to prominence. However, in the early days, some within NOW were opposed to sexual freedoms of lesbians. Are we to discount the work of NOW because of this? No history has seen the rights of women move to the forefront while still giving a voice to lesbians and sexual minorities.
The LGBT movement was not always a unified front. We’ve probably seen lesbian and gays first within the conversation for equality. Bisexality is still debated as real today, but it is definitely more accepted today than ever before. Transgender people are still fighting for justice and acceptance at every level of life. And while we understand that those who choose to transition from one gender to another are well within their rights to do so, we are still afraid of transgender issues being associated with the intersex rights movement.
Even from my early days, I’ve seen the intersex movement geared toward those born with ambiguous genitalia. Even those of us with degrees of ambiguousness, but were never submitted to countless, painful surgeries are somewhat made to feel like we haven’t been as traumatized as those who did have all the surgeries and other demeaning treatments.
However, at what point do we just get to say… we are all on the same side… the side of loved? We are of the belief in equality, in justice, and in freedom. Equality to be with the person we love or to have only the surgeries we choose to have. Justice to be accepted as we are without others having the right to forcibly make us different or force us to the margins of society.
Imposters and unified efforts are simply one small part of the larger puzzle. We put ourselves in little boxes just as much has the so-called majorities have put us in boxes. Who is right? I don’t know.