I’ve seen posts floating around asking for people to forget making “heterosexual passing couples” comfortable at Pride and instead focus on keeping Black and Brown trans and gender non-conforming people safe.
I know this may be a shock to you, but neither are mutually exclusive. I know this because I am a Brown non-binary person (therefore trans) in a relationship with someone who is white and non-binary. We are both bisexual and while I’m “read” as feminine, they’re “read” as masculine. To those who do not know us, to those who are ignorant and still cling to silly gender stereotypes and norms, my partner and I “look” like a cis-het couple. I use scare quotes because you cannot tell someone’s sexual orientation or gender just by looking at them.
This type of thinking pisses me off because I do want you to care about making sure “passing” couples or folks feel safe and comfortable at Pride. Because as a TQPOC, I am hurt by people not wanting to check their bi and acephobia.
Let’s back up though, the concept of “passing” is extreme bullshit. Erasure isn’t a privilege. My identity as a bi non-binary person is constantly erased by gays and straights alike, because I’m either not gay enough or not hetero enough. How many times have you been told to “pick a side”? How many times have you been rejected because people from your sexual orientation are seen as promiscuous?
Similarly, because I do not have gender dysphoria, or a desire to transition somehow I am not truly trans. Likewise for my partner, and because we’re “read” cis-het, some people might see us at Pride and think we don’t belong. That we’re just there to gawk.
This type of thinking throws both people like me and white people I care about under the bus. Discussing how my white partner faces oppression for being queer doesn’t somehow negate my own oppression for my queerness. My race is an added oppression but my facing racism doesn’t influence whether or not my partner is also oppressed. Whiteness doesn’t make their queerness disappear. Think of it this way. I’m “read” as a woman in a “het passing” relationship: does that negate my brownness or does my brownness negate this supposed “passing privilege”? Undermining someone’s oppression from queerness on account of them being white just leads to splash damage for everyone. Splash damage is a topic I’ve written about before.
This is why intersectionality is important. I see a lot of well-meaning white queers share stuff where they think they’re being supportive of TQPOC but it’s really performative allyship. Look, white people are the worst but that doesn’t mean that white queers suddenly don’t face oppression for their queerness. The whiteness just makes it one less thing to oppress them for.
Reminder: not all violence is physical. Having our sexual orientation and identity erased is violence as well. Nuance is a fucking thing and not everything can be so neatly wrapped up, not without throwing people under the bus.
I would like to thank the wonderful Kella Hanna-Wayne from www.yoppvoice.com for being so patient and providing edits and critiques for this post.