This column has nothing directly to do with race, politics, religion or beliefs. Phew! It does, however, have everything to do with being good neighbors. The only agenda I have is for all of us to be …
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A Guide to Gender Identity Terms: npr.org/2021/06/02/996319297/gender-identity-pronouns-expression-guide-lgbtq
What to Know About Gender Pronouns: medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gender-pronouns
Queering Our Vocabulary: firstname.lastname@example.org/queering-our-vocabulary-a-not-so-short-introduction-to-lgbtqia2s-language-997ca6c8b657
This column has nothing directly to do with race, politics, religion or beliefs. Phew! It does, however, have everything to do with being good neighbors. The only agenda I have is for all of us to be able to live in a considerate Colorado community. I do not have lived experience as a person whose identity is in the minority.
Today, I write as a cisgender (meaning I identify as the same gender as I was assigned at birth), heterosexual woman. I am a mother, sister, friend and ally of those who identify differently than me. Like you, I just want to see Colorado as a place where we have respect for each other and live the lives we want to live.
It’s Pride Month in our country when we celebrate and recognize diversity in gender and queer identities, expressions, and sexual orientations. What a perfect time to talk about how we talk respectfully with and about our LGBTQIA2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit) friends and families and why it’s so important.
For those of us who identify or express ourselves as heterosexual and cisgender, labels may not seem important. We go about the activities of our lives with little to no care or notice about what we call ourselves, how we show up at school or work or who’s looking at us in the grocery store. Yes, we may be carrying with us some other issues of self-consciousness or insecurity at times, but we’re in the norm. Most people look like us and identify similarly.
But for those of the LGBTQIA2S community, it is not always as comfortable to express themselves and other challenges. For example, in Colorado and nationally, bullying and suicide rates are higher for children and adults who identify as LGBTQIA2S. And unfortunately transgender folks have higher rates not only in suicides but in murders as well. The question is what are we doing to contribute or prevent that? Whatever it is, it’s clearly not enough.
Over the last year, there’s been much-needed attention to race and how everyone can be more conscious and inclusive with our neighbors of all races and ethnicities.
Pride Month is a great reminder for all of us to honor how people want to be identified. It’s also a good time to get some education about gender and queer identities and expressions, and then learn how to better support each other. I’ve listed some initial resources in the box if you’re curious.
Whether you know it, like it, or love it, we are all living in a community with people who identify in myriad ways. Isn’t it time to accept people just as they are and how they want to live? As long as a person isn’t harming another, what is it our business anyway? And by being a welcoming and supportive neighbor, maybe we can make some friends or even save a life. Happy Pride, Colorado!
Former Colorado state senator, now with a master’s in Social Justice and Ethics from Iliff School of Theology, Linda Newell is a writer, speaker, facilitator, and conflict/DEI consultant. Senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com,
@sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.
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