Emma Collins Staff Writer she/her/hers they/them/theirs
Disclaimer: I am not intersex. This is not an identity I hold. In addition, I am going to do my best to leave gender out of this article, as intersex, as well as the other sexes, are independent of gender. Therefore, I will be using biological language such as male and female, which specifically refer to sex, not gender. In addition, I will be using medical terminology regarding body parts, and you may not use these words to describe your body. That is so, so okay, but due to the limits of the English language, it is what I am stuck with today.
Being part of the LGBTQ+ community can be a hard life in and of itself, but being in the military as a queer person can be even harder. There is a constant pressure to be the most masculine, to conform to the majority, and there is a fair amount of hazing that can go on during someone’s time in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a previous policy that was supposedly set in place to “protect” closeted gay, bisexual, and lesbian military personelle by prohibiting discrimitation of individuals if they were’t openly queer. This policy was also meant to prohibit other military personnel from discriminating against closeted queer members of the military, but was often one sided in that if someone was outed as queer, they would face disciplinary concequences. Unauthorized investigations into the sexual orientation of military members was done often, and this led to the expansion to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass.” It wasn’t until 17 years later that this policy was repealed to allow openly gay individuals to join the military and express information about their lives.
Jamel Myles, a 9-year-old fourth grade student at Joe Shoemaker School in Denver, committed suicide on August 23, 2018 after relentless bullying from fellow students. Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old high schooler from La Grande, Oregon, took his own life on February 3, 2013 after being immensely harassed and bullied in school and online. Leelah Alcorn, aged 17 from Ohio, committed suicide on December 28, 2014 as a result of her parents lack of support and rejection of her identity.
As we approach the holiday season, many people get progressively more stressed about finding time to see their loved ones, taking final exams, meeting end-of-year deadlines at work, and conquering the ever-dreaded challenge of finding (and affording) gifts for everyone on their list. A season that, as a kid, was filled with joy, relaxation, and time away from school can seem like nothing but another emotional drain as an adult. The holidays are notoriously stressful, but as an individual belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, the cis- and hetero-normative nature of the season can be particularly difficult to cope with. The religious services, extended time with extended family, and the somehow intrinsic expectation of bringing a significant other to show at family events all constitute a highly-concentrated period of heteronormativity. The upcoming ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can be quite the opposite for anyone who doesn’t identify as straight or cisgender, and is merely an exaggerated symbol of the division from society that LGBTQ+ people experience year-round.