What is positive sexuality?
Positive sexuality has several meanings. The first is understanding sexuality as a positive force —be it through sexual expression, desires, or identities—for individuals, relationships, communities and institutions (i.e., education, the law). When something is “positive,” it is affirming and including, as opposed to negating, withholding or excluding. In essence, being positive about sexuality is recognizing the best parts of what is good about this part of our lives and humanity: connection, intimacy, pleasure, body comfort and increased health, feeling alive, having a sense of entitlement to health, safety, relationships, and bodily integrity and autonomy. While “positive” may be a judgment situated in moral beliefs and values, “positive sexuality” is meant to denote not judging how other people experience or express their sexuality (with the important exception that interactions with other people are consensual) and not imposing one’s values on other people’s sexuality. There are many areas of sexuality that people have strong opinions about and question whether it is possible or even moral to be positive about: BDSM or kinky sex, pornography, masturbation, same-sex sexuality, polyamorous sexuality, even celibacy or being asexual.
Aren’t some things about sexuality just not normal?
Positive sexuality means normalizing sexuality. Sexuality is part of the normal life cycle, present, in various forms, in psychosocial and physical development. It includes recognizing that there are multiple ways to be sexual and to express sexuality rather than one correct way (i.e., heterosexual, married, monogamous, penile-vaginal intercourse, oriented towards traditional forms of reproduction). Thirdly, it is an attitude towards sexuality—“sex positive”—the belief that awareness of and choices about one’s sexuality is a good thing. This does not mean that sexuality is a mandate—that to be sex positive, one must have sex in some way, shape or form. Rather, it is having a sense of entitlement to express and explore the various dimensions that are part of sexuality, including the choice not to be sexual if one does not want to be. For individuals, being sex positive is not meant to be another thing to “achieve” or “do right” or do to be cool or hip or popular or edgy. It doesn’t mean taking sex lightly (unless you want to) and it doesn’t mean you are open to or say yes to anything and everything. It is a recognition of sexual agency—the ability to know and decide what’s right for you in any given moment. Or that you’re not sure, and that should be respected. It’s not something you can just declare about yourself, and it’s not meant to be a way to judge other people. Being sex positive includes being accepting of or being open to the diversity of sexuality. It is being honest with oneself about making mindful sexual choices (including the choice to “go with the flow”) and being respectful of other people (i.e., consensual). It is about being open to the range of pleasures that sexuality brings, without limiting the definition of pleasure to orgasm or partnered activities. Rather than meaning “anything goes,” it emphasizes consent, tolerance, the right to learn about, know and express your boundaries and curiosities. This requires things like access to information, learning about and being open in communicating to partners and others about your sexual desires and limits and how to take precautions for your and your partners’ safety, including your own bodies and your surroundings or contexts
What about all of the negative aspects of sexuality?
Positive sexuality can sound like an oxymoron–two words that don’t seem to go together. More often than not, it seems we talk about sexuality in terms of what is negative; sexuality seems rife with risk and fraught with problems: unintended pregnancy, STIs and HIV, ruined reputations, rape, sexual dysfunction, not enough desire, too much desire, the “wrong kind” of desire (queer or same-sex, kinky, romantic but not sexual), and all of adolescent sexuality. Positive sexuality does not ignore or gloss over the real risks that can be part of expressing or exploring sexuality; it means balancing those risks with the fact that our sexuality is at the heart of sexual well-being, which has been shown to be connected to both our physical and mental health. Thinking of sexuality as positive makes it something to protect, cherish, and be educated about, free of violence and including consent. An understanding of sexuality as positive leads to different research topics, the inclusion of sexuality in health care and education, and in social policies and practices that support everyone’s ability and right to be and express themselves as the sexual people they are.
Who is positive sexuality for?
Everyone! Positive sexuality is inclusive, consensual and nonjudgmental; to be aware of and challenge negative, dismissive or even destructive stereotypes about sexuality. Positive sexuality recognizes that all people have the right to their sexuality and to sexual citizenship regardless of age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, race, class, ethnicity, type of relationship, as well as people living in institutions. All people whose sexuality can be denied or stereotyped in negative ways have the right to sexual citizenship.
What is Masculinity?
Masculinity is a constellation of human behaviors, qualities, roles and characteristics that have been socially deemed to constitute “manliness.” Psychological and biological research has shown that — contrary to common belief — masculinity is not biologically determined; men are not “hard-wired” to be masculine. Although we typically associate masculinity with men, anybody — regardless gender — can have masculine traits. Research has shown how masculinity is taught: boys and men are socialized to adopt behaviors and roles reflecting stereotypes of what it means to be a “real” or “normal” man. “Boys don’t cry” exemplifies how adults teach boys to be masculine by reprimanding them for expressing vulnerable feelings. Masculine identities are nurtured rather than innate.
Prevailing or dominant cultural conceptions of masculinity in the US and Western countries include personal qualities and behaviors, i.e., being disciplined, physically strong, muscular, physically active, rational and in control. Conventions of masculinity even extend to which emotions are expected and allowed: stoicism and toughness are expected and sadness is not allowed. Masculinity is also defined by stereotypes of male sexuality; men should be heterosexual, constantly interested in sex, and sexually aggressive. However, not all masculine traits are negative. Masculinity is also associated with being responsible, independent, self-sufficient, and showing leadership. Personal qualities translate into masculine ways of interacting with others, which can be negative (i.e., being controlling), or positive, like taking care of family, especially women and children.
It is impossible to talk about conceptions of masculinity without reference to conceptions of femininity. Masculinity is defined by its difference and opposition to femininity; feminine stereotypes such as being kind, gentle, sexually passive and emotional, are denigrated. These rigid categories create a gender binary: masculine/male vs. feminine/female. Since all binaries make hierarchies, this firm line is necessary to uphold patriarchal power: masculinity is positioned as superior and femininity as subordinate. It is no coincidence, for instance, that professions considered more “feminine,” such as teaching or nursing, pay less and earn less respect than other socially valuable careers.
Are men born masculine and women born feminine?
Thirty years of research has shown that this assumption is false. Masculinity is not a product of the hormone testosterone (which both men and women have); it is created by beliefs about men and manhood. Masculinity actually requires the work of constantly proving one’s masculinity, which shows its fragility: showing any hint of femininity, such as dressing in a way considered feminine, or being sexually interested in other men, places a boy’s or man’s masculine status in jeopardy. Acts or behaviors that violate the rules of gender may result in punishment through bullying, discrimination or even physical violence.
However, what constitutes masculinity is different depending on time, place and community; variations in masculinity and femininity across cultures and social settings provides further evidence that they are not hard-wired traits. For instance, among White working class women and girls, being tough and standing up for the family are valued traits despite being qualities typically considered masculine by dominant conceptions of gender. Such a difference can be valued within a community and derided or even punished by institutions such as school, where expectations of middle class definitions of femininity and masculinity are expected and enforced. As another example, while in the US and Western cultures it is considered normal for girls and women to hold hands with friends, this would be seen as unusual for (older) boys and men, who have been taught to police their own behavior to avoid being read as gay. However, in other countries and cultures, male friends holding hands or greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek is considered normal.
Is masculinity just a set of behaviors?
Masculinity is more than individual traits, behaviors and social roles; they are connected to and fundamental for how patriarchal societies are organized and maintained as a system of power. Traditionally, this has meant that men hold more (social and political) power, which produces inequalities. Understanding the connection between masculinity and power helps explain how race, class, and sexual orientation intersect with gender at both individual and systemic levels. For instance, the US and other Western societies have traditionally accorded the most power to wealthy, heterosexual, white, cisgender men, while white women and women and men of color have been marginalized. Masculine conventions maintain and perpetuate systemic inequality. In this system, these individual men are rewarded for being masculine, but the rules and rewards of masculinity vary based on whom is enacting such behavior. For example, when masculinity is enacted by men who are Black, working class, and/or disabled, these qualities are either denied or exaggerated. For instance, when Black men or White working class men express anger or outrage, they are stereotyped as threatening and out of control, or dangerously hypermasculine. When wealthy, White men express anger, they are assumed to be powerful leaders.
Why is masculinity often called toxic now?
The word “toxic” means poisonous. Adding the word “toxic” to masculinity makes it seem that masculinity in and of itself is inevitably violent, controlling and sexually demanding. On the one hand, when taken to extremes, many beliefs, roles and behaviors that have been deemed masculine can be expressed or understood in toxic ways. Masculinity norms make it hard to have empathy–to have a sense of others’ feelings and to feel or express one’s own feelings. For instance, psychological research has shown that being highly invested in masculinity is linked to endorsing rape myths and violence among boys and men. Other research has also shown that boys and men feel a lot of pressure to achieve an impossible ideal of masculinity, which is connected to lower self-esteem and depression.
The rise of the term “toxic masculinity” reflects an increasing recognition that aspects or manifestations of masculinity can be harmful for society and also for boys and men. In fact, psychological research has shown that rigid and complementary ideas about gender–both masculinity and femininity–are harmful for everyone. Encouraging men to only be masculine, and women to only be feminine, prevents everyone from living up to their full humanity, which includes characteristics associated with both femininity and masculinity. The challenge is to recognize that it is meanings of masculinity that are toxic. The good news about masculinity and femininity is that they are changeable. History, cultural variations and the current recognition of the downsides show us that it is possible to reimagine masculinity in ways that many men and people are already taking up, such as standing up to violence, being empathic and responsive to others. Detoxifying masculinity is good for everyone.
What is rape culture?
Rape culture is a term that describes the normalization and pervasiveness of sexual violence, as well as attitudes and practices that explicitly or implicitly support or tolerate sexual violence in a society. Rape culture is therefore not just about acts of rape, or forced sex without consent or sexual abuse; it reflects a wide range of attitudes, behaviors and norms that perpetuate the notion that objectification, coercion, harassment and/or sexual force are acceptable. All acts of unwanted attention, from verbal solicitations like cat-calling or pressuring for sex, to kissing, touching, or rape itself, are part of rape culture. When any of these kinds of acts are committed or excused or considered the victim’s fault (for example, if they are chalked up to simply “locker room talk” or that “boys will be boys,” or “she should have fought back”), either in real life or in a media representation, this is an example of rape culture.
The term rape culture may be relatively new, but the pervasiveness and acceptance of sexual violence against women is not. Feminists in the 1970’s first introduced the term rape culture in the United States as they started raising public awareness that sexual violence against women was an issue. At that time, for instance, marital rape was not considered rape and was completely legal in every state in the U.S. until as recently as 1998.
What causes and maintains rape culture?
Rape culture is both a “systemic” problem, which means it is spread throughout our entire society, and it is an “institutional” problem, with structures like the educational and justice systems, and practices like “the walk of shame” and beliefs about femininity and masculinity in place to maintain it. Rape culture is caused and maintained by attitudes and beliefs about gender norms and sexual roles. Violation of these norms and roles can incite sexual violence and blame for women and queer and trans people, who comprise a vast majority of people who experience sexual violence; those of color are most at risk of experiencing sexual violence. For instance, estimates for women’s rates of experiencing attempted rape range from one in six to one in four, research suggests that 21% of transgender college students have been sexually assaulted, and Native Americans are at greater risk of assault than other racial/ethnic groups.
Gender norms in the U.S. hold masculinity above femininity and men above women. Men are supposed to be dominant over women and other men, they should not display emotion, they are assumed (or even pressured to be)heterosexual, and sexually aggressive, and always “up for sex” with women. Women on the other hand, are supposed to be people pleasers and submissive to their male partners’ needs. The sexual double standard and objectification of women reinforce the belief that men have uncontrollable sex drives and are entitled to have their sexual needs met even if a woman is not interested. These attitudes permeate our media, from rom-com movies to pornography, as well as our institutions.
When rape victims seek legal help, they must often answer invasive and offensive questions to defend the circumstances of the rape that are not allowed as part of court proceedings. Police or campus administration may ask: “What were you wearing?,” “Were you drinking?,” “Did you fight back?” Many politicians still refuse to take sexual assault in the military, in prisons, or even in the family, seriously. Young women who come forward about being assaulted have been ridiculed or rejected by their communities, and ignored by the authorities. This isn’t one victim, one rapist, one police officer – it’s not an individual problem. Rape culture is embedded in our very systems of social order.
Isn’t this term just man-shaming men?
Not all men are rapists, and not all men are potential rapists, but all men have a role to play in changing rape culture. This includes examining attitudes and behaviors that may not seem to directly support rape or sexual assault, but still maintains a society where women are at risk of sexual violence. There has been a culture shift in how we think about sexuality. Human sexuality is not black and white, and gendered sexual norms can make consent in heterosexual encounters complicated. ; a simple question of whether someone says “yes” or “no” in a straightforward way to a sexual activity regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It can be uncomfortable to talk about emerging cultural shifts in recognizing sexual assault and violence or to recognize one’s previous behaviors as having potentially been harmful to another person. Men’s participation in resisting rape culture and our understanding of positive and mutual sexuality itself is vital.
Isn’t rape culture mostly an issue on college campuses?
Although rape culture is certainly an issue on college campuses, where about 25% of women report experiencing attempted or completed rape, rape culture is not limited to college women. It is an issue for everyone! Public attention to sexual violence has often centered on the stories of privileged white heterosexual women, ignoring the ways in which rape culture affects other people, and not just women. Although women and queer people do tend to be the victims of rape and sexual exploitation by men, rape culture is an issue across gender, age, ability status, class, race and sexual orientation. For instance, childhood sexual abuse is all too common for people of all genders. Approximately 20% of girls and 8% of boys experience sexual abuse as children and children who are Black and/or LGBTQ are at increased risk. It is important to pay attention to the ways in which people who experience multiple forms of marginalization in the U.S. are particularly at risk. For instance, rape, harassment and other abuse of prisoners is widespread in the prison system, which disproportionately affects people of color; women and other people who engage in sex work are at risk of sexual violence, as are immigrant and undocumented women and people, and LGBTQ and people with a range of gender identities. Rape culture describes the society that we all live in and we all have the responsibility to eliminate it.
What is sexual and reproductive health?
Reproductive health is a term that has generally referred to an array of concerns and capacities to support and promote the health of everything that has to do with reproduction; until recently, the focus of reproductive health was on all aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, in particular those that result from heterosexual penile-vaginal intercourse. This concept has generally had a narrow focus on women’s bodies or the physical bodies of those born with female and male physiological and anatomical reproductive organs, (i.e., uterus, vagina, Fallopian tubes, breasts, testicles, penis, etc.), redressing infertility, or having access to gynecological or urological care. “Reproductive health” has encompassed both medical care associated with women’s decisions about preventing and supporting pregnancies, as well as the ability to become pregnant and supporting pregnancies to term, through to the birth of a (“healthy”) child. “Sexual health” has referred to the various ways that being sexual or having sex can be done in ways that avoid disease or other unwanted consequences, including prevention (and testing and treatment) of sexually-transmitted diseases (i.e., chlamydia, HPV, HIV/AIDS), and freedom from sexual coercion and violence. Since they are so linked, the term “sexual and reproductive health” is often used.
What are sexual and reproductive rights?
Sometimes explicitly and sometimes indirectly, particularly in the US, reproductive (and increasingly sexual) rights have also referred to the individual civil rights that ensure women’s ability to have control over, make choices about, and access the appropriate health care having to do with reproduction and the reproductive parts of their bodies. The most well-known are abortion rights and being able to access medical care, contraception and protection from sexually-transmitted diseases or infections, and even medically accurate sex education that includes and goes beyond sexuality defined by reproduction. Reproductive and sexual rights have an increasingly expansive definition and include: reproductive technologies and legal and health policies for abortion and choosing to end a pregnancy as well as to foster our bodies’ capacities for reproduction and the health needs of pregnant women.
What is sexual and reproductive “justice” and how is it different from “rights’?
Reproductive justice (RJ) is a relatively new concept that includes but also goes beyond health, sexual and reproductive rights as individual civil rights that have been pursued in legal battles, such as abortion rights, the right to engage in forms of sexual expression that have been outlawed (i.e., fellatio), and gay marriage. Developed by Black women activists and scholars 20 years ago, RJ is anchored in a human rights framework that reframes “rights” beyond those of the individual citizen established by countries (i.e., the US legal system) to basic human rights to dignity and well being, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, citizenship or nation. Reproductive and sexual rights thus are rights conferred by moral principles rather than laws. Reproductive and sexual health are resources that individuals, families and communities deserve and have the right to as human beings. A human rights framework connects sexual and reproductive rights to instances of unfairness, violation, and denial of basic resources, including for instance, access to reproductive healthcare, sexual health services, contraception, abortion, reproductive technologies, infertility treatment, access to PReP and std testing, parental rights, the right to give birth safely and with dignity, the right to live as and have the body of one’s self-defined gender, education, including sex education, freedom from sexual violence (i.e., from rape culture) and violence of all kinds, as well as the rights to “enabling conditions,” such housing and food–what we all need to create and raise our families, and protect and support our communities with dignity and well being. While all of those topics are integral to justice and included, the use of the word justice is intentional in recognizing not only self-determination over one’s body as a civil right (i.e., laws and policies about the right to choose to have an abortion). The point of RJ is that one’s reproductive choices is dependent on many factors- including laws, economic systems, policing and justice systems. The term intimate justice draws attention to the right to know about and have free, safe and pleasurable sexual desires and expression.
The right to bodily integrity and justice through the legal system for rape survivors, for example, often reflect the lack of justice (i.e., lack of autonomy and control) for groups of people over time. Some of these include the assertion of control over and care of women’s bodies, including cis and trans women, the racialization and assertion of control over Black people’s bodies, the sterilization of women of color over the course of the United States’, and a plethora of other countries’, histories, the medical research done on people of color, and many many more. RJ insists on the complexity and realities of people’s choices, such as sex work, might be the only way for disenfranchised persons to earn enough money to live, might be forced on people (children, migrants or refugees) against their wills or might be chosen as a lucrative profession for more privileged people.
Is sexual and reproductive justice and health mostly for girls and women?
Absolutely not! Sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s issue. It affects people of different genders, with different reproductive organs (e.g., ovaries, testes), of different races and classes, people with different types of dis/abilities and people with different mental health statuses. Reproductive and sexual health historically focused on women, and often the issues that mattered most to white women with resources to act on their individual rights, but the ways in which marginalized or oppressed populations are denied and need to have access to their sexual and reproductive rights are increasingly being recognized. Some people who are denied reproductive and sexual health care (and often the means to have dignified lives and well being) include people (women, youth, trans) who are trafficked; disabled; incarcerated; refugee; undocumented; migrant; LGBTQI/GNC; sexual functioning; older folks; teens; people with mental illness or disability; sex workers; child brides. Many people have multiple oppressions get in the way of their knowing, accessing and being given their rights, i.e., trans women of color; Latino migrant workers; queer teens. Denial of reproductive and sexual justice is often particular to specific groups of people and makes it even more important for us to pay attention to the conditions that we live in.
What does it mean to be LGBTQ+?
LGBTQ+ is an abbreviation that encompasses a variety of different sexual and gender identities. We use LGBTQ+ as an umbrella term, but under this umbrella are a whole diversity of identities and experiences. Even though gender and sexual diversity has always existed, identities — the terms we use to describe ourselves to the world — do shift over time in tune with changing cultural mores. Today, more identities are being recognized, which is why the LGBTQ+ acronym keeps expanding (and includes the + sign!). While we use LGBTQ+ as an umbrella term, it’s not a monolithic one; not everyone who identifies this way has the same experiences. LGBTQ+ people deal with sexism, racism, and/or classism just like everyone else. Often, because their identities mean that heterosexism is part of their lives, there are more than one of these prejudices (individual, social, political) that work together to create challenges, from harassment to denial of work benefits to violence. For instance, research shows that transgender people of color are one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. and are disproportionately affected by violence.
So what do the letters in LGBTQ+ mean?
The “LGB” part represents lesbian, gay, and bisexual people – these are sexual identities (as is heterosexual). Sexual identities are how someone chooses to describe themselves based on their sexual feelings, attractions, behaviors and/or desires.
The “T” of LGBTQ+ represents transgender people. Transgender is a gender identity, or the gender category within a culture that best fits how someone feels internally. Someone who has a gender identity that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth based on their physical body is transgender, whereas someone whose gender identity corresponds to their birth sex is cisgender. As transgender gender identity is increasingly recognized, the “unmarked” gender identity that has always been privileged in an unseen way as cisgender, is a newly emerging gender identity.
The “Q” represents queer, which is an umbrella term for people who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something else. The Q, and the “+” allows us to hold for the tremendous number of sexual and gender identities that don’t fall under the terms we’ve described already: identities like genderqueer, gender non conforming, gender expansive/expressive, asexual, pansexual, etc.
The term queer developed as an identity in the 1980s when the “gay community” and the politics surrounding it were not seen as addressing the issues of the larger community, particularly queer and transgender people or queer people of color. The Queer community, as the LGBTQ+ community is referred to more and more nowadays – represents a rejection of heteronormativity (the privileging of heterosexuality and traditional gender and sexual norms and roles) in favor of a larger, overarching community that is inclusive of all identities. For instance, most people don’t realize that the LGBTQ+ community’s focus on passing same-sex marriage actually ends up being a privilege for white, cisgender gay and lesbian people who are for the most part middle class or wealthy: marriage equality doesn’t address the fact that many LGBTQ+ people face many other kinds of social discrimination and other issues are far more important for them, their safety and even their lives. For instance, trans women of color are murdered at disproportionately higher rates compared to any other population (straight as well as queer); the unstable housing that many queer and trans youth face is still an enormous issue; and the forced deportation of thousands of undocumented queer people annually is virtually unknown. The shift from “LGBT” to “queer” allows for a wider variety of people to feel represented within the community and, especially post-gay marriage, focus the need to address these intersectional oppressions. The fight for queer rights is not just about marriage or which bathroom you use, it’s about migrant rights, women’s rights, disability rights; it’s about human rights of all who are facing denial of their ability to live with dignity and humanity.
We talk about gender and sexual identity together in LGBTQ+, but sexual identity and gender identity aren’t necessarily linked – just because a person’s gender identity shifts, that doesn’t mean their sexual identity will as well. A transgender woman for example, may have a sexual identity that is straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or something else. And identities are not always set in stone either: some people experience their gender and sexual identities as fluid, or changing over time. These identities are not new, though; multiple distinct and complex gender and sexual identities have been recorded throughout history. For instance, in many indigenous cultures in North America the term two-spirit recognizes that gender is not binary and that there are many different genders.
So what accounts for all these different identities? We don’t know! Research (and people) are always looking for answers: it’s biology, it’s trauma, it’s your childhood development, maybe it’s even your relationship with your mother. But none of these have answered this question Queer people and straight people do have this in common – none of us know how or why we’re queer, straight, or something else. Is it really that important to know?
Why are people so worried about trans people in bathrooms lately?
Numerous states have proposed legislation that many refer to as “bathroom bills” – a way to monitor or police people’s gender identities (actual or perceived) and prohibit people from using the bathroom they feel best represents their gender. Research demonstrates that the anxiety that circulates around bathrooms (and who goes in and out of them) is the same anxiety that has clouded the queer community throughout history – the idea that anyone who is not straight or cisgender is “perverse” or “abnormal” and may victimize straight and cisgender people.There has never been any research (or even anecdotal evidence) that this has ever happened. . In fact, the moral panic incited by these false fears actually endangers queer and trans people: trans people are most likely to be attacked and/or injured in public bathrooms. One study in D.C. found that 70% of trans and gender nonconforming respondents reported being denied entrance, assaulted or even harassed while trying to use public restrooms. The “bathroom bills” are only one avenue in which systematic oppression has been targeted towards queer and trans people. Homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination have been on the rise for queer people. The year 2017 was the deadliest for LGBTQ+ people in recent history and LGBTQ+ people of color are particularly at risk of experiencing violence.
How learning about LGBTQ+ is a gift — even if you’re straight and cisgender
US and Western cultures have historically reinforced heteronormative ideas about gender which have often forced people to feel and think about themselves in binary categories – man or woman; straight or gay; black or white. This system assumes that sex-assigned-at-birth maps onto gender identity and sexual orientation (e.g., only heterosexuality is allowed). For example, male-identified infants are expected to grow into children that identify as boys/men who look and act masculine while female-identified infants are expected to grow into children that identify as girls/women who look and act feminine. Collectively, LGBTQ+ refers to a way of thinking about –and living– that is not tied to the rigid binary construction of sex/gender but instead offers a whole new range of possibilities where sexuality is not dictated from birth, and neither is gender.
Do you have to know all of the letters encompassed under the LGBTQ+ umbrella? Nope. What you can do is continue to be respectful of people’s identities and listen to LGBTQ+ folks when they speak about their experiences. Being free from edicts that prescribe rigid norms around sex and gender offers an opportunity for everyone to find out what feels right and authentic; and accept others based on what feels right and authentic to them.