We are always told – “sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never hurt us”. But words have far more power than most people give them credit for. The impact of the words you say may not be obvious – but they run deep.
It may be a simple comment from someone – “it’s such a hard life they have chosen, being gay/lesbian/bi/trans [take your pick…]” – but to the person they are referring to, it has a big impact. It’s a subtle turn of phrase, but we do not “choose” to be gay – we “are” gay. A person may come to accept they are gay (and they may not – they may ignore it) – but they have always been gay. The same applies to lesbian/bisexual/transgender people. It is not a choice – it is something people have always been, they just come to accept it – be they 15 or 95.
To a transgender person, having someone comment “oh, they are now female/male” has a huge impact – they have always been the gender they choose to present as. Yes – it can be confusing, it can take a moment to think before you speak – but that moment can mean the world to someone. They have taken a massive step to accept and be who they are – you should respect that.
Even such a throw away comment as “oh, such a waste” referring to a good looking man who happens to be gay can affect those growing up and learning to understand who they are. Yes – as a female you may consider it a “waste” – but that is a human being you are speaking about. If a straight man made such a reference, there would be an uproar.
Yes – it is easy to make a simple mistake, as long as it is that – a mistake. We all speak without thinking – but I hope we all do think about what we say and reflect upon it. I will openly hold my hand up and say I have made comments that I now look back on and think “what the hell was I thinking”. But in the main I have gone back and spoken to the person I feel I may have offended – checking I have not offended them in any way. I may not have offended them (I sincerely hope I have not!) but if I have then I accept it and try and make amends. I would hope everyone would do the same.
I have lived on both sides of the divide – someone who has created offence with the words they choose, and someone who has been offended by the words people have chosen. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that it is the sly words that have offended the worst. I have never been one who has been physically abused, thank god – but verbal abuse lives with you forever. It is something that never fades like the bruises from a physical attack, during the quiet or low points you can reflect on what has been said and let it grow and fester.
So, whatever your belief, please think before you speak. You may not agree with how I live my life or how someone else lives theirs. But, please, think how what you say out loud may affect that person. We are all the same – we are all human. We may have different beliefs – be they religious or other such views – but they are just potentially views. If you are right and I am wrong, then I will happily accept that. But hopefully you will respect that and if you are wrong and I am right, make your peace and join me in accepting life is the rainbow of diversity and difference I believe it is.