Term Paper: Human Sexuality and Homophobia

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[. . .] The story of Gwen Aruajo touches upon another important issue: gender roles. Because men and women are considered to be bound by their biology, it is difficult for many people to accept the fact that a person can be born a woman and feel like a man or vice-versa. The film Boys Don't Cry is an example of hate crimes directed at transgendered individuals, in that case a female who becomes a male. Even more shocking than homosexuality in many cases, transsexualism raises a host of questions. Are people bound by their biology? If not, is it appropriate to seek corrective surgery to change ones gender? If people are bound by their biology, are there proscribed roles and immutable differences between the sexes? If not, why shouldn't men be permitted to dress like women and women to dress like men? Why do transsexuals touch a cord with many people?

Transsexualism is taboo because it calls into question the validity of gender roles. Transsexuals ask us to question our underlying assumptions and beliefs about what it means to be a woman or a man. Many transsexuals express exaggerations of the predominant gender roles. For instance, a transgendered woman may dress and act in a hyper-feminine manner similar to a Marilyn Monroe-type woman, whereas most females in our society do not dress or act in that fashion. Transgendered individuals ask us to examine the fundamental meaning of gender. When our most basic assumptions about gender roles are called into question, many people react negatively because it threatens the status quo.

Furthermore, many cross-dressers are heterosexual; what does their preference for wearing women's clothing say about gender and sexuality? Obviously the two are related but not necessarily in a causal manner. Verbal and physical abuse of homosexuals or transgendered individuals is in many ways an expression of frustration at not being clear about seemingly rigid social roles. What makes a man and a woman? Ironically, transgendered individuals like Gwen Aruajo seem to be refuting rigid gender roles but actually play into them. For example, by adapting a female identity, Gwen Aruajo was saying that she could not express herself fully without possessing the label "female." What causes a transgendered individual to feel compelled to "become" a member of the opposite sex? Does a transsexual individual ever truly make that transformation?

These questions are difficult to address and raise deep-seated fears about sexual orientation and gender. Men and women are spoon fed ideas of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman: real men don't cry, and real women do. The media reinforces those stereotypes and also reinforces heterosexism by continuing to portray it as the norm, and homosexuality as a quirky, trendy fad. Hate crimes and verbal abuse stem from a lack of understanding and knowledge of human sexuality, a lack of education, and a conservative social structure.

Hate crimes are also a gross expression of our collective fears in addressing the above questions as well as questions about sexual orientation. Many hate crimes also directly result from ignorance about what it means to be gay or transsexual. For instance, many persons automatically associate gay men with pedophilia, when in fact most pedophiles are probably heterosexual; there is no logical reason to make this connection. Furthermore, it seems that gay men are targeted more for hate crimes than lesbians, perhaps reflecting the greater tendency for men to fear their own sexual orientation. In fact, many of the men who hate gays will at the same time eagerly watch lesbian pornography.

Moral self-righteousness precedes the murders of Matthew Shepard, Billy Jack Gaither, and Gwen Aruajo. Insisting that homosexuality is wrong, immoral, and punishable by death illustrates deep sociological and psychological illnesses present in our culture. The best means to change our views of homosexuality and gender identity is through education (the earlier the better), the media, and direct legal action.

F. Any law concerning sexuality must be firmly rooted in civil rights and liberal egalitarianism. I believe any civil rights law, especially ones dealing with issues as controversial as homosexuality, should be federal. The constitution of the United States guarantees equal rights and equal protection under the law for all citizens. Being gay does not violate any moral, civil, or criminal code. Therefore, gays should be not only allowed to marry but should be afforded every benefit bestowed upon heterosexual married couples including tax breaks and extended spousal benefits. Moreover, it should be illegal for any organization to discriminate against same-sex couples regardless of their marital status, and gay couples should be granted equal privileges when it comes to the adoption of children.

Therefore, this law is tripartite: first, it ensures the federal recognition of gay marriages and guarantees equal status for same-sex as for heterosexual couples. Because the law is federal, no state can vote to repeal it and all jurisdictions must obey it. This portion of the law is firmly rooted in the United States constitution, which guarantees equal rights. Just as people now find it appalling that less than one hundred years ago, women were unable to vote, so too will people decades hence find it amazing that homosexuals were not allowed to be married legally.

Opponents of legalized gay marriages will often refer to Biblical passages. However, the United States government is not a theocracy and matters of religion must always be strictly separate from matters of state. The separation of church and state is one of the foundations of our nation. Those who oppose gay marriage for moral reasons must simply realize that it is inherently immoral to deny equal rights to same-sex couples. Moreover, I would challenge anyone to prove that homosexuality is immoral; objectively such an assertion is a joke. Embezzlement is immoral; lying under oath is immoral; but being gay is no different than having blue eyes. Regardless of whether scientists believe that homosexuality is biologically rooted, homosexuality is in no way immoral.

Gay rights are like civil rights. Before the 1960s, blacks were forced to sit at the backs of busses, eat at different lunch counters and use different washrooms. Today such a concept seems deplorable and remains a stain on American history. Likewise, our treatment of gays and our denial of their rights to marry will seem equally as shameful. We must no longer pay lip service to democracy or equality but must instead make every effort to ensure that all persons are treated equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. If people find homosexuality uncomfortable or objectionable, that is their personal problem, but the government should in no way support such biases.

Second, a federal law supporting gay marriages will have profound economic and social benefits. Marriage is big business and would help stimulate certain sectors of the economy, including tourism. Federally sanctioned gay marriages would also affect income tax laws and guarantee that all spouses, regardless of gender, receive employee benefits. Legalized gay marriages would also ensure that that same-sex couples are permitted to adopt children as easily as straight couples can. Because same-sex couples cannot naturally conceive children on their own, this law would be a boon for unwanted children.

Furthermore, placing this law on the books would automatically entail the repeal of all state anti-sodomy laws or any local statute dealing with sexual orientation, laws that are archaic and unconstitutional. Another positive social consequence of passing a federal law mandating that same-sex couples be treated equally is that it would raise awareness and essentially change the beliefs of future generations. Laws influence society just as society influences the creation of laws. Moreover, the United States could set an example that other nations could follow in the hope that the world becomes a more tolerant place in general.

Third, this law would carry over into anti-discrimination policies. No business, church, or organization of any kind can discriminate against a person on the basis of race or religion, and we would like to add sexual orientation to that list. Because sexual orientation is for the most part "invisible" to begin with, this should not pose a problem for people. Even when a person's sexual orientation is make known, all attempts should be made to cultivate tolerance, acceptance, and diversity.

The cons of passing such a law would include the obvious social unrest and backlash it would create in the conservative community. Many church organizations and political groups would lobby against it and the backlash movement could result in even more fervent anti-gay reactions such as gay bashing. Gay pride community organizations could easily become the target of domestic terrorists or individual hate crime perpetrators. However, once the initial fervor died down, the law would have positive effects for the whole society. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Human Sexuality and Homophobia.  (2004, March 25).  Retrieved April 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/human-sexuality-homophobia-even/1302334

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"Human Sexuality and Homophobia."  Essaytown.com.  March 25, 2004.  Accessed April 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/human-sexuality-homophobia-even/1302334.