Are We Men, Women or Family?
As members of the Latinx community, we defend our culture and our heritage with pride, allowing noone to insult our lifestyles. Yet this does not make us incapable of seeing the flaws that exist within our beloved community. Among these is the overwhelming need to conform to gender roles. A sense of machismo overwhelms us, flooding the expectations members of our society hold for us, bleeding into the words sweetly whispered by our abuelitas, and molding us to become subservient women and hyper-masculine males. While there is no doubt gender roles restrict every individual's behavior, machismo has been a part of the Latinx community for so long it has penetrated our culture to the extent that it can feel like you are turning your back on your family, friends, and community if you choose to denounce gender roles. It has poisoned the best parts of our culture for far too long.
This feeling of betrayal is oftentimes worse amongst members of the LGBT+ community.
Homosexual males and females are criticized for who they love, what they wear, and any decisions they make that do not align with what would be traditionally expected of their gender. Any other members of the LGBT+ spectrum are rarely acknowledged amongst the most strictly traditional Latinx communities. Non-binary individuals are in a position where their identity, as well as their lifestyle, is at risk. Even the name of the community they identify with is typically gendered: Latina/Latino.
As we near November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance, it is important to realize how the identities of queer Latinx brothers, sisters, and others, are victimized by their communities. Their stories should not be forgotten. Their identities will not be erased. We must acknowledge their existence and destroy the gender roles that prohibit them from expressing their true selves. On this day, and every other day, we must remember the Transgender individuals who have lost their lives, Latin or otherwise, due to suicide from a lack of acceptance or homicide due to bigotry. They are humans and they belong to this community as much as any binary individual. Machismo aside, we are a family and, as any member of the Latinx community agrees, family comes first.
The CSGD (Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity) on Duke University’s campus raises awareness about the social issues which plague members of this community and offer Trans 101 presentations. These events help non-Trans individuals understand their struggles and explain how to be practical allies in terms of support and active fighters against discrimination. They also offer support and a safe place on campus for Trans students regardless of the other communities to which they belong.
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