Gay men like men and lesbian women like women. But what happens when those boundaries aren’t so clear?

Transgender, genderqueer, agender, and other gender-variant individuals can challenge traditional lines of sexual orientation and cause people to bring their sexuality into question.

Most people understand their sexual orientation around the assumption that sex matches with gender. In other words, people say they’re attracted either to men with male bodies or women with female bodies. But the truth of the matter is that not everyone falls under those categories, yet they are still attractive to many.

As LGBT people, a lot goes into forming our sexual identity. We have to come out of the closet and then deal with friends and family members who think it’s immoral to love who we love. But this added connection to our sexual orientation does not mean it’s OK to immediately discount gender-variant people.

Change.org writer Daniel wrote about biphobia and how the fluidity and flexibility of sexuality can be threatening to gay people. Similarly, many people are threatened by the notion of dating a transgender person, because that blurs the lines of who we can find attractive. There are many possible hurdles one could face when dating a transgender person, including rejection from the community or lack of visibility as a queer person. But when lesbians and gays are choosing a partner, they should stand by the same principles that brought them out of the closet. It is important to live your life honestly and openly regardless of prejudices from those around you. It’s not right to avoid dating a transgender person just because the relationship may be less socially accepted.

No one I know is attracted to every single woman or every single man, so why do we identify ourselves as someone who is “attracted to men” or “attracted to women?” It’s the easiest way to label your attractions when everyone you’ve been attracted to has been a woman or a man. But all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are attracted to individuals, not to a gender or sex. We flirt with a person, date a person, fall in love with a person, and perhaps marry a person. Categorizing our sexuality makes things simpler but it is not necessarily accurate. Loving someone outside these categories is not a threat to anything; it only shows that we’re all human.

There’s nothing wrong with identifying as gay or lesbian, but the LGBT community should practice the acceptance they preach. The queer community needs to stop judging transgender people and their partners, and accept that sexual orientation doesn’t need to be so rigid.

Photo credit: KLHint

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