When one thinks of a relationship, what is the first thing they think of? Is it people in love, or perhaps, who they might be?
There’s one thing that we as a society can agree on- the first thing that comes to people’s minds, when they picture a couple, is, you guessed it, a man and a woman; a boy and a girl. This natural assumption that we have created in our minds is what can be defined as heteronormativity.
In accordance with my experience as a bisexual woman, heteronormativity has caused stigma surrounding those like me, making it harder for us to live in a world without assumptions. If I were to tell someone, anyone, that I was in a relationship, they would immediately draw the conclusion that my partner was a boy, solely based on one fact: I’m a girl. Time and time again, society is going to tell me I’m confused; they’ll tell me, and they have told me, that I’m a teenager in a phase. Because I am bisexual, they will only bother to see my attraction to men, completely disregarding my attraction to women and gender-nonconforming people.
In the end, it’s not only hurting members of the LGBT community- it’s hurting us all! Heteronormativity, in fact, is the prime perpetuator of gender roles. It is quite disheartening seeing those in relationships feeling the need the conform to these roles against their will, rather than being themselves. Society has and will try to tell them how to act.
How can we create a less heteronormative society? Things we say or do can make a remarkable difference in where our mindsets are. Instead of asking your friend if she’ll ever “have a boyfriend,” ask her if she’ll ever date anyone. If someone has never told you whom they experience attraction toward, even if they seemingly have opposite-gender attraction, don’t automatically assume that means they are heterosexual.
Changing the way we simply go about thinking or saying things is one of the first steps toward true equality. Don’t let heteronormativity hurt us as a society!