Sample Sociology Research Paper on Growing up Gay, Bi, or Transgender

Growing up Gay, Bi, or Transgender

            Transgender, gay, lesbian, and bisexual (LGBT) people represent a marginalized lot in the society who suffer lack of continuity in their identity. They also suffer unwanted distinctiveness, low self-esteem, and injustice in many instances.  They face discrimination in social places such as the work place, schools, and even in recreational facilities such as parks. In previous centuries, sociology and the society at large ignored the subject of LGBT hence the label of social taboos which were considered criminal acts both legally and socially. Gay people for example faced serious conviction and alienation since homosexuality was associated with mental illness. Because of this, most people within this group fear detection or coming out and live in fear that their mannerisms and ways of expression might give them away. Gay and lesbians are the most common in this group. The transgender group might not be new but was given a name recently. Growing up as an LGBT could prove very difficult due to the alienation, oppression, and discrimination that comes along with it.

            People are mostly categorized as male or female. Other people who express characteristics that would ordinarily be attributed to the other gender face discrimination and stigmatization and are often seen as social deviants. They violate the conformity of gender expectations making them easy targets of social and economic discrimination. Gay men have been known to be stereotyped with labels such as submissive, weak, and emotional. Gay people struggle with identity and some of them (non-identified gays) perceive themselves as heterosexuals while others try to hide hence confusion. Masculine gays are more accepted in the society as compared to feminine ones. This leads to gay men giving in to that kind of stereotyping and strive to come out as masculine gays to increase their chances of being liked. The Cass model of gay identity brings out six stages that help people to progress through a series of several developmental changes that mark a common experience (Nardi &Schnider, 2013). Each of these stages might be distinguished by predominant occurrence of particular cognitions, behaviors, and emotions. Identity is associated with coming out of homosexuals which symbolizes the pursuit of self-identification and individual rights.

            Identity confusion is the first stage where gay people label themselves homosexuals with the perception thoughts, behaviors and feelings. At this point, they might have doubts about their sexuality, hence identifying themselves as heterosexuals rather than gays. The second stage is called identity comparison which marks acceptance (Nardi &Schnider, 2013). A person begins to accept the possibility of a predominant gay or lesbian orientation, hence a development from confusion towards addressing social alienation that comes with being gay or lesbian.  Identity tolerance marks the third stage whereby a person admits to himself on the probability of being gay. This helps one to deal with identity confusion hence a relief that allows him or her to pursue their own social, emotional and sexual needs. This is where the person relates or keeps contact with other gay or lesbian people in the community while increasing the chances of meeting possible role models.  With positive contacts, the person will be able to accept the gay or lesbian identity more (Nardi &Schnider, 2013).

            The fourth stage marks identity acceptance whereby; an individual interacts more with the gay community as this person accepts their identity (Nardi &Schnider, 2013). This is also perceived in the interactionist perspective of sociology which reviews identification. Alienation might continue due to lack of acceptance from the heterosexual community at this stage.  Although the society has become more acceptable to gays, some still report social discrimination such as rejection from family and being the subject of jokes. At this point, some would be able to interact well with the gay and straight world. This strategy works for some people while to others; it attracts alienation and discrimination especially from the straight world (Nardi &Schnider, 2013) .

            Fitting into the society leads to identity pride which is the fifth stage that works against strategies aimed towards hiding identity. Here, stages of activism and fighting perceived oppression such as the fight for gay rights develop (Nardi &Schnider, 2013). Interactions with heterosexual friends in this stage determine whether or not a person graduates to the last stage. Negative comments tend to discourage one from moving towards the next stage especially if they lack self-esteem.  45% of Americans believe that gay and lesbianism are sins which go against their religious beliefs. This means that a large number might not perceive it with positivity. The last stage is identity synthesis would take away the mentality of “us” and “them” leading to the creation of a different view. One comes to realize that the dichotomy between the gay and straight world might not be as clear as previously perceived. Sexual identity becomes less important as public and personal views become synthesized.

            To avoid negative comments and contacts from family and society, young gay men and lesbians hide their sexuality from family and friends. They use different concealing methods to hide their identity. These include, inhibiting interests and social behaviors associated with homosexuality, avoiding homosexuality information exposure, pretending to be anti-gay, and establishing straight (heterosexual) relationship (Clinard, 2016). Some even join straight people in taunting homosexuals in an effort to hide their identity. This means living in a classic homophobic closet and could lead to social limiting habits such as drugs and substance abuse in an effort to deal with it. Some of the young LGBTs who come out to family members risk alienation and physical violence from family members as try to force them into being heterosexuals.

            The LGBT community undergoes different fundamental problems which are mostly brought about by discrimination. Education is considered a fundamental human right which expands the prospects of human beings. However, this community does not get an equal opportunity or a safe environment to pursue education. Transgender for example face violence and discrimination in schools hence a large number of transgender school dropouts.  Employment is also another fundamental right that is tampered with because of sexual conformity. Some LGBT people are denied employment opportunities while others face discrimination and oppression at their places of work (Kollen, 2016). Work places are categorized by hetero normative climates that lead to the assumption that everyone is heterosexual. This therefore, leads to LGBT employees being treated with open homophobia by their colleagues and the management and could be a hindrance to promotion or could even lead to termination. This might lead to lower productivity due to depression hence losing the job (Kollen, 2016).

            The risk of hostility and violence from both family members and the outside community are also high since they become targets after coming out. At this point, they develop double lives trying to fit into both sides of the community (Clinard, 2016). They engage in self-loathing regretting their existence. In worse cases, they develop self-harming habits like drug abuse and in extreme cases, some commit suicide. They live in fear of homophobic and Trans phobic family and community members not knowing when they will strike next. In extreme cases, some are thrown out of their homes, leading to homelessness, especially when they retaliate both verbally and physically. Religious institutions also tend to be unfriendly and aggressive towards them because it is perceived as a sin (Kollen, 2016). The Muslim and catholic religions prove to be the most unfriendly towards the LGBT. This is a big block towards the acceptance of LGBT group since religion seems to influence their stand on the issue. When asked, most say that such behavior contradicts with their religious beliefs.

            Even though there are isolated cases of acceptance, discrimination continues on different levels. This is because it is believed that the LGBT community represents a sin hence an abomination. Heterosexuals hold an advantage in all aspects of life hence, making them more privileged in the society (Dillon, 2010). This is because heterosexism looks at heterosexuality as the norm thus, encouraging discrimination among the LGBT. This is according to the conflict and feminism perspective of sociology. A married heterosexual couple for example receives more that 1000benefits from the government while homosexuals are not even allowed to marry in some states.

            Heterosexuality is bias on social welfare policies which impacts the LGBT family in three ways. These include policies that; target them as abnormal or deviant individuals, assuming all families are heterosexual, and those that overlook LGBT social needs and poverty because of influence stereotypes among these families (Dillon, 2010). The heterosexual bias also undermines LGBT family structure since even the legislature defines a family in such a way that it privileges heterosexual families over LGBT. However, gay rights have gained a lot of audience and support leading to more LGBT marriages and couples who end up bringing up LGBT families. Through adoption, they have been allowed to care for and bring up children.

            In conclusion, it is important to note with concern that the LGBT group faces a lot to problems as they grow up. This comes from both the family and society at large. For the LGBT group like gays to come out, they need social and institutional support from family, friends and the society at large. Living everyday with fear because of sexual orientation should be discouraged and hate crimes against sexuality should be punishable in court. In some states, hate crimes are punishable in court while in others; gay rights are not recognized (Kimmel et.al, 2006). They need to be empowered with cultural, social, and financial equity with heterosexuals who are considered superior. Also, counseling should be encouraged in schools to create awareness because adolescents bullying could lead to suicidal extremes. Even though public attitudes have changed overtime, it becomes more difficult for an adult to come out and identify with his or her sexual orientation (Kimmel et.al, 2006). This is due to fear of what the public may perceive of them such that they end up being married and having children while hiding in a heterosexual relationship. The younger generation is not affected as much as the older generation. Today, LGBT has somehow become a norm and should be encouraged in an effort to improve personality and help them grow. LGBT is a sexuality identity just like heterosexuality hence no need for discrimination.

References

Clinard, M. B. (2016). Sociology of deviant behavior.

Dillon, M. (2010). Introduction to sociological theory: Theorists, concepts, and their applicability to the twenty-first century. Chichester, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell.

Köllen, T. (2016). Sexual orientation and transgender issues in organizations: Global perspectives on LGBT workforce diversity.

Kimmel, D. C., Rose, T., & David, S. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.

Nardi, P. M., & Schneider, B. E. (Eds.). (2013). Social perspectives in lesbian and gay studies: A reader. Routledge.