I believe the study and clinical practice of sexology (as well as sex education and sex therapy) should be firmly rooted in compassion, human rights, and social justice as well as scientific knowledge of human sexuality and gender, and sexual and reproductive health.
I believe it is part of our job as clinicians, researchers, and educators, to stand up for marginalized people, included those who are marginalized and brutalized for their sexual preference or gender, including those of gender diversity. This broad category of marginalized people includes: people who identify as “trans” or who are otherwise gender variant (including gender queer, fluid, agender, multiple gender, etc.); intersex people (many natural variations of human physiology which do not conform to “typical binary,” i.e. arbitrary, standards); and people who identify with or are described queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, men having sex with men, omni or pansexual, and/or asexual and aromantic, and so on. This broad category of marginalized people also includes people involved in varieties of adult consensual sexual behaviors including forms of non-monogamy, BDSM or “kink,” tantra and sacred sexuality, and so on.
Obviously, the above is not a complete list of people and identities which are frequently marginalized, brutalized, discriminated against, imprisoned, and sometimes even murdered. This particular blog entry is not going to take on the topic of intersectionality in any detail, but believe me, I consider this an important discussion as well – and something for a later series of blog posts. After all, those who are most targeted for oppression are frequently also poor, of color, disabled, female, etc.
Of course, most of us stand up for our clients – because our work is ethical, client focused, and grounded in “unconditional positive regard.” But I feel that standing up for marginalized groups, as well as individuals, is now absolutely fundamental. It always has been, but now, it’s more important than ever, in 2017 and beyond.
Why now? Because the U.S. is rapidly morphing into a truly fascist state, thru “executive orders,” repressive legislation and laws, and removal of previously established rights and social service agencies. Police agencies are poised to inflict arrest and incarceration on those who protest. And the spectre of military involvement, wielded against U.S. residents, also looms in the background. And one method that fascism uses is that of sexual and gender repression – because it works. Here’s a bit of history.
The 1933 Nazi destruction of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexology), founded by the compassionate and courageous Magnus Hirschfeld and Arthur Kronfeld, was a scientific and clinical beacon of compassion and political action. Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia article:
“As well as being a research library and housing a large archive, the Institute also included medical, psychological, and ethnological divisions, and a marriage and sex counseling office. The Institute was visited by around 20,000 people each year, and conducted around 1,800 consultations. Poorer visitors were treated for free. In addition, the institute advocated sex education, contraception, the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and women’s emancipation, and was a pioneer worldwide in the call for civil rights and social acceptance for homosexual and transgender people.”
Also: “Transgender people were on the staff of the Institute, as well as being among the clients there.”
The destruction of this progressive institution was and is a major loss to the world! And sadly, many of the homosexual men and women who had been clients of the Institute were imprisoned and/or killed in concentration camps.
A fictional example of facist interference in private life comes from George Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother patrolled and controlled people’s private sexual lives (basically by forbidding sexual liaisons, or any opportunity for pleasure). This is a cautionary tale all too likely to come to life if we do NOT resist this surreal – but all too real – slide into “life imitating art.”
I feel that all of our recent gains in human rights for people who are LGBTQIA etc. are now seriously endangered here in the U.S.
Sexual/Gender Rights are Human Rights. Fascism Wants to Destroy Them.
If we in the U.S. spiral into a “swamp” of intolerance, brutality, ignorance, and oppression, as well as censorship and “alternative facts,” let us remember that in other parts of the world, the momentum toward creating tolerance, understanding, respect for diversity, and social justice, still continues. The flames of truth, justice, and equality for ALL human beings will not be extinguished, even if the U.S. no longer contributes during this time of federal madness.
Let us remember that the United Nations and other organizations recognize sexual rights as human rights. You can find enlightened statements and policies in various places.
For example, here is the World Association of Sexual Health (WAS) Declaration of Sexual Human Rights, in several languages (2014 revision).
Here is the press release titled “Twelve UN agencies issue unprecedented statement on rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.”
You can find many more such websites and documents. CHERISH them. Spread the word. Put copies in safe places. And resist ignorance, oppression, and violence with all your might.
Ultimately, I do not believe that the present administration will be able to undo everything that has been created by intelligent people of good will and professional expertise, and what is undone will be reestablished (eventually). But meanwhile, an incredible danger looms over all of us – ourselves, our clients, the people we love, and the people we don’t know – and many of the most vulnerable are at risk. But the good work of many, and the scientific basis which supports that work, cannot be completely undone. Many parts of the world will not be under U.S. control. We must continue to reach out to our colleagues around the world, and speak the truths of sexual and gender equality to power – even a power as deranged and irresponsible as we’ve got now, flailing in the White House.
I believe I have a realistic assessment of the dangers of the current regime – both general and personal. My photo here is not a cute way to look brave while staying safe. I mean it. This is my pledge. I’ll do what I can.