Program Manager, SOW Asia Foundation

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Why are there none, or so few, TED talks addressing gender identity and sexuality issues?

Yes, the gay issue is mostly passe.

But it's still a real issue of equity. It isn't just about Africa's ban on gay marriage. It isn't even quite about the New York legalisation of marriage debate. It is about those things that people experience in bits and pieces every day whether it is a homophobic comment, an insensitive joke, or outright discomfort and fear walking down the street.

I can't really think of a topic or punch line myself with the issue, but I would like to have seen that TED be a platform for an open debate like this. The debate could even be whether the 'gay issue(s)' are passe. Perhaps the new issue is the gender identity issue.

If TED is trying to reach out to youth today, I think one of the very fundemental things it can start off with is gender and sexual equity. If it really wants to bring about change in the world, it should start right at home fostering and backing the organisations that have been supporting those who are left behind for no other reason than the fact they don't fit the gender stereotypes, or because they feel they are a man when they were biologically assigned as a woman.

I should add an extra question:
How do we address discomfort? I can openly admit that I am not that interested in dating a transgender or transexual individual. But on the other hand, I have great friends who happen to be transgender. How many people know trans people and when can their stories be put out in the open?

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    Feb 7 2012: I hope all men were gay. So I can have all the ladies =)
  • Feb 7 2012: The thing though is that I would argue that many of the TED talks published are 'trivial' in a certain way as well. Many of them are fun, interesting, neat. How is the woman with the parrot (which I loved) of momentous societal import?

    I would compare gender and sexuality issues on a similar ground as Julia Sweeny's 'The Talk'. It's small, it's almost mundane, but it's relevant and it permeates a lot of things.

    It's not so much the trans issue, but rather that the trans issue is a visible form of the issues around gender that are very relevant to some of what TED debates about. TED has a lot of talks that address women, and the roles of women. But you can't just address the roles of women without addressing the assumptions around gender expectations themselves.

    On what grounds would you think that someone is confused around their identity, if when in reality I don't think it should matter at all. People should just be allowed to be whom they are, and judged on what they do rather than on how the dress or their voice pitch does or doesn't match the visible gender you think they are.

    You were talking about racial equality, and equality for women. Equality and EQUITY is as much about acknowledging someone with the same rights and freedoms, without taking out the unique elements that make them them - which might happen to be their religion, culture, skin colour, and gender. I'm basically just asking about how we can push this further and actually follow through with what we claim.

    It's not an issue of dating. It's an issue of - if this is such a trivial issue - why are so many people so uncomfortable around trans issues and trans individuals?
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      Feb 13 2012: Well... the problem I see, with that argument is that, everyone already has that. Once gay marriage passes, and it will, everywhere, over time... What are GLBT and gender issues? Everyone is just as free as everyone else aren't they? It's a jungle out here... People might look at ya funny, that's life.

      I think sometimes people, like to think that it's a particular aspect of their gender, or cultural identity, that makes their life specifically hard, and terrible. It doesn't really matter who you are, life's hard. People have issues. Not in small groups... People, as a whole... Have issues. Big ones.

      I love talking about gender identity, and personally, I would like to see women take a more active role in our capitalist society, but that's something I would like to see, as a man... I want sexy engineers roaming the earth... but, it's a not a position that the law can help me enforce : p. It's a not a men's issue...

      I feel like, most of the legal crusades over equality are over. Now that's up to culture to sort out. I think now the conversation needs to pivot towards human and labor rights. Right to not have your environment polluted. Right to a respectable international wage. Right to public education. I think human rights movements have spread themselves a bit too thin in the recent struggles, and we need to return to a more unifying platform.

      Conversation about gender issues is always fun though. I think many men are afraid they're "sexists", and their comments will be deleted. Trans gender issues, personally, I just don't understand enough about. My point with the dating, was that, I've dated women, I've dated people of different cultures... You learn a lot when you date people... I've never dated anyone trans gender, neither have many politicians. I'm not saying that it's fair they are out of sight and mind, simply, that it's a bit natural.
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    Feb 8 2012: I feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. there is no formal way to address this and there should not be. legally, i believe that it is every humans right to live and love anyone who they damn well please. As for racialism and racism, I think that everyone needs to acknowledge that they make assumptions sometimes.. I beilive that Dave Chappelle put it best in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K1KHqi9bXc

    As for skin colour or race discrimination based on what ethnicity they fall into, that is bang out of order.

    As for addressing discomfort... why don't you find a transgender pride day somewhere and buy him/her a drink and say "I don't understand you, but I would like to" they get some booze, you get some knowledge and I'm sure in most cases you won't even have to buy them a drink if you ask nicely.
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    Feb 6 2012: You know, in some ways, I think you may have answered your own question... There are a very small percentage of people interested in dating transgender, and even gay individuals. Freud said 90% of human behavior was motivated by sexuallity... I might drop it to 75%, but it's still huge. In the struggle for racial equallity, many people in power, were in love with someone of the opposite race. In the struggle for female equallity, many men in power, saw siding with gender equallity, as a good way to meet women.

    Until people in power are sexually attracted to GLBT community members, the urgency for change doesn't come on as strong. It's such a small percent of the population, that hasn't happened yet. I don't know what exactly we can do about that though...

    I would only add, that on the issue of transgender people... they are often still confused about their identity. It's hard to help a group of people that aren't very uniform in desire. The people in power, don't even really know what they want... Not a hopeful answer though, is it? Hopefully someone with a sharper wit can come on here and give me a more optimistic take on the issue.