The "born this way" narrative falls apart due to four (4) distinct failures
1. It is not actually an effective argument for dissuading homophobes or transphobes. Take a look at the developmental disability community for some examples of what oppressors do when we’re born this way.
2. It contradicts the idea of actively introspecting to discover your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, invalidating anyone who didn’t just know automatically.
3. It implies that our inability to change is the only good reason to accept us, and by extension implies that we ought to change if we could. Therefore, it actually reinforces that notion that there’s Something Wrong With Us, rather than challenging it.
4. It erases the experiences of people whose queer identities were developed through trauma, who were not in fact born this way.
“A girl’s got to use what she’s given and I’m not going to make a guy drool the way a Britney video does. So I take it to extremes. I don’t say I dress sexily on stage - what I do is so extreme. It’s meant to make guys think: ‘I don’t know if this is sexy or just weird.”
For decades activists have worked tirelessly to spread the message that sexual orientation is not a choice—a fight that Lady Gaga took to pulsing heights in 2011 with her hit anthem “Born This Way.” And over time, the message has begun to take hold. While in 1985 only about 20% of Americans believed that people are born gay, that figure more than doubled to around 47% in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center.
But what if teaching that gay people are “born that way” isn’t the most effective way to erase homophobia? A new study reveals that even those who believe sexual orientation is not a choice can be homophobic—just as those who know race is not a choice can be racist. Do activists, community leaders, and even parents need to tweak their message?