Gayish: Left-handedness and LGBTQ+ people
Gayish on GLUE: Two homosexuals, unpacking queer stereotypes one at a time.
“A people without a history.” That’s how a (perhaps overly dramatic) museum curator once described left-handed people.
Although it’s true that researchers have limited data on left-handed people, they have been able to put together estimates of the rate of left-handedness over time.
What does left-handedness have to do with LGBTQ people?
As more LGBTQ+ people come out, and as new or evolving words help give language to identities that have existed throughout time, outsiders mistake these identities as a recent phenomenon.
But, just like left-handed people, as society becomes more accepting, more of us are free to be who we are, so we’re simply become more visible, a comparison LGBTQ advocates have made in articles and on social:
Whenever I see people talking about the “skyrocketing” rates of people saying that they’re trans, I think of this chart. They used to punish children for being left-handed and force them to write with their right hand. Guess what happened after that stopped? https://t.co/YnY9j0jniv pic.twitter.com/Sq5gaiyOwR
— Ari Drennen (@AriDrennen) April 7, 2021
Interestingly, the source study of the viral tweet above includes another chart that hasn’t made the rounds:
Based on these estimates, it’s possible left-handedness was more accepted in the 1700s. Researchers don’t definitively know why it is rates dropped until the early 1900s, but they theorize it could be due to the Industrial Revolution and/or the increase in literacy.
Both cultural shifts lead to tools, whether machine or quill, that favored right-handed people.
Similarly, history shows that LGBTQ people have existed through time and cultures. If you assume that being trans, non-binary, pansexual, or any part of the LGBTQ umbrella is a trend, you’ve probably only lived your life in the dip without seeing the bigger chart around you.
For more on the connections between LGBTQ people and left-handed people, including some of the unexpected and deeply entrenched biases against lefties, listen to the latest episode of Gayish, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcatcher.
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