Laurel Hubbard is an incredible, award-winning weightlifter, and she just happens to be transgender. Yet, it's the second part of her identity that so many people seem hung up on.
Hubbard recently won two silver medals at the world championships of the International Weightlifting Federation, and she previously made waves in March after becoming the first transgender athlete to ever represent New Zealand in an international competition.
What most people seem interested in, though, isn't that she won big at a worldwide athletic competition. Rather, they either believe she cheated (because she was assigned male at birth) or are excited that she now has this great power to educate people about what it's like to be trans.
The thing is, though, it's not Hubbard's job to educate people, and she'd rather you didn't expect her to.
"It’s not my role or my goal to change people’s minds," Hubbard told Radio New Zealand (RNZ) in the video above. "I would hope they would support me, but it’s not for me to make them do so."
Hubbard's answer is one that many LGBTQ+ people, and people who have other marginalised identities, have given (or at least wanted to give) many times.
LGBTQ+ people are asked all kinds of strange, ridiculous, and sometimes inappropriate questions, as well as some that really are well-meaning and coming from someone who just wants to learn more. But it's not their job to answer any of them.
As long as you're not asking a personal question about that person's body or sex life — which, let's face it, you probably shouldn't be asking anyway — there's this lovely thing called the internet that almost definitely has the answer you're looking for.
"I get asked, 'Who's the sperm donor? Why did you pick him? How'd did you decide who would carry?' Very detailed questions," Liana M. Douillet Guzman, a vice president of marketing and communications, told Vice about her pregnancy.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. LGBTQ+ people get asked about their sex lives, how they knew they were gay or trans or bi, etc., whether or not they've had gender-affirming surgeries, if they're on hormones, whether or not they'd choose to be straight or cisgender if they could, and even more invasive questions.
While it's great that straight and cisgender people want to learn about these communities, as long as their questions are coming from a place of true curiosity and wanting to understand, it's not up to LGBTQ+ people to be their teachers. Nor should it be.
"It is not a marginalised individual’s responsibility to be an on-demand helper or resource to those from dominant groups," writer and web designer Elan Morgan wrote on Medium earlier this year.
Morgan wrote 21 reasons that "it's not my job to educate you" is a valid response from LGBTQ+ people to the straight and/or cisgender people who ask questions, including the important point that one gay, transgender, bisexual, or otherwise LGBTQ+ identified person cannot speak for them all. Asking them to be a spokesperson, and then taking their experience as the general experience of all people in that group, would give you only a baseline look at what it's really like to be LGBTQ+.
So, if you actually want to learn more so that you can be a better ally, then get on Google and read articles written by queer and trans people, or go to the library and rent books that answer the questions you really want to ask.
Hubbard summarised many LGBTQ+ people's feelings on the topic when she said, "I’m not here to change the world, I’m just here to be myself."
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