(Unpublished - May 26, 2009)
"Sexually challenged" is offensive
I refer to Tan Keng Soon's letter "'Sexually challenged' isn't an offensive term referring to gays" (ST, May 26).
Even as a happily married straight-identified man, I feel the term is offensive.
I disagree with Tan in his equation of "sexually challenged" with the "physically challenged". While the latter is a politically correct neutral term we use today, the former is far from harmless.
The fact that we use "challenged" indicates a presumption that there exist a singular, superior, desirable and rightful identity or form of being.
In this case, "sexually challenged" delegitimises and devalues non-heterosexual identities, shoving them to the margins and keeping them there.
To use "challenged" shows an arrogance, ignorance and intolerance that creates division and undermines diversity.
In other cases, does it not speak of chauvinism that a woman be labelled as "gender challenged" relative to a man?
Does it not speak of self-righteous bigotry that a person of monotheistic faith calls another person of polytheistic faith "religiously challenged"?
How about "morally challenged"? Do we label others just because they do not fit our expectations or live up to the dogma we respectively subscribe to?
As in the above examples, the use of "sexually challenged" indicates that sexual minorities are lesser people, subnormal, deficient and inferior.
"Sexually challenged", in this instance, is laden with specific kind of value judgement that is heterosexist and homophobic. It also exposes the reliance on reproductive sciences to dehumanise homosexuality.
Just because gay or transgender people cannot reproduce does not mean they are not people.
At the same time, do single heterosexual persons fall under the category of sexually challenged just because they cannot singularly reproduce?
It is fear, misinformation and the lack of interaction with sexual minorities that causes many like Tan to believe homosexuality is experiment, optional and merely a lifestyle.
Ho Chi Sam
I feel a bit tired writing to the press. Most of the time, I find myself repeating the same message. But perseverence is key to getting the message across, I guess. People have told me not to put too much effort into writing, because the editors will just 'destroy' it any way.