Gender roles have been a feature of LGBTQ relationships for as long as they have been documented. Often serving as a way to help navigate a complicated world that, for many LGBTQ couples, is made only more complicated by the stigma they face, they are nevertheless often unpopular – one influential 2019 study explored this in depth, finding that bisexual people in particular were dissatisfied with classic gender roles. While the presence of classic gender stereotypes and roles in relationships is a discussion for every private couple, there is evidence to suggest that the existence of such roles can be problematic – at least in the first instance.
There is a storied history behind the impact of societal bias on same-sex relationships. The use of masculine and feminine stereotypes has had an impact on how couples are perceived by the outside; for instance, in one study of domestic violence conducted by Bridgewater State University, police and the judiciary held an institutional bias against masculine-presenting female partners. This external bias is also present internally. In intimate relationships, pre-conceived views of masculine and feminine traits can cause anxiety in a range of relationship factors, ranging from work and providing for the family, through to intimacy.
These gender roles are increasingly being subverted in LGBTQ relationships. Just as modern LGBTQ relationships are often more radical and progressive compared to societal norms, so are the opportunities for gender roles and organization of the household. Indeed, according to The New York Times, LGBTQ relationships are often more equal, with more sharing of responsibilities and greater happiness – at least until the demarcation of parenthood, where classic gender roles come back into play. For some sections of life and society, such as parenthood, gender norms are so embedded that it can be hard for couples to break them down while retaining the need to provide. One group in the LGBTQ community that is altering this entirely, and perhaps providing food for thought for others, is the trans community.
In a trans relationship, gender roles and requirements are subverted entirely. According to a study published by the Journal of Family Issues, while the assessment of gender roles in trans relationships often results in initial conflict, it also often ends with the breaking down of roles and a greater understanding within the relationship. This shows that when addressing gender stereotypes and roles head on and removing them entirely, relationships can advance to a better and more understanding level. This provides hope for couples of all types, especially in the LGBTQ sphere, that they can transcend the classic gender roles that have created tension within relationships in the past.
While gender roles continue to provide an informative and important role in many lives, they have a detrimental impact on others. Breaking them down is an important part of improving the ability of LGBTQ people to move through the world and to bring in a more progressive future.