For anyone outside of the lesbian community, you might not be familiar with the terms “gold star” lesbians. A gold star lesbian is a lesbian who has never dated, had sex with a man. This might not seem inherently problematic to anyone who isn’t deeply rooted in gender and sexuality politics and studies, seeing as the base definition of a lesbian is someone who is attracted solely to women. But this is a highly problematic and toxic mindset to embed into the lesbian community.
By stating that a lesbian is “gold star”, it ignores lesbians who may have experimented with their sexuality, are survivors of sexual assault, and is extremely transphobic, biphobic and cissexist.
This grading system is mostly used by trans exclusionary radical feminists (or terfs for short). Although some people who use the term “gold star” will try to defend it by saying that the term is reserved for lesbians who have never had sex with a man, it is almost always connotated with “lesbian who has never touched a penis”. This reinforces the idea that gender is completely biological and pushes trans women out of the lesbian community.
This ranking is just harmful towards trans men as it is towards trans women. Being a “platinum gay” means that a gay man has never touched a vagina, not even during birth. This is extremely harmful towards trans men because it reinforces the idea that trans men will never be real men because of their genitals.
The gold star ranking system not only harms trans people but bisexual and pansexual people as well. There is already prejudice against bi and pan people within the gay and lesbian community, saying that they’re only “half gay” because they are attracted to people of both or all genders. By limiting someone’s “status” within the queer community to who they have or haven’t had sex with is no better than straight men limiting a woman’s value to how many sexual partners she’s had.
It should be obvious how this is harmful to not just lesbians and gay men, but the queer community as a whole. There are several layers more as to how this is a blatant example of misogyny, biphobia, and transphobia, which YouTuber Riley Dennis goes over in her video discussing the gold star ranking system.
The terms that are used within the gay and lesbian community may be exclusive to us, but they do not exist in a vacuum without any consequences. It’s time to erase these phrases from our communities and work towards being more inclusive towards the people that may feel excluded because of the damage done by these ranks and phrases.