Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Rant

Today was going to be a review of Christine's soiree.  The newspaper made me bump it by one day.

A long time ago, the trans community pressed the LGB community into joining forces.  By trans-sisterising the LGB name, they get a larger slice of the planet on their side.  This means their numbers are suddenly larger, which translates to more influence.  The trans community gets on the radar.

It seems like a win-win.

At the time, I was concerned that we're contributing numbers but we wouldn't get anything in return.  I know many trans people who are not only in favour of marriage equality for gays, but who are actively working for it.  I know fewer gay/lesbian people, but I know none who care at all about gender rights.

But it's worse.  What happened is, gender identity and sexual orientation are conflated in the minds of the general public.  The media do not help.

I cannot count the number of articles I've read that refer to LGBT in the title but if "transgender" is mentioned, it's merely to explain what LGBT means.

The most recent example I came across was in yesterday's Washington Post:

Broader LGBT data poised to emerge

No.  It's.  Not.

LG data, yes.  LGBT data, no.

The only mention of "transgender" in the article was:

As many as 6 million Americans, roughly 2 percent of the population, have a parent who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

That's it.  The rest is about gay Americans.

I don't have a problem with that, but adding T to that statistic is as useful as offering the number of Americans who have a parent who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or taller than 6 foot 4 (LGBT6-4).

News organisations often have different headlines for print and on-line versions of the same story.  The print headlines are often clever or informative but necessarily brief.  The on-line headlines are geared towards search engines.  So the on-line headline was more honest: Demographic research on lesbians and gays emerges from shadows.

I don't care.  It still prompted a letter to the editor.

This is why a child or adult comes out to a parent or SO and is immediately asked "are you gay?"

A mistake was made and it needs to be corrected!

rant off


  1. Meg -

    The sad thing is that when a person comes out as Transgender, that the first question asked is "Are you gay?" The T's in GLBT must start making the world aware of our existence. And the first step is getting out in the world. Militancy? Maybe, but probably best for those who don't present that well, and would be outside the statistical norms for the gender in which they want to present. For the rest of us? I'm of mixed mind - most of us don't want to be noticed. Yet, we must be noticed, so that our needs are not ignored.

    So I pose the question - is it time for the transgendered to move a little bit away from the GLB's?


  2. I really dont think we belong in this group Meg. Orientation and gender identity are not related as you know and its doing us more harm than good to be associated with a group who does not understand us anymore than the population at large...

  3. I agree absolutely. LGB are about sexuality; trans* is about identity. I almost wish that the trans* movement could uncouple itself from LGB, but it might be too late.

  4. Meg
    You are correct. I agree that the "T" was added to the LGs along with the "B". It is all part of the overall concept of identity politics and it gives those who opt to pander a potentially wider group.
    There are points where some groups converge and other points where they diverge. Even with the T world the scope is wide and diverse.
    What we can learn is that we can all co-exist. One group does not need to advance at the expense of another.
    For those folks who are not "T" and have no "T" inclinations it is not always easy to explain gender. Sexuality is something that people seem to grasp more readily.
    Your comments are on target.

  5. Oh, a topic close to my heart. You can make a case for both inclusive and exclusive labeling. On the one hand all of us who deviate from societal norms should band together and support one another, but on the other hand when our variance from mainstream society is the ONLY thing we have in common, lumping us all together only creates confusion about our distinct, unique identities.

    To that end, I'd like to take the separation even further and create more of a distinction between those who crossdress as part of a permanent transition (with or without the surgery) to living as the opposite sex vs. those who dress just because we find it more comfortable, without any desire to change the plumbing.

    Sadly, it's not gonna happen. We can't even get the so-called LGBT community to understand and accept differences, so we're sure not going to convince the rest of the world that we're not all driven by the same desires and motivations.

  6. Ultimately, when you boil it down to what we all (L, G. B and yes, T) want, it's the same thing. That is to be treated fairly and with dignity and with the same legaL rights and privileges as everyone else. To be able to live our lives without fear that something will be taken from us because we aren't the same as someone else. Are we often forgotten? Yes, we are. That means it's up to us to educate people about who we are and what gender identity means, and that education includes the LGB as well as the "straight" community. We also have to remember that within our own community, we have people who are Lesbian, Gay and Bi, and whatever happens to that community, for good or ill, happens to us as well. (If you think that "same-sex marriage" doesn't involve us, then you haven't met one of the many couples who want to stay together after one partner transitions, yet must dissolve their legal marriage because they are now a same-sex couple in the eyes of the law.) It means that we're going to have to be heard, and be seen. One of the best ways to help someone understand something like gender identity or sexual orientation, is to put a human face on it. The L's and G's have had to learn that, the B's and T's need to as well.

  7. My friends and I tend to use the letters NHN - for non-hetero-normative, which is the common root of LGBT. Let's face it, once you figure transgenderism into the mix, the question of what sexual orientation means starts to get pretty confusing...

  8. I confess: I was one of the founders of NTAC, the organization whose members discovered from Members of Congress that HRC was negatively "prelobbying" trans lobby days in 1995-1999, and who exerted pressure on HRC to add the T. We blew the whistle in a large report that was made public at Southern Comfort in 1999.

    It ended up being a huge mistake, and I strongly agree with Meg's assessment. In the end, all the T community has done is teach the GL community (B's also feel left out) how to marginalize it. We're under the leaky part of the big tent, and that only because most of the national GL orgs got tired of us weeing into the tent. Now, we wee out of it. If they let us use the restroom at all....

    I could write a book on my political experiences and the whys and wherefores of the political failures of the T community, but, at my M.D.'s orders, due to my hypertension, I have been ordered to not do so. Suffice to say that I hold out little hope for further Federal laws positively impacting T people, and expect little assistance from most of the GL political orgs. Reason: They know there's no $$$$$$$$ in the T community, and that T's are divided by TS/TG/CD. In fact, I know of few other CDs who've bothered to do any political work - and most of them ended up transitioning. An awful lot of CDs are Republicans, in fact.

    The GL community is all about marriage. T's aren't.


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