Friday, July 27, 2012

Trans Inclusion in LGBT

Anonymous asked: Random question why are trans people apart of the L.B.G.T. at all? I'm not saying it's a bad thing but the first three letters have to do with who a person is attracted to, while the T. is a body issue. Soooo whats the deal?

There's a few reasons why we're together, and the easiest way to state it to start is there's some overlap with goals, as well as perception of our separate groups by the heteronormative majority.

To begin, lets start with the obvious one, same-sex marriage. For trans people, this normally-sticky issue becomes even stickier. Some states allow you to change your gender, whereas others do not. Some states where you can change your gender, don't legally recognize it regarding marriage. Others do. These discrepancies in how it's determined by the state can and do lead to tons of problems. One of the biggest is that a single case can be judged either way, however the judge wants to lean. Does he agree with your gender change? If so, he'd annul your marriage with your wife/deem it illegal. Does he disagree with it? Then if he does, your lesbian relationship is able to be legally wed. The inverse is true involving guys. If you want to marry your boyfriend, but the state doesn't legally recognize your gender transition, too bad, no marriage, despite being a straight relationship. Since it can be ruled either way, it doesn't matter what your orientation is as a transsexual, you're likely to have someone attempt to deny the legitimacy of your relationship - and thus, we have a vested interest in marriage equality either way. Allying for the purpose of passing marriage equality is mutually beneficial, so we do.

There's more than just that though. By and large, transsexuals / transgender people are a far, far smaller minority than the gay, lesbian, bisexual portion. On our own we would have little hope of accomplishing our equality struggle. Latching onto the movement gives our actions some teeth, resulting in a give-and-take wherein we fight for LGB rights, and they fight for T rights. This gives us the benefit of their numbers regarding our issues. Of course, there's been a lot of problems with this "exchange" because often we're the first people thrown under the bus when it comes to cuts made to pass legislation. Oftentimes when trans people speak up, it's even lesbian/gay/bisexual people asking why we're even here, during these times. We're the first people to be abandoned for the sake of advancing their rights. So the exchange is, in many places, not working for trans people.

The last part which creates a perceived link is the presence of drag queens within gay communities. My understanding of drag queens is that they are almost exclusively gay males doing drag performances as a form of entertainment or art for the sake of people to watch. However, people who are trans are either passing (and therefore invisible) or not-passing, and those who don't pass tend to make heteronormative people think "omg a drag queen" or something similar. This creates a misinformed link, or opinion that transsexuals are just "really, really gay" and "taking it too far". As such we tend to be grouped in with the gay, lesbian, bisexual group anyway.

And of course, when searching for help when coming out, the LGBT organizations exist already, and as such they draw in new trans members. As the group continues to exist, and more trans people seek these support groups, it creates a perpetual motion machine where new trans people wind up in the LGBT group, perpetuating the relationship.

So there's a few reasons, as you can see, we're still allied. Unfortunately, this alliance has cost us many, many times when legislation comes to pass, and we're told "sorry, we couldn't pass the bill with public accommodations (restroom use and changing room use) so we cut it. But good news though, gays and lesbians can't be discriminated against! woohoo!" If this continues, the trans movement will be left behind; we're not nearly a large enough group to win by brute force with votes; we absolutely require our gay and lesbian allies to help get our legislation through. Without sneaking trans rights by in a comprehensive "LGBT Rights" bill I don't forsee a "Trans public accommodations" bill passing on it's own two feet any time soon.

So there you have it - my take on why trans is grouped in with LGBT as a whole. I may have missed something, but I think I nailed most of the big reasons.


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  1. Great Post! It's nice to see thoughtful writing like this, in part, because I write online too about Transgender issues. Wow, we are a tiny minority, transgender writers :D

  2. *clap* *clap* I think about this all the time. it's why the military accepts openly gay people now, but not openly trans*. I never thought I'd be on of the smallest minorities on the planet.

  3. Great blog post. I've had people ask me this question before but my answer wasn't nearly as informed as this. I'm definitely going to be quoting you in the future.

    On a side note, regarding drag queens as almost always being gay men and not trans women, you're right in a sense. Almost every individual I have ever met that calls themselves a drag queen has been a cisgender man. However, I know several transgender women who perform alongside drag queens, but refer to themselves as female performers instead. They are part of the drag circuit, but they don't choose that title. There are others who still refer to themselves as drag queens, using the term to imply style, not gender. In this sense, drag queen can refer to a female impersonator or a female performer.

    There is another facet of the drag community where cisgender women perform in a similar style as drag queens. The unfortunate name of this form of drag is, "Real Girl Drag." I find the concept of it to be intellectually insulting, personally. It suggests to me that those drag queens/female performers who are transgender women aren't "real girls", given that transwomen almost always perform alongside female impersonators.

    Just my two cents on the issue ; )

  4. when i read this and your last few blogs it makes me think of this song >,< ! also will you be making an apperence at the chick fil a?

  5. I'm a trans woman, and personally, I don't much care for our inclusion under the LGB(t) umbrella.

    The points you've made about being included for political power are well received and I agree that it's a benefit, I just don't know that it's worth it. Below I'll outline my personal issues with it point by point. This list is by no means exhaustive or intended to be authoritative. It's just my opinion, based on my own observations and lived experiences, and simply offered for what it's worth.

    1. I believe it reinforces cis people's tendency to conflate us with gay people.

    2. We get dragged into any controversy involving gay people, such as, and forgive me, but religious condemnation, even though there's no scripture against trans people, and even Pat Robertson doesn't think it's a sin to be trans. A lot of their fights aren't our fights, and we have enough problems without having to fight gay battles, too.

    3. It is sometimes incredibly difficult to find services specifically for trans people, such as a mental health professional with specific training in gender dysphoria, and the WPATH SoC. Try Googling and unless you live in a huge metro area, you'll find a laundry list of "LGBT Friendly!" psychologists and psychiatrists, which means exactly nothing when you're looking for someone with specific training - even when adding key words such as "trannsexual", "transgender", "WPATH", "HBBIGDA", etc.

    4. As a political entity, the gay rights movement has done an absolutely terrible job of policing transphobia with in it's own ranks. People like Dan Savage and Anderson Cooper, for example, enjoy near universal respect and admiration, while meanwhile being unapologetically transphobic (Savage), or exploiting us shamelessly for ratings (Cooper). As long as it's only trans people with boots on their throat, nobody seems to mind, or at least not enough to call the reputation of a "gay icon" in to question.

    5. It seems to lead to gay people like Israel Luna thinking that they now have license to employ the slur "tranny" without remorse, because (I suppose) hey, he's on our side, or something.

    And then there's the fact that, as you mentioned above, we're the first to be thrown under the bus for political expediency, or maybe worse, for the appeasement of making gay culture more appealing to cis people.

    Count me out. I don't care for the LGB(t) acronym.