I’ll start by saying I’m not anti gay or anti gay rights. I’m in favor of everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, skin color, religion, sex or any other criteria that’s been used to oppress people to have equal rights under the law as soon as possible.
I also acknowledge that what I’m going to talk about is not about everyone in a group. There are plenty of gay people who proudly stand with us and for our rights and I cherish them. However, some don’t and that’s what I’d like to talk about.
I won’t address Bi here, they have their own problem with inclusion. Someone else who’s closer to that story should tell it. Let me start by talking in a condensed way about the Stonewall Riots.
The gay rights movement is often considered to have started with Stonewall. The actual event started over gender non-conforming people including drag queens and cross dressers at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. If you look at the above three accounts you might notice that only Wikipedia really mentions this. Nor do the other two make it clear that trans people were fighting alongside gay and lesbians in the riots.
By contrast the second paragraph in an article in The Atlantic has the following:
But what happened at the Stonewall Inn, really? New York papers tend to call it the Stonewall uprising, not the Stonewall riot, because it played out as six days of skirmishes between young gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and the New York Police Department in the wake of a police raid of the Christopher Street bar in Manhattan’s West Village.
In fact, the story as told of Gay rights entire excises any mention of gender non-conforming people or any contribution they might have had and perhaps very tellingly made no effort to help transgender people achieve any kind of parity of rights in the public sphere. Gay rights organizations excluded trans people in their efforts through the seventies and eighties.
If we cut to modern times we have a couple more wonderful moments of we have yours wait your turn for justice. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced by Barney Frank to protect gay and lesbian workers from job discrimination. All well and good, but why not include transgender people? Trans people in this era face much more employment discrimination than homosexual workers. All deserve protection. The excuse is that it isn’t realistic to get it to pass if we include trans people. Morals anyone? Ethics?
The worst I’ve seen is the aftermath of the North Carolina legislation stripping virtually every legal protection gained for LGBT people. Not only where trans people not supported by the gay community, they were blamed for causing the result. I believe this is commonly called victim blaming. Instead of standing by a very marginalized group, they deliberately distanced themselves and pointed fingers. The following quote sums it up. I couldn’t find more quickly, but there were a few.
“As to the toilet issue : the LGBTI community went completely nuts and went beyond what is acceptable, and ended up making it worse for themselves. While it is an issue for the trangender person, what about everyone else? Don’t they think about how a girl may feel seeing a man going into the toilet? or vice versa? That is just totally stupid. If their real aim is to allow trangender people a private space, a far, far better ordinance for uni-gender disabled toilet. They have turned their own movement back 40 years with this stupidity.”
In the nature of irony, at the human rights campaign (HRC), nominally a group fighting for LGBT rights, came the following finding about how trans people are treated (taken from an article in The Advocate):
Trans and genderqueer staffers reported being misgendered often, “even after repeated attempts to educate.” They also raised concerns that they do not feel safe to come out at HRC, noting there there is only one gender-neutral bathroom available, and that the company dress code lists only “male” and “female” attire options, leaving genderqueer or nonbinary staffers without guidance. One employee was offended when they heard coworkers using the phrase “tranny.”
I find this tremendously ironic. I work in an extremely conservative workplace and have felt nothing but safe coming out. Even the few people I thought might be a little problematic proved to be delightful. Yet HRC, a progressive beacon, can’t manage to gender people correctly? An interesting article in the Huffington post from this last February sheds some light on why HRC doesn’t fight harder for trans rights, but I would still say it reflects the we got (or should get) ours, they can wait.
To be fair they are trying to do better. But here’s another example of the attitude I’m talking about over ENDA directed at HRC:
Next, consider policy. In the summer of 2004, after years of principled resistance, HRC announced that it would not support the legislative centerpiece of the national gay rights movement, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), unless it protected transgenders as well as gays from job discrimination. This decision followed years of protest against HRC on the issue by transgender activists and gay leftists.
The reason for HRC’s previous unwillingness to add transgender protections to ENDA was obvious: adding “gender identity” would greatly weaken the prospect of passing the bill anytime soon. Jacques penned a column for the gay media defending the about-face for two reasons. First, she offered a lot of blather about respecting the movement’s “diversity,” as though effectively killing ENDA would enhance diversity.
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the interested reader to find other examples like this.
Another direction that I’ve talked about before is the exclusion of trans women by Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. One prominent example is Germaine Greer who is quoted as saying:
Just because you lop off your d**k doesn’t make you a ******* woman. I’ve asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I’m going to wear a brown coat but that won’t turn me into a ******* cocker spaniel.
and in the Advocate it paraphrases her as saying:
At a Cambridge University speech this year, Greer insisted that trans women do not deserve womanhood because they do not understand what it is like to possess what she called “a big, hairy, smelly vagina.”
Even more worrisome given the rise in anti-trans violence, Greer went on to tell Cambridge students that transphobia does not exist.
After being married for 29 years and having been close enough to be familiar with the odor of said body part I can say that my samples were not particularly smelly and that my yoni looks like every other woman’s and has reminded me this week that it has all the good and bad qualities of one just like any other womans. Perhaps Ms Greer should obtain an education.