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  • « More on that HRC poll… | Main | The dissent becomes the mainstream »

    November 11, 2007

    More voices in 'T' dissent

    Posted by: Chris

    I've known Rex Wockner for a decade and for more than twice that length of time he's been one of the most respected journalists within the gay press. Our politics are quite different and we've disagreed plenty over the years, but always respectfully. I offer that background to make the point that he's anything but "conservative," a label I reject for myself as well, but look at what he's written in response to the "trans or bust" ENDA fiasco:

    Forchris I maintain my position that gay people and transgender people are two different things. Most of the transgender people I personally know have had a sex-change operation and paired off with someone of the opposite sex. That is a very different reality from the gay bear circles I travel in -- in those uncommon instances in which I engage with the gay scene. It's a very different reality from the reality of most gay people. It's even significantly different from the venerable gay tradition of drag-queenery (which I've never done and don't "get," but that's beside the point). …

    I've been sitting here sort of picking my own brain and asking myself if gay and trans people do in fact have some crucial thing in common. … What do I have in common with a guy who wants to remove his willy, grow breasts, become a woman and get married to a man? From where did this relatively new concept of "the LGBT community" come?

    Andrew Sullivan echoed the same sentiments in a post headlined "The LGBTQRSTZ 'Community'":

    Andrewsullivansq The Croatian-sounding acronym only makes sense from the perspective of the pomo-left, whose control of the major gay groups allows them to dictate what is and what is not kosher for gay people. I support enthusiastically the right of transgender people to live their lives as they wish and to be free from government discrimination. But that question is logically separate from gay rights, and always has been. Many transgender people are heterosexual; most gay people have no internal conflict with their own gender. It remains important to insist that, just because so many in the gay world have been browbeaten into repeating the concept of an "LGBT community", that doesn't mean it exists.

    John Aravosis, a blue-dog Democrat partisan, has written similarly in Salon, "How Did the T Get in LGBT?":

    Johnaravosissq_2 I have a sense that over the past decade the trans revolution was imposed on the gay community from outside, or at least above, and thus it never stuck with a large number of gays who weren't running national organizations, weren't activists, or weren't living in liberal gay enclaves like San Francisco and New York. Sure, many of the rest of us accepted de facto that transgendered people were members of the community, but only because our leaders kept telling us it was so. A lot of gays have been scratching their heads for 10 years trying to figure out what they have in common with transsexuals, or at the very least why transgendered people qualify as our siblings rather than our cousins.

    I've been asking similar questions for years, ever since trans activists browbeat LGB organizations to add transgender to their mission statements. I didn't object to that idea, in and of itself, but I was deeply troubled by the idea that it was somehow "exclusionary" for gay people to have some organizations just for us. Trans folks do, so why shouldn't we? 

    I also worried, unfortunately prophetically, that including "T" in the mission statement would become a huge distraction for resource-strapped gay groups, as if our own battles weren't consuming enough.  The deepest disappointment has been Lambda Legal, an organization for which I have a great deal of respect, which has so confused including T in its mission that now it feels obliged to argue that GLBs shouldn't receive any legislative protection until the political will is there for Ts to receive the same.

    Then transgender activists and their allies pressed their "trans or bust" strategy for hate crimes and workplace rights. It was the crowning achievement of their leveraging of the gay rights movement, and so brazen that I labeled it "the transjacking" of the movement. Provocative yes, but accurate nonetheless.

    Now all that has blown up in their face, and by overreaching their attempt at forced "unity" has brought to the surface deep divisions within our "community."  The form the debate has taken hasn't helped.  While some have been respectful, most trans activists I've seen have been incredibly aggressive and personal and mean-spirited, always questioning motives and rarely addressing points of view actually expressed.

    The question now is whether trans activists and their allies will realize their misstep and correct it going forward.  The Nation is reporting that Ted Kennedy will introduce ENDA as a gay-only measure.  I think they're reading a bit too much into his statement over House passage, but regardless the issue will present itself again.

    There's no reason why we can't all lobby for a trans-inclusive ENDA and yet support a compromise measure if the votes aren't there for "gender identity."  It's the right thing to do for millions of GLB Americans.

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    Comments

    1. anonymous on Nov 11, 2007 6:06:38 PM:

      Chris,

      Thanks so much for posting about this. After drowning in GLBTQISKTSJT propaganda, I am now in love with you and the other guys writing about this. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell there are no lesbians writing about this, because they have already been browbeaten into silence by the straight men who transition into 'lesbian transwomen' and demand access to all lesbian spaces including private lesbian support groups.

      Notice that I am posting this anonymously, since their is no way I am giving trans-jackers (love the word you coined) my name.

      But, rest assured, there are 'evil selfish exclusionary white lesbian transphobes' who are your sisters, since you are an 'evil selfish exclusionary white-man transphobe'.

      The odd thing is that the trans-activists don't fight the republican right, they save all thier hate-filled bile for the 'selfish white gays'. Then they drive away every gay person who doesn't agree with them and call it 'community building'.

      I think they end up living in a bubble-world with a circle of hyper-liberal gays who agree with everything they say,and then they claim that that represents the gay community. Plus, they drive the ordinary gays who don't agree with them out of gay organizations, which is why 300 'gay' organizations tried to get congressmen to vote against gay rights.

      They should rename all of these organizations, and call them trans organizations or TTTglbq.

    1. Citizen Crain on Nov 11, 2007 6:20:55 PM:

      Thanks anonymous, but some lesbians have talked about T tensions. I edited a column by Jennifer Vanasco on this topic back in 2005. You can find it here.

      It's worth the read.

    1. Geena The Transgirl on Nov 11, 2007 6:29:43 PM:

      There's too much misinformation being tossed around. It's very simple . . . EVERY, and I mean EVERY transgirl I have ever know has engaged in sexual activity with men, women, and especially each other. Transgenders may not be "take our shirt off on the dance floor gay men", but we sure as hell are not hetrosexual men.

      That being said I am in 100% support of Chris's last paragraph
      "There's no reason why we can't all lobby for a trans-inclusive ENDA and yet support a compromise measure if the votes aren't there for "gender identity." It's the right thing to do for millions of GLB Americans."

      If you still have a problem with me and my level headed trans friends just come out and say so.

    1. david on Nov 11, 2007 8:39:00 PM:

      As a gay man in my 50s who has been out and politically aware/active since my teens, I have watched in disgust as this juggernaut of victimhood -- this coalition of whining feminazi stormtroopers of "Diversity" - have destroyed any possibility of speaking about other points of view on homosexuality/sexuality but their own. I have written about this in my local gay press as far back as 10 years ago and been vilified, attacked and labelled a bigot/Hitler/traitor/rightwing lackey/etc. as have any gay men who voice any concerns about this phenomenon.

      I compare the "Queer LGBT community" to that of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Forced Equity Sex Police "patrol the boundaries of inclusivity" (an actual line from a Queer person) for any transgressions against the purity of the oddly childlike "unity". Those who do not conform to the neo-Stalinist ideology of the LGBTQ Politburo are shamed or worse and are denounced of course as "traitors" or tools of the enemy (whoever that is). Of course in a "patriarchal world of white male power and privilege", all of these traitors are white gay men -- and all white gay men are rich and powerful and pigs because we won't share our power and wealth (a teen trans at a public meeting once said that gay men had their bars for so long that now they should hand them over to young queer people and share.) Mindfuck!

      But is does makes sense. When you build a paradigm based on a rigid binary of oppressor/oppressed, there is no room for in between. You are either on the bus or not. The most vile part of this development is that when gay men were in the hospitals and cemetaries dealing en masse with AIDS, our organizations were taken over by these Queer people. When we returned from the war, we found the Thought Police had taken over our community organizations and had rewritten our history (Stonewall was a trans and women's uprising usurped later by pig white gay men). The recent sulphuric mania (akin to witch hysteria in Salem or communist hysteria in McCarthyism) towards gay men about the "exclusion of T" in ENDA by trans and their political social workers is as shocking as were images of intellectuals in cultural revolutionary China being shamed in public with wooden signs and duncecaps announcing their transgressions against party purityy. Some queer blogs have whipped T-supporters almost into a Mau Mau-like bloodthrist against evil trans- and queer-hating "gay men". Stop the world.

      One of the most frustrating parts of this mess are the hoodwinked gay men who are too young or too naive to be able to see the forest for the trees. They have been raised with man-hating power and privilege Feminazi ideology (you are a noble queer thus non-hegemonic or you are a ruling class white gay male Nazi like Merv Griffin). Any gay male who attended college during the last 15 years has had this Women's Studies pap fed to them like mother's milk. They are now unable to disentangle support for a variety of causes (gay or not) but can only moronically lumping all issues into an Us/Them universe. Sad and sadder.

      There are so many of us gay men out there who have been beaten as sissy kids, crippled by closets and ground down by homophobia only to face AIDS, the religious right and the continuing world hatred of homosexuality. Now at such a critical moment in the struggle for the evolution of homosexual rights (the price of liberty is constant vigilence), gay men are told that we are in fact the new enemies of queer sexual liberation because we will not bow down to Diversity Gods --gods that we not only did not make, but had not even heard of! We need some reality here desparately.And gay men with balls who will speak out against this Tyranny.

    1. anonymous on Nov 11, 2007 10:51:45 PM:

      >>"Of course in a "patriarchal world of white male power and privilege", all of these traitors are white gay men --"

      Oh, the uncaring white lesbians are evil, too. We get called Nazis and KKK members by transpeople. And the women studies classes are being destroyed and replaced by queer studies and gender studies.

      The young trans are saying that they want to destroy the gay/lesbian culture and build a new queer culture using its infrastructure. They are just waiting for the real gays/lesbians to die off so they can destroy our culture and replace it with the ultra queer 'men can be lesbians and women can be gay men trans culture'.

      And anyone who suggests they build thier own culture is transphobic. They remind me of the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live who could take any comment and claim it was satanic. Could it be ...SATAN. Trans activists can take any comment in any context and say "Could it be ... TRANSPHOBIA?".

      I think gay/men lesbians need to get better at patrolling our own boundaries. I mean, 300 "gay" organizations just tried to kill a gay civil rights bill. They need to take the T off the GLB and focus on our own issues.

    1. Philip on Nov 12, 2007 12:35:52 AM:

      Hmmm, obviously a lot of simmering rage at work here. Guess I'm part of the left-y 'feminazi' (way to go giving props to that windbag drug addict) set where I think that none of us advance if we're willing to leave other sexual minorities behind.

      That said, let's give the old heave ho to all but 'g' and 'l'. I've never quite figured out why 'b' folk need our continued support. Let them have their own organizations, fight for their own antidiscrimination legislation. Hell, why not make it open season and let us gay men see if we can get equal rights for ourselves, and let the lesbians do their own work.

      The point is, folks, that the people who would discriminate against 't' people would also discriminate against 'g' or 'l' people. Just because we don't want to change our sex doesn't mean the majority can (or cares to) appreciate our distinctions. Bashing is bashing. So forgive me if I'm not dancing in the street that finally some people woke up and got some sense to offer some minorities some more equal protection. We're defined by our moral choices, and the choice to leave 't' behind just doesn't feel right morally.

    1. Kevin on Nov 12, 2007 8:15:04 AM:

      Perhaps this is also a product of the fact that the gay movement has dwelled for so long in the theoretical that it hasn't grown a set of coping mechanisms for practical reality. All this time and money spent on rhetoric (and pufferous fundraising-speak) has raised a generation of activists who live in a politically rhetorical world, not a real one. Thank God the average (albeit somewhat inert) gay and lesbian American isn't as disconnected.

    1. adamblast on Nov 12, 2007 11:26:14 AM:

      "...I think that none of us advance if we're willing to leave other sexual minorities behind."

      Nice slogan, but... Wait, there are plenty of sexual minorities we haven't even addressed yet. Maybe even trans protections should have to wait for *them*. How about polygamists? How about incest between consenting adults? Should those things be criminal?

      Do you want your rights to have to wait for *them* as well?

      Breaking taboos is not enough for common political ground. And frankly, I don't see anything else tying us together--besides the screaming, yelling, and attempts at guilting and demonization.

      My experience of the past month on the trans-active blogs is, frankly, that trans activists hate gay men. They consider us more an enemy than the religious right. There's absolutely no upside to dealing with them.

    1. Geena the Transgirl on Nov 12, 2007 12:36:40 PM:

      Don't throw us all in together. Assume we love you until we demonstrate otherwise.

    1. david on Nov 12, 2007 12:49:18 PM:

      "Don't throw us all in together. Assume we love you until we demonstrate otherwise.

      Geena the Transgirl"

      "Love"! Do you know the meaning of the word?!? I think "love" is what the "leaders" of all those GLBT orgs have been doing with Trans these past few years -- when the Trans did not get what you wanted, the Trans Army turned on gay men and lesbians like snakes -- based on this perhaps it is wiser for gay men and lesbians to do the opposite and presume you despise us until you demonstrate otherwise. In my experience, I have never met a trans person (especially "transmen") who didn't feel they are owed something by gay men and lesbians. You call it "Love" -- I call it incomprehensible hostility and embarrassing infantilism.

    1. Geena the Transgirl on Nov 12, 2007 1:17:31 PM:

      Great now were killing livestock and burning crops.
      You have never met me. Okay?
      By the way I think and hope ENDA makes it through the Senate. I got laughed at on another group because I said Sheppard Act gets signed because Dick Cheney does not want it vetoed. ENDA gets signed because Mary Cheney talked to dad, who talked George into signing it.

    1. anon on Nov 12, 2007 6:24:33 PM:

      Wow, all white gay men again bashing solidarity! Big surprise!

    1. Kevin on Nov 13, 2007 6:46:34 AM:

      David:

      Talk about sweeping generalizations to describe sweeping generalizations....

      People are complex. No one can be defined so easily, gay or T or whatever.

    1. dirtywhiteboi on May 16, 2008 4:38:11 PM:

      I deal with this same insanity day in and day out on LJ. Its nice to see others who actually see whats REALLY going on with the trans community and I hope with the medical communities drugging and butchering OF the trans community.

      GID IS a major medical disorder usually compounded by other mental disorders, and this is at the end of the GLB(T) why???

      I'll also add it pisses me off to no end that until the ENDA bullshit gay men could have gave a fuck about the "inclusiveness" of the T to the GLBT, while lesbians having been dealing with this bullshit for no less than THIRTY years!

      dirt

    1. Everett on Aug 3, 2009 8:15:25 PM:

      I'm coming into this conversation late (August 2009) but I'm really glad to discover that there are other gay men and lesbians who question the inclusion of transsexuality in our movement. I tried to keep an open and welcoming mind on this and educate myself on trans issues, until the ENDA debacle and the shock of seeing trans-people working to defeat gay/lesbian rights legislation. I appreciate Chris Crain's courage in articulating a healthy skepticism about the necessity of trying to squash transgendered people together with gay men and lesbians as one community. It is very striking to me that all those who speak so passionately for inclusion of transpeople in the gay and lesbian community seem never to be willing to engage in a discussion of the issues, but rather seem only to vilify and insult anyone who raises questions.

    1. W on Dec 28, 2010 2:16:43 AM:

      Well, this certainly proves what I already knew about cis gays (particularly white ones, and particularly white cis gay men) being vile and transphobic. More trans women of color are murdered every year than all other hate crimes COMBINED! And guess what, the cis gay community just loooves to claim the people in question as "gay men" for their own advancement. Cis gay people are more transphobic in my experience than most cis straight people.

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