In my continuing quest to learn more about the LGBT community, I’m often surprised at what I find out. (‘Cause let’s face it, you don’t know what you don’t know. Surprises are to be expected.)
For instance, I recently learned about the … hesitance … resistance … of those who are L or G or B to include the T in this group. There are apparently many who don’t feel that trans folks belong in the LGBT community.
Wow. Okay. I didn’t see that coming.
Their argument is that those who are transgendered don’t really fit within a group that’s really more about sexual preferences than genders.
One one hand, I guess I can see that. On the other hand … how and when did the “T” get added to this collection of acronyms anyway?
I don’t live within this group – I am just trying to understand more about it, and perhaps to educate others if they’re interested in what I’m learning. With that said, I gotta say it never crossed my mind that transsexuals don’t belong in the LGBT world. Maybe I got used to seeing these letters together and just assumed they fit. But I think it was more that I figured each person who identifies differently was kind of in the same boat. Misunderstood, mistreated, and misjudged. Marginalized by a culture that likes things neat and tidy, with too little room for those who don’t “fit the norm.” I guess I thought there’d be solidarity for those who feel on the outs with society.
I was wrong.
Or maybe those who want to keep trans folk out are the ones who’re off base?
I’m not calling anyone out here, I promise. I’m also not trying to start a debate. I am genuinely curious to hear from people on both sides of this argument, so I can better understand the thinking. I have no dog in this fight, as they say. (And who is “they,” anyway? I’ll save that for another blog post.)
What do you think … does “T” belong in “LGBT” or no?
I am a 70 year old gay male who has never felt comfortable speaking for everyone under the LGBT blanket. My opinion is my opinion. Do you speak for all straight folks? No, of course not. LGBT folks don’t all see eye to eye on a lot of issues that impact us. Whether or not Transgendered people “belong” with the other categories that represent a spectrum of sexual attraction, I do agree that they are similarly marginalized. And I feel they should be included because, LGBT, we all get the same funny looks and worse from the straight majority. Historically there have probably been transgendered people forever. But the T in LGBT was originally the initial for Transvestites (aka Drag Queens). It also included those who did not feel they were born the wrong sex, just those who felt more comfortable with their feminine selves and lived accordingly. It has only been within the last 10-15 years that the T began being used to also indicate the Transgendered community. One of the things many of my LGBT sisters and brothers have in common is a profound dislike for being labelled and I think that is where the riff and the confusion about who belongs comes from. It is really petty but then I’ve seen that from my kind before and I suppose I’ll see it again. I can also imagine that the Transgendered don’t appreciate being lumped in with us either. But they are riding in on our coattails, so to speak, whether they like it or not. They would not be getting the acknowledgment and acceptance they are now getting if we and our straight allies had not paved the way for things like marriage equality through the gay rights movement. The cultural divides on may fronts will continue until we can finally say it and mean it, “It doesn’
t matter who you are, you are only my brother/my sister and a beloved member of the Human Community.”
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Transgendered people have never had the ‘privilege’ of riding on the coat tails of the LGB world. As a matter of fact, bisexuals haven’t ridden on the coat tails of the LG world, either. Both groups have not only been systematically excluded but have been maligned in vicious stereotypes, in historical rewrites and in practically every mainstream L or G organization.
Today, 46 years after Stonewall, transsexuals still are unable, for the most part, to be hired for positions the rest of the world takes for granted. The vast majority of them are denied decent housing. As a result by and large they turn to the sex trade to make ends meet and take on risks to their very lives to be able to put food on the table and find some sort of roof over their heads.
Bisexuals are the laughingstock of the LGBTQ ‘community’. They are considered to be individuals who, rather than being attracted to both sexes, are considered transitioning and unable or unwilling to admit to their real inclinations. Lesbians and gays disown them for their perceived lack of commitment. Never once is the idea of an individual loving men and women equally taken seriously.
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I don’t disagree with you. I’m just learning about all of this and didn’t know this mindset existed.
However, I do find it so sad that a group that’s fought to obtain rights – who knows exactly what it’s like to be ostracized – does it to another group.
I don’t pretend to understand what it’s like to be gay or bi or trans, but I’m trying to better understand the struggles and adversities these groups have overcome.
Thank you for shedding more light on it for me.
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Hey Lynn – it’s not a sexual ‘preference’. That infers there’s a choice. It’s sexual ‘orientation’. I think you’ve used that term a couple of times and I don’t want you inadvertently offending some LGBs.
Otherwise a great read – as always!
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Good point, Paula. Thanks!
I can definitely see how and why Transgender should be included because they are especially in need of protection of Rights. But I think a lot of people look at Transgender as ‘Transitional’, like, ‘Well, I’m ALMOST Gay !!! ‘ so it becomes more of a ‘So, do you have long hair or short hair?….Sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes just in between’.
The thing is, everyone is different sexually. Most people might not want to admit just how different, but they are. It really isn’t a one-flavor of ice cream world.
I think even when a person might consider themselves to be 100% Hetero might not always be 100% throughout their entire life. I guess in some ways, EVERYONE is Transitional to some degree. We learn, we grow, we change, or not change. Our minds and bodies aren’t programmed chips that never change their function or desires. And when you factor in Fantasies, the sky is the limit.
We live in a world where anyone different from the majority is often subject to ridicule, humiliation or much worse. So, ‘protection’ is needed. And, I suppose, the first step in trying to give that protection is to identify those that might need it. I suppose that is why there is a ‘need’ at all to Label a person in a certain way, as unfortunate as that might seem. Certainly, a Hetero/Straight person doesn’t seem to need ‘protection’ from the majority. (I wonder what it would be like if 90% of the world was LGBT and only 10% not…..? Would the Straight/Hetero People be seeking Rights and Protection?)
So, we have our Labels. Apparently, Gay wasn’t specific enough, so it became Gay for males who are sexually attracted to other males and Lesbian for females who are sexually attracted to other females. People, either male or female that are sexually attracted to both have the same ‘Bi’ moniker. Seems appropriate. Those that might ‘identify’ as either different from their sex at birth or perhaps not a specific identity of any sex, seem to have embraced a required Transgender title, whether it really fits or not. At some point, if we were to break out every different variety, we would run out of letters of the alphabet. There would be as much variety as Religious Beliefs.
Personally, I think it would have been wiser to embrace ‘LGBW’. ‘Whatever’. Or better yet, ‘NOYB’.
“At some point, if we were to break out every different variety, we would run out of letters of the alphabet”.
Are you referring to the latest trend of polyamory, cisgender, asexual, platonic classifications?
Polyamorous people are either those who believe in open relationships or are bisexual. If they believe in open relationships that doesn’t preclude them from being mostly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
Cisgendered people, if I’m not mistaken, are also referred to as heterosexuals.
Asexual people can be heterosexual as well as LGBTQ so this classification begs the question.
This is also the case for those seeking platonic relationships. It is a simple desire to look for friends.
When you comment as you do above you may not mean it but you trivialize people who have never been happy, much less comfortable, in the gender assigned to them at birth. Just as we gays, lesbians and bisexuals had no choice in how we were born, neither do transgendered individuals.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans. They all deal with issues of gender presentation, though transgender issues deal with gender exclusively.
Yes, they belong together. GLBQ folks, even at their most rigidly binary, are still gender nonconforming in the sense that the binary genders were constructed within the framework of heterosexual attraction. If you are not heterosexual, you are by default gender nonconforming. Sweat and grunt and heave all you want, taking it up the ass is historically seen as one of the most emasculating acts a “man” can do. Wear leather and butch it up — wait, no. We call that “leather queen” for a reason. It’s performative gender.
It’s almost like GLBQ people have been involved in exploring their own gender presentations through sex all along. Foucault calling!
Maybe we should stop attempting to exclude those who can teach us the most about how to do it right.
Ok in the interest of full disclosure, I am a transwoman, as well as a trans advocate and educator.
Let me start by making a grammatical correction. We are transgender, not “transgendered,” just a gay man is not “gayed.” There, that’s out of the way.
There is a big difference between LGB and T. One is about who you are attracted to, and the other is about who you identify as and know yourself to be despite outward appearances. The problem is that, as a society, we are historically stuck in the idea of a gender binary…boy boxes and girl boxes. The world is just getting around to understanding that these boxes are nothing more than a social construct that says nithing about the biological reality of gender diversity. Nature loves diversity and that is no different in human beings.
That being said, there are many people in the LGB world who also still believe in the gender binary. Just because you totally understand that a person can love someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you can wrap your head around the idea that a person can be one gender internally and a different sex externally. Hence, the conflict. Adding to the problem is that in many areas, L, G, B, and T never mix. I’ve learned that in some large cities, a gay man may not know a single lesbian, let alone a trans person. This segregation simply perpetuates misunderstanding. Communities of any kind can never understand each other until they intentionally integrate and learn from each other about their realities.
Back to the original question. LGB and T, as well as Q, I, A, and A, have been “combined” due to the mutual need to advocate for the mostly same equal rights, so yes, they do belong together.
As for the comment someone made about “riding coattails, ” this is highly offensive because since the very beginning of the fight for LGBT equality, transgender people have been right there fighting alongside. In fact, it was the transgender community who struck the first blows against police at Stonewall. The only reason the LGB community made advance progress is because of what I stated earlier about the relative ease of accepting same sex orientation much more easily than gender diversity.
That’s about it. If you have any more questions feel free to hit me up on Facebook under Caitlyn Strohmeyer 🙂
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As a cis, gay male, I totally embrace the trans community and bisexuals in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights together.
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Thanks for weighing in, Raymond!
As a transgender woman in the midwest, I can tell you that a great deal of my friends are L, G, or B, and we lean on each other for strength. Living in the bible belt as well, the straight community often doesn’t care what letter we are, because we are “all going to hell”. This is one reason that I am heading back to school to become a peer counselor for the LGBTQ+ community. We have a whole generation coming up behind us that needs our solidarity, not quibbles over whether this letter or that one doesn’t belong. These kids are being thrown from their homes, and often having far worse things happen to them. People please, remember that a stained glass window is never just one color, but rather a myriad of different ones.
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Yes, the T or transgender (gender diverse, gender queer, trans, gender nonconforming) belongs under the LGBT umbrella! Just like the B (bisexual) letter, the T is often invisible to the community. Many of our transgender family members are LGB as well. Gender and sexual orientation intertwined concepts that many struggle to wrap their heads around. It was the drag queens and transgender patrons at the Stonewall we owe much of our LGBT movement to. In fact, there are two transgender women of color (Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera) who really put Stonewall in the spotlight. As a gay psychologist, I specialize in working with LGBT patients. My practice is comprised of about 60% trans (13-50y/o), 39% LGB, and 1% heterosexual patients. I see many trans patients who have been subjected to some awful discrimination and hatred spewed by the LGB community. The T belongs in LGBT and should actually lead the acronym. It should be gender diversity and sexual orientation (TLGB) if we pay tribute to those who have fought the hardest for acceptance!!!
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