It's fairly well known that I generally say yes. I state, often, that I do it on the basis of commonality and description. Those who most often disagree with me do so on the basis of difference and identity.
That's really the deeper question that sits there, but few have the energy or desire or ability or knowledge to dig that deep into an issue, because in doing so we run into a nasty habit of cultural imperialism that tends to affect all the debates and discussion regarding such things in American (that is, US) discourse.
Bilerico is an international blog. Dyssonance.com is an international blog. This, despite the point that I often make that I talk about stuff in the American Cultural scene, not as global stuff. The reason is that there are some things that carry over, some things that float well. Others do not and it's usually those from a different cultural background who are aware of it.
When one focuses on what the differences between the groups are, you have to cast aside all the things that are shared in common -- which, perforce, includes the very real humanity inherent in all of us (or at least one would hope -- many question my humanity as I'm pretty much able to tell a person to go crawl in a hole and die and not give it a second thought -- oddly enough, no one ever bothers to wonder why).
Focusing on differences -- which is what those who seek to deny us access to our rights, who seek to often kill us, or beat us, or in some way, shape or fashion make us less than human or other than human, so that we are ostracized and expelled from the society and cultural foundations we are part of -- is a way of making someone *other*, and most of the time (though not always) includes a structure and a system that creates a hierarchy instead of establishing an equitable basis on which to stand.
It comes, in short, from a prejudice that is carried inside the person. I've spoken about my own prejudices before, and I likely will again in the future -- prejudices are unreasoning, and without basis or value, but until examined by the person who holds them, they are necessarily invisible and incorporate.
There are also expectations -- developed from the idea of "what is normal". Normal is the typical, the mundane, the average, the commonplace. The things each of us in our lives tend to take for granted. We like our grocery stores because we know them, we know where to find things, we expect them to be here. We like fast food franchises because what we get from them is predictable. We know that a beer commercial will use "an average joe" or a hot girl to sell beer, that Go Daddy will show yet another good looking woman in a heterosexually provocative sexual way, that tampon commercials will suck.
And when things aren't commonplace, ordinary, mundane, average -- aren't normal -- then they stand out to us. Like commercials that actually make fun of the way tampons are sold, or when a gecko is used to sell insurance, or when we find ourselves in a different grocery store and can't find something after wandering through all the aisles.
When we are sorta lost the thing that helps most is when we have someone to help us along. When wandering through that unfamiliar grocery store, it helps to have someone there who does know their way around it -- we can still get everything we want, of course, but it might take us a lot longer, whereas if we ask for help, we'll get it.
A lot of people don't like to ask for help, however. And many times, those same people -- and even some who do ask for help -- come to resent it when someone comes along and tells them where to find something. We tend to place all sorts of junk on that person -- who was really just trying to be helpful. We say negative things about them. That is a fairly normal, fairly common experience. One that any long time retail worker can testify to, and part of the reason why so many retail stores no longer do that whole "personal shopper" thing.
Now let's say that you've been going to your neighborhood grocery store a long time. You like it. You are familiar with it. You know where everything is, you know the brands, you know the layout.
Now let's say they merge with another kind of store. A store that has things that you like, but they are in different places or are things you like that your store doesn't carry. And now let's say that a lot of the people who work at your favorite store are telling you to shop at both of them, and that even some of the customers are saying they do and it's great.
Then you meet customers from the other store. They are different from you. They wander through your store and they complain about how things aren't the same way they are at the other store, and both stores should be laid out the same --which, to you, means that your store needs to be changed.
And then you hear the two stores are going to do that. Now you will be wandering around your store, where you are comfortable and can find stuff, and you won't be able to find things as easily -- and there's new stuff, stuff you've never even seen before, on the shelves. Things seem wrong, feel wrong, and you think "Why can't it be the way it was?"
That sense of wrongness is what is driving many of the issues in the collective LGBT community. That sort of expectation that things should be *x*, and everything else is wrong.
That's part of the whole thing driving difference.
Another thing driving difference is the notion of essentialism. In a rare moment of rhetorical question: What makes a man a man?
This is a seemingly odd question to many -- especially to those people who are gay men, since they are attracted to gay men and they seem to have no particular problem figuring out who the men are.
But when you ask that question, and you get down to brass tacks, the notion of essentialism comes out. That we are who we are because of what we are.
And what we are is, all too often, considered to be all that really matters.
Essentialism is at the root of the issue surrounding the concept of The Bathrooms. There's another one, as well: that men -- all men -- are dangerous. And in that sense, what makes a man is a chunk of flesh, which said man is apparently utterly enslaved to and completely unable to control.
Essentialism is what makes some people say "penises shouldn't be in showers" -- and the one's who say this kind of thing out loud are expressing the sentiment I noted above: that men are dangerous. That the mere presence of a piece of anatomy that is emotionally linked to masculinity is something to avoid at all costs because of the risk that it brings.
And that is a cultural aspect of what many people talk about as rape culture. Which is a whole other thing that's ultra complex in and of itself, but basically is the same sort of rationale that permits people to blame the victims of a crime for the crime being committed against them.
Then there is the notion of identity. Through the magical power of projection, people start the process of expanding their own personal identity beyond them. And they find out that people are different from them -- which is actually a major part of the idea of identity -- to set them apart. And, all too often, those who seek to create a line between themselves and those *others* -- those people they are not like -- do so in a manner that focuses on how they are normal (common, typical, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unremarkable) and those others they are distancing or separating themselves from are not normal.
And that allows them to bring in the whole difference thing, so the two elements become self-reinforcing, a circular argument that is neither logical nor reasonable, and that depends entirely on their emotional state, which they are trying to ascribe as being different from other people when they cannot actually know what that emotional state is.
They can only guess.
An identity is formed around what you see as different -- what you see as *you*, as yourself, as your person. Identity has no bearing outside your self - you as an individual.
Yet when a lot of people who share an identity basis in common get together, they create an affinity group. Combine several affinity groups and you get a community that shares information (trade), including experiences, feelings, ideas, language, the works. The sense of belonging that comes with being a member of an affinity group is based on what is held in common -- the things that the affinity group has that are similar (though usually not identical).
Over the last 6 months or so I've put a lot of effort into making visible some of the pieces of all this. Now, with a piece of national legislation at a critical point that affects the entirety of the LGBT population, I see the efforts that have been going on for several years coming to fruition.
And I'm not talking about *our* efforts. I'm talking about the efforts of those who want to see us denied access to our rights. The ones who literally want it to be legal to beat us, to kill us, to make us non-citizens.
I see, in comments, and posts, and the general oeuvre of LGBT online circles and offline activity, a sense that our opponents (and when I say that, I mean that people whose actions and efforts are opposed to our lives -- so that means not merely the religious right, or the Repuglicans, or the gazillion other names we have for people who we see all too often with the same contempt and often outright hatred that they see us with) don't read our stuff. They they don't reply, that they "stay away".
And that's utterly foolish. To them, this is, literally, a war. They don't call it a culture war because they feel like that sounds good. They call it that because to them, this is war, and all is fair in war, and there is no Geneva convention. They encourage the murder of doctors who perform medical services for women's reproductive healthcare and call it justified. They call us sinful and dangerous and predatory and they will link it to any kind of lie they can and when we say "That's a lie!" they *laugh* at us.
They know perfectly well it is a lie. And they are allowed to lie because they are in a war, where the normal rules don't apply. They don't have to be nice, or honest, or above board, and they won't be. And they are not.
They do read places like this, And they do comment in places like this, and they know perfectly well that if they can weaken us, by encouraging a separation, that we will not be united, standing against a common foe, but divided, and thus far easier to conquer.
They don't have to rely on their ideas. They get all they need from the infighting that goes on among us. From pitting the L against the G, the LG against the BT, the T against the rest, the whole massive construction of which hinges on the simple recognition that we are the LGBT+ whatever because we do indeed have a lot in common, not because we have a lot in difference.
And if you don't want to be a part of the LGBT+, then don't be. No one is forcing you to be such. The LGBT+ is an affinity group of people who have things in common. A community of people who are bound by what is similar, not what is different. And the overwhelming similarity that they all have is not just that they are all human beings, but that they are human beings who are treated as second and third and fourth class citizens, who are *actively* denied their rights, and who are interconnected and dependent on each other in the country because the country as a whole doesn't see the differences and *doesn't care to see the differences*.
And so we get people who are uninformed about issues relating to gay men, and uninformed about issues relating to lesbians, and there's a whole crapload of people uninformed about issues relating to being bi, and just as many relating to being trans, and so long as we have large chunks not understanding the way that they all interconnect or struggling very hard to see the differences instead of the similarities, we will have people who say things like Drop The T from ENDA.
Yet if you drop the T from ENDA, you tell some gay people, some lesbian people, some bi people that they aren't gay or lesbian or bi enough. And you can see that because the people who say "Drop the T" most often speak as if it isn't possible for someone to be trans and gay. And that makes some trans people so upset they start running around saying "Well, fuck those gay men" and they say "Free us from it".
And then you have trans folk telling other trans folk that they aren't trans enough, because when they repeat what was said to them, they are saying that it isn't possible for someone to be gay and trans.
Well, it is. We cannot separate our selves -- it is, in a very colorful way, cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Or ripping your arm off just to upset your leg.
Ether way, all you are doing is attacking yourself, and when you justify it, you really don't have much of a choice but to rely on the same arguments that the people who want to see us legally murdered, legally beaten, legally denied our rights and our families and our simple ability to live our lives honestly and openly.
It makes you an opponent when you do that. People like that are a liability to the fight, to the effort, to the cause, to the ideals of liberty and justice for all in a nation where all people are created equally, and the tyranny of the majority does not have the right to strip liberties from a minority.
So let's discuss this idea of dropping the T. And, while we are at it, let's *seriously* look at the issue of dropping the L and the B and G, as well -- because for each argument against one, there is an equal argument against the others. Let's get this idea, this unasked question, into the open and really try with all seriousness to get to the heart of it, to reveal the stuff inside it.
Yes, that means, since there are people who are liabilities interacting with people who are assets, there will likely be some nasty stuff spoken. Some harsh words. I'd like to think that people will remember that PC is just being courteous, and that rude voices are just rude voices, no matter who they come from, but that the tone of their response doesn't have much to do with the content of their response.
This is not about the messengers; this is about the message.
And the message I'm carrying, right now, is that we are all in this together -- there is no victory by cutting off parts of the whole to make it fit the whims and issues of others. There is only victory when you get the whole, and they realize and see the evil in their opposition.