Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Transphobia in the Gay Community

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | July 20, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: homophobic behavior, internalized homophobia, LGBT history, Ronald Gold, trans exclusion, transgender history, transgender stereotypes, transphobia, transphobic

Note: I'm travelling to Netroots Nation, so I thought I'd put up a timeless post from the wayback machine. This was originally published last year, but the issue hasn't gone away. Wondering if you have a different take on my theory today?

Recently, an icon of gay activist history, Ronald Gold, posted a transphobic diatribe on The Bilerico Project. I had looked forward to learning something from Mr. Gold about our history, and I certainly did, though it is not what I hoped for. The post hurt many of our readers across the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity. It received literally hundreds of comments describing the pain they felt. Like many readers, I was very disturbed by the post. I woke up in the middle of the night struggling for a response.

Gold is by no means alone in his opinions within the gay community, though he is more outspoken than most. While much has changed in the last few years, this is a question as relevant today as it was seventeen years ago when I began my journey and received much negative feedback from gay "friends". It is as relevant today as it was twelve years ago when a gay friend evicted me from our shared apartment. It is a question as relevant today as it was two years ago when gender identity was stripped out of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In fact, it is particularly relevant when we are within striking distance of ENDA, and crunch time looms large. There is a risk that legislators will fold like a cheap suit, again, aided and abetted by transphobic gay "advocates" and their enablers.

In fact, I'm glad that it was brought up now by Gold. It's well past time to address this in the larger LGBT community. Gay people against transphobia need to speak up, and now's the time.

Q: What are the sources of transphobia? Is it best combatted by telling it to go away?

A: Its source is not mere prejudice, but old and complex power relations that must be changed, a task that is neither quick nor easy, and is not accomplished by adding a letter to an organization's name. It is based in heterosexism and heteronormativity masked as "radical" critique. Gold, and the many others of his ilk, are sheep in wolf's clothing. This needs to be called out and addressed by the gay community. It should not be up to the transgender community to battle alone, thus furthering the divide.

I see many such opinions like Gold's, often in the averted eyes and cold demeanors of gays and lesbians I meet. Just a week ago, I was invited to join a meeting of gender and sexuality scholars. When I told them of my research on a possible constitutional right to have a legal transgender identity, some of them derided the idea. What if I said I was 6'2", one asked. Another suggested that it would be better to avoid the idea of rights, and just hope for policy makers to do the right thing. No one seemed to think these opinions problematic in any way, although I was left squirming in my chair. No one said a word to me at the end of the session. I thought about it all the rest of that day, and into the next, when I wrote one of my detractors, hoping to politely clue him into an understanding that this was not on. He said we'd have to agree to disagree. It was as welcoming as an iceberg.

I know there has been much progress and the LGBT community has come a long way. But we are not yet at the promised land where we judge each other by the content of our characters, rather than the color of our skin or, I might add, the stripe of our sexuality or gender.

Heterosexist Power Relations At Work

In 2004, I published my research on this subject for the Journal of Bisexuality, a social science journal published by Routledge. I concluded that transphobia within the US gay and lesbian community is not a psychological state of hatred. It is, rather, a response to power relations specifically defined by US historical conditions. This type of GL vs. T transphobic response is not seen in many other nations, and it is variable within regions of the US itself.

To the extent that identity politics has created prejudice and discrimination within the LGBT community, it might be more accurate to locate its sources in "heterosexism" or "internalized heterosexism." Despite its pose as "radical" critique of gender rigidity, its history shows that it is, in fact, an accommodationist attempt to disavow more "radical" forms of sexuality.

Gold's opinion, shared by many, is best understood as a power struggle based in heteronormativity, and its gay twin, homonormativity. In Susan Stryker's excellent 2008 article in The Radical History Review on transgender history, she notes that this term was first used to denote "the double sense of marginalization and displacement experienced within transgender political and cultural activism." The belief that transgender identity is separate and apart from the gay community derives from beliefs drummed into children of the early 20th century, with roots in the 1870s and farther back.

I will summarize the first part of my article here, with more included in a Part II. Here is a link for those of you who would like to read it in its entirety, with footnotes and quotes.

The History of LGBT Relations

While a basic sexual drive seems to exist instinctually in most human beings as a matter of nature, the forms of sexuality seem to be socially constructed. French historian Michel Foucault is famous for championing the idea that, as of the 19th century, "the sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now a species."

Early texts, including Greek and Roman sources, speak of same-sex desire, but do not categorize persons solely by the sex of their partners. There was no single identity, which linked all men who engaged in same-sex acts. Significantly, mirroring the distaste for effeminacy of much of modern gay male and patriarchal culture, and the separation of what we now call "transgender" culture, Greek texts satirized effeminate males, and both literary and legal texts suggested it was unmanly behavior to accept a passive role in sexual intercourse after passing a certain age.

By the 4th century, the male same-sex acts that had been so public were forced to go underground by Christianity. In keeping with earlier ideas, it was believed that any man who was led astray, rather than a distinct subgroup of men who had inclinations towards men only could indulge in same-sex behavior.

Beginning in the 12th century, this belief began to change, and the contrasting belief that there was a certain type of man who engaged exclusively in same-sex behaviors slowly began to arise. Nonetheless, it was "passive" homosexuals who received the brunt of the condemnation, leaving in place an ethic in favor of the masculine.

Passing as the opposite sex occurred fairly frequently, however, and while it was also forbidden, it was rarely punished, as it was not considered, in and of itself, a sexual crime. It does not appear that there was any necessary linkage in the public mind between cross-dressing and sodomy until the eighteenth century.

By the eighteenth century, the public understanding was that same-sex acts were connected with effeminacy and cross-dressing, that those who engaged in same-sex acts did so exclusively, that same-sex acts were confined to a specific group of people, and that the propensity towards such acts was inborn. Despite this public linkage, most men who engaged in same-sex behavior rejected effeminate practices and role-playing.

The public conception of homosexuality coincided with a growing concern with effeminacy that appeared in England in the eighteenth century. Boys typically wore girl's clothing until they were sent away to boarding school. Men's clothing was frilly in the Elizabethan Age. However, clothing became more sharply differentiated from the 1770s on. There were diatribes against fops and dandies. By the nineteenth century, men no longer dared embrace in public or shed tears.

The nineteenth century scientific crusaders, Ulrichs and Hirschfeld, furthered the linkage between homosexuality and gender by theorizing homosexual men as "hermaphrodites of the mind," with male bodies and female souls, though not without opposition. In 1910, Magnus Hirschfeld coined the term "transvestite" to refer to one who prefers to wear the clothing of the opposite sex, to distinguish it and separate it from the phenomenon of homosexuality.

Thus, from the nineteenth century unitary conception of homosexuality there developed two concepts: "sexual orientation" (sexual object choice) and "gender identity" (sexual self-identification as male or female). This scientific rationalism and medicalization of homosexuality confirmed it as a unitary, monolithic phenomenon.

The "Modern" Era

The sex/gender dichotomy was deepened when, in the mid-twentieth century, homosexuality was separated into distinct male and female forms, each of which had different stylized behavioral styles, and distinguished from cross-dressing and effeminacy. This formed a gender divide, and corresponding tensions with bi-gender intermingling and gender ambiguity.

After World War II, there were furtive movements towards political action, but these were largely separated along gender lines. The Mattachine Society, an organization for gay men, was established in 1950. The first openly lesbian organization in the US, the Daughters of Bilitis, was established in 1955. These accommodationist groups encouraged gay people to "act normal" and fit in (lesbians belong in dresses, gay men don't), and recruited prominent "experts" like psychiatrists and psychologists to comment on homosexuality.

In the context of the counterculture of the 1960s United States, the "sexual revolution" permitted these separate populations to exist openly and to enter into the arena of state politics. The struggle to obtain social acceptance and civil rights pitted these groups against one another. Gays and lesbians campaigned for acceptance by suggesting that they were "just like you," but with the single (but extremely significant) exception of partners of the same sex. This fueled the tensions between accomodationist tendencies in the gay/lesbian community and gender ambiguity. It was perceived that gender ambiguity (echoing the Greek disdain for passivity) that channeled the stigma of illegitimacy. It was not surprising, therefore, that some homosexuals sought to lessen the stigma of homosexuality by rejecting the stigma of "inappropriate" gendered behavior.

These historical circumstances led to four areas of tension: monosexism versus bisexism, gender accommodationism versus gender ambiguity, open homosexual identity versus passing as heterosexual, and a gender divide versus bigender intermingling.

Too Queer, And Not Queer Enough

Transsexuals violated the tacit social understandings of the homosexual community in the U.S. both by failing to pass and passing too much. Transsexuals, and later transgenders, were disparaged because some were "passing" as straight through embrasure of stereotypes of gendered behavior, i.e., effeminacy for MTFs and hyper-masculinity for FTMs, and embrasure of heterosexual practices and privilege by identifying their same-sex practices as heterosexuality, thus rejecting homosexual identity. They were also looked down upon because they violated cultural norms of sexual behavior through gender ambiguity, visible androgyny and genderqueerness, thus violating the accommodationist idea that they are "just like you." The resulting split has incorrectly been attributed to fear -- "transphobia," rather than social and political forces.

Gold might argue that he is not one of the accommodationists, because he is fighting for the right to act in ways that violate gender norms. He ignores the context of the times, however. In the 1960s, such an argument was radical and liberating. The argument is no longer a radical one. It is now a regressive argument. By arguing that those born male must retain identification with maleness, even if not with masculinity, his critique lags well behind the radical curve, and begins to merge with the opinions of conservative traditionalists. At one time the use of bronze tools was the latest in technology. To advocate their use today would be silly.

Gold's opinion isn't silly, however, because it is still held by many. It is a hateful ideology. It is alive and well today and often deployed against the trans community. We may yet see it rear its ugly head in the ENDA wars of 2010. I pray that we do not.

In Part II, I will discuss the more recent history of transphobia in the gay community, how it relates to heterosexism, and how it should be addressed by the gay community.


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Sorry, but I know loads of post-ops who will tell you that if they had been totally free to be "themselves" at home, at work, and in the legal system-----they MIGHT HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO GO THROUGH ALL THE MEDICAL STUFF AND SURGERIES. I wore long hair and women's clothes openly on the campus of Carnegie-Mellon University in 1966. I knew it would have to end if I had any plans of getting a job. The personel office expected short hair and a suit and tie. I got a job without them. I worked in a field where it turned out that a David Bowie level of androgeny was accepted. Finally the crap just wore me down and I made a full medical transition. I always wondered what life would have been like without the hetronormism crap that forced me into pants and short hair when I attended public school and made me take gym with boys who loved to beat me up. Who knows.

Véronique | July 20, 2010 4:59 PM

You know who you know, but the post-ops I know had surgery because they really wanted to and are happy they did. And everyone I know on hormone therapy wouldn't give that up for anything. That's because their issue was one of needing a body that matched what their brain expected. No amount of freedom to be themselves without hormones or surgery would have helped. Most tried that first, and it didn't address the issue.

Yay! Another history series from Jillian. I always learn something awesome from these things. :D

Transphobia among gay men is rooted in gynophobia...you are overthinking all this.

What about in the lesbian community, or the bisexual community?

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While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

My current approach to anti-trans sentiment, in the lesbian community at least, is 'Don't go where you aren't wanted.'

What a great history lesson. I never thought of the Mattachine Society as an accommodationist group, usually because I associate Harry Hay with the Radical Faeries, which embrace genderqueer expressions. Thanks for sharing.

Renee Thomas | July 20, 2010 4:11 PM

With respect to the Lesbian Community™, my experience (YMMV) often centers on the charge of “inauthenticity”, and the illogically ignorant belief that I somehow continue to bear the residual taint of male privilege. If by “residual taint” you dykes mean that I go all butch on your ass when you indolently insult my humanity and impugn my motives for transition well than . . . hell yeah! Guilty as charged.

And as regards my sexual orientation – guilty of being a gay woman too.

Look, here’s the deal - I’ve come too damn far and have borne too damn much to let this insulting shit pass for one second longer.

Let you all in on a little secret . . .

You’ll find no more stalwart nor trusted friend if you but treat me as you would hope to be treated.


. . . not that I have strong feelings about this or anything ;>)

I find your post quite helpful at this particular moment. I recently had a rather unpleasant exchange with a few members of my local transgender community in regards to gender theory. I'm an avowed fan of Judith Butler and her "gender performativity" and I was informed that this approach to gender theory was transphobic and deeply insulting. As I understand the argument presented to me denying that their was an inherent biological basis for gender was an attempt to marginalize trans-identities. I understand this argument because Butler's proformativity marginalizes all constructions of identity.

I'm deeply conflicted, I see profound liberatory potential for everyone in Butlers work but at the same time I understand a trans centric critique. I firmly support the trans members of my community but I find the gender binary to be a terribly limiting and ultimately a heteronormative construct yet my local trans community seems to place a high value on it. I was hoping you or another member of the Bilerico community can give me a wider perspective on Butler's work from a trans perspective.

Since you made a Star Trek reference allow me to make a Star Wars "Help me, Bilerico; your my only hope."

Sam

"Use the Force Sam, let go Sam..."

Great question, Sam. As a TS woman who is a TG, queer and glB advocate, my answer is to step outside the dilemma. To me, Butler's taxonomy of sex and gender under the rubric of performativity makes sense in the context of cis women and girls marginalized by male oppression. However, this cosmology falls short of respecting the very real human diversity on this planet that trans-spectrum folx and people born intersex exemplify.

The key piece that respects both biodiversity and overwhelming social pressure for conformity to binary, androcentric, ciscentric and heteronormative sex stereotypes is this: I am convinced that people possess a deep inner affinity toward unique combinations of femininity, masculinity, both, or neither, that gels very early in life and is extremely resilient. Most important, this inner affinity may be independent of other sex characteristics and assigned birth role. However, outer expression of this sense of identity is always defined in a social context (and is subject to change as cultures evolve) and may be authentic, closeted, or a mix. I understand that a huge population of cis women are pressured to repress their own unique identities in the face of cultural oppression and stereotyping. As a geek-gal with a thing for outdoor sports and well engineered cars and computing systems, I've experienced it first hand. But everyone, from the GL orthodoxy to feminist theoreticians, needs to understand that the masculine and feminine, butch and femme, corners of genderspace are just as legitimate as all points inbetween.

I was recently honored to have coauthored a chapter in a book forwarded by Judith Butler (Missé and Coll-Planas, Eds., 2010) I liked what she wrote, but it politely didn't go very deep into this question. I would love to have the opportunity to discuss it with her some day.

Marja Erwin | July 20, 2010 6:23 PM

A lot of feminist theorists have appropriated trans people's struggles to reinforce an ideology of androgyny or subversivism. That goes back to Andrea Dworkin's writing in the seventies, if not even farther. The theories have changed, but the idea that non-binary identities are more radical has not.

I tend to get angry because people insist I should live as a feminine man. I tried. It didn't work. It wasn't me in that role. I am a somewhat, not completely, butch womon. The biggest difference between now and before transition is that I feel at home in my own body. That has nothing to do with masculine or feminine, or femme or butch. That has nothing to do with how I perform my gender.

I fear that we get caught in the cross-fire. Many feminists had to good reason to object to any ideology of androgyny, but too many feminists reject us or attacked us in the course of their critiques of androgyny. Janice Raymond's *The Transsexual Empire* is probably the best-known example of that tendency.

Since you made a Star Trek reference allow me to make a Star Wars "Help me, Bilerico; your my only hope."

Hi Sam.

An experiment: have sex reassignment surgery - but keep performing gender the way you always have. See if it makes a difference - as trans people would say it does - or does not, as Judith Butler would maintain.

That might be too extreme. So instead, try taking massive doses of cross-sexed hormones, that will re-wire your brain and completely change your emotional response. You may wish to only do this for a month, so there is little if any permanent effect. But keep on performing gender as before.

Even that might be too extreme. So examine your reactions to my two proposed experiments. Were they collected, unemotional, and affecting you no more than what choice of shirt to wear today? Or did they affect you more deeply, in a very visceral and emotive way?

That may a hint give you, hmm?.

I do not accept this whole idea of transphobia in the gay community. Never felt it, never saw it and that includes as a crossdresser and a trans woman.

Trangenders have their own version of homophobia; They (including me, my fault) have very little participation if any, in HIV causes or volunteering. Many transgenders even dislike drag queens and see them as harming the trans image, yet there are many transgenders who cling to the belief that because a drag queen threw a beer bottle at a cop 40 years ago it counts for something today.

Given that HIV infection among trans women is at an epically high level, and given that quite a few trans women are rather heavily involved in HIV education and activism, I wonder where you get your information, Geena.

Also, why do you position HIV as a strictly gay thing? There are other populations in addition to trans women that are more vulnerable to infection.

>Given that HIV infection among trans women is at
>an epically high level,

I’m not sure what constitutes “epically high level “, and since you asked for a source
Right here – San Francisco AIDS Foundation
Transgender HIV 1%
http://www.sfaf.org/aidsinfo/statistics/gender.html

>and given that quite a few trans women are
>rather heavily involved in HIV education and
>activism

I never stated there were no trans women involved in HIV. I have stated there are not enough, and if you are one pat yourself on the back. That is a dedication I have not seen by many, INCLUDING MYSELF.

In terms of enthusiasm, posting, volunteering, transwomen, ( especially those over 35 who I am most familiar with ) the participation is just not there. A gay man can post on HIV on this site or any other and transwomen don’t respond or say “yeah I’m on board, who do I call?”. From what I have seen in trans support groups, conventions, medical discussions, the commitment to HIV involvement is not the same as “ENDA+gender identity” involvement.

That is an observation, I have not compiled numbers on that one.


>I wonder where you get your information, Geena.
See above link


>Also, why do you position HIV as a strictly gay thing? There are other populations in addition to trans women that are more vulnerable to infection.

Why do I position HIV as a strictly gay thing?
The entire point is Dr. Weiss is on the topic of homo-trans phobia.
I claim MOST transwomen ask to be part of the GLBT or feel they are marginalized by homophobia. They often state gay men are indifferent to their situation. I think it would be useful for transgenders to get involved with HIV organizations on the same scale as they do for the tax deductibility of SRS, insurance and employer support for transition, and call or ask elected officials to support HIV programs with half the passion they show for ENDA. This I believe would strengthen gay – trans unity. We ask gay men to be there for “gender identity”, but we NOT YOU, are not there for “HIV”.

Yeah, that 1% number doesn't mean a lot since it's relative to the entire population. It doesn't describe how vulnerable as a population trans women are, or what the rate of infection is.

Here's some usable information regarding seroprevalance among trans women.

But please, by all means, continue prioritizing infected gay men over infected trans women.

Also, did you realize that one cause of friction between the gay and lesbian communities was the expectation that lesbians provide continuous support for fighting AIDS (as something that happens to gay men), but that there was little to no reciprocation on any level? Wouldn't this turn out the same way for trans people?

How about this: There is no shortage of support for gay men who have AIDS. It's HRC's primary health care concern (possibly to the exclusion of all others, given HRC's relative silence while the health care bill was under debate). It's at the top of everyone's list, crowding out other vulnerable populations, let alone a multitude of other concerns that affect the entire queer community (poverty, for example, or access to good health care).

I'm all for dealing with the high seropositivity rate among trans women.

Also, I don't know what a "transgender" is, but I know a lot of trans men and women.

Lisa was referring to a study by the San Francisco Public Health department which found over 50% of the trans sex workers in San Francisco were seropositive. Btw, if you know anything about the Center for AIDs Prevention Studies, you'll know they have an entire trans health-related component run by trans woman JoAnne Keatley.

Also, thank you for erasing all the queer trans people who get to be both gay and trans, lesbian and trans, bisexual and trans, pansexual and trans, etc, who are yet somehow entirely separate from the LGB...

And that's a huge part of the problem, really. Lots of cis LGB think that trans people are entirely separate. But we're not separate. Like cis people, we have all kinds of orientations, and I think it's really a twisted kind of reversal to paint trans people as a whole homophobic because of something that's not even factually supportable.

Also, that's a fairly biased and minimizing view of what did happen at Stonewall.

I'm kind of tired of these exchanges with you: Are you just trolling? I totally believe you're a trans woman, but the majority of your comments that I have seen are pretty damned transphobic.

Renee Thomas | July 20, 2010 4:50 PM

Geena,

Careful slinging that charge of non-participation around, some of us are indeed active in LGB and T political and HIV advocacy.

I didn't say all Renee, on HIV I said "very little".

I don't see any accusation that warrants care. I stand behind what I said there is "very little" trans participation in HIV volunteering or support, and I even admitted to being absent myself.

If you are one of the few, you have my complements.

How about this. Why isn't the gay community trying to do something to make resources more available to trans women?

Why should what Ron Gold or any gay or lesbian person have to say about transsexualism matter any more than any other person?

Renee Thomas | July 20, 2010 5:31 PM

@Sam,

I'm a fan of Butler’s work too but there is some interesting research beginning to emerge in the field of neurological development that suggests a neurodevelopmental basis for gender transition. I would draw you attention to the work of V.S. Ramachandran at UCSD and Milt Diamond's body of work at the University of Hawaii.

http://cbc.ucsd.edu/pdf/occurence_phantom_genitalia.pdf

The goad to transition can be argued to present, both with regard to early onset and developmental progress, as too uniformly consistent not to suspect an innate and underlying brain/body schema as influencing the course of human psychosexual development. With all due respect to Butler and superficial social constructions of gender identity and expression notwithstanding, there is something more elemental going on under all this. Failing to question social science’s myopia as regards the possibility of biological determinism as a causal factor in the onset of transgenderism seems short-sighted and intellectually dishonest at best. There is a place for Butler’s theory of performativity as it relates to social relationality but I predict the core “predicate” to transition will be found to be a concrete part of our neurological “hard-wiring.”

Hannah Rossiter | July 20, 2010 6:43 PM

I have personally found that there is a lot of transphobia and bullying in the trans community. God forbid if you violate the sacred tenet of being trans gender "Don't upset the biggest bully in the community"

The conversation with Ron Gold continued at length in another place. It's a bit long, but I think it's worthwhile reading through it, as it answers many questions re Gender Performativity and other issues raised here. It also exposes Ron Gold's views in more detail.

A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part I
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part II
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part III
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part IV
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part V
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part VI
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part VII
A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part VIII

There's a significant amount of biological data in there too, with multiple URLs that you really should follow up. So set some time aside.

In the 1960s Transsexuals were not part of the gay community. Neither were queens (transgender folks). Gay men had gay bars, TS/TG people had queen bars. In SF The Stud on Folsom St welcomed all.

We were not part of the Castro although many sisters lived near Polk Street.

Our femininity was no more or less stereotypical than that of natal women. Some of us were hippies and feminists others were fashion models and embraced the feminine mystique.

We weren't part of the gay male community. But some of us were part of the feminist and lesbian communities.

The addition of T to lesbian and Gay happened in the 1990s.

The label transgender is socially constructed and is not embraced by many, many women of transsexual history.

Renee Thomas | July 21, 2010 11:34 AM

@Zoe,

And having re-read the entire exchange (thank you for reposting) I am left with the distressing conclusion that your nuanced and thoughtful arguments did little to change Gold's mind. Many otherwise intelligent people seem heavily invested in an argument for social construction that ignores entirely what Ramachandran has long maintained . . . we are indeed our brains.

Than again " . . . It is hard to fill a cup that is already full."

Cyndi Richards | July 21, 2010 12:59 PM

Carol;

As a trans-woman myself, I suppose your one-size-fits-all suggestion has many applications.

Perhaps people of color and people with various physical and mental disabilities should take that advice and just "disappear" as well?

Love it or leave it, eh?

Cyndi,

I said, "My current approach to anti-trans sentiment, in the lesbian community at least, is 'Don't go where you aren't wanted.'"

Please note the 'my' in there, and that I didn't add, "and I feel this is the best way to handle non-acceptance of trans women in the lesbian community." And please note that the context is 'the lesbian community,' NOT society as a whole, or anything else that is necessary to life.

Which is to say: *I personally* have given up on being accepted (not just tolerated) as part of the cis gay community in general, and the lesbian community in particular, and really, no longer identify myself as gay. *Not* that I feel that trans ppl in general should just walk away from the larger gay community, or the smaller more specific communities that they feel affinity with.

Your sarcastic attack relative to civil rights for other disenfranchied groups is a total non sequitor here. OF COURSE ppl who are differently abled, of non-white ethnicity, or of some other 'category' that is actively discriminated against by the majority society (such as gay or trans ppl) should fight for inclusion in society. This is important for overall well-being, whether it is for access to jobs, loans, health care, dining, lodging, shopping, or such.

On the other hand, wrong as it may be, for a member of a minority to be excluded from being accepted as part of another minority group is a toatlly different issue. And in my own persoanl case, I don't need the acceptance of or inclusion in the GLB community to have access to the things such as those I mentioned above. I only need to fight for my civil rights where being trans denies me access to them.

Marja Erwin | July 21, 2010 5:41 PM

Does being flat-footed make me less trans? No.

Does being trans make me less lesbian? No.

This isn't about being excluded from "other disenfranched groups." This is about lesbian health and advocacy groups, inter alia, either excluding other lesbians or outright opposing our goals. If not trying to "morally mandate" us "out of existence."

Marja,

I am not sure I really understand your point, here, so I am not going to try to reply and risk addressing the wrong issue. If you will clarify what you mean, I will be happy to reply to you, though. :)

Cyndi Richards | July 21, 2010 1:25 PM

I would concur with Hannah's keen observation about inter-communal "bullying" among the many diverse factions that choose to rally behind the catch-all term "transgender".

During my twenty-something years of being "out" to one degree or another here in the relatively tolerant city of Chicago, I have often observed the highly closeted casual crossdresser crowd rebuke those with a greater "commitment" to their own personal gender nonconformity as being "sick" and delusional" for pursuing the procedures that help to align the body and the mind.

The inverse is also true. Transsexuals often ridicule the "closet-cases" for their apparent sense of deep denial and the hypocritical words and deeds that seem to emanate from this contradictory way of life.

Until we can manage to accept each other unconditionally, any expectation of acceptance from "outside the bubble" seems unreasonable at best.

I have met the enemy, and they are US!

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | July 22, 2010 1:24 AM

Wow, looks like I have to get a dictionary with all these polysyllabic words from an obviously educated community.

I try to simplify as much as possible, while recognizing and respecting the amazing diversity and variety that people represent. As a transwoman I have witnessed and experienced first hand acts of transphobia from gays, lesbians and straight people.

Very often it may be based on ignorance and fear, which is understandable, and given the opportunity that kind of transphobia can be overcome and erased, but in its most heinous form, where I've gotten to know the people, it is simply, I believe, a matter of those people who have an insecurity of their own gender identity and refuse to face it!

Whether its the gay man who dresses as a straight, occasionally does drag and therefore assumes all transwoman are just men doing fulltime drag, or the "effete elite" preppy gay men who think they dress and act straight and pass and should be treated as "normal", or the butch female who dresses in pants and jacket ONLY, even tawks and walks like a guy with attitude, just doesn't take hormones... there seems to be an underlying fear that drives them to be proactively transphobic.