Matt Foreman

Prop 8 Ours to Lose? Nope - It Was Always an Uphill climb.

Filed By Matt Foreman | January 22, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, gay marriage, marriage equality, political analysis, Prop 8, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

A lot of people have been saying that Prop 8 was our side's to lose and that missteps by the No on 8 Campaign snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Those analyses ignore hard core obstacles and fundamentals underlying the contest, including how hard it is to hold and move opinions on marriage in the narrow confines of a campaign.

I need to start by saying that I had nothing to do with the No on 8 Campaign. Because the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, where I work, has been so deeply involved in public education work in support of marriage equality, the law literally precluded any contact or coordination with the electoral campaign. So, as a purely armchair quarterback it's pretty easy for me to catalog things I - in my infinite wisdom - would have done differently. But I also know that even if everything- every single thing - had gone our way, it still would have been incredibly hard to win by anything more than a tiny margin. Here's why.

Putting Minority Rights Up to a Popular Vote: the Difficulty of Winning

First off, it's nearly impossible for minorities to win or defend their rights at the ballot box. Californians have demonstrated that time and again, voting to outlaw affirmative action, to deny grade school education and non-emergency medical care to undocumented children, and to specifically permit race discrimination in housing.

This profound disadvantage was exacerbated by the fact that marriage is in a class by itself as an issue. Everyone has an intimate, personal relationship with marriage and has an opinion - usually visceral - about it. True, over time people are moving toward marriage - we've quite amazingly gained about one point per year since 2000. But within the narrow time constraints of a campaign - under 90 days - it is pure fancy to think there's a "movable middle" on marriage. At best there was movable sliver. More on that in a bit.

Our Opponents' Base - Huge, Solid, Energized

Second, the other side had a huge, largely unmovable, energized base. We didn't. No surprise but they had older people all sewn up. While we won among all voters under 65, more than two-thirds (67%) of voters 65 or older voted for Prop 8. That alone - yes, alone - was enough to override our majority support among all younger age groups. Anyone who thinks a 90-day campaign - even a flawless one - is going to overcome the imprint of homophobia on those born before World War II needs to think again.

In addition to older people, the other side also had a stranglehold on regular churchgoers. More than two-thirds (70%) of people who worship at least once a week voted for Prop 8 and they make up nearly half (45%) of the electorate. Yes, our side got an equally large proportion of people who hardly ever attend church (70%), but they comprise only 29% of the vote. Anyone who thinks it is easy to overcome homophobia that's reinforced on a weekly basis from a person's own house of worship doesn't appreciate the role of religion in so many people's lives or its pervasive use as a rationale for voting for Prop 8: an astonishing 94% of "Yes" voters said "religion" or the "Bible" was most influential in deciding how to vote.

What does combining older voters, frequent churchgoers and Republicans (81% of who voted for Prop 8) yield? A rock solid, close to 50% of the vote, that's what. How solid? Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who voted for Prop 8 said nothing - that's right, nothing - would have changed their mind. And almost all of the rest of them couldn't really name anything real that would have changed their minds. For example, the most common answer offered by these folks was "calling same-sex marriage by another name" - an option not on the ballot.

Does this mean we can't ever move older voters, Republicans and frequent churchgoers? Of course not. My parents - both 76, conservative Republicans and devout Catholics - are prime examples. While they could not be more pro-marriage now, I know in my heart that it's only because my partner (now spouse) and I have been a part of their lives for years - we could never have moved them in the 90 days the Prop 8 campaign essentially had.

Support on Our Side - Smaller and Squishy

Our side? Not so big and not so solid. At best, we LGBT people make up 6% of the vote and unlike the fervor from our opponents' much larger base we weren't united on marriage equality. (Two polls said 5% of the LGBT community - or 1% of the total vote - actually voted "Yes.")

I'm still hearing the refrain "I don't know why we're fighting for marriage - I don't believe in it" or "It's not my issue." I think this is because for years we've mainly presented marriage as a package of rights - like a better dental plan - than what it's really about, recognition of equal humanity. Whatever the reasons - they were united and energized; we weren't.

But more important, unlike our opponents, our base beyond LGBT people is squishy on its leading edge. Going into the Prop 8 contest, only a slim majority of Californians (54%) even believed that our relationships are moral. (This figure also was our high point in the superficial public pre-election polls to which so much significance was attached.) This slim majority is all our side had to work with. After all, no one who thinks we're immoral is going to vote to protect our access to the ultimate societal institution used to judge and control sex, procreation and "family values." At the same time, it's hardly a given that people who do not see us as immoral are automatically for marriage equality.

The Ick Factor

In fact, many of those people are still deeply uncomfortable with homosexuality. This "ick" is and always has been our Achilles heel, something our opponents skillfully exploit time and again. Lots of folks I respect have been saying if only the No on 8 Campaign had put up or hit back with forceful, to-the-heart ads featuring gay and lesbian families - instead of those soft ones with parents or surrogates like Sen. Diane Feinstein - we would have won. I desperately want to agree, but can't.

The sad reality is that our movables get all wobbly - they blanch, they stammer, they get visibly uncomfortable - when faced with the reality of our couples, our families, our children. I've personally seen it dozens of times in focus groups, in one-on-one interviews, and in my own life and my friends' lives. Ads, for example, that make you and me cheer don't work with them at all, they backfire.

What's this about? The short answer is that the ick factor is alive and festering even among people who want to suppress it. These are people who truly want to be fair and who don't want to hurt other people. At the same time, they remain deeply uncomfortable with homosexuality and marriage goes right to the heart of their discomfort, given that sex is central to marriage.

Ads that Move Us Don't Move those We Need to Move

In 2004, when I was at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, we - like so many people now - were sick of our side resorting to intellectualized arguments like "Don't write discrimination into the constitution" when the other side was going for arguments that hit the heart and emotions(?). We were frustrated that our side's campaigns almost never put up ads showing our families speaking in emotion-based arguments in support of marriage.

With no small amount of self-righteousness, we taped a dozen ads featuring gay and lesbian couples speaking from the heart, many with heart-wrenching stories. LGBT loved them. But when we showed them to voters who were opposed to anti-gay discrimination but weren't there on marriage (that is, the movables) all we were able to get from a few people was a hint of empathy, but absolutely no movement on marriage. It was stunning - incredibly hard to witness. Our elaborately-planned campaign had to be scrapped - we couldn't justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that made us feel good but didn't move anyone else.

Closer to home, nearly three years ago the Haas, Jr. Fund, Gill Foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation, Ambassador Jim Hormel and others invested nearly $500,000 to understand what would move Californians to support marriage equality and how to address the deeply conflicting views the mushy middle holds about LGBT equality. Once again, ads featuring gay people - individuals or couples or families - just did not work. What did work were messages that pushed people to think about the issue in a new way, namely, asking them how would they feel if they were in our shoes. But again, gay and lesbian people didn't work as the messengers.

That's where the "Garden Wedding" ad came from - the message being delivered silently by a bride facing numerous obstacles trying to get down the aisle that ended with the tagline "What if you couldn't marry the person you love?"

Did I like the ad? Absolutely not..

Did it work? Absolutely. Let California Ring conducted rigorous testing in the Santa Barbara media market last year. A baseline poll found that only 36% of people there supported marriage equality, 8-10 points below the state average. That was followed by a substantial buy for the Garden Wedding ad, coupled with field organizing. A follow-up poll showed that support for marriage equality grew significantly, including a 16% jump among younger voters (as opposed to zero growth in markets where the campaign did not run). More tellingly, on Election Day, Santa Barbara defeated Prop 8 by 10 points (compared to it passing Prop 22 by 14 points in 2000). Santa Barbara was the only county in Southern California to vote No on 8 and the only thing that was different was the Garden Wedding campaign.

Why did it work? Instead of asking viewers to accept a gay couple - which was simply too much for many people - the ad provided them a way to be empathetic that was more comfortable to them. This made the issue about who they are - fair minded, not bigoted - rather than about whether they approve of gay relationships. Sadly, our side was unable to raise the millions required to take the ad statewide in the years and months before Prop 8 qualified for the ballot. Part of this failing was the simple reality that it's very hard to raise money in the absence of a campaign and crisis; the other main reason was that gay donors didn't understand the power and appeal of the ad and didn't step up to fund it.

Where Gay and Lesbian People Don't Make Good Messengers and Where They Do

Here's another painful reality all this research again showed: using gay and lesbian people as messengers not only failed to move people in our direction, it actually hurt us - driving movables against marriage equality. Over and over the same result: showing them ads with gay and lesbian individuals or couples pushed people the wrong way. And ads that included children with their gay or lesbian parents did even worse. That's why the "Yes on 8" campaign so prominently featured children in its ads.

Think about friends who tell you their relatives are OK with them being gay or lesbian so long as they don't talk about it. Why do so many of us find it so incredibly hard to bring up gay issues with co-workers or when we visit our families over the holidays? Or when we do, what about the painful silence or uncomfortable glances that so often follow? Think your Aunt Jane - who's only recently started to be nice to your partner - is going to see a television ad and suddenly think "Darn, I've been wrong all along about this gay marriage thing!"? Think again.

I am not saying we shouldn't be putting our lives, stories and faces front and center over and over again or that we can't move people solidly to our side. Most of us have seen how taking our lives up close and personal to people around us does, in fact, create change. Moreover, having these direct, real conversations is the only way we're ever going to squelch the ick and inoculate voters from attacks that exploit it.

What I am saying is that we can't leave this hard work until the last minute - which is what a campaign really is. We can't expect some brilliantly-crafted ads - coming from our collective heart - to be the silver bullets that kill anti-marriage ballot initiatives in the heat of a campaign, when there is no time and the other side is assaulting our movables with carefully-crafted messages designed to exploit every anti-gay fear and myth. Instead, we need to move people beyond short-term political campaigns and before they get underway.

Moving Forward

Yes, I do think we could have won - by a fraction of a point - if everything had gone our way. But everything didn't go our way, including mistakes our side undoubtedly made and things beyond our control like the Mormon President/Prophet's ordering his faithful to fuel the "Yes" campaign. That gave our opponents a two-to-one money advantage 60 days out, something few campaigns of any sort, anywhere, are able to overcome.

As numbing, insulting and painful as our loss was, let's take real pride in the fact that we moved the needle nine points on marriage - yes, marriage - in less than eight years. Of course we must face up to and learn from our missteps. But rather than getting caught up in endless recriminations of our recent loss, let's focus on the long term work ahead--how to build our social movement to win complete equality in California and across the nation..

From a big picture view that means ramping up education and organizing within churches, among younger voters, and in people of color and rural communities. But more important it is what each of us can and must do everyday: having those hard, from the heart talks with our friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers. Time is once again on our side, let's make the most of it.

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What I'm least impressed with is Foreman's analysis of Ads that Move Us Don't Move those We Need to Move.

That's focus group talk.

Frankly, everyone knew that the intitiave was about gay marriage (same-gender marriage), but the campaign had no commercials that had any LGBT imagery. I think that was a huge mistake. Our broad, alphabet soup community needs to be visible in any messaging to broader society.

What I'm also unimpressed with is that Foreman didn't evaluate the horrible top down approach to the campaign, that it ineffectively used it's volunteers, did not have adequate internet and social media components, and weren't adequately prepared for predictable arguments from the opposition.

Not impressed with his analysis at all, and less impressed with the leadership that used it. It's a reason I won't support any future marriage equality campaign until the coalition completely revamps who runs the campaign -- I'm not going to donate time or money to a campaign that doesn't acknowledge community identifications -- even the words bisexual and transgender -- in it's messaging.

The "leadership" ran the campaign they designed this past November, failed. Time for new leadership with different ideas on how to run a campaign.

No one ever mentioned that millions of people saw President Obama on the Rick Warren debate saying "Marriage is between one man and one woman. God is in the mix". He may have sent a letter to LGBT organizations saying he does not support Propostion 8, but few voters knew or understood the contradiction. The strong point was Govenor Swartznegger stating that same-sex marriage would improve California's economy. There are been excellent studies by the Williams Institute an UCLA think thank mapping out ways the economy would benefit. Where were they in the ads ? A popular Govenor with an ad of he and his wife encouraging voters to vote against Prop 8 would have had enormous influence. I honestly think the committee thought they had the black community covered with NAACP. You make some good points and I have to take your word regarding the effectiveness of LGBT in ads. I think Ellen would have shown up well and Rosie. Who doesn't know they are lesbians. They are popular, also Wanda Sykes. How much funds were left over from the NoOnProp8 campaign? How will it be spent. Does there exist an itemized accountability? Good OpEd but I don't agree with much of it.

Sorry, I was pondering the millions of dollars that WILL BE donated over the next 20 years to purchase a lottery ticket for equality (it's a crap shoot these days) and the thousands (millions?) of hours volunteered. Now I'm throwing up. Sickening.

How will our collective psychological health be after 10, 20, 30 years of struggling to make the case to Americans that we ARE equal? I thought the federal government is responsible for protecting ALL of us equally REGARDLESS of whom "likes us" or "approves of us"?

I can't believe we ALL want to live a LIFETIME of begging for what we should be TAKING - WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE IT. Equality BELONGS to us.

So I hope Charles Merrill has success as he proceeds in court, and I hope that there is MORE THAN ONE PERSON out there in our Huge Queer America who will join Mr. Merrill and show what CAN BE DONE when all personal issues and differences between gays are jettisoned and we work as a UNITED FRONT in a FEDERAL TAX REVOLT.

I know, I know, "then people won't like us".
Boo-f*cking-hoo - just give me what I deserve and deal with your need to be liked.

Why Are We Begging?

Leave transsexuals out of it...not only are not all of us gay, not all of us support same-sex marriage. To include GLBT as a whole in an effort transsexuals may or may not approve of is presumptuous at best.

You are creating a dangerous change in the threshold of the conversation, Susan.

On that basis, Lesbians of American Second Wave Separatist philosophy are perfectly legitimised in any effort that they make to demand trans-exclusion from ENDA to "preserve women's spaces."

You really do not want to go there.
Too many of us have worked too hard on behalf of our T allies to include T women...

Ignore Susan's transsexual separatist crap. If you've ever debated one of these "authentic" (AKA "classic" AKA "real" AKA "woman of transsexual history" AKA "not-a-transsexual-anymore" AKA "Harry Benjamin Syndrome") extremists then you'd know they respond to logic or facts about as positively as do religious fundamentalists. Fortunately they are few and far between, and the best thing you can do is to ignore them.

I am a transsexual woman who also politically identifies as a transgender person and as a member of the greater LGBT community that has far more in common with each other than all of the rednecked jackbooted bigots who'd cheerfully round up all up for The Final Solution if they could get away with it. We all deserve equal rights (such as marriage, equal employment and housing, the right to serve our country if we so choose, and the right not to be the target of hate crime) because we pay the same taxes and have the same legal and social obligations.

As a transsexual who identifies also as transgender, I'm going to put us into this LGBT, same-sex/same-gender/marriage equality mix.

The reasons are pretty simple:

1.) The court filings in New Jersey on marriage equality already included us -- the LGBT filers cited the case of a married transsexual in their initial filings.

2.) Marriages in place before transition are already in question.

3.) For immigration purposes, any marriage a transsexual enters into, whether one is the U.S. Citizen or the forgein born spouse, is not recognized as a legal marriage.

4.) As Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality has pointed out previously:

Every trans person who's in a relationship, regardless of what their gender is or ever was, they're either in a same-sex relationship or in an opposite sex relationships that somebody could claim was a same-sex relationship.

Some examples -- from the perspective of the transsexual partners -- that go to the prove Mara's statement: Same Sex, Opposite Sex. Depending on who is looking at a relationship and under what circumstances they're looking, if a transsexual or transgender person marries, the relationship is seen by someone as a same sex relationship.

Loving v Virginia's declaration that marriage is a fundamental "basic civil rights of man" seems to not apply uniformly, state to state, for transsexual and transgender people; marriage equality doesn't apply to those whose gender doesn't conform to the male/XY and female/XX gender dichotomy.

Susan, I'm dragging you as a transsexual into this because I'm a transsexual too, and the marriage equality issue matters to me as a transsexual woman over the inequality transsexual people face in marriage.

My answer to you not liking my bringing transsexual people into this fight: Tough.

How do you define transsexual?

Matt, I think you make a strong case for using the data we now have about who voted which way and how the Garden Wedding Ad moved opinion in the markets where it was able to run. Autumn called this "focus group talk," and while you did at points refer to focus group data, you also referenced polling and the very real electoral data coming out of the ballot initiative campaign. These are the facts we have, and we can't ignore them because we have strong opinions about how this campaign was run.

I wonder however how you would contrast this analysis with what happened in Massachusetts where the TV and print ads did feature gay and lesbian couples with their children. I know the ultimate decisionmakers there were the legislators, not the voters, and that Massachusetts residents had a lot more time to get used to same-sex marriage than did Californians, but nonetheless the Mass Equality ads were rated as being very effective. And the legislators there were heavily lobbied by constituents on both sides of the question.

The other point I want to make is that I don't think the No on 8 people did enough work in the African American community. There was very little beyond the support of the NAACP and some very late work with Black clergy through People for the American Way and a few others. This was a big mistake and it not only cost us votes, but it ultimately set back a lot of efforts to build coalition and partnership.

I'm glad you spoke up because you've added a lot to this discussion that is reasoned and reasonable.


Terry Leftgoff | January 22, 2009 11:23 PM

Editors' Note: This comment has been deleted at the commenter's request.

Interesting analysis. The wedding ad did run in LA.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Obama campaign sucked up almost all the local resources that ordinarily we could have relied on. When asking people to call or donate, over and over we heard they had no time or money, everything was for Obama. So, we began without institutional support and were on our own. Basic abandonment by the Liberal and Progressive non-gay movements.

The list of leaders was something I recall seeing last summer at some meeting. No secret about it. Lori Jean is a very lovely person. She does a great job running the GL Center. Which probably does not translate well into running a political campaign.

The worst decisions were forbidding volunteers from going door to door, refusing to campaign outside of high income areas and the absolute refusal to use hand out literature. The lack of reading material was fatal: people would ask for something to give out to their family or co-workers and we had nothing to give them. Add to that the failure to provide literature in Spanish and Asian languages. Lethal. There were those of us willing to stand outside Target and El Super but we were pointedly told we would have no support from the campaign. Note: the official campaign refused to support volunteers willing to go into risky areas.

On the bright side, a majority of Asians and Latinos who are not evangelical Christians voted no.

Very interesting read. I'm unmoved, like others, by the focus-group-driven decision making. My gut tells me that our ad campaign was less effective because of the exclusion of same gender families, but it also suffered from the exclusion of supportive clergy, and supportive politicians (DiFi excepted) -- and also because the ads were just generally lame and timid in their rebuttals of the other side's lies. But I can kind of see how throwing those types of images at people for the first time 60 days out from an election might not be the best move, which makes me a little more hopeful about the new "get to know us" ad campaign that MEUSA is running.

On another note, and this is a personal gripe of mine, I live in Fresno -- I know, I know, poor me. I have to say that I am soooo tired of hearing people lament the poor outreach to the black community. First of all, we've established that the black community didn't vote for 8 in any greater numbers than other ethnic communities -- like Hispanics...and a whole bunch of 'em live around here. Second, black voters don't comprise a huge percentage of the voting pool to begin with. Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying that we don't need to reach out to the black community, and if the rush to judgement to blame blacks for the passage of 8 has a silver lining at all is that it brought to the surface some very real wounds and issues that need to be addressed between our respective constituencies.

But what bothers me about the emphasis on the race issue in the post-mortem is that it distracts from the elephant in the room-- the Central Valley. Look people, I know that everything east of coastal range is just dirty, hot, and backward, but it is also the geographical majority of California -- not to mention all those people that live there....i.e., the other side's base.

Believe me, if I lived in SF or LA I wouldn't want to spend any time in Fresno, Merced, Modesto, Bakersfield, Tulare, Visalia, etc.... either--but guess what? You're gonna have to. And this is something that these LGBT/Marriage Equality Organizations are going to have to come to terms with. Whether they like it or not, places like Fresno are much more representative of the electoral attitudes of the rest of the country than SF and LA are. If these groups can't learn how to speak to the people of the Central Valley and how to operate successfully in these communities-- then this movement is screwed.

Prop 8, and a lot of marriage equality-type campaigns are run with this idea that if we can just win big in the "enlightened" parts of the state, we can ignore the yokels. As this post lays out, it doesn't work that way -- even our "enlightened" frieds aren't that reliable. Now, California may the exception, maybe if we worked a little harder in SF and LA...and sprinkled some flesh-eating bacteria up and down 99, we might just be able to eek out a 1% victory -- but that's not going to work in the rest of the country. And we can't just rely on getting all the blacks to vote for us either.

I'm sorry, when I look at the red and blue map of Prop 8 results I just see an enormous swath of territory that was ignored, willfully ignored, consistently ignored -- before and after the election by the so-call gay leadership and it just pisses me off. But I love all of you.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 23, 2009 9:51 AM

Lobbying is the least effective way of winning our agenda. In the electoral field that was expressed by No on 8’s sweet talking lobbying effort aimed at voters. Their perspective has a 100% track record of failure on same sex marriage, which is now illegal almost everywhere. Anti marriage laws are the new sodomy laws.

Lobbying, whether targeted at legislative hustler or the voters themselves is an exercise in futility. But don’t try telling that to the self- appointed leaders of the No on 8. They’re drawn from paid movement bureaucrats and from the ranks of right centrist Democrat Party. They claim to be skilled and to Know Secret Stuff You Don’t Know.

However it was No on 8’s disgraceful and clueless policies of ignoring minority working people and their inability to summon up the courage to criticize Obama’s blatant bigotry that ultimately destroyed our chances to win.

No on 8’s leadership imposed an undemocratic ‘non-confrontational’ policy because their greatest fear is upsetting the applecart holding what’s most dear to them; self appointed positions, bloated salaries, ‘retreats’ and other self-imposed gratuities. Militants and activists tend not to be so respectful of their bureaucratic and self appointed leadership so they avoid drawing them into to movement, instead relying of political operatives hot shots. Many of these paid political hot shots are straight and even more clueless than their employers.

That's why they refused to involve our community or working people, particularly minority workers’ in a direct challenge to the system that produces homophobia.

Before the vote they refused to tap the energy of activists in demonstrations at mormon temples, Saddleback and catholic cathedrals. They adamantly refused to organize statewide mass demonstrations whose very pointed goal would be to promise bigots that if Prop 8 passed there will be more, much more, of the same. Years of the same.

Because they’re Democrats the No on 8 misleaders outright refused to call Obama to task for his open bigotry. When the mormons, Warren and the catholics used it against us in a last minute blitzkrieg they galvanized the bigots who voted against us. Instead of giving the bigots pause with militant mass demonstrations No on 8’s political bankruptcy gave the bigots permission to vote their bigotry as did Obama.

Prop 8 passed because of the Democrats refused to criticize Obama which in turn made the job of Warren and the catholic-mormon axis who quoted Obama much more effective. And they demobilized our movement by refusing to muster our activist base which is huge in California.

People like that, who orbit the Democrat party, are not only incapable of leading our movement; they’re an obstacle to equality. The defeat in California was unnecessary and unexpected. More than anything else our movement needs a stand-up fighting left to counteract the influence of right centrists like Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans.

Well, actually that would be fine with me, Maura. Should I be asked to vote for ENDA, I would. But ENDA will do next to nothing to cure the ills of the transgender seeking employment; whether ENDA eventually passes or not is neither here nor there to me.

With regards to same-sex marriage, I will repeat: leave transsexuals out of it. The entire issue with regards to including transsexuals under the GLBTRANSGENDER umbrella is that 1) we are not all gay, and in fact most (transsexuals at least) are straight, and 2) not all of us support the GLB. For the GLB to assume all transsexuals unilaterally support every GLB issue and speak of that support as though it is a given is claiming another's position that they just may not desire to relinguish.

So, I'm a "homosexual transsexual", eh? I'm rather curious how you came to this conclusion, as I certainly don't identify as a "homosexual transsexual."

And btw, Are you aware that the way you are using the word homosexual -- the phrase homosexual transsexual -- is pejorative in your usage?

Secondly, I don't claim the support of all transsexuals. I never have, and I never will. I do speak as a voice that embraces diversity, and I certainly embrace the gender and sexuality diversity of trans folk.

Thirdy, the majority of m2f transsexuals are not likely straight. See Bockting's research, as cited in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Bockting's research suggests that, among male-to-female transgender people, 27 percent are attracted to men, 35 percent are attracted to women and 38 percent are attracted to men and women. Among female-to-male transgender people, 10 percent are attracted to men, 55 percent are attracted to women and 35 percent are attracted to men and women.

When you add up 27% and 38%, you have 65% of male-to-females are on some level being attracted to women.

Susan, if as you claim I don't speak for the majority of transsexuals, you're certainly don't either, especially when you're you're claiming majority sexual orientation status within publicly identified m2f trans folk.

Lastly, if it's only a small percentage of m2f transsexuals who identify as lesbian and want to marry female partners, don't they deserve equality under the law?

If you don't believe that, you're probably hanging out at the wrong website. I would definitely say that Bilerico has a progressive slant to it's editorial viewpoint.

So, I'm a "homosexual transsexual", eh? I'm rather curious how you came to this conclusion, as I certainly don't identify as a "homosexual transsexual."

And btw, Are you aware that the way you are using the word homosexual -- the phrase homosexual transsexual -- is pejorative in your usage?

Secondly, I don't claim the support of all transsexuals. I never have, and I never will. I do speak as a voice that embraces diversity, and I certainly embrace the gender and sexuality diversity of trans folk.

Thirdy, the majority of m2f transsexuals are not likely straight. See Bockting's research, as cited in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Bockting's research suggests that, among male-to-female transgender people, 27 percent are attracted to men, 35 percent are attracted to women and 38 percent are attracted to men and women. Among female-to-male transgender people, 10 percent are attracted to men, 55 percent are attracted to women and 35 percent are attracted to men and women.

When you add up 27% and 38%, you have 65% of male-to-females are on some level being attracted to women.

Susan, if as you claim I don't speak for the majority of transsexuals, you're certainly don't either, especially when you're you're claiming majority sexual orientation status within publicly identified m2f trans folk.

Lastly, if it's only a small percentage of m2f transsexuals who identify as lesbian and want to marry female partners, don't they deserve equality under the law?

If you don't believe that, you're probably hanging out at the wrong website. I would definitely say that Bilerico has a progressive slant to it's editorial viewpoint.

I think this is one of the best analysis I've seen yet of Prop 8. Kudos to Matt for clearing up some holes in the narrative.

Obstacles to Full Equality:

1. There is no "Suffering Equality". Unlike the common struggles of blacks or women in the 20th Century, gays are too diverse to have a common suffering, which prevents us from feeling UNITED. Our diversity, a random sample of ALL people, means we do not share the same hardships. Rich gays can afford to prevent much suffering legally, and are clueless to poor gays' issues, and those who "pass" as straight often have less hardships than our butch women and femme men. Too many white gays live isolated from non-white gays, we have religious and anti-religious folk, and rural and urban are like 2 different planets. How CAN we have UNITY when there is no COMMON suffering?

2. We Hate Each Other. Meaning - our disagreements prevent us from working together for a COMMON CAUSE. I cannot BELIEVE how often I read snarky comments on gay blogs like, "with an attitude like that I wouldn't even TRY to work for your equality"....or "I don't like HIM, so I won't support HIS fight for equality"......or "I hate kids, I hate marriage, so why would I fight for marriage" if one's own personal needs trumps the needs of an entire community (or its children), and as if we are not fighting for FULL EQUALITY FOR ALL, we are fighting for the particular rights WE like for the people WE like.

Pathetic, no? Can we all grow up and fight for FULL FEDERAL EQUALITY FOR ALL, even for those we do not like?


I'm certainly not so naive as to expect you to respect the gist of my are a homosexual transsexual. However, you can't claim the support of all transsexuals, the majority of which are straight and may or may not support your position, should they not desire to give it to you...regardless of how trite you make your comments. To do so will simply alienate what support you may have had with that group in the first place.

I think another problem for the gay community is that we have no, national, highly recognizable leaders. We have no Harvey Milks or Al Sharptons (not that I like him, but you see him and immediately associate him to the cause), or Jesse Jeacksons etc...We REALLY need a STAR-power leader who can add a face and voice to the LGBT cause nationally. The current "leaders" just don't cut it.

PFLAG mom here, who gave money to the anti-Prop 8 campaign from summer through election day. The money I gave to Obama was funneled though the Stonewall Dems, so he knew where my values lay.

Why? I'm a straight white Washingtonion. But not only do I have a gay child, I have gay friends. I have GLBTQI friends of all stripes, and ALL deserve equal rights, everywhere. California is a bellwhether, so my money went there.

This stuff is important, and worth fighting for, and I guess fighting amongst yourselves too. Uniting around equality is something we have to get ALL PEOPLE -- all GLBTIQ people, all straight people -- ALL PEOPLE to work for. Or at least a electoral majority to vote for.

"You really do not want to go there.
Too many of us have worked too hard on behalf of our T allies to include T women..."

Sorry Maura, but we DO want to go there ...

Susan is quite correct in her statement that not all transsexuals support the GLB & T marriage of convenience. I for one do not want to give up my marriage to aquire the same sex marriage rights the GLBT would gain for women of transsexual history. Sorry but we don't all want to be lesbians or worse, considered gay men married to gay men. My husband is not gay, never was. I met him after an 18 year married life with another woman of which they raised several children. Do lesbian women consider all transsexuals to be lesbian women in the same way homosexual men consider all transsexuals to be gay men ?

Sorry babe, I do understand your dilemma in this, but the real question is, do you understand ours? Its all very well for you and others to force feed us as a group, but have you ever considered how many of us the gay and lesbian community are killing?

Leave the transsexuals out of this. We can do very well on our own thank you... and that goes for you too Autumn ...

Terry Leftgoff | January 24, 2009 1:33 AM

This appears to be an interesting rebuttal to my analysis published in November entitled, HOW WE BLEW IT: CA's PROP 8 DEFEAT.

Readers may find it of interest as they consider this alternate explanation.

It was published here at Bilerico and can be found at:

Mr. Foreman even picked off some of my subtitles; I suppose I should be flattered.

I think I may be tempted to submit a little something more reflective later.

For someone who claims to have not been involved in the campaign the author provides a thoughtful justification of their losing strategy.

I am particularly struck by the claim and conclusions about the causes for success in Santa Barbara. They are easy, straightforward, simple and, unfortunately, dead wrong. It is easy to reach such a conclusion when one is unfamiliar with the political culture and landscape of an area.

That failure to grasp political and electoral culture is central to my conclusions about how we blew the election. It also boiled down to one County - Los Angeles County, the weakest link - where all the structural campaign flaws conspired to cause the loss of about 600,000 votes and lost the election.

I'd like to request access to the actual data about Santa Barbara about which this article references with conclusions but without supporting data. Would the author provide it?

I'm not speaking of transgender but of classic/true transsexuals, Autumn, and the sexuality of that group follow the same distribution as that of the cisgender. Issues of sexuality do not equate to issues of gender and all the vile shoutdowns you or anyone else can throw my way won't change that. If you want to define yourself by the GLBT and live strictly within the shell of the so-called community, as you do, then go ahead and more power to you but that still will not give you the right to assume your world includes those of us who may not.

On a different note...when you have Professional Engineer after your name you can teach me how to add, sweetpea. In the mean time, I'd appreciate it if you would abstain from the baiting and misrepresenting my comments here. Transgender, against the wishes of many classic/true transsexuals, is an umbrella term that includes us; there seems to be little that can be done about that, though we are working on it. But, to assume that it is a given that everyone under that umbrella unilaterally supports the GLB is not something you can lay claim to. To do so undermines any support that may well lie in that arena would you not.

And if you, Autumn, don't like it, then my answer to you is tough.


I've been watching and pondering this side conversations. Questions of strategic alliances or having 'T' in 'LGBT' aside, it seems to have originated in the question of whether or not discussions about allowing marriage to be available regardless of sex/gender should mention the impact on trans people of any stripe.

Trans people's marriages, even straight "true" transsexuals, have never been guaranteed. While marriages might be available (sometimes), if a complainant takes it to court, the opinions range wildly. Straight "true" transsexuals have been deemed men solely on the basis of assumed chromosomes. It's pretty clear to me that if marriage is available regardless of sex/gender, then this vulnerability would be removed.

Granted, this strategy gets at the problem sideways and never refutes ignorant court decisions that base sex on assumed chromosomes, but it seems pretty clear to me that it's legally beneficial.

I don't particularly think highly of this strategy, but all I'm hearing from you is that we should step out of the fight and do nothing. Do you have an alternative approach that you haven't mentioned yet? Or is it just such a low priority in your mind that you want to be doing other things instead -- in which case I'd appreciate hearing what's on your agenda.


While I was transitioning, my transition therapist said that I had HBS. He said it stood for Hairy Butt Syndrome. At the time, I thought he was referring only to a problem I might encounter using transdermal hormone patches. Lately, this 'DES Son' has finally understood the real meaning of my therapists little joke. I fit the profile for acceptance into the HBS Sisterhood. But, Like Groucho Marx, "I will not belong to any organization that would have me as a member." Please go kiss a cat.

And to the transgender and indeed the whole LGBT community, I remind you of the words of Benjamin Franklin -- "We MUST hang together, or surely we will all hang seperately."

Why do you assume everyone who doesn't agree with transgender labeling is part of some HBS political cabal? It's getting old.

Don't call me transgender. I don't appreciate it. It displays a complete lack of the respect that you transgender types demand from others. It also shows enormous ignorance. We are NOT "transgendered".

Transgender this and transgender that .. According to Autumn Sandeen, any boy that ever pulled a pair of frilly underwear over their manhood while masturbating in the bathroom is a transgender!

I am entirely sick of the whole concept of the transgender assuming the term transsexual in an effort to legitimize a sexual fetish as a medical condition. Is it any wonder casting calls go out for "over the top drag queen transsexuals" as was the subject of sandeen's latest blog spot on pams blend! I would have made comment of it over there except for the fact that sandeen saw fit to silence me with an abuse of power.

How's the bathroom issue coming along autumn? Funny how in 30 years of full time life I have yet to be told I can't use the woman's bathroom. Perhaps thats because your idea of what constitutes a woman, and the public's idea of same, are entirely different.

I believe that the reason Prop 8 succeeded was not as much about how it was advocated for and/or against as much as because the groundwork just hasn't yet been laid for such laws to be popularly seen as the hateful and bigoted law they actually are.

We have a President who has turned his back on his previous stance in favor of relationship equality and now hides behind religion to promote his "separate but equal is intolerable for straights, but just fine for the Queers" position.

We have a Congress that for at least two generations running has found reason after reason to continue treating LGBT Americans like crap under the law.

We have elitist organizations and activists like HRC and their ilk which are far more interested in passively appeasing skittish pols than in aggressively fighting for justice.

We have organized religious groups and organizations in our country which generate donations and participation by defining themselves and their beliefs not by positive works and values but rather by legitimizing anti-LGBT hate and bigotry and defining them as virtues.

And, most importantly, we have an American public that has correctly absorbed the messages of fear and shame being sent by our government, churches, and activists and are responding in concert with those messages.

Until those things change, until our activists and government have the courage to change them (we know that hoping for such change from the church is for deluded fools), nothing will ever substantially change for us, no matter how much we hope for it to happen or what particular variety of political rhetoric is popular at the moment.

Racial and ethnic minority groups know this because they have lived it. It's time we all started living in reality: Obama isn't going to save us. He can't. He can only sign what makes it to his desk. And the right legislation will only make it to his desk once Congress and our activists decide to act like real leaders instead of the scared rabbits they have been since this movement has existed.

I know that susan will answer the questions from Tobi Hill Meyer, but I want to quickly add my thought on this...

In the UK, same sex marriage is now legal. I am a UK citizen living in the USA and my first thoughts when I considered marrying my now husband was to have the wedding with family in the UK. However, the timing of the law that passed same sex marriage into legal existence coincided with my wedding plans and that was enough for me to stop the plans. Those that knew me would consider it a same sex marriage and that was definatly not something I wanted for my husband. So the bottom line for me is I would rather have no marriage at all than it be considered same sex. Like everything else in the life of transsexuals, it is best to get your documents in order and keep quiet about anything to do with your past. Marry under the radar and hope for the best. There are no guarentees but it's way better than to be considered a same sex couple by default.

This is actually something that really frustrates me about the way so many places do civil unions or domestic partnerships. In my state, I have the option of getting a same-sex domestic partnership or an opposite-sex marriage. Whichever one I choose, someone could claim that I'm not the gender I say I am, and use that as a basis to dissolve the legal relationship.

So called "same-sex" marriage, on the other hand, is not technically writing in a new mechanism for same-sex couples, but instead removing the gender requirements from marriage. Essentially, there is no same-sex marriage or opposite-sex marriage. It's all just marriage and sex doesn't matter.

The last thing I want in the world is to be seen as the gender I don't identify with, so I can really see your point about choosing not to get married. But outside of the timing issue, would you really be seen as a same-sex couple? Presumably, the government would just see you as a couple. And if your friends or family would see you as a same-sex couple, well, if I was in your position I wouldn't invite them to the wedding.

Is your concern that you are actually being harmed by marriage being available to people regardless of sex -- because when it is available to more than just straight people it ceases to be a badge that marks you as a straight couple? Or is it that drawing attention to trans people getting married makes it harder for us to go under the radar?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I see your concerns here, but I'm not sure what your suggesting should be done.

Hi, Tobi...

I am aware of the wildly fluctuating court opinions with regards to post operatives who enter into heterosexuals marriages. I would like to see that issue approached from the perspective of one's birth certificate, i.e., that post operatives who are recognized via their birth certificate to have changed gender are unilaterally and nationally recognized as the gender reflected upon their BC, protected by the same legislation as any other natal female/male and that be the end of it. No one but no one, certainly not the current crop of trans activists, speaks in those least that I hear or see. Approaching the issue in any other manner relegates post ops to some "less than" status which, by definition, we aren't.

I fully realize that some states will not change one's BC under any circumstances and see the transactivist most short sighted in not addressing that issue. On the other hand, for instance, the state I was born in, Louisiana, passed legislation in 1968 - 41 years ago - specifically so that post ops could enter into heterosexual marriages. Personally, I am not married but am in a long term relationship with a gentleman and very well could be sooner or later. If that happens, and should divorce insue down the line somewhere, I would rather take my chances (including fighting the issue in court) should the legitimacy of that marriage come into question. Many post ops marry and divorce...few of those marriages are challenged as illigitimate...a handfull at most. The emphasis should be on fighting for what should legitimately be the rights of those who have GRS and are recognized as their target gender in the state of which they were well as lobbying those states who don't allow a BC change after GRS. Instead the approach is to ride the coattails of the GLB and, as you mentioned, approach the issues sideways. I abhor that approach, not because the GLB seeks same-sex marriage, but because everywhere in the US, legal gender is determined by one's birth certificate. And, as that's the case, I support fighting for and defending rights that should legally already be ours, not lobbying for new rights of which assumes that we chose to relinquish what is already ours.

If male-to-female post operative transsexuals are supposed to actually be female, which I believe they are, then we should fight for the rights that every other female has, not abandon but defend our legal gender rights as designated on our birth certificates, and stand up for the rights every other female on the planet might have(conversely, female-to-males as well). I have said it before, and again, the issues that face transsexuals are not necessarily the issues that face the GLB. We should own our issues, defend them, fight for them as males or females, not as gays or lesbians. If a TS is gay and sees their rights at the right hand of the GLB that's fine with me. But many TS don't identify as gay and don't see their rights in terms of what the GLB may desire.

Ugh, yes. I wish that some organizations would take a more direct approach to trans people's rights rather than all these sexual orientation focused work-arounds. That said, I don't see that as a tactic that trans organizations take as much as one that LGB(t) organizations take.

Though trying to assert access to rights based on documentation like a birth certificate really limits who you're benefiting. It reminds me of a woman in my town who wanted to amend our non-discrimination policy to protect people based on surgical status. I was completely against cutting out pre/non-op folks for all the same reasons I'm against cutting trans folks out of ENDA. And I simply couldn't support basing rights on birth certificates because while I would ostensibly be fine, many of my friends and lovers wouldn't be.

But I'll also say that I have seen improvements with LGBT organizations that I've been working with. COLAGE works with children, youth, and adults with LGBT parents and now has a strong and growing kids of trans parents program and a resource guide for people who have a trans parent. And the state LGBT organization I work with is setting improving trans issues in local policies one of their main priorities in their five year plan. The details are just now coming out, but I believe this will cover things like discrimination by insurance policies which exclude SRS, hormones, or "related" treatment as well as evaluating legal recognition and documentation policies for any areas that could be improved. As much as I complain about LGB(t) orgs sometimes, I've got to give some major props for doing something like that. Especially since we have no state trans organization to take on that kind of work.

Thank you for putting it so well. I would like to add as a reminder that transsexual is a medical condition, and has nothing to do with being "male" or "female" per se. This causes a lot of confusion among those who consider themselves transgendered.

Whether or not someone is a "man" or a "woman" is a question for society to answer. The existence of a medical condition is not. I hope we can defuse the debate about who is a "real man" and "real woman" in the future with this understanding. Saying that you have to have the transsexual medical condition to be a "real [insert social category]" makes no sense. It is the same as saying one must have diabetes to be a "real plumber".


“I wish that some organizations would take a more direct approach to trans people's rights rather than all these sexual orientation focused work-arounds. That said, I don't see that as a tactic that trans organizations take as much as one that LGB(t) organizations take.”

That, Tobi, is the Catch 22 of the issue. Many of us wish that a more “direct approach” was taken rather than “sexual orientation focused work-arounds” but it is the “LGB(t) organizations” who take the lead on the issue and their tact is in “sexual orientation focused work-arounds”.

“And I simply couldn't support basing rights on birth certificates because while I would ostensibly be fine, many of my friends and lovers wouldn't be.”

I didn’t quote your entire paragraph that I’m referencing, Tobi, but your point is well taken, which brings me to the second and overwhelming point and that is one of recognition and legitimacy and really what my initial comment was based.

Transsexual’s efforts should be on recognition and legitimacy. The effort should be to have our target gender recognized…legally recognized…nationally and across the board. If one is only interested in same-sex marriage, then certainly that is a gay civil rights issue and in no way addresses one’s gender legitimacy and recognition, it only addresses their ability to marry whomever they might want. Though that would be the case should same-sex marriages be allowed, in no way would it address their gender from a legal perspective. If one is first homosexual, second transsexual that’s also fine, but many of us are not. Many of us would like to see the approach used in the late 1960s through the late 1980s in which we stood alone and issues of legal recognition were addressed separately from those of gay civil rights.

I must say that there was no such thing as transgender during the time frame I mention above much less a GLB with a T on the end. The birth certificate laws showed that legislators very clearly saw a distinct difference between issues of gender (transsexuality) and those of sexuality (homosexuality). I would bet the farm that should there have been a GLBT then, as it exists today, there would be no way the birth certificate laws of that time frame would have been passed. That would undoubtedly have been fine for the GLB, as it is today…no so much for transsexuals. The focus today is GLB civil rights…if those of transsexuals (recognition and legitimacy) happen to benefit then fine; if not that would be fine to as far as it goes with the GLB.

I have never said I speak for all transsexuals, but I do believe that transsexuals should, as a group, be left out of the GLB political issues of the day. Many transsexuals are quite content to identify as transgender and put their political hat into the ring with the GLB…but many of us are not. Those of us who are not fine with the GLBT concept never asked to be included, yet we are. As a result, we are obligated to speak out on issues in which we feel don’t represent our position. More often than not, as the case with Autumn’s comment above, when we do we are shouted down, insulted, told we are on the wrong web site, etc. ad nauseum. Some are all for diversity and inclusion within the “community” as long as that diversity speaks the consensus; when it doesn’t, we are asked to shut up (diversity ???) and/or simply leave the narrative entirely (inclusion ???). Our position is not respected nor acknowledged, simply held in disdain.

"Is your concern that you are actually being harmed by marriage being available to people regardless of sex -- because when it is available to more than just straight people it ceases to be a badge that marks you as a straight couple?"

I am a traditionalist. I truly believe that the act of marriage should be one man and one woman. Same sex marriage may become legal here as it is in the UK but it will never be truly considered the same as when a daughter or son marries their opposite gender partner. You may manage to get the right to call it marriage, but thats as far as it will go in most peoples opinion. It will always be considered less than, or not as valid as.

Yes, I most certainly want that badge that marks my marriage as a straight couple! In the same way as I don't want to be considered some 3rd sex that relegates me to a gender variant bathroom, or prevents me in any way integrating in society as other women do. Is there something wrong with that concept? Isn't the goal of transition to become one with your target gender and have the same rights and non rights experienced by that gender?

Do you think we go through all of this just so that we can become a third gender, or a full time tranny; proud to be trans, hanging out in gay clubs and marching in parades? This may be all a game to some of you, a way to express your rebellion or a way to play the victim of the cruel world that would put you down, but to me this is who I am full time. I don't get to jump in and out of gender roles when the urge hits me.

In the end analysis, the majority of people on this planet will always be straight, and the majority will always be gender fixed, and the binary will endure. Any one of you that thinks differently about that are playing on the wrong team. If you want to fight for gay rights more power to you but just remember that transsexual issues and gay rights issues are not mutually inclusive and in fact may deny transsexuals the right to integrate and become one with you're target gender. Lets not loose sight of the fact that post operative transsexuals had marriage rights in many states going back a half century, while today, many of those states are not only rethinking those rules, but invalidating them.

This is what you as a transsexual activist is accomplishing. One step forward and three steps back. Lets see what happens to the transgender once the gays get their marriage rights and need to clean up the mess in an effort to improve their new image. Which group do you think will be under the bus then? Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.

I'm a transsexual guy. I'm also not heterosexual. The two are pretty obviously not mutually exclusive as some have made it out to be.

The idea of getting married to a woman, adopting kids, moving out to whitebreadville suburbia with a McMansion and a white picket fense is NOT my idea of a good life for me. It suits many others, perhaps the majority, but those others also happen to share a country with those of us who don't have that desire. Those of us who don't fit the religiously prescribed "norms" also happen to pay taxes, pursue or have gainful employment, own property, and be good (mostly, in my case) law-abiding citizens. That word, citizens, is the thing that many people are overlooking in an effort to make the existence of the non-normies as abstract as possible.

That said, one should note that I said transsexual, NOT transgender(ed). There's nothing trans about my gender and I don't know how one can trans one's gender (i.e., what's up with the weird past participle form of that word?). I am a man, I'm male, and I identify as both. I don't believe in that 'classic' transsexual or 'true' transsexual bullcrap. I suppose I'd be a falsie given that I didn't really come out until I was 21 or 22 and I started T at 23, and I never tried to cut off my man-boobs with a rusty spoon or threw a temper tantrum over not getting a GI Joe for my birthday.

Many of us see being trans as primarily a medical issue with social implications (i.e., much like disabilities are medical issues but have social implications with regard to privacy and individual rights), myself included. It would make sense for the majority of trans people to be heterosexually identified, but the existence of bi and gay trans people is not small enough to justify being written off as an anomaly!

Just as I see cis people who don't think gay marriage is right as bigots, I believe trans people who say the same thing are also bigots. It always seems to piss off people when it's even implied that same-sex relationships are as good as your heterosexual relationships, especially if all you base heterosexual relationships on is the 'insert tab A into slot B' mode of sexual relations.

I think her views illustrate the point nicely. In contrast, I really don't care who gets married, but if we are going to have rules they need to apply equally to everyone. One people, one law. Rights must be the same for everyone, or they become privileges. Once something is a privilege granted by government rather than a right, it can be taken away from -anyone- at any time.

"Transsexual" is a medical condition, if only for the fact that it requires medical intervention to treat it. It is not a statement of political philosophy, it is not a rights movement, and it is not the pet project of people with nothing else to do. And people who have only this condition in common will have a variety of opinions on things, just as people do in the rest of society. We are not joined by common political cause.


The absence of the (at least) tens of thousands of post-operative transsexual men and women from this discourse is a testament to just how little our paths cross with the GLBT.


Because it is simply a medical issue, there really is no reason to conflate it with gay rights. There is no natural connection between the two. Only those who identify as homosexual among the transgendered attempt to make this connection.

Due to the nebulous (and cryptic) way "transsexual" is being used these days, we have lots of non-transsexuals speaking for us. I wonder how gays and lesbians would like it if James Dobson and Pat Robertson redefined what "gay" means and then proceeded to speak for them. "Transgender" erases "transsexual".

Some of these transgender activists are practicing revisionist history, claiming that these state laws that were passed 30 years before their movement are actually DUE to their movement. They also want to pretend that what the women here are saying about transition during that time period isn't true, that it is only in the last few years that anything was "easy". Well for a transgendered man, aka a crossdresser, maybe it wasn't possible to "transition" before the last few years. But I am inclined to believe the women here who are talking about their own experiences over the statements of people who are transitioning this very minute.


If someone does not need medical intervention to treat a problem, why do they need a diagnosis of "transsexual"?


I am also unhappy that somehow my medical problem is thrown into the same trash heap as crossdressing by the GLBT and larger society. See the "het male crossdresser" comment on why transgender (transsexual) marriage rights should cause the transgendered to "keep a low profile" over at Pam's House Blend.

This substitution of "transgender" for "transsexual" is a blatant dismissal of real transsexual men and women. I don't want any het (or gay) male crossdressers speaking for me. I am not part of any "transgendered" group. That monstrosity was concocted by people to put all the weirdos in one bin where they can be persecuted together. Transgender activists just don't see it.

ah yes! the bigot accusation

... you forgot homophobic, transphobic, elitist, self-loathing, and the miriad of other catch all terms used to silence those with opposing opinions and views.

No, I meant what I said.

If you believe heterosexual relationships are inherently superior to gay relationships, you're a bigot. It doesn't matter if you're rich, poor, black, white, trans, non-trans, or any other label. I would feel that way regardless of whether or not I were gay or straight, trans or not. For every dysfunctional gay relationship, there are probably ten dysfunctional het relationships. The only thing that makes any relationship special is how the people in that relationship treat each other, whether or not there's love and respect within the relationship's dynamics. Everything else is irrelevant.

Using religion or the specter of "tradition" to justify bigoted beliefs and impress said beliefs on others is half-assed at best and utterly idiotic at worst. And yet that is the default argument people fall back on after all the others ones (inability to bear children, cherrypicking sociology studies to claim that gay people are inherently ill, how supposedly "unnatural" it is, etc.) are eviscerated. It used to be "tradition" and whining about "the children" that supposedly justified miscegenation laws here in the states and elsewhere. I suppose one could classify believing that the "races" (a socially constructed term) shouldn't mix as an "opposing belief" that is somehow sacrosanct because it's an individual's view, but most people would call it bigotry.

In short, I read your comments as:
"waaah, you called me a bigot because I happen to believe your relationships are by default inferior to mine...don't take it *so* personally."

I do think there's a lot of truth to the idea that our side just doesn't care about this issue to the same degree that the other side does. Sure, lots of LGBT people really care about it, but our allies don't have the same investment that people who go to church regularly do against us. That's important to keep in mind as we are put up for simple up and down votes.

But about the ads, you point to the garden wedding as an example of an ad that didn't mention gay people that was good. Whether or not the data is correct, since none of us have seen it so we don't know, I think that that ad is a significant improvement over most of the no on 8 campaign's ads, which were often just words and a few people saying that equality was great, no mention of the issue of marriage, much less the gays.

We completely de-gayed the issue, but do we have to de-marriage it as well? Marriage seems to be an important component of the issue.

"If male-to-female post operative transsexuals are supposed to actually be female, which I believe they are, then we should fight for the rights that every other female has, not abandon but defend our legal gender rights as designated on our birth certificates, and stand up for the rights every other female on the planet might have(conversely, female-to-males as well).""

Huh? They are not female they are male, just as woman who have a transexual past are women.

And fighting for the rights other females have should include the right to openly love, share that love and have that love and commitment acknowledged by their government.

I never understand this "sky is falling" atmosphere by some, if we allow for equal marriage, and that's what it is about. Equality. Fortunately I live in a country that allows for equal marriage and I haven't seen any one feeling relegated to feeling their marriage is less or better then another. I've been to opposite sex marriages and same sex marriages, both with mixed peoples as guests to their special days.

Did you know that studies show most children from married families do much better all around then most children from unmarried family house holds? Can you believe this was used as one of the arguments for opposite marriage only?

Yep that was one of them which would then say they don't care about children in same sex relationships enough to allow their parents to marry.

How about the other argument, if you allow them to marry something bad will happen. We don't know what but something. This was also used against it in court.

Canada went through this, heard the intelligent and compelling arguments for and the mostly silly and ignorant ones against and ruled the correct way. Equality.

I am a woman with a transexual past, I'm also not one that is fond of being shoved under the TG umbrella.

I find such an umbrella confusing and uninformative for the general society at large. Umbrella terms with no set definitions usually are because all those under that umbrella have some many different issues which are immediate to them. And when doing, oh maybe a lecture or talk on a large scale and TG is used without going into great detail of the many many communities which fall into it, people will just make the wrong assumption of what it means. Not to mention they then leave thinking they actually know the issues when they really do not.

I have no issue with people who wish to identify as transgender that's their choice, just as it is one's choice to live in one province/state or another. I may not understand them but it is still their choice ad I won't belittle them for that identification. It's their right to that choice, mine to my choice. I believe each should always be recognised and acknowledged .

People that are transexual or gay or lesbian or transgender or bisexual or even straight all have the right to live a life of freedom and equality. Freedom of discrimination, equality to the same rights shared by all others in their country.

My same sex marriage will hurt no one's opposite sex marriage nor does it some how lesson it's value.

I sometimes have to wonder if the reason some of the women who are transexual are so against equal marriage more because of their own insecurities about how people already see them, then anything else. As if people will automatically know of their past and then see them as being in a same sex marriage.

And yes I'd have to agree with HTG. One is a bigot if they some how continue to want to deny others the same rights they themselves enjoy because of their colour, creed, orientation, identity etc.

I have no idea how many people there are who are also transexual and lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight. I doubt anyone really does know, regardless of the sample study they have concluded. I also have no idea how many of each community is married compared to single. I don't believe it matters one way or another either.

I believe eventually the U.S. will reach that period when who you are has little baring on your ability to marry. If one is breaking no laws then why shouldn't it be so?

If you don't believe in tow people of the same sex getting married then don't marry someone of the same sex as yourself. Simple and your choice.

Not once, anywhere, did I say or imply, that het relationships are superior to gay relationships!

In point of fact, the issue wouldn't even exist for me if I were not a woman of transsexual history. However, since I am, I am bound by the REAL fact that society will often judge my marriage as a same sex marriage if my history is known. That applies to ALL transsexuals that marry, past present and future.

Now, do I want my marriage to be considered in that way or do I want to integrate and just be another gal married to another guy? To put it another way, should I wear my tranny badge and let my heterosexual husband take the brunt of the remarks and cold shoulders from his family and friends? He is a big guy and I have no doubt that he would, but should he have too? I am not homosexual and if he thought for one moment I was he would not be there. Unfortunatly though, others do not see it that way anymore and the reason for that shift is entirely due to the association of transsexualism with homosexualism.

As for your claim of bigotry, implying that gay views and opinions are somehow more important than non gay views and opinions, and applying words such as bigot, transphobia or homophobia to people that have those opinons are just another form of bigotry and heterophobic slurs perpetrated on heterosexuals by homosexuals! To concatenate the race issue with the homosexual issue is misleading at best. I dont see any letters on the end of GLBTQ that include the *N* word. I am guessing that to do so might just infuriate that group of people too.

Fact is bub, if you want to be a part of the GLBT then have at it, nobody is denying you the right to do so. But you also need to acknowledge the fact that transsexuals are not 'gay by default'; have been press ganged into the GLBT without our consent; suffer the same unjustified bigotry against our relationships through unwanted association with the GLBT; and stand to loose the right to be truly considered one with our target gender for all time.

For me and some others of transsexual history, that is not acceptable.

susan said:

"If male-to-female post operative transsexuals are supposed to actually be female, which I believe they are, then we should fight for the rights that every other female has, not abandon but defend our legal gender rights as designated on our birth certificates, and stand up for the rights every other female on the planet might have(conversely, female-to-males as well)."

femme replied:

"Huh? They are not female they are male, just as woman who have a transexual past are women."

I conclude:
Spoken like a true crossdresser... femme

I think sandeen is sending reinforcements :)

Saying that gay people shouldn't be allowed to get married or that being gay is wrong is the same as saying that gay relationships are inferior to het ones. It doesn't matter what the justification is. A bigot is a person with prejudiced beliefs, no?

And this isn't merely a difference of opinion about something as trivial as a sports rivalry, it's talking about people's lives. So yes, I do take it personally. Were I heterosexual, I'd still take it personally because a lot of my friends are in same-sex relationships.

And nowhere did I say that the T should always be included. I actually said the opposite, that I consider it a medical condition. However, there are people who fit both the G (or L) and T categories. I think the T should be separate. But I cannot agree that gay people shouldn't be allowed to define their relationships in the same way that straights are allowed to do so. On the whole, I think that the government has no business in anyone's bedroom and shouldn't even be in the business of marriage.

As for your claim of bigotry, implying that gay views and opinions are somehow more important than non gay views and opinions, and applying words such as bigot, transphobia or homophobia to people that have those opinons are just another form of bigotry and heterophobic slurs perpetrated on heterosexuals by homosexuals! To concatenate the race issue with the homosexual issue is misleading at best. I dont see any letters on the end of GLBTQ that include the *N* word. I am guessing that to do so might just infuriate that group of people too.

Funny that you'd assume that I'm white, as I am a member of "that group" of people, as you so nicely put it (I've even got the pics to prove it). I was actually talking about miscegenation laws, not blacks getting married (although at one time slaves were not allowed to get married in formal ceremonies) or black relationships. The arguments used in Loving v. Virginia in defense of VA's miscegenation laws are largely the same, namely that interracial marriage at the time was claimed to be "unnatural" and an "abomination" according to the bible. And the same fairy tale-based justifications are used today. If an argument is used in one failed defense, that kind of weakens any credence it would have when applied to another defense.

And when it comes to talking about gay marriages, yes gay views are more important because it's not YOUR lives we're talking about! I think I have a right to be angry when someone goes on about how gay relationships don't warrant any of the rights and recognition that het ones are automatically granted after a trip to the local justice of the peace or whoever is in the marriage business. There's something wrong when Britney Spears can get married on a whim and have more rights in that 72 hour time span than a lesbian couple that's been together for 20 years will ever expect to receive.

Heterophobia? You've got to be fucking kidding me, right? Is this where I'm supposed to say 'but some of my best friends are straight'?

I never called you transphobic, either, for the record. Or self-loathing. I never even used the word homophobia. I'd call you a heterosupremacist, for sure, though.

I called you a bigot because of your beliefs about gay marriage. Nothing more, nothing less.

I actually agree that the T is and should be kept separate and discrete. But not all trans people are heterosexually identified and this poses new challenges for them (or rather, us). While my trans status does not "queer" me in any way, I also happen to be someone who is not heterosexual. And many in this thread have made it sound as though non-het trans people don't exist. I agree that transsexualism shouldn't be conflated with homosexuality, but by the same token it's not entirely impossible for there to be gay trans men, lesbian trans women or even *gasp* bisexual trans people.

" A bigot is a person with prejudiced beliefs, no?"

If a person says that others should not rape or murder, are they being bigots against rapists and murderers? If someone disagrees with the drug culture of others, does saying so make them prejudiced against drug users…does that make them bigots? If society disagrees with a person’s definition of themselves and finds it to be a fraudulent trick, should society be forced to accept that person’s legitimacy? If someone uses the word bigot to justify, subvert, and quiet the opinion of others, are they themselves not acting in bigotry?

Just because someone does not agree with someone else's views and opinions on something does not make them bigots.

I never assumed you to be black, white or australian for that matter. You can skip the history lesson, I was there.

"And when it comes to talking about gay marriages, yes gay views are more important because it's not YOUR lives we're talking about! "

Actually... in this case you are. Same sex marriage does effect heterosexual transsexuals and we do have the right to speak out, for or against it. Many speak out in favor, I and others do not. Something wrong with that? oh yes, I forgot, it's bigoted.

Same sex marriage does effect heterosexual transsexuals

But how does this rationalization work? Specifically to transsexuals I mean. Because there are plenty of non-trans heterosexuals who want to wear their marriage as a badge of their straightness. Plenty who are afraid they might be mistaken as gay if that wedding ring ceases to indicate their straightness.

And we've heard the same from other anti-marriage organizations who say that same-sex marriage would hurt their relationship. Such as the Californian couple who refused to get married because they wanted the form to say "bride" and "groom" instead of "partner 1" and "partner 2"

As for the "What is a bigot anyway?" and the "be tolerant of the intolerant" linguistic game you're playing, it doesn't really matter. You can call me bigoted against murderers if you like, but if I'm reading your comments right, I'm having a hard time seeing how you are not being bigoted against same-sex couples. Or even homophobic in the literal sense, given how much time you've talked about your fear of being seen as a same-sex couple (I know, I know, trans stuff makes that more complicated, but you're not talking about the fear of being seen as male as much as the fear of being seen as gay).

I don't say that as a way to indict you, or shut you up, I'm just a bit stunned to be hearing some of your opinions and I'm trying to figure out what's a fair and realistic way to characterize them. And it seems a bit unrealistic to be against same-sex marriage, afraid of being seen as gay, and wanting to be a member of an exclusive "no gays allowed" club yet not see that as an anti-gay (or homophobic, or heterosupremacist, or bigoted, etc).

I have to comment on Matt Foreman's claim that he "had nothing to do with the No on 8 campaign" and was a "purely armchair quarterback". I do not know if he wrote this to claim that his opinion was unbiased or not, but since his organization gave over a quarter of a million dollars to Let California Ring he must have a certain level of bias especially when it comes to the subject of the effectiveness of the Garden Wedding Ad.

Also, later in his editorial he writes "Santa Barbara was the only county in Southern California to vote No on Prop 8 and "the only thing that was different was the Garden Wedding campaign". With this statement is he not linking the Garden Wedding campaign directly to the No On Prop 8 campaign? And, how does he know the Garden Wedding campaign is the only thing that was different if he is a "purely armchair quarterback"? Was he in the field after the media test run working with the Santa Barbara GOTV efforts through to Election Day?

Seems to me he needs to do a bit more research before making some of his claims.

IMHO, the single most important thing about the campaign was the late start.


I guess it all depends on what your view of marriage is doesn't it. The gays object to it being called a civil union, yet they are happy to allow the marriage application and licence to read Partner 1 - Partner 2 (make, model, year akin to a vehicle registration) ..
instead of Bride and Groom.

If Civil Unions offer the same legal protections and favors as does marriage, then why does marriage have to be watered down to fit the gay model? In the end analysis, its a piece of paper that conveys the same thing right? It reminds me of a dog chasing a car that wouldn't know what to do with it if it caught it. Why is it that the gays can't just let the straights have their traditional marriages? Is it for the same reason that the transgendered can't just let transsexuals be their own group, that they feel that they must assimilate everything for their own ends?

I am against same sex marriage for a variety of reasons. As I and many others have said time and time again, the issues of transsexuals are not the issues of the LGBT. I am not against someone defining as transgender, nor do I care who someone sleeps or has a relationship with. I do care when you try to make laws that effect and impact my life. For women of transsexual history, the implied same sex marriage laws could redefine those marriages as same-sex, and that impacts me directly. If you and others want to call that bigoted and homophobic then thats your opinion.

I am done with this...