Antonia D'orsay

The Unasked Question

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | April 17, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement
Tags: divide and conquer, Employment non-discrimination, ENDA, LGBT civil rights, rightwing tactics, Trans, transgender rights

I promised this post a few short days ago.

I'm setting it up for the weekend, because it's the kind of thing that will take time to discuss, to flesh out, to explore, and besides, it'll get ugly if "the usual suspects" pop in.

The subject is the one that lies beneath all the arguments and debates and ugly stuff we've had in the community, and the thing that will be staring everyone in the face over the next few months. Mostly because of ENDA, but also because the success of this stuff will determine how widely it is used in the upcoming elections. Trans activists have been warning it was coming for a bit more than a year now -- including myself, but I'm hardly the one most keyed into it.

Should trans folk be part of the same thing that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are part of?

It's fairly well known that I generally say yes.  I state, often, that I do it on the basis of commonality and description.  Those who most often disagree with me do so on the basis of difference and identity.

That's really the deeper question that sits there, but few have the energy or desire or ability or knowledge to dig that deep into an issue, because in doing so we run into a nasty habit of cultural imperialism that tends to affect all the debates and discussion regarding such things in American (that is, US) discourse.

Bilerico is an international blog. is an international blog. This, despite the point that I often make that I talk about stuff in the American Cultural scene, not as global stuff. The reason is that there are some things that carry over, some things that float well.  Others do not and it's usually those from a different cultural background who are aware of it.

When one focuses on what the differences between the groups are, you have to cast aside all the things that are shared in common -- which, perforce, includes the very real humanity inherent in all of us (or at least one would hope -- many question my humanity as I'm pretty much able to tell a person to go crawl in a hole and die and not give it a second thought -- oddly enough, no one ever bothers to wonder why).

Focusing on differences -- which is what those who seek to deny us access to our rights, who seek to often kill us, or beat us, or in some way, shape or fashion make us less than human or other than human, so that we are ostracized and expelled from the society and cultural foundations we are part of -- is a way of making someone *other*, and most of the time (though not always) includes a structure and a system that creates a hierarchy instead of establishing an equitable basis on which to stand.

It comes, in short, from a prejudice that is carried inside the person. I've spoken about my own prejudices before, and I likely will again in the future -- prejudices are unreasoning, and without basis or value, but until examined by the person who holds them, they are necessarily invisible and incorporate.

There are also expectations -- developed from the idea of "what is normal".  Normal is the typical, the mundane, the average, the commonplace.  The things each of us in our lives tend to take for granted.  We like our grocery stores because we know them, we know where to find things, we expect them to be here.  We like fast food franchises because what we get from them is predictable.  We know that a beer commercial will use "an average joe" or a hot girl to sell beer, that Go Daddy will show yet another good looking woman in a heterosexually provocative sexual way, that tampon commercials will suck.

And when things aren't commonplace, ordinary, mundane, average -- aren't normal -- then they stand out to us.  Like commercials that actually make fun of the way tampons are sold, or when a gecko is used to sell insurance, or when we find ourselves in a different grocery store and can't find something after wandering through all the aisles.

When we are sorta lost the thing that helps most is when we have someone to help us along.  When wandering through that unfamiliar grocery store, it helps to have someone there who does know their way around it -- we can still get everything we want, of course, but it might take us a lot longer, whereas if we ask for help, we'll get it.

A lot of people don't like to ask for help, however. And many times, those same people -- and even some who do ask for help -- come to resent it when someone comes along and tells them where to find something. We tend to place all sorts of junk on that person -- who was really just trying to be helpful.  We say negative things about them.  That is a fairly normal, fairly common experience.  One that any long time retail worker can testify to, and part of the reason why so many retail stores no longer do that whole "personal shopper" thing.

Exciting, huh?

Now let's say that you've been going to your neighborhood grocery store a long time.  You like it.  You are familiar with it.  You know where everything  is, you know the brands, you know the layout.

Now let's say they merge with another kind of store.  A store that has things that you like, but they are in different places or are things you like that your store doesn't carry.  And now let's say that a lot of the people who work at your favorite store are telling you to shop at both of them, and that even some of the customers are saying they do and it's great.

Then you meet customers from the other store.  They are different from you. They wander through your store and they complain about how things aren't the same way they are at the other store, and both stores should be laid out the same --which, to you, means that your store needs to be changed.

And then you hear the two stores are going to do that.  Now you will be wandering around your store, where you are comfortable and can find stuff, and you won't be able to find things as easily -- and there's new stuff, stuff you've never even seen before, on the shelves. Things seem wrong, feel wrong, and you think "Why can't it be the way it was?"

That sense of wrongness is what is driving many of the issues in the collective LGBT community. That sort of expectation that things should be *x*, and everything else is wrong.

That's part of the whole thing driving difference.

Another thing driving difference is the notion of essentialism.  In a rare moment of rhetorical question: What makes a man a man?

This is a seemingly odd question to many -- especially to those people who are gay men, since they are attracted to gay men and they seem to have no particular problem figuring out who the men are.

But when you ask that question, and you get down to brass tacks, the notion of essentialism comes out. That we are who we are because of what we are.

And what we are is, all too often, considered to be all that really matters.

Essentialism is at the root of the issue surrounding the concept of The Bathrooms. There's another one, as well: that men -- all men -- are dangerous. And in that sense, what makes a man is a chunk of flesh, which said man is apparently utterly enslaved to and completely unable to control.

Essentialism is what makes some people say "penises shouldn't be in showers" -- and the one's who say this kind of thing out loud are expressing the sentiment I noted above: that men are dangerous.  That the mere presence of a piece of anatomy that is emotionally linked to masculinity is something to avoid at all costs because of the risk that it brings.

And that is a cultural aspect of what many people talk about as rape culture. Which is a whole other thing that's ultra complex in and of itself, but basically is the same sort of rationale that permits people to blame the victims of a crime for the crime being committed against them.

Then there is the notion of identity. Through the magical power of projection, people start the process of expanding their own personal identity beyond them.  And they find out that people are different from them -- which is actually a major part of the idea of identity -- to set them apart.  And, all too often, those who seek to create a line between themselves and those *others* -- those people they are not like -- do so in a manner that focuses on how they are normal (common, typical, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unremarkable) and those others they are distancing or separating themselves from are not normal.

And that allows them to bring in the whole difference thing, so the two elements become self-reinforcing, a circular argument that is neither logical nor reasonable, and that depends entirely on their emotional state, which they are trying to ascribe as being different from other people when they cannot actually know what that emotional state is.

They can only guess.

An identity is formed around what you see as different -- what you see as *you*, as yourself, as your person. Identity has no bearing outside your self - you as an individual.

Yet when a lot of people who share an identity basis in common get together, they create an affinity group.  Combine several affinity groups and you get a community that shares information (trade), including experiences, feelings, ideas, language, the works. The sense of belonging that comes with being a member of an affinity group is based on what is held in common -- the things that the affinity group has that are similar (though usually not identical).

Over the last 6 months or so I've put a lot of effort into making visible some of the pieces of all this.  Now, with a piece of national legislation at a critical point that affects the entirety of the LGBT population, I see the efforts that have been going on for several years coming to fruition.

And I'm not talking about *our* efforts.  I'm talking about the efforts of those who want to see us denied access to our rights. The ones who literally want it to be legal to beat us, to kill us, to make us non-citizens.

I see, in comments, and posts, and the general oeuvre of LGBT online circles and offline activity, a sense that our opponents (and when I say that, I mean that people whose actions and efforts are opposed to our lives -- so that means not merely the religious right, or the Repuglicans, or the gazillion other names we have for people who we see all too often with the same contempt and often outright hatred that they see us with) don't read our stuff.  They they don't reply, that they "stay away".

And that's utterly foolish.  To them, this is, literally, a war.  They don't call it a culture war because they feel like that sounds good.  They call it that because to them, this is war, and all is fair in war, and there is no Geneva convention.  They encourage the murder of doctors who perform medical services for women's reproductive healthcare and call it justified.  They call us sinful and dangerous and predatory and they will link it to any kind of lie they can and when we say "That's a lie!" they *laugh* at us.

They know perfectly well it is a lie.  And they are allowed to lie because they are in a war, where the normal rules don't apply.  They don't have to be nice, or honest, or above board, and they won't be.  And they are not.

They do read places like this,  And they do comment in places like this, and they know perfectly well that if they can weaken us, by encouraging a separation, that we will not be united, standing against a common foe, but divided, and thus far easier to conquer.

They don't have to rely on their ideas.  They get all they need from the infighting that goes on among us.  From pitting the L against the G, the LG against the BT, the T against the rest, the whole massive construction of which hinges on the simple recognition that we are the LGBT+ whatever because we do indeed have a lot in common, not because we have a lot in difference.

And if you don't want to be a part of the LGBT+, then don't be.  No one is forcing you to be such. The LGBT+ is an affinity group of people who have things in common. A community of people who are bound by what is similar, not what is different. And the overwhelming similarity that they all have is not just that they are all human beings, but that they are human beings who are treated as second and third and fourth class citizens, who are *actively* denied their rights, and who are interconnected and dependent on each other in the country because the country as a whole doesn't see the differences and *doesn't care to see the differences*.

And so we get people who are uninformed about issues relating to gay men,  and uninformed about issues relating to lesbians, and there's a whole crapload of people uninformed about issues relating to being bi, and just as many relating to being trans, and so long as we have large chunks not understanding the way that they all interconnect or struggling very hard to see the differences instead of the similarities, we will have people who say things like Drop The T from ENDA.

Yet if you drop the T from ENDA, you tell some gay people, some lesbian people, some bi people that they aren't gay or lesbian or bi enough.  And you can see that because the people who say "Drop the T" most often speak as if it isn't possible for someone to be trans and gay. And that makes some trans people so upset they start running around saying "Well, fuck those gay men" and they say "Free us from it".

And then you have trans folk telling other trans folk that they aren't trans enough, because when they repeat what was said to them, they are saying that it isn't possible for someone to be gay and trans.

Well, it is.  We cannot separate our selves -- it is, in a very colorful way, cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.  Or ripping your arm off just to upset your leg.

Ether way, all you are doing is attacking yourself, and when you justify it, you really don't have much of a choice but to rely on the same arguments that the people who want to see us legally murdered, legally beaten, legally denied our rights and our families and our simple ability to live our lives honestly and openly.

It makes you an opponent when you do that. People like that are a liability to the fight, to the effort, to the cause, to the ideals of liberty and justice for all in a nation where all people are created equally, and the tyranny of the majority does not have the right to strip liberties from a minority.

So let's discuss this idea of dropping the T.  And, while we are at it, let's *seriously* look at the issue of dropping the L and the B and G, as well -- because for each argument against one, there is an equal argument against the others.  Let's get this idea, this unasked question, into the open and really try with all seriousness to get to the heart of it, to reveal the stuff inside it.

Yes, that means, since there are people who are liabilities interacting with people who are assets, there will likely be some nasty stuff spoken. Some harsh words.  I'd like to think that people will remember that PC is just being courteous, and that rude voices are just rude voices, no matter who they come from, but that the tone of their response doesn't have much to do with the content of their response.

This is not about the messengers; this is about the message.

And the message I'm carrying, right now, is that we are all in this together -- there is no victory by cutting off parts of the whole to make it fit the whims and issues of others. There is only victory when you get the whole, and they realize and see the evil in their opposition.

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Today is Phoenix Pride. I'm late for it.

I'll be back later, to read responses and interact with assets. Liabilities not so much.

Kathy Padilla | April 18, 2010 4:44 PM

I’ll ignore the part of the question that deals with whether identity politics definitions, cultural or historical notions of community or other concerns might cause one to decide to exclude a portion of the lgbt acronym from the whole and whether it has any validity.

We’re talking about this in the context of a civil rights bill and the argument is made by some that their personal understanding of the identity issue should determine who gets included in a civil rights bill. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not parse a community’s rights so parsimoniously. We don't argue that Latino’s shouldn’t be included as this bill was meant to address discrimination based upon race as Latino’s can be of any race or women shouldn’t be included or that religion shouldn’t be included as those are again different definitional categories – and national origin? That’s not at all strictly a racial category at all. The argument is empty. All those groups were included. Though the Latino example is something I find a neat parallel insofar as a strict division of a community isn’t possible even though some members don’t identify at all as others within the broader umbrella might. White Latino's don't get to tell those with African ancestry that they're not Latino, not part of the community. Yet – not one finds that odd.

I’m also about 95% to thinking the exclusion of T folks this time is a non-starter. There was way too much blowback and the last thing DC wants is any additional controversy in legislation. That's been explicitly stated time and again. Which T exclusion would bring to a huge, huge degree – much more controversy than the bill itself. 2007 would look like a minor spat.

So – if it comes to a vote as expected in the spring – the outstanding question around gender identity is the final language formulation for comfort stations and trans women – because for some reason – folks don’t care about the guys in rest rooms. We know that even though the bill had adequate language on this question previously; new more restrictive language has been drafted and has yet to be shared with the public. It’s an attempt to avoid controversy – as is the delay in sharing it until it’s too late to effectively address any concerns people might have.

I’m not one who would oppose the bill even if trans people are singled out for lesser enfranchisement – but that’s not an endorsement of any and all limitations on our rights. Sometimes half a loaf is acceptable – so long as everyone gets a piece.

The language people have alluded to could be quite onerous and have unforeseen consequences without a vigorous public vetting. In my job – as an example – I have to visit about 150 different businesses a year who want to be part of a government diversity business program. Many are at construction sites and many are not in safe locations. I often travel alone. My local municipality would not place restrictions on a persons' comfort station usage if they were someone who hadn’t had bottom surgery. But I have to visit locations throughout the state. So – would such a person (who hadn’t had bottom sugery) have to out themselves to all of those businesses and inquire as to what their workplace policies are should they need to use the facilities during a visit? If the business or your employer asks whether such a person was trans would they have to answer? Can that question only be asked of people you presume to be trans or must it be asked of every employee? Would you have to share your medical history to prove to someone you actually did have bottom surgery if they say they don’t believe it without proof? What proof would be accepted? (The US Passport Agency requires a certified letter from the physician who performed the surgery – how much will you need to spend to obtain these? What if he’s dead? Can you get time off from work to obtain them?)

If you don’t have to share your medical history - wouldn’t people just lie to avoid the intrusion on your privacy & dignity? Or – because you’re afraid it could significantly effect your safety or future employment options if your private medical information must be made public knowledge? Would outing yourself as possibly required under the supposed provisions of this bill allow an insurer to refuse to provide you coverage in the future as the bill doesn’t cover public accommodations and the HCR bill didn’t include a non-discrimination statement covering lgbt folks? Is the provision in conflict with HIPPA? Is it enforceable?

I think this is where the concerns lie going forward. And people have a right to know the language and extent to their disenfranchisement prior to the bill leaving committee.

The language has been kicking around for months, it's time for Congressman Frank to share it with the public.


Significantly so (and, as I recall, I raised several of those questions myself not too long ago, lol)

No, the trans ought not be part of it. After all, they transgress gender and it is not as if gay men or Lesbians ever transgress gender roles. I mean, butch Lesbians---we all know that they are just badly brought up women wishout fashion sense. And effeminate gay men...just guys who were bad at sports, right?

Maura: I'm sorry, I don't understand your answer that we transfolk should "not be part of it." What does us being part of it have to do with anyone's expression of gender roles? And what do commonly held (false) stereotypes about butch lesbians and effeminate gay men have to do with being trans or with transfolk being in the alphabet soup?

No snark or challenge intended -- seriously puzzled.


I think she's being sarcastic. As in, gay men and lesbians DO transgress gender roles, as do trans people, and that's why they belong together.

I was in fact absolutely dripping with sarcasm..

Hi Jake,

Liam is correct. Maura is being sarcastic. Well, unless she's had some sort of sudden and complete reversal about pretty much everything she believes in.

Thanks, I thought so too, that it might be sarcsm, but I don't know all the players on this site and didn't want to offend anyone.

Best of luck with your political endeavors, Antonia.

Drop everything but the T, we're all transgressive to one degree or another. I'll be happy to drop the G if we can all get behind some real progress.

L, G, B, and T are all sexual minorities, this is major common ground. L, G, B, and T are all hurt by the same basic prejudice (transsexuality is just extreme homosexuality in their eyes). And, most important of all, even if there wasn't this commonality, we're all human and this is, first and foremost, about human rights.

I don't want to bring up a flamefest, but this is where I think we could benefit from the atheist community. I'm a member of it (you don't have to be, I don't care), but a common feature of the atheist community is that we are pro-LGBT, regardless of orientation. The straight members are just as likely to stand up for gay marriage as the homosexual members. I want to see that kind of behavior from the LGBT community.

We shouldn't care if we belong to x group or not if their civil rights are being violated. I want the LGBT community to be pro-gay, pro-lesbian, pro-bisexual, and pro-transgender. But I also want it to be pro-religious minority, pro-women's right, pro-racial minority, etc. There is not reason for us to just care about the rights that directly effect us. After all, isn't that why we have straight allies, we want them to care about our rights? We should care about the rights of all people. We should be pro-civil rights and pro-human.

Vene, I'm a atheist (and a woman who is trans) and I have a lot of respect for atheism. But I've also been on an atheist forum (and granted, they don't screen people to assure they really are atheists) but there was a thread on the forum called, "would you date a transsexual" (and I'll leave you to guess whether people interpreted that as "mtf" transsexuals or "ftm" transsexuals... you already know the answer). While a few independent male souls said they would or have, there was still the overwhelmingly negative snark that appears on every other forum when this question comes up. (eg, people making vomiting noises, penis jokes, "she better not try and trick me jokes")... the usual crapola. And this went on for nearly 20 pages. While I would like to believe my spiritual peeps are more evolved on the subject of trans people, I haven't yet seen it.

I do realize that there's still a lot of stigma and hate for transsexuality, which I find sad (and sometimes slips my mind because of where I hang out online). But, I do still think that we need to try and be as inclusive as possible and be pro-civil rights for all groups.

As an aside, I'm active at the forum for "fundies say the darndest things" and the site is incredibly trans-friendly. Probably because there are so many regulars who are trans and because there's a transsexual moderator.

I strongly agree with Vene except I use as my model of the ideal community the Humanists. The group focuses on human potential and is open to all sorts of ways in which we may express that potential.

Knowing I'll be flamed for the following comments I'll say them anyway. IMO a problem with much of the LGBT community is it tends to only be inclusive of groups that claim professional victim status. Can you imagine the shock if a conservatively dressed, middle aged, White straight male were to ask if he might dare have rights also? For example, not to be assumed to be a rapist in the event any woman makes an unprovable accusation against him. For example, not to be assumed to be a danger to his children in the event of a divorce.

I know - ALL men are rapists in the eyes of feminists and ALL men are child abusers too. We need to get away from mindsets like this. This type of thinking is what makes many people so hard on religious people. After all aren't ALL Christians hateful? Actually they're not. Most are decent people. The small percentage that are Tea Bagger type nut cases are the problem.

Everyone, whether they identify as a victim or not, needs basic human rights. Gender identity and sexual preference rights are only a subset of all the rights that should be addressed.

I say we move from victim's rights to human rights to human potential.

I strongly agree with Vene except I use as my model of the ideal community the Humanists. The group focuses on human potential and is open to all sorts of ways in which we may express that potential.

Knowing I'll be flamed for the following comments I'll say them anyway. IMO a problem with much of the LGBT community is it tends to only be inclusive of groups that claim professional victim status. Can you imagine the shock if a conservatively dressed, middle aged, White straight male were to ask if he might dare have rights also? For example, not to be assumed to be a rapist in the event any woman makes an unprovable accusation against him. For example, not to be assumed to be a danger to his children in the event of a divorce.

Everyone, whether they identify as a victim or not, needs basic human rights. Gender identity and sexual preference rights are only a subset of all the rights that should be addressed.

I say we move from victim's rights to human rights to human potential.

The Universalist Unitarians have been pro-LGBT since the 70s. And by pro-LGBT I mean involved with LGBT activism. The church has an office of LGBT concerns, as well as LGBT inclusive sexuality classes for every age group called "OWL" (Our Whole Lives).

Personally, I'm an Absurdist. But I owe a lot to the UUC as they hosted my LGBT youth group I was in in the 90s. They don't just stand up, they get involved.

But I don't really think it's for the LGBT community to promote any particular religion or philosophy as this would cause divides on religious grounds...which is the worst kind of divide there is.

SarasNavel | April 17, 2010 4:01 PM

I don't think we will be given the choice. Those that would exclude us have adapted and learned to be subtle.

Think back to last November when we first heard from Rep. Frank about the ENDA delays due to "language fine tuning". About that same time, there was a rather sudden loud burst from a certain demographic, speaking out about how trans people needed to be dropped from ENDA. Once I adjusted my tin foil hat, I realized that the two might have been connected, that the waters were being tested to see just how much the high-dollar donation crowd was willing to back trans inclusion. We are now officially known as "the transgender problem" by the person that wrote and ostensibly rewrote the bill, the same person that has been ominously silent as to it's specific content until it's too late for us to do anything about it.

I fear most that the current ENDA will be worse for trans folk than non-inclusion, but Barney is assuming that the issue is 'too complex' for most allies to get too riled up about it. I fear that a "solution" to the entirely imaginary "bathroom issue" floated by the religious right is about to become law. Not to mention codifying the how, where and when an employee must out themselves to their employer.

If ENDA is indeed very bad for trans people (and I hope to The Singularity I am wrong), the rough coalition of LGB and T will become fractured at best and may dissolve completely as defences and anger flare.

If ENDA is merely bad or not-good for trans people, the issues will be too subtle for non-trans-educated people to realize. Instead we will hear variations of, "Some minor compromises had to be made to get the bill passed, but you have job protection now. What are you complaining about?"

Either way, it is very possible we are being manipulated into a position where our only option will be to excuse ourselves.

Well, they (we) shouldn't, rationally. But rationality doesn't enter into it.

The Black & Hispanic Alliance of Los Angeles makes some kind of sense. A similar organization in Lima or Lagos is just WTF! QED the commonality isn't inherent, but it's convenient--purely as a common difference relative to the predominant culture.

The same can be said of Gay and Lesbian. Indeed if gay men had a unique descriptor a la "Lesbian" then "Gay/Homosexual" would be meaningless as an umbrella term. It should be [but, for brevity, I'll leave the sexism of the terminological status quo to someone with a greater semantic axe-grinding agenda than my own].

"Fish and fowl" is a nonsensical category, EXCEPT from the viewpoint of a terrestrial animal that is neither/nor. But it's the world in which we live.

I disagree about the perceived commonality and the perceived differences.

Other than marriage and employment, most purely Lesbian issues have been submereged in the LGBT agenda. It is one of the reasons that we do have our own organisation, but even then, pressures co-opt Lesbian needs more often than not.

As for the Black and Hispanic alliance; that coveres a substantial disdain and antipaty and all too often an antagonism between those groups.

We transgress gender, to a great or lesser degree, no mattter how often second wave separatists and upscale gay men deny it as do those trying to impose an assimilationist orthodoxy, a la the Mattachines.

Yes, many L/G's would like to say and do claim that "we are not like those trannies(sic)."

But we are....

By continually mentioning L/G and effeminate gay men and butch lesbians in the same breath, you're over simplifying and generalizing.

Lesbians are more aware of gender issues and sexism because they're women. This should be obvious right?

Lesbians constantly get stigmatized for whatever gay men get stigmatized for. Check.

I came out when I was 17 in 93/94 in a smallish city. I'm a stereotypical butch lesbian without fashion sense. No really, I buy my clothes in the Men's department at Target.

I've never had any interest in dropping anyone from the LGBT. It never even occurred to me that people would think that's possible until I started becoming involved with the online community.

In my local community there was no separation between LGBT. I suspect because we just weren't big enough to separate that way.

True story, my first few attempts at joining lesbian chats in IRC I was booted and banned because I failed the gender test. To weed out the men posing as lesbians, they'd ask some question like "What size nylons do you wear?" And I'm like, "I don't wear nylons." I don't even know what the sizing system is so I couldn't guess. Like I said, no fashion sense.

So, mostly I went to music communities, women's music like Indigo Girls and Ani Difranco. And that's where I found out about the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, which I instantly recognized as something I did not want to go to or be part of. I didn't need to be educated about trans issues. As far I was concerned transwomen are part of my community and any women's space that excludes them is not my community.

Plus I found their argument for the women-born-women policy absurd, because I should be excluded based on it. I mean, not that I'm dangerous or something because masculinity isn't dangerous. It just doesn't make sense to say transwomen are predatory by nature when I'm totally checking out your boobs and my eyes are burning because I'm trying really hard not to. And now I have to go flog myself because I'm a terrible feminist. Besides, I can acquire male privilege if I pass as a man, except I just end up passing as a gay man.

But look, transfolk, I am not your weapon to be used against gay people. Understand? I'm not your sarcastic fucking joke or something to make an example of. Don't stereotype me as some ignorant butch lesbian that isn't aware of her genderqueerness. I'm fully aware of it everytime I leave my house. And I'm aware I'm not trans enough to really be considered trans unless it is in the context of arguing with gay people. I'm trans when it's convenient for you for me to be trans. But if I say I'm trans, then you'll say I'm appropriating.

The problem with stereotypes isn't that they're untrue, but that they're incomplete. I am that butch lesbian stereotype that mainstream gays say is negative, false, non-existent. They'd like to get rid of it because it's a liability. (Though, this mentality has decreased a bit in the past year.)

See, if the LGB drops the T, or the T drops the LGB, I get dropped by both. And then all I have left is the butch/femme community...which presents another problem because I'm in a butch/butch relationship (which, oddly enough, is viewed as being like gay men). Oops, not quite the butch lesbian stereotype. Like I said, stereotypes are incomplete.

I don't know what makes a man a man. I just know I'm not a man. I'm a woman because of the gender binary that exists in the dominant culture. But, I identify as genderqueer among other lesbians because they accept butch identity as gender, as opposed to a punchline for the purpose of mocking gay people.

I've been trying to figure out why it is so easy for me to identify as genderqueer among lesbians and no where else. And I figure it's because it's the only space that doesn't demand I chop my identity up into little pieces.

We cannot separate our selves -- it is, in a very colorful way, cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Or ripping your arm off just to upset your leg.

And that's pretty much what I feel like people have been asking me to do to myself.

Antonia, et al; I'm gonna try to answer your question: 'Should trans folk be part of the same thing that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are part of?' My short answer is, 'Yes, so long as being part of it doesn't 'kill' it - which might preclude the rest of us from bringing you T folks along just a tiny bit later? So long as your justified yearnings don't eviscerate the rest of us from being effective on your (our!) behalf? Allow me to explain? As a GWM, aged 54, and by my own experiencial accounting: about 8% of our society is gay or lesbian. Less than 1% is transgendered. As a gay man working for gay rights, I've always identified with African-Americans in achieving our civil rights. But guess what? Black leadership surprised and alienated me by telling me that I'm vastly unlike them and their struggle. (It seems my lack of pigmentation and pedigree of slave-ownership excluded me?) Whatever... these are perceived or actual differences that I must accept - for now.
Things can change in a heartbeat, which is how I'm experiencing our movement. As an 'elder' I'm amazed at the progress we've made, and not in my most optimistic moments could I have envisioned the lovely precipice we're upon. This is a time and era, I think, that we should culture our sensibilities in the most crafty and cunning way.
Our enemies are enraged and apt at convoluting the essence of our argument. Is this the time to be 100% politically correct in a society where everything political is suspect? If it comes down to it, if ENDA and similar legislation is going to fail because of 'those men who insist in peeing in the ladies room' (?!)'??? If it becomes that hairy in the final moments - do you want for the 'T' to be victorious yet empty- for the sake of the LGB who get stomped on?
In a perfect world; it won't come down to that. No one will be comprised, nor sacrificed for some imagined good. But is this a perfect world?

Yeah, if that was the way it works. However, it isn't a tiny amount of time. The lag time between gl legislation and t legislation is intolerably long. We can succeed together or we will surely hang separately.

Jim, I believe the word you are looking for in describing the discrepancy regarding your view of gay white men and blacks is, "privilege". Such comparisons of inequality can really be made in one direction only, with the less privileged comparing themselves to the more privileged. Going the other way, unless you truly understand and acknowledge and fight for all issues of the other subculture, tend to gain an air of appropriation. Alliances often work best with equal partners, and that may be part of the problem we (lbgt+) may be seeing.

Also a few notes regarding your stats, "about 8% of our society is gay or lesbian. Less than 1% is transgendered". By my count and the count of those who oppress all of us, that adds up to about 9%, plus the oft-forgotten Bisexuals and all those that make up even smaller percentages. Call it 10%. Ten percent that transgress gender expectations. Face it, you are trans too. Not a transsexual, not a crossdresser, but someone that is trans to what a 'real man' should be in our society. THAT is the battle we face, not this hair splitting of who is more or less acceptable. If you've bought into the hard sell that cross dressers and bear lovers are seen differently, just keep donating to HRC and waiting for change.

What you don't seem to realize is that the progress 'our' movement has made has mostly been the progress of white gay men, then a little for white lesbians and a sprinking for everyone else. And much of that progress was made on the backs of trans folks. Well, guess what? Some of us, the ones most feared by those at the top of your 'movement' have made the most progress on our own. But we've so far been happy to share.

See, here's the problem I have with the 'LGBT+': There is a horrible inequity of privilege between a small contingent of affluent, relatively social conservative, gay, typically white, typically men ...and everyone else. Just like with the Christians, a tiny percentage at the very top either feels threatened or is quite greedy, and wants to sacrifice the past and everyone else's future for personal gain. They have the power, the funds and the resources to finish the fight, but instead feel threatened and have turned their knives inward.

Hi Mr. Bloor :D

If you don't mind, and you can take a response without assumption it's an attack, I'd like to address a couple things in your response.

First, bringing trans folks along a little bit later is already precluded. I do not say that witha lightness of heart or spirit, I say it because of the "mood" within the Trans community. There is no later. We were there at the start of it all, right at the front, and we have done the waiting for that little bit later long enough. It's precluded by the history, and no argument regarding rationality is going to change that at this point. Ask those folks who pointed out your ties to slavery kinda preclude you about that.

That's also ignoring the whole point I raised above about there not being any way to "leave us behind" without leaving some of all behind. Your statement functions on the assumption that there are clear, sharp lines between the different groups. That's a myth.

Secondly, as a point of fact, at the very minimum the Trans population is 3% of the total population. If heterosexual crossdressers are 2 to 3 percent of the population all by themselves, and the numbers for Transsexual people are statistically underreported in minority groups, and there are a crapload of other kinds of Trans people, then even assuming the Transsexuals and those who are not heterosexual cross dressers are all totalling 1%, then we are 3 to 4% of the population at the absolute minimum.

That's as factual as I can make it, using APA cited statistics for Cross dressing and WPATH stats for Transsexualism and then the burgeoning expansion of gender variant sorts one can find in pretty much any pride parade.

Given that's the *minimum* factual basis for what is Trans (what you called transgendered), perhaps you need to do your math again.

This is one of the singularly most damaging myths about Trans people, as well -- that we are a tiny (and thusly insignificant or less important) number. We are not that way. And an enormous chunk of our population is hidden -- by some estimates, as much as two thirds of our population is invisible because of stealth.

So, if you don't mind, please reconsider that statement and that valuation. We are a lot larger than people realize.

FOr us, it's a lot like you hearing that there are only 2% of the population who are gay. Utter falsehood, but it's still said all the time.

You ask "is now the time to be courteous to others in a society where everything political is suspect" -- for Political correctness is indeed courtesy, and nothng more, and the idea that courtesy is somehow bad is a product of those who despise us.

TO which I say *yes*. Now more than ever.

And to your point of would I burn with my family -- would I say all or nothing to the passage of ENDA -- then the answer is yes.

Because there are no clear cut lines. ENDA without the Gender identity and expression parts will not cover all the gay people. ENDA without the Sexual orientation parts will not cover all the Trans people.

Indeed, in neither case, will even cover most of those parts.

How does one leave a leg to burn to save an arm rationally, Mr. Bloor?

It will still burn the body, and slow the whole, and possibly kill it.

Are you saying that you'd rather amputate and hope you don't lose your other leg via the poisons of infection?

Because make no mistake: cut the trans people out this time, and there will be a poison for which there is no cure. ANd I don't say that merrily or gladly or even with hope.

I say it with resignation and fear and yearning for such to not happen.

The question is likely "unasked" because there is really no good answer. Each segment that falls under the LGBTQ banner head has reasons that do not match up totally with the others found under it. We are basically lumped together both because we are all thought of by many who are in opposition to us having any rights as perverse, or because we are hopefully more politically powerful in a group as opposed to on our own. Not all Lesbians are going to embrace Trans-women just as Gay guys might find Trans-men strange. If we however fall into the mindset of separation of the groups that make up the whole we are not acting any better than those who oppose all of us ever having any rights in this society. Or without intent to offend any atheists, I offer this piece of wisdom. " A house divided against it's self will fall." To break with each other dilutes any goal we may hope to obtain if done with that in the final result.

I think way too much is read into all this politics of who is Gay, who is Lesbian, who is Bisexual and who is Trans. We are first people, Human Beings and this is who we are. I don't care if the guy that lives down the street or my neighbor doesn't like me but I don't want my rights infringed on. To have one particular group of people or maybe several groups tell me that I have no rights as a person then that makes me mad. I have worked all my life and have worked more than some. Just because I'm trans doesn't make me any less or any more a Human Being than the guy down the street. I will accept the way he feels and I hope he accepts the way I feel, I don't expect anyone to accept me but just accept the way I feel. If I'm going to Hell well, let me, it is my choice a choice that I made between my God or non diety. This is America, the United States of America. We have a Contitution that grants us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
ENDA, hmmm, this is kind of a joke. It can't make an employer hire you. It can only make the employer not fire you as one of the GLBT. Has anyone ever seen somebody set up in a job as being fired for something but not racial but in reality that is why they were fired. The same goes for ENDA. You just give the corporate lawyers more puzzles to work on. They like that as it makes their life happy. Seen it done.

These comments are way more respectful and measured than I expected them to be. This is either a testament to Bilerico readers or site moderation (I think the first). I want to put a trans-centered spin on the idea of separation.

It should be noted that it's mostly in white, European, middle-class circles that a difference between GLB and T gets discussed. Are we having this discussion in Brazil, Thailand, South Africa? Nope how about communities of color, rural or poor communities? No so much. The politics of exclusion is evidence of privilege and relative safety.

To stir the discussion up a little, lets look at the reasons why the B and the T were added. It's partly a numbers game and a grab for social approval. I remember the late 90's reading gay history and lists of influential gay men and lesbians. The reality is most of the folks on those lists would be more properly classified as either Bi or Trans, not gay or lesbian.

In the early debates around gay marriage, opponents talk about how there is no history of same-sex unions. Pre-Colonial Hijra in India as well as Indigenous American 2-spirit get trotted out, painted "gay", and used as examples of Same-sex relationships that were accorded recognition on par with opposite marriages.

In the post-Stonewall through the AIDS/Queer Activist 90's it was important to show that "gay" was in all places and all times (Not a white thing, not a wealthy thing, not a western thing). This helped contextualized gay and lesbian rights and needs within history. To show that other cultures honored "us" at different times and by extending civil and social recognition to GLBT folks was neither frightening or particularly new. Trans and Bi folks were used to this end and to provide particularly poignant representations of discrimination and violence. So an inclusive GLBT is simply an act of honesty.

Just want to thank Sara and others who responded to my earlier comment with such well-reasoned and thoughtful replies. While not feeling defensive; I just want to re-iterate that I was projecting my thoughts onto a doomsday scenario of nail-biting compromise that 'might' evolve at the last minute, and NOT reflecting how our movement should progress in any general sort of way. I agree that even as a 'priveleged' gay white man I am also 'trans' in society's perception of me. But yes; I do maintain that - while discrimination is always wrong - we really have made a lot of progress since the days when my parents were legally able to put me in a mental institution for the crime of being gay. And while my days of street level activism (and jail, once) are behind me, I don't think it's neccesarily naive or tired of me to offer up the spectre of compromise to achieve the most good for the most - so long as the 'most' keep fighting for anyone that gets (temporarily) lost in the dust-up. I've often obtained my rights by kicking doors down, but there's been just as many times when the 'priveleged' held the door open for me via their own conscience and morality. I've come to trust in both processes over time.

Well isn't that big of you Mr. Bloor, considering that in your scenario you aren't the one being told to 'just be patient and we'll get around to your rights eventually'.

There is not a single LGBT person that has not been told to "just be patient and we'll get around to your rights eventually."

A lot of gay men died waiting for AIDS research and treatment in the 80s from an otherwise apathetic government and society. This is still happening in some places.

So that makes it acceptable then Grrlromeo?

No, just stating a fact. Instead of assuming a person doesn't know what a particular situation is like, you could use analogy of a similar situation in order to get them to understand yours.

For example: Hey Jim, how would you like it if lesbians had decided not to help with AIDS crisis and just stay focused on feminist issues delaying AIDS research for 14 years.

You're dealing with people with certain different perspectives. For a gay man that lived through the 80s, it will color his view. And I suspect the majority of those who don't care about gender identity are gay men that lived through the 80s. And everything may seem trivial in comparison. (And I hope Jim doesn't mind that I'm assuming he is the same Jim Bloor of "The Gift" and Frontiers Magazine.)

Of course, you'd have to know about queer history and what other people in the community have gone through in order to find the commonality, or at least the empathy.

Folks are demanding the government grant them the right to use the right bathroom in the ear of folks who demanded the government not let them die, literally die, of an epidemic. The former has not appeared to engage in group organized civil disobedience to fight for that right, yet the latter has. Consider what that sounds like.

I'm just pointing out the dilemma when everyone believes for certain that they're right and they're prejudiced view of the other is accurate.

I misunderstood the intent of your previous post. I apologize and thank you for explaining what you meant.

Mr. Bloor,

I agree that it is not naive, and I'm willing to allow that from your perspective that after 40 years of the same thing being said, it's not too tired.

From my perspective,however, it is based on a lack of good information (see my previous response to you).

And what you propose as a compromise is not, in fact, a compromise.

Nor will it reach *most* of our collective community. Indeed, it will reach a very small segment of it.

The average number of years between getting one and coming back is 14.5 years -- and growing. In fact, that number was two years ago -- so it's actually more like 16 years now.

People do not come back, Mr. Bloor. What do you think the cis GLB reactions would be if people were to tell them "be patient, calm down, relax, we will get around to it sometime after 16 years or so"?

Re-do your calculations based on the better data of *at least* 4% (to match the mainstream media of "at least" 5% for GLB, which both your numbers for and my numbers for are much higher).

Then tell me what you think again.

SarasNavel | April 20, 2010 3:25 AM

Mr. Bloor,

Regarding your statement, "we really have made a lot of progress since the days when my parents were legally able to put me in a mental institution for the crime of being gay":

I might point out that parents of trans kids can and do still put their kids in mental institutions on the advise of psychiatrists and psychologists particularly frustrated that conversion therapy has failed.

I'm going to single out a few comments for extra attention:

laughriotgirl has some key points that need to be examined here.

In particular the second paragraph.

Grrrlromeo has some outstanding points that I think should be noted -- she's caught int he middle of this, and she's far from the only one.

Indeed, I'd say that she's in the majority of people -- and she's merely more aware of it than many people.

Sarasnavel starts off at the very start using the term I worked hard to avoid in writing this -- but the grocery store allegory and metaphor that I used is a very specific one that applies across a broad swath of the population to help them understand the nature of what privilege is.

So far, it's been pretty good, but I'd like to see this discussion really happen -- and I suspect that those who truly do think that the T doesn't belong with the rest are avoiding it.

Well I read a novel approach to this whole situation the other day. It goes like this. Amend ENDA to state that Transgendered persons are now specifically covered under the ADA (American with disabilities Act) instead of excluded. That should fix the bathroom issues Barney seems to have. Then specifically state that any Transsexual who is deemed "cured" as defined in the soon to be revised DSM is covered under the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex as covered in the original non discrimination law. Maybe that would cover all the bases since homosexuals are no longer included in the DSM. And as a side benefit transsexuals could get handicap stickers.

How's that for thinking "out of the box"?

Something I already noted previously.

However, thee is great resistance to that within the Trans community on the basis of it making the pathologization of Trans people a matter of law.

SarasNavel | April 20, 2010 3:19 AM

Deena, transsexuals are arguably already excluded from the ADA exclusion, as are people that are intersex. Here's an interesting write up:

Yes but the key word is "arguably" and the very paper you cite concludes that legislation is needed because that argument has been consistently lost in the courts. Thank you for the link. I read the entire paper. Although it is a bit outdated it does a creditable job of pointing out that while the Helms amendment excluding transsexuals from the ADA could be challenged the likelihood of success before the Supreme Court is negligible.

Sure. That would re-open the whole national health care debate so I guess its a DOA for Democrats.

Well, I don't particularly see *why* it's a non starter other than the sheer cowardice of having to face the issue head on.

The ADA specifically excludes homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, pedophiles, exhibitionists, voyuers, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other "sexual behavior disorders" (meaning that all of those things, per the ADA, are considered sexual behavior disorders, inclusive of Homosexuality and bisexuality) in section 12211.

It also defines a covered disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." Which would limit the coverage primarily to surgically tracked transsexuals with an extreme degree of "incongruence" or "dysphoria".

So removing the particular aspects of 12211 that are insulting to the entire LGBT community would actually be a benefit (inclusive of one to our opponents as it would allow for those "ex-gay" sorts to claim disability) to the whole body, and allow for solutions viathe ADA that almost certainly would result in people creating a third set of restrooms, provide for medical coverage of necessary medical treatments, and generally work well.

However, to retain that status, they would need to be classified accordngly for use in the legal system, and many Trans people strongly dislike being associated with persons who have a mental illness because of the stigma attached to it.

Me, I don't particular give a damn if it achieves the goal of attaining medical services for those in great need.

But getting people to realize that the law, as it stands right now, actually calls homosexuality and Bisexuality "sexual behavior disorders" is kinda difficult, since it's usually dismissed or said to be unimportant.

I'm just a simple Ditz. I just thought it would be a neat way to fill up all those empty handicap parking spots. You certainly seem to have a lot of valid points. It almost sounds like ADA has classified the whole GLBTQ community as mentally ill as a matter of federal law. Why hasn't Barney raised hell abut this?

If I had any sense I'd get out of this paradox.

ENDA is going to be debated on the House floor and Senate floor by cissexual, cisgender people. Not by us, not by LGBTs, save for 2 gay men and 1 lesbian in the House (out of 435), and 0 in the Senate (out of 100).

Has anyone considered that Congressman Frank has doubts about the ability of Pro-ENDA Congress members and Senators to effectively debate these issues? Because I have doubts.

It'll pass the House. But I feel 90% sure it will meet a filibuster or some other procedural block in the Senate.

Transfolk are right to be skeptical. But I personally think the "transgender problem" is the Right is going to strike hard and fast at that spot the moment the language of the bill is revealed. And everyone is ready to attack it from all sides before they've read it. We might as well just shove in the shredder instead.

Accurate observations, in my opinion.

Hence the effort to make sure that people understand that the "transgender problem" is really a problem of people who think that there is a transgender problem.

That might be a little too existential, though. Dang it.

Avoiding? Puhleeze! I, for one, very clearly affirm that being trans-whateva ain't got nothing to do with "the gehs." Ignoring the fact that I'm well on my way to being *perceived* as one of them. But fuck that, right? Maybe I should inform and re-educate these homophobes who just don't "get" me. Coz they're, like, mistaken and the URL to my 2000 word blog posting will clarify the situation. Really?

Alternative #1: Homos/coattails/bigger/ride/STFU. Recline on chaise longue and eat bon-bons!

Alternative #2: Broadly define TG to include crossdressers, and make a substantial proportion of them out and politicized. Separatist Win!

Honestly, I find #1 more compelling than than my need to proclaim my self-righteousness.

Angela Brightfeather | April 18, 2010 11:57 PM


This is how I see the GLBT in the future. I don't like it and I don't mind saying that I blame those who accept our money to advocate for us and then work behind closed doors to benefit their own political positions. As in all things that are assigned a legislative voting number, "politics is politics" and I dont expect anything more or less that that. But all this talk abut splits in the GLBT Community and Trans people going it alone are just simply the typical distractions that are created around political matters like ENDA, that places the trees in front of the garbage dump, so that the overall mess is hidden from view.

When the tweaks were announced I immediately noted the revisions wuld be about the bathroom accomodations right away. Like everyone else I still have not read the final legislation, but I could read the writing on the wall easily enough. It is pretty apparent what is being done with ENDA and there have been enough clues all along. With the backlash from cutting out Trans people in the last version, another plan needed to be drawn up and sedt into motion.

When ENDA was last seen in the light of day, Trans people were cut out. The entire issue in DC became, not as much how we are going to get Trans in ENDA, but how are we not going to endanger the legislation in the future by incurring the backlash of the community and splitting it right down the middle and hurting ourselves in the process. At that point, diversions were created while the real plan took shape behind closed doors. How do we do this without being the bad guys? How do we plan ahead to make ENDA passible for everyone who wants to work, but also not as problematic about things like the bathroom issue and men in dresses teaching grade schoolers, which would shuffle the whole thing down the drain when the religious right and the Republicans really started to shout about it? What has to be done to change the perspective of ENDA and make it more defensible?

Thinking about it all this way, the players who are really pulling the strings in ENDA become very clear. Frank and his "secret table". HRC, the only organization not to sign the pledge and the implied reward to be able to still sit at the secret table. Pelosi, a master at getting people to sit down at the secret table and work out a long term plan that does not include any egg on the face of the President and Congress, and who is handed a bill that does the job and will pass the Senate, while not endangering the mid-term elections by making waves in the base. All of which translated to changes and restrictions on the Trans elements of the bill that do endanger it's passage in the Senate.

In the end, there must be no blame that anyone can place on anyone else except the Trans Community, who will be dissatisfied but unable to throw any missles at the legislation or loud claims of being left out. In other words, don't mess with the people, mess only with the people who are to wierd for anyone to accept, even some Democrats. Women with penises and men with vaginas. If they could say it, they would be saying, sorry folks, but we just aren't ready to deal with that yet, maybe later, like the 22nd century.

As for GLBT people peeling of for one reason or another, that is not in the long range plans as I sense those master plans. By taking Transgender people out from under the bus, and putting them under the water closet this time instead, the people at the table will remain unblamed and PC. The fact that only a handful of people in the GLB part of the community are interested enough to understand the nuances of the restrictions on Trans people in this version, leaves the majority asking, what is it that Trans people want anyway, and why are they so damn mad all the time? It's like watching the movie The Hunt for Red October where the American diplomat says to the Russian diplomat, "you haven't lost another submarine, have you"? After this version of ENDA passes, the only fighting about the bathroom issues in it will be limited to within the Trans Community, who will be pointing fingers at each other trying to fix the blame on it's own advocacy groups, asking why we didn't see this coming. The issue also allows everyone to keep on fighting for revisions in the future, which allows for the collection of more money and memberships to those who maneuvered this bill. So in the future, the play is that Trans Community will be trying to revise the bill to be more inclusive of Trans people who live or express as female and still have penises. That sort of places Trans people in the same shape as Republicans trying to overturn health reform by convincing people that they don't need the pre-condition clause in it. Certainly an uphill battle that will only be fought by men in dresses and without most post op Trans people who will be to busy phoning the EEOC, actually working in jobs and contributing to HRC who can really start pushing for SSM now.

The DSM will come out and the vast majority of Trans people will still be ranked right up there with a mental condition and next to the other "phillias" and Frank, HRC and the puppet masters will be proven correct in sacrificing that part of the Trans community that insists on living like women, but don't want to give up or can't give up their penises. Females to males are OK because as long as they grow beards and mustaches, no one is going to complain.

In the end, the T will remain with the GLB, but after ENDA passes it will mean Transexual instead of Transgender, They will end up in a class of their own, still fighting to go to the toilet and take a shower in the right rest room.

So welcome to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual Community folks. We are all "sexual" now and perfectly matching. A community that is far more acceptable and one that we have to worry about a lot less. The GLBT is whole once again and ready to move on. But I am sure that they will come back and pick up the other Trans folks just as soon as hell freezes over. In the mean time, if you are diagnosed as Transexual but are to old or have a physical conditon that precludes you from having your penis removed, make sure to bring a note from your doctor so you can show that to any future employers or anyone questioning you in a rest room.

Sometimes progress is only partially real and victory can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

This is a totally accurate assessment of the near political future. Of course you had the benefit of me telling you this was coming to pass for over a decade.

I sincerely wish this wasn't going happen and believe it didn't need to happen if some TG activists had not adopted a scorched earth policy on any compromise or disagreement with women of history, lesbians, gay men, anyone cis anything and Barney Frank.

Gotcha! I think (the "second generation" this, and "assimilationist" that taxing my tiny mind somewhat). But, if you find that you and an 800 lb. gorilla are headed in the same general direction, you let the 800 lb. gorilla proceed first, no?

Granted, the beast might miss a few corners or smash the odd heirloom. Still, rather easier to tidy up afterwords than cut that swathe yourself.

Well, actually, as most folks who have met me know, if you put me in the path of an 800 pound gorilla, odds are pretty damn good I'm going to get in there toe to toe.

Especially if there's risk to some heirlooms...

OK, lets change the example to breast cancer. Now what are you going to do? If it is unstoppable without a mastectomy would you take it to an early grave or sacrifice it?

Really? You have made several scorched earth comments so it stands to reason you'd rather die than live without a breast - or 2.

Yes, really.

Breasts aren't *quite* the same thing, Deena -- hence the false comparative.

You are, of course, welcome to establish it as a reasonable comparative. :D

Consider it an, um...

challenge *grin*...

Meanwhile, I'm working on a new blog post that takes up the subject of one of those compromises they are already talking about.

I think you'll get a kick out of it.

Oh I always enjoy your posts Antonia. You do an excellent job of analysis even if you do get a bit verbose at times. You have to keep it short and simple for a total Ditz like me to get a real kick out of it.

Jacqueline Santopietro | April 19, 2010 12:58 AM

Any bill that says a trans woman of any shape form or figure does not have the right to a woman's or single occupancy restroom should be avoided and thrashed as presented. We already have the alternative as the bill is obviouly inadequadate.

Jacqueline Santopietro

Here's another out of the box look at the problem. Seems to me there is an economic solution to the whole "bathroom issue". Let's take the American way and throw a few dollars at it. With the huge amount this country spends on health care it would only take a startlingly small amount to provide "bottom surgery" as a required benefit in all health care plans. Run the numbers - ---- say 3,000 procedures a year at $30,000 or 90,000,000 which as a percent of 2.6 trillion spent each year on health care in this country is a very negligible amount (.00003 or in percentage terms .003 percent).

Then you could legislate no penises in the ladies room. Policing it would be another matter entirely.

Angela Brightfeather | April 19, 2010 11:46 AM

The entire argument about ENDA is boiling down to the continued manipulation of the Transgender Community to suit the purposes of political correctness and the ablity of certain advocacy groups to sell the legislation without having to do the education. In fact, Frank, HRC and every other source keeps on yelling about education, while doing very little of it themselves.

You have to ask yourself, after all these years of fighting for ENDA, why has Frank, Baldwin, HRC and other major players in ENDA legislation never held an educational seminar series for legislators? To much money? Not enough time? The best that they can come up with is open hearings, but that is obvioulsy not enough if they revise ENDA in such a way as to distinguish the so called men in dresses from the TS's. If anything, the education of legislators has been co-opted enough by people or groups who believe there should be some separation or distinction made in the final writing about what is hanging between your legs, or not. Otherwise how have we gotten to this point where the bathrooms have become such a major issue and gender expression is hardly the issue at all?

No, this is a typical political plan, that out of the necessity of misjudging the impact of omitting Trans people from the last version, had to be set in motion soon after that unexpected backlash occurred and in the unexpected wake of United ENDA. I believe that the message at least on the surface after that point, changed from getting Trans people back into ENDA, to how are we going to get the votes, then who do we have to leave behind and how are we going to do it. The very fact that almost on the eve of it's being voted on now, no one has seen the final legislation to be voted on or the exact wording that is being changed says much. The religious right must be back there flailing their arms in the air right now because even they don't know the meat of the matter and what to sink their teeth into. I think that the real surprise though is going to come when it is announced that an agreement has been achieved, that negotiates the rights away of "certain" Trans people and it's them or us time in the GLBT Community.

No one has lied. All along they have been fighting to have Trans people in ENDA and saying it out loud, while we should have been yelling at them to answer the real question of, "Do you mean all Transgender people or just some of them?" The tip-of for those who did ask that question has been the blank look on people's faces when they say "What do you mean by that?" and then there is silence.

Legislation has never, and will never, fix everything. But if it could, and it did, I suspect many LGBTs would leave the community--as they'd no longer have use for it--and go on their merry ways assimilating into the dominant culture.

That's what some folks want right? The perfect legislation would provide the anesthetic that would allow them to make a clean cut.

I'm not just talking about Trans and ENDA, but Gays and Marriage. If gays can get married and adopt, they'll just stay home with their husbands and their wives and raise their kids, never giving another thought to the LGBT community. And with anti-bullying legislation for schools, we won't need the LGBT youth groups, SGA, GLSEN.

With all this legislation "protecting us" as individuals, we won't need to depend on each other or talk to each other ever again. Won't that be...neat (as opposed to this disastrous, disharmonious diversity).

Don't get me wrong, I want all this legislation to pass, and I want the best legislation possible. But not because I loathe the community which I'm part of and want to be free of it and get on with my life. I love subcultures and I love being part of a subculture that constantly contradicts the dominant culture. This is life. There is no other life to get on with.

One of these things looks a lot like the other:

What would be so abhorrent about our sexual orientation being a footnote in our lives as opposed to our identity and our raison d'etre?

What would be so bad about it being awesome to be gay or trans as opposed to a footnote? Just do what you want. Make your own reason for living. It's your identity and your sexual orientation and your gender, not actually ours.

I like queercore, riot grrrl and hip-hop. These things only exist because of the subculture they come from in which being queer, or female, or black respectively, isn't merely a footnote. It's acknowledging and embracing a shared experience and making art that expresses that. It's not like everyone who is queer, or female, or black has to participate or even like these things. And you don't even have to be queer, or female or black to appreciate it.

What would be so abhorrent about our sexual orientation being a footnote in our lives as opposed to our identity and our raison d'etre?

You're asking about what would be so bad about an alternate universe that I have never known. But for starters this site would cease to exist and you wouldn't be asking the question. And I don't know what other thing I would be doing so I don't know if it would be better or worse.

I agree with you. I treasure the gay community, and I cant imagine it disappearing, it would be horrid. I have lots of str8 friends, but honestly, I am happiest in a gay environment. Things just fall into place there--I get to talk to women who are in relationships with/attracted to women, and see that as natural and understand it. It's far different and easier than talking to str8 friends about their SOs, by far.

Honestly, I dont see how it could be a footnote anyhow. It certainly isnt for str8 ppl, a huge part of their lives is structured around their sexuality...maybe even pretty much most of it. As was pointed out in some heterosexism posts here a bit back, it just isnt obvious, b/c it permeates the whole culture, so none of them think of it (except as it relates to sexism, in which case even feminists who are str8 take note of it).

Also, not every gay blog is political (even Bilerico isnt every single post political). Most of the ones I frequent have to do with entertainment and pop culture, and blatant adoration of women. On the other hand, most of the str8 blogs I visit *are* political, with even entertainment/pop culture content analyzed from a political perspective. So I feel we are pretty safe from losing the gay community even after every single injustice against us has been vanquished!

Carol :)

I'm a 20-year-old guy, and I'm in the process of coming out to friends and family as gay. So even though I'm new to the LGBT community, I hope you'll humor my unique perspective.

I wholeheartedly believe that transgendered people should be treated fairly in the eye of the law, and by society in general. And if it's in the best interest of the LGBs and the Ts to work together, then so be it. But one bad thing about the LGBT acronym is that it seems to be misleading; for many straight people, it's probably flat-out confusing. This is because they (correctly) believe that being transgender doesn't necessarily imply a sexual orientation-- in fact, doesn't it have much more to do with which gender you identify yourself with than which gender you're attracted to?

And even though I will adamantly defend my advocacy of transgendered people, I've never particularly identified with them. It just doesn't really feel like a transwoman who's attracted to men is fighting for the same things I'm fighting for. And how could she be? She loves people of the opposite gender.

I acknowledge that Ls, Gs, Bs, and Ts are all sexual minorities, but that doesn't mean that it's not still a sloppy grouping. It seems like adding them all together probably hurts both LGBs and Ts, because each group has specific issues that are clouded when everyone who isn't in a conventional man-woman relationship is lumped together.