To T Or Not To T

So some people started a petition asking lesbian and gay organizations to distance themselves from the trans community.

“We are a group of gay/bisexual men and women who have come to the conclusion that the transgender community needs to be disassociated from the larger LGB community,” begins the plea.

They want organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, and media like Advocate and Huff Post Gay Voices to “stop representing the transgender community as we feel their ideology is not only completely different from that promoted by the LGB community (LGB is about sexual orientation, trans is about gender identity), but is ultimately regressive and actually hostile to the goals of women and gay men”.

Of course, the response to that has been a blanket “nope”, which is what the petitioners wanted.  Their action wasn’t meant to effect change but to force those organizations to reply, the resulting media coverage spreading the petition’s message of prejudice to like-minded reactionaries across the LGB world.

Fortunately has been struggling to reach more than a couple of thousand signatures.  It’s currently being beaten by a petition to get rid of the sonic sunglasses from Dr Who.  It’s being crushed by a petition to save a parrot living in Florida, which has over 6,000 supporters.  By the way, the parrot’s name is Josh and he’s apparently being treated appallingly.

If the group’s wording and goal didn’t already make look them like a joke they have called themselves “Drop the T”, which I’m fairly sure was also the name of an early 90s rap act.  And if Drop the T are serious about preserving the specialness of lesbians, gay and bisexuals then there’s also a lot more than a T to dump.

While it’s commonly written as LGBT you’ll find all kinds of add-ons – for example Q for “queer” and/or “questioning”, I for “intersex” and A for “asexual”.  One university even created LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM which makes it look less like an inclusive acronym and more like the name of a village in Wales.

The reasoning in the narrow minds behind this petition will be myriad.  I’m not particularly interested in trying to get into their heads.  But while I don’t care about their motives, I do care to see them fail.

Drop the T say that the trans experience is about gender identity, and not sexual orientation.  But “sexual orientation” alone doesn’t automatically guarantee membership of “the larger LGB community” which they claim to defend.  There are many people who are lesbian, gay and bisexual who never see themselves as part of the “community”.   Some will step in and out depending on their circumstance or the issue at hand.

Any group this big, and fluid, isn’t really a “community” at all, but a “movement”, one defined by the experience of being treated unfairly, like you don’t belong.  That’s why the acronym is so good at attracting additional letters.  Misfits recognize another misfit when they see them.

The acronym also carries with it an implied goal – equality.  Historically movements that have fought for equality have consisted of a coalition – a coalition that includes those who won’t necessarily share the benefits from the fight.

In our history there are lesbians who’ve battled for the rights of those living with HIV, even though those people are mainly gay men.  There are many straight trans people who’ve fought for marriage equality, even though they already had the right to marry.  Sometimes it’s enough for people who have an experience in common to say “I get it” and “I’m with you”.

While it is always important to consider whether the grand alliance of the acronym is still appropriate and necessary, that should be a conversation – not a demand in a petition.  Looking around at the discrimination trans people are suffering it’s clear there is work to be done.  They are still treated as though they are freaks.  So are lesbians and gay men.  None of us still truly belong as far as many in society are concerned – and if you require a reason to tie us together then that feels like more than enough.

In ONE MILLION DOMS Dominic Sheehan comments about political stuff.  Yes, the title is a parody of One Million Moms.  Yes, he was really tempted to sign the petition about the parrot.  Save Josh!


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