Tonight Betty and I did a presentation on trans/GLBT issues for an emerging lefty think-tank. It was formed just after the last presidential election, formed out of frustration, anger, and a sense of outrage – not just at who won, but at how the right had stolen words like “morality” (by which they really mean heteronormativity), “family” (again, only heteronormativite families need apply) and “family values” (when they meant, keep those freaks out of my neighborhood).

A lot of the conversation was just trans 101, which Betty and I rushed into and interrupted each other and circled around and back and forth. (The poor guy keeping notes gave up at some point, I think.) We got some of the basic points across, and of course the group got to meet Betty – not your average tranny, but who is?

One of the pertinent questions asked – and this is a smart group – was Where are the Surveys? Where’s the equivalent of the Kinsey Report on trans stuff? and, in a more tactical sense, How many are you, and how do we count you?

There weren’t any good answers for these good questions. Aside from Lynn Conway’s numbers on the prevalance of transsexualism, which doesn’t include crossdressers or drag kings or any of the rest of the gender-variant community, I don’t have any. How many of us are there? More importantly, how many of us are there who will stand up and be counted? What are our issues? Who will lead us? Who are our allies, and to what other (non-trans) causes can we lend our weight?

These are only some of the questions currently being discussed on the message boards, of which I’m very proud.

Come join the dialogue.

One Reply to “Think-Tank”

  1. The presentation was fantastic in that it helped define trans as distinct from gay, lesbian, bisexual. I found it particularly interesting the distinction between sexual preference and gender preference. The questions about surveys, numbers were coming from a political-power perspective (e.g. where is the voting community here that can shift an election or define a public issue).

    I am very curious to know whether any of the Kinsey Report questions revolved around gender preference/sexual identity instead of just sexual preference. Asking not just, who do you have sex as/whom do you fantasize about, but who do you have sex as/whom do you fantasize yourself being when having sex.

    I think such an important element of the Kinsey Report was that it aimed to target as wide and blind an audience as possible. I do not think a survey aimed at the trans community would be a good idea because it would be predefining a community that so clearly eludes definition. Rather a much broader, blind survey would probably much more effectively draw out trans data because people would just be recounting their lives, not trying to avoid a categorization.

    The revelation I took away from last night is that the Right’s war is not just on the gay/lesbian community. It is a War Against Sex. There is such a fear of sexual exploration, whether that exploration be with a partner or with one’s own sexual-gender identity.

    A reason a blind survey or some other 21st century Kinsey report could be so powerful is that there are fundamental sexuality questions that are currently being approached, at least as understood by the group last night, through anectode but are not being defined and published in a way that gets in front of everyone and forces them to realize that there are more sexuality combinations than just straight, gay, lesbian, or bi. If anyone is aware of such a survey, I would be curious to know about thee approach, findings, and recognition in the broader academic community and media.

    I understand there are many issues here, and I admit to knowing little about the subject, but my sense is that the awareness engaged in this web site could affect a much larger swath of the public than the Right would ever let themselves consider.

    Thank you for trans 101. It gave me a lot of interesting new perspectives.

    -Guy who was taking notes and stopped taking notes partly because he got confused by all the acronyms and partly because he was really getting into the conversation.

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