GLB not T?

Posted by – October 16, 2013

So here’s a bunch of interesting reading on that old horse of whether gay and trans politics are bedfellows, allied, or not – a series of pieces in the NYT (the NYT!) from people like Susan Stryker and Laverne Cox and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (who is, by the by, currently on tour).

From Susan Stryker:

Remember that in 1969, rebellion and resistance by the queens and hair fairies of Christopher Street transformed a police raid at the Stonewall Inn into a defiant act of “gay liberation.” Twenty years later, “queer” politics included transgender as another version of what it called “antiheteronormativity.” The ’90s version of “queer” morphed into the L.G.B.T. community of recent years — an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — and for transfolk, it was politically invaluable to be part of that coalition. It still is.

From John Corvino:

But sometimes the answer is no: It does not always make sense to try to align sexual orientation and gender identity in one coalition. Each group has distinctive needs and challenges. By jumbling them all together into one alphabet soup — L.G.B.T.Q.I.T.S.L.F.A.A.*, anyone? — we run the risk of covering or erasing people’s experiences, especially those who are already most marginalized.

*In case you were wondering, it stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, two-spirit, leather-fetish, asexual and allies.” Even I had to ask about some of the letters.

& From Mattilda:

The gay movement would like us to think that gay marriage will give everyone housing and health care; that openly gay soldiers pressing buttons in Nevada to obliterate Somali villages means homophobia is on the wane; that strengthening the criminal legal system through hate crime legislation will bring murdered queers back to life. This is what we lose when we think of identity as an endpoint – just add “gay” (or even less acceptable terms like “queer” or “trans”) to any oppressive institution, and suddenly you have the new civil rights struggle. Gay marriage, gays in the military, gay members of Congress, gay priests, gay cops — what’s next?

So while a lot of my readers may be very familiar with all of these arguments, it’s a good introduction to the idea - and to the ideas of category & alliance – for newbies.

2 Comments on GLB not T?

  1. diannedianne says:

    I do wish they had a cis female panelist. The lack took a lot of credibility out for many people. And yes, it’s a trans woman saying this! I loved the point that Laverne Cox made. Including gender in the LGBT discussion is key. The gay and lesbian people who have the hardest time are those that cross gender role norms. At it’s core, who you sleep with is a gender role norm. Fundamentalist preachers aren’t exhorting thier flocks to punish children based on an assumption of who they will partner with in the future. They focus on gender expressive behavior, limp wrists and being soft should be quashed out of the boys. You cannot view it as two separate battlegrounds because the proverbial Joe Sixpack cannot distinguish between the subtlties. He sees “other” and reacts. When you go lizard brain there is no distinction between butch lesbian, trans man or gender queer. They just see someone that they don’t understand.

  2. JennL says:

    The gains made in rights grew ,as L.G.B.T people gained greater visibility by coming out in numbers. Political battles are only rarely won by barely visible minorities and we have to accept that in this world hard won gains can still be lost, so there is still a recognizable need for an umbrella coalition.

    Accepting that gender and sexuality are separable concepts, does not reflect a tacit acceptance that they are unrelated. Inclusion of the broader group under the same umbrella is still both appropriate and important; although finding an abbreviated and improved name for the coalition may be helpful.

    The goal of such a coalition in my opinion, should be to blur the lines between “communities” so much that they blend into one continuous spectrum that eventually just comes to be recognized as what it is to be human. Adding more letters confuses that message.

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