I'm Trans And The LGB Community Is Turning Its Back On Me

Photo: WeHeartIt

After all the work transgender people have done, why should we be kicked out of the LGBT?

Dear Lee Hurley and the gay man from the Change.org petition,

You don’t know me yet, but after this, you will. When it comes to the petition to remove the T in LGBT, I must disagree. I am a transman. I am the T. Your words attempt to tear apart communities that have been and always must be one.

I understand where you are coming from. English is a beautiful language, full of power and nuance. You're making a distinction of the nuance of words, it's in the abstract. No, Transgender is not a sexual orientation. However, I will fight to the death to keep its place in LGBT.


1. Gay history is trans history.

From the beginning, the fight for acceptance and equality has involved gay, lesbian, bisexual, AND transgender individuals. The Stonewall Inn, the very place that started the revolution, was primarily a hangout for drag queens and transvestites — people with gender variance. Of the people that initiated the rebellion that night: none were wearing cis garments. Based on the Martin Duberman Stonewall, it was either a lesbian in a male suit (unconfirmed), or a drag queen from the paddy wagon. To the police, that would have been he-she’s and she-males, both terms used towards the trans community.

Since that night, people of gender variance have marched side by side with cis LGB people for marriage equality and against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Trans people may be a small community, but every person counts in this struggle for equality.

2. We suffer the same oppression.

Faggot, dyke, and fairy. Those slurs are thrown at LGBT people EVERY DAY. LGBT people are murdered, based on who they are (and what they cannot change) EVERY DAY. If you think for a moment that murderer stopped to think “Gee, this person is trans, not gay, guess I better let them live,” you are very much mistaken, even if you switch trans and gay around. There are abuses that gay and trans people share, regardless of how they feel about each other.

3. The sexual orientation v. gender identity debate is flimsy.

To quote you:

“Before I came out, I was attracted to women. Being ‘female’ that made me a lesbian. Now I’m transitioning to male, I’m still attracted to women, so that makes me heterosexual. If I was attracted to men, I’d be gay.”

Lee, when you came to be a straight man, did your transgender status disappear? Did you magically spout cis male genitals or height? If you did, tell me how so I can do it too. But odds are, that’s not how it worked. Yes, trans people can be straight, gay, or bi. However, at no point does the transgender status disappear. We live in a complex world where people have overlapping identities. To say transgender status doesn’t matter when it comes to identity in the same way sexual orientation does, is like saying breathing has nothing to do with keeping you alive while the heart does everything. You simply cannot separate the two.

Mr. Unidentified Gay Man: I used to identify as a female that loved females. I marched in protests against Prop 8. It didn’t change how I felt when I came out as trans. Why? Because Prop 8 was an attack on my community too. Trans people have marched with LGB people year after year for decades. We have worked under the promise that if we got you ‘in’, you would help us too. We helped fight for marriage equality. We fought against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And now you want to kick us to the curb? WE ARE YOU. So knock it off.

So you and the Federalist writer, David Marcus, didn't see anyone but "white male heroes" at the 1994 celebration of Stonewall. That would be great and accurate if there weren't things like the 80's AIDS crisis and a history of drug addiction and suicide in the gendervarient community, or the fact that people of color are always made to feel uncomfortable in LGBT spaces run by cis white men that still have privileges. You haven't acknowledged this. You need to look beyond what serves you alone.

This world is already hard on the LGBT community. The last thing we should be doing is tearing each other apart while we are all in this together. The faster people realize this, the faster we can focus on being treated like what we are: human.


Explore YourTango