Pride And The Politically [In]Convenient Marriage Between “LGB” and “T”
Pride marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, generally considered to be the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Transgender mythology says that the riot was begun and led by drag queens and transgendered people, citing Sylvia Rivera’s participation as an example. The historical truth is that though the Stonewall Inn was one of the few bars that allowed male patrons to wear make-up, it strictly limited the number of drag queens allowed inside and rarely admitted other transgendered people; at the time trans people were regularly unwelcome at gay bars. However, the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, which happened three years prior to Stonewall, was trans led and marked a turning point for “LGBT’s” in San Francisco.
The marriage between trans rights and gay rights is one of political convenience. “LGB” became “LGBT” in the late eighties and early nineties as a result of activists like Jameson Green who recognized the discrimination faced by both groups was similar; sexual attraction has often been viewed a gendered trait. Allied together we had more political power than we did apart.
However, trans people have often been viewed as a hindrance and have routinely been distanced from gay rights movements. “T’s” often seem to embody the stereotype which gays are trying to leave behind. From the very beginning gender variant queers have been begrudgingly accepted as at the Stonewall Inn or excommunicated like when Lesbian Feminists tried to purge “butches [and femmes]” from lesbian culture.
As late as 2007, HRC pushed for a version of ENDA which excluded protections for transgendered and gender variant people. As a result gains made in gay rights have often primarily benefitted those that pass as straight, e.g. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The marriage between “LGB” and “T” has been a rocky one. “T’s” may often seem to be a thorn in the side of the greater movement. Stereotypical trans people are far too easy for conservative groups at which to point. A divorce might seem prudent as civil rights like gay marriage and a trans exclusive ENDA seem within grasp. However, let’s not forget that in our recent past homosexuals “threatened” gender as transsexuals do today. While “LGB” is gaining mainstream acceptance, let’s not forget the “T.” The easy way to gain equal rights might be to assimilate into mainstream culture and leave behind those that can’t, but that doesn’t show much pride.
Kylar Broadus could have hidden his transsexual past to avoid discrimination but instead he testified in front of the US Senate. Mr. Broadus is truly a heroic man.
Natalie Gates loves food, cooking and her dog. She is passionate about art, transgender theory and politics. She writes about gender and publishes recipes online.
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