A Little Bit More about What’s Going on in Memphis

I see people joking (morbidly, of course) about how transgendered women should run for their lives from Memphis and I just want to again reiterate a couple of things.  One, trangendered women who work as prostitues in Memphis are obviously in pretty dire straits.  Most people, if they had their choice, would not be working in a place where someone (or more than one) are running around shooting at women like you and where the police beat you up if you arrive at the police station.  I’m sure everyone in Memphis knows the risks, so if those women are still working in Memphis, we have to respect that they believe that this is their best option.

We know that Duanna Johnson, for instance, was trying desperately to leave town and that her family was trying desperately to come up with the money to get her out of town.

So, believe me, I understand the urge to shout “Flee, flee!” but let’s be honest about whether that’s actually possible for some of these women.

Second, these women do the work they do in Memphis because there is a market for it.  Let me just put this bluntly.  People purchase time with transgender prostitutes specifically because they want to have a sexual encounter with a transgender prostitute.  That’s the draw, the marketing angle so to speak.  For lack of a better way to put this, trangender prostitutes aren’t trying to “fool” clients into believing that they’re born biological woman.  Everyone knows what’s going on.

I want to stress that second point because the psychopathic assholes who attack and sometimes kill transgendered women are counting on YOUR discomfort to make it easier for the psychopath to get away with his crime unpunished.  In the specific instances in Memphis, the asshole(s) are counting on the fact that most people in Memphis seem to be uncomfortable with “gays” (using the term loosely and in a way I disagree with) and, in their opinion, men who fuck people who have an XY chromosome arrangement are gay.  They’re counting on the fact that many black people act like homosexuality is something that just doesn’t happen in their community.  They’re counting on our whole society’s belief that there’s something weird and unnatural about being transgendered.  And they’re especially counting on our belief that transgendered people are somehow trying to “fool” people and that, in pretending to be something they aren’t, they are being dishonest to such an extent that anyone who finds out about the deception would naturally be repulsed, maybe even to the point of harming the person doing the deceiving.

I’m clearly not agreeing with any of these things.  And I clearly believe that all of them are, at the least, problematic and wrong positions to hold.  I’m just saying that the people who prey on transgendered people, especially the women in Memphis, count on the fact that YOU believe some or all of those things so that they can get away with preying on the people they want to prey on.

Like I said, men who search out these women to have sex with are doing so deliberately.  The subset of those men who react towards those women violently aren’t doing so because they’re surprised and repulsed.  They’re doing so because they know they can count on us believing that they would, of course, be surprised and repulsed, and so they will face little or no repercussions because of their actions.

And, frankly, in Tennessee?  It seems like they won’t.

49 thoughts on “A Little Bit More about What’s Going on in Memphis

  1. Freud’s generally full of shit, but his idea of a reaction formation — dealing with the anxiety of being turned on by a taboo thing by forming a hysterically violent opposition to it — might be of help here. The men who want to have sex with transgender prostitutes and then feel shame and revulsion at their desires can count on no one caring (and some actively applauding them) if they beat the shit out of or kill the object of those desires.

    Double the jeopardy if the transsexual is African-American in Memphis. That’s about as outsider as you can get. Yet, we either believe that humans have inherent worth and dignity and our gods love us in our varieties of brokenness or we don’t.

  2. There’s also another factor contributing to the apathy of many Tennesseans: the perception that Memphis is an inherently violent place filled with black people whom they believe are inherently violent. When I went to college in rural west Tennessee (specifically, “Hoots”) it wasn’t uncommon to hear white students from the area refer to making trips to “Memphrica.” Last week, a former “Hoots” area resident tried arguing with me and my husband that Memphis is more dangerous than Detroit.

    The people who don’t care are not newly apathetic because Ms. Johnson or Ms. Edwards are transgendered; they already didn’t care because it’s Memphis and they’re black.

  3. Samantha Y., I think that’s an excellent point. I love Memphis. I would go there all the time if I could afford it and I think it is a great time when I do get to go. But I am alarmed at how the rest of the state seems to disregard any problems there are in Memphis as somehow not having to do with us, as being black problems and not Tennesseans’ problems. Even though the kinds of problems they have in Memphis–healthcare, education, crime, etc.,–are concerns we all have.

  4. I’m not sure that psychopaths reason like that. A psychopath doesn’t say, “hey, I’m going to beat a transgendered prostitute half to death or even all the way and I’ll be able to get away with it because transgendered persons, prostitutes, and persons of color make many normative persons uncomfortable.” He (in this set of instances) feels like it (likely for the sort of reasons Bridgett mentions, but that’s almost irrelevant), and does it because he wants to. Psychopaths are hard to catch precisely because they’re not overly concerned with getting away with anything, so they’re just walking around being themselves rather than acting all furtive and fishy.

  5. in their opinion, men who fuck people who have an XY chromosome arrangement are gay.

    This is one of the reasons I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the acronym GLBT (or LGBT), despite the fact that I’ve been known to use it myself from time to time. I’m not convinced that we should categorize sexual identity and sexual orientation in the same group together. There are transgendered people who are gay, and there are transgendered people who are straight.

    Grouping them together I think does a disservice to both groups.

  6. I happen to disagree and disagree strongly. Yes, the societal understanding of being trans is that it is related to being gay, and that is incorrect. There are significant similarities to some of the social pressures however. The experience of being closeted, the experience of coming out, walking down the street as who you are… all of these things are more similar than they are not. Beyond that, most of the main arguments from the tighty righties against GLBT people of all flavors is that they are a violation of “proper gender roles.” They view GLBT people the same, use many of the same arguments against a gay man as they do against a transwoman or a lesbian, so why does separating out transpeople help us?

    I am immediately suspicious of any calls to separate the T off of GLBT, because there is *NO* major movement to help us. For many decades, transsexuals have lived under extreme pressure to go stealth, and to be viewed as straight. The medical community has a huge part to do with this, and still does. This means that two or more generations of potential activists have been erased, silenced, and nobody cared.

    If you look back at the history, the gay community actually shoved trans concerns to the side before. This has resulted in the gay and lesbian communities gaining in social acceptance and understanding, while trans-ness is still seen as this horrible perverted thing by so much of the US. How has this benefited trans people? Please, I’d love to know.

  7. Yeah, but isn’t what you’re saying that gay community has acted (and in many ways continues to act) like the “T” in GLBT isn’t really there? And doesn’t it make the very real plight of these women invisible because it’s seen as just some “gay issue”?

    I mean, I don’t know. I think you’re right that otherwise, there is no major movement. But it seems like what we have now is kind of only the less shitty alternative.

  8. In many ways it is the less shitty alternative, but I think that splitting up the movement really does Trans and gay/lesbian/bi/queer people all a great disservice. The people that trans people are fighting against are the same people that gay and lesbian people are. They do not understand the difference between being trans and being gay, and they don’t really care. They lump us all into one big target, and blame the ills of our society on us.

    Honestly addressing the mindset behind the attacks on gay and lesbian people means you are also addressing a majority of the issues that transpeople face as well. The fact that the movement hasn’t represented us as fully as it should have doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t represent us at all.

    Not to mention that a growing number of transpeople are identifying as GLB or Q as well.

  9. Well let me be clear that I’m a proponent of trans rights, and I don’t think the gay community should abandon the transgendered.

    What I AM saying is that linking sexual orientation and sexual identity together can and does create unnecessary confusion about already often misunderstood phenomenon. It seems to me that there’s now a (false) notion that transgendered is just “extremely gay.” The notion is that gay men want to be like women (and likewise lesbians want to be like men, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll limit the example to gay men and trans-women), therefore a trans-woman is really just a gay man who takes the desire to be like women to the extreme of living as one. It’s like the whole thing reinforces the false notions that gay men aren’t “real” men and trans-women aren’t “real” women.

  10. Funny how popular transgender porn has become in the homophobic U.S. Phukat, Thailand has even become a haven for “ladyboys,” young transgendered asian men who can easily be made to look “feminine.” Hundreds of thousands of American “straight” men a year go there to do what is taboo here. The internet is full of websites catering to the fantasy.

    The obsession has become so widespread in the U.S. that it was discussed in the HBO seris Pornucopia. More interesting to consider is how many American soldiers are attracted to transgendered women.

    And it is terrible shame that the only profession such outcasts are allowed is prostitution.

  11. dolphin: They are already linked by the people that are fighting against GLBT rights, and to fight against one part is fighting against the other. You can educate at the same time, in fact, you almost have too.

  12. Polerin, well, yes, exactly. But I don’t think it hurts to remind gays and lesbians that, just because they have the highest profile, doesn’t mean it’s right for them always to set the agenda. Which, of course, is the same complaint lesbians have had about gay men for ages and bisexuals have had about the both of them. So, ha, you know, same song, different verse.

    Still, I think this instance is when it’s important to sing that song.

    Casey, come now. Let’s not get overly dramatic or sentimental here. I think calling transgendered women outcasts oversimplifies things just a hair and saying that their only job option is prostitution does the same.

    Maybe I’m getting to be a crotchety liberal in my old age, but I kind of feel uncomfortable with anyone in a capitalist society acting like prostitution in and of itself is a tragic life-choice. Don’t we all sell our bodies?

  13. AuntB, yep, I’ve heard the song too ;)

    My issue is more with people wanting to seperate trans rights from gay rights, because it’s not quite that simple. I’d be the last to say that being trans is the same as being gay/lesbian/bi/queer/whathaveyou…. it’s just that it’s not quite doable to really seperate the issues because of our society.

  14. Aunt B.

    First, I agree on your first point. After I re-read that it sounded too absolute. I nearly changed it. But one of the problems for many trans folks in many communities is that they are often frozen out of jobs. And many end up in prostitution. And street prostitution is as bleak as most often portrayed. There are trans safe areas, my hometown of Asheville for example. I worked with openly trans people and never cared.

    And I’m about as far from dramatic as can be. That type of prostitution I’m talking about in Thailand is not a choice. It is often forced on young boys to feed their families.

    I was merely observing that this is a fascinating topic for me in trying to understand why so many men who claim to be “straight” are drawn to transgendered folks.

    I think prostitution as an economic choice should be legalized. But let’s not let our “liberal” views oversimplify the world. Most prostitution in the world is forced on people. That isn’t being dramatic, it is reality.

  15. I want to point out that splitting hairs about whether there is a T in GLBT is somewhat unproductive not only because it leads to schism within the so-called GLBT movement, but also because the entire premise of that battle forgets that there are straight people who ought to identify with the movement, too. (For that matter, there are males who by rights ought to identify with feminism.)

    The entire movement is about gendered identity rights, which absolutely everyone can identify with on some level, but if it falls into the trap of gendered identity politics it will be a fringe group forever. As a straight person, GLBT people are fighting for my rights to sexual freedom just as much as they are for their own. The legal and moral foundation for all of our sexual freedoms rest ultimately upon the same basic principles.

    If we want this thing to go mainstream, can’t we just call it “the sexual rights movement” or something?

  16. Let me toss this link out there, which has significantly influenced my somewhat muddled thinking on this topic:


    I don’t know how much I agree with the “nature vs nurture” point that Jim makes in that essay, but his main thesis really struck me. I creates a bridge between my rights and his rights in a way that I had never considered before.

  17. Casey: I agree to a large extent about transpeople needing economic protection, but you are setting a tone that not many will agree with by equating the forced prostitution of Thailand with the position of transpeople in the US. Transpeople, and most especially transwomen of color are most definitely vulnerable to employment discrimination and being shuffled into prostitution and other forms of sex work in the US, but the sources are very different.

  18. Polerin,

    Point taken. I didn’t mean to make that stark of a comparison. Obviously, they are different situations. The only way they converge is in the sex trade remaining illegal in most of the U.S., thus placing the women forced into beyond the protection of the law. That was my point.

    The streets of LA might be better than the sex clubs of Phukat or Pyongyang, but that is just by degrees. And I’m not judging any of them.

  19. Yes, but Autoegocrat, how long is everyone going to have to coddle the straight white men? Can’t y’all just do what’s right without waiting around for it to be marketed to you in the proper format?

    I don’t mean that as snarky as it sounds, but I do get frustrated with this idea that GLBT people should be more straight-friendly or feminists should be more man-friendly. I mean, first of all, these aren’t unified lobbying groups; they’re loose collectives of people who have very little common ground–so no, there’s not going to be any way to change the message to be more friendly because there’s not any central organization to disperse and police the message.

    But second, are y’all seriously just waiting around for someone to effectively market to you before you get involved?

    Because that seems fucked up to me. If you know something wrong is going on and you can see that everyone else who’s standing against it is a mishmash of people who are also busy bickering with each other, can’t you just get into the fray, too?

  20. I am not responsible for answering for every straight white male any more than you are responsible for your own group. If only there were a word for that sort of conflation between an individual and the identity group to which they belonged… ah well, nevermind that for now. We can talk about that another time.

    Here’s my main point. Everyone has to deal with sexual regulation of some sort. It’s not as if conservatism happens only to certain groups of people. Comparisons are made between the Civil Rights Movement and the GLBT movement, but sex touches everyone’s lives in a way that race doesn’t. There is a giant untapped potential for mainstream political support for people who today are considered to be at the fringes of society. That’s all I’m getting at, Aunt B.

    However, to your point, what the hell is wrong with being straight- or male- friendly?

  21. autoegocrat, can’t say I can find much in that article to agree with. He’s very loose in his use of the terms sexual orientation and sexual identity, not seeming to be very consistent in his definition of the terms and occasionally using both to mean sexual behavior, which is not an accurate definition of either term. I mean I can agree with his whole libertarianesque, “the government needs to stay out of EVERYBODY’S bedroom” thing but that’s such a minuscule piece of the all socio-political gay rights movement as to almost be meaningless on its own. For “a gay activist” he seems to have a very poor understanding of human sexuality.

    The entire movement is about gendered identity rights

    But the thing is that the gay rights movement is NOT about gender identity rights. As a gay man, my gender identity is male. I’m not fighting for my right to be a male. In fact none of the gay issues I fight for have anything at all to do with me being male.

    That’s why I suggested that there be some distinction between “gay rights” and “transgendered rights.” Both a honorable causes that need standing up for, but each is a fight for separate things.

  22. Gay and Transgendered rights are different things. We know that, because of the repugnant ENDA bill that was passed that was to give Gays rights, and not the Transgendered. Not that it ended up giving anyone any rights in the end. Some “victory” there. Way to Go, HRC.

    The situation in Memphis shows Transgendered people are far more in need of employment rights than Gays. For Gays it might mean the difference between a well-paid job and minimum-wage. For the Transgendered, it means the difference between living on minimum wage, or dying on the streets. That’s not a “hypothetical”, the “millions in fear that they might possibly lose their job” used as an argument for Gay-only rights, that’s Reality. That’s what the 70% unemployment rate for Transgendered people means. For Black Transwomen, it’s more like 99%.

    Not that our enemies see any difference: Angie Zapata was repeatedly bludgeoned to death after the first attack failed to quite kill her, because “Gay Things Need To Die” as her attacker said.

    Yes, we’re angry. We’re angry because GLBT means GLB when it comes to legislation, but GLBT when it comes to counting the dead. More than 50% of “GLBT” deaths from hatecrimes are Trans deaths. And most of those are of Black or Latina Transwomen forced into prostitution in order to eat. Their dead bodies are used by Gay men to gain sympathy for the cause, but when it comes to the legislation, they have to “wait their turn”. Not at the back of the bus, but under it.

    You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so my tone might not be the most helpful. Worse, there have been many, many GLB people who have done their best for GLBT (not just GLB) issues, and I do them great injustice. But just remember the leading attorney fighting against Prop 8 was a Transman. We punch above our weight in this, and never, ever get recognition for helping in a fight that is ours because we believe in justice for all, not ours because “there’s something in it for me”.

  23. Zoe, listening to you makes me realize that an intellectual hiccup I have is this idea that, if we fight with each other, it means we’re not fighting together against our common problems. Isn’t that the core of the “Wait your turn” argument? It’s not that people don’t mean well. They just really believe a.) that what they’re going for is the most important (to them) b.) that it’s easiest to achieve, and c.) that nothing, no matter how easy, can be achieved if we don’t show a unified front.

    But maybe c. is bullshit and maybe people want to believe that c. is not bullshit because it makes it easier for them to ask people in dire straits to wait.

    I have to think on that some. I mean, if something is important enough, it’s important enough to fight about with our friends as well as the people against us.

    Autoegocrat, I’m not sure why you’re sighing. Aren’t we having a good discussion?

  24. It’s a natural reaction to “Mad Tranny Disease”.

    He just wants what’ can be achieved, and as soon as possible. Having a “mad tranny” around is divisive, fractures a united front, and weakens everyone.

    Except I supported ENDA, yes, the gay only one. I thought and still think we could have done better, that as a “symbolic” gesture all it really symbolised was the propensity to throw Trans people under the bus.

    I still couldn’t oppose any measure that would help some of us. If I couldn’t convince others that the priorities were wrong, that a delay of 1 year for all prevented a delay of 30 years for those who need it most, so be it. I accept that.

    But I will be transmogrified if I won’t keep on broadcasting the message, and start pretending that this wasn’t morally and practically the wrong thing to do, just so others can feel comfortable and not guilty about it..

    If a Gay-only ENDA gets put up in the next session, I’ll support that too. Just let’s not pretend that it won’t condemn TWOC – TransWomenOfColour – to death for another 30 years. Maybe longer, that’s been the delay so far in Wisconsin between rights for Gays and rights for Transpeople.

  25. Making a distinction between the LGB and T movements also alleviates the “wait your turn” problem. There’s never been one movement in history that has had unlimited resources to devote to everything. So when you have a movement like the LGBTQ?2TSASAPOIF+SGL (and yes, those are all letters that I’ve seen tacked onto LGB at one point or another) is it any wonder that somebody, (alot of somebodys) are going to be disappointed at any given time?

  26. Reminds me of how southern women white women won the right to vote by reminding their husbands, at home and in the public sphere, that they, too, were good southerners and would vote “southern” values including keeping black people in their place.

    White suffragettes had allied themselves previously to black women who protested their plight as double second-class citizens. White southern women sold out their darker sisters to secure their own access to the vote.

  27. Casey, I don’t think that’s a remotely fair or accurate analogy.

    I will say I didn’t know there was such animosity among the trans comunity towards the gay community? Since we’re all so terrible, remind me why you’re demanding to lumped into our movement again???

  28. Dolphin,

    That wasn’t what I meant. I just meant that it has happened before that one segment of an abused group sold out other members who were slightly different for their own ends.

    I don’t know enough about how trans folks and gay folks treat each other to comment. Just saying that the Gay community moving on without the trans folks would not surprise me. By there is no emotion behind that for me as I’m an outsider to the community. I would just say, again from the outside, that all GLBT folk should stick together.

  29. Oh now come, Dolphin. Certainly you remember/have heard the desperately mean fights between gay men and lesbians? I wouldn’t eat food intended for one made by the other, in some cases.

    But when the chips are down, the infighting gets toned down. I don’t think that’s anything different than what Zoe is describing here. You can be pissed at your allies and still recognize that they’re your allies.

  30. And my sincere apologies if I seemed to suggest you were terrible or abusive or the like. I believe in complete personal freedom as long as your actions don’t hurt another person directly. So, I’m for all members of the GLBT community having equal rights.

    My two areas of study as a historian are military history and race relations. I was attempting to give you an example of how a civil rights movement from the past fractured and turned on it’s own. And in my opinion that would be a bad idea for GLBT folk.

  31. It’s my way. Ha.

    I mean, it sucks to fight, but I don’t see a much better mechanism for really getting at what’s going on than to sometimes just get it out there, even if it hurts.

  32. Certainly you remember/have heard the desperately mean fights between gay men and lesbians?

    Never could understand that either.

    I don’t think that’s anything different than what Zoe is describing here. You can be pissed at your allies and still recognize that they’re your allies.

    I’ve read nothing in Zoe’s comments that recognizes gay people as allies of the transgendered. I’ve seen her twice blame gay people for lawmaker’s decision to drop transgendered protections from ENDA (a move almost universally condemned by the gay population at large). I’ve seen her claim that gay people only “use” transgendered people to artificially hike hate crime stats. I’ve seen her claim that gay people have done nothing to help the transgendered legislatively.

    Here’s the thing. It’s my view that the LGB and T movements should be allies. But allies are, by definition, different entities. Seems to me alot of this animosity could be avoided simply by acknowledging that there are two different interests at work. perhaps then every LGB victory wouldn’t look so much like a T defeat to folks like Zoe.

  33. Well, there is that drawback to fighting–that people will get fed-up and call it quits. But people are angry and scared.

    Listen, all anyone is obligated to do is to try to do the right thing. That’s really all we can ask of each other. Everything else–whether you can work with others to do it, which folks you can then work with, whether it’s worth your while to have these kinds of discussions, etc. etc. etc.–just has to be about whether you’re up for it.

  34. Well, sure, the perfect is the enemy of the good. But it’s helpful to ask just how good the good (for which you’re giving up the perfect) is for everyone. We all tend to assume that changes that will be major improvements for us personally will be proportional improvements for everyone else, too. Often, that’s true. But it’s untrue often enough (since there are some situations/problems that won’t even be addressed by those changes) that I think it’s really important to have frequent loud reminders from all about how their own needs are or aren’t being dealt with.

  35. dolphin – if every GLB victory looked like a defeat for us, how come we’re in the front lines on Prop 8 and the like?

    Perhaps if you’d studied the history of the GLBT movement more, and that of the “great purges” in the late 70’s that expelled transpeople who had always been in the forefront till then of the common struggle, you might understand.

    There is a small – a lot less than 1/3 – but vocal minority of GLBs adamantly opposed to Trans rights who actively work againsf them. Rather more passively oppose, asking whether GLBT should even be GLBT in the first place, as the “trannies” are seen as late-arrivals.

    It’s not well-known that Stonewall, the Gettysburg of the GLBT movement, was a largely Trans rather than GLB affair. That’s not the way it’s usually described now, except by historians.

    Here, I’ll quote:

    “The roots of the animosity start after Stonewall. In an effort to appear more ‘mainstream’ to the straight community, Jim Fouratt and friends bounced Sylvia Rivera and other transpeople out of New York’s GLF (Gay Liberation Front). Jim Fouratt’s anti-transgender comments culminating in a 2000 one at a Stonewall observance in which he called transpeople ‘misguided gay men who’d undergone surgical mutilations’ also added insult to the injury.

    In a pattern that persists to the present day, The GLF had protections for transpeople removed from a proposed 1971 New York GLBT rights anti-discrimination bill under the pretext that it wouldn’t pass with such ‘extreme’ language.

    Ironically the bill failed anyway and the New York City GLB-only rights bill wouldn’t pass until 1986.

    In 1979 Janice Raymond poured more gasoline on the fire with her virulently anti-transgender book The Transsexual Empire. Raymond also took it a step further in 1981 and penned a quasi-scientific looking report that was responsible for not only ending federal and state aid for indigent transpeople, but led to the insurance company prohibitions on gender reassignment related claims. Germaine Greer’s anti-transgender writing combined with Raymond’s led to involuntary outing and harassment of transwomen in lesbian community settings. It also sowed the seeds for the anti-transgender attitudes in the lesbian community that persisted through the late 90’s.

    So far the only states in which the gay and lesbian community has ‘come back’ for transgender people are Rhode Island (2001), California (2003), New Jersey (2006) and Vermont (2007). In New York they are still having a difficult time passing GENDA after transgender people were cut out of SONDA by gay rights advocating the same ‘we’ll come back for you’ incremental rights spin.

    The first gay only rights bill, passed in Wisconsin in 1982 has been that way for 25 years now. There’s no indication by the GLB leadership in that state if they’ll move to rectify the omission of their transgender brothers and sisters or if they’ll assign it a priority as high as the one they place on marriage equality.

    In 1995 Elizabeth Birch took over as Executive Director of HRC at a time when there was an epidemic of gays and lesbians cutting transpeople out of civil rights legislation.

    In many cases gay people who sat on various HRC boards either nationally or regionally led the efforts. In 1999 Dianne Hardy-Garcia, who was the executive director of the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby (now Equality Texas) at the time and an HRC board member, led the successful effort to cut transpeople out of the James Byrd Hate Crime Bill (to mine and TGAIN”s vehement opposition). That bill was eventually killed in the GOP-controlled Texas Senate but passed in 2001 as a GLB only bill and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry.

    Elizabeth Birch for a while eclipsed Janice Raymond as Transgender Public Enemy Number One when she was quoted at a Chicago GLBT event as stating that transinclusion in ENDA (the Employment and Non Discrimination Act) a top legislative priority of transgender leaders would happen ‘over her dead body’.

    dolphin, I don’t blame you for not knowing this stuff, Few do. It’s all in the past anyway, and we should be looking towards the future. But you can see that the mistrust of certain sections of the GLB-without-the-T movement is based on fact, not irrationality and unreasonability.We don’t make these criticisms without evidence, and we certainly don;t think it applies to all Gays. Given that 1/3 of Trans people are GLB, we could hardly split anyway.

  36. First of all Zoe, you are not in a position to inform me of what I’ve studied or what I know. Not. At. All. I knew much of what you mention, didn’t know some of it, but NONE of it changes my position.

    Two things I’ll mention, then I think we’re done (or at least I’m done with you):

    1) Asking whether the T should be on GLBT is NOT “passively opposing” trans rights. I don’t think it should be the GLBBlack’s movement. Am I therefore “passively opposing” rights for African Americans? i don’t think it should be the GLBWomen’s movement. Am I therefore “passively opposing” rights for women? I don’t think so. I don’t have to stand in opposition to an issue to understand that it’s patently different from another. I can stand in full and even active support of a cause without directly making the cause my own. I’ll tell you the strongest gay rights activist I have ever known in my life was a straight woman, and I’ve known several of the “big names” that are active on the national level.

    And, frankly, if you demand the T be added to GLB, then you lose your right to complain. The GLBT movement (as you prefer to call it) is doing splendidly. The fact that it’s doing so well, yet your issues aren’t being addressed to your satisfaction should tell you something: your issues are different that GLB issues. You whine above because trans issues aren’t given as high of priority as marriage equality. Funny thing that the “gay rights movement” is focusing on, well, gay rights as it’s top priority. Who’d could have guessed that?

    Secondly, for every anti-trans gay person you can find, I can find 10 who are incredibly supportive to trans people and trans rights. Name one other major social group who are, as a group, more supportive of the trans community than the gay community. If you’re looking for success for the trans movement, I’m not sure launching an all out assault your closest and strongest ally is a wise course of action. You might try at little gratitude instead.

    Here’s one gay man who you’ve not turned off the of the trans cause (nor do i think you could), but you’ve certainly put off towards at least one trans person.

  37. Dolphin Writes:

    The fact that it’s doing so well, yet your issues aren’t being addressed to your satisfaction should tell you something: your issues are different that GLB issues. You whine above because trans issues aren’t given as high of priority as marriage equality.


    The “T” didn’t get appended to GLB rights by the Trans community – the broader public did that because most of the world still thinks that Gender is a synonym for Sex.

    Ironically, as Zoe points out, the public face of the GLB community for a lot of people is the Transgender community. Talk to most people about their impressions of the GLB community, and they will inevitably manage to link the T into it.

    Like it or not, T issues are GLB issues in the public mind.

    Additionally, let’s also be clear about one thing – discrimination is the ugly underbelly of society. We all have a mutual obligation to fight against that for each other.

  38. Talk to most people about their impressions of the GLB community, and they will inevitably manage to link the T into it.

    yes MgS, that’s exactly my problem. I’ve never talked to people about the GLB community. I mean, sure I ran a GLB Issue Awareness Program for several years that was directed almost exclusively at educating straight people on the GLB community, but that doesn’t count right?

    Additionally, let’s also be clear about one thing – discrimination is the ugly underbelly of society. We all have a mutual obligation to fight against that for each other.

    You’ll get no dispute about that for me, but I noticed you said “for each other.” Seems to me that you may think that GLB and T are different groups a little bit more than you think you do.

  39. Dolphin:

    Seems to me that you may think that GLB and T are different groups a little bit more than you think you do.

    I’m quite aware of the differences, thank you very much – and no, I do not perceive the Trans* as being synonymous with GLB on a social level. That said, the GLB – and in particular gay male subculture within that group – has a long history of transgender behaviour as part of it. Drag as performance art comes largely out of that community, and it is hard to deny that such a flamboyant presentation makes a strong impression among the general public. Although Drag is not per se the same as transsexual, the fact is that has become a part of the public understanding – regardless of whether we like it or not.

    In terms of politics, we experience more or less the same basic kinds of systemic discrimination and hostility. There is common cause in that respect, and it is naive to think that there is not, or that it is productive to throw transpeople under the political bus.

  40. MsG,

    If you want to have a legitimate conversation on the similarities and differences between gay issues and trans issues let me know.

    If instead you prefer to make the laughable and incredibly offensive claim that my support of the transgendered community (as a community that I don’t belong to but believe is equally deserving of the same rights and privileges as myself, and I’m willing to actively fight to make it so) as “throwing transpeople under the political bus” then all I can say is “fuck you.”

  41. Dolphin,

    That is about the most immature, ridiculous thing you could say.

    In the context of the overall thread of conversation, you’ve made it quite clear that you do not believe that it is necessary or valuable to the broader society to protect transpeople as well as GLB people. I call that ‘throwing under the bus’ – something which happened with the debates over ENDA over the last year.

    It’s not a matter of “fuck you”, as opening your eyes to the political realities that we are all faced with.

    I’m sorry to see that you are so intransigent.

  42. For somebody who “do[es] not believe that it is necessary or valuable to the broader society to protect transpeople as well as GLB people”, Dolphin sure has a funny way of expressing that. I read him to have said:

    “Well let me be clear that I’m a proponent of trans rights, and I don’t think the gay community should abandon the transgendered.”

    “That’s why I suggested that there be some distinction between “gay rights” and “transgendered rights.” Both are honorable causes that need standing up for, but each is a fight for separate things.”

  43. “If you want to have a legitimate conversation on the similarities and differences between gay issues and trans issues let me know.”

    Can I volunteer please?


    – 1/3 of Trans people are also GLB as well. Those Trans people who are homophobic cannot be anti-GLB without hurting many of “their own kind”.
    – Both groups – and they’re different – are seen as the same by our enemies. Transwomen do not get beaten to death with the cry “Filthy Tranny”, they get beaten to death with the cry “Filthy Faggot”.
    – Until the 1970s they were both considered mental illnesses.
    – Both are oppressed groups who should be comsidered “protected classes” under Title VII of the Civil Right Act, but aren’t.

    Er… that’s about it, really. Can’t see too much else they have in common at all.

    – One is about sexual orientation, the other gender identity.
    – Since the 1970’s, GLB marriage and civil partnership rights have expanded, while those of Trans people have retreated.
    – GLBs don’t require specialist medical treatment, Trans people do. There is no $30000-$100000 entry cost associated with “coming out” as GLB., nor a maintenance cost.
    That will do as a start.

    Oh yes, one more:
    – Trans-owned businesses never fire GLBs for being GLB, whereas it’s notorious in those states where GLBs are protected and Trans people aren’t, that Trans people routinely get fired by GLB owned businesses.

  44. Maybe some folk are a little too close to the subject to see the obvious but…

    Gay men and Lesbians have quite a few differences too! For example Lesbians who want children may want access to in-vitro sperm banks but Gay men don’t have that option. Lesbian women who suffer rape also have abortion as an issue that gay men do not share!

    Whereas what exactly are the gay-rights issues that they don’t share with TG?

    Hate-crime: shared
    Employment: shared
    Same-sex marriage: shared
    AIDS-prevention & treatment: shared

    Sure Gays don’t need the hormone and surgery stuff or the documentation and public ammenities stuff….

    But can anyone name a gay-rights issue that is not an issue for TG people too?

    For those who think T shouldn’t be with GLB why keep the L or the B then? All four share many issues, several have unique issues.

    And really as there is plenty of gender discrimination suffered by GLB folk for not being stereotypically male or female enough that means that Gender Expression is a GLB issue too!

    So really, what is to be gained by seperating T from GLB? What is the point of it? When the gender-non-stereotypical GLB folk will have to be side-by-side with the T on gender issues anyway.

    And fair health-care access affects everyone even if the specific details of hormones and SRS don’t.

    So if almost all issues are entirely shared, if the rest are at least partially shared in a clear related way…

    then whats the point of seperating?

    Especially as there will always be the GLB Tgs who join both groups together by being in both! There will always be Ts amongst the GLB’s and GLB’s amongst the Ts! They’ll always be in each group, be visible in those groups (esp. the Ts in the GLB ones) and their issues will remain important.

    So cooperation seems inevitable, seperateness illogicical and counter-productive.

    So maybe we should try and stop all those murders now kay?

  45. Thank you Battybattybats. I actually came here to say I’d be moving on from this comment thread because all Zoe wanted to do was bash gay people and MgS lacked reading comprehension skills to the point of not being worth my time, and then Battybattybats goes and makes a legitimate effort to have a real discussion.

    Here’s my thing Batty. You say “Whereas what exactly are the gay-rights issues that they don’t share with TG?” but I’d ask the exact opposite. What exactly are the gay-rights issues that they DO share with TG?

    Hate-crime on the basis of sexual orientation: not shared
    Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation: not shared
    Same-sex marriage: not shared
    AIDS-prevention & treatment: Neither explicitly a gay nor trans issue.

    That’s where I’m coming from. I can’t think of a single gay rights issue that is directly a trans issue as well, so I wonder why they should be lumped together.

    You do bring up an excellent point on gender expression being an issue that effects some GLB people as well, but my question is whether a GLB person facing discrimination on the basis of gender expression is facing those issues BECAUSE they are gay or BECAUSE of their particular gender expression. I’d posit that a straight person with the same gender expression would face they same discrimination. From my perspective a gay issue is an issue that results as a result of a person being gay, rather than simply being an issue that some gay people face. If we were to go with the later definition, then the diversity of the gay population would make ALL issues gay issues. An organized movement that tries to take on ALL issues is doomed to fail before it starts.

    Especially as there will always be the GLB Tgs who join both groups together by being in both!

    There will also always be people are in both gay and black/latino/asian/etc, or gay and female, or gay and elderly, or gay and handicapped, or gay and [insert oppressed minority group of your choice here]. My point is the same as above. If any issue faced by any gay person is “a gay issue” then all issues are gay issues.

    So cooperation seems inevitable, seperateness illogicical and counter-productive.

    I disagree. Cooperation seems inevitable BECAUSE separateness is logical and productive. One cannot cooperate with oneself. Cooperating means working together; that requires at least two separate entities.

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