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The T Is Silent: Should Trans Rights Activists Form A Separate Movement?
This is a debate that has raged since Stonewall: should gay rights and trans rights be separated into two distinct movements?
Despite trans women of color having been the main instigators of the Stonewall riots, Marsha P. Jones, Sylvia Rivera, and their fellow, fighting sisters have been largely erased from history. Today, despite trans activists still speaking out, issues within the trans community are still largely ignored by the public compared to gay marriage. Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox had to petition the FBI before any formal investigation was done towards the epidemic of transmisogynistic hate crimes in this country. Overseas, trans women are also targeted for violence, and, like in the USA, perpetrators are rarely punished. The bathroom issue also still rages, with many states attempting to pass legislation against trans individuals attempting to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Despite a gender neutral restroom being opened within the White House (not to mention the Obama administration hiring the first transgender employee in the nation’s history), radical feminist Germaine Greer garnered support for her claims that she was being “censored” from speaking at a university, rather than agreeing to stop voicing her controversial views.
Watch out for transphobic lesbian feminists, aka TERFs
As a matter of fact, many within the larger gay community help sustain transphobia, especially transmisogyny. Cisgender gay men and lesbians often voice discomfort with having relationships with transgender gay men or trans lesbian women. The drag culture takes transmisogyny and attempts to make it a form of entertainment. Pride festivals have elicited controversy by including police officers, who often target trans sex workers, and by seeming to commodify pride into a capitalist venture with rainbow-colored products. (A lot of trans people, including myself, lean towards communism and Marxism because the very nature of capitalism has historically harmed people of diverse gender identities via conquest and colonialism.)
Capitalism has only harmed transgender people: colonialism and Two-spirit Identity
Transphobia within the gay community
A gay trans man talks about his dating experiences
I wrote about this in my book (and if all goes well, it should be out early next year). How can the trans community rely on the larger gay rights establishment if they ignore our deaths? Gay leaders have been pretty quiet on issues since they achieved same-sex marriage in 50 states when there is still work to be done. How can homelessness be addressed? How can we ensure more trans inclusive policies in schools, the workforce, and other important systems and institutions? Can we begin to tackle cissexism and the harmful effects of the gender binary?
Please don't be transphobic/cissexist
The gay establishment not only hurts trans people with transphobia, it also hurts other non-hetero identities via erasure and spreading harmful stereotypes.
I’m amongst the increasingly growing group of theorists who is divorced from the usage of “gay marriage” or “gay” as a label. Being as I’m non-binary pansexual and typically attracted to femmes of all bodies and identities, why do we limit ourselves? “Gay marriage” purposefully excludes anyone pansexual or having a relationship with a non-binary person. Being “gay” implies you’re a cisgender person having a relationship with a cisgender person. To make up for this, some people use the term MOGAI (marginalized and oppressed genders and identities) in place of gay. Some people concede that the definition of gay can be tweaked to allow some wiggle room. Say for example a transmasculine non-binary person is attracted to others of that identity. He then refers to himself as a gay man. Conversely, if you’re a cisgender gay man but are open to a relationship with a transmasculine non-binary person, but find “androsexual” or “minsexual” (masculine-in-nature-sexual) to be too much of a mouthful, you just go on saying you’re gay.
It’s understandable that the gay establishment is threatened by all of this; it’s nothing new, in fact. As gay culture struggled with, and eventually accomplished, being a part of the mainstream, it wanted to present a cishet-friendly package. All of the “scary” and “confusing” sexualities, and all those transgender, were marginalized by the people they thought were their allies.
This is why I propose that anyone trans, or anyone else that the larger gay pride movement has ostracized and sidelined, split off to form a separate movement. We have been bullied, erased, mocked, ridiculed, ignored, and shat on by the gay establishment for far too long.
We’re far too radical for them, anyway.