Friday, December 11, 2009

Community? What Community?

I spent yesterday on another day project with De. We always have the most thought-provoking conversations. She asked me if, in my internet travels, I had encountered a spirit of "divisiveness". I have.

I hear a lot of talk about the "GLBT community", and including all under a queer umbrella, but what I see is a lot of factionalism, splinters and groups crying out to be separated from one another. Without naming names, let me cite a few examples I've seen or experienced.

When I was in college, we had a so-called "Gay-Straight Alliance" that didn't have many (or any, at one point) straight people in it. When I first started to get active in things, I met lesbians who didn't want to be "lumped in" with gay men. The support group I used to belong to in Charlotte had its dinner meetings at a popular lesbian hangout. The staff loved us, but sometimes the other customers would act like "Why are they here?" At Charlotte Pride two years ago, there were only six or seven trans people (that's including drag performers) out of the thousands who attended the festival. Earlier this year, I read a story about intersex people not wanting to be grouped with transgender people. Then there are the post-op transwomen who say they're not trans anymore, and go "stealth", and sever their ties to the community. Just yesterday a blogger on the Bilerico Project posted a nasty piece that said there's no such thing as transgender. I was going to write a nasty, underhanded rebuttal to said piece, but the editor there apologized, so I'll abide. It's a shame, though, because I had such nice things to say. ;)

Often I've felt like the "T" in GLBT (or LGBT, according to your preference) was a dangling participle. It often feels like we trans people have thrown our lot in with the gay community because no one else will take us. Don't get me wrong. I've got gay friends, and they're among the best and brightest I know. I just don't always feel like the larger community has my back. ENDA was making in-roads with Congress two years ago, and the bill lost its support when the HRC said they were willing to set aside protections for gender identity and expression if that's what it took to get protection for gays. A few months ago they reversed their position, saying they only backed a trans-inclusive bill. It's been tabled by a House subcommittee, and slated for review when Congress come back from their holiday break. With healthcare reform, the wars and all the other issues, I worry sometimes that we'll be set aside again, but I still have hope.


  1. Well, I suppose it doesn't help much us being a minority in a minority...

    Yes, I too am rarely surprised (although always infuriated) when we get sold down the river by the "wider" LGB community whenever it suits them. It's happened here in the UK too.

    I know ther eare certianyl some in the community who will stand by us. The need is to idenityf and spport theose, while being damn careful not to ally with the others; one reason for my total contempt for Stonewall here in the UK.


  2. As an intersex person, I am one of those who are calling for a split from the Trans community. The history behind that goes far back as in the in 90's when Intersex became new to the community. As soon as the word intersex came out, people who aren't born intersex, started to inhabit the community including those from the trans community and gender queer.

    Now since they came out with the word DSD, to disassociate from the LGBTI crap that keeps getting put out. Their are people who are somewhat ok with DSD because it disconnects those who are born intersex from those who hijacked the intersex community from the intersex people.

  3. Hi Jaye, that Op-Ed piece on Bilerico certainly did raise emotions a bit. I had thought to comment on it also, but many more are responding much more eloquently than I could.

    As far as divisiveness within the LGBT "community" my feeling is that we really do not have anything in common, with one very important exception. We do not behave the way society expects us to with regard to our sexual orientation and/or gender identification. (Remember that while we understand the difference between identity and orientation the average Joe Sixpack does not. It is all the same to him.) And because we are outside of the societal norms we are discriminated against. We are subject to hate crimes. We have to fight against prejudices. We are denied rights and privileges others take for granted.

    No, we as a loose community do not have many things that bind us together. But that one BIG similarity should be enough for us to stay together for our common good.

  4. Hmm. Didn't realize I had this set to accept comments from anonymous posters. No more of that.