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Transgender: "The New Gay"

Newsweek has put out a new article on transgender people, entitled Rethinking Gender: What Makes Us Male or Female?  One can tell they embraced some of the language of transgender people in this text:

What is gender anyway? It is certainly more than the physical details of what’s between our legs. History and science suggest that gender is more subtle and more complicated than anatomy. (It’s separate from sexual orientation, too, which determines which sex we’re attracted to.)

Transgender people have a shortcut for describing the difference between sex and gender:

Sex is what’s between the legs, and gender is what’s between the ears.

The article recaps the stories of Terri O’Connell, Christine Daniels, Mykell Miller, Susan Stanton, and various transgender children under the age of consent.  The article states:

Today’s transgender Americans go far beyond the old stereotypes (think “Rocky Horror Picture Show”). They are soccer moms, ministers, teachers, politicians, even young children. Their push for tolerance and acceptance is reshaping businesses, sports, schools and families. It’s also raising new questions about just what makes us male or female.

The push for tolerance and acceptance is beginning to take shape in anti-discrimination laws.  With Oregon’s passage into law of a gender identity inclusive anti-discrimination law just this month, now ten states have such laws on the books.

The expansion of the narratives of what is to be transgender is growing ever wider.  MSNBC and ABC News both had specials out on transgender youth this past April.  World of Wonder previously released Transgeneration about transgender college student, and are premiering at the Frameline Film Festival (San Francisco: Saturday, June 23 at 5:30 pm at the Roxie Film Center) Sex Change Hospital, following varied patients through gender reassignment surgery.

After Stonewall, the allowed narratives for who were gay and lesbian expanded  — no longer was being seen as gay only about being an effeminate gay man or emasculate lesbian woman, solely preoccupied with intercourse.  We now see LGB folk as whole beings, with careers, dreams, and full lives.

And then, civil rights expanded of the years for LGB folk.  About twenty states have anti-discrimination laws on the books that include sexual orientation.

A similar series of events is now happening with transgender folks — Dr. Jillian Weiss breaks down the state of state anti-discrimination laws that include gender identity with her post How many states have laws covering gender identity?  (The consensus number of states with laws is about ten thriteen — see comments by Dr. Dana Beyer.)

Transgender folk are where the LGB fold were about fifteen or twenty years ago, and transfolk are catching up quickly.  In the sense of where the G&L / LGB / LGBT community has been over the past thirty-five years and where it is now, and where the transgender community has been over the past ten years and where it is now, seems to me the transgender has become a kind of “new gay.”

And I think that’s a good thing.

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