Open Response to John Aravosis
Well, John, you make a number of things very clear. You think the trans community was able to enter the LGB community not as a natural evolution of the community, as you pointed out happened with women and bi’s, but through shame and fear. Fear? You’re afraid of what, our political power? I don’t think so. But maybe some folks in our community are afraid that trans people will highlight the gender nonconformity in the gay community and drag straight-acting gays into the sunlight.Shame? Maybe, and if so, then for good reason. They should be ashamed of themselves. That they feel so privileged and so righteous is shameful.
I agree with you that there are “senior” gay journalists – among others – who don’t get it. Barney Frank is apparently one such; Tammy Baldwin is not. Evidently the old school is not old enough to have read Susan Stryker’s history of gay America to realize that it was the gay guys who were added to the trans community at the dawn of the “gay” rights revolution. We were at Dewey’s Compton’s and Stonewall. I celebrate the fact that gays and lesbians were depathologized in 1973; I mourn the ensuing turnabout, when newly “mainstreamed” gays and lesbians turned on the gender nonconformists, including gay drag queens, and piled on to psychiatry’s pathologization of us. Jim Fouratt spewed his vile notion that trans women are nothing more than cowardly gay men who couldn’t accept their homosexuality, and Janice Raymond and her 2nd wave radical lesbian feminists characterized us as the surgical construct of the patriarchy to be used as an avant garde to invade women’s spaces.
You’re right – there hadn’t until this past week been an up swelling in the non-trans queer community to be trans-inclusive, just an evolution of adding one more letter to the alphabet soup – a change in nomenclature which has mirrored our own improved understanding of who we are and how we can identify to be as inclusive within our sub-community as possible. It saddens me that you ridicule that evolution. Yet there had never been any kind of mass gay action in support of sexual minority rights until Stonewall, run by trans women, and then little thereafter until death started to sweep the gay community. I have pointed out repeatedly that surveys, including those of HRC, show there is as much support for a trans-inclusive ENDA as a non-trans-inclusive one. Just because most Americans have never met one of us (or at least not outside of Oprah) doesn’t mean Americans don’t understand discrimination when they see it.
If Barney can’t get the bill passed, then he should leave it to Tammy to get the job done. I can speak to the wavering Congresspersons in half an hour and give them enough of an understanding to respond effectively to any hate speech from the Republicans. Instead we show our cowardice again and run.
The bottom line is that when we’re in the equation, the LGBT community can’t hide from gender nonconformity and all the sub-issues that raises. You’re right – let’s deal with it. Generalized fear of transgender people can be overcome just as so many Americans have overcome their generalized fear of gay men. We can make this a better country together, and do so without sacrificing anyone. Please feel free to post this response on your blog.
Dana Beyer, M.D.
HRC Board of Governors nominee