CommunityPam's House Blend

Thoughts On The Equality Summit's Transgender Breakout Session

Of the hundreds at the Equality Summit, about 8 of us showed up to the transgender breakout. Two of us were media.

What a tough issue this is to the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community. On one hand, many of us recognize exactly how every marriage that a transgender person enters into is considered by many to be a same sex marriage. As Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality has pointed out previously:

Every trans person who’s in a relationship, regardless of what their gender is or ever was, they’re either in a same-sex relationship or in an opposite sex relationships that somebody could claim was a same-sex relationship.

Some examples of how transsexuals’ relationships are all seen as same-sex relationships: a lesbian relationship — a  heterosexual relationship.  Loving v Virginia‘s declaration that marriage is a fundamental “basic civil rights of man” seems to not apply uniformly, state to state, for transsexual and transgender people; marriage equality doesn’t apply to those whose gender doesn’t conform to the two sex-and-gender-always-matches-sex dichotomy.

On the other hand, we have people who identify as transsexuals who don’t want publicly transsexual and transgender people like me to argue for marriage equality with the word “transsexual” at any time, or at any place.

On yet a third hand, messaging on marriage equality, directed at those external to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, often only highlights the most mainstream of gay and lesbian couples and families. Tight messaging often leaves bisexual and trans people our of the discussion. Many of us in the trans community question whether today’s tight messaging that leaves out trans people is tomorrow’s context for bigotry against trans people by gay and lesbian people.

And, we don’t have separate, internal messaging directed at the bisexual and transgender people in the broader LGBT community. The language that energizes B and T people is apparently perceived by some political operatives as something that will leak to the conservative Christian community, and be used against the broader LGBT community push for marriage equality. The comparison would be how conservative “Christian” organizations are using bathroom predator arguments against civil rights legislations that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression language — if marriage equality campaigns discuss transgender/transsexual people internally, is what is said internally going to be turned into messaging that energizes the conservative Christian base? I would say “probably.”

But when we don’t run a campaign that disallows bisexual and transgender people to share personal stories — out of the mainstream of lesbian and gay stories –are we shortchanging our broad lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community? Are we leaving out stories that will change more hearts and minds in favor of marriage equality, or are we excluding stories that would energize the opposition’s base more than LGBT friends, families and allies?

As you can imagine, I heard discussion of concerns within the transgender breakout group, and we came up with discussion points for the broader LGBT community to discuss. However, nobody in the transgender breakout room had the complete answer to any of the breakout room discussion questions.

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