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What makes "T" part of "GLBT"?
October 5, 2007 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Up for consideration is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been written to provide a comprehensive Federal prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last week, Barney Frank released a Statement saying that it is a mistake to continue seeking inclusion of "gender identity" as part of the Act. Or to put it in other words, there'd be protections for only the "GLB" part of the larger "GLBT community".

Frank's decision was quickly lauded by John Aravosis, who then proceeded to question the inclusion of the Transgendered from the GLBT communty. Some gay and lesbians activists agreed with him. Others not so much. Meanwhile, Susan Stryker reminds everyone of some basic history lessons regarding trans activism (.pdf link).

Many are left to wonder - what makes gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered a single community? Isn't homophobia a form of gender oppression?
posted by AccidentalHedonist (149 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
what makes gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered a single community?

Okay, let's Godwin this and get it over with.

It's just like Jews, Gays and Gypsies could once, for all practical purposes, be considered part of the same community.

There. That was easy. As long as they're discriminated against in similar ways, I consider them to be part of the "same" community.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:13 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Compromise is the art of getting someone else thrown under the bus.
posted by absalom at 12:13 PM on October 5, 2007 [19 favorites]


Fucking transphobes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:18 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


God damn it. On the one hand you have realpolitik, and on the other hand you have the principle of actually granting equal rights to everybody.

What would Jesus do?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:21 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok, I know this sounds weird, but my sypathy/empathy for each subsection of the GLBT community is proportional to it's position in that acronym.

I'm just saying is all.
posted by butterstick at 12:22 PM on October 5, 2007


What makes "T" part of "GLBT"?

I've actually kinda wondered about that myself. The GLB categories all refer to people who identify with a group based on their sexual preference. Specifically, their feelings towards other people, right? Whereas transgendered tend to identify with their group based on their feelings about themselves.

Not saying that they don't deserve their civil rights and all that, but I have always wondered about why they are part of the gay culture.

Of course I am just a boring straight guy, so I could be completely wrong about all of this.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the issue here is that "transgender" includes transvestites. Including them in the bill opens a can of worms: which bathroom does a man in a dress use?

In casual contact, GLB can pass. But a substantial portion of "transgender" people will cause an "eewww!" reaction from others around them. Would a store be forced to hire such a person for a sales position, even though it would drive away customers?

I don't think you're going to get a majority in favor of preventing hiring discrimination against transvestites. Not this decade.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:37 PM on October 5, 2007


I agree for a lot of reasons (mostly because gender identity != sexual orientation), but I won't go spewing anti-trans vitriol here. Instead, I'll just ask this: Why the redundant L? Why do gay women get two letters? It bugs the hell outta me.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:37 PM on October 5, 2007


Ok, I know this sounds weird, but my sypathy/empathy for each subsection of the GLBT community is proportional to it's position in that acronym.

Really? Gays more sympathetic then Lesbians?

At the same time, though, I have to wonder about this. It does seem kind of weird to tie the future of gays and lesbians to the future of transvestites.

I mean the difference between people who are straight, gay, lesbians and bisexuals are all just differences in who they have sex with, while transsexuals are a completely different thing, based on how you dress and act. I mean, certainly I can see why a law that would make it illegal to force a man not to come to work in a dress would have trouble being passed. So why should GLB people be tied to that sort of implausible scenario?
posted by delmoi at 12:39 PM on October 5, 2007


quin, you may be a boring straight guy, but I'm a (former) dyke of many many years whose lover (and also, interestingly, two ex-lovers) have transitioned and are living as men, and I'm not sure why the T goes with the GLB. I know that, IME, many GLB groups toss the T in there in a gesture of inclusion, but often without thinking about what that means. Many groups the define themselves as GLBT, for instance, have a really hard time figuring out what to do with opposite-sex couples like me and my partner.

Which is not to say I wouldn't be happier with the "T" still in the law.
posted by not that girl at 12:39 PM on October 5, 2007


Ok, I know this sounds weird, but my sypathy/empathy for each subsection of the GLBT community is proportional to it's position in that acronym.

I understand the feeling, but it's also actually irrelevant to equal rights. I mean, there are groups of people in society I don't like, don't trust, and don't want to be associated with, but I do want them to have the same rights I do, even if some of these groups don't reciprocate.

and no, none of these groups I mention here are in the GLBT acronym, I have different hangups
posted by DreamerFi at 12:40 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


which bathroom does a man in a dress use?

That's easy. A man in a dress uses the men's room, just as a woman wearing pants uses the ladies' room. A woman uses the ladies' room, even if she has a penis. If you can't comprehend that a person can have a penis and still be a woman, then I don't want you making gender-related policy decisions.

If you're going to insist on being weirded out by crap like this, then build more single-user bathrooms with locks on the doors. Out of sight, out of mind.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:41 PM on October 5, 2007 [19 favorites]


I don't think that transgendered people necessarily identify themselves as part of "gay culture" (whatever that is) but that if they are heterosexual and pre-transition, still identified by society as the wrong gender, then they appear to be gay and often find the most tolerant romantic partners among gay people. At least that seems to be the case for men.

That is, if I were a female trans still in a "male" body and was attracted to men, I'd stand more chance of getting dates and less chance of getting beaten to death if I sought social interaction among gay men who liked transvestite or "effeminate" male partners rather than among straight men.

Friend of mine is undergoing MtoF transition and also happens to be a lesbian. While she's not out looking because she's already got a longterm female spouse, she has reported that quite a few GG lesbians have been hostile to her and other MtoF transgirls because they're not "real women" or something. Shame, shame, shame.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:42 PM on October 5, 2007


I agree with Frank. Being pragmatic about passing a landmark bill is not throwing anybody under the bus, and such hyperbole often functions superbly on the left to undermine any good they might do.

I'm a gay man, and while I empathize with the plight of transgendered people, I ultimately see their situation as about as firmly related to that of gay people as that of left-handed people; which is to say, everyone should have equal rights, but the only way to get them is make strides that can actually be made. I know that drag queens were at the forefront of the Stonewall rebellion, for which gay people everywhere should be thankful. But I frankly doubt that even most of those drag queens considered themselves "transgendered."

Yes: Drag queens and gay people are often subjected to violence by the same idiots for transgressing boundaries that might be considered similar if painted with a very broad brush. But there are distinctions that are not reflected in the all-encompassing supergroup acronym, and if this bill has a chance to be passed, it would be a step forward. I find Frank's statement to be very well considered.
posted by digaman at 12:43 PM on October 5, 2007


Transexuality confuses me. I've heard it described as a conflict between one's inner gender and physical sex. Transexuals describe themselves as having a brain belonging to the other sex. I guess what puts me off is the idea that there is such a thing as a "male brain" or "female brain" beyond sexual preference and cultural conditioning. While there are very likely some cognitive differences with biological basis (though probably not as many as is commonly reported) current scientific understand would seem to indicate that it's largely learned behavior that gives us a gendered brain.

So where does that leave transsexuals? They seem to want to act like the opposite sex, but the things that define the opposite sex don't seem to be all the inherent. So is there preference inherent? Or is it "merely" psychological? How does that effect our protection of their rights, and our treatment of them as a society? Is this a pathology or a lifestyle choice?

Anyway, the T is very different from GLB because T (sometimes) deals with gender, not sexuality. Gender is a much more amorphous thing than sexuality. I can sort of see where Mr. Frank is coming from.

That said, I don't think you should be discriminated against for refusing to adhere to cultural norms dictating which physical sex wears which articles of clothing (which is not to say that this is the full extent of transsexuality, but it's the most visible). That seems absurd.
posted by phrontist at 12:46 PM on October 5, 2007


Actually, some very interesting "current scientific understanding" is moving more and more toward the direction of thinking that there are indeed "male" and "female" brains, *in part* conditioned by exposure to hormones like testosterone in the womb. Which makes it plausible to me that transgenderism is determined before birth, as I believe sexual orientation is also -- though independently.
posted by digaman at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2007


But a substantial portion of "transgender" people will cause an "eewww!" reaction from others around them. Would a store be forced to hire such a person for a sales position, even though it would drive away customers?

Yeah, exactly. While in principle the transgender community deserves this (just replace transgender with black in that sentence) should it be done at the cost of risking protections for the GLB segment of the population. It's a compromise, and a sad one, but me be necessary at the moment.
posted by phrontist at 12:51 PM on October 5, 2007


In the context of employment discrimination, I think there's a significant difference between GLB on the one hand and T on the other.

Most people don't have jobs that involve having sex at work, so an employee's choice of sexual partners really has very little (if anything) to do with their job. Transsexual people, though, are still transsexual at work.

By forbidding discrimination against GLB persons, the law would merely require employers to ignore what never really impacted work anyway. Forbidding discrimination against T persons, though, requires employers to accept actual behavior on the job.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:53 PM on October 5, 2007


digaman: That's fascinating, and now I'm even further conflicted about the political decision.
posted by phrontist at 12:53 PM on October 5, 2007


No, I guess I'll go into it after all: Something about transsexuality strikes me as inherently heteronormic and sexist to the extreme.

It's one thing to be intersexed and brought up as the wrong gender, only to discover that lo and behold those ovaries are in fact testicles, but it's quite another to claim to be a man trapped in a woman's body simply because society says men are like this and women are like that.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:57 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi: Anecdotaly, yeah. Growing up it was a lot harder for males to be gay than females.

DreamerFi: Since when is a lack of empathy for someone a hangup?

Thought Experiment: Does anyone really think someone can be faulted/fined for not-hiring a waiter(ess?) who is clearly transgendered?
posted by butterstick at 12:58 PM on October 5, 2007


I'm going to make what I fear will be an extremely inflammatory statement, so I'd better put on my asbestos dry goods, and I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings.

It's not unreasonable to go so far as to say that transgenderism is a disorder. If you disagree with that statement, ask yourself this question: "If transgenderism isn't a disorder, why does it require a major operation to set things right for those who are certain they were born that way?" Homosexuality, on the other hand, can only be defined as a disorder by defining heterosexuality as a universal norm, which ignores vast areas of biology, history, anthropology, and daily experience -- which most homophobes are highly willing to do.

I do get, however, that defining transgenderism as a disorder is tantamount to stigmatizing a group of people who are in grave physical danger from being stigmatized already. So I'm truly sorry if that follows from my argument. But it's an interesting distinction.
posted by digaman at 1:01 PM on October 5, 2007


A lot of you are confusing the debate here. It is not, as Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America suggests, the "problem" of sexual orientation/gender identity at work. That's a different issue altogether, for the larger community to deal with.

What the GLB community is struggling with is whether or not to support a non-discrimination act that does not include trans folks, for whatever reason. Historically, we've all worked for GLBT rights. Now, the option of breaking off is presented. The question is, do we take it?

I am a very supportive trans activist, but I say the GLB community HAS to take this chance. We're stupid not to. Whoever said that you can compare black/gay to gay/trans is exactly right. Your sexual orientation and your gender identity are two very different things.

Should we ALL be protected from discrimination? SURE.

But should GLB folks misss out on being protected just because trans people are still be discriminated against?

My vote is no.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:02 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Since when is a lack of empathy for someone a hangup?


Ehhhmm.... can I get back to you on that?

You're right, of course. Wrong word, apologies.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:03 PM on October 5, 2007


I don't think you're going to get a majority in favor of preventing hiring discrimination against transvestites. Not this decade.

What if the "T" stands for transgender? And yes, this decade.
posted by humannaire at 1:05 PM on October 5, 2007


I would just like to say that I thought Barney Frank's statement was really well written. It's nice to see carefully thought out statements coming from Congress rather than knee-jerk statements on one side or the other.
posted by pombe at 1:08 PM on October 5, 2007


S'ok, I'm not entirely convinved that empathy/sympathy is what I was getting at either.

I think 317 has cut to the heart of the matter nicely.
posted by butterstick at 1:09 PM on October 5, 2007


A lot of you are confusing the debate here. It is not, as Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America suggests, the "problem" of sexual orientation/gender identity at work. That's a different issue altogether, for the larger community to deal with.

I think what I said supports your argument. If the bill protected, say, only gay men but not lesbians, the distinction would be entirely unprincipled and I don't see how the gay community could support it.

However, distinguishing GLB from T isn't unprincipled, and the GLBs supporting the bill aren't selling the Ts out. They're simply recognizing that society has come far enough to support values that would forbid discriminating against GLBs in the employment context but has not yet adopted those additional values necessary to forbid discrimination against Ts.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:09 PM on October 5, 2007


Of course the T has nothing to do with the GB (and I agree that you can drop the L because the G should cover all G people regardless of gender). The only real reason they're lumped together is because in this scary culture, we've got two acceptable configurations: 1) male exterior and interior who fucks females and 2) female exterior and interior who fucks males because in the dominant culture, biological sex = gender = a particular narrow range of sexuality-related behaviors. Anything else gets stuck under the general heading of "weird, wrong and icky."

Even gay people, who are, like the dominant straight culture, mainly convinced that there are two genders corresponding to the two main biological sexes, often seem to lump together gay male transvestites (drag queens) with hetero transvestites, intergender/bigender/androgynous people and the truly transgendered. In other words, all people who define their gender in opposition to the cultural norms gets stuck under one label when there's really a wide range of genuine gender identities. For instance, when I think about who I am, I identify as "neuter" in many respects.

I have never gotten why anybody gives a good god damn about who anyone else bones or shacks up with, and I also will never get why anybody gives a flying fuck what restroom others use or how they dress or think about their gender. If a doctor or UPS driver or salesclerk competently and humanely performs the service for me that I need, then I really can't be bothered to care if the person's wearing a fuchsia tutu with combat boots, a platinum blonde wig, a handlebar mustache and My Favorite Martian antennae. Who's got the time to give a shit about utter trivialities like that?
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:16 PM on October 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


It's one thing to be intersexed and brought up as the wrong gender, only to discover that lo and behold those ovaries are in fact testicles, but it's quite another to claim to be a man trapped in a woman's body simply because society says men are like this and women are like that.

I suspect there's more to it than that. Even animal "societies" have gender roles, and the occasional individual who doesn't fit the mold. At least three indigenous societies equated transgender with shamanism.

I'm a straight guy and happy with that, but I'm damn curious about the experience of being graceful and feminine -- and I'd demand the option to go back. Nothing short of transhumanist technology is going to give me that, at which point the question of gender is just one of many. I'm curious about life in the body of a shark or a cheetah or a rat, too.
posted by Foosnark at 1:18 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]




Completing my thought:

Nothing short of transhumanist technology is going to give me that

By which I meant that often, transgendered people are kind of Uncanny Valley-ish. Male bodies usually fail in subtle ways to pass as female, no matter what surgery has been done, and vice versa.

I don't think less of them as people for that, any more than I think less of someone with an artificial limb. (Except for rotten scurvy pirates.) But I do think there are a lot of people who aren't transgendered nor transvestites simply because they know they wouldn't look right.
posted by Foosnark at 1:26 PM on October 5, 2007


i always find it odd when people who are categorized by their oppressors fight over who gets to be a member of their category.

anyway, my worry here, and the reason i probably wouldn't support the bill if it did not protect transgendered people, is that when gays and lesbians get the protection they deserve, the transgendered community may suddenly find itself abandoned by the significant and powerful glb lobby. the incentive to continue a difficult battle drops off significantly once you get what you want, even if a small number of your supporters don't.

splitting transgendered people from the glbt bloc will pretty much guarantee that they never get their chance in congress again.
posted by klanawa at 1:28 PM on October 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


Well said, klanawa.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2007


I am a very supportive trans activist, but I say the GLB community HAS to take this chance. We're stupid not to. Whoever said that you can compare black/gay to gay/trans is exactly right. Your sexual orientation and your gender identity are two very different things.

Should we ALL be protected from discrimination? SURE.

But should GLB folks misss out on being protected just because trans people are still be discriminated against?


That makes absolute sense. It still feels like a bit like a "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" bargain, though.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2007


which bathroom does a man in a dress use?

Whatever goddamn bathroom he wants, as long as he doesn’t pee on the fucking seat.

Forbidding discrimination against T persons, though, requires employers to accept actual behavior
on the job.

What behavior is that, exactly?

Forty years ago, there were a lot of places where I could have been arrested and jailed for wearing what I’m wearing right now: pants, t-shirt, sneakers. Why? Because I’m not wearing three pieces of “women’s” clothing, and I am a woman. How are the clothes I wear a “behavior”?

Count me as a queer/dyke/lesbian/gay person who really doesn't want to ever tell someone else "I'm about to get mine, but you gotta wait so I can get it." I understand the realpolitik around this, and it makes me sick.
posted by rtha at 1:35 PM on October 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


The perfect is the enemy of the good.
posted by klangklangston at 1:35 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


splitting transgendered people from the glbt bloc will pretty much guarantee that they never get their chance in congress again.

Meritocracy of ideas. I know nothing about the inner workings of the GLBT community, especially not at the level we're talking about here, so I have no idea if a schism is really fatal for transgendereds. If it turns out it is, then they'll find allies elsewhere.

The alternative is a GLB community that is willing to be held back for the benefit of the Transgendered. Realpolitik indeed.
posted by butterstick at 1:36 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Making one compromise is hardly a schism. A VERY large percentage of the gay community is trans-supportive. Nothing would change in that sense. And you can bet your ass those of us protected from discrimination would keep working until EVERYONE is protected.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:40 PM on October 5, 2007


"Forty years ago, there were a lot of places where I could have been arrested and jailed for wearing what I’m wearing right now: pants, t-shirt, sneakers. Why? Because I’m not wearing three pieces of “women’s” clothing, and I am a woman."

Really? In America? Where?

(GBT sounds like a club drug).
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 PM on October 5, 2007


...by the way, I hope that last comment answers your "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" reference, FelliniBlank. We're not GOING anywhere.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:43 PM on October 5, 2007


We're a single community because we all transgress traditional gender roles -- and are all discriminated against because of that and no other reason.

Aravosis is ignorant and a fool, and many white gay men (especially in DC circles) are biased against trans people, sadly.

The bill should be shelved unless it's inclusive. The language dropped would have protected all of us who aren't big and manly and women who aren't feminine enough.

Trans people need the protections most of all.
posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on October 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


And as for the idea that shearing off the trans (God, I just thought of a horrible trans-fat metaphor, but I'll leave that out) would mean they'd never get protection: You realize that a straight majority is voting for this bill, right? Sort of gives the lie to the idea that people only support rights for their identities.
posted by klangklangston at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


my post recently on ENDA: workplace protection--not as hotbutton as Marriage Equality or Don't Ask Don't Tell, but far more essential

Thinking about it, the very reaction expressed by Aravosis and others shows why T needs to be included, i think.

The only Trans person on HRC's board resigned over this whole thing. Our DC organizations suck.

And Gabriel Rotello says we're all Trans--whether GLB or T.
posted by amberglow at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2007


And of course it's not exactly all-or-nothing. There's no need to demand the whole pie at once. We can have gay rights now, and ask for trans rights later. No schisms, no letter-removal. Patience. Baby steps.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:56 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Rotello is an idiot. Who I have sex with is not the same as what gender I present as, just as neither one of those are what color my skin is, or what my job is.

There are intersections between orientation and identity, but they are NOT on the same spectrum, biologically or politically.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:58 PM on October 5, 2007


Really? In America? Where?

Everywhere, klang. Women used to have to femme it up to go out to bars even in NYC pre-Stonewall (pretty much from the end of WW2 til then). SF: ...Police would entrap gay men and arrest women in suits and ties for inappropriate dress. (Until as late as the early '70s, bars like Maud's enforced no-touching policies so as not to lose their liquor licenses.) ...
posted by amberglow at 1:58 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Meet Sylvia and Marcia--both at Stonewall along with many others, and founders of STAR (I knew Marcia--a sweetheart--they and others helped save the lifes of many young people here)

From there-- ... But for all of her work, when it came time to make deals, GAA dropped the portions in the civil rights bill that dealt with transvestitism and drag—it just wasn’t possible to pass it with such “extreme” elements included. As it turned out, it wasn’t possible to pass the bill anyway until 1986. But not only was the language of the bill changed, GAA—which was becoming increasingly more conservative, several of its founders and officers had plans to run for public office—even changed its political agenda to exclude issues of transvestitism and drag. It was also not unusual for Sylvia to be urged to “front” possibly dangerous demonstrations, but when the press showed up, she would be pushed aside by the more middle-class, “straight-appearing” leadership. In 1995, Rivera was still hurt: “When things started getting more mainstream, it was like, ‘We don’t need you no more’.” ...
posted by amberglow at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2007


We can have gay rights now, and ask for trans rights later. No schisms, no letter-removal. Patience. Baby steps.

When some are actually advocating throwing Trans people under the bus and disassociating them from the fight against discrimination, it's bigger than that.
posted by amberglow at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2007


thanks, amberglow - I've been looking for an online reference and couldn't find one I found a few years ago. There's a scene in Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues (autobiographical novel) where s/he talks about having to be careful to wear the right number of pieces of women's clothing when going out.
posted by rtha at 2:10 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


As others have pointed out, no matter what you think about gender identity issues, the language excised from the bill would protect lots and lots and lots of people, including many straight, conventionally-gendered men and women, from the tender mercies of employers' expectations about conforming to ludicrously narrow perceptions of "gender appropriate" behavior. Along with trans-phobia, the fact that widespread mainstream discriminatory behavior would become actionable probably has something to do with the lack of Congressional support for that provision.

And thanks for the reminder, amberglow: I had completely forgotten that about 30 years ago, I was once given a disciplinary notice at my part-time salesclerk job for not wearing a brassiere to work. I wasn't wearing unprofessional or revealing attire, mind you. She didn't show it to me, but my supervisor claimed that J.C. Penney had an actual written policy dictating that employees must wear "proper undergarments."
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:12 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you can't comprehend that a person can have a penis and still be a woman, then I don't want you making gender-related policy decisions.

Well, I enjoy sex and actively seek sex with women. I would not in any way enjoy sex with somebody who had a penis and would rather take a baseball to the forehead. So in that sense, I don't consider someone a woman if he has a penis. Sorry.

There is a biological component to gender whether or not you really want there to be.

(None of which is meant to imply that negative discrimination is okay).
posted by Justinian at 2:15 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Olson Johnson: All right, we'll take the niggers and the chinks, but we don’t want the Irish!

“If you can't comprehend that a person can have a penis and still be a woman, then I don't want you making gender-related policy decisions.”

Meh. Long as they’re not tapping their foot.

(Although I don’t know that I’d like the Ally McBeal situation. I don’t know that I want someone I might be attracted to sitting next to me hearing me “Gggnnnnrrr! *BFRRRRBBBBttttttPHFFBBBBbbbbbrrrrr* *plop* *PLOP* Ugh!”
And vice versa.
Still, everybody poops I suppose.)

“For instance, when I think about who I am, I identify as "neuter" in many respects.”

Valid point. But some folks are very much male or female or gay or what have you - in their sexuality and it borders on obnoxious. I’m not casting stones (no pun) there. I’m an extremely masculine person, pheromones come of me like a heat shimmer. If I was a gay man I’d be the uber-flaming gay man on top of the parade float, the guy other gay men are embarrassed to be seen with. I am very very macho. John Wayne would look like Liberace next to me. Lesbians absolutely hate me (from all my - albeit few - encounters) just on GP alone.
Doesn’t mean I’m closed minded (and I’m not) but I recognize that there are those vibes and they can put people off way before you get a chance to dialogue. As some people are put off my by shitkicking boots and grizzly bear aspect, so some are put off by the platinum blonde wig and handlebar mustache.
Not that they have any right to be, not that this justifies limiting some folks rights, but they are.
(Some folks are prejudiced against the southern drawl. Your neurosurgeon comes in and says “Looka heah bawa, ahmana go hedn do a ster-i-o tactc raadiosurgcl treatmunt, heah, on y’alls intracran-y-al vasculature? Usin’ a technik of fusion and endo-va-hiscular instrumntayshon? Ya see.”)
You can’t change the culture (well, you shouldn’t through government), but you can change whether someone recieves the same rights as any other human regardless of their traits.
I don’t have to hang out with Joe Blonde Wig, or even like that person. Hell, I can feel as uncomfortable around them as I wish. But I can’t say he/she/whatever - doesn’t deserve the same protections under the law.

It’s not my fight, but I can’t see abandoning a comerade. And of course, the argument then becomes not that no one should be deprived of rights, but rather, who is it that it’s ok to marginalize.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


And as a person who lived as a woman for a solid six amazing months until I got beat up in public by a bigoted city employee (Victoria, BC, '05) - something I as a 6'5" person I mistakenly allowed to happen - and who intends to blossom as a transgender person one day when so inclined, my own personal experience is as follows:

A number of transgender persons are straight and a number of transgender persons are gay. Fact.


Therefore, rights for GLB people are in the best interest of T people because T is unique to and inclusive of GLB.

Incidentally, for me, I am uninterested - as a man - in other straight men. Yet in conceiving myself as a (straight) woman, I am interested in straight men.

Likewise, in my present male state, I prefer to partner with women, conjoining with other men on occasion albeit somewhat awkwardly: I am not into being male in the company of another man, nor am I interested in transvestism or role-playing.

Allow me to add a final small insight. It is likely that for humans to travel in space, we will be required to fantastically transform our physical bodies - with surgery, bionics, nano-technology or unforeseen technologies. (See Pohl's Man Plus, et al.) In this regard so-called transhumans are in fact pioneers, modern-day trailblazers making the way for present humankind's Next Big Step.
posted by humannaire at 2:19 PM on October 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm a straight guy and happy with that, but I'm damn curious about the experience of being graceful and feminine -- and I'd demand the option to go back. Nothing short of transhumanist technology is going to give me that, at which point the question of gender is just one of many. I'm curious about life in the body of a shark or a cheetah or a rat, too.

Now we are talking!
posted by humannaire at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2007


rtha and Fellini : >

There's the baseline uncomfortableness with flaming and leather and drag and transgender and all of that--Frank and Aravosis and others have it (almost all white guys, btw, and all politically connected--part of the "Virtually Normal"/Andrew Sullivan continuum), and there's the general population's ICK factor. Frank was afraid and didn't believe in his own bill (but Baldwin did).
posted by amberglow at 2:23 PM on October 5, 2007


Also, and very very important--Bush is going to veto it anyway, so why not make it inclusive--it's not like he would sign it if it was Trans-free but veto it otherwise. And they still haven't attached it to another veto-proof bill---like they did with Bias Crimes.
posted by amberglow at 2:26 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Equal rights for everyone (but those T people) is equal rights for no one. I am sickened at Frank's position.

Why is it so hard for people to grasp the meaning of the word "equal"?
posted by chairface at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2007


chairface, I don't know if you are straight, but should all straight people stop getting married because I can't, as a gay woman?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2007


humannaire -- how is Canada for workplace protections?

(and "you go, girl-to-be!") : >
posted by amberglow at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2007


I do think there are a lot of people who aren't transgendered nor transvestites simply because they know they wouldn't look right.

Bingo.
posted by humannaire at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2007


There's the baseline uncomfortableness with flaming and leather and drag and transgender and all of that--Frank and Aravosis and others have it (almost all white guys, btw, and all politically connected--part of the "Virtually Normal"/Andrew Sullivan continuum), and there's the general population's ICK factor.

The sad thing is, I can understand (and not like) the general population's ICK factor - they don't know any better, but ignorance is (fortunately) curable. The attitudes of Avarosis and Frank, as well as others like them in the GLBT establishment, make me want to rip out my very short non-girly hair, because they should fucking know better. They drove me crazy when I lived in DC, and they drive me crazy now that I live in much-more-trans-friendly San Francisco.
posted by rtha at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


amberglow, I hear what you're saying, and have tremendous respect for you, but you're missing an important something in your self-righteous dissing of the "'Virtually Normal'/Andrew Sullivan continuum."

> There's the baseline uncomfortableness with flaming and leather and drag and transgender and all of that-

I have never related to flaming, leather, or drag in the least. Even granting the massive societal programming against those fabulous characteristics, they never spoke for me, never seemed like my "real self." I say this as a nearly 50-year-old gay man who came out when I was a teenager -- thanks in part to the drag queens who helped launch gay liberation, and thanks in part to Allen Ginsberg, who was similarly "virtually normal," but extremely outspoken.

When I first moved to San Francisco in 1979, I felt tremendous pressure from the gay community to embrace flaming, leather, drag, anonymous sex, and the other visible manifestations of the urban gay ghetto. People who didn't were trashed loudly as being "straight identified." I wrestled with it a lot -- in fact, I even went out in a dress one Halloween in the spirit of "when in Rome." That was an enormously educational experience. I realized I could be murdered for the choice of garment I made that day. (I also realized how good it feels to have a little breeze around your calves instead of stovepipe pants.) But it never felt like "Yes, this is me. I feel fabulous at last! I have been oppressed all my life!"

I have been oppressed all my life, but that's because I can't hold my husband's hand in public without a flicker of anxiety (we do it anyway). I'm out to my family, my friends, and very out in my writing. But I don't relate to flaming, leather, or drag anymore than I relate to being a Parrothead or being Amish.

I'm certain that some of the discomfort you sense in people like Sullivan -- and me -- is societally programmed homophobia. And I'm equally certain, in my case anyway, that some of it is exasperation at being told my whole life that drag queens and leather folks are expressing me. They are, insofar as we're all human, but other than sharing the same oppressors, but...

I'll never forget the day that a gay guy came over to my house, looked over my shelves, and said, "Huh. You don't listen to gay music, you don't read gay books -- did you ever just wish you were straight?" He said this while perusing shelves of Whitman, Ginsberg, Auden... And the answer is, no, I never wish that I'm straight, and I never wish that I was wearing leather chaps either.
posted by digaman at 2:48 PM on October 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


very relevant: ... Closer to home, the exact same point was made three years ago by the man who piloted the exclusion of trans protection from SONDA, the New York State law banning anti-gay discrimination - none other than Matt Foreman.

After becoming executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Foreman, in 2004, wrote a long mea culpa for his SONDA error. The "first lesson" of his misjudgment, he acknowledged, was "not to accept what legislators have to say on this subject, which is invariably that trans-inclusion will kill legislation... I believe now that if we had insisted on trans-inclusion years back, it would have happened... You have to make a bill trans-inclusive early on so that when it finally starts moving, the issue is behind you and can't be used as another excuse for inaction. This also requires not falling into the 'this will be the year if only' trap."

And, in saying the gay community should insist on a trans-inclusive ENDA, Foreman added: "I failed to recognize my own anti-trans ignorance and prejudices. Legislators essentially said, 'You gays in suits are okay, but them, there's no way.' I realize now that I bought that I was a 'good gay,' and there's no escaping the unspoken corollaries, 'I am better and I am not one of them.'"

HRC should take note of Matt's self-serving of crow. ...

posted by amberglow at 2:51 PM on October 5, 2007


the transgendered community may suddenly find itself abandoned by the significant and powerful glb lobby

This is inevitable.
posted by humannaire at 2:53 PM on October 5, 2007


Friend of mine is undergoing MtoF transition and also happens to be a lesbian. While she's not out looking because she's already got a longterm female spouse, she has reported that quite a few GG lesbians have been hostile to her and other MtoF transgirls because they're not "real women" or something. Shame, shame, shame.

Friend of mine is undergoing FtoM transition and also happens to be attracted to women. While she's not out looking because she's already got a longterm female spouse, she has reported that quite a few GG lesbians have been hostile to her and other FtoM transguys because they're not "real lesbians" or something. Shame, shame, shame.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:59 PM on October 5, 2007


I know nothing about the inner workings of the GLBT community, especially not at the level we're talking about here, so I have no idea if a schism is really fatal for transgendereds. If it turns out it is, then they'll find allies elsewhere.

That is it exactly. Transhumanism is really about evolution, and as technological advances prgress people dedicated to our human evolution will benefact transgender people.

What foosnark said originally, how many of us would give it a try as long as we could switch back? For instance, after living as a transgendering person myself, what I learned about being a woman has made me a considerably better communicator.
posted by humannaire at 3:00 PM on October 5, 2007


digaman, when and where does "not relating" become uncomfortable/distaste/throw them off the bus? No one demands you accept the whole world. No one demands you become a drag queen because they're freer and more fabulous than you. No one gives a shit whether you can relate or not--what's important is that you don't narrowly define millions of people and eliminate and disassociate from those you find icky or non-relatable. That's what those who fight to remove our rights and humanity do all the time.

People who are more "normal" tend to discount and shove away all those who are different--that's true for straight and gay people. Part of fighting for rights is educating yourself that no one should be cast aside because they don't look or dress right--it's asinine and wrong. Why internalize the demonization and untrue limited labeling that some in the wider world places on us? You know that gay people doesn't equal drag, and it doesn't equal leathermen, and it doesn't equal many things--it encompasses all those things and all those people and more--from Log Cabin Republicans (who are clearly delusional in my eyes) to scary butch dykes to straightlaced businesspeople to hippies to punks to ...

Fighting for our rights is about the "our" part just as much as it's about the "rights" part. Coming together = strength. Splitting and shoving some out = weakness.
posted by amberglow at 3:02 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


We're not GOING anywhere.

Speak for yourself. Maybe you're not going anywhere, but I most likely am. I'm interested in gay rights largely because I have a lot of personal experience with discrimination against gay people. I'm often percieved as gay, and since getting involved in gay rights, I've made a lot of gay friends. But I don't personally know anyone who is transgendered, so trans rights aren't really on my radar screen. I'll certainly support them when I'm asked to, but I realistically won't push for it like I do gay rights.

Also, the parallels to the exclusion of gay rights issues from the civil rights movement are significant. Here we are forty years after the civil rights movement, and gay people are still treated as second class citizens in America. I think it's entirely reasonable to expect trans rights to be similarly ignored for far too long if they're left out now.

That said, I also think George Lakoff makes a good case in Don't Think of an Element that the concepts of power and rights on which all discrimination is based are framed by our concepts of families, and normalizing homosexuality will fundamentally shift these in ways the benefit everyone.
posted by scottreynen at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2007


humannaire -- how is Canada for workplace protections?

Very very good. Particularly since physical violence - particularly as a crime based on profiling - is so adamantly and ardently prohibited.

[And thanks, amberglow!]
posted by humannaire at 3:07 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was working at Frito Lay years ago and we had to go in for our diversity training. At first the guy seemed like a typical tool, but at the end he offered this gem.

See our boss had structured a contract that allowed him to come in late every sunday for family mass. We would jibe him, since we all wanted to watch the football games on sunday that football was our religion (for some reason all us workers were atheist football fans). So, the diversity trainer posed a question (names and such made up due to forgetfulness):

Mark is a devout catholic. He works hard and is a model employee. Mark does not show up on a sundays, a normal work day, for religious practice. Tom has been a delivery truck driver for 20 years never failing to come in on time. One day he shows up wearing lipstick. How should these two cases be dealt with?

And the answer was Mark should be cited, and Tom should be left alone.

Awesome.
posted by kigpig at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm certain that some of the discomfort you sense in people like Sullivan -- and me -- is societally programmed homophobia. And I'm equally certain, in my case anyway, that some of it is exasperation at being told my whole life that drag queens and leather folks are expressing me. They are, insofar as we're all human, but other than sharing the same oppressors, but...
I really seriously thought you (and many others) would have outgrown that years and years ago. Who gives a shit what other people say, or how they depict you? Haven't we all grown past that since the 70s--as a culture and as a country? Haven't we ourselves done the work to ensure that outmoded and stupid stereotypes have lost their potency and that a much wider range and more of our own lives are now the dominant portrayals?
posted by amberglow at 3:13 PM on October 5, 2007


Trans people need the protections most of all.

Exactly. And without the impetus of needing those protections ourselves, the GLB community simply won't be much help to them. We are throwing them under the bus, and it's wrong. I would personally prefer that we wait for an inclusive bill to pass.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:13 PM on October 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


> If you can't comprehend that a person can have a penis and still be a woman, then I don't want
> you making gender-related policy decisions.

I can comprehend it easily. I can also comprehend that Jesus rose from the dead (also Persephone, Mithras, Dionysus, and Attis--who came back as himself and also as violets.) I can comprehend that 2 + 2 = 3.1415927. Like the Red Queen I can comprehend three impossible things before breakfast without a quiver.

Whoopee! I get to make gender-related policy decisions!
posted by jfuller at 3:15 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Outgrown what, amberglow? One thing I've outgrown is other gay people telling me what "gay" is. (I don't mean you.) Often there's that note of... "'gays in suits' aren't really gay, they're not letting it all hang out, they're not being their real selves, they're adopting the mannerisms and presentation of their oppressor." As if black folks who don't wear dashikis and sport huge Afros are somehow trying to be "good niggers" who can pass for white!

I'm not trying to pass for anything. The second link on my name that comes up in Google is a link to an article of mine about my gay marriage (uh oh, more adopting the ways of the oppressor). I'm gay, Gay, TEH GAY, GIZ-AYYYY! But, um, I'm also a guy who happens to be comfortable with my "gender assignment," aware of the complexities of same, not very stylish, not very fabulous, and I never busted into my mom's closet to slip into her gowns when I was growing up.

Transgendered people should have equal rights, and we should fight for them. But I don't buy the notion, implicit in some of your comments, that folks are into flaming, leather, or drag -- or people who know they were born with the wrong gender assignment -- are somehow more authentically gay than I am. That's just another form of oppression, from the other direction.
posted by digaman at 3:21 PM on October 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


me too, me & my. i find this whole thing just cowardly and shameful. I don't fight simply for those who resemble me or can successfully pass as straight if you put them in a suit or twinset--it benefits the whole country when rights denied are bestowed, and it educates all, too.

Another important point--while drag queens and pre-ops and lowerclass guys and girls and radicals, etc, were rioting at Stonewall, the Aravosis/Sulllivan/etc crowd of "respectable white guys" were hiding out on Fire Island and Rehoboth, etc--and still closeted.
posted by amberglow at 3:27 PM on October 5, 2007


One thing I've outgrown is other gay people telling me what "gay" is.

But no one is saying that--and if they are it's far far more likely nowadays to be a white male couple in the suburbs with adopted kids and well-paying whitecollar jobs--and if you're really outgrown external definitions affecting your identity and worth, it wouldn't matter what the portrayal is. Us Jews have that with Israelis too--they're butch and soldiers and think they're better---too bad for them. Who gives a shit?

Right now, a gay male couple is moving into Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives soon--they won't be Mr. IML Leather Bear S/M Folsom Eulenspiegel 08 and his mincing hairdresser boytoy who wears drag around the house--and that's because of us. We do that. We define-- and make sure there is a wide variety of portrayals and definitions of us.

The historical debt we owe to those who aren't "normal" is enormous tho, and for that reason alone throwing them off the bus now is even more shameful. White "normal" gay guys and couples are the main beneficiaries of all of this work over the decades, just like it has always been for White straight guys.
posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on October 5, 2007


But I don't buy the notion, implicit in some of your comments, that folks are into flaming, leather, or drag -- or people who know they were born with the wrong gender assignment -- are somehow more authentically gay than I am. That's just another form of oppression, from the other direction.
I think that's your own interpretations-- based on guilt or discomfort or something. Those who have it harder than you or are different from you are not more authentically anything or less authentically anything. I think you carry resentment from when you were younger, and that you would prefer that only unthreatening depictions of us were portrayed and that only unthreatening "normal"-looking or acting people were visible--but that's only partly up to us. We do our part and we've succeeded enormously in widening the view of us.

But in terms of fact, some are more oppressed than you--many are. More oppressed than me too. We're all authentic tho.
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on October 5, 2007


Incidentally, for me, I am uninterested - as a man - in other straight men. Yet in conceiving myself as a (straight) woman, I am interested in straight men.

And you don't see how that might be perceived as more than slightly anti-gay? Sometimes disenfranchisement is a two-way street.
posted by Reggie Digest at 3:49 PM on October 5, 2007


oh, one more thing---many things make us cringe--i cringe at Log Cabin Republicans (where i don't cringe at GOP closet cases but point and laugh---those fools have a more consistent position compared to those who explicitly are denied places at the table yet still support those who hate them), and at 50something guys who try to still come off as hot 20somethings, and at Rosie O'Donnell's cold, dead eyes, and at steroid clones all in A&F, etc. I smile at Drag Queens, and i admire Trans people. If what makes them happy is different and what they need to do for fulfillment and actualization and happiness is different and what they like to wear is different, so what? They're not hurting anyone (except with consent, as in SM).

Even if you cringe at someone, that doesn't allow you to ever throw them overboard if they need the same protections you need.

posted by amberglow at 4:01 PM on October 5, 2007


Amberglow, at least 10 years before the drag queens in the Stonewall bar started throwing bricks at cops, the brave members of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were marching on picket lines in Washington and New York, and Allen Ginsberg -- who could easily have "passed for" straight -- was reading poetry about guys getting fucked in the ass and screaming with joy, which is still too much for the FCC.

I came out in 10th grade. I wasn't even old enough to go to Fire Island, much less "hide out" there. I have never been closeted, or at least not since I was 15 or something.

You are completely right about the debt that every gay person owes to transgender people who fought back. Where you and I disagree is that I don't bemoan the fact that people who aren't "flamingly" gay now enjoy freedoms that previous generations of gay people -- both flaming and non -- fought for. As you say:

We do that. We define-- and make sure there is a wide variety of portrayals and definitions of us.

Amen.

My brand of loud gayness happens to be virtually indistinguishable on the surface from the way many straight people behave -- until the subjects of sex or marriage come up. I don't find that inherently a virtue -- it's just who I am. I don't appreciate being lumped in with conservative apologists like Sullivan just because I wouldn't be picked out of a lineup as a flaming queen. I play my own part in redefining gayness in a broader way than even many gay-urban-ghetto folks do.

You can say what you want about what you've been saying, but often in your arguments here, you seem to rhetorically oppose the drag queen/flamer/leather group and the "virtually normal" group, who you paint as Uncle Toms. Gay people who defend Republicans are Uncle Toms, because Republicans have cynically exploited homophobia to energize their base or whatever the fuck. But insisting that the drag queens at Stonewall were somehow braver than the "white guys (and white women) in suits" who marched with the Mattachines and the DOB is just inaccurate.

Even if you cringe at someone, that doesn't allow you to ever throw them overboard if they need the same protections you need.

Amen to that too.
posted by digaman at 4:04 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


digaman, don't even begin to say that you are OPPRESSED BY DRAG QUEENS. Come ON. I'm sure a few have made snarky remarks that you're not really gay because you look "normal." But it's a long way from snarky remarks to oppression. You can really only oppress if you have power. Did any of these drag queens prevent you from getting a job? a house? a date?
posted by desjardins at 4:14 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I would personally prefer that we wait for an inclusive bill to pass."

Really? How long do you want to wait? Thirty years? Forty? It's worth all of the injustices that will surely occur just to make sure that trans folks aren't left out for the same amount of time?

Thank God that the end point of your ability to truly influence this process ends at posting comments on Metafilter.
posted by klangklangston at 4:18 PM on October 5, 2007


Or go all the way back up and note the fallacy of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. There may NEVER be a perfect discrimination bill passed. This has a better chance than anything that's come along in my lifetime.
posted by klangklangston at 4:19 PM on October 5, 2007


Transhumanism is really about evolution, and as technological advances prgress people dedicated to our human evolution will benefact transgender people.

It is not about evolution at all. Not even a little bit. Do people not know what evolution is? Or is there some alternate meaning that I don't know about?
posted by The World Famous at 4:19 PM on October 5, 2007


Do people not know what evolution is? Or is there some alternate meaning that I don't know about?

Apparently the latter:

evolution

1. any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:34 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


often in your arguments here, you seem to rhetorically oppose the drag queen/flamer/leather group and the "virtually normal" group, who you paint as Uncle Toms.

I don't oppose them at all--that's my whole point.

And i don't paint them as Uncle Toms----except for now when they're fine with dumping the weirdos overboard so they'll get theirs. Just as you have a problem with what's authentic and what's not, i have a problem when ALL the main go-to people for gay rights in the media and in Congress are white uppermiddleclass men like Sullivan and Aravosis and the head of HRC and the others--I don't throw them overboard tho.
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on October 5, 2007


And when the ones who are so ready to throw others overboard are ALL middleclass and above white men who are politically connected, they need to be called out on it. Tammy Baldwin wants the inclusive ENDA and she actually took her name off Frank's weaker one. She has balls and he doesn't, and she's not a bulldyke or drag queen or leather person or anything.

Out of the many groups that fall under our labels and cultures, there's only one in this case who is shutting others out. They've always been the one group to do so, as my link above to Sylvia's story showed--for decades now. And just as the "normally-dressed" suit-and-tie and dress-wearing polite marchers in DC did back in the mid60s too, and it's also what they did to Bayard Rustin by trying to erase him from history, etc. They demanded a conformity because they personally were uncomfortable with the "otherness" that some have.
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on October 5, 2007


Really? How long do you want to wait? Thirty years? Forty? It's worth all of the injustices that will surely occur just to make sure that trans folks aren't left out for the same amount of time?

I'm willing to wait for my own lifetime, however long that may be. I doubt I have thirty more years left in me. But I honestly doubt it would take more than a few years to get it.

Thank God that the end point of your ability to truly influence this process ends at posting comments on Metafilter.

I sent an email to Barney Frank among others, and I am a contributor to various GLBT groups, but yes, apparently I have no influence on this issue.

Or go all the way back up and note the fallacy of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

That's not a fallacy, that's advice. I'll take my advice from Abe Lincoln instead.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:47 PM on October 5, 2007


digaman, don't even begin to say that you are OPPRESSED BY DRAG QUEENS

desjardins, you totally misread me. I was saying that I'm oppressed as a gay person by straight people, like every other gay person, tranny or not.

ALL the main go-to people for gay rights in the media and in Congress are white uppermiddleclass men like Sullivan and Aravosis and the head of HRC and the others--I don't throw them overboard tho.

I hear you, Amberglow.

Still sort of chuckling about the notion that I was insisting that I'm "oppressed by drag queens." What would that be like? "Miss Thing, first, lose the suspenders unless you're auditioning for Green Acres. And then? Lose 200 pounds unless you're auditioning for Hee Haw. And that hair? The military cut is not working for you, and the running shoes -- hel-LO, when was the last time YOU went jogging?"
posted by digaman at 4:49 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


at least 10 years before the drag queens in the Stonewall bar started throwing bricks at cops, the brave members of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were marching on picket lines ...

I'll bet I can guess where Frank Kameny would come down on this issue.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:50 PM on October 5, 2007


just as the "normally-dressed" suit-and-tie and dress-wearing polite marchers in DC did back in the mid60s too

Oh please! At that point in history, homosexuality was punishable by life-long loss of career, federal investigation for ties to international Communism, imprisonment, and forced lobotomy. The Mattachines and Daughters of Bilitis were very brave for their time. If you think a bunch of drag queens in a bar getting pissed at the latest shakedown by the cops were braver than the "normally dressed" men and women who marched, published magazines, and gathered mailing lists of fellow gay people in the late '50s and early '60s -- well, I disagree. The Stonewall rioters were courageous, but that was a more or less spontaneous rebellion that happened to turn into a movement because the historical moment was right. The Mattachines and the DOB were building a movement.

Frank Kameny was one of my heroes when I was growing up.
posted by digaman at 4:58 PM on October 5, 2007


Maybe I was misreading you, Amberglow. Was I?
posted by digaman at 5:03 PM on October 5, 2007


After reading the Sylvia link, I don't think I was.

You're going to have a hard time convincing me that the GAA were a bunch of Uncle Tom sellouts. It was specifically GAA founder Arthur Evans' appearances on TV -- the first time I ever saw a gay man on talk shows without his face obscured! -- that encouraged me to come out in highschool.

Now, as it happens, Evans lives in my neighborhood and I run into him at the hardware store. I owe him a great debt.

I remember the STAR folks too. I'm glad they're wonderful people.
posted by digaman at 5:13 PM on October 5, 2007


I finally just read Stryker's PDF linked in the FPP, which is informative and stirring.
posted by digaman at 5:44 PM on October 5, 2007


I have issues with his strategies and his insistence on surface appearance. Kameny was all about appearances--to his detriment because what he didn't realize was that it doesn't matter what we wear and how we look--they hate us anyway. It doesn't matter how we come off in public or to them because they demonize us anyway--even today.

He also demanded that our internal fights stay private and that we never air our differences. He wanted those with different strategies and different ideas to shut up. He demanded that certain words and ideas not be expressed. ... He thought presenting a nice, polite, "normal" face would be enough to gain us rights. It never was, and it never is, and it never will be. It's not his message but his tactics that i have problems with. He and others also threw out the more radical founders and members of Mattachine like Hay and others. He derided all medical reasons/causes/etc for homosexuality, while not fighting to get it declassified as a mental disorder at all.

You need more than one tactic and more than one voice and more than one strategy and more than one public face. Mattachine was far far too cautious and afraid--even in the face of their own destruction by those who hate us. They were swiftly and totally overtaken by GLF and the groups that grew out of Stonewall--and Mattachine had always refused to associate with bar and club culture anyway.

Did he do good? Yes. Did he get us rights? No.

I'll throw this stupidity in too: ... A rare gay activist to stand up forthrightly for Mr. Craig is Franklin Kameny, whom the Smithsonian Institution recently honored with an exhibition documenting his lonely Washington protests for gay civil rights in the pre-Stonewall 1960s. When I spoke to him last week, the 82-year-old Mr. Kameny said that many Americans don't seem to know how much the law has changed in recent years. Though he's no admirer of Mr. Craig, whom he describes as 'a self-deluding hypocritical homophobic bigot,' he publicly made the case for the senator's innocence in a letter to the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com.
'Fair is fair,' Mr. Kameny wrote. Mr. Craig, guilty of no public sex act, 'was the victim of a false arrest and a malfeasant prosecution.' Even had he invited the police officer to a hotel room, there still would have been no crime. The last American laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults were thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2003. ...

He didn't want to pick someone up to go have sex with them elsewhere. Craig wanted sex there and then and it's illegal to have sex in a public bathroom.
posted by amberglow at 5:45 PM on October 5, 2007


Mattachine during Stonewall: ... The Mattachine Society had still another view. With its headquarters right down the street from the Stonewall Inn, Mattachine was in 1969 pretty much the creature of Dick Leitsch, who had considerable sympathy for New Left causes but none for challenges to his leadership. Randy Wicker, himself a pioneer activist and lately a critic of Leitsch, now joined forces with him to pronounce the events at Stonewall ”horrible.” Wicker's earlier activism had been fueled by the notion that gays were ”jes' folks”—just like straights except for their sexual orientation—and the sight (in his words) ”of screaming queens forming chorus lines and kicking went against everything that I wanted people to think about homosexuals . . . that we were a bunch of drag queens in the Village acting disorderly and tacky and cheap.” ...
In any case, the bus arrived in Philadelphia without incident.

The demonstration in front of Independence Hall began in much the way it had in previous years: the group of some seventy-five people—men in suits and ties, women in dresses, despite the ninety-five-degree heat—walked silently in a circle, radiating respectability, eschewing any outward sign of anger. (Craig even kept his temper when a mean-looking man on the sidelines hissed ”Suck!” in his face every time he passed by.) But the events at Stonewall had had their effect. After a half hour of marching quietly in single file, two of the women suddenly broke ranks and started to walk together, holding hands. Seeing them, Craig thought elatedly, ”0-oh—that's wonderful!”

But Frank Kameny, the Washington, D.C., leader who had long considered himself to be in charge of the demonstration, had a quite different reaction. Back in 1966 Kameny hadn't hesitated in pulling a man from the line who had dared to appear without a jacket and wearing sneakers, and Kameny was not about to tolerate this latest infraction of his rule that the demonstration be ”lawful, orderly, dignified.” His face puffy with indignation and yelling, ”None of that! None of that!” Kameny came up behind the two women and angrily broke their hands apart.65
... Craig barged up to them and blurted out, ”I've got a few things to say!” And what he said— in his own description, ”ranting and raving”—was that the events in New York the previous week had shown that the current gay leadership was bankrupt, that gays were entitled to do whatever straights did in public—yes, wearing cool clothes in the heat, and, if they felt like it, holding hands too.

Kameny was furious at this unprecedented challenge to his authority, and, on different grounds, the veteran activists Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin chided Craig for calling so much ”personal attention” to himself. But, as had not been the case in previous years, many of those who had come down on the bus from New York were young people personally recruited by Craig at his bookstore. Some of them were students at NYU and, being much younger than Kameny or Gittings, had no prior movement affiliation (and no respect for what the homophile movement had accomplished). They had been energized by Stonewall, were impatient for further direct confrontation with oppressive traditions and habits—and vigorously applauded Craig's initiative.
...
That same July Fourth evening, New York Mattachine called a public meeting at St. John's Church on Waverly Place, designed to derail precisely the kind of rumored plans for new demonstrations and organizations that Craig had in mind. Dick Leitsch, described by one reporter as wearing a ”staid brown suit” and looking like ”a dependable fortyish Cartier salesclerk,” told the packed crowd of two hundred (mostly male, mostly young) that it was indeed important to protest police brutality, but it was also important to remember that ”the gay world must retain the favor of the Establishment, especially those who make and change the laws.” Acceptance, Leitsch cautioned, ”would come slowly by educating the straight community with grace and good humor and—“ ...

posted by amberglow at 5:59 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus. You people are so fucking eager for an excuse to throw transsexuals under the bus. And for what? Some phoney boogieman about men using the women's bathroom? That doesn't even pass the smell test. A person that identifies as a male is going to come to work in a dress and insist on using the ladies' room? And I suppose all the adult babies are going to insist on their right to come to work in their diapers and want oversize changing stations installed in the woman's room too? Well dip me in stupid and throw me to the lesbians.

Is it worth pointing out that homosexuals aren't really persecuted for having sex with other men, but because of the paramount importance for men to police the gender boundaries?
posted by cytherea at 5:59 PM on October 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


You're doing Kameny's legacy a huge disservice. The Mattachines were "swiftly taken over" by the GLF just like the folk movement was "swiftly taken over" by the Beatles and electric Dylan and everything that followed, and just like the "cautious" NAACP was "swiftly taken over" by the black power movement. Times changed; left-wing America became much bolder and radicalized in general, and committed to street action. The old left was "swiftly taken over" by SDS, the Yippies, and the rest of the New Left.

Trashing Kameny for insisting that Craig shouldn't have been arrested -- while calling him out for being a "a self-deluding hypocritical homophobic bigot" -- is really missing something, my old comrade Amberglow, and you suddenly sound like you're defending police stings in bathrooms. When was the last time you hearad of straight people getting entrapped for having sex in public bathrooms?

hat he didn't realize was that it doesn't matter what we wear and how we look--they hate us anyway. It doesn't matter how we come off in public or to them because they demonize us anyway--even today.

I think this is a gross oversimplication. Gay people have gotten more rights in the last 20 years not just because drag queens threw bricks and marched in gay parades, but because hundreds of thousands of individuals made the personal decision to come out to their families. Street theater is only one front of this revolution.
posted by digaman at 6:03 PM on October 5, 2007


I mean, really Amberglow, at least read the Wikipedia entry on Frank Kameny. At this point, it's like you're dissing Rosa Parks for not being Stokely Carmichael.
posted by digaman at 6:13 PM on October 5, 2007


Honestly, I haven't seen such a stampede since the last time the closeted gay republicans got in line to condemn gay marriage. And honestly, you're showing that same firm moral character.
posted by cytherea at 6:21 PM on October 5, 2007


Uh huh. Anyway, Amberglow, I'm out of here for a few hours to go to a Naropa reunion. I went there when I was 19 to study with Ginsberg, who said something hilarious and telling on the first night of the Stonewall riots: "The fags have lost their wounded look." I know what he meant, and I think you would have agreed with him, and that extra boldness was very important. But in his own Jewish-uncle way, Ginsberg was as radical as the rioters.

That's where I'm coming from. Amberglow, if you want to continue this conversation in email or on the phone tomorrow, I'd love to talk to you.
posted by digaman at 6:27 PM on October 5, 2007


He didn't want to pick someone up to go have sex with them elsewhere. Craig wanted sex there and then and it's illegal to have sex in a public bathroom.
posted by amberglow at 8:45 PM on October 5 [+] [!]


Yes. it's illegal to have sex in a public place. Got that bit.

'Course, he didn't actually have any sex. And while it's painfully obvious that's what he was looking for, in objective terms his 'explanations' are plausible. So, yeah, kinda have to agree with Mr. Kameny there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:43 PM on October 5, 2007


Amberglow: You lost a /small tag.


posted by klangklangston at 6:55 PM on October 5, 2007


Ooops. Maybe just on the activity page.
posted by klangklangston at 6:55 PM on October 5, 2007


Uh huh.

How charming. And while I'm sure that Ginsberg was far more radical than the Stonewall rioters--he certainly had a wandering eye for chicken--they were ones who actually did something about it.
posted by cytherea at 6:56 PM on October 5, 2007


sorry--i messed up the formatting.

At this point, it's like you're dissing Rosa Parks for not being Stokely Carmichael.
Nope. i'm pointing out Kameny's dictatorship and rigidity--and timidity in a time of giant and collective change--at the expense of gaining allies and making actual tangible progress.
A couple holding hands at one of his demonstrations is more powerful than single people dressed up to show they're "polite" and holding polite placards quietly. Kameny was blind to the real power of real people living their lives in public. Call it generational, or call it his personality, or call it the result of discrimination in his own life (the bathroom thing, etc)....

Frank on Signorile's show--Barney's pissed and testy.
posted by amberglow at 7:27 PM on October 5, 2007


I still don't understand something--Frank goes on in the radio mp3 that we'll add T later because it will be easier, and always is easier to add to existing law---so why didn't he and others just add us to existing employment protections afforded to others? And why a standalone bill, when they didn't do a standalone bill for Bias Crime?
posted by amberglow at 7:35 PM on October 5, 2007


Thanks for the link to Susan Stryker's article. I never would have found it otherwise, and I think its wonderfully smart and simple.
posted by serazin at 7:55 PM on October 5, 2007


Transgender goes with GLB here because what is being argued is how one is treated based on sexual identity. I don't care if it takes another 20 years for some kind of legal recognition of my rights as a complete person, I'm not friend to any gay person ready to make the distinction and toss them out of their legitimate place in the debate.
posted by troybob at 9:55 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It seems like discrimination law is never actually about who you are but about how you are perceived, and in that respect fighting for the T is absolutely necessary. The public face of Gs and Bs and Ls and Ts is one of "deviant" gender performance, whether that takes the form of dress, speech, or who you kiss or talk about kissing. I can too-easily imagine crafty lawyers getting defendants out of discrimination lawsuits because they're able to cast the victim as trans and so okay to discriminate against.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:58 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fuck Barney Frank on this one.

That is all.
posted by mediareport at 10:33 PM on October 5, 2007


i always find it odd when people who are categorized by their oppressors fight over who gets to be a member of their category.

Seriously. WTF, Barney Frank?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:21 PM on October 5, 2007


Divide et impera
posted by DreamerFi at 12:06 AM on October 6, 2007


Amberglow, thank you for fighting for my rights. I mean that very deeply and sincerely.

Thank you, also, to all the GLB people who are helping make sure the bus doesn't leave til everyone's on it.

I wish we could work together and stop trying to step all over each other.
posted by jiawen at 12:19 AM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I had completely forgotten that about 30 years ago, I was once given a disciplinary notice at my part-time salesclerk job for not wearing a brassiere to work.

That could just as easily happen today. This bill, if passed, would not change that at all. Do you think employers don't have the right to mandate particular dress codes?

It's a shame to see those who do make the perfect the enemy of the good, and can't see that something is clearly better than nothing.
posted by oaf at 5:34 AM on October 6, 2007


One of the things that bothers me about this is "compromise" is that it's not a situation where the affected group is being offered a deal where they might not get everything they wanted, but are getting something, where it's a negotiation between two parties, (for example, a hypothetical federal right-to-marry bill being altered to a civil union,) but a situation where a coalition is dumping a smaller member in order to "get theirs." In the hypothetical case, the people who are affected are the ones who "get to decide," as it were, if they wish to continue with the compromise, walk away, or continue negotiation.

In the case before us, a smaller minority is at the mercy of a larger minority who simply may be not as motivated to fight for the rights of their erstwhile allies, or, may well decide that once they "get theirs," they have no interest in fighting for the rights of transpeople, as klanawa said. Transphobia is not limited to middle-class and up white men. I don't see it as the perfect being the enemy of the good, but that it's no different than a right-to-marry bill being with a "compromise" that prevents lesbian couples, or interracial gay couples, or what have you from marrying; it defeats the whole purpose of the endeavor.
posted by Snyder at 8:31 AM on October 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


God, this thread is depressing. It seems that whenever I delude myself into thinking that the queer community is a happy, egalitarian, all-inclusive family, something like this comes along.

I see a lot of problems with the arguments being made for shearing off trans people from the GLB movement, and several replies have already been made by other people, but I'd want to add an anthropological one. Once gender studies in anthro got past the "men do this, women do that" sort of description, they found that many cultures had organizations of sex and gender and sexuality that didn't line up with the neat distinction between gender presentation and sexual object choice (i.e., who i am vs. who I fuck). Among many groups, both now and in the past, bodies are organized around what kind of a person you are and what activities are appropriate/"natural" to you as that kind of person. This ordering includes categories of race, class, gender, age, and so on, and the gap between categorization and practice is a where this order can begin to slide and disorganize. In turn, society places a lot of pressure on this gap to ensure that people do the things they are supposed to do.

G, L, B, and T all connect together as organizations of the sexual order that are not consonant with the dominant one. Being a gay male and being an MtoF trans person (pre or post-op) are both connected through their apparent failure to act like "men" in a conservative sense. This is part of the reason why the term "queer" was introduced to replace GLBT in the first place. Whether it's sucking cock, putting "product" in your hair, using "feminine" mannerisms and forms of speech, wearing lipstick, putting on dresses and heels, or altering your body to appear partially or completely female, all of these are united in their refusal of a dominant ordering of bodies.

Another historical point: During the 70s and early 80s, there was a lot of serious discussion about whether lesbians and gay men had enough in common to advocate for each other. Today, the group of GLB may seem obvious, but it hasn't always been that way.
posted by LMGM at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Amberglow, I'm sorry, but you are being completely unfair to Kameny and obscuring crucial gay history, rather than illuminating it. It's as if you have a picture in your mind of a bunch of people in suits at a demo in the '50s and it's gotten stuck on repeat -- you can't see beyond it.

In 1962, Kameny wrote a letter to RFK Jr. demanding an end to infiltration of the Mattachine Society by the FBI, led by closeted J. Edgar Hoover. In 1963, Kameny testified before Congress in the face of a bill to make membership in the Mattachine Society illegal; Congressmen wrote him letters demanding that he not pollute their mail with his "trash." Kameny was the first federal employee fired for being gay to go public -- after years of witchhunts by McCarthy and his closeted assistant Roy Cohn. Around the same time, Kameny wrote a paper called "Gay, Proud, and Healthy" which defied the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the American Psychological Association, who even refused to meet with him -- a long fight he finally won in 1973, to the benefit of us all. Kameny coined the phrase "Gay is Good," which helped galvanize the gay liberation movement -- it was the primary phrase I remember seeing on banners at the first mass gay-rights marches.

For the sake of further elevating the role of trans people at Stonewall, you are tossing one of the bravest pre-Stonewall advocates for gay rights into the dustbin with a lame "maybe it was a generational thing." Yes, maybe it was very brave to be testifying before Congress in defense of one of the first gay-rights groups in America when confession of homosexual behavior could result in a forced lobotomy. Maybe it was very brave to go to the press proudly declaring his gayness when gay people were routinely investigated for ties to international Communism.

I have been thinking all night about this, and I may have come around on the importance of including the rights of trans people in ENDA. But I will not stand by while one of the heroes who fought for the freedoms we now all enjoy is dismissed as an Uncle Tom. In the progressive landscape of the 1960s, Frank Kameny stands tall. I am still grateful to him.
posted by digaman at 9:25 AM on October 6, 2007


And by the way, I am cognizant of and equally grateful to the heroism of the trans people who fought back at Stonewall. In the FPP, Susan Stryker cites David Carter's excellent book Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution as one of her primary sources; at a time when I was very poor, I donated quite a bit of money to Carter so he could research that book. It's worth reading.
posted by digaman at 9:31 AM on October 6, 2007


I'm somewhat torn on this issue. There's the feeling that something's better than nothing (particularly since, as a gay man, I'd be on the receiving end of the "something,") and that political pragmatism does not necessarily equate throwing transgender people under a bus.

Then I remember a friend of mine who is a Chinese-American woman (not exactly a combination of ethnicity and gender known for having equal rights under the law in the USA) and big into social justice, but who also claimed that I had no understanding of what it was like to be a part of a minority group and could never understand because I was able to "hide behind being a white male," and I realize how short society's memory can truly be. (I wish I hadn't been too flabbergasted at the time to respond that I actually think she has it a easier, because anyone who's racist or sexist in front of her has to have the balls to show bias to someone they're biased against, whereas I'd be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time I've had people make a homophobic remark and then say they wouldn't have made it if they'd known there was a gay person in the room.)
posted by djlynch at 9:41 AM on October 6, 2007


I said he did good--what he didn't do was succeed in any of the things you mention. Kameny didn't stop lobotomies or shock therapy. Kameny didn't stop us from being fired--govt worker or non. Kameny didn't stop govt from spying on us and all other protesters--and in fact, it escalated both in the 60s and today. He did not get anything changed at all, and his iron fist hurt the growth of Mattachine. He never reached out to the other movements of the day, and specifically did not want his issue linked with any other group's rights.
And Mattachine itself wanted its members to take anti-commie "loyalty oaths" and purged its more radical members.
And no one's saying he's an Uncle Tom at all. I don't know why you keep bringing that up.

Read this about LBJ and his employee Walter Jenkins

Amberglow, thank you for fighting for my rights. I mean that very deeply and sincerely.
We all fight for all of us--for the whole country. We all benefit when we stop hurting others simply because of how we look and act and are.
posted by amberglow at 10:00 AM on October 6, 2007


(I think Kameny should have continued fighting in the courts--that's where he really made history in 61)
posted by amberglow at 10:20 AM on October 6, 2007


On other issues, I'm willing to say we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

This is not one of those issues.

As Snyder said, this is not a case where the whole group is in agreement about what compromise is acceptable. We have accepted a compromise at someone's expense, and I don't agree that this is "good". This is not good, or good enough, or even just okay.
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on October 6, 2007


Sorry, Amberglow, I strongly disagree with your reading of history. Where you see a series of failures, I see a string of successes -- successes that you somehow attribute to only one front of the revolution, excluding Kameny and cherry-picking anecdotes to diminish his impact.

As you put it, maybe it's a generational thing -- maybe you didn't see how electrifying and confrontational Kameny was in the press back then. At Harvard in the late '50s, he declared, "If society and I differ on something, I'm willing to give the matter a second look. If we still differ, then I am right and society is wrong. And society can go its way so long as it doesn't get in my way." His house in Washington became the primary meeting place for the first gay-rights pioneers, from Barbara Gittings of DOB to Donald Webster Cory (author of the highly influential book "The Homosexual in America") to Lige Clark and Jack Nichols, one of the first out gay couples to appear in the national media. In 1964, Kameny wrote, "The Negro tried for 90 years to achieve his purposes by a program of information and education. His achievements in those 90 years, while by no means nil, were nothing compared to those of the past 10 years, when he tried a vigorous civil liberties, social action approach" -- thus inaugurating the first public demonstrations of gay people in America. Kameny personally helped launch dozens of gay-rights groups all across the country.

You suggest that Kameny somehow failed in his attempt to get the APA to de-list homosexuality as a mental illness. In fact, he was instrumental in that landmark success:

By the 1970s the American Psychiatric Association (APA) began to reconsider its definition of homosexuality as a pathology. After appearing on numerous television debates with professional psychiatrists, Dr. Kameny succeeded in getting the APA itself to sponsor a panel of openly gay men and women at its 1971 annual convention in Washington, D.C. Along with members of the Gay Liberation Front and anti-war protesters, Kameny stormed the convention, grabbed the microphone and declared, "Psychiatry is the enemy incarnate . . . You may take this as a declaration of war against you." Under pressure from gay activists and a growing number of psychiatrists, the APA voted in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders. During the campaign to remove the stigma of illness from homosexuality, Dr. Kameny and colleagues conferenced over the telephone and in person at his home on Cathedral Avenue.

But anyway, I will lay off the Kameny thing, because it's a derail. Still, Amberglow, you could stand to read up more on pre-Stonewall gay liberation. Your arguments for inclusion will be the stronger for it.
posted by digaman at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2007


(By the way, I used only male-transgressive examples because most of the OMG THE TRANNIES!!!1! memes on this thread were about men performing femaleness in some way. The fact that women acting mannish didn't get the same attention is probably worthy of an addtional thread.)
posted by LMGM at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2007


[munching on handful of crunchy corny snack]

oh boy! teh gay is fireworking today!

all i got to say is trans threadz rulez!
posted by humannaire at 11:04 AM on October 6, 2007


ENDA: Accept No Substitutes (call to action from National Stonewall Democrats, playing off Splenda)

(You oversell the pre-Stonewall Kameny, digaman. Look at the giant difference in him between the 60s and 70s--as perfectly exemplified by your APA anecdote. He himself learned the limitations and ineffectiveness of his polite demonstrations, and his iron fist.)
posted by amberglow at 11:14 AM on October 6, 2007


Ah well. I've become convinced of two things by this thread. One is that trans rights should be included in ENDA. I was wrong. My apologies. I searched my soul, and you folks are right.

The other thing I learned, alas, is that my esteemed colleague Amberglow consistently underestimates the contributions of the pre-Stonewall pioneers to gay history, and overestimates the value of the street actions by groups like STAR. Comrade, you might ask yourself why you keep using a phrase with Nazi connotations (does it have any other connotations?) like "iron fist" to discredit someone who put their life on the line for your freedom like Frank Kameny. OK, enough, onward -- but my invitation for an offline dialogue on Kameny still stands. My email address is easy to find.
posted by digaman at 12:00 PM on October 6, 2007


Thanks digaman and amberglow, fantastic debate.

I agree with amberglow's position but am much more sympathetic to digaman, if that makes sense. I suppose I'm one of those invisible "not very gay" gay men... but I can't possibly accept any exclusion of transsexuals from legal protections. Trans people are, without a doubt, the most in need of additional legal protection. The experience of living as a gay man is only the slightest glimpse of the challenge of living as a transsexual; when I'm afraid, I have the luxury of becoming invisible. A "GLB law" would make me feel deeply, deeply guilty.
posted by mek at 7:30 PM on October 6, 2007


I'd like to propose that the Bs split off and join the Ts. The GL doesn't want either one of us anyway.
posted by desuetude at 11:13 PM on October 6, 2007


This has been a good discussion of a nuanced yet high-intensity topic. A real credit to MetaFilter.
posted by NortonDC at 11:55 PM on October 6, 2007


I'm disappointed that I came to this discussion so late. It has taken me quite a bit of time to read this entire thread, but I was dismayed by many of the the early comments in this thread from people who questioned the link between the GLB and T communities.

As a gay man of 38 years who has always known himself to be gay without any doubts and who is also white and quite in the middle on the scale of masculine<>feminine, I have NEVER, EVER felt that transgendered, transvestite, cross-dressing, etc. were separate from myself in terms of our struggle. It is so obvious I don't know how anyone could miss it, and I am so grateful to those who have so eloquently summed it up.

The GLBTTQI (Two-spirited, Questioning and Intersex) struggle is about sexual norms and social control. Societal norms of sexual behavior include BOTH sexual orientation AND gender identity. As is so beautifully summed up in the Gabriel Rotello article (thank you, Amberglow): to the person who is oppressing us, wearing a dress and having your dick cut off is just as unacceptable as wearing a suit, keeping your cock and taking a dick up your ass.

As the oppressed, we don't get to decide who belongs to our group -- our oppressors do -- and our oppressors see us all as sexual deviants and social outcasts.

This struggle is about throwing off the tyrany of social norms and making it legal for us to live our lives as our full selves, without shame, whether we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transvestite, cross-dressers, drag queens and kings, questioning or curious. There is no way to divide the struggle, for it is one struggle.

There is a difference between being tolerated, accepted, and embraced and having equal rights under the law. Surely, gays and lesbians are far closer to being tolerated and accepted and possibly even embraced than the transgendered community, but this legislation is not about tolerance, acceptance or being embraced - this legislation is about rights, and without transgendered rights, we do not have full civil rights for gays or lesbians. Each and every one of us is transgendered to some degree.
posted by PigAlien at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi at last evening's HRC dinner:
"I strongly believe that transgender individuals deserve the same rights and the same protections as any other Americans..."*
posted by ericb at 8:03 PM on October 7, 2007


this legislation is about rights, and without transgendered rights, we do not have full civil rights for gays or lesbians. Each and every one of us is transgendered to some degree.

Goddammit, yes. Exactly. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 9:07 PM on October 7, 2007


I'd like to propose that the Bs split off and join the Ts. The GL doesn't want either one of us anyway.
posted by desuetude at 2:13 AM on October 7 [+] [!]


This G does.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:23 PM on October 7, 2007


I don't have anything to contribute, but I'd like to echo a few other posters in giving my thanks to those people who could cut loose the T from LGB and maybe get what they need a little sooner, but who're just too damn awesome to do so.

I'm not in the US, but I have T friends who are, and for them, I thank you.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:24 PM on October 7, 2007


This G does.

[grin] Thanks.

I wasn't just pouting though. I do feel that bisexuality is treated as a stepchild aspect of GLBT, and sometimes because of issues of gender identity and fluidity. We bisexuals should use all that het-privilege of which we're accused to champion for transsexuals.

To those who feel that including transsexuals is just too politically risky...I understand how this idea comes about pragmatically. But if we were just going for what's most palatable for mainstream America, the flamers and the butch dykes would've been cut out of the movement when it picked up steam forty years ago...and queers wouldn't have the acceptance we do now in the US.
posted by desuetude at 6:38 AM on October 8, 2007


Nancy Pelosi at last evening's HRC dinner:

"I strongly believe that transgender individuals deserve the same rights and the same protections as any other Americans..."*


Not strongly enough--she hasn't spent a ounce of political power or capital to ensure their inclusion--ever. At a dinner where you're being awarded for your work it takes some nerve to say that with a straight (excuse the not-funny pun) face.


and PigAlien : >
posted by amberglow at 5:52 PM on October 8, 2007


I think Iran might serve as an interesting counter point to this discussion, since that's one place that, perhaps uniquely sanctions transsexuality while ruthlessly surpressing homosexuality.

It's difficult to imagine living in such a place, where in order to love without fear, you or your partner would have to give up their most basic identity. But their message is quite clear--preserving the social distinction between men and women is more important than the misery that it will cause countless individuals. It's oddly reminiscent of the rhetoric that Our Dear Leaders use to motivate their peasents to slaughter their fellows on the other side of the river--people whom they have far much more in common with than the megaphone wielding class who engage in human chess.

Until quite recently the clothes we were allowed to wear was ridgedly proscribed by our social class and trade, and wearing a color or cloth above your station was a serious offense--impersonating an officer is the meek vestige of that taboo.
I don't think the Iranian message is that different from our own--that we cannot suffer the social distinctions between men and women to evaporate. Of course they never will, but it's much more difficult to exploit one segment of society when you can't draw a ridgid distinction, a line in the sand.

And that's why interracial marriage is intimately related to gay marriage, feminism with civil rights, and why GLBTTQI is so much stronger than G or L or B. It's about putting people before ideology. Not that that is easy, especially when the ideology of putting people before ideology demands the sacrifice of people. But I think Manuel Puig adresses it in far more depth than I possibly could in his novel Kiss of the Spider Woman.
posted by cytherea at 12:30 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


But you know, were I a senator or congress person and an ENDA bill for GLB only came before my plate, i don't think I would have the heart to vote no.
posted by cytherea at 12:46 AM on October 9, 2007


Barney Frank to Hold Press Conference on ENDA tomorrow (October 11, 2007).
posted by ericb at 12:37 PM on October 10, 2007




he's lying....someone should make him reveal the whip count. And he's way way too defensive and bitchy about this. He and all of them work for us--not the other way around.

Tammy Baldwin made an excellent statement --she was the co-sponsor but took her name off when they dropped so much stuff. ... As a result of all of our work, and that of Congressional supporters, 171 Members of Congress have co-sponsored the legislation, authored by Congressman Barney Frank ( D-MA ) , which protects not only gays, lesbians and bisexuals, but also provides equally strong prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity....
We share a common goal, but disagree over process and strategy. Yet these procedural and strategic decisions are important because they affect the ultimate question of how and when we can most quickly pass protections that include transgender people. This is how a democracy works.

I am under no illusions about the challenges of achieving our goal. But, the quest for advancement of civil rights in our nation has never been easy. It is precisely because of the discrimination these groups experience that this legislation is needed.

As is the case with all legislation, there is no guarantee of success. Everyone pressing for this legislation knows that. We know that opponents of workplace protections may offer any number of amendments designed to derail the bill, including, perhaps, an effort to remove protections based upon gender identity. I believe we must boldly face these challenges.

Perhaps some of these hostile efforts will be successful. That should not deter our work. We must bring the strongest possible bill to the floor of the House for a vote. If our adversaries wish to erode protections in the bill, we must be prepared to face that challenge and make our case.

However, I believe it is a mistake to concede defeat on any issue, before our opponents even raise it. ...

posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on October 12, 2007


and semi-related, and historic: Dear Abby (her daughter, nowadays): Next week, when she accepts the first-ever “Straight for Equality” award from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, author Jeanne Phillips, who writes the nationally syndicated “Dear Abby” column started by her mother, will publicly declare her support for gay marriage.
posted by amberglow at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2007


Respect Your Base--... And sometimes it's healthy when folks in the grassroots push their elected representatives. Some people call it democracy. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:22 PM on October 12, 2007








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