Comments on Why Legislation Should Include GLB and T
I cannot let Professor Carpenter's article ["OutRight: The Lessons of SONDA"] go by without comment.
He asked how any self-respecting gay person could support Duane or "progressive" groups who opposed a SONDA that excluded the transgendered. One would hope that it would be because Senator Duane stood up for what is right. Human rights do not belong only to straight-appearing gays and lesbians. Are the transgendered less human, less deserving of constitutional guarantees?
The good professor seems to say that the transgendered (who galvanized the more affluent gay lobby to action by starting the Stonewall riots), the intersexed, and gender-variant gays should remain content to be denied employment, denied housing, denied public accommodation--happy that their straight-appearing GLB brothers and sisters have their rights. Sorry, but those looking in from the hate-filled cold are no longer willing to suffer.
He continued, "The bill is coming due for our extravagant embrace of the `T' in `GLBT.' If we're not careful it will politically bankrupt us."
The real question for the GLB faction of our community is this: If you do not embrace the TIQ in GLBTIQ, will it not morally bankrupt you?
Dr. Robyn Walters, PhD Secretary, National Transgender Advocacy Coalition via internet
Thought I would point out the critical flaw to legislation that protects individuals from discrimination based upon sexual orientation and excludes gender identity or gender expression: you can still be legally discriminated against for acting "too femme" or "too butch."
Employer: "I don't care what you do in the bedroom or who you live with. The way you act just makes customers uncomfortable."
Gay Person: "You're discriminating against me because I'm gay!"
Employer: "No, I'm not. Dale Carpenter over there is gay. But his presentation doesn't make people uncomfortable. Like I said, your presentation is unacceptable and is causing me to lose customers. I'm sorry, but if you behaved in a manner that wasn't so effeminate, we wouldn't be having this discussion right now."
So yes, the Dale Carpenters of the queer community have theirs.
Cristan Williams via internet
While I have personal and sentimental reasons for the T to be part of the GLBT, the fact is that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders (and intersexuals and other queers) have little in common and we have always known so, but perhaps we are inextricably bound together by the fact that sex and gender in a social and cultural context are at best blurry distinctions, and often do actually mean the same thing. Society lumps us together anyway whether we like it or not.
If we define the modern day gay movement in the US to have started in the 1960's with the T rebellions in Philadelphia, San Francisco or later at Stonewall, and other areas, it could be argued that the T at the very least, jump started the gay movement, and while I don't care to entertain such argument, clearly the T were present, active, and instrumental in this movement, and further examples can be found in earlier US history, and in other countries and cultures as well. So GLBT share a common history.
Those opposed to GLBT define us as a bunch of queers. That simplistic definition is good enough for me. The homo-adverse think we are wrong for being who we are, but the homophobics will wait for any of us in the parking lot. Some GLB are T and need gender protections. All T are GLB or straight, so some T need sexual protections. The distinctions between us are perhaps more for our purposes than for the larger society. When a lesbian gets fired for appearing too butch, or a gay man gets fired because looks gay (I don't know what that is, but I was told that a lot before transition at my butchest best!), that is clearly gender discrimination, and unless it can be proven that the firing was because of sexuality, legal relief is unlikely based on sexuality even if sexuality is the real reason; in the same way that the Oiler vs. Winn Dixie case was lost because there was no sexual discrimination in firing a straight cross dresser that did so during his time off. So we really do need both gender and sexual protections. When gay marriages are lawful you can bet without "gender and identity expression" protection, who was called the "Wife" (or Husband) will come up in divorces and estates as a gender challenge. (Where there's a Will there's relations.) And where transsexuals have obtained rights, those rights have been denied in divorce and estate cases based on the sex marker on the original birth certificate, so sex is a loophole where gender rights have been established. People that are incapable of looking or acting like the M or F on their papers need protections, whether GLBT or straight.
The T also have momentum demonstrated by passing an unprecedented amount of gender protection laws in 2002. More than 57 jurisdictions have discrimination laws covering their transgender citizens compared with only 13 in 1995. There are now 34 million people in this country that are covered, with the 19 million that were added in 2002. Gender activists can hardly be described as an ugly stepchild in the GLBT movement, let alone as losers or lacking in their own leadership. The HRC (a gay and lesbian lobby group) commissioned a study in 2002 where 61 percent of those polled said there should be laws protecting transgender Americans from discrimination. Compare that with 63.9 percent of Americans supporting antidiscrimination laws based on sexual orientation found by the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in the 2000 National Election Study. So simple math would indicate including the T in the GLBT.
GLBT are subculture within subculture within subculture, where being alike and fully understanding one another is not a requirement and diversity is OK. So you would get rid of the T including those that are GLB. Why not get rid of the lesbians too? How butch can a lesbian be before you'd call it "gender expression?" A large number of straight homophobic men would vote "Yes." in favor of lesbians rights for whatever inexplicable pornographic imaginings they have about women who are not interested in them and aren't going to let them watch either! And what about the bisexuals? Shouldn't they go too since they either cannot make up their minds or embrace diversity a little too much for those whose sexuality is limited to one gender? How many of the remaining gay men would be acceptable? Maybe there should be a Palm Beach Club for GLBT? (Old money only, of course...)
I love your passion and concern! I think what Tom Duane did is a refreshing demonstration of statesmanship and democracy in action by forcing debate, stirring things up, taking the heat, and seeing the bill through after all. And perhaps the argument advanced both gender and sexual causes because it carried the discussion of sexuality and gender beyond the usual places and into the mainstream media both educating the public and showing just how human and individual we are. In conservative Pennsylvania where GLB and T worked together and with Republicans, both sexual and gender protections were included in the nations most comprehensive Hate Crime bill, and was signed by a Republican Governor. Maybe that is where the real lesson is? And finally: We're here. We're queer. Get used to it!
Thank you, Abigale Lane via internet