(Apologies to The Onion; no apologies to St. Barney)
LGBT people need to put aside their differences and come together on common ground. Especially at this crucial moment in our history. How better, I ask, to achieve this goal than to engage in an inconclusive, protracted, ignorant, and superficial examination of the issue of trans-inclusion in federal and state civil rights legislation?
The time for vagueness is now.
In the decades since Stonewall, our movement has become intensely polarized. The gap between gay and trans has grown ever more vast. Those on both sides are desperate for alternatives. If we ever hope to move into a new era of enlightened exchange, we must foster, on a movement-wide scale, a second-grade-level look into the most painful and difficult issue in the history of the LGBT movement.
Assimilationist gay, Janice Raymond-loving lesbian, MTF, or FTM — we can all be callously summed up in a trite, substanceless statement of unity.
Like it or not, the movement needs a stupid conversation on the issue of trans-inclusion. Perhaps more importantly, we need this stupid dialogue to be couched in the most self-righteous, know-it-all attitudes on the part of those involved, as if they have no idea whatsoever of how much more complicated the issue is, and how little their one-dimensional approach to it brings to the table.
It’s our duty to put aside the complexities of communication between trans people and non-trans gays and lesbians and focus on the first idea that comes to mind. Then, after we’ve wasted 20 minutes discussing whether a non-inclusive ENDA is of any benefit to trans people (or anyone else), we can repeat the first idea over and over until we have alienated all listeners who did not already agree with us at the beginning.
Is that so very hard?
I’m talking about ill-informed citation of dubious polling data about the feelings of rank-and-file gays and lesbians toward trans-inclusion. I’m talking about patronizing notions of inclusion, like pointing to the existence of an individual trans employee as proof that inclusion is real. I’m talking about multisyllabic, intellectual-sounding terms like “machinations” and “concealment” and even “mutilation.”
The time has come to start saying foolish, foolish things about the men in ladies’ showers once again. How long has it been? A whole week?
It’s been too long since we sat down and shared long-discredited arguments asserting that incrmentalism actually is a more successful path to trans-inclusive legislation than inclusion in the first instance. Terms like “trans-jacking” should be revitalized and put back in the spotlight. And while we’re being open and honest, why not trot out that old chestnut about the unfairness of trans-only usage of “tranny.”
I dare the head of one of the major gay rights groups to blanket the media with buzzwords like “LGBT marriage,” without ever examining the underlying implications of what they might mean (who needs to contemplate what a bisexual marriage, much less a trans marriage, is anyway?). That would be the day.
I likewise dare the head of one of the major gay rights groups to blanket the media with the notion that, ‘once we get same-sex marriage, what sex you are won’t matter at all for anything’ without ever examining the fact that some people are transsexual and single and occasionally find themselves needing to use the restroom.
Assimilationists and the reality-based alike, hear my plea: We can all say incredibly silly things about who does or does not have the “right” to “protection” of the law.
Since the emergence of an organized gay rights movement, trans has been the movement’s “dirty little secret”—an ugly, shameful reality swept under the rug of polite discourse, emerging only in isolated, angry outbursts about ENDA, the hiring practices of the Human Rights Campaign, and Barney Frank’s obsession with bathroom usage by transsexual women. Let’s take that issue out from under the rug—keeping that initial phase of ignorance, lack of mutual understanding, and fear—and make sure it dominates American – not just gay – politics for the next century.
Only by opening an embarrassingly one- dimensional dialogue on the most simple and wholly ignorant level can we ensure that we, as a nation, never get down to the deeper issues about trans-inclusion that truly threaten to tear this sexual minority civil rights movement apart.
Who’s with me?