Atlantis Alumni

Friday, October 5, 2007

Gays And Bi Folk Are Transgendered

The battle within the gay and lesbian community over Barney Frank's decision to strip protections for transgendered people out of the Employment Non Discrimination Act continues to heat up. Yesterday Frank issued a press release critical of Lambda Legal, which opposes his political ploy, and today Lambda Legal shot back at Barney Frank.

To me, stripping the "Ts" out of ENDA to make it more palatable for some Democrats so as to get their vote is abhorrent. However, a number of gay bloggers and activists, notably John Avarosis and Rex Wockner, argue that the "Ts" are not gay folk and that we should take the ENDA bill we can get without protections for transgendered people and leave them behind. They want us to throw the "Ts" out of the LGBT movement. The least powerful sexual minority would then be left to fend for themselves.

The best argument I've read in favor of continuing the fight for a fully inclusive ENDA is made by Gabriel Rotello. Rotello points out that gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals share an important characteristic: we all fall outside of accepted norms when it comes to gender identity. We all have traits, sexual for all of us as well as non-sexual for many or most of us, that go against "straight" norms of behavior.

Now, however, 21st-century research has produced a new concept: That the
root of our difference is not merely how we make love, but the larger fact that
we exist between the two genders in a variety of gender-atypical ways, some
sexual and some not.
This idea has immense implications, because if the
ultimate cause of our oppression is gender transgression, then shouldn't it also
be the focus of our identities and our movement? Shouldn't we stop being the
les-bi-gay-trans-whatever movement, with a new syllable added every few years,
and simply become the trans movement? I think we should. ...Yes, sure, all the
other arguments against the removal of transgendered people from ENDA are valid,
foremost among them that we are sacrificing the most vulnerable among us for the
political expediency of getting a bill passed. But if you look at LGBT people as
all, in a sense, transgendered, such a bill is not merely sacrificing the rights
of one sexual minority within our movement. It's betraying and denying the
strange, wonderful, mysterious and very human thing that makes us what we

Read Rotello's essay here.

PHOTO: A boatload of "trans" people: gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals, invades the Pines on July 4, 2007. Don't throw anyone overboard when it comes to ENDA. Photo by Bob Russell


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