Friday Philosophy: GLB…and sometimes T

I’ve been “watching”  the trial in the 9th Circuit.  You know, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, though Perry is only one of the plaintiffs and Ahnold is not, apparently, one of the defendants.  More precisely, it might be labeled Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals v. Homophobes.

A keen observer might notice that I omitted Transgender there.  Such an observer might ask why.  The reason is that transgender people have been made invisible in this trial and the reporting thereof.

It was not unexpected.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a horse in this race.  As I said above, and here, I am a lesbian.  But I have spent most of the last two decades advocating for all transpeople…as well as for the entire LGBT community…and I cannot remain honest  and not note the feelings which have been generated by our exclusion from the discussion.

Let me from the start say that I have tensely watched the testimony unfold through the eyes of the people reporting at the Courage Campaign Institute.  Let me also take judicial notice that I am not a lawyer.

I am only one person, with my own personal feelings.

It would have been very possible, had the reaction of my spouse been different than it turned out to be, that we would have remained married when I went through gender reassignment.  It happens sometimes.  More often than not, the stress of the situation is too much for the spouse to accept, the burden too heavy, and the marriage fails.  Asking someone who has been straight for an entire life to become lesbian or gay because the spouse changes sex really more than anyone should be expected to accept.

But it happens.  Love is a powerful thing.

As it happened, we were divorced in 1993, halfway through my transition, after 24 years of marriage.  

Back in the 90s, when I was Education Director for the Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force, when marriage equality was first becoming an issue, I asked Lesbian and Gay proponents if it wouldn’t we prudent to point out that the laws that were going to change the statement “it is illegal for same-sex couple to get married” to “it is illegal for same-sex couple to be married”.  That single word change would invalidate the marriages of legitimately married couples in which one of the spouses had undergone gender-reassignment, so wouldn’t it be a prudent item to mention.

The aforesaid advocates were horrified at the thought and asked that I stifle myself.

But I’m still a lesbian and a PFLAG parent and the trial still means much to me.  I can still identify with the history of discrimination against LGB people, even if I wonder why the discrimination of transgender people is not discussed.  I can still identify with stigma, perhaps even more so, since transgender people can be and have been stigmatized even within the LGB community.

But still, I’ve seen the name Gwen Araujo mentioned several times in the reportage of the trail, as a victim of a hate crime, but have to wonder why she is not identified as a transwoman.

We like to think that all of us in the LGBT community are in this together.  When we see mention only of the LGB community, we don’t get that feeling.

Yes, that is an emotional reaction.  But emotions often have lives of their very own.

There are still some people who don’t get it about why a transsexual person would even care about this.  I think partially that comes about because of the stereotype that we transition in order to be heterosexual.  Although that may be the case for some of us, it is far from the major reason.  The reason we transition is about who we go to bed as, not who we go to bed with.

Some of us are straight.  Some transmen are gay.  Some transwomen are lesbians.  And some of us are bisexual.  We have a stake in this.

I don’t know if anyone else remembers what it feels like to be invisible.  It is not conducive to good feelings.


    Update: After I wrote much the above and while I was writing the rest, we finally got some mention. I wish I could say it was uplifting:

    Plaintiff attorney Michael McGill:  Have you ever heard the view that children raised by homosexual parents more likely to have gender identity disorder than raised by heterosexuals?

    Dr. Michael Lamb:  Yes. The field has studied it a lot.  Gender identity disorders are extremely rare and there is no evidence that they are more prevalent with gay and lesbian parents.

    There was further discussion about “gender confusion” and “gender pathology” along the same lines.

    Someday maybe someone will mention that it is okay to grow up gender-variant.

    I’m not going to hold my breath.


Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on January 16, 2010 at 12:07 am

    …the conclusion is obvious:  men shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children.

    The argument proceeds from there, apparently to the conclusion that two gay men raising a child would be the worst possible scenario imaginable.

    The inescapable assumption that must exist in the minds of the defense is that gay men will act just like straight men, which is provably horrible.


    • Robyn on January 16, 2010 at 12:30 am

  1. What has horrified me in the past is the extent to which our “fierce advocate” individuals and organizations will go to hide transgender individuals.

    John Aravosis infuriated me when he tried to cut the “T” off LGBT’s.

    What you cannot get across to people who do this is the “bounce back” effect this all has.  And to some extent it comes right down to the God damn fucking Golden Rule and people STILL don’t get it.

    Don’t want to be made invisible in society?  Then, fuckers, don’t make others invisible in society or tolerate having others made invisible in society.

    What you cannot get across is this is more than just about morality — even though basic morality ought to be enough by itself.  It comes also down to looking like an idiot.  It comes down to credibility.

    The fight for marriage equality is by default a battle for all of us .. whether gender variant or not.  But, in my mind, at least, everyone is included.  What more can I do?  Because I understand the anger of being made invisible.

    • Robyn on January 16, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Well society did not want me to come out. I had a lesbian trial. I went to med school, but for a time was community organizer like our president. Trying to help get women into construction trades. One day, called to meeting and all of my friends in movement asked me to sit down in middle of semi-circle they had formed. Was also involved in work in women’s movement.

    “We’ve noticed that you seem to be working with a lot of women and lesbians. In our community of color, Asian community, we don’t have lesbians, homosexuals. We would not want to have a homosexual work with us because homosexual said homosexuality is petty, white bourgeois. African American woman said same. If you are homo, we don’t want you. So Helen tell us, are you a lesbian?

    “I was about 23 then. Looked at people I trusted who said that. I knew lesbians. I knew that I had attractions to women, didn’t have girlfriend, didn’t have membership card, toaster over saying welcome to lesbianism. So I said no, I’m not.

    This was heartbreaking to read.

    • Robyn on January 16, 2010 at 1:35 am

    It’s too crowded.

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