Transgender Lives, Transgender Pride, Transgender Rights

Posts Tagged ‘The T in GLBT’

How did the T get in GLBT?

Posted by TransMan on October 13, 2007

“In simpler times we were all gay. But then the word “gay” started to mean “gay men” more than women, so we switched to the more inclusive “gay and lesbian.” Bisexuals, who were only part-time gays, insisted that we add them too, so we did (not without some protest), and by the early 1990s we were the lesbian, gay and bisexual, or LGB community. Sometime in the late ’90s, a few gay rights groups and activists started using a new acronym, LGBT — adding T for transgender/transsexual. And that’s when today’s trouble started.”[…]”I have a sense that over the past decade the trans revolution was imposed on the gay community from outside, or at least above, and thus it never stuck with a large number of gays who weren’t running national organizations, weren’t activists, or weren’t living in liberal gay enclaves like San Francisco and New York. Sure, many of the rest of us accepted de facto that transgendered people were members of the community, but only because our leaders kept telling us it was so. A lot of gays have been scratching their heads for 10 years trying to figure out what they have in common with transsexuals, or at the very least why transgendered people qualify as our siblings rather than our cousins. It’s a fair question, but one we know we dare not ask.”[…] “An old activist friend even told me that my words were prejudiced, wrong and embarrassingly uninformed…”

Yes, this guy is embarrassingly uninformed.

The quick answer to his question “How did the T get in GLBT?” is that the T has always been there, always. Mr Aravosis would do himself a great favor by reading up on GLBT history before and after Stonewall. I can recommend “Stone Butch Blues” by Leslie Feinberg, a piece of history, that Mr Aravosis seems to forget ever happened.

Then there’s the actual Stonewall Riots… Mr Aravosis used Wikipedia to have a look at all of this – so let’s return the favor:

“The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between New York City police officers and groups of gay and transgender people that began during the early morning of June 28, 1969, and lasted several days. Also called the Stonewall Rebellion or simply Stonewall, the clash was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, as gay and transgender people had never before acted together in such large numbers to forcibly resist police.”[…]Details about how the riot started vary from story to story. According to one account, a transgender woman named Sylvia Rivera threw a bottle at a police officer after being prodded by his nightstick (Duberman). Another account states that a lesbian, being brought to a patrol car through the crowd put up a struggle that encouraged the crowd to do the same (D’Emilio 232). Whatever the case may be, mêlée broke out across the crowd—which quickly overtook the police. Stunned, the police retreated into the bar. Heterosexual folk singer Dave van Ronk, who was walking through the area, was grabbed by the police, pulled into the bar, and beaten. The crowd’s attacks were unrelenting. Some tried to light the bar on fire. Others used a parking meter as a battering ram to force the police officers out. Word quickly spread of the riot and many residents, as well as patrons of nearby bars, rushed to the scene.

Throughout the night the police singled out many transgender people and gender nonconformists, including butch women and effeminate men, among others, often beating them. On the first night alone 13 people were arrested and four police officers, as well as an undetermined number of protesters, were injured. It is known, however, that at least two rioters were severely beaten by the police (Duberman 201-202). Bottles and stones were thrown by protesters who chanted “Gay Power!” The crowd, estimated at over 2000, fought with over 400 police officers. From Wikipedia

Mr John Aravosis, by questioning the T in GLBT, is denying a large part of GLBT history, minimizing the pain suffered by transgendered people along side gay people, the courage shown in fighting the police, and the injustice of what was put to them.

When American GLBT Leaders ask that Transgendered people be included in the ENDA, they are honoring the common history and cause of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered people – that you cannot understand that, agree with that (or at least keep your ignorant mouth shut) is just sad.


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