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11 April 2011, 11:00 am 2 Comments

Politics: What It Means to Drop the ‘T’

This post was submitted by Michael

c. Grzegorz Wysocki, Wikimedia Commons

There’s been quite a bit of activity on here lately questioning the best course of action for achieving the rights of transgendered people, whether it’s in allegiance with the gay and lesbian community or separate. The discussion resulting from these two recent posts has got me wondering, what does “Dropping the T” mean really? How would it impact the different sections of the queer community? How could it be helpful or hurtful towards trans rights? I feel that many individuals commenting on recent posts have differing ideas of how such a disassociation would pan out, resulting in contention, confusion and anger.

I have faith that a vast majority of the voices discussing the viability of “dropping the T” never imagined that trans people would be ejected from the social LGBT community. So much of the queer community fucks with gender, and so many transfolk identify as lesbian, gay or bi. Trans people are an undeniable part of the sexual minority community, and despite our differences, there is strength in that community.  There is some sense of unity.

Honestly, I don’t know enough about queer politics to understand how activism for the trans community would be different. However, from what I understand, there are times when the ‘T’ was sacrificed for the sake of LGB rights. Other times, the trans community was up in arms for being excluded, seemingly yet again, though the legal nature of legislation that passed (favoring the LGB community) simply could not be logically extended to transfolk.

The second case I’m mentioning is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Honestly, I find the current take on DADT to be quite confusing. Originally, DADT was a compromise to allow gays and lesbians to join the military. First, there was a policy banning gays, then there was a LAW that permitted gays in the military, as long as they didn’t out themselves. Decades later, the queer right community rallied to repeal DADT. I guess the idea is that the underlying policy mindset behind banning gays from the military has changed, while the law requiring discharge for being out stayed on the books. If this was actually the case, then, yes, a repeal of DADT made a lot of sense, with its benefit exclusively for the LGB servicemembers. If this brief summary of events is correct, then how could trans people have been included in this aspect of queer liberation? There’s an important distinction between excluding the ‘T’ for the sake of wider acceptance (like the DOMA fiasco) and the ‘T’ not being included due to the facts on the ground of the political playing field.

Personally, I advocate for equal rights for all and feel an ever-growing connection with the trans community, but I also feel that it’s important for our leaders to openly strategize on how these rights can be won. It’s unfortunate that there is no silver bullet for blanket LGBT rights. We have to work on them piecemeal, with opportunities taken when the time is ripe.

Furthermore, it’s unfortunate that apparently the time becomes ripe for different aspects of the community at different times. As such, some pieces will move forward benefiting one aspect of our community while seemingly leaving other folks “behind.” It’s sad that we don’t apparently have one organization upon which we can rely to come up with a long range strategy for full rights for all members of the community.  Perhaps if such long term goals and visions were successfully communicated and obvious action on such a strategy occurred on a regular basis, all members of the community could perceive a win for any subset of the community as a victory for all of us.

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