Columns

Some Gays Want to Take the 'T' Out of LGBT

Here’s the problem: straight voters are so concerned about transgendered and transvestite men, basically men dressed as women, walking into the girls’ bathroom that they are voting down any and all civil rights ordinances that include the “T” with “LGB.”

Houston is the perfect example of what can go wrong. A civil rights ordinance that seemed perfectly reasonable to many was trashed in the November election because anti-transgendered rights groups branded it as the “bathroom bill.”

They ran a series of TV and radio ads that depicted men wearing dresses following girls into women’s restrooms and locker rooms. The raw emotion was enough to doom the measure.

Now, the same scenario is playing out in Dallas, where the city council made sure to separate “sexual orientation” from “gender identity and expression” in a civil rights charter amendment pushed hard by the LGBT community and approved by voters in 2014.

Battle won, according to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who wanted that change in Dallas and also campaigned against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, HERO.

“I was very proud to help lead the recent effort where an overwhelming majority of voters in Houston successfully voted down the misnamed and misguided HERO ordinance,” Patrick said in a statement following the Dallas City Council 15-0 vote. “That’s why yesterday’s decision by the Dallas City Council, in closed session, to fast-track the enactment of a similar ordinance to allow men in women’s restrooms is both mind-boggling and appalling.”

Even if the people behind an online petition drive to remove “T” from “LGBT” are not the kind who are willing to say, “I told you so,” they must have been severely tempted when everyone on the Dallas City Council hit their “yes” buttons.

Organizers of the Drop the T petition drive on Change.org describe themselves as a “group of gay/bisexual men and women who have come to the conclusion that the transgender community needs to be disassociated from the larger LGB community.”

One of the top reasons for voting transgendered people out of the LGB community, according to organizers, is that the rights of gay women will be infringed upon when civil rights ordinances are rewritten or rejected because of concerns about transgendered men in the stalls or lockers next to those being used by biological women.

“The infringement of the rights of individuals, particularly women, to perform normal everyday activities in traditional safe spaces based on sex; this is most pernicious in the case of men claiming to be transgender demanding access to bathrooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters and other such spaces reserved for women,” the organizers of the petition drive wrote on their document’s main page.

Yet, it isn’t just that they are worried about LGB(T) civil rights ordinances being shot down by nervous straights. The organizers also explained on their petition page that even though they are gay, lesbian and bisexual, a lot of the time they don’t like the transgendered either.

*   “The vilification and harassment of women and gay/lesbian individuals who openly express disagreement with the trans ideology; a simple disagreement over an issue can result in responses that range from insults (‘transphobic bigot’) to threats of physical harm (often, in the case of women, rape) and even death; the harassment by the transgender community of prominent individuals ranging from iconic gay rights activist/drag queen RuPaul and legendary feminist Germaine Greer has been particularly loathsome.”

*   “The appropriation and re-writing of gay and lesbian history and culture, most notably attempting to re-cast the majority gay white men who participated in the Stonewall riots as transgender, specifically casting as ‘transgender’ men who adopted feminine attire but still identified as men (they called themselves transvestites, which is not the same as the modern transgender identity); particularly frustrating was the fact that media outlets such as The Advocate, Out and Huff Post Gay Voices, who should have been the first to point out the fallacy of this notion, actually went along with the lie.”

*   “Most troubling, by persuading parents and health professionals to diagnose children as young as four as transgender, despite considerable research that shows that more than 90 percent of children who express ‘gender dysphoria’ at a young age grow out of it by adolescence and, in most cases, grow up to be well-adjusted gay men and women; ideologically, it runs counter to traditional LGB and feminist philosophy – whereas feminists and gay men/women advocate for expanding and re-defining gender concepts, the trans movement is regressive, insisting upon re-asserting and codifying classic gender concepts of what is masculine and what is feminine.”

In addition to rounding up a few thousand signatures, the petitioners, who have remained anonymous, also have asked groups like GLAAD and media organizations like the Advocate to join them.

No chance of that. What seems like the lockstep unity of the LGBT movement to straights, with or without the T, breaks asunder when it comes to removing the nineteenth letter of the alphabet from the acronym.

“One clear aim of this petition is to suppress news about transgender people, to which the reply of any reputable journalistic publication is an obvious, ‘No.’ But advocacy organizations are also being petitioned, so it’s apparent that the other aim here is to denigrate transgender people, to divide our populations, and to marginalize those whose civil rights and physical safety are very much imperiled,” said Matthew Breen, the editor in chief of the Advocate, one of the world’s leading gay publications.

“With that other aim in mind, the reply of any group of compassionate people who can see beyond their own needs, beyond the tips of their own noses, should be equally evident: ‘No,’” he added in the statement released Nov. 12.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO and president of GLAAD, was also adamant about keeping the “T” in “LGBT.”

“GLAAD stands firmly with the transgender community and unequivocally rejects the outrageous and destructive idea that the ‘T’ be removed from LGBT. For decades, transgender people have worked alongside lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to advance equality for everyone, often leading the way in the movement for full equality and acceptance,” Ellis said in a statement released Nov. 6.

“Many trans people are also lesbian, gay, and bisexual — they are an inextricable and invaluable part of the LGB community. At a time when anti-LGBT activists continue to attack the basic rights and protections essential to all of our lives, we must stand together, rather than succumb to the ruin of divisiveness.”

This debate has created so much disharmony in the LGB(T) community that a counter petition, Reject the Drop the T Petition, was started.

Paradoxically, it is a bisexual woman who might have derailed this issue before it became such a train wreck in the gay community.

All she had to do was to include an exemption for bathrooms and locker rooms in the HERO ordinance.

But Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D) refused.

Following the Nov. 3 defeat of HERO, the first openly bisexual chief executive in the nation’s fourth largest city adamantly insisted the “T” had to stay in future civil rights ordinance discussions.

“It was clear when we passed the ordinance in council, that if we had agreed and said we’ll take gender identity out, they would have gone away,” she said. “That would have been wrong then, and it would be wrong now, and it will be wrong in the future.”