Defending trans rights? LGBs apparently leave Ts to fend for themselves

masen davisTHE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT —  After the transgender community was overrun by a conservative tsunami following the recent signing of California’s trans kids equality bill, nary a word was heard from leaders of the LGB community — the T’s were left to fend for themselves.

The primary defense of the bill came from Transgender Law Center’s Masen Davis — who did a remarkable job, But as some observers noticed, and something I’ve commented on numerous times, the piling onto trans people by conservatives and some in the media was simply outrageous. This warranted a quick and equally strong response from all LGBT advocates, not just trans advocates, to educate the general public. Did we see this? I don’t think so.

Conservatives, moralists and the religious right have apparently chosen transgender people to vent their frustrations out on. Brynn Tannehill, writing for The New Civil Rights Movement, summed it up best:

 “It’s almost as if the right wingers decided they can’t beat up on lesbians and gays anymore (and get away with it), and they decided they needed a new straw man to vilify and blame for everything that they see as wrong with America. They need a group they can abuse all they want in perfect safety because they know no one would ever feel sympathetic towards them.”

I would like to remind our LGB friends that we’ve been playing alongside you in the equal rights game all this way. Don’t drop the ball now leaving us to fend for ourselves.

California trans kids equality bill:

Mocking of trans people on FOX News:

More from Tennehill: Taking Real Steps To Protect Transgender Kids: A Bridge Too Far For The LGB Community? | The New Civil Rights Movement.

masen davis


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THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT is associated with Wipe Out Transphobia:

Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post:

Categories: Discrimination, Equality, Civil Rights, Legislative, Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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37 replies

  1. From here on out we can expect to see more of this. It’s the American way, once a group is subsumed into the mainstream they get cultural amnesia. Remember, the acceptance of gays came about not from a random outbreak of justice sweeping the land. but because of sheer market forces. They have cash, no kids and marketable skills.

    Gays and lesbians are behaving like shipwreck survivors who make it to shore, but turn a blind eye to those still struggling to stay afloat.

    On Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 3:03 AM, THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT by Lexie Cannes

  2. This has happened often when it comes to LBG’s They use us T’s as a leverage device. Any time they can they throw us under the bus or as something to give up to get them selves ahead! With out Us T’s saying enough at Stonewall where would the LBG’s be? Why? Then we also tend to eat our own way too many times why is that also?

  3. Courtney, You know my mother, who is not the world’s strongest transgender advocate even noticed this. And frankly, she threw it up in my face that the “gay community is leaving your movement behind”.
    I really have no answer to that except to say we need to stand up for ourselves and also need to stand together. There have been instances recently where trans people are actually tearing each other down. It only gives our opponents more ammunition do dehumanize us and deny our rights or even existence.
    Mr. Davis’ leadership is great, but he can’t do it alone.

  4. Perhaps its time we grew up and start to look after ourselves. It has always been foolish to think a bunch of cis sexual white men would take care of us. I may be female but im not stupid. When will trans people learn?

    • I agree, Amber. GLB groups have been allies, to a point, but even they don’t really understand transsexuality. So, yeah, in their minds, we’re expendable.

      • Judithe, I’ll go you one further. They – LGB groups – have not ever been so much allies as they have been “tolerant” of us transgenders as a way to advance their own agendas. In essence, they used us because of our strength of conviction and courage in the face of adversity. Now they are showing their true colors. Maybe if they want our continued support, they need to pony up and be real friends and allies, not the catty, two faced, fair weather friends that they have always shown themselves to be.

  5. Only to be expected – it’s human nature. We should cast our plans accordingly. At best, we should make sure the 2/3 of GLBs not transphobes come down hard on the 1/3 who are.

    And before criticising them – it’s GLBTI. I note few T’s have done much to help I’s, in particular, the fight to stop Intersex babies being “surgically normalised”. GLBs aren’t the only ones saying “not our fight”.

    Not a criticism, more an observation of human nature. Something that just *is*, whether we like it or not, whether it should be or not. We must plan accordingly.

    • Doesn’t Intersex fall under the Transgender umbrella?

      • Yes, in the same way that trans* falls under the LGBT+ umbrella. We can’t absolve ourselves of our failings as binary and/or non-intersex members of the trans* community to our non-binary and/or intersex siblings by pretending that we do enough to fight their oppression just by fighting our own, any more than cisgender LGB+ people can absolve themselves of their failings to us by pretending that fighting their own oppression is doing enough to fight ours.

  6. We have always been separate from them. The T in LGBT is a joke.

  7. Fact is, the T doesn’t belong there. Why? Because LGB are sexual orientations, T is not, and the fact that we’re lumped in has only served to assist the ignorant in thinking that all trans girls are actually gay men, and that all trans men are simply butch lesbians. Truth is, as we all know, Trans folk can be any of LGB, or even straight, themselves. LGBs *include* Trans folk, and the fact that it’s the cis LGBs who are turning their backs on us is just utter hypocrisy and prejudice of the worst kind. x

  8. Please don’t paint us all with the same brush: I’m a cisman, gay, BDSM HIV+. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about trans people. If there’s one thing I learned from my GLF days it’s if we don’t stick together, we’ll hang separately. Twenty years ago I was fighting against the parts of the gay movement who considered BDSM a dirty little secret. The revolution isn’t over until ALL sexual minorities are respeected and accepted. Frankly, the power and determination of trans people leaves me in awe…

    • The revolution isn’t over until ALL “blank” minorities are respected, accepted and most importantly enjoy the same rights as the majority. Affluent cis white gays and lesbians as a group have entered the mainstream and have started to enjoy most of the time in some places the same rights as affluent cis heteros do…. but that leaves a lot of other minorities -sexual or not- that are still struggling.
      Learning about trans people is positive and welcomed and i thank you for the time you spent to that end.

      • I take your point about all minorities and apologise for the offense I must have caused. I don’t know if I know any trans people so all I can do, it seems, is defend trans rights in conversation etc.

    • Thank you, Steve, for a lovely post. I agree with you completely about sticking together or hanging separately. Our opponents are formidable and strong, and we need all the power we can get.

  9. 2 things:
    1) it’s too late. The LGB community left us hanging in the wind long ago and apparently have no intention of changing that and
    2) Conservatism isn’t the problem, it’s old-guard conservatives. You can be conservative and be trans*. I’d like to think I pull it off quite well. The problem is (and I hate to sound like an ass here, but it’s true) old people and the people who listen to them. They don’t get it, and they never will, so they assume that we are basically gay and judge us as such. Only you can’t pick on gays anymore. And admittedly, we are a relatively quiet bunch. We all know why we’re so quiet. Mostly because we don’t appreciate being murdered for no good reason. But that is our greatest weakness and we are only now beginning to overcome it. We can’t count on the help of the LGB community. We have to fight loud and proud for our own rights.

  10. Steve, I dont. Personally I welcome supportive people and dont care if they are gay lesbian hetersexual. The issue is about taking control of our destiny and exerting control of and over our destinies. The time is past where we should be counting on others to do it for us. We need trans people speaking for trans people. After all, who better to do it. We need our particular issues to be brought to the forefront, not as part of some agenda, but as THE agenda. We are a relatively small group of people and we need the visibility.

    • Amber I understand what you’re saying: it brasses me off to see people who are HIV status unknown trying to speak for people with HIV (that’s the nearest parallel I can come up with), but I also recognise that we need help from those HIV status unknown people. This is your fight and it would be wrong for people like me to get into the frontline: that’s your place. But whatever I can do to help (I’m not going to pretend to speak for other people) I do. I realised i was gay fifty years ago when I was six. Not having a clue about the existence of gay men I thought I must be trans, something I’ve never told anyone before. For all we talk about gay men objectifying other gay men (and we do) I hope I’ve learned also to see the person. Personally I think trans people are the gutsiest of the lot of us.

  11. As the editor of Transformation magazine I would love to get this dialogue going in print, a point-counter point or simple opinion area where this matter can be discussed. This is something of great importance to the trans* community and will possibly inspire more people to form an opinion and act upon it.
    When I attended the Trans March in SF this year there was a strong undercurrent of this issue. I spoke with a few in the gay community and one expressed that there “still seems to be an ‘ick’ factor when it comes to trans* people because we [gay folks] don’t fully understand them” and another said he was happy the march was taking place because “for so long the gay community has left the trans community behind.”
    Very curious to hear more thoughts and opinions on this, and if anyone would like to submit an op-ed on this I would welcome it.
    editor (at)

  12. Although I think much of the above is true, I think we as trans people jump on LGB folks too quickly at times. Keep in mind that these laws would not even exist without the support of gay legislators and gay supporters. The expectation should be that we help ourselves, but since our numbers are so small it’s nice that we get help from the gay community. However, just because we get that help doesn’t mean we should expect it or rely on it.

  13. This isn’t shocking. Lgb are sexual orientations. Trans is a gender identity. They don’t even belong in the same “movement”. Gays leave trans people with nothing. The marraige bill didn’t help us. Only gays

    • And yet, a trans woman I know married her long-time girlfriend recently thanks to the gay marriage law. Gays are far from leaving “trans people with nothing,” they are really the only organized ally we have. The fact that they do not always come to our aid should not lead us to think that they never come to our aid.

      • Hi Tania …. It certainly is nice to be able to do that and some trans people too will benefit from the gay marriage law.
        This is one area that the interests of some trans people coincide with the interests of gays and lesbians but one could imagine that the lgb movement would work to that end regardless of the interest some trans people had on the matter .
        What are the areas that are unique to us that the lgb movement has labored with us? This isn’t a trick question, i just don’t know of any.

        • I have a very good trans woman friend in Delaware who helped work on the recent anti-discrimination, trans protection law there. It was headed up by Equality Delaware and the Transgender Law Center with Mara Keisling. Equality Delaware is the group that helped get gay marriage in Delaware. When that issue was done, their turned their energies toward the trans protection law. So, here is a situation where an ostensibly gay organization is spending it’s energies on a trans-specific issue. My friend volunteered on phone banking, and she said the majority of people in the room working the phones were gay and lesbian, mostly calling other gay and lesbians to help rally public support for the bill.

          Also, here in California, there have been several important trans specific bills passed over the past 10 years, most notably the recent school one and, I think in 2010, a more general, public bill reinforcing our rights to use restrooms. I think both bills were written and introduced by gay legislators, and they were supported and spoken about publicly by gay politicians and organizations.

          In these cases, I see trans activists working to better our world, but the support from the gay community was essential to their success.

          • In California, the pieces of legislation over the last 10 years, beginning in 2003 with AB 196 (an antidiscrimination bill that protects trans people from housing and employment discrimination), were written and sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for LGBT Rights, and the Transgender Law Center working in conjunction. Then, LGB legislators in the LGBT caucus (we have no T legislators in the California statehouses) submitted the bills.

            During the first 2/3’s of those past ten years, Equality California — lead by gay executive director Jeffery Kors — was the organization that put the most money and time into passing those trans specific bills. These days the lead organization is The Transgender Law Center.

            And, my lesbian state Assemblymember Toni Atkins has been the sponsor of record in the state assembly for two of those key pieces of trans specific civil rights legislation.

            • Thanks for the specifics Autumn, I was pretty vague since my memory is vague lol. Credit should go where credit is due. It would have been awful if those bills never made it to reality because there was not a trans legislator to sponsor them. I wonder if this is also the case in other states, laws written by trans organizations and carried by gay legislators. Are there any straight legislators out there who care too?

  14. If you feel this way Lexie — expressing the idea that LGB folk should be more supportive and doing more for trans folk, then what are personally doing to bridge the gap?

    Frankly, I went on the White House fence twice as a military retiree, going to jail twice and risking a court martial for protesting for the repeal of DADT in uniform. At a court martial, I could have received a dishonorable discharge, a two year stint in a Navy Brig or Fort Leavenworth and housed as a male, loss of 75% of my monthly income, and loss of all of my healthcare benefits from the Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration for my service-connected disabilities. And, I risked that even though repeal of DADT didn’t change the reality that trans people still wouldn’t be, and currently can’t serve openly in the US military services.

    Talk is cheap. In the end it will boil down to the way we organize and use our lives everyday that tells what we believe in. It’s not good enough to know why we are oppressed and by whom, as well as who is and who isn’t working with us to end that oppression. We must join the struggle for what is right and just, and sometimes that means building bridges and leading by example.

    And as an activist working on open military service for trans servicemembers, I can tell you there’s quite a few cis folk working on that issue. And, that’s because folk like Paula Neiva, Allyson Robinson, and I worked on the LGB issue of open service for LGB people when it really was only an LGB issue.

    We led — we lead — by example.

    • We appreciate all your contributions Autumn. But I disagree with you on several points. While it is true that there are GLB/cis advocates actively working on behalf of trans people — and I’ve either written about them or highlighted their efforts in this space — but the fact of the matter is if conditions were reversed the LGB community would be outraged of the trans community abandoned them on a scale which followed the CA trans kids rights bill signing.

      Also, your “talk is cheap” comment is off base. I understand those who prefer silent diplomacy, but at the same time, others prefer holding people accountable for their actions or inaction as a means to get things done.

      Lord knows I’ve held a fire under many a politician in this very space over something outrageous they’ve said/done related to LGB people and not necessarily trans. It would have been nice for them to do the same, even it it meant no further effort beyond denouncing them in public.

      I do agree that any rights we gain from this point on will mostly come from our own efforts,

  15. Thanks for the contributions everyone!

  16. Ultimately, I think Gender Variant people will have to separate from Gay Lesbian Movement. Although many of us grew out of that community or entered into it when you transitioned, we are not the same. We can and should appreciate all allies but we are primarily on our own. We should learn from the Gay and Lesbian Community and move on with or without them. Our cause is a noble one and a moral one. True advocates for civil rights will join our fight.
    I think our biggest adversary is the conservative religious movement that continues to label us as sinners and an abomination. Our Gay and Lesbian friends can certainly jump on that bandwagon.
    I also the responsible media portrayals are hugely important in creating a positive image of our community. GLAAD has been very good about reporting on negative media, I think our efforts should be focused on that rather than fighting with wealthy, white gay men and women.


  1. Your Oppressors Are Not Other Trans* | Visions and Journeys

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