Marti Abernathey

Identity Politics and Our GLBT Family

Filed By Marti Abernathey | October 06, 2007 12:50 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender identity, GLBT

So many labels and stereotypes get thrown around in the "GLBT" community. I've navigated most of those labels in a certain time period of my life. Working on the ENDA controversy has really made me think about why it is a GLBT community. These labels are thrown around as a way to categorize and separate us, but it hasn't always been the case. During the Compton Cafeteria Riots and Stonewall the gender variant folks were just though of as "queers." We see divisions or distinctions and build separate communities around our differences, but in many ways society doesn't. If someone is going to assault you or discriminate against you, do they ask what group you're in?

I don't really think about it too much until it's thrown in my face. I'm openly transgender at my job. I've had co-workers express surprise when I talk about my female loves. When they know my history, they incorrectly think I only have interest in men. Why do you think that's the case? Have you ever had someone think along stereotypically gendered, heterosexist lines?

I'm starting to believe that gender variant gays and lesbians are solidly behind inclusion in ENDA because they understand our plight. After all, we're all queer... right?

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It's been my experience that more people in the LGBT community than outside of it have a problem with bisexuality. The implication is that you don't really know what you want or that you are experimenting or something... whatever. I am bisexual and I am totally comfortable with that, but it leaves me out in the cold lots of times with the people who I most identify with - which is the lesbian and gay community. And that does hurt.

I suppose Gays Lesbians and some transgender folk are caught up in the binary paradigm.
While i am currently in a lesbian relationship I have been over my life bisexual.

When someone would ask me if i liked men or women
I would answer yes. This frustrates people sometimes because they are trapped in that binary paradigm.

As far as labels go I have my own label that describes me. I don't identify as transgender and haven't since i returned from having sex reassignment surgery. Regardless of what others think That is my choice anybody who imposes a label on me I don't embrace should be ready to accept any label anyone imposes upon them.

Labels are very personal things, and should be treated as such.

Take care

Well said, Sue. Thanks for your response.

Good post, Marti. I've been thinking the same thing lately.

It seems to me that the transgender "community" is a new phenomenon. Someone else pointed out earlier that even 10 years ago NGLTF used the acronym GLB exclusively and later added the "T."

But, why? I think of Stonewall and the queens that threw bottles and stones. I think of the Nazis and pink triangles and how the first to go to concentration camps were gender non-conformists - those that could easily be targeted as queer.

Perhaps Alex is correct in saying that "Queer" should just be the over-arching term for our community. Maybe it would help solve problems like this one where we're being forced to pit on segment of the community against another. If we truly were a community - as versus an amalgamation of letters - would we even be pondering such a quagmire?