Guest Blogger

How Many Letters Does It Take to Kill A Movement?

Filed By Guest Blogger | June 08, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: GLBT, LGBT, LGBTQ, Stampp Corbin

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Stampp Corbin is a successful entrepreneur and LGBT activist. He was the Co-Chair of the Obama LGBT Leadership Council during the presidential campaign and is a former Board of Director for the Human Rights Campaign.

Stampp_Corbin.jpgMany know the old tune sung by Ella Fitzgerald that goes "you say either, I say eye-ther, you say neither, I say n-eye-ther. Either, eye-ther, neither, n-eye-ther, let's call the whole thing off." That sums up my feeling about the struggle to name our community. You say GLBT, I say LGBT, you say LGBTQ, I say GLBTQA, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, let's call the whole thing off.

I have been involved in "community" politics almost all of my adult life. I have watched our community go from being the gay community to the gay and lesbian community to the gay, lesbian and bisexual community to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to the new variants which have added questioning (Q), allies (A) and pansexual (P). Unbelievably, there are several other initialisms that purport to represent "our" community. It is not only frustrating but politically damaging. Is it asking too much for us to agree on what we would like to be called?

The simple fact that we cannot agree on what to call ourselves has political consequences and manifests itself in how our organizations relate to one another. Which leadership organization or person should our allies, or god forbid the President, turn to for advice? Is it the Human Rights Campaign? Oh no, too rich, male and white. Is it the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force? Oh no, too militant, lesbian and tranny (an offensive term, but what is often used in conversation). The Stonewall Democrats? Oh no, too democrat focused. After all we need to support moderate Republicans. The Log Cabin Republicans? Oh no, they are crazy. Andrew Sullivan? Nuff said. Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis? Oh no, they can't even agree on a place to have lunch in the Capital. Rachel Maddow? Is she out to the general public? So, who should our allies, or more importantly the President, listen to?

Our community's problem, the cacophony of voices should be a choir. Instead, we have differing opinions that are always voiced, no matter the consequences. No issue is too small, "oh my God they changed the wording on the White House website," or too big, "ENDA without the T is throwing the entire community under a proverbial bus," for our leaders to rear their ugly heads in the blogosphere. Of course, many of us don't agree on a myriad of issues. Yet, we refuse to anoint a few organizations as our voice because that would mean their leadership is the leadership of our movement. Oh no, no one can be crowned the Martin Luther King of the LGBTQIQAA movement!

So, we continue to not have an agreed to national strategy. A cacophony of national voices, no national agenda. I find it hilarious that the religious right (even they have a name for themselves), think that we have a "gay" agenda. If the religious right left the political stage today and left us to our own devices, our community could not agree on an agenda. Should we pursue an Omnibus LGBT bill? Or should that be an Omnibus GLBTQA bill? No, let's get marriage first and all else will follow. No, no we need to pursue a state by state domino strategy and then federal legislation will be much easier. Hey, DADT is the key to our equality. "You say potato and I say pa-tah-to."

How much longer will we tolerate the infighting that is to the detriment of our community? How long will we let a blogger with 50 readers present himself as a voice of our community? When will we say enough is enough? When will our lead organizations get together and produce national talking points that are followed? Or will our community let the host of organizations that have been created since Prop 8 take the national stage regardless of the consequences? When will we learn to sacrifice the ability to express our disagreement for the greater good? Lorri Jean debating Joe Solmonese on Hardball, does anyone else think that is odd?

We need a charismatic leader to take the helm and lead us to equality. In the meantime, I'll just listen to Ella sing the song of our discontent. How many letters does it take to kill a movement? One more than the four we already have.

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I'm tired of this proliferation of acronyms, myself. Calling ourselves the GLBTQAPHJVBMNWRZV12345 (almost looks like the signs on subway stations!) community is well-intentioned, but it's a PC way of being inclusive that actually makes us look fractured, like we're busy bickering over minute differences in language and thus easy picking for right-wingers.

Here's a good word to describe our community: "gay."

While mostly used for gay men, the word can be used for males and females. And besides, while we like to nitpick over being gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans, we're still "fags" and "dykes," as far as outsiders are concerned.

"Gay" once was used as an umbrella term, but it's pretty hard to say that it's an effective umbrella now. When you say gay, very few people will think of bi folks too. And if anyone thinks a bill that protects "gays" rather than "LGBT" will be worth shit for trans people then there's education to be done.

we're still "fags" and "dykes," as far as outsiders are concerned.

Surprisingly, that's something I could get behind. Screw the sexual orientation alphabet soup, the new umbrella is Fags & Dykes. Or maybe FDPT. Hmmm, better make that DFPT. Okay, I got it, it's DFPT, not LGBT.


Hey, why are people still arguing instead of uniting. I'm a charismatic leaderm, aren't I? -- If you don't all support my new idea, then it must be that you're all unwilling to work together.

Grr, the comment program editing out my sarcasm tags. Let's try this:

Or this:



You can use HTML in comments here, so I'm pretty sure it's set up intentionally not to actually post anything that is recognized (valid or not) as an HTML tag in a comment.

Surprisingly, that's something I could get behind. Screw the sexual orientation alphabet soup, the new umbrella is Fags & Dykes. Or maybe FDPT. Hmmm, better make that DFPT. Okay, I got it, it's DFPT, not LGBT.

That's not what I meant at all, Tobi. I meant that whatever label you attach to yourself other than "gay," you're still a "fag" or a "dyke" to most, particularly those who have ill will toward us.

Imagine if instead of "black" or "African-American," the term "Dark- and Fair-Skinned Americans of African Descent" (DFSAAD) was used, or instead of Latino, people said "Spanish- and Portuguese-Speaking People of Native American, European, African, Asian or Mixed Ancestry in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean" (SPSPNAEAAMANCSAC). How much progress do you think they would have made in terms of civil rights?

Distinctions based on pigmentation do exist within the African-American community, and distinctions based on language, nationality and racial/ethnic origin exist within the Latino community, do they not? Still, while acknowledging these differences, both communities still usually refer to themselves as black/African-American and Latino because their members share common identities.

Why can't we do the same thing? Why do we need "alphabet soup?" Why can't "gay" include homosexual and bisexual males and females and transgender people? When we refer to ourselves with acronyms of increasing length and variety, we don't look like a "community" to most people.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | June 8, 2009 5:54 PM

How about Gay and Trans--Gay covers same-sex sexual orientation and Trans covers the whole gender identity and expression rainbow.

Another alternative is Queer, but from the standpoint of politically "selling" our movement, since it's original definition was "weird," it's not a very positive word.

More symbolically, there's always the Rainbow Flag. Rainbow breaks down to rain and bow. Rain invokes images of storms, thunder, lightning. Bow brings to my mind a bow and arrow, which is where the "bow" part of the word originated.

Then of course there's Pride, which makes me think of a pride of lions.

Er, just brainstorming.

Slight correction:

Queer's original meaning was "different". As in not like everyone else.

Weird's original meaning was fated, as in "picked by the god's for some plan", in this case the Fates.

But if we'll always be seen as dykes and fags, what's the point of even using the word gay? Why not just go with the name we're apparently only ever recognized under?

For the record, we're not the only group that uses acronyms. NAACP is more letters than LGBT. On top of that, in the examples you give you may notice that there are many different racial groups asking for representation. If the public is smart enough to understand the difference between Blacks, [email protected], Asians, Native Americans, Eastern Europeans, Arabs, and so on, then why isn't the public smart enough to understand the difference between gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people?

But if we'll always be seen as dykes and fags, what's the point of even using the word gay? Why not just go with the name we're apparently only ever recognized under?

I didn't say we'd "always" be viewed as such. I'm saying that outside of our community, we're a monolith, and we're more likely to get things done if we work as such. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with recognizing differences within the community, but we shouldn't be presenting such a balkanized image to the general public.

For the record, we're not the only group that uses acronyms. NAACP is more letters than LGBT.

Um, the NAACP is an organization. That's not the same thing.

On top of that, in the examples you give you may notice that there are many different racial groups asking for representation.

That's what I said, wasn't it? That Latinos comprise people who speak Spanish and Portuguese of descent from myriad countries of many ethnicities and continental origins. But they still call themselves "Latino" and work together as such.

If the public is smart enough to understand the difference between Blacks, [email protected], Asians, Native Americans, Eastern Europeans, Arabs, and so on, then why isn't the public smart enough to understand the difference between gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people?

Wait, so you're suggesting that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people are as distinct from one another as blacks are from Eastern Europeans? Well gee, so much for community then, eh?

Why do you think various racial minorities can't have community with each other. I find a strong similarity between the way I, as a Chicana Mestiza, share community and work in coalition with Black and API folks and the way that I, as a radical pandyke, share community and work in coalition with monosexual cis gays and lesbians.

Honestly, I have a harder time working with gays and lesbians who are ignorant of the issues I face than I do with PoC of different backgrounds than me.

When did I say racial minorities couldn't have communities with each other?

Of course they can, but what you're insinuating is that being, say, lesbian or trans is to being gay as being Eastern European or black is to being Native American. You're saying that gays, lesbians, bis and trans people are completely separate and apart from one another, which isn't true.

When working for common goals of civil rights and economic empowerment, Latinos don't typically divide themselves according to national origin, racial origin or language or refer to themselves with cumbersome acronyms, even while taking cultural differences into account.

That's the reason why college campuses typically have "Asian-American" student groups rather than separate groups for Chinese-American, Japanese-American, Filipino-American, Hmong-American and Bhutanese-American students, even though students within those groups identify according to their own ethnic backgrounds.

It's important to bear in mind that identities like gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans, Asian, Latino, black and Native American are shaped by a culture with a history of marginalizing the people who belong to those identities and conveniently grouping them together and ignoring differences within them. On the one hand, this has caused many to struggle to maintain their particular identities, but it has also caused people who share them to come together. Given the fact that we "GLBT" people don't have full legal equality in this country, we can't yet afford to magnify and exalt the differences between us.

What I'm saying is that of course we should recognize diversity and differences within our community -- I'm not disputing that -- but we should act like a community nonetheless and present ourselves as a cohesive force. Describing ourselves with acronyms like "GLBT," "LGBT," "GLBTQIAPZERWJHYRTNMP1234567" and so on makes us look more like a coalition of loosely affiliated communities intent upon having as little in common with each other as possible.

When did I say racial minorities couldn't have communities with each other?

Of course they can, but what you're insinuating is that being, say, lesbian or trans is to being gay as being Eastern European or black is to being Native American. You're saying that gays, lesbians, bis and trans people are completely separate and apart from one another, which isn't true.

And you're saying that various racial minorities are completely separate and apart from one another. My point is that racial minorities and sexual/gender minorities are both equally separate, but not as separate as you seem to be indicating.

My campus had a multicultural center that hypothetically could represent all PoC, but there was still the black student union, MEChA, a multiracial group, and a dozen others. And even though we had an API student union, there was also a Hawaii club, and a Hong Kong club, and maybe another I can't remember.

There's a lot of differences between being Black and being [email protected] in a racist society, but there's a lot of connection over shared experience of racism and work in coalition to fight it. Similarly, there's a lot of differences between being trans and being bi, or being pansexual and being gay, but there's a lot of connection over shared oppression. We can work in coalition -- and happily so -- but not if those differences are swept away and ignored, and not if those differences are exploited to give some members of our coalition rights and representation while others don't.

I'm not advocating the alphabet soup either, but one benefit of it is that it reminds people who we all are. And that's important for the members of our community who respond by saying "LGBT, but what does 'trans' mean?"

"There's a lot of differences between being Black and being [email protected] in a racist society, but there's a lot of connection over shared experience of racism and work in coalition to fight it."

Okay, but Latinos and African-Americans are each one community. That doesn't mean they can't recognize differences within their communities or collaborate, but they tend not to divide themselves politically based on whether they speak Portuguese or Spanish or whether they have darker or lighter complexions. That's essentially what you're advocating for our community: that it not be a community at all.

"Similarly, there's a lot of differences between being trans and being bi, or being pansexual and being gay, but there's a lot of connection over shared oppression."

There's also a lot of difference between being Chinese and Japanese or between being Mexican or Argentinian, but they still seem willing to work together as "Asians" and "Latinos."

"We can work in coalition -- and happily so -- but not if those differences are swept away and ignored, and not if those differences are exploited to give some members of our coalition rights and representation while others don't."

Well, I'm not advocating sweeping away or exploiting anything. I'm advocating that, as the author said, we should view and present ourselves as one community rather than as a balkanized quasi-coalition.

Justice, the commenter below, was absolutely right: While we're being all nice and PC and trying to make ourselves feel special and unique, our enemies are highly organized and well-funded and working together on the local and national level.

This kind of petty bickering is one of the reasons why we never really get anywhere compared to the other side.

john dawkins | June 9, 2009 12:39 PM

"Honestly, I have a harder time working with gays and lesbians who are ignorant of the issues I face than I do with PoC of different backgrounds than me."

Cheers on that! (and I'm a Queer, white boy)

I think Tobi has the right idea here, and I agree. Whenever I hear "When will we stop in-fighting?" it usually means "When will everyone just stop talking and agree with meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!!!" Queer folk have little use for such calls.

And the queer MLK won't ever appear. We need to stop waiting for her and try to get some work done.

Oh, and about the alphabet soup, I thought we all agreed to "queer" 15 years ago? If you say no, be prepared to be accused of petty in-fighting. :)

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | June 8, 2009 1:33 PM

Thanks for the post. I agree, our community is very fragmented.

When will our lead organizations get together and produce national talking points that are followed?

I'm losing faith in most of the national organizations.

The first national strategy I've seen proposed came from the recently formed group, The Dallas Princples.

How much longer will we tolerate the infighting that is to the detriment of our community? How long will we let a blogger with 50 readers present himself as a voice of our community? When will we say enough is enough? When will our lead organizations get together and produce national talking points that are followed? Or will our community let the host of organizations that have been created since Prop 8 take the national stage regardless of the consequences? When will we learn to sacrifice the ability to express our disagreement for the greater good? Lorri Jean debating Joe Solmonese on Hardball, does anyone else think that is odd?

Wow, what loaded and leading rhetorical questions positively dripping with an agenda I find offensive. You say "infighting," I say "long overdue grassroots debate giving voice to wonderful array of opinions and perspectives brushed aside by the professional assimilationist (read:HRC) gay leadership." You say "talking points that are followed," I say "top-down directives that ignore the concerns and desires of the community." You say "sacrifice the ability to express our disagreement for the great good," I say "sit down, shut up, and do as you're told."

My answer to your questions, Mr. Corbin, is never. If that's the price of equality and respect for all, it's an odd sort of equality and respect for all.

Jere, your comment hits the nail right on the head.

Mr. Corbin, your rhetoric shows you to be out of touch with the issues that affect our diverse communities. If the "leadership" fails to address our actual needs and concerns, then the grassroots should speak out. Your remarks grossly oversimplify the reality of the situation, and reality is often messy.

It sounds to me like you're trying to shape reality to fit your politics. But politics must serve the real needs of people, not vice versa.

Marja Erwin | June 8, 2009 2:31 PM

I am lesbian. I suppose I could be considered transgender.

But, in my day-to-day life, these hardly matter. I am transsexual, and that matters, and I face kinds of discrimination that you do not.

I sometimes feel that the one t stands for token - because we get pushed aside and because the one letter erases the immense variation among transgender, transsexual, and intersex people, and what we face.

Why should we trust people who've not only proven but continue to prove that they're not worthy of our trust?

The major orgs are so tunnelvisioned on SSM that they can't see the forest for the trees anymore. Those of us who are lower and middle class in this community have been suffering their selfishness for decades now.

You want me to fall in line, Mr. Corbin? Screw that. I'm done trusting unrepentant liars. Trust is something that is earned. When HRC and the rest of the Appletini gays finally figure that out, then maybe we'll be able to work together. Until then, I'd suggest you save this nonesense for your next HRC Board meeting.

If you want to take the queers and the pansexuals out of "our" name, you're free to do so for the events you plan -- just don't expect the queers and pansexuals to show up to volunteer.

... or contribute their cash!

Mr. Corbin's argument for exclusion, "How Many Letters Does It Take to Kill A Movement?" might be paraphrased, How many victims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression do we throw overboard to benefit the most privileged segments of our community?

Is it indeed "asking too much for us to agree on what we would like to be called?" Our current acronym is spelled Big-G, little l-word, invisible b, ended by a subscripted token-t. Is this the best we can do? The real question-- Is it asking too much to value diversity, inclusion and human dignity within our movement?

In the words of the great Captain Jean-Luc Picard, "There are plenty of letters left in the alphabet."

Eloquently put, Kelly...

and the attitude of the author was pretty much summed up in the statement "First it was the gay movement"

Sorry Sir, I believe that the trans people had a turn or two with civil disobedience before that...and Lesbians were in court in the UK for the "Cult of the Clitoris" case, and Natalie Barney was proclaiming to the world "I am a Lesbian" back in the 1920's

And your Obama credentials cut no ice with the grassroots of the movement since Rick Warren, Donnie McLurkin and now the DOMA fiasco.

I have to wonder why the contributor would make a post in a place where comments like the above are so easily expected and comical to a degree ;).

Don't you think it would do more good to make this post somewhere where you won't have people regurgitating their queer theory jargon in response?

A lot of you seem to be under the impression that Corbin is arguing for exclusion, but I would suggest you read more carefully. What he's saying is that we need to have a more cohesive national movement with a clear set of goals and ideals, not a whole bunch of organizations that can't seem to agree and present us as disorganized with an array of confusing and -- to put it frankly -- silly acronyms. Names like "GLBT" and "GLBTQIAP" are based on a nitpicky desire by some to give themselves separate identities so they can feel unique and different from everyone else within the community, or even different from the community altogether.

Foucault off Lucrece. No-one dropped jargon, they said that this is BS for plain and simple reasons.

Frankly the post banging on an open door, as mainstream G&L organisations already frequently behave as though bisexual and/or trans people are invisible or disposable. Sure we're handy when you want to mention the trans death rate to remind people of the urgency of things, but when it comes to the actual rights? Gender identity protections frequently mysteriously disappear.

And this is all pure bollocks cos trans people have been here from the start. WE rioted at Compton, at Stonewall, and it's the rich white straight-acting HRC crowd who are the late arrivals...but *their* place in "the movement" is never debated. Funny that.

queen emily | June 8, 2009 4:27 PM

To put that another way, why is that acknowledging the diversity of the people *already* in the community is "divisive" but the unwillingness of organizations like the HRC to actually work for more rights than just same-sex marriage is not?

Paige Listerud | June 8, 2009 4:52 PM

I fear that Mr. Corbin is asking a superficial question to which he can deliver his own superficial response.

As a person with fluid sexuality, who has identified as bi, queer, pansexual, and no labels, I run into the continuous problem of being let onto the gay bus when I am needed and thrown off the gay bus when I'm a problem. Make no mistake, I am a problem to those gay men and lesbians who think my visible, vocal, fluid sexuality makes them look bad in front of the straight people.

Getting thrown off the bus comes in many forms: "bisexuals don't exist", are not "queer enough," should form "their own community" and not "ride on the coattails of the gay and lesbian movement." And, my favorite, receive heteroprivilege--like closeted gays and lesbians and their straight allies don't receive heteroprivilege.

So it seems to be the common consensus of some queers that other queers are endangering their chances. If only those "other" queers would shut up, go away, "form their own community," stop dragging "their" issues into "our" issues.

Simply putting ourselves under one big umbrella--whether it's a "gay" umbrella or a "lesbian and gay" umbrella or a "LGBTQ" umbrella or a "queer" umbrella--is not inclusion. It is not unity. Knowing and respecting each other is inclusion. Listening to each other is inclusion. Having each other's backs is unity.

Finally, America is liberalizing its attitudes about sexuality faster than the law can keep up--even faster than civil rights movements can keep up. This not only provokes a backlash from the right, but also from those civil rights movements that are still struggling to put through narrow civil rights protections. Sorry to say that I don't have a simple solution to this problem. If I did, I'd sell it for $5 million and permanently retire.

I just attended a meeting of bisexuals, wherein one polyamorous bisexual said that she didn't want to be included in our float in the Pride parade if poly bis were just going to be excluded later on down the line. Polyamory is not solely a "bisexual issue," yet I have seen polyamory addressed more openly and visibly at bisexual conferences and support groups in a way that I have never seen in lesbian, gay, or straight venues.

It's doubtful that the general bi community will ever dump their poly bis just to gain more acceptance. That would mean losing, what?--50% of the out bisexual community? And yet there is no denying that visible polyamory might just be too much for the general LGBTQ community to publicly acknowledge, let alone defend in front of the religious right. Are same-sex marriage advocates even acquainted with polyamory? Acquainted with it in a non-prejudiced way?

Still want to include me under your single leader and unifying aegis, Mr. Corbin? Because I'm not leaving polyamory out of "our" agenda. Nor am I leaving transgender people behind--being thrown out of ENDA was nothing but WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! Am I the bisexual threat in your midst? Please. I wish. But if you are thinking of throwing me and my friends off, OR under, the bus--YES I AM.

Apparently, you failed to realized something. This is the most diverse "movement" in human history. It is an "Identity Movement," first and foremost. That is the heart of what we have here. Since "identity" is the core of our movement, then anything someone suggests that dilutes ANY person's identity is NOT acceptable.

Your suggestion is saying that in order for us to be more acceptable to the straight people, we have to dilute our identities. We may have a alphabet soup of acronyms, but each is absolutely as important as the next, regardless of how many there are, how rich they are, how white they are and how politically commected they are. The sooner gay men understand this, (Yes, "gay men") the sooner you will stop needing to try to assimulate the rest of us into your desire to be accepted as straight. Resistance Is NEVER futile.

Too much diversity is bad for diversity | June 8, 2009 5:13 PM

"How Many Letters Does It Take to Kill A Movement?"

Three - y.o.u. OK - if that's to personal - HRC will do in a pinch.

Jeez - all we need is big Daddy to tell us all how it's gonna be & what are goals are? Scarey shit there.

While I can't agree with the core argument that too much inclusion may confuse people, he may have a point.

LGBT has no real brand, nothing that sticks in your head, no real banner under which to fly. The acronyms focus on what divides us as a community; we need to focus on what holds us together. Certainly, by arbitrarily cutting letters (as Corbin proposed) or simply calling us "The Gays", we marginalize huge chunks of our people.

Silly things, like should it be LGBT or GLBT make it hard to form a clear idea of what we are, what we need. What do we all share: gender deviance (Yes, if you're having sex with someone of the same gender you're considered gender deviant), the rainbow, the term queer. We should try and forge a new brand, based on something like this; a symbol, metaphor or broad term, not just a list, as if this were simply a temporary alliance.

Marja Erwin | June 8, 2009 8:58 PM

Strongly agree. Half of us are womyn. Some of the men are attracted to womyn. The use of the gay label for the entire queer community silences womyn's voices, and silences straight trans men's voices. Our society as a whole is rife with male privilege and having the gays speak for the rest of the community embeds this privilege in queer discourse.

I am you and you are me and we are they and we are all together.

I am the eggman.

I am the walrus.

Koo koo ka choo


Evolution of an advocate: self realization, research, development, application, innovation,

Business as usual.

It is an Identity movement. It is a break from the idea that we should all try to blend in, to woodwork, to be just like everyone else.

To believe such, or think such, is self affirming (which is good), but also a betrayal to all others (which is bad).

Our soup is driven by internal politics -- the letters come from inside as each of the groups fights to be recognized within the movement as distinct from the others.

We fight outside pressures, so what those outside call us is irrelevant to *us* -- we're too busy dealing with ourselves.

From ages 5 to 13, most of us are found in the DSM-IV. Soon to be the DSM-V. And subject to reparative therapy that is still considered ethical. Based on descriptions of their youth, this includes Bil Browning, Alex Blaze, Michael Crawford.

We are they and they are we and we are all together...

Too many of us are bigots -- we despise the religious, practicing the bigotry against the religious even as they practice the bigotry of the religious.

Yet many of us are religious, and such an incredibly ecumenical bunch we are, with dedicated church goings and temple studies and coven gatherings and more.

We are Weird and Freaks and Crazies and Faggots and Dykes and Whores and everything disliked about men and women who aren't like everyone else, and those who work so hard to be like everyone else are forgetting that everyone else is different, is unique, is weird or freaky or crazy.

We know all of this. How do you lead a herd of cats with one person?

THe answer is, you don't.

we are mainstream now. 40 years ago we were not, and it took a bunch of the most visibly different men and women getting pissed off to make a change to the way things were.

We are all part of the *Different* movement, the strange and unusual.

We are Queer. We are Queens and Kings, each of our own independent Duchy, and while many can call for single leadership, gathering around a monlithic superpower, the age and the time for such is gone.

We can fight under a thousand leaders. A thousand fires burning across the nation, each one leadng a thousand, so we have a thousand thousands.

Money talks.

Where is our money, while the largest block of that soup battles just to get a freaking job even when the economy is good, and are subject to the first rounds when it is bad?

Where is our money when the largest block is doing their best just to keep a roof over their head, stuck dreaming of a day when it will be something other than a ghettoized dive, the cheapest place they could find?

Every last one of those complaints is a valid one -- a true one. ALl of them stem from a generation that has fucked everything up because they haven't adapted to the change from counter culture to mainstream, hasn't realized that its a hell of a lot more than just people who are attracted to people of the same sort.

We need to scrap the current leadership, to look to the generations after to find our new leaders, and tell them *LEAD*, damn you, stop fucking around trying to build consensus, but don't use that fiat to forget anyone.

I sign damn near nothing. The Dallas PRinciples are wonderful and everything, and I did indeed sign on to them, because that's where I am.

I'm now the visible leader of the only Transrights orgs in Phoenix.

And I don't give a rats ass if anyone really likes the way I think or has a problem with my methods. I'm doing it.

What am I doing? I'm doing an omnibus bill and setting it up so that when they start to ask for compromises, I have some in place that don't involve throwing another segment under the bus.

Because I am you and you are me and we are all together.

ITs a powder keg on the street, folks. One straw will piss the world off like it did 40 years ago, and we will indeed riot, no matter how many calls for non-violence and calm there are.

We are born of rage, as a movement. Our rage now is against the Mattachine way of thinking -- and until we can cast that off, lose that to the annals of history, we will not have that charismatic leader.

A thousand fights drains resources, a thousand fights separates forces, keeps your opponent struggling to move fast enough and wears them down far better than one massive army.

But I say put down your Ghandi and pick up your Sun Tzu, who's first rule is never fight when you don't have to.

While we are having victories all over the place, those victories are from those thousand points of light, and a whole crapload think that in those places where marriage exists, the war is over.

Those who do are hurting us.

I am the eggman.

I am the walrus...

Reference back to a book wherein a tale is told of a herd of clams led astray to their deaths by a friendly old walrus who merely wants clam stew and lets them walk their way into it.

Right now, and rightfully so, we fear the walrus. For the walrus leads our opponents.

Not us.

Come together, right now.

Over yourselves.

Dys, you need to write more (or get it out where we can see it). That was frakking great!

So, is this the pre-emptive strategy of of the rich transphobic gay white male wing of 'the community', sicking their very own Michael Steele on us?

"How Many Letters Does It Take to Kill A Movement?"

Three - y.o.u. OK - if that's to personal - HRC will do in a pinch.

I'll agree with that comment - but in reverse: HRC, by a mile.

How much longer will we tolerate the infighting that is to the detriment of our community? How long will we let a blogger with 50 readers present himself as a voice of our community? When will we say enough is enough? When will our lead organizations get together and produce national talking points that are followed? Or will our community let the host of organizations that have been created since Prop 8 take the national stage regardless of the consequences? When will we learn to sacrifice the ability to express our disagreement for the greater good?

I think a better set of questions we should be asking would be:

How much longer must we view diversity in our community as a weakness? How long will we let a handful of largely self-appointed, assimilationist "leaders" presume to represent all of us? When will we say enough is enough? When will we accept that our diverse community interests can't be boiled down to a few straight-friendly talking points? Or will we just continue wasting our energies and our money on the Disneyfication of our movement in pursuit of goals that will benefit only a portion of our community? When will we learn that silencing non-mainstream community voices doesn't actually serve the greater good?

Seriously. Who died and put you in a position to speak for us all?

Looks like we have ourselves another "post and run", folks. A pity. I'd have liked to have seen him defend his argument instead of just putting it out there and then disappearing.

Isn't it interesting how it's always the people who try to argue that their own group should be in charge are always the same ones who never stick around long enough to defend their positions when challenged?

Sad, but typical.

Which why not only have I outlined a strategy, i've stuck around to defend it.

Of course, this is what we expect from someone who raised 50K for the HRC...


Many people over 40 find "queer" an unacceptable term.


I honestly do value that, having grown up with my parents' gay and lesbian community, I understand how queer is unexceptable to older generations. It may surprise you, though, to hear that many people under 30 find "gay" an unacceptable term and queer as the best available alternative (it's often preferable to the alphabet soup).

A friend of mine told me about how he had never once heard queer used in a negative sense, but going through high school he heard gay used in a negative sense every day. It got to the point where hearing gay made him cringe in the same way a lot of older folks describe responding to the term queer. I realized my experience was almost identitcal. Personally, I'm queer. I'm not gay. It's not just a word I don't like, the way lesbian is, but it's a word that doesn't apply to me.

When I was doing outreach I once profiled someone as a person who would be offended by the word queer so I used the word gay instead -- they were so offended and after telling me that they weren't gay but were poly they refused to talk to me anymore.

When I do organizing work, I feel I'm left at an impasse. As you point out, there is no one term that everyone can feel represented by. I've heard of folks coming up with unique names that reference us without naming our identities: The Rainbow Alliance as an example. But one thing I've gotten very used to and no longer see as a barrier to organizing is having a fluidity of language. I can use queer with some people and gay with others. Most of the time it's not like my above example and I have little to no problems around being flexible to people's individual preferences.

Stampp Corbin | June 9, 2009 8:48 AM


Your anecdote is exactly why I wrote the piece. The slhabet soup always leaves someone or group out. I am not suggesting that we use gay but that as a community we need a simpler name. Why? The media will never use LGBT and saying all the words is just cumbersome. The result they use gay and inflame people like you.

Clearly, by the number of comments, I have hit a nerve.

Stampp Corbin | June 8, 2009 10:17 PM

I appreciate the great debate about my premise. Many have great comments that I find very interesting but I am really concerned that the alphabet soup that is now our community is affecting our ability to achieve equality. I have noticed in the comments that many are not happy with LGBT as our moniker. I am willing to bet that from the thirty or so comments, we could get just as many suggested names for our community. That is the problem......

Dig the hegemony.

I have noticed in the comments that many are not happy with LGBT as our moniker. I am willing to bet that from the thirty or so comments, we could get just as many suggested names for our community.


From the thirty or so comments I notice far more of a dissatisfaction with your arrogance.

That is the problem......

No - the problem is that you carry with you into this conversation (and I'm humoring you by calling it that because you are speaking down to us; there is no conversation and, if you were honest, you'd acknowledge that you don't actually want one - at least one in which the rabble have a voice) the attitude of that for which you were once a "Board of Director," the gay child-institution that resulted from the well-concealed tryst between Wal-Mart and the Catholic Church.

No, it isn't the problem.

It is *a* problem, which is why Queer -- as offensive to many of us as it might be coming from leftover days -- works better for the larger number of people affected by the actions us over 40 types work towards.

The problem is perpetuating separation and willingness to sacrifice and compromise and *wait* for someone to do something.

The problem is what worked in the past does not work anymore. Time to find new ways.

So why is it that the "fringe" actors don't form and finance their own activist organisations? You hate HRC, fine. Where is your organiztion? Put your money where your mouth is.

For the last six and a half years, I have. I formed one of a handful national transgender organizations in this country, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA.) Yes, we are specialized in what we advocate for, but we do a damn good job with less money then what HRC spends for toilet paper in one month for their opulent digs in DC. There are others out there. You might do a little research before you let your fingertips dance over the keyboard without your mind's guidance.

Stampp Corbin | June 9, 2009 8:28 AM

I find it interesting that many attack HRC in their comments. HRC is the organization that put the T in LGBT, when other organizations did not have the courage to do so. It is a credit to the work of Elizabeth Birch, who educated many in our community about the broader issue of transgender rights. That said, I do not represent HRC, the views are my own and not one person who has coommented has said they are happy with the LGBT moniker.

Really? On what planet? On Earth, at least, HRC is the organization that keeps chucking trans people out on our asses whenever they aren't appropriating our lives to support their talking points. Protip: claiming to represent trans people by putting a silent "T" on the corporate letterhead isn't really inclusion. And really, Elizabeth Birch? Does her quote of "[t]rans inclusion will be a legislative priority over my dead body" really sound like courageous inclusion and advocacy to you? I realize that you no longer speak for HRC, but before you defend them, could you at least try to understand why so many people are so pissed off at them?

Oh, and here's one person who IS happy with "LGBT" (and all of it's various permutions) as a moniker for our community. Why shouldn't our community's diversity be reflected in what we call ourselves?

Stampp Corbin | June 9, 2009 2:03 PM


Unfortunately, I cannot convince you of what I know to be the truth. I am not familiar with the Elizabeth Birch quote that you include in your comment. Can you please direct me to it..where was it published?

It wasn't published but was a statement at a fundraiser around the turn of the milenium. That's why you'll find a few different versions of it. The consistant part is "...over my dead body," but I've heard it as "a trans inclusive ENDA will be introduced..." or "trans inclusion will be prioritized..." or a few others.

Somewhere on the internet is the original blog post from an attendant of that fundraiser who observed and reported the quote. I saw it when I was trying to collect a timeline of offenses back in October 2007. But there's been so many people referencing it without citation in the past year and a half that googling "Elizabeth Birch" and "dead body" comes up with 100 hits and I can't find the original.

It wasn't published; it was a quote from an address she gave to a Chicago LGBT event back in the nineties (see Monica Roberts' Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC). Granted, for all I know, her attitude toward trans people might have mellowed in the subsequent decade, but holding her up as a shining example of trans advocacy after what she said back then really shows how out of touch you (and HRC) are with the trans portion of our community.

Stampp Corbin | June 9, 2009 4:14 PM


My final response to you. So Elizabeth Birch came to support transgender issues, but you are unhappy because of supposed comments she made in the late 90's. I took the time to look for the quote and there are over a hundred references to this supposed statement. Funny, most of them are diffferent. Since I was not there I do not know what occurred. I can tell you this, Ms. Birch sure was a great advocate for adding the T to LGBT at HRC and established great relationships with many of your noted transadvocates. Why don't you take the time to ask them?

Finally, this is exactly why it is difficult for Congress people to change their position and become supportive of teh T community. Many harbor such hurt feelings that cannot embrace those who have come to a better understanding. If I harbored the same resentment that you have about the African American struggle, I would hate the majority of Congress.

So you're saying that there should be a statue of limitations for holding people accountable for what they say? But anyway, just for the sake of argument, let's assume that Ms. Birch did indeed do a great job advocating for trans people at HRC. Why then does HRC still view us as expendable when it comes to getting the things they want? And why, if she was so successful, do so many trans people still view HRC as the enemy if she was so successful in establishing relationships with trans organizations?

As for the tone of my arguments: I'm not speaking to Congress. I'm speaking to you. Frankly, I'm not going to play nice when you're so invested in dismissing the very real grievances that the trans community has with the HRC. So take your ball and go home if you don't like my tone, but please, if you can take anything away from this discussion at all, realize that we have good reasons for our "hurt feelings", and that if you really want this rift between your peers and the less privileged parts of our community to close, it takes some reaching out on both sides. Try reaching out and actually make an effort to understand why we're pissed off instead of writing our opinions off as needlessly divisive next time. We'll show you the same courtesy.

Um, you're kidding, right? You're citing Elizabeth Birch, the woman who when she was ED of HRC famously declared that transpeople would be included in ENDA "over my dead body"? That's who you're citing as a proponent of transgender rights?

No wonder everyone assumes you're still with HRC and/or representing them here. Perhaps if you deviated from the "official" HRC rhetoric even a little bit more people might assume you're actually speaking for yourself rather than the org (the quotes because no one knows what their actual agenda is since they still refuse to publicly engage in any real way with the rest of the community).

Here's the reality, Mr. Corbin: This community has long since moved past your kind of thinking. The days of the Mattachine Society are long over, as are the days when no one bothered to look beyond the first letter of GLBT.

We'll be able to consider working together again when HRC and other like-minded activists begin using modern advocacy techniques that take into account the social and political realities of this century.

Right now, HRC and their allies are still behaving like it's still the 90's. They still want to hide the reality of the lives of lower and middle class LGBT's and instead make it seem like we all have good jobs and Brooks Brothers suits.

No wonder one of the most popular right-wing attacks is to claim that we don't need hate crimes and employment protections because we're all rich and happy. HRC has been promoting this stereotype for decades and it's only now that Congress and the rest of America are coming to realize that what HRC has been telling them all this time about our lives is nothing more than a carefully constructed, well-polished lie.

The fact is, Mr. Corbin, we tried it your way, and it failed miserably. Not only didn't we make any real political progress at the federal level during the 80's and 90's using the HRC "We're really just like you." meme, but things became incalculably worse through the passage of DOMA, DADT, and marriage bans in 90% of American states.

This method also failed to gain any real traction in Congress during the Bush Administration, as evidenced by the complete and utter failure to make any notable progress at the federal level until the very end, once it was clear to all that Barack Obama was likely to be our next President.

It's time for America to know exactly who and what we are, the bad parts as well as the good parts. The American public needs to see that there's just as much depth and nuance in our lives as in their own. Not only is it more honest just in general, but it's a far more effective way of demonstrating to the American public that the visible differences between us are much less important than the values we share as Americans and as fellow human beings.

It's far more credible to demand civil rights protections if you show why they're needed. The American public is evolving on these issues and we ourselves need to evolve with them.

America is ready to hear the truth about LGBT lives, all of it. Now is not the time to homogenize and water down that truth, but rather to cast it in detailed high relief and introduce America to every nuance of it.

Only when we've accomplished that task will we truly have the right to say "We're really just like you.".

Stampp Corbin | June 9, 2009 1:28 PM


I was on the Board of HRC when Elizabeth Birch spent two years educating people on the Board about transgender issues, which resulted in the T being added to LGBT in 2003. Many transgendered activists came to speak to the Board about issues they faced and it really helped move the organization along. Several of the most respected T activists participated in those discussions. So, many people can be moved when educated, including Elizabeth Birch and me.

Please note that this discussion about my article is illustrating my point. We need to not be so individualistic and more monolithic to win our rights. That os what works. In other models, leaders and voters who control our fate do not know who to listen to....that creates message confusion.

If this discussion illustrates anything, it's that your top-down, monolithic approach is alienating a lot of people in our community. Maybe, just maybe, that approach didn't fail because people were somehow unable to look past their differences and organize behind it. It failed because your approach was rejected by all the voices in the community you and your groupthinking "leaders" marginalized. In other words, maybe you shouldn't blame the community for your failures when the problem lies with yourself.

Stampp Corbin | June 9, 2009 3:57 PM


Your reply and it's vitriolic tone is exactly why many in the community do not listen to one another. I have tried to engage you in a civil dialogue. you seem to have no interest in that. Sorry often speaking with folks opens dialogue but I know yelling at people makes them shut that's what I will do.

I agree, Congress does not know who to listen to, but that problem was created by the Human Rights Campaign when it turned its back on inclusion and prompted a revolt by true progressives.

What you seem to be arguing here, Mr. Corbin, is that there should be one standard and that you and others like you (those who identify as gay) should be that standard.

I am saying that you and those like you have abrogated your right to expect that through the divisive behavior that caused popular community sentiment to reject that kind of thinking. That behavior has taught us that it would be political suicide for many of us to willingly sublimate our identities.

I also reject the idea that only the best and brightest should represent us publicly. As Barack Obama so conclusively proved during the campaign, Americans aren't impressed by the powerful elites anymore as much as they are by those they feel a true connection and kinship with. If we are to truly to demonstrate that we're just like everyone else, then we have to stop focusing on military heroes and business leaders and start focusing on bus drivers and store clerks. We have to teach the American public that we truly are among them, living the same kinds of lives they live, that we're not some right-wing caricature.

And what exactly is your intention is saying this? Is it a defensive need to respond to negate criticism you feel included in? Because surely you know enough of the history to know that trans folks have more than just a legitimate complaint.

I recall PFLAG, most state orgs, and ever other LGBT group I worked with added trans by 2001 and pledged to only support inclusive legislation. So when HRC did it in 2003 that doesn't seem like an accomplishment. Especially because the HRC vote was specific to an inclusive ENDA, not all legislation, and less then a year later was pushing a non-inclusive hate crimes bill.

That's not even getting into what's happened in 2007 and 2008.

But that brings me back to the issue of unification. I agree it would be great, but my overall fear is that the charismatic leader or top-down talking points won't support me. If we could rally behind someone who honestly supports us all, that'd be great.

And one thing that's been bothering me is your reference of the Task Force as "too tranny". I know, it's not you but others who say that. But if one national group is too representative of traditionaly excluded populations, and another is too exclusive of traditionally excluded populations, and your goal is unification, isn't the answer obvious?

You want us all to unify, I'll call you on that and hope it's not a bluff - why not pick the Task Force as a group to make your call to unity around. It'd be a compromise for me too, but I'd join in because at least I feel confident they won't stab me in the back and they listen to criticism.

IF the HRC is the one that "put the T in LGBT", then why was it necessary, given that your premise is that we shouldn't be separating us?

One of the things I agreed with was that we do allow for the acrnym to perpetuate our division -- particular on a subcommunicative level.

Nd here, s a defense of what is still ultimately your first position, you are using an example where a group that was significantly responsible for creating that division (albeit not by itself nor wholly with the blame) maintained it.

HRC is, point blank, still an enemy to transfolk. You apparently are just now learning that, which bodes piss poor for the other members of the Board who are still there.

HRC is not a frind to transpeople. The history there is "add us for the money". Which is cool because even at 5 bucks a head, there are a hell of a lot more T folks than there are the rest.

Lest you forget, it was pissed off queens that rioted.

And we are pissed off again. Truth is, while some of us bash other orgs, the majority of us really find the HRC to be, well, scum of the earth barely worthy of scraping off our heels.

And it is not *just* 2007. It is the full history of the last decade (and even more before that).

So, pretty obviously, one f the first solutions to your problem as described, is to stop using the HRC as a beacon, or an example, of positive effort.

Because this isn't only transfolk. This is LGB folks who hold that for an organization to be worthy of us and our time it has to do somethng.

The sole savior to the HRC thus far is the CEI. ANd as was already noted, it sucks. Worse, its *insulting*.

The top 100 best companies to work for as LGBT (and they do include the T there, so they *must* mean it as well, with equal fervor) resoundingly suck for transfolk.

Some have 100% scores and offer only training to management and the same disability leave they offer anyone, counting it as a trans benefit.

Hello? Ya there?

I *am* antagonizing. I do it within, without, and all around the community. Sometimes that antagonizing means I'm going to call someone out when they speak a delusion.

Such as you have.

Other times it means I'm going to work hard to inspire and remind everyone that we are all in this together, and that we are only separate because we allow us to.

Just as often it means I'll stand there and nod and mutter in line when something good is said and done.

We do not need a single monolithic entity. indeed, the day and time and place for that is done with.

Now we need our thousand thousands, all over the country, burning at once.

That sorta screws up the whole deal of the big orgs.

TO use a Christian parallel, we need to stop letting the Emperor and the organized ones rule, and let the gnostics have their turn.

Bringhtheart | June 9, 2009 9:34 AM

I'm acronym handicapped,so I use the expression "Q Central" to refer to any initial capitol identified group.

None of us will ever achieve our goals because we have miles of maturity to walk and years of growing up to do. This blogger brings up a very poignant argument and like children, we are tearing one another apart, instead of discussing the argument. Its childish and a waste of my time and yours.

Grow up

We dont need to have a letter for every person in this movement to successfully fight this war. The over abundance of PC whining is why so many in our community are fed up and taking things into their own hands. Whats next? Asexuals? Should we add a letter for our favorite kink? Cross dressers? Menn? Womynn? Power Bottom, Top? What about those of us who are gay, but dont identify with the stereotypical image of the effeminate gay male? Should we add "mbg" for masculine, but gay? Its all such trivial nonsense and just what the right expects of us.

As it is now, a post op transgendered person can marry their partner, as long as they are of a different sex. Gay men and woman still can not. Does this mean we become LGB only, when discussing marriage equality in our community? I would think not.

Whine about the HRC all you will, but at least they are doing something. Do you have your own rights group? Good for you, when do we get to decide what its called?

A book entitled "Waging Peace, the art of war for the Anti-War movement" would be a great book for many of you. It discusses why the present antiwar movement is so weak and such a joke. Drawing on the fact that there is no cohesion and instead the movement is made up of progressive, moderate and fringe groups with separate agendas, who all happen to just dislike the war. It highlights that fact by demonstrating, that at any given anti war movement, they are a large number of individuals championing outside causes, ranging from gay rights, human trafficking and marijuana legislation. The End result? No one takes them seriously because they are too preoccupied with THEIR agenda to do what is right for the whole entity.

We are bickering over acronyms, all the while the opposition is fighting the war.

Not EVERYTHING is about you or this selfish desire to be seen as unique. We HAVE to grow up and fight together, because the enemy is rich, powerful and a hell of alot more organized than we are. They only need 4 letters to describe themselves and we should only need two.

US. vs THEM.

Enough of this pansexual, womyn, asexual, questioning, queer is offensive, but gay is too subtle, nonsense.

We are arguing letters while school kids are being pushed to suicide, because they still feel unloved and unwanted. If you feel so strongly about adding your sexual proclivity, in the form of a letter, to this group, then please do so after telling several youngsters that the fight for their rights is important but you feel it can wait while we hammer out the details of everyones personal take on this weeks acronym.

We MUST grow up and move past this.

As a gay man, feel free to take the G out of this movement, it matters not if my sexuality is represented by a letter. I just want to marry my bf, live a happy life and die by his side. I have no need for acronyms, all I require is liberty.

My sympathies precisely. Thanks.

Justice claimed, "As it is now, a post op transgendered person can marry their partner, as long as they are of a different sex."

This is not true. As a transsexual woman, in most of the US my marriage to either a man or a woman would remain subject to legal challenge and invalidation. Intolerant judges are free to capriciously label transpeople, regardless of transition status as our assigned birth sex for purposes of dissolving marriage under state DOMA laws.

Yes, the HRC is doing something, much of it constructive. However, the HRC is still rewarding employers who deny equitable health coverage to trans-employees with "perfect" 100% CEI scores. They have so far refused to change this harmful policy until Jan, 2012. See my March 10 Post for details.

These are but two examples of the concern among transpeople of being erased, pushed to invisibility, within the G/l movement.

Justice, I agree with much of your sentiment but I feel put off by much of what you are saying. As Kelley pointed out, trans marriages aren't a done deal, but additionally I'll point out:

As it is now, a post op transgendered person can marry their partner, as long as they are of a different sex. Gay men and woman still can not.

Um, gays, lesbians and bisexuals CAN "marry their partner, as long as they are of a different sex." You're right that the fact that some trans people can marry their chosen partner isn't reason to not talk about them, but lets keep in mind that some bi people can marry their chosen partner, and that a smaller number of gays and lesbians can marry their chosen partner. I myself know a few lesbians happily married to men. Also:

Whine about the HRC all you will, but at least they are doing something. Do you have your own rights group? Good for you, when do we get to decide what its called?

I'll admit I'm not perfect at avoiding antagonism, but if I were writing a call to end infighting I think that'd be pretty essential. When you dismiss other's concerns by calling it whining you're not helping to end the infighting. Demanding other's show their own activist cred before being taken seriously is similarly demeaning. But to answer your two questions there, 1) Yes. 2) Every five years or so when we do strategic planning and survey our constituency about a lot of things including their criticism of our name then try to incorporate their feedback.


It is childish to point out that if you want a single large org that it had better represent everyone instead of a few?

Are you daft? I might need to grow up, but at least I still can, without being calcified into an "everyone must grow up" mindset that ignores some basic realities for others.

You are right, we don't need another letter. As was noted, we don't need *any* letters. We need a concept that embraces the single most diverse identity movement in the last 100 years.

Good luck with that.

As it is now, a transperson can *sometimes* marry their partner (post op or not). Relatively rare -- most transfolk are bi or gay or lesbian, so you know. And it depends on the state, as well -- and changes as you travel across the country.

I realize your lie was out of a lack of awareness of just how complicated the fight for marriage equality has made thngs for transfolk, but know that they do benefit in many cases from it -- but not all. In some places, regardless of the changes to allow it, marriage will still involve deeply offensive and personally denying realities.

You have not the same excuse for the lie about gay men and women being able to get married.

THe HRC is doing somethng? What are they doing? Seriously. As a political force, what is it they are doing? Does it embrace *everyone*?

You do, however, highlight one of the more important thngs involved here. So thank you for that.

As a gay man, all you want to be able to do is marry your bf, live a hapy life, and die by his side.

Well, for a LOT of the movment, that particular desire is extremely low priority because we'd rather have a home to be married in and a job to be able to pay for that home, and *then* we want to be married.

RIght now, even if marriage were spread across the US, we would still be needing those things.

That's the division. You want what you want, I want what I want, and the *problem* is that we don't agree on the priorities, not that we don't agree on the end result.

Something you missed in your rush to grow up.

Rick Sours | June 9, 2009 7:41 PM

We in the LGBT community (or whatever term we want to use) are still second class citizens and do not
have the equals rights we should have. At a time
when we ALL should be united as a group in our
collective struggles we have this in fighting for
each individual group. No wonder the Christian right is able to make the in roads they have. The
Christian right is made up of many diverse groups
who all work together to achieve common goals.

I agree wholeheartedly. Perhaps many here are forgetting that we don't have full legal equality in this country, and a huge percentage of this country still hates us. In much of the country, hate crimes against us are not prosecuted as such (or prosecuted at all), we can still be fired from our jobs because of who we are, we can't serve openly in the military, and in 30 states, letting us marry is legally equivalent to shutting down newspapers or banning churches. Politicians still use us as political cannon fodder -- Democrats beguiling us for our votes and then dumping us once in office and Republicans demonizing us.

But instead of presenting a united front, we're navel gazing, bickering over how unique our individual identities are and how we're just so different from each other and how we have to explicitly (as opposed to implicitly) represent every single sexual orientation and identity and proclivity possible until we have an acronym that includes all 26 letters of the alphabet, numbers one through nine and most punctuation marks.

Meanwhile, the religious right presents a well-funded, highly organized political machine that virtually controls the Republican Party, has successfully thwarted almost every major gay rights advance at the federal level and has banned same-sex marriage in the constitutions of 30 states. It can make the most absurd and insane statements about us, and people will believe them. It can use coded language in political advertisements to suggest we are a threat to children and the institution of marriage, and people will be persuaded to write us out of the Constitution.

So basically the premise is that everything should be about the needs of certain gay men, because what is good for men is good enough for everyone?

Really the problem has been too *much* gay male. Looking at this as a sales proposition, of all the ways you could sell LBTG brand putting gay men at the forefront of the campaign is the absolute worst.

When straight people hear "gay", the first thing that pops into their head is the picture of two hairy males having sex. Full stop. People don't get very far past that. And the first sentiment that comes out after hearing "gay" is "no, and hell no", no matter what you are trying to say to them.

If anything, you need to get the "gay" word out of your campaign entirely, and probably lesbian too. At least in terms of your advertising. If you want to start turning things around, no more posters of cute gay male couples. Instead, plaster young attractive lesbian women with their blond haired, blue-eyed children on the sides of buses. Put a little girl holding a flower on billboards all over America. Change things up, because your opponents have.

Gay guys should step off for awhile, and let other people's needs come to the fore. The gay male marriage crowd has held everyone's rights hostage for quite awhile. And if certain well-off gay men think everyone else should be jettisoned, maybe THEY can go form their own campaign and see how far THAT gets. Who is coattailing who?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 10, 2009 8:52 AM

"The only queer people are those who don't love anybody."

Rita Mae Brown

"The fact that we are all human beings is infinitely more important that all the peculiarities that distinguish humans from one another."

Simone De Beauvior

Insist that the Gay orgs meet, form consensus, found a federation (much like a union) and proceed with one voice that has something for everyone like a political party or action group should have. The important thing is the wording of the ENACTED LAW rather than what we call ourselves in route to it.

Stampp Corbin | June 10, 2009 10:04 AM


I love the quotes! The reason I wrote the article is exactly what you have suggested, what will be the language in enacted law. Right now that generally is sexual orientaion, gender identity and gender expression. The latter is not always included.

I am sure we willl not enact a law with LGBTQIAAP!

And mark my words. HRC will NOT be the first national LGBT organization to accomplish most of its goals.

Rick Sours | June 10, 2009 12:23 PM

Several years ago the state of Arizona had written
into their constitution that marriage was between
a man and women. A couple of years ago there was an
amendment on the poll to define marriage as between
man and a woman. There was no reason for this amendment given what had been written into the state constitution. The supporters of this amendment had very clever ads on TV which showed
a husband and wife and their children. The ad simply said if you voted for the amendment you
supported children and families. What was not told
was the fact that if this amendment was passed that
all domestic partnerships would be invalid. If passed heterosexual couples in domestic parterships would be most affected. Countless numbers of children would have loss health insurance benefits. The amendment was did not
pass because people were made aware of the affects on heterosexuals.

Kelly Winters says, emphasis mine:

”As a transsexual woman, in most of the US my marriage to either a man or a woman would remain subject to legal challenge and invalidation.”

In the case of marriage, even though three or four states have ruled that a heterosexual marriage between a post op and a natal are not legitimate, some states have specifically ruled that, in fact, they are legitimate marriages. Most of the other states have not specifically ruled one way or the other. Louisiana, where I was born, passed legislation allowing a post op to change their birth certificate specifically so they could enter into a heterosexual marriage over 40 years ago. The fact that post operative transsexuals can and do enter into perfectly legal marriages every day in most of the United States drives the GLB mad. The fact is that even though in the past few months the GLB have had a few New England States legalize same-sex marriage, most states have specific legislation prohibiting it...many have constitutional amendments doing so...there are no constitutional amendments in any state prohibiting a post op marrying...even in the three or four who have ruled against TSs on that issue.

The fact that the New England States have legalized same-sex marriage really makes no difference to me one way or the other...what I am saying is that it is not a passionate issue for far. But, and it's a very big but...the GLBT makes no distinction between a pre or post operative transsexual (male or female) and homosexuality in general. And, the insinuation that anyone associated with GLBT is homosexual – an umbrella which currently includes transsexuals, post op or otherwise - I do have a very big problem with. Because if that becomes the GLBT mantra - that is, we are all homosexual - even a child, much less your local legislator, could easily make the intellectual argument that if all of you (that the GLBT represents) are homosexual (even post ops, many if not most of whom are heterosexual and don’t take part in the gender debate), then either all of you are in a same-sex marriage or should be subject to the same legal restrictions or lack of legal rights that go along with the same-sex marriage debate. Simply put, the GLB could start preaching:

"Well, Jane Doe can legally get married, and we all know that Jane Doe is not really a female but a post operative transsexual...really she is just a homosexual man...there is really no distinction between a male homosexual and a female heterosexual post if Jane Doe can get married legally, then we, the GLBT, demand the right to marry as well."

The fact is, they are already making that argument if in no other way by proxy...and that is something that is a very big deal to me. The GLB will do whatever they can to get what they want, and I think they long as it doesn't jeopardize rights I, already have…whether those rights have been legally challenged to date or not. The GLB has all the incentive in the world to capture transsexuals in their political movement, if for nothing else, the one example I have alluded to above. What's good for the GLB and homosexual T is not necessarily good for post op transsexuals who are straight. The GLBT should not bring heterosexual post ops into their same-sex marriage debate and, further, should let it be known that not all transsexuals, by a long shot, are gay. It is attention we do not want and could result in the loss of the ability of those who come behind to not change their birth certificates as well as legally marry unless it is in a state in which same-sex marriage is sanctioned. Though all but a handful of states allow one to change their birth certificate after GRS – many States having had that legislation on the books for decades - it would be just as easy for those States that do allow our birth certificate to be changed to pass legislation prohibiting such a change to our birth records. Transsexual does not equate to being homosexual...the GLB know that, but fail to ever, ever make that distinction because it is to their political advantage to capture us and persuade society that any and everyone who is transgender, including all pre and post op transsexuals, are first and foremost gay or lesbian.

Leave transsexuality out of the GLBT...or whatever name you folks decide to call it.


That fact that *you* see some sort of insinuation is rather pointedly false, Susan.

And ignorant of history.

Those "legal" marriages you spoke of? They are of questionable legality in other states.

And you intentionally forget the transsexual men and women who *are* homosexual, and that they outnumber you and I.

For now, head over to the recent thread about the CD and bitch about him now.

I'll stay busy reminding people that transsexuals are part of the whole thing.

How abusive. I can't wait for you to have surgery. Just remember that as long as you are a card-carrying member of the transgender party, it will be impossible for you to be a woman, no matter what your genital status is.

I see this as a hateful comment.

"Card-carrying member of the transgender party?" Since when did Dyssonance's (or anybody else's) identity as a woman become a political issue subject to your brand of McCarthyism?

When I responded to SA-ET (Susan). Its a personal thing.

I don't think it's appropriate to tell someone what gender they can or cannot be under any circumstances. It's especially ludicrous to do so over the internet and based on one factor ignoring all others.

I'm not telling her who she can be. I am telling her how things are going to turn out.

People who choose the politically constructed 'transgender' identity could stop all the fighting overnight if they would give others the same respect that they themselves demand. All it would take is to cease telling people they are transgender if they decline to identify that way, especially people who were born transsexual/HBS/whatever you want to call it.

Gay men have their identity.
Lesbian women have their identity.
Crossdressers have their identity.
Transvestites have their identity.

Transsexual men and women are not allowed to have their own identity as men and women, because the transgender movement won't allow it.

The onus is on those transgender people who do this, there is nothing 'classical transsexuals' can do to stop it. Unless of course you think it is right and proper for people to have to erase their own identity to serve the needs of others. I don't think that is going to happen though.

Why can't the transgender movement respect boundaries?

I'm a little confused about what your talking about. I'm transsexual and I hang out with loads of transgender people -- none of them have ever told me I can't be transsexual. I don't even know what it would mean if they did.

But even if some transgender people deny your identity, that doesn't give you retaliation rights to deny the gender or identity of other people who are transgender.

And if your intention really isn't to render judgment but to give fair warning of how things will "turn out," it's still misguided and just plain rude. You can't possibly know how things are going to turn out for someone based on this one fact. Not to mention that I know plenty of transgender identifying folks who quite clearly are men and women. You're declaration that such an outcome is impossible strikes me as horribly insulting and plain wrong.

But we aren't talking about your friends, we are talking about self-styled leaders of the transgender community. The people who here and elsewhere claim over and over that any 'transsexual' who thinks they are just a man or woman are deluded, self-loathing, and homophobic. These people most certainly try to own 'transsexual'. They also try to redefine 'transsexual' to mean all sorts of things that have nothing to do with it.

As to the rest, if it is rude to point out the truth, so be it. It doesn't matter how I 'identify', society will have it's own opinion. People need to face reality and accept that. If I say I am a 'transsexual woman' to people in the general public, I should be aware of what that means. We don't live in a vacuum, and much if not most of our life is guided by what people think of us. 'Transsexual woman' will never equal 'woman'. But you don't have to be a 'transsexual woman'. People who believe that gender is a social construct should be on board with that, but most aren't.

Too many people embrace transgender as a compromise instead of pursuing what they really need. They cheat themselves out of a full life. Some people who blur gender lines do so for personal or political reasons. Others do so out of fear of failure, thinking half a loaf is better than none. It is a great disservice to someone to support them in this belief, when in fact they can move beyond that and achieve their goals. There is no reason to settle. Not for anyone. If this doesn't apply to your particular situation, then the message isn't meant for you. I know many, many people who do this to themselves though, and it's time they snapped out of it for their own sake.

But it's not the truth. Society may have it's own opinion, but you didn't say, some people will always refuse to see you as a woman, you said: " will be impossible for you to be a woman."

The differences between being something and being seen as something aside, it's also not true that people who identify as transgender don't pass. Being out might make passing harder, but that doesn't mean it's tatooed on your forhead. No matter how out you are, you might interact with dozens of folks on the street, cashiers, etc, who you won't announce it to. And some folks pass so flawlessly that the knowledge that they are trans deters only a miniscule fraction of people from accepting their gender.

Meanwhile, other folks consistantly have a hard time passing (both transgender and transsexual IDed folks) and regularly have to deal with shit around that -- and yes that sucks, but that doesn't make it okay to tell them that they any less of the gender they identify as because of it.

I'm guessing that this current conversation isn't with the unnamed "self-styled leaders of the transgender community" that may have been jerks to you, so it still doesn't give you the right to be a jerk to someone else who happens to share that identity.

Well, actually....


I technically qualify as such under the rules set forth by Susan for being such.

Despite how I respond to her words, I like Susan. She's articulate, even if I don't feel she's thought through her positions far enough and ignores some interesting and inconvenient facts about people outside her experience.

She's lived through a lot, and had a fairly hard time getting to be herself, and then she stepped away from it all during one of the most incredible periods of transhistory. She's been outside for so long, she's behind, and she's upset that there are people she doesn't consider transsexual colonizing what she was tuaght ages ago was the "right way" to be this or that.

In short, we disagree on small details, but she's not had enough information, and she disagrees strongly that sex and gender are separate concepts, like many people of her particular time. Its a hard thing to swallow when the evidence for it is really still fairly new (less than 10 years still) and hasn't even hit most college campuses.

Yeah, she's annoying. But she's annoying in a way that helps us, and as such, we need to give her that due credit.

Its the way she says such things that is the problem, and she just hasn't figured out how to do so in a way that isn't horribly offensive.

This is indeed, a hateful, abusive comment, and this blog shouldn't be hosting it.

Note to Stampp,
Charismatic leaders only come once in a generation. If you're waiting for a GLBT version of Dr. King, forget it.

Time to be agents for our own liberation.

I’ve really stopped responding very much to those who comment on the comments I make on blogs…it’s a bit like debating a red brick. I think I will on dyssonance’s though; after a while, one just can’t help but get their button pushed when their comment is, to put it politely, misconstrued.

First of all, I first attempted transition at 19, forty years ago, in very late 1969 after I came unglued and was diagnosed as transsexual by a psychiatrist affiliated in some way with the Erickson Educational Foundation located in Baton Rouge, about 55 miles from where I was living and went to college. That same psychiatrist wrote a letter to that effect to the Selective Service Board which resulted in me obtaining a 4-F status on my draft card. Admittedly I failed after two years. As the years went by, I failed at transitioning a second time…it was only when at my very wits end that I succeeded and went on to have GRS. Being transsexual, and any and everything to do with being transsexual, and being in the wrong body (if you will), consumed me until I finally had gender surgery, and had for as long as my cognizant memory could take me back. Don’t call me “ignorant of history”, dysonnance, I know the history as well as anyone...and, I suspect, a hell of a lot better than you do.

Secondly, I clearly said, in bold type face, that transsexuals who have had their birth certificates changed to reflect their gender status after GRS have the right to marry “whether those rights have been legally challenged or not”…and they do, and they will continue to have those rights until those rights have been challenged in the court system and found to be invalid; but, until they are found to be invalid, they are legal marriages. That is simply the facts, whether you like it or not.

Thirdly, I have never been able to find much statistical information about the ratio of homosexual to heterosexual post operative TSs. Autumn Sandeen, in an article at Pam’s House Blend said, based upon a comment I made there as well as upon a study/survey that was released at some convention/meeting she had recently attended, that the ratio was roughly 50-50 and promised to write a piece addressing that issue…and she may have, but to date I have not seen that study nor her write of it at PHB. Either way, I say “many, if not most” are heterosexual in my comment. But more to the point, the comment I made in no way “intentionally forgets” those TS who are gay or lesbian and in fact addresses the GLBT as a whole. I clearly say that I think the GLBT (which includes gay/lesbian transsexuals) should advocate for any right they feel they should have, but don’t have…as long as it doesn’t jeopardize any right I currently have, whether those rights have been challenged in the court system or not...but, of know that's what I said, don't you?

You say that homosexual transsexuals outnumber heterosexual TSs, and say it with authority. Is that based on those TSs you hang with or on a study that carrys any validity. I'm sure it must be based on a statistical study and not street dogma or you wouldn't of said it with such please post a link to the scientific study that so firmly assures you of that, dysonnance. I'd like to see it for myself; in fact, I think a lot of people would like to see the study that you must be basing your statement on.

I have no doubt that you will continue doing what it is that you do…after all, it is what you do.

Sounds reasonable, Susan.

But hey, I'm not a reasonable person, right? (that button thing)

Anyway, on to your questions and assertions:

I *could* use the description of your difficulties as apersonal attack on you. I'm not above such, either, as ya well know, and claim some vaugue sense of moral superiority, but that's not me and ya likely figured at least that much out.

I can, indeed, call you ignorant of history. Becuase you were separate from much of it, and you come from a background that has more privilege than you are either willing or able to realize, and it bleeds out of you. Not male privilege -- you aren't a male, you are a woman, so I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about ethnic and socioeconomic privilege. Of the same sort I have regarding my having served instead of avoiding doing so (neat little dig there, huh? Too bad it hits me as well as you.)

And I can be certain you ae not as cognizant of history as I am in theis field -- if you were, you would know the fallacy of your own words and not have uttered them. You would realize that Butler was basing her ideas off of someting already established by then -- and then challenged for decades afterwards.

But that' talking around it: you are, indeed, ignorant of history.

IF you'd like to know a bit more, please, ask -- this thread is dead, so use my personal email: [email protected]

Second, you were quite clear in your bold face type, and I will be quite clear in my not so bold face type: You may not be legally married to a man in parts of Texas or Oklahoma. My present marriage is not voided by the state law or constitutional amendment in Arizona that says it is supposed to be. I cannot marry anyone right now, despite the law saying that I am not married. That no one calls us on them is irrelevant to what you said. You said they were legal. sad news, they aren't. That is a causalty of the fight for gay marriage, and in doing so, we have no choice but to take it up for ourselves because of the way those losses were obtained. And don't even try it in Florida -- the Kanataras case totally screwed things up there such that it may not even be possible to get married again. I'm not going to tell you they ae facts -- I could be wrong: it might be Kansas instead of Oklahoma. Been a while since I checked. And the Kantaras case precedent has yet to be challenged.

But you can, indeed, verify them all for yourself.

Thirdly, you haven't found such becuase I didn't mention anything about "post operative". Someone's operative status doesn't change a damn thing -- cancer surgery does not make someone a different thing, nor does heart surgey. I suppose the face transplant is now different as a result as well?

But the data is indeed out there. WHy, you could pull up the data from the All Gender Health seminars (oh, dear, they are rather scattered among ethnic backgrounds, so that will affect things), where 1440 people were surveyed by a team led by Dr. William O Bockting. You know him, right?

WPATH. President Elect thereof?

With Eli Coleman they collected a massive amount of data available right now through the AGH, or through "A Comparison of HIV Prevalence and Risks" if its reached press yet and later works.. You might want to check it out. Among it is such wonderful stuff like:

among mtf, 50% attracted to women, 24% attracted to men, 27% attracted to both, with 29% also attracted to other transfolk. And for FTM's it was 685 attracted to women, 15% attrcted to men, 18% to both, with 29% of the whole also attracted to transfolk.

And to "leave transsexuals" out is indeed, to intentionally forget those who are such.

Because, I'm sad to say, all too many of the cis-GLB already do that. Not many gay men want to date a gay man who happens to be a transsexual. Not a woman, mind you, a man.

Hope this helps :D

mixedqueer mixedqueer | June 14, 2009 12:05 PM

privileged much?

this is why i have a problem with "assimilationist politics."

i have to go to pride now but i'll read through the comments later. unless Stampp Corbin is there denying me access because of my gender identity.

John Shields John Shields | June 14, 2009 2:21 PM

Stampp Corbin makes some good points, as do many of those writing comments on this post.

There are also a few *hate-filled* comments on this post. Do I like them? No. Do I wish they weren't there? Yes. Does Bilerico support them? NO.

Will we take the comments down? I doubt it. Free speech has it's hazards, but most of the time it has many more rewards.

And the enemy you can see and hear is always easier to fight than the enemy you can't. And a silenced enemy is often more dangerous than a vocal one - yes, even including some of the right-wing nut jobs like O'Reilly and Limbaugh.

Quoting from one of the master military strategists, Sun Tzu in the Art of War: Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.

As for what to call us, I like Queer. But that's just me.

And that should take care of that.