Is it logical and/or prudent for the Gay community to be aligned with Transsexuals?

Is it logical and/or prudent for the Gay & Lesbian community to be aligned with Transsexuals/Transgendered people (and to a lesser extent Transvestites)?

It always struck me as odd that the two groups are aligned when it seems they different agendas. I think the main issues Gay Advocacy groups groups speak about are marriage, equal treatment under the law, and child adoption. I know there are plenty more, but that’s what I hear about most often as a casual observer. I really don’t see those issues effecting Transgendered people in the same way. AFAIK, most of the transgendered agenda deals with changing societal views of the binary gender system. I understand that both groups face similar discrimination and harassment, but if that is the only prerequisite, many other minority groups could be included. I could see it if all transgendered people were homosexual, and could be classified as a subset, but that’s not the case.

I may be missing why the relationship between the two is more logical than I give it credit for, but I’m confident it’s not a mutually beneficial one. I sincerely doubt society will ever change its views on gender, whereas homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable. Even the notion that the binary system should be changed is ridiculous to most people, and not even worthy of serious debate. As a result, it doesn’t seem like transgendered people will be integrated, or accepted into mainstream society anytime soon. While including transgendered people may be the right thing to do, it doesn’t seem like a smart move.

What do you guys think the results of this relationship will be, and is it a wise move for Gay organizations?

i think that they stick together beacuse they are both (along with what i hope is more than a few straight people) concerned about sexual issues that are similar in the sense that both groups feel like second class citezens because of society’s view on sexuality and what it should and should not be. i think that they are both aiming for the same thing infact. equality, no more no less. a noble endeavor if you ask me. i do, however, see your point. the transsexual part of the alliance gives straight people (i know not all straight people see things this way) something to point at in the pride parade and think to themselves “i knew it! these people are confused, they don’t even realize what their god given gender is!” but i don’t think that all societies will always look down on the trannnies. in fact you should take a look at this. it says in the fourth paragraph

now this isn’t exactly mainstream hinduism, but they get far more respect there than they do here.

OK, I see where you are coming from, but the inequalities you speak of apply to all sorts of groups most gay organizations don’t concern themselves with. Also, I think sexual orientation and gender issues are very different, and aren’t really defined well by the term sexual issues. They seem like they are related, but I think they are different enough that it makes the alliance seem strange to me.

The one thing I have thought of is some of the discrimination both groups face is due to individuals in both groups not conforming to gender norms. Society expects a man to act like a man and a woman to act like a woman. It seems to me that masculine gay males face less discrimination than effeminate ones. A man who actually wants to be a woman would face similar scrutiny. However, I think society has some contempt for anyone who is different, and that that small point doesn’t rise to the level of a mutual interest that only transgendered and gay people share. You also have to factor in that many people are homophobic because of religious reasons (among others). For them, it’s less about being different and more about it homosexuality being “unnatural”.

Very interesting article. I agree with you that many straight people see transgendered and transvestite people and write them off as freaks, and that that may make the jobs of gay advocates harder. However, I wasn’t trying to say that transgendered people would never be accepted, just that the ideas they push will not. I don’t think you can sell the idea that there is a gender spectrum to most people. It requires you to change the way you think about life, and nature. Most people are not willing or able to do that.

I think it’s just and right for the Queer movement to be allied with the transgendered and transsexual movements (plural, because the various groups in those movements have very different, but not incompatible, agendas).

There are a couple of reasons. First, it could be argued that homophobia stems, at its base, from a reaction to gender outlawry. It’s not the fact that the two people are of the same gender that’s icky – it’s the fact that a man or a woman is not doing what is expected of him or her.

And femme guys are attacked to the cry of ‘faggot’ - by which is meant ‘gender outlaw.’ You are behaving unacceptably for a man; we will punish you.

In the end, both movements call for a reanalysis of gender, and a reduction of gender roles from mandatory and enforced to optional.
There’s also the matter of access – both movements deal with things we don’t have access to because society is set up to accommodate only a certain range of choices – is based on certain tacit assumptions that we violate, thus causing us to be excluded.
There’s the government angle – we both call for a reanalysis of the role of the state in our sex, gender, bodies, families, and choices, and we demand either its removal when that role is illegitimate (for example, sodomy laws and gender definition) or the loosening of its strictures when its legitimate mechanisms exclude us (for example, marriage and employment protection).
Finally, there’s the practical matter that in many cases our communities overlap and/or have historically overlapped – those of us who are queer/gender-variant often move in the same circles already, especially in the activist world. We are, to some extent, used to working together.
Let me be clear – the movements are distinct and have their own separate revendications. But I think it’s very important, in particular, for Queer people to support the struggles of trans and gender-variant people, a matter in which we have far too often fallen down. We will never achieve our place in society by saying ‘please tolerate us because we’re more normal than they are’ – far too often, the message our political leadership has sent.

i see, sorry for the misunderstanding. i hate to agree with you, the humanist/taoist in me believes that the whole conscious universe is progressing towards enlightenment, but i am dualistic (seemingly contradictory, no? well, opposites are like the poles on magnets, you wouldn’t call one side or the other a seperate thing but you would call them two sides of a whole) and the empirical side of me thinks (note that i believe one thing and think another)
that you are correct. part of being conscious is being biased, because the mind divides, compares, and catagorizes. god, sometimes i think i need to take an english or writing class.

That’s what many, many people have already done with regard to gay and bisexual people, it seems to me. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that there was no word for “heterosexual,” because that was just the way things are. People either had no idea gay people existed, or else they were dimly aware of it as some sort of rare mental condition or criminal act.

In just 100 years, the basic conception of society shared by a very large segment of our population has been completely rebuilt in this matter. I would say don’t write the possibility off.

Also, not everyone is interested in ‘destroying the binary.’ The minimum requirement is really just that it be considered optional. It’s really not that challenging, once you get used to it.

Can you elaborate on that last part.

I as mentioned in my post, I can see that side of it. But I think most gay people follow most gender roles in one form or another. When they legalized gay marriage in a few places, most of the couples they showed on TV and in line where surprisingly average looking unassuming people. Aside from loving someone of the same sex, they appeared to follow societal mores.

In addition, I don’t know many gay people who have a personal investment in seeing a reanalysis of gender. Gender roles have been evolving since the women’s movement. There was a clearly good reason for such a shift to occur. I don’t think the same can be for gender reanalysis.

But plenty of groups that gay groups don’t advocate for have problems with access and equality. Are you speaking about specific things or in general?

Can’t transgendered people get married to a person of the opposite sex? I see the overlap, but combining sex (sexual orientation) and gender seems unnecessary, and somewhat arbitrary.

Is this a natural occurrence, or is this a result of both groups being ostracized and marginalized? Also, what do you think the consequences of this relationship will be?

That first part is just not true. Plenty of societies over time have various beliefs about homosexuality, or, at the very least, intercourse between people of the same sex. In many of those societies, it has been an accepted part of life. Many powerful Greeks and Romans (among others) were bisexual. It seems as though people have understood and recognized homosexuality/bisexuality for a long time.

And such views had, by the dawn of the twentieth century, been forgotten by the bulk of western society. The Greeks’ attitudes to sexuality were no longer widely known or held in Europe or North America a hundered years ago – which goes to show that ideas about sexual roles or other seemingly essential behaviours/traits can undergo great changes given enough time. A few psychologists and historians may have thought about homosexuality or about Greek sexual mores, but I’d say matt_mcl’s analysis:

…is a bullseye. It pretty well exactly describes the environment I grew up in in the 1980s and 1990s, and thus my attitude with regard to homosexuals as of, say, five years ago.

Sure. For example, the transsexual community (in general) is not so much interested in the deconstruction of the gender binary (which many of them fit - just not as they were assigned at birth) so much as access to medical care such as SRS, change of legal gender, and protection from discrimination. Genderqueer people are more focused on reducing the strength of gender stereotypes and protection for those with minority gender presentation.

Well, that’s the thing – loving someone of the same sex is a violation of social mores for many; more specifically, a violation of gender norms. As Queers, we have to realize that it’s ineffective and wrong to seek rights for our community on a hierarchical basis - those who fit in best, first.

No, unfortunately at this point, many queer people do not support the trans/genderqueer movement adequately. Oh, they’ll happily put the T into the acronym, but they won’t do anything to earn it, not even educate themselves about trans/genderqueer issues. It’s unfortunate, in my opinion.

I can: people are being killed over it.

I’m just listing reasons why the existing common cause between sexual orientation minorities and gender identity/expression minorities should be strengthened. Remember, this isn’t a new proposal.

I was giving examples of things that Queer people are seeking that fall into certain themes, not necessarily specific issues that queer and trans/genderqueer people have in common.

However, since you asked, in many cases, due to the intransigence of the state in not permitting change of gender assignment, it may be impossible for a trans person to marry even a person of the other gender. And what of a trans person who transitions while he or she is already married?

In recent history, it seems to me, many of the people who would today identify as trans or genderqueer sought out the gay community and vice versa as the only accepting milieu. So it really has a historical basis more than anything born out of deep strategic analysis.

As for consequences, hopefully, it means we share resources and make common cause for a good end.

There would be no Gay Pride Month in June if not for the transsexuals. Have we forgotten Stonewall so soon?

Not quite…before the latter part of the last century, exclusive homosexuality as an inherent orientation was practically unknown. Even the Greek and Roman “bisexuality” (which is something they would never have called it, even in translation) wasn’t the same thing. The very word “homosexual” is less than 150 years old.

Even in ancient Greece, for all the snickers and whispering that people do when it comes up, there was no acceptance of a purely homosexual orientation. In fact, the man who took the passive role was usually considered inferior, which is one reason that it was often someone of lower station, or someone much younger. The older man was almost always married with a family, and often helped the younger man find a wife when that time came. There are many examples in ancient letters and journals of the scandal when a highly-placed man would be found to be playing “catcher” to a social inferior. Scorn was heaped high in such cases.

The ancient acceptance of homosexual conduct was very complex. You can’t just say “the Greeks were tolerant of gays”. It’s inaccurate in that formulation.

It is stupid to say that homosexuality as we know it today didn’t exist in ancient times because the word wasn’t invented. The people in those societies simply used other terms. The ‘Sacred Band’ was composed of both passive and active partners and yet the entire group was honored. Rome was stricter about sexuality than Greece, and a senator was accused of continuing to be passive long after he became a man, but there are plenty of counter-examples, including Plato who wrote an essay where he suggested that homosexuality was inborn. There is plenty of evidence that people recognized themselves and others as inherent homosexuals before the recent centuries. Il Sodoma being a prime example of an individual who clearly self-identified as gay. Most cultures had prescribed roles for sexuality in general, but individuals who stepped out of those roles were recognized and even afforded respect.

For more information check out any books by Stephen O. Murray, John Boswell, Louis Crompton and others. AFAIK, most gay historians now support Essentialism over Social Construction.

I think jayjay meant “unknown” as, literally, unknown, rather than “nonexistent.”

That’s it. It never even crossed my mind that someone would think I meant “non-existent” in that context. It’s not that there WAS no homosexual orientation. It was that an exclusively homosexual orientation as we know it today wasn’t generally practiced, even by those WITH a homosexual orientation. Men and women got married and had kids, almost universally, regardless of how they actually felt about folks of the opposite sex.

And of course arranged marriages were the norm for most of human history. It didn’t matter if you were gay, if your parents arranged for you to marry Princess Lucky you married her and had kids with her regardless of whether you were sexually attracted to her or she to you.

That’s what I am arguing against. There were plenty of individuals in the past who said “I’m here, I’m queer and your gonna deal with me if you want to or not.” Check out the books I suggested for examples. Exclusive homosexuals were known in plenty of cultures.

Well, jayjay did say “not generally practised.” Certainly, you did have analogous phenomena – witness Agathon and boyfriend (name escapes me at present) who were basically the equivalent of the nice gay couple on the block circa 1978; everyone else was buggering boys like all-get-out, but it was fairly unusual that two men would live together basically as life partners for a long period of time. That made them “queer,” if you will – odd enough to cause talk – where other modes of same-sex love were not queer.

The existence of an out Queer community in the west is comparatively recent, and sexual orientation has been interpreted (“constructed”) in a great many ways at different times.

We’ll have to just disagree on that then. :slight_smile: I understand what you are saying, but my favorite scholars lean more towards the Essentialist camp than the Social Constructionist one. I’ll stop hijacking this thread.

I think it’s very logical for the gay community to be aligned with the transsexual community but I wish there wasn’t such animosity between the two groups. Some of the most intolerate people towards transsexuality that I have dealt with have unfortunately been gay and I know several transsexuals who are less than tolerant towards gay people, even some who wish to seperate themselves from LGBT. I think it is best for both parties to remain together. After all, religious fundamentalists view all members as equally horrible and have considerable more money and political clout than the Queer Community currently does.

No worries. I don’t mind if the discussion heads in that direction.

Can you elaborate on this. Why is there such animosity between the two groups?