If you pay attention to the LGBT media world, you may have awakened this morning to an angry frenzy of tweets surrounding gay magazine Instinct's controversial article "Should the T' Be Removed From LGBT?"
So here's the tea on the T: No, transgender should not be dropped from the LGBT acronym. Not now. Not ever.
In years past, the trans arm of the LGBT community was often thrown under the bus to make the overarching gay rights movement "more palatable" to the mainstream. Past gay leaders realized that it was easier to advocate for gay rights as opposed to transgender rights. Straight folks were less afraid of gay folks than they were of trans folks, simply because many gay folks "looked" like straight folks and kept their sexual activity behind closed doors.
But let’s not revert to how things used to be, just because it’s easier. Let’s not leave our trans brothers and sisters in the dust. They have never left us in the dust. In fact, trans activists — like the legendary Marsha P. Johnson—literally birthed the modern LGBT rights movement. Reporting like this from a gay publication like Instinct isn’t a matter of sharing diverse opinions or hearing from marginalized members in the community — it’s creating a platform for bigotry, ignorance, further division, and hatred. There is a large distinction.
The author of this article is literally giving a voice to "some dark corners of the Internet" for the sake of clicks. I get it. I write for LGBT mags, and traffic is important. It's what keeps us afloat. But just write a silly piece about butt sex for traffic (like I do). Don't attack an already vulnerable group.
Sadly, it’s probably working. As I (and surely many others) have already clicked on the article to see what type of BS it was. There were two primary arguments in favor of dropping the T from LGBT:
1. L, G, and B all relate to sexual orientation, whereas T refers to gender. Thus the T should be dropped.
2. It would behoove the LGB to get rid of the T because advocating for the T is hard.
Here's the problem with those two arguments:
1. Yes, gender and sexuality are different (obviously), but that doesn't mean they are mutually exclusive. Gender and sexuality are inherently connected and linked. In fact, you can’t have sexual orientation without gender. If we lived in a society where everyone was genderless, there would be no gay or straight. We’d just have attractions to certain people. Additionally, there is a huge overlap between folks who identify as transgender and folks who identify as bisexual and gay. We can’t simply ignore them because they are transgender.
2. Yes, it may be easier to advance gay rights without trans rights, but at what cost? We are putting the lives and well-being of other folks at risk. We would literally be letting trans folks die just for our own selfish gain. I’m sorry that it may be "tougher," but stop being so selfish. Support other marginalized groups who aren’t just you. We are a community and need to act like one.
Trans folks (particularly trans women of color) are being murdered at alarming rates. Additionally, according to the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey, a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality found on GLAAD’s website:
1. 29 percent of transgender people live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of the general population
2. 30 percent of transgender people report being homeless at some point in their lives, with 12 percent saying it was within the past 12 months
3. Transgender people experience unemployment at three times the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate
4. 30 percent of transgender people report being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity in the past 12 months
5. 31 percent of transgender people experienced mistreatment in the past year in a place of public accommodation, including 14 percent who were denied equal service, 24 percent who were verbally harassed, and 2 percent who were physically attacked because they were transgender
6. 40 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the United States (4.6 percent)
Oftentimes, they're afraid to walk down the street alone. They’re afraid to come out to their family. They’re afraid they’re not going to be accepted. This is real life. And their struggles needs to heard.
We need to support and advocate for the trans members of our community, especially because it’s difficult. Oh, and in case you’re looking for a real way to report on if the T should be included, look at Zack Ford’s piece on ThinkProgress.