Dear Gay Men, Our Trans Advocacy Sucks. We Need To Do Better

Dear Gay Men, Our Trans Advocacy Sucks. We Need To Do Better

Originally published on intomore.com

Last week was Trans Awareness Week, a time for the spreading of transgender support and information that ends with a reminder of their humanity on Trans Day Of Remembrance. In November 20, on Trans Day Of Remembrance, we hold vigils and pay homage to those we’ve lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

Members of the LGBTQ community share love and support for trans people on their social media profiles and amongst their friends. And as a gay male, I found myself looking internally and at our community as a whole over the past week and started to realize something: our trans advocacy sucks.

The LGBTQ movement is far-reaching and extremely important. The intersectionality and diversity of those of us within the rainbow make advocacy a challenging job. However, it seems since Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, threw the first brick at The Stonewall Inn which started the Stonewall riots and led to the beginning of the gay rights movement, trans people have been pushed to the wayside. White cisgender gay men took control of the wheel of the bus and threw trans people right under it.

Presumably, this is because being a white cisgender male at the time was the closest thing the LGBTQ community had to society’s definition of “normal” and were also the people with the most access to power and privilege to make changes for the community as a whole. The problem is they weren’t concerned about the community as a whole, they were concerned about self-preservation.

A lot of the fight for gay rights was initially about the recognition and assimilation of gay people into mainstream culture. LGBTQ people, specifically many white cisgendered men, wanted to be seen as being “just like straight people” and didn’t seek liberation just by the fact that just being people entitled them to their rights and humanity. In a way, many liberation movements of oppressed people have used variations of this tactic, but for the LGBTQ community, it’s particularly harmful because it’s not intersectional, and trans people suffered because of it.

Trans people, as members of the LGBTQ community, have struggled to gain acceptance even from within our own ranks. Transphobia runs rampant and gay men have even launched campaigns to get them removed from the LGBTQ acronym. With this kind of hate from within, it’s no surprise how much trouble trans people have had getting liberated in the outside world.

As gay men, we enjoy a fluidity of our gender expression and regularly support other gay men who profit off of female likeness. We idolize drag queens who play up and make a mockery of gender as a form of protest, but we don’t protest enough in support of those whose gender identity is litigated not only in the court of public opinion but in real courts as well.

We will throw money at, support, and make famous those within our community who temporarily display a hyperbolic change in gender identity for entertainment value, but are reticent to support, befriend, and protect those who live the with the dangers of trans existence every single day. That needs to change. Many of us will post and scream “Trans people are not a burden” in reaction to legislation and words from the President that are transphobic, but how about this: trans people are not a burden because we are the burden on trans people.

As a gay community, our obsession with masculinity and assimilation by defining our worth through its proximity to cisgendered straight people fuels the fire of transphobia. If the best we can come up with in support of the trans community is to say that trans people are “not a burden” aka that trans people are deficit neutral, then for lack of a better word, our trans brothers and sisters are fucked.

It’s simply not enough to stop our argument for them by pointing out that they aren’t a burden on society. We have to be willing take the step further and assert their humanity on the sheer merits that trans people exist. Their trans identity in a world that shows them so much hate is their burden to carry and if helping and supporting trans individuals becomes some sort of perceived burden upon us, it should be one that we are willing to bear with pride.

By existing visibly and losing countless numbers of their lives over the decades, each existing trans person has pushed the meter forward for LGBTQ rights and equality. Trans women, especially those of color, have given their lives over and over again so that gay men can have their precious two groom wedding cake toppers and how do we show them support in return?

By letting people like Roland Emmerich rewrite history in a movie about the gay rights movement that incorrectly features a pretty white cisgendered male throwing the first brick and calling Stonewall a “white event.” This has got to stop or the violence against them never will.

We spend a lot of our time in-fighting and protesting for our beliefs. We’ll take the fight for gay wedding cakes to the Supreme Court. We will even argue internally for weeks about the rights of QPOC in a gayborhood suffering from serious racism to create a pride rainbow flag with black or brown stripes to reflect the need for change. But we show little to no public outrage over the fact that trans women, particularly trans women of color, are dying at an alarming rate at the hands of transphobic violence.

It’s time we put down the poppers and refocus.

Gay men have accomplished a lot for themselves and the LGBTQ community as a whole, but it’s time we start to help those amongst us whose mere existence has pushed our agenda forward. Being cisgendered men comes with privileges of its own that we can and should be using to show support and encouragement to our trans brothers and sisters. Their lives quite literally depend on it.

If your LGBTQ activism and fight for equality doesn’t include intersectionality and fighting for trans individuals, then you aren’t fighting for equality, you’re fighting for privilege.

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11 Comments

  1. dreq
    November 22, 08:08 Reply

    as a gay guy,am of the view that two gender exists.changing from a man to woman wont make you a woman likewise from woman to man simple.can we stop the political correctness now?

    • Vhar.
      November 22, 09:14 Reply

      Not to rain on your opinion, but you tagging transgender issues as being politically correct issues is very patronising.

      Just as people change lots of other personal things all the time, from dyed hair to breast implants and nose jobs so they’d look like who they want to be, who they see themselves to be.

      From changing names and disciplines and jobs and husbands and wives and religions and political parties. From moving across a nation or the world to changing nationalities.

      From you as a gay man, identifying as a gay – who probably changes from gay to straight when everyone is looking and back to gay when no one is,

      There are transgender individuals who exists among us. That same change you make when no one is looking from straight to gay is that change they made to be who they want to be.

      This isn’t about what you think or what shouldn’t exist. It is about what simply IS.

      Why the fuckis gender the one sacred thing we are not to change? Who made that rule?

      You didn’t, I definitely didn’t. Let’s not make it about us gays. Let transgender individuals just be.

      It really is that simple.

      • dreq
        November 22, 09:48 Reply

        no matter the reassignmet surgeries one undertakes,that wont still change the TRUE gender you are born with.I wont encourage anyone to live a lie.simple

        • Vhar.
          November 22, 10:11 Reply

          Close friends and family members, do they know of your sexual orientation?
          If they don’t, what would you call that, pure unadultrated honesty?

          And how is someone gender identity a lie?

          Gender is a social construct. Just as marriage is, and as being gay is tagged unnatural by most that do not understand us.

          Even when we are confused about someone’s choice of gender, and don’t have a greater awareness of what it means to be transgender, we have a choice to respect this choice.

          Just as you expect people not to out you but respect your being in the closet.

          If you are diverse and versatile with vast – or in this case, less – exposure and understanding, I’d believe you know what acknowledging someone’s choice means rather than see it as a lie.

        • beejay
          November 22, 11:20 Reply

          This is your wildly Flummoxed sense of morality speaking, you’ve got to rise above that to make meaningful argument. Your ‘discomfort’, at how someone chooses to own up to their truth has absolutely NO bearing on the authenticity of said truth, that’s one! Two. Really? You’re going to stand on your high horse and claim that a person, who by the way is bold enough to admit who they are, more than you would probably ever do, is living a ‘lie’? Really man? That’s just low! Congrats you’ve managed, in a single post to prove without single doubt why this post is beyond relevant. There is absolutely no excuse for making ignorant claims as these you’ve just made. If you can’t empathise then at least seek understanding, on a cerebral level.

        • Malik
          November 22, 11:49 Reply

          The real lie is the conformation to the male gender (and the societally prescribed roles) due to heaven’s unsolicited gift of a phallus. I say this for trans women. Similar applies to trans men.

          And gender is by no means binary. Not even sex is binary. Freedom of sexual expression will only come when we ditch labels and allow people find their places in the spectrum between black and white.

    • Mandy
      November 22, 11:29 Reply

      Ladies and gentlemen, a gay man (I suppose) who is seen as scum in the society because he is not fucking the way he is supposed to comes to tell us the trans person is scum because he/she does not exist as the gender he/she is supposed to. Don’t you just love our hypocrisy in this world of ours?

  2. Mandy
    November 22, 11:31 Reply

    ❤️❤️????
    I’d like to think gay men will take this admonishment to heart. But apart from the catastrophe that’s Mr. Dreq, wa sit not also here that a KDian blithely said that there are no transgenders in Nigeria… SMH

    • Foxydevil
      November 22, 12:32 Reply

      He’s entitled to his opinion as you are to yours.
      No one is buying this your righteous indignation ,you’re a fake and a fraud.
      At least, he’s real enough to be vocal about what he feels, unlike you, the fake martyr of KD.
      Using your subtle machinations to bully people .
      *********
      I disagree with him though, people have every right to take on whatever identity that suits them.
      It’s not my job to advocate their cause.
      As you can see being gay is already more than enough on one’s plate .
      Only a stupid person would think being gay and being a transgender are mutually exclusive.
      These are two very different things.
      Homosexuality is merely a sexuality.
      Being a transgender is so much more.

  3. Francis
    November 22, 13:49 Reply

    Some of us just don’t have sense. Let’s just blame it on internalized homophobia sha

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