Thursday, January 15, 2009

LGB and Trans Exclusion

Why this topic is still one that I need to write and speak about I really do not know but, once again I find myself getting embroiled in debates about trans exclusion that really should have been long ago put to bed.

The reason I get so het up about this issue is that it is an issue of discrimination – cross strand discrimination. In most parts of the UK now, support groups tend to be LGBT. Where they are LGB only – the argument put forward is that sexual orientation is different to gender, and that many trans people, once they transition, identify as heterosexual. In fact many trans people once they have transitioned identify as women, secure gender recognition in their acquired gender and cease to identify as trans. So as heterosexual men or women they are unlikely to want to support in the LGBT community anyway.

When we look at difference, the reality of course is that lesbian issues are as different from gay issues as they are from trans issues – and support groups are often very focused on specific issue within the umbrella of LGBT. I can see the value in separate lesbian, gay and trans support groups but often the smaller interest groups are too small to provide any meaningful level of support or secure funding – and when it comes to tackling the broader issues of discrimination and changing attitudes we need to be working together. Trans women for example face issues of Homophobia because many people refuse to see them as female – including some radical feminists – at the same time many trans women are lesbians.

Trans exclusion is not just an issue with some LGB groups – there are a large number of women’s centres that are open only to “women born women” which in practice means “No Trannys allowed”. Trans men often first identify as lesbian – yet most report that the moment they identify as trans men – they are rejected by many radical lesbian feminists. Whist this has not yet been legally challenged, I am certain that this level of trans exclusion is now illegal – and anyway it is only people who are unable to pass who are excluded.

Surely our ultimate goal is to remove the barriers to acceptance and for us all to be considered equal members of a diverse society, where sexual orientation and gender expression cease to be issues. We still have a lot of work to do before that happens, but it is not sexual orientation that leads to discrimination and harassment, it is the expression of atypical gender which is interpreted as lesbian or gay even if the person is straight.

Rikki Arundel
Pansexual Trans Woman

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Rikki,

My local NHS has a LGB network group, yes LGB, I've enquired why T was not included but not had a satisfactory reply.