2012 Jul 12

written by Sherri Joubert

The T in LGBTQ designates transgender, and Q designates queer.

Melissa Harris-Perry* had an in-depth discussion about transgender and queer identities and issues on her MSNBC show in April (20 min.):

The most striking thing in this discussion (and I heard a lot of striking things) is that one oppressed minority does not necessarily have empathy or compassion for another oppressed minority. There can be just as much hatred of one minority toward another as there is hatred of minorities by the majority.

As human beings, if groups facing discrimination of any kind can’t stand together for equality for all, none of us will make progress as fast as we could if we all stopped focusing on our differences and worked together. When are we going to get it through our thick heads that there is no “them”, there is only “us”.

The way we make this happen is to put individual faces and names on all these issues. It’s easy to discount a group we may consider to be “them”, but when it’s several individual persons, especially ones we know and care about, it’s not so easy to discount these persons’ rights. It breaks the us v them cycle.

The gay, lesbian, and bisexual community welcomes, encompasses, and supports the transgender and queer world. But the fact is, transgender is not the same thing as gay or lesbian. It’s not a strict sexuality issue, it’s also a gender identity and sex roles issue, which are far more complex.

According to Transgenderlaw.org,

An estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender (i.e., experience some degree of gender
dysphoria). The number of people who identify as transsexual and undergo sex-resassignment is

Lambda Legal just published 2 new transgender rights fact sheets dated July 3, 2012: New Transgender Rights Fact Sheets on Seniors and Youth

A Definition of Transgender:

Different people disagree on the details of what exactly it means to be transgender. The general idea is this: a transgender person is any individual who finds themselves left out of society’s usual gender roles. The term “transgender” does not necessarily invoke any particular sexual orientation. Transgender people may identify as gay, straight, bisexual, or anywhere in-between.

One particular type of transgender are individuals who feel that their assigned sex (physical gender) does not match their gender identity. Others feel that neither gender accurately describes their identity, and do not wish to be placed into either gender category.

In short, “transgender” is a wide term that describes many types of people who are not satisfied with society’s strict definitions of gender and who do not accept a simple two-gender categorization. — The Transgender Center

A Definition of Queer

Literary theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick invoked “queer” as a term to capture as widely as possible the potential combinations of gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual practice that violate existing norms. –Sexual Orientation and the Law Blog

One job of the LGBTQ community is to learn a lot more about our TQ members, and do a lot more to make sure seeking our rights helps our TQ members as well. We don’t stop fighting until all of us have equal rights with the majority.

The majority’s job is to open up to a much more diverse world than you many be accustomed to, whether it’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, or politics. Have your own positions, certainly, but don’t approach others you consider to be “them” with hatred. We all need to get to know each other in the spirit of respect, and respectful disagreement, not partisan fighting and hatred.

LGTBQ born this wayEveryone of a different race, gender identity, sexual orientation (see my future article on epigenetics), sex, nationality, or color was born that way. Religion, politics, and hatred of people who are different are learned. Hatred can be unlearned, and tolerance and acceptance can be learned in its place.

*Melissa Harris-Perry is wicked-smart, a full professor of political science at Tulane University in New Orleans, the author of the Sister Citizen column in The Nation, an MSNBC contributor, and host of her own weekend show on MSNBC at 10 a.m.-12 p.m. eastern time on Saturdays and Sundays. She is also the author of two books: her recent book is Sister Citizen, and her first book is Barbershops, Bibles, and BET (as Melissa Harris-Lacewell).

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