I have been so upset about this transphobic and deeply offensive petition to get organizations and media outlets to divorce the “T” from LGBT (no word about QIA in LGBTQIA). Zach Ford at Think Progress has put together a comprehensive look at the anti-transgender petition, who’s behind it, and why it’s wrong. Here’s the complete report:
The historic contributions of gay white men are being erased.
Bemoaning the backlash over the film Stonewall, the petition creator argues that the transgender movement is “attempting to re-cast the majority gay white men who participated in the Stonewall riots as transgender.”
The creator — identified by the pseudonym “Clayton” — expounded on this point in his interview with The Federalist, emphasizing that “the handful of drag queens who were present at the riots were not transgender as we know them today — straight men who have transitioned to presenting as women.” The statement emphasizes how little how the petitioner understands transgender people and their sexualities. In the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, only 23 percent of transgender people identified themselves as heterosexual, with equal proportions identifying as gay/lesbian/same-gender-loving (23 percent), bisexual (25 percent), or otherwise queer (23 percent).
Clayton also misrepresents history to try to reject transgender identities. Historical context actually showsthat many of the gender-nonconforming “queens” and “tranvestites” were very much “transgender” as understood by the term today, even if the way they identified themselves at the time didn’t match up perfectly to today’s vocabulary and standards. There’s been no shortage of attempts to erase the roles trans women of color — like Sylvia River, Marsha P. Johnson, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy — played in the riots and the activism that followed. That’s not to say that there weren’t gay white men there too, but this clear attempt at erasure follows a long tradition all the way back to the post-Stonewall rallies where Rivera had to fight her way to the stage to speak. A portrait of Rivera was added to the National Portrait Gallery last month, bringing new visibilityto her efforts.
Children should not be encouraged to transition.
The petition describes its “most troubling” concern as the notion that children will be incorrectly diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” when they’re likely grow out of it. Specifically, it claims there is “considerable research that shows that more than 90 percent of children who express “gender dysphoria” at a young age grow out of it by adolescence.” In his interview, Clayton similarly refers to “the transitioning of young children who likely are just gay/lesbian/bisexual kids” as a “harm” caused by transgender rights.
The studies that lead to such conclusions actually prove the opposite. That’s because they analyzed samples of children who exhibited any gender nonconforming behavior, not just those who actually identified themselves as a different gender. Thus, the “90 percent of youth” who grew up to be not transgender largely represents a group that never claimed to be transgenderin the first place.
Clayton is right in his interview comment that not all “sissies” and “tomboys” grow up to be trans, but that’s irrelevant. The young people who actually know that their gender is different are very much trans. They identify with their gender identity as completely as their cisgender peers, allowing them to transition is good for their mental health, and there are no known health consequences to treatments like delaying puberty with hormone suppression.
Clayton and his fellow petitioners would reject these young people’s experiences and prevent them from getting the support and treatment they deserve.
Trans equality and LGB equality are in conflict.
The petition ends by asserting that “transgender ideology is not compatible with the rights of women, gay men and children.” Clayton further explained in the interview that because LGB people don’t have to change their bodies “to help us become whom we believe we are,” their identities are too different from trans people’s experiences.
In a revealing statement, he also admitted that part of his motive is throwing transgender people under the bus to advance LGB rights without them, something that has happened all too often in the history of the LGBT movement. “The problem that develops when we are all under the same umbrella,” he said “is that so many of our enemies see us as one and the same.”
“Our communities,” he concluded “linked together in such a slender fashion, no longer have a common ground, if we ever did in the first place.”
But as the LGBT groups’ responses all point out, what unites the experiences of LGBT people is that anti-LGB and anti-T stigma all have the same source. “The hate that killed Matthew Shepard killed Zella Ziona,” HRC wrote, referring to Ziona, a black trans woman who just last month was fatally shot in a suspected hate crime. It is gender nonconformity that makes all LGBT people vulnerable to scorn, prejudice, discrimination, and violence. Clayton and his fellow petitioners only reinforce gender policing by suggesting that some ways of doing gender are right and others are not.
Despite being flagged by numerous users as being hate speech, Change.org has not taken the petition down. The platform has long been criticized for hosting petitions that reject LGBT rights, but has previously told ThinkProgress that it has only a small team capable of responding to flags, and the company takes “suppressing the voice of any one of our users extremely seriously.”
ThinkProgress reached out to for comment specifically about the “Drop the T” petition’s continued presence on the site. Change.org’s senior communications manager Shareeza Bhola acknowledged that multiple flags led the company to “closely review” the petition. “We immediately removed a sentence that violated our Community Guidelines on hate speech,” she said, “and we also disabled the comment functionality based on the hate speech we were seeing there.”
Change.org did not immediately respond to a follow-up inquiry as to what sentence was cut and why the rest of the petition was not in violation of the company’s policy against petitions that “attack or malign an entire class of people” based on characteristics such as gender identity.
Bhola did, however, also note that a reactive petition, entitled “We stand with trans people – Reject ‘Drop the T,’” has since been created. It already has more signatures than the original.
“In a large majority of cases, Change.org is used to advance LGBT rights,” Bhola explained.
Read the original report here at Think Progress: