A Necessary Conversation

Um, hi. Excuse me, Gay Community? It's us, the Trans Community. Have you got a few minutes? We really need to talk.
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Um, hi. Excuse me, Gay Community? It's us, the Trans Community. Have you got a few minutes? We really need to talk.

It's about this RuPaul thing, but it's also about a lot more. Grab a cup of coffee, or a latte if you prefer, and please, sit down. This is pretty important.

We've had our issues, haven't we, Gay Community? Backstabbing on ENDA, the obstructionism of the Human Rights Campaign, and hey, let's not even get started on what you did to us in New York on SONDA in 2002. We're still paying the price for your civil rights there, not that most of you ever seem to notice.

Yes, you've been doing quite well, lately, haven't you, Gay Community? Look at New Hampshire, getting ready to enshrine your civil rights in their state constitution. Wow, that must feel special. We wouldn't know, of course, because the Trans Community isn't included.

Funny thing is, for all the inclusive rhetoric you like to throw around, we're not seeing you make a fuss that we're being left behind here. Well, maybe it's not so funny. You didn't make much of a fuss when trans people were left behind in New Hampshire last time either. Oh wait, that's right. Because marriage.

So, we just have to tell you, Gay Community, we're kind of disappointed in you. We ask you a simple favor: Please join with us to say that slurs which trans women find offensive shouldn't be on television. Not really all that much to ask is it? But so many of you bitch, moan, and complain that we're oppressing you, impinging on your freedom of speech, and on and on.

It's almost as if you don't realize that about half of us are you, and therefore you are us as well. You treat the Trans Community like a separate offshoot of the Gay Community instead of the integral part it we actually are.

Gay Community, don't let success make you arrogant. Remember where you come from, and remember your obligations to those who come after you. Words are just part of it. What we need from you, what we demand from you now, is respect.

Yes, we know it's great to get marriage rights in all these states, and hey, as long as you don't talk about being gay at work you probably don't have to worry much about employment rights, but most of us in the Trans Community do.

A lot of us, maybe even most of us, can't be who we are without announcing it to the world wherever we go, every time someone looks at us or we open our mouths to speak. Those are the people we need to make our world safe for now, Gay Community, the people who fall between the cracks of gay and straight, male and female, and woman and man. Those who cannot so easily be defined as most people would like. They belong to both of us, Gay Community, and they need our help.

Gay Community, I think it's important to remember our shared history here. We both know what happens when we come into conflict. You may ultimately win in the short-term, but you end up looking like selfish assholes in the process and losing a shitload of progressive cred.

This fight isn't going away, Gay Community. We in the Trans Community know how important it is that we not only win the battle but also the war for respect, even when we have to fight it against you, those who we should be able to expect to know better.

We don't want to be at odds with you, Gay Community, but you can't expect us to back down here. You wouldn't, so why should we? When you do something that makes us angry, we're going to call it out and raise hell, just like you would.

Gay Community, what we're asking for is exactly the same thing you want. Full equality, full respect. To deny us is to deny yourselves and the shared history of the Gay and Trans communities.

It's about so much more than just a few words, Gay Community. It's about the respect we need you to show us by refraining from using those words, just because we asked you to. It's about demonstrating that you consider respecting the wishes of the Trans Community more important than your own inconvenience. It's about modeling that respect to the straight community. It's about actually showing us that you consider us equals, not just in words but in action.

It's about standing up and saying we're all in this together, Gay Community, and hey, New Hampshire would be a pretty good place to start.

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