In a post entitled “The Taliban of the GLB Movement” over at tgnonsense, Leigh Smith argues that transgender people are largely responsible for the backlash gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people are currently experiencing in the US and in some regions elsewhere in the world. She goes on to explain how they provide a huge big bullseye for a resurgent Religious Right to take aim at, and consequently elicit hatred and bigotry against everybody in the LGBT “community”.
I don’t think anybody can realistically disagree with her. Transgender people are indeed singularly visible, and to an ideology so rigidly conformist as religious conservatism, gender variance is like a huge big red flag.
But to blame the target makes no sense.
I’ve been watching the whole transgender vs. transsexual thing in the US for a couple of years now, reading blogs and articles and forum posts that sometimes get so nasty (from both sides), you expect nothing so much as bloody murder.
Once you look beyond “American” shores (always loved how you guys appropriated the entire continent in naming yourselves) it seems to become something of a non-issue. The “great divide” between transgender and transsexual nearly never even occurs to most people, and with obvious exceptions, gender-variance is accepted legally and medically, and for the most part tolerated. Way-out transgender people might be seen as odd or weird or “out-there”, but most people just go about their lives with a wry grin or a sneer and a shake of their heads on the rare occasions that they actually encounter one.
It only seems to be in the United States that acceptance of GLB and especially T has become no less than a battle for the very fate of all mankind, emphasis on the MAN.
And I suppose that’s a big part of it. America seems to need enemies, to be locked in a heroic struggle of good against evil. At least if you judge by how quick it is to name them. In the 50’s the big evil was the Communist Threat. Before that, “Japs” and Nazi sympathisers were undermining the very fabric of the United States. Not too long ago we had an “Axis of Evil” knocking on the door and today the Gay Agenda threatens no less than the destruction of America in righteous hell-fire and brimstone. And let us not forget the dark threat of Al Qaeda and “Islamic TERROR”…. which the US just so happens to have created, trained and funded way back when they were fighting the Commies.
Whatever the cause, those “enemies” breed fear, and fundamentalism thrives in that sort of environment. Add climate change and an economic collapse that spells uncertainty for all of us, and fundamentalists are going to look for scapegoats to blame their woes on. If transgender people didn’t exist it would be black people or women, both popular targets in the past, immigrants or just foreigners in general, or they would invent a new group to hate. Anything rather than to accept responsibility for their part in creating the circumstances we face in this world right now. And of course, you have to be the good-guy if you’re going to be fighting the Great Enemy.
I understand the urge to be normal, to sanitise ourselves and become as acceptable and palatable as possible, but no matter what we do, whether we are “true transsexuals” or screamingly genderqueer or just garden-variety gay, we’ll never conform closely enough to their idea of what a man or a woman is supposed to be. After all, most cisgender men and women don’t either. Indulging in a bit of scapegoating of our own won’t change that.
Religious fanaticism isn’t part of the problem, it is ALL of the problem. Ignorance at least can be reasoned with, most of the time, but fanaticism has to be opposed. Because as long as we’re all busy scratching one-another’s eyes out, with transgender accusing transsexual of being deluded in their binary identity, or transsexual accusing transgender of subsuming and subverting the plight of “true transsexuals”, or GLB really not wanting anything to do with either group ’cause they’re well, weird, the fanatics will be taking the United States away from everybody, and that influence will spread beyond its shores, as is the case with everything that happens in “America”.