Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Dangers of Russian Dolls

For reasons of safety and common bond we spend our lives in communities that often resemble Matryoshka (Russian Dolls) communities within communities; family, locality, work, race, gender, hobbies etc.  Growing up I guess I was part of at least a dozen; some the most personal were also the most misunderstood and ignored.  Today I fear little has changed I am still part of many communities, some dating back to childhood (indeed family is a community) but find that being Trans nestled with the LGBT Matryoshka often harmful
I find so often that people talk of LGBT ([possibly adding other letters or symbols) as if it is one monolith, one community but it is not.  In the last 10 days the well-loved British (and gay) actor Christopher Biggins openly claimed bisexuals were just gay people in denial and even the cause of the AIDS epidemic.  Until recently Stonewall, the leading UK LGB charity, excluded Trans people even though Trans people led the Stonewall riots which sparked the Gay rights movement 

Today people talk of the successes made by LGBT groups and cite issues that don’t fully concern the Trans movement.  Debates rage over the “sinfulness” of LGBT people and so often extremists from Protestant to Catholic cite the same 6 verses to prove LGBT sin none of which apply to Trans people but in their eyes we are “guilty by association”; our gender identity issues mean we must be “gay” too because, after all, we ARE LGBT(!!!!). They rarely if ever mention the single verse in scripture that talks of crossdressing, perhaps because they recognise a doctrine cannot be built on one verse or that the context makes it clear the reference is no longer relevant. 

Almost as bad are those who seek to defend LGB people from such fundamentalism but make the same error and include Trans in their debates about sexuality and sexual orientation when it is a separate issue and omit to make that clear confusing the issues to the detriment of all.

In 2009 a UK survey found that 48% of Trans people did not identify with the L, G or B community and that of the 52% who did between 10 -15% only did so “politically”, me included.  Like many Trans people I am straight and so not part of the LG or B movement. Yet the more we foster the myth that LGB and T are one the more Trans issues become hidden away within the fight for “gay” rights.  I have lost count of the times I have had to correct people who have talked about Trans people experiencing homophobia, we don’t we experience Transphobia or of the number of people who cannot see the difference between my sex, gender and gender identity (the former defined by my genitalia, the second by innate neurology and the latter by my own sense of personhood) and who treat gender and gender identity as one and the same when they are not.

I passionately believe in same sex marriage but for me it is far less important than having my gender reassignment treatment state funded, as the European Court of Human Rights has decreed, I am less concerned about Pride than about the Trans people forced into toilets where they will be abused.  Equally, as a woman I support a woman’s right to choose and to live life free from violence but I don’t often see women’s groups campaigning for my rights to hormones or surgery alongside these issues. Do these one way streets stretch the common bond; break down a sense of community?

You see so often being Trans is like being the smallest Matryoshka nestled away at the centre and by the time people get to us they are bored because the novelty has worn off, resources used up and there is no energy or will to stand with us.  

Are we therefore safe, second best or just ignored; do we really share a two way common bond and if not are we truly in community?

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