Note: This is going to be the most heavily linked post I have ever written. It also comes with a massive trigger-warning for transmisogynist/transphobic language in this article, as well as the many of the links so brace yourself.
As a trans woman, I'm more than a little pissed about the 'T' being last in 'LGBT'. It's like trans people are an afterthought in the current struggle for Equal Civil Rights. In fact, CivilRights.org simply says "LGBT people" when describing the Stonewall Riots (which heralded the Gay Rights Movement) and even Wikipedia lumps trans women and "drag queens" together as if there is no difference. And both main-stream sites ignore the role that trans women of color played in the historic Stonewall Riots.
After Stonewall, cisgender men and women quickly latched on to promote a "Gay is Okay" mentality. Much later, Bisexual people were considered part of the "gay community". Bisexuals were largely shunned by both gay and straight people as being "on the fence" and inherently belonging nowhere. Trans women were basically erased, except for "drag culture" which is to this day largely dominated by cis gay men, the most famous today being RuPaul.
Let me be clear: RuPaul is not –repeat NOT– a trans woman. He does drag. Period. Hence the title of his show on the Logo Network: "RuPaul's Drag Race". He openly uses the word "tranny" (a word considered by most trans women to be a hateful slur) to describe himself. That's fine for him, being a cis gay man who does drag shows. But for trans people (trans women in particular) the controversy does not end there. RuPaul has stated he's trying to reclaim the hateful slur. A lot of trans women, including Carmen Carrera are opposed to this. RuPaul is not transgender and hence, cannot reclaim a word which trans women have shouted at them from passing cars, during assaults, and before brutal murders. I am not going to link to examples those heinous acts, but trans advocate Sabine has tweeted that she has been called a "tranny faggot" by people on the street just for walking to her home.
All this said, the fact that the T is at the end of the seemingly inclusive acronym of LGBT is insulting. Trans Women of Color STARTED the Stonewall Riots and thus, began the Gay Rights Movement. This year in Los Angeles, the annual Gay Pride is trying to set things right by putting the T first but some wonder if that is enough.
Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual all have to do with sexuality. Trans people are inherently different. Being a trans woman, I can honestly say that whom I choose to sleep with has nothing to do with the fact that I have a disconnect between the gender stapled to me at birth and the woman I am in mind, heart, and soul. I'm pansexual, and have had sex with people across the gender spectrum, but I AM A WOMAN who was incorrectly labeled as a boy at birth, all because I had descended ovaries and a distended clitoris. (For more on what it's like to grow up as a trans girl, please read this post by Little Light.) The T has nothing to do with LGB. At all. Period.
Some are wondering if there should be a split between Trans and LGB people, even as Laverne Cox is on the cover of Time Magazine this week, stating that the Trans Rights is 'America's next civil rights frontier'.
The question I'm asking is: What the hell took so long for trans people to be recognized, especially considering the origin of the Stonewall Riots? Without Trans Women of Color, there would have been no Stonewall, and therefore no Gay Rights Movement. Janet Mock (yet another Trans Woman of Color) also expressed some frustration with this disconnect between LGB and Trans people, albeit in a less direct way in her book Redefining Realness:
It's time for Trans People to stand on their own. It was time in 1969.
Trans people lack protections afforded to cis people, and in many States trans people cannot even go to the bathroom which correlates with their gender. Trans rights are often used as bargaining chips by LGB people ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Equal Marriage, etc…) and it's time for Folks Like Us to stop being marginalized by those we helped liberate. It's time for #TransRightsNow.