An Open Letter to the LGBTQ+ Community,
Dear Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Queer, and all others Community,
I would like to begin by introducing myself a little bit. I am a Transwoman. I would consider myself a mostly transitioned individual. I very rarely get misgendered, and don’t have many external indicators of my birth assigned gender left. The only thing left are surgeries, however, last week, in fact a week ago today my real name, became my legal name. I am Josephine. I was born in 1985 and I am the very beginning of the millennial generation. Most of my generation is younger than I am, and most people even a year older than me are members of Generation X.
Some of my first memories of a world larger than myself were the Bill Clinton & Monica Lewinski scandal. Asking my mom about it after hearing about it on the news leading to some very awkward conversations about sex that made me very confused. And, those conversations forever ended our discussion on the topic of sex and physical intimacy. Then, I watched the year 2000 come and go with no technology problems leading us into the future. My world was forced larger by passenger airliners striking twin towers while I was a sophomore in high school. It is a difficult generation to be a part of because of all the major events that have struck the world, and therefore struck us, before we were aware enough to understand what was truly going on. However, I wouldn’t trade this time and which I was born for the anything in world. Because we are the first generation that can truly explore sexual orientation, or gender identity openly.
Please note that when I say LBGTQ+, LGB+ or TQ+ communities I mean the ‘members’ of the community and all of their allies. We have a large thriving LBGTQ+ Community at this point. Our community is a paradise of safety and being able to discuss some very difficult and private things openly and honestly without judgment. We have some common goals, and we had to come together to survive. We both share the drive for freedom in our existence. We both strive in the fight against the idea that everyone is their assigned gender and straight. We were both made to feel bad about being ourselves by society. We both hid to survive before starting to fight back. We found in each other allies.
However, I think the time is right to draw a line. We are, in reality, two very different communities. The LBG+ Community is around the idea about which gender(s) you are attracted to in mate. The TQ+ Community is around the idea about which gender(s) you find within yourself. These realities are extremely different. The LBG+ Community flies a rainbow flag and cheers against the oppression of a heteronormative society. It is an affirmation of the beliefs of the person. The LBG+ fight has made amazing strides from when it started to become well known in the 1970s. Pride is now a large even in most major cities that have a “Gay Neighborhood” or two. I would claim that the average moderately informed member of society can accurately speak to the issues of the LBG+ community.
However, ever since I tried to join the LBG+ Community as a gay male, when I was in my early 20s, it didn’t feel right. I still had not pieced together exactly who I was. I still found myself to be struggling more than the other members of “my community.” I found out quickly I was not a gay male. I didn’t belong there as a gay male. I was straight, but like men, how does that make sense? However, I did belong there as an ally. I will always stand beside the LBG+ Community as an ally. In my late 20s I found a new community that finally matched who I was.
I found and joined the TQ+ Community. The TQ+ community is a more hidden, sub-society, within the sub-society of LGB+. I learned quickly why the TQ+ community was so hidden. Even within the LBG+ community there are people who are transphobic. It causes an issue where even with the people who should be our greatest supporters, many transgender people do not feel safe. I joined as a Gender Queer individual which allowed me to throw of the shackles of the gender normative bias that society implanted in my brain from a young age. I quickly found out that I was a transwoman and needed to transition.
Being a member of the LGB+ Community, and the TQ+ Community are completely different experiences. Once society accepts a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person their fight is over. They are accepted. They can act how they wish. For at TQ+ person acceptance is most of the time only a beginning. Once that happens, even assuming they are gendered correctly all the time, which most are not. It then starts a fight with self. The questions start coming forward of Who Am I? What do I want to look like? What Image do I want to portray? Then it becomes struggle to get that. To an extent the LGB+ question these things, but most transgender people go beyond what homosexual or bisexual people do, to some kind of Medication, Surgery, or Legal proceeding. Hormone therapy, medication, seeks to correct a chemical imbalance in the body. What cannot be fixed about the body with hormones then requires surgery. In addition, most transgender people change their name, gender, or both legally. All of these things require patience, and money, acceptance beyond that of someone from the LGB+ Community.
So, I suggest that the LGB+ and the TQ+ communities diverge. We will always share a common fight against the lesser accepting sections of society. However, our fights are so much different. The goal of the LGB+ community is to mold society to accept the person you are in side, and while the TQ+ community shares that. The TQ+ community has additional needs of needing to remake the self in the required image. LGB+ community can need psychological support, but many do not. Whereas I find with transgender people it is much the opposite, many TQ+ people need a therapist of some kind. The medical concerns of TQ+ have a tendency to be much different than the medical concerns of LGB+ people.
My TQ+ clinic started as an LBG+ clinic in the 70s and it is a very good example of why the divergence is required. While they offer services for people in my situation, their services are geared toward the other. It is time we created clinics and groups for us, and not the entire LGBTQ+ community. There are more and more specialized services at the TQ+ community, but it is not nearly sufficient. The understanding of our group is still so little. We piggy backed on the LGB+ community because we needed a man power and a visibility they had.
It is now, time for the transgender, transvestite, genderqueer, agender, bigender, two-spirit, and every gender variant group to divide from the larger community. We are powerful as a whole, but we no longer need the whole to exist. The LGB+ and the TQ+ communities will always be allies and friends and share every resource possible, but the communities are not the same. The reason for the combination in the first place is that too many of our successful members have been going stealth and drawing away from the community. My intent is to always fly my pink, blue and white flag. I hope each and every person who is transitioning, will transition, and has transitioned will join me. We no longer need to hide and be afraid of what people think. We will make people see. we will be ourselves. But, most importantly, we will find the willpower, and the strength, to be happy.
Today, a Transgender Day of Visibility is not here just to show visibility to transgender issues, but to bring light to the fact that it is a unique experience different than that of those that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual or asexual. A person’s sexual orientation is in no way related to their gender identity. A divergence in communities, among helping us build our own resources and infrastructure of assistance, and safe spaces, will help draw that line more clearly.
This is also a day to bring visibility to ideas thoughts and concerns to make our society better. This is why I write this open letter today. I don’t know if people will like my thoughts or support them in anyway. However, to me the LGB+ community does not support the needs I have, and I have to dig deeper within that community to find what I need. An LGB+ doctor is less likely to be skilled and experienced than a TQ+ doctor. And, it is difficult to distinguish them apart because of the combined community. I fear, that this extra work, then makes these services less accessible to people that need them…
The LGB+ and the TQ+ Communities will always be friends, and allies. However, I propose that we each have our own separate communities and wings, joining together for all things we agree on.
This is merely an idea I had. I have no course of action. I just wanted to start a discussion.
Thank you for listening,
~Josephine Stephanie Troiani