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Why umbrella community activism?

Commentary: Trans Progressive

There is an Asian-Pacific Islander (API) community, and there is API community activism. There are differences between those of Samoan ancestry and those of Chinese ancestry; there are differences between those Americans who have familial or ancestral ties to Japan, and those Americans who have familial or ancestral ties to Indonesia. But along with differences between ethnic groups that fall under the API umbrella, there are also many similarities and many commonalities between the subcommunities of the API community. And the commonalities include the discrimination they experience that’s based in racism. Many of those who discriminate against API community members can’t tell a Korean-American apart from a Chinese-American from a Japanese-American; those who discriminate against all who’ve gathered under the API umbrella have banded together.

Sociopolitical umbrella communities still exist even if individuals who could define themselves as members of a sociopolitical umbrella community choose not personally to step under a particular sociopolitical umbrella.

In other words, not every person who identifies as Chinese-American, Samoan-American, Korean-American, Japanese-American, Indonesian-American, chooses to identify as an API community member.

For similar reasons, there are commonalities between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that have resulted in LGBT people forming a community. The subcommunities share the experience of discrimination if not conforming to the heteronormative sex and gender norms of broader society.

Here in California, by banding together we’ve seen antidiscrimination legislation laws passed at the statehouse for the entirety of the LGBT community, as well as marriage equality that was overturned by popular vote. We’ll see repeal of Prop. 8 in the state soon whether it’s by the Supreme Court of the United States or by popular vote should the appeal fail – our legislature will make sure it comes up for a vote again should our community lose in the federal courts.

There is a transgender umbrella too for the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community. We’ve gathered under community umbrellas in part because the prejudice and discrimination we face.

With legislative or regulatory language, there is no way to protect against discrimination of the gender identity of transsexual people without protecting the gender expression of genderqueer people, cross dressers and drag performers.

When a newly out transsexual comes out in the workplace, protecting gender identity doesn’t necessarily protect the gender expression of that person who is not yet legally the gender to which he, she or ze identifies. If an employer defines a person as male, but the gender expression of that person is female, the lack of protection of gender expression means an employer can fire someone in the first year of transition.

Here in California, one can’t go back and forth – conforming, let’s say to workplace dress codes for males one day and workplace dress codes for females another day. One has to pick a gender to which dress codes will be followed, and that will be the gender-specific dress codes which apply to an employee.

But protection of trans people in schools and workplaces don’t just benefit trans people. If sexual orientation becomes a protected class without gender identity and gender expression, then peers and employers can discriminate against or harass gays and lesbians not because they are (or are perceived to be) gay or lesbian, but instead because they are perceived to be not conforming to societal sex and gender norms.

Working for the common interest of LGBT people is a reason why there is an LGBT sociopolitical community umbrella; working for the common interest of trans people is a reason why there is a LGBT sociopolitical community umbrella.

There is a case to be made for LGBT community activism; for trans-specific community activism. And, that’s even if a significant number people who could fall under the LGBT and trans specific community umbrellas choose not to.

There are sociopolitical umbrella communities; these are all here to stay. Community activists in these communities are here to stay too.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=36867

Posted by on May 9, 2013. Filed under Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

28 Comments for “Why umbrella community activism?”

  1. A Woman, Period

    The problem is, many, if not most, true transsexuals (as opposed to those who claim to be transsexual because they think it sounds better than admitting they are a cross dresser, or such) do not want the extremists speaking for them. We simply want to be able to live our lives in quiet peace, and not be seen as “other” which really what “trans activism” is all about.

    • Well said, the transgender activists don’t want transsexuals to correct their birth defect and move on to a normal life in mainstream society. They true transsexuals to suffer the same marginalization the transgenders put upon themselves. Sandeen has told many of us that we have some kind of privilege, that because we fit in to normal society, and are socialized as females and integrate well into women’s spaces that we posses something called “Passing Privilege”. There is no such thing as passing privilege, just resocialization for some along with a little corrective surgery, not everybody is cut out to be a true TS.

      So when Sandeen speaks of that umbrella that Tee-Gee umbrella, Sandeen wants to force the true transsexuals to be a part of that umbrella, to be marginalized along with the other than normal crowd.

      The umbrella is a lie, it is chains in disguise.


  2. To sd woman: Not everyone shares your view that “normal” is a good thing. Many would argue that “mainstream society” is itself, to use your words, “chains in disguise.”

    • A Woman, Period

      So, basically, you are cisphobic? No, normal is a good thing. That is why it is normal.

      • “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

        ~Martin Luther King Jr.

        • Another King quote perverted,
          Give it a rest Autumn.

          • Then maybe we should quote Coretta Scott King, the spouse of MLK Jr.:

            “African Americans have suffered for too long because of prejudice and bigotry to be parroting the rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups who bash people because of their sexual orientation. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered people are entitled to the same respect and dignity as every other citizen.

            “The Civil and Human Rights Movement that I believe in thrives on unity and inclusion, not division and exclusion. All of us who oppose discrimination and support equal rights should stand together to resist every attempt to restrict civil and human rights in this country.”


            “For too long, our nation has tolerated the insidious form of discrimination against this group of Americans, who have worked as hard as any other group, paid their taxes like everyone else, and yet have been denied equal protection under the law…. I believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. My husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” On another occasion he said, “I have worked too long and hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible.” Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others…The great promise of American democracy is that no group of people will be forced to suffer discrimination and injustice.”


            “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.”


            “We have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say ‘common struggle’ because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination.”


            “I accept this Circles of Hope Award with a renewed commitment to address these challenges and to work for a society where all citizens can live together in justice, equality and peace. I accept this award as a reaffirmation of my commitment to everything I can to help make our democracy more inclusive, because none of us can be free until all of us are free. And I accept this award with heartfelt appreciation for my lesbian and gay, bisexual and transgendered sisters and brothers who are working for human rights and social progress for people of all races.”

            And then, from Bayard Rustin — the African-American man who was the lead organizer in the March on Washington:

            “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable.”


            “When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him. “

            And Bayard Rustin spoke about bigotry in terms of “we/they” regarding gay folk, but his words from his 1986 essay From Montgomery To Stonewall could just as easily apply to trans folk in 2013:

            Gay people must continue to protest. This will not be easy, in part because homosexuality remains and identity that is subject to a “we/they” distinction. People who would not say, ‘I am like this, but black people are like that,’ or ‘we are like this, but women are like that,’ or ‘we are like this, but Jews are like that,’ find it extremely simple to say, ‘homosexuals are like that, but we are like this.’ That’s what makes our struggle the central struggle for democracy and the central struggle for human rights. If gay people do not understand that, they do not understand the opportunity before them, nor do they understand the terrifying burdens they carry on their shoulders.”

            Well sd woman, you seem to be saying regarding the trans people you call Tee-Gees that “we women who’ve transitioned are like this, but Tee-Gees are like that.” And, you’re defining women who’ve transitioned in a manner similar to the way you transitioned as normal, and you’re defining Tee-Gees, as you call trans identified people, as abnormal.

            I choose to work for ordinary equality for trans people within the broader understanding that there is a common struggle against bigotry and discrimination that all minority populations have faced in our country. If that makes me abnormal, then Jodie Foster’s take on normality fits me: “Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.”

          • sd woman, you know that will never happen…it gets in the way of Autumn’s attempts to qualify for the Oppression Olympics and presuming that a number of transsexual women had their surgery and function just fine in society, be it the hetero- or gay world (but in either case, mainstreamed without incident and without the need to play professional victim).

          • A Woman, Period

            The simple problem is, you are not seeking rights based on an inherent trait, like race, or you are seeking special rights based solely on a chosen behavior. You are trying, quite falsely, to claim a status you do not have (transsexualism) and are seeking to redefine the meaning of sex. Sorry, but nope, you are wrong to claim the legacy of Dr. King, and what you are asking for is unacceptable, and is based on false claims, logical fallacies, and outright lies.

  3. A Woman, Period

    Actually, truth be told, what Sandeen pushes is an illusion. Most who actually do transition don’t want to be drug back under the umbrella, in spite of what some claim….

  4. Maybe you should Autumn stop quoting MLK because, it is well known MLK was NOT supportive of gay rights, and given the definitions of the time he was not supportive of transgender rights.

    You misrepresent him, you lie, and twist whatever you can find to support your agenda. NOBODY LIKES A LIAR AND THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE.
    Cesar Chavez never supported gay rights and yet you pervert the meaning of his quotes just like you do with MLK.

    What you choose to work for, is self serving to Autumn not women, not biological women not even women who have underwent reconstructive surgery to correct a birth defect. Equality at the expense of safety is not equality passing laws that allow any man to insert himself into women’s spaces is not safe, therefore not equality. One of these days you might figure this our when one of your Tee-Gee support groups gets invaded with people you find objectionable who want to find out what it is all about.

    After all you preach equality for all .
    Have your Tee-Gee friends invited any skinheads to their support meetings lately?

    • No, it’s not known. This if from Religion Dispatches‘s article Gay, Black, and Quaker: History Catches Up with Bayard Rustin :

      “King’s niece, Alveda, is an anti-gay activist who recently tried to rewrite history by claiming that Rustin had resigned because he tried and failed to get King to attach the “homosexual agenda” to the movement. Rustin himself addressed the question of his relationship with King in 1987:

      “‘It is difficult for me to know what Dr. King felt about gayness except to say that I’m sure he would have been sympathetic and would not have had the prejudicial view. Otherwise he would not have hired me. He never felt it necessary to discuss that with me. He was under such extraordinary pressure about his own sex life. J. Edgar Hoover was spreading stories, and there were very real efforts to entrap him. I think at a given point he had to reach a decision. My being gay was not a problem for Dr. King but a problem for the movement.'”

      • Sorry Autumn that quote doesn’t wash.
        He never brought his homosexuality up to King, he knew better at the time due to King’s religious convictions.

        Quoting King and Chavez shows your ignorance of the both and the times whey lived in. NEITHER would support gay rights, not even if Hell froze over and there was six feet of packed powder and seven lifts running.

        If you want to remain relent you need to seriously consider reinventing yourself. More transparency and honesty on your part, and most of all stop trying to reinvent history.
        You don’t pass as a historian of sixties, a time when you were in diapers, and I was old enough to vote.

        • Well, King knew Rustin was gay. You need to read Time On Two Crosses, whch is the collected essays of Bayard Rustin, if you want to be up on the issues.

          And, I’ll take Coretta Scott King’s interpretation of her husband’s legacy over your take on it.

          And even if I were inclined to take advice on “reinventing” myself…well, I don’t take advice from anonomous strangers.

          Yet even that said, your advice serves your wants. It definitely doesn’t serve my wants and needs, and it also doesn’t serve the wants and needs of modern trans community members.

          So instead of quoting King here, let me quote Cesar Chavez on community:

          “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

          My community is the trans community. I spent time with some of those community members just tonight (May 11, 2013) at the San Diego Pride office — it was opening night for the Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold art exhibition.

          • And we only have Rustin’s word for those events.
            Cesar Chavez would never support GLBT rights, and you damned well know it. You are just a scavenger of quotations, with no concern for the context or climate they were originally used in. Anybody with more than 2 brain cells to rub together sees those quotes and automatically discounts what you are saying. You could excel at selling used cars but journalism? you are just a hack.


          • Anne,

            From LGBT Weekly‘s Remembering César Chávez:

            Chávez was the first major civil rights leader to support gay and lesbian issues visibly and explicitly. He spoke out on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the 1970s. And in 1987, he was an important leader of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

            “César Chávez did not only speak at our 1987 March on Washington but walked the entire march route. His granddaughter Christine Chávez told me that it was the biggest crowd he ever spoke to,” said former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force board member and San Diego city commissioner, Nicole Murray Ramirez. “He never forgot the support the UFW received from the gay community.”

            From Equality California’s Remembering The Legacy Of César Chávez:

            [Marc Grossman, the Chavez Foundation’s communication director and César Chávez’s longtime spokesman and personal aide] shares the anecdote of a young aide who had left Chávez to move to San Francisco, and who later came out. Chávez came to San Francisco for a labor rally and went to a gay pride parade. The aide recognized him and said, “I’m surprised to see you here,” and Chávez replied, baffled, “Why would you be surprised?”

            “He would say, ‘How can you be for equal rights for your own people if you’re not for equal rights for other people?’” said Grossman.

            Chávez also spoke out on gay and lesbian issues in San Francisco at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and was one of the key leaders of the 1987 Second National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. He not only spoke at the march, but also walked the entire route.

            Your stating César Chávez “would never support GLBT rights” is factually false. And beyond not knowing that Chávez actually did support LGBT civil rights, you had no idea about that he demonstrated his support for LGBT civil rights in speeches he gave and marches he both organized and participated in.

            With this comment of yours you’ve demonstrated exactly how limited your knowledge is of civil rights movements are in general, as well as how limited your knowledge of the LGBT civil rights movement is in specific.

            So tell me — putting your own words back to you — why anyone should “anybody with more than 2 brain cells to rub together” assume you know anything about civil rights community activism — especially LGBT community civil rights activism — when you’ve demonstrated that you don’t actually know very much about civil rights movements’ activism in general, and LGBT community civil right activism in specific?

            We’re now far away from the original thoughts of my essay of why we have an LGBT umbrella community, and why we have an LGBT civil rights movement that falls under that umbrella. Frankly Anne, one of the reasons we have the trans portion of that LGBT civil rights movement activism is to counter the kind of ideas you’re putting forward that argues against gender diversity and demands invisibility of trans people so that they can be considered “normal.” To me, your ideas on civil rights are oppressive — and combatting oppression is a major reason why we have civil rights movements to begin with.

          • Sorry Autumn again you were not there, politically aware or involved in anything but your Nave career. Rewriting history doesn’t make it so.
            Cesar Chavez NEVER spoke out on gay rights in the 70s or the 80s for that matter. EQA is smoking their own dope.

            You know nothing of what happened back then, you were ether too young or all wrapped up in your man career.


          • Autumn none of your posts is first hand information, it’s all second information “somebody said” he did or said this or that.

            Show me a YouTube video someone posted of one of his videotaped speeches.
            But I know you cannot.
            Again you and a few others are attempting to rewrite history in your own image.

            Like I said you were not there, I was, I know better.
            To quote the famous composer and musician Frank Zappa;
            “Look here brother, who you jiving with that cosmic debris?”


        • A Woman, Period

          Again, the concept of civil rights is based not on behavior, which the remark about “being normal” completely undermines. Rights are not based on behavior, but on an intrinsic condition. A person cannot, for example, be fired for being an alcoholic, which is recognized as an inherent medical condition that can be treated. They can be fired for being habitually drunk because they refuse to seek treatment for their alcoholism. A person who is a transsexual, which is not the same as being “transgender” has an inherent medical condition. They should not be fired for this, or because they are undergoing the recognized medical treatment, transition with the intent of having complete sex reassignment. But someone who merely wishes, as the vast, overwhelming majority of those who identify as transgender do, to merely impersonate a person of the opposite sex and gender, for whatever reason, is engaging in behavior that is considered by many to be antisocial, and therefore have no basis for a legitimate claim of rights.

  5. #Trans #progressive by @AutumnSandeen: Why umbrella community activism http://t.co/rTw8m8SDZV #Transgender #LGBT

  6. This article explores and reminds us of the value of intra-community dialogue as it relates to our collective… http://t.co/djzJmAIyuq

  7. RT @harlempridenyc: This article explores and reminds us of the value of intra-community dialogue as it relates to our collective… http://t.co/djzJmAIyuq

  8. RT @harlempridenyc: This article explores and reminds us of the value of intra-community dialogue as it relates to our collective… http://t.co/djzJmAIyuq

  9. A Woman, Period

    The simple bottom line is that you are not seeking “civil rights,” but are instead seeking license to engage in behavior that the vast majority of society would find unacceptable. Further, you are seeking to undermine a basic foundation of both science and society, the nature of sex. Women do not have, and wish to keep, a penis. Men do not become pregnant. But this is what the “transgender extremists” would have society accept. Your position is built on logical fallacies and lies. You wish to present yourself as a “transsexual” and claim an immutable condition when it can be easily demonstrated that such is not the case. Transsexualism is exceedingly rare, and those who are transsexual do not have long successful as men before deciding, later in life, to become women. If they delay their transition, their life is truly horrid before, and improves afterwards. When someone had a successful career, and then their life falls apart after transition, this should be a red flag.

    • That is completely the truth.
      All they want is to invade women’s spaces, there is no civil rights, nothing civil about it at all.

      • A Woman, Period

        Civil rights are not based on behavior. It is absurd to claim a right based on what is clearly a chosen behavior. For something to be a right, two things have to be shown. First, that it is not simply a choice, and second, that it is not harmful. For example, even if it could be shown that pedophilia is inherent, one could not claim a right to molest children as it is clearly harmful to another. Even rights that are generally absolute, like free speech, and freedom of the press, have limitations. Interestingly enough, the demands if the transgender extremists fail on both counts.

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