The T in the LGBT you probably overlooked

I recently listened to a podcast where the discussion centered on how trans people are often left out of the LGBT story by gay men and lesbians. It sounded like the individuals were struggling with accepting trans people as a part of the community.

I have to admit that for me, I always had a different perspective on this issue. For the longest time I was someone who was hiding from my feelings at the same time hiding those feelings from others. I did it out of fear, shame and disgust with myself. I was very young when I first started asking gender curious questions. It started out innocent, casually asking my sisters and other girls what they thought about certain things. It evolved into my watching trashy talk shows on TV whenever a cross-dresser, drag queen or trans person was on. At the time the term most often used was transvestite. This was the word Tim Curry used in the Trans-celebrated cult horror film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I felt disgusted by the use of that term myself so I avoided it.

When I was a teenager I stumbled upon certain websites on the internet that were specifically designed to assist in ones discovery of sexual identity. After watching the movie Clerks the scene were they were talking about “chicks with dicks” I became curious and therefore did some further exploring.

I have to admit I struggled with finding my own identity partially because I was raised in small town Kansas. We were a church going family. Dad ended up becoming a Deacon in our church and mom taught Sunday school.

One thing I struggled with was finding how to accept what I was feeling while trying not to identify with the LGBT community. I knew I felt very similar to how I had read about trans people online claiming they felt, but I still didn’t want to be associated with that community. To me I remember when it was referred to just as the gay community then the queer community before they came up with LGBT. Even that has evolved to include more people but again I have to question are we arbitrarily drawing an us versus them line in the sand?

Shortly after coming out and seeking trans communities online I discovered the term TERF. I won’t actually get into that discussion here. Maybe sometime. But I realized even within the “community” there are divisions. This got me to thinking. What I wanted to question is are the lines really “binary” people versus “non-binary” people? I heard the term  breeders versus non breeders but even that feels off to me.

My initial struggle, which believe me I lost many nights of sleep over not to mention all the heartburn I dealt with, stemmed from trying to solve the issue of wanting to accept I was trans but also fitting that idea into the binary/breeder centered perspective of the Judeo-Christian view point. I was afraid to admit that being trans meant I did in fact have something in common with the queer community. I read an article that was written before my time where some so-called expert said transvestites (the term for transgender people at the time) were just homosexuals who were ashamed of their homosexuality. That perspective got stuck in my head and yes this is where I admit as a born again Christian I had an aversion to that some would call homophobic. I didn’t think that was how I intended it to be taken but I can honestly say I closed myself off to exploring things for the longest time.

The first time I watched the movie Chasing Amy I did so specifically knowing it was taboo. The whole film depicted a Lesbian woman who chose to be gay because she got bored with men and turned to women. By the end of the movie she had gone back to being in a heterosexual relationship with a heterosexual male, and back to lesbian again. By today’s standard it might not be considered woke enough for some. At the time it was revolutionary for people of my generation. It might have been somewhat misguided but it did get a lot of people interested in the community who otherwise might have been closed off.

It wasn’t until I cried at the end of Being John Malkovich I realized how pervasive my inner transwoman really was. From then on I tried looking for a way to be trans while fitting outside of the LGBT norm. In other words I wanted to be a woman but I didn’t want to be attracted to men but I also didn’t want to be a lesbian because that would also go against my Christian upbringing.

It took me attending an Anglican mass and having conversations with the priest about gender and sexuality that my view began to shift from the hetero normative Christian perspective. I have yet to define my sexuality as I have a way to go to settle that issue in my own mind. However, the more I think about it the more I wonder if the reason gay men and lesbian women might have a hard time accepting trans people as part of their community is because trans men and trans women themselves might also feel uncomfortable identifying with or being identified as a part of that community. Even online I gravitate to other trans people rather than openly connecting with individuals from the whole rainbow spectrum. I met a non binary person recently and immediately  became friends. They identified as non binary and requested I use they/them pronouns when referring to them. It was tricky but I found it was easier for me to befriend them than it had been in the past befriending lesbians. I can say I had friends who were lesbian and some who were gay. I think in a way in my own mind I could understand lesbian or bisexual women but was still struggling with gay men.

Now that I am Catholic my view on God and Jesus has evolved. I see God as more loving and compassionate from the Catholic perspective than I did being raised in the very harsh, judgmental and always angry vengeful God the protestant perspective presented. It made sense to me that God would hate people who defied his creation because that was what I was told. Now to be fair the Catholic Church is not at all more accepting of LGBT or non binary people as some protestant churches. The difference, at least from how I was raised, is I discovered a compassionate God who understands we are flawed but loves us enough to guide us through life. I stopped seeing a hateful, vengeful God looking to swat us like flies for stepping out of line. I still believe in Hell, Heaven and eternal consequences of our actions. I just think some things I had been told were sin are probably not as cut and dry as some made me believe. I also believe that God’s mercy might be more obtainable than I had been led to believe. I was raised thinking rock n roll music was satanic and Pokemon was evil.

It took me attending my first Pride event last summer and mingling with all the different people before I realized there really is a sort of kinship between the various subgroups. I don’t like the us versus them mentality that labeling people creates. I am wondering if maybe it is time to redefine the whole concept of an LGBTQIA+ community? In an attempt to be more inclusive I wonder where do we draw the line? If you basically broaden it to include every person that isn’t heterosexual it sounds an awful lot like an us versus them line in the sand. Something that I think might be what is holding us back. In a way we need to all accept each other as human beings. I could be wrong. What I do know is I am trying to grow as a person.

I would be curious to get the perspective from others. Should trans people be included in the LGBT community or do we have the right to exist in our own spectrum of the rainbow? Is it inclusive to lump trans people in with the gay and lesbians or is it separate? I’ve been told gender and sexuality are not necessarily tied. There are cisgender gay men, cisgender lesbian women, transgender gay men and transgender lesbian women. Maybe it’s time we separate the LGB from the TQIA? What I mean by that is if we are to continue pushing the idea gender and sexuality are separate is it destructive or harmful for us to lump everyone together that isn’t hetero-binary? If gender and sexuality are different than trans and LGB aren’t really that connected anyways, are they? Or does it all go back to what we fight against? Are transgender women/transmen just homosexuals who cling to a gender stereotype that fits them into the binary hetero sexual world? Or are we allowed to buck the stereotypes? Can a transwoman be a lesbian tomboy and still be considered trans?