In a recent post here in Cyrsti's Condo, I mentioned the "knowledge" gap between the transgender and gay/ lesbian community has been narrowed somewhat. Bridges are being built as less and less of us become stealth queens.
I base that idea on a very small unscientific sampling of my interaction with the gay community.
As I began to roll the idea around in my noggin, I came up with a couple not so brilliant epiphanies. The first was the fact I had no real idea what they were about. Like what questions I should or shouldn't ask? Is it cool to ask a gay person questions like "when did you come out and to whom?" It also took me years to figure out I still shared the basic male homophobic fear of getting too close to a gay person. Even in a dress, my frail male sexual ego was "afraid" a gay guy was going to generate a sexual "threat" to me. I was viewing them the same as the "hetero" guys who steer very clear of me. In reality of course, the greatest majority of gay men are attracted to men and not one in a dress.
Then I wondered how did the transgender community become linked to the L's and G's to begin with? Also,what's up with those Bi folk? I have never met a "Bi Activist" for whatever reason. More than likely the link occurred years ago with all the LGBT groups seeking safe places to socialize. As time went on, having more public clout meant including the addition of the silent "T". The "T" lived up to it's billing and stayed very silent. As it turned out, the main goal for a huge majority of a generation of transgender women was to take whatever change they could and run and hide with it.
As times began to change though, the gay and lesbian community really began to come together and exert a strong force on society. Yet the transgender folk were once again left to bicker between themselves behind closed doors. The number of operations you have had, how well you "pass" and the number of hormones you took surpassed discussing trans rights and jobs. It seemed once again the transgender community was content to stay in it's own closet and blame others for being there.
Finally we can feel the winds of change as the young transgender community is beginning to be a vocal force for change. All of the sudden older trans folks are transitioning and not running for their closets but are running instead for public offices, and many others are screaming or voting against injustice.
Now we have gone full circle to the subject at hand. Our interaction with the gay and lesbian community will always take a great amount of work and understanding. Mainly because our life experiences as transgender women and men are so different than all others in society. The more we do to build our own bridge to them, the less silent the "T" will be and the LGBT coalition will be stronger for it.