Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Shift In Lexicon?

When I first started to come out back around 2000 transgender was an umbrella term that covered anyone who crossed the gender norms, it was a continuum from drag queens/kings all the way to post-op, it was inclusive. Now it seems like it has become an exclusive term and I don’t like it.
Myth #10: Drag queens and kings are transgender
By German Lopez
November 14, 2018

Although commonly intermixed as part of LGBTQ communities, transgender people and drag queens or kings aren’t necessarily related.

LGBTQ group GLAAD explained: “Transgender women are not cross-dressers or drag queens. Drag queens are men, typically gay men, who dress like women for the purpose of entertainment. Be aware of the differences between transgender women, cross-dressers, and drag queens. Use the term preferred by the individual.”

This distinction is very important to LGBTQ and trans advocates because it helps show the permanence of someone’s trans identity.

Being trans isn’t a matter of dressing up in different clothes. It’s a permanent identity that follows people throughout their entire lives. And while some trans people enjoy dressing up in exotic outfits to entertain others, the act of dressing up in clothes that match one’s gender identity reflects only one part of what it means to be trans.
Now I totally disagree with this definition.

National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE) defines the word in their 2003 Transitioning Our Shelters as…
Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, including but not limited to transsexuals, crossdressers, androgynous people, genderqueers, and gender non-conforming people. Transgender is a broad term and is good for providers to use.
Now on their website they define it as…
Transgender is a broad term that can be used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be when they were born. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender.
See how it has changed?

I think for the worst. It went from being inclusive to exclusive and there is a technical term for the change… “Lateral Hostility.”

This is how Legal Definitions defines the term.
Lateral violence happens when people who are both victims of a situation of dominance, in fact turn on each other rather than confront the system that oppresses them both. Lateral violence occurs when oppressed groups/individuals internalize feelings such as anger and rage, and manifest their feelings through behaviors such as gossip, jealousy, putdowns and blaming.
Why the shift from inclusive to exclusive?

I believe that there are several factors at work here.

One is the ignorance and laziness of the media.

I think that some of the reporters don’t want to bother with doing any research. The first year that we were trying to pass the non-discrimination bill here in Connecticut I was being interviewed by one of the local TV stations and we (by “we” I mean our lobbyist, other individuals working on the bill and myself) and were trying to explain to him about pronouns and terminology but the reporter didn’t want to any of it. The other factor I think the media doesn’t want to take up space defining words.

I think that “lateral hostility” comes in to play is when trans people who have transitioned wants to disassociate from other trans people such as crossdressers and drag queens/kings… we are not like “those people.” They see themselves on top of the pyramid and everyone else is below them.

Back in 2006 when we were discussing the Connecticut non-discrimination bill to be introduced in 2007 one of the things that we want to make sure was that the bill was inclusive, that it cover not only those who are transitioning or have but also crossdressers and drag queens/kings. In the law it covers gender identity and expression, everyone has a gender identity and expression it might be that they were assigned at birth and if they are harassed or discriminated against they are still covered by the law.

I don’t know the author, German Lopez if he is trans or not but all the other articles he wrote are about marijuana and maybe he should stay with topics he knows about.

So what do you think?


  1. I agree that it should remain inclusive, but the divide between gender identity and gender expression does make it difficult for the average person to understand (I even have trouble sometimes). I know that I am neither a cross dresser or a drag queen, and I do have hope that people would not see me as either. I don't see myself as being at the top of the pyramid, rather, my gender identity and expression are my whole life - not an occasional activity. That is only better in that it is what's best for me. I harbor no "lateral hostility," but I rarely involve myself with the activities of those other trans groups. We can be different without having differences, I guess.

  2. I think FabCon makes some excellent points, and I agree that we should celebrate our differences rather than trying to erase or ignore them.
    Furthermore, l would vehemently disagree that, "Transgender is a broad term and is good for providers to use."

    Trying to conflate those that desperately need specific medical treatments, (hrt/srs), with those that simply enjoy cross dressing for whatever reasons, does little more than muddy the water's and further confuse both allies and those others who have little interest and even less true understanding.

  3. Perhaps folks should read or re-read Leslie Feinberg's Transgender Warriors, would help quite a bit.

  4. Does the younger generation even know who Leslie Feinberg is?

  5. If they don't then shame on the elders, the youth group leaders, and themselves for not learning ourstories. NCET should be ashamed of themselves for excluding anyone. What gives them the right? Are they going the way of HRC? Are they falling into the old a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Making themselves palatable to the mainstream, to the outsiders, to anyone who has a narrow definition. This crap is as old as the hills in our movement. Such a waste of time many of us who have been in the fight since the early 70 see this as. Such a stab in the back to our Transgender warriors. On another note I have felt hostility from younger trans folks because I am a cis queer white man. But you know what, the heck with it, I know who I am, what I am, what I believe in, where I have been, what I have done and where I think we must go for liberation for all. Let them reinvent the wheel, I do not have time for such. NCET is falling right into the hands of the oppressor with their split and divide rhetoric.