Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Those who forget history are not as bad as those who distort it

We really should not be surprised that the likes of Andrew Sullivan and this guy are busy trying to represent the ENDA mess as the result of evil trans people and their leftist friends raining on everyone's parade. And one of the arguments that they use is that trans people only joined the revolution at a late stage and so should sit at the back of the bus.

This is an obnoxious argument in itself, and it also happens to be a direct and absolute lie. Who rioted at Stonewall and before that at the Compton in San Francisco? That would be transfolk, mofos. I was at meetings of Gay Liberation in London within six months of its founding and where was I sitting? Oh, with the TV/TS caucus, of course. And who was speaking on gay platforms for the first few years of the movement in the US? Oh, that would have been Sylvia Riveira of STAR.

What then happened, of course, was the anti-trans movement in lesbian feminism and the rise of a gay male activism that was bourgeois in its aspirations. Trans people were isolated and excluded from the movement. Many histories of the early days leave the trans community out and Sylvia Riveira in particular got refused access to the platform after the first few ywars. In many cases this empowered the het-identified section of the trans community to be heterosexist and exclusionary in its turn - I remember in the 80s being quite unpopular for being out as a dyke in the trans community as well as elsewhere. I am not, let us be clear, claiming that the trans community has always been at its best in its relationship with the broader LGBT movement. As always, though, the question is one of power - who had it and who therefore has to take most responsibility? Putting the T in LGBT was always a matter of putting us back where we belonged, and redressing injustice, not a last minute jumping of bandwagons.

The group who excluded us was not so much radical feminists, who were busy excluding themselves from the movement for a long time, so much as men like Barney Frank who wanted freedom for themselves, but were really not all that bothered about others. Susan Stryker's evidence - see in gene_home - is a good indicator that Frank in particular has always been hostile to trans people.

As someone who has fought in trans politics for the alliance, when it was not always convenient to do so, I am appalled that rightwing American gay men are accusing transfolk of a stab in the back when if anyone is getting stabbed it is us.
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