The demographic of gay men who are openly attacking the transgender community are growing at an alarming rate.
As the Trump administration has continued his two-year long relentless attack on the transgender community, recently there’s been a surge of cis gay men who have lent their voices to the chorus of conservative voices campaigning for the revoking of civil rights for every trans America.
While there has always been the random, rogue cis gay man who has used his platform to endorse the ousting of transgender folks from inclusion beneath the LGBT umbrella, they have largely been in the minority. Most organizations that support the LGBT community in general have overwhelmingly rejected the efforts of the Trump administrations to further marginalize the most vulnerable represented within the acronym.
While thousands of trans individuals expressed confusion and fear as a result of the latest attack by this administration, the lack of cis gay men expressing solidarity with us while we are under siege was alarming. I have many friends across the spectrum, and quite often I write and retweet relevant content to amplify the voices of those of us who are the target of the ongoing smear campaign which attempts to create the narrative that we are “Mentally ill,” “Delusional,” “Men parading as women,” “Physical threats to men and little girls,” and “Exempt from the 1964 Civil Rights act which was “Never intended to protect” us as a people.
An article from last year resurfaced recently to great fanfare from a gay male writer who bemoans the fact that he has felt pressured by social justice warriors to acknowledge transgender women as women, despite the fact that he patently disagrees. He explains in his essay that the only reason he had not previously disclosed his desire to reject trans women was fear of retaliation from within his own community.
“I don’t believe trans women are women, and I never have. I don’t believe it because it isn’t true. Neither do I believe trans men are men. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask me to repeat after you — I’m not gonna believe it. Sorry.” — Connor Kelly
Resistance among our own ranks is the last place we would expect to find uniformed rhetoric and caustic rejection. But, Connor, who performs at LGBT and Pride events in his home country represents just one voice of dissent when it comes to acknowledging trans people as their authentic gender.
The most famous anti-trans (and anti feminism) alt-right hero is, in fact, a gay man himself. Milo Yiannopoulos, who famously stated, among many other things, that transgender people are “disproportionately involved in sex-based crimes” drew criticism for attempting to perpetuate such hateful propaganda targeting the trans community. He was, however, half right. Transgender people are disproportionately the victims of sex-based crimes- not the perpetrators of them.
Milo kicked down the door on gay ire directed at the trans community, but most distributing was the sheer number of cis gay men and women who eagerly followed him over the threshold. In fact, a small group of radical feminists carrying offensive banners denouncing transgender people and handing out anti-trans pamphlets to bystanders hijacked London Pride this past year, after the same thing happened during New Zealand Pride which punctuates the fact that transphobia is becoming an emboldened characteristic of our collective community.
But, gay men are appearing less and less likely to stand up and speak out on behalf of the transgender community as we find ourselves dodging everything from military bans, word bans and over 100 pieces of anti-trans legislation proposed to alienate us from greater society. We’re facing a multitude of threats from Trump’s aggressive stance against us as we find ourselves being used as political pawns to satisfy his radicalized religious base. Countless protections for trans students and disabled trans Americans have either been redacted by executive order or are under direct threat from the new branch of the Department of Health and Human Services called the “Religious Freedom and Moral Conscience Division” which allows medical caregivers the right to deny us life saving treatment if they oppose our gender identity. This was before the proposal to revoke our civil rights.
As a woman with many gay friends. I have tirelessly fought for the rights of the gay community for years; from the abolishing of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the US military, to marriage equality and the right to donate blood. I have maintained a keen awareness of the plights gay men face daily in America, and I understand the fundamental differences between right and wrong, good and bad and equality vs. inequality. I have been a proud, vocal supporter of gay rights and will continue to be. So, imagine my disappointment when, on the day Trump instructed the Department of Justice to inform the Supreme Court that trans identifying people could be legally fired from their jobs solely because of their gender identity and the civil rights website removed references to “Gender” and replaced them “Sex” instead as they doubled-down on their intention to erase trans Americans and reinforce the scientifically disproven idea that “Sex” is binary and marked only by ones genitals; Most of my gay male friends went radio silent.
There was no outrage expressed, no encouraging words of support or promises to fight alongside my community to push back against these acts of heinous discrimination offered up with the Presidential stamp of approval. Two people messaged me to see how I was managing emotionally as we trans folks faced down the barrel of this political shotgun. Both were cisgender women.
The social media website Gab.com, which claims to be the home of uncensored free speech recently came under fire for providing a platform for the domestic terrorist, Robert Bowers, who stormed into a Pittsburgh Synagogue, shouted “Death to all Jews” and opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding 6 others, including 4 police officers. Bowers used the Gab website to express his hatred openly and made regular threats leading up to his murderous acts.
Gab also serves as home to many gay men who feel comfortable expressing their disdain for the transgender community. A quick browse reveals several disheartening sentiments.
While it would be unfair to say that all gay men have adopted this decidedly anti-trans ethos, I would be reticent if I didn’t acknowledge that it appears to be a movement that is not just emboldened, but gaining momentum.
Here’s the sad reality that seems to be lost on these gay folks turning a blind eye to the unnerving social conditions being created for transgender people which will inhibit us from thriving in America; We’re the canary in the mines. This administration may indeed succeed at redacting all of our protections as a minority, revoking our civil rights which exposes us to ruthless discrimination, harassment and violence, but once we stop singing, you better run like hell.
In fact, some in government are already debating over whether or not sexual orientation should be included or protected by the civil rights act with the newly appointed and notoriously anti-gay attorney, Eric Dreiband now heading the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. House Republicans have already authored a bill to remove the rights of gays and lesbians from adopting children.
Trans people may be the first in the firing line, but if you’re a gay man, remember, it wasn’t long ago that, on the basis of your sexuality alone, you were considered a pervert, mentally ill, and an abomination to God according to the same Evangelists that Trump and Pence have been courting for votes, most recently at the Value Voters Summit where they passed out propaganda like this:
Have you gotten so comfortable with the illusion of newfound mainstream acceptance that you’ve forgotten your own history? Do you feel you’ve been suddenly embraced and accepted by those who once renounced your existence and insisted you required conversion therapy- which is still legal in 41 states? Have you developed the sort of anointed privilege that you were once the victim of? Do you feel safer if the arrows being fired over the bough of this administration are aimed at us trans folks rather than you?
I have difficulty- and the reality is rather stinging- processing how so many gay men are finding themselves willing to ally with their own oppressors in a concerted effort to demonize transgender people as if that common goal will exempt them from being the next on the evangelical hit list.
No. It won’t. But by the time you realize this, it will be too late. As so many gay men are disavowing us trans folks while we simply try to live our lives authentically, they will find themselves having to echo the very words in self defense that we trans identifying people are right now.
“I was born this way.”
“I’m not sick or a pervert. I’m a threat to no one.”
“I have a right to be proud of who I am.”
“I should not be subject to cruel and inhumane discrimination in the name of organized religion.”
“Why are my rights being put on a ballot, used as political talking points or leveraged to gain favor by bigoted politicians.”
You’ve been here, in our shoes. Or, maybe you haven’t. Because gay rights and progress of the LGBT movement was built on the backs of gay, lesbians and trans people who fought and died in an era where division wasn’t an option. We needed each other to survive. The rights you enjoy today; the privilege you’re flouting and the hatred you’re spewing was not earned by you- it was fought for you to have that right by people who expect you would use them as a destructive force- most of those who pioneered our rights, those we owe a debt to, they died without ever experiencing a world in which things like gay marriage or pride month existed.
Now look at you. Audaciously standing on the efforts of those who were not like you and using that to condemn others — people like me.
You can do better. You need to do better. If you turn on us now, prepare yourselves because the cannons of hatred legitimized by our government will turn swiftly in your direction.
And, I won’t be here to fight for you.
I will have fallen as a consequence of your allegiance with my enemies who are, ironically, your enemies.
You won’t have the right, anymore, to ask why none of of us are speaking up on your behalf when you were actively complicit in rendering us silent.