News | Transgender

Transgender Rights '20 Years Behind' Gay Rights Due To Smaller Population

In David Crary's recent Associated Press article exploring the hurdles facing the transgender rights movement, Michael Silverman — executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund — said, "My sense is that we are 20 years behind the mainstream gay and lesbian movement in terms of public understanding."

Part of the challenge is demographic. According to demographer Gary Gates of the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, an estimated 3.4 percent of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, while only one-tenth that many are transgender…

Trans_rights"The fact we've had so many victories on behalf of gays and lesbians means transgender people are now on the radar - and with it comes the nastiness," said [Dru Levasseur, director of Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Project]. "There have been so many advances regarding marriage that the anti-equality groups are shifting to target the next set of upcoming victories on transgender issues."

Beyond the battles for a trans-inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act and public accommodation protections, the transgender rights movement is also focused on getting health care coverage for trans-medical needs as well as lowering the higher rates of incarceration, poverty and violence against transgender people.

The article says that despite several recent political victories — including the Senate's passing of a trans-inclusive ENDA and California's passage of a public accommodations law for transgender students (the repeal effort against which seems doomed to fail) — conservative groups such as the so-called National Organization for Marriage have shifted their focus from losing battles against committed same-sex couples to demonizing trans kids.

"Fewer Americans know transgender people [as well as they do gay people] at this point," Silverman said, "and that presents an opening that opponents of transgender rights can exploit."

Also, despite the recent visibility of trans people in the media like celebrity Chaz Bono, infamous Wikileaker Chelsea (previously Bradley) Manning and Orange is the New Black's Laverne Cox, a recent study by Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation reported that 12 of 20 appearances of trans characters on TV portrayed them as either clownish or sociopathic, hindering public acceptance and understanding of trans people and their struggles.

However, Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal questioned the notion that - in the court of public opinion - transgender rights was a tougher sell than gay rights. The key to winning more acceptance, he said, was a willingness by transgender people to share the stories of their lives.

"Being who you are - being brave enough to be yourself. People can relate to that," he said.

Despite the 2012 launch of the "I AM: Trans People Speak" video campaign designed to lets transgender Americans tell their stories, I AM currently has 69 videos uploaded while the anti-bullying campaign "It Gets Better" has easily over 1,000. Granted, you don't need to be LGBT to make an "It Gets Better" video, but the fact that many celebrities and companies helped bolster the IGB campaign may reveal two important allies the trans movement needs in order to sway public opinion and ultimately advance their cause.

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  1. thats for sure...

    Posted by: Patrick | Dec 15, 2013 3:22:52 PM

  2. I'm a homosexual male and it's been enlightening to learn about the historicity of not just people like me, but transgendered people. History is a great eye opener.

    Posted by: Deep | Dec 15, 2013 3:31:14 PM

  3. Actually, male homosexuality exists in a majority of men, and not just 3%.

    Also, transgenders tend to be anti-gay. Stop equating trans rights to gay rights.s

    Posted by: ASamb | Dec 15, 2013 3:53:43 PM

  4. agree, many trans people just want to please the heteronormative world and change sex so they won't be "gay freaks"

    Posted by: litper | Dec 15, 2013 3:57:42 PM

  5. The good news is that since more and more people with functioning brains and hearts are learning about our transgendered brothers and sisters, progress is being made, albeit slowly.

    ANyone who possesses even a modicum of integrity stands strong with love and solidarity with "our Ts"

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 15, 2013 4:22:36 PM

  6. There are still plenty of demeaning portrayals of Lesbians and Gay men in the media. However, Transsexual characters definitely have it worse than the rest. Nine out of ten times, Transwomen will be made the butt of a really nasty joke.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Dec 15, 2013 4:46:36 PM

  7. Did anyone notice the reference to the "Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund"? You see, when LGBs form a group, fund it, and run it for decades, it has to be handed over to trans activists. Because "LGBT" tells us that this must be so. Nothing gay can exist; everything gay must be LGBT.

    But when trans activists form a group, well, different rules apply. "LGBT" only matters when it is time for LGBs to give up their money, their property, their organizations and their political priorities. It never asks anything of trans activists. They not only have their T-only groups, but they get gay men like Jon Stryker to fund them.

    LGBT - one of the greatest scams in political history.

    Posted by: Matthew | Dec 15, 2013 4:54:56 PM

  8. The sad thing is that Ts are not 20 years behind LGBs. That implies that they are on the same trajectory and that, as more people come out as trans, things will improve.

    That only works when the people coming out to their families and friends make a positive impression. If they come out and are seen as miserable, bitter, and self-destructive, then coming out will generate negative feelings. I can tell you that I went from being pro-trans to anti as a result of actually dealing with them, seeing their contempt for gay people and especially lesbians, and their relentless attacks on women.

    When trans activists personally lobbied the Maryland legislature for their anti-discrimination bill, support dropped. It seems that the best thing transfolk can do to help themselves is to ensure that as few people as possible learn what they are really like.

    Posted by: Leah | Dec 15, 2013 5:03:36 PM

  9. that the only anti-trans comments are being made by a cowardly troll who, decidedly, clearly lacks a pair of orbs is rather telling.

    the only gay men who don't support our trans brothers and sisters are the cowards who don't love themselves. truth.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 15, 2013 5:06:57 PM

  10. we are the self-respecting gay MEN, of course effeminate people like Kiwi support trans movement because they are self-hating and reject masculinity to conform to hetero society

    Posted by: litper | Dec 15, 2013 5:19:47 PM

  11. It's not trans people who want to please the heterosexual world and distance themselves from "gay freaks," but closeted "straight acting" gays like Rick and his ilk.

    I've tangled with some trans activists (hello Kate B!), but that doesn't stop me from supporting their cause.

    Posted by: KevinVt | Dec 15, 2013 5:25:12 PM

  12. Some people wouldn't know self-hating if it bit them in the.... And it has.

    Posted by: KevinVt | Dec 15, 2013 5:28:01 PM

  13. There is no such thing as "straight acting". Straight people do not act any differently. Unless you're a big effeminate queen in a pink tutu.

    Posted by: litper | Dec 15, 2013 5:35:16 PM

  14. Little Kiwi - As a woman, I do lack a pair of orbs. And I am not sorry about that. So that is no insult. It is no surprise that the big time sexists and women-haters come to the defense of trans activists. Birds of a feather . . .

    Posted by: Leah | Dec 15, 2013 5:50:25 PM

  15. Trans activists are violent. They recently threatened to disrupt a memorial service honoring women who were killed in a massacre in Canada. They threatened gay filmmaker Diego Luna. They stalked and assaulted Dan Savage. I hope they never realize the success that LGBs have. They don't deserve it. Let them deal with their issues in therapy.

    Posted by: Tyler | Dec 15, 2013 5:56:19 PM

  16. I don't understand why there is so much hate from a number of the gay community towards transgendered people. If anything, in my opinion, they have it worse from both sides. I actually had to inform someone I know on why a transwoman is not gay if she is sexually attracted to a man. Too much misinformation, and ignorance on the topic (hell, even I would like to be more informed), and am glad that this is being talked about No one should have to feel belittled because of who they are.

    Posted by: rhys | Dec 15, 2013 6:06:13 PM

  17. @Rhys - it's just this site's one miserable eunuch who's spouting trans-hatred in other user names. Why? Because he's got nothing to live for in life - it's like the man who has a bad day at work so he comes home, kicks his dog and slap his wife.

    Only this troll no dog and neither spouse nor lover - so he comes to towleroad every day to show everyone how angry he is at being an impotent hack.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 15, 2013 6:20:22 PM

  18. It is interesting to read Little Kiwi's posts. They are a model of sexism and misogyny. Look at how he refers to people he disagrees with. They "lack a pair of orbs" and they are "eunuchs" who are "impotent."

    Clearly, he equates the value of a human being with a penis and testicles. And he also makes a crack about domestic violence against women.

    Disgusting misogyny and gendered violence. That is the mark of most trans activists and their allies. Little Kiwi is no exception.

    Posted by: Leah | Dec 15, 2013 6:39:31 PM

  19. Too bad "leah" is really just our resident (and male) miserable troll. Your lack of balls doesn't make you a woman, it makes you a boy. A coward of a boy, whose balls never dropped because he was too busy hating minorities to grow an actual pair :D

    Oh, "Leah" - it's kinda cute how you pose a woman sometimes to spew your cowardly nonsense. This Christmas, may you practice your destined-to-never-be-utilized fellatio skills around the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 15, 2013 6:48:54 PM

  20. Cripes. Please stop responding to trolls. Please. Some of you have been doing it for years and gotten exactly nowhere. I would be embarrassed if people close to me saw the endless childish comments on this site.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 15, 2013 6:55:21 PM

  21. Just ignore KIWI. It's uplifting.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Dec 15, 2013 7:57:17 PM

  22. UFFDA - you couldn't ignore me if you tried. You talk about me all the time on here, and even post nonsense under my name, among others (dude, for real, we all know your aliases).

    But I shall once again return to doing what your family does - ignore you as if you were dead. tah tah, and happy christmas!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 15, 2013 8:07:07 PM

  23. Leah, whatever can be said about our Little Kiwi he is no misogynist. If there were any racism, sexism, or prejudice in him it would only be some residual amount due to his being part of a society where those traits still exist. If he discovered such traits in himself he'd work quickly to eliminate them. If you read anything with his name on it that seemed "unliberal" in any way it was certainly written by a troll trying to make him look bad.

    By the way, don't take personally his "die by giving a blow job to a gun" remark. He writes like this when he's provoked, but he's also capable of some fascinating insights. Check out his blog and Youtube videos - they're interesting.

    Posted by: Mary | Dec 15, 2013 8:22:02 PM

  24. Mary, how am I not supposed to take personally when someone tells me that I am not a woman and wishes that I would commit suicide? Who talks like that? And given the ongoing suicide crisis in the LGB community, how could any gay man talk like that to a lesbian or gay man? It is horrific behavior. And the fact that he sexualizes the suicidal imagery makes it even more horrific.

    I didn't say anything about racism. I did note his misogyny. And it is very obvious. For whatever reason, he thinks that his persona as a "bad boy" or a radical gives him the right to denigrate women, to privilege the penis, and to encourage suicide. Don't defend this.

    Posted by: Leah | Dec 15, 2013 8:51:53 PM

  25. I'm not sure if trans rights are actually behind by 20 years, and if they are behind, it's because of their population. What rights are they talking about? It's not like gay rights are universal, and who knows how long it will take to become universal. It's true that the trans population is tiny, but the major issues are " pre operative" rights, I'm assuming, like work-place job protection and access to bathrooms. I'm not aware of many issues "post operative" since most laws follow gender "form" and not "birth gender" norms.

    Posted by: anon | Dec 15, 2013 9:03:20 PM

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