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This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Words Matter, So Use Them Correctly

I've got a pet peeve folks.

Well, to be honest I've probably got a lot of them, but this one in particular is making me cranky today. I'm sure other people have written extensively about it (though cursory googling does not produce any results).

It's this: Don't use "GLBT" or "LGBT" (which are the two most common iterations of that particular acronym) if you don't actually mean Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. and Transgender. Each. Specifically.

I'm frankly pretty sick of the label being used when really it should be "white cis gay men, and maybe a few lesbians."

Things that are not *actually* GLBT friendly: the Human Rights Campaign (when the only trans person on your board quits in protest of how thoroughly you fuck over the trans community, you are NOT an organization focusing on the GLBT community, you are, at best focusing on the GLB community), the Advocate (when only 1 of the past 21 covers you put out have a picture of a lesbian on them, and none have pictures of anyone identified as trans, or even bisexual... this is not a magazine for anyone other than the G in GLBT, let's not delude ourselves here), "LGBT panels" (that are invariously described as being about writing "gay" characters, that focus on slutty evil bisexual male characters, and that have no mention of lesbians or, wait!, this seems to be a theme!, trans people... OK, sure sounds REALLY LGBT friendly, uh huh, do you happen to have any bridges?, I'm especially interested in purchasing the Brooklyn one I've heard it's pretty), you get the idea.

Apparently some time a while ago, after Gay orgs got called out for being exclusionary, they decided that calling themselves GLBT (or LGBT) would do to fix that particular problem. And it probably helped for about 5 minutes. Trans and Bisexual folks would walk in the door and be struck by the fact that it had an acronym that included them. Yay!

These days, I think it does a whole hell of a lot more harm than good, because like Gender Bending fiction that doesn't actually depict our lives, it gives the veneer of respect and inclusion. It tells allies (or potential allies) who don't yet know about the issues going on, that "this" (whatever "this" it is, which is almost invariably a more powerful organization, and thus less likely to actually be engaged with the more marginalized of our populations) is what is trans-friendly, or bisexual inclusive looks like. So that people working on a project about the trans community use statistics from an organization that had their only trans board member quit in protest of their transphobia.

So please. If you are a safe space for gay men, fine, call yourself that. If you are a safe space for gays and lesbians, say that. But if you tack on an extra letter, MEAN IT. Don't insult us by using our letters to pad your inclusive cred.


  1. Hi! I'm here from Shakesville, and I found myself vigorously nodding about HRC. Not just HRC, either. Every time I run into someone working for Equality California, zie says, "Oh, yes, we're supporting a trans-inclusive ENDA." But when I volunteered briefly for EQCA, the organizers had us out at Trans Pride asking for donations toward getting same-sex marriage on the ballot again. When I said that I anticipated being asked, you know, since EQCA was canvassing at Trans Pride, what EQCA was doing for the trans community, they seemed surprised by the question. Not a good sign.

    Hence, I have kind of a 101 question: are there organizations whose advocacy, organizing, and lobbying on trans issues you've been really pleased with?

  2. Here from Shakesville too. Definitely nodded along.

    Also, I really loved the 'Gender Bending fiction' article too.

  3. RachelB, mostly I feel like the best way to find actually trans* friendly orgs is to seek out ones that focus on that. I'm a big fan of Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, because my friends are part of it and my partner helps out a bit too. I know that they also have a wiki connected to them that has trans* friendly orgs across the US listed.

    And that in the past they've worked for GLAD, so that's a possibility (though I admit to not knowing nearly enough about GLAD to say for certain).

  4. Yes. This. Shakesville brought me here; I am loving your blog and adding it to my blogroll. Awesomeness.


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