THE TRANSGENDER AND GAY INTERFACE
by Melanie Yarborough
It's one of life's big ironies that the transgendered and gays are equally misunderstood by the rest of the world. Most crossdressers, for example, are heterosexual men deeply offended that people assume because they like to wear women's clothing, they must be gay. Yet most gay men are equally bothered by the assumption that because they're gay, they must want to dress as women. Same prejudice, just differently applied.
Many transgendered go out of their way to distance themselves from the Gay community for fear of guilt by association. The message put out is "We're respectable middle class men who have this one hang-up. Don't confuse us with those other perverts". However, many in the straight world simply won't accept this, no matter how many times they're hit over the head with it. And as long as there is continuing repression of Gays, it's inevitable there will be just as much repression of crossdressers and transsexuals. After all,you can't make bigots target selectively.
The two communities actually share several commonalities. First, there is the issue of closets. Many young gay and transgendered people live in a world of shame and fear of being discovered. They feel they have a dirty little secret to hide away from the world. Both gay and transgendered people worry about being "outed" at work and losing their jobs.
In many parts of this country, gay men and lesbian women are
humiliated or even assaulted or publically showing affection for their partner. The transgender community faces equal insults or violence for appearing in public in their gender of choice. The raids on gay bars in the past, and the police detentions of public crossdressers are part of that same repression.
Both also face legal obstacles. Gay marriages and relationships aren't recognized by Civil Code and Insurance. Transsexual change of vital documents or medical transition can also be made difficult by the law and insurance companies. Crossdressers face that fact that in many places it's still illegal to appear crossdressed in public or to use the opposite gender restroom.
And finally, there are medical issues. The gay community must deal with the slow and frustrating medical bureaucracy on issues of AIDS research. The Transsexual community must deal with the slow and frustrating medical bureacracy on issues of hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery.
The Transgender and Gay communities need to work together. Admittedly, there are still misconceptions on both sides. Many crossdressers are still homophobic, not realizing that sexual orientation is an individual matter. Conversely, many Gays assume crossdressers are gay men in denial, or queens who just don't dress as well. It's time we put aside our differences, started to dialogue, and worked together.
Melanie's Home Page