LGBT Groups Respond to Petition Asking to 'Drop the T'

'Drop the T' petition on Change.org

The 850 people who signed a petition on Change.org asking several major LGBT organizations and publications, including The Advocate, to cut ties with trans people and issues, now have their response from two of the country's most prominent LGBT groups. 

"GLAAD stands firmly with the transgender community and unequivocally rejects the outrageous and destructive idea that the ‘T’ be removed from LGBT," said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. "For decades, transgender people have worked alongside lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to advance equality for everyone, often leading the way in the movement for full equality and acceptance. Many trans people are also lesbian, gay, and bisexual — they are an inextricable and invaluable part of the LGB community. At a time when anti-LGBT activists continue to attack the basic rights and protections essential to all of our lives, we must stand together, rather than succumb to the ruin of divisiveness."

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin was equally direct in his response: 

"This is unequivocally wrong. The hate that killed Matthew Shepard killed Zella Ziona. The bullies at school aren't just harassing the gay kids, they're harassing the transgender kids. The parents who could provide loving homes for the 400,000 children in foster care aren't only lesbian parents, or gay parents, they're bisexual parents and transgender parents. This idea that we are somehow separate and apart is patently untrue. We are one movement, stronger in our unity. We are one community, period. And the Human Rights Campaign will not be done working until equality reaches every single one of us."

The petition, authored by an anonymous avatar simply identified on Change.org as "Drop the T," recycles several anti-trans arguments often advanced by so-called Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists, or TERFs. The petition claims to come from "a group of gay/bisexual men and women who have come to the conclusion that the transgender community needs to be disassociated from the larger LGB community."

After arguing that trans people do not belong in a movement of LGB people because "LGB is about sexual orientation, trans is about gender identity," the petition highlights several recent controversies where TERFs squared off with trans people and supporters over inclusion and language. 

Lamenting the "vilification and harassment of women and gay men/lesbian individuals who openly express disagreement with the trans ideology," the petition points to recent remarks from prominent feminist Germaine Greer, who recently claimed that trans women — namely Caitlyn Jenner — "can't be women." When trans activists and allies called out the Feminine Mystique author for what they perceived as transphobic remarks, Greer doubled down, using vulgar language to denounce gender-affirming procedures as insufficient to "make you a fucking woman." 

The petition's authors also complain that trans people have been "re-writing gay and lesbian history," most recently by protesting Roland Emmerich's Stonewall for placing a fictional white, masculine, cisgender gay man at the center of the story about the riot that sparked the LGBT movement. Despite widespread acknowledgement that those who led the charge at Stonewall were trans and gender-nonconforming women and people of color, the petition takes aim at The Advocate and its sibling publication, OUT, for participating in "the appropriation and re-writing of gay and lesbian history and culture." 

The authors elaborate:  

"Particularly frustrating was the fact that media outlets such as The Advocate, Out and Huff Post Gay Voices, who should have been the first to point out the fallacy of this notion, actually went along with the lie."

The petition even recycles the transphobic myth that successfully felled the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance this week, claiming that letting trans people use the bathroom that matches their gender identity would lead to men "pretending" to be transgender to gain access to women-only spaces and harass or assault women and children. 

While listing justifications for why LGBT groups should "drop the T," the petition cites:

"The infringement of the rights of individuals, particularly women, to perform normal everyday activities in traditional safe spaces based on sex; this is most pernicious in the case of men claiming to be transgender demanding access to bathrooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters and other such spaces reserved for women."

But in reality, more than 200 cities nationwide have trans-inclusive ordinances, and there have been exactly zero confirmed reports of anyone "pretending" to be trans to harass women. Same goes for a recent study of schools, with trans-inclusive policies; among more than 600,000 students, there was not a single report of a trans student harassing peers in the bathroom or locker room. In the controversy over HERO, Media Matters asked experts from several Texas cities if trans-inclusive policies had led to an increase in assault or violence against women. The unanimous response: not one bit.

The issue which the petition's authors deem "most troubling," however, revolves around trans-affirming health care for young people. The petition alleges that trans people are "persuading parents and health professionals to diagnose children as young as four as transgender." Parents and doctors affirming the proclaimed gender identity of children from a young age, the authors contend, actually "runs counter to traditional LGB and feminist philosophy — whereas feminists and gay men/women advocate for expanding and re-defining gender concepts, the trans movement is regressive, insisting upon re-asserting and codifying classic gender concepts of what is masculine and what is feminine."

Finally, the petition's authors explain that "we are not advocating intolerance or prejudice against the transgender community; we recognize and respect the right of adults to determine their own path in life." But such self-determination, the authors contend, "cannot occur by infringing upon the rights of women, gay men, and children." 

The authors state that they are hoping to launch a discussion on the concerns they raise, "which for too long are being suppressed and censored." 

"In the end, we feel that the transgender ideology is not compatible with the rights of women, gay men and children and ask that the organizations and media outlets mentioned above disassociate themselves from the transgender movement and return to representing their base support of gay men and lesbians," the authors conclude.

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