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June 29, 2015

Is Criticism of Marriage Equality a Sign of Homophobia in the Trans Community?

On Facebook and Twitter I’ve seen some criticism of the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality from trans people.  The script may vary depending on the audience, but here’s an example. Rebecca Juro posited this on Facebook:

Rebecca Juro   The LGBT civil rights movement as we know it just...

“The LGBT civil rights movement as we know it just came to a screeching halt now that SCOTUS has legalized marriage in all 50 states. LGBT working families and especially trans people are on our own now. Now that the rich gays have what they want, look for them to start funding Republicans to save even more money on taxes.

The rest of us are totally fucked now. Now that there will be no money for politicians in supporting LGBT rights and gay marriage will no longer be a hot topic for left-wing media, no one will notice or care what happens to the rest of us.

The battle is over. Gay Inc. has won and as always, it’s the LGBT working class who will find ourselves stuck with paying the price for that win.

Rah, fucking, rah.”

Where to begin….

  1. Working LGBT families are served by the marriage equality win. You don’t need a sizeable bank account to get married to the one you love. Many trans people are also gay and are able to marry who they love. Trans people who are married now don’t have to be concerned about their current marriage being invalidated.
  2. The basis of a lawsuit like Nikki Araguz’s is now moot.
  3. Marriage equality, and the funders of the fight aren’t suddenly going to stop giving money. “Rich gays” didn’t/don’t fund the fight. Mostly the funding came from private charitable foundations (like the Arcus Foundation and the Gill Foundation) and multi-national corporations.
  4. Many states stuck with us and “did the right thing.” States like California and Illinois passed LGBT non-discrimination legislation before going forward with the fight for marriage equality.

There are many strong positions to take against the role of government and marriage all together, but that’s not what yesterdays ruling focused on. There are some who will argue that there’s been to much of a focus on marriage equality and not enough on trans rights (I’m one of those people, BTW), but that’s not what the SCOTUS ruling focused on.

It’s healthy to question the direction of the LGBT movement after Friday’s decision. But suggesting that GLBT families aren’t helped by the SCOTUS marriage equality decision and that the decision is bad for trans equality, is a bad argument that borders on homophobia.

  • Amalthea

    A partial and incomplete victory remains a victory, and that’s what Obergefell and companion cases are for LGBTQIA people. They do not address the range of intersecting oppressions that we face, including not only sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and binarism, but also racism, classism, ableism, etc. However, marriage equality can make a difference in many situations.

    While the decision itself is a victory for me as a Lesbian, as was Windsor in 2013, the opening words of Justice Kennedy about the freedom to live one’s own “identity” also address my concerns as a transsexual woman. And, has already been observed, making marriage gender-neutral speaks to the concerns of all transgender and intersex people, not only those of us who identify also as LGB or pansexual or whatever.

    Questions of priorities are controversial, but Obergefell is now an accomplished fact on which we should build, seeking both wider protections against discrimination (with language in Obergefell, as well as existing sex discrimination precedents, helping us in this effort), and determinated action, for example, to make Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM) illicit under professional codes and ultimately illegal. Only an intersex person old enough to know their own gender identity and understand the risks of elective surgery can give informed consent, which is the difference between the right to control one’s own body and the wrong of coercive mutilation.

    But now that Obergefell is a reality, there’s a very strong moral claim that the next initiatives should focus on those at greatest risk of violence, physical and structural: for example, poor, gender nonconforming women of color like Sakia Gunn or Cece McDonald. Celebration of marriage equality should renew our resolve for this critically important struggle.

  • I’m having a hard time seeing this as “bordering on homophobia.” There has been much friction between the cis LGB and much of the T, straight, bi, and gay alike. That tension has evolved over time as a consequence of political/activist priorities which have tended to be informed by cis people’s experience with discrimination far more than trans people’s experience with discrimination.

    I can understand trans people’s response as the conservative cishet political machine gears up to extract their revenge by focusing on screwing trans people in the upcoming years. We still don’t have comprehensive anti-discrimination law to protect us in employment, housing, public accommodations, etc. Then again, neither do cis LGB people, ironically. I strongly suspect that the fear you read in some trans people’s responses to yesterday’s supreme court decision is based far more in a fear of the unaddressed consequences of cis people’s prejudice toward us than vestiges of a fear and loathing of same sex attraction.

    Personally, I’m celebrating yesterday’s decision. Yes, I think Big Gay Inc. has had royally f*d up priorities for a very long time. I think conservatives are going to be gunning for us trans people with a blood vengeance in the months to come. Even so, I never suspected that we would have come this far 25 years ago when I first came out as a trans woman. It’s positively stunning and I can’t ignore the cultural sea changes that have taken place.

    For some, every cloud has a silver lining. For others, every silver lining has a cloud. I’m usually a member of the later crowd… but not today. Not today.