Get Your Hands Off The T or Why I Cannot With Rainbow Transphobia

Transgender flag
Photo by Lena Balk on Unsplash

I first noticed the gay and lesbian anti-trans cabal back in 2015 when a group styled as ‘Drop The T’ started a petition asking rights-based organisations and media to distance themselves from the trans community.
“We are 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,” began their plea.

I’d been aware of individuals with these separatist sentiments but never noticed them organising so obviously and speaking so aggressively.

I had fallen across them because I was doing advance planning my latest novel The Mythic and the Rosetta Engine. I had a brand new transgendered character in mind for it. Time pressures meant the writing process took five years, but Part One is out now where Vikram Varma-Khan, a gay Muslim Pakistani-Indian trans man, makes his debut. Spoiler alert, he’s fabulous.

Back then I noticed the response to Drop the T was a blanket “nope”, which is what I suspect the petitioners wanted. Their action wasn’t meant to effect change but to force organisations to pen indignant replies, the resulting media coverage spreading the petition’s message of prejudice to like-minded reactionaries across the world.

The petition closed with a paltry 3,206 signatures. However, since then we’ve seen the rise of organisations with similar tenets. Perhaps the most high-profile is the UK-based LGB Alliance who have a laundry list of demands but principally exist because they contend that their “rights, culture, and history are now under threat from new ideologies conflating biological sex with the notion of gender identity”. Exactly like Drop the T, LBG Alliance want rainbow organisations and media to focus on issues of sexual orientation, not gender identity.

This exclusionary message, wrapped up in rainbow-rights drag, has also gained traction with influencers—JK Rowling being the most notable—politicians, and religious groups who, having lost the marriage equality battle for the moment, turned their sights to the next available, vulnerable group. Unlike some I was never surprised Rowling joined their ranks. Her rainbow credentials are vastly overblown. I’m convinced the K in her acronym stands for Karen.

What’s overlooked with LBG Alliance having literally carried out Drop the T’s objective is that it’s more than just the T that’s disappeared. While the acronym is often written as LGBT you’ll find all kinds of add-ons—for example Q for “queer” and/or “questioning”, I for “intersex”, and A for “asexual”. These days I default to LGBTQI+. One university even created LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM which makes it look less like an inclusive acronym and more like the name of a village in Wales.

Any group as big and fluid as the LGBTQI+ community isn’t really a “community” at all, but a “movement”, one defined by the experience of being treated unfairly, as though you don’t belong. That’s why the overarching and mocked acronym is so good at attracting additional letters. We misfits recognize another misfit when we see them.

Groups like the LGB Alliance say that the trans experience is about gender identity, and not sexual orientation. But if we start dividing us up in purely scientific terms then you can make a compelling argument for dropping the B, and separating out the L from the G.

Slicing us up in this way overlooks the reason for the original coalition—equality. Historically movements that have fought for equality, any type of equality, includes those who won’t necessarily share the benefits from the fight.

In our history there are lesbians who’ve battled for the rights of those living with HIV, even though those people are mainly gay men. There are straight trans people who’ve fought for marriage equality, even though they already had that right. Not to mention our allies who aren’t any part of the rainbow but stand with us simply because it’s just, it’s fair, it’s right. Sometimes it’s enough for people to say “I get it”, “I’m with you”, and “How can I help?”.

The LGB Alliance are people who’ve literally used communal action to scale the ladder of acceptance and legal protection, but now want to pull that ladder up behind them. They justify their actions, of course, with claims of feminism, identity, and protection from discrimination. But, as with any action where the aim is to disenfranchise and dehumanise another group, once you scratch the surface you find nothing but hate and beneath that, fear.

I admit that I’m weary after decades of fighting for the right to be, the right to be free from discrimination, the right to marry. But, as a wise minotaur once taught me, the fight is never over. And so this cis gay male will continue to stand up and say to all colours of the rainbow, but especially trans persons at this time—I get it. I’m with you. How can I help?