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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Rubrieke | Columns > Christina Engela: Fundamentally Speaking

Bollocks and bellyaching

Christina Engela - 2011-09-02

This afternoon I saw an article posted by a transsexual sister activist about the failings of the alliance of the pink community. The article was very melodramatic, bordering on the hysterical. In fact, I feel it was nothing short of a load of bollocks and bellyaching.

GLB and I components of the pink community were labelled "captors" and "oppressors". And the remarks made on Facebook by the same activist, as well as by some others who agree with her, were disappointing and rather disparaging – although she did take some fire for it.

There are too many comments in this thread for me to cover them all, but let me just state from the point of view of a civil rights activist that to shun our allies and to withdraw from the broader movement is nothing less than folly and a tactical error.

Civil rights issues run on numbers – and as a minority within a minority, we are a little short on those. If there are people who feel there are shortcomings in assistance, commitment or delivery on the part of general GLBTI organisations to the T community (and yes, I know there are), then instead of whining about it and pulling out, "we" (that is, you all) should rather get involved in these organisations, and do it (y)ourselves.

Before you judge me as being sarcastic, allow me to point out that I am post-op and I am the director of one GLBTI organisation, as well as on the board of another. Somehow, all those GLBTI people whom these two groups deal with – and with whom I come into contact – manage to see past my transsexuality, and we get the job done together.

If you want change in the world, you have to become that change.

As for the criticism of the transgender umbrella, the only thing I have to say about that is, live and let live. As we go through our discovery of human gender and sexuality it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no gender binary, just a range of gender expressions.

With current research showing that only 5 percent of the human population is exclusively homosexual and another 5 percent exclusively heterosexual – meaning everybody else is either ambiguous, bisexual or asexual – it has to be asked how anyone can still think that way.

It is easy for those of us who have had the luxury of surgery to sit back and be armchair critics – but what about those without the means to pursue surgery? How dare we criticise them for making peace with their bodies midway through their transition? How dare we act like the very same bigots who make our lives a living hell every chance we get?

When we begin to dip our fingers in bigotry, prejudice and elitism – where do we draw the line?

Look at the bigger picture from the outside for a moment. How many of the feminist community thinks of a transsexual as a "real" woman? Often I encounter feminist women who regard transsexual females as fake, not real women, or a threat to womanhood. And they take pains to exclude us, believe me. What about the cis-gay lesbians who refuse to be associated with trans-lesbians?

There are many, many GLB and I people out there who oppose oppression of the transgender community. (And yes, transgender includes transsexuals as a group – look it up on Wikipedia.)

My brothers and sisters … painting the entire GLBI movement as a failure, as "captors" and "oppressors" is not only bad for us, it’s insulting, divisive and counter-productive – and it’s a load of bollocks as well.

From the outside, bigots who hate all of us and wish us all dead, regardless of what letter we hang round our necks, are watching one group which they think are scum, discriminating against another group they also call scum. Fighting in a burning house never made sense to me. I hope it no longer makes sense to you.

We should not fall into the same trap of thinking we are somehow better or more special than others. Yes there are flaws in the GLBTI alliance. Fix them – don’t make it worse.