Building Bridges Between Communities

By | July 22, 2015

Recently, I have been invited to participate in an event, the goal of which is to build bridges between the GLB (gay/lesbian/bi) communities and the transgender community. I am very excited about this because even 40 years after the Stonewall riots, there continues to be a deep rift with a lot of bitter feelings on both sides.

It is true that the GLB experience is different to some extent from the trans experience. But for that matter the gay experience is different from the lesbian experience is different from the bi experience. Just as the trans experience is different from the intersex experience. The MTF experience is different from the FTM experience is different from the genderqueer experience. The pre-op experience is different from the post-op experience is different from the non-op experience.

We can continue to parse it down so small until we are left with my experience is different from your experience. Recognizing our different experiences, though, doesn’t mean we have to build walls, much less fiercely defend those walls, lobbing blame and shame and those not like “us”, whoever “us” happens to be. Xenophobia serves no useful purpose.

I am a member of a diverse group of women. Most are cisgendered, but a few of us are transwomen. We represent a wide range of cultures, races and ethnicities. There are straight women, gay women and bisexual women. Young and old, from all sorts of religious and spiritual backgrounds. There are those of us recovering from addiction and those of us who have never been addicted to anything.

We call ourselves the “Garden Club” because most gardens are comprised of a variety of plants. And who’s to say that your garden of petunias or oak trees is any better or worse than my garden of bell peppers or even a zen sand garden? It is the diversity of experiences and the sharing of these experiences that enriches all of us.

People sometimes assume that because I spent 26 years living as a male, that I experienced “male priviledge”. All I remember is years of being harrassed for being too feminine as a guy, for being small, for being open with my feelings. I was beaten up regularly, had my belongings stolen repeatedly and was not really a part of the “male experience”, whatever that is. Even my mother called me “pansy”. I wasn’t treated better than cisgirls. I was treated much worse. I have even been gang-raped.

I share this not to beg for pity (the wounds have long since healed), but to point out that just because someone grew up as a member of a certain gender or race or sexual orientation or religion doesn\\\’t mean that person had the same experiences as another person of the same group. In this way, labels serve only to mask the realities of experience.

Trans people are not the enemy. Lesbians are not the enemy. Gay men are not the enemy. African Americans are not the enemy. Feminists are not the enemy. The enemy, as I have stated so many times before, is hate. The enemy is ego. The enemy is fear. And if we want to conquer these enemies, we are going to have to start working together. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

And again I say that it is time we stop defending the walls that separate us and start building bridges over them. And that is exactly what this event seeks to accomplish for all of us. Stay tuned for details of this event. I have a feeling it is going to be spectacular.

Copyright 2009 Dharma Kelleher Blog