Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a gay Christian blogger. He often goes on rants about the word QUEER suggesting that if ANYONE uses it, this reveals serious problems with the person. They have given into the language of our oppressions who have used such words against us. Although I have tried to explain to him directly and indirectly that one size does NOT fit all (see my blog post on the word queer here), he and some others remain inflexible and dogmatic about the use of the word.
In his most recent e-mail he wrote to over a dozen LGBT bloggers and organizations encouraging us to read his latest series of blog posts about gender and transgender people and issues. I read through both the posts and found them appallingly inaccurate, offensive and disrespectful to the stories and lives of the many transgender folks I have met over the past five years. So much so in fact that I decided to respond to this blogger and all the people on the e-mail list that he included. I wrote,
Xxx, remove me from your mailing list. I have been able to put up with you misguided fundamentalism around the word queer, but I cannot stomach your misrepresentation of transgender individuals.
One individual, who was in the CC of the e-mail, wrote and wondered why I included all. This person felt like I was spamming everyone. I totally can understand that. Lord knows I get far too many forwarded, copied and unsolicited e-mails. We began a cordial exchange, and the person asked what exactly I find offensive about the gay Christian blogger’s words.
I typically ignore many of Xxx’s statements about the word queer. He paints with broad brush strokes assuming that if one uses the word, it means that there is something wrong with them. I understand how some people find the word offensive, but in a community as diverse as ours, one size does not fit all. If we are not careful, we can practice the same intolerance and oppression that we received from those who stand against us. I wrote a blog post about my thoughts and feelings on the matter.
As a non-trans gay man who does work around transgender issues (I perform a play about transgender Bible characters) I have spent a lot of time with trans people, learning firsthand about their lives and stories, hearing about the garbage they have to put up with from non-trans folks both straight and LGB. When I read Xxx’s blog entries on transgender issues, I felt they were offensive, misguided, inaccurate and transphobic. At times I think we need to make a stand and make a statement. Since he e-mailed a bunch of people the link and encouraged us to read it, I felt it was important to contact the same people to voice my objection to his words. Too often non-trans folks have stood by silently and not challenged misinformation and bullying.
I don’t ever remember doing a mass CC before to everyone on a list, and I will definitely consider your words should I feel drawn to do so again. My intention was not to spam people.
I appreciate you writing and letting me know how you felt about receiving the message from me.
On my blog I will not include links to the gay blogger’s site because I don’t want to indirectly promote such misguided and unhelpful messages. I write this blog to right a wrong. For too long as a non-trans gay man, I have sat by silently and not done enough to address the transphobia and misinformation often perpetuated by fellow non-trans gay man (Christian and otherwise).
I know for some non-trans folks, transgender issues and concerns may initially seem foreign to them. Some may even have experienced strong and even irrational reactions to transgender people within the community. As members of the LGBT community and hopefully allies to all in the community, we need to pursue thoughtful conversation and education. At times we need to stand up and stand out.
For an excellent, informative and entertaining first-person resource on transgender issues, check out Mila and Jayna’s Trans-Ponder Podcast. For a faith-based transgender resource, check out TransFaith Online.