Queer People of Color Led the L.G.B.T.Q. Charge, but Were Denied the Rewards

It has even been a struggle for equity within the larger L.G.B.T.Q. community.

“This is not universal because the gay and lesbian community and feminism are broad, diverse. But some of the people who have been absolutely the worst on trans issues have been some cisgender gay men and some cisgender feminists and lesbians,” said Ms. Stryker, referring to those whose gender corresponds with their birth sex.

After Stonewall, Ms. Stryker said, the tactics of many in the gay rights movement eventually shifted from rebellion to seeking acceptance.

“It’s predicated on being a man or woman like other men and women,” Ms. Stryker said. “The trans question is the one, like, ‘No I’m not that.’ The trans question kicks that foundation out from under the main thrust of the gay and lesbian movement from the early 1970s forward.”

Perhaps the most divisive example of this rift involved the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, known as ENDA, which would have banned workplace discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. people. The bill passed in the House of Representatives in 2007, but only after eliminating protections for transgender people.

ENDA failed in the Senate, but there continues to be bitterness from some in the transgender community toward supporters of the bill, including the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest L.G.B.T.Q. rights organization.

Tina White, a board member, is part of the organization’s new leadership that has worked to be more inclusive and move past the controversy, but it still stings. Ms. White said she was recently confronted by a transgender activist who blamed the Campaign for a continued lack of jobs and equality.

“’We’re still living in horrible, deplorable conditions and we hold that group accountable’,” Ms. White quoted the woman as saying. “It wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear, but it was a very fair answer,” Ms. White said.


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