Gay community now think they can represent trans people?

An interesting news article popped up in my twitter feed yesterday, from the “Lesbian & Gay Foundation”. The item was “Talks with @lfeatherstone ‘positive’ as LGF table the views of the LGB&T community on the future of civil partnerships“, linking to this news story. It’s odd that the LGF might include “LGBT” in the news item when their name implies clearly that they represent Lesbian and Gay people and trans people only incidentally where we happen to be Gay or Lesbian as well. Is this just another L&G organisation trying to be inclusive in their press releases and attract more funding by saying “LGBT” and not just “Lesbian and Gay”? I thought I’d do some digging and the truth turned out to be somewhat worse.

The linked-to story states that there were “representatives from lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans organisations” present at an informal meeting with the Minister for Equalities and the Home Office on Wednesday to discuss Civil Partnerships. I hadn’t seen anything from the usual T sources, so I asked them specifically via Twitter: “Who was at yesterday’s CP meeting from the T community?” The answer can roughly be summarised as nobody: “We tabled comments from T people who got in touch, for list of people who were there see Pink News“. Uh, so there wasn’t any trans representation there after all? It’s likely the Trans people who got in touch happened to identify as Lesbian/Gay too, so it’s unlikely to be a balanced view. I checked directly with Lynne Featherstone: “No – this was only LGB“.

It looks like we’re being “represented” by the Lesbian and Gay community now, but really we’re being silenced. The Home Office could now table a Bill that ignores the problem of state-mandated divorce for married transitioners and claim “But we consulted with the trans community on this!” because a random L&G organisation claimed they were acting on our behalf. It is entirely possible that the LGF put forward quite a reasonable argument, but they should not have done so as the trans community could end up being denied the chance to make contacts within the Home Office and not be consulted on some future issue. We need a replacement for the Gender Trust and Press for Change, as those organisations seem to have died out, but that is not going to happen if we’re shut out of conversations with the decision makers.

As a community, we’ve been quite loud voicing our opinion to the Equalities Minister – Perhaps too loud. As a result I would hope that we will not be ignored when it comes to new legislation, but that’s no thanks to the Lesbian and Gay community.

Please – if you want to help, don’t try to represent us or claim in press releases that you did. You know where we are, just point people in our direction and we’ll speak for ourselves.


  1. whatever happened to “nothing about us without us”

    It’s hard to present a unified front, when everyone asks for their to be an orginsation, without wanting to actually be said orgnisation.

    1. I’m intending to try to set something up to present Trans views (Kind of a replacement for PfC) just a case of getting enough of a mandate/support/input so that I’m not just speaking for myself.

      1. I think that’s an aspiration that many many of us share. My efforts to spark something off being hampered by the whole epic health fail.

      2. That’s a great idea. PfC did some good work but also a lot of the time didn’t seem to represent me. The Gender Trust I just avoided. A group that represents us and puts forward our concerns without agenda would be ideal.

  2. Hi Zoe, you raise some very good points. The Lesbian & Gay Foundation are a lesbian, gay and bisexual organisation and we don’t “claim” to represent the trans community. However, we are supportive of the trans community and transgender organisations.

    With regards to meeting with Lynne Featherstone to discuss the future of Civil Partnerships, the LGF were there as an LGB organisation.

    However, people from the trans community responded to our request for views on civil partnerships, and we tabled them at the House of Commons on Tuesday, alongside the comments of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. That’s why I tweeted about The LGF tabling comments from the “LGB&T community”.

    At no point did this go out as a press release, we tweeted about our news story.

    Changing Attitude – who were also at the meeting on Tuesday “work for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Anglican Communion”. As for the other organisations around the table you would have to contact them directly on whether they represent the trans community.

    I realise that you’ve already been in touch with the Home Office about Tuesday’s meeting, but it might be useful for you to contact the Home Office again to see if there is a planned consultation specifically for trans organisations.

    Best wishes,

  3. This is a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. The LGF (and other organisations like them) are criticised for not showing solidarity with the Trans community or for not being inclusive, then are panned when they do ask for views from the trans community.

    Also, it seems that some people are very difficult to please. Even from the comments above, organisations set up to represent Trans people’s views don’t seem to be up to the job. Trans people are individuals and you could argue that there is no “trans community” any more than there is a “gay community” in terms of representation of views.

    As a result, the most vocal people, ranting on blogs and forums end up representing all trans people by default, meaning that the voices of those most in need of representation are not heard anyway. Which sounds just as ineffective as being represented by “the Lesbian & Gay community.”

  4. I’m personally not comfortable with the “T” in LGBT or LGBQT. My journey isn’t about sexuality. I wish lesbian and gay people the best, but please don’t speak for me.

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