(Part of a three-part series:
Part 1: The Death of the Transgender Umbrella
Part 2: Why The Umbrella Failed
Part 3: Decolonizing Trans as Allies)
If you’ve traveled anywhere among trans or LGBT blogs in the past year or three, you’ve inevitably come across an ongoing battle over labels, and particularly “transgender” as an umbrella term. It seems to be a conflict without end, without middle ground and without compromise. And yet for discourse on human rights and enfranchisement for transsexual and transgender people to move forward at all, at some point that discussion needs to have some sort of resolution, and some thorough dissection of the argument will need to take place. Could an alliance-based approach be a solution? Or more accurately, could enough people on both sides of the argument be willing (that is, to not see their position as immovable) to seek an alliance-based approach for it to make a positive difference in the discourse?
I don’t know. But something that has become clear to me over the past while is that the language is changing. And I don’t have to like it, but I have to understand what that means.
I only speak for myself. In the end, it’s all I really can do anyway. I don’t speak for any trans-related community, don’t speak for The Bilerico Project or any of its other contributors, don’t speak for any other place I’ve posted or published writing, don’t speak for Alberta trans people — just me.
I say that because the international trans community is in a state of flux. As the community defines itself, we’re discovering just how diverse “trans” really is, and just how inadequate any one single definition is when it tries to cover everyone. A result of this is that in 2011, while the mainstream world is just starting to twig on to trans anything, trans and LGBT forums are finding nearly every conversation on trans issues, trans rights, gender studies and identity disintegrating into a debate about “transgender,” its use as an umbrella term, and whether there should even be an umbrella at all. It’s reached the point that it’s stalemated any and every other discussion. And ultimately, I realize that nothing some writer and blogger from Southern Alberta says is going to change that, but I can make my own declaration on the matter. And in that, I speak for myself.
Because our language for trans issues is changing. Continue reading