3 – Stonewall, Inclusion & Homonormativity

Trans&Stonewall

On 16th February 2015, the UK part of the Stonewall Organisation publicly and officially announced that it would be including transgender people in its campaign for equality. It is ironic that after 45 years since the original Stonewall riots that the organisation would still have a problem with the very people who started it all and fought back in the first place. I believe that the amount of time this has taken to happen has a lot to do with the concept of homonormativity and the idea of having the ‘right’ kind of people as representation. As it can be seen considered in Dean Slade’s article in Nobody Passes there is this dynamic of people seeing those who they consider not part of the ‘norm’ or the hierarchies of acceptability/authenticity within LGBTQ+ communities as almost holding them back from further political and social progress. This is summed up by Dean Spade when he states, ‘Folks were concerned that the legitimacy of trans identity in the eyes of a transphobic culture if frequently tied to how normal and traditionally masculine or feminine trans people appear. I was ruining it for everyone.’ (65)

It is also ironic, with Stonewall’s signature phrasing of ‘Some people are [blank], get over it!’ that they, as an organisation, did not seem to be able to ‘get over’ this separation between the fight for equality of trans* and LGB+ people and their slogan of ‘Acceptance without Exception’ proves not quite true.

stonewallog

The time it has taken for this to be included and seen as necessary in Stonewall’s work also brings up the forgotten or ignored history of transgender and genderqueer people in the ‘Gay Rights Movement’. This is something that Susan Stryker considers in her work and why the inclusion of embodied knowledge is so important, this is especially important for people such as trans women of color who are completely excluded from mainstream queer history.

This can also be tied to the confusion of the separation between gender and sexuality and a lack of understanding because of history and historical separation and tension between trans people and the traditional ‘Gay Rights Movement’. This brings it all right back to homonormativity and the idea of the us v.s. them dynamic wherein those striving for a way of being that will be accepted into the heternormative, privileged society push those who do not fit into these binaries that may propel them forward to, as said by Sylvia Rivera, ‘the back of the bus’.

One example of this is the way in which the Queens and transgender people, or even just those who presented in a more genderqueer way, were written about at the time of Stonewall in newspaper articles such as this, (seen here) with the author ridiculing and making light of the situtation including people he could not, or did not try to understand. This sets up the homonormative dynamic that has persisted throughout history and constantly marginalises people on the trans* spectrum for the progress of others, especially within a heteronormative or rigid institution of the news reporting setting. Here it is very clear who the audience or the reader the author is aiming this toward, those who will perpetuate these systems of exclusion and progress for a very specific select ‘acceptable’ few.

queenbees

 

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