December 28, 2020 at 3:05 pm PST | by Brynn Tannehill
Lesbians Aren’t Going Extinct- But Transphobes are Coming out of the Closet
Anti-Trans protestors London Pride July 2018 (Photo Credit Pride In London)

There has been a spate of articles in conservative publications by transphobic authors like Andrew Sullivan alleging that transgender people are making lesbians go extinct. This isn’t just wrong, it exposes some of the anti-trans hatred, and fearmongering strategies, of conservatives who never really cared about LGBT people in the first place.

First off, lesbians aren’t going extinct. Neither are butch lesbians, unless every single one of them decides they’re trans men. When I asked my wife, who identifies as a cis butch lesbian, if she’d ever wanted to be a guy or transition, her response was a visceral, “Eww. No. Why would I want to be covered in hair?” The number of people who identify as trans remains tiny compared to rest of the LGBT community (1.4 million out of a community of 9.4 million adults). Indeed, that data shows that the number of people identifying as LGB has been growing for decades, and it has been driven by bisexual women.

The people who fear monger about this like to cite the “rising number of young trans men.” They leave out the crucial part where the number of young trans men seeking treatment levelled off years ago in the UK. It’s like that moment in the Simpsons where Disco Stu is trying to get Homer to invest in his academies by telling him, “Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue… A-y-y-y!” It’s also worth pointing out that less than 1% of people were left handed in the 19th century, which rose to 10% and stayed there after the beatings stopped.

This line of thinking is intensely disrespectful of trans people as well. It treats most of them as if they are not members of the LGB community, and signals that the authors are revolted by trans bodies. Two-thirds of trans men and women do not identify as straight, which means that the majority of trans men didn’t start off considering themselves as lesbians.  So, where is Andrew Sullivan celebrating that the gay community is adding trans men to its diversity? Or that for every trans man who leaves the lesbian community, there’s roughly one trans woman who enters?

The answer is, of course, that he doesn’t, because he doesn’t consider trans men to be real gay men, or trans women to be real lesbians. At some fundamental level, he finds transgender people repulsive, and refuses to even grant them honorary status within the LGB community. Indeed, he would likely accuse trans women of being interlopers, and warn trans men that they need to disclose their genitals to him immediately. 

The outlets publishing these sorts of articles aren’t friends to the LGB community either. For years they published articles urging society to hold gay men responsible for AIDS, supporting “no promo homo” laws, and opposing same sex marriage. This is merely part of the ongoing right-wing effort to divide and conquer by separating the trans population from the rest of the community, destroying them, then coming back to finish off the LGB community later using the laws they just created. Supposedly “moderate” conservative commentators like David French have lamented not crushing lesbians and gays when they had the chance, and urged fellow conservatives to do the same to trans people while they can.

None of this changes history, where the queens were the first ones stuffed in the paddy wagons at Stonewall and trans people chained themselves to the White House gates in solidarity with LGB sevice members targeted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Where the most prominent trans people in the US at the time used their voices and experiences to point out how irrational and wrong bans on same sex marriage were. 

On the other side of this discussion are institutions who were never friends to the LGB community, and still aren’t when push comes to shove. They’ve made it clear over the past four years that they have no loyalty to the truth while supporting the likes of Trump. They’ve made it clear that they will do anything to turn the community against itself, and then destroy the weakest members one by one. Yet somehow, now they’re supposed to be truthful, trustworthy friends urging you to turn on your allies of the past 50 years? 

Or, is it simply more likely they’re trying to use you through fear mongering and half-truths, before they turn on you too? This is absolutely the simplest, most obvious explanation. Uninformed decisions, conspiracy theories, and throwing your allies to the wolves when they become inconvenient is the sort of thing Trump would do. 

Don’t be like Trump.

Brynn Tannehill is a former board member of SPART*A, author, and senior defence analyst.

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