This article quotes obscenities and mentions human genitalia.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned an “anti-transgender group” for “hijacking” the July 7 London Pride parade. The mayor’s spokesperson told Pink News UK, “Pride is about celebrating difference and London’s amazing LGBT+ community. It’s about showing those round the world that in our great city you can be free to be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love. The vast majority of those present at today’s march respected and embraced that and the Mayor condemns the tiny minority who did not. Transphobia is never acceptable.”
The “anti-transgender” group was actually a group of lesbian women. The group, organized under the hashtag #GetTheLOut, joined the parade with banners saying “Lesbian, not Queer,” “Lesbian = Female Homosexual,” and “Transactivism Erases Lesbians.”
The group was not included in those allowed to march in the parade, but after being told to leave, they laid down on the street in front of the parade, preventing it from moving forward. The organizers decided to allow them to march ahead of the parade, which created additional controversy for appearing to “lead” it.
LGBT+ Lib Dems Chair Jennie Rigg called for the organizers to resign and provide a full, public apology. Others called for the group members to be arrested under hate crime charges. UK morning radio host Alex Duffy tweeted, “Definitely sounds like they were directing hate against a group based on sexual identity and therefore a hate crime and surely they will now all be arrested and charged?”
Transgender Activists Went Apoplectic
While LGBT media and advocates universally denounced the group, transwomen (biological males) were the most vocal. Trans activist Avery Edison demanded “I used to say ‘No cops at Pride!’, but after seeing the way they removed the TERFs [a rude word to describe feminists who object to transgenderism] who hijacked the parade today–[holds hand to earpiece]–ah, wait, no, it turns out they didn’t do that, they just let them carry on and spread transphobia. No cops at Pride. No TERFs either.”
Riley J. Dennis, a male who self-describes as a “queer, trans, nonbinary, polyamorous lesbian,” in a profanity-laced rant also demanded to know why the group was not kicked out. Laura Kate Dale, the news editor at a gaming website, tweeted, “London Pride this year, first group to pass was TERFs with a ‘transactivism erases lesbians’ banner. Almost got in trouble with police shouting at them to f-ck off. Pride is a riot, and I won’t stand quietly while I’m told I’m not welcome at pride as a trans lesbian” (obscenity altered).
One member of the group, Jan Williams, argued in defense of the demonstration, saying, “Transgenderism is conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is wrong.” Williams continued, “Only women can be lesbians. A man who has surgery can never be a lesbian.” Sarah Mason, who founded the organization Get The L Out, a collaboration of many lesbian-centered groups, said in an interview with Gay Star News, “her sexuality is seen as transphobic and exclusive ‘just because we are women attracted to women.’ ‘We don’t want any kind of penis in our bedroom,’ she said. ‘I’m really sad I have to reassert this again.’”
Dichotomy: Sexuality As Fixed Versus Fluid
The incident demonstrates a long-standing feud between what it means to be gay and what it means to be transgender. The lesbian group’s argument reflects the more established view of sexual orientation as a set attribute of a person who cannot change through behaviors.
Especially as heterosexual men transitioning into lesbian women and homosexual men transitioning into heterosexual women, transactivism challenges this notion by asserting that gender-based attraction is fluid. Many gay people, myself included, view transgender transition as a form of conversion therapy in which a homosexual person’s body is manipulated to better suit a preferred straight sexual orientation.
For many lesbians, the opposite is just as frustrating. When a heterosexual man identifies as a woman, he often expects to fully enter the lesbian world and be embraced, even if he is still physically male. Many lesbians view this as a demand for them to engage in sex with a man under social pressure.
Zinnia Jones, a trans activist, has argued that straight men should overcome their aversion to transwomen who are physically male. Jones’s argument, as detailed in a Twitter thread, begins by saying, “We need to resist this push to misgender trans women using very specifically chosen definitions and applications of ‘biological’ and ‘male.’”
The thread goes on to illustrate that referring to a penis as “male genitalia” effectively gives permission to view transwomen as partially or wholly male. This, Jones argues, invites violence and stigma. In an article for Cosmopolitan about gender reassignment surgery, a 22-year-old transwoman stated, “I want people to know is that it’s normal to want a vagina and to get one, but there’s also a problematic stereotype that trans women aren’t ‘real’ women until we have surgery, and we are. I’ve always been a real woman.”
Many lesbians simply do not agree with this assertion, and like their straight male counterparts, are uncomfortable accepting transwomen as “real” women. Many object to the notion that a person can simply “get a vagina” and understand what it is to be a woman. The mayor of London’s statement should respect this as “you can be free to be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love.”
We Pick Our Identity, But You Can’t Pick Your Attraction
A woman who is attracted to women should be free to determine what “woman” means to her. By the current standards of gender fluidity and self-identity, this should not be controversial. But what we are seeing is a demand for freedom of identity, but not freedom of attraction. Transactivists say people can choose to be whatever gender or orientation suits themselves, but no one else is allowed to reject them as a potential sexual or romantic partner.
While the efforts of lesbian groups to hold onto the culture they fought to build for several decades may be an uphill battle, transactivists should recognize that bullying does not win respect or empathy. Rather than approach gays where they are, they have instead chosen to rewrite what it means to be gay, or LGBT, and declared that anyone who disagrees is no longer accepted in the identity group.
The rest of LGBT is far too lost in the mass hysteria of transactivism to understand they are building the bridges they will one day be forced to cross over in exile. Lesbians and feminists have already been marked with the label “TERF.” That stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist and has become a slur used to dismiss all feminist views hostile to transactivist demands.
This should also be instructive to conservatives watching from a distance to understand transactivism’s current mentality and aggressiveness. If this is how they turn on members of their own community who question ever-changing orthodoxy, how can we ever hope to engage them in civil and reasonable debate?
More importantly, we must be aware of how the non-LGBT world responds to events like this, as it demonstrates the power transactivists currently have over many established organizations. A small fraction of the already tiny but powerful LGBT community is dictating everything it means to be LGBT, inside and out, and they are hostile, intolerant, and aggressive.
If lesbians marching in an LGBT Pride parade can be viewed as a dangerous threat requiring denunciation from authorities, what chance is there to have an honest conversation from the conservative world on this topic? It has now become an act of rebellion and dissent to assert that a person’s sexual orientation is his or her own. This affects all of us, regardless of how we identify.