Guest post: Life really did get better

Originally a comment by maddog 1129 on Reasons.

The capture of the Trevor Project was a special stab in the heart/stab in the back to me. I remember Tim Gunn and other out gay celebrities telling gay kids, “It gets better.” These spokespeople were undoubtedly bullied as adolescent gay and lesbian youth, but they found that, as time went on, and they grew older, the circumstances of life did change. They became happy and successful gay and lesbian adults. The bullying of young LG people had led tragically to many suicides and suicide attempts. The purpose of the Trevor Project was to assure young LG people that, despite social ostracization from (usually religious) anti-gay bigots, they need not go to the extreme of suicidal ideation, impulse, or attempts. Life really does (did) get better. People learned that we can get along together, and that we have common shared values, such as love and support with/from a life partner. That someone else has the same rights and protections as you do, does not diminish anything that you have. It turned out that the “gay agenda” was pretty much the same as anyone else’s: get up, go to work, get married, take care of family, pay taxes, do the household chores, help the kids with their homework, and the million-and-one other things that most people do every day. There was no scary bogeyman hiding underneath the ordinary people who just happened to be lesbian or gay. This was important to me, because I lived through an era in which it wasn’t exactly safe to let your employer know you were a lesbian or that you were gay. The work of the Trevor Project really did help things “get better.”

Now, instead of working to prevent young people from committing suicide, the Trevor Project instead tells non-conforming kids that they WILL — they are much more likely to — commit suicide UNLESS they get special gender magic, such as stunting their growth with puberty blockers, crippling their bodies with the effects of wrong-sex hormones, and mutilating themselves with irreversible surgeries. From protecting kids from harm, the Trevor Project has pivoted to actively promoting harm to gender non-conforming kids who, in the normal course of things, would grow up to be lesbian or gay adults. Now, it DOESN’T get better. It gets worse. The Trevor Project whipsaws their target audience between two competing harms: suicide (total annihilation, or self-erasure) or “transition” (self-harm or self-mutilation). It’s one species or another of self-abnegation. The Trevor Project has made itself an instrument of evil against the interests of gender non-conforming children. They ruin lives instead of saving lives.

And it’s all so disheartening. Once the organizations created to combat anti-gay bigotry and discrimination had largely achieved their goals of legal and social equality and acceptance, those organizations looked around for something to do, to justify their continued existence as powerful and influential structures on the social/political scene. Once organizations have a deep structure and substantial financial backing, they are unwilling to put themselves out of business by achieving their primary goals.

If anything should stand for the protection of gay and lesbian rights, it should be Stonewall. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, was precisely about GL people, gay men and lesbian women. However, once the target policy of marriage equality had been achieved — a pinnacle of social and legal acceptance and integration of gays and lesbians in general society — the vast infrastructure of civil rights mobilization for gay men and lesbian women had no more need of its vast warchests of charitable moneys and armies of motivated civil rights activists. They looked around and latched onto what they (perhaps) believed to be the next group in need of similar mobilization: transgender rights advocates.

In my view, this impetus to maintain political relevance, by taking on the cause of T, following their successes with respect to LG rights, has been a capital mistake. The forced partnering of T with LG, piggybacking off the success with respect to LG rights and protections, has harmed everyone involved. The extremism of T demands has undermined a great deal of the achievements of the movement for gay and lesbian rights. The forced partnering of LG with T has led to a backtracking of support for gays and lesbians. It is conceivable that some states may act to abrogate marriage equality in state law. The packing of the US Supreme Court with radical right wing extremists makes the prospect of overruling Obergfell a real possibility, undoing decades of efforts to achieve equal protection under the law for lesbians and gay men.

The T enterprise, in and of itself, is antithetical to gay and lesbian people’s rights. It constitutes an updated form of conversion therapy against people who would otherwise be lesbian or gay. The failure of the former LG organizations to recognize the threat to their former work is a profound betrayal of all the brave men and women who fought for gay and lesbian rights.

Greed and the hunger for continued power led many organizations created for the benefit of gays and lesbians to turn their backs on the partners who brought them to the dance. Former LG organizations allowed T to take them over. LG and T can’t coexist compatibly, because their interests are opposed to one another. The T parasite has been allowed to consume the host LG organizations, leaving nothing but a husk of the former organization in place. The hollowed-out organizations continue to trade on the decades of influence and good will wrought by LG advocates, to now ignore (at best) or denounce (at worst) LG rights in favor of all T, all the time. They are very close to dismantling LG rights, and the rights of women, in their quest for T hegemony. It’s ludicrous. It’s infuriating. It’s insane. It’s fundamental betrayal. It’s unadulterated evil.

2 Responses to “Guest post: Life really did get better”