Tuesday, November 2, 2010


While reading many queer news stories or articles in Queer Academia, I have found that the most common, underlying problem occurring in the queer community is underrepresentation. What is really happening in the queer community? I have one answer--underrepresentation among many groups.

There is a hierarchy within the academy, and a hierarchy within the queer community. Queer studies is a focus of study that gives voice and representation to marginalized groups-- a study that is supposed to empower those that are lacking power, but this is not currently a reality for all marginalized groups. The article that I will discuss highlights some of the current injustices taking place in the queer community.

First of all, this article discusses the ever-popular American Apparel brand. I understand that this company has current controversies in terms of their treatment of workers, gender-sex issues, etcetera, but let’s address those issues at another time.

In response to the passage of proposition 8, the American Apparel company made itself a definite presence at rallies and marches and other LGBTQ events. You may own or recognize American Apparel’s popular shirts of assorted colors that have the script writing “Legalize Gay.” These t-shirts have become a fairly mainstream symbol for the movement.

Asher Kolieboi, a 25 year old, transgender activist, who identifies as queer and transmasculine states that the ‘Legalize Gay’ campaign has a narrow focus that fails to mirror the full diversity of the LGBT and gender equality-movements. "Going on their website, they talk about the LGBTQ community, but the T-shirt only says 'Legalize Gay.'"

I don’t think I could have said it better myself. Not all LGBTQ individuals label their biggest obstacle as the legalization of gay marriage. Sometimes daily living is a struggle, whether it is concerns of being outed, or criminalization because of their otherness, or fear of threats. Some gay, bi, trans, lesbian, individuals face verbal, physical, and psychological abuse daily and some may have their lives in danger because they cannot come out. In lieu of more current issues affecting the American community in the beginning of October, hate crimes against people that are different, or queer, needs to be back on the radar... and not overshadowed by the topic of gay marriage. It is unfair that certain groups’ voices are not being represented.

In order to combat the narrow mindedness of American Apparel’s campaign line and the narrow mindedness of the movement in general, Asher Kolieboi has come up with a more inclusive campaign--similar to American Apparel but Asher’s will be called ‘Legalize Trans.’ This line began on July 27.

Asher states, "I hope it will become a public education campaign, not just about gender justice but about intersectional justice, that it creates dialogue about what types of agendas we want to be pushing as far as public policy," Asher says, noting other important issues facing LGBTQ people: healthcare, safe schools, eldercare and more.

More often than not, individuals that fall under the homonormative category are given more privileges than others that do not fall under this umbrella term. Homonormative individuals have ample representation in their group while others that do not fit into this category are invisible. Typically, homonormative individuals are middle to upper-class, white, able-bodied, and educated. Perhaps this is why-- the legalization of gay marriage has overshadowed other LGBTQ issues because middle to upper-class, white, able-bodied, and educated individuals are speaking for an entire group of differently marginalized groups that have varying needs and concerns.

If you are interested in reading the entire article, the link is above. If you are interested in buying the t-shirt, the link is www.legalizetrans.com.
Revenue from the T-shirt sales in the first year will be used to pay for the campaign's operating costs and part of Asher's gender-reassignment surgery -- an operation that is not covered by insurance. Individuals can sign up as affiliates, sell the shirts, and keep some of the money for their own surgeries or other causes as well.

The other campaign funds will go to trans youth or ‘intersectional work’ that addresses a plethora of issues.

So, what do you think? Do you think this slogan “Legalize Trans” will effectively combat- and include more people into the movement? Do you think it will be effective in gaining attention to LGBTQ issues? Do you think there is something missing ?

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