Rodney Croome: There is no LGB without the T

OPINION: Rodney Croome AM is a long-time LGBTIQ+ advocate.

As trans-exclusionary LGB groups plan anti-trans billboards across three states, Rodney Croome looks at the hypocrisy of the ‘LGB without the T’ movement and what drives it.

“Groomer”

In 2020 I wrote an open letter to the newly-formed anti-trans LGB Alliance hoping they might reconsider their attacks on trans and gender diverse people.

Since then, the LGB (without the T) movement has only got worse.

Almost daily, lesbian, gay and bi advocates who are trans inclusive, including myself, face online bullying and threats.

I am regularly denigrated as homophobic, misogynistic and a groomer (they enjoy how that rhymes with my last name).

It gets even more personal when I am accused of throwing away my legacy as a gay advocate and betraying the people I used to stand up for.

The LGB movement recently reached a new nadir when it broadcast anti-trans messages from an electronic billboards in Hobart.

It’s time for a response. I want to show just how much of a double standard the LGB folks have. I don’t expect to convince the die-hards, but maybe I can convince some people at the fringe of the LGB movement to think twice.

“Facts don’t care about your feelings”

We hear a lot from the LGB movement about how the “biological reality” of men and women being inherently and immutably different trumps the false, fleeting, dangerous and dysfunctional feelings trans people have about their gender identity.

The LGB crowd seem to have forgotten that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were subject to exactly the same demeaning set of ideas till about ten minutes ago.

We were told that it was a “biological reality” that penises and vaginas were designed to go together and make babies. We were told that compared to these “basic biological facts” our feelings for someone of the same sex were fleeting, deceptive, dangerous and dysfunctional.

The man/woman/nature thing was even bolstered by laws criminalising male-to-male sex and other forms of non penis / vagina coupling.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people knew in our hearts that we are a good and natural part of human diversity. We knew that love, intimacy and family are not defined by sex or gender. We knew this with such certainty we gave our lives in the struggle for that truth.

It is inconceivable to me that people who know or care about the lesbian, gay and bisexual struggle against what other people self-servingly called “biological reality” could now turn that concept against trans and gender diverse people.

“Let Kids Be Kids”

If you see more and more people questioning what you believe to be true, you will be tempted to accuse them of being seduced into it, rather than question whether you might be wrong.

That is in no small part why lesbians, gay men and bisexual people have been accused of being child abusers and recruiters of the young.

This slur has been at the core of anti-lesbian, gay and bisexual hostility and discrimination for centuries. It has been the raison d’etre for higher age of consent laws and attacks on sexual diversity inclusion programs in schools.

Yet, barely has the ink dried on new laws and policies treating lesbian, gay and bisexual people equally than the LGB movement has turned around and thrown the abuse and seduction slurs at trans people and their allies.

The most high-profile Australian example is the “Let Kids Be Kids” billboard I mentioned earlier.

This slogan, which was meant to protest against Tasmanian health and education policies affirming trans kids, is word-for-word the same slogan that has been used to ignore, silence and sideline same-sex attracted kids for decades.

The poison on the blade was that it was erected to mark Pride Month!

The billboard’s sponsor, LGB Tasmania, says it will erect similar billboards in Northern Tasmania and in Sydney and Melbourne.

I hope to see the same protests that have been seen in Hobart.

If you want to support billboards with trans-affirming messages, donate here.

“My preferred pronouns are…”

Another pet hate of the LGB crowd is the practice of saying our preferred pronouns so they’re not wrongly assumed.

They condemn this as “woke”, “virtue signalling” and of course, as a declaration of war on “biological reality”.

Some of them particularly hate “they” used as a singular pronoun.

What they’ve forgotten is that lesbian, gay and bisexual people have also had to challenge the pronouns people assign us.

Almost every lesbian, gay or bisexual person has heard their same-sex partner referred to by an opposite-sex pronoun.

Each of us has had to decide whether it’s safe enough to correct the person we’re talking with.

How many times have we opted for a gender-neutral pronoun like “they” to avoid both lying and conflict?

Even when we decide it is safe to give our partner’s actual pronoun, a lot of emotional effort goes into saying over and over again “it’s a him” or “he’s actually a she”.

For decades lesbian, gay and bisexual people have been re-writing laws, policies and social norms so there is no longer an automatic assumption about pronouns.

It’s astonishingly hypocritical that some of us suddenly take offence when trans and gender diverse people do exactly the same thing.

“It’s a phase”

You’ve got the picture by now. But indulge me one more example.

Closely linked to the idea that same-sex “feelings” are at odds with “biological reality” is the idea that being same-sex attracted is a phase, that it will pass, and that if it persists it can be cured.

These ideas underpinned decades of harmful conversion practices against lesbian, gay and bisexual people, starting with aversion therapy in the 1950s and continuing today in the form of conversion practices in faith communities and among some health practitioners.

These practices have been based on the idea that same-sex attracted people are broken, often because of trauma in our past or a poor relationship with a same-sex parent. Once this assumption is accepted it’s a small step to “therapy” based on electric shocks, hypnotism, exorcism or whatever quack theory prevails at the time.

The LGB movement has conveniently forgotten how same-sex attracted people have been invalidated and damaged by the idea that we are not really who we say we are and can be made whole and heterosexual.

They direct the same pseudo-medical nonsense towards trans and gender people by demonising gender affirmation as deeply damaging, and highlighting those who have “detransitioned”.

The LGB movement’s double standard is most acute when it supports banning conversion practices on same-sex attracted people, but opposes such a ban on converting trans and gender people.

This two-faced approach has real-world consequences. It has held up conversion legislation in Tasmania and other states by providing supporters of all conversion practices with a way to problematise and confuse what should be a straight-forward reform.

“Keep them out”

The reason there are so many interconnections between the oppression of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and trans and gender diverse people, is simple: none of us conform to what it traditionally means to be a real man or a real women.

Gay men aren’t real men because we have sex with men. Trans women aren’t real women because they were assigned male at birth.

Can you see how there is a false, deceptive and damaging ideal of manhood and womanhood that we are all measured and found wanting against?

Why can’t the LGB movement see this?

If you listen to that movement’s spokespeople you hear a lot of groundless fearmongering about an elaborate plot by “gender radicals” to “erase” young lesbians and gays by convincing them they are trans.

Court after court in the US has dismissed these kinds of arguments in support of anti-trans legislation. Dispassionate judges and expert witnesses are effectively saying “facts don’t care about your fears”.

I think what actually continues to fuel the LGB movement is a plain old hankering for respectability.

I remember the scene like it was yesterday: Philip Ruddock was crossing in front of the baggage carousels at Tullamarine Airport as I was coming down the escalator. He was immigration minister, responsible for implementing what was then the new and controversial policy of off-shore detention for refugees who were mostly Muslims.

About thirty metres away an elderly man with a thick Greek accent strode towards him shouting in approbation, “Mr Ruddock, Mr Ruddock, you keep them out, keep them all out.”

That Greek man was the ethnic equivalent of the LGB movement, demanding the authorities slam shut the door of legitimacy they just walked through so there’s no question of their loyalty to the hierarchy they have ascended.

If I have to make a choice, and as a trans ally I do, I don’t want to be on the safe, comfortable accepting side of that door.

I’ll stay on the outside demanding the door be open to all of us and never slammed shut again.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Rodney Croome


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGED[email protected] / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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