I do a lot of work at an LGBT center in my hometown in the Midwest. After getting really excited at school about all the exploration of orientations and gender identities and redefining and obliterating the boundaries of those identities, I was basically starving for an outlet for these things when I returned home. I quickly found out however, that LGBT spaces often deal very little with gender at all, and I've been here doing what I could ever since.

One of my early frustrations concerned the blank stares I would get when I started talking about queer identity and gender fluidity. It was particularly baffling to me because I could literally walk down the street to a coffee shop where I know a lot of queer identified people socialize. Clearly there is a disconnect, and time proved that these two groups (the center and the social gatherings at the coffee shop) were in fact very aware of each others presence.

This seems like a common issue, only often times the LGBT's and the Q's have this disconnect within the exact same space, which begs the question, are they in fact part of the same movement? Of course this is complicated because you can ask this about any of the plethora of letters that get built into the acronym and on each account get different answers. What I have learned with time, both through the people I have met and through my own positioning of my identity as a gay man within a movement that I am trying to make much more progressive and inclusive, is that LGBT and Queer are not at odds here, but essentialism and a constructionist viewpoints.

Within Trans movements for example, there is far more going on than advocating for protections of people who transition from MTF or FTM. There is, in fact, a fundamental question constantly present regarding how extreme gender performances of trans people have to be to pass or whether passing is even the most important thing, and there are of people questioning the need to have surgery to transition gender identities. In short, aspects of trans identity often have more in common with queer than LGB.
So how do we reconcile this disconnect, which exists across alternative gender and sexual identities? Clearly those with goals geared toward a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of these identities should not be waiting around for the mainstream LGBT folks to push for particularly progressive goals, but I think that Queer identity is not really the point of separation. Separation itself, isn't even really the goal, but rather a more progressively focused movement that addresses more fundamental social issues.

So sign me up for this truly progressive movement!

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