A case for losing the ’T’

Author advocates for LGBT to drop the last letter to dispel confusion between sexuality and gender

The author, a New York City resident, wrote a book titled Tea and Transition. It's “a story of love, the human spirit, and how one man became one woman.” Visit her online at www.TeaAndTransition.com.

It has taken time, but now the public has more appreciation for what the “T” in LGBT stands for. They may still have some way to go in understanding what it actually means to be transgender, but considerable progress has been made. We can partly thank Caitlyn Jenner for expanding that conversation and allowing the “T” to be equally relevant in the lineup of letters. Yet I would argue that it doesn’t belong there at all.

The “L,” “G” and “B” are about sexual identity; the “T” is about gender. Lumping the four initials together only enhances the misperception that they are interchangeable terms. They are not.

I am a transgender woman. In my 40s I started recognizing feminine feelings that I couldn’t ignore—but I was still attracted to women. I was questioning my gender yet my sexuality remained unchanged. Only later in my transition did my sexuality change in tandem with my gender—like orbiting planets that never meet. However, the sexuality of transgender people (which may or may not change) is the most irrelevant factor in our transitions. We are not coming to terms with being attracted to those of the same or opposite sex; it is the correctness of our assigned gender that we are figuring out.

Of course, I admire and respect lesbian and gay campaigners over the years who have laid the groundwork for the level of acceptance that there is now, but I am neither gay nor lesbian. I am a straight woman—with a past. I go to an LGBT health clinic in New York, I advocate LGBT causes, and I visit LGBT-friendly venues; thus, I am part of the LGBT community. I certainly have plenty of gay friends and just like them, I had no choice in being what I am.

Perhaps the route to self-acceptance is relevant. I accepted the unexpected truth about myself, transitioned, and now live my life as the woman I am. In that respect, I am complete, done. I appreciate that I will always be a transgender woman but that’s no reason to wave a flag about it to remind me of my gender past. It was an anomaly that was corrected; bigger than removing a scar, not as invasive as a bone marrow transplant. My sexuality, meanwhile, is irrelevant.

Now is the time to clearly separate and differentiate gender and sexuality: Transgender understanding can advance better by severing the suffix from LGB.