During David Valentine’s research and work with a social services agency, he was considered to be on the “inside” because of his personal standing within the “GLBT community.” At the time though, he had little real-life understand of the differences between him and the transgender community he was trying to serve with safe-sex information and condoms. The agency that Valentine worked for was committed to only serving transgender individuals. When Valentine asked others about their identity, transgender wasn’t a term that resonated with each individual. Despite transgender people being included in the family of GLBT, the transgender people he talked to felt connected to other identities.

In a recent conversation with a transgender peer, I realized that maybe this disassociation from the identities available occurs regularly. After all, we only have so many identities to choose from (though more may come into existence in the future), and there is bound to be disagreement on the meanings of some. My friend explained she thought the “GLBT group on campus had reached a critical mass, and now there were enough people and there was enough room to be catty, to disagree with one another.” When she first explained her thinking, I thought that she meant that because of the growth of the community, there was no longer a need to work closely together, to support one another in events and gatherings. (I am referring to groups and organization that make up the GLBT community, not individual people). Initially, I thought that her idea and conclusion were very bad things. What I realized, is that through disagreement, with an organizations behavior or the definition of an identity, comes change and growth.

A great example of this would be conflict surround Miss Gay IU. In recent years (maybe longer, I don’t know), Miss Gay IU has received criticism for its lack of inclusivity of gender queer and gender fuck individuals. Because of this, a new drag show came about which supported the ideals of the more gender ambiguous. (The show was very interesting, by the way!) What I can say is that disagreement created dialogue, which led to further recognition of less understood identity. Disagreement worked out well for both groups and the GLBT community at large.

-Jenna Graham

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