I've been thinking some more about my dissertation topic. I hope I can get some of this angst into the bibliographical essay. Hell, something's got to fill the gap created by the lack of existing literature to write about... The thing is, I'm aware that it's completely obnoxious to
- Expect a member of a group to educate someone who is not a member of that group, and
- Treat an individual as a spokesperson for a group.
LGBTQ is an umbrella. Yes, I have the advantage, in this context, of not being heterosexual (it's not often I get to use that sentence). But there's still privilege within that - being born later, I'm lucky. Being born a gender I'm happy with, I'm lucky. Being someone who doesn't look particularly butch (until I start shifting heavy objects, anyway) and is happy with that, I'm lucky - much as passing gets annoying, it does save you hassle. It's all unearned privilege, which creates the perfectly understandable response, "Why is it my job to educate you?"
I'm particularly thinking in terms of trans history. I'd really like to talk to the people at Transformation's Handsworth shop, which opened in 1985 to predictable disgust from the Evening Mail (the fairly right-wing local paper). In the great 'should LGB have a T?' debate, I'm very definitely in favour, so it's important to me not to ignore the West Midlands trans community (and there were support groups back in the 1970s, advertised in the Birmingham Gay Liberation Front newsletter - it was definitely there). But I'm not trans, and they've got no obligation whatsoever to indulge my curiosity.
I don't mean this in some kind of whiny, overprivileged "ooooh, I don't see why they can't be nicer to me" kind of way. Firstly, I haven't actually spoken to anyone yet, and this is all just me thinking out loud. Secondly, as I said, it's really obnoxious to act as though you have a right to anything from members of a disadvantaged group. The problem is all mine: trying to figure out how not to act like that.
(Also posted in historygrads)