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The LGBT Disconnect: Politics and Perils of Legal Movement Formation

78 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2017 Last revised: 15 Oct 2017

Marie-Amelie George

Harvard Law School

Date Written: August 1, 2017

Abstract

The LGBT movement is facing a crucial dilemma. Although the movement presents itself as a coalition of gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals, many Americans accept and approve of the former (LG), but not the latter (T). Opponents of LGBT rights have capitalized on this social and political disconnect in local ballot measure campaigns, convincing voters to repeal sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws by highlighting that the statutes also contain gender identity protections. There is thus a sufficiently large gap between the identity categories that lesbian and gay legal victories have not built support for transgender rights, and yet they are integrated enough that one can be deployed against the other.

Drawing on extensive original primary source research — including archival materials, newspaper articles, television advertisements, legislative histories, and court filings — this Article uncovers the debates, conflicts, and decisions that shaped the place of transgender rights within the coalition, and argues that national LGBT rights organizations’ legal strategies inadvertently contributed to this contemporary disconnect. This Article demonstrates why it is so important for LGBT rights groups to address this problem by chronicling anti-transgender rhetoric in local ballot measures, where citizens are increasingly voting to repeal LGBT rights. It concludes by identifying several options for how LGBT rights groups can eliminate the gap between lesbian/gay and transgender, which it uses to develop a taxonomy of social movement mobilization.

Keywords: LGBT, Legal History, Social Movements, Employment, Discrimination, Legislation, Direct Democracy, Gender, Bathroom

Suggested Citation

George, Marie-Amelie, The LGBT Disconnect: Politics and Perils of Legal Movement Formation (August 1, 2017). Wisconsin Law Review, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3028221

Marie-Amelie George (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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