Dugan: The latter half of "LGBTQ"

BY JACK DUGAN | MAY 11, 2015 5:00 AM

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Recently, I’ve been seeing a video popping up in my news feed frequently. This video hasn’t exactly gone viral, but it’s gaining steam. It’s of Miley Cyrus, Joan Jett, and Laura Jane Grace covering the Replacements’ “Androgynous.”

This is particularly strange to me, as I used to worship Grace and her band, Against Me, when it was rooted in punk-rock obscurity. I remember callousing my fingers attempting to learn “Is Reinventing Axl Rose” front to back, and now she shares a stage with pop superstar Cyrus.

Cyrus and Jett have kicked their “Happy Hippie” foundation into gear recently, which is an organization that provides aid to LGBTQ and homeless youth, and with Laura Jane Grace as transgendered woman, the trio makes perfect sense.

So what does LGBTQ mean? The abbreviation stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. Though while the gay-rights movement marches steadily on, unfortunately more often than not the latter “TQ” seem to be brushed to the side. It’s still a very dangerous world for trans people.

According to a National Coalition of Antiviolence Programs  2013 report, “homicides for 2013 remain among the highest ever recorded by the group. Additionally, for a fourth year in a row, the [coalition’s] findings reflect a disproportionate impact of deadly violence for people of color, transgender women, transgender people of color, and gay men.”

Not only is violence a problem, workplace discrimination is particularly brutal for transgendered peoples. According to a Washington Post article published in January, transgender communities suffer an unemployment rate of twice the rate of the general population, and trans households are four times more likely to have an income of less than $10,000.

Trans communities face obstacles that LGB people may not have to encounter. Tyler Curry of the Huffington Post stating that the “T” should be dropped altogether from LGBTQ and that gay rights and trans rights should be altogether separate movements.

Though I don’t necessarily agree, his opinion is founded. People who are trans need more sincere representation in these movements and national voice, and Grace seems to be filling this hole.

In this video, the otherwise somber original rendition of the Replacement’s “Androgynous” is approached with a tangible optimism. The ghostly piano on the 1984 release is replaced with upbeat acoustic guitars and smiles. This could be a reflection of the times. Perhaps Paul Westerberg of the Replacements couldn’t see much optimism for the trans community in a time when gay communities were, and still are, simply struggling to remain safe on a walk home at night. Now, we see a pop superstar celebrating the idea of androgyny.

With Against Me’s recent release of “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” and the sweeping reach of of Cyrus, a greater audience can understand transgender peoples. Though these movements always take persistent hard work by wonderful people, I feel we are on the cusp of a new chapter in a LGBTQ history.

So, if you have the time, I ask that you give the performance a listen. While you tap your feet, you may as well educate yourself on the issue at hand.

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