"I know that that's not what your post was about, but I was wondering if you could explain why the lgbt label is as it is...surely sexual preference is a separate thing from gender identity?? i dunno...really not being rude, just a little confused xx "
Sexual identity is a separate issue from gender identity, no question about it. However, how do you classify the sexual identity of a transgender/transsexual person? Does one address the sexual identity of the outer "visual" person? Or the gender they actually are?
If a transwoman (male to female) is sexually attracted to men, does that make her straight or gay if she hasnt transitioned yet? The world sees her as male, yet inside shes most absolutely female.
When people ask me if I'm gay or straight, I answer, "yes". Which provokes a confused expression, and more questions, which I'm happy to answer. If you go by body, well then I'm straight. If you address my sexuality on my gender, then without a doubt I'm gay. As a no-op transman, everyone sees a female, so to them, yeah I'm without a doubt straight.
However, this dancing around about what sexual orientation trans folk are, isnt really the reason we are included in the rainbow world of GLBT folk. One of the most prevalent ideas the straight world has of us is that all gay men are feminine and are untrustworthy under pressure, (like most men think of women), and all lesbians are butchy and dress in doc martins, sports short short hair, are inked up, and drive large trucks. And yeah, of course this is true of some of our rainbow world, it doesnt speak the truth about most of us.
To the outside world all of us are seen as crossing or at the least blurring gender roles and lines. A gay guy can be the most masculine man in the world, and is seen that way.....until people find out he's gay, and then to a vast majority of the straight world, he has lost his "man" card. All gay and lesbian families get asked the same question over and over and over, their eyes will shift from one to the other and then finally ask, "so....which one of you is the girl?" They cant perceive how two guys can be together without one them adopting the "feminine" role in both the bedroom and in the home. Lesbians have it easier, as most people are used to seeing women hug and kiss and living together, and of course it does seem to be every straight man's sexual fantasy to watch two ladies having sex.
The GLBT world uses a rainbow as their symbol due to the fact we come in so many shades and nuances. We are masculine, feminine, neither gendered, we are gay, bi, lesbian, and fluid. We are every color that humans come in. Rich, poor, college graduates, high school drop outs. Thin, thick, tall, short, bald, hairy, etc. As a group we are a wide swath of humanity as a whole. The only thing that really holds us together as a group at all is our being on the outside of the fence of what is seen as "normal".
As society catches up to the wonderfulness that the GLBT world offers to them, every year it's more and more "acceptable" to be gay, bi and lesbian. However the world at large is still rather confused about trans folk, and really this makes perfect sense to me. Because you can boil down the GLB part as being only about sex and sexual orientation. Take that part from any equation, and the truth to the old saying, "I'm more than just my orientation" and they are ever so right, they are! However, if you're gender and sex match, most likely you have never given any thought to your gender, you just are. While gay men and lesbian women make people rethink their ideas about whats acceptable in a sexual context, for most people trans folk make others uncomfortable. While most people can imagine what two lgb people do in bed, they cant imagine what it means to not match gender and sex wise. And while there is still a large "ick" factor with two guys having sex, there is an even larger "ick" factor about men cutting off their penis and testicles to become female. I have to admit there is much less "ick" about females becoming male, mostly I think because as a whole us transmen are seen to being going in the "right" direction, because ya know of course men are best. ;-p
Or you could boil it down this way. To be a member of the GLBT world, something about you needs to make the majority of society to recoil and feel uncomfortable. We are the dirty little secret straight society wants to keep locked so as to feel comfortable. And believe me there is nothing more discomforting that a transwoman, in doubt? Look at how often transwomen are murdered by their sexual partners, especially the black, and latino portions of our world.
I hope this answers you in such a way as to understand us trans folk do belong in the rainbow world.