Today's Kojo Nnamdi show focused on discrimination faced by LGBT youth in the District—their challenges in their families, schools, communities, and within D.C.'s city services. The show featured three guests: Andrew Barnett, executive director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League; Kevin Abellano, an LGBT activist at Howard University; and Sadie-Ryanne Baker, a trans advocate with the DC Trans Coalition. Mid-way through the program, a listener called in to question why Baker was there. The caller argued that sexual orientation and gender identity comprised "distinct issues and distinct communities," and he objected to gay issues and trans issues "being grouped together on the same show."
Baker's response acknowledged the differences between gay and trans identities, but also mounted a good defense of keeping the T in LGBT:
"I somewhat agree," said Baker, who took the caller's question after detailing how she was estranged from her family after coming out as trans at the age of 21. "Trans issues sometimes get subsumed" under the broader LGBT umbrella, Baker said, only to be ultimately "ignored by the larger LGBT community." That "can work against trans people," said Baker. She added that "confusing the two—gender identity and sexual orientation—has in some ways increased the ignorance out there about trans people."
At the same time, "non-transgender LGBT folks can be some of our most powerful allies," Baker argued, "and a lot of us do come from the same communities." Those communities are often forged in adolescence, when gay, lesbian, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people are struggling with their own identities—and are facing the same sort of discrimination from their families and peer groups. "All of us grow up 'queer,'" Baker said. "We're treated similarly. When I grew up, everybody thought I was gay. I was called gay all the time. . . . This is an opportunity for us to sort of work together. I think we can mutually support each other because we've been through a lot of the same things."