i was recently asked the following question. So simple, yet so complex. although i don't think i gave a clear cut answer, here was my attempt, that i thought i would share with you all here today:
gender identity and sexual orientation are completely different things. the problem is that there seems to be a lack of information and lack of understanding as to what gender identity really is all about, and sadly, most LGB folks are so focused on their own internal issues with regards to sexual orientation acceptance, that the furthest thing on their mind is to learn about another group and their issues.
the T community never asked to be merged with the LGBs, that was an idea created by the cis/hetero community.
equally as much of an issue appears to be the inability for members of the T community to get along. likewise, i think this is also due to the fact that there are so many different issues. TG, TS, TV, all mean totally different things. and even worse, there does not appear to be any set of guidelines for definitions of such.
then you have cis folks out there who proclaim themselves 'experts' and are given such recognition by medical industry associations.
TS, TV, TG... which ones are fetishists? which ones are mentally ill? which ones have a biological birth defect? can some of these people be more than one? so many questions and no clear cut answers. nor are there any to be found. we are all different. nobody can label us. identity is something that is determined by oneself, and oneself only.
some of us are fighting for the right to change our ID without having to have surgery, while some of us are fighting for the right to obtain timely and affordabe surgery. some of us claim to be fetishists who think they need mental help. some of us claim we need hormones but not surgery, some of us claim we need both hormones and surgery. some of us want neither. some of us identify with the binary sex and gender categories and some of us don't.
we are a very confusing bunch. we can't even figure ourselves out other than to come to an understanding that the T community is an umbrella of individuals that have a major variety of perceptions as to who we are and how we feel we need to live our lives. with this in mind, we are essentially impossible for everyone else to figure out.
some people say they want to help us, while others appear to only want to build their own empires by creating theories about us.
would the various T movements be better off disassociating themselves from the LGB community? or tagging along? Can the TG, TS, and TVs accomplish their goals by working together, or should they be further disassociating themselves from each other? tough questions and no obvious answers.
what i think we are all fighting is society's perception of how human beings are or should be. combating and overcoming something like that is a huge task, and can't be taken on by individuals on their own, so we all need to find a way to work together to educate and advocate for the rights and needs of everyone in the T community.
as far as a T community, the biggest challenge is to actually get T people to come out from stealth. So many are happy to fade into obscurity and blend in with the rest of the cis world, and i certainly can't blame them. and heck, some of us want to rid ourselves of the trans label one we reach a point where we consider our transition complete, yet others feel quite comfortable retaining the trans label, and feel that transition never ends, but that life is a continuing evolving entity.
but communication is the first step, and it's nice to see that there is some interest out here in putting together some sort of collaborative environment.