When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

L, G, B & T — Deconstruction Of An Acronym

Perception (and treatment) of gays and lesbians may be different from transgender people — but in different ways, depending where in the world you are.

Rainbow Pride March in Chandannagar, India
Rainbow Pride March in Chandannagar, India
Stuart Richardson

Americans, including top military and intelligence officials, awoke Wednesday to unexpected news: In a series of early morning tweets, President Donald Trump, who had once pledged to "fight" for the LGBT community, revealed new plans to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. In the days since the president's announcement, a long list of veterans, politicians, activists, and religious leaders has decried the White House's apparent newest policy. It is also turns out that Trump's claim that the policy is based on recommendations of the military may be an outright lie.

But what we can count on with Trump is his knack for tapping into the national mood. His targeting transgender service members is indeed the latest sign of a growing distinction of American attitudes toward the LGBT community. Not all letters of an acronym, it seems, are created equal (or equally unequal...)

In the United States and elsewhere in the West, the advancement of rights for "LGB" (lesbian, gay, bisexual) has outpaced equal treatment for those of the last letter in the acronym, T, for transgender. (Some also refer to LGBTQ for "queer" to encompass all minority sexual and gender identities) According to a 2013 Pew Global survey, most Western societies are now overwhelmingly accepting of homosexuality. Yet the same cannot be said about attitudes toward transgenderism, those whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex. The ongoing battle in the U.S. over access to public bathrooms for transgender people has been the most notable example.

Trump's vague assertions of medical costs to justify the transgender military ban can't hide that "it's fearmongering, plain and simple," writes Steven Petrow in The Washington Post.

The cobbled alliance is precarious.

The broader trend of differential treatment of homosexuals and transgender people plays out across the globe — albeit in surprisingly different ways. Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals do not always enjoy more privileges than transgender individuals. While Iran has executed dozens of gay men since the 1979 revolution, the Islamic government not only allows for gender reassignment surgery but also finances the procedure. In fact, Iran is among the countries that perform the most gender reassignment surgeries annually. India and Pakistan, too, criminalize homosexuality but afford so-called "third gender" individuals legal protections. As the Pakistani daily Dawn recently reported, Islamabad recently issued its first "third gender" passport.

To be sure, the different treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people plays out within the LGBT community as well. This cobbled alliance of gender and sexual identities is precarious, as comically explained by the cast of the American sitcom Modern Family. Still, in spite of their differences, these communities have fought side-by-side for decades — from Stonewall through the AIDS epidemic and now into the Trump years. Yet we also know that the fight transcends national borders and cultural perceptions, and is ultimately united in a principle that goes beyond LGBT rights: It's called Human Rights.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest