Cis-queerly not yours

So here’s the thing.

There’s a term out there that used to enrage me whenever I saw someone use it. No, scratch that and rewind; it still enrages me whenever I see it being used. Just yesterday, I saw someone using the term and I was filled with so much anger at how popular the term is now and easily it is flung about that I literally had to click the little red x in the upper right hand corner of my screen and just walk away for a few hours.

Mind you, I don’t toss the word “enraged” around a lot. I’ve been through a lot of drama in my time on-line and not a whole helluva lot gets to me so badly that “enraged” is how I would describe it. But when there’s a group of people out there who create a term out of thin air with the sole purpose of othering, bullying, even crucifying another group of people, “enraged” seems to be the best word available to describe how I feel.

Of course, I am talking about “cis.”

I even shook my head and rolled my damn eyes as I typed it out on the screen. Such bullshit.

Yes, I know, I know, cis is an actual word and in Latin means “on the same side as”; but its use has, until recently, been restricted to the scientific communities, chemistry and molecular biology, to be specific. I am not discussing its use in science, however, because my thoughts are on how the transgender community co-opted this tiny little word, a prefix really, and warped it into the pejorative it is today.

In the mid-90s, an FtM literally made the word “cisgender” up one day. To quote this person, “As for the origin, I just made it up. I just kept running into the problem of what to call non-trans people in various discussions, and one day it just hit me: non-trans equals cis. Therefore, cisgendered.”

Side note: there are, of course, varying stories of how this word came to be used on-line. There’s an MtF who claims to have used it first, which is not surprising. A woman claims to have done something and a man comes back and says he did it first? Shocking. But that is a discussion for another time because, honestly? I just don’t care who made it up and/or who started using it first, so I will move on to the rest of my post.

Biologically, or bio female? Not good enough. Bio male? Not good enough. Non-trans? Silly, sure, and still not good enough. No, a phrase had to be invented because a group of people felt so othered by those of us whose sexual organs they covet; or, as in the case of a vast majority of MtF transgenders, by those into whose private spaces and even pants they wish to force themselves. Now it was their turn to do the othering, god damnit, and god help anyone who was bio female and bio male and wanted to stop them. That’s transphobic, don’t you know that?

Again, as I said in another post, for the sarcastically challenged, that was dripping with nothing but pure sarcasm. You’re welcome.

Before I move on, I feel I should note that just as in my other post, when I say woman, I am referring to biologically born and raised females; and it pisses me off that I have to make that distinction. Not just because it sounds like I am describing farm fresh meat or eggs or fish or something, but also because the term woman has also been so warped that one needs to tack on a bunch of qualifiers when using the damn word. But I digress.

So here we are, almost 2 decades later and how is the phrase used? As a pejorative. Go to Twitter and search #fuckcispeople if you don’t believe me. Cisgender and cissexist are practically spit at people who trans people hate and wish to other, humiliate, and vilify. Yes, I said hate. There really is no other word to describe people who would tell a woman to, “die in a fire” or “kill yourself” or that she should be raped as some sort of punishment for disagreeing with said MtF transgender.

Not to mention that I find it ironic that a group of people so hell-bent on not allowing other people to label them are so completely comfortable with labeling others.

And this term has been further warped. It has helped the MtF transgender society in great strides because the vast majority of them are misogynistic. The hate dripping from their words and actions is so palpable, one would have to be a complete idiot not to see it. What’s the best way to combat your group’s own misogyny? Take the word misogyny and warp it so you can then turn around and use it against the very women whom you covet so much, you literally hate them. How does one do this? Why, tack the word “cis” in front of misogyny, of course!

Cismisogyny (sometimes substituted with cissexual) is the new buzz word for MtF transgenders who hate women with such a vengeance, they would do anything humanly possible to cut women down, to shame women, to guilt them, and to further marginalize them by claiming that they (women) hate MtF transgenders who call themselves women.

This especially happens when women deny these MtF transgenders entry into our private spaces, such as a women-only event or a women’s changing room or even when we deny them access to our own bodies. Do a Google search for “cotton ceiling” if you don’t believe me on that one. It’s an unbelievably insane notion that if a lesbian does not want to have sex with a pre-op MtF transgender, then she is now considered a cismisogynist or cissexist and a bigot for not seeing that male as a female and not considering his penis to be of the female variety.

It is honestly as if biology no longer counts, as if women’s biological bodies and their collective experiences have been erased because, in these MtF transgender’s warped minds, a penis can be a male OR female organ! It’s the same as when a FtM claims that the clit with which they were born is now a penis! I literally had to stop typing there and take a moment because it is so mind boggling to me that I can’t believe I live in a society where a group of people put forth this idea and no one refutes it for fear of being labeled transphobic.

It is such an insane notion, I can’t believe people actually take them seriously on this. But they do. There are trans apologists everywhere, using the words cisgender, cissexual, cismisogyny, cissexualism, etc. According to these individuals, we have become a society where biology no longer matters, where gender is not a man-made social construct, but has actually replaced biology in their minds.

It is time for the madness to stop. It is time for men to stop trying to co-op women’s spaces and words. It is time for their misogyny to be revealed, examined, and fought at every instance.

As women, we should no longer be standing idly by as these men take over our spaces, try to take over our bodies, and take the words with which we use to describe ourselves, leaving us with nothing but the scraps they leave for us. If we continue to allow transgenders to other us all by using the term cis for any reason, we will have only ourselves to blame when there are no more words or spaces to call our own, including our bodies.

If these were the old, straight, white men of Congress who are continuing to try to control and regulate women’s bodies, we would be all over them with picket signs and Vagina Monologues performances. We cannot allow these men to guilt or shame us into giving up our spaces, ourselves, and yes, even our words.

 In the immortal words of Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer: “Enough is enough!”

 

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Dear Straight People

Dear Straight People,

I see you staring at me.

I may not always stare right back at you to show you what an insensitive ass you are being, but I can see and even sense all of your eyes on me as I walk by you.

Is that a man or a woman?

Are those breasts?

Does that MAN have BREASTS???

Wh-wh-what?!?

I know, it’s so damned confusing seeing someone who, as India Arie puts it (I’m paraphrasing here), is not the average woman from your video.

By the way, for the sarcastically impaired, that was dripping with sarcasm. With a capital S.

I don’t fit your heteronormative views of what a woman is supposed to look like so you stare, you sputter, you whisper, you snicker; because apparently, women who look like me are akin to circus freaks, except that you don’t have to come up with those special circus tickets  to get into the tent for a peek at the freak.

But I see you.

We all do.

It’s something butches have come to expect and have learned to live with throughout the course of our lives. Of course, most of the time, we simply ignore you.

But never doubt that we do see you.

 

Sincerely,

BigBooButch

The Bullshit Surrounding Butches and Male Pronouns

You know, this whole craziness with butches and the use of male pronouns on-line started out innocently enough. There we were, back in the day, flocking to  AOL and/or gay.com chat rooms: tons of lesbians connecting from all over the country and world. There weren’t many butch-femme chat rooms and those in existence weren’t populated by that many women (side note: when I say woman in this post, I mean a biologic female), so most of us hung out in the lesbian chat rooms; because, hello, we were all lesbians. Note that this was well before “lesbian” became a bad word.

While some women had pretty obvious names that let others know if they were butch or femme, a lot didn’t and it caused a lot of confusion. So somewhere along the line, people started calling butches “hy” as a way to recognize that this was a masculine person who was not a man; and “he” was used as well, sometimes as an alternative, sometimes as a preference.

I, myself never used either because (a) I am a woman, (b) I really hate made up and misspelled words, and (c) it felt wrong and stupid calling another woman “he.”

Again, this was JUST on-line. I never ever heard anyone in real life refer to butches with male pronouns.

Unfortunately, that innocent beginning snowballed into this massive cluster fuck of pronouns where everyone has their own opinion as to what butches should or should not be called. Most people, femmes and butches alike, default to “he/hy” for ALL butches, even those who they know have expressed a preference for female pronouns.

Then, there are those butches who prefer to be called “she” but don’t mind being called “he.” This attitude about it really pisses me off because this way of thinking reinforces the default to “he/hy.” It helps to reinforce the invisibility of the woman in the butch.

When butches who prefer “he/hy” are accidentally called “she,” they flip their shit. It’s like the world is ending for them because someone called them “she” or “ma’am” or whatever. A battle ensues, people are accused of “feminizing,” etc. It’s crazy.

On the other hand, those who prefer to be called “she” are expected to love being called “he/hy.” We are supposed to feel honored and happy that someone has just ignored the fact that we are women and created this cloak of invisibility around us under the guise of “respect;” and god help us if we try to correct the person using the incorrect pronouns. You would think we suddenly grew a third nipple in the middle of our forehead or something!

The deeper issue here is, of course, misogyny. Male privilege tells us that women, in this and many other societies, are considered less than. Men are considered better, stronger, faster, and smarter than women. Men have almost all of the power in politics, men compromise almost all of the top corporate positions, men are considered to be the leaders of the world. A man’s opinion is considered to be the only one that matters and god help the woman who dares to stand up to him and tell him he is full of shit.

Because women are considered less than, calling someone (particularly a man) a pussy or a bitch or a girl is considered an insult. In that same vein, calling a butch “she” is also considered an insult.

So since woman is the insult, then man is the compliment. The number one compliment for FtMs or male-ID butches (my god, how that term is SUCH an oxymoron!) is that they are called “sir” in public by straight people. Their ultimate horror is for someone to use female pronouns when speaking to/about them; or an even WORSE thing to have happen to them is to be “feminized” (more misogyny).

Continuing on the thought that being a woman is an insult and being a man is a compliment, then butches, who are masculine women, are then supposed to LOVE being referred to with male pronouns; and if we don’t like it, we just have to suck it up and/or fuck off because that’s just the way it is.

It’s all just so fucking heteronormative and misogynistic. Calling us “he/hy” doesn’t just make the women that we are invisible and it doesn’t just perpetuate the misogynistic view that women are less than, it also makes other people start to actually SEE US AS MEN.

Suddenly, all of the erotica written by femmes and butches has “he” and “she” in it, as if it were about a heterosexual couple. All of the things butches are expected to do are all male related: fixing cars, loving sports, drinking a beer with our hand down our pants while watching the game and bitching at “our woman” to make us a sandwich, etc.

In everyone’s eyes, we BECOME men! This is why so many non-femme/butch lesbians assume that butches and femmes are simply emulating straight couples. How could they NOT think that when all of the butches and femmes are calling butches “he” and expecting us to take out the trash and complete our honey-do list?

It all starts with words. Words are very very powerful and when we are not careful, something as innocent as trying to tell who is who in a chat room can snow ball into all of us falling back into the same old bullshit where femmes treat us like men, straight people and other lesbians think we all want to be men, and the young butches coming out today all think they have to transition because, hell, if they are masculine, then they MUST be men, right?

That, right there, is part of why I decided to stop with the silence and start speaking up about these issues: those young butches out there who think their only choice in life is to transition.

It’s time to change our way of thinking. It’s time to stop using male pronouns for women and denying who we are. It’s time to stop comparing butches to men and treating us as if we think and behave like men. Men don’t own masculinity and it’s time we stopped pretending that they do.

It’s time to stop female invisibility.

What ARE you, anyway? She or he?

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I saw this on Facebook yesterday and it made me think of all those times when a woman around me clearly thought I was a man and treated me as such by clutching her purse, looking over her shoulder, distancing herself from me, etc. On the one hand, I applaud women protecting themselves. After all, men are the number one cause of violence against and death of women; so, yes, please make sure you are mindful of the men around you who you think might do you harm.

On the other hand, when this and a thousand other little things like it happen to me daily, I can’t help but feel invisible in this patriarchal world. People, in general, see the hat and the “men’s” clothing and they automatically see a man standing before them, while the woman who is actually there is completely invisible.

As a Butch, I am invalidated by the straight community, shunned by parts of the lesbian community, and outright mocked by the trans community. The straight community thinks I should be more feminine, parts of the lesbian community think I just want to be a man, and the trans community thinks I am a transman in denial who should just transition already.

But I am a woman.

Butches are women.

We were born women and we were raised women in a male dominated society.

We may be masculine, but we are still women.

True, there are some butches who like to play the pronoun game on-line by demanding that everyone use male pronouns when talking to them. These are women who feel like they cannot be masculine unless they are as close to being male as a woman can possibly get, which includes using male pronouns. These are butches who live completely in the binary that the patriarchy has forced down all of our throats and with which the patriarchy has blinded so many of us into thinking that only men can be masculine and only women can be feminine.

This way of thinking and being is troublesome for butches as it perpetuates the invalidation of the women that we truly are. It continues to make us invisible in this world and creates a false sense of security for those butches who take on male pronouns; as if they are somehow now immune to what the world at large truly thinks of us because they make people call them “he” on-line.

This has also caused a shift in the butch-femme community where most femmes on-line use male pronouns with butches as the default. The very people who know us best, the women who have always seen us and have always been there for us now see only the maleness and no longer see the women that we are. It’s as if, suddenly the yin is invisible to the yang, making neither whole.

In the real world, of course, this does not happen. Butches are all women and we embrace the women that we are, accepting and relishing in the use of female pronouns; but on-line, we are bombarded with male pronouns and treated as if we are strange for not accepting and embracing them as our own.

Butches are not men.

Butches don’t want to be men.

Butches don’t want to be compared to men in any way, shape, or form.

We are women who love women.

Period.

The Beginning

Where have all the butch lesbians gone?

It’s a question I see all the time on-line these days. This is the age of queer and gender theory, when being a masculine woman simply isn’t good enough any longer and one must transition in order to be seen and heard. So tons of butches and young teenage lesbians transition into men, thinking the hate they have for their bodies, the invisibility they feel, and the anger they have towards a society that mocks them daily will disappear.

So, where have we gone?

Most of us are kept silent, forced into the closet we already clawed our way out of because we are not allowed to talk about our lives. We are not allowed to openly discuss our love of our female bodies mixed with our masculine traits. We are not allowed to mention our mourning the loss of our butch sisters as they escape into the patriarchy we have spent our lives fighting against as it drags us, kicking and screaming into its binary system of thinking and being.

To do so means we are traitors to our own community, a community we helped to build and in 1969, a community for which we put ourselves out there and helped to start the Stonewall Riots. That’s another thing we are not allowed to talk about, by the way: Stonewall. The trans community has rewritten history so many times by taking away butches and replacing them with transmen that it is a wonder we even exist anymore.

The Stonewall riots were started by a butch and a drag queen, not a transman and a transwoman. Teena Brandon was a butch, not a transman. These are things we are not allowed to talk about without being called transphobes, without being threatened, without being bullied into silence by men (and the apologists who defend them) who cannot stand outspoken women.

It is not transphobic to celebrate the woman I am. It is not transphobic to not transition into a man in order to appease the patriarchy who demands that women are feminine and men are masculine. it is not transphobic to keep history true instead of allowing it to be changed by those who wish to use it to further their own agendas. It is not transphobic to speak my truths.

So instead of continuing to stay silent, I decided to create my own space where I can speak my truths and talk about my life as a butch woman, as a lesbian. I do not lead a glamorous life, I just lead my life and I wish to remain visible in this world of increasing butch invisibility so that other young women who are perhaps butch don’t get trapped in the false belief that if they are masculine, then they MUST be a man.