Just yesterday, I wrote about how bisexual women, straight women, and men claiming to be women were co-opting the word lesbian in their effort to twist and distort it until it means nothing; and I wondered if the patriarchy, with the help of the “I hate labels” and the “sexuality is fluid” crowds, would swallow the term whole, taking lesbians’ identity away, once and for all. Of course, that is a hard pill to swallow and the majority of lesbians will fight tooth and nail against people who think they can co-opt our words and spaces, bully us into silence, and shame us into having sex with trans women and their accompanying penises by calling us transphobic and bigots because we do not want to have relationships or sleep with men.
So imagine my horror when I was sent this screen cap of a visit to the doctor recently. A butch lesbian, a woman who does not fit society’s definition of what a woman should look like or how a woman should dress, behave, or present herself went to the ER. She checks in, sees the doctor, and before leaving, takes a peek at her chart to see something so unbelievable, for a second, I thought I was being punked when told about it.
This doctor decided that the butch lesbian in front of her was not actually a butch lesbian but a trans man in denial. In the chart, she writes that this butch is a 48 year old trans man but adds that the “chart will say female.” There was no conversation, there were no questions about whether or not this woman believed she was trans, there was nothing but an assumption; and that assumption was based on this butch woman’s appearance.
Instead of inquiring, instead of taking a good look at the person in front of her and seeing the woman inside the butch, instead of accepting that a woman can look and dress in a manner deemed by society to be masculine while still being a woman, the doctor assumed this butch lesbian was a trans man and put forth that assertion into the woman’s chart without even so much as a by your leave.
I can tell you, as a butch, that having something like that happen: the complete erasure of the woman that you are in order to appease a group of people with such a debilitating disorder, they cry “bigot” at the slightest foul, is nothing short of humiliating. In induces a rage that, to be honest, I have no analogy for at the moment. I get irritated when I am mistaken for a man, sure, but when the person hears my voice or takes a more-than-glancing look at me, they realize their mistake, see the woman that I am, and, most of the time, apologize for not paying enough attention to the person in front of them so as to see more than a hat, t-shirt, and pair of jeans that led them to their erroneous assumption in the first place.
This is different; and, no, it isn’t the same thing as a trans person being “misgendered.” That’s silly, actually, when you take into consideration that gender is a social construct that, with so many people, changes with the wind. No this is the obliteration of butch women.
Worse than that, this is a person, a doctor, proclaiming that the patriarchy, that men mean so much to her and her conditioning is so complete, she has decided to, without consent, assign maleness to the woman standing in front of her; and she expects that gross misjudgment to be rewarded with thanks and praise for being such a good sheep in the gender pasture.
This is why we must band together and stop this madness, this trans epidemic, this erasure of women, and this annihilation of butch lesbians. Butch female lesbian visibility is a feminist issue, one that is much more important, and vitally so, to women; more so than prioritizing men’s issues. Lesbians should not be erased for the sake of men’s “delicacy.”
Our words are important. Our spaces are important. Our sex is important. Every time we take another step back to readjust the lines that should not be crossed, we get closer and closer to the cliff leading to our extinction.