I was at the store the other day when I heard one of the most heartbreaking things that a dyke can hear one of her sisters say. It was a convenience store, so when we all stood in line and were then waited on, we were all side-by-side facing the 2 clerks behind the counter. When I got up to the counter, this young butch dyke who was helping me was talking to a young gay man (customer) next to me. I would guess they were both around 20 years old. The young dyke was saying that she didn’t know how to tell her mom something, which being gay, made my ears perk because hey, we’ve all been there, right?
Then she says that her mom already knows she is a “lesbian” (she used air quotes there), but that she wasn’t a lesbian, she was “trans” and “wanted to live her life as a man;” and she didn’t know how to tell her mom this.
As I said, this was sincerely heartbreaking; to see and hear a young butch dyke talk about transitioning and living her life “as a man.” I wanted to reach across the counter and shake her like a mom who just caught her child running across the street without looking, consequently almost getting hit. It was sad to see this young woman, a sister to me in many ways, speak about transitioning; and I have to say, she didn’t seem happy about it either. She seemed resigned, like it was something she had to do, not something she wanted to do.
I wanted to tell her not to drink the trans kool-aid. I wanted to tell her that she didn’t have to take drugs or have surgeries and mutilate a perfectly healthy female body. I wanted to tell her to not give in to the binary and conform into societal demands. I wanted to tell her that it’s ok to be any kind of woman you want to be, patriarchy be damned.
I wanted to say all of that and more, because it sickens me to see the kind of pressure young women like this deal with on a daily basis. I dealt with it as well. I was so masculine looking, I was “passing” in high school, even with long hair. In my early 20s when I came out, people still thought I was a man, but it was made worse because I was a lesbian and to so many people, a masculine looking lesbian “wants to be a man.”
Forget that I didn’t want to be a man. Forget that I loved being a woman. Forget that I loved my body. Forget that I was ok with the non-conforming woman that I was. I received so much pressure to transition, I almost did. I figured I was supposed to transition, that it was something everyone expected me to do, so I should just do it.
I am thankful everyday that I decided against it.
But not every young lesbian is that lucky. So many of them feel so much pressure from society and from the trans community that they should transition, they end up making the biggest mistake of their young lives. Sometimes, that mistake is irreversible.
I was reading some comments yesterday from straight men and women and it was pretty astonishing to see not only how little they know about lesbians and trans people, but also how little they really actually care about lesbians. Here is this blog, created and written by a butch lesbian about her lived experiences and her opinions based on those lived experiences and these straight women and men were commenting about how there is no such pressure to conform, there is no such pressure to transition. Hell, they even commented on how harmless the cotton ceiling is and how it doesn’t attempt shame lesbians into having sex with men who call themselves women.
Instead of believing a woman who has lived these experiences and knows about them first hand, these straight people also drank the trans kool-aid and believed the rhetoric spewed forth by the trans community. Instead of listening to what I had to say about lesbians, butches, and trans people, these women and men decided that I was just another silly woman screaming about how awful the menz are and that they shouldn’t take me seriously.
So it shouldn’t be surprising to see young butch dykes out there who are subjected to the trans propaganda, feel like they should transition. It shouldn’t be surprising that young dykes out there who are confronted daily by a society that ignores, ridicules, and even tries to exterminate butch lesbians, feel like they should transition. I shouldn’t be surprising that young dykes out there who hear from the straight community all of the homophobic, lesbophobic, and misogynistic crap they say about lesbians and women, while praising trans for “being brave,” feel like they should transition.
It isn’t surprising to those of us who felt, and still feel that kind of pressure from the straight, trans, and sometimes even gay communities. but it is heartbreaking. When you are a woman who doesn’t conform to what society believes a woman should be and then you thumb your nose at society again by not conforming to the man they believe you should transition into because of how you look, dress, or act, life isn’t just hard, it can sometimes be down right unbearable.
Life as a non-conforming lesbian can be especially difficult when faced with women from your own group, such as other lesbians or feminists, who are so conditioned by the patriarchy that instead of celebrating the kind of non-conforming woman that you are, they also disbelieve your lived experiences, they also feel that you should just transition already, and they also put your needs as a woman on the back burner for the sake of men.
No, it isn’t surprising that this young woman was resigned to her fate. It isn’t surprising that she was ready to stop being a lesbian and conform to what people everywhere shove down non-conforming women’s throats about transitioning. It isn’t surprising that she was ready to live life “as a man.” It’s heartbreaking, because I, like so many other women out there who refuse to conform to this patriarchal society’s demands, have been there; and sometimes, it’s just easier to go with the flow of those around you and do what is expected.
Someone on my Twitter joked about staging an intervention for this young woman; and I really wish we could. I wish a group of us could sit her down and tell her that she is beautiful and handsome and wonderful just the way she is, that she is part of a community filled with a rich and amazing history, that she is loved and cherished for the non-conforming woman that she is. Our intervention could even consist of women who I keep meeting through my blog, women who went through the transition stages in their attempts to become men and who, years later, regretted that decision and are on their way back to the women they always were.
I could tell her what I told myself so many years ago when faced with the pressure to transition: Fuck society. Fuck the patriarchy. Fuck conforming. I like the woman that I am and I refuse to become something I am not, nor would I ever want to be in order to satisfy the world’s misogynistic view of woman.
That was a really well written post 🙂
However, I think that it’s as accurate as it isn’t at the same time. I believe there are women that want to become a man-each one having her own reasons to that. For me, a “lesbian” is just a woman who loves a woman and the “butch” and “femme” and so on labels are useless because even a straight woman may like looking like a man or there might be a straight man that is quite feminine.
I am a bisexual so when I read about how less people know about the problems you mentioned, I shall also add “myself” into this category since we do have the same issues. I do understand it’s all written from a personal point of view (kudos for that) and I like reading more and more people commenting on such topics.
I once had a conversation with a guy I met (who became a close friend of mine); He once asked “Who’s the man and who’s the woman” when I was dating my now ex gf. The thing here is that at times one of the women’s the ‘tougher” one so it’s pretty balanced I believe.
My Philosophy is quite simple-Live how you want, love who you want, forget the labels and follow your heart 🙂
[…] Another Sister Lost To The Madness. […]
See, it is belittling comments like this one that make bisexuals so irritating to lesbians sometimes. You pay a compliment so you appear to be an ally and then you spend two paragraphs trivializing our lives and our words while joking about stereotypes and misconceptions.
This blog isn’t about what you believe, nor is my opinion and lived experiences inaccurate simply because you believe in unicorns. Butch and femme are not “labels” to us and speaking in this manner shows how little respect you have for butch and femme lesbians. There are not straight women butches and feminine men are not femmes. This is a way for straight people to co-opt our words instead of just letting us be who we are.
You already admit your ignorance, but then just keep right on plowing through with the stereotypes and disparaging us by calling our words labels again. I will never understand how women like you can subjugate yourselves to men and the patriarchy while also claiming to be sisters to lesbians when you cannot even sit through a blog post without disrespecting the author under the guise of understanding. I would suggest that, instead of listening with one ear while thinking of a great come back, you sit and listen to what lesbians are actually saying and believe them. Respect us instead of constantly trying to belittle us by calling our words labels and allowing men and straight people to redefine our words against our wishes.
The saddest part of this is you will probably feel “attacked” and will have absolutely no idea why your comment was so disrespectful to me and to lesbians in general, especially those who identify as butch and femme.
Please don’t come back until you have done some more work on your own internalized homophobia and have a better understanding of lesbians so that you can respond without it being a backhanded compliment.
What people don’t want to say out loud is that straight “ally’s” who post/comment/have opinions on the complicated and individual LETTERS of the LGBTQRXYZ parasol…
DON’T really KNOW SHIT about lesbian women, gay men and bisexuals…. and they SERIOUSLY don’t know SHIT about the other fucking letters… outside of what is spoon fed to them by the media. When Barbara Walters and Oprah are their “go too” we should all be very concerned.
It’s like they all want to be “cool”.
The “I have black friends” mindset. Straight guilt doesn’t mean shit to me, anymore then the value of their white guilt.
Unfortunately, MANY… gay men don’t really know shit about lesbians either. They have never really cared or cared to listen, because it upsets their “delicate” male privilege. A lesbian tells a gay man he has privilege he’ll whip out his fan and tell you that as a Queen he doesn’t have any PRIVILEGE, faster then you can clutch your pearls. Gay men have MAJOR POWER in our lesbian visibility. That is a reality. If you look at major media outlets, blogs and politics… it’s always focused on gay men. When M2tg’s are posting/speaking in these forums as “lesbians” they never seem to realize that AGAIN, their focused on males. They’d rather have a straight man speak for lesbians, then an actual lesbian.
Lesbians are just to “angry” or just not very “nice”.
When the truth is lesbians are NOT catering to men, straight people or the queers who are still focused on dick. Lesbians don’t give a shit about any of it. We care about women. When lesbian women refuse to be “inclusive” so that EVERYONE can feeeeeeeeel the pain, it’s a turn off to the majority. It’s not being packaged properly for the majority. It’s all about MARKETING.
Straight people who encourage/promote and value GENDER have a reason to be committed to it. It’s all part of THEIR SEXUALITY… and lesbians and women who don’t embrace gender or conform…
threat/insult or are just not “complying” THEIR sexuality.
It’s all very lesbophobic and they are not our “ally’s”.
I think that’s what makes us so confounding for straight people: we do not cater to men in any way. Lesbians put women first, always.
And some lesbians even put lesbians first.
It wasn’t a joke, it was a sincere wish. The message you, Dirt, Nymesis and others are delivering is very important and urgently needed. It is frightening that there is no longer any safe space for Lesbians within the LGBT community. I can’t imagine the uproar you would hear if you tried to organize a series of Butch FAB Only nights to reach to these young women. Its a tragedy.
Thanks for commenting. I honestly could not remember who said that, but it really stuck with me and lead me down the path to writing this post.
A couple things…Reading the line “Life as a non-conforming lesbian”… seemed kinda redundant…really sent me initially into a meditation – with serious thoughts fast on it’s heels… Being a lesbian IS non-conforming…it’s the most “non-conforming” a woman can get without cutting something off – (having surgery and hormones). Seems that in our new found freedom A.S.(After Stonewall) young ones are coming up with NO awareness of how hard-fought and hard-won our freedom was/and is for us AS LESBIANS, SEPARATE FROM GAY MEN. And for Womyn – how essential it is to have an understanding of RADICAL FEMINISM and a working awareness of the PATRIARCHY. Unless some kind of study, or awareness is developed, a young bi or gay woman has NO CONTEXT… and I think it’s the results of this “no context” state that we are seeing. Kinda similar, (but of course VERY different) from the phenomenon among young gay men, who for awhile were “riding bareback” – or – having sex without protection IN ORDER TO BECOME HIV POSITIVE. Don’t know if this is still going on, don’t know what the crazy rationalization for this behavior was…some bizarre idea of “hipness” to be HIV positive??? Like young gay women thinking that since they are gay and butch – not feminine – they should HAVE SURGERY AND TAKE HORMONES AND “TRANSITION” INTO “MEN”???
The bisexual writer above obviously knows nothing of Lesbian culture. She is obviously still hooked into the matrix and feeding from patriarchy’s teet. Kinda felt some empathy for her, with that “Follow your heart” statement – she clearly wants to be liked, or to be in-the-club, or to make nice, or something. Anyone, male or female/any sexual preference can “look butch” or “look fem”. But the Lesbian concept of Fem and Butch is a more involved, intricate and intimate dance, known only to each unique couple themselves and “Who’s the man/who’s the woman” questions are like giving a bicycle to a fish. Too bad we don’t have “consciousness raising groups” happening, like support groups, as in the 70’s. It is in those groups that I met other well adjusted lesbians-happy-to-be-lesbian, felt a sense of sisterhood, learned about radical lesbian thought and began to develop a Lesbian political consciousness …and that, friends, is what I think these young butch-lesbians-who-think-they-gotta-have-surgery-and-be-“trannys” need. We could call it Lesbianism 101, with a Butch concentration.
Seems like the more connected we are globally via technology, the less connected we are to each other and our collective past.
Reblogged this on Adventures and Musings of a Hedgewitch.
You said it! Hopefully, we as a species will get over our rapture with
iphones and reconnect, person to person, lesbian to lesbian.
Reblogged this on no more free rent and commented:
so. This is sad, and outrageous, and upsetting. I am not trans. I cannot pretend to understand what a trans person goes through. I also don’t know what the writer has gone through. I haven’t ever been pressured to transition. Maybe it’s because I don’t always dress masculine, maybe because who I am around or where I live. The writer here seems to think that being a butch lesbian or a non-conforming lesbian is more difficult than transitioning. Maybe it is for some, maybe not?? I have no idea, and therefore I CANNOT COMMENT ON THIS.
Ok, so yeah, it would be unfortunate if the “butch lesbian” in BigBooButch’s post transitioned because they were pressured by society to do so. We CANNOT say that is the case though. Let people live their own truths without judging them for who they are or what they do. Wasn’t it against society’s norms to come out as gay in the first place?? and BigBooButch, wouldn’t you hope that the people who care about you aren’t secretly wanting you to live your life as a straight person? As LGBT(+ more letters, I don’t know all of them) people we should all be much more cautious in deciding what others should do. Especially when your’re judging a person at a convince store, and thinking you know what is best for them.
I have never said being anyone or anything is any easier or more difficult than being anyone or anything else. You made that assumption by reading this through your own personal filters. You have also assumed to know my intent and have accused me of knowing what is best for someone while also admitting your ignorance on the whole subject.
What needs to happen here, but is not, is that young folks like yourself, straight people, bisexuals, gay men, and even some lesbian populations need to really HEAR what we are telling you. This is a lived experience, not just a random opinion. Just because YOU don’t see it, just because YOU don’t feel it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
You don’t come off as wise and compassionate in your comment, you come off as arrogant and misinformed. So the next time you feel you need to lecture someone on how to live, why not first try to really listen to what they are saying about their lived experiences instead of assuming that, well, if you haven’t seen or experienced it, it must not be real.
Thank you for answering that typical oppressive Lesbian-hating crap so well….
Sure thing. My hope is she’ll turn this into a chance to learn about lesbians.
I want to apologize for my post. It has been taken down. I didn’t mean to come across as arrogant and misinformed. My emotions got to me, and I put a hastily written post up that I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry that you have been receiving so many negative and accusatory responses (including mine) concerning your post. Treating others badly really is the last thing I want to do.
I know it has been a few days since I read and reblogged your post. I took my post down when read your response, but I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’ve had some time to think things over and also read more of your blog.
As someone who really hasn’t been affected by the pressure to transition, I only want to understand (as much as someone who isn’t experiencing what you write about) as much as possible about the issue. I know people who describe themselves as trans, but I do not know what led them to transition, or if they feel like they are living an authentic life. I want to learn more about the subject. I am open, I am listening.
I sincerely appreciate that. Thank you.
If the young subject of this conversation seemed happy (as opposed to ‘unhappy and resigned’) about the decision to Transition, would you have celebrated the decision to transition…as an Ally?
No. I would never celebrate such a thing; and I could not, in good conscience call myself an ally while standing idly by as a young woman takes drugs and mutilates herself in order to better fit into the patriarchal binary.
But I am sure you already knew the answer to that question and just came here in an attempt to shame me by insinuating that I am not a trans ally because I am of the belief that these young women are being sold a load of misogynistic crap. If you had read any of my blog before asking such a question, you would have seen that I believe transgenderism is a mental condition that requires therapy, not drugs and surgeries. You would have also seen that I fully support protection under the law from discrimination and violence for anyone and everyone. Finally, you would have seen that I believe women should be able to dress and act as they wish without stigma, without having to take on male pronouns, and without being pushed or convinced into transitioning.
I am an ally of lesbians and women and I have met and read about too many young women who transition, realize it was a huge mistake and then try to go back to their true selves to ever be ok with the use of drugs and mutilation to fit into the binary.
I am afraid to post a reply. I don’t want to belittle or insult anyone. I have dated and lived with a variety of butch women. This is at least the ,” label” they had given themselves. I have been with a few that have defined themselves as trans . Many I would say have issues with self esteem and trust brought on by their experience of being shunned in the lesbian community and society at large . This leads to a strange condition. They love and hate femme women at the same time. It is really sad because as much as you love these women they already a have a lower opinion of you and have contempt for you if you are on the other end spectrum of gender expression. I really can not wait for the day that women are just allowed to express their wonderful diversity without going after each other.
No, I get what you are saying. A femme friend of mine was saying something similar the other day, but she was saying that a lot of the “male identified” butches she meets don’t want femmes, they want straight women, which I think is incredibly short sighted and stupid and I am hoping that is a rare phenomenon, but I haven’t seen it from a femme’s perspective, so I cannot speak on it directly.
Am I the ONLY one who see’s what Rebecca is going through??
HERE is a lesbian “afraid” of even posting about her experience.
I am reading/listening to you Rebecca. I am.
When lesbians are intimidated to post about THEIR EXPERIENCES…. we as a fucking “community” should be paying attention.
Lesbians shouldn’t be “afraid”… I GET Rebeccas concerns. I do. I’m not minimizing them in the LEAST BIT.. I in fact want to shine a fucking light beam on it.
Lesbians pay enough.
Our sexuality has been porned/pimped and propagated for men.
WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT SEXUALLY GRATIFYING MALES.
We are lesbians.
But w/the stroke of GBT “community” keys it’s now OUR fucking problem?
The “conditioning” is so INGRAINED for some. .. it’s just the “nice” thing to do, even if its for women who “ID” as men.
We don’t need ANY-ONES approval lesbian women.
There are millenniums of lesbians before us who didn’t need it before all this PC/on line bullshit. They got down, they loved and they fucked.
Ain’t no “transman” who can compete w/the BRAVERY and HISTORY of that.
Lesbians don’t conform… it’s a pretty BIG part of being a lesbian and why WE STILL don’t have our rights as women… theirs great difficulty w/this, but there is also… PRIDE.
We just don’t post youtube videos about our fucking chin hairs.
I hear you and I hate that we lesbians, we women feel the need to censor ourselves for the sake of others. Rebecca felt she had to censor herself for the sake of butches and from what I hear from other femmes, this happens a lot. Because in this patriarchal world, it isn’t just man or male that is considered “better” or “more important” than woman or female, it even trickles and translates down to masculine being considered “better” or “more important” than feminine, which can lead to some femmes censoring themselves in order to stroke the masculine ego.
But here, in this blog? I hear you both.
[…] responses to my post, “Another Sister Lost to the Madness” have been interesting for a variety of reasons. First, I need to make note that a LOT of […]
Reblogged this on I'M NOT "TRANSGENDER" ANY MORE and commented:
I am (obviously) not a lesbian, and to be honest I had not thought much until fairly recently (after I de-programmed myself from my own trans-insanity) about the pressures exerted on lesbians by the “gender identity” industry to become “trans men.” It saddened me to read this post. Whether it’s men who think the can become women, or women who think they can become men, it’s all in the service of patriarchal oppression and erasure of women and girls.
Yep, the patriarchy is a tricky beast. It’s turned the men into “victims” and the women into “oppressors.” Sad, really.
Reblogged this on A Life Un-Lived and commented:
The Patriarchy approves this post, with the following cautions.
The Patriarchy opposes butchery of healthy and functioning sexual organs. We love women as they are. We accept homosexuality as a demographic inevitability resulting from several as-yet certain causes. We do not object to “butch” females. Remain female. Copulate freely with the gender you choose. We trust there is sufficient love for all.
[…] throw the structure of fucker/fucked into jeopardy. Women who reject their submissive status can be shoved offstage into a simulacrum of manhood, while men who reject those signifiers of masculine domination are […]
[…] Young lesbian decides to transition […]
[…] steadily increasing numbers of young women being transitioned, the harm to the lesbian community, particularly the “butch” and “gender nonconforming” lesbian community. And then there is the damage to families–parents, siblings, other relatives–whose […]
Speaking as a dude here, so I hope I’m not intruding here. Still learning about this stuff as I go.
This posting, in particular, raised questions relevant to my family situation. My sister is currently transitioning to being a dude, and while I and my dad (she’s basically severed communications with my mom and step-dad, for reasons that may or may not relevant in this context) have tried to be as supportive as possible, neither of us can totally suppress the concern that, in repudiating a specific construction of femininity, she’s inadvertently reinforcing the gender binary and conforming to heterosexist norms.
Case in point: she had been in a relationship for a number of years with a dude (nice guy) but has never been shy about being interested in women. Apparently only now that she’s undergoing hormone therapy and corrective surgery, though, does she feel comfortable pursuing this side of herself. She’s currently dating a girl now.
I”m not sure what to make of it, and I don’t want to come across as transphobic, but I’m curious as to how lesbians would receive or classify that. Her family would have accepted her (bi/homo?)sexuality (my dad, gay himself, actually kind of hoped she was a lesbian), but obviously she wouldn’t have to change her sex for that. So would her exploring relationships in the meantime imply that she’s coming out as gay, or does turning into a dude render her retroactively straight.
It’s confusing, because homosexuals had to fight tooth and nail to get where they are now, and there’s still much work to be done on that front. And in addition to homophobia gay women especially have to contend with the extra challenge of institutional and/or internalized misogyny more generally. The prima facie innocuous calls for greater tolerance for transgenderism, fluid sexuality, etc, do seem to pose the prospect of eliding the specific historical experiences of gay women and of overstepping the boundaries that subculture built for its own security and solidarity.
I just want my sister to be happy with whoever she is, yet it is a bit sad to think that, for whatever reason, she no longer considers her female self to be authentic to her identity. Not that her choices affect me personally, but given how explicit you’ve made your position here, is there any way to make sense of all this without estranging my sibling?
Granted that this is two years old, but a response would nevertheless be appreciated.
I don’t normally allow dudes to speak in here but since you are not trolling and you seem to really want to learn about this for your sister, I wanted to let it go through and answer it. I never close comments on my blog for just this reason: so that 2 or 5 or 10 years later, people can still comment, debate, and ask questions. Just because it is old, that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to your interests now, right?
Anyway, I digress. It sounds to me like your sister is deeply (internally) homophobic and has some serious body issues. It could be as simple as she met and is listening to the wrong people. A friend of mine was a butch lesbian (lesbian is preferable over “gay” for us women) and felt like me whenever one of our butch sisters went off the deep end and transitioned: very sad at the loss. But she, in some unknown way to me, became involved with a lot of transgenders (maybe through another branch of her activism, it does not matter) and these people picked and picked and picked at her until she suddenly had a ton of body issues where there weren’t any before. She used to be perfectly ok with her body, now she is ashamed of it. They also picked and picked and picked until she decided to transition.
So these people talked her into both having serious body dysmorphia and talked her into transitioning! All it took was a few months of them all (mostly male) picking at her and her self esteem and BOOM, she wants to become a straight man!
I told that story because I wondered if (a) your sister has some deep-seated internalized homophobia which made transitioning, in her mind, the only way for her to be with women, or (b) possibly she has been “hanging with the wrong crowd” so to speak. Men and women who have picked and picked at her until she decided she wanted to be a “man.” Both of those things can lead straight to transitioning and both of those things will ensure that transitioning will NOT make her happy.
I know, how can she be homophobic when her father is gay, right? That’s why I said internalized. She may love and accept your father but cannot accept those same feelings and behaviors in herself. Transgenderism is a form of correcting gay men and lesbians, turning them straight, even if it is a facsimile of the opposite sex (which was why your “corrective surgery” line threw me!). It is reparative therapy for gay people or potential gay people (as in kids). You see this a LOT with kids whose parents have transed them. The vast majority, possibly all of them are deeply homophobic parents who would rather have a child who is strictly adhering to the gender stereotypes of the opposite sex than have a hmosexual child. Especially now, when transitioning is so….trendy; and almost all of the kids being transed today because they are showing any kind of gender variance, these kids would grow out of this, as if it were a phase, and the majority of the, like 80-90% grow up to be gay. So transing kids is just a way to do reparative therapy to correct the gay. We see this in countries like Iran where they kill gay people but would pay for the surgery/ies of a transgender.
Of course, if you talk to your sister about any of this, odds are very, very good that she will not take it well at all and it will cause a rift to grow between you two. The best option for you might just be to be there, supporting her and then when she comes crashing down into the reality that states that this will not “cure” her ailments, it will just mask them for a while, be there for her and help her pick up the pieces. For most of them, it takes a couple of years to crash into reality. You have to kind of think of her as an alcoholic or something. She is going to follow this path, no matter what you or your day say right now. But eventually, she will come crashing down because this didn’t help like she thought it would and she is going to want to de-transition.
I wish you a lot of luck, this isn’t going to be easy for you.
That’s gracious of you. I’ll keep myself scarce here in the future, so your thoughtful answers now are appreciated. Honestly, radical feminist politics wouldn’t even have registered on my radar a few months ago (in part because their concerns seem so effectively marginalized within mainstream progressive discourse), so it’s been kind of a crash course. I only started researching this issue in the first place because my dad had heard the 41% suicide statistic somewhere and gotten alarmed.
I can’t even conceive how internalized homophobia would apply in her case—that just seems like alien thinking to me. Perhaps it’s closer to the more general patriarchal assumption that men count for for more and should be taken more seriously in society. As for the second suggestion, without delving into personal stuff, I know that at some point she was seeing at least two shrinks, and My dad and I suspect that either or both of them were pushing her in that direction. Her second shrink was a gay guy—how that initially came up in their sessions, I don’t know, but it’s possible he was projecting onto her. In retrospect I wonder if a woman in that position would have been less likely to give the same advice.I can’t account for all of her acquaintances, but I dread to think that I or anyone else in her family ever said anything that would have unintentionally encouraged that notion…
I’m very sorry to hear of your friend’s travails. There’s a lot of pressure in certain milieux to assimilate the minute deviations from gender norms are detected. (Iran is a perfect example of how a certain practice that appears progressive in one cultural context reveals itself to be regressive in another). Considering the growing number of kids transitioning (by either volition, coercion, or some combination thereof), and at younger ages, I fear it’s only a matter of time before we witness major blowback, and a lot of patients will implode as a result. Until then it has the potential of marginalizing women’s issues, particularly where lesbians are concerned.
I definitely can’t discuss any of this with her. She’s always had a combative personality, which is healthy to an extent, but’s taken this transgender stuff especially personally and can get very defensive about it. She flies into a rage if we so much as slip up on pronouns. She once tried to cut herself out my dad’s old family photos, which is symptomatic of borderline psychotic self-hatred, in my opinion.
Maybe you’re right, and all we can do is wait out her realization that this won’t fundamentally resolve the underlying identity issues that assail her, then support her through that process. I’d prefer to be more optimistic that she will become well-adjusted, but if the ideological and psychological premises underpinning transgender diagnoses are as flimsy and unstable as you and others argue, then that seems less than likely.
Anyways, thanks for hearing me out. If not peace of mind, you’ve provided at least understanding and clarity.
P.S. Is there any further reading you’d recommend on the subject? Beyond snippets of, say, Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond, I’m not remotely familiar with gender-critical theorists.
There are quite a few blogs out there, including but not limited to: Gallus Mag’s GenderTrender, Cathy Brennan and her Gender Identity Watch (GIW) blog. Those are the big two. I am also following quite a few gender critical and/or radical feminist (I am the former) blogs.
As for other readings, I’d like to suggest you peruse the books and papers that are downloaded into .pdf files on radfem.org. There are several different authors to choose from and they are all radical feminists.
Good luck with your sister. I hope you can come back here and leave an update later.
She was in town for Thanksgiving week, and although she was staying with our dad’s for the duration, she finally sat down with our mother for coffee (sis insisted that dad attend, so he sat in a corner by himself) and they seem to be on speaking terms and able to amicably discuss light subjects without derailing into drama. Which is a huge improvement upon the last two years. Hopefully she will be ready to invite her more into life going forward.
But what little my mom relayed to me was quite disturbing. She’s almost fully “transitioned,” and seems quite happy with her new life as a “dude.” But she was also quite open about regarding women as “inferior,” and claimed that FtMs were “trading up” because men have more power, get paid more, can do basically whatever they want with their lives.
Which isn’t untrue, per se, but those are all expressions of patriarchal attitudes, not a problem inherent to womanhood. How she can’t recognize that and instead chooses to “cheat” her way into patriarchy confounds me. Now that she’s explicit about her internalized misogyny, I genuinely worry about the kind of people she’s listening to and hanging out with.
And of course, we still have to watch our pronouns (dad and I deleted all our text messages before she visited, in case she inspected our phones). I slipped up a couple times, and she gave my dad an earful for an offhand comment about how she really likes this longtime girlfriend of hers with whom she’s very affectionate. No major blowups, though. But my mom is no position to question her on any of this, lest she risk total rejection once again.
So this last visit was mixed, I guess. She seems to have fully embraced this new identity of hers, but at least it’s not a major obstacle to a normal relationship with her mother.
Is there an option to share this on tumblr as well?
I did! Just a long time ago: Another Sister Lost To The Madness
But if you want to share it there, you can reblog mine or grab the url of the blog post and link to it over there. 🙂