We Need To Come Together In Love & Support

So here’s the thing. We, as women, can disagree with each other and still support, like, and even love each other. I have been trying to be consistent with my blog and write in it at least once a week, but this last week or so has left me somewhat heartbroken, watching women on Facebook, Twitter, and different blogs argue over the debate of political lesbianism vs. lesbians who feel they were born that way.

I realize I sound a little kumbaya-ish or like a voice from the past asking, “Can’t we all just get along?” but this is pretty serious. Whether you consider yourself a lesbian who was born gay or whether you consider yourself a woman who came into being a lesbian through your politics, it doesn’t much matter to me. What matters to me is how we treat each other.

True, if one were to go by the older definition of a political lesbian, that is, a woman who is a celibate heterosexual who considers herself a lesbian just for the politics of it; and she is neither attracted to nor does she have sex with women, then that is unbelievably offensive in its appropriation of our lives and words as lesbians. But what I have been seeing over the past couple of weeks is that the older definition is used by few and the more recent definition of a political lesbian is a woman who discovered that she was a lesbian through her politics, through radical feminism. While I, personally, take serious issue with the former definition, I have no problem whatsoever with the latter.

But seriously, the vitriol on both sides is heartbreaking to watch. I have been seeing “born this way” (or b-t-w) lesbians speak poorly about political lesbians, I have seen political lesbians say some pretty terrible things about b-t-w lesbians, and in at least one case, I saw a woman try to out another woman’s pseudonym; and since I am also using a pseudonym, that last one concerns me greatly. It is completely disheartening to think that another woman might get angry with me when we disagree and try to out me all over the ‘net.

I also understand that these same arguments fly over other things like “gold star” lesbians vs. lesbians who came out later in life, lesbians who are for and against the butch-femme dynamic, and lesbians who are for or against BDSM. While I can understand how some women might feel about me identifying as a butch lesbian, it in no way would affect how I would treat those women, assuming of course that they are treating me with the same respect with which they themselves wish to be treated. The same goes for the “gold star” issue: since I have never had sex with a man, I suppose I would be considered a “gold star” lesbian, but I would never presume to deride my close friend (or any other lesbian) who figured things out after first getting married and having children. We are both lesbians, we are both feminists, we both put women first.

One would think that, instead of putting down women who feel they were born homosexuals or who believe they found lesbianism through their politics or who do or do not subscribe to the butch-femme dynamic or who are or are not “gold star” lesbians, that we would all just accept and support each other as we are and work together to fight the real threat to our and every other woman’s life on this planet: men.

Recently, a fellow lesbian got angry with me and cut all ties. Now, do I understand what the hell happened? Of course not, it came out of left field; but I support her right and her decision to not follow or speak to someone with whom she had a disagreement. Just as I love and support my family members who are conservatives; while I would fight tooth and nail against everything in which they believe, I support and love them as my family and as people who have the right to hold whatever beliefs they choose.

So know this: know that I support you all as my sisters. Regardless of how or when you came to be a lesbian (or if you even -are- a lesbian), regardless of whether or not I agree with everything you say (because I don’t, just as not all of you agree with everything I say), regardless of whether or not we “get along,” regardless of whether or not we even speak to each other, I put women first and you are all my sisters, so I support you all.

If I could ask one thing of all of you, it would be this: even if you disagree, even if you don’t even like each other, give one another all of your love and support. We cannot continue this fight against men, misogyny, the patriarchy when we are fighting each other.

 

 

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Musings of the Misunderstood Dyke

Since starting this blog, I have tried to make a concerted effort to both be clear in my writing and to not slip into a defensive posture when I see the extreme responses to what I have written here. That being said, I can’t, for the life of me, understand how anyone could read these entries in my blog and come away with the belief that I wish transgenders didn’t exist or, worse, that I wish for them to be exterminated. A friend of mine posited that people can’t read through what hurts them; and I suppose I can see how that might be a part of it.

I mean, it is clear that a lot of the people who are angry with me truly believe that gender and sex are the same thing, that gender is innate, assigned at birth, and is based on one’s genitals. So when you honestly toss biology and science out of the window and believe with all of your heart that gender and sex are the same thing, I can see how someone telling you that gender is not innate, it is not assigned at birth, and it is not the same as sex could be considered hateful, transphobic, and hostile; but I still don’t understand the extermination thing.

Part of me would really love to sit down with the teenage girl who read my Gender is not “Assigned” at Birth post and decided I was a hateful transphobe who wanted all trans people to disappear. It’s hard though, because I remember being that age, just figuring things out, not just for myself, but figuring out where I belonged in the world; and let me tell you, I knew everything! Right now, she and I are, metaphorically, sitting on opposite sides of the planet and she is positive that she is right. But in a few years, she will probably look back on threads like that one and realize how hypocritical it was to tell a couple of lesbians that they can’t define transphobia or radical feminism while she was defining both transphobia and radical feminism. She may look back and see that simply pointing out that biology not only exists, but is important and that gender is the wool pulled over all of our eyes was not the same as wishing people dead. It would be kinda neat to meet future her to see what she has discovered along this path that she is on today.

But to be honest, what troubled me more than a few queers and transgenders being upset or a young woman misunderstanding my words was the straight, white man who not only spoke up as if he was both gay and transgender, he also tried to force the woman who posted a link to my Transgenders: I’m Rejectin’ Your Deflections post to remove my post. Incidentally, she also ran the page to which he and over 10,000 others belonged, so this was a woman who saw dozens of things on the ‘net each day and would share them on her page. In other words, she was quite capable of making the decision as to whether or not something belonged on her page.

But this man hounded her for several posts. First, he simply didn’t like my post, then he decided I was mocking, then he decided I wanted to exterminate people and therefore, my post should not be on that page. The owner of the page kept telling him that while she may not agree with everything I said, she agreed with the part of my post that she quoted and since so many women and lesbians are being silenced more and more these days, she decided it was important to allow every women to get her point of view across. He argued with her a little more, saying that either I was silencing “transwoman” with my post or that the page owner was silencing “transwoman” by posting it and allowing it to stand, not sure; but after she had one more go with the I am not going to silence any women thing, he finally backed down and took his leave.

I posted about this because I find this phenomenon happening more and more and it is fascinating to watch it unfold. Here was a man, someone who described himself as a straight, white male and someone who most liberal “feminists” would consider a darling to their cause. His page had all kinds of feminist postings on it and he even had an open letter to his old college, condemning them for not being more open and accepting of LGBT students and faculty.

So he seemed to be saying and doing all the “right” things, until a woman posted something with which he did not agree. Then the male privilege he had hidden away so beautifully came roaring back with a vengeance. To be honest, I don’t even think he realized (or even now, realizes) what he was doing: trying to force one woman to silence another because he didn’t like what she had to say. That is what happens when men are allowed to be involved in, and even in charge of, feminism. They decide what is or is not good for women, not to mention gay people, transgenders, people of color, etc.

Anyway, as fascinating as both of those individuals were to watch, I am digressing from my point, which is that I have never once stated or insinuated that I wish for transgenders to disappear or be exterminated. What I –have– posited and what I –do– believe that if we as a society could do away with gender and get rid of sexual stereotypes, there would really be no need for someone to “feel” they are the opposite sex and follow up that feeling with hormones and surgeries. But that is not the same as wishing people dead. I have said, more than once, that I support laws that protect anyone and everyone from discrimination and violence, provided those laws do not also damage one group in its efforts to protect another group; which is why the new laws in CA are problematic: they give one group preferential “protection” over another, but that’s another post.

See, the problem with transgenderism is it addresses a symptom of a larger problem without ever allowing anyone to discuss the larger problem, lest they be deemed transphobic.

I saw an article the other day about how toy catalogs in another country are no longer going to have girls playing with things like Barbies and boys playing with things like cars and trains. Instead, they were going to switch it up by having the boys playing with the Barbies and the girls playing with the trains. Can you imagine? If this kind of thing were to take off and more and more countries and companies decided to smash the sexual stereotypes of girls play with these toys and wear these clothes while boys play with these toys and wear these clothes, there wouldn’t even be a NEED for transgenderism!

If the little boy who liked to carry around a purse had, instead of being suspended, was accepted simply for being a little boy who likes to carry a purse, what would that say to hundreds of thousands of other little boys who wanted to carry a purse or little girls who wanted to wear ties and baseball caps? Instead of little girls and boys declaring that they are the opposite sex because they enjoy the toys, clothes, etc usually deemed appropriate for the opposite sex, they would just be little girls and boys. There would be no need for hormones or hormone blockers or surgeries to “correct” something that wasn’t wrong with them to begin with because societal norms would no longer dictate the sexual stereotypes and accompanying gender norms.

These kids would then grow up to be healthy adults who could dress in clothes, have hobbies, and love people that society has deemed only appropriate for the opposite sex without the stigma they have now. We could all just be our individual selves without having to adhere to strict social gender norms based on sexual stereotypes and no one would be discriminated against, beaten, raped, or killed for it. It won’t be easy. All it takes is watching a sitcom on TV to see that the stereotypes of men do this and women do this still exist, not to mention all of the homophobia tossed about when two guys touch and one of them flips out; but can you imagine what kind of world we would have if we could do it? If we could abolish gender and smash sexual stereotypes?

Now that is the kind of society I hope for: not one where transgenders are exterminated, one where there is no need for transgenderism to begin with.

Gender Is Not “Assigned” At Birth

Here’s the thing. It is a very serious problem when women, feminists, radfems, the media, etc., or a combination of any of the above use the phrase, “the gender they were assigned at birth.” Why? because it is incorrect wording that, when used repeatedly gains notability and with more use, it gains credibility as people see it as a true statement when, honestly, it is not. Gender is not something that is “assigned” to infants at birth. It’s not a seat assignment that someone gives you when they look between your legs and either see a vulva or a penis. That would be sex. Once again, people are confusing sex with gender.

Nothing is “assigned” to anyone at birth. Sex is determined at birth when the person delivering the baby sees its genitals and declares, “It’s a girl/boy!”; and before some joker wants to come in screaming about intersex people, that is a red herring and we all know it. Intersex people are not trans are not intersex people. Stop trying to muddy the waters. The above determination of sex is not gender being assigned to that child like it is a homework assignment or something. Determination of a child’s sex at birth is basic biology 101 and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with gender.

The sooner people can stop confusing sex with gender the better; and the sooner people can stop using the phrase, “gender assigned at birth,” the better because then we can all start discussing what gender really is and how harmful it is to women.

Gender is a social construct; and it arrives through socialization. True, this socialization may start just after birth when the child’s parents or the nurses at the hospital or who ever decides to dress little boys in blue and little girls in pink so that people know what sex the child is; because in our society, sex is a class and there is a clear hierarchy, with women being on the bottom and men on the top. The sooner the little boys and little girls are discovered and differentiated, the clearer their future will be to the people around them. But that is not the same thing as being “assigned a gender” and having that child (or adult) suddenly and magically “know” what it is like to be a girl or a boy (or a woman or man).

Gender through socialization happens over a period of time; and this is what women mean when they speak about having shared experiences that are different from men who are born and raised boys then decide later that they wish to declare themselves to be women. When we say this, we are not saying that we all share the same upbringing. Obviously, women of color have different experiences than white women, women brought up in a poor household have different experiences than women brought up in wealthy households, etc.; but the fact that we were all born as little girls and then raised in this patriarchal society is our shared experience.

This next part is hard to describe. I honestly thought it was obvious until I started seeing so many male transgenders (aka “MtFs,” which is a misnomer, since males cannot become females) talk about how they know what it was like to be raised as girls, since they “felt” like girls. This was mind boggling to me and reeked of their own male privilege. How arrogant of men to sit there, as the oppressive class, and dictate to women, the oppressed class, what it is like to be women! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and reading.

As women, we all know what it is like to be born and raised as little girls in this society. It is something that, unless you are a woman, is difficult to describe or understand; and sometimes, the socialization of women is so complete, some women don’t even see it. This is why so many women in today’s “feminism” are so pro-male, why they are ok with so many men taking over feminism, why they are ok with men in the government restricting women’s access to healthcare, and why they are ok with men who role play as women co-opt our experiences, our words, even our very private spaces. We women are socialized or conditioned to put men first, always. Men have no idea what it is like to be conditioned to apologize before asking a question, or apologize for asserting yourself and creating boundaries, or to take up as little space as possible. These are just some of the things women are taught since birth; and I don’t mean taught like consciously in school, I mean a deep subconscious conditioning beginning from infancy and continuing into adulthood.

Side note: before a male transgender tries to speak up about how he does know about those things because he is trans or about how women don’t know about this, that, or the other because they are “cis,” try stopping for a moment and actually listening to a woman instead of making this about you. That is what men do.

Now see, any of the transgenders who actually kept reading my post instead of just stopping after the first paragraph when I said that sex is not gender, just stopped reading. It is impossible for men to magically know what it is like to be a woman, just as it is impossible for women to let go of all of their lifetime of socialization and know what it is like to be a man. Sure, I get treated differently sometimes when someone thinks I am a man vs. when they realize I am a woman, but this isn’t the same as being born a boy and raised as male with all the privilege that goes along with it in a society dominated by the male class.

But male transgenders actually believe that putting on a dress and/or taking some hormones negates everything they have been taught while living as boys and men and they suddenly “know” what it is like to be women. Forget all of the male privilege that has been shoved down their throats for years, they don’t see that that is what makes them think they are allowed to have access to everything and that if they say something is true, then god damnit, it’s true.

And there is where we come to it: how gender harms women. Let me relate a story really quickly. I was reading a blog post of a male trans on Tumblr. This guy was, as he put it, “presenting in women’s clothes” while out with some friends bar hopping. They decided to go to a mostly straight bar in a mostly gay neighborhood and while he was there, he took off his top (he was wearing something leather underneath) and security told him to put it back on.

The interesting thing at this point of the blog is that the man honestly thought he was passing as a woman. He mentioned in his blog how he wasn’t sure if or how security could make any determination that he was trans, so he didn’t think it was about him being trans at that point. He posted a picture of himself at the bar that night and there is no question in anyone’s mind but his own that he is a man dressed in what society has deemed “women’s” clothing.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine a delusion so powerful that what you see in the mirror is the complete opposite of what the rest of the world sees, but you are so determined in your delusion that you dare anyone to contradict you? It’s like people with an eating disorder who look in the mirror and see a very fat person staring back at them but the rest of the world sees the reality: an unbelievably, unhealthy skinny person who is killing themselves. This is how some of these male trans are. In their delusion, they look in the mirror and see a beautiful feminine woman, while the rest of the world sees the reality of what is actually there: a man in what society deems as “women’s” clothing.

Anyway, I digress. Nearing the end of the evening, he decides to use the bathroom before heading home. Now, this bar did everything right: they had a women’s bathroom, a men’s bathroom, and a unisex bathroom. This is the best compromise for male and female transgenders who feel they should not have to use the bathrooms of their own sex out of fear, while also allowing the women in the establishment the privacy and respect they should be given, as well as keeping female transgenders safe from being attacked in the men’s bathroom.

But instead of using the unisex bathroom, this person who was, clearly, a man, decided it was his right to use the women’s bathroom; and when he did so, he was confronted (rightfully) by security. He held his ground and he sat down on the floor of the women’s bathroom and called the police, claiming that he feared for his life. The police were confused as to (a) why he called them and (b) why he was in the women’s restroom. He asked to be escorted out of the bar safely and they did just that. He is currently in the process of making complaints to any lawyer or legal entity he can in an effort to “change” things at this bar, because the compromise of a unisex bathroom wasn’t enough for this guy. He “said” he was a woman so that should be good enough for the rest of the world and damn any woman who wants any kind of privacy or safety of their own.

When you make laws based on something as ambiguous as gender and the law makes it clear that if someone states they are such&such, then they must be recognized as such&such, regardless of the reality of the situation, you open the door to all sorts of privacy and safety issues for women. A male transgender who is, by definition, pre-op and most likely not living as a woman full time should never be allowed into women’s private spaces; but because sex has been overlooked for the sake of gender, women are, yet again, getting thrown under the bus for the sake of men.

If this man had actually be raised as a girl and socialized to live as a woman, he would never have inserted himself into another person’s space like that and then demanded that he be allowed to stay or else he would sue. If he had actually been a woman or even if he had been someone who respected women, he would have known how nervous and uncomfortable women would be in an enclosed private space like that with a male-bodied person and he would have used the unisex bathroom.

For men like this, it is all or nothing. he either gets his way every single time or else people are being transphobic and must be sued or arrested or, if they are radfems, they should be beaten, raped, or killed for their horrible offense of knowing, seeing, the truth.

Sex is not gender, ladies and gentlemen. Sex is a class and women are at the bottom of that class, dominated by men in a patriarchal society that will always put men first. Gender is a social construct that is taught to all of us through socialization and it re-enforces sex stereotypes in an effort to keep the female class on the bottom of the heap.

My hope is that more women stop choking on the kool-aid these men are shoving down their throats and wake up to see that we are the equivalent of the human batteries in the Matrix. We are sold a bill of goods from the moment we hit this world and waking up out of that coma is not only hard, for some women it is almost impossible. But more and more of us are waking up everyday and realizing that sex matters. Our sex matters; and giving up our rights for the sake of men is not something we should be blindly accepting, it is something we should be fighting against tooth and fucking nail.