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.