Let’s Talk About Lesbophobia

The word is considered a joke by many and is never really taken seriously. Why? Because (a) it concerns women and (b) it concerns women who have no need or desire for men, or their penises. I see a lot of people throw around words like bigot, homophobia, misogyny, and transphobia. Sometimes these words are being used correctly and there is some hatred going on where the words are being used. But most of the time, these words are being used as a silencing tactic to keep some women from speaking critically about things like transgenderism, the patriarchy, rape culture, misogyny, etc. Moreover, lesbophobia is rarely used and when it is, it is never taken seriously. So let’s talk about it for a minute because as much as men (including male transgenders) try to dismiss it and laugh it off, this is a real thing and it is silencing, harming, and even killing lesbians.

The 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 misconceptions about me and my writing have surfaced; and while they didn’t start with this particular post, seeing the discussions and claims surrounding me and my intentions with this specific post are at the forefront of my mind tonight. I have seen people misread what I say, misrepresent what I write, and even claim that I am someone they know under another name. I will address these things in another post because, while they are important to discuss, what I discovered as I started writing this is that I have something else to talk about first.

I have noticed that with all of the comments, complaints, and down right trolling over my “Another Sister Lost to the Madness” post, for once, not ONE male transgender has commented, been upset about, or otherwise had any kind of reaction to one of my posts. Interesting, yes? This is important to notice and call out because it says something to me and it should say a lot to women everywhere, including those who wish to transition into some facsimile of a “man.” These men don’t care one iota about women, women’s rights, women’s needs, etc. Since that post was about female transgenders and not male transgenders, the men didn’t  so much as peep about it, because they are narcissists who only care about themselves and their needs, which means, sisters, that THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT WOMEN.

You should note that when I make a post about male transgenders, women come out to support them; straight women, bisexual women, female transgenders, even some misguided lesbians, all kinds of women come out in support of these poor, helpless men who just want to live their lives as “women.” Women support these men. Women stand up for these men. Women fight for these men. But when a post pops up that doesn’t directly concern them and instead focuses on female transgenders, where are the men? Oh yeah. They are over there –> trying to figure out how to make the “cotton ceiling” sound like a good thing so lesbians will finally have hot “lesbian” sex with them without pointing out how the whole idea just adds to the rape culture of our society that women have to deal with every single day.

The same thing happens in the gay community. Lesbians have gone out of our way to be supportive of, stand up with, and fight for our gay brothers. We were there at the Stonewall Riots. We were there during all of the AIDS walks and AIDS awareness projects. We have been there with them, side-by-side through every crisis, every equal rights march, every bashing, every death. But we and our wants, needs, rights, etc. are often ignored by gay men. If it’s not about them and their lives (read: penises), they don’t want to hear about it, much less be bothered to stand with us and fight for it.

When the world at large says the word, “gay,” they are almost always talking about men. When the media talks about gay slurs, you never hear them talking about the words “dyke” or “bulldyke,” only about the words “fag” or “faggot.” Whenever discussing gay rights, it is almost always about men, unless of course, they can parade an old lesbian couple around for the “cuteness” manipulation effect. When you read a gay magazine, there is almost always nothing about lesbians in it, unless it is making fun of us. Hell, when you check the inside cover to see who works at the magazine, the list is almost, if not all male, so is it any wonder they have no clue what it is like to be a lesbian today?

Unless it directly affects them and their lives (penises), men couldn’t care less about not just women, but especially lesbians. So it wasn’t really a shock for me to open up my email and see comment after comment made by “male identified butches” and female transgenders who were unhappy with (and mostly misreading) my post. By the way, as a side note, I even got some mail about trans butches. There is no such thing. You’re either trans or you’re butch but you don’t get to be both. Pick one and move on with your life and stop co-opting another person’s identity.

But does any of the above clue you in, dear sister readers? Do you ever wonder where the men are when it is time to discuss rape and rape culture (and note here that I am talking about men in the plural, as in the men of this male-dominated society; not one specific man)? Do you ever wonder where the men are when a lesbian or lesbian couple are bashed, raped, even killed? Do you ever wonder why popular culture focuses so heavily on gay men and if they decide to focus on a lesbian, she needs to be feminized so she doesn’t offend the male viewers? Do you ever notice that the gay magazines rarely cover anything relevant to you? Or how about the gay bars; ever wonder why they are so heavy with gay men and their hags and never really care about whether or not the lesbians even show up to have a drink there?

If you have never wondered about any of the above, I challenge you to do so now. Think about it. Think about all of the times lesbians have been pushed aside in this society as an anomaly or as women who just need a good man or some “good dick” to become better or “real” women. Think about all the slurs we endure day-in and day-out that no one even bats an eye at because they are so accepted. Think about all the times one of our sisters is bashed, raped, and/or killed and it barely makes a blip on the gay media, let alone the main stream media. Think about all the times your opinions and ideas are dismissed by both the gay and straight communities, only for you to find out later when a man or straight person has the same idea, and it is applauded.

While we are at it, we could be discussing why some of those angry female transgenders aren’t thinking about how dismissed they are. We keep hearing about male transgenders getting caught, literally, with their pants down in women’s restrooms, dressing rooms, showers, etc., and all anyone seems to care about are the poor men who just want to use the lady’s restroom and damn the women who don’t want to be in a close, private space, in the nude, with a naked man. But what about all of the female transgenders who get booted out of the male restrooms or worse, get the shit kicked out of them for daring to both look masculine and be in the men’s restroom? You don’t hear about female transgenders demanding to have their naked bodies in the men’s dressing room or shower with other men because hell, they are just one of the guys. True, this has more to do with male privilege than lesbophobia, it has to do with men feeling like they own every single space and are entitled to everything they can see; but it is all rooted in the same pile of bullshit: the patriarchy.

It all boils down to this: we lesbians are dismissed, we are ignored, we are laughed at and not taken seriously, we are even bashed, raped, and killed. Why? Because we all dare to be women who do not need or want men or their penises and that, sisters, is one of the most dangerous ways to live.

It’s time for women to start standing up for women.

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Lesbians, Dykes, and Butches: The Real Gender Non-Conformists

Let’s talk about public bathrooms. And airport security. And dressing rooms. And all of the other places that lesbians who don’t conform to the patriarchy’s ideal of what a woman should look like go where we are incorrectly identified as not being women. Places where we are accosted, detained, assaulted, barred from entering, humiliated, mocked, abused, beaten, and even raped; all because we dare to thumb our noses at the binary and proudly remain the women that we are, the women we choose to be, regardless of what the patriarchy demands.

You can even include all of those places where we go for doctor’s appointments, job interviews, etc. Places where our name is called and when we respond, the person calling our name is confused and unable to reconcile the woman’s name on their form with the person in front of them because of how the patriarchy conditions all of us to view women.

A lot of lesbians, dykes, and especially butches don’t fit that perception. We never have. We have always done woman in our own way without a care in the world about how society sees us, while refusing to change who we are when society tries to change us through shame and violence.

We all have the stories, you know the ones. I am walking towards the woman’s bathroom when an older woman walks out the door and then stands there, trying to keep me from entering while telling me this is the ladies restroom, as if I cannot read or see the small female figure in a skirt on the door. Or the times, so many times, I lost count of when I am finishing up in the woman’s restroom, washing my hands when a woman opens the door, looks at me, pauses, looks at the sign on the door, looks at me again, and then just stands there frozen. Or even those times when they don’t stand frozen, but feign confusion asking if this is the ladies room.

We butches, as well as non-conforming dykes and lesbians, we all have stories like these, with varying degrees of danger and humiliation. I have butch friends who flat out refuse to use the woman’s restroom unless a femme friend or lover accompanies them to keep the stares, and the violence, to a minimum. Other butch friends won’t go to the woman’s restroom, no matter what, because they have dealt with such humiliation and violence before that to even consider using a woman’s public bathroom gives them an anxiety attack.

There are other stories, of course: being denied entry into the woman’s dressing room at a clothing store, the stares and murmurs, and even some women moving to another area, while we are changing in a woman’s dressing room at the YMCA, having to go through airport security more than once or, worse, being detained because the people at security look at us and see: men.

These stories go on and on and on for all of us, so it really wasn’t a shock to see news reports online of a woman, Susan Ho, who was using the woman’s restroom at a casino where she was entered in a bowling tournament, only to be unlawfully detained and assaulted when she tried to exit the bathroom and was accused of being a man in the woman’s restroom. At one point, the people detaining her even went so far as to discuss the possibility of removing Susan’s shirt to see if she was actually a woman, as she said. Read the full article here: http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/10/08/61853.htm

I say I am not shocked when I see this sort of thing in the news, but it doesn’t make reading about it any less disheartening. As I said before, some lesbians and dykes and especially we butches don’t fit the patriarchal view of what women “should” look like.  When people see me in my jeans, t-shirt, and hat, they make a snap judgment and see what their conditioning tells them to see: a man.

See, we are the real gender non-conformists. I know that transgenders and their apologists and allies love to make the false claim that trans men and trans woman are gender non-conformists, but that is all smoke and mirrors to hide what is actually happening. Trans people are the very opposite of gender non-conformists. They do everything they possibly can to completely and utterly conform to the binary.

Look at trans men. When on T, what is the first thing trans men do? Go out of their way to grow facial hair because, to them, facial hair is one of the biggest defining factors of maleness, of being men. Forget the fact that there are women out there who have no choice but to shave their faces because for one medical reason or another (this differs woman to woman), they have facial hair.

Then look at trans women. They are one hundred percent about presentation; and that presentation is driven by male desire, by the patriarchy, by what they, as men, find attractive in women. They must dress and act in extremes with the long hair, tons of make up, and dresses all the time because when men think about women, this is how they see women in their minds’ eyes: as a completely vamped up, stylized version of woman.

Both trans men and trans women go out of their way to be as “manly” or as “womanly” (respectively) as they can be because that is what the patriarchy, what the binary demands. Pick one or the other, the patriarchy says. If you wear men’s clothing, you must be a man; and if you wear women’s clothing, you must be a woman. If you are going to be a man or a woman, make sure to be the most über man or woman you can be so that we are positive that that is what you are. It is this same line of thinking that has parents turning tomboys into little trans men and feminine boys into little trans women. In the parents’ eyes, they are doing their child a favor but what they are really doing is forcing their child into the binary box.

Butches, as well as non-conforming lesbians and dykes on the other hand, are who they are while still being women, the patriarchy be damned. Instead of conforming, we, literally, stand out and are the most visible women in the lesbian community. We take a lot of heat for that, yes, but we love our bodies, we love being women, and we are not going to “transition” into some variation of men simply to please the patriarchal binary system.

Transgenderism is, at its very core, conformity. That is the number one goal of transgenderism: conforming to the binary. Butches and non-conforming dykes and lesbians want the very opposite.

Transgenders try to co-opt our words by claiming to be women and even lesbians. They try to co-opt our spaces by forcing their way into women’s restrooms, dressing rooms, and other woman-only spaces. They try to control our bodies by shaming us into having sex with them or else be labeled bigots and transphobes. They even try to steal our histories by turning women like Teena Brandon into a trans man, by claiming the butch and drag queen who started the Stonewall riots were actually a trans man and trans woman, etc.

They do all of this under the guise that they are gender non-conformists, when the truth of the matter is simply this: if trans people were truly non-conformists, there would be no transgenderism. Women would be women and men would be men, regardless of how they dressed or acted; and there would be no back lash, no mocking or shaming, no violence toward them, towards all of us, for being who we are.

No, the true non-conformists are butches, lesbians, and dykes. A professor once told me in college, “You are a genderfuck.” He was right; and I am damn proud of it.

 

Butch Visibility in a Man’s World

I was doing a very normal thing this morning: taking out my trash. I was casually dressed in sweats, a t-shirt because I was outside getting a few things done; and a ball cap because it was sunny outside. As I get to the trash can at the end of my driveway, a truck pulls up and a guy yells out, “Hey Buddy!” I told him I wasn’t his buddy and asked him what he wanted. He got upset, mumbled something about how he wanted to ask me something and that he didn’t know what he did to me but whatever. I ignored him and went back into my house.

Was I a little harsh? Maybe. A lot of people, and I mean a LOT of people judge me based on my clothing, how I walk and stand, how short my hair is, my ball cap, etc and they conclude within 2 seconds of seeing me that I am a man. I won’t lie, it is upsetting for us butches to be mistaken for men like that. It makes us feel invisible and it discounts the fact that we are women, which is something we still are no matter what we do or wear and we are proud of this fact. We are absolutely nothing like men, so to be mistaken for men shows us that the world did and does see us in the black and white of the patriarchal binary system.

Do you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t threaten to kill him or threaten him with rape for his mistake. I said a few words and wasn’t a polite timid woman apologizing to him for HIS mistake, but I didn’t do what so many men who pretend to be women do: I didn’t threaten, harass, or stalk him for mistaking me for a man.

As I said, we are completely different from men. We don’t think or act like men and we sure as hell don’t want to BE men. When people accuse us of this, it is either because they truly don’t understand what and who butches are or because they are trying to humiliate, discredit, and/or silence us.

Butches are at both the forefront and at the back of the LGB community. A butch was right there at Stonewall as one of the people who started the riots that sparked the LGB civil rights movement. Butches are highly visible, which leads to taunts, slurs hurled at us, beatings, rape, and death. We are antagonized for being butch women because we are not, according to society, the “right” kind of women.

At the same time as all of the above, we are also invisible. We are not represented in TV, movies, or other media. When we do happen to end up on TV, it is either as a caricature that is made fun of or we are expected to dress, act, and BE more feminine to please the general audience.

And then you have a group of individuals who are trying to erase butches from the planet completely. They are doing everything in their power to render us extinct. This group is comprised of 2 types of people: (1) the men who claim to be women and then further claim to be butches (see Tobi Hill-Miller, etc.); (2a) the women who feel the right course of action in this patriarchal binary system is to attempt to transition into men, but still call themselves butches (FtM or F2Tg); (2b) the women who are butches, but insist that they are also somehow male by labeling themselves “male-identified” butches.

These people make it almost impossible for young lesbians who are “different,” who are baby butches, but don’t know where they fit in this world to be ok with the women that they are. These young women are encouraged and even brainwashed into transitioning into something similar to men because they are taught that to be a different kind of woman is bad. They are taught that the binary is king and that they must choose: masculine = man and feminine = woman.

To be anything else, a masculine woman or a feminine man would be an abomination in these binary-loving people’s eyes. So they preach and they intimidate and they brainwash and they bully these young women (and sometimes even older women fall into this trap) into taking hormones, having healthy breasts cut off, having healthy uteri and ovaries removed, all in the name of patriarchy.

So we are disappearing. As we watch our sisters try to embrace all that is male in order to be more accepted by the patriarchy and as we watch more and more young women trying to transform their bodies into something more acceptable to this male-dominated society, butches are disappearing and being replaced by fakes who distort who we are.

Something has to be done soon about this trans epidemic or we will eventually end up with the total extinction of butches; and that would be a shame. Transwomen are already bastardizing the very idea of what and who a woman is by trying to claim the one thing men have never really owned: femaleness. We cannot allow women to continue to hurt themselves by trying to change their bodies and delude themselves into thinking that change will make society accept them.

There is a whole generation of wonderful butch voices that needs to be heard. There are butches still out here who could be role models to young lesbians, showing them that it is k do be different, it is ok to love your butch body, it is ok to be women who the patriarchy and this binary system of being will never accept.

Acknowledge our existence.

Acknowledge our experience.

Know there is a better way of being butch in this man’s world.

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.