Women Born Transsexual vs Womyn Born Womyn

Well for one thing, our meme doesn’t cause spell check to choke every time I put it in a document.

But another thing about WBT is that it doesn’t negate and erase our lives the way WBW does.  The funny thing about womyn born womyn is how it negates much of the theory posited by Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, particularly the part about, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.”  Meaning one is born female and shaped by society into the role expected of women.

We rightly jump down the throats of transgender activists who say, “Once a trans anything always transgender.”  Yet we kiss the asses of those radical lesbian feminists who basically say the same thing.”  We even in some cases become the the loudest most fervent embracers of that hatefulness.  I was not surprised when some of the most anti-transsexual voices at the MWMF turned out to be the voices of closeted post-SRS women.  Or the most viciously anti-transsexual intersex spokespeople also turned out to be closet case self-hating post-SRS women.

It takes a great deal of self-hatred to distance yourself from those who went through the same thing you did.  You have to say, “I am not one of those.”  But you are.  Just like wide stance gay Larry Craig or gay Charlie Crist, two Republican homophobes, you can run but you can’t hide.  At least not from yourself, although it is possible to deny.

Along with having read a great deal of transsexual material I have also read a great deal of feminist material and I know the various branches.  I have lived within the progressive  movements for some 45 years now so I’ve watched the formation of numerous circular firing squads and acts of movement cannibalism.

Hypathia’s Child suggested we failed to work within the lesbian feminist movement.  That assumes we didn’t.  We did.  We were faced with a dilemma, pass or be excluded from the movement.  So we were silent and silence = erasure.  When I spoke up 20 years after the fact I was told, “You should have defended transsexuals, it would have made a difference.”  Except I did, and only a few wanted to listen.  They told me that if others knew and attacked me they would not support me because they did not want to also be attacked.

I accepted that even though accepting it meant also accepting I was considered a lesser human being within a movement I was working for.

Oh, how I had to lie to myself when I heard others talk about the mutilated men, and the once a man always a man.  I took some very powerful self deception to think I was an exception.  But I was accepted while other sisters were getting trashed.

But then in 1982 when the trashings reached the point of censorship and the burning of sex positive books written by the women of Samois, a San Francisco based lesbian S/M organization that at the time was also the only lesbian group to openly support WBTs (Thanks Patrick Califia) I had enough.  That year I marched with the outlaws, the sex positive dykes of Samois.  I wore leather and marched topless down Market Street.

I have to admit I have felt a great deal of ambivalence regarding “Camp Trans”…  I heard about it from Janis Walworth who did a slide show and talk in Los Angeles.  I read about it in Transsisters.  I know about some of Riki’s actions and have also experienced ambivalence regarding those actions.

I’ve never had much inclination to protest something I have no real desire to go to.

I am far more angry regarding the philosophy behind womyn born womyn than I am regarding the festival.  At its core is a sort of body fascism, a right of agency demanded for WBWs when it comes to birth control and abortion accompanied with a denial of agency to WBTs when it comes to our bodies and the legitimacy of our having sex reassignment surgery.

The bit about socialization is as strangely anti-science as creationism.  If gender is only socialization why aren’t all women fembots?  It assumes that we are socialized in completely separate spheres and that it is impossible tohave become adult men or women without being exposed to the social roles expected of the other.  WBTs are othered if our femininity is too perfect, we are othered if our femininity isn’t perfect enough.  We are othered if we are indistinguishable from our WBW sisters.  Indeed the latter is perhaps the worst offence of all, for then we become “the spy in the house of love” and a militant WBW could actually find herself desiring one of us.

One of the WBW messages that I have long found extremely oppressive has been the one that rather than changing our bodies to ones we feel comfortable in we should stay male and fight gender role conformity, the “binary”  by transgressing gender rather than reinforcing the sex/gender binary by having sex reassignment surgery.

How is that different from the  ideology of transgender?

One of the main reasons for the popularity of transgender with the gay and lesbian community is that it forever others us into the status of transgressive gender outlaws defying the gender binary.  When most WBTs get SRS with the expectation of integration into the world as women.

Some of us even consider ourselves feminist and are tired of the being beaten down by other feminists and lesbians for something we were born.

It is a form of misogyny whether it comes from a man who physically murders people because they are transsexual or transgender or from lesbian feminists who degrade and abuse us verbally.

Hateful abusive words cut as deep as a knife, the only difference is the scars that are left are on the soul and not upon the flesh.

4 Responses to “Women Born Transsexual vs Womyn Born Womyn”

  1. tinagrrl Says:

    Suzan writes: “How is that different from the ideology of transgender?”

    It’s not. Many lesbians see us as “transgender”. We may be admirable. We may be wonderful people. We might even be desirable —– BUT, we are not women.

    For that reason, many in the various LG communities strongly support the concept of “transgender” as “umbrella”. Then they do not have to confront their own prejudices, their discomfort — especially if they might find us desirable, or even interesting.

    Back when I was still a fairly recent post-op, still looking for a place to fit in, I went to a sober LG picnic. I ended up playing softball with the other women. One of them studied me closely, then said, “I’ve never seen anyone as comfortable with their body as you are.”. It was true. I was finally in the body I always belonged in, I had no “body image” issues.

    That tells me there just might ne things we WBT’s could help other women with. If there was greater acceptance, if people could get over their discomfort, we might just be able to help other women in areas not yet discovered.

    Of course, ideology trumps everything else — whether it be lesbian, transgender, right-wing, left-wing — and, eventually it all becomes virtually the same — go far enough right, you meet the far left — it’s a circular dance of purity, where actual results do not matter.

    It doesn’t matter how much we might do, how hard we work, we are still not women.

    As it became clear to me some years ago — “there’s no future being the ‘T’ in LGBT.”.

  2. Sharon Gaughan Says:

    I have zero interest in attending the MWMF and less-than-zero interest in the “Camp Trans” protest – always have felt that way. It strikes me that the internal contradictions and insults from both outfits are hardly worth the bother.

    If we want to attend a concert there are plenty of acts around here worth seeing. Moreover, my solidarity with other women has been earned on the front lines of both blue collar and professional employmrnt (or unemployment, as the case may be).

    By the way, I never invaded women’s spaces before correction and I do not accept the invasion from men now.

    Suzie’s comments about lesbians are interesting to me given the relatively good acceptance we have in this area (Metro Washington, DC). There are still some frantic reactions from an old-fashioned hard care but they are the exceptions. Much of our best and unwavering support has come from lesbian sisters. They don’t buy the confused ideology either.

  3. Hypatia's Child Says:

    I never suggested anyone “failed to work within the lesbian feminist movement”. Suzan please don’t put words in my mouth.

    It may well be because sisters like you were there that things are not the disaster for us today in the community that they could be. For that I am grateful.

    My point is that the community support for MWMF isn’t a betrayal, it’s just that the festival is many things. Women who identify as “WBW” have the right to do so and gather. It doesn’t faze me anymore. If I was able I would be there too, sharing with my friends.

    I used to feel that the community was complicit with the RRR too on the WBW thing. Now I just seem them as… human.

    Everyone gets to choose their battles.

  4. tinagrrl Says:

    For many years MWMF was something I ignored. I thought all the fuss was dumb.

    The truth seemed to be that any WBT who wanted could go to the festival with little or no trouble — as long as they were quiet about their history (as opposed to HERstory).

    I still don’t give a damn about MWMF — but — now I oppose their anti trans policy. It’s just another part of the forces of oppression lined up against WBT’s.

    If we oppose the actions of The Roman Catholic Church, the LDS Church, or the Religious Right, when it comes to our rights — we have to oppose the actions and assumptions made about us by the Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender communities.

    That does not mean we cannot co-operate on issues that affect us all — bur co-operation does not mean surrender.

    I realize this course of action will not appeal to everyone — nor is it appropriate for everyone — but, it is something to consider when you’re in the midst of a conversation where WBT’s are demeaned, laughed at, or spoken of as all being some negative stereotype.

    I’m lucky. I have a partner I love very much, and a decent life. Though my past was filled with people, I was still alone in many ways. Now that I am complete, I no longer have the need for lots of people. Perhaps that colors my, “let them all go to hell” attitude.

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