Today I went to a Seattle WHEEL (Women’s Housing Equalty & Enhancement League) meeting and I found out that the Women of WHEEL are invited to a special International Women’s Day event tomorrow evening where an honor is going to be bestowed on one of our members for her long service to the homeless community!
The invitation came from a lesbian event organizer, about 72 years old, who is a leader in two local Seattle lesbian groups, both whom have shunned and excluded me– telling me I was not regarded as a “real” woman or a “real” lesbian, and treating me like I was invisible or did not exist! They kept “losing” my phone number or Email address. I should in fact have been involved in planning this event and even performing some of my songs in an evening of entertainment, which I’m not doing for the third year in a row.
The story of what happened to me with one of her groups is in an essay in my Notes on Facebook, “Tear Down This Wall”, that features pictures of me carrying the group’s banner in the 2009 Seattle Dyke March and of the night I was able to tell my story to Gloria Steinem in front of an audience of 800 at Town Hall in Seattle. A few months later I lost a on a 29-1 vote my attempt to get them to stop the Lesbian Apartheid Transmisogyny! That essay was sent as a letter to the Seattle Gay News and ignored by the less than trans-inclusive editor and publisher.
What the organizer is just now learning is that I have been selected by WHEEL to speak at the event. And she has no idea what I am going to say… and I hope it strikes fear in her cold cold heart!
Continuing yesterday’s comment about International Women’s Day
(… and I hope it strikes fear in her cold cold heart!.)
Apparently it did. When I arrived this evening, I found that the names of myself and Michele Marchand the WHEEL organizer, which were supposed to be listed on the program, were left off! And when we were introduced, only Michele’s name was mentioned! It was no accident! The organizer remembers me, from last year and the year before. Apparently she had now become involved with a third lesbian group which meant more opportunities to exclude me! She had been given both of our names. I had been deliberately left off. No one in the Lesbian Separatist community ever wants to admit that a transsexual woman was included in an “all-woman” event..
And if my name had been on the program….
My friend Anitra Freeman is my hero, a woman who so greatly deserved this award this evening and she was so generous to want to share the glory with me and all the Women of WHEEL, several who joined her on stage. Anitra was one who had always accepted me as a woman without hesitation, 100%, meaning that she was the one who always included me, asking me to emcee and sing at the annual Homeless Women’s Forum luncheon and she was the one to invite me to join the Real Change News Editorial Committee.
There was for me the temptation, the chance to speak out against
Lesbian Separatist Apartheid and for all transsexual women excluded. It would have felt real good to vent and let the anger out. It probably would have gotten me banned for life. And it might have been worth it if there was anyone in the community of women with a conscience, including some still friendly lesbians I met this evening. Even that organizer said hello.
But I was not going to ruin this night for Anitra or for the Women of WHEEL, who were far more deserving of honor and respect, than I was of a chance to rant or seek revenge. All I could do when I surprisingly was brought up to the stage, 90 minutes or more sooner than on the program, was to stay positive and talk about this wonderful 100th Anniversary, a day to celebrate diversity of women and their inclusion around the world. I pointed out the diversity of the Sisterhood of more than150 women there and in the celebration, brothers and allies, friends and family all included!
And I said the only thing more inclusive…. was homelessness Then I told them all about WHEEL and it’s 18 year organizing effort of homeless and formerly homeless women to make a difference to better the lives of homeless people, to seek empowerment, dignity, safe shelter and housing for all. And I told them about what my inspiration, Anitra Freeman had done for all of us, including me, who was homeless for almost 7 years! It was a great night for the Women of WHEEL, and the crowd gave us wonderful applause!
The organizer wasn’t overtly hostile to me– but did her heart grow any sizes larger? There’s always hope for next year. Someday I will be included in the International Women’s Day event. I will perform my songs of Sisterhood and belonging. And my name will be there in the program for all to see that I, Teresa, and all women are included!