Thoughts on “The Cotton Ceiling”

One of my Facebook friends, who reads this blog asked me today if I was going to comment on the “Cotton Ceiling Controversy”.

I’ve been pondering this issue for several days now.

I’ve been having to gather some background material.

My first observation is that this is really only controversial among the self proclaimed  “radical feminists”. Cathy Brennan and others seem really upset about our even discussing this issue.

This is one  issue  I suspect has impacted the lives of the majority of people who have been described at one time or another by a trans-prefixed word.

It isn’t the easiest of issues to talk about… When I start writing I find myself choking up… filled with sadness and anger…

Anger at not being able to trust a movement I’ve spent my life supporting.

Anger that “radical feminists” expect to be able to use people like me as workers and foot soldiers, without ever considering us their sisters. Worse yet is when they enlist us as mercenaries to do their dirty work for them in attacking transsexual and transgender people.

I think it is possible to argue ideology without attacking people who are transgender.  Hell, we have wars among transsexuals that aren’t much prettier than the wars between transsexual and transgender people.

This is a shared issue no matter your present genitalia.

Even if we are not impacted personally, we would have to be totally without empathy, to not feel the impact when others like ourselves are trashed.

In the 1970s I was lucky enough to escape being personally held up for public trashing by the “radical feminist” faction. Two of my acquaintances were not so fortunate.

I was raped and barely escaped being murdered in the summer of 1974.  I sought help and support from the rape crisis center at the Gay Community Services Center in LA.  They we no more help or support for me than the police at the Hollywood LAPD station.  A guy who was my pot dealer and a male photographer I was friends with were more supportive, one giving me a can of mace that mail carriers carried to repel dogs and the other giving me a set of nunchakus.

A few years later my girlfriend, who had become increasingly abusive towards me, punched me in the face starting a mutual knock down drag out fight that wound up leaving both of us injured.  The center for abused women at the now Gay and Lesbian Center told me they couldn’t offer me counseling after learning I was transsexual.

I went to classes at the Women’s Building but avoided making serious friendships out of fear of being trashed.

When I developed a relationship with a sister (TG) in SF who was an artist and whom I taught photography.  I didn’t share my elation with this affair with the women I was working with at The Lesbian Tide. I was afraid they would use my being TS and her being TG as a way to negate our affair.

I hid being bisexual, never saying how my relationships with certain men were far less fear laden or complex than my relationships with women.

There was a time when the only lesbian organizations that were openly accepting of transsexual women were Samois and other sexual outlaw lesbian groups.

I’ve never felt at ease going to lesbian bars, even though as a sex worker I had hundreds of encounters with men who never questioned my femaleness.

I wouldn’t have ever dared to make an advance at a lesbian bar, hell sometimes I had a hard enough time acting available.

About 15 years ago I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center’s “The Village”.  I helped putting on events, setting them up taking them down.  I volunteered for it all.

Trans events, gay men’s events and lesbian events.  I was such a good volunteer that they gave me an outstanding volunteer of the year award.

Then one Sunday there was an event in a park in West Hollywood.  I was there to help with the event including the take down after the event.   When much of the work was done one of the women’s told me a bunch of them were going to a party at 4:00 and asked,   “Would you mind finishing up here and dropping the papers at the Center?”

The message was, “You are good enough to do the shit work but not quite human enough for us to socialize with.

People who have been reading my blog or other writings for any extended period have no doubt heard my take on the MWMF.  How I’d rather do dental work on myself with a Dremel tool than subject myself to going to that hate fest in the woods.

Forty years post-op/post-transsexual I’ve learned a few things along the way.

One of them is to not look for acceptance from people who hate transsexual and transgender people.

The other is that there is an alternative to the gay and lesbian world.  The alternative scenes, the art scene, the hippie scenes where we can find people, who will love us for who we are rather than abuse us for an abstraction of what we are.

My first real girlfriend was a Cuban-American sister named Stephanie.  I met her at a very sleazy Hollywood drag bar called The Speak.  She died of an overdose on Valentine’s Day 1974.

I didn’t have much of anyone to turn to about the sorrow I felt.  Sister’s who were our mutual friends didn’t understand what I felt for her.  Because I was TS and she was TG I didn’t bother seeking counseling from the lesbians at the Center.

Sometimes all the abstractions and labels get in the way.  Sometimes we have a hard time talking about something other than ideology, like attraction, love, lust are not something we are supposed to feel.

This isn’t a topic that is going to go away soon.

Not all lesbians are part of this hateful minority who call themselves “radical feminists.”  Most aren’t and yet the minority has manged to make the our participation in the lesbian community feel toxic for us no matter our surgery status.

The real shame of this situation is how many of us are in all sorts of loving relationships outside of this sphere of projected hatred.  With AFAB women, with men and often with each other.  Our significant others catch the fallout of this bigotry as well; because by challenging our right to have our bodies loved for what they are, loved without abstractions or ideology getting in the way they are also being challenged.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done before.

This topic is way too important for me to be the only one weighing in on it.

The e-mail for this Blog is: suzan.wbt@gmail.com

I’m open to reposting the blog posts of others on this topic, putting up links or considering guest posts.

Radical feminist bigots need not apply on this issue.  If you are a radical feminist and feel excluded unjustly…  Well that’s what TS/TG people spend a lifetime feeling.

10 Responses to “Thoughts on “The Cotton Ceiling””

  1. tinagrrl Says:

    Going to MWMF is sorta’ like going to a “Prussian Blue” concert if you are Jewish, visiting the Caribbean if you are any flavor of LGBT, or ………………. well, you get the idea.

    My only question is WHY??

    I remember being so attuned to rejection, to non acceptance, that I was unable to either comprehend or respond to women who found me attractive. It is only in hindsight that I realized women were attracted to me.

    Today, it doesn’t matter. I’m very lucky to have a partner I love deeply.

    After so many tries over the years — I’ve finally found a soulmate.

  2. deena17 Says:

    Suzan I’m not sure I understand your approach. Perhaps what you researched and what I found out about it online is quite different. I stumbled across this —> http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-cotton-ceiling-really/

    Maybe that is a very slanted take on the whole issue but it left me shaking my head. So I googled Drew DeVeaux and found this ….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0cPJn1wQHI

    And then this Jan 28, 2012 post referenced Drew —–> http://leftytgirl.wordpress.com/tag/drew-deveaux/

    After reading a bit more my mind was really boggled. I kept wondering if the condemnation of pornography by feminists shouldn’t cause a virtual celebration of Drew if they view him as a man and affirmation of the cotton ceiling theory Drew proposed. I mean shouldn’t people simply be saying yes it exists and it is not going away? I guess what I am saying is that there is nothing anyone will ever be able to do that would make a lesbian afab to be attracted to someone with a penis. Why is that some sort of big deal?

    • Suzan Says:

      The problem is far from as simple as just the condemnation of pre-op or transgender people.

      So much of the radical feminist crap reads like something straight out of NOM.

      I found the following post: http://sabletwilight.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/cotton-ceiling-experiences/ to address the range of issues in a manner that extends beyond the initial post.

      The “Cotton Ceiling” isn’t just about an individual having the right to reject another person for any reason what so ever. It extends to the condemnation of people who partner with post-transsexual, pre-op and transgender people.

      I’ve been disgusted with the resurgence of the “radical feminist” trip that seems to have hatred of transsexual and transgender people as its core principle.

      It is coming at a time when all sorts of groups are pulling together in common cause. Suddenly this small faction of bigots is using this as a way of separating post-transsexuals as well as other such as pre-op and transgender people from feminism, when many of our issues are more feminist than they ever were gay or lesbian.

      Today I saw another attack aimed at combating transsexual and transgender peoples claims of intersectionality. I mean WTF? Only a minority of TS/TG people are middle class and white. Many including most of my post-transsexual friend have spent much of their lives struggling with poverty.

  3. deena17 Says:

    I certainly appreciate your concern. I have, however, never been much concerned with miniscule radicals. As my mother always told me, ignore the riffraff because in the long run they never count for much.

    • Suzan Says:

      Unfortunate I saw the original version of this movie. the current edition stars Maggie Gallagher instead of Anita Bryant and the Whole Halleluiah choir of Christo-Nazis. I mean are transsexual and transgender people really the biggest threats to women’s rights today? What about the Right Wing War on Women?

  4. tinagrrl Says:

    A lot of the problem is that the pro-rad-fem (for want of a better term) lump ALL folks who have ever been trans — whether pre-op, post-op, post-transsexual, or transgender into the “persona non grata” group.

    It matters not to them if you had your SRS two months ago, fourteen years ago, or forty years ago — you are still a MAN. Some see your having sex with a AFAB woman as rape – no matter who the aggressor.

    So, as a result many of the folks in the L & G parts of the mythical “community” support transgender with all their hearts and souls. They will NEVER have to examine their beliefs, never have to even begin to think of post-ops as women or men, and will continue to agree with Radical-Right-Wing-KKKonservative-Christians when it comes to all manner of trans folks.

    I have supported, and do support the goals of the LGBT community when it comes to greater equality. At the very same time, I understand they really cannot support MY equality – they have too much invested in making me some sort of “third”, some person on the outside of the outside.

    As a result, though I support LGBT causes, I have little or nothing to do with “the community”.

    I’m either told I’m “transgender”, or made to feel unwelcome by many lesbians. That’s just the way it is. That’s my experience over many years, and I do not need to test those waters again. I’m too damn old for that crap – and I don’t think I would handle it as gracefully as I did in the past.

  5. deena17 Says:

    My take is that the plantation owners want Obama reelected because he is doing their will. Therefore the right-wing war on women coupled with a Mormon candidate and alienation of the LGBT segment of society is a winning combination for them. But it really doesn’t matter because if Romney were to win they control him too.

    • Suzan Says:

      I have a different take on it. I actually like Obama and think if he can hold the line and block these Nazis from getting in then maybe the pendulum will shift back towards the left.

  6. tinagrrl Says:

    This whole “cotton ceiling” thing is only about KKKonservatives because on the issue of anyone who ever had a trans word associated with them both our rad-fem friends and the rabid right wing seem to be in agreement.

    That may seem strange to some folks but hatred makes for strange bedfellows.

    I also support Obama. I have not heard one word from the opposition that is either true, or makes sense.

    He may not be the best — but he is far better than any of the Republican alternatives. In this case, “the lesser of two evils” is FAR better than any of the other guys.

  7. Cotton Ceiling Experiences | Sable's Blog Says:

    […] Thoughts on “The Cotton Ceiling” […]


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