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.