November 3, 2013
I’m quite sure the young woman did not mean to insult me, I don’t think she believed that what she said to me was anything but just one of those simple facts. We were at a Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival fundraiser in the Midwest, in the fall of last year. I was fifty-seven. She, I’m guessing, was in her mid-twenties. The topic of our brief conversation was transgender-ism (or whatever I ought to be calling it this month) and why I am opposed to biological males–that is, men–attending a private event for women; I went further, and explained my opposition to the whole phenomenon of gender itself.
The back and forth was typical, nothing I hadn’t heard before; I tried to explain my political position. She, in turn, questioned me on how I felt about individual people, so disturbed and miserable that they turn to this radical ‘cure.’ “Don’t they deserve to be happy? They were born in the wrong body.” (Every time I see that in print, it looks more and more ridiculous.)
I said something like, “I’ve worked for more than thirty years to change the world so that we can all be accepted just as we are–changing our bodies to fit in to a patriarchal idea of what ‘men’ and ‘women’ are just reinforces gender stereotypes, based on sex, and in fact makes them the law in some jurisdictions,” etc. etc.
She then came up with what I’m sure she thought of as a real zinger: “What do you make of it when someone is trans at three or four years old?”
My answer was easy, and took no thought at all. “I call it child abuse.”
She looked me in the eye, got up to leave, and said, “Well, I guess it’s just a generational thing, then.”
In that little sentence, she managed to let me know that for the last three decades, I’ve been hiding out on the Isle for Old Radical Feminists, where there is no communication with the world at all, just biding my time. (Or perhaps re-writing a book I co-authored in 197-nothing, not with anything new, just a different draft of the same old ideas.) She told me, in effect, that because I am old, VERY old to someone her age, I cannot possibly be in touch with modern–excuse me, post-modern thought; I just DON’T UNDERSTAND.
I got into some hot water in a Facebook group for Michigan Festival goers when I pointed out what I thought was a little strange. I said something like, “The only time in my life when I have to confront trans people personally is at the one place where I shouldn’t have to.” Meaning the festival. Because I don’t have any trans friends. I don’t have any Tea Party friends, either, or friends who are in the Michigan Militia. Why would I? How could I?
The gender-worshipping movement mocks the experiences of girls and women around the world. It tells us we don’t actually exist, that our biology is not destiny when, in fact, for many females, it is exactly that. This movement, for lack of a better term, is, at its core, anti-feminist.
Nonetheless, there were women who considered my not befriending trans-people to be ‘hateful.’ But if I don’t know any trans people personally, how can I hate them? I just don’t. I have a lot of emotions around the whole thing, that’s true, but honestly, hate speech? I only said that I don’t have any trans* friends. I guess that old Cotton Ceiling is getting thinner and thinner. But for some reason, I’m expected to disregard everything I’ve learned in the last thirty or forty years, all my work with lesbian/gay organizations, my formal schooling and my informal schooling, along with everything I’ve survived. I came out as a lesbian when I was fourteen, in 1969, and have been a feminist since I understood what that meant. I was an athlete and a Tomboy; today, I could easily be a candidate for puberty-blocking hormones, later, surgery, if I happened to have liberal parents with money–or who wanted to get on the Jerry Springer show.
I always liked girls. I remember reading about Christine Jorgensen, the trans-sexual, and thinking that I would have to do that if I wanted to marry a girl, and I did want to marry a girl. First, my next door neighbor, Chrissy Johnson. But then my life changed. Someone brought to our house a copy of the underground newspaper “The Berkley Barb,” and there on the front page, was a photograph of women, marching arm-in-arm down a street, holding signs that said “Lesbian Power!” and the like. I was enchanted. I knew I had found my People. And from then on, I had a name for myself. I was gay. I was a dyke. I was a lesbian. I didn’t have to pretend I was a boy or a man, and I didn’t want to.
And so my life has been dedicated, in one way or another, to My People. I got into womyn’s music for the same reasons I got into athletics–I could be with other women. We could do whatever we want to without men. We felt and we were powerful.
I’ve had hundreds of hours of discussions, put in thousands of hours of volunteer work in feminist and lesbian organizations, created and co-created one or two, spoken before national audiences as an out dyke, written and performed music for lesbians, toured for years, and made a record. I was a worker at the second Michigan Festival, and performed at the 4th National Women’s Music Festival in 1977.
I’ve met with police chiefs, State and Federal Representatives and Senators, lobbying for equal rights. I’ve also worked as the only woman on a construction crew, a track repair crew on the railroad, the only woman in a car dealership, as the parts manager. I worked as a messenger, and spent four years as a corrections officer (a.k.a. prison guard) at a women’s prison in Wisconsin. Then I went to law school, after finishing a BA in political science.
I was not out on an island during those years. I wasn’t in a coma. The trans* issue has been one that I, as a radical lesbian feminist, have had to deal with since the early 1970′s. On womyn’s land, at womyn’s festivals, the groups we created for mutual support, we often had to ‘process’ the issue of someone who was born and raised as a boy and lived his life as a man now claiming womanhood, and lesbianism as well. This is not a new issue for me. As ‘T’ has become one of the letters in the “community” I am wrongly presumed to belong to, my political position has evolved, of course, as these things do with greater knowledge and perhaps even wisdom. One can hardly avoid gaining a little of it, with even a minimal habit of living an examined life.
“I guess it is just a generational thing, then.”
I do my best to be respectful of younger people. Seriously, I do. I remember what it’s like to be treated as some sort of a mascot rather than to be taken seriously when I was young. I was very young when I started in this movement, and as many young people do, I thought I knew a lot more than I actually did. Now, I know a lot less, but I know less about more than I knew back then. And I really DO understand, politically and personally, what the gender movement is, and how it harms women. That belief did not automatically arrive in my mind when I turned forty, or fifty, or thirty-five, or whatever a generation consists of.
My political beliefs are the result of experience, study, trial, failure, and love. I love women. I love lesbians. I want us to be free. I want every little tomboy to grow up to be whoever she wants to be, and no one to tell her she’s ‘really a boy.’
And I’m still not ready to retire to the Island for Old Feminists, where time stands still and we just hang around, waiting for the young people to explain it all to us.
October 28, 2013
Okay, I rounded... I admit it. I rounded 88% up to 90%. Substantially all still applies. Do not mistake that.
88% of the transgender population, those people who are protected by gender identity and gender expression laws, are, as reported by their own advocacy organizations, males with a psychosexual disorder. (1)
Many men with psychosexual disorders practice their fetish in the privacy of their own homes.
January 19, 2013
As some of you may know, my posting access to my GenderTrender wordpress.com blog was suspended at the end of the business day on Friday January 18. My last post, on Friday morning, was a collection of screen caps: a random sampling of the abusive and threatening tweets directed at Suzanne Moore following her “SEEING RED: THE POWER OF FEMALE ANGER” article re-publication.
December 3, 2012
I am sure that by now many of you know the name Jovan Belcher. If you didn’t know his name (as I didn’t) before this weekend, you know it now. He is the Kansas City Chiefs player who shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life on Saturday. Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as "(his) girlfriend."
November 27, 2012
In the last year, my lovely Lesbian niece, “L,” began a new relationship. She lives on the opposite coast from me, and so I hadn’t met the new flame until recently, at my family reunion. I had, though, become Facebook friends with her. While glancing through New Love’s FB Friends, I was astonished–and shocked–to see the name and photo of one of the more notorious M2Ts, a young pornographer and Pretendbian, who fancies himself not just a woman, but a butch Lesbian. And who perhaps coined the sick term “ladystick” for the dick he has proudly kept, and believes he is entitled to force actual Lesbians who are real women to submit to sexual assault with.
I fired off a message to New Love, asking her whether this was an actual friend of hers, or maybe just (I hoped) an error, or a friend of friends of friends, or a client, or just what. She answered that yes, Mr. Butch, an infiltrator and perpetrator who violates any women’s space he possibly can, is indeed a friend. And that she, N.L., considers herself an “ally.” And, by the way, as a hairdresser, is responsible for the mess on Mr. Butch’s head, which makes him look as if he’s been sleeping so soundly that pigeons have taken up residence in his hair.
I told her in a few sentences that this little prick is one of my most despised enemies, and that although he knows nothing about me, or even my name, I have made it my business to know all that I can about HIM.
“Well, this should be an interesting conversation,” she replied.
I summed up my horror at this boy’s actions, hatred of women, disrespect, etc., and all she had to say was, “Well, he prefers to be called ‘she.’”
“And I prefer to be called ‘Your Royal Majesty,’ but that doesn’t make me the Queen of England,” one of my snappier retorts to that delusionary mindset.
And so we met. N.L.is a big woman, with many facial piercings and many tattoos, and probably at least 30 years younger than I. She wears rather femmy clothes, loves to cook, and is very good to my niece. And that is what I know about her.
As the weekend wore on, N.L. and I managed to avoid one another for the most part. I began to question whether it would do either one of us any good to actually HAVE that conversation. I was having a lovely time with my sisters and one dear brother and their children. We made music together, went fishing, talked and talked and talked, and I gradually let go the idea that anything I had to say might make a difference to N.L. from the left coast.
It’s been my experience that if someone is schooled enough in Transspeak to call herself an “ally,” chances are that nothing I do or say would change her mind. The Koolaid had clearly been drunk, her mind most certainly made up. I was just an old auntie of her girlfriend, and Mr. Butch imposter was actually a friend of hers, after all.
And so I let it go.
Later on, N.L. asked me if I would be interested in coming out west to perform at a gathering she organizes, which she said was “for women only.”
“And what does that mean to you, for women only?” I asked. I got the answer I expected; women, transwomen, anyone who “identifies” as a woman.
“So if the man who raped you walked in and told you he identifies as a woman, you’d let him in?”
(Much clearing of throat and hesitation)
“That’s a different issue.”
I said, “What makes it different? He IDENTIFIES as a woman. What more evidence do you need?”
“That’s just ridiculous.”
“OK. You think it over, and tell me what makes this boy a woman. His hair? His voice? His ‘ladystick’? Or is it merely his statement to you?”
The weekend wore on, and N.L. never answered the question. She never brought it up again. I never brought it up again. I wanted her to feel comfortable with us, her family. I wanted my niece to know that I was not her enemy. Most of all, I didn’t want to spend the weekend lecturing. I wanted to enjoy the people I love the most in the world, and I wanted to let it alone for a few days. But I was never unaware of this political stance. I never stopped thinking about it. And it is, still, the first thing i think of when I think of N.L.
My niece, however, has been open to things I send her about this issue. She doesn’t say much, but she does, at least, read. And I think she has a fundamental understanding of just what it means to say that transgenderism is the antithesis of feminism. The two are mutually exclusive. And this MEANS something.
And Mr. Pretenbian? He’s still writing blogs, standing up for felons who want out of male prisons by claiming they are now ‘women.’ Still making porn. Still raising money for more porn. And still lecturing radical feminists about how horrible we are. This from a man who was raised by two Lesbians.
When N.L. gives me an answer to my question, I’ll let you know. But take my advice. Don’t hold your breath.
August 28, 2012
Our cabin is at the end of a narrow, dead-end gravel drive, that most people can’t find even when with directions. We’re on a ridge that makes a long point on one fork or another of the Chippewa River, one of the few designated a “wild river” by the State. There are no public landings on the little lake it flows into, or upstream for many miles, either. Now and then a kayak or two, or a group of canoeists paddle by, but not often, and our place is almost invisible from the water.
My girlfriend and I have been here, just the two of us, for almost a month this trip, as we often are. In the twenty years I’ve owned this place, I have called the sheriff perhaps three times, with complaints about kids on ATVs, or someone lighting fireworks out on the lake.We swim naked in the river, in a sheltered spot that no one can see unless they’re trying to. I’ve spent many nights here all alone, too, and I’ve never really worried about staying safe.
Now that my dog Ruby, the German Shepherd, is gone:
–We carry two-way radios when we are alone, so we can reach one another if we need to.
–We have a code word we use to call to one another if one of us is swimming or alone; it’s a derivative of the “Men on the Land” warning used at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
—We keep a loaded shotgun in the cabin to scare off any intruders. It is very effective.
Today, T was out in the water, clearing away a deadfall that had come with the last high water; I spotted four men walking upstream toward her from their fishing boats.
In all likelihood, we were perfectly safe. They probably had no idea that we were there, or that either of us was vulnerable. They most likely meant no harm.
Alix Dobkin’s song, “Some Boys,” came into my mind. And the lyrics told me a different story.
Maybe there’s no harm done
But more than two
Like as not they’re out to get you…
So I called to her with our code word, and she stopped what she was doing and came up the hill to the cabin.
Do men take these steps to protect themselves? Do they ever have to stop and consider the possible threat to their safety–to their very lives–that other men, unknown men, represent?
I don’t think so. And this freedom from fear that they enjoy, without thought, or care, or worry–this is what male privilege smells like.