Recently, I stumbled across an editorial on a lesbian entertainment website that I have been a long follower and fan of. The article was titled: “Butch Eradication, Served with a Progressive Smile.” It piqued my interest. As discussed in prior writings, the LGBT community have boxes within boxes, and as far as I understand, my box is a butch/stud lesbian.
So, I opened it. I mean if there is some undercover plot to get rid of people like me, I’d rather know about it than not, ya dig?
What I read bothered me to my core. You are more than welcome to read the article yourself, but I’ll summarize it for you. The author, who apparently is a mature butch lesbian, feels appalled and offended by trans-men who are working at her local Starbucks. In her opinion, these men are actually butch lesbians who feel shame about their butch-ness and is embracing some sort of societal gender-normative role, perpetuated by the trans community, to belong so they choose to transition rather than to live their best butch life. In the author’s opinion, this is akin to a genocide (which was later corrected to eugenic destruction) of the butch lesbian community. The author goes on to say that she weeps for the youth of today who are being swayed into transitioning their gender because they are ashamed to live as themselves.
The article is full of judgment, trans-hatred and since NEVER ONCE does the author indicate that she spoke to any of these men, full of a whole lot of misguided assumptions based on ignorance at best or an anti-trans agenda at worst.
My first reading of the article, (because yes, I read it at least twice, so that you don’t have to if you don’t want to) left me feeling uneasy, but also torn. The thing is, I know firsthand how hard it is to be more masculine presenting than feminine. In fact, it’s something I’m covering in book 2 of Shadow Resistance. (Like I legit wrote about this over 3 months ago.) Here’s just a little of my experience:
I am rarely treated as female by men. I will get on an elevator with a mixed crowd, and the guys will hold open the doors for the other ladies, and then step out in front of me as if I am a dude like them. I am called sir at least three times a week. (Despite having a DDD bust) Children often walk up to me and ask me if I’m a girl or a boy. The more overt homophobes visibly cringe when they see me or they become actively hostile. I’ve been told I’m going to hell more times than I care to count. (For simply EXISTING you guys, not like I was tonguing down anyone. Just breathing air and condemned to hell.) People have freaked out when I enter the women’s restroom. Men believe they can say the most foul and perverted things about other women to me, because I’m “just one of the bros.”
That’s just the “best of” hits…We aren’t even bringing in the whole being Black and in the South thing.
The thing is, when you “present” as something outside of the norm, it short circuits the brain cells of small-minded Homo sapiens. If your box is not what they are used to, they don’t know what to do with you. So instead of just letting you live your life in your own bubble that has nothing to do with them, they judge and treat you as improper or incorrect.
But see, that’s the problem with society as a whole, isn’t it? You must fit in a box that’s easy to understand or you’re pushed away as an “other.” If it’s skin color, sexuality, gender identity, etc, it’s all the same. (Read my book people, it’s all there!)
However, as I spoke to my lovely wife about the topic and how it made me feel, the problem that I’m having with this article, (and believe me, there are many problems) is the extreme either/or tone, as well as the irony in the author’s erasure of trans people in an article lamenting the erasure of butch people.
So, of course in our house, topics like this spark discussion. As the resident mental health specialist, Shauna had some strong feelings on the erroneous nature of the information presented. I felt the same way, but added a little outrage to the fact that I am a part of the “butch” community and for someone who allegedly represents my interest to present themselves in such a way makes me feel like… well… embarrassed.
Why would I be embarrassed by a post that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me?
The thing is, in a society where equality for all is nothing more than an idyllic dream, there is a problem with viewing people who seem to be the same as the exact same. Black people see this quite frequently. The way we are portrayed in the media often is the only way small-minded humans can see us.
Because small minds, you see. (Seriously it’s all in there, here’s a link to it! It’s even available on Kindle Unlimited now!)
It’s the same with every group that is not considered to be the “majority” or “normal” or whatever ridiculousness you wanna call it. So, to have this butch woman, who surely has been the target of discrimination for her sexuality as well as her gender expression, write an article so full of hatred towards another group, who is in a similar camp, just makes butch lesbians look like bitter and angry men haters. I mean, to be honest, probably every angry bitter lesbian joke is likely taken from a portrayal of a butch lesbian JUST like the one who wrote this editorial.
Now, let me get down to the part that is all about ignorance. Here’s where I teach you something. There is a difference between gender expression, gender identity, and gender assignment.
I know, it’s a lot, and to be honest I’m still learning myself, but thankfully I have a built-in therapist at home, so I’m trying to give you the info I have.
Gender assignment is basic biology. It’s simply the parts you have when you are born. If you can pee standing up, don’t have the monthly bloodletting going on, and people listen to you when you speak, whether you know what you’re talking about or not; you’re likely assigned male.
If you don’t have an extra appendage that allows for peeing in public without worrying about what disease the toilet seat may give you if there is no toilet cover, are usually smarter than most people in the room but are simultaneously the most ignored person in the room, and have the ability to biologically carry an ungrateful human on the roll of the dice that they will end up hating you because they have a fancy penis and you do not… well then congrats! You’re assigned female.
It’s simple really. And before we Earthborn fully understood psychology, that’s all we had to go on.
Now, as we started understanding the human mind, we have learned that there is a difference between gender assignment and gender identity. Gender identity is the gender your BRAIN sees yourself as. In most cases, the assignment and identity match up. But in some cases, they do not, and that’s where we get transgender people. A trans person suffers from gender dysmorphia which is basically caused because the gender they see themselves as is not what they were assigned with at birth. This causes major distress and is often dangerous to the psychological well-being of the person. In most cases, no amount of counseling, talking or berating will change the gender of which they see themselves.
Now, back in the old days, these people were often written off by society as “funny” or “queer” or “gay.” Sometimes these people were committed into institutions against their will, and dangerous experiments were conducted on them up to and including lobotomizing and electro-shock therapy. The existence of these people were taboo, often by their own families but definitely by society and the medical community.
But then, science happened.
Finally, there is gender expression. This has absolutely nothing to do with the biological or mental aspect of gender. This is simply, “how do you feel comfortable?” Some women, like myself, “present” more masculine than other women. Some men “present” more feminine than other men. This concept is dumb really, but it’s heavily rooted in the whole gender-normative concept of our patriarchal society that of course has roots in the notion that gender assignment was the only thing there is.
This is not even touching on the fact that everything is on a spectrum, from sexuality to gender. (Shout out to my non-binary & ace folks)
Okay… I’m getting to my point, if you’ve stuck with me thus far, you’re the real rock stars.
First of all, this article completely negates the existence of trans-men. In the author’s all-knowing mind, trans-men are simply butch women who are ashamed of being masculine presenting women and decide to transition because of some patriarchal pressure put on by the trans community.
(There is so much wrong with that sentence, but that’s still my takeaway.)
Trans men exist! Trans women exist! I cannot fully understand the mindset of a trans person because I’m not trans. I’m a lesbian. I do understand the trials and bigotry a masculine presenting lesbian faces from society, not just in the hetero-normative space but also in the LGBT community. Femme lesbians can be rough on the butch/stud clan. Yeah, some love us, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “If I wanted to be with a man, I’d just date a man.”
(Yeah, that’s not how lesbianism works at all. The whole idea of being a lesbian is that you don’t want a man. That’s what we’re all here for. WTF are you talking about?)
Conversely, gay men can be pretty vicious to us because perhaps some of us make them uncomfortable by presenting too masculine? (I honestly don’t know, that’s a wild guess on my part but I’ve felt the shade from gay men all the same.)
This is where my problem is. WHY ARE WE DOING THE JOB OF THE MAJORITY FOR THEM?!! Look, the whole reason we march, we go to court, we write, we hope, and take action towards equal rights is because we just want to live. We just want to exist and be protected like everyone else! Just about everyone in the Rainbow Coalition has been overtly or covertly discriminated against. We have been the subject of hatred borne from lack of understanding. Small minded people who cannot understand a box that is not their own try to tell us we chose the lives we live. They try to force us to live in a box they give us or want to silence us all together.
Why are we doing this to each other?!
There is no need to lament about the problems of one group by dumping on and trying to erase the existence of another. WE ARE ALL IN A SIMILAR BOAT. The small-minded majority wants us to just go away. And then with us being hard on each other, they use that as ammunition to pit us against each other.
And THEN… Oh and then… the heifer had the nerve to use a term like genocide and eugenics. I don’t think those words mean what she thinks they mean.
Sure, perhaps there COULD be butch lesbians who think transitioning would make it easier to function in society, but IS IT?! The author started out speaking about her very real very RUDE judgement she had towards the trans-men at her Starbucks when they were just living their lives trying to give her coffee. HOW IS THAT EASIER?? Now they have to deal with the hateful discrimination of cis-gendered hetero-normative folks AND people within the Rainbow Coalition WHERE THEY SHOULD FEEL SAFE!!
What’s doubly infuriating is that as someone who is a minority several times over, to not even have the small amount of empathy to try to at least remember what life was like BEFORE one became comfortable in their skin. How are you going to look at people who are already judged by the rest of society for something *very* close to what you’ve likely been judged for and pile on??
That’s like someone who grew up poor, scratched and clawed for everything they had, despite being viewed as trash for being poor, then looking down on the “help” because now they’re the rich ones and the help is poor. YOU WERE THERE TOO!! It’s like you forgot that you’ve had your own struggles as well!
Or maybe you’re privileged and you have always been surrounded by accepting and loving people. Well la-dee-dah. Good for you! That isn’t the case for all of us.
So you do you, boo-boo. You go to your Starbucks and silently judge the trans-men behind the counter as “shamed butch lesbians” and stew at how their existence is an indicator of butch erasure.
I will choose the route of being respectful and kind to those who are different than me, whether I get it or not. Because God knows I’ve had my fair share of hatred and judgement thrown at me in my forty years. I will embrace the mantra touted by the Rainbow Coalition.