i know, and i must check my privilege up front here, that i am quite aware that passing privilege plays a huge role in this. for readers who might be less familiar with passing priv, let’s talk about that up front: it refers to the privilege of being generally assumed to be a cisgendered member of your gender of presentation. i can pass for a cis woman easily; i cannot pass for a cis man even with significant effort. though i am by no means a pinnacle of femininity, the world looks at me and goes “that’s a chick”, be it in a dress with my hair down or in baggy boy clothes with my hair slicked back and my breasts bound. i recognize how much easier my invisiblity to almost all cis and most trans people alike makes my life and i’m willing to totally own that.
i have a second thing going in my favor that we don’t talk about as trans people and we need to: i have documentary privilege. my license has my awful but clearly female name on it, it says my sex is F and that i’m an inch taller and 20 pounds lighter than i really am. i have a passport which says i’m an American, that i’m female, and even has a decent picture of me in it. in other words, i have papers which aren’t going to out me and a lot of trans people, especially other trans women of color, don’t have this privilege. those of us who have it should not take it lightly and should never stop advocating for gender self-determination for all trans and genderqueer people, including the right to not define a gender.
golly, that was a long-winded intro. sorry about that! i don’t get to have a ton of privilege often so i had to make sure i checked myself right there. so here’s the deal: as a pretty dykey girl, i’ve had a pretty charmed experience with other lesbians. i’ve always run with the gay girls, from high school to today. i grew up a queer girl, i played sports and made out with girls and i found my first sense of belonging ever amongst these circles. i bitch about the local dyke bar and/or scene, just like all my dyke friends do, and i keep going back to that well. i have never actually moved in on the second date but i go to WNBA games (go Storm!) and go shake my butt when my friend is DJing at the local femaleish queerish dance night. i grew up a gay girl, lesbian, dyke, queer female, whatever… and that’s where i fit.
i do not see the dyke community as perfect, but like my extended family, i see more good than bad. in spite of the myth that all lesbians are huge transphobes, i’ve gone home with enough of them and had disclosure flow well enough that the successes far, far outweigh the failures. i’ve never had one of my dyke friends go running away when i told them i’m trans…i have not been as fortunate with the rest of the cisgender universe or even with other trans people!
i know that a lot of wadfems identify as lesbians and that wadfems say awful things about us and sometimes to awful things to us. they contribute to a pitched battle against basic rights for trans people, especially trans women, claiming that genital essentialism somehow contributes to the validity of your gender. now, i’ve been in a class with Jan Raymond and certainly debated her as much as someone who must remain assumed-cis could, and i’ll tell you that her thoughts towards trans women, like the thoughts of transphobic bigots like Julie Bindel, Cathy Brennan, and Germaine Greer border on genodical. they encourage the violence of forcing us to live in bodies we don’t belong in, in denying us the very self-empowerment they’ve taken for granted as cis people. the thing is, though: these dogma-spouting violent bigots are the fringe. they do not speak for all womankind, and the lesbian-identified ones don’t speak for all of dykey womankind.
in fact, let me put this out there: in ten years, all these fringe pseudoacademic transphobes, like non-academic transphobes like Dan Savage and every asshole who’s ever bashed, harassed, or hurt any of us, will be discredited. why? because they make so much noise about nothing and the more they stand on their head spitting nickels about OH NO TRANS PEOPLE the more they look like damn fools. they’re making a spectacle and they know they’re on the ropes. this is why Cathy Brennan has gone violent and harassing…she knows the sun is setting on the ability to be a virulent transphobe.
of course, passive-aggressive transphobia will still exist, just like passive-aggressive racism, ableism, fatphobia, classism, nativism, biphobia, homophobia, etc still exist. but it will be stupid little microaggressions that reveal to you what an asshole that person is (you’re on notice, asshat white Starbucks cashier by school who hands white people their money and puts it down on the counter for us PoCs…you are on notice, son) but as the sun sets on hate, the people bent on it often become most active.
so, trans girls/women who like the lady people? don’t be so afraid of your friendly local dyke community. i’m sure there will be people who are jerks, but at the same time there are jerks everywhere. and, you know, maybe there are some of us about and you don’t even know it. there are many of us trans women who are lesbians who have had many happy relationships (and many not-so-happy relationships that have nothing to do with our gender identity but i’m not bitter) so don’t believe the hype the “trans community” often spreads and really, really don’t believe that a few wadfems reflect what all lesbians think.