as i write this on the eve of national transgender awareness day, many thoughts occur to mind.
one of them,a recurrent theme, is the ways in which people in one oppressed group sometimes erect boundaries within the group that exclude its own members from full acceptance.
one obvious example comes from within the lesbian community, of which i have been a member for coming on 45 years.
in this community there are those who feel it is absolutely okay to exclude from full membership, those who are not “woman born women”, in other words; transgender women. and these same purists will deny full acceptance to women, who like me, have had children and relationships with men in the past. or women, who like me, are able to love beyond physical gender, but who are primarily attracted to women.
how can we do this to one another?
i and a good friend of mine, herself a transsexual woman, have often spoken about such things as ‘disclosure’. for her, this means telling a prospective lover that she began life as a male-bodied person. for me it means letting a woman whom i am dating know that i am bi-sexual.
now, what possible difference could this make? the fact of my friends ‘male-bodied’ birth or my own ability to love a man?
i have had women decide to quit going out with me once they learned that my children weren’t ‘basted’. that i actually laid with men to conceive them. and some women that i have dated have been reluctant to share with me the fact that they are transsexual. (altho, it matters not the slightest to me)
why should some of us within the ‘queer community’ be expected to disclose things about our past? why is it considered fraudulent to present ourselves as we are today, without dredging up things from before? and what is the goal of ultimatums that we ‘come clean’ about such things, if not for purposes of discrimination?
as a woman who is primarily attracted to other women, the fact that i was able to lay with a man to conceive children, doesn’t make my attraction and affection for women any less real. i don’t ‘share’ women in bed with men, (gross and too kinky for me) i’m monogamist and faithful so if i’m with a women there’s not a man anywhere near to pollute our woman-love. still some women deem me unacceptable as a partner because i am bi-sexual.
and, of course all too often, it is considered a complete ‘deal breaker’ for some, if the woman they are crushing on is found out to be transsexual or transgender.
am i less of a woman-loving-woman for the fact of my past relationships that i should be rejected? is my friend less a woman for having been ‘male-bodied’ years ago that she must confess?
these boundaries that we within the gay community set up amongst our own numbers only seem barriers to me. and yet, knowing they exist, i will continue to feel compelled to disclose my bi-sexual tendencies despite the fact that they don’t define me. and transsexual or transgender women will be expected to disclose the natal circumstance of their male-bodied past, despite the fact of their womanhood.
luckily for me, i don’t mind and in fact embrace my bi-sexual identity, no matter that it cost me a chance with someone who can’t see beyond it. and luckily for my daughter, she is proud to be a girl who is transgender. she is definitely not in any closet!
still, i can’t help but wonder if, since my daughter is attracted to girls and has dreams of marrying a woman someday to share life with her, will the tomorrow in which her dreams unfurl have fewer of these boundaries? or will unnecessary heartbreak befall her at the whim of a someone who rejects her womanhood?
barriers are counter-intuitive to community, and labels are for soup cans. so in my humble opinion, we all need to just “get over it”.