Guest post by Bev Jo
It says something about what a threat transsexualism is to patriarchy if fundamentalist Iran kills Lesbians and gay men, but pays for transsexual surgery and hormones. If patriarchy can’t kill us outright, then they co-opt and confuse us.
They make us want to become our own enemy. Add to the female-hatred and Lesbian-hatred until many think trying to change gender will be the easier way out. Or, as a woman in a documentary I watched said recently about why she wanted to become a man: “It’s better than being an old woman.”
Notice that this individual didn’t even bother with the “I always felt like a boy” crap. It was clearly a cold, calculating decision based on measuring privilege gained versus oppression lost.
I have been horrified by the issue of men claiming our female identity since 1971, when the man who had sexually harassed me as a young Lesbian and who had never even remotely felt like he was a woman, figured out that the best way to get access to Lesbians was to claim to be one and to say he had always felt that way. I learned then that trannies simply lie. That man got a status as a “Lesbian” that he never would have gotten as a usual het man. He soon presented himself as a “Lesbian” journalist, author, singer, musician, and songwriter, doing all excruciatingly badly. He lied to get into positions of power, including to the old Feminist publication, “off our backs,” so they would print his bragging article called “Lesbian Sex.” He makes sure that we have absolutely no female-only space in the Bay Area because it’s those rare places that he makes a point of invading.
But now men are appropriating us in whole other ways.
From what I saw from the beginning, the trans movement used Teena Brandon, like they do so much else. She was a young Butch in a terrible situation, trying to pass as male to survive and to be able to love other women, as so many women have done throughout history. That in no way means she was “transgender” or a “FTM.” They simply have stolen her for their own use and are again re-writing our Lesbian history. The interviews I saw with her friend and mother were clear that she identified as Lesbian, not as a man. I’ve been writing about her from when she was first in the news. Liars know that if you say a lie often enough, it’s believed. The right wing, from Josef Goebbels to Karl Rove, used this tactic successfully. Teena never identified herself as a trans or “FTM.”
This is a feminist issue because they are re-writing our history, and they are intrinsically anti-Feminist andanti-female and anti-Lesbian.
“MTFs” have fetishized what a female is and want to be that bizarre, grotesque, and actually male image that men have designed for women. But the appearance of women claiming to be men took a lot longer to appear and was even more of a shock.
“FTMs” are self-hating females who mistakenly think they are rare in hating or feeling uncomfortable in their female bodies. But who wouldn’t, after going through being exposed to the horrific grotesque media images of objectified plastic women from when we are born, as well as all of us suffering some form of sexual assault?
Of course, any female in her right mind would not want to grow up with the oppression girls get and would want access to the many privileges that boys and men get. I certainly hated all the ways I was victimized for being a girl. But I never wanted to be a boy. Boys were those nasty, cruel small men who were obscene, tormented girls, and tortured animals. I loved other girls and that was who my community was. Finding Lesbian Feminism made all the difference for me when I was nineteen. So I still do not comprehend why any female would so love males and maleness that she wants to become one – not that she can. I mean, really, it has to be clear to everyone that, aside from superficial appearances, no one can change sex any more than they can change species. And certainly the surgery that women get to become male doesn’t even come close to working. It’s like it’s all a big con, in which the big pharmaceutical industry, doctors, hospitals, psychiatrists, and then the patriarchal news media is making a fortune, once again on the bodies of women. For the women who try this, the cancer rate and other damaging health effects will be astronomical. But the real harm is to our women’s communities where the “new men” still demand entrance, even to women only space, while being contemptuous of us for still being women. New cliques have been created of “FTM” trannies. Even worse, young girls are now being pressured into having surgery and hormones, affecting them irreparably.
But I don’t believe any woman would even consider wanting to become a man if it wasn’t for patriarchy’s war on all females, where very few escape sexual assault in girlhood or later as adults.
One “FTM” I know said simply that she didn’t want to be raped any more.
In a documentary, a Lesbian described how much better her life was as a man. She was more accepted at work and by her lover’s family. Her lover’s father said how angry he’d been that his daughter was a Lesbian, but now his daughter was “normal” because her lover had become a “man.” As he said, “It’s better than being a Lesbian.”
Some women go through bizarre lengths with plastic surgery to look acceptable to male standards, while others just try to look male, but I believe it’s the flip side of the same coin and is rooted in male-worship and self-hatred. Della (Volcano) Grace the photographer/pornographer/trans-activist is an example. At first, she gets breast implants to fit in more with the male image of women, and then has them cut off and becomes a “man.” Now, many of the women who want to be men have been so brainwashed into worshipping males that they want to both be male and be sexual with men, as many of the early “FTMs” are saying (such as Pat Califia and Loren Cameron) – and are identifying as “gay men.” So it’s a myth that all “FTMs” are Lesbians since some have gone back to men and are therefore het or bisexual women. It’s also a myth that “FTMS” are/were Butch since most seem to be Fem (as in Loren Cameron’s book, “Body Alchemy,” which has before and after photos of “FTMs,” showing clearly how Fem they were/are. (In a slideshow she did, Loren described the respect she received when appearing as a “working class man” to the staff at a clothing store in San Francisco, who then disrespected and snickered behind the back a Butch who arrived after her.)
Many “FTM”s use the same bullying tactics as “MTFs,” but I will not use male pronouns for them any more than I will use our pronouns for men, just as I would not agree to mass hallucinations and demands that we call men “birds” or “lizards.” It’s wrong and, basically, it’s ridiculous.
It’s an honor to be called female. I will not insult them with male pronouns. Males are our enemy, and I am not ready to call these women my enemy. l feel a difference with them than I do with “MTFs.” They are still women, no matter how they alter themselves. Everything about them still appears female to me, in spite of their exterior — which says to me how different they are from men claiming to be women, because “MTFs” feel more male than many het men. There is something much deeper than hormones going on. “MTFs” are as predatory and nasty as the worst men. And “FTMs” are still female. Nothing can change that.
I have known so many Lesbians who have committed suicide because of oppression. This feels like a variation on suicide, except for the increased privilege. But already some have had regrets. Some are wanting to go back to being accepted as women and back into the Lesbian community. For all the misogynist propaganda in patriarchy, some of these women are realizing what many of us have known all along: There is nothing better than being a female.
Bev Jo is a working class, lifelong Lesbian from the US, who has been a Radical Lesbian Feminist writer and activist since 1970, and co-author of Dykes-Loving-Dykes, excerpts of which can be read on her blog: bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com.