02 November 2005

Transphobia and man-hating among lesbians

In the past week, I stumbled upon a lesbian site named Fallen Goddess. It asks that if you are not a lesbian/queer/transgender woman, or if you are offended by such women, you should turn back right away. It's a women-only space, and they are strict about that. Fortunately, they have been very welcoming to me.

A nasty argument is ongoing there right now though, over the presence of a transgender man who remains a member of Fallen Goddess. Some are taking the position that since the man in question had lived as a lesbian for a while, and garnered support and friendships in the lesbian community, he should be allowed to stay, especially since he is a well-behaved man, while new transgender men would not be welcome. I agree with that position. Others are taking the position that he must leave, as he is no longer female identified, has taken up the male privilege, and therefore has no business being in a lesbian space.

Female-to-male transgender people are an integral part of the lesbian community, like it or not. And that's something to be remembered, because the straight world still lumps the two categories together into one. In fact, Shannon Minter, the outstanding attorney at National Center for Lesbian Rights, is a transgender man, as perfect a man as anyone could possibly be, yet he still works for, and is part of, the lesbian community. Having met him back in my Bay Area days, I know that he is a dedicated individual, and to boot him out of the lesbian community for being male (and supposedly having therefore bought into the whole male misogynism) would be downright foolish. Mr. Minter is not misogynistic, and neither is the transman over at Fallen Goddess.

Fortunately, the flak has not spilled over to male-to-females and their former male socializations, so it's spared me. But I am still dismayed at the amount of hatred some lesbians still show toward transmen, and men in general. I expect this kind of hostility over who's really a man/woman and who's not to happen at transgender boards, not a lesbian board like Fallen Goddess. Women are supposed to be above this kind of mentality, and the vast majority fortunately are. I'm doing my best at Fallen Goddess to educate everyone the best I can.

It is also my belief that pitting lesbians against gay men, gays against transgenders, and immigrants against unionists and gays, only serves to divide and conquer these disadvantaged communities, when they need to unite and fight with one voice for civil rights for all. This is something that Christy Cole over at ReBelle Nation has been stressing to me for a while: civil rights for all, instead of special interest rights for individual communities. Again, all this transphobia and man-hating will not get anywhere.