Dear Jennifer and Kate –
Hello. My name is Cathy Brennan, and I am a lesbian activist in Baltimore, Maryland. I am also – like you – a mother. I want to thank you for blazing a trail in 1983 for lesbian parenting. That took amazing courage. Your actions helped make it possible for Lesbians now to have children without raising as many eyebrows as you undoubtedly did when your son (now your daughter) Tobi was born in 1983.
I want to ask you to do something now that will also take amazing courage – please tell your daughter, Tobi Hill-Meyer, to stop terrorizing Lesbians. Tobi has every right to exist in the world as a woman; please don’t misunderstand what I am asking of you. But Tobi has taken it upon herself to tell Lesbians that we are bigots for shunning penis. Perhaps you don’t know this? She also has perpetuated the myth that Lesbians as a group secretly crave penetration by males – because some Lesbians use dildos. And Tobi, aided and abetted by would-be helpers who think they are waging a noble battle against “bigotry,” willfully violates the boundary established by Females for Female-only space.
One of the most important things a parent can do is to talk to their child when she is so clearly out of line, to rein her back in and impress upon her the values with which they’ve raised her. Surely, given your bravery and courage in parenting at the dawn of the Reagan era, surely you do not share the values Tobi is promoting – entitlement, appropriation, and disrespect.
Do you think it’s right that Females cannot have their own space? I cannot believe that you would think that, especially as I read your recounting of going into labor at a Sweet Honey in the Rock concert. Surely you both know the power, comfort and safety that comes from Female-only spaces (we don’t call them “women-only spaces” anymore, because we want to be respectful of trans* women).
Surely you agree that respect must go both ways, and that it’s ok to say to trans women – including your daughter, Tobi – that difference exists, and Females sometimes will want space away from Males. Surely you agree that Females have the right to prioritize the issues that Females care about (whatever they might be), without allowing Males to derail our efforts?
I know the love you have for your child, as I have that same love for my children. I know that such love can often blind us to the harm our children do and the pain they inflict on others. I am asking you, as parents, to put aside that great love you have for your daughter and consider the harm she is inflicting on the Lesbian community. The eyebrows she is raising are not caused by Lesbian intolerance – they are caused because Tobi is pushing the same reparative therapy tropes pushed by renowned anti-gay groups like NARTH. Tobi is causing pain by insisting that she is Female and demanding access to Female-only spaces. Unfortunately, this makes Tobi no different than any other Male demanding access to lesbians and Females. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s true.
We can all co-exist peacefully, but to do so, we must respect each other and our differences. And sometimes that requires a firm “no.” As parents, I know you are familiar with telling your child “no.” I am asking you to tell your child “no” now.
No, Tobi, you cannot go into Female-only space. No, Tobi, although we respect you as a woman, you are not Female. No, Tobi, a penis is not a Female organ. No, Tobi, a dildo is not a “substitute” for a penis. No, Tobi, some Lesbians enjoy penetration, but that does not mean we want sex with Males (or you).
Thank you for considering this request. I guarantee it is co-signed by a nation of Females.
Same here, Co-sign it as well.
signed in NM
co-signed from CA, USA
Bravo – well written.
A compassionate request from a thoughtful lesbian, feminist, mother. I stand with her sentiments. peace be yours, nora
Inspirational letter. Co=signed
co-signed from Lincoln, NE
co-signed from Crescent City, CA
Co-signed in Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Agreed and co-signed in Missouri.
Co-signed in jumbo marker with four exclamation points!!!!
co-signed, santa cruz, CA
Hi there, Santa Cruz sister!
Co-signed from Colona, IL
Co-signed in the hills of Western North Carolina
cosigned here too in northern California!
I disagree that transgender or transsexual m2t can be called “women,” but not “females.” These people are not women, nor are f2ts men. When you say that “we don’t call them ‘women-only spaces’ anymore…” I know you don’t speak for all of us, at least not for me.
There are still two sexes in human biology. Males cannot be made into females, nor men into women. I think that to use this language merely confuses the issue.
Kitty – I encourage you to do your activism as you see fit, and refrain from telling other women how to do their activism. Thanks!
Co-signed, from Seattle, Washington
Dictionary definition of the word “woman”:
[…] http://bugbrennan.com/2012/06/19/an-open-letter-to-jennifer-meyer-and-kate-hill/ […]
Agreed, love it, and co-signed!
Are transmen with vaginas allowed in?
I don’t care.
No. Transmen are not females or womyn.
If transwomen aren’t female, then wouldn’t transmen be (female)? And aren’t transwomen womyn? Is it that transmen and transwomen are not BOTH female and womyn? I don’t quite understand…
Co-signed on the west coast of Canada.
So far as I am concerned, this girl is most definitely entirely female/ a woman. Gender has nothing to do with your body, and nothing to do with how other people define you. My general policy in life is to let people live their lives in a way that makes them happy, without hurting other people. You might say that letting her into your ‘female only’ spaces in ‘hurting’ you, but if you were not aware that this girl had been born male, I’m pretty frigging certain you would think of & accept her as a woman. It’s how she feels that counts, not what her body looks like.
definitely NOT co-signed
You can’t be female if you’re male. It’s just a difference, no judgement. You can certainly identify as a woman if you are born male, if that is what suits you and feels right to you. But you can’t be both female and male, it is an impossibility.
MWMF is an event for womyn who were born female. It acknowledges the difference, without judgement call. The fact that the trans activist community spins it as such is unfortunate, and uniformed. MWMF does not attempt to define a woman. It does create an event by and for womyn who were born female.
Why do trans women insist on taking that personally? It is not intended as such. But it is spun as such in the blogosphere. We don’t sit around camp fires plotting the demise of trans women. In fact, it’s not about you. and just because something is not about you, doesn’t mean it’s against you.
Separate space is healing not hateful. I would suspect that if trans women (male born women) had an event that was for trans women only, that you would find much self-determination, empowerment and healing in that event. Please take care of yourselves in that way. Society is not set up to support you.
Society is not set up to support womyn who are born female either. and because of our differences, we have some different needs for healing that should be honored and respected.
We also have places where we overlap as women, and in those areas we can find commonality and community and healing as well.
I’ve co-signed this because Tobi is saying and doing some really heinous anti-lesbian things, and I have often wondered if ze’s lesbian mothers now what ze is up to.
Perfectly stated Grace.
I co-sign what Grace just wrote above. Thank you for very simply stating the way I also feel.
i’m pretty friggin certain that very few gyns at fest had a chance to read her as a woman. She came out, guns blazing as a trans woman. Not to mention the fact that she does public accessible porn on the internet and advertises that fact everywhere. Tobi didn’t just disreguard the festival’s intention about who attends either. Festival is built on all sorts of intentions. It is an INTENTIONAL community. Everyone is trusted to follow the guidelines that make fest work. One of those is to pay for your wristband ticket. Tobi shared hers with others and cheated the festival, then admitted it publically.
Taking space for a week in the woods to look at our female socialzation/body issues/tramas and any other of a host of issues that bio women experience in no way defines anyone else. Unless that is, they allow it to. We do have a right to meet in a clothing optional space without the company of penis sporting individuals. Yes, her feelings matter, but so do ours and gathering together to share is very cathartic. If the greater queer community really wants change they are attacking the wrong people. We are allies everywhere else. It is the straight white men that are oppressors, not us. We will focus on our own unique issues from time to time and fest is one of those places.
The ignorance, judgement, belittling & intolerance of trans people especially coming from the lesbian community DISGUSTS me. As hard as we have fought & still ARE fighting for rights & to somehow “prove” our worthiness to the world….you would think the lesbian community would be a place of acceptance, love & support. It’s sad to see things like this & realize that our own sisters are JUST as discriminatory if not more so than people who are not a part of the LGBT community.
Thanks Jennifer. Tell me which part of this statement you think is discriminatory:
I accept trans women as women, but not as female.
Jennifer, is there anything I wrote above that strikes you as particularly discriminating, belittling or intolerant?
I accept trans women as women, as part of women’s community, as part of LGBT community. At the same time, i do not see it as inherently transphobic for women who are female born to take occasional separate space from time to time (such as one week in the distant woods of Michigan once a year). i also support any marginalized group taking occasional separate space, and don’t take it personally when I am not included in that event.
agreed and co-signed in Seattle