Much has been written over the last 15 years regarding the issue Transgender inclusion within the Gay and Lesbian Movement. The argument for inclusion originates in the notion that we are all Queer, that we are all read by the larger heteronormative society as Queer, regardless of how our own identification varies on this theme.
In the last few years, however, the tenor of this discussion has changed, with Transgender people asserting different needs – and different goals – for their Community.
This is a good thing. It is imperative for all Communities to decide for themselves what their needs and goals should be. To the extent those needs and goals coalesce with those other Communities, Movements for social change can be built by a broad coalition of Communities.
There appear to be, however, some cracks in the Coalition between the G and the L, on the one hand, and the T, on the other, stemming specifically over the “inclusion” of Trans* people in the bedrooms of the G and the L.
Some prominent Transgender activists – specifically Jos Truitt at Feministing – have decided to take “the personal is political” to an absurd new level, and push the concept that Lesbians owe it to Transgender Women to consider them as sexual partners or face being labeled a bigot.
That is, it is no longer enough to be a “respectful ally” – you must now be willing to lay your body down for the Cause of Trans* Inclusion.
This theme erupted earlier this year as news of the Cotton Ceiling broke. According to Morgan Page, a transgender activist, the “Cotton Ceiling”
“Basically … means that cis queer women will be friends with us and talk day and night about trans rights and ending transmisogyny, but will still not consider us viable sexual partners.
The term cotton ceiling is a reference to the ‘glass ceiling’ that second wave feminist identified in the workforce, wherein women could only advance so high in the workforce but could not break through into positions of power and authority. The cotton represents underwear, signifying sex.”
This sounds nice and Liberal and something that open-minded Lesbians might respect if they weren’t paying attention. However, Page and others have further upped the ante for Lesbians by insisting that Trans women are Female and Lesbian rejection of them as sexual partners is bigotry.
“Cultural messages that code trans women’s bodies as male are transphobic, and those messages influence people’s desires. So cis queer women who are attracted to other queer women may not view trans women as viable sexual partners because they have internalized the message that trans women are somehow male,” Page has said.
It is not “cultural messages” that “code trans women’s bodies” as male – it’s Biology. As Lesbians, we have been socialized since birth – like all Females – to be sexually accessible to Males. As Lesbians, many of us work for years with internalized self-hatred and misogyny before we finally are able to confront our sexual attractions and honor our sexuality. This is a long and – for many of us – a lifetime process, as we are constantly bombarded with cultural messages that Lesbian sexuality is wrong. The younger generation of Lesbians now also face the additional pressure to incorporate “Trans Inclusion” into their sexuality or face exclusion from a Movement that has embraced Queer – rather than Lesbian – Identity.
Guilting Females into sleeping with Males by calling it a political obligation is the same manipulative behavior Males have used for eons to get Sex from Females. It’s not better now that Trans* Women push it. It’s the same Compulsory Heterosexuality, the concept coined by Baltimore native and Radical Feminist Adrienne Rich that identifies heterosexuality as the agent that keeps Females from actualizing their full sexual and emotional capacities, an agent that denies a sexual way of being unrelated to Male pleasure – Lesbian sexuality.
Demanding that Lesbians confront their “transmisogyny” in the bedroom is demanding that Lesbians cater to Male sexual pleasure. Insisting that Male Biology is Female – based on dubious science – in service to the goal of sexual access to Lesbians is Compulsory Heterosexuality.
Why has this idea gained any kind of traction within our broader “Queer” Community? Why have so few Trans* Women spoken out at this Shaming of Lesbian Sexuality?
The Queerified pressure Lesbians feel is intense –to call a Trans Women “Male” means hurting the Trans Woman’s feelings; means, apparently, being a bad ally. The Trans* Community – like all those imbued in invisible quicksand of Compulsory Heterosexuality – denies that this pressure exists.
And yet, this pressure exists. Our Coalition can choose to ignore it, it can discount it, it can minimize it, it can cloak it on Social Justice language, but this pressure is the same pressure all Lesbians experience – the pressure to not be Gay.
We are Gay, Not Queer. Deal with it.
Friday, 13 July 2012