Trans Identities are Sacrosanct, but Lesbian Identities are Transphobic

A recent article on Feministing caught my attention.

http://feministing.com/2012/06/28/enough-with-i-date-women-and-trans-men/

In it, women are told that they must re-evaluate their lesbian identity if they are attracted to both women and trans men, or else they are being “transphobic”. As Jos Truitt (the author) says:

My trans brothers deserve better than sex in a frame that undermines their identities [that is, sex with lesbians who sleep with trans men]. This doesn’t mean queer cis women and gender non-conforming female assigned folks can’t f*ck trans men, but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining – to recognize that they sleep with men, and to question why they’re OK with sleeping with trans men and not cis men.

In other words, if you sleep with trans men, you can’t legitimately call yourself a lesbian any more. YOU must change your identity, and Jos (who does not identify as a lesbian) has the right to request that you make this change. Additionally, you must ask yourself why you refuse to consider dating “cis men”. This statement places the onus on lesbians to determine why they have decided not to date “cis men”– rather than allowing them to decide for themselves who they should be attracted to.

Note that gay and straight men are not being called to task for not properly identifying themselves so as to avoid “transphobia”. It’s women– once again– who are the target of this ostensibly “feminist” critique.

Lesbians are under attack. At a recent dyke march, Cathy Brennan was cornered by tens of trans/queer activists, and screamed at. You can see video here, as well as one trans critique of the violent rhetoric currently swirling from the queer/trans community. Brennan has stated that she has never felt so unsafe as she did at the NYC Dyke March 2012.

But Cathy Brennan is not the only target. Lesbians are under fire. First it was the cotton ceiling debacle, and now this article at feministing.

Female reality is also under fire, and we are not even permitted to organize and discuss it.

It is unclear to me why “feminists” focus so much attention on policing women and lesbians, when the entire purpose of feminism has always been the liberation of women.

As an ally and a woman, I will stand with my sisters against oppression– no matter the source.

About smash
Women's liberationist.

29 Responses to Trans Identities are Sacrosanct, but Lesbian Identities are Transphobic

  1. Nicky says:

    The same thing happens to Intersex people as well. When trans use intersex people and the intersex name to push the jenda down people’s faces. It comes at the expense of REAL biological born intersex people. Which is why Intersex people are starting to notice the same tactics that are being pulled on women and lesbian, being applied onto intersex people as well.

    • smash says:

      Good point, Nicky. Thank you for your comment.

      • Nicky says:

        You see it all the time within the trans community. They like to pull the intersex card on people to justify their existence or excuse at the expense of intersex people like myself. It just pisses off every biological born intersex person.

  2. ethicalequinox says:

    “but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining”

    Owe it?

    How about trans people OWING it to christian fundamentalists to REFRAME their ideas on sexual behavior because it hurts fundamentalists’ FEELINGS if they don’t?

    Do they see the precedent they’re going to set?

  3. doublevez says:

    That man is totally insane. Why does Feministing participate in his self-harm? Will they be legally culpable some day?

    • m Andrea says:

      “Will they be legally culpable some day?”

      That’s what I’ve been thinking… When an organization permits (and even encourages) the belief that some of it’s members (trans) are entitled to the bodies of some of it’s other members (lesbians) then that organization is encouraging sexual harassment.

  4. bugbrennan says:

    Smash, thanks for your support.

  5. Fantabulous Wench says:

    That article annoyed me when I saw it yesterday. I’m bisexual and I resent the implication that anyone gets to comment on any choice I make over potential partner. There’s a level of agressiveness and violence in some of these transactivists that I find utterly repusive. I just can’t see myself with someone so self loathing that they want to cut off perfectly functioning parts of themselves.

    I’m also agoraphobic and I have a panic disorder these people tigger me with their thuggishness so excuse me if I don’t want to sleep with them.

    • Brunhilda says:

      OMG! Another bi person! (or openly bi person!). I get it. I mean, to me (and for me, and who I want in bed) , bi means woman or man, not something in between.

  6. Noanodyne says:

    What is still astonishing — even after seeing it repeatedly and for years now — is so-called feminists not recognizing this instantly as garden-variety policing of female sexuality based in the exact the same sense of entitlement to do so that men have always had. For those who are still trying to get their heads around how “trans women” can still act from a sense of male privilege, Jos should make it very clear. Jos changed only his gender presentation, not his belief that it is his right to tell women who they should have sex with. That Jos has a forum to do so is a PRIVILEGE Jos is given to carry the patriarchal message that women’s sexuality is not their own private, personal domain. That PRIVILEGE derives very specifically from who Jos actually is.

    The patriarchy says that women’s sexuality is properly a place of social contention and everyone has a right to chime in, especially people who aren’t born and raised female. The greatest fear of the patriarchs (and their handmaidens) is that women will get to decide and the decision will leave men out of the equation entirely or discount what men want if it doesn’t meet women’s real (not porntastic) needs. If the patriarchs can’t always keep women’s sexuality as something to be decided by men, then men claiming to “transition” (as in, keeping their dicks but “identifying” as something else), then demanding sex with lesbians, would be seen for exactly what it is.

    Given all that, what is further confusing is why a bunch of young people who like to think of themselves as radically queer can’t see this position as the conservatism that it is. Take out the oh-so-hip expletives (eye roll) and the transpeak and the sentiments that Jos is espousing fit very nicely with the incredibly ossified shit that conservative Republicans say about women’s sexuality. All the people like that know the proper things women should be doing at all times with their bodies and are quick to point out that women are the least-capable at deciding for themselves.

  7. Iasmē says:

    This is nuts… obviously why women would be attracted to transmen, op or none, would be because of the commonly recognised condition as women under patriarchy… appearances don’t change that. There is still the same commonality, and in many cases lesbians stay with their ftm partners because of their commitment to that person, and there is still a commonality of being female. To abstract from the particular facts of these lesbians’ commitment to their female partners REGARDLESS of what they may do, to coerce sex with males, is extremely dishonest and dictatorial, in addition to erasing the commonality of females in the female sex class (and FAB intersex women obviously).

    But, oddly, on the other hand, if in a particular lesbian relationship a woman could no longer feel attracted to her transmale partner, that would be defiled as transphobic somehow. So we have another dilemma (I don’t mean problem, I mean the rhetorical device of a constructed false dichotomy and condemnation if one does, or does not select the predecided option, but they get further shamed if they ‘choose’ wrongly). A dilemma in which no matter what a lesbian may do in the midst of trans men, no matter how she may think or feel, attraction or no attraction she is condemned. This is immensely misogynistic and blatant controlling of women, and the total erasure of lesbians. This ain’t light bullshit.

    • smash says:

      Iasmē, thanks for stopping by. I think it’s clear that most people know thatwhat you are saying is true, which is why Jos has the motivation to write the article in the first place.

      Great point about the dilemma or double bind- no matter what these lesbian women choose, they are condemned. This is absolutely, as you say, misogynistic and controlling of women, as well as unfeminist and unacceptable. I hope Jos receives major backlash on the article, though I am not holding my breath.

  8. Iasmē says:

    …actually upon reflection this also matches an experience of mine when I was with a het dude a year ago who had said that he was making me, a bisexual woman, “straight in practice” because I was in a sexual relationship with him. It was also his opinion that bisexuals (obviously meaning female bisexuals since his analysis did not extend to men) are ‘confused’. Just male policing of women’s sexuality, in fact, mansplaining their sexuality to them. It is the same ‘you are X sexuality’ based on dodgy abstraction from a particular situation without examining the particular situation, nor the generality of lesbian sexuality and more broadly, the male/heterosexual colonisation of lesbians and lesbian behaviour. None of these social phenomena can be blindly dismissed, but such blind dismissal and manipulative tactics are necessary to force women’s legs open and remove the ‘cotton ceiling’ for collective male benefit just like every good rapist knows.

  9. JE says:

    I’ve read that quoted paragraph several times now and I still can’t figure out why “Jos Truitt” thinks that anyone is under any obligation to take his opinion seriously, much less to engage on any internal reflection just because he says so.

  10. Noanodyne said it best and said it all (and so, of course, did Smash).

    “The owe it to these guys.” Oh, no. There is no owing to any guys. Lesbians may choose or reject any partner at any time for any reason without guilt or tortured soul-searching. No one else gets a say. We get ALL the says. Our sexuality is not a forum for others to weigh in on. It is not for public consumption or debate.

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