I’m The Other and Leaving the Hate Behind


I used to find comfort in receiving my copy of the Lesbian Connection every other month in the discreet brown envelope.  I’m old enough to remember the days when it came hand stapled, sans colorful cover photography.  I was young and very alone – seeking some sense of community.  And I found it amongst the womyn who bravely poured out their hearts in their submissions and gave inspiration to the budding feminist in me – the one who sensed the injustice of the bigger world around her and sought like-minded souls to rally against it.

Now, I’m filled with a sense of dread when it arrives.  I’m forced to think about how I self-identify.  Am I ready to “cut the tie”, once and for all, and, as if by magic incantation, say “I’m no longer a lesbian”?  

What box do I have to check now?  Well, in purely binary legal terms, I’m still female (alt least for the next month or so).  Nevertheless, I feel neither 100% male or female.  I suppose the label transman fits me the best.  I no longer have breasts or ovaries or a uterus and I am taking testosterone instead of estrogen.  Then again there are plenty of transmen that have none of these characteristics yet are fully and completely transmen.  

So what am I?  In a very limited sense, I feel like “the other”- outside many of the circles I used to belong.  As far as I can tell, if I self-identify as male, I am no longer qualified to be a subscriber to LC.  And, even though I was “a woman born woman” I’ll no longer be welcome at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (or any other lesbian separatist space for that matter) once my transition physically takes me past some magical point of male-assigned secondary sex characteristics. And no, I don’t want to exert any acquired patriarchal privilege and force my way in.  I don’t want to infect the space with my male energy.  I don’t want to make anyone physically or psychically intimidated by my male appearance.  I just want to express the experience of becoming “the other” from the perspective of one who was previously “not the other”.

Although I do grieve the loss of belonging to a community of strong womyn, I feel healthier than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.  And I’m starting to realize that part of this process has been about letting go of the rejection, hate and fear of “the other” – both in me and around me.  

An entry the May/June issue of LC  promoting their policy of not allowing transgender folks into the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival demonstrated, to me, why now is the time to let go of the hate:

To me, trannies [sic] seem to be completely narcissistic – life revolves around their concerns and their problems, and nothing else matters. I wish I had been born shorter and with a smaller bone structure, but I wasn’t.  Thus I couldn’t ever be a dancer or ballerina.  But there’s not an operation for everything.  It’s the cards you’ve been dealt, and I say God made you the way you are, so live with it.  Most problems have to do with loving oneself and accepting oneself as you are, each a unique person.

LC editors decided to publish this poorly reasoned, hate-filled opinion wrapped in a fake “love yourself as you are” wrapper.  Thank you LC.  I do love myself.  Now more than I ever have.  And I don’t need to donate money to your publication while it continues to spread uniformed hatred for transgendered folks.

It’s too bad.  I thought the cover this month was awesome:

Image

I hope, by the time I turn 86, that we live in a world where T is not an afterthought in the “GLBT” community and we have all left the hate behind.

3 thoughts on “I’m The Other and Leaving the Hate Behind

  1. Oh Tam,

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re having these experiences of rejection in your community. It’s easy for me to get mad and reject women who believe trans issues are the same as merely wanting to be “shorter.”

    Ugh, and “God made you the way you are, so live with it.” just drips with the same distain and disrespect that comes out from the pulpit: how many times have you heard that same argument applied to gay people? “God made you a woman, so love a man! Live with it!” This is one old argument, straight form the bigot handbook. This kind of argument is hateful and ignorant and I am so sorry you had to read it in a journal you had such a long and positive relationship with.

    Sigh.

    So we do the only thing we can, we disconnect from such hate, remove ourselves from those harmful communities, and we remember that not all lesbians think that way, just like not all straights hate gays. We keep on working toward that better day, right? 😉

    -Eli

  2. Yes – working toward that better day requires a fine balance between walking away from the hopeless and educating the uninformed. It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes. If we don’t stand up and speak out against the hate within our own communities it will be used to divide and conquer us all.

  3. I had hoped we were moving away from seperatist communities of the 80’s/90’s. There was a feeling of elation and unity within our repressed minority but it wasn’t real. People then find smaller and smaller sub-groups to repress; particularly the bigotry of classism can be noted. I like doing things with just lesbians some times like doing things with other interest groups such as pet lovers. Maybe because I am older. Changing gender is still rare and exotic so people don’t know how to act. Don’t they say that technology preceeds ethics by at least 10 years?
    Heathfark

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