Found two very supportive letters in the May/June 2015 issue of Lesbian Connection, and I will keep the authors anonymous. Slowly but surely, transwomen who identify as Lesbians are making progress . . .
"My heart was crushed when I read in Lesbian Connection (LC): 'Currently, persons with Y chromosomes and intact male genitals want to attend, and in misogynist, anti-feminist ways they are attacking the (Michigan Womyn's) Festival . . . '
A misogynist is, by definition, 'a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.' How can a TRANSWOMAN, who has spent her life hating her male genitals and saving up money in order to have the surgery to remove them, be described as misogynist? A transwoman must do more than any female-born woman to become the woman she believes herself to be. Her identity is in her brain, not between her legs.
In the process of becoming the woman she so desperately seeks to be, she must face the rejection of friends and family, not to mention the humiliation when she is not allowed to use either washroom. She must go through the challenges of changing her name, and, more often than not, losing her job. In addition to all the emotional and surgical struggles, she must go through painful hair removal, learn to use her voice in a new way - the list goes on.
If you think being Lesbian is difficult, can you imagine, even for a moment, what it is like to be trans? Instead of excluding, may we please learn to be accepting and supportive?"
The second letter . . .
"In the last issue, two writers state: 'Anyone can submit to the medical/pharmaceutical industry, declare himself (sic) a woman, and find acceptance almost everywhere.' They add, 'Trans support people are very clear that trans is a choice of gender, not of sexual preference.' Not at all!
It is by no means a CHOICE TO BE TRANS, and indeed many trans people have struggled for years, even decades, against an inner identity that's at odds with who society tells them they're supposed to be. Transwomen do not choose to be women, any more than cisgender women do. Gender identity always comes from within.
Unfortunately, the patriarchal Judaeo-Christian-Islamic cartel that rules much of the world has brainwashed most people into believing human beings are entities born at a specific time and place and destined to fulfill during a single lifespan whatever was determined for us at birth. Older, less patriarchal forms of spirituality have long understood that each of us embodies various combinations of masculinity, femininity, and everything in between, with the emphasis changing as we undergo rebirth again and again.
Why is there so much attention in the LGBT movement on trans issues now, after so many years of neglect? Because transwomen, especially transwomen of color, are being attacked, assaulted, murdered and driven to suicide on a daily basis. Except for a few celebrities, the majority of transwomen, especially transwomen of color, are stuck in the lowest socioeconomic classes, struggling daily to survive as the women they know they're meant to be.
While transwomen struggle daily to survive, the Religious Right and their Republican friends are determined to destroy them. Realizing they have all but lost the battle against gay liberation, the bigots are now turning their hateful ire against the most powerless sexual minority they can find. And they're beginning to find success this time. Legal protections are being rolled back. And to the chagrin of transpeople and their allies, fighting alongside all those thugs and right-wing religious crazies arrayed against them are some avowed members of the Lesbian Feminist community.
Let's reflect on the founding principles of feminism: the rejection of the belief that biology is destiny; the conviction that womanhood is known from the inside out; the right of every woman to live her own truth; the sisterhood of women of all races, nationalities, classes and cultures, regardless of birth. 'One is not born, but becomes a woman,' said Simone de Beauvoir.
Yet some 'radical feminists' are willing to toss these foundational principles of feminism right out the window. Suddenly biology is destiny, and one should not call herself a woman unless she was pronounced female at birth, regardless of her inner feelings about herself. In the name of sisterhood, women are being set against women, and those that do not meet their criteria are to be excluded.
If you truly want to overcome women's oppression, you will never succeed by joining the oppressors in persecuting a small minority that is even more oppressed. Nor can you overcome patriarchy by walling yourselves off in your own little world, building up the porous gender binary into a wall with worse oppression than you have yourselves.
We need to complete instead the very process that these two women unaccountably deplore: to tear down the walls that divide the various genders until everyone, regardless of who we were told to be from birth, is able to find our own power and fulfill our own potential. Then women and men will at last be truly equal. Isn't that what we've been fighting for?"
To these two courageous Lesbian women, I say, THANK YOU, and I need not say more . . .