just a tweak

I’m trying to be less naive. Naivete is expensive.

I tend to believe what people tell me, and people are often full of shit. They don’t mean to be. They don’t want to be. And yet. When I think of the time I’ve wasted believing and acting on other people’s made-up stories, I feel sick.

Here’s a story I believed, because I loved the person who told it:

I’m a woman inside;  I always have been. When I was a kid, I loved pink and baking cupcakes. Trans women are actually more female than non-trans women, because we’ve gone through so much in order to be called women. We’ve examined femininity in ways that non-trans women never do. Transwomen are women. Transwomen are women. Transwomen are women. I’m not like other transwomen, though — those crazy high heels! Those squeaky voices! I compete in a women’s boxing league and do my own drywall, so you can tell I’m secure in my womanhood. I’m the most successful transwoman you’ll ever meet; I work in a male-dominated field for a shit ton of money and no one knows I’m trans unless I tell them. Hey, how come you don’t know how to fix the broken showerhead? Why do you leave those kinds of things to me?  I’m experiencing you as really heteronormative, and that makes me uncomfortable. You’re kind of needy, too. Why do you always want to spend time with my friends instead of making your own? I live my life at a Very. Fast. Pace. Why do you always want to talk about everything? It’s exhausting. And it’s weird how you’re more of a second waver at your age; most of those women are old and kind of racist. They’re the only ones who still call themselves “lesbians.” I prefer the word ‘queer,’ because it allows for the fact that some women have penises and some men have vaginas. I don’t need $20,000 sex-reassignment surgery to be a woman; I can totally be a woman with a penis! I’m a woman already! But I’m going to have the surgery so I can feel comfortable in the women’s locker room. It’s basically cosmetic surgery. Just a tweak. It won’t affect anything but my choice of bathing suit. Why are you crying?

47 thoughts on “just a tweak

  1. Was it the white male elite who gave us the pomo garbage, and its insistence on sex role play, trying out ‘new identities’? As if oppression is merely an easily escapable ‘identity’! Anyway, I’ve found a huge amount of self-absorbtion and individualistic competitiveness among males not fully enamored of the masculine role, and ready to stake a claim to their prowess at the feminine one. This brutal, linear mindset is wholly masculine — and even more privileged; it’s also along the lines of what Janice Raymond wrote about in _The Transsexual Empire_. Decades ago.

    And yet this acceptance of ‘transpeople’ as a legitimately oppressed minority group has been picked up by most of feminism, most of the left, and is not open to comment or question! Thank you for questioning, challenging, and opening the dialog for us, here.

  2. Thanks for saying this.

    I’ve been at a stage where I can’t get over how angry other women who entertain trans shit make me because I’m still riding out so much self-beratement due to my own naivete.

    I need to make peace with it. I need to understand in a robust way that so many of us would rather be “nice” than act in our own interests. Hearing your story helps because if someone I admire was naive about it too I certainly can’t hold myself and all other women to some standard of feminist-consciousness perfection.

  3. Gah. I am astounded by the things he said. Not surprised, mind you, but astounded because of the disrespect for womanhood. The simple fact of being a woman is having a female body from birth. That is it. Gender, femininity, and penises have naught to do with it.

    I understand being naive and I understand believing things because you love somebody. It takes time to get your head sorted out after the lies or betrayal comes into focus. I understand that people don’t generally go around wanting to spew bullshit; they do really, earnestly believe what they say. But that makes it toxic, because we can be goaded into not standing up for what we need and want out of niceness. We can’t afford to be nice; we have to be realistic.

  4. Thank you, radfemcrafts.

    It’s true — so many of us would rather be nice. We’re socialized, after all, to do just that: to get along; to tout “inclusiveness” even when it robs us of women-only spaces and de-values our identities. We know that something is very wrong, but we get manipulated into pretending it isn’t.

    I have to remind myself, often, that calling bullshit and saying “no” isn’t being mean.

  5. It’s taken years to get my head sorted out after that abomination. It was like a genderf*cked version of “1984”: War is Peace! Ignorance is Slavery! Men are Women! Penises can be Vaginas!

  6. Oh my. Him calling you heteronormative? Pot meet kettle!

    I wish that hadn’t happened to you.

    About 724 years ago my buddy/boyfriend guy said to me, *I love women so much that I’m sure a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.*
    To which I replied something along the lines of, *Oh shut up you dick!* Much laughter ensued because it was a joke.

    So imagine my surprise all these years later to hear men saying the exact same thing and mean it. It’s pathological narcissism.

    And well said, RR. No, we can not afford to be nice and “No” is the most powerful word a woman has.

  7. These little bedwetters are sucking the lifeblood out of what is remaining of real fab and real fab’s issues.

    What to do….what to do.

    Hey FAB AB, did you punch him in the nose after that little snarky self diatribe?

    I. Am. Serious. The ONLY thing men understand is violence. Doesn’t matter if he is a feminine dude, macho dude, ugly and hairy wearing a dress dude, Professor Peabody dude.

    Wish mother earth would spin a little faster and kick those fucking men off!

  8. Thank you, Diana. I really wanted to have a place (albeit online) where women could talk and question the trans party line without being called phobic.

    Never read Janice Raymond because I could never find the book! Very frustrating.

  9. Thank you, radfemcrafts and phonaesthetica! This is something I’d love to delve into, this ‘nice’ and ‘inclusiveness’ thing. It’s all over the progressive left, and YES, its greatest takeover of leftist minds is in the trans zone. It’s also, though, what got us a ‘colorblind’ culture wherein ‘reverse racism’ and the corollary ‘reverse sexism’ gained footholds. Which is why I use ‘white supremacy’ and ‘misogyny’ instead of the privilege-washed terms; see Michelle Alexander’s _The New Jim Crow_ for awesome insight into the ‘colorblind’ crap. And it’s part of why we cannot, intelligently, discuss class.

    We are NOT being mean by excluding those who don’t deserve our loyalty, those who willfully wield privilege against us. We are coerced into taking care of others’ demands above our own: the lesbians working for gay brothers with AIDS, the buy-in to gay male porn and S&M that began in the lesbian community (at least in Seattle, but I suspect elsewhere, too), the buy-in of “trans rights” that so divides Michfest and which dominates feminist ideology in colleges in the US, even the change from Women’s Studies to Gender and women’s studies.

    The issue is inclusiveness down the hierarchy, not up it. I know the privilege-washed framing is one of ‘cis’ gender being further oppressed, but that’s as logical as calling myself a Black woman trapped in a white body (and claiming to be a Black Panther, in the media). When the local soup kitchen refused to name those facing food scarcity as its primary constituency, “everyone’s invited!” replaced *community involvement, care, and meeting real need* with inclusiveness. Can’t let those who are up the hierarchy feel slighted, ever ….

  10. Well, this story was just so powerful, because it is a perfect example of how we all get sucked into these “stories” that do not promote the cause of women.

    But, I believe the tide is turning, this internet dialogue is alerting us all to new dangers. And it is giving women power– to talk about what we need to talk about without being co-opted by “male noise” or the trans noise. It is the recreation of women only space, and see how powerful it is.

    Thank you for your honesty! I love your writing, and I must admit, your great grammar, spelling and punctuation are a joy to read. I know I’m being elitist here, but I do so love a good story well told with a salient political point!

  11. While I have not experienced the exact same thing, I have experienced similar manipulation and I know how much it messes us up. I’m glad that you are able to express your thoughts about what happened. It is powerful for all of us to be able to speak what would be unspeakable in non-FAB space.

  12. Thanks, Sargasso Sea. “Pot meet kettle.” YES.

    Re: “lesbian trapped in a man’s body.” My partner (who is male) recently told me that he doesn’t feel male, but that he doesn’t want to imitate females either. He says that he respects lesbians and wishes he could be a bio female (and a lesbian) but that he would never insult women and lesbians by taking hormones or having SRS. He said that he just wants to be himself, without gender roles. I’m not sure if this falls into the category of “man who thinks he is a lesbian” or not. I’m hoping it isn’t, and that he earnestly wants to be a human being instead of a certain gender/sex combination.

  13. Pingback: Slutwalkgate 2011, etc.: This week’s Radfem Round-up! « No Excuses/No Mercy

  14. Thank you for this posting, phonaesthetica. My mother has always been way too naive. She has gotten ripped off by tradesmen, and she has little money. But she lives in a different world that I do and certainly than younger generations do. This involves being ripped off in some much worse and very damaging ways.

    I can understand this as an individual phenomenon. It’s about a woman (in this case, you) getting ripped off in a very damaging way. That’s not new, women have often been naive and have been very damaged emotionally by men. What I’m still trying to get my head around is understanding the trans trend as a cultural phenomenon. What is driving all this? It is mind-boggling in some way I cannot comprehend. Where did it come from. It’s nothing my mother’s generation ever knew, from what I can tell.

  15. Thanks. KatieS.

    What is driving all this? Whatever it is, it’s something complex that I haven’t gotten my mind around yet. Boggling is right. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore it all in the few radfem spaces women have left (mostly online). I want the ripoff to stop.

  16. One of the roughest things about trans culture is the unspoken (hell, sometimes very explicitly spoken) prohibition against questioning the party line. See something problematic or hurtful therein? Transphobe!

  17. Thanks, SheilaG! And yes, I’m so thankful for Internet dialogue. Without it, we’d really be hurting for female-only space. We’d be feeling much lonelier and alienated from mainstream culture than we already are (not that alienation from mainstream culture is a bad thing). I love the quiet that ensues when male/trans noise is turned off, and women begin to speak.

  18. Turning off male and trans noise is essential to feminist sanity Phoneaesthica! And many years ago, I wondered what had happened to our powerful radical feminist discourse. I was horrified at the trans invasion of lesbian spaces, and the trans take-over of women’s studies programs in California. And gallusMag documents just how bad it’s gotten over even the past 10 years. Just look at Michigan or ANY place where women want women only space… the ultimate threat to patriarchy, otherwise why all the trans invaders?

    Was it just me? Then, I discovered all this commentary on the Internet, and the fog was lifted.
    I believe this is a rebuilding stage for radfems worldwide, and also a welcoming of new generations to the women’s liberation/lesbian liberation vision.

    It still shocks me how hard it is for women to focus 100% on our own liberation without being sidetracked by trans, by everyone but US. And women are so easily co-opted, used, and ripped off that we have to be united in our awareness of how this is always an issue.

    Anyway, thanks for writing so well, and for your compelling personal stories.

  19. P.S. If they were born men, I just don’t want to have to listen to their stories anymore. I’m so sick of the male minds pretending to be women. And I’m so sick of them taking over women’s studies departments, and having other women letting the men walk right into our spaces!

  20. Oh, my dear. typical abusive man, this guy. tragic. What happened that he became so twisted up? You may never know, and you sure don’t have to tell me. I knew someone like him. Asked me “why is it that lesbians don’t like transwomen?” Then kept talking so I couldn’t get a word in edgewise to answer. Said the same stuff, “why would I come out at work? If they knew I was a woman, there would be no end of problems, I’d lose my job!”

    well, buddy, then you don’t, in fact, know what it means to be a woman. Or how it feels.

    good lord. Congratulations for getting out of that, Phonaesthetica. whew.

  21. oh, and Rainbow Riot, I know a couple of men who might be like your partner–they reject masculinity, are pro-feminist, make all kinds of stupid misogynist mistakes, but they still keep trying, and keep facing their own sexism and that of other men and they don’t wish they were women either. They wish they were human.

    It is good to know they are there.

    But it is the women, especially radical feminist women, who give me hope. Yep. thanks for making your blog women-only space, too, Phonaesthetica. like a hot shower after a bone-crushing workout, this.

  22. It took a couple of years before I felt lucky…now I thank God every day that I got out of it. How he got that way? No idea, and glad I don’t have to live with the results.

  23. Thanks, SheilaG…and yes, thanks be to the Internet for giving us another way to have some space. It’s not a lot to ask, is it? And yet so hard to find and maintain.

  24. It fascinates me that the simple desire for born womyn only space is seen as radical at all.
    Or the fact that anyone who was once born a man should have anything to do with born wommin who have a life of our own, a desire of our own. But then, what born wommin want is irrelevant to all men.

    I think we are reaching critical mass on the Internet with wommin only space. I’ve noticed a few lesbian events that are actually… I think… almost all lesbian with no men or trans in sight.
    Something is changing a little bit out there, and maybe the blogs are causing IRL change as well. Hope springs eternal 🙂

  25. Quite true that fab only space is dwindling.

    I was wanting to stay at the Rainbow House in Key West while visiting an old pal in Dec. only to be informed that it is now called Pearl’s and allows basically just about anything to stay there (inc. het couples). The Rainbow House back in the day was known for consistent catering to fab only accomodations. Lots and lots of good ‘ol dykes ventured forth year after year to relax, lazy around the pool KNOWING there were only real live ladies there. Even any work being performed was done by real lady contractors!

    This one big happy human family is bull. and. shit.

    There is only one fab only accomodations in the U.S. now. Word of mouth I suppose is the only way to find anything promising. Goddess only knows one would get sued if they advertised “women only”.

    For frustrating reading, look at some of the comments for Pearl’s via fabs like me who had stayed there on numerous occasions.

    It just makes me puke.

    ps. there are still 4 or 5 men only spaces in Key West. More power to ’em, I just want my space back!

  26. I yearn for the resurgence of consciousness-raising groups. Whatever happened to those? Women used to meet in private homes, no men, and talk about their lives. I’m sorry I missed that era. These days, someone would probably always call for “inclusivity” on the grounds that patriarchy hurts men too. Sigh.

  27. Jesus! When I hear about how patriarchy hurts men? one more mother-fucking time, I just want to kick something.

    Do I have anger issues? yes, pretty much at the inequality of how fabs are treated on this planet. If you are not angry, you are living your life with your head in the sand.

    On a side note, rad-fems also have the most fierce sense of humor. 😉

  28. I have wanted to host a consciousness-raising group for a long time. I missed that era by a long shot.”Inclusivity” be damned. I have found that women-only space is extremely soul-healing. The ONLY place I have been able to find it is a women’s trauma survivors’ therapy group I attend. The only reason it is FAB only is because we have all been abused by MABs. I just wish that it was okay to have FAB space without any other reason behind it. 😦

  29. We have a network of lesbians creating bed and breakfast places in their homes for a minimal cost. Quite a southern california network. So it’s off the grid, but born wommin only.
    As for consciousness raising groups… get a group of women friends and start one in your home or apartment. Do a bit of research about their original structure… the most powerful thing is to bring up a topic, and give each woman all the time she needs to speak without interruption. Most women have never had a chance to speak this way safely EVER.

    And it is about the sisterhood of equals… not therapism, that I believe really ruined radical feminism. Mary Daly called it therapism, and Janice Raymond had excellent critiques of therapism as well.

    So go out and begin anew the lost are of consciousness raising! Everything has a precurser that is often forgotten completely in the mists of time… and when it comes to women’s liberation, you can bet the erasure channel is turned to mach 5!

  30. Good morning! I am so impressed with BC; thanks for asking 🙂 No cigarettes for over 2 weeks now (no coffee, either). I’ve had the chance to learn all about the effects of nicotine and caffeine withdrawal — not fun, but necessary. I told her that I want to take care of her when she’s old, but in a “let me get you another plate from the cruise ship’s midnight buffet” sort of way, rather than “let me adjust your oxygen tube.”

  31. “Most women have never had a chance to speak this way safely EVER.”

    You’re right…how powerful to finally be able to do so for the first time.

    I can think of at least 10 women who’d be into a CR group, if we could all get our schedules lined up on a Saturday…

  32. Hopefully the two of you can take care of one another on that all dyke, all the time cruise ship.;)

    Very good news about the smoking, so-called experts say THAT is one of the worst addictions to overcome.

    Offer a ^ five to BC for a job so far so good!

  33. Oh Miss Fab Abs,

    Happy World Teacher’s Day!

    Pity in this country it will be celebrated with increased classroom size, salary decreases and key personnel layoffs as well as instrumental programs on the chopping block such as band (pun intentional).

    Meant for this comment to be uplifting, but alas, it morphed into a doggy downer.

    Go get ’em today Fab Ab!

  34. Thanks for this post. I’m glad more FABs are talking about this issue and questioning the trans party line, but I wish there were more of us. And I’m so sorry you had to go though this.

  35. I am interning at a sexual abuse and trauma healing center, and I co-facilitate a sexual trauma survivors group, and there is a man who calls himself a woman in our group.

    We NEVER have male/female mixed groups, huge no no.. But we do allow trans women.

    There was one girl in our group yesterday who has just recently been raped, and her trigger is men. Literally, she can’t even go to the store and is avoiding all men. She is so vulnerable right now.. I noticed she didn’t open up at all or start sharing until this trans woman left.

    God I am so torn about how to address this to my supervisor because they were just talking about how we “accept” anyone who says they are a woman.

  36. I think that is the reason I like blogging so much. I have a group of women I basically bare my soul to. It has proven itself a powerful catharsis, would love to form a women’s group in my city.

  37. You might talk to the woman in question and see if she’ll open up to you about how she feels re: the group demographic. The group is intended to be healing for her; it would be a shame if the opposite is happening for any reason.

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