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11 March 2012 @ 05:09 am
Something I've Been Waiting to Say to Cathy Brennan  
But I didn't have context enough to shorten the argument, and it felt like inside baseball... but now that she's posting on my blog:

Cathy replying why she doesn't think closeted gayhoods are significant, unless the person in question is cis.

Anyway, moving on, now there's sufficient context from the piece she commented on and her current reply, so I'll say what I've been wanting to say for some time:

Cathy, I'm going to tell you a story, one which you already know the kicker to, but it's of a young lesbian. When she was a kid, she didn't really please her parents, didn't hang out with the other kids very much, because the other kids seemed pretty alien to her. Part of that was her intelligence, she was a pretty smart kid, which made her precocious, something every adult, every popular kid, pretty much hated. They wanted her to sit down and shut up and let them get on with their concerns... suffice it to say she was that girl that everyone hated through most of school, but that was fine by her. She didn't like them either. She stuck to her own interests, tried very much to build a little wall of thought around her life, since that was where she was strongest.

As a result she became pretty good at rationalizing...

It didn't matter that she was bad with her hands, be it woodworking or sewing or cursive script. She was smart and the future was going to open itself to smart people like her... And besides, she could always bury herself in books or video games or golf. She loved golf, very existential, and after all, a body is just a body, right? What matters most is a person and the integrity with which they move through the world, and trying to fit someone else's stereotype about how she should look, trying to be muscular, would've just been giving in to sexist stereotypes. And the crushes she had on strong women, (especially ones in media, since they would never tell anyone, never expose her, and it didn't feel wrong to fantasize about someone who didn't exist) were normal... the constant daydreaming about the bright pagan girl, short with black hair and spectacles, kinda like she wished she could pull off, in her religion class, the desire to be recognized for how she felt, the constant heartache clawing at her chest that she was just beginning to find the words for was normal, in fact, it meant she wasn't even more of a freak, wasn't gay or anything...

After all, boys are supposed to like girls.

And it was much safer for her to be a boy. Nobody would hate her for being a weirdo, and nobody would say she was ugly, in fact, she would be considered somewhat handsome (by everybody but her) and it meant that the cracking of her voice wasn't something to be upset about, and at any rate, she couldn't really think much about her body since that one time some boy groped her breasts in front of like two-hundred people, and instead of rise to her defense, like she'd been taught to do if that had ever happened to anyone else, anyone who bothered to react, even though she told her assaulter to stop while speaking into a live microphone, (she was deejaying the campus 'radio' at the time) just laughed.

Anyway, I won't spoil it for you and go into elaborate detail about the person she tried to bury for years, how it slowly destroyed her ability to function, like some emotional scurvy. I won't bore you with an evocative retelling of how she wept when a woman kissed her for the first time at twenty-six and how remarkable it was for her that she was grateful that nobody ever kissed her and meant it while thinking she was a boy, that the last quarter century of abuse and self-hate was worth the first week of being, and being with, a girlfriend who understood her.

I won't pick up the story with the bad ending it could've had, where that girl decided to run through the pain, to let decades of her life whither, and finally, when the fear of dying still living the lie that they'd been living for decades they found the courage to try to capture a measure of authenticity from a lifetime of fear. I won't because that's not only too painful to think of, but because that story's heroine is much braver than the one in the story I just told you. I'm not going to treat that woman with anything less than the utmost respect and emotional support and understanding. But that's what makes me the kind of lesbian I am, as you say, different, from the kind of lesbian you are.

I understand that while the fiction of a trans man deciding that being male is less othering than being a lesbian exists, it exists mainly for trans women, not men. I understand how gayness is lived even if it goes unspoken, that women are socialized as women, complete with masculocentrism and contempt for the combination of amasculinity and assertiveness, even if they are not explicitly declared to be women.

More importantly, though, I recognize that lesbian sisterhood saves lives.


So what level of understanding and sisterhood will come of this? None, just a cissexist and misogynistic repetition of the applicable Nicene Creed... still, it needed saying:

Gayhoods and girlhoods are significant...

... even the erased ones.

(As always, I do not allow anonymous comments. You'll have to give me a name you use elsewhere on the internets)
Current Mood: determined
bart_calendarbart_calendar on March 11th, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
I don't get why this is so complex for most people. Having a dick does not make you male. Having a dick and liking girls does not make you heterosexual. Yes, most people with dicks are male and most people with dicks who like girls are heterosexual, but some of them are not.
Chiara Castelnuovo-McKenzie: middle aged chiara :opcmcmck on March 11th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
'Bout sums it up for me :o)
Cathy Brennan: pic#116412985Cathy Brennan on March 11th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
Dude - I don't think you should be discriminated against. I don't think ou should be unhappy. I just think you're not a lesbian, because you are not female.
Cathy Brennan: pic#116412985Cathy Brennan on March 11th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Also, being trans critical is only "dyke bashing" in your mind. Your hyperbole says much about you.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 11th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
When you make physically necessary public accommodations, when you make social spaces, when you make avenues of healing, a less-safe place, unavailable for a particularly vulnerable subgroup comprising 4% of lesbians, when you make it more likely that they will not find the words to articulate themselves, the sisterhood to dispel the self-hate that womyn like us learn, and the very breath by which they might speak, and then claim that that is non-discrimination, well, that is quite simply dyke bashing.

Problem is, Cathy, you're not 'critical.' You consistently dodge some very simple questions about the nomenclature you use surrounding trans lesbians, you talk about people who 'chose' to be womyn. You talk about people who 'decided' on lesbianism, 'late in life,' and then, when called on it, repeatedly, your only response is to degender by salutation, instead of offering up a standard which differs substantially from CAFAB.

Which is a shame, because when you referenced the kind of education my favorite Liberal Prime Minister received, I thought there was going to be some precision governing this kind of discussion. Instead it's like trying to play tennis with a handful of mist.

Edited at 2012-03-12 03:31 am (UTC)
Marja Erwinmarjaerwin on March 12th, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
We've all been beaten. That's bashing. We've all faced discrimination and harrassment. I think that policies which criminalize us, as in the proposed Tennessee law, or expose us to violence, are also bashing. But most of this has been mere trashing.
bugbrennan on March 16th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
Dude, can you read? If you are on hormones you got from a doctor, you can access sex-segregated spaces under the definition I support.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 17th, 2012 12:39 am (UTC)
I no more accept the idea that doctors should be the arbiters of legal sex anymore than I accepted that they should be the arbiter of who is and is not allowed to terminate pregnancies, and neither should you.

But we're not talking about the definition of who gets access to sex-segregated spaces, dude, we're talking about your definition of late-transition, and why you use rhetoric that refers to transition as choice but orientation as natural. Once again, you've ignored that.
bugbrennan on March 18th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Dude, I have no idea if you are a late transitioner. I don't know. Follow your bliss.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 18th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
Again with the deflection. I offered my narrative as a starting point. My concern is your refusal to define the term at all. Really, I imagine your definition would cover almost all trans women, especially trans lesbians, for some reason I don't care to speculate on.
bugbrennan on March 16th, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
If you ladies would actually read, you would be so much happier. Instead, you try to coerce people into your bullshit by nonstop rambling. Gah!
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 17th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
It shouldn't be difficult to reiterate definitions. I've done so numerous times, but instead you would rather shift the placement of the net with every stroke.
Cathy Brennan: pic#116412985Cathy Brennan on March 11th, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
Also " I'm not going to treat that woman with anything less than the utmost respect and emotional support and understanding. But that's what makes me the kind of lesbian I am, as you say, different, from the kind of lesbian you are."

Spoken like a true shaming dude. Please keep talking, it's helpful.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 11th, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
By the only legitimate metric for a species with free will, I am. By the only legitimate metric of a Catholic bishop, I am not.

Guess who carries more weight with me, dude.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 11th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Mmmhmm... but we're not arguing the point of discrimination at the moment. This post is about girlhood and gayhood and how they are significant and how it is dangerous to erase them, with your erasure serving as the example.

You have nothing beyond the same old cissexist claptrap that many of us have been hearing for some time, and already answered.
bugbrennan on March 16th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
Dude, stop denying female reality. You want to erase us. We will not let you. Difference exists.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 17th, 2012 12:45 am (UTC)
I'm not denying female reality. But what I am denying is your conflation of CAFAB and female. I know that difference exists, I'm proud of it. When the discussion comes up I'm pretty adamant that I wouldn't want to be cis given the choice. I wouldn't want to take my life for granted, despite the pain that came with refuting the cissexual construction that people, including people like you, have tried to force on me.

You either think recognition is a zero-sum game, that understanding that trans lesbians had gayhoods and girlhoods remarkably similar to cis lesbian gayhoods and girlhoods somehow makes you less different. It doesn't. It just ceases to act as your figleaf of disqualification.
bugbrennan on March 18th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
There is no such thing as a "trans lesbian." You go be whatever you are.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 18th, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
This really does strike me as sticking one's fingers in one's ears and repeating cissexist catechisms in willful ignorance of millennia of growing evidence.

Trans women are women. Trans women, by dint of sexually dimorphic neurobiology, are female by the only legitimate metric for a sapient species. The definition you offered for lesbian, one I whole-heartedly endorse, is female homosexual (i.e. a female who is attracted solely or overwhelmingly to other females).

Trans women are not, typically, mullerian. This is where you get confused. The only reason that coercive birth assignment manages to function at all is twofold: 1. While our society still assigns and coerces, the range of presentation and lifestyles (and no, I'm not referring to orientation) available based on one's CASAB is still considerably broad, hence the troll calls by folks like androdyke to 'just be a femmey boy who takes estrogen'. 2. By pushing those with mild discomfort to identify as their assigned gender, CASAB reduces the visible scope of the difficulties with coercively assigned sex. Just as heteronormativity, strongly enforced, made it look as though there were fewer gay and lesbian people, cisnormativity does exactly the same thing, suppressing numbers.
Rose VerbenaRose Verbena on March 26th, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
"only legitimate metric for a sapient species"

I think you meant: the only metric that will allow me to proceed with my performance of "woman" with a scintilla of pseudo-scientific underpinning.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 26th, 2012 12:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, pants, no makeup, sneakers, I'm performing the hell out of this role...

If I wanted to make appeals to other frames of biology, that'd work for me too, but maybe not for my sisters. I grew breasts at 13 and someone publicly groped them at 15... one of those biological facts that those who would cissexually construct me fail to notice.

Ultimately you're not talking about what is and isn't natural, you're arguing that a doctor's word should be destiny in most cases of cross-development that aren't genitally ambiguous.
Cyndi BussellCyndi Bussell on March 11th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
Cathy Brennan has no right to determine if a Male to Female is a lesbian anymore than I do to determine that Cathy is not a lesbian.

People have the right of self determination and Cathy is trying to set herself up as the arbiter of all things lesbian.

Cathy should stick to fighting for women, not fighting against trans women.
Trans women are women Cathy and no amount of you railing against that fact will change things. The yunger generations are being won over to the cause of inclusivity and unity.

Personaly I am starting to wonder what bone Cathy has against a class of women that are lower on the totem pole than her. It is like maybe she is trying to employ the age old tactic of bashing those lower than themselves to maintain a supierior position.

Shakey ground to stand on...
Marja Erwinmarjaerwin on March 11th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
Now we have good reasons to value sex-identification. If we respect people's identified sex, we can avoid a lot of gender-policing, gender essentialism, gender enforcement, and looksism. All those things are screwed up, and internalizing any of those things can screw us up. But I don't think we can generalize from this to every other kind of identification.

If someone identifies as a man, and identifies as a lesbian, they should probably think over which is more important to them. Is one of these something they feel they have to be but don't feel they should be? Is one of these something they don't feel they are, but they just feel closer to?

If someone identifies as an ally to lesbian, gay, bi and/or trans people, and supports ex-gay and ex-trans 'therapy,' then they are not an ally.
bugbrennan on March 16th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
I don't give a shit if you think you are a lesbian, or if you think I am. Lesbian is female homosexual. You either are or you're not.

I fight for women because trans women keep acting like men. Stop doing that.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 17th, 2012 12:36 am (UTC)
Indeed and trans lesbians are. These trans women acting like men you speak of, are representatives of one of the oldest double-blinds in existence.

If a woman stands up for herself she's frequently degendered by misogynists, like yourself and like Rush the Entertainer, whether the woman being degendered be cis or trans.
bugbrennan on March 18th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
There is no such thing as a trans lesbian.

You use nasty language, I use it back. If you don't like that, stop being a prick.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 18th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
Again with the repetition of tautology. Cite your sources.
Rose VerbenaRose Verbena on March 26th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
How do you explain the reality of biological sex to someone who is willfully ignorant?

The word LESBIAN is reserved in the English language for natural-born, biological female human beings who are sexually and emotionally attracted to having sexual and emotional relationships with other natural-born, biological human females. That's what the word means.

Pretending that a natural born, heterosexual, XY male can just DECIDE one day that he's "really" a lesbian is utterly irrational.

It would be equally irrational if I -- a natural-born, biological female -- announced to gay men that I'm "really" a gay man. One cannot just wish away biological reality and re-define a 2,600-year-old word on a selfish, narcissistic whim. What arrogance!
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on March 26th, 2012 12:55 pm (UTC)
I didn't decide. I spent years repressing who I was, maintaining a daily battle with the tympani drumbeat of who I actually was with who I might get my ass kicked a little less for being.

And again, this appeal to nature fallacy wears thin when the entire human species is itself an affront to nature. Rarely do we allow things that we experience to happen as they would without the hand of civilization touching.

But at any rate, as I've said, the brain is pretty goddessdamn biological, and given that the section that governs gender is right next to the section that governs sexual orientation, both non-neuroplastic portions of the midbrain, the truth is rather evident:

You can no more theorise away the transsexuality than you can pray away the gay.

I AM female. I AM a womon. I don't have Mullerian bits, but neither do plenty of cis womyn have the complete set so I'm in good company. I'm attracted to womyn, again, usually by the same metric, though sometimes presentation helps. That you are insecure about your sexuality to the point that you need to police mine, that you need to define me and some of the womyn I've loved out of existence so that you can feel slightly more comfortable is, well... pathetic. It's how I'd expect a little boy to behave, hitting the other kids and then relying on the fact that his mom runs the daycare.

Edited at 2012-03-26 01:03 pm (UTC)
Cathy BrennanCathy Brennan on May 15th, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
Val, you are male. It's ok.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 15th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
My evidence vs. your unsupported thesis... I think I'll take evidence. But it was nice of you to make a cute little attempt at spoiling my day.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 16th, 2012 08:18 am (UTC)
Also, I really don't have much time for the self-appointed harem guards.
badocelot.com on May 25th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
"One cannot just wish away biological reality and re-define a 2,600-year-old word on a selfish, narcissistic whim."

Isn't that more-or-less the logic of denying same-sex couples marriage rights?
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 27th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
Pretty much.
(Screened comment)
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 19th, 2012 01:34 pm (UTC)
I do not allow anonymous comments, as the above post has made clear.
Kitty BarberKitty Barber on May 19th, 2012 10:49 am (UTC)
Harem guards? You mean eunuchs?
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 19th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
As to the harem guards question, Janice Raymond et al save special ire for trans lesbian feminists, accusing us of acting as ‘harem guards’ and setting the conditions for access to, not just CAFAB bodies, but the right of CAMAB womyn to live as womyn, whether trying to ensure that we are cast to the wolves when it comes to marginalization and rape or trying to deny us the right to do with our own bodies as we would. It's a telling legacy of misogynists masquerading as feminists that in the Western World (please don't be disingenuous and cherry pick, the whole Western World) it's harder for a trans woman to procure estrogen than it is for a cis woman to procure an abortion. I would submit that if anyone fills that role, one of policing and both restricting and granting access to CAFAB bodies, between policing whether silicone penis or flesh penis may appear in women’s spaces, dictating what sort of presentation is feminist, or the implication that relationships with trans women disqualify one as a lesbian, the pattern is clear: cissexist-misogynistic radfems claim ownership not over their own bodies but over the bodies of all CAFAB folk, regardless of sex. They project when they accuse trans women of filling a role that they themselves have appropriated, to the point that they accuse trans women of rape for pointing out the policing of sexual access of CAMAB women in queer spaces.

Your misogyny is showing, Kitty.
Kitty BarberKitty Barber on May 19th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
Whatever, Valerie, Sean, whoever you are

You will never, never understand. But I've given up expecting you to. Your maleness is showing.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 19th, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
As I said to Cathy, you refuse to understand, you refuse to even present evidence.

All you have now that every lazy misogynistic privilege-laden argument is gone is to try to trigger trans womyn by acting as yet another agent of the cisheteropatriarchy, you try to repeat the allegation of every abuser, every petty despot and gatekeeper, you try to degender us because you know we've been abused in that way before.

It's the lowest action, you know, to try to injure people at the wounded places, to use the names that men assigned us as though they were ever anything but a fiction. But you've lost your grip on me, and you're losing your grip on my sisters, because sisterhood is powerful, and we're not letting you batter us anymore Kitty. You and the rest of the people who think that womonhood is a zero-sum game.

You think that, and you think you can hurt me, because you don't really know what it's like to be a womon. You know what it's like to have been fed a myth that may or may not be true, and to life your life never questioning the rote assumptions you grew with. And then you found people who spoke to your prejudices, because they had the same ones.

And now, now that womyn are here, are proud, that in two generations two orders of magnitude more are not letting themselves be shamed, to be told who to love or how to love or whether their love or their life is valid, because they have lived the lie and discarded it along with yours and so many others, you're enraged.

Because on some level you know, womyn who have had to assert themselves, reclaim their lives, are certain they're womyn... they have that strength, that confidence, the joy that freedom of this sort brings. And odds are that by the time I'm old and grey, about a third of the lesbian community's going to consist of discovered womyn, many of whom I've helped to discover themselves. I have sisters, and all you have is rage.

Your reliance on men is palpable.

Edited at 2012-05-19 06:14 pm (UTC)
Kitty BarberKitty Barber on May 19th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear. Where do I begin? I won't. I'll just say that if Janice Raymond's logic can't convince you, nothing will; you don't WANT to get it. Understanding would mean that you would see that everything you are is a fraud, a lie, a con. (It is.)

It's you who's lost his grip--on reality.

You know nothing about being a woman, because you CAN'T. Stop trying. Pouring word upon word upon word isn't going to make it any better. And some things that aren't words at all. Please--"cisheteropatriarchy?" That's a new record.

Now that womyn are here--HAhahahahahahah!!!!
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 19th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
"Now that womyn are here"

Yes, these womyn to whom I refer. The womyn you're trying to mandate out of existence. The womyn you're trying to shame and trigger and kick in the ribs. The womyn you wish didn't exist. I know that doesn't make it clear. I wish you could understand, but you never will. You will never truly understand womonhood because you haven't had to fight for it. I wish you would try, but you won't. There's no empathy there, your time among the harem guards has drained it all from you, and now, like the servant of men you are, all you ache to do is control womyn.

Frankly, it's embarassing, but if it makes you feel better to say mean things to me and my sisters, go ahead. It's not like that's something that countless men haven't done before, K.B.
Marja Erwinmarjaerwin on May 19th, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
I know Janice Raymond is capable of logic. I think there's something to her discussion of the way gatekeepers, by limiting access to hormones, can get many trans folks to conform to the expected roles, conform to the official narrative, to say certain things, to not ask certain questions, and to focus on the idea that the right medicine or the right surgery will cure any body-image issues but nothing else can do anything about those issues. But I don't see that logic in her comments about harem guards and 'appropriating the female form.' And there's more than a little victim-blaming as she tries to turn critiques of the medical establishment into condemnations of trans folks.
badocelot.com on May 25th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
It strikes me that if you insist on linking "female" with XX chromosomes and vaginas either (a) you have to make the case that the latter are somehow important to the wider experience of being a female or (b) you have admit that being a female has no real significance beyond simply having the requisite chromosomes and genitalia, and the whole debate is merely semantic.

You can't have it both ways. Option (b) makes "being female" no more significant than "being blonde" while option (a) asserts that there is something to being female that requires XX chromosomes and a vagina — but never bothers to explain why.
valeriekeefevaleriekeefe on May 27th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
This is why I point to neurology. We're to complex and intelligent a species to be defined by the shape of an ounce-and-a-half-at-most of flesh.

Also because I'm not going to let anybody degender the awesome Julia Child.