The action has been hot & heavy lately between well-meaning but sometimes misguided trans ‘activists’ and ardently feminist (mostly) lesbians known dis-affectionately as TERFs; which means something to the effect of Terribly Exuberant (but) Rotten Females. Or whatever. But the point is that both sides need a serious talking to because this whole situation is far beyond ridiculous; it is inconceivable! (A little Princess Bride humor)
Now……I want to say right off that, in my opinion, trans people with less than 5 years of transition under their belts should not be engaging in any trans advocacy, let alone trans activism. Transition is hard enough, and we go thru so many emotional and physical evolutionary steps that adding trying to explain oneself in a coherent manner is often like trying for conquer Kilimanjaro with a toothpick, dental floss, and a cardigan. The ‘splainer is ill-equipped on every level to do so. And the perfect example is transitioners who are well beyond the self-discovery phase who look back and wonder: what was I thinking? But that’s not even the worst of it, mostly because of the why involved. This isn’t about coming out to your family, friends, or pet turtle; this is about trying to explain to the general public what it even means to be trans. And right here, I want to make the huge distinction that I am talking about transsexuals, not transgender people. And for those who orbit the planet, live in a vacuum or a pineapple under the sea (look it up and sing it a few times; you’ll get it), this is what it’s about:
This is like the old biology lesson about genus’ and species’; all gender variants of any kind, including casual weekend cross-dressers, fetishists, drag queens, and transsexuals are all transgender. But……..not all transgenders are so deeply and emotionally invested that they are driven to change gender physically to match their emotional and intellectual composition. And to complicate it further (like it needs that!) is that the social notion of womanhood is so complex that a lot of trans people (in general) generate some kind of stereotypical (and farcical) caricature and try to live inside of that shell. Tres difficile, n’est-ce pas? (French for ‘pain in the ass, ain’t it?)
Added to that is those overly enthusiastic and born women with reproductive systems and vaginas “as factory installed equipment” who are (highly) offended all of by this. Sometimes to the point of advocating violence. But this is all part of a much larger picture and that could take days to paint; which would be fine with my sense of wordiness but would bore you all to tears. So let’s focus in on the single event that brings all of these conflicting emotions and people together.
The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival brings together women from (I’m guessing) all over North America, to celebrate their uniqueness as women (no dispute there). These folks don’t all like to be called women because some are mightily pissed at the patriarchy and the historical predation of womyn. So Michigan becomes a very safe place where your biological identity is honored, on the honor system, and it is expected that no cross-dressing, predatory, salivating, salacious, lascivious men will go in pretending to be womyn so that they can, well…….that’s the crux of this.
At the very same time…………some trans women; many just barely coming to their own self-determination; and facing the significant task of unlearning all of the socialized conduct, habits and mannerisms that they were entitled to exhibit as men now refute those very traits as personally poisonous. And they see admission to Michigan as the ultimate validation of their womanhood because let’s face it; if you can get into Michigan, then you must be a female. Say whaaaaaaaat? So here’s where everything comes full circle and I hand up some (as usual unsolicited) advice:
Trans women…….get over yourselves. You don’t need Michigan; you need introspection, an intimate sense of self, as well as a clear vision of who you are as a human being as opposed to trying to emulate Betty Boop or Veronica Lane. Ask yourselves this: what do you think you are going to find in Michigan if you haven’t even found yourself yet? I’m suspecting that participation at Michigan is not like getting your fortune from the machine at the Boardwalk (or your fortune cookie?). The answers to who you are aren’t there. Michigan is a safe space for people (aka women/womyn) who have suffered a lifetime of sexism, chauvinism, discrimination, and a bunch of other socially reprehensible isms. Arrogantly demanding your way in there smacks of not even considering the very privilege that (even nominally) gave us protection and opened doors, however barely, that were not available to female born carbon based life forms. There is absolutely no justification for lack of respect; especially for the people you most seek to identify with. And stop with the name calling already! Do you really think that coming up with inflammatory names will (again!) endear you to the very people with whom you seek to identify? Smarten up and shut up for a while. Learn something and stop trying to explain everything. If you knew everything you’d be in charge of this (polluted, corrupt, dysfunctional) planet. Besides…….I already know everything so save yourselves the trouble and just ask me.
And then, there are the highly irate original possessors of vaginas…………I have some advice for you as well: take the cabers out of your asses and accept that this is a complicated social construct and it isn’t going to get any better any time soon. But more simply than that, if you want to be isolationists on the order of the Ellen Jamesians (a la The World According to Garp (R.I.P. Robin Williams)) then there are some new rules and by-laws that you should adopt:
1 – You should never again use any word with “Man” anywhere in it! I don’t know how you are going to MANeuver around the English language, but you’ll have to MANage! You may end up MANgling the language a bit but don’t be developing any MANuscripts about it. And if you are in business, you’ll have to give up MANufacturing or using MANuals to help figure things out. On the other hand, be as rude as you like because it will be very bad form to your friends to exhibit MANners. And of course, if you’re butch in any way, skip right over the masculine MANnerisms. And don’t worry about MANkind, we won’t be MANipulating events to forestall anything. And you femmes………no MANicures for you!! There is no MANifest destiny.
2 – I think that you really should isolate yourselves so that the mere image of a male human being will never cross your line of sight again. Don’t even bother trying to come to terms with some of the horrific traumas you have faces in your own lives; instead, blame others, stay angry, forget about any enjoyment in life because fueling those emotional fires alone is a full time job. And of course…….no one has suffered or will ever suffer as much as you have. Speaking only for myself………..I am really tired of being beaten over the head with the club of guilt for being born as I was and having to take responsibility for the crimes against every woman in history. I didn’t fucking do it; my friend Daria didn’t do it either. And the whole “my pain is greater than your pain” thing; you are a pain! You don’t want to hang out with me, an otherwise fairly swell human being? Then don’t! I don’t like zealots anyway so the feeling is more than mutual! But I, and my kind, are neither responsible for every crime ever committed against women nor are we responsible for Cancer, Decline of Western Civilization as we know it, or the Euro. Well, maybe the Euro but it wasn’t me.
But back to reality; at least for a minute……….the other side of this whole thing is that I know why most of you go to Michigan. I know that it was created as a safe space and it should absolutely remain that way. No one should be allowed to force their way into a safe space, and boundaries are really one of the only things we have when everything else is taken out of the equation. Trans women….some of you really need to stop trying to force your way into places you are not wanted just because you feel that you are entitled to be there. If you were, you would be there. And again…….when you do get in there, legitimately or otherwise, are you going to “get it” or will the lessons go over your head like an average sixth grader trying to master the concept of infinity?
We all need to step back, take a deep breath, go to neutral corners, and re-assess what our primal motivations are for almost all of our actions towards and against each other. This will never be a better world as long as we actively seek out differences to keep ourselves apart. There will always be extremists, sadly. Have a nice day; I don’t need your rhetoric or nuclear acrimony and toxicity; any of you. But all you (neo-) moderates out there……..I look forward to someday having a meeting of the minds with some of you (I almost said MANy but didn’t want to be offensive at the last minute).
I have friends who are fairly ardent feminists; they aren’t all willing to repudiate people like me who are not just like them but have enough other socially redeeming qualities to at least look into associating with. That can’t be such a bad thing, can it?
Maybe one day people like me will be asked into places like Michigan. I am neither holding my breath nor anticipating imminent inclusion. And as sure as I am of who I am, my own journey continues and when the time is right, I will be where I am supposed to be. Until then……..I’m okay where I am. I wish everyone else could just chill and be that as well.