Thursday, August 25, 2011

A rambling rant (that started out as a thank-you) on biphobia and transphobia.

I am thankful for the BECAUSE community, thankful that conference was there when I was 20 years old and just coming out as bi. I was a new queer kid, I was privileged and sheltered and I sometimes think that if I hadn't come out as bi and attended that conference, I too would be one of those who all too often forget the T in LGBT, or try to dismiss it.

Because of the awesome bisexual folks of varied gender history and identity who organized and attended the conference, it never occurred to me that trans folk wouldn't be a part of my queer community. It never occurred to me that they were less than. It never occurred to me that they weren't part of my queer feminist community. It also never occurred to me that someone would stop being bisexual or queer just because of their current partner's gender. At BECAUSE, we were all there because our sexuality (and sometimes our gender too) didn't fit into an either/or – we were all both/and. I met genderqueer kids before that word existed. I met magnificent people of many genders and sexualities from the very beginning and because of that, I felt more comfortable exploring my own gender and sexuality.

We were tired of being the forgotten and disrespected B's and T's. We booed Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights Campaign when she gave a speech and consistently said only “gay and lesbian.” We shared experiences of being treated rudely and painfully by lesbians and dykes, who often placed ads that said “no bi's” and didn't consider trans women women.

So it boggles my mind that 16 years later, we are still fighting this battle. I and many others still experience biphobic remarks from lesbians/dykes/queer women, and women who are trans are still consistently excluded from and made to feel unwelcome in women's spaces and communities. It boggles my mind that “queer” went from being a word that encompassed all deviant, radical sexualities to a word that for many basically only means “gay and lesbian.” That it's okay for queer women to date guys who are trans – their communities will still accept them, for the most part. But if that same queer woman was to date a non-trans guy, well then suddenly she's suspect, she doesn't belong. This happens all the time and I will tell you that it is happening right now in the supposedly progressive and radical queer community of the PNW to someone I know. Not a theoretical someone – an actual person is being judged and dismissed and excluded because of other peoples' assumptions about her partner's gender, and it is just so stupid.

And while I don't think gay marriage is where we should be devoting so much of our money and resources, and while I think it is necessary to think critical about the cultural and religious institution of marriage, I also don't think we need to dismiss and denigrate those queers who get married, whether it's sanctioned by the state or not. Since when did two people expressing love and commitment to each other become something to mock or despise? Isn't that part of what we're fighting for: the right to express our love and desire, in all of its permutations?

I am just so tired of us doing this to ourselves, because don't we get enough of this from the world at large? What is up with that need to define and exclude? Are our identities and lives so fragile that they are threatened by others'?

1 comment:

  1. A Crankypants Rant with my coffee - ah, the wonderful bitterness of truth.

    I don't have anything to add. You have the facts of the matter stated very clearly. But I can raise my hand as a witness. Not to the particular case of which you write, but to the general sense of what is acceptable in the community.

    Fifteen years into my honeymoon, I still go out and find myself running through the same dynamic. Even though we're non-monogamous, I go months (and have gone as much as 2 years) without having the spoons to face dyke judgement. Finding women who aren't put off by my cis male partner involves lots of warm->cool and hot->cold. It's tiring to be rejected, not simply, not from a lack of interest or time or chemistry, but because of the gender of my lover.

    I've become somewhat cruel at times, toying with people who fish for information. I've never liked the word "husband" for all its power connotations, so I often refer to James as "my guy" or some such thing. I'm clear with his gender, using "he" or "his" to pound it home. The last thing I want is a scene where someone says they were mislead.

    What I've seen over the last 10 years is the hesitation, a somewhat slower judgement. This isn't due to it becoming acceptable that James is male. It's due to the possibility that James is a trans man and, therefore, with complete disrespect for trans people, really a woman and thus acceptable for me to partner.

    When I feel that in conversation - the hanging expectation that I'll clear up the question of whether or not my guy is tran - I refuse. I find it so insulting to everyone - me, James, and every trans man who gets treated as "really" a woman. The person who is fishing for information gets nothing from me. I'm definitely no longer interested in flirting with them!

    And, though this comment has extended beyond my original plan, I will put in a great big smacking kiss for the batches of people I've met in Baltimore through the Playhouse. I still get gendered assumptions, but I've gotten a lot of attention and acceptance. Lots of people here are more interested in me than in the gender of my partner.