Caitlyn Jenner, the New Woman

                 All About MTF (Male-to-Female) Transsexuals


I am amazed at the media furor these days about transsexualism!  These people are not even 1% of the population, yet the media sees fit to take their side and publicize their cause.  This emphasis on freakiness makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes that we should be drawing our attention to.

I was on the scene in San Francisco in 1972 at the beginning of this movement when it was created.  This is my story.

I am a woman-born woman (obviously) and a lesbian.  I came out of my closet in 1969, and began attending events at the newly-emerged women’s centers.  After years of isolation, I wanted to meet women who were like me.  I joined Gay Liberation Front (which was mostly men).  I started going to lesbian bars even before I was legally old enough.  I became an ardent supporter of Women’s Liberation, and adopted a somewhat socialist point of view.  (This changed as time went on, but I at least gained some understanding of the oppression of minorities in the meantime.)

One of the organizations I joined was Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco, CA.  It was named after Bilitis, a woman who was supposedly a lover of Sappho, the well-known Greek lesbian.  DOB (as we called it) served a social purpose for many young lesbians at the time.  I wrote articles for their magazine Sisters.

A Facebook friend who is a straight woman who resents these fake women pushing their way into our world shared with me the post of a lesbian who talked about the early days of transsexualism, and how a certain MTF (male-to-female) transsexual pushed her way into our movement.  I realized as the MTF was described, she was someone I knew!  So I decided that maybe this was the time to expose the machinations of this angry little group and to write this account of my experiences. 

Anyone who was in SF at the time is going to know who this was, but I will abbreviate her name as BE.  As bizarre as this may sound, BE (who had the body of a man and was a pre-operative transsexual) began joining lesbian groups and announcing that she was a lesbian!  At the time, the movement was very young, and there were plenty of naïve lesbians who simply didn’t know what to do about this.  The idea of a man entering women-only space and announcing he was a lesbian-woman was bizarre, to say the least.  Most gay women at the time were also feminists who were beginning to understand the oppression of living in a patriarchal system.  Women-only space was sacred, and scarce.  As lesbians, we wanted the opportunity to talk with others like us and we simply didn’t have the time or inclination to participate in the usual women’s coffee-klatches where women talked mostly about their husbands and children.  (MTFs would likely not be welcome in these heterosexual women’s groups, either.) 

As time went on, and BE became more inappropriately aggressive in her desire to mingle with real lesbians and to infiltrate lesbian groups, those of us who opposed his entry were portrayed as haters and bigots.  We were publicly, verbally attacked by other lesbians.  The issue always seemed clear to me:  women-only space means just that!  My position was that if a MTF TS (transsexual) claimed to “feel like a woman” and sought to enter women’s space, he should go all the way and get the surgery, and then he could claim to be a female.  If you still have a penis and testicles, please don’t try to sell yourself to me as a woman!

This issue ripped DOB apart, with the majority of members astonishingly on BE’s side, even electing her to the office of Vice President of the organization.  I and a friend led the opposition to get her kicked out. 

I knew BE on a personal level and didn’t have any objection to him as a person.  He was a friend of a friend.  My sole objection was on political grounds, and I’m sure he knew that.  We never had any personal confrontations over that issue.  Once the ground had been broken, others came, seeing that they could get away with it.   I checked with gay male groups to see if any FTM (female-to-male) transsexuals had entered their groups, and they said it had never happened to their knowledge. 

Almost from the beginning, the gay liberation movement adopted bisexuals and transsexuals as part of our movement, and I never understood why.  Typically, my experience with TSs is that they are 80% men claiming to be women, and almost ALWAYS claiming to be lesbian.  (I’ve also heard a lot of straight men jokingly claim to be lesbian, which makes them not so different from the MTFs.)  The FTMs supposedly are straight in their orientation, which is very different from the MTFs.  My position is, and always has been, that transsexuals are different from gays, are NOT gay, and should have their own movement, their own organizations, etc.  But it seems TSs want to join OUR movement, want to be a part of our groups, want to date us, etc.  It appears TSs never want to date each other; they only want to be with normal folks whose mental gender matches their bodily appearance.  My question to TSs is this:  what’s wrong with sticking to your own kind? 

I don’t pretend to understand transsexualism.  I’m not even sure how it feels to “feel like a woman” mentally, as this has never been a challenge for me.  I’m very comfortable in my own skin.  On a deeper level, I’m not sure if gender dysphoria is not some special kind of mental derangement or if it is a genuine, deep seated discomfort with one’s body.  There are a lot of chemicals in our environment that mimic estrogen’s qualities, and it’s possible these may be deleteriously affecting sexual identity even before birth.  As a pagan who believes in reincarnation, I think it’s possible that TSs may simply be “mistakes” and might be better off dying in this life and coming back perhaps in a more appropriate body the next time around.

Some gay men I know have speculated that MTFs are just latent gay men who are afraid to admit they really are gay.  Are there indeed somewhat butch women who are latent lesbians, who are afraid to “come out,” who claim to feel like men inside?  From a political point of view, are these people adopting the tired old sexist standards of sex role stereotyping, and allowing others to dictate what sort of dress, activities and mannerisms are appropriate for them?  I know I’ve suffered from sex role stereotyping all my life because while I appear to be a woman, I often engage in what some people see as “manly” activities, like camping, shooting, motorcycle riding, construction, etc.   Long ago I decided that a person cannot be labeled by what they do for work, as I met many intelligent persons doing blue collar work, and I have done a good share of it, too. 

I never understood why male cross-dressers found women’s clothing erotic and exciting; they never did a thing for me.  But then I’m not exactly your fluffy-sweater, cheerleader kind of gal.  We do have a double standard in that women can dress unisex without anyone batting an eye, while men often get in trouble wearing women’s clothing.  I know I can spot a male in women’s clothing a mile away after living in San Francisco for 35+ years.  But there is something very funny when some male comedians wear women’s clothing and pretend to be women (think Medea, Big Momma’s House, etc.)!

I believe my Facebook friend objects to men trying to carry off being female by dressing a certain way, wearing make-up and wigs, nail polish, etc., as being female is so much more than that.  You can dress a monkey in a suit, but it still will not make him a man.  What I know is that society is in big trouble when TSs start to dictate to us what constitutes a woman or a man.

This point was driven forcefully home on a recent Dr. Drew show on HLN.  I’m sure this was not intended, but a MTF TS got way too aggressive with an orthodox Jew who was sitting next to him and refusing to refer to him as “she.”  He put his huge male hand around this smaller guy’s shoulders and said quite plainly, “You better stop referring to me as ‘he’ if you don’t want to go home in an ambulance tonight.”   I ask you, would a woman have said that, been that aggressive?  This ridiculous situation is now compounded with former males competing in women’s sports AS WOMEN, and by MTFs claiming they still want to be accepted as women, EVEN WHILE KEEPING THEIR MALE GENITALIA.  Excuse me, but What The Freak?  Have we all gone crazy?  I’m all about breaking sex stereotype roles, but that’s insane.

I’m still very clear that women’s space is women’s space.  While BE was a part of DOB, I heard gossip that some women had dated him and been quite surprised, shocked, and upset when they had taken their clothes off.  I didn’t know anyone personally who had done this, so I can’t confirm any of that.  But I do know that some drag queens have been so good at it that they have fooled straight men up until their pants came off, so I know it does happen.

I don’t feel unsympathetic to transsexuals, but I just wish they would get themselves together politically and get off the gay political train.  Their cause is not ours; we’re different; and just because we are similarly discriminated against doesn’t mean it’s wise or effective to throw in with each other.  I actually don’t even at this time have any objection to them being in mixed groups as long as they behave themselves.  Most of them are not aggressive like the one on the Dr. Drew show.

In the meantime, some pagan women I know have found a very effective way to keep MTFs out of women’s groups:  they limit entry to those who “have shed the sacred blood.”  There is no MTF on this earth who has ever had a menstrual period.  It’s just too bad we didn’t have the same requirement in 1972.  Women’s groups were prey then and the MTF’s were our predators.

 October 25, 2015

Copyright Laine Lawless 2015