Editors' Note: Guest blogger Rachel Dunn is an out and proud trans-lesbian filmmaker living in Los Angeles. Although very supportive of community events, her primary activism comes in the form of fostering and contributing to queer and minority film projects as a cinematographer, producer, writer and consultant. Some of her work can be seen at www.racheldunn.com
After reading "What Transmisogyny Looks Like" and "I Have a Problem with Faggots", something occurred to me that some may not like to hear, but here it is it is:
The entire queer community has gender issues - not just the transfolk. Gay and lesbian people have a big gender issue - otherwise the gender of the people they love would not be an issue.
Being punished for failing to adhere to heteronormative gender roles is part and parcel of a common problem we all share. When a male child is harangued, harassed, and humiliated for showing emotion, gentleness, crying or displaying other "feminine traits"; that is transmisogyny - whether or not they identify as trans - or even gay.
The double standard created by this type of misogyny is fairly evident.
Lesbian erotica is routinely displayed and accepted in many men's magazines- so homosexuality is not an issue in this context - in fact it is a common fantasy. But at the intersection of homosexuality and misogyny, displaying two men kissing is completely unacceptable to the same men who may fantasize about two women kissing. In this context, kissing a man is supposed to be strictly a "woman's thing" - any male that participates in such an activity is, in effect, taking on the woman's role - in much the same way that transgendered M2F women do.
Watching Adam Lambert's career go down in flames while Lady GaGa rakes in the cash for similar antics is probably the most glaring example of this misogynistic double standard in recent news.
Is it any wonder that the horizontal hatred that transwomen experience from the larger gay community exists? In an effort to sublimate their own 'feminine' traits, some gay men lash out at the most obvious embodiment of these traits, while the paranoia of many lesbians, who grew up dealing with a lot of unwanted, often insistent advances from men, causes them to view transwomen as predators trying to covertly violate their 'sacred space.'
Is it any wonder why many F2M transmen remain connected and accepted by the lesbian community, and seem more accepted by the larger gay community? They are not viewed as interlopers by the women, because many F2M's were once 'one of them,' and this is further reinforced by the butch/fem paradigm pervasive in the lesbian community - which emulates heteronormative behavior, so I suspect F2M transition is not a stretch for many.
Although many F2M's may not be viewed as 'real men' by the gay male community, perhaps the glimmer of heteronormativity offered by such a relationship might serve to further sublimate a gay man's distress at his own gender transgression - despite the masculine appearance of their transman partner. (Because I want to concentrate on our common gender issue, I'm not even going to attempt to address the quagmire of who's got the privilege in a patriarchal society - and why M2F's are considered "downwardly mobile.")
In reading "I Have a Problem with Faggots", I was surprised by the striking similarities experienced between my own trans history, and that of the writer - a gay man. Except that my history had many more examples of this kind of cruelty, as well as many more examples of outright physical cruelty by my peers.
I was also struck by the fact that some of the commenters had a hard time believing that so many bad experiences could happen to one individual - obviously, they don't know many transwomen. The judicial enforcement of rigid binary gender roles is something that everyone has to deal with - gay, lez, straight, bi, intersex, trans, or cis.
Big, life changing - or sometimes life ending- problems arise when our underlying natures make it impossible to conform to these rigid ideals, despite our best efforts. (I've lost count of how many transwomen I know who once joined the military in an effort to "butch up," only to later accept their femininity and transition. )
I just wish that the larger queer community would realize that we are all fighting the same fight, and concentrate on our similarities, rather than bickering over our differences. Establishing individual identity is a wonderful thing, it makes us all unique, and can give us a sense of community within a larger community - but the people who want to eradicate us don't care about how we identify - they don't want to know about our differences, or the subdivisions within our community, they just want the whole lot of us gone - or dead.
We all have a gender issue. The queer community's failure to conform to rigid mainstream heteronormative gender roles is our common gender issue.
And failure to comply is met daily with systemic discrimination, hatred, and violence - even amongst ourselves.
And that is truly a shame.