Tobi Hill-Meyer

A Trans and Cis Queer Women's Dialog

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | May 25, 2011 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Elena Rose, Gina de Vries, Julia Serano, Marlene Hoeber, Ray Rubin, Sadie Lune, Tara Hardy, transmisogyny

Two months ago, a sold out crowd gathered in San Francisco to see the third annual Girl Talk performance showcase addressing issues between trans and cis women in queer community. Video of the entire show is available below.

Girl-Talk-2011Tara Hardy underscored the need for this event when she recalled the realization that "All of my dreams of writing about being a trans ally turned out to be written about being a partner to a trans man and being an ally to trans men. In other words, cis women think we've done our homework when we work towards making our communities, our events, our bars, and our beds safer for trans men - we haven't."

There's a joke going around that events, community spaces, and resources labeled "women and trans" have an unwritten addendum: "(but not both)." The reality is that there are few queer spaces specifically for trans women and cis women. Having a community event like Girl Talk has proven to be invaluable.

I remember the first year it happened, when I kicked myself for being 600 miles away and unable to make it. When it was available, I listened to the entire mp3 audio recording of the show, which was almost two hours long. This year, I had the opportunity to perform in the show, and I was determined to make it as available as possible to those who couldn't make it. My partner, Ronan, did the filming and I edited it with help from my lover/protege, Rose Pedals. Now all two hours of it is up on YouTube. And you can see it right here.

Girl Talk was founded by Gina de Vries and Julia Serano in 2009, this year they were joined by Elena Rose as a third co-curator. The show may be touring soon, and you can inquire about booking by emailing

Using this player you can watch the whole thing or skip around to different performers. If you watch mine, please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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I haven't had time to watch it all yet, but I will!

I do feel left out of the women's community. Sometimes I wish I was stealth.

Jillian, apart from the great performance pieces the most "interesting" part of the event was how few trans women actually attended it (and yes, I used my transdar). I would say 90% of the trans people there were on the transmasculine spectrum and a large number of their partners friends made up the cis attendees. Trans women... very few. So, i would say there's a LOT of trans women who feel left out of both the women's community but also the FAAB Queer communities. And curious that, as Gina DeVries said, onstage, they had a hard time finding cis women to perform. In the audience... very few trans women.


I'm glad the showcase exists.

"interesting"... yes it is. I'll just say that the last time I heard the S-Bomb dropped was overheard outside an Athens Boys Choir concert by the cis partner of a trans guy in reference to the two other trans women present at the show.

I'm hesitant to say that there were very few trans women based on visual inspection alone -- perhaps very few visible trans women is better. I wasn't focused on crowd counting at the time, so perhaps I was influenced by selection, but I talked with nearly a dozen trans women, if there were nine times as many trans men, they wouldn't have fit in the room. Additionally, at least a few of those FAAB genderqueers were there with their trans women partners. I might guess trans women were 20% of the crowd, not 10% of the trans people.

I can't say about the folks I didn't talk with, and I will say that I was disappointed that my circle of trans women friends in the bay area didn't show up. That probably does imply something about the spaces and community that publicity was focused in and where word of mouth happened and didn't happen. But I still want to make the point that there were probably more trans women (or fewer trans men) then your count suggests.

Tobi, we're going to have to agree to disagree... 20% no way. If nothing else I hope we can both admit that trans women were greatly outnumbered by transmasculine people in the audience? This has nothing to do with 'word of mouth'... the event was quite well publicized in the Bay Area. I still think it has everything to do with trans women not feeling welcome in 'queer women's/trans masculine spaces' which, to me, is one of the core issues with the evening. A few years ago I went to the Queer Cultural Center's Trans Spoken Word night (at the same room). I was literally one of two or three trans women in the entire audience. You can either say the recent event was an improvement or that there's still a lot of denial about this subject and a long, long way to go.

This shit sickens me. I live in San Francisco and went to a queer youth performance at the LGBT center and one cis performer said that because of her butchness, using the bathroom "would be easier if I were transgender" and my partner and I were the only people in the room that didn't APPLAUD that bullshit. We angrily stormed out and none of the event coordinators followed us out to ask what was wrong...
To contrast, while at the QWOC Film Festival, my partner stormed out after the crowd laughed at a scene of physical abuse between two queer women partners, and one of the festival coordinators followed her out and made sure that she was okay, and started a dialogue with her, and agreed that she was sickened by the audience reaction and that she agreed that it's a huge problem that people in the queer community find abuse by queer partners laughable.
Even at TRANS MARCH, I felt an atmosphere that made me uncomfortable... I noticed some people wearing shirts that said "FAABulous" and one marcher had a sign reading "this femme

(cont'd because it got cut off) "this femme

@Gina - I don't know how much time you spend around stealth, or functionally stealth*, trans women. I will say that they aren't going to trigger your trantenna; that's kind of the point. Unless you asked every woman in the audience and trusted that they were going to give you an honest answer instead of a convenient one then there's no way for you, or anyone else for that matter, to tell how many trans women are in a group just by looking, or by listening to their voices either.

*functionally stealth - not deep black stealth, out to certain degree but unreadable in the course of their day to day lives. IOW, at the grocery store, meeting new people, etc. they are assumed to be cis women

rapid butterfly | June 12, 2011 12:26 PM

I know that I am late to this thread, but it's taken me a while to get the time together to watch the whole video, of the whole event. And what I'd like to say, as a woman of trans history, and a partnered lesbian, living in a small town in the bible belt - as a woman who has been profoundly fortunate and who is extremely, extremely grateful, but who nevertheless faces those "looks," the smirks, the exclusion, the barely suppressed judgment that I am "less than" writ in the cast of an eye or the turn of a mouth - watching this video was a respite. In it I found a safe space, a reminder that there are others like me, others who would know me if I met them, and would make a place for me at the table; others who've lived what I've lived, each in her own unique way.

Thank you for putting this up, and letting me visit and be there with you, even here. It gave me a form of the solace and rejuvenation I find in reading books on feminist theory and queer theory, but it had the impact that only hearing voices and seeing faces can have.

So again, thank you - from the heart.