Me and my homegirl Sharron were having another one of our marathon phone conversations the other night. (despite the fact I've been battling a nasty bug for the last few days) She's an intelligent biowoman with a very enlightened outlook on things and fun to be around. Her friends encompass a diverse spectrum of people, including the TransGriot.
She's been instrumental in helping me understand the way Louisvillians think. She's been a major ally in terms of getting me to see that femininity is between your ears, not your genital configuration. Sharron also doesn't hesitate in checking me when I start whining about how I wish I'd been born female from jumpstreet. At the same time I've spent more than a few nights helping her decipher the mysteries of biomale behavior.
During our chat she relayed a conversation that she had with a gay male in which she was discussing me and a friend of mine. She objected to the gay male's constant references to transwomen as 'queens' and called him on it. The gay male dismissively said to her, "If they still have a d--- they're queens to me."
News flash to any gay or straight male, straight female, lesbian or anybody else who harbors that assumption. No disrespect to peeps that may think of themselves that way but I'm nobody's queen. I have friends who do shows. I occasionally judge pageants if asked but I am NOT a drag queen. I am a transwoman.
That condescending attitude is what causes major problems between the gay male and transgender communities. It's that Jim Fourattesque dissing of us that has been around since Stonewall that we regularly have to call peeps on.
Fouratt was one of the founders of the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation Front. He's also in some transpeeps eyes the third most hated person in the transgender community behind Janice Raymond and Germaine Greer. His views that transwomen are just 'misguided gay men who undergone sexual mutilations' enraged many of us. He has a long history through the 80's and 90's of liberally eating Hater tots when it comes to transpeople.
Unfortunately his views are still shared by many peeps of his generation. They continue to be espoused by some gay peeps from the elite upper echelons of it to the working class gay clubs. Fouratt described transgender transitions as a socially-forced "cure of homosexuality that were submitted to by confused, crazy queens". This wildly incorrect and distorted image of us was unfortunately accepted by many gay men.
That false image negatively impacted relations between the transgender and gay communites for over two decades. We fought a decade long battle with elements of the Houston Gay Lesbian Political Caucus just to get included in that influential organization. The time we wasted fighting each other distracted us from the bigger issue of the radical Religious Right-Republican takeover of Harris County and Texas. We still have echoes of this drama when you hear some GLB activists claim that we aren't part of 'their' movement or that we shouldn't be participating in 'their' pride parades.
The late Sylvia Rivera (who I had an interesting chat with during a New York vacation in May 2000) was a Stonewall Vet and founder of STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) She had this to say in 2001 about Fouratt which is apropos to this post.
"You and others must realize that as many of you were born gay males we are born Trans. Stop speaking for me and my sisters and brothers of the Trans Community. We can speak for ourselves. Neither you nor anyone else can know our lives and our feelings."
That's one reason why this blog exists. Too many misconceptions are around about transgender peeps, especially transpeeps with my ethnic heritage. In many cases the myths and misperceptions are promoted and spread by folks who are supposed to be our allies.
Do me and other transpeeps a favor. Honor Sylvia's memory by letting us speak for and define ourselves.