Stonewall Plus 29

From the June 19, 1998 edition of Queer Channel Media:

I Kid You Not

by Beren deMotier

‘Trans’ issues are not what Gay pride is about

We were over visiting friends recently, sitting languidly in the sun (well, in the shade, actually, but it sounds less voluptuous), while our children alternately played with and fought over every toy on the lawn. We’d just reached that delightful post-brunch mellowness known especially to Lesbians, when someone broke the peace by saying, “Look at them, playing so innocently. I wonder what’s next? What will be the next big thing after piercing and tattooing when our kids are grown?” Her partner laughed wickedly and said, “Amputation. They’ll start whacking off their fingers.” To which I replied, that’s old news, only it isn’t fingers that are being whacked. And a lively conversation about transgender and sex change operations was had by all.

Which was fortunate for me because I’ve been pestering people on this subject a lot lately and here I actually had willing participants. It’s good to have a sounding board, especially when you suspect that you’re turning into an irrational right-wing fanatic in your approaching middle age.

It’s this merging of “trans” with “Lesbian, Gay and bisexual.” I hate it with greater fervor every year. And now that Pride Month is happening all around us, I have tons of reminders everywhere I look that we are being linked, like it or not, ideologically, and legally.

I can deal with the legal. I don’t think transgender people should be oppressed or discriminated against, whether being “trans” means that a man or a woman has undergone sexual reassignment surgery, or because they’re a woman who wants to dress completely like a “man” and could pass if she wanted to. And even if you are a transgender warrior, attempting to break down the barriers of gender roles and sexual identities as specifically dual, you shouldn’t have to lose your job over it. Sure, as a mother of both a boy and a girl, I know in the very pit of my soul that gender is more than a social construct, despite my feminist education, but hey, to each their own. It’s just that I don’t think either transsexualism (changing hormonally and/or physically from one sex to another) or being transgendered (transgressing gender, among the many definitions floating around the cosmos at the moment) are what Gay pride is all about. And I wish I didn’t have to see it on every banner, T-shirt and poster for the entire month of June.

It’s not like I don’t have some sympathy for the movement, or want to sweep it under the rug. I don’t want to be like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers and disallow anyone to march under whatever personal banner they please (barring pedophiles – I am a mother first, damn the civil liberties issues). Gay transgender warriors please attend, along with Queers with Corgis and the full congregational membership of the Metropolitan Community Church. Non-Gay transsexuals marching in support of Gay pride, please do. Carry your signs and cheer. It’s not that I want exclusion, oppression or a transgender-free parade, it’s just that when the announcer begins and starts shouting about what we’re all there to celebrate, it’s not the obliteration of a dual-gender system that comes to mind.

As one of the women said, if you have enough time on your hands to mess with gender, get a hobby, volunteer, go to temple. Give till it hurts.

To be fair, I will note that that pre-Chris Crain version of Queer Channel Media allowed me to respond.



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