Trans Women, The New Misogynists?

Some time ago I lay on my bed, closed my eyes and tried to imagine being pregnant. I then imagined myself giving birth, holding my newborn child, bonding with it. I fell into a deep, beautiful sleep from which I awoke with a feeling of desperate emptiness. I felt my body, its curves, its contours and felt a sudden disgust at a body that was not fertile, not fruitful, would never know certain core feminine experiences.

I got over this, not least because of my some wonderful sex with both men and women, and I now love my trans body. But bodily self disgust is, I think, something that transgender people are quite prone to.   Many speak of feeling trapped in the wrong body but most know deep down that no hormones and no surgery can ever, quite, give them the right body. All trans women know that there are differences between them and cisgendered women, know too that many key issues for women can never affect them directly. We reflect on these and our reflection colours and patterns our relations with our cisgendered sisters.

I, and many trans women, actively support the struggle for reproductive rights,  the right og women to decide for themselves what to do with their bodies. We have cis women friends, confidants, lovers. Yet, however we engage with cis women, the radical feminists continue to abuse us as “mentally ill gay men” “drag queens” “not real women” and so on.  And, in a new tack, a recent blog posts suggested that we are misogynists,  seeking to erase “real” (that is biologically female) women in order to further our own unjustified claim to be women, that we privilege our struggle over that of cis women,  and that, ultimately, trans rights are fundamentally incompatible with women’s rights. This explains the rad fem furore over Government suggestions that the current intrusive,  medicalised and bureaucratic, process for gender reassignment should be replaced by one of self certification, based possibly on the system that has operated for two years in the Irish Republic.

Much of the claims made are nonsense. For example trans people do not require a Gender Recognition Certificate to use toilets corresponding to their self identified gender and the idea that a man would go to the trouble of putting on a dress and make up just to invade women’s spaces to sexually assault them always seemed farfetched.  As we have seen recently it is far from necessary for a man to do this in order to assault women. These arguments also elide areas where the stuggles overlap. For example, bathroom bans in certain US states have led to the ejection of cisgendered women from the ladies’, allegedly for not looking feminine enough.  The control of trans bodies is actually an aspect of the control of the bodies of all women.

Am I a misogynist? I have a number of close women friends who have supported me in my transition, who have shown me love and been there for me when I needed them. These are women who can relate to me as a woman and want to be part of my life. Do they consider me a misogynist? I cannot recall meeting a woman in recent times who was not wholly comfortable with trans women. The women I know encompass a wide age range, a wide variety of backgrounds and levels of education.  I suggest that they represent a representative cross section of the female population. I suggest too that the radical feminists, as in many other questions, are simply not where the majority of women are.

Do I want to erase women? I do not. The simple fact is I could not live without them.

Advertisements

We Are Like Ships in The Night

Sometimes friends mention things in conversation that give you a jolt because they express things that have been gnawing away at the back of your mind and make you think about them in a more focussed way. This happened a while ago as I enjoyed a pub lunch with fellow blogger Eye. She commented that many, if not most, friendships on the kink scene are essentially ephemeral. And this got me thinking.

I had been thinking anyway about how kink friendships differ from vanilla ones, in particular how there is often a weird kind of dislocation. This is particularly true of friends who have been play partners. I can think now of say half a dozen people I am no longer in contact with, who have been naked before me, who I have flogged and caned, spat on, humiliated in other ways, people, in short with whom I have enjoyed moments of great intensity and intimacy. And yet there are so many things I don’t know about them that even casual acquaintances in vanilla life know. I have explored the darkest recesses of their souls, they have bared themselves before me in more than physical ways, and yet, I know nothing about them.

Maybe it is because I know nothing that they are able to have these moments of intimacy. They know too, as I know, that we can disappear out of each other’s lives and they may never be able to find us. I suppose I am fortunate in never having had a major falling out with anyone on the scene although I have been close to others who have, and know just how traumatic these things can be. Mostly I have lost contact with people because, as in vanilla life, we move on, we change, or maybe stop going to the same events. Then there are the people who decide that the kink scene is no longer for them, who press the button on Fetlife and just disappear, knowing that we will not be able to find them. A couple of my former play partners have done this. I respect their choice and will not try to look for them.

A few months ago, at a private party, I met a dominant lady who shared my passion for vintage clothes, and specifically, Vivien of Holloway. She accepted my invitation to join in my play with my slave and we became friends on FetLife . We agreed to meet up again at the BBB and wear our Vivs. The other day I decided to message her about the next BBB and noticed that her profile too had disappeared. She was never really a friend as such but someone I felt I would like to have got to know better but this is not to be.

Falling out is not pleasant but I can handle it, drifting away from people you no longer feel much in common with I can handle too. But the sudden disappearance from the scene of people you liked and respected is different. It always leaves me with a feeling of wistful longing. Even in matters as ephemeral as kink it is sometimes nice to say goodbye.

The Vanilla View

Some time ago I attended a meeting of a TV/TG support and social group in a gay bar just round the corner from the Nightingale Club where the monthly Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar is held. Conversation soon turned to the BBB which one lady had mentioned as a safe space in which to spend the day dressed (which, of course, it is). Another lady commented that I would surely find shocking the things I might see there, what with whips and gags and those things you stick up peoples’ bums.

“Well” I said, “probably not You see, I identify as kinky and BDSM is a big part of my life. I enjoy hitting people and sticking things up their bottoms”

The meeting fell silent and the lady who was so appalled hasn’t spoken to me since. This was all a bit disappointing. I still fail to understand why people who identify on the LBGTQ spectrum have a problem with the accoutrements of consensual BDSM and feel the need to cut a fellow transwoman who identifies as kinky.  There is stigma and prejudice enough, as most of those reading this will be only too aware, without such reactions from those one might expect to be more understanding.

So it was a degree of apprehension that I invited my friend Jane to join me and my slave and ta the February BBB. I haven’t known Jane that long. We met through a shared interest in vintage fashion last year and have met up on a few occasions since.  I told her a while ago about my kink and she seemed understanding and non-judgemental. I could have guessed that she would react like this. Ladies who are into vintage tend, in my experience, to be tolerant and accepting. Jane likes burlesque and there is a considerable crossover between this and fetish clothing. And my Vivs have always attracted admiring comments at fetish events.

Nonetheless it was an eyeopener for her. We went for lunch and she had more questions than I had time to answer. She was intrigued by the relationship I have with my slave and genuinely curious. She loved much of the clothing that was on sale and had even tried on a latex dress but decided against a purchase (even though I think she looked fabulous in it). But her main impression was about the people.

“Everyone was so friendly” she said “so normal. And I hadn’t expected there wold be so many women.”

And this is the point for me. Look beyond the toys and the clothing and you see people, old, young, able-bodied and not, all genders and sexualities, and none. Just people, among them some of the loveliest people I have ever known.  And I thought, too, how  good it is to have a vanilla friend who sees that.