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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

276

Political Desires

Enough with "I date women and trans men":

My trans brothers deserve better than sex in a frame that undermines their identities. This doesn’t mean queer cis women and gender non-conforming female assigned folks can’t fuck trans men, but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining – to recognize that they sleep with men, and to question why they’re OK with sleeping with trans men and not cis men. I just don’t think it’s OK to process your sexual trauma in a delegitimizing way through the bodies of folks who’ve often faced tons of trauma at the intersection of gender and sexuality.

The author, Jos Truitt, is getting a certain amount of heat for implying, even as an ally, that queer women should ever have to justify their decision not to sleep with cis men. For one thing, many queer women who find themselves in sexual relationships with trans men were originally in, well, queer relationships with that individual pre-transition, and the decision to stay involved with their now male partner shouldn't necessarily cause them to question their identity as lesbians. Or should it?



276 Comments / Post A Comment

...but what if that's really who they date?

barnhouse

Someone lights your fire, it is inexplicable and uncontrollable. I doubt anyone can do this according to "correct" categories.

elsbels

what?

joeks

@elsbels SERIOUSLY. WHAT.

hallelujah

I've always been slightly uncomfortable with the fact that it's acceptable to qualify men as "trans", when it's often offensive to refer to somebody as a "trans woman" as opposed to just "woman." Not to mention the fact that you're outing all your present and future partners, which is eminently uncool in my book.

@hallelujah But when you're within the queer community and a queer space, it is *exceptionally* helpful to specify that when describing who lights your fire.

saul "the bear" berenson

@hallelujah I confess, when someone says "trans men" I always pause to try and figure out if the person has transitioned and is now a man, or was once a man but has now transitioned. I'm always embarrassed to find myself having to think this through, but it takes me a second to say to myself "oh right, he is a man, and he is trans." Categories! Confusing sometimes. But also helpful, like @S. Elizabeth said.

hallelujah

@S. Elizabeth Sure it is. & when the conversation is taking place in a queer space, the negative repercussions are surely lessened. I don't know how you can argue that it's not, on some level, delegitimizing for one's partners though. & that is going to trump convenience for me.

SuperGogo

@Moxie Me too. And I keep forgetting what cis means as well, which meant that I had to read this post 2-3 times through to follow it. I want to instinctively understand all the terms, and I hope increased exposure will get me there...eventually.

redheaded&crazy

@Moxie I also have that pause moment. Just gotta try to recognize that's a cis privileged way to respond I suppose. I used to struggle with pronouns as well. It was embarrassing, not that my embarrassment is the primary issue in that situation. But I've gotten much better at it. Our brains like categorizing things because it's a shortcut, so I think it can be a process to recognize that and override it.

I didn't know that trans woman as opposed to woman was considered offensive actually. Although I can see the political logic of trans men wanting to be differentiated. (and I don't mean to make assumptions, I'm sure people will correct me if I've got it totally wrong) A trans man is not necessarily born into the same privilege/socializing/whatever else comes with being born a guy. So if you're able to pass in society as a man, you're accruing certain privileges and perhaps stereotypes that you might want to dissociate from if you're part of a queer/trans/activist community. Although no doubt there are myriad other complex reasons.

VDRE

@hallelujah I agree, the author says "It’s incredibly undermining to frame sexuality in a way that lumps these men in with all female assigned folks instead of with cis men." which I think is the point of the article way more than 'if a lesbian dates someone that transitions is she still a lesbian'.

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazie I mean, there's not just political logic but also, that being your gender identity. oy. sometimes i wish there was a 10 minute edit option.

@hallelujah It's not about convenience, it's about honestly being able to tell someone who you are interested in.

bibliostitute

@redheaded&crazie I ALSO WANT TO POINT OUT THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BRING THEIR STANDARD PIN ATTITUDES OF KINDNESS AND CHARITY TO THIS CONVERSATION

because i will cry in my foreign country portion of the pintariat if people start being mean about pronoun usage and erasure/delegitimization in people's everyday language when they admit to not being as good at this conversation as they want to! because that means they WANT to get better.

just wanted to get this up earlier rather than later.

PatatasBravas

@bibliostitute You have my kindness!

(and my axe, etc)

hotdog

@bibliostitute Ummmm-I don't think it is unkind to disagree, and I think that's kind of what you're asking: Please don't disagree with me about pronoun usage.

I like that people on this website are generally kind, but I also do not like the trend of "if you do not agree with this, even in a respectful way, you are being awful and triggering me"

redheaded&crazy

@bibliostitute this is a nice comment. i kind of worry about this stuff - i really don't want to "get it wrong" but also have to realize that if i DO, it's nobody's problem but my own, so people are well within their rights to tear a strip out of me.

i dunno, if y'all wanna tear a strip out of anybody i'd rather it be me than anybody else! I can take it. I'll just cry in my office (oh boo hoo poor cis privileged girl), apologize, and then do better next time!

But actually there are some really great comments downthread (@muddgirl, @Cat Named Virtute) that correct some of the things I left out/got wrong, which I appreciated reading. even though they weren't in response to what I said.

but yes i obviously like the 'pin community best when we are nice to each other. even when disagreeing with one another.

bibliostitute

@PatatasBravas so many thanks! my bow to you!

wee_ramekin

@PatatasBravas AND MY BOW!*

*My mom says I look like Orlando Bloom. Which...thanks Mom, I guess? (Cis, femme lady here...)

bibliostitute

@hotdog In fact, what I am asking, is: please correct people about pronouns. Don't be an asshole about it. Probably I should have just written this.

Because you can correct pronouns and be a complete asshat about it. Or you can correct pronouns and be a kind and charitable person about it. I don't know, maybe I'm a naive fool.

ETA: also, I wasn't really asking for myself. Down thread I listed my own stats, as it were, but that wasn't the point of reminding people about how hard this can be for people who genuinely want to do it right but don't know how, esp. when they fess up to it. Speaking as someone who works in the Jerusalem LGBTQ community center, and so engages in interesting consciousness raising opportunities, I don't like driving people away because they mean well and I want to disagree with them aggressively.

redheaded&crazy

@hotdog I want people to disagree with me so I can learn from it (even though it's nobody's job but my own to learn more). I obviously prefer it to be respectful!

sidenote about pronoun usage, does anybody else stress over this in regard to internet communities? is this a more or less stressful thing compared to "in real life"? cuz i mean, if you refer to somebody in passing on the internet by the wrong pronoun they could correct you without any impact on their personal life where it's more ... complicated. right? maybe.

Cat named Virtute

@redheaded&crazie Thanks, RH&C. I think we generally appreciate that you and most is us around here are willing to admit and examine your missteps. It's the nicest thing about the Pin, and something I try to practice myself (though sometimes I get a bit soapbox-y--I try to rein it in!)

PistolPackinMama

@wee_ramekin being compared to Orlando Bloom doesn't disqualify you from femme, really. Being compared to Sauron, maybe. But thankfully you aren't a great lidless eye ringed with fire, all-seeing.

PatatasBravas

@PistolPackinMama We're gonna need @Superdreaming to do a queer criticism of Sauron now!

(The conclusion can end with "blah blah blah Coldplay" and then the sources of course)

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama There goes MY femme self-identity, then. Shit.

PistolPackinMama

@Xanthophyllippa Sorry- I don't think it's fair if your femme identity is belittled by its similarity to Sauron. Also FYI the nazgul gave me nightmares for years. So that was effective, I guess?

redheaded&crazy

@PistolPackinMama wow I read "the nazgul gaze gave me nightmares" and I thought it was so appropriate on so many levels.

Faintly Macabre

@hotdog I read it as @bibliostitute asking the opposite of that, really. It seemed like he was asking for people with more knowledge/personal experience/personal investment in this issue to be charitable if they choose to correct or educate people here who've admitted difficulty with the pronouns but have said they're very eager to get it right.

PatatasBravas

@redheaded&crazie Cannot unsee "the nazgul gaze" and this is probably going to be the highlight of my grey Tuesday.

PistolPackinMama

@PatatasBravas UGH. Shhiiiiirrrrreeeeeeee Baaaggggiiiiiinnnnnssssssssss. *deadly stare of privilege*

PatatasBravas

@PistolPackinMama okay I just want you to know that I am the Sam to your Frodo in this thread. <3 <3 <3

and on all the threads, all the roads, all the way to Mount Doom

would you like some po-tay-toes? i mashed them up with intersectionality and roasted them over the flames of my admiration

PistolPackinMama

@PatatasBravas My dad insists that the real hero of the Lord of the Rings is Sam. So, you know. Get ready to save Middle Earth.

ETA: Also, is the comment about a lidless vagina missing or is it somewhere else?

Anyway. I am losing my mind and going back to work.

And yes, of course. I should have seen it. Someone call Judy Chicago, we need a plate!

OhShesArtsy

@PistolPackinMama Sam is TOTALLY the real hero of Lord of the Rings. Frodo would never have made it to Mount Doom without him and he displays more traditional hero characteristics than Frodo ever does. To me, Frodo has always been a bit inert (justified because: ring), Sam is the driving action of the pair, especially right at the end where the rest of the fellowship is no longer with them.

(YOU GUYS! NERDY LOVE <3)

bibliostitute

@OhShesArtsy ESPECIALLY because he gets left behind at the end (SPOILERS?) and has to, you know, deal with the hard part of being alive after a magnificent adventure like that. That's what real heroism is, I think! Doing the hard stuff of daily life.

OhShesArtsy

@bibliostitute Yes! Sam is also the only one of the pair that grows noticeably. Yes, Frodo comes back scarred and traumatized but he does not actually succeed like Sam does. Sam goes through it all and comes back a more worldly hobbit who, as you pointed out, actually LIVES after the whole ordeal.

bibliostitute

@OhShesArtsy Which is why I buy the reading of LOTR as WWI although it works for any terrible war where the stakes and realities continue to shift!

PistolPackinMama

@PistolPackinMama Yup, I am off to the land of eternity now. Bye, have fun with that lifelong burden of Ringocity. (by land of eternity I mean gym. Where the elves are football players in training. They have pointy earbuds.)

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@PistolPackinMama
Deleted comment was mine! Sorry! I realized within the last 20 seconds of the deadline to delete that it could be misread, and I didn't have time to rewrite.

I didn't invent that joke, of course.

metacommenting, I guess...

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama In contrast, I loved the nazgul; I thought they were the most interesting characters in the movies. (I have not read the books; being unable to make it past chapter 3 of The Hobbit without throwing the damn thing at a wall has deterred me from trying any of the actual Ring trilogy.)

OhShesArtsy

@Xanthophyllippa The thing about reading Lord of the Rings is that you really feel like maybe you just walked to Mordor and back. It's basically like wading through a very marshy swamp with flippers on but in a rewarding way.

But, if you couldn't get through The Hobbit, I don't suggest trying LotR. The Hobbit is the "easy" one of the series.

Don't feel bad, Tolkein was nothing if not tedious. I'm a huge fan and have only gotten through the trilogy once. Let's not even talk about The Silmarillion...

And to answer the original question, the idea that someone is no longer a lesbian because their female partner decided to transition is preposterous -- not because that lesbian is now dating a dude, but because sitting down and telling someone "oh hey, you're not queer anymore" is awful.

Part of the reason some queer women say "I date women and trans* men" is because they are so often read as straight, and when you suddenly end up with someone who reads as male to the rest of the world, your queer visibility is stripped.

I don't want to look like a straight girl. And if I said "I only sleep with women," that would be a lie. I only sleep with female bodied people, and I don't sleep with trans guys who are transitioning (or already have) because they're hairy and don't smell good to me. But some trans men don't physically transition, and putting them in the "woman" category is both insulting and incorrect.

And it pisses me the fuck off when people try to tell queer women how to speak and how to identify and how to go about their lives. There's a reason "I date women and trans men" is so common -- because for a lot of people, it's true.

saul "the bear" berenson

@S. Elizabeth This is such an important perspective that people outside the queer community often aren't exposed to, and so don't understand.

atipofthehat

@S. Elizabeth

But wouldn't it be simpler if an evil sorceress in a remote mountaintop lair were the sole arbiter of how everyone should be defined, without reference to our actual lives or selves?

@atipofthehat And your comment is super relevant to discussions of queer female identity because...?

Cat named Virtute

@S. Elizabeth I am also a very femme queer chick who gets read as straight a lot. It sucks, it really does. But I think that someone else's gender identity and most of all their safety is more important than my queer visibility. It's a stupid shitty tradeoff that the jerkcircus imposes on us though.

I wonder if a solution might be "I only date lbgtq folks" which still identifies your partner as queer but doesn't out or overemphasize them as trans.

atipofthehat

@S. Elizabeth

Exactly the question thinking will answer!

@Cat named Virtute I'm not talking about when you're surrounded by douchey frat boys who are drunk, but I am talking about when you can safely talk about who you desire. And it seems like the author of that article has a problem with the words "I date women and trans men" even in those safe spaces.

VDRE

@S. Elizabeth Safe space or not though I would never want to out a trans person. Obviously there is more of a threat of violence when surrounded by frat boys/not in a safe space but for the trans people I know their main concern is being perceived as their correct gender by everyone which means telling as few people as possible that they are trans.

@atipofthehat Dude, I know you're trying to be funny. But we're actually talking about the identities of oppressed people and communities. And I am one of those people and I am in one of those communities and I actually have to deal with the stuff we're talking about on a near daily basis. So while I totally appreciate the fact that you want to be funny and snarky and cute, your comment came across as really juiceboxy to me, because you are making light of the way I, as a queer person and a woman, identify myself and my desire within an ever-changing queer community. I took your comment to be making light of actual issues that I, and a bunch of other people, face.

So implying that I'm not thinking hard enough to answer your initial question is not only insulting, but ridiculous. You basically were discussing context. But dude, my context for who I date and who I desire and what that means and how I am treated by a society that does its best to pretend I do not exist is not a laughing matter and has nothing to do with an evil sorceress or a remote mythical mountain or whatever. It has to do with whether or not my girlfriend gets kicked out of the mall bathroom or whether I can go into a safe space and not make people feel crappy when I speak about my own desire, which is really fucking important to me, because I know how shitty it is when people make me feel crappy about who I'm attracted to and how I identify. Which you just did. Thank you so much for trying to "lighten up" a serious discussion that impacts so many women who read this blog with your comment. How awesome of you.

Cat named Virtute

@S. Elizabeth You never really know who's going to be awful about trans-ness though, and there definitely queers who can be jerks to/about someone being trans, even if the threat isn't explicitly physical violence. Something I have heard over and over again from trans friends and activists is that you never out someone without their explicit permission, ever.

@Cat named Virtute So what is the viable alternative?

Cat named Virtute

@S. Elizabeth Referring to your theoretical trans man partner as a man or not dating trans dudes I guess? I realize that sounds glib and I don't mean it to, but I think if one isn't okay with their partner's unqualified gender identity it might not be a good match. Saying you're attracted to lgbtq folks without further qualification might always be good, especially because you always have the prerogative to reject people on an individual basis and simply cite a general lack of attraction.

The complication can totally suck, but queer identity generally can seem complicated to people, so. (I just came out to my mom two weeks so my brain is still reeling from all the questions and language clarifications myself).

atipofthehat

@S. Elizabeth

Right, because freedom is only possible without a sense of humor.

PistolPackinMama

@atipofthehat Not necessarily. This is one of those transcend and transform kinds of moments.

atipofthehat

@PistolPackinMama

Ah, I think you edited?

runner in the garden

@atipofthehat when one person is joking, and another person is hurt, and the joke is not important, and it costs the joker nothing to back off...

itmakesmewonder

@runner in the garden Agree. And as a totally uninvolved party trying to decide where to jump into this conversation, I found @atipofthehat's comments disruptive and non-contributing.

thebestjasmine

@atipofthehat Really really don't do the thing where someone is offended and you claim it's because they don't have a sense of humor. Because that's fucked up, dude.

atipofthehat

@thebestjasmine

I was offended first!

And being offended trumps everything.

thebestjasmine

@atipofthehat Yeah, that's the message that you should be getting from this.

iceberg

@atipofthehat for what it's worth, I didn't think it was that big a deal to begin with. i think you were coming from the right place, everyone makes comments like yours all the time, melis made jokes below and nobody got mad, (I guess because she's closer to the group being discussed than you are?), BUT I do agree with @runner in the garden.

PistolPackinMama

@atipofthehat No. (See, BSA can suck it if they are offended at gay scouting.)

Being the best person I can be trumps everything. Which is a bit rich coming from me because lately I have royally fucked that up online and in my life and I know it and am not loving it.

But really. These are people we kind of know-ish who are saying "this is hard and that isn't helping." It's not personal against you that your humor, which usually works to everyone's advantage, really didn't do it for a person this time. I don't think you have no place in the discussion because the joke failed.

In general, you are right that humor is an important part of getting through the hard stuff in this life. Around here it really can help a whole lot. It really does, and it's a really great attribute to be a person who provides that help. I like that about you in particular a whole lot.

But this time, it just isn't.

You can do with that what you want.

Offended isn't the issue. Sometimes we offend people and don't mean it, and sometimes we do and we know it's okay. You can't make S. Elizabeth take it the way you mean it. So what can you do?

What kind of person do I want to be when offense at my words/actions are the result?

iceberg

@PistolPackinMama i really liked this right here. : )

PatatasBravas

@atipofthehat I swear, I don't want to make this into a pile-on of comments (Nicole! Why do you keep bringing us topics that make us full of feels?! never change) but I also thought your initial jokery was confusing (maybe I am dumb and just didn't get the joke until you explained it downthread). I joke too: see the LOTR nerdery.

But I think it's hard on other Pinners to say, "Joke! I made a joke! Why won't you laugh!" when you are joking about their lived experiences.

Liss from Shakesville isn't a perfect person, since no one is, but I happen to like her writing style a lot. I think her posts on the 'terrible bargain' might make a good parallel to this situation, if you're up for some reading.

"There are infinite possibilities of how to react: He could be defensive. He could refuse to hear me. He could try to insist I judge him on his intent, rather than the actual effect of his words/actions. He could accuse me of imagining things. He could imply that I'm crazy. He could turn it around on me. He could behave belligerently, childishly, furiously. He could storm out. He could stand in one place and stomp his feet. He could shout. He could demand a divorce. He could buy a one-way ticket to Rio. He could throw spaghetti. He could challenge me to a duel.

Or he can listen. Take on board what I'm saying and acknowledge how I feel. And then we can get on with the day."

PistolPackinMama

@iceberg :)

I should add. Even if S Elizabeth was being personal. It's not the end of the world. For one thing, however personal it is to us straight types, it is infinitely more personal to her and always will be.

You aren't wrong about everything always because this is personal, you aren't a terrible person, you aren't unrecoverably privileged, you might not even be technically wrong about this. (I wouldn't go that far personally, but you could and I could see it.)

But sometimes being right isn't the same as being just, merciful, kind, or loving.

PatatasBravas

@PatatasBravas also I am in no way implying that @atipofthehat and @s.elizabeth are married like the people in the linked story, or that @atipofthehat has taken any of the reactions listed above.

DO WHAT YOU WILL, A TIP! This is just a reading suggestion that I have given to friends in the past, which they have enjoyed.

back to reading quietly, learning bunches, thanks for the insights all

atipofthehat

@PatatasBravas

We are married. That's the irony.

@atipofthehat *headdesk*

Mira

@atipofthehat ...really?

atipofthehat

@PistolPackinMama

I want to be someone who continues to engage in the conversation, because the only people with the right to check I.D.s at the gate of a discussion on the Hairpin have their names on the masthead. That's what's really being checked at the door: does X even have the right to have an opinion?

No one said, "You hurt my feelings." What I heard was "You shouldn't be here."

Which is of course hurtful to me. Now, I have friends who actually welcome different points of view, and prefer discussions to lectures, but they may well have more tolerance for digressions than is usual for human beings. Fair enough. But to me, at this point, misunderstanding seems willful, or down to COMPLETELY incompatable communication styles. I do wish everyone well.

Blondsak

@Everyone I think the mix of humor and seriousness is what I love most about the 'Pin. I mostly lurk but I do A LOT of it and I see people inject humorous thoughts on a lot of really serious conversations around here. Yes, there have certainly been comments I have raised my eyebrows at because I personally have to deal with the topic being discussed; but I also understand that the intent is very rarely to harm. It is instead typically a) to make us laugh a bit (sometimes at ourselves!) and/or b) on a larger level to remind us that taking some topics too seriously as a result of our emotional attachment to it or personal experience related to it can sometimes lead to narrow viewpoints too, which is often the exact thing we are trying to combat.

Now, to be clear: I am not trying to downplay the importance of serious topics and serious discussions surrounding those topics! They ARE serious topics and discussions, in that they play an important role in people's ability to enjoy their lives. What I'm really trying to say is that I equally respect and enjoy both seriousness and humor in 'Pin conversations, and I don't want either to go away any time soon.

thebestjasmine

@atipofthehat That's bullshit and you know it. No one told you that you shouldn't be here. People told you that joking about this to them was hurtful and belittling, and then after being told that you continued to do it. No one had any issue with you having an opinion, because you didn't express one, other than the implication that you think that this is all a joke.

PatatasBravas

@S. Elizabeth Also, thanks for taking the time to explain your POV on the article. It's been helpful to hear about, and I really appreciate that you're willing to share it on the 'Pin with us. You've been more generous than I'd expect to find on the interwebs!

itmakesmewonder

@atipofthehat Oh, sheesh. Look, you jumped in with this:

"But wouldn't it be simpler if an evil sorceress in a remote mountaintop lair were the sole arbiter of how everyone should be defined, without reference to our actual lives or selves?"

And even after everything, I still have no idea what your point was, you never gave any specific suggestions to help or clarify anyone or anything, and you stuck with this really abstract tone studded with...jokes(?).

It's debatable whether that IS engaging in the conversation. Saying words in it is not the same thing.

itmakesmewonder

WAIT...is this a huge metajoke performance art piece and you are the evil sorceress?

@atipofthehat

"So while I totally appreciate the fact that you want to be funny and snarky and cute, your comment came across as really juiceboxy to me, because you are making light of the way I, as a queer person and a woman, identify myself and my desire within an ever-changing queer community. I took your comment to be making light of actual issues that I, and a bunch of other people, face. "

PistolPackinMama

@atipofthehat Another option is, if you want to go into the dangerous waters of telling risky jokes about difficult topics, make sure you're going to tell a very, very good joke.

And then be ready for it not to have been funny enough to skirt the right side of the boundary, because sometimes jokes aren't.

Problem is, given your position in the conversation (not lesbian), if the joke succeeds you go home a hero. If it fails, it will fail big time.

And however hard it is when your joke fails, in this case it's failing because the butt of the joke's stake (which I read as S.E. in particular and women like her in general) is bigger and it's failure is going to affect them at least as much as it affects you.

Jokes are dangerous that way.

Mira

@S. Elizabeth I dunno, doesn't that actually say "You shouldn't be here"?

(KIDDING IT TOTALLY DOES NOT SAY THAT AT ALL.)

@Mira Now that is a successful joke. Props to you!

Elizabeth K.

@atipofthehat Not being an ass is more important than you keeping your view of yourself as not an ass.

atipofthehat

It wasn't a joke. It was a metaphor, directly in sympathy with what @S. Elizabeth said, especially "it pisses me the fuck off when people try to tell queer women how to speak and how to identify and how to go about their lives."

The tension between an external definition of oneself through categories (a life-or-death issue for some people) and how one feels inside and chooses to define oneself is undoubtedly a real thing. We are all being continuously defined externally, and there is pain in this—for some more than for others. (I explained this elsewhere, but with metaphors as with jokes, best not to explain too much. And if, as many have said, my comment was incomprehensible, there really was no reason to be upset.)

I don't understand how what I wrote initially could be taken as hurtful (unless it was seen as being flip?) and I have a definite impression that I was told "back off, you are not cleared for commenting on Queer." I have always admired @S. Elizabeth's comments, and I actually pay close attention to what she says, on many more threads than this one. Maybe if someone here says something another doesn't get, or takes the wrong way, a good first step would be a neutral request for clarification? Because we are all rather pointy at times, and a sarcastic dismissal (see above) is likely to get more of the same back.

Now can everyone go back to commenting on the actual issues, and the article? Because it's actually interesting and important stuff that affects people we all care about. Whether I'm bad or worse is actually the least of everyone's worries.

PatatasBravas

@atipofthehat I am glad you read the Hairpin and I often find your comments funny, but the best way to apologize is not to end with "Also your reactions to my comment are a waste of time. Talk about something important now."

PatatasBravas

@PatatasBravas Also honestly I didn't understand the wizarding thing, so thank you for breaking it down for me!

*Sorcery! My bad. Sorry.

atipofthehat

@PatatasBravas

I wasn't apologizing. Can you please clarify why you think I should?

PatatasBravas

@atipofthehat Ah sorry, my fault again. I guess I was rounding up to an apology, because it was what I was reading for.

I read your first comment as flip, and I didn't think it was a well-placed joke, so I thought it was a bit out of bounds. S. Elizabeth seemed to think it was also out of place in the thread she opened (if I am wrong PLEASE TELL ME). There were several comments that I interpreted to be a criticism of whether your joke was appropriate in this thread. And so if it were my joke, I would have apologized, and it was unfair for me to expect you to do what I would have done. It's your comment after all!

Maybe I am overly apologetic...

Anyway, I do think the comment at the end feels a lot like "Your reactions to my comment were a waste of everyone's time," and since there were a lot of comments, that's a lot of dismissing! It is not a stance I would take. BUT AGAIN MAYBE THAT IS JUST ME?

thebestjasmine

@atipofthehat Huh, a good first step would be a neutral request for clarification? S. Elizabeth: "And your comment is super relevant to discussions of queer female identity because...?" So maybe, once you get that request for clarification, you could, you know, actually clarify, instead of acting like the injured party.

Mira

@atipofthehat All right, so as a queer lady who has mostly just been observing this and who generally enjoys both your comments and S. Elizabeth's, maybe I can provide a little Stranger On The Internet perspective. (Maybe not!) Your initial comment on this thread was sort of strange, to me and evidently to plenty of others. S. Elizabeth asked you what your somewhat odd comment had to do with the discussion (i.e., she issued exactly the "neutral request for clarification" you say you want) and rather than answer her question, you replied with a flippant-sounding and condescending remark, implying that if she only thought a bit more, she would get it.

So then S. Elizabeth explained that she knew you were trying to be funny, but your comments were "juiceboxy" for a list of reasons she articulated. (She did not say "back off, you are not cleared for commenting on Queer.") You replied with the very, very common silencing tactic of accusing her of having no sense of humor, which if you'll excuse my French, so to speak, is a dick move. Lots of people then tried to explain to you, extremely politely, what went wrong. You responded with additional flippancy and implied that people wanted to "lecture" you rather than have a discussion.

Some people have more at stake in certain conversations than other people. That doesn't mean that you have no right to comment or engage, of course, but it does suggest that when those people tell you that your behavior in a given situation is problematic for X, Y, and Z reasons, the polite response is to back off, listen, and try to figure out why they're upset. You didn't do that, though - you doubled down on jokes and then tried to make the whole thing about your hurt feelings.

And by the way, no one has called you "bad or worse." I think you pulled a couple of juicebox moves in this thread, but who hasn't done that from time to time? People have been very polite to you, actually, at least from my perspective. You aren't a victim in this conversation, and it's not helping you to continue to act like one.

PistolPackinMama

@thebestjasmine

Also, for the sake of clarity. I was subbing "joke" for "humor" without distinction. Not making a mutally excluding set of distinctions between "humor" "joke" and "metaphor." Not really sure I see how joke/humor are particularly important distinctions here. But in case they are. I meant humor or humorous comment in metaphorical form all the way through.

The Great Nicole is Being Prosecuted kerfuffle from a while back reaffirmed what I should already know in regard to clarifying.

ba-na-nas

@S. Elizabeth I thought atip was agreeing with you. I didn't take it as a joke. I thought they were saying that someone else shouldn't be an arbiter of how one identifies or who one is hot for. Am I missing something?

PistolPackinMama

@ba-na-nas No, I don't think so. You're apparently on point with where @toth is trying to go. So that's cool. So did other people, and that is also cool. You clearly didn't do backflips to arrive at the takeaway.

@SE wasn't missing anything either, I don't think. I was picking up what she is putting down, and so are other people. I didn't think it took backflips to arrive at that takeaway.

Which means something, but getting and not getting intended meaning isn't exactly the problem.

steponitvelma

@atipofthehat I'm with you on all of this. I read your original comment as a joke in which you were commiserating with S. Elizabeth's frustrations. I also read her comment to you as basically shutting you down from the conversation because you made a joke. I actually sat here for a while trying to come up with something in response to the whole thing, because I thought it was really annoying that you were just shut down when it seemed clear to me you were actually agreeing with what as said. Especially once everyone started joking down thread and that was apparently okay. I don't know, it's probably not helpful to continue all this, but it seems like everyone is "ganging up" on you as if you did something super offensive and I think it was really blown out of proportion.
Also, "And your comment is super relevant to discussions of queer female identity because...?" is not a neutral clarification question. It's a snarky dismissal. Let's not pretend we don't understand internet tone.

PistolPackinMama

@tip Ugh. You know what? I am doing what I said I wasn't happy about doing, which is pulling on harp strings a lot longer than necessary.

And I am sorry.

I can't say I agree with you, because more or less I don't in this. I agree with the criticism. But I am also saying "no really, carry on conversing," which I also mean, and I am doing it in the least nice possible way, which is past counterproductive. I'd have bailed out on me if I weren't me.

I should have stuck to my ration, because really, "this is a transcent and transform moment" pretty much covers it, and even that was sharp commentary, and that was plenty.

I am bailing on me, and am grounded now, so gonna go lift the heavy things.

PistolPackinMama

@PistolPackinMama And I can't fucking edit on this goddamn computer, sorry. But I also am not hinting that I think SEW or any other criticism is out of line. Just to be clear, this is me for me talking.

Ohh-kay. Bye now.

hoo:ha

@steponitvelma Thanks for making this point. I agree.

D.@twitter

@atipofthehat Look, I sort of want to give you the benefit of the doubt...but since you have clearly learned nothing from the exchange here, I have to say that you, sir, seem to be trying to earn an entry visa into Troll territory.

itmakesmewonder

@D.@twitter (reading that thread) This person is a dude? Well, the "You solved the puzzle!" Zelda noise just played in my head and now this unnecessary shit all makes sense.

@itmakesmewonder So much mansplaining, right?

itmakesmewonder

@S. Elizabeth Yeah, I'm simultaneously angrier and relieved. Phew.

There have been so many bad jokes and so much explaining why they're bad lately. Is patriarchy the fallback dude joke topic after sexual assault?

steponitvelma

@D.@twitter Seriously, troll territory? I find, in this exchange and the one you pointed to, atip to be uncommonly generous in explaining his position to increasingly harsh criticism. Here he made a joke that was meant in commiseration with some of the frustrations expressed. There he expressed an opinion that the writing was sentimental and over the top and that he wished the sentiments had been expressed by a better writer. Neither of these things seem at all offensive to me and yet he was shouted down, called "dickish," and now a troll. In the last thread he was essentially asked to explain himself and then when he tried to clarify his position he was criticized for "mansplaining."
I'm sorry, but atip is not a troll. He just seemed to make the mistake of being a man with different opinions than the majority of the female commenters here.

thebestjasmine

@steponitvelma Okay, seriously, can we stop it with this "he just expressed a different opinion and all you females jumped on him!" thing, because it's just a blatant lie. He commented with some gobbledygook, when he was asked what he meant, he did not explain, when people got irritated by that, he said that they just needed a sense of humor, and then when more people were annoyed he said that they should talk about more important things. None of that is expressing an opinion, but man, a lot of people got honors in their Derailing for Dummies 101 courses.

PistolPackinMama

@steponitvelma I just re-read that thread and ugh...

My take away from both of these isn't that@tip is a troll, because he isn't, I don't think, although I do get where that idea comes from.

It's that after a while, particularly in that first thread, what looks like a pile up on him and folks supporting that point of view kind of is. But it also isn't. It's an argument with @tip but it's a conversation between people who agree with each other. And I don't mean a hah hah let's mock tip conversation. An actual one where ideas get spun out into a coherent thread, in a tidy skein.

Sometimes, people just will not agree, ever, on a point. In a thread like the letter to a daughter one, you might be in a vocal minority with an equally vocal majority pushing back.

And I don't know. When this happens, do you just quit the conversation altogether? Do you quit talking to the person who had their say and you've heard it and now you are done but continue talking to other people? Do you try and persuade/direct that person enough on to the same page so you keep talking?

Yesterday, I feel like it was a discussion about how to argue as well as a discussion about ideas. I dunno.

I needed a civility time out yesterday because I crossed the line into full on Catholic School Nun, and I am still sorry. I like it better when there isn't this kind of escalation (which, mouthy commenter heal thyself). But I still disagree with @tip and don't blame other people for their strong reactions.

Ugh.

steponitvelma

@thebestjasmine I debated about including that, because I know it is the type of thing that usually IS a lie and it would probably not be taken well. But ultimately I let it in because I honestly feel like that is what happened after reading through everything. He did not respond with gobbledygook. He responded with a silly joke. Yes, maybe his immediate response to S. Elizabeth was flip, but her response to him was also flip, so I don't think it was unwarranted.
I normally don't spend all day defending strangers on the internet, but for some reason this whole issue has really been raising my hackles. I think it's because as much as everyone goes on about how the Hairpin is a "safe space" and a place on the internet where people are thoughtful and measured, it still succumbs to an awful lot of groupthink.

thebestjasmine

@steponitvelma Here's the thing -- you may say that it wasn't gobbledygook, but that's what I and clearly lots of other people reading his post saw it as. For what it's worth, he also claims that it was not a joke, so I think that you read it wrong too. I have no idea what the right way to read it was, and when he got asked for clarification, he didn't give it. If he'd just said "Oh, it was a metaphor for *something totally unclear to me*" then people would have just moved on. But he didn't, and when people expressed their hurt at why he would respond in such a flip manner to something that clearly was important to them, he responded with a lecture on why we should all talk about something else. I don't think tip is a troll, he's been here for a long time and I've liked a lot of his comments before, which is why I think there WAS the hurt and confusion here. I don't think that any random troll would get this kind of thread. I think that his comments usually are thoughtful and measured, so for him to respond in such a thoughtless and then condescending manner was really confusing to me.

PistolPackinMama

@steponitvelma I think we aren't going to agree on this, so, yeah. That's going to happen.

My take on this "hairpin groupthink" thing that comes up a lot is. Well, there are some issues with pretty solidly established points of view represented here. Which, considering who is by and large reading, isn't surprising.

A long time ago, someone made a comment in an abortion rights/availability thread about how not everyone here is A-OK with abortion. Well, ok. But as a commenter pointed out, this is a thread with a strongly feminist readership and editorial bent. Don't be OK with abortion rights. But don't expect not to have strenuous pushback. It's a reasonable expectation if you have a readership that take the position that restriction of reproductive rights is a human rights violation.

There is a commenter here who (I think) is a dude who sometimes leaves funny (I guess?) comments that frankly creep me the fuck out. Like, my response is "don't read that guy's comments" or "I hope no one with rape survival/ abuse PTSD just read that." I have never made an issue out of it, because apparently enough people like this commenter that I will be in the minority, and sometimes that happens. If I know I am outnumbered, and I don't want to take on a fight, I keep it to myself.

Do I think Pinners would be unkind to me? No, but I think they will probably be vehement in their defense of him. Do I think that everyone has to do it? No. No, speak up if you have something to say. But if you know you are heading into a discussion in the minority, be in a mood to argue, because that it what will happen.

I don't see a lot of group think here. I see a lot of people who have thought through or are working through their opinions, and know their minds, and are in a like-minded community. Sometimes, you end up on the short end of the numbers game in a situation like that.

Not the same thing.

itmakesmewonder

@PistolPackinMama It gives me major icks to be told I'm part of "groupthink" when other women and I independently disagree with or aren't amused by a dude's tone-deaf joke about who defines us and our sexuality.

steponitvelma

@thebestjasmine Look, I don't to keep going over the whole thing and I'm sure no one else does, either. I still disagree that it was gobbledygook and I feel like I understood easily what he meant whether it was labeled as a "joke" or not. I understand that people say they were hurt and confused by it, and although I'm still unsure why it doesn't help to compound people's hurt feelings. I think in the future I'll just stay away from threads such as these.

@pistol & itmakesmewonder "groupthink" was perhaps unfair. I don't believe all of you believe all the same things about all of the same issues. However, I won't say it isn't uncomfortable to be in the minority here.

PistolPackinMama

@itmakesmewonder Yup, me too.

[Now Entering Not Arguing About This Argument But Discussing Something Related Area. Please Extinguish Cigarettes and Return Tray Tables To Upright Position.]

Sometimes lots of people agree with an idea because it has merit. Doesn't mean nesc. that opposing views have none, although sometimes it does. I dunno- does that mean you shouldn't claim your place in the shared values, if you are one of many? Also, being a minority voice is not the same as being disempowered socially or conversationally or politically or whatever. It can just mean you are a single person with a lot of power while a lot of people in the room have less. Inequity isn't a democracy, if you like. You don't lose your privilege when you are the only one to have it.

liznieve

I don't think anyone should ever have to justify whom one loves / has eyes for, how one consensually realizes those feelings, and how one identifies themselves as a consequence. Full stop.

atipofthehat

@liznieve

Only the two (or more) people involved get to decide what to do. Everyone else can fuck off out of other people's bedrooms.

PistolPackinMama

@atipofthehat This is my dad's statement on the whole thing. Which, from a straight dude with a gay son with a trans partner is a pretty on-point thing to say. (And he is a straight dad of gay son with trans partner). That's really about as far as he needs to go in the conversation.

But this isn't about what is happening in bedrooms. This is about how people talk about who they sleep with, express to others who they want to sleep with, and find those people.

And that isn't stuff that happens in bedrooms, it happens in public discourse. Unless you never talk about your sexual desires at all with anyone. And since our public discourse is so very public about heteronormative desire talk, that is unfair and also probably unviable.

Keeping my straight business out of queer people's bedrooms doesn't solve this.

@atipofthehat That would be lovely. Unfortunately, people do not fuck out of my bedroom. Politicians, douchey fratty types, the media, all attempt to get very cozy in my bedroom. See, I'm a queer femme dyke, and because of that, either I am ignored and written out of the dialogue, or what happens in my bedroom is legislated, diagnosed, discussed, debated, or jerked off to.

This is the time to think hard about what people here are experiencing and check your privilege at the door.

realtalk

@PistolPackinMama thank youuuuuuu this is what I came down here to say only you said it way better <3

PistolPackinMama

@PistolPackinMama Uh... my brother's partner is trans, not my dad's. Speaking of grammar fails. Not that it really matters. But you know. Hi mom!

hotdog

@S. Elizabeth What exactly is a queer femme dyke? I know what queer is, and what femme is, but in this case, I don't really get the dyke usage. Terms are thrown around a lot, but I want to make sure we're on the same page as to what they mean!

Xanthophyllippa

@hotdog A queer femme who plays softball? I have no idea, either, and I probably fit all three of the adjectives in your initial question to some degree. I think the mental image we get from the popular connotation of "dyke" is probably what's throwing me off there.

atipofthehat

@S. Elizabeth

God, you must have a fuckin' HUGE bedroom.

Seriously, the category argument will win you support from inside a category, and categories are continually projected onto one in ways one can't control--you've done it to me casually in every response you've made to me on this page, although you have no idea who I really am or where I've been or how I'm oriented or what I've experienced. (Or...is that you, mom?)

First we are who we are (and don't get to choose that, usually), whether we fit everyone else's idea of who we should be or not; then we have to fend off the categories that keep getting thrown at us (which may not fit at all). There is certainly an arbitrary power at work, a sorceress if you like: we're handed what we have absolutely got to deal with and then sent on our way through life, some on the King's Road into friendly and safe territories, some through a wilderness with small support and many dangers. That was my point above. And I don't think it's funny that some people suffer torments or evade them only at great risk. I do think it would be a little odd if only you, or people who share all of your categories as completely as you do, could possibly know that, but that can't be what you're saying, right?

atipofthehat

@PistolPackinMama
@S. Elizabeth

Yes. You're absolutely right. "All things being equal" arguments MUST at least admit that all things are pretty damned far from being equal. And I'm aware that some people are in the trenches trying to survive and to deal directly with terrible issues, and I'm not claiming that the job is done when the obvious is stated. But I really like first principles, and there is (or should be) room in a conversation for the people who are trying to put out a specific fire and save the people in the building, and the person who wants to talk about a building code that might prevent thousands of future fires.

And the latter person probably shouldn't get in the way of the first responders.

@atipofthehat Are you kidding me?

Sorry, I'm out. You obviously don't get it and don't want to. Have fun with your privilege.

iceberg

@atipofthehat wait which one are you in this scenario?

atipofthehat

@iceberg

I'm not on the front lines this time.

hotdog

@Xanthophyllippa Why won't anybody answer me?

realtalk

@hotdog (s. elizabeth, correct me if I'm wrong please!!) the way I would interpret s. elizabeth's statement is that she identifies as femme in her gender presentation and/or as part of the butch/femme dynamic, she identifies as a member of the queer community, and she identifies as a dyke, which many lesbians do, both femme- and butch-presenting. dyke-ness doesn't come with a picture to me, it just indicates that that person firmly identifies as a lesbian, I guess? different people use it in different ways.

@hotdog So, I'm into female bodied people who are generally on the butch to genderqueer to trans-identified spectrum. I also don't like the word "lesbian" as a descriptor because it has a whole lot of connotations that I'm not thrilled with -- it conjures up images of granola and womyn-loving-womyn and androgynous separatist politics for me, and it also does nothing to acknowledge that I'm not into women who look like me. There's this sameness that is implied with "lesbian," and I'm not that, even though I am female and even though I am into other female-bodied people.

I prefer dyke because it is reclaiming a slur, and because it is tough, and because it implies who I sleep with, but lacks the womyn-lovin-womyn connotation. It fits me better in terms of who I am, it fits me better in terms of who I like and how I view that desire. It places me a little further away from the separatist lesbian feminists. It is more defiant. It also makes it hurt less when I am called a dyke by people who use it as something insulting and as a weapon, because "fuck yes, I happen to be a dyke, thank you" is more productive for me than feeling victimized, even if I don't verbally or physically react.

I'm queer because of my politics. I'm femme because of my gender. I'm a dyke because of my desire.

muddgirl

I didn't read it as JOS asking queer women in her community to "justify their decision" not to sleep with cis men. She's pointing out that it's insulting for trans men to be lumped in with cis women. It's not a call for individual action, but rather community action (where political action may lead to personal introspection).

Quote:There’s a lot of resistance to thinking about the politics of sexuality in this way, which I totally get... I am absolutely not about critiquing the way one person falls for another. The problem is with a community trend. When we leave sexuality trends unexamined, sex becomes a space where privilege and oppression run amuck.

Lee Van Queef

@muddgirl I think you have hit the nail on the head, there.

ba-na-nas

this piece has been reposted with really positive comments by a few of my trans friends (both trans-men and trans-women). while i don't know that it's a good idea to chastise people for who they are hot for, i do think that this piece gets people to think about what their desires are about. like, if you are a queer woman who would never date a trans-woman, what is that about? is that because you essentially see them as male, even though they self-identify as a woman? i think that this article doesn't have all the answers, but it definitely brings up some good questions.

itmakesmewonder

@ba-na-nas Reversing it and thinking about trans-women is a really good thought exercise.

baked bean

@ba-na-nas Yeah, I guess I thought that's what the whole article was wanting us to do? Like others here have mentioned, I had to re-read some things because I got confused.

thatgirl

I think the problem is with the language, not so much the idea. If you're not interested in sleeping with anyone who was AMAB, then that is your prerogative. But saying "I date women and trans men" implies that trans women are not women, which is really shitty (especially in light of the way that a lot of the queer community can treat trans women, which is not well).

But basically, you do you and date whoever you want. Just don't be an assface about it and deny anyone else's gender or identity and whatnot.

And I'm saying this as a femmey queer chick dating a cis dude in what looks to be a supremely heteronormative relationship from the outside. I'm extremely invisible when I'm not actively coming out, over and over and over again. And I feel a lot of guilt about it, and I get told that I shouldn't call myself queer, and it is really shitty, and binarism really fucking blows.

@thatgirl Wait, how do you know that "I date women and trans men" excludes trans women? That's really not the case in a lot of circumstances. I think the statement "I date women and trans men" is specifically attempting to say "I do not date cis-men."

And yet, if I went around saying that my dating preferences are "I do not date cis-men," then I could not actually account for who I desire, and would be basing my entire description of sexuality on an already incredibly privileged group of people who fall so outside my desire, it's laughable.

hallelujah

@thatgirl Exactly! People of the world, you do you, but that language strongly suggests that trans men are less (what? manly?) than cis men - while also, as you pointed out, excluding trans women. That's the part that's problematic.

muddgirl

@thatgirl I liked the comments on that article quite a bit, especially the ones pointing out that within the lesbian/queer community there's a lot of internal pressure to 'prove' your queerness. I'm straight but I've experienced similar pressures in other marginalized communities to prove that I really belong and aren't one of those Normal People, and it's both really truly understandable and really destructive (because it buys in to the argument that They are normal and We are freaks). I think one of the questions that has to be answered, both personally and politically, would be "Is a queer relationship solely defined by the physical bodies inhabiting it?" To the mainstream, straight community, this might seem true, but marginalized communities can't automatically accept the narratives of the mainstream community.

thatgirl

@S. Elizabeth When I read the article (which I just reread after my post) I picked up on the part about how "women" refers usually to cis women, which is where that comes from. The statement does a disservice to trans folks (and gender-variant folks of all sorts), really.

Mostly, my point is about how much I hate binarism, which it seems to be impossible to say without coming across as "I see people, not gender" which is totally ludicrous, because of course I see gender, and it's important, but the forced binary is really gross.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth Help? Because I can't wrap my head around why "I don't date cis-men" isn't accurate, if that is in fact the one group someone wouldn't be interested in dating.

(This kind of discussion is what kept me from doing a Women's Studies minor for my PhD - I really suck at theory. Except Haraway. Haraway, I can do.)

@Xanthophyllippa So, I think this is a good question. I personally don't say "I don't date cis-dudes" for a whole host of reasons:

-It's not an affirmation of who I desire. Nobody I actually want or am attracted to is in that statement. And it feels extra not-okay for me, because framing my desire in terms of straight cis dudes seems counterintuitive along with oddly patriarchal -- as though I have to define my attraction through the most privileged group.

-I'm around straight men a LOT. A LOT a lot. And while "yeah man, sorry, I don't date dudes" works when I'm having a beer with my fratty classmate, it says nothing about who I am. It's about as close to "I don't date cis-men" as I get in terms of speaking about my own desire, and I use it because "I'm gay" or "I'm a lesbian" or "I'm queer" (which 99% of the time they don't understand and I don't feel like explaining, hence using the words gay or lesbian) tend to get turned into some sort of jerk-off material.

-Because when people I'm attracted to ask me who I'm into, "I don't date cis-men" isn't an affirmative answer. And putting things in the negative is sort of linguistically strange.

-Because as a queer person, there is something very liberating and very good about being able to affirmatively say "I like this, not that." Both parts of that statement are important. There is power in vocalizing that.

@thatgirl I really like what you wrote, especially this:

"Mostly, my point is about how much I hate binarism, which it seems to be impossible to say without coming across as "I see people, not gender" which is totally ludicrous, because of course I see gender, and it's important, but the forced binary is really gross."

THIS. YES THIS! I want this to be on a plaque somewhere.

Lee Van Queef

As a cis woman, I don't aim to speak for this writer and for the trans community; please call me out if I'm missing something here. But I think what Jos is getting at is that a woman who explicitly defines her sexuality as "I date women and trans men," -- not necessarily someone who was in a relationship before that person identified that way, but someone who says, "these are the people I date, in general, and no other" -- could be prioritizing a person's birth anatomy over their gender identity. I imagine that a trans man who feels that people in his potential dating pool are prioritizing his anatomy over his identity would feel hurt.

More than that, I think Jos is also saying that trans women are being left out of the equation. If you are a person who dates women, especially a queer person who dates women, but you unequivocally swear off trans women, I don't see it as such a stretch to say that that could be because you don't see them "completely" as women, letting their birth anatomy influence your acceptance of their gender. Which would be cissexist.

I mean, I don't really think anyone is saying "you have to date such-and-such kind of person." I think all that is being asked for is for fellow queer folks to examine how cissexism exists in the community, even in one's own personal relationships.

ba-na-nas

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas I think that this is exactly what the author was getting at. Thanks for summing it up better than I could.

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas

"If you are a person who dates women, especially a queer person who dates women, but you unequivocally swear off trans women, I don't see it as such a stretch to say that that could be because you don't see them "completely" as women, letting their birth anatomy influence your acceptance of their gender. Which would be cissexist."

I find that the idea that if a lesbian doesn't want to sleep with someone who is a trans woman, that makes her cissexist.

Lee Van Queef

@S. Elizabeth I'm not saying it necessarily makes her so, and I get why that would be a problematic suggestion. I'm saying it could be, in the sense that it could be rooted in some deeper level of denial of the other person's gender, in which case it would be cissexist, because it would be more than just a case of "I am not attracted to this person." I'm not trying to question anyone's queer or lesbian identity. I just think that I agree with the author in that the question is worth examining.

(Edited to clarify myself a bit further.)

Wow grammar fail. I find it to be a little ridiculous that if a lesbian doesn't want to sleep with someone who is a trans woman, that makes her cissexist.

atipofthehat

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas

"Acceptance" is not the same as "attraction."

Everyone has the right to say no to what doesn't attract them. For some people, a few inches of height up or down can be a deal-killer. No one has the right to police attraction. No one has to like it. It is the most personal choice a person can make, and doesn't have to be fair.

thatgirl

@atipofthehat It totally doesn't have to be fair, but it's not necessarily a bad idea to take some time to look inside yourself and think about what's underneath your attraction. It doesn't have to result in changes, but it can be useful.

As a personal example, I had started seeing someone who identifies as a trans woman. I'd started making excuses not to see her, and I did some soul searching to try to figure out what the deal is. And I realized that I'm not attracted to her drug use and related lifestyle, and it has nothing to do with her gender, but I needed to take that time to figure it out and see if my privilege needed checking.

Lee Van Queef

@S. Elizabeth Also, by the way, thanks for engaging with me in this conversation. Giving myself a little context by reading upthread, I in no way want to demand that anyone justify their sexual/dating preferences.

Poubelle

@atipofthehat OMG, thank you. Every time I see that "cotton ceiling" nonsense I want to scream. Nobody is entitled to someone else's body.

Xanthophyllippa

@atipofthehat Yeah. But I think also it's the explicit articulation of "No thank you; I don't find X attractive" that can sometimes tip the balance between attraction/acceptance and an -ism. I think if we do what @thatgirl is suggesting and take a step back to examine why we don't find someone (or a certain physical attribute) attractive, it's a lot easier to keep ourselves from falling into an -ism pattern. But I also think that being thoughtful about how we express attractions/preferences to other people is key, too, and that's part of the problem I'm having with this discussion writ large: I can't imagine a situation where I'd feel like it was acceptable to say to someone, "I only date women and and trans men." I keep mentally substituting a whole bunch of other categories for "women" and "trans men" and thinking about what I would sound like if I said them out loud, and every time I think, "wow, I sound like I'm in an -ism."

iceberg

@Xanthophyllippa THIS. Maybe it's partly about how we express it, maybe it's about being more specific, generally it's about being considerate?

atipofthehat

@Xanthophyllippa
@iceberg

Yes to consideration!

But isn't personal preference a kind of ism, inescapably? We are ageist, prefer one gender against the other, like a certain eye color or kind of hairstyle....

The thing that I *LOVE* in this connection is that, while we may know what category we're in, and have all sorts of preferences within that category, the person who turns out to be the most important in our lives is almost never the person we imagine. All I can say is, my ability to choose my exact "type" failed miserably, and in that failure I found more happiness that I could ever have engineered for myself.

itmakesmewonder

@S. Elizabeth Can you say more about why this is ridiculous?

thatgirl

@atipofthehat -isms are usually more institutionalized than a personal preference. Like, I have a thing for redheads. I really really dig redheads, the paler and more freckley the better. I definitely check out redheads on the street more frequently than other hair colors. BUT, I don't only date redheads, nor do I only say that I am attracted to redheads. It's a characteristic that I like, but it doesn't mean that I'm not open to dating blondes, or people with blue hair. And I don't perpetuate the idea that only redheads are good for me to date.

Sorry if that stopped making sense, I looked up a picture of Eddie Redmayne halfway through.

WaityKatie

@thatgirl I wholeheartedly endorse your preference for pale freckly redheads and I would like to bottle that preference and feed it to the heterosexual males of the world immediately. And also the other stuff you said.

@itmakesmewonder Okay, so I think acceptance and attraction are different things. I think they often intersect. But I think it's possible to say "hi, I accept and confirm your identity, and even though you identify as a woman, and I am attracted to some women, I am not attracted to you." And if that reason is something that is politically charged, yes, totally, break that down because it's important to think about. But it is indeed possible to come to the conclusion of "this is not for me" for valid reasons that don't make you complicit in systemic oppression.

I will use myself as an example: I briefly dated a lovely woman last year. She was super hot and made me all melty at the knees and I thought she was awesome. We went out a few times. Cool, awesome, great. Then we slept together. Or tried to. And her body just didn't feel *right* to me, and there was something about the way she was physically put together that just... I couldn't do it. And it made me feel shitty, because she was SO GREAT and yet I couldn't have sex without having a massive panic attack because it didn't feel right. Not familiar, not okay, didn't smell right, muscles too hard, shoulders not where I expected them, just different and not in a way that my body liked. My body said "NO NO NO NO NO NOT RIGHT GET OUT." And I did, because popping an Ativan before having sex because I wanted to make my body STFU seemed like a not okay idea. And yes, she had fully transitioned (and transitioned later in life, and she's 40-something).

And you know what? I don't think I can do that again because it wouldn't be fair to anyone involved. It would be shitty. It would be shitty to be like "oh hey, your anatomical structure in terms of your bones and muscles is not turning me on and it's making me feel icky about this decision to be naked with you and even though I know you're a woman this feels very bad to me and I think it's because of the way your body is put together." And it would be shitty to ever say that to someone because that would be cruel. And I feel shitty writing this and posting it because I *KNOW* someone will judge me for it.

It is not because I don't accept trans women as women. It is because through my personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that I have a narrower spectrum of people I'm attracted to than is politically okay in much of the queer community. And in some cases, a narrower spectrum of people I'm attracted to than is even okay with me, because some people are super lovely and then no chemistry.

However, I am not obligated to sleep with someone I am not attracted to. I am not obligated to sleep with anyone to prove my identity or my worthiness as an activist or an accepting person or a nice person or someone who isn't a bigot. Because that would be wrong and would be a bad decision for me. Some people are only attracted to redheads, and some people are exclusively attracted to cis men, and some people are exclusively attracted to tall lanky hipsters with clear lenses in the frames of their glasses. I am really only attracted to butch or genderqueer female people who are taller than I am and are cis women because that's what my body says it wants. When I say this about not wanting to sleep with cis-men and trans men who have physically transitioned, most people nod at this point and say "oh I get it." So this is another example of this.

Please tell me how that makes me oppressive, because cissexist implies something amounting to bigotry and discrimination on account of one's gender and sex, and I am merely oversharing on the Hairpin for the sake of saying "I, personally, am attracted to X Y and Z."

itmakesmewonder

@S. Elizabeth Hey, I was just asking, and you answered the question, and that's all I wanted. Thank you.

wharrgarbl

"Or should it?"

I wouldn't think so? I mean, if you stay with your trans dude because you love him even though you normally only date ladies, and you wouldn't go hook up with another dude if you and your beau broke up, and you aren't attracted to dudes in general...there's not really much to question. It's not even really "I date women and trans men," for those women. It's "I date women and this one guy."

melis

WELCOME TO CISZLER ARE YOU PART OF THE GENDER THEORY PARTY RIGHT THIS WAY PLEASE

melis

WOULD YOU PREFER TO BE SEATED IN THE SECOND OR THIRD WAVE OF FEMINISM

melis

OH I'M AWFULLY SORRY THE INTERSECTIONALITY BOOTH IS FULL UP AT THE MOMENT BUT THERE ARE STILL SOME OPEN TABLES AT THE MATRIX OF DOMINATION

melis

COME ON YOU GUYS MISSED ME A LITTLE RIGHT

Tuna Surprise

@melis
We're waiting for the rest of our group to transition. Could we still be seated now?

redheaded&crazy

@melis thing that crossed my mind many times last week: WHY DID WE STOP MELIS FROM TAKING CARE OF THE TROLLS* ITS ANARCHY ANARACHY!!!

second thing that crossed my mind: oh yeah she's in switzerland. sheeit.

*/people who are disagreeing with each other in a heated fashion

PistolPackinMama

@melis More than a little.

But I am serene, because this means you are writing the book! Right?

(j/k. You could have been making cookies and watching soap operas and I would be equally serene.)

PistolPackinMama

@redheaded&crazie Or been in Switzerland.

hotdog

@redheaded&crazie Those aren't trolls. Trolls are people coming in purely to instigate. Those are readers of the hairpin, disagreeing. I'm really not sure why it's bad to discuss and disagree, and I really do not think everyone that reads/comments on a website needs to think in the ONE TRUE WAY, and I still appreciate melis' interjections.

redheaded&crazy

@hotdog I know I know, that's why I added the disclaimer but I really don't have a problem with people discussing and disagreeing. In fact, please just forget I said anything. I go on about this too much. I appreciate hearing a variety of perspectives on things. Y'all have taught me a lot.

hotdog

@redheaded&crazie It's too late, I have already decided to leave the hairpin in a huff, then post about it on my blog, then get really mad and call everyone a cunt when they read the (PUBLIC) blog that is talking about them. SO THERE.

redheaded&crazy

@hotdog just make sure to call me out personally as the reason and I'll be content.

hotdog

@redheaded&crazie IT WAS TEENIE.

wharrgarbl

@hotdog "redheaded&crazie is a terrible person, update at always." "zomg you guys, redheaded&crazie is still a terrible person and is now mad that I called her a terrible person over here." "10 libelous reasons redheaded&crazie is a terrible person who shouldn't be reading this, neener neener neener."

But yeah, there are people disagreeing and having an argument, and then there are the occasional trolls, and they're usually miles and miles and miles apart.

WaityKatie

@hotdog Whoah, I kind of want to know and don't want to know at the same time (?).

melis

ohhh my god I missed EVERYTHING

melis

@melis hmm an article about weight loss and mormonism, lemme just check what else I missed OH MY GODDDD I MISSED EVERYTHING AGAIN

evil melis

@melis you may have missed it but while you were foolishly Alping in easterly climes I never stopped, never slept in my drive to foment dissension and hatred

stonefruit

@all y'all OH STOP IT I'M CRYING FROM LAUGHING.

PistolPackinMama

@evil melis stop trying to claim credit for this one. Sadly, you were out outmaneuvered. Better luck next time? Or maybe no next times?

noodge

@hotdog

fuck. I saw this and my heart started racing as I furiously tried to remember WHAT ELSE I DID THAT MADE PEOPLE CALL ME A CUNT.

Whew! nothing. that I know of. (that I know of?)

redheaded&crazy

@teenie nope! no just the one thing. good times!

thebestjasmine

@teenie WAIT WHAT WAS THE ONE THING? How did I miss that?

noodge

@thebestjasmine ugh, you probably don't even really want to know. i have anxious farts this afternoon from just thinking about it (yes, I'm sensitive). but you can check the "be less crazy about your weight" thread if you're really feeling like it.

Faintly Macabre

@melis According to that comment, only 9 people on The Hairpin missed you. And we all know how many thousands of commenters there are!

Reginal T. Squirge

But none of them missed her as much as I did!

Faintly Macabre

@melis It's all right, you were being neutral!

hotdog

@teenie I thought the entire thing was HILARIOUS. I also thought the fight upthread was hilarious. But I also tend to think that things on the internet in the comments of a website I happen to read are not really that important or warranting emotion (in the grander scheme of my life).

Ophelia

@teenie I missed that thread, but now I'm reading the whole thing...it's like primary source material for an anthropology dissertation about American internet culture and religion.

Ophelia

@teenie AND...I just found the other thread you were talking about :-/

atipofthehat

@melis

Were you really on an Alp? Did you see THIS? My favorite Alpine picture so far.

dtowngirl

I think it's very problematic when anyone feels like she/he needs to defend a decision about sleeping with another adult, whoever they may be. While I think there is an element of attraction that could be political, as the author asserts, I think it's a little too reductive to say that our desires are largely political. I am attracted to the people I am attracted to for myriad reasons, and I don't think I need to defend myself.

I am not in any way a biologist, so I may just be making stuff up here, but I would assume that at least a part of attraction is biochemical .

Xanthophyllippa

@dtowngirl I think the feeling of needing to defend oneself here is similar to the thread about ethnic/racial identities: we shouldn't have to put up with people insisting we're Italian when we're not, or looking at our stereotype-shatting attributes and saying, "Wait, what ARE you?", but we do. And we shouldn't have to put up with people looking at us holding hands with a man and assuming that we're either straight or not-lesbian, but they do, and both situations set up the expectation that we will justify/defend ourselves because we don't match someone else's categories.

I don't know anything about you so I can't make an example based on either race/ethnicity or sexuality, but even something like looking at a friend's new partner and then saying later, "hey, I thought you didn't like redheads?" can put someone on the spot and demand defense. So while I agree with you that no one should ever have to defend their attractions, the reality is that the need arises pretty often - and I'd be surprised if absolutely none of the white, straight folks reading this thread have had something like that happen. The aggressiveness of the observer's demand for justification often increases as the target's proximity to "white" and "straight" decreases.

dtowngirl

@Xanthophyllippa I think you're right--it has been historically the burden of the not-straight, etc. to defend themselves from the inquiring "normal" masses. I guess I should amend my statement to say that while I don't think I *need* to defend myself, I find that I am often put in the position of defending myself, which I find ridiculous and try not to play into.

I am a cis woman who has been in a relationship with another cis woman for several years. I often find myself fielding questions/critiques from people who mean well and from people who definitely don't. Compounding this is the fact that both my partner and I each dated men before we got together, and that seems to invite a particular critique, i.e. we're going through a phase, etc. I think in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to defend ourselves or define ourselves constantly.

harebell

@dtowngirl Yes! I think not only is it important not to allow oneself to be put into the position of "defending" oneself & attractions if at all possible, but it's important to not be forced to label or categorize oneself. It's true that we have more and better labels now, and they can be helpful at times, but it's a dangerous seduction to use them -- not everybody fits or will always fit at all times even if they do now, firstly, & then secondly it institutionalizes something that shouldn't be institutionalized -- sexual desire. I really hate the vocabulary of "identifying"; I tend to replace it mentally with "confessing," and this societal desire that we all "confess" so we can be put into neat categories and have it be recorded officially & go on to police ourselves and each other.

wee_ramekin

Hmmmmmm. This article definitely provides food for thought.

Personally, I can see where the author is coming from theoretically. I do think it's undermining to say that you only date women and trans men, because in essence, you're saying that you date women and "not real men", and trans men are real men. Or at least, that's how much of the culture will understand your pronouncement. It undermines your partner's identity, and can out them in situations where they may not wanted to be outed.

Where I find myself disagreeing with the author is in the field of actual experience. I dated a man who started his transition from female to male during the course of our relationship. (This was not a problem for me attraction-wise as I identify as queer/bisexual.) What I appreciated about him and his masculinity, however, was that it is based in a lived experience of femininity, which is not the case for cisgendered men. So even though he's one of the most masculine people I know, he wasn't raised with male privilege. He didn't look askance at me when I was incapacitated by period cramps, or roll his eyes when I wanted to talk about issues with my friends. He understood how incredibly sexist men - even good, feminist men - can sometimes be because he had lived a female experience. And ladies, that is my ideal man: a man who is one big pulsing ball of masculinity, but who hasn't been conditioned into sexist ways of being.

I think that this fact may be part of the reason a woman can find herself attracted to cis women and trans men, but not trans women or cis men. Yes, trans women are oppressed, and honestly, they are often more oppressed than cis women once they begin presenting as female. What they don't share with cis women is a history of oppression since birth and a personality and worldview shaped by that. Yes, many trans women have probably felt the gender dissonance that most trans folk experience, which seems utterly horrid and I don't wish to downplay it. What they probably have not experienced is the conditioning that cis women experience from birth. When trans women transition, they do experience oppression, but they also carry with them the perspective of having been born with male privilege, and that *is* a different perspective than cis women and trans men have. I don't want to "Oppression Olympics" here, because I think that both cis women and trans women get a really shitty deal, but I'm trying to delineate why queer cis women might want to date cis women and trans men, but not attracted to trans women or cis men.*

*And this isn't to say this is the only reason. There are definitely other reasons and prejudices that are a part of this phenomenon.

melis

@wee_ramekin can you even imagine how intense the opening ceremonies at the Oppression Olympics would be

@melis there would be a whoooole lot of processing.

thatgirl

@S. Elizabeth Are you kidding? Processing would be the most televised event.

wee_ramekin

@melis the Torch ceremonies would be powered solely by othering and upacking of privilege

muddgirl

@wee_ramekin I don't think you really mean to say that trans women don't have a history of oppression since birth, do you? This would seem to be arguing for two tiers of oppression, let's call them "visibly oppressed" (Women and racial minorities, I guess) and "invisibly oppressed" (people who are gay or transgender), where visibly oppressed just suffer "more" oppression quantitatively than those who are invisibly oppressed. This just doesn't match the lived-in experiences of my gay or transgender friends who report (a) knowing from an early age that they were gay/trans - just as I knew from an early age (but not from birth!) that I was a woman, and (b) knowing that being gay or trans was wrong wrong wrong. Such early shame is not something that is magically erased by male privilege or straight privilege - that's not how intersectionality works. My white privilege doesn't erase the fact that I'm a woman, and their male privilege doesn't erase the fact that they're transgender.

muddgirl

@muddgirl Ugh, not that it was wrong, but that it was considered wrong/deviant/freakish by their culture.

Cat named Virtute

@wee_ramekin wee_ram, I'm mostly with you up until the part about trans women having lived male privilege. That's not really how it works when you grow up not being a male inside. People may ascribe it to you if you pass, but being passed is its own invisibility and hardship, and frequently doesn't allow trans women full access to its perks.

As for the first part, I'm on board with you, but then I realized that it's not quite cis guys I have a problem with, just dudes who are dicks about female experience.

hallelujah

@muddgirl YES! Not to mention that the myth of "shared girlhood" has been used almost exclusively to exclude, oppress and abuse trans women.

bibliostitute

@hallelujah also I sometimes have a problem with this strategy because, excuse me? as a white gay cismale jew manchild i know where i stand in the eyes of most people in the passing/privilege/power categories. and i've made my peace with that. BUT please don't write us off. many of us are actively interested in being male-anti-sexists; cis anti-transphobes; white anti-racists. we're working on ourselves, and maybe i will get ALL the flack for this, but it is disheartening to be told we can be of no use to the movement and that the sort of "invisible" oppression and suffering people may feel both for their own small "otherness" and for breaking out of their condition was for naught?*

actually, though, the oppression olympics would be the most hateful thing and there would certainly not be a pingpong diplomacy just everyone fuming about how they were robbed.

*feelings. i apologize if i haven't unpacked them fully or they are too vague/over complicated. i had to spend many hours today listening to the apologetics of the jerusalem ultra-orthodox community on why they are good and deserve much and more and why people like me are evil. brain fried.

wee_ramekin

@muddgirl @Cat named Virtue Oops! Definitely didn't mean to imply that trans women (or men) don't have a history of oppression since birth. I tried to get at that when I talked about the gender dissonance that I assume trans folk feel (I am a cis woman, so I can't speak to it personally), but I don't think that I put enough emphasis on it.

I definitely believe that trans folks, both male and female, experience oppression and distancing from birth, even if it's mostly internally instead of externally. I don't know any trans women well enough for them to have shared their experiences with me, but my ex-boyfriend, who is a trans guy, shared his experience with me, and it sounds absolutely awful. I would not wish a trans childhood on anyone with the current state of our culture's attitudes toward it.

I think what I was trying to get at is my assumption that many trans women can pass as male before they start their transition, and in passing as male, they are the recipients of male privilege, whether or not they self-identify as male.

HOWEVER, I admit that my experience with trans women and their lived experience is near non-existent, so I am willing to back up off that point and take a look at it from a different point of view. Thanks for providing a different perspective!

PistolPackinMama

@melis Oh GOD. The slow-mo Dramatic Voice Inspiring TV Spots About Athletes Overcoming And Triumphing would be... something else.

hotdog

@bibliostitute I'm sorry, everyone stopped reading when you said you were a cis man. Cue foghorn noise.

bibliostitute

@hotdog that's fair.

muddgirl

@hallelujah Yeah, on re-reading the feministing post (there's really a lot there to unpack) I noticed a whole thread I missed the first time around - that JOS is really speaking, on a personal level, about the oppression of trans women by queer cis women, who are nominally their allies in this community. This talk about shared childhood oppression can be insulting to trans men, sure, but of course it's also insulting to trans women.

Cat named Virtute

@wee_ramekin No, I understand and appreciate the clarification. It's been my (admittedly limited) experience and understanding that passing just kind of sucks because you're trying to be someone you're not in order to avoid violence or discrimination, so there's not a lot of enthusiasm for boys' clubs and whatnot. Especially because people often think you're kinda faggy anyway.

iceberg

@wee_ramekin just want to say, <3 you wee ramekin. you are so measured and thoughtful!

E
E

@wee_ramekin I think the article really raised an interesting and broad question about which communities are willing to claim which people, at which stages in their lives. Where are trans men, who at some point were identified as girls/women by someone, supposed to belong when they reach a transition point where most people (john g public) recognize them as having male bodies? Prior to that point, you have someone with what is really a cis orientation, but a female body, so they're able to fit in with lesbians.

And conversely where are trans women supposed to belong? You have someone who grew up male, who is a cis woman in a male body, who is welcome among gay men through youth probably.

The bodies/community identification of trans people with cis attraction are an incredibly complicated place. I'd assume generally if you are a trans man or woman, what you'd really like is what cis people have right from the get go. But you are denied that by the world so then you get welcomed into a community that then shapes you and when you reach a point where your transition takes you into a cis world, you have strong ties, of love, friendship and a shared vocabulary with a community that maybe isn't exactly "yours" anymore?

And on the flip side there's a gender performance aspect that gets really complex for trans people. I think this is what wee ramekin and the author of the article was saying. Trans men sometimes, in claiming their male-ness, act like the worst male stereotypes (I've heard the same issues raised by my femme friends in regards to butch women- they meet female bodied misogynists) and the same thing can happen to trans women too I think.

For me I think the most interesting thing to examine is whether lesbians and feminists fail to welcome transwomen because the identity of a transwoman might embrace a lot of shackles of feminine identity that those groups have worked to shed? If you were raised a boy and shamed for your feminine side, wearing makeup and having someone pull your chair out at dinner as an adult must feel SO FREEING! But for those of us who have had lifelong female bodies and wrestle with what is expected of women, we might not be welcoming of trans women, because of our divided life experiences. And we might hold trans men closer because they didn't always want to wear lipstick and a dress either. Except they didn't want to wear lipstick not becaue they were girls who didn't like makeup because they were boys inside. Ah! Complex!

My takeaway moral from the article is that female queers and feminists need to examine who we are failing to welcome at the table, who we don't let talk as one of us- and take particular care that if we think it's important to set a place for trans men (and I think we should! Anyone who wants to come to the table of patriarchy fighting should be there!) there is at least as much room for trans women to also be voices on that side of things. They shouldn't feel like the only options are to be hiding in plain sight among cis people or belong to the gay male community, if that's what's happening.

Oh god, words are so imprecise. I hope this comes out correctly (fingers crossed!).

E
E

@bibliostitute I don't think that it's about "writing you off". But I think it's fair to say that if you are a fish you swim in water all the time, but if you are an oceanographer you are going to swim in water when you want to, and wearing a special mask. It's great that you come into the water! But! You aren't going to be able to talk about how it feels to breathe it, and it's maybe going to feel like that's a "disheartening" way of us fish telling you you "can be of no use to the movement". Which ISN'T TRUE. There's so much you can do with your air breathing! You can give your money-which oceanographers have more of than fish do, historically, to fish causes (women's healthcare, marriage equality, organizations that help trans people, all of that). You can, when you hop out of the ocean and walk back out into all that air, tell everyone what fishes are like. When your other land dwelling friends say, "fishes are such nagging bitches" you say, "hell no, I know awesome fish! Shut your fool mouth!". And if you meet a nice fish, you become their friend and you listen to them and when they say they think something happened to them that wouldn't happen to someone who breathes air, you don't tell them to stop being paranoid. You LISTEN.

Being an ally is invaluable. It's very HARD work to be a real ally- to really learn what the other world that you will never live in looks like, and find ways to participate, and find ways to use your voice to bring news back out to the place of privilege you live in. I get how it can feel like the safe spaces that women, minority and queer people build to talk amongst themselves also might feel like fences that we build to keep out the "nice guys" who don't want to be left on the other side with the not nice guys. But it's not like that. If you feel that you are occasionally unfairly judged by the people you want to ally based in how you present to the world- here you are, a feminist man, a white non-racist, a queer friendly straight person, getting the side eye, please consider that all those people get that stink eye ALL DAY LONG and thus they no longer know WHO to trust. That's your small taste of what life under water feels like, Jacques. If you learn to grin and bear it, you will be an effective ally.

bibliostitute

@E I'm not a straight person, i tried in seventh grade, no dice, but: thank you. I didn't mean to do boy-whiny, and I realize I did (EAT MORE, bibliostitute!), so many zillions of thanks for your amazing and measured response.

Actually this is all very much an internal conversation I've been having/a skype conversation with a dear friend from school, because the other day at my local gay bar a man told me I presented as an FTM which is why none of the gay boys here are interested. Which, *headsplosion* because what an unexpected thing to hear and how to respond in a non-violent (in the queer/gender studies style) way?

Since then I've done a lot of thinking about how one responds to that, and also how I use my language with other gay men and when I do or don't police CisGayMaleWhite power/privilege against TransLBQFemaleColor people.

E
E

@bibliostitute oops, sorry! I read "white cis male" and completely missed "gay"!

Part 2: Wow. See, I think that's what we need to be talking about! When things like that happen, where someone says, oh FTM aren't "real" gay men, and we've assumed you are FTM, so therefore...no phone numbers. It blows for you, it would hurt even worse if you were trans, it's rotten overall. I think that's what the article was about- queer assumptions or boundaries can be just as devastating to people as hetero ones. In building the community that protects the isolated people, you hurt someone else. ESPECIALLY nowadays where being gay or lesbian is getting more mainstream- gay and lesbian is the voice that speaks to the majority about queer experience and that's not the same thing for bi people or trans people. I know a lot of harm that happens to bi people by being excluded from both sides, or stereotyped equally.

bibliostitute

@E No worries! In photos and in passing (hah!) I apparently pass like a motherf*cker, so I am used to being effaced before I can even try to spread the rainbow.

Yes this is exactly what I am so uncomfortable with with my cohort. White gay males, we have to do better. Please! I want to be the best ally possible and it means we need to do some work!

Cat named Virtute

@E You and your comments are totally hitting it out of the park today.

bibliostitute

@Cat named Virtute AGREED

amitygardens@twitter

I just wanted to put out there that I like EVERYONE. I am like the whore of attraction, because I'm pansexual and my brain does not discriminate.

Cat named Virtute

@Arielle Clemence@twitter Congratulations, how wonderful.

Xanthophyllippa

@Arielle Clemence@twitter This is why we need an ironic font.

PistolPackinMama

@Xanthophyllippa I was into using ironic fonts but then three other people found out about them and then it was commercial.

I've moved onto an ennui font.

Ophelia

@PistolPackinMama I don't use fonts at all anymore.

PistolPackinMama

@Ophelia I've been wondering where you were the last day or two. No I know. You were here typing without font into the ether, silently responding to the chow chow of the world.

Ophelia

@PistolPackinMama Urgh, was having a RIDICULOUS week and a half at work. Now am emerging from the Cone Of Silence to rejoin the world.

I've decided a fontless existence just isn't cutting it, from an existential perspective.

cinderellen@twitter

I am not sure how it is offensive to clearly identify what kind of person you are attracted to. To say "I date trans men" is not to deny their identity - it is to specifically identify them. I have dated cis men and cis women, and I am not interested in dating trans men or women. I have my own reasons, and do not feel defensive about it. I respect the rights and acceptance and inclusion of every human on whatever part of the continuum they are found and will defend their equal worth to any cis person, but I do not feel obligated to date a full range of people to prove that point. I can't deny the effects of the pervasive patriarchy but I don't see this as the field to do battle on.

iceberg

@cinderellen@twitter i dunno, to me it just seems like a blanket statement, like, if you date women, and a trans woman is a woman, then how can you KNOW that you'll never date any trans women or ever be attracted to one? I can understand not wanting to date a trans woman that doesn't have a vulva/vagina or boobs because those parts are part of why you like to date women, but a transitioned trans woman that has all the bits you like to get down with? If you still say no, I feel like it's worth examining. Not CHANGING to seem politically correct, people aren't Pokemon (gotta bang 'em all), just examining.
I am a straight cis-lady and I've only dated cis-dudes, but I don't know that I would say I would never date a trans man*, because I haven't met them all.

*except for the fact that Mr. Iceberg would frown on my dating anyone.

Cat named Virtute

@iceberg That is such a fantastic point. For a long time I thoughtI was only attracted to men. Thenpeople with a soft butch/masculine/androgynous presentation. Then I met the girl I'm currently shtupping, and it turns out I think she's just as hot in glitter nail polish and gauzy skirts as in skinny jeans and stripey tees.

Obviously this won't happen for everyone, but I really believe that more queer/trans positivity will make it easier and more common, and that it's always good to check in with yourself about your attractions.

cinderellen@twitter

@iceberg It's fair to point out that at some point I could meet a trans person to whom I was attracted, but there is a combination of taste/smell that I respond to and I have not met any trans people who had this basic appeal for me (up to this point!). Also The Little Woman would not approve!

ba-na-nas

Just wanted to say that I really enjoy the way this conversation is unfolding here. Disagreeing respectfully! Learning from/accepting feedback from others! Yay!

thatgirl

@ba-na-nas I'm pretty sure that the Hairpin is the most amazing place on the internet for just that reason.

hotdog

@ba-na-nas This comment was far more effective before that fight off there, and someone slamming the webdoor. Ha!

ba-na-nas

@hotdog it was sort of an aspirational comment. i saw that thing up there starting to happen and i was trying to appeal to our best internet selves.

Oh, squiggles

Or! Or...we could all date whoever we happen to like, not bother to label ourselves, just enjoy the happy loving sexy times, and not give shit about what all the other people are doing since it is none of our business anyway? Could we try that instead?

wee_ramekin

@Awesomely Nonfunctional

Well I mean, yes, totally. But that becomes a little more difficult if you're on a dating site or looking for a partner and your friends ask who you're interested in, or if you're talking about what turns you on, or lots of other cases.

I think that the solution (ha! like I actually even know what "the solution" would even be) is to combine your attitude with discussions about terminology and turning a critical eye on things, like this article tries to do.

Oh, squiggles

@wee_ramekin It's funny, but I guess a dating site is a good example of why we might need some kind of labels. I hadn't really thought of that.

But the thing is...this almost makes having a gender preference seem like discrimination. Which is kind of why I hate labeling everything. Maybe someone tends to prefer masculine partners, but if they label themselves that way, are they completely eliminating their chance to meet someone who doesn't fall under that description, but would actually be a great relationship?

I guess the only way we can do away with labels is when we get to the point of not having any gender/sexuality bias left in society...and that's probably going to take a while.

Nerd Thought: I love how in Doctor Who Capt. Jack is an a example of 51st century sexuality, which isn't really labeled per se, but just based on being with who you find attractive.

PotatoPotato

@Awesomely Nonfunctional

The idea that taking a general stab at "In general I'd like to date X kinda person" is *discrimination* bugs me. The best we can ever do when describing the kinds of people we tend to be attracted to -- which I don't think we can much help -- is to generalize.

It's discrimination to hire somebody based on their color/sex/religion/body/economic status/etc. It's discrimination to refuse to do business with someone based on their color/sex/religion/body/economic status/etc. Or treat them like shit or harass them for that reason. Or anything like that. People have the right to be treated equally by the law, by businesses, and generally treated with respect by the community, whatever their color/sex/religion/body/economic status/etc.

But who I date? If I have a type, or find one person attractive and another not? Nobody has the right to be attractive to me. Nobody has the right to be a person that I will date or want to date.

I mean, when I discriminate against people who want to date me , IT COULD BE because I'm racist, or classist, or weight-ist, or whatever. In which case, even if you're somebody who meets my standards, you might want to just tell me to fuck off.

BUT it could just be that I have certain things that I am attracted to, and certain things that I want in a partner, or out of my shared life with a potential partner. And having a set of standards or expectations for who I want to date, when some people meet those standards and some do not, isn't necessarily a bad thing, or make me a bad person.

TL;DR: I don't think being choosy about who you date, or being attracted or not attracted to someone, is the same thing as being an -ist asshole.

...Hopefully that comes across as I mean it.

@PotatoPotato I agree. I think the stumbling block that the article is addressing might be "people should be allowed to sleep with and date and marry who they want, but when those things line up with community expectations, the language we use is problematic. So let's check that out." And I don't think there's an easy solution to the dilemma -- that transwomen aren't always included in "women," that by trying to maintain queer visibility people may out others without their permission, that "queerer than thou" is heavily policed within the queer community and that might be part of the problem, and that who a person wants to fuck is sometimes conflated with who they accept -- and that there's very little language we have to say those things. And that the language that is specific often refers to biology and genitals and identity and the things we're trying to avoid as definitions of person to begin with.

PotatoPotato

@S. Elizabeth

Yesssss, you just managed to say so many of the other things I was thinking. And in so many of the threads of conversation we bump into the, "In theory it should be this way and simple" vs. "In reality it's complicated because words and expectations and feeeeeelings and things." And a lot of that is tied up in the language, and how a word technically means this thing, but it's an emotionally loaded word that translates to somebody's identity. You can get as technical as you want and that looks pretty on paper, but you can't in reality separate the language from all the not-in-the-dictionary things that those words mean to so many people.

Words.

TenyaLuna

Much as we give lip service to the idea that you never have to justify your attractions, in reality, you do. We question why someone says things like "I'd never date someone shorter/taller than me," we admonish someone who only wants a partner with the right degree, we look askance at the person who declares they only want one body type. And this isn't even getting into the more culturally charged areas of race, gender, religion, etc. Unless you are literally a person who finds themselves in relationships/bed randomly and there is no pattern (I have my doubts such a person exists) - having attractions is going to exclude someone, and whoever that excludes is probably going to find that offensive, because those exclusions aren't based on who you are as a person! Nothing to do with your hopes and dreams and virtues, but on things you can't change. And for all the platitudes of "well fine, just don't date me ANYWAY, your loss!" it still hurts.

Not that you can make someone attracted to you, nor make "I date women and trans-men" not a thing in the world, but I think questioning why one does is still important.

iceberg

@TenyaLuna AND you've given me the excuse to tell the story of how when someone I know said he wouldn't date Asian ladies because he doesn't find them attractive, I emailed him a link to a Google search of Zhang Ziyi and he was like "... I... stand corrected." It's okay to have preferences, just don't blanket rule shit out!

Oh, squiggles

@TenyaLuna That raises an interesting point. It makes me wonder: should we be offended when we are excluded from someone's attractions? Aren't the traits and qualities we are attracted to just as arbitrary as the traits and qualities themselves?

I don't really know the answer to that. But it does make me think that acceptance, of ourselves and each other and our differences, is something that needs to increase across the board.

atipofthehat

@iceberg

People who are open to life and aware and responsive can do very, very well!

PistolPackinMama

@Awesomely Nonfunctional I'd go with no on that. I can't really be held responsible/ told to change who turns me on. But I can totally be held responsible for how I manage what I do about who turns me on.

So, hetero lady here, not relevant to the above. But a parallel that applies in my life.

Dudes who don't date fat chicks. Whatever. I am disqualified. It happens. There are dudes who won't date skinny ones.

Dudes who feel it necessary to justify and justify and justify in a defensive way they only date skinny chicks in a pleaseohpleaseohplease don't email me on OKC way? Problem.

Dudes who use vague euphemisms to get around the uncomfortable word fat, so sub in "takes care of herself" or "HWP?" Problem. (Note- I can squat half my weight and unless you are dating a lifter I can probably bench press more than she does, and I run and I eat right. Do I count as taking care of myself? No? Problem. Also everything has a height in proportion to its weight because physics.)

Dudes who are turned on by fat chicks and are ashamed to claim it because of what their friends think and so will bang you but not have an open public relationship with you? Problem. Big problem.

Dudes who refuse to acknowledge that if they are into thin women naturally, there personal preferences are situated in a system that privileges them, their desires, their choices and makes them seem natural and right? Big, big problem.

For me, anyway. Maybe not for anyone else.

I have my personal opinion on how these problems can be addressed.

It's pretty much a fat and weight related similarity to this conversation. My stake in it is a lot bigger (har har bigger) because it affects my life directly, and so of course I have stronger opinions than I have on the issue of queer dating and desire identification.

Fat is an issue I think about a lot, obvs. Whereas my queer desire identification language "doing/saying what my brother's BF tells me unless told otherwise by someone else with a reason, if I have doubts."

But I can understand why it's a fraught subject for people, because I have a fraught subject of my own.

bibliostitute

@PistolPackinMama I wish more people bragged on their squats in public fora! Rock!

PistolPackinMama

@bibliostitute Are you on Fitocracy and in the Pin group? Go over there and prepare to be amazed at RK Fire and Candybeans. Holy shit.

bibliostitute

@PistolPackinMama NO BUT I WILL BE NOW! SQUATS SQUATS SQUATS

PistolPackinMama

@bibliostitute COME BE MY FRIEND! COME BE MY FRIEND!

http://www.fitocracy.com/home/

Cat named Virtute

@PistolPackinMama Ahhhhh, yes this absolutely gets at the crux of what I was trying to articulate upthread. In the end it's much less about who you want to sleep with than how you wear the principles of your attraction in the wider world. Fifty years ago (and still today in some places) this conversation might have been a bunch of white folks discussing whether it's okay to only want to date other white folks because that's who they're attracted to. You may end up only dating people of a certain group or orientation because that's how your life works out, but using your articulations of your attraction to marginalize people is just shitty. We can carry on about the cotton ceiling being bullshit because no one can force attraction in the name of being PC, but when we have trans woman after trans woman telling us about how they get shunned from the lesbian dating pool, and trans men telling us they don't want to be outed as trans, I think it behooves us to look in ourselves and talk amongst one another about why this is happening and how we can make our communities more respectful and inclusive (not by having PC sex with people we aren't attracted to).

PistolPackinMama

@Cat named Virtute Yeah, my parallel doesn't carry through all the way, does it, though? Because cis straight dudes (and where I live populations speaking wise it happens to be a lot of white dudes, but any straight dude, really) are advantaged about as much as you can be when it comes to subject of desire*.

So anyway. White cis straight dudes into thin women. When they say stuff like that, they are at the top of the privilege pile. They don't have to fight for boner legitimacy. Whereas if a queer femme dyke into female bodied people has to contextualize and own her privilege, she has an added problem of so many disadvantages as well as her advantages and privileges to cope with while setting up her responses. She has to justify her ladyboner to everyone because everyone has something to say. And people with more privilege getting up in the business means sometimes she is on the defensive while other times she has to be fair and measured about her desire justifications.

Goddamn.

Which means... I have a maybe not easier (probably a lot easier) time with this because the dudes I want to fuck aren't in that sitch. And straight cis white dudes who don't want to bone fat ladies have it easier (or less questioned, anyway) than I do because... privilege.

Oh god.

I am going for a run now. Because this is a lot and I need to go outside.

bibliostitute

@PistolPackinMama I WILL I WILL I WILL!

@Cat named Virtute Your point about not solving the problem by having PC sex with people we're not attracted to? Winning the internet today. Winning. WIN.

I want to give you ALL the likes.

Xanthophyllippa

@bibliostitute I don't lift, but given a closed course and a semi-decent road bike I can do 16 miles in about 40 minutes. (That's on a commuter road, not a tri or racing bike.)

Cat named Virtute

@S. Elizabeth Thanks, lady. I know I've toed a hard line in this thread on matters of trans solidarity, and I stand by that, but I think that work begins in our bars and uni groups and blogs and journals, and then, only possibly, only if we're comfortable and enthusiastic, in our bedrooms.

PistolPackinMama

@Xanthophyllippa You are on Fito, yes?

Cat named Virtute

@PistolPackinMama You came back! I hope you feel better after your run. :-)

PistolPackinMama

@Cat named Virtute BAMF PPM HERE JUST DID ALL THE MOTHERFUCKING SQUATS YO.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama I am not, for multiple reasons - most of which boil down to my overall shittiness as either a workout partner or a workout supporter. I end up feeling worse about what I'm doing when I see what everyone else is doing.

PistolPackinMama

@Xanthophyllippa Darn! But I do understand. But more Xanthophyllippa in my day would be rad. But I do get it.

My work out buddy during the school year is AWESOME. I love her to death. But she is weirdly competitive. Like, I have got to outweigh her by *mumbletytheweightofahuskymumble*. And I have strong legs. So, yeah. I can leg press more than she can. By a lot. But I should be able to.

She was kind of mad about that? I mean, my leg press skillz are fine, whatever. And relatively speaking, she is stronger than I am. And faster for a sure shot. But the absolute number bugged her.

And I wasn't sure how to say "I actually do not care about this, or that you can run six miles and I really can't. It's fine. And it stresses me out SO MUCH that now you are in a pissy mood because I basically am just plain bigger than you are. By a lot."

Ugh. It's starting to get a little stressful to have a workout buddy when before I really benefited from it. Not sure what to do when she comes back. But it's been nice, being a solo workoutist in the actual gym this summer.

PistolPackinMama

@PistolPackinMama Jesus... that was a work out buddy equivalent of "my boyfriend is so great but..."

Poubelle

@Cat named Virtute I don't know if race is a valid comparison--I mean, sure, there's always been people who can pass, but you can't really transition between races, and there's no hard biology (which there is for sex), no surgery or hormone therapy that will truly change you. (I guess there is the gross bullshit "transethnic" concept, but thankfully I've only seen that on the internet.)

Besides which, interracial dating is its own complex, muddled kettle of fish with a big host of issues.

PistolPackinMama

@Poubelle There actually is a closer relationship to the biology of sex and the biology of race than we realize, though. Sex isn't a social construct in quite the same way, but the binary male/female distinction overrides biological departure from the XX/ XY binary all the time in ways that present in phenotype and in ways that don't.

Also, I was just reading a book where one of the people referenced in it by a niece or sister. She said something to the tune of "she lost touch with us, because she got married and became Puerto Rican (in race) and wasn't black any more."

So basically, she socially switched races at least in part because other people in her family assigned her to a new race.

(It was the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)

I don't think it's a 100% useful parallel because as you say, sex and race are not the same thing and the way they play out as categories in society is really different.

But the biology of sex thing and the biology of race thing are definitely founded in scientific definitions with social counterparts that aren't actually really accurately describing the natural world, even if the definitions aren't in operation in the same way any more.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama Maybe develop an inconvenient schedule that does not overlap with hers?

Also, nice comment above re: race and sex. I applaud.

charmcity

I don't really know enough to participate in this conversation more actively, but I did want to say that I am reading and thinking a lot harder about these issues than I normally have to because of my various privileges. Thanks for all of the thoughtful posts! <3 u, 'Pinnie!

Kira-Lynn@twitter

I hate this article so much.
I hated when it was first posted on Feministing, and when Jos wrote an update on it. I hate it all and it is so self-centred, creepy, and stupid.
I got to this after it already had like 280 comments, so that's what I get for checking Hairpin for the first time in the day not until 4:30pm.

@Kira-Lynn@twitter Yup. This article gave me rage-face. I will do my darndest to be nice and compassionate and open and inclusive. But don't fucking tell me how to identify who I'm attracted to.

Onymous

@S. Elizabeth
What about the people you're attracted to, do they get to tell you how to identify them?

@Onymous I guess that wasn't stated as specifically as I would have liked. In that sentence, I was using the word "identify" not as "place into a box" but as "to point out, to recognize or distinguish, to specify." But in a discussion of identity, that was probably not the best word choice.

harebell

@S. Elizabeth But perhaps you can't control the fact that one meaning more or less inexorably slips into the other. In regards to others, and also in regards to yourself.

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