GUEST POST: Queer People Not My People

Kaia originally wrote this piece for a zine, QUAC , about the topic of Queer Violence. I really enjoyed this piece and thought it was important when I read it awhile back, and was thrilled when she offered permission for me to repost it on Tranarchism.

TW warning: anti-trans bigotry and violence]

I expected to lose a lot transitioning from a gay identified boy to a trans woman. I’ve lost family, once-called “best friends”, and the ability to find a man on A4A for some anonymous one night stands. What I didn’t expect was the loss of queer communities as a safe space for me. I once idolized queer spaces, now I always enter them in trepidation, even the ones I’ve helped build and maintain. I write this piece still reeling at how much anger I felt last night, still picking out the tear-dried clumps of mascara from my eyes. It’s the slow realization that I am often the only trans woman in the room, and that queer people love throw around my identity as part of their little acronym, but would rather not hear from me.
Why is it that cis people act so ignorant in queer spaces, and no one tells them to fucking shut the fuck up?1 If you don’t know what cis is, look it up and educate yourself, because you probably are cis and I’m sick and tired of always educating you. You’re not entitled to act so ignorant, so please stop telling me how you didn’t expect to meet trans people at your queer event, or that you understand what transphobia feels like because every once in awhile you do drag or play a trans woman in a play written by a cis person. You think that you’re all hip and queer for being curious about trans issues by demanding that I tell you how long I’ve been on hormones, if I sleep with straight or gay guys, and what my junk looks like. You tell me, you had no idea I was trans when you first met me, and think I would take that as a compliment.  You walk away feeling enlightened because you just had a conversation with a transsexual, and tell your friends “It is such a hot girl, but she’s a tranny! Yeah I had no idea” and think that’s a compliment. If you don’t know what’s fucked up about that statement, I suggest you stay away from me until you learn better.

Last night, at a “queer porn screening” which featured trans and genderqueer identified people, something which should’ve been a sexually empowering event for me, made me feel more like a freak than ever. After the Long Beach LGBTIQ Center aggressively demanded that we pay a $5 “donation” to see their QSpeak event, I then had the privilege of sitting in the back of the room so I could see cis people squirm and laugh as they saw trans people fuck and get fucked on screen. Never mind that both the screen and the room had more transguys, when there was the ONE scene with transwomen were on the screening moaning and fisting eachother, people got up to leave the room, or started fidgeting every time they saw a trans woman’s dick and then whisper something to their friends who disrespectfully start to cackle. I don’t know why the same queer people who find trans guys hot, react with disgust when they see people like me on the screen.

So what is queer violence? Queer violence is the way queer people would rather assume I am a gay man in drag or a cis lesbian when I’m at their club event. Queer violence is the way in which anything that appears straight, such as when I hold my boyfriend’s hand, is coded as privileged and fucking up their radical queer spaces. Queer violence is the way in which cis queers rewrite history so that Stonewall stands for queer liberation instead of ticked off trannies fighting against police brutality. Queer violence is the way in which the queer community will get up in arms about anything they claim as homophobic, but still don’t know what transphobia looks like. The queer community doesn’t give a fuck that right now Cece MacDonald is in jail for defending herself against transphobic and racist attacks, the queer community would rather spend their time talking about their critiques of gay marriage and the It Gets Better compaign. The queer community brings up the fact that they still disagree with the military even though DADT is repealed, rather than talk about how the institution is still transphobic and denies healthcare to transsexual veterans. The queer communities politics and readings of privilege and violence are always talking about queer vs. straight which has trans people on both sides their binary.

I’ve heard cis queers complain about how transwomen leave the queer community after transition and then trail off about there jealous that we can go enjoy being straight. Nevermind that most transwomen I know identify as pan or lesbian, it’s no wonder that we get the fuck out of  cisqueer communities, they are consistently violent to us. Last night I heard a cis lesbian complain that there was no dyke on dyke porn, when there was very clearly two trans women fucking for ten minutes. What does it mean that most of the time I’m only comfortable in queer spaces when strangers read me as cis?  That I feel anger when queers say blatantly transphobic things to my face, but relief that at least they weren’t reading me as trans. My cis queer and trans guy friends can have an awesome time at some queer event, and I’m crying on the way home because of all the stupid things people say to and about me.
And don’t even get me started on how many times I hear transguys trying to “reclaim” the word tranny, when it’s never really been used to dehumanize them the way it has for transwomen.

Queer spaces are not trans spaces.  I do meet awesome cisqueer people who are knowledgeable about trans issues, but I wonder where they are when their brother and sisters start saying fucked up things about us. Why do they wait for me to be the one to educate when most of the time they can at least start the conversation as well as I can? Cisqueers are not invested in dismantling gender constructions and validating subversive gender identities, instead their main politic is in deconstructing sexuality. And that’s fine, but just be honest about whatever your politics, activism, conversations, events, or classroom is about and stop pretending that it’s inclusive of trans people.
The worst queer violence is the ways in which cisqueers speak for trans folks and pretend that they are helping us. Queer politics are not the same as trans politics. Our oppressions as queer and trans identified people are intimately connected and we will always be, but if you are cis, you will never understand fully what it’s like to be trans, no matter how queer you think you are. So please educate yourself, don’t wait for us to do it.

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About Asher

Asher Bauer is fast becoming a fixture in the San Francisco kink community, and intends to stay that way. He has worked as a Queer Educator at LYRIC (Lavender Youth Recreation And Information Center), and since has taken his talents as an educator to a wider variety of audiences, teaching on subjects ranging from safer sex to BDSM to trans and queer identities. He is also one of the hosts and originators of Transmission, the new trans-centric party at the San Francisco Citadel, and Invasion, the Citadel's all-genders queer party. View all posts by Asher

5 responses to “GUEST POST: Queer People Not My People

  • Alexandra

    Thank you for posting this, Asher. As a trans woman myself it rings unfortunately true.

  • ol_face

    I’ve just realised (anecdata here) that I didn’t meet any of my cis queer friends in queer spaces. The only people I have actually had meaningful interactions with in queer spaces have been trans.

    I do wonder about the trans men who seem comfortable in spaces like the one you described (and I recognise) – I wonder if they actually are comfortable, or whether they’re just terrified that other communities will reject them more overtly. I’m a trans man with an ounce of logic, who’d rather be seen as a man, hot or not, than an extra-queer super-butch hot lesbian (obviously that goes hand in hand with queer transmisogyny).

    Even if they’re complete dicks and don’t care about trans women having completely horrible experiences, you’d think the trans male people there would think with their brains a bit.

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  • ighwoman

    I came to WordPress to look deeper into the possibility of starting my own blog. A blog to try to describe how lonely is the life of a “transitioned” transwoman, transdyke. What I am finding – and what I feel in this entry – is the near universal pain that transwomen feel when they realize that the LGBt community doesn’t know what to do with us. Worse yet, the realization that lesbians accept transmen with open arms – not really acknowledging that all THEY want is to be men,male,NOT female; and yet they reject the legitimacy of transwomen, who want nothing less than to be rid of “male priviledge”, male power,male identity and only to be perceived as women. Would I still have transitioned back in 1991 if I knew in advance how lonely and isolated I would live and die? Of course the answer has to be a resounding YES, because if I had not transitioned, I would have died lonely, isolated, and self-hateful.

    Few cis-gendered persons (of any sexual orientation) want to deal with the issue of transcending birth assigned gender roles; but the lesbian community as a whole, with it’s lockstep adherence to “born woman” is the most hurtful of all.

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