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21st Century Lesbian Trailer Trash

These are the mad musings of a middle aged woman, dyke, nurse, poet. I have a dog, a cat, a mobile home, and delusions of grandeur.

Location: California, United States

Saturday, January 14, 2006

And Ain't She A Woman?

It has been my privilege in life to get to know, on one level or another, some transgendered persons. Only one was female to male. The rest have been male to female. And they have some amazing stories to tell.

I decided to post this because an acquaintance of mine posted on another site about the Michigan Women's Music Festival and their absolute exclusion of men. Many in the lesbian community ensure this distinction by referring to transgendered women as Not Born A Woman. I first heard this expression almost 30 years ago. Young pup that I was, I wondered why a bunch of lesbians were so adamantly exclusionary.

But it seems that, to the WOMYN of the music festival, penises are disgusting, threatening, and a symbol of the Patriarchy's objectification of women. So much so, that they have a Brother Sun Campground for women who are camping with their young sons. And a Brother Sun Family campground for those women who have been blessed with both male and female progeny.

While I understand the desire to have private space where men are not allowed, I always had a particular revulsion, as a human being, to the rhetoric of this music festival. Were I the mother of a son, I would not take him anywhere near the Michigan Women's Music Festival.

For those of you who do not know, we all begin in the womb as FEMALE. Yeppers fellas! Until you get that testosterone bath, you are in mortal danger of spending your childhood pigtailed, pink, and playing with dolls.

Actually, sexual differentiation is much more complicated. But it's fun to imagine the boys digesting the ick factor to think they might actually have been born without a penis.

I must confess that I went through a period of difficulty with the concept of transgenderism. Remember, I was raised in the 50's and 60's by a therapist with Freudian leanings. But as time progressed and I began to know some of these Not Born A Woman women, my thoughts and feelings changed.

They are not gay boys. They are not cross dressers. They were in fact Born A Woman. But nobody knew it because somehow, the brain and the body came out mismatched. Anyone who understands biology and physiology ought to be able to wrap their brain around that idea.

Interestingly, people who are born with ambiguous genitalia and/or with a chromosomal makeup that does not match their morphology are considered to have been born with a birth defect. They are said to be intergendered or to have been born with a sexual differentiation disorder. The common term used to be hermaphrodite.

Yet many still consider those who are transgendered to be confused people who simply refuse to follow God's Plan. But there is indeed a central nervous system component to sexual differentiation. So why is it so difficult to take it one step further to understand that while the chromosomes and the genitalia may say male, the brain could be saying female. And vice versa.

If you want to read one TG woman's perspective on the festival's policies,
BC Holmes posted a thoughtful and rather erudite piece on this issue in 2002.

Life is so fragile and precious. And far too short to continue making everyone who does not fit our idea of how the world must be as The Other. It may be true that we need those with whom we can identify in order to solidify our self concept. To my way of thinking, it is equally true that we need something to bump up against in order to learn what makes us human.

If you want to read more about sexual differentiation in utero, simply type the phrase into your search engine.

Kinja, the weblog guide


Blogger ~ nellenelle said...

>trips over mah feet on the way in<

You are one brave woman! The MWMF is a trigger topic, I've seen toe to toe riots break out over the topic... usually on td some of us older and more experienced posters tend to crack jokes about helmets and kevlar vests when a MWMF thread springs up.

I appreciate your thoughts, Pam... and your friendship. I have my feelings on the festival, see the good and the bad. It is my understanding that over the last several years they have moved toward neutrality, but if people are still in a tither over it, apparently some aspect of this is continuing.

I have issue as well with the flip side of this, the whole camp trans thing... if I were inclined to go, I'd simply go and be there for the real reason, which is to celebrate things women in the company of women. We've come so far in the last several years, few now stand in the way of tg people, and it is time for us to get on with our lives as who we are.

I know Melissa Ferrick, goddess bless her, refuses to play the MWMF until the policy changes. IN my experience, the lesbian community has been the most welcoming I've ever encountered in life, and a few neantherdals who cannot move past this issue don't compromise this fact.

Again, many thank you's and *hugs* Pam!

4:10 PM PST  
Blogger NursePam said...

Well, ya know. I have been stirring the pot since I left my (red) diapers behind. So I wouldn't call it bravery so much as having an underdeveloped need to keep my mouth shut ;^)

6:05 PM PST  

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