“Gender Critical” Conversation

Is there such a thing as a Gender Critical discussion without resorting to name-calling and real life attacks?

I would sure like to try.

This started to be about Male to Female TransAthletes (because I have questions and thoughts below), but seems to have morphed into a post about how I have come to question MtF TransAthletes in the first place.

Of course, I feel I need to start with explanations that may sound like apologies in advance, but here goes anyway. I feel compelled to justify where I am coming from since you do not know me; background is crucial.

My Life with Transfolks

  • My former partner is FtM transgender and I was with him for 28 years, 3 of which as he transitioned medically. He remains my Beloved.
  • In my life in online Sex Work, I spend hours a day with people on the Trans Spectrum, always in a supportive capacity, helping to remove shame and self-hate and replace that with ways to understand society is the one that is weird or freaky, not them.
  • I would never align myself with Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists/ run of the mill Gender Critical folks because I know transfolks are who they say they are. I know that. Believe it with all my heart.
  • In not aligning with TERFs/GC people, I believe transwomen have a right to be in women’s prisons, homeless shelters, bathrooms and everywhere else women are wandering in and out of.
  • I would never want a transperson discriminated for being trans (non-binary). They have every right to work, dress, live as the gender they know they are.
  • I understand trans-hatred and weep at the violence, suicides and murders that transpeople suffer through every single day. The discrimination is abhorrent to me.
  • I do not believe anyone has to pass in order to be the gender they know they are.
  • While I do not understand it as much, I do not have any negative thoughts about being trans without gender dysphoria.
  • And lastly, I freely admit my own cis-bias and that I do not have ALL the information in the world about this (I do not believe anyone else does, either). I do not consider myself a spokesperson for anyone but myself. These are my thoughts; no one has given them to me.

A Bit About My History

I came out in the Second Wave of Feminism in 1987 and the groups I attended were extremely Pro-Separatist. I knew a woman who gave her boy child up for adoption because she was a Lesbian Separatist. I was not permitted in some areas with my children because I had my son with me. I was not permitted in some spaces simply because I had a son, with me or not. I wrote about my experience with the San Diego Lesbian Press and their Separatist ideals that eventually folded the paper because they would not accept money from men.

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer

I am much more aligned with the Third Wave of Feminism, but embrace the Fourth Wave‘s ideals as well.

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer
4th Wave Feminism, still under debate

So My Question Is…

…can’t someone like me also have questions? Where are the discussions… they all are so polarized. I would love to explore my thoughts and beliefs, but find if I step to the left I am in quicksand and if I step to the right I am bludgeoned. I know I am not alone and if I, a really pro-trans person can’t ask questions, how is the run-of-the-mill person supposed to learn? How can we shift perceptions if there is nothing but anger filling the air? And if the discussion moves to transphobia, how can there be honest interchange between people. The conversation has shifted from the focus to the picture’s whole when sometimes, looking right at the subject can be crucial for definition’s purposes.

Where do I fit in?

Now, the MtF TransAthletes

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Laurel Hubbard

And then I get to Male to Female transwomen and I come to a halt. Mind you, I am confused about it all… will give you that much… but if a MtF transwoman has the same abilities as a ciswoman, why are they excelling in almost all sports where they compete together? And it happens when the transwoman begins in the sport immediately. It isn’t a gradual increase in speed or strength. It is as sudden as when they sign up for the competition.

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Gabrielle Ludwig is the tall woman.

I know many of the arguments about measuring testosterone, some requirements for hormone suppression or for requiring surgeries before they are permitted to compete. I know the International Olympic Committee is struggling to create a trans rule book because, it has “proved far more difficult than expected because this is such a tricky political and emotive issue.”

Transgender Olympics Navelgazing Writer

Not Convinced; Still Questioning

Yet, I am not convinced a MtF transwoman doesn’t have an advantage over a ciswoman.

And why aren’t there Female to Male transmen winning body building, wrestling or weight lifting competitions? Why is it that FtM transmen in sports are in weight restrictive sports like boxing, which involves speed as much as guts.

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Patricio Manuel

So, What I Want to Know…

Can someone explain to me, without resorting to “TRANSPHOBE” (because I am not), what I am not seeing? (And yes, I know it is my responsibility to learn, but there has to be a way for those seeking answers to find them beyond Googling. I prefer person to person connections… cis/transgender or otherwise.

Is there anyone willing to help? Is there anybody out there?

trans floyd Navelgazing Writer

Gay Life: 1978-1982

I’m working diligently on a memoir about my life in the gay community between 1978 and 1982, the time immediate preceding, then immediately post-AIDS. The writing is going well and I am loving where it is headed and how it’s unfolding.

I have so many stories from that time, I considered naming the book Sex, Drugs & Disco, but there already is one from pre-AIDS San Francisco. Not that books can’t have the same name, it just seemed too easy. The working title is In the Bushes which comes from when I pimped for a gay friend in Lake Eola, looking for sex for him. We were 17-years old.

Lake Eola Navelgazing Writer
An example of how much foliage was in Lake Eola back before they pruned so people would stop having sex in the bushes.
Lake Eola Navelgazing Writer
Another example of hidden places to have sex at Lake Eola.

Then there were my first forays into the gay bar scene, the drag queens, the drugs, the copious amounts of alcohol… and the sex. Lots and lots of sex. One of my girls asked to read some of what I had written and then pushed it away in the first couple hundred words. I knew then I was on the right track. laughing She shan’t be a Beta Reader!

During that time, I lived with several gay men in a few places, including the Parliament House, a gay complex. Lots of naughtiness ensued.

Parliament House Navelgazing Writer
This was circa when I was there 1978-ish. Notice the balconies where guys cruised each other. Also, you used to be able to drive through the place; not anymore.

I ran away to New York City, ran out of money in DC on the way home, was present for momentous occasions in our nation’s history and took part in many side trips into the infamy of DC life.

Watergate Complex Navelgazing Writer
The Watergate Complex. I had sex in there in 1979.

At the time, I had no idea I would write this book in 40 years.

But I am. And I am very excited about it.

I Am Depressed (Again)

I am terribly depressed.

Life circumstances, work being really slow, being diagnosed with new issues that require care and attention and, worst of all, my weight has hit an all-time high… all have combined to submerge me into the waters of depression.

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Fat is Weighing Me Down

I am distraught mostly about my weight. I had an RNY Gastric Bypass, for fuck’s sake. Granted it was 19 years ago, but still. You know it’s bad when the Pulmonologist, who has just diagnosed asthma and sleep apnea, then prescribed several inhalers and a CPAP machine, asks, “Can you do the gastric bypass again?”

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Bring on the Psych Meds

I see the psychiatrist on the 12th and it cannot come soon enough. He changed the meds slightly last time, but I have fallen deeper and I am in that place of just not caring if I get out of bed, if I work, if I write. I just don’t care.

And I hate that I don’t care because I know it is depression and not me.

Diabetes Crap, Too

While my Hemoglobin A1c is a not bad 6.4, it is up from 5.8 a few months ago. The Lantus was upped again, to 85u daily, but about 4 hours after I injected it into my fat belly this morning, my Blood Glucose went down to a 38, the lowest I have ever seen it. I thought I was going to have to call 911, and probably should have, but I kept slamming juice pouches until it hit 60 and I began feeling… feeling… again. I ate a PBJ with very little J and my BGs have been better this afternoon… around 100.

And yes, I do know insulin causes weight gain.

It’s just overwhelming sometimes.

Reading Good Books, Though!

I love Audible so much I could cry. I listen to books for several hours a day and am plowing through piles of them.

Newer books I love:

The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.

originals navelgazing writer

By far the best “self-help” book I have ever read. My entire mental process has shifted and when I write, am writing without the self-judgement I was giving myself. Many, many other incredibly valuable pieces of information are in the book, from parenthood to dying. It’s just beautiful.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

daisy jones navelgazing writer

Besides the intricate personalities between band members and their intertwined stories, I listened to this thinking what an amazing writer Reid is. She has multiple characters and speaks as them in first person and each character sounds exactly as they should and so so different from the others in the book. Listening, you get different people speaking the parts whereas reading, you “hear” them in your head. I believe this would be one time when Audible is far preferable to reading it.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett & Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Yes, I’m reading children’s books I missed growing up. My grandkids have read them, now it’s my turn.

I’ve seen several incarnations of The Secret Garden in movies (and a new one comes out April 10, 2020), but the book was so different than any of them and so filled with magic and the love of the earth, I was mesmerized with every syllable. Pure poetry.

secret garden navelgazing writer

Black Beauty is the horse’s autobiography, told by Black Beauty himself. Clever, wondrous idea! How did Ms. Sewell ever conceive of this is beyond me. And that this was the only book she every wrote! She began writing it when she was 51 and finished when she was 57, dying 5 months after its publication. I’ve not been into horses like a lot of my friends, but I can see why after reading this… a fantastic book.

black beauty navelgazing writer

Perk Me Up

Writing about the books helped. I don’t feel so desperate and alone with them.

I’ll go read now.

Holding the Space (for My Self)

I am going through a lot of life changes at the moment; feeling old, disconnected, left behind.

I’ve left Social Media for the second time and cannot anticipate being active in Facebook or Twitter again until I have a book deal. I just cannot concentrate on writing when I am active in writing groups helping others instead of myself.

When Sadness Hits

Holding the space Navelgazing Writer

My kids and grandkids are halfway across the country, busy busy with their own wonderful lives (and I am happy for it!), but I miss them all terribly. My own mom, 6 miles away is having a hard time with her memory and being physically slower. I visit her and my puppies as often as I can, but with working so much, it is a challenge. Plus it is about $32 round trip with Uber (which I LOVE).

I no longer have close friends with whom to talk about politics, books… life in general… because they have moved on with their lives, too.

Holding the Space Navelgazing Writer

Holding the Space

I know I sound pitiful and need to perk up, so I talked to my youngest, Aimee, who is a healer better than I ever was, and she said to hold myself as if I were holding her new baby girl. That image was a lovely one because I would hold the baby so lovingly, smiling at her, making her laugh and kissing her all over.

I’ve written about Holding the Space for others, but clearly, it is now my turn to do so for my Self.

Holding Space Navelgazing Writer

I’ve thought about looking for new friends, in Writer’s Groups or in Second Life, but I am in a sort of hibernation mode for now. I want to keep whatever energy I have close to me, foster my own writing, not working on anyone else’s.

My writing is going well and I think it’s one of the best things I can do for myself as far as Holding the Space goes. I am up early in the morning, writing while listening to Lindsey Stirling and then nap again before starting work around 11a or 12p. Work is going really well, too. My work writing is great, my work social media (required) is going really well. I love what I do so much. It’s really quite awesome.

So, here I am. Alone. Looking at myself in the proverbial mirror and evaluating what is left of my life and deciding what to do and where to (metaphorically) move next.

I can do it.

Holding the Space Navelgazing Writer

 

 

Forgiveness

I have a Rubik’s Cube in my hand… the hand in my mind… working it working it working it, trying to figure out how to change things I have done in my life, how to correct them, make better decisions, hurt fewer people. If I can just figure out the right way to get the colors lined up, my life would not be filled with so many regrets.

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I have apologized to those around me, including my children, many, many times, yet I still feel horribly guilty for my transgressions. I’ve confessed my sins in therapy for 30 years now, yet continue enduring the weight of guilt, it often weighing me down into depression.

And then I heard, in a book* I am listening to, “How long is the sentence for these crimes you committed in your 20s, 30s and 40s? What is a fair sentence for your crime?”

I am 58 and believe my sentence is now over.

In this decision, I thought, “Does carrying others’ pain lessen their own misery?” It does not. I also do not believe my children want me to suffer anymore.

Pain

I am here to answer the questions people in my life have. I am here to apologize for things I am responsible for, but I will not wear the yoke of guilt any longer. I release my Self from my shame, my pain, my sadness and my grief for the things not done or that I did wrong.

Therefore, I shall make amends… and forgive my Self.

* Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

therapist

Consensus

I have belonged to two groups of women… lesbians in the 1980’s and early 90’s… and midwives in the 2000’s… who swore by consensus, believing it was the way to run a group. A definition is important. Governing by Consensus is when everyone in the group has to agree with the topic at hand or the issue is not finished/closed/settled until everyone does agree. This means that in a group of 1000 people, if one person disagrees, then the solution offered does not pass muster.

Until that last person agrees.

If the last person never agrees, the subject is tabled for another time. Usually until the last person leaves the group or keels over.

I am not a fan of consensus. I’m just too skeptical to believe everyone in a given group is altruistic enough to really listen to the issue at hand and leave their own egos out of the equation in order to find a conclusion to a problem. That would be because I have been around enough people in these groups who get off on being contrary and don’t give one whit about the group as a whole or even the pieces parts (the others) in that group. Instead, they have a life goal of annoying people, seeking attention and wreaking havoc wherever they are.

I’m a majority rules kinda gal. The feminist separatists reading/listening to this are shrieking, “That is so patriarchal!” Whatever. Majority rules works whereas consensus does not.

 

For example, I was part of the San Diego Lesbian Press Collective in the late 80’s/early 90’s. A “collective,” pretty much by definition, is governed by consensus. The politics of the lesbian community during that time was extremely separatist… men were persona non grata to the lesbians. Now, I had 2 male children so was immediately suspect, but they let me into the collective because they needed writers and I can write some good controversial shit.

The Press was always needing money. Finding advertisers was a never-ending job for some of the womyn (spelled w-o-m-y-n) in the group. Thankfully, all I had to do was write.

womyn

That was until a potential advertiser came along who happened to be a MAN, then I was required to attend the collective meetings.

This MAN was going to be a major advertiser, affording the Press to go for at least a year without begging others for money. But, his being a man… using money that a man made… was a serious breach of the way the Press worked.

But some wimmin (w-i-m-m-i-n), myself included, felt okay about accepting the dude’s money because it would mean the Press could stay operational for a long time and our (collective) lesbian voices would be spread further and wider. Many others, of course, did not agree.

wimmin

So, discussion ensued.

I committed to abstaining from the beginning, but was required to listen to the discussion lest I not understand what I was abstaining to. Therefore, I began the interminable task of listening to the back and forth of why we should take the man’s money or why we should not.

In the beginning, the arguments were typical and have already been mentioned… we could operate for another year without worry and we could have our message spread further and wider. But the “discussions” began to get heated.

“Talking about a man at all is polluting our environment!” So we moved outdoors so the Universe could absorb the negative energy of the masculine discussion.
(You think I am kidding. You would be wrong.)

MEN have so much ANGER wrapped into their money-making! I don’t want that energy anywhere near our paper.”

(Never mind the really loud, and not always polite, discussions occurring at that very moment.)

You also might be thinking this meeting would have been a couple of hours long. One would have hoped, yes. But, this topic was a couple of hours long, carried over, every week, for THREE MONTHS.

3-Month

It was worse than that tennis match feeling, watching ideas lobbed over a net only to be returned nearly identically a few moments later. I lost count how many times I said, “I abstain.”

It was clear the issue was becoming desperate when creative ways were developed for how to accept the money even though he was a man. My absolute favorite was that he give the money to his wife and she be the one to gives us the money out of her bank account. Seriously. This was a topic of discussion. FOR WEEKS.

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There never was consensus on what to do. The lesbian separatists refusing to give in to THE MAN and those with more mission-minded thoughts knowing that, in order to keep going, we needed that money. Because there was no consensus, the money was not taken and the San Diego Lesbian Press folded a mere two months after the end of the discussion.

See? It should have been majority rules… they might still be in operation today.

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Endearing vs. Invasive

I have had about enough of this discussion about former Vice-President Biden invading women’s space. I know I know… women need to be heard, believed, etc. etc. I know! I am a rape survivor… I got it.

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But that their SPACE is being invaded?!? Give me a fucking break. The man is amazingly endearing!

Seriously, my space is regularly invaded in the buffet line!

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I have had teachers in my face, friends nudging me over inside a booth, girlfriends smelling my hair, male and female friends touching my boobs (which, by the way, women do a whole lot more of than we talk about), and much of those made me “uncomfortable” (or more).

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Men… let’s talk about men, shall we?

Men catcalling, not giving one holy fuck if women hate it, want to cry, want to run but cannot… fear walking around construction sites because of… and that is just ONE example of men making women uncomfortable THAT WILL NEVER EVER EVER CHANGE. No apologies. No “Gee, I didn’t realize that made you uncomfortable,” NONE of that. The whole fucking goal of men yelling at women is to make us uncomfortable.

street-harassment

And then that evil-soul person we have in the White House and HIS horrific behavior towards women. Sexual abuse, sexual assault… invading my space my ass. He is purposefully sexually attacking women. Where is THAT demand of apologies? Where is THAT caring about those women he has abused?

When someone “invades our space,” is this going to become new school rules? New office rules? “Do not stand behind me when I am working on my computer or I will turn you in to HR… I am uncomfortable with you there.”

Or “Stay 6 inches from me when we are in the receiving line at Sunday service,” (is this going to be a sign at the door of the church?!?).

I am not one to roll my eyes at women’s feelings, but this is so ridiculous I just cannot keep my fingers quiet anymore.

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Who knew I would agree with the political right and think that Political Correctness has finally gone too far.

Way, way, way too far.

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