Aleisha Cuff of Vancouver, BC:
A transsexual woman’s perspective
As a transsexual woman myself, especially one who considers herself a feminist, I often feel scrutinized by cisgendered feminists in ways that other women are not.
Trans women are in a tremendously difficult position: if we’re too feminine we’re acting as sexist caricatures, whereas if we’re too masculine that just proves we’re not women in the first place. If we speak up, we’re aggressively grabbing the microphone, and if we don’t we’re supporting the premise that women are meek and submissive.
The most troubling part, though, is that often in the middle of a screed against trans women the ‘trans’ part begins to feel secondary, and the focus of the anger becomes femaleness or femininity itself.
It is of great concern to me, then, and should be of concern to all women that the community in which I have experienced the most anger and bigotry for being a transsexual woman has been the community of cisgendered queer women.
Eventually I found a community of my own, although it was largely made up of people far from Vancouver.
In blogs and on message boards I began to find other trans women who felt like I did, frustrated with being excluded from the community of queer women. It was a place in which I could discover myself and begin to tell my story in ways I could feel proud of, the place I had hoped the LGBT community would be.
I didn’t just find other trans women, I found a host of queers who had become disaffected in one way or another with LGBT.
Most importantly, I found a place where I could meet women and it didn’t matter if I was trans or not, or if they were trans or not, we just got up to what queer women will get up to.
How often we’re seen as desirable is a fairly accurate measure of a community’s relationship with trans people. Inclusion isn’t inclusion if it stops at the bedroom door.
This brings me close to tears. It’s brilliant. I have nothing to add, other than that I’ve lived—and felt—every word.