Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gendercator-centered dialogues

As most of you probably know, a film called The Gendercator was recently selected and then subsequently pulled from Frameline (an SF-based LGBT film festival). It was a supposed sci-fi short produced by a lesbian filmmaker that depicts physical transitions from one sex to the other (i.e., transsexual transitions) as being imposed on gender-variant people by a rigid patriarchal/heterosexist society, thus implying that transsexuals are the “dupes” of an oppressive gender system.

Anyway, because the film was pulled (due to outrage from the trans community over the fact that a film with such blatant anti-trans stereotypes was showing as part of the LGB-and-apparently-sometimes-T Pride festivities) there have since been accusations of “censorship” (despite the fact that a blatantly anti-gay/lesbian film never would have seen the light of day at Frameline). This has resulted in a growing movement of late to 1) show the film, and 2) follow it with a panel designed to discuss the issues raised by the film. In theory, this would (*hopefully*) lead to a respectful dialogue that would heal the community.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned as a trans activist, it’s that I should immediately be suspicious of oppositional binaries. And to be honest, I see one forming around this Gendercator film, one where a trans activist can only ever be depicted as either a narrow-minded advocate of “censorship,” or as a progressive, open-minded person who understands that showing and discussing the film is the best course of action. Now, I think that having a dialogue between trans & cis (ie., non-trans) folks in our community over this and other issues would be very timely and potentially bridge building, but the idea of centering such a dialogue around the Gendercator film is highly problematic for reasons that are typically overlooked.

What follows are excerpts from two emails I wrote in response to a group who invited me to take part in a meeting to discuss the potential format of one of these Gendercator-screening-followed-by-a-discussion-panel events. My purpose for posting my responses publicly is not to embarrass or “trash” this group for putting together such an event (as these seem to be sincere about creating a constructive dialogue), but rather to articulate why a feel so uncomfortable about the idea of a Gendercator-centered trans/cis dialogue.

*****

Thanks for thinking of me. While I appreciate the invitation, I respectfully decline for the reasons stated below.

As a transsexual, one of the most common ways in which I am marginalized within gay/lesbian and feminist communities is by the accusation that I (and other transsexuals) transition either because we are "dupes" (who are misled into transitioning by a patriarchal/heterosexist medical establishment) or as “fakes” (who are so distressed by our own exceptional gender expression and/or sexual orientation that we are willing to go to the extreme lengths of surgically altering our bodies and unquestioningly embracing sexist ideals in order to fit into straight, mainstream society).

These accusations are an attempt to portray transsexuality as a "false consciousness" - it is the exact same tactic used by the religious right when they claim that same sex relationships are merely an "alternative lifestyle." Such accusations outright dismiss the possibility that the person in question has a better understanding of who they are than their accusers do.

If you invited me to participate in setting up a showing of a film that portrayed same-sex relationships as an "alternative lifestyle" to be followed by a discussion afterwards, I would decline. My reason for doing so is that it has been my experience that 1) people who use the "alternative lifestyle" tactic never want to engage in actual dialog (if they did, they wouldn't stoop to using the false consciousness tactic in the first place), and 2) it is downright demeaning to put any person in a position where they have to defend the legitimacy of their own identity and life experiences from an entitled person who has not shared that identity and experience.

For the same reason that I would not participate in a homosexuality-is-an-alternative-lifestyle film screening, I cannot participate in a Gendercator screening, as I would only be enabling cissexism within the LGBT community. Crouch has turned down numerous attempts to engage in an actual dialog with trans folks about this (this option was even offered by Frameline, but she declined), so it is disappointing to me that so many cissexual queer folks are so willing to offer her a soapbox. I honestly don't see what good can from this other than exacerbating the divide that already exists between transsexuals and cissexuals within our community.

Respectfully yours,
-julia

*****
(2nd message)

Thanks for your reply. From your email, I get the impression that you are trying your best to create a respectful dialogue. In my last message, I was not trying to insinuate that you were purposefully trying to enable cissexism. But what does concern me (and what I will try to explain better in this message) are some of the unarticulated problems inherent in the idea of creating a trans/cis dialogue around a screening of the Gendercator.

I am assuming that the proposal to show the Gendercator as part of your series arose out of the controversy surrounding the fact that the film was selected and then subsequently pulled from Frameline. If this is the case, then let me ask you this: If the film was pulled for a different reason – for instance, if Frameline pulled it because it promoted racist stereotypes – would you go out of your way to show the film as part of your film series? I would suggest that you probably wouldn’t. And if you chose not to, it wouldn’t be because you advocate “censorship,” but rather that you would not want your series to be associated with racist sentiments, or to be misconstrued as tacitly endorsing those views. And if you did decide to screen the film anyway, and you invited folks of color from the community to take part in a panel after the film (where equal numbers of racists & folks of color would discuss the issues raised by the film), do you really think that most people would view this as an entirely fair, unbiased and open dialogue? And would this really be the best way to heal divisions with regards to race within the community?

What I hope the above scenario demonstrates is that airing a “debate” or a “controversy” is not automatically an unbiased proposal. For instance, if I made a point of giving equal time to both a doctor and a tobacco company executive to “debate” the issue of whether smoking causes cancer, or a climate researcher and an oil company lobbyist to “debate” climate change, it would be rather obvious that I was not being completely impartial. After all, by giving equal time to both sides of the “debate,” I would tacitly be validating dubious viewpoints (i.e., I’d be legitimizing the view that smoking *doesn’t* cause lung cancer & that carbon emissions *don’t* cause global warming).

Let me ask you this: doesn’t it bother you when the media covers some important gay/queer issue and they invariably include someone from the Traditional Values Coalition to provide the opposing view, you know, so that both sides of the “debate” get equal time? The reason why that’s so frustrating is because 1) it ignores the fact that the “opposing view” is in fact a majority view in our culture, 2) that viewpoint regularly marginalizes gay/queer people (whereas gay/queer viewpoints do not reciprocally marginalize straight folks), and 3) it insinuates that gay/queer people’s identities are up for “debate.” In other words, instead of discussing what needs to happen in order to ensure that gay/queer identities are considered just as legitimate as straight identities, the media instead creates a “debate” about whether gay/queer folks deserve to be seen as equals in the first place.

The viewpoints forwarded in Crouch’s film – i.e., that transsexuals are gender “dupes” or “fakes” (as I described in the last email) – are the views that have historically dominated within the gay and lesbian community (who make up the majority of the LGBT community). They are regularly used to dismiss, undermine and ridicule transsexual identities & perspectives, even today. A trans/cis dialogue that is centered on Crouch’s film (and the stereotypes therein) is one where transsexual identities and experiences are deemed questionable and up for debate from the get-go (in a way that lesbian/gay identities are not). In other words, the very premise is delegitimizing and alienating to transsexuals.

I know a lot of cissexual queers in the community feel that showing this film might help create a discussion about these issues, but I would suggest that that viewpoint is enabled by the fact that they don’t ever have to deal with cissexism – constantly having other people insist that one’s gender is “fake” or “illegitimate,” or being accused of “reinforcing heterosexist/patriarchal norms” when one is simply being themselves. I think that if more of them had that experience day-in and day-out, they would realize that a screening of a film that promotes such cissexist stereotypes is probably not the best way to begin this dialogue, as the very premise serves to alienate trans folks and legitimize anti-trans bigotry.

I think that a lot of trans folks (myself included) would love the opportunity to engage in a cissexual/transsexual dialogue about this and other issues. But such a conversation should begin with the recognition that our identities are not up for debate (any more than cissexual queer identities are). And we shouldn’t have to sit through an anti-trans film in order to participate in that conversation either. So I implore you to reconsider whether a screening of the Gendercator is truly the most constructive way to address differences between cissexuals and transsexuals in our community, or whether it will only serve to exacerbate divisions that already exist between us.

Sincerely,
-julia

12 comments:

helen_boyd said...

interesting, julia: i was invited to participate as well & suggested that instead of showing the film - which i expected would result in a boycott* - they should instead just host the discussion.

as a gender variant but not trans woman, i think there's a conversation to be had here; transness can sometimes make those of us who are gender variant feel even *less* socially acceptable than we do already - along the lines of "great, i'm not female/feminine enough, but i'm also not gender variant enough to want to transition, either." very "less than" all around.

the group that is considering screening the film is open to all women, i might add: all people who identify as female, including trans women.

i worry, sometimes, that allies get a little bit more of a beating for trying to host conversations where the disparate parts of these communities could find some common ground.

* i use "boycott" & not "censorship" for a reason - the former being an empowering experience for a group to flex their collective muscle, & the latter being something we all hate. that is, a boycott is saying "i will not see your film" & censorship is saying "you will not show this film." it's a huge difference, imho, & one that i think LGBTQ people, & femininists, should be particularly sensitive to.

helen_boyd said...

but otherwise, i should add, i agree with you that trans identities should not be debated, & that showing a film that takes a specific POV is not a good way to open that discussion.

the conversation about how patriarchy enforces gender norms is a much better one, one that gender variant (trans or not) types would be better served by, one that touches on issues of "gatekeeper" issues for trans people, & gender normativity issues for genderqueer types. there's a lot more intersection there, imho, but it would take a delicate hand to frame that conversation, too.

Valentina Simmons said...

When I heard that the film was being pulled I thought it would cause a sticky situation to happen, but I agree it's the right thing to do here. And in theory I like Helen's suggestion about replacing it with a discussion that uses enforced gender norms as a starting point - it's one of those common-ground issues that also could be useful in fostering a better understanding of the different needs of the constituencies that make up the LGBTQ alliance (I say "in theory" because I am afraid that unless they are careful the fact that the film is not being shown might cause some people to hijack the discussion and turn it from dialog to diatribe). But if not now, when?

Lena Dahlstrom said...

I'd been meaning to thow in my two cents on this, but I think Zak Szymanski's column about the controversy summed up my feelings pretty well.

"Opposing the inclusion of a deliberately divisive and dialogue-stopping film in an event designed to build community was something we did not do because we don't want to have a community conversation, but because we do."

Among other things, Szymanski's points out that: "The reason nontrans gay people have not seen blatantly antigay or antilesbian films yanked from their festivals is that such movies don't make it past the selection committee." (Which I think goes to Helen's point about boycotts vs. censorship.) And that those who opposed including "Gendercator" were faced with a Catch-22: "victims could either remain silent during an attack or speak up and "prove" that they have malicious intentions to take over the world."

One thing that I think is worth noting about the question itself of whether to screen "The Gendercator" is that context matters. It was one thing to present it in a "we know this is controversial but we think it's worth talking about" fashion. But Frameline (and others) had it as part of a light-hearted "sci fi films" night.

Anyway, I agree that discussing the issue of supposed "butch flight," which seems to be Crouch's concern -- and Szymanski raises some that ought to be addressed as well, as does Helen -- doesn't require seeing the movie itself. In fact, I think screening it would be counter-productive, given the film's and the director's POV.

OTOH, the fact those issues -- and tensions -- are out there, so I think they need to be discussed, even if that discussion is a tricky one. As Jamison Green commented, "People come [to those discussions] with a huge amount of emotional baggage and investment in the outcome."

Which is why it's probably both better to separate those discussions from discussions about "The Gendercator" and setting ground rules -- such as our identities not being up for debate.

(If Crouch really is serious about wanting to spark discussion, then it shouldn't matter that that discussion doesn't require her film.)

Liza said...

Julia, I guess I'm not familiar with statements from the right about gay/lesbian relationships being alternate lifestyle, but I'm wondering what your objection is.

I'm supposing that you object to "alternate" because it is predicated on heterosexuality being the norm against which others are "alternate" and if this is the case, I couldn't agree more.

Sort of like "alternative medicine" describing practises like acupuncture which predate allopathic medicine by thousands of years.

Is this what you meant?

Otherwise, I'm not sure what your objection is.

trickster108 said...

I agree that the film "Gendercator",in and of itself, forces gender variant individuals to substantiate their right to exist and to explore their diversity as they see fit. The irony is that, by reducing trans experience to the reinforcement of gender stereotypes and to the selling out to patricarchal interests, those who would maintain such attitudes are equally guilty of perpetuating a reactionary set of stereotypes. This kind of thinking merely replaces one kind of alleged "dupesmanship" with another.

A true understanding of diversity entails enabling individuals to seek their own path, their own means of expression, and their own validation, apart from whatever judgment another group chooses to impose.

As trans indivuals, we seek the same right to authenticity as any other person might demand, and to be the only arbiters of how we will live in the world. It has always been easy to throw stones at those who do not conform to one's ideal visions of how things should be, but...and correct me if I am mistaken...I have realized...particularly since living my life outside the confines of denial, that devising an arbitrary and suspect construct and then attempting to force all pieces to fit is counter-productive to ANY attempt to acknowledge diversity. It's the proverbial suqare peg in a round hole kind of mentality.

robbi, aka trickster108

Wolfgang said...

Liza, when the fundies use the term “alternate lifestyle,” they mean that being gay or trans is optional, like being a hippie and following the Grateful Dead around back in day was an alternate lifestyle. They think everyone is a cisgender heterosexual and we choose to partake in the “gay or trans lifestyle,” whatever that means.

Liza said...

thanks for the definition, Wolfgang. Sort of what I imagined, but not quite.

I can't speak about the drive to be trans, but I do actually think that being gay or lesbian or bi is a choice, or a decision. At least for me. So I'm not the least offended by it, except for being offended by the christian right in general.

If not for the onslaught of propaganda that it apparantly takes to make people consider heterosexuality normal, I imagine that chosing to be a homo would be easily made, and many many more people would make it. And some would not. Or we would make a case by case decision.

Unfortunately, it is still so hard for so many people to combat the virulent hetero propaganda.

But my own experience is indeed one of choice. I chose to be a lesbian many decades ago, because it seemed to me that it was infinately cooler and more interesting than being "normal" And I still, every now and then, ask myself to examine that choice, just to make sure I'm not making it out of habit or inertia.

I'm not sure anymore if being queer *is* cooler or more interesting, now that everyone seems to want to get married and act straight.

By everyone, I don't necessarily mean you.

I still would like to see gendercator, since all the criticism is based not on the film but on the director's introductory comments, which, I agree, were not well thought out. But what I glean from Crouch's comments is that it is an inditement of all rigid gender roles, and she skewers cis gendered femininity right along with trans masculinity.

Of course, i could be wrong, since I haven't actually seen it.

Wolfgang said...

Liza wrote, “I can't speak about the drive to be trans, but I do actually think that being gay or lesbian or bi is a choice, or a decision. At least for me.”

I am curious, Liza. How does a woman choose to be a lesbian? In order to make that “choice,” you surely possessed a natural attraction to women, which means you were already a lesbian, or at least bi.

I didn’t choose to be a transsexual. I certainly did choose to transition, in the same way that one chooses to seek medical treatment for a broken bone. I didn’t do it to be cool or interesting, but to bring my flesh into closer alignment with my mind, so that I can live.

Liza said...

Wolfgang- yes i was always attracted to girls and women. But I was also attracted to men. It was feminism in the 1970's that inspired me to chose women as the focus of my life, including my love life. And I very much considered it a choice. I would probably have been a happy heterosexual, or bisexual. The path would have been different, but I'm sure I would have made it amusing and fulfilling.

But it seemed to me that women could change the world, and that was what was so exciting to me. I really didn't want to be "normal" in the way I saw it around me growing up. Not that it was bad, just boring, and not world changing.

I've never understood people who say they were born homosexual and that they've never questioned it and don't feel it was a choice. No matter how much I enjoyed being a Lesbo, I never thought it was like being right handed or something. More like being a vegetarian. It may be a lifelong committment, or even a habit, but it's not hardwired.

Which is why I regularly invite myself to review my choices and keep my options open. But then, I have six planets in Gemini, so change is a constant for me.

Does that help?

susanstryker said...

I have a different take on "Gendercator-centered dialogs," and see some value in them.

I agree with most everything that Julia says about how talking with Crouch and her supporters is like being part of a queer/TVC discussion, where you are in the room with people who are fundamentally hostile to your basic being-in-the-world. But I have a different strategy for dealing with it.

From my perspective, I am not addressing the really die-hard transphobes when I engage in such discussions. I am speaking to the broader audience, and reaching a part of that audience that I would not otherwise have an opportunity to speak to.

I remember when the City of San Francisco started covering transsexual health care expenses, and the right-wing media went nuts. Mark Leno's office contacted me, and asked if I would field some of the media requests. As a result, I did several right-wing Christian talk radio shows, where I was set up as the sulpher-belching god-hating radical San Francisco transsexual. There were certainly some people in the audience who saw me as exactly that, but I had great fun playing against type, and got to say things that I felt needed to be said to people who wouldn't otherwise have heard those things.

On one show, it was actually scripted as a kind of boxing match, where the shock-jock was taking on "This Week's Enemy of Righteousness" or some such drivel. They were being all pugilistic, and I came out talking about how I'd been raised in a Christian family, and that although I now considered myself a secular person, I believed in compassion and kindness, and loving one's neighbor, and that I saw my life as ennacting those values and virtues.

One woman called in furious that I would compare my taking estrogen to her taking it after an emergency hysterectomy, because me taking it made me a monstrous pervert and her taking it was for a real medical condition. She was in such pain about the loss of her reproductive function, and the trouble it caused in her marriage, and how she felt like she was no longer a "real woman." And that gave me an opportunity to tell her that I shared with her the pain of feeling my difference from normative womanhood, and to "testify" that I had found a sense of peace and acceptance of myself, and that I wished the same for her.

Before that call-in show was over, I had talked to some guy driving in a pick-up truck on his way home from a Promise-Keepers rally, who agreed with me that gender was a "social construction," which meant that we had a moral responsibility to construct gender in the right way. (For him that meant along heteronormative patriarchal lines, but it gave me the chance to say that a higher understanding of "right" involved a more diverse and expansive vision of justice and equality and respect and acceptance). I talked to some other guy who confessed his teenage cross-dressing and his confusion and inner turmoil about gender identity, and asked people to pray for him. And I got to say to him that if he believed in the power of prayer that he should bring his questions there, and that whatever was right for him would reveal itself to him.

In short, I feel like I got to out-flank the Christians on their home turf. I didn't convert the hard-core transphobic hate-mongers. But I was able to speak to some other people in a way that I would not have been able to had I not gone into that particular lion's den. And I believe I nudged the dialog along a bit. It didn't hurt me to be in that space; I've heard every stupid hateful thing that got flung at me before. It rolls like water off a duck's back. I feel utterly secure and at peace with who I am.

I think the same sort of dynamic exists with regard to trans/non-trans feminist engagement right now, but is actually more hopeful. We are on the cusp of change there, poised to capture the majority opinion. We in the trans community are well-positioned at this moment in time to reach new audiences on issues of vital importance to us.

I personally don't think Catherine Crouch is ever going to think of a person like me as a woman. I would guess she will continue to find trans men threatening. I don't believe she has an open heart or an open mind on these issues, and that she acts from a place of wounded reactivity. But in creating contexts where she speaks in ways where her words are contextualized by what we have to say, I believe that we have the opportunity to reframe the discussion for significant parts of the audience in those contexts. We can win hearts and minds by being the people who are reasonable, personable, informed, articulate, kind, just--who stand up for ourselves and educate others without stooping to the mean-spiritedness and judgementalism and fear-driven finger-pointing of our opponents. We have the power to do that within ourselves. It's not just a question of what we say, or of having the right argument--it's about the whole way we present ourselves and conduct ourselves, and use those opportunities to shift perception. We can be the standard-bearers of feminist values here.

Like it or not, The Gendercator controversy has some legs--at least another six months or so; it will be screening in Bloomington, Crouch's home turf, in January. The Frameline decision has ramifications. It brings to the surface many current tensions within trans communities and between trans communities and nontrans GLB/queer communities. It's had a usefulness thrust upon it that exceeds the film's slight artistic and intellectual substance.

I agree with others who say that the larger issues involved in the controversy are about homocentrism in LGB(T)/Queer socio-political formations and organizations, and an insensitivity there to the persistent problem of lesbian/feminist transphobia. That's a problem few people outside the trans community understand. But I think we can educate people on both issues (homocentrism and transphobia) by directly addressing the film.

When I listen to what nontrans people say about the controversy, I hear two over-riding things: 1) How is this film transphobic? and 2) Why do you feel the need to censor this film? I don't think we can move the trans-positive dialog along effectively without addressing these questions from people who are potential allies. It's a necessary rear-guard action to shore up support.

As I've said in print a few times now since this controversy errupted, I think it's possible to point to specific instances of transphobic speech in the film. We can use a film screening to tell people "this is what transphobia looks like" or at least "this why I see transphobia in this statement." Moreover, it gives us an opportunity to tell people the history of lesbian/feminist transphobia over the past 40 years. Many nontrans people are shocked by this history, and once they learn it, they want to distance themselves from it.

Last spring I taught a class on the history and theory of transgender community formation in San Francisco, in the Gender and Women's Studies Department at UC Berkeley, and I assigned a chapter from Janice Raymond's book as part of the discussion on the 1970s. The students were frankly incredulous that she could be taken seriously. One visitor in class on the day we discussed Raymond and lesbian feminist transphobia later told me that, frankly, she thought I was exaggerating, and went off to do her own research--only to learn, as we on this list all know, that Raymond is just the tip of the iceberg. That (cis) woman is now involved in the group working to bring The Gendercator to the San Francisco LGBT Center, because she sees doing anti-transphobia work as a way to make her own feminist women's community stronger. She's young in her understanding of what transphobia is, but she's pulling in the right direction, and being involved in all the organizing and discussing that surround this film is part of how she learns and builds community. Nurturing and supporting her activism is for me a way to broaden my own vision of a strong trans-inclusive vision of community.

The censorship issue also gives us the opportunity to change opinion. Once people understand more about how the film ennacts and reproduces transphobic discourses, it gives us a chance to shift the censorship question to a different level--to get people to see that this is like a debate of the N-word between the Panthers and the KKK. Many people now see the decision to pull The Gendercator from Frameline only as "politically correct" repression of diverse viewpoints. They say that because they don't understand some of the statements as "injurious speech" or know anything about the history of how trans people have learned to hear such speech, or understand how homocentrism marginalizes transgender. Directly addressing the concrete example of why the demand to recontextualize how The Gendercator is publicly presented allows us to further educate people who don't understand our concerns.

At the meeting in San Francisco to discuss bringing The Gendercator to the Center, there was one nontrans woman there who had interviewed Catherine Crouch, who was concerned about censorship, who had a backround in film criticism, and thought she had come to give us all a lecture about how to read a film and not be censorious bad guys. Talking with her after the meeting, where I was able to lay out the chain of events and explain the motivations of people who had opposed the Frameline screening, she admitted that the situation was more complicated than she realized, and that she needed to rethink some of her preconceptions. If these discussions around The Gendercator are handled properly, I think this sort of conversation will be multiplied many-fold.

And finally, I am perfectly content to let the transphobes say what they have to say in front of audiences that are genuinely struggling to understand what the issues are, and genuinely want to do the right thing. It's a blessing to us that The Gendercator is not a very good film, and that Catherine Crouch is not the most articulate of spokespersons. She is so easy to pick apart, and keeps on saying increasingly outlandish things as she attempts to dig herself out of this controversy, that I almost feel sorry for her.

Almost. Let the chickens come home to roost. Let the wheel of karma turn. Let's play the hand that was dealt to us with this annoying little controversy and make the most out of dissecting The Gendercator in public. I am confident of our community's ability to use this controversy advantageously in the larger struggle. The tide of broader opinion is turning in our favor, and every stupid transphobic sentiment uttered by those who hate and fear us is another nail in their coffin.

AZAlison said...

Thanks Julia
I think you had exactly the right response to participating in the “Gendercator” panel. I am often amazed at how difficult it is for others to get what Trans is about. I live and work in queer communities in Arizona. Most of the time I feel like I am a part of an enlightened culture; sometimes I get blindsided by a comment or media representation and see an immense amount of misunderstanding that still exists.
We had an event here in June that evolved out of a fall screening at the U of A. The film "Boy I Am" was shown at the Lesbian Looks film series. A couple of trans men were there to field questions after the film. Most of the dialogue was civil and positive. Part way through the discussion a woman suggested she could maybe get her head around trans men but could not accept trans women as authentic since we grew up with male privilege. She pointed me out as an example. (I was the only trans woman there in an auditorium full of about 200 ciswomen). I suggested that I did not experience my past as particularly privileged. I was not able to live in a way that felt authentic. I said I knew what it felt like to grow up feeling like a freak. I knew what it was like to feel completely out of sync with who I knew myself to be. I had no idea what it might feel like to feel at home in my body or the social world I existed in. That seemed to resonate well with most there. What was made obvious was how some members of our lesbian “community” view trans women. A more difficult situation arose a month later when a couple of older trans women decided to drop in to an “older lesbian support group” held at our LGBT center. They were voted out of the group there and then.
Several of us decided to offer a community forum on who is a woman. We fielded a panel of trans, cis, and intersexed lesbian identified women. We had a great turn out (for June in Tucson) nearly 50 people. We made an effort to invite and promote this forum to those with separatist ideologies. None of them showed. The discussion was lively and mostly positive. One thing became apparent. There is no single lesbian community here. Different groups had different experiences, understandings, and levels of acceptance for trans women. A more subtle discovery was that trans men are generally more welcome than trans women in lesbian circles. Trans men are also more acceptable as intimate partners for ciswomen lesbians.
There is more work to do.