If there are women in the room, their objectification seems to be a bonding mechanism for butches and men. The patriarchy barters and trades with women as currency, and in those moments, we’re doing the same thing. But I know that we can be empowered without using our power in a way that hurts people. Our masculinity doesn’t have to turn femmes into objects whenever our masculinity is questioned.
Trans women are a component of queer women’s communities, so a lack of respect amongst us just means more devaluing of women, when society dishes out plenty of that for all of us already. So with that in mind, I have put together some suggestions for cis women on thinking through some basic trans issues, including ideas on approaching trans women in a romantic or intimate context.
In my work, I’m regularly asked, “What can I do? I know that injustice exists, but I feel so powerless. I want to help!” Many folks of privilege struggle to figure out how to act for justice. More often than not, those who are denied access, voice, privilege, and justice in dominant culture know exactly what they need to do. So to that point, my answer to their question is always the same: “Listen.”
The unfortunate reality is that few schools are safe spaces for LGBTQ students. When I facilitate professional development sessions for teachers on building inclusive environments for diverse student populations, it’s clear most teachers want to be as supportive as possible to LGBTQ students, but aren’t sure how best to do so. So I’ve compiled a list of 10 things teachers can do to create a more inclusive classroom environment for LGBTQ students.
I have gone from being a big, strong looking Black woman to being a young, lanky Black man. I have always carried with me both masculine and feminine energies, but I have often been forced to choose one over the other depending upon the space around me. The gender binary affects us all in detrimental ways. And while masculinity may seem to offer more room, it also has its limitations. We must make room for all genders to grow and move freely.
Our social movements have failed to reach a transformational level of change. In part, this is due to how we don’t address our own privilege or prioritize supporting and lifting up marginalized voices to the social change table. And until we do, our work will not achieve lasting structural changes – where those being impacted are leading the fight for their own communities, supported by allies.
Some believe that since gay men do not want to be sexually intimate with women, our uninvited touching and groping is benign. In a culture that doesn’t see gay men as “men”, our sexist acts are instead read as “diva worship” or “celebrating women” even when they are acts of objectification, assault, and dehumanization. We must question these assumptions in ourselves and in our communities.
This is the essential conflict of being queer in a small, conservative town – should you chose to live openly and unapologetically, you might be rejected by the very people and things you’ve spent a lifetime loving. But it is possible to inspire change and build community in your own neck of the woods. The world needs people who stay and I want you to know that this flighty gay is here for you.
As a gay man, you have male privilege but being gay complicates that, making you seem less-than in many people’s eyes. Many bigots see you as being like a woman or wanting to be a woman, which some gay men will internalize as negative. Feminism looks at that thought and says, “What’s wrong with being a woman?” I needed to hear that message at 18, and I still need to hear it now.
Too many times, oppressed people use whatever power they have secured to oppress another instead of using that power to challenge the hierarchal order of things. Internalized racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and misogyny are all alive and well and we must continue to battle those beasts within. We have to ask more of ourselves and the communities we are a part of.