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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | U.S. | LGBTI / Queer
Are Lesbians Being Written Out of the LGBT Community?
The more I read the end of the year wrap-ups of the queer community, the more I fear that XX chromosome lesbians are being marginalized.
I just finished reading an article in the "Huffington Post" about the 20 most compelling queers of 2013. 4 of them were born female. You heard right, 4 out of twenty! The remaining 16 were born male although some have transitioned to female and are living that way now.
Lesbians who have been born and raised as women are NOT one fifth of the queer community's population! And it’s not just this one article. The huge photo on the cover of the New Year's edition of the Bay Times" shows men as men, men in drag and women with smiles and long hair (have you noticed the huge percentage of young females who wear their hair long now?) Not a single female butch among them. I am beginning to fear that little by little, step by step the male culture of the LGBT community is writing out those of us born with XX chromosomes.
And this is happening at a time when, more than ever, the needs of women worldwide deserve our attention and activism. Women are underrepresented in all spheres of life except for child birth and rearing in all countries of the world. We are treated as dependent children who need male guardians in some, made to cover our bodies, heads and often faces in others, denied literacy and education in many, killed for minor infractions or dowry issues in quite a few, surgically clitorectomized, infibulated and we have been subjected to a wide array of horrific procedures like foot-binding throughout the history of the world.
Here, in the Occidental world, we survive in what is usually referred to as “Western Civilization.” Cultures here have always been hostile to our gender. The percentage of women in government, science, technology, and all disciplines except for teaching, nursing, childcare, librarianship and social work is astoundingly small. And when men enter these “women’s fields” their ability to ascend to management is rapid and blindingly unjust.
Women are underrepresented in all aspects of society partly due to prejudice, but also because to be born a woman in any part of the globe takes a tremendous toll on self-esteem. We are not raised to believe ourselves capable of great things. From the minute you are strapped into those frilly pink what-evers, your chances of fulfilling any dreams other than marriage and children are significantly diminished. You will be sexualized, demeaned and degraded in a myriad of both blatant and subtle ways. And if your family is also oppressed by ethnicity or socio-economic class the struggle becomes that much more difficult.
Butch lesbians are no-frills feminist culture warriors who challenge the norm of "femininity" by simple virtue of existence. Against all odds we have unearthed some semblance of self-love and respect in spite of, or perhaps because of the fact that society has no productive use for our style, not to mention our values.
If a preponderence of butch-leaning lesbians transition to men it leaves the majority who remain women in a more vulnerable position. Yes, people have to be true to their biological gender but the fact remains that becoming a man does reduce the problem of anti-woman oppression in an individual's life. It can be used as an easy fix to a much deeper problem.
Lesbians have always had our power drained when we try to work in mixed-gender environments. The gender net of human females is diverse and wide. I am all for fighting for the rights of transgender people. But just not at the expense of fair lesbian representation. Life is not a zero sum game. If the LGBT community writes us out of the fold, we will just keep raising hell on our own, a strategy we have learned well.