Recently, gay men have heavily contributed to transphobia, an issue we have seen a lot of on the national level in current events. By invalidating trans people, we in turn silence and erase their existence.
#Notallgaymen, certainly, before you start jumping up and down and screaming at me. But it’s not just in the larger gross transphobia where gay men–often without intending to–can debase my existence as a transwoman. “Problematic language,” Schell mentions, and that’s a big part of it. But there’s another area he doesn’t talk about in the piece, that I’d like to take a quick look at.
I’ve said often enough to folks that I have an uncomfortable relationship with drag. Now, before you get all upset–seriously, gurl, calm yourself–know this: I admire the hell out of drag performers. It takes a hell of a lot of moxie to get up there and do what they do, and enjoy it like they seem to. The problem, and where I get uncomfortable, is that an awful lot of people, including a fair number of gay men, can’t seem to tell the difference between me and a drag performer.
When it’s the straights, I’ll cut ’em a little slack; they’re Muggles, and may have been living in a cave since Paris is Burning came out or something. But gay men, you oughta know better! Here’s an example:
My grown daughter and I went to a charity event at one of the local bars in Montrose. There was a silent auction, some nibbles and drink specials, and a drag show was planned, where the performers had committed to contribute some part of their take to the charity. Sounds fun, so we went. We had to park some distance away, so I got out the wheelchair that I use for distances like that, and we went in.
Leaving aside that the silent-auction tables were so close together that I could not maneuver, and the buffet nibbles were in a raised area with no ramp, I was happy to watch the drag show–from far in the back, since there were steps…
My daughter had gone to get us drinks, when I was suddenly hugged from behind around the neck and shoulders (not a safe thing to do to me, ever, so don’t get any ideas, please), and this very drunk, very flamboyantly gay man asked me when I was performing. I told him I wasn’t a performer, and he really needed to learn to keep his hands to himself. He said, “whatever, gurl!” and wandered off.
See what I mean? It’s not just “problematic language.” There are problematic behaviors and assumptions that transgender people–particularly trans women–must put up with in order to hang around our gay friends. As a member of a local leather club (its only active woman full member, at this writing), I get this All. The. Time, and it’s why I don’t spend as much time with the club as I’d like to, and why I won’t go to any bar on a night when there’s a drag show. I just won’t, because I feel singled out for this kind of crappy behavior.
One final reminder, since some folks seem to need one.