September vacation

It looks like I will be taking a blog vacation again. This time it’s not to deal with Internet addiction (I’m quite happy being addicted to the Internet and plan to stay that way, thank you very much!) it’s actually because I have too many projects on the go. I have agreed to read and edit a manuscript for someone and now I am also diving head-first into my own creative writing project. Now, look, I’m one of those people who has started writing a novel multiple times and never actually finished any of them, so I make absolutely no promises that I will eventually show you the fruits of my labor. However, the creative juices are stirring and so it’s time to take a break from writing political opinion pieces for a while and try storytelling instead.

You all know what I’d have to say about politics anyway. Every day there’s another article about a toddler socially transitioning because he’s been playing with the wrong toys, a school forcing teen girls to accept pervy boys in their locker room, and a transwoman in prison who’s going to die if he doesn’t get his makeup delivered on time. After a while there’s just no need to comment anymore. Kids can play with any toys and this means nothing about their “gender,” women and girls deserve privacy from men, no matter how those men feel about their “gender,” and transwomen in prison should have considered not murdering or assaulting anyone if they didn’t want to be in prison. And they aren’t going to suffer any harm because they can’t wear makeup. (For fuck’s sake, actual women have been fighting for the right not to have to wear makeup!)

I say I’m taking a blog vacation, but I will still be on WordPress reading other people’s blogs. I just won’t be writing new pieces for a while. My last blog vacation was about a week and a half, so I don’t know, maybe this one will be like two weeks? Three weeks? I don’t really know, it depends when is the next time I see something that really pisses me off and I have to say something about it.

You are welcome to comment on old posts if the mood strikes you, and you can consider this an open thread for now. By the way, I seem to have quite a few new followers lately. Feel free to say hi and let me know what brought you to the gender critical blogosphere.

Discussion about pets and recipes okay here. The only thing I won’t tolerate is anyone saying they’re jonesing for a pumpkin-spice-latté-flavored consumer product from a mass-produced chain coffee shop. Puke! Pumpkin spices should only be consumed in an actual pumpkin pie.

Video: Gender Identity in Student Spaces

A conference was held in London, U.K this summer called Thinking Differently. It was a place for feminists to discuss gender identity and transgenderism. There were lots of great speakers and I recommend watching the whole thing.

In this clip, Magdalen Burns talks about being kicked out of her campus LGBT group and her women’s liberation group for violating “safe space” rules by disagreeing with their dogma.

It’s interesting hearing her talk about all the reasons why she was kicked out of various groups—all of them are really stupid reasons. But the part that I found most poignant was that she knows around ten gays and lesbians who have been kicked out of their university LGBT society by people who identify as “queer” but not lesbian or gay. It looks like we have reached a point where ordinary gays and lesbians are officially kicked out of LGBT—the important people in that group now are people identifying as queer and trans. The words queer and trans are so vague that anyone could identify this way, the only real criteria is you have to adhere to the group dogma. As Magdalen says, if you’re an 18-year-old lesbian in your first year on campus you’re going to fear not being able to be around other lesbians.

Whatever the hell “queer” is, it’s pretty hostile to homosexuals.

FtMs and internalized homophobia

This post discusses the internalized homophobia that is apparent in a YouTube video called How I knew I was Transgender- FTM.

This video is supposed to be about how she knew she was trans, except during most of the video what she’s actually talking about is being ashamed of being a lesbian. Judging by what she says here, it appears that she “knew she was trans” due to internalized homophobia.

If you are new here, you may be wondering why I’m calling this person a lesbian instead of a trans man. I’ll give you two reasons:

  1. She is female and exclusively attracted to females, and that’s what a lesbian is.
  2. She calls herself a lesbian several times during this video and she also reveals that she sees herself as female during her talk (a point which I will explain below.)

She begins thusly:

“When I was a small kid, around 4 or 5, I definitely knew I was different, of course I didn’t know how, what that meant, I just knew I was different. I was a big tomboy, very much the mindset of a little boy, attitude of a little boy, hated wearing girl clothes, I hated having long hair, and things started getting really confusing for me when I noticed around the same age that I liked girls. I was very afraid because I was in religious school, ‘cause that’s the schools that my mom and dad always had me in. So I knew liking the same sex was frowned upon, so I kept it a secret for a very long time. I didn’t even know why I felt like a little boy and I was very confused and I wasn’t educated, and I didn’t have the resources to educate myself. When I noticed I started liking girls, I was very afraid, I was ashamed, I was embarrassed, I didn’t know what to do because I wasn’t attracted to any of the boys in my school or outside of school either, I just wasn’t attracted to guys at all. And I was afraid, because that meant I wasn’t normal. At least, I thought that meant I wasn’t normal just ‘cause that’s what I was always told. That was the environment I was in, I was very confused as a kid.”

Notice that in the opening of her video, the entire reason for her distress as a kid is that she was a girl who liked girls, and that she didn’t feel like a normal girl. The feelings she’s describing are totally normal for lesbians. A little girl who hates wearing dresses, likes wearing boys’ clothes, is a tomboy, and likes other girls, is a normal lesbian. Being a tomboy who likes girls should not be a source of distress, but it is because of homophobia and the enforcement of gender roles.

The following sentence is straight up internalized homophobia:

“When I noticed I started liking girls, I was very afraid, I was ashamed, I was embarrassed, I didn’t know what to do because I wasn’t attracted to any of the boys in my school or outside of school either, I just wasn’t attracted to guys at all. And I was afraid, because that meant I wasn’t normal.”

This is what happens when a lesbian growing up in a homophobic environment realizes her sexual orientation. She feels ashamed and embarrassed because she knows she is not considered normal.

I made a comment up above that she sees herself as female. She says that “liking the same sex was frowned upon.” If she were male, then girls wouldn’t be the same sex as her, they’d be the opposite sex. She wouldn’t call her attraction to girls a same-sex attraction if she believed she was of the male sex. She may be masculine in terms of the appearance and mannerisms she performs, but she is not male.

She says she had the mindset and attitude of a little boy, and that she felt like a little boy. This comment requires an explanation. There is no such thing as a “male mindset” or “male attitude” because men are all individuals and have a variety of mindsets and attitudes. Further, Aidan actually was a little girl. A girl is a young human female. At no point was she ever a young human male. A female cannot know what it feels like to be male. Because she is female, her mindset and attitude are those of a female. She may very well have had a different attitude than her female classmates, but she was a girl and so any attitude she may have had was a female attitude. One of the reasons she felt that her mindset was different is likely because she was the only lesbian in a classroom full of straight girls. We LGB folks commonly do feel different from our straight peers. The comment “I always felt different…” is something that you will hear any LGB say about their childhood. (And of course, straight people can feel different too, because, guess what, humans are not all the same!)

It is likely that what she means when she says she felt like a boy is that her personality is similar to the personalities people expect from boys. This is due to sexism. Girls can actually have any type of personality, and there is no such thing as having the wrong personality for your sex. Anyone who claims to have the personality, brain, mind, or attitude of the opposite sex needs to explain what that means.

Moving right along, she says:

“When I started going through puberty it was really hard, terribly hard, I was very depressed. I immediately knew I was disconnected from my body. I remember I used to be a basketball star so I remember taking my basketballs at night and I would lay in bed at night and I would take my basketball and I would as hard as I can hug it and press it against my breasts, because I was trying to get rid of them because I couldn’t handle the pressure of growing breasts and not identifying as a girl. I really didn’t know what I was, I thought I was a freak because I didn’t identify as a girl, but yet I liked girls, and I didn’t know what any of this meant because I wasn’t educated, and I was too afraid and too ashamed to ask my parents, and this is something I always told myself I would take to my grave because no one needed to know, and I didn’t know there were others out there in the world that were like me until I was a little bit older and I saw a 20/20 episode on transsexuals, and my parents were watching it, and I just so happened to be in the room too so I was watching it, and it finally clicked—I knew I was a transsexual, or transgender is the new preferred term nowadays. I knew what I was but that scared the hell out of me because I saw what life was for that transgender woman on the 20/20 episode, and I didn’t want to be considered a freak or an outcast and be bullied every day and just live a horrible life because everyone is so mean to you, and I didn’t want to do that, and I was ashamed.”

She was a girl who felt her mindset and attitude were those of a boy and therefore her growing female body made her distressed. She talks about being in religious school, and judging by her level of shame about having her personality while being in a girl’s body it’s reasonable to assume she was surrounded by strict gender roles. In fact, she does have a video on YouTube that specifically talks about how she was bullied by family members throughout her childhood because they wanted her to be more feminine. Some would label that transphobic bullying; I call it sexism and homophobia. The reason families want their little girls to be feminine is because they want them to be heterosexual and attractive to the opposite sex. This certainly is bullying and no matter what you call it, it’s hurtful and unacceptable.

That day she saw a transgender person on TV was a significant moment. What if, instead of seeing a transgender person, she had seen a woman like herself, with a personality like hers and who was proud to be a gender-defiant lesbian? What are the chances that she ever saw a lesbian on TV? Maybe Ellen, but probably not a masculine lesbian. There’s a blanket ban on butch lesbians appearing on television, because straight society considers them unacceptable.

“I tried very hard to be a girl, I had to fake my personality, fake who I was, just pretty much everything about me was an absolute lie. I mean, I had to put so much effort into being a girl just to fit in so no one knew I was anything different, because I was very ashamed after I learned I was a transgender person. I think that word put a lot of fear into me, and I was just, I don’t know, I just ran away. Ran away from the word and ran away from being transgender I was like no, I am not, I can’t, this is not, I was freaking out inside, I was panicking, I was really depressed and anxious, and confused still. So I just pretty much just said I was a lesbian. But of course I didn’t really come out as a lesbian until I was almost out of high school because like I said I was in religious school for most of my life, and I didn’t want anyone at my school to know I even liked girls, or I didn’t really need them or want them to know anything about my personal life because I was too ashamed and too embarrassed and I didn’t want anyone to know, which is very understandable.”

She says some really interesting things here about “trying to be a girl.” Girls don’t have to “try” to be girls, they just are. A girl is a young human female. All human females who are young are called “girls,” regardless of their personalities. When they grow up they’ll be called women, because then they’ll be adult human females. A female doesn’t have to “try” to be female—she is born female and is always female, no matter what she is doing or wearing. A female is a living being that produces ova and can bear young. We females do not have to “try” to have bodies that produce ova—this is a biological process that happens without our control or input. Just like we don’t have to “try” to breathe, digest food, or pump blood through our veins.

I expect that what she was actually “trying to do” is behave the way females are expected to behave. She was trying to perform a different personality than her own. Anyone who tries to perform a different personality than her own will feel like she is faking, and she’ll feel erased and invisible as a person. I am quite confident that the personality she was trying to perform is the personality that was expected of heterosexual, gender-compliant females in her social group. She was trying to fit in with the girls around her and not let on that she was different.

It doesn’t sound like there was anyone in her life who could have told her that she was being subjected to sexism and homophobia when she was expected to act like a gender-compliant heterosexual instead of the girl she really was. So I’ll be the one to say it! Expecting lesbians to act like gender-compliant heterosexuals is sexist and homophobic, and it constitutes emotional abuse.

When a homosexual girl has internalized the idea that she has to behave like a gender-compliant heterosexual, and when she starts enforcing those standards on herself, she has internalized homophobia. The cure for internalized homophobia is realizing that her lesbian personality is perfect as it is, her same-sex attraction is a beautiful gift for her to treasure, and she doesn’t have to live up to the expectations of the sexist homophobes who want her to be like them.

“And I identified as a lesbian for a few years. I met my girlfriend Heather and we’ve been together for almost four years. It wasn’t until after my mom had passed, it was like five months after that, and my father passed when I was 17, so he wasn’t around. So it wasn’t until my mom passed that I started doing research again, I wanted to educate myself, there was really nothing holding me back, I didn’t have parents anymore, I wasn’t in school, I was an adult in the real world, and I only had to worry about me and my girlfriend Heather. So I started doing research one day at work, I was on YouTube watching videos and I think it was, who was it, I want to say it was Ty, if you all know who Ty is, Tyler, he’s also an FtM, he does YouTube channels, I watched one of his videos for the first time and it really opened up my eyes, and I knew for sure that I am a man and I’ve been hiding it my entire life, I think I was so embarrassed I just subconsciously put it behind me and I was like I’m a lesbian I don’t even want to deal with that, that’s just beyond anything I can even handle. After I watched his video and it sank in, a million pounds were just put back on my shoulders and I was like, man it was so heavy, to like finally as an adult, accept yourself and to go home and look in the mirror, I am a guy. It clicked when I was younger because I watched the 20/20 episode so I kinda knew I was transgender but I was so afraid of it that I was like no, no, I’m a lesbian, I’m not a guy, I had so much shame, and I don’t even know what I was so ashamed about, you know? I am transgender. I am a guy with female sex organs and that’s just who I am.”

For four years she was in a lesbian relationship, and then she watched some FtM videos and decided for sure that she was a “guy with female sex organs.” This is where I get back around to that first question I want to ask of FtMs: what is a man? what is a woman? Because outside transgenderland, having female sex organs is in fact what makes someone female, and having male sex organs is in fact what makes someone male. Saying that a man can have female sex organs is like saying that a cat can have feathers and wings. I predict that you’ll find it impossible to define a woman as anything other than an adult human female, because any other definition ends up being vague and circular.

The only way the phrase “man with female sex organs” can make sense is if “man” is a social category of people who have certain expectations placed on them regarding their appearance, behavior, speech patterns and mannerisms, and if belonging to this social category has nothing to do with sex organs. However, this is not the case. The reason society expects men and women to behave in certain ways is exactly because of their sex organs. Men are expected to be domineering, strong, and protective because they’re expected to be fathers of families, and women are expected to be nurturing, kind, and giving because we are expected to be wives and mothers. These roles grow directly from our reproductive capacity. There are plenty of straight people who don’t find that these roles suit them, but homosexuals are far more likely to find that these roles don’t suit them, since we are often not interested in our role in reproduction or the behaviors that are expected to go along with it. In fact, lots of us can’t perform the expected behaviors no matter how hard we may try, because they are completely foreign to us. There is a long history of lesbians whose personalities mirror the expectations society places on men, and for several decades now lesbians have been calling this personality butch. This personality type is a normal way for a lesbian to be, it’s not a problem and it doesn’t require any treatment. (And if you ask me, it’s a particularly awesome way for a woman to be.)

Aidan has made more recent videos, and she has now had top surgery and her body is looking more masculine due to testosterone. She appears happy with these changes.

As is usual when I watch FtM videos, I have been inspired to offer some TERFy advice! I call my advice “TERFy” because it doesn’t involve validating a woman’s identity as a man, it involves validating lesbians that they are perfect the way they are. (These days, of course, it’s hateful, bigoted and phobic to support lesbians as lesbians.) This should be considered general advice for lesbians who have internalized homophobia and believe they are not real women.

  • Go to a therapist who will take the time to explore what you’re feeling and why, and who will help you to identify the underlying beliefs that you have absorbed that lead you to feel that you are not a proper woman.
  • Really take the time to explore what you mean when you say you feel like a man or have a male brain.
  • Recognize that you have been subjected to sexism and homophobia and that this is emotional abuse and you need to deal with the effects of that abuse. Preferably explore this with a feminist therapist who understands the effects of patriarchy on women.
  • If you are a survivor of physical or sexual abuse, also deal constructively with the effects of that abuse.
  • Identify the negative thoughts and beliefs that you have toward your sexual orientation and your personality. Recognize this as internalized homophobia and take steps to reverse it.
  • If there are people in your life who are still directing sexism and homophobia at you, take steps to distance yourself from those people, even if they’re your family. Many gays and lesbians will adopt a “chosen family” of gay-positive friends if their biological family rejects them.
  • Take lots of time to get to know other lesbians, to read about lesbian history and to consume lesbian culture (books, films, etc.) Talk to lesbian friends about your feelings.
  • Do the usual affirmations that come with cognitive therapy: telling yourself every day that you are beautiful and lovable the way you are, that your sexual orientation is a gift and nothing to be ashamed of, that loving women is wonderful and life-affirming, and that your personality is just right for you.
  • If you feel disconnected from your body, find activities that bring you back into your body, such as exercise, yoga, meditation and trauma therapy.

I’m still not buying into the idea that any woman’s personality is a wrong personality for her sex, and as long as the trans cult is convincing lesbians they are men, I will be labelling the trans cult as sexist and homophobic. Lesbians are just right the way they were born, in body and mind.

Please note I expect commenters to be respectful.

Internalized homophobia

Alright, we have to have a conversation about internalized homophobia. The only way I can start this conversation is by talking about my own experience, and it’s going to involve telling you about my sad personal stories and experiences in therapy. Sorry to put you through this, but that’s how best I can explain this topic!

Some of you will recognize my stories if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. I have removed some earlier posts that contained these stories and so I’ll be telling them again. Feel free to skim if you’ve read them before!

The website Cultural Bridges to Justice defines internalized homophobia:

“Internalized homophobia is defined as the involuntary belief by lesbians and gay men that the homophobic lies, stereotypes and myths about them (that are delivered to everyone in a heterosexist / homophobic society) ARE TRUE.”

I will get more specific about what internalized homophobia looks like in this post.

The earliest anecdote I can think of where I denied a same-sex attraction is when I was 9 and I had a crush on a girl at my school. I was fascinated with this girl who I thought was the prettiest girl I had ever seen and I followed her around at recess because I wanted to look at her. I started talking about her at home and my mom casually remarked that I had a crush. This seemed really embarrassing to me and I insisted that I didn’t have a crush. At this point I didn’t consciously think of myself as either gay or bisexual; I didn’t have any concept of sexual orientation and all I knew was that this girl was beautiful. I didn’t draw any conclusions that this feeling said something about me. But I still felt embarrassed when my mom pointed it out. I believe that’s because even at a young age kids learn to view same-sex attraction as something embarrassing, gross, wrong and weird. I never had anyone in my life explicitly say that homosexuality was wrong, but this message is casually inserted into all of our culture, like endless subliminal messaging. Everything in society is geared toward heterosexuality, the way adults talk to kids always assumes their future heterosexuality, every story, movie, and song we consume contains heterosexuality, and we either don’t hear about homosexuality at all or we hear about it in the punch lines of jokes. Characters in films and TV shows make “gay jokes” all the time, they make fun of people by implying they’re gay, they express disgust toward gay people, and they generally act like gay people are weirdos and freaks who are totally different from regular society. Then there’s the talk amongst kids! Every gay kid has had to listen to people calling each other fag or queer or fruit at school and people putting people down by implying they’re less than heterosexual. These messages get stored in the hard drive of the brain and the kid remembers that being gay is weird and gross. When my mom said that I had a crush on a girl, I recoiled in horror at the thought.

When I was fourteen I had a crush on a girl again and there was no way I could hide it. Talking about her made me light up like a lamp, and I couldn’t stop talking about her. I became really goofy around her, it’s like I couldn’t remember how to speak properly when she was around. I admitted this to two friends, one of whom knew long before I told her. When I found out that one of these two friends had told someone else without my permission, I was horrified. I walked around at school wondering if anyone else knew and what would happen to me. I remember in grade ten a boy in my class relentlessly harassed another boy, telling him he was gay over and over until he was fighting back tears. I thought the bully was a total asshole but I was too scared to tell him to knock it off. I didn’t want that sort of thing to happen to me. How I wish I could go back to that day and tell that bully to shut the fuck up! At fourteen I knew that it was taboo that I liked another girl, I was scared of anyone knowing besides my two best friends, and I knew that other people would not be okay with it. This all had an effect on me.

I spent the next few years in denial and tried to be straight, although this didn’t work out. I never loved a man and they couldn’t satisfy me. When I fell in love with a woman at age 20, it broke the denial. I was head over heels for her, acting all goofy and unable to speak again, and writing all sorts of poetry about her. For the purposes of this post I’ll call her “Rosie.” I didn’t notice my attraction to Rosie at first, because I was in denial. What happened was that I started believing I was stupid. I didn’t think that I knew how to even carry on a conversation because I was so stupid. I ended up actually going to therapy because I had gotten depressed to the point where I couldn’t do any schoolwork. My therapist asked me specific questions about my belief that I was stupid. She got me to narrow down the issue for a while until finally what I realized is that I was only stupid when I was around Rosie. I had no idea why this could be. My therapist asked me to describe Rosie and I immediately began to gush about how beautiful, smart, brilliant, and pretty Rosie was. I carried on for a few minutes while my therapist just watched me talk, and then all of a sudden I started to hear myself and I realized what I was saying. I was saying I was attracted to her. I couldn’t look at my therapist anymore. I stared at the wall in shame and wouldn’t look her in the eye.

The reasons for my shame was because of all the years of being in a heteronormative culture and hearing homophobic words used as slurs and even the word “gay” used as a slur and seeing gay people used as punch lines in jokes. What this all adds up to is a belief that gay people are gross and weird. Realizing you have a same-sex attraction means realizing you are one of those “freaks” that you’ve always heard bad things about. Up to this point in your life, you know you aren’t a freak, and you know that gay people are freaks. When you realize you have a same-sex attraction, you can either dismiss it and decide you couldn’t really be gay, or you can sink into despair upon realizing that you are a freak after all! Of course, if you’re lucky, maybe you can skip this process altogether and just accept it immediately, but that’s not what happened to me.

I want to talk about how internalized homophobia can work on a subconscious level. Even that day when I stared at the wall because I was too ashamed to look at my therapist, if you had asked me, “Is it okay to be gay?” I would have said yes. I did not have a conscious belief that there was anything wrong with being gay. I was all progressive and tolerant and I thought it was just fine, as long as it wasn’t me.

I was very lucky I went to a decent therapist who could identify my issue. She kept asking me questions until the real reason for my distress became apparent. She didn’t tell me the reason, she helped me find it for myself. When she saw how ashamed I was about my attraction to my female friend she told me that I didn’t have to be ashamed and she encouraged me to do things for myself that would help, like joining the gay group on campus.

I had another issue to work out too, and that was the issue of female-only space. I didn’t think I belonged in it. I felt like my attraction to women made me like a man, and that I didn’t belong in private spaces with other women because I was attracted to them. Once again, this was a subconscious belief. I wouldn’t have said out loud that lesbians are sex offenders if you had asked me, but I felt like I was doing something wrong by living in close quarters with straight women and sharing bathrooms with them. I felt like I was violating them somehow, just by being there. The only reason I realized I was feeling this way is because my therapist kept asking me questions to get me to dig deeper, and she helped me uncover my underlying attitude that was causing me to feel anxious. We had a whole conversation about it, and I had to tell myself that there was nothing wrong with me being in female-only space—I had no desire to do anything wrong to the women I was sharing a dorm and a bathroom with. I definitely had a desire to have sex with the woman I was in love with, but I did not pay much attention to the others. I didn’t have a sexual attraction to every woman—it was only to certain ones—and I get zero sexual arousal from being in a washroom or locker room.

One more thing I need to discuss, and that’s when I was trying to block my thoughts about women. I don’t know when this started exactly, but I used to prevent myself from having romantic thoughts about women. As soon as I saw a pretty woman or thought about a woman I liked, I would launch into a full-on attack against myself, calling myself names and telling myself to stop, stop, STOP! And then all the other insecurities would pile on top of those—I was also stupid and wrong and awful and would never make it in the world. I had to work hard at identifying these thoughts as incorrect and harmful and then slowly reverse them by teaching myself new thoughts that reflect love and acceptance. And here’s my sparkling snow anecdote which will be the only happy thing in this post! One day I was walking out in the snow, and I thought of a pretty woman I knew, and I realized that I could enjoy this thought. I could allow this attraction to make me feel good and I could enjoy the warm fuzzies, instead of beating myself up over it. So I thought about her and smiled to myself. Because I finally gave myself permission to feel good about it instead of beating myself up over it, everything changed. At that moment, the snow didn’t feel cold or gloomy anymore, it looked sparkly and beautiful. And that’s when I realized that when I stop beating myself up with negativity, I can finally let in what joys there are to find here in this life. Allowing myself to be who I am literally made the snow sparkle.

So to summarize a long bunch of stories, internalized homophobia can look like denial, negative self-talk, and negative beliefs about being gay directed toward the self.

Denial: This can consist of pretending a same-sex attraction doesn’t exist, or conceptualizing it as something else. A woman who is exclusively attracted to women is a lesbian—that’s what the word means. Sometimes women who are attracted to women label themselves by some other name or try to think of themselves in another way. Some of us try to be straight even though that doesn’t work, because we cannot love men. Some of us disguise ourselves as men so that we look straight. Lesbians who are trying to look like heterosexual men are denying their lesbianism.

Negative beliefs: Even people who are homosexual can have negative beliefs about homosexuals. We learn terrible things from homophobic people, from religion, from culture, even from our families. We learn that being gay is wrong and bad, gross and embarrassing, an abomination and sometimes an evil force bringing down civilization. We learn that gay people are sex offenders and perverts (which is not true!) and that we should be converted or ostracized or locked up. These beliefs can live in the hard drives of our minds even if we aren’t consciously aware of them.

Negative self-talk: A lesbian with internalized homophobia might tell herself the same things she is hearing from other homophobic people, and direct hatred toward herself. She might refuse to think of her sexual orientation in a positive way and instead tell herself to stop liking women and that her desires are wrong.

All of the above problems can be solved through cognitive therapy. Internalized homophobia has to be identified and unlearned.

These days I’m a happy lesbian who feels very lucky to be one. I am lucky to be able to share my love with another woman. My partner is the most wonderful person in my life. I am proud to be seen with her and to be seen as a lesbian, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not afraid to come out to new people and when people are homophobic I don’t even care anymore. If someone wants to live with hatred in their heart, that’s their problem, not mine.

There is another form of internalized homophobia that I don’t have because I’m a femme lesbian, and that is the belief that one’s lesbian personality makes one “really a man.” It is normal for a lesbian to identify with the stereotypes that society assigns to boys and men, such as enjoying rough-and-tumble play, enjoying wearing baggy clothes and short hair, and seeing oneself in the role of breadwinner, husband, and protector with a lovely woman by her side. This is a normal lesbian personality and no body modification is required in order to express it. Some women with this personality will call themselves “butch.” There is a long history of lesbians with this personality type wearing men’s clothing and disguising themselves as men because that is the only way they are allowed to be themselves in a misogynist and homophobic world. This doesn’t mean they are literally male, it means that they have been labelled “masculine” by a culture that defines everything in terms of masculinity and femininity. Being a masculine woman is a wonderful way to be a woman, it’s not a problem, and it doesn’t need to be fixed. The belief that a lesbian is “doing woman wrong” or “not a proper woman” because her personality is not the one we expect from women is another form of homophobia.

There is nothing wrong or shameful about being a lesbian. Love between women is beautiful and life-affirming. Sex between women is also beautiful and very fulfilling. Women form intense and passionate relationships and we stay with our partners for long periods of time. Some people say that lesbians are sick and twisted or immature or broken, but this is not true. We are normal people who live our lives the same way everyone else does except we partner with our own sex. There is nothing evil or wrong about us loving and caring for each other. Our love is wonderful and we are lucky to have it.

Internalized homophobia is a condition that requires treatment, but being homosexual is not.

Some notes about commenting

I don’t have a comments policy, because I expect people to just know how to properly comment on a blog. However, once in a while I have to make a few clarifications. Recently there have been some comment threads shut down, and I have been seeing some comments come in that make me cringe. It’s time to address a few points.

  1. I expect you to follow my lead in terms of the tone of your comments. If I’ve written something lighthearted and silly, then feel free to be lighthearted and silly in the comments, and don’t worry about going off-topic. If I’ve written a serious post about something like violence or homophobia or rape culture, then I expect people to respect the topic and know that is not the sort of post where you start chatting to people about your pets or favourite recipes. (I’m not saying someone did exactly that, that is just an illustrative example.)
  2. This blog is for thoughtful, nuanced dialogue, and we handle controversial topics with maturity and sensitivity here. Commenters are welcome to share opposing viewpoints as long as they are engaging sincerely with the topic and demonstrating that they want to have a thoughtful conversation. I expect commenters to respond with courtesy to people with opposing viewpoints without yelling or attacking. I will not host comment wars, so when people start fighting I will simply shut down the comment thread. If you are posting comments that are inflammatory and unnecessarily judgmental, defensive, or hostile, you are likely contributing to the end of a conversation, so please don’t do this.
  3. If I see you posting comments that are likely to start an argument that will not be productive, then I will put you in moderation.
  4. FtM commenters are allowed to comment here as long as they’re interested in having a thoughtful conversation with a gender critical community. (Of course, if someone is just here to call me a hateful bigot then I will not be posting their comments.) If you are a Totally Excellent Real Female and see an FtM comment, assume that I have approved of this comment being on the blog and that this is a person you should respond to with the same courtesy you would anyone else. Absolutely no yelling at FtMs.
  5. I reserve the right to put someone in moderation even if they are a long-time commenter if I feel they are not following these guidelines.