Sexism and homophobia

Have you been wondering why I keep shouting “SEXISM AND HOMOPHOBIA” over and over until I’m blue in the face? Well look no further!

Canada has our first transgender judge—a trans man who was a lesbian before deciding to transition. She is open about being a former lesbian and several articles written about her describe her earlier life and her journey into transition. What stands out for me when I read about her is the obvious sexism and homophobia that repeatedly appear.

Kael McKenzie describes her childhood the same way butch dykes always do. She was a tomboy who refused to wear dresses and played baseball. She says the following about coming out as a lesbian: “It was like this big a-ha moment. Okay, that’s what this is, that makes sense. So I lived my life as a lesbian for a very long time.”

As a young adult she joined the military, and it was against the rules to be gay at the time. After a few years in the military, she married a woman, had two kids, and went to law school. In law school, she felt uncomfortably different from the other women.

“I wore uniforms and had no cause to wear women’s clothing or to be feminine in any way but when I went to law school that was a game-changer. All of a sudden, I realized I was the only woman in the class who was wearing a beer T-shirt.”

What the hell is wrong with a woman wearing a beer T-shirt? The idea that women have to look “feminine” is called sexism. From the same article:

“In an attempt to blend in, McKenzie went against his intuition and decided to embrace the idea of being what he calls “a professional woman.” He figured: I’ll grow out my hair, put on some eye shadow, slip on some heels. “I was just going to live with it but it just got harder and harder. The more I tried to assimilate to society’s norms of what women are supposed to be like, the worse it got for me.”

The quotes from this journalist make it seem as though McKenzie was just trying to fit into the expectations placed on female lawyers. A quote from another article confirms my suspicion.

“When I moved into law, things got a little bit difficult because there are certain dress and behaviour expectations as you progress in your career. More conformity, if you will.”

There it is in black and white. This is about her having to conform to society’s expectations.

She contradicts herself about her past, as trans people often do. Even though she says that coming out as a lesbian “made sense” to her, and she lived as a lesbian for “a very long time,” and got married twice to women as a woman, she also claims to have always been trans. I don’t buy that. She can’t have it both ways. She has many years of lived experience as a dyke–first as a baby dyke who played baseball, then as an army dyke, then as a lesbian mom. After that lived experience she can’t just re-write it all and say she was a man the whole time. She certainly was not.

What has remained the same this whole time is her personality. She has always been butch, and still is, although now she’s disguised as a man. The testosterone has done its job; she looks exactly like one.

Before she transitioned, she also made an attempt at becoming a feminine woman. Of course this didn’t work; butches cannot do femininity, it’s not in their personality and it’s a foreign concept to them. If a butch tries to wear a dress and makeup she just looks more butch.

“At the time I was very early into my ‘embracing being a woman’ and I was going to act the part, dress the part, feel the part,” he says. “It was probably the calm before the storm.”

Notice these words: act the part, dress the part, feel the part. She’s talking like she was an actor. But you don’t have to “act” to be a woman. A woman is an adult human female, and McKenzie is an adult human female. No matter how she looks or acts she is a woman. There is no pretending or faking required. The only thing she was faking was a personality and an appearance that are not her own. Personality and appearance are part of the gender role, not the biological sex. Gender role is a harmful social construct that should be abolished so that people can be free to express their personalities without being told they’ve got the wrong personality for their sex.

If people try to perform a personality that is different from their own, then it will feel like acting. Her personality is not feminine, and trying to be feminine will make her feel like she is faking. She shouldn’t be required to perform a personality other than her own—no one should. There should be no expectations that people have to look or behave a certain way because of their sex. There should be no expectation that homosexuals should try to fit into the way that heterosexuals behave.

“In an attempt to blend in, McKenzie went against his intuition and decided to embrace the idea of being what he calls “a professional woman.” He figured: I’ll grow out my hair, put on some eye shadow, slip on some heels. “I was just going to live with it but it just got harder and harder. The more I tried to assimilate to society’s norms of what women are supposed to be like, the worse it got for me.”

There it is again, right in black and white. McKenzie did not think she could be herself in the professional world, she tried to become feminine instead, and she felt worse and worse. She specifically says “I tried to assimilate into society’s norms” But of course she couldn’t. Society’s norms for women are centered around heterosexuality and women’s role as wife, mother, and sex object for men. Dykes cannot fit into that role because we are dykes. We should not have to fit into that role—we should be accepted as the dykes we are. There was never a mismatch between McKenzie’s personality and her body. There was a mismatch between her personality and society’s sexist expectations of her.

I don’t agree that transgenderism is the answer when society has unrealistic expectations placed on women. It’s unrealistic to expect women to wear makeup and heels every day. I’m not even a butch and I wouldn’t wear makeup and heels every day! For gawd’s sake, tons of straight women hate makeup and heels! Not enjoying superficial stereotypes about what women are and uncomfortable clothing does not make you a man, it makes you a perfectly normal woman. When women are expected to present in makeup and heels every day against our comfort and our own desires that is called sexism.

If any of you have been wondering why I say that gender dysphoria is a result of sexism and homophobia: here it is, one of the clearest examples. A lesbian with a natural butch personality transitioned to avoid having to wear makeup and dresses and be seen as a different sort of woman. I bet it’s also in part to help her career—due to sexism and homophobia, she’ll probably be taken more seriously in the worldplace as a man than as a dyke.

McKenzie’s whole family was happy to see her transition. One of her kids said “Why couldn’t you have done this a long time ago? I wouldn’t have to explain why I had three moms.’” You know why it’s embarrassing to explain that all your parents are moms? Homophobia! McKenzie’s wife was also supportive, which I don’t get. I understand teenagers not wanting to explain to their friends they have lesbian moms. But how can a lesbian support her lesbian partner looking like a man? Check out this sentence:

“Barr, a lesbian now married to a transgender man, knew of McKenzie’s wishes long before and was also steadfast in her support.”

What?! This makes me really angry. What kind of lesbian supports her partner transitioning to male? Do I have to explain that lesbians are attracted to women, not men? Why would any lesbian support her partner cutting off her breasts and putting artificial hormones in her body in order to look like a man? I would never support that! I have not experienced having a partner transition, so I don’t know how I would react, but when I try to imagine it, I imagine myself crying and begging her not to do it. And I imagine myself having a huge crisis over wondering whether I should stay with her, because she is actually a lesbian and I love her, or if I should leave, because she’s made it clear she doesn’t want to be a lesbian or a woman. I would be in a terrible situation. I think I’d eventually leave, but I’d be heartbroken.

As it happens, I do have a butch partner, and although she has felt some pressure to transition at various points in her life, due to sexism and homophobia, she is happy being a dyke and does not want to change anything about herself. I feel very lucky to be with her and I tell her that on a regular basis. I love her natural butch personality and I love her as a woman.

There’s cognitive dissonance when a lesbian is married to an FtM. If an FtM is a man, then how can her partner be a lesbian? And if her partner is a lesbian, then how can she be a man? Transgenderists don’t care how much they contradict themselves.

Everyone in McKenzie’s life supported her transition, including her work colleagues. It’s a happy tale of transgender success. Except behind the transgender success story is a story of a butch lesbian who was forced into transition by sexism and homophobia. This story may be a success for transgenderists, but it’s no success for lesbians. The idea that lesbians are really men is 19th century homophobia. There needs to be more people brave enough to stand up for lesbians. We need to refuse to be bullied by the label “transphobic” and instead make people fear being called lesbophobic for harming lesbians. We fucking matter!

I wonder what would have happened if she had just worn the clothes and haircut she wanted to wear and gone to work like that? Would she have been accepted then? Could she have become the first butch lesbian judge? We’ll never know. She did not take that chance. She didn’t try to create change for women or for lesbians, instead she opted out and became a “man.”

McKenzie has many things to be proud of, like being a lesbian mom, being a lawyer, and being the first Métis judge. I want to be proud of her, I really do. I wish I could be proud of her for being an “advocate for the LGBTTQI* community,” as she is called in the article. But I’m not. That’s because I am pro-woman and pro-lesbian, and whenever a lesbian woman agrees with our sexist society that she is not performing the “womanhood” role correctly and that this means she’s not a woman, she is also opting out of being a role model for lesbians. A role model for lesbians would become the best lesbian lawyer she could be, and would keep being a proud lesbian even if the stupid haters are hating. There will always be sexist, homophobic assholes in the world—that doesn’t mean lesbians should stop being lesbians. An advocate for the lesbian community shows the world that lesbians are just right the way we are, that we don’t need to change or assimilate, that we have our own legitimate way to be women.

In a way, I guess she is a good advocate for the LBGTQWTF community, because this alphabet soup has turned into exactly the sort of anti-woman, anti-lesbian hate group who likes to see lesbians transition. McKenzie has become both a victim and a perpetrator of sexism and homophobia. She has become a role model for younger butches to believe they should transition, too.

I do not like to see lesbians transition. I understand who butch lesbians are. I know they are expressing their natural personalities, that they have female personalities in female bodies, that there is no disconnect between a natural dyke personality and a female body, and that sexism and homophobia are the forces that drive dykes into internalized homophobia and shame over not performing “woman” right. I know that dykes are performing woman right, because being a dyke is an awesome way of being a woman. Every time one of my lesbian sisters opts out of being a lesbian, my heart breaks again. I love butch lesbians as women and I will not call them men!

22 thoughts on “Sexism and homophobia

  1. Superficially, on a picture, may be considered to “pass”… but IRL, the physical attributes, the smile, the eye shape, the butt shape, total body proportions, testosterone does not change all this. There is still a lot of female about this person. I am having a very flabbergasty day. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is causing such a visceral reaction in me. It’s more than a little horrifying, feels like an Islamic nation, where a woman has no authority to live her life, and must become man in order to find survive. Is this not the case of all women who decry constrictive sexist expectations? It has been for me. This is appalling.
    As Canada becomes more and more accommodating to religions and sexisms, I’m afraid this is only going to get much worse. 😦
    As for Kael being a success story… let’s wait and see if the testosterone turns out toxic in this case too, it’s been less than 5 years 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Have you read about the sworn virgins of Albania? It is very enlightening. Those women were able to get all the male privilege (except marriage, of course) without the testosterone.

    And getting male privilege is essentially what this woman has done, and I can see why her partner supported her … that is, I could see it she had not had to mutilate her body and poison herself with too much testosterone to do it. I could see why a lesbian would want her beloved to be happy and successful and not be bullied in the workplace because she doesn’t wear heels.

    When I was a kid, I always loved stories about women who disguse as men and do stuff only men are allowed to do, and are awesome. However, those women (like Èowyn, or Mulan) always managed to do that without permanent damage to their bodies. They also were eventually revealed to be women and the sexist men around them had no choice but to respect them because of their sheer awesomeness.

    It is, I fear, highly unlikely that McKenzie will, after a successful career, detransition and tell the world “Haha, I was a woman all along! Women can be judges without heels and make up!”

    … also, it would not look as awesome as Éowyn removing her helmet, because the effects of the testosterone are not reversible.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. That’s definitely a question — does she have male privilege? Since she’s not stealth, and she’s out as a former lesbian, everyone actually knows she’s female. I think it remains to be seen whether people will treat her as a lesbian or as a man. Depending on the person she’s interacting with she might get male privilege or she might get treated as some who is super gay.
    Does her partner support her because she sees this as a minor trade-off to get along better in the workplace? This reminds me of the debate I’ve been having with Skepto. Skepto has pointed out that I value physical wholeness as its own intrinsically valuable thing. That’s true–I do value physical wholeness and I’m baffled as to why other people don’t. The only way I can explain it is that the opposite of wholeness is injury and injury is intrinsically bad.
    The way I see this situation is a lesbian has to injure herself in order to conform to a gender role and I don’t see this as consensual. She was fine without body modification when she was in the army because there were no expectations of femininity placed on her. Then when she felt her options were to either be a feminine woman or be a man, that’s when she made body modifications and started denying her womanhood and her lesbianism.
    I think she was coerced into transition by sexism and I think that when a lesbian feels she needs to deny her lesbianism to get along in the workplace that’s a sign of homophobia. (Both internalized homophobia and other people’s homophobia.)
    I wouldn’t support my partner doing this because I value her physical wholeness, I think that’s a part of loving her, and I don’t want her to succomb to homophobia. We consider ourselves gender rebels — it’s society that needs to change, not us.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Well, I think she must at least get the male privilege of not having to wear heels and make up out of it. Okay, that’s not a privilege, actually, but you know what I mean, right?
      I think it is the same thing as with sworn virgins – men are more willing to treat some few exceptional women as equals in certain environments rather than having to treat all women as equals all the time. By transitioning she declared herself an exception.

      I don’t value physical wholeness for its own sake, but I value sustainability, and as it turns out, the human body actually needs most organs to function properly.

      Sometimes I get the impression that people know that transitioning takes away the physical wholeness, but do not know that it takes away the sustainability; that one cannot just remove hormone-producing organs from a body and expect this to have no effect on the ability to function without artificial hormones.

      … or perhaps they just don’t think it a bad thing to be forever and ever and ever dependent on artificially produced hormones that they have to buy.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. “I wish I could be proud of her for being an “advocate for the LGBTTQI* community,” as she is called in the article. But I’m not. That’s because I am pro-woman and pro-lesbian”

    So true. My work is launching a new training program for staff to be more ‘inclusive’ and ‘affirming’ of ‘LGBT+’ people. I’d love to support initiatives (even weak corporate ones!) to make the world safer and fairer for gays and lesbians and to have a workplace that accepts gnc people in general. But the program description is very confusing–using jargon-y words that aren’t defined. It’s run by the “Committee for Sexual and Gender Diversity”. WTF does that even mean? I fear that it will just promote contradictory trans doctrine and throw women and lesbians under the bus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I bet they’ll teach you trans propaganda. There is nothing that people actually need to do to make gays and lesbians safe in the workplace other than treat them like regular people and refrain from being homophobic, which is pretty common sense and probably doesn’t require training. Canada is already safe for gays and lesbians structurally (we can get each other’s health benefits, we can be out in the workplace, etc) and the only reason we are ever unsafe is when individuals decide to be homophobic and harass us. If a group wants to come in and talk about how to make gays and lesbians safe, they can do that in one sentence: Treat gays and lesbians as you would treat anyone else. Anything with the name gender diversity in it is going to tell you a bunch of crap about gender identity, and the way gender identity is constructed by the trans cult does not help homosexuals.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. I wonder, too, how much being lionized for her “courage” plays a part. She doesn’t get noticed as a boring old lesbian (not that I think being a lesbian is boring!), but joining the trans cult still offers special snowflake status. So, she gets to turn her back on all of her sisters, lesbian and prelesbian, to join the oppressor, and get her name in the papers. I would feel sorry for her if I weren’t so angered by her betrayal of all of us.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. “There should be no expectation that homosexuals should try to fit into the way that heterosexuals behave… Society’s norms for women are centered around heterosexuality and women’s role as wife, mother, and sex object for men.”

    I am currently reading a sociolinguistics book called “Language and Sexuality” by Deborah Cameron. She (as well as Penelope Eckert) makes a powerful argument that gender roles are completely designed to facilitate heterosexual relationships and in a manner that benefits the male partner.

    “What kind of lesbian supports her partner transitioning to male?”

    It’s possible that this is true of course, but I’d take these “happy partner” stories with a grain of salt. As a former partner who met a ton of other partners and former partners, we are often portrayed by the pollyanna trans person/community as happy when we are not.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Let’s not forget that this is still a very recent transition. When assessing any “committed” relationship, I feel any “success” statement proclaimed in the first 18 years to be quite irrelevant. (Why 18?, because it’s the time to raise a child, the true test of “staying together”). And even hormonaly, stories of “happy SRS”, I only take stock of them if it’s 2 decades later.
      On this… we shall see.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. When I read about FtM people it always seems like a story of defeat, of giving in to the misogynists and homophobes, of a desperate attempt to fit in to a role other people define. Its so very sad that we have gone back to the time when people talked of inverts, but now the medical complex has a product to sell as well.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. Just had a long discussion with my dear Womyn, who works in a mans world. Post military and in the construction management position. She would indentify as butch, if she ever gave it a thought. She does not feel she would have gain any advantage by being a man. It comes down to being way too busy getting things done to take the time to even think about it. We both agreed that there must be a degree of self absorbtion, of appearance and presentation to want to transition in a world that will never really be fooled. Her philosophy continues to be, work as hard and as best as you can, take care of your people and stay focused. People may make comments behind her back, but never to her face and they listen when she talks. I love her because she is a woman.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. There’s a second T in the never-ending alphabet soup mess now? Dare I want to find out what it stands for?

    The rabbi in charge of my university’s Hillel (Jewish student group) is a lesbian, married her partner many years ago, and was the birth mother of their two children. They separated recently, and now she’s living with someone who’s trans and claims male pronouns. I’m pretty sure her new partner is really a woman. It’s really weird to me to see and hear someone whom I’ve always known as a lesbian referring to her partner as a boyfriend.

    One of the letters on the advice section of Scarleteen was from a trans-identified woman who was really upset her girlfriend admitted she only got with her because she was female-bodied, and that she’s only sexually attracted to women because she’s a lesbian. The girlfriend was frequently coaxing off the binder by offering back massages, which the trans partner couldn’t refuse due to having a really wrecked back. The girlfriend also didn’t want to cuddle, kiss, do anything sexual, or lie in bed together unless the binder and packer were off, and even then their intimacy was becoming very rare. She also laughed at the packer and made her partner take it off, in spite of having been supportive at first and finding ways to make the transition easier. While laughing at your partner isn’t cool, I really do feel for the girlfriend in that letter. Just about anyone would have difficulty adjusting when a partner began taking cross-sex hormones and changing their body.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I wonder when the mainstream media is going to get tired of their latest ‘darling’ and show the occasional story about butches who maneuver quite well, thank-you-very-much, through this patriarchal world of ours?

    Liked by 5 people

  12. I agree, 19th century homophobia. Also, selling out for a small amount of male privilege, or at the very least, getting fawned over for being “special”. It sounds like she wasn’t getting much respect as a regular lesbian, but now that she’s conforming to patriarchal standards in a way that feels “progressive”, she’s treated better.

    That’s the other thing, if she had continued as a sex-role non-conforming lesbian, I doubt there would have been a story of how heroic she was…also the same reason why you never see parents getting featured on TV or being called brave and heroic for loving their lesbian daughter or gay son just the way they are. That honor is reserved for parents who want to turn their child into a life-long medical patient to “treat” their sex role non-compliance. Keep screaming sexism and homophobia; telling the truth is the only way to fix this mess.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. There is another aspect that should be taken into account. Michele, my partner working in a construction world, recognizes that being GOOD is not good enough. She has to be a FUCKING GENUIS at what she does to get the respect she deserves. Judge Mc Kenzie may be an okay judge and lawyer. She may not be getting more respect because she is identifying as a man, but because she is F2T no one is going to question her wisdom, at the risk of accusations of bigotry. This may be a ploy to cover medicrosy.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Well. Huh. So…Congratulations! You’re a man! Yay for you!

    Uhm, no. Just, no, thank you.

    Reading through the comments, you have all touched on everything I want to say. There is no courage required in altering one’s body with synthetic hormones, in walking away from the bravest woman she could have been, the butch woman she didn’t have the strength to be. And, yes, I’m sure her partner is ‘happy’ for her, but I also imagine that her partner, being supportive as partners usually are, may grapple with her own loss of her butch. It seems that no one ever considers them and what they really want.

    Liked by 4 people

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