Let’s talk about who’s actually hateful and bigoted here

Well, folks, I am back from a lovely and relaxing trip and ready to address the stinking pile of horseshit that people crapped onto my blog while I was away.

I published a guest post by a woman who was harassed at the Vancouver Dyke March, and her harasser showed up in the comments to continue the harassment. It’s absolutely amazing to me that a harasser can get called out on his harassment and then decide that the appropriate response is to continue harassing. How messed up of a person do you have to be to think that’s a good idea?

Mr. Wanda Normous made a feeble attempt to claim that he hadn’t harassed anyone by reporting that he didn’t use a loud voice when talking to her. However, he admitted in his own words to engaging in the following behaviours:

  • “follow around to counter your hateful message until you took it out of the park with you”
  • “walk or stand immediately outside of your personal space with my terror breasts exposed.”
  • “I used two tools to evict you”

In these quotes, Mr. Normous has admitted to following a lesbian around and being in her personal space with the purpose of “evicting” her from the march. This is clear harassment and intimidation.

Let’s take a moment to discuss who is actually hateful and bigoted in this situation. There is a trans march and a dyke march. No lesbians are on record as saying they do not think there should be a trans march. No lesbians have attended a trans march to intimidate anybody. Lesbians have not tried to take over the board of directors of a trans march and kick out the trans people from the march. This is something that trans people are doing to the dyke march, and it’s happening only in that direction. It’s not going both ways.

Speaking for myself, I have been to a trans march. While I was there I just stood on the sidelines and watched. I did not lecture anyone about what they may or may not put on their sign. I did not select a person whose sign I believed was objectionable and follow them around in order to intimidate them. I do not believe I have the right to dictate to trans people what they put on their signs in their own march, nor do I have a right to harass anyone. I believe it’s acceptable for Pride festivals to include a trans march and for trans people to show their pride about being trans. I do not wish to stand in the way of this.

All the dyke marches in every city that holds them have been taken over by queer politics and are now hostile toward anyone who understands what a woman is and what a lesbian is. Comments from lesbians are deleted from Dyke March Facebook pages in every city and marchers hold signs that say things like “No TERFs” to make it clear that actual female homosexuals are not welcome there. The Dyke Marches now cater exclusively to men and bisexual women who agree with queer politics.

There is no logical reason why trans people need to be centered or even invited at all to a dyke march, since THERE IS A TRANS MARCH. A dyke march should center dykes.

What is happening here is that female homosexuals are being completely kicked out of Pride festivals; we cannot have our own march any more, we cannot even speak about our exclusion without being labelled bigots. It’s not just that trans people wanted their own march, which would have been fine, but they wanted every march to cater exclusively to them.

It is abundantly clear that the actual hatred and bigotry here is coming from trans people and is being directed at lesbians. Claims that lesbians are excluding trans people are complete reversals of the truth.

Speaking of lies, Wanda Normous wrote some real whoppers in the comments on my last post.

He has claimed that  “your desire to exterminate transwomen is plain” and that “you only care about hurting and excluding transwomen” and that “you’re just deciding for folks whether or not they’re women.”

Neither I nor the writer of the guest post gave any indication that we wanted to “exterminate” transwomen. In order for this alleged “desire” to be “plain,” we would have had to express it. This claim is purely a product of Mr. Normous’s imagination. Just for the record, no, I do not wish to exterminate anyone.

Neither I nor the guest writer has an interest in hurting transwomen. As for exclusion, I do think that transwomen should be excluded from the dyke march, however I do not think they should be excluded from the trans march. It’s pretty basic logic that the dyke march is for dykes and the trans march is for trans people. Having a march for each group does not exclude anybody—holding a march for each group is actually inclusion. Questions: If transwomen should be included in the dyke march, then why even have separate marches? Why not just make it one big march? And if trans people should be included in the dyke march, does this also mean that dykes should be included in the trans march? Why or why not?

A sign that says “dyke power is female” does not exclude anybody. It’s true that dykes are female. Stating a simple and neutral fact is not exclusionary.

Last but not least, the third lie mentioned above was “you’re just deciding for folks whether or not they’re women.” Nope! We’re not. Nobody can decide who is a woman and who is not. You’re just born that way. Nature and biology determine whether you’re born male or female. Nobody can decide anything about it. People can’t assign a sex to a baby any more than they can assign fingers or toes to a baby. Women are identifying the difference between male and female, but we cannot possibly decide it from our desire or will—nobody can.

I want to particularly highlight the following phrase from Wanda Normous:

“USELESS FUCKING TERF GARBAGE”

This is hate speech directed toward lesbians. Although Mr. Normous is very concerned that lesbians should not be allowed to represent a uterus on a sign because that is allegedly “hate speech” against him, he has no problem with calling lesbians “useless fucking terf garbage.” It’s very, very clear that Mr. Normous has serious misogyny issues. A misogynist and homophobic man who harasses and intimidates lesbians has absolutely no business attending a dyke march and he should be considered an unsafe person and banned from the event.

In contrast, I am a trans-critical writer who makes an effort not to use unnecessarily antagonistic language when talking about trans people. I never use the slur “tranny” and I even refrain from using the words “mutilate” and “delusional.” I believe in giving people basic courtesy and respect, in order to show that I am engaging honestly with issues and not just trolling. For a transwoman to show up on my blog and use this sort of disrespectful language when I have used no such disrespectful language toward him is very telling. Once again, the hatred and bigotry in this situation are coming from trans people and directed at lesbians; it’s a one-way street.

I did notice that Mr. Normous intentionally “misgendered” me by referring to me with male signifiers. This did not harm me in any way, because using incorrect grammar in a sentence does not cause people harm. I found it mildly amusing, but it really didn’t matter at all. However, I have to note that according to trans ideology, misgendering is “violence,” and so according to Mr. Normous’s own political position, he has committed “violence” toward me. Funny how the “violence” of misgendering only matters when directed toward transwomen; when directed at lesbians it’s not a problem.

The last point I’m going to cover for tonight is this:

“your narrative that women are only as good as their reproductive organs”

This is not at all the narrative that feminists present. It is a bald-faced lie to claim this. It is patriarchy that positions women as only good for reproduction and PIV sex. The entire feminist movement has been based on women’s knowledge that we are more than just wives and mothers and that we can do anything we want. Our work has been based on allowing us to control our reproductive capacity so that we are not reduced to our biological functions and can enter the workforce as men’s equals. To name the female reproductive anatomy does not reduce women to just their reproductive anatomy. Similarly, if I identify that I have ten fingers, that does not reduce me to just fingers, and if I identify that I have two eyes, that does not reduce me to nothing but eyes. This attempt at an argument is beyond pathetic.

Over and over I have witnessed transwomen behaving with masculine socialization (entitlement, dominance, and aggression), making ridiculously misogynist and homophobic statements, engaging in misogynist and homophobic behaviours, and telling bald-faced lies about feminists. I am absolutely not impressed and as long as they behave this way I will not be a political ally toward them. Although I would theoretically support some parts of trans activism, such as gender-neutral toilets and the right to wear the clothing one wants to wear, I cannot ally with people who are this hateful toward my demographic.

Over and over, transwomen demonstrate, with their own words and behaviour, that they do not resemble women in the slightest, and that they are particularly dangerous men. Feminists hardly have to call attention to the fact that transwomen are male; they do it themselves.

Anti-lesbian harassment at Vancouver Dyke March

This is a guest post by Katherine Jeffcott who attended the Vancouver Dyke March on August 5, 2017. She says:

I thought I would share my account of the dyke march in Vancouver, including pictures. As you know, I’m big on making women central in my feminism. So, I made a sign which stated simply “dyke power is female”. Here is me with my sign:

Well, we were marching, when this trans woman who was obviously a volunteer or a marshal, came up to me and yelled at me. She said my sign was transmisogynistic (because it doesn’t include male anatomy). Essentially the uterus offended this person. So she yelled at me, but one of my sisters quickly came up and put her arm around me, indicating I wasn’t alone. I kept marching. Meanwhile I was surrounded by other awesome women with amazing signs. Like this:

And this:

We weren’t saying anything against trans, we were simply focusing on women. Interestingly enough when the parade ended and we were in the park, this same trans person followed us everywhere:

They removed their top and followed us in a pink speedo where ever we went. We didn’t say or do anything to provoke this person. All we did was talk about women and female anatomy. Eventually I felt freaked out enough that my partner came and picked me up. I literally had shaky palms and was sweating. I was nervous until I saw my sisters with their sign that said Trust In God: Grumpy Old Dykes. Then I felt at home.

But my question to you is, what about women? Why are we being intimidated in our own spaces? What is it about our anatomy that is not acceptable?

What I love about being a lesbian

Today I’ve had cramps and bloating and I discovered a really good remedy for period pain is watching awesome YouTube videos of lesbians being lesbians. It makes me smile and takes my mind off the discomfort.

Here’s another video by Mainely Butch:

I noticed that almost everything she says about why she likes being a lesbian is butch- related. For example, she enjoys shopping for clothes in the men’s section and she enjoys the way straight women smile at her and the way men look at her when they see a beautiful woman on her arm.

The reasons why I like being a lesbian are not the same as this because I’m not a butch. I’m going to write about why I like being a lesbian and my perspective is both femme and feminist. I’m not sure what order these items should be in. I’ll write them in the order that I think of them but that’s not necessarily order of importance—these points are all important.

I love having sex with a woman. I did try sex with men when I was younger and it was boring and didn’t work for me. When I’m with a woman, she has a body that I’m really into and I love touching her so much, I can sometimes orgasm just from touching her. And she can bring me to orgasm as many times as she wants. I love that sex with women can feel never-ending, because you can be intimate in subtle ways throughout the day, kissing and casually touching each other, and then you can give each other pleasure in an unlimited way whenever you want. It doesn’t feel to me like we ever stop being intimate. And I love that it’s unstructured—you aren’t limited to specific roles or scripts.

I love having a “husband” who’s female. My partner does all the things a husband would do for a wife, like driving the truck, fixing furniture and appliances, etc, except she’s female. I love that I can live with a woman who can do everything a man can, and I love that we don’t need a man in any way. I love that she takes so much care with the things she builds and repairs and does a way better job than men do.

I love that I can go through my whole life not using any birth control. I don’t have to worry about the hormonal effects of the pill, or getting an I.U.D inserted, or being scared of pregnancy. I’m glad nobody is injecting me with semen and my vagina stays in its natural state all the time. I’m glad that sex is divorced from reproduction for me, and it’s just for fun and I don’t have to have babies.

I’m glad that my home is permanent female-only space. I can go home every day knowing that there are no men in my home, and I can display radical feminist books on my shelves and I can hold radical feminist meetings in safety and speak my mind and never have to explain or justify my beliefs to a dude.

I’m glad that my partner doesn’t think that certain tasks are my job to do because I’m a wife. We each do half the chores and what we decide to do reflects our interests and abilities rather than what sex we are. And speaking of household chores, I’d be really resentful if I had to do free labor in the home for a man. I’m glad that the time and energy that I put in around the house benefits another woman, rather than a man.

I’m glad that my partner knows what menstruation is like, so when I’m feeling hormonal she doesn’t make fun of me and think I’m crazy, she does helpful things and is nice to me, because she knows she has felt the same way.

A few points of Mainely Butch’s that I agreed with: women smell better, lesbians are powerful, women are better at conversation, women have intense passionate relationships, and women are smart!

The last point MB made is that being a lesbian is so good because it means being who she is. That was a beautiful note to end on and I feel the same way. I’m so happy to be in a gay-friendly area and to be able to live my life how I want. It’s beautiful!

The lesbian creation myth

Intro: There was a small conversation between two commenters here saying that we need a lesbian creation myth. Miep said that sounded like something I would write, and I thought, ‘indeed it is’! What I came up with is a story of the creation of life on earth which culminates in the creation of lesbians. It loosely imitates the Biblical creation myth while turning all the male-centered ideas into female-centered ones. Every radical feminist blog needs some Earth-Mother-Goddess-Hippy stuff once in a while, right? I am an atheist, and I wrote this purely for entertainment. It should not be taken as my literal beliefs–it’s just to make you smile. I very much enjoyed writing this, and if anyone else has a lesbian creation myth waiting to be written, I’d love to read it!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the beginning, when Mother Earth created life, she first made tiny organisms that could withstand the harsh conditions of her newborn planet. Earth was cooling and creating solid surfaces of rock and water, and the Mother’s fertile spirit moved across the newly-formed land and oceans, leaving bacteria to flourish. She was pleased with her creation, since there was something living for the first time in the barren landscape. Then the Mother commanded, “Let there be photosynthesis,” and algae grew, and it began to use light from the sun to make food.  Once again the Mother was pleased with what she saw.

The Earth continued to change, and eventually there was an ample supply of free oxygen. Mother Earth saw that her planet was ready for more advanced life, so she commanded, “Let fish fill the sea, and plants grow on land.” An abundance of new life covered the Earth. The Mother saw how successful her small animals were, and she was encouraged. She knew she could do even better. She changed the conditions on her planet again, so her first creatures died out, and then she prepared the planet for the next era.

When her planet was ready, Mother Earth commanded, “Let there be giant animals to rule over the land” and many new species of birds, reptiles and mammals covered the Earth. They were greater and stronger than the animals she had made before, and she was pleased with her creation.  Mother Earth enjoyed her creation for a time, and continued to introduce new species whenever she was in the mood, and then one day she decided she wanted to make a more intelligent creature than ever before. It would have consciousness of its own life the way the Mother did, and it would have new abilities that other species didn’t have, like the use of advanced tools and language. She decided that the ape was a good prototype for her new primate, and she began to give some of them the new traits.

Her new species, which she called Woman, evolved quickly. She helped the species along a little but its genetic coding also helped it to evolve on its own. The species flourished and it grew in both number and power. It continued to improve until Mother Earth’s enemy, the Devil of Death and Destruction, noticed how well the creatures were doing, and decided to interfere. The Devil was a malicious and effective demon, who took it upon himself to destroy the lovely things that Mother Earth created. He attacked the male of the species, giving him a deeply-embedded desire to destroy everything Mother Earth held dear: her Women, her other animals, and her plant life.

Mother Nature did the best she could to stop the evil from spreading. She added extra compassion to some of her new creatures so they would have the desire to defend all life. She was pleased to see some of them make good progress against the Devil’s plan. But it wasn’t enough.

The Mother had created Woman in her own image, fertile and conscious animals who would create and protect life. But her creatures had to mate with the males of their species and some of the males had become quite evil, obviously causing distress to the women.  The Mother loved her women and wanted them to be happy, so she decided to give them a gift. She created a special kind of woman who would defy the Devil’s wickedness by not mating with his hateful brutes. Instead, they would mate with their own sex. This wouldn’t result in a baby of course, but it would result in extra protection for all of womankind, because of their love for the female of the species. Not only would they be immune to the Devil’s tricks, but they would protect other women from them too.

The genetic coding that turned some women toward their own sex also occurred in some of the males, and they too turned toward their own sex. The Mother considered this an acceptible by-product of her plan—after all, it wasn’t a whole lot of them, and it wasn’t stopping the rest of the species from procreating.

Once the woman-loving women were created, they began to defend all of womankind, as the Mother had planned. She was very pleased that her plan had worked, and finally took a day off to rest.

The evil encoding that the Devil of Death and Destruction created still exists in some of the male genes, but a league of exceptional women created in the Mother’s image are leading the battle against it, and expect to succeed before long.

Another lesbian feels like a guy

A reader sent me this video and asked for a post about it. It’s a short documentary-style video about a lesbian who identifies as a man and has no plans to transition. Here’s the video:

She says the same thing I’ve heard 100,000 times now from women who identify as men: “Ever since I was small, I always identified more with boys, I always kind of felt more like a boy.”

As is very common in stories of women who identify as men, they turn out to be attracted to women. Gender dysphoria doesn’t just randomly strike random women. A large majority of the women who “feel like a boy” are lesbian or bisexual. This makes it really freakin’ obvious that gender dysphoria in women is often related to the difficulties of being a same-sex-attracted woman in a sexist and heteronormative society.

This particular lesbian who identifies as a man doesn’t plan to transition. This means what she is experiencing is not discomfort with her female body, it’s discomfort with the feminine gender role. She’s okay with being female, she just “isn’t a woman.”

Dear readers, please raise your hand if you feel discomfort regarding the feminine gender role.

When dressing as a woman, Lauren feels like she is in drag and like she is putting on a character. She feels this way as an actress, but she seems to be implying that that’s the way she feels about being a woman all the time. This is also a comment I’ve heard before. Some people think that “being a woman” is an act that has to be performed, involving specific dress, appearance, mannerisms, speech patterns, and behaviors. This is not true. A woman is an adult human female, and the only way to be a woman is to be born female and to grow into an adult. Anyone who is existing in a female body is “being a woman.” It turns out that women can have any kind of mannerisms, appearance, and behavior. We can have any kind of personality and thoughts and feelings. Everyone with a female body is a woman, no matter how she feels or what she wears. There is no acting involved at all.

In the video, Lauren is shown on a bus “manspreading” across her seat. This is probably supposed to display her masculine mannerisms, although she looks like a typical woman and no one would mistake her for a man.

So why does Lauren “feel like a man”? I can tell you right now. Lesbians often grow up feeling different from other women. We are often baffled at straight women’s behavior, and we often identify with the cultural stereotypes assigned to men. These days there is no on-the-ground lesbian community, so there is no way for lesbians to share their feelings with other lesbians and find out that we have similar feelings. Instead there is a “queer” community that is all too eager to label women who aren’t feminine and who vaguely and subjectively “feel different” as not-women. They can be nonbinary, or trans men, or genderqueer, or any other bloody thing. The message is clear: real women are feminine, therefore unfeminine women aren’t women. It’s the same old-school sexism that caused the last two waves of feminism, repackaged as “progressive.”

Here’s the thing: a lesbian is a female homosexual. If you are female, and you are exclusively attracted to females, you are a lesbian. Whatever feelings you have toward yourself are lesbian feelings. If you feel like hot stuff, you walk with a swagger, you like looking at the ladies, you want women to think you’re a stud, you like wearing comfortable clothes, you don’t fit into the same culture as straight women, but identify with men, you’ve always felt “different,” and you don’t meet the dominant cultural idea about what women are, then congratulations! You are a perfectly normal dyke. Your membership card’s in the mail. Welcome to the club.

Book Review: Tomboy Survival Guide

Last weekend I went to the library to browse through the queer books and I came across Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote. I’ve heard other people say this book is good so I thought I should check it out. Coyote is an accomplished writer and speaker and a queer Canadian icon. Tomboy Survival Guide is their latest book, published in 2016.

Coyote is a talented storyteller who writes in a vulnerable way, heart exposed, and I was drawn in immediately. By the second chapter I already had tears running down my cheeks. The title suggests that this book is a guide for tomboys, but what it actually is is a memoir that is as much about family as it is about gender. The stories are about growing up as a tomboy, being a butch lesbian, and being a trans person, and they are also about being from a loving family from Whitehorse, Yukon—a family that remains important and valuable throughout the author’s life. Western Canada provides a beautiful backdrop for Coyote’s stories, whether it’s the Yukon or British Columbia.

I have been enjoying the book immensely over the past week while simultaneously struggling with the question of how I can review a book by someone who I support on some levels but who has very different political beliefs from me. Coyote is pro-trans, and is against my kind of feminism. Reading through their twitter account recently told me that Coyote calls women “TERFs.”  I cannot discuss this book without addressing this political divide and I can’t get very far into a discussion of their work without making a decision about pronoun use.

Coyote’s pronouns are “they/them” but I do not agree that a butch lesbian should be called ‘they.’ Calling a female human ‘they’ is supposed to imply that she is not female, but is instead somewhere in between, and it disappears the difference between gender and sex. A butch lesbian is biologically female and has a masculine gender. I don’t believe it’s right to imply that a non-feminine woman is not a woman at all—that reinforces the idea that all women must be feminine or else they aren’t women. The idea that all women must be feminine or else they aren’t women is one of the things that harms all of us. I think that when you agree that a masculine woman isn’t a woman, you are agreeing with the bullies who think she’s not okay the way she is.

I believe with all my heart that the way to support a butch lesbian is to respect her masculine gender and her femaleness, and to appreciate them both as integral parts of her that are both significant in making her who she is, and to maintain that being female and masculine isn’t a contradiction that needs to be resolved but something to honour and respect as it is. I think that calling her “they” to erase her femaleness does the same thing that straight women do when they tell her she doesn’t belong in the women’s washroom: it’s kicking her out of womanhood because she doesn’t fit the feminine standard.

With all that in mind, I know that if I were to support Coyote by calling her “she” it would be taken as me not supporting her because she uses “they.” Therefore I am going to use a mix of pronouns to acknowledge both my position and hers. It is my intention here to promote their work and their voice without letting go of my own perspective.

Whenever I read a book written by a butch, I see my own partner among the pages. Coyote’s book really hit home for me because she is a Canadian lesbian and so are my partner and I. In fact, I know that we have mutual acquaintances and some of my friends have seen her perform.

One of the first stories Coyote told of her tomboy nature was being in swimming lessons as a kid and wearing only the bottom half of her bathing suit and allowing everyone to think she was a boy. My partner did the exact same thing when she was a kid, wearing swim trunks to the community pool because that’s what she felt comfortable in, and she kept doing that until the boys were harassing her and the lifeguard told her she had to put a top on. She was not happy about this.

Near the opening of the book Coyote wrote a wonderful description of being a tomboy. It’s not about consciously rejecting the feminine and trying to be masculine, it’s about having something different about you that exists in your personality and in your very bones that you would not be able to change even if you dressed in women’s clothes.

“I didn’t not want to be a girl because I had been told that they were weaker or somehow lesser than boys. It was never that simple. I didn’t even really actively not want to be like the other girls. I just knew. I just knew that I wasn’t. I couldn’t. I would never be. (p14)”

Later on when they described attending college to learn Electricity and Industrial Electronics I saw my partner in the pages again. One of the only two women among hundreds of men, they endured harassment from their classmates despite being excellent in the program.

It can be a minefield navigating the world as a masculine woman because you never know how people are going to interpret you or treat you. Coyote wrote about times when she was “one of the guys” and times when she was “one of the girls.” Although some of their college classmates harassed them horribly, they recalled a positive memory of one classmate asking their advice on how to do something nice for his wife. In that moment, Coyote was not a failure of a woman but an expert on womanhood.

Although it wasn’t the least bit funny for her at the time, I laughed when she recalled the time when a guy managing a tourist destination, hot springs in a cave, made her wear a women’s swimsuit while calling her “sir.” Sometimes people get hilariously mixed up when they encounter an ambiguous-looking person.

Four years before writing this book, and already in their forties, Coyote had top surgery. They called this decision “the healthy, happy thing for me to do,” (p170) even though it caused them to completely lose feeling in their nipples. They describes the numbness in a very poignant paragraph:

“They are beyond numb. They feel nothing. Sometimes I think I can feel the flesh underneath them, maybe I can feel pressure there, maybe. But I can’t feel her fingertips or her tongue, or her teeth. I can’t feel the cold lake or the warm sun either.” (p151)

Is it really a fair trade, to get the chest you want but lose feeling in your nipples?

It’s interesting that Coyote says the following:

“But my day-to-day struggles are not so much between me and my body. I am not trapped in the wrong body. I am trapped in a world that makes very little space for bodies like mine. (p170–171)”

I fully agree with this. No one is trapped in the wrong body. It’s not their bodies that need to change, it’s the way they are being treated that needs to change. It’s important to locate the problem correctly. Don’t blame something on your body when it’s not your body’s fault.

Throughout much of the book, Coyote doesn’t mention being trans, because in her childhood and young adulthood she didn’t have a trans identity yet. Near the end of the book, the trans issue starts to come up. She wrote about getting hate mail from both conservatives and radical feminists regarding her writing on transgender bathroom use. She reports both groups of people saying the same thing in their hate mail, which is:

“No offense, but, if I had to share a woman’s washroom with someone who looks like you, I would feel…uncomfortable.

And…

“Why don’t you just use the men’s room? (p224)”

Although I am a radical feminist, this quote does not represent my position at all. It’s not what anyone in my own circle of feminists says, either. We don’t want to see butch women kicked out of the women’s washroom, we think all women belong there. We aren’t uncomfortable around butch women. Some of us, like me, love butch women. We also think that single-occupant washrooms are a good idea in order to accommodate gender nonconforming people, or anyone who wants to pee alone. We don’t think that trans people should be kicked out of all the bathrooms. We don’t think women should be forced into the men’s room. I don’t know who emailed her, but they didn’t say anything close to what I would have said. My position is that everyone should be accommodated in washrooms, without forgetting that allowing the entire world into the women’s washroom does not properly accommodate women. Overly-broad gender identity laws that are based on self-declaration and no objective criteria allows anyone to announce they’re a woman and enter the washroom. This is not good policy.

There is another part of the book where Coyote’s pro-trans position bothers me. She printed a letter from a mother whose teenage daughter is transitioning to male. The teen first identified as a lesbian and then identified as trans. Coyote wrote a response to the mother which spoke of her daughter as if she were truly her son and would grow up to be a man. She didn’t leave any room for the fact that this teen could actually be a lesbian. That’s what you do when you believe in transgender politics, is immediately affirm someone’s trans identity and ignore the fact that the person is actually homosexual. Only a so-called “trans exclusive radical feminist” like me can see what is really happening here. An adult lesbian is refusing to call herself a lesbian, preferring to label herself as something other than a woman, and is affirming a younger lesbian who is doing the same. This is absolutely tragic. This is not what I want for the lesbian community. I want lesbians to be able to proudly declare their lesbian identity without falling prey to the ancient homophobic idea that lesbians are really men or that we’re failed women. I want us to carve out space for all different kinds of women to be ourselves without shame, and to show the world that women are diverse and beautiful in our differences. If it were me giving advice, I would have left the door open to this young woman actually being a lesbian and validated what she is probably feeling without jumping right onto the trans train.

For the most part, I loved Tomboy Survival Guide, and I would definitely recommend it. I was very moved by her stories and I thought the book was exquisitely written. I always appreciate hearing about what life is like for little tomboys who grow up to be butch. My criticism is that because of her pro-trans position, her writing is not as lesbian-positive as it could be. What I always hope to see in any book written by a lesbian is a positive lesbian identity and a pro-woman stance.