Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Guest Blogger, Transgender

Transgender community face hate speech from Lesbian and Gay people.

Transphobia is not something that just happens because of heteronormativity. As we gradually make our way through the end of the first decade of the 21st century this much becomes clear; homonormativity is just as virulent as its sibling. A scenario between two South African activists -one a transsexual man and the other, a lesbian- during which the lesbian activist said, “once born a woman you will die a woman” and admits to saying so is typical of transphobic slur. The difference here is she admitted to casting the aspersion. Usually you are met with a barrage of denials which is symptomatic of bully cultures. The problem we face now is whether we like it or not, this is happing in our communities.

In the UK the situation is no better. Early this morning, I was mis-gendered by a gay man on a bus journey. I ignored his slight but he continued sucking up to his female friend. When I was about to get off he followed me and deliberately swung his bag striking my bottom and apologised. I let it go again, but I was furiously upset by these actions. At the height of his hypocrisy, even after apologising, he turned back to his female friend laughing out loud and said, ‘didn’t I tell you he‘s a man?’ and his transphobia was shamefully without doubt. I discovered from this experience is that its time we exposed the LGB’s rank double standards and advocate for proactive empowerment of the TI position in societies worldwide. A gay man or any other man groping a transsexual woman to gain the friendship of a straight woman suffers first from transphobia but also internalised homophobia and vice versa for a lesbian, heterosexual or bisexual woman who acts conversely. Sexuality, gender identity or any other identity and the inevitable phobia that occur are all pugnacious and must be fought against with equal commitment.

Statement my Gender Dynamix – Transgender community face hate speech from Lesbian and Gay people.

19 October 2010 Cape Town- Transgender people face an array of challenges in their lives ranging from discrimination to violence. Like Lesbian Gay and other minority people face torture, rape and abuse by outside communities and very often their own.

Over the last five years, transgender activists in Africa have made significant steps to create an understanding of the transgender community and one of the first approaches have been to sensitise the LGBTI sector. The impact has been felt but there is need to exert more effort in these ventures.There has been talk by Lesbian and Gay orginisations who pose themselves as LGBTI to adress the ignorance and gaps that exist between the “LGB” and the “TI” but the Transgender community continues to suffer predjudice at the hands of their Lesbian and Gay brothers and sisters.

There is a belief that the concept of Transgender is merely a form of homosexuality. Lesbian and Gay people most often feel disbelief about the identities of Transgender people and treat them with the same disregard that heteronormative people treat Lesbian and Gay people.

It is most shocking when a fellow activist from a LGBTI group puts on the mantle of oppression from a gender oppressive society and uses it in turn to scorn transgender people.

Tebogo Nkoana is the outreach officer at South African Transgender Orginisation Gender DynamiX. During his work in isolated areas he often finds allies in lesbian and gay people. He extends his outreach beyond the scope of Transgender and tries to find resources and shares information with them to empower them too. Sometimes they turn on him, as experienced in the last days. An activist from Mpumalanga recently sent him and email with the words “if you were born a woman you will die a woman”.

Interestingly enough when confronted she admitted that she had not realised that it was him, a supposed ally. This might be an isolated event by an individual but it is an excellent illustration of what Transgender people face from their Lesbain and Gay brothers and sister on a continuum.

The desire to control other people’s bodies and the meaning of their bodies is nothing new. One of its facets is heteronormativity. The role of men is to dominate and penetrate women. Women have to go back to the kitchen and the mattress. Its main objective is to control and use women as pawns. Women should not control their own bodies. That expertise does not fall exclusively in men’s domain. The above event is a good illustration of how the oppressed will attempt to opress the even more oppresed, eminating it’s own enemy so to speak It’s hypocritical for lesbian and gay people to advocate about homophobia in the mainstream society yet when the gaze turns back to their own, they become a critical cog in this oppressive machinery.

“I urge all people of reason to dissociate themselves from a person like this and quarters that entertain oprresive school of thought. We urge people to not associate with individuals or orginisations who commit any form of Transphobia. The social justice movement needs to set precedent to discourage marginalisation and oppression of the transgender community and create transgender inclusive environment and practices.” Says Tebogo Nkoana outreach officer at Gender DynamiX — Cape Town

11 Comments

  1. Bfp

    that’s just some type of fucked up *shit*.

  2. Sokari

    Agreed

  3. Hi Mia. It really sucks that people can’t get along. There is no reason for such fear. YOu just have to stay strong and be who you are! Peaceful Blessings form New York!

  4. Mia

    It so does. Fear is the root of all evil. I remember reading something somewhere about someone saying, “to equate a lesbian’s reaction to a transgender person as being similar to a member of the Klu Klux Klan’s (KKK) reaction to a black person is over the top!” If our fears of another’s difference isn’t so overwhelming in certain circumstances I would say perhaps so but given homonationalism and its growing ability to deny the existence of sexuality or gender minorities that it feels uncomfortable with, I’d say the label fits. I do not mean this applies to all lesbians because I’ve met some lesbians who are genuine allies beside I’m one myself. Hatred from any section of a given society is hatred. The attempt to gag dissenting voices or the voices of those whose experience we do not understand are all aspects of hatred. It is not enough to tag a TIQ on to LGBTIQ or GLBTIQ and expect transgender people to follow you blindly at our expense.

    Courage is not about kowtowing to tokenistic approval; together we stand a better chance, remember, divided we all fall…

    This reply is for Amy in response to your comment via Black Looks Contact box in which you wrote the following:

    [Please do not use TS and TG interchangebly. TSs are mainstream women born with the wrong body and fix it. TGs are men who choose to pretend to be women and love keeping their precious penis for life. TS is a birth defect while TGs are men who lie and pretend to be women and commit sick acts with their penis. Lumping TSs in with TGs is like lumping someone taking pain pills after surgery to a drug addict. TS is a birth defect and a type of mainstream woman, TG is a choice and a type of queer. ALL non-OP MtF TGs are men and NEED to be called male pronouns no matter how much they protest. To call a man who keeps HIS penis for life a she and a her is immoral and wrong. ALL TSs need the surgery, while ALL TG men pretending to be women want their penises played with.

    Did the “TS” in the story have surgery or was in need of it, or were they a TG man living a charade as a woman? If it was a TS, then the gay man was a bigot. If it was a TG, then the gay man did correct in warning the woman about the man pretending to be a woman and was supposed to keep his penis. Of course, any true-TS woman would have punched the f*g, and this person’s “overlooking” is a type of effeminacy – a male homosexual response. A female would have raised hell. But the “TS” must have enjoyed it as the lack of response showed. Any TS who doesn’t speak up EVERY time she is misgendered is not my sister.]

    MY RESPONSE

    @Amy:

    You seem to think TS is a “birth defect.” A correction: TS (is the
    medical term given to patients in transition mtf (male to female) or
    ftm (female to male) transsexuals. The woman in the said analogy is a
    transsexual woman and she deserves better for sharing her experience
    with people that are open enough to hear her out rather than shutting
    her up.

    The birth defect wrongly referred to as ts is actually, “Gender
    Dysphoria.” I hope this clarifies things for you, Amy?

    “TGs,” to quote you -Amy, “are men who choose to pretend to be women
    and love keeping their precious penis for life,” If you are finding
    things confusing wouldn’t it be better to ask someone instead of
    taking to verbal fist fights? Ouch that hurt! TG is actually
    “transgender” which is an umbrella term for a variety of identities
    such as transgenderists (note the use of lowercase, “tg”),
    transsexuals, intersex people, transvestites, drag kings, drag queens,
    fag hags, mtf butches, ftm femmes, mtf femmes, ftm butches,
    genderqueer, transdykes, androgynous people, crossdressers, and all
    the different identity types mention here come as either lesbians, gay
    men with the exception of the mtf transsexuals who are not men as in
    the list above. Mtf transsexuals are women (and some of us identify as
    lesbian, bisexual or straight.)

    I feel that I have to stress the point that transgenderists are men
    born as men but they enjoy wearing and appearing in their daily lives
    as women (just as some women are born women but dress and appear in
    their daily lives as men) If you spoke to a transgenderist Amy, the
    person in question with respect, I assure you, they will speak to you
    respectfully in return. Transgenderists do not pretend to be
    “something they are not” they are happy with their birth sex. The only
    thing that changes with tg is their appearance and they are open about
    it. They actually make a habit of making sure people are aware that
    they are men. If anyone is suggesting that transwomen and
    transgenderists are the same then they are wrong and it is important
    that they check their facts before going to press with confusing
    information.

    Sometimes one of the reasons why people do not defend themselves
    against those that misgender them is that their survival is important
    to them. Wouldn’t yours if you were faced with a mob because of your
    gender identity? We can’t all take to the street fighting every single
    person that looks at us the wrong way, calls us the wrong pronouns or
    stigmatises us, can we? The analogy, remember, is a piece or prose
    showing how one transwoman dealt with transphobic attitudes projected
    at her. Just as you would fight the person, the gay man that is,
    another transwomen will choose to ignore or where possible, try to
    educate the ignorance of the gay man in question. What I am saying is
    that it is up to the person in any given conflict to deal with the
    situation they find themselves in, in their own way. There is no
    absolute, fixed way of dealing with hatred or hate speech for that
    matter. The suggestion that there is, to my mind is seeking to end
    hatred with a response of hatred. No wonder why there are so many wars
    in human history).

    The best I can really offer you is always ask a person rather than
    assume what they are doing with their identity is wrong. Of course
    unless you see them naked you cannot tell what anyone is, can you?
    Once upon a time white people saw black people as emissaries of evil
    or inhuman and we are still recovering from the aftermath as found in
    global racism today. However today the situation is rather different.
    I am not suggesting that racial oppression is over. It isn’t nor are
    the abuses against other minorities in terms of sex, sexuality or
    gender identity or class I feel the way forward is constant dialogue
    rather than monologues in hate speech that go on in the name of
    informing us on most websites or blogs.

    The point is some do know what they are about and blacklooks on
    Transgender issues is an excellent place to start. It also has links
    that expand further on LGBTIQ issues.

    I hope this helps on your life changing journey?

  5. Ms Jade

    Well said.
    infact I couldnt have said it any better. This does exist among the LGBT community but most people fight the truth. and tell you ‘oh it was nothing’. Ofcourse it is something.
    I am black and very proud of my African Heritage but people try and make me feel worthless even in the same place I am suppose to feel the safest.
    Its hard dealing with the Homophobes but it hurts alot more when it comes from within.

    Easy to say Stand Up and deal with this. Stand Up and Fight but in truth sometimes, you just have to walk on by because honestly I dont think I have the energy anymore

  6. Patrick

    I am transgendered. I deal with transphobia/hate from not only (some of) the general population, but some LGBs who don’t think that Ts should be included–that we should fight our own completely separate battles even though much of what we want (job protections, for example) is the same.

    I’ve encountered transphobia from other Ts as well. People who think that we don’t face discrimination and any we do is brought on by our own actions, etc. It’s a hard world in which to be different.

  7. Sokari

    As BFP stated in her comment “thats some “f%%ked up shit!

  8. Patrick

    Yep. But it’s a fact of life. Every group has people who want to exclude others.

  9. Sokari

    Yes, but I dont see this as somehow the “natural order of things” but bound in systems of inequality, power and greed.

  10. Patrick

    I think it could be argued that those three things are fairly natural. It doesn’t make them right, fair, or fun, by any means, but it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that’s how life has been since the start, eh?

  11. Sokari

    Hmm I actually dont agree with that – I believe that have been communities which have organised themselves in much more equitable ways and actually still do 🙂