Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,

More Cotton Ceiling

Someone commented anonymously on my previous post as follows:
Why shouldn't a lesbian, of which I am one, decide that she only wants to sleep with women - and by women I mean people with female bodies. In my book, that is the definition of a lesbian. I am not being prejudiced by declaring i will never sleep with men or never sleep with Trans people with male bodies, I am simply stating my preference as a lesbian.

I think actually it is quite arrogant for Trans people to tell lesbians what their definition of a lesbian should be.


I don't know who this is. though psrticular coincidences of phrasing make me think that it may be Cath Brennan =@bugbrennan on Twitter- who seems to regard herself as totally my nemesis. But, I don't actually know it is her and I choose to prefer to believe that someone who has tweeted me links to hate sites with my photo on them would have the good taste not to post here. Later Not Brennan apparently, just someone who shares her views and uses some of the same phrasing.

So, to address the point raised...

In the first case, what do you mean by 'female bodies'? Do you mean 'the bodies of people assigned female at birth' or do you mean 'those bodies I regard as female by some criteria I will tell you about but have not'? And when you say 'female', is there, as oddly there sometimes seems to be in people who take the position you are taking here. a subtle distinction between the word 'female' and the word 'woman'? Are you saying that you would never want to sleep with someone who had a penis, however else they presented, or are you saying that you would never want to sleep with someone who had ever had a penis, no matter how much surgery they had had?

Do you insist on a full physical examination of your potential lovers? An up-to-date report from their gynaecologist? Or do you, like some of the people who comment on GenderTrender, believe that you just always know when a trans woman is in the room? That your womb twitches, or the hairs on your neck dance widdershins, or that you can smell them out? That their vaginal juices just taste different? (For people late to this particular conversation, or too sane to go near Gendertrender,I am not making this shit up. Honest. Not even exaggerating much.)

In which case. presumably, you also think it arrogant of trans people to want to have sex with anyone without full disclosure of their past. present and future genital configuration? Or do you think that lesbians. of whom you are one, should have some rights in this matter greater than those allocated to straight women, straight men and gay men? You did say 'trans people', but did you actually mean 'trans women'? Or are you choosing to regard as 'female' the bodies of trans men? Wouldn't that too be rather arrogant? And I notice, when you talk of arrogance, that you regard your own ideas about what constitutes a female body as trumping the ideas of the person who is that body?

Am I being arrogant in asking to have a conversation when your particular brand of lesbianism gives you a full and total answer and anything I might say is redundant?

No one here is telling anyone what they ought to think or to whom they ought to be attracted. I wrote my original post as the start of a conversation. The question is, rather, to ask them to justify that preference. Some lesbians like to talk as if they could never sleep with women who had ever slept with a man; is that a justifiable preference? One of my lovers was told that, if she slept with me, no decent woman would ever want to touch her again' - would that be a justifiable preference? Some straight men say that, if they ever found out that someone they'd slept with was trans, they would kill them. Is that justified? Or at least, do you understand that level of anger, rather than regarding it with abhorrence?

I certainly would not want to sleep with any woman who had strong views about my past. I don't know any lesbian trans woman who would want to. For me, this has not always been an abstract question. I'm out and have always been out, and don't try to pass past a level that ensures basic social safety - I have nonetheless had occasional unequivocal passes made at me by women I had reason to believe shared your views and have regarded myself as obliged to make specific and explicit disclosure, just as I had to, back in the days when I was still sleeping with men. I certainly would not want the consequent awkwardness to happen after sex rather than before it. On occasion, though, I've thought it a shame, because I am weak and human, and my preference not to sleep with transphobic bigots is sometimes something I've had to weigh against sexual attraction.

It must be nice to be encased in certainty as to who everyone you meet is, and have perpetual hard guidelines about which of them are off-limits - or maybe not. How would you feel about a woman who said she would only sleep with women of her own race or religion? Or who had preferences about body weight, class, level of able-bodiedness? Just saying.
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