Topic Tuesday

Today's topic is...Has the "queer/trans" revision and co-option of lesbian identities caused you stop identifying as a lesbian or any lesbian identity? Please explain why, if yes.



  1. No, in fact, it has strengthened my resolve.

    I call myself a Lesbian - not Queer or any other post-modern designation. I embrace the meaning of the word and its rich history.

    I think all Lesbians should stand up and reclaim their identities and spaces away from the revision and misappropriation of the Trans community.

    I disagree with transition, but unfortunately, some people still do it. Fine, then create your own spaces and stop trying to co-op ours!

  2. No, I still refer to myself as a lesbian and dyke.

    However, others refer to me as "queer." When I say I would not like to be included in that grouping, people are usually confused. Isn't queer supposed to include everyone, they ask?

    Yes, and in the process it erases women.

    I feel like I am a dinosaur, sometimes, being a lesbian feminist today.

  3. @Anon and Laur,

    I concur with both comments. The co-option of lesbian and all things lesbian is both sickening and frightening.

    I've had sooooooo many lesbians tell me though that because they do not want to be associated with "queer/trans", they have stopped using "lesbian" as an ID and instead use "gay". Which obviously only goes to strengthen male homosexuality.

    I agree that lesbians need to use "lesbian" proudly in greater and greater numbers reclaiming it AND discuss why "queer/trans" arent lesbian signifiers.


  4. Dirt,

    I stopped calling myself queer when I saw how people think pansexual, genderqueer, and the like are more subversive than lesbian. I am lesbian. Always will be.

  5. Back in the late eighties, AIDS activists decided to take back "queer" because it was a more in-your-face term for gays and lesbians; then bisexuals started using it as a way of including themselves in the gay community without having to answer direct questions about their orientation, then transsexuals, and then heterosexual sadomasochists, fetishists, etc., jumped on the bandwagon because hey, they're non-normative and therefore super oppressed just like gays and lesbians (snark). It was at that point that I started rejecting the term "queer" and anything associated with it. I want nothing to do with the pseudo-culture that has developed around the idea of "queerness."

    As far as I'm concerned, "gay" applies to me just as much as to men; I don't feel erased by it the way I do when someone tries to include me under the so-called trans umbrella for reasons of gender-nonconformity. "Lesbian" should be fine with me, but I've had it screamed at me enough by random dudes in passing cars that I have trouble using it. Which is really crappy, when you think about it.

  6. im a transexual and reject and detest the word queer. i have no problem with people who identify as such.

    its just something i dont wanna be refered as or identify with

  7. Anon @ 4:14 summed up the history pretty nicely I think.
    Like Anon @10:34, it has strengthened my resolve to always use the word Lesbian to describe my female homosexuality. I don't know a single lesbian in my community of any age or class or race that uses the word queer to describe herself- where I live queer means "not gay or lesbian". For some people it's just not hip to be hetero I guess so they call themselves queer. The only non-lesbians that call themselves lesbian are closeted bisexual women and straight or bi men who adopt a facade of "womanhood" and try to pass themselves off as female to gain entry to lesbian spaces where they are not wanted. A good example of the colonization of "Lesbian" is the National Center For Lesbian Rights which is run by a man claiming "womanhood" and an ex-lesbian trans "man". They actually litigate AGAINST the interests of lesbians now in many cases, and most of the people they represent are transsexual, not lesbian. Yet no one can prevent them from calling themselves the National Center For LESBIAN Rights.
    Perhaps we should start a National Center For Trans Rights and use it to work against the sexist objectives of the transgender movement... "National Center For Trans Rights calls for the cessation of surgical and psychiatric butchery of gender non-conforming individuals", etc.

  8. I can't speak as a lesbian as I'm a straight woman, but what I can say about the "queer" label nowadays, having been in the "queer" community for so long, is that it means nothing. Why? Because if you try to concile in a single term different and sometimes opposite meanings, all you get in the end is a collection of syllables, not a word with meaning or describing something that's actually real.
    "Queer" should refer to every person that is not "vanilla straight". There's also the implicit assumption in the queer community that the "queerer" (as in "queenie", or "fabulous") you are, the better you are: gay men are surely better than straight men, and even better than lesbians because lesbians aren't fabulous enough, but the most fabulous of all are gay transfags because they are gay, trans and, the holy trinity.

    I'm speaking now because I don't believe in any kind of "queer" supremacy or other adolescent mentality things (which the queer movement is perpetually stuck in by their very own definition, "WE R MOAR SPESHUL THAN U"). I also think "queer theory" is dangerous because it inscribes all of us in comfy little boxes instead of doing the opposite like it claims, as it reduces the end of the "female spectrum" as "pink-wearing barbie hoe" and hasn't actually done anything to subvert the notion that female = "feminine". It also promotes body hate and surgical solutions if you aren't "gender conforming". The only thing I can say is, stay away from that adolescent, "doublethink" queer movement.

  9. The terms Lesbian and Dyke are fine with me. I've always liked the term Dyke ever since I first heard it when I was in my teens. Around that time the book "Our Bodies, Our Selves" had a chapter "In Amerika They Call Us Dykes". It presented a strong image of Lesbians and Dykes. Also around the same time, I read "Lesbian Nation" by Jill Johnston, and I also recall the book "Lesbian/Woman" by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Another writer about strong Dyke identities is Judy Grahn. Jill Johnston and Del Martin have passed away recently- it's important to remember their contributions. I was glad to see that there was a conference about 1970's Lesbian feminism recently. We need to preserve this herstory and our philosophical heritage while we still can. Some of these books are out of print and hard to find now- let's find them and read them again!

    I know I have tended to avoid the Queer community to some extent in the past couple of decades, and I feel this is because I so often find it disappointing and alienating (not to mention a certain amount of age-ism that happens- just think, now we can be dysphoric about our age too! Or not.) For example, we now have "Pride" fairs instead of Lesbian and Gay Liberation demonstrations. In the 90's I liked Act Up and the Lesbian Avengers, because they were taking a stand on political and social issues, and then things pretty much went downhill after that as far as I am concerned.

    One thing I've personally never liked about ANY of our communities is the conformity and the frequent expectation that everybody has to be and think exactly the same way. I prefer to think for myself. I will consider each and every issue and not just buy the ideological package as a whole. One reason I have found some meaning in this blog is the positivity around our bodies, our lesbian identities and our freedom to express our individual sexuality which has not always been present in our communities. There was a period of time when some women would criticize other women for being too butch or too femme, or they would tell us what kind of sex we should have. I never listened to those people, so I've had more fun in my life.

    Oh, and by the way, notice how the "D" for "Dyke" isn't in the alphabet soup of LGBTQQIXYZ...

  10. I am a trans lady in agreement with Anon @ 5:47. I have never identified as 'queer' and never will.

    Do consider that trans people are human beings with different sexual orientations. We want to love and be loved, just like anybody else.

  11. @HEXIDEZiMAL. I doubt very much that anyone commenting here considers any trans person less than human. That does not change the fact that there is significant pressure on young women who don't conform to some stereotype of femininity to consider themselves FTMs. The idea of "queerness" has provided a smokescreen for what's really a lot of old-fashioned sexism.

  12. "I doubt very much that anyone commenting here considers any trans person less than human. "

    Oh really?
    Just because I post in this blog sometimes?
    When I myself identified as FTM for years, and have some friends in the trans community from that period? If you don't want sweeping generalization, don't make them yourself.

  13. Instead of worrying about what are essentially high school style cliques, why not just live your life unfettered without the urge to wear your supposed "identity" like a tacky fashion item.

  14. Upon reflection I've noticed that the common phrases I use are "I'm only attracted to women", "I'm gay", or sometimes "I'm a homosexual." These are just somethings I say in addition to "I'm a lesbian".

    However, the fact that so many women adapt the word to whatever circumstance they feel like is what I think causes some women to not use the word "lesbian" in relation to them at all. I feel that the word "lesbian" has become an almost chameleon like term amongst some women and can take on whatever meaning she wants it to. For example:

    1.You're a woman that likes the way women think but you aren't attracted to them (yes I've heard this used personally)? You're a lesbian.

    2 You're a woman that dates butches, FTMs, and men? You're an open minded lesbian.

    3. You now date men and FTMs, but used to date women? You're a lesbian.

    4. You enjoy Women's Studies and politics? You're a lesbian.

    5. You're fed up with "teh menz" and instead want to date women? This one is all too common.
    You're a lesbian.


  15. For the sake of full disclosure, I am FtM - and I do agree with a great deal of the women posting here. The meaning of the word "lesbian" is often mixed in with everything else and is thereby denied the validity of it's own separate and unique community.

    Some women are perfectly alright with being seen as queer or other variants, and that's fine for them - but it does make it harder for the women trying to revive the tall-standing and wonderful culture of being a lesbian.

  16. I call myself a lesbian mostly because I don't know what the hell "queer" means (and suspect nobody else does either). I thought I knew until I saw an exchange on Facebook where a transman assured a straight woman that she, too, could be considered queer. WTF??

    I recently asked some of my 30-something gay male friends whether they say they're queer or gay - they uniformly said gay. So it's just the young lesbians giving up their identity for the sake of progressive BS. Big surprise.

    I have to admit, though, that saying "I'm a lesbian" makes me squeamish for some reason - I think because lesbian is so specific, and gay seems so much more vague? I dunno, I am working on why that is, and how to empower myself to own it.

  17. Anon at 5.09:

    My bad. I thought I read something like "consider any trans person human".

  18. @Tori. So true, and these things piss me off as well. Even more so when MEN decide that "lesbian" can mean whatever they want it to mean (which is usually "some chick who's really open minded about having sex with other chicks but still mostly has sex with me.")

    @Amuse Bouche. "Lesbian" grates on me sometimes because it's a noun. It's as if one's whole identity is wrapped up in that. "Gay" is just an adjective that can modify woman or man. These days, at least in the US, it's mostly anti-Semites who use the noun "Jew," as opposed to the adjective "Jewish," to describe individuals. The phrase "Steve is a Jew" has a completely different effect in American English than "Steve is Jewish." Something similar might be going on with "lesbian." "Cheryl is a lesbian" sounds vaguely accusatory, but "Cheryl is gay" just sounds like information. None of this has to do with the inherent meanings of these words; it has to do with the way they're used in a lot of everyday contexts. And of course, none of this should be, but it is.

  19. I'm 22 years old. I usually identify as "gay", but I am not ashamed of the world "lesbian." Maybe I should use it.

    I would venture a guess that the majority of university-educated lesbians identify as "queer." Since I've been in an academic environment for quite some time, I can't vouch as to how frequently it's used amongst lesbians my age who haven't been to university, since it seems to be a purely academic phenomenon. I personally don't like the term and hate it when people use it to describe me.

    I dislike it for the reasons that others have mentioned. There is a lot of pressure in the queer community to be "queerer than thou." I'm exclusively attracted to women, my relationships are monogamous, and I don't do any drugs other than pot. The subtext of all of my interactions with the queer community were that I'm repressed and a tool of The System because I don't sleep or partner with men, have a polygamous or open relationship, or experiment with hard drugs. I rapidly grew disdainful of the queer community because I didn't like that people were constantly trying to convince me to alter my personal life in order to bring it in line with their political/academic ideology, when I never judged (and still don't judge) *their* personal choices.

  20. Whoops, that should be "I would venture a guess that the majority of university-educated lesbians *MY AGE* identify as "queer."


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