Invisible

I’m not sure if any of you have noticed but the state of affairs in the US is a bit bleak right now. Some folks elected the most awful awful dude and here we are, living it. I’m guessing y’all knew this.

In response to this there has been organizing and big conversations. I see them happening everywhere through memes and chat groups, especially centered around the Women’s March. There are good, difficult conversations happening about race and I have been reading what I can when I can and exploring my thoughts. I have had big conversations with friends and listened to what others are saying.

But in listening I am noticing that people are left out of the conversation. Conversations about the impact of T and T’s America have mainly been centering around people of color and trans folks. Those are important conversations to be having, I don’t disagree with that. But it’s hard for me to never see the word “lesbian” mentioned. The other group that I am seeing left out in a major was is folks with disabilities.

The National Women’s March released their platform which included stuff about trans rights and gay marriage. Gay marriage is not the only issue for gay folks. Their planning committee had no one representing an LGBT organization. It included Janet Mock but nothing that represented lesbians. The march in the big town north of us has been having really intense conversations about race. After failing to address race a queer woman of color took over the planning. It opened great conversations about race but still, never mentioned lesbians.

I see this in memes and stories explaining how to be an ally. Race. Nationality. Trans Folks. Stop. It’s not that I don’t understand the need to talk about those things and work on them. I hesitate to write this blog because I don’t know how to express it well enough and don’t want to convey that I don’t think those are important. It’s just hard. I see all of these conversations about Intersectional Feminism happening but it’s not including everyone.

I’m not sure why this is. One reason I think is because now that the hip term is queer all us LGBT+ folks get grouped together and Trans folks appear to have the most pressing needs. I’m not sure if folks don’t think there is stuff at risk for lesbians. (There is. Not just marriage too. Stuff comes with marriage like family security and the ability to visit our spouse in the hospital but it goes beyond that. Housing discrimination. Employment safety. Conversion therapy. Bullying.) I’m not sure if folks realize that some of these things are different from what Trans folks or other women experience. I’m not sure if people just don’t think lesbians exist anymore.

I don’t know why I am having such big feelings about this. The day T took office and his new website took over all mentions of LGBT folks were gone. I realized we are invisible to our government and I feel invisible to it’s citizens, too.

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Posted on January 24, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Damn. I’m am feeling this so much right now. The phrase ‘no hierarchy of oppression’ keeps running through my head. I just told another friend I’ve been feeling like my body parts are being erased, one at a time. It’s incredibly disconcerting.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone. It’s so complex and I just explained “no hierarchy of oppression” to a friend last night. I support it all but do not feel included in any intersectionality.

    • I am so with you both. Crunk Feminist Collective posted a blog about how no, vaginas are not the be all end all of womanhood but they do matter in our organizing, and I was just so appreciative. It was from the pov and for the benefit of woc– African American women, specifically– but while the specific history is different, I felt that the theory can be applied to any non trans woman. I want to be in solidarity with other oppressed groups, but not at the expense of my own experience being erased. I stopped identifying as queer and went back to id’ing as a lesbian a few years ago because I saw this happening, and I think it’s increasing exponentially.

  2. Disclaimer, it’s 6 am here so I won’t be able to eloquently put thoughts into words. The conversations after the election have brought to surface a lot of conflict between the strength and power we have in numbers when we join together, versus people leaving others out- even if unintentionally. What pains me the most is to see individuals want to step away, although I can understand why- it’s a burden to feel like you are always having to fight for your voice and rights even within a group of “allies.” I don’t think it will ever be perfect, but it seems that the folks mobilizing against T are currently in a place where they are more open-minded to accept feedback and have these difficult conversations. Stark contrast to the other end of the spectrum which seems to be only capable of plugging their ears and saying “lalalala not listening,” while hurling insults. Lesbians along with others on the LGBTQA spectrum know how to fight, it’s amazing the civil rights progress we made in a relatively short period of time historically speaking. The larger group has a lot to gain from our contributions to this movement and they will see. We just have to take on that burden to fight for our place.

  3. Aren’t both of those things, lesbian rights and people with a disability right mentioned a few times in the mission and unity vision parts of the women’s march website? Is there another area that I missed reading that isn’t as inclusive?

  4. I think about language a lot, especially when it comes to the LGBTQIA++++ community. It’s hard because on the one hand, I think it’s impossible to name every identity (at a training last week, someone was like “but why don’t you teach about asexuality?” and I said, “I dunno because I have 50 minutes and some things can’t get covered?) and discuss every nuance AND I 100% agree that if people can’t see their identity and experience reflected in things, it’s just not as accessible to them.
    I am totally guilty of using ‘queer’ as shorthand, in some ways because lesbian isn’t my identity term (I’ve dated too many dudes – cis and trans – and too many people who don’t like gender labels), but also because I also get tired of saying LGBTQIA++++ and want their to be a single word/phrase/term that covers all the bases. But, it doesn’t. So, I’m sorry and I’m glad you bring these things up so I can better reflect on how to be inclusive.
    I feel a really intense tension right now with all of the organizing. I see a lot of newly politicized folks who are fired up and ready to get shit done but who are naieve and unintentionally fucked up; and then there’s folks who have been talking about this stuff forever who are like, “where all y’all been and fucking catch up!” And it’s hard because I want the energy and I want those people who are new to things AND, yeah, it’s a super legitimate critique of things. How do we move forward in the both/and – not alienating these new voices but also guiding them to be helpful and not harmful in their persuit of justice. Which is only partially related to what you are talking about . . .but, thought I’d share anyway!

    • I love your feedback because when I post things like this I always think “How will Andie reply?” and it helps me clarify my message some. I use queer too instead of LGBTQIA+ because it is so much easier but I am trying to move away from it because I think it generalizes our issues too much but I also tend to stop at LGBT and that’s not inclusive and so that’s not great. I am happy to have people identify however they want but identifying as a lesbian is still a valid identify for some folks and even if we aren’t naming that it would be nice to see some acknowledgement that gay/lesbian issues and trans issues are not all the same. I’m not saying they are not all worth fighting for, but not all the same.
      I’m so feeling the other tension too. It’s bad in Portland right now and I am guessing in Seattle too. I am so excited people are finally showing up and I know how hard it is to speak up when you don’t know the right language and are worried how people will react. I worry about that all the time and I am 15 years and dozens of marches into this. I think it would be super helpful to have something like “Beginner, intermediate, and advanced” activist space and let white activists do the work in beginner space to bring people up to speed. I see so many people leaving these spaces because they just don’t get it and it is too much at once. That’s still okay, I want them here. I want them to learn. But I also get why POC should not be doing that work.

  5. This is the first time on a national level that our family is being represented, and that feels really good to us. I’m sorry you’re not represented well.

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