I came across a meme on the internet that read: “Trans lesbians are lesbians, get over it.”
Are trans lesbians real lesbians? Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
What is a real lesbian anyway?
Without falling into a game of semantics, we can all agree that a lesbian is a woman who is exclusively attracted to other women. Right?
There is no easy way to approach this topic, but as a transsexual lesbian, this is what I think, and I welcome everybody to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Gender identity, just like sexuality, doesn’t develop overnight. It’s a lengthy process for the most part so, naturally, there will be people who know they are women inside, who are legitimately attracted to other women, independently of the way they look, and this is basically what being a lesbian means.
It doesn’t mean that other lesbians will perceive you socially as a lesbian, it only means that you believe that you ARE one.
The disagreement stems from the socially-perceived image of what a woman should be and, the most discriminatory one: How a woman should look like.
The most radical lesbians have some high standards for what makes a woman a real woman, and therefore a lesbian woman, a real lesbian woman.
There are lots and lots of discriminatory standards, but the most common ones are:
- Real lesbians should have XX chromosomes
- Transgender lesbians should be passable if they want to be taken seriously
- Transgender lesbians should do a “full transition” (which is strictly referring to performing a vaginoplasty)
The problem with these three statements is that they don’t stand to logic, or any rational thinking, for that matter.
Now, to debunk some myths:
The chromosome excuse always struck me as some kind of half-bothered attempt at trying to exclude transsexual women from womanhood in a rather uninformed and childish way. As a neurobiology student, I can confirm (with tangible evidence) that the gender of humans is determined by a small region in the nervous system, which has nothing to do with whatever set of chromosomes you were born with.
Some people heard about the myth that all women are XX and all men are XY without knowing very well what a chromosome pair is and what does it do. I, in turn, know what a nervous system is and how it works.
The passing excuse is a bit far fetched and discriminatory on itself. Every time I hear this argument I think to myself: Who sets the standard?
When it comes to anatomy, I know a lot of cisgender women who are much taller, wider and masculine-looking than myself. Would you say that, for example, a super pretty woman like Taylor Swift is trans just because she’s taller than me? Probably not.
Would you say that Ellen Degeneres is trans because her voice pitch is lower than mine? or that Hope Solo is trans because she’s bigger and stronger than me?
So who sets the standard?
The surgical reconstruction of genitals is not ideal. This reconstruction is known, in the transgender world, as GRS or SRS, which stand for Gender Reassignment Surgery or Sex Reassignment Surgery, respectively.
These procedures do not convert masculine genitals into female genitals. These procedures eliminate the testicles, reduces the size of the urethra and converts the penis gland into some kind of clitoris, where in most cases, for all intents and purposes, works like a working vagina.
But transsexual women who perform any of these surgical procedures on themselves are not getting working female genitals. Science still has to come a long way until some major breakthrough in these procedures provides transsexual individuals with a working uterus and ovaries. Transsexual women who perform an SRS/GRS still need to shoot themselves with estradiol shots since their main organ for producing a sex hormone is gone, and they have no ovaries to produce oestrogen naturally in large quantities.
My advice, as a psychologist, and as a somewhat-experienced transexual woman, would be to simply wait. Upon doubt, just wait. We don’t know if, within five or ten years time, a fully working reproductive system will be a reality. Don’t settle for something you may not absolutely need when you can wait for better options. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are incomplete because you don’t want or cannot get surgery in your private areas.
So if no vaginoplasty is required to obtain your woman card, no anatomy can determine what your gender is, and chromosomes are proven to determine sex but not gender, then who can tell, apart from yourself, what a real lesbian is?
If you consider yourself a woman, independently of your biology, and you are sexually and/or romantically attracted to other women, independently of their biology, then you are probably a lesbian, but then again, the decision is exclusively yours.