Identity Policing and the Enforcers

I have been doing quite a bit of reading of some other great blogs here on WordPress, as well as listening to people discuss their lives and issues surrounding “identity policing” on Youtube and Vimeo, and other places.  It’s been a topic on Facebook as well, and Twitter, too…hell every social network seems to be infected with the new LGBT Identity Police Virus.  Inner-community homophobia is rampant.  Inter-community bullying is growing at an alarming rate, and our community sub-sets are feeling the heat of pressure from the more “mainstream” LGBT population at large.

One blogger, who I follow, writes about someone criticizing their blog for their own personal opinoins, saying they are basically all bullshit.  These are the feelings and thoughts of a person in her blog, and no one has the right to call her personal thoughts “bullshit” or any of the other totaly derogatory words that were used toward her about her blog and about her as a person.  Yes, personal attacks on a person’s integrity and personal life.  It doesn’t just happen in Hollywood anymore, folks.

I was appalled by what I read, as the blogger wrote all about the attacks in a recent blog and one thing she said was this ” Knowing who you are, being okay with it, loving yourself is good. It’s healthy.”  Which was a response to her attacker, who told her that self-love is not attractive.   Where has this creep been living, under a rock?  Don’t we ALL know that before anyone else can ever love you you must love yourself.  For all love in your life starts with you; starts in you. And without self-love and self-respect you can neither give nor receiver either from another.

On another of her blogs she writes of the new fangled word “heteronormative” which is often used to describe the type of relationships that I am comfortable and satisfied with in my own life – Butch-Femme relationships, which often appears to outsiders as if we are mimicking the “husband and wife” model of the heterosexual world.  And pershaps in it’s under pinnings, we do sort of look to this model.  It is a very traditional model, and one that holds respect of generations.  Again, our own LGBT community shuns us over the dynamics of many of our relationships, saying we are acting “too hetero”.  Yup, you are either “too” much of something or “not enough” of something it seems these days.  When I am called “Sir” – which happens quite often throughout my daily ventures – I am presenting as “too Butch or masculine” and when I tear up over a story of a dying 2 year old eating banana splits, I am labeled as “not Butch enough” for showing the slightest of emotion.  WTF?

Problem for me is that I am too fucking secure in exactly who I am in this world.   I am Stone Butch and I love myself, just the way I am.  I am far more comfortable in this skin that I ever was when I was stumbling through life trying to satisfy others by not looking “too Butch”; but presenting as just androgenous enough to be accepted by most of my former lesbian friends, most of whom sought to assimilate an identity somewhere closer to the feminine, so they could “blend” more easily into the hetero world around us at work and in public.  An identity theme that  was neither comfortable nor doable for me – ever.  Although I did give it a shot for a period of my life, I looked very much like a gay boy in drag.  Laugh, but I am serious.  Never did I look right or feel right until I fully accepted my Butch-ness and threw off society’s squeaky demands that I “femme it up”, only to turn and pick up my suit coat and tie, and – after putting them on  – getting that exhilarating feeling like I had just come “home”.

Thinking about the whole screw-ball idea of “policing” each other in various ways, some as simple as Femmes calling Butche’s “litter pigs” as one of us casually tosses a stub of a cigarette butt into the dirt at our feet and crush it with the dented steel toe of  a Chippewa boot, to the much larger infractions of calling a Butch a “sissy boi” when he/she has trouble choosing which restroom to use at the truck stop on Route 66.  THAT is as crushing moment, just believe me.  The heat will rise past the collars of our button down shirts, flushing our faces a slightly paler shade of Harvard’s crimson school color.  Every nerve is on edge, and we fight back stinging tears of pure anger – at ourselves and at the person who called us out at that very vulnerable moement in time.

The trans community, as a another stark example of recent “enforcer” behavior stuff,  has been enduring some serious infighting as of late – across Youtube, Twitter and Facebook – with quibbles about people blurting out the “you’re not trans-enough” stupidity.  Seemingly trying to “police” who “gets in” to the “trans club” and who is just not “good enough” in their eyes.  And WHO are they to be setting the “rules” of what is enough and what is not?  I don’t get why people who sort of “self-identify” with a particular group (whether it’s the trans group or some other sub-set of the LGBTQ community), are just not more supportive of each other and of their own diversity!

Oh and what – pray tell – did we all do before social net working for our serious discriminatory behavior entertainment?  One must pause to reflect, remember the bus stop taunts, the icy stares of older school teacher mums, the doctor’s frown when you didn’t want to undress from the waist up in fear of chesticle exposure.  Seems we are all our own worst “enforcers” of these mythical laws of gender expression and how it “should” be done, or portrayed.  I keep hearing  and reading the words “trans enough” or “NOT trans enough”…which secretly scares the bejesus out of my ass, because the miniscule piece of me that once in a while questions my own gender non-conformity-  as a Butch lesbian – cries a little every time I hear “trans” followed by the dreaded word “enough”.  Is it these 2 or 3 small words that keep my Butch ass in line as a Butch?  Meaning perhaps I may think that IF I were to ever consider transition that of course I would never be “trans enough” and would definitely be “NOT trans enough” for eternity…thus why would I EVER even consider it?   Yes, I will admit this to myself and to you my readers, those words fuck with my head in a big, bad way.  And I will not even consider transition at this point in my life, for a few reasons but a very VERY  big one is fearing the use of those words against ME.  I would never be “trans enough”, because I will always just being that Stone Butch that rides a very thin line between gender identifications, constantly being trailed by the “gender police” across America.

What do you think?  How have the “gender police” pissed you off?  And do you encounter the secret LGBT “enforcer” squad in your world?

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6 Replies to “Identity Policing and the Enforcers”

  1. It drives me crazy how often and how many people try to place others in neat little boxes. We are all individuals and no one fits each “category” perfectly. Sure its ok for a butch to cry at a sappy movie, its also ok for a femme to know how to check her oil. That doesn’t make either person any less of the role they feel they fit. Some men cry at movies and some women know a lot about cars that doesn’t make them any less of their gender. It makes them unique. So why wouldn’t it also be the same for anyone else? My personal struggle with the LGBT community is lesbians typically don’t like me and other people just label me as bisexual without trying to understand where I’m coming from. I personally am attracted to either butch women or trans men. I’m not attracted to bio men or femme women. I don’t feel I identify as bisexual because I want nothing to do with a…for lack of a better term bio penis. But I’m not a lesbian because I am definitely attracted to trans men. So where do I fit in? In the end it doesn’t really matter as long as I accept myself and I am happy. I just haven’t been able to deal with these conflicting emotions and feeling left out of the LGBT community.

    What I find interesting (and quite rude) is that anyone would say someone isn’t “trans enough”. If we as people are all different and are all kinds of spectrums of feminine and masculine yet still people, who is to judge who is “enough” of something to be considered trans? With all the judgments in society already we do not need to be put down by our own community! Maybe I just take what people say at face value. If someone were to tell me they were straight then I’d accept that. If they’d say they were transgender I would accept that etc etc. If someone knows who they are, who am I to question it? Anyways, I hope atleast some of my rambling makes sense lol. I can’t sleep and was intrigued by your blog post! Take care.

  2. I get treated completely differently than my girlfriend due to my short hair and choice of masculine clothes. I know I was guilty of thinking butch lesbians went too far when I was 20. Ironically my 20 year old self would be horrified to see me now. Ha ha! I notice my colleagues say “it’s wrong” about transitioning and say things like “he annoys me so much. I get it, you’re gay! Why do you have to shove it in our faces!” but people used to say that to me too, even at school so it doesn’t surprise me when hetero people react so angrily and aggressively about something that doesn’t affect them, however wrong that is. You forget it’s still like that sometimes when you live in a big city and have spent years surrounding yourself with liberal people friendly to those causes.

  3. So far, I haven’t been accused of not being trans or trans enough.

    Instead, the trans ID police have accused me of “trans-phobia” and “cis-sexism” for holding certain philosophical viewpoints.

    I think this is a problem with group identification in general. When people become emotionally invested in a label, they are irritated when people who feel, look, act or think in a way that they don’t like adopt the same label as themselves.

  4. I love.
    I have issues with this. I went to a party with my girlfriend and another friend. When I was introduced to people, they said “Oh, you’re the straight gay girl,” then explained that I was obviously straight since I was with men beforehand and have you seen the way I dressed and my hair is so long and yadda yadda…I left the party in tears. First off, the heteronormative deconstruction by others in the LGTBQ spectrum is almost harder to go through than from those outside of it. I try not to let it get to me, but holy shit.
    I left that party asking my girlfriend where I fit in; where we fit in. She said we’re not butch, we’re not terribly femme, we just are. We can wear dresses one day and hiking pants and boots the next. We don’t know where exactly we fit in. She identifies and a lesbian and I think I’m a mix of lesbian/queer, as the gender fluidity part doesn’t bother me….more in that I was once attracted to certain men but now only find myself attracted to women, but that doesn’t un-validate my past relationships….

    SEE!? This is what deconstruction does for me. Ick.
    Well, at least you gave me a new topic for my blog 🙂

    1. Your comment here makes me angry at the people at the party who made you feel this way. I am in the middle of writing a follow up to this piece, as it has sparked many thoughts in my own head, as well as outside conversation with others. I think I need to take this a bit further, hell, I think we ALL do. I look forward to what you will write about in your blog concerning this incident and the issue. Thanks!

      1. Well, I posted. I may have gone off on a tangent, but whatever. It felt good. 🙂

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