Tweets and reality

Is Eddie Izzard a lesbian? It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

Some words have precise meanings. A zoologist plying his trade would not call her a “cat”, meaning the family Felidae or the genus Panthera or Felis. But you might see her moving on stage with feline grace. She is not a planet, because that has a clear meaning- Pluto was, then it wasn’t- but she is a star. She may be a hepcat- I knew slang, I thought it was 1960s, two words, hep for fashionable, cat for cool person. Words are slippery. Even scientific words have fuzzy edges where they may or may not apply.

Eddie says he’s a lesbian in a man’s body, and is that a good thing? A lesbian is a woman attracted to women. Homophobes find that weird, shameful or disgusting, and mourn the time when more people shared their opinion. If Eddie calls herself a lesbian it’s aspirational, something he wants to be. It becomes something to be proud of.

It’s only a bad thing if it forms some sort of threat to lesbians. The Times argues that it is, that lesbians are erased. Grace Petrie tweeted that if the transphobes were concerned about lesbian erasure, they might start a regular lesbian life column. No, because they only support lesbians in order to attack trans folk. The Daily Mail even supported a trans woman, once- to attack Muslims.

Insisting on too rigid a distinction between lesbian and bi might be biphobic. Trans women are women, so trans women attracted to women and not men are lesbians. If you think that’s a threat to lesbians, please explain why.

Right now, there are things to be angry about. The extreme incompetence of the British government has led to a sudden lockdown, when we can only go out to work if it is impossible to work from home, no more than two people can meet outside in a public place, and all the shops but pharmacies and supermarkets are shut. Schools are shut, but even on Monday 4th the Department for Education had a high-level meeting insisting they would be open, and children would be regularly tested for covid. So schools, without additional funding, have had to plan a testing regime, only to find now they will have to implement distance learning, with no notice. The hospitals are full, but infections have continued to rise, which means people will die who would have survived had they received proper medical care. Bizarrely, churches can open for worship, though many run food banks.

So, the usual suspects stir up anger against trans people instead. Jackie Doyle-Price, Tory MP, tweeted anger at Eddie calling herself a lesbian. Rosie Duffield, a Labour MP who should know better, liked the tweet. Tories, being English Nationalists, need to stir up hatred against enemies. Duffield has no such excuse.

Duffield also liked a tweet about a transphobic picture book, “My body is me”.

Bodies are different. Children are too.
Some prefer pink things. Some prefer blue.

That might be seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes in the most basic way. The book, which is unavailable on Amazon, shows children with “girl” hairstyles and “boy” hairstyles.

My body can act like a low flying plane
A mermaid, a dragon, one part of a train.

The plane- a boy walking, with planks strapped to his arms. Why low-flying? I stuck my arms out, no planks needed, and yelled NEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOWW. I was definitely high flying. It doesn’t set much store by child imagination. The mermaid is clearly a girl. Rigid gender stereotypes, again.

You are born in your body. You don’t have a spare.
So love it, hug it, treat it with care.

“My body is me” might be materialist, denying the existence of an immortal soul, so distressing Christians, but “You are born in your body” is denying the truth of trans children. Most children simply won’t understand, they won’t know what the alternative might be, but the five year old AMAB child who knows she is a girl will learn in the most direct way that she is not acceptable as she is, and has to keep quiet about it. Most children are cis, so will be unaffected. Some are trans, and will be traumatised.

Pink News reported, and quoted Duffield’s response- “click bait non story sourced solely from the weird world of Twitter” which she inhabits.

Duffield is doing the Nationalists’ work for them, spreading hate. It is deeply hypocritical of her to say that the pandemic and Brexit chaos are more important issues.

Should we respond to the phobes? Arguably not, it just gives them oxygen. Trans people spending too much time looking at this may become depressed. Haters will be encouraged to hate more. On the other hand, Duffield is doing Tory work, supporting Tories, and spreading hate in the Tory interest, so the Labour Party should take action against her.

7 thoughts on “Tweets and reality

  1. So, what Iz is depends on what Is is? Is a lesbian attracted to other women, or only to other women’s bodies that are configured with female genitalia (born with or surgically created)? If I can properly call myself a lesbian, does it depend on how a potential sexual partner sees me? If I call myself a trans lesbian woman, and still have a penis, would a true lesbian really be able to find me sexually desirable (and, would that make her a bi lesbian)?

    I think that my sexual and gender identities’ intersection is more defined by how I want to be desired than what my desire for another may be. A number of years ago, when my youth helped to make me appear to be more desirable, I was standing at a bar waiting for the bartender to mix my drink. There were two men at a table behind me who were discussing my attractiveness just loud enough for me to hear. Just as the bartender handed the drink to me, one of the men said, “Yeah, but she does have a penis.” I turned around from the bar, gave them both a raised eyebrow, and, as I walked away, said, “Not for you, I don’t.” The truth is that I wouldn’t want sex with anyone who desired me with a penis – man or woman. I don’t desire my penis, either.

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      • I don’t see my body as being desirable to anyone I might desire. Should someone (man or woman) have desire for a woman with a penis – which is what I am – that would not be desirable to me. Physically, as well as dysphorically, I am incapable of satisfying anyone who desires only a woman with a vagina, and that is the only image of myself that I find to be desirable. As you say, that is only aspirational. I would have had surgery to correct that, but for the fact that a health condition precludes it. Still, I no longer believe that I have a man’s body. I am, instead, a woman with undesirable parts – useless and ugly genitalia. I have all I can tuck, and nothing to fuck.

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  2. I find it both worrying and a little farcical that there appear to be some many people who are more exercised by what pronouns somebody else chooses to use than wounds, self imposed and beyond control being suffered by so many. We are at the worst point in a pandemic, while facing the biggest economic and social upheaval since WW2 our constitution is being stretched and torn into tatters, and yet they are more worried about which loo I use.

    I think it is high time that we stopped letting the organised hate groups set the agenda, it’s time that trans people took control and started to dictate the story! Why is all the blather always about trans women? we are not only vulnerable, but we are also the minority, even within the trans community! Instead of engaging in arguments about whether we exist or not we should be fighting for recognition of non binary and gender fluid people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s clear what Jackie Doyle-Price and Liz Truss are doing. They want to distract from the disastrous incompetence of the Tories, and enrage people against culture-war enemies. We can’t fight back against that, leave alone “take control”. We need allies. Rosie Duffield, however, is a Labour MP, and should be fighting the Tories’ Nationalist tactics. When Nationalism appeals to the electorate, Labour can never win.

      Liked by 1 person

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