I have been asked by numerous people in the transgender community what caused my change of heart as far as TS Separatism goes. I think folks really do want to understand what makes a separatist and how I was able to leave it behind. I think it is important to tell the story from beginning to end including how I became one. I don’t blame anyone for being incredibly offended by what I did because I am offended with my own self.
I began transitioning around 4 years ago and was oblivious to the transgender/transsexual communities. It took me a long time to come to terms with my gender identity and I finally reached a point where I either dealt with it or might not survive. Anxiety, depression… all of the things that a lot of us experience until we finally choose to confront it. Maybe “choice” is the wrong word when talking about survival.
So, I began to do research thinking I was alone in how I felt. I was actually amazed at how wrong I was. I identified as transsexual and didn’t even totally understand what transgender meant. I searched for trans* resources in the Philadelphia area and came across a party that was hosted at the Tavern on Camac on Monday nights in Center City, Philadelphia. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to meet others like myself. I went to these parties often for about 6 months. During that time I met a lot of self-identified transgender and transsexual women as well as numerous crossdressers. On more than one occasion a crossdresser asked me if I was part time or full time and that started the ball rolling towards my questioning of the transgender label. In their minds I was an enhanced version of a crossdresser. I felt insulted that self-identified men thought I was like them.
So, I began to ask questions in the community. I asked questions of some of those considered leaders in the transgender community about the transgender umbrella and was honest about feeling uncomfortable being grouped with crossdressers – people who knew nothing about what it meant to be a transsexual woman. I was genuinely curious on how to deal with this discomfort. I had never even heard of TS Separatist at the time so had no ideology from that group. However, the answers given to me were short and dismissive and it didn’t take long until I was called some of the most horrific names I have ever been called. I was on the fence at the time and was knocked to the other side. A TS Separatist was born.
When people feel like outcasts and are demonized in their own communities, it doesn’t take long to search out and find others who are in the same boat. I surrounded myself with those who were against the transgender umbrella and the rest is history. I created a site called TS-IS-LIBERATION.ORG and began to fight the transgender machine. After all, they made me their enemy. I began to see the non-transgender transsexual community as an oppressed class and the oppressors were those underneath the transgender umbrella. I saw the transgender political agenda as putting my rights in jeopardy. I vowed to fight this agenda and dedicated a lot of time to do this.
One thing that didn’t take long to notice in my new family was how all of the bars were set just underneath their own status of what is or isn’t a woman. If someone transitioned at age 26 then anyone who was a late transitioner (27 or older) wasn’t a real woman. I had my own requirements for others and of course, they were right below where my stance was on transition. I didn’t think of myself as a hypocrite, though I did think of other TS Separatists as hypocrites. That is how it works. And you don’t call out others in that community on it. We demanded others who were not in our community to respect our identities and status as women while denying others that same right. When you are in this kind of situation you seriously don’t see the irony.
Another thing I did was to try and build a bridge between the anti-trans radical feminist group in hopes of validating my status as a woman as well as having a bigger anti-transgender army, so to speak. Even though some of the most vile hate I have seen before was on their websites, I told myself they weren’t talking about me, they are talking about the transgender community, of which I was not part. This was delusional on many levels. The radical feminist I was mostly talking to did a pretty good job using wording that allowed me to keep my delusion that our two separatist communities might join forces one day. During this time, I did a lot of disgusting things to try and win favor from this group. One thing I did was create a web page that had a lot of various news articles that showed men who violated women’s spaces for some kind of sexual gratification. There were some men who dressed in women’s clothing but most of the men didn’t. For an archive of the page refer to http://web.archive.org/web/20111227014307/http://ts-is-liberation.org/Men+in+womens+restrooms. This article was included in a document that was sent to the United Nations by two radical feminists and at the time, I was proud to be a part of it. They referred to me as Ms. Taylor in the article so there was my confirmation!!! At the time, I saw this document as allowing myself to be included in women’s spaces but ignored what it actually meant. It actually meant a lot of my sisters would not be allowed. Here is a post breaking down my part in this by Cristan Williams.
In addition to all the above shit, I shared information I found on public websites with this group. If I saw someone from the transgender community say something that they would want to use, I would send it their way. I participated in actual harm to the transgender community. I can only imagine the pain that I caused. I became painfully aware of this when the cotton ceiling happened. Without going into a lot of details, it was basically a group of trans woman who wanted to meet and discuss overcoming the stigma some lesbians feel about having relationships with trans women. Only women who were born in a male-sexed body were invited (which I think was a big mistake). This group of radical feminists saw this as an attack on them. Whether they perceived it as a real threat or simply ammunition against the transgender community, I don’t know. This group of radical feminists waged a war on trans* women and it was without mercy. I saw trans women being shamed and humiliated on public websites and it absolutely disgusted me. A trans woman didn’t have to do much to end up on one of these sites. Even simply existing seemed to be enough justification.
I was physically ill when I saw this. I had panic attacks and sunk into a perpetual depression over it. I withdrew my support for them immediately and went into hiding. This happened back in March of 2012 and the attacks have not stopped but have escalated. I was shocked by some of the things I saw in this attack but wait a week and you will look at that shock you had last week as minuscule compared to the new and improved version this week.
This all made me step back and take a look at myself and it didn’t take long for it to sink in that I was a bigot and suffered from internalized transphobia. I also realized how horrific my reign of terror was on the transgender community. The relentless attack on trans women by this group of radical feminists made me realize that I was acting just like they were. After intense soul searching, I began to listen to my sisters.
Once you get sucked into sucking up to this nasty group of bigots, it is hard to leave it. I was terrified at the thought that I could end up being shamed and humiliated on one of their sites. It was debilitating and oppressive to me and it was of my own making. There are a few token trans women who are currently sucking up to this group on twitter and when I look at what they are doing, I think they are idiots. They are willing to throw their own vulnerable sisters under the bus to get some kind of self-serving delusional satisfaction of being a “real woman.” I was one of those idiots once.
I don’t think there is anything that I could say that would repair the damage I have caused to my trans* brothers and sisters but I do deeply regret what I did and sincerely apologize for it. If there was a way I could undo what I did, I would do it. Our community is one of the most vulnerable and abused minorities that exists and I played a part in the abuse. I hate myself for what I did.
If you were a victim of my abuse, I beg you to call me out in the comment section of this article. It is important to let others know how this kind of abuse affects others in our community. Who knows, maybe some of those who are now in the position I was in can see that it is a real problem.