In between collages, soldering pendants and altering cabinet cards, I have been chewing on something. I had a difficult time figuring out how to tell you the story without betraying confidences and telling tales out of school so to speak. But friends advise to stay close to my experience and I was reminded the other day of the value of using *I* statements when communicating with others. I learned how to do that when I got sober two decades ago and I’d like to think it has morphed into part of my life. I could be rusty though.
Anyway, it started innocently enough a few months ago.
I periodically feel a certain pull to connect to other women
"of-a-like-mind" online because I have so few around me offline. While
Manthing is easily my best friend and soft place to fall and M, my good
male friend and colleague are awesome, they aren’t women.
I decided it was time to delurk in some online women’s groups I’ve belonged to forever and become more active online. It seemed it was time to do this. Nothing in particular precipitated it. Sometimes, it’s just time to do something. More active meant doing more than just blogging here every so often and staying cloistered in my own little slice of internet heaven. It meant talking and interacting with others beyond the frequent blog comments and e-mails.
Anyway, because I belong to a majority of women’s spirituality groups online, there’s a fair amount of political and feminist discussion that goes on. My attitudes about things are pretty moderate. I accept most ways of thinking and lifestyles and the choices people make for themselves.
Happily, I can say I have met some exemplary women of a like mind with whom I can correspond and collaborate with. They make me wonder why we are all spread out over the country and wish we were closer in distance.
But recently I ran into something that was intriguing at first and then troubling. I was wondering how to write about it without betraying confidences. Yesterday I received this link as part of a writing exercise for a writing group I participate and then I see BLC posted it a few days ago in her blog. So it seemed time to address it and I have worked on this for a few days and think I have succeeded maintaining anonymity for the people involved.
I have no problem with transgender people. But most of the transgender people I know are out about it. They have no problem with the world knowing about it. The situation I find troubling is when there is someone who is a male to female transexual on feminist and women’s spirituality lists and they will not disclose that information to the women participating in the groups with them. I feel it is disingenuous at best and downright lying at worst, especially in online women’s groups that are supposed to be a safe, and secure space for women of a like mind. In person, you can clearly see what’s going on. Over the Internet, not so much.
Aside from other issues that seem to exist for this person, when I read the article I realized there was nothing any of her friends could do for her because she is in hiding. Only a few know and I know only because I figured it out from hearing scuttlebutt and seeing a photograph. At first I didn’t have trouble with it until I realized that she is not open about it.
I certainly understand the fear of rejection but I would be pissed off and hurt if I had forged a friendship with her, only to discover later that she had omitted a huge part of her life. She lives in constant fear that those who do know about her will tell everyone they know, even to the point of kicking people out of her life before they can kick her out of theirs.
I have no problem that she is transgender. I have no problem that she is a transgender woman participating in women’s groups. I have a problem that she is not being honest and open with others around her who may choose to confide in her. She is building friendships and associations based on false pretenses and it seems to me you stand a lot more to lose if you willingly omit important information; not to mention the hurt and damage you could cause by lying. It is very self-serving and thoughtless.
Clearly, it’s not up to me to out her the people she forges friendships with but it sure seems dishonest not only to the people around you but to oneself. I also know how difficult it can to be vastly different from everyone
yet she is also the first to slap a label on someone who doesn’t agree
with her view on things, condemn them, resort to name calling and insist that anyone who
doesn’t see things her way is against her.
I don’t get it. Do you?