Seeing trans women on TV and in other media —
Where are the trans people like me? I wondered. We all know that sexual orientation and gender are not the same thing, so why does the media so often treat trans women as if we can only be straight?
However, the reality for many of us is that we continue to be in relationships with women after we transition. That's because we're not only trans; we're also bisexual, lesbian or other versions of queer. In what is perhaps the most comprehensive survey of trans people ever done, researches asked the almost 3,000 trans women who responded what they identified with in terms of sexuality. Fully two-thirds identified as lesbian, bisexual or queer.
So often trans women are excluded from all groups that aren't exclusively for us, including many feminist, LGBT and women's spaces. Since so many trans women are feminists, so many are lesbians, so many identify as queer, and since all trans women are, well, women, we deserve to have a seat at those tables.
It's not just important that trans women like me let our voices be heard in spaces where we clearly belong — these spaces must openly embrace us.
That's one of the reasons why I jumped at the chance to write for Autostraddle. Autostraddle describes itself as "a progressively feminist online community for a new generation of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies (and their friends)." They aren't trapped in the divisive and slow-moving past. Instead, they're part of a new generation of queer and feminist communities which embrace intersectionality and diversity.
When I came out, I was able to find plenty of trans women who quickly embraced me, but I also was looking for a community of my fellow lesbians and queer women to address those parts of my identity. That used to be easier said than done, but things are improving. When I see the articles that I (and the other great trans* writers) contribute to Autostraddle, I see the voices and faces that I was looking for when I was first coming out.
Trans women are an extremely diverse group; we should be seen and embraced in our full diversity, in trans communities, in feminism, in the queer women's movement. To do anything else is to stay stuck in the past.