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Young Adult and Queer

I am a white young adult Jewish female. I have discharged a bunch on Queer and gender-variant identity, and the following are some of my thoughts and experiences.

QUEER AND LESBIAN IDENTITIES 

I recently started dating another young adult woman. In this new relationship, I am able to see how much sexism has contributed to taking on a Queer/Lesbian identity.

I have had few sexual/romantic relationships, because of early terror and the resulting inhibition. It’s hard for me to want to get physically close to anyone, but physical and sexual closeness seem safer with another woman. With a woman, I still have to face my internalized sexism, but I am not being targeted by a male partner’s sexism and male domination. I am pleased that I have figured out how to pursue this new relationship and use it to discharge my early terror and inhibition.

The Lesbian identity of older women (in their fifties and up) looks attractive to me. It is about being a woman with women, and it was built in the context of a social movement that had a strong sense of womanhood. Being female is inherent in the identity. That isn’t true with the Queer identity today. The Queer identity strongly rejects sexism but lacks a picture of what can be gained by claiming being fully female, united with all other females, and male allies, against sexism and male domination. This picture is lacking because society is so different now from when women of the older generation were young adults.

Looking at distresses about gender identity reveals how sexism, male domination, and the state of capitalism have changed. For many women of my generation, claiming being fully female is a huge struggle. We need to engage our minds in new ways to fully end sexism and all oppressions.

TRANSGENDER IDENTITY

I worry that because I have chosen to discharge my distress and not actively claim a Transgender identity, people will conclude that I think it is wrong to be Transgender. Taking the position that being Transgender is wrong reinforces the oppression of Transgender people. “Jeanne D’Arc” (the International Liberation Reference Person for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, and Transgender People) talks about how respect is step one in thinking about Transgender people. (See her article “Thinking about Transgender People” in the October 2012 Present Time.) The more work I do on this topic, the clearer it becomes how hugely important that step is.

Here are some of my thoughts and experiences related to Transgender identity:

As capitalism advances and things get harder, “doing what feels good” is increasingly popular. One very common message is, “If you feel bad about your biological female body, you’ll feel better if you change it to resemble a biological male body.” This may mean taking hormones (testosterone) and having surgery to remove breasts. The “mental health” system and the pharmaceutical and medical industries make lots of money off of these options.

Transgender identities are increasingly accepted as normal by the popular culture and the media. I am twenty-eight years old. When I was a young person, I never heard anyone talk about Transgender young people. Today I frequently come across articles in newspapers and on Facebook and online blogs about Transgender young people and those who are supporting them in that identity.

On one hand, it’s great to see these attempts to support and respect young people. On the other hand, it’s painful to see how “liberalism” has corrupted our ability to take strong stands against internalized sexism and male domination and our ability to help young people with their distresses. I say young people, because it’s happening with both girls and boys. And hardly anything outside of RC offers an alternative path and a way to find one’s own mind in this confusing mess.

A few years ago I changed my name and started binding my chest to flatten my breasts, wearing mostly men’s clothing, and using the pronouns “they and them”—as those were the options I could see around me at college, online, and in books. It didn’t take a lot of time in RC to realize that even though I’d made those changes, I still had the same material to discharge. And the more I discharged, the tightness and desperation that had led me to try those things shifted and loosened.

My internalized oppression makes it hard for me to hold on to complete respect for Transgender and other gender-variant people. But holding on to it has also been getting easier with discharge.

I have close friends who are taking testosterone and have had or are thinking about having breast-removal surgery. I ask them as many questions as I can and stay close to and supportive of them. It is hard to stay close in these situations, but my efforts have made more space for all of us to show ourselves as females and get closer. In her article mentioned above, “Jeanne D’Arc” suggests that we encourage people to slow down and discharge when they’re making decisions about transitioning. She also says that it’s crucial to do this in the context of a relationship based on connection and respect. Otherwise we are acting out the oppression.

FOLLOWING MY OWN LEAD

Over the past four years I have gone from using my given name to using a shortened and less feminine version of it to using my full female name again. Recently when asked what name I preferred, I responded with, “We know each other and have a close relationship. What name you call me doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know me and that our relationship is significant.” Responding in that way has been an opportunity to step outside of my distress, and I think it’s been useful for my friends as well.

Writing this has been a great experience. I’ve decided against the distress recordings, taken myself seriously, and battled the internalized Gay oppression that makes me want to stay silent. I’ve also been able to notice the work that I’ve done and be pleased with how I have used my mind and followed my own lead, along with that of many other brilliant women whom I love so much. I look forward to continuing to work on this together as women!

“Libah Finkel”

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

(Present Time 184, July 2016)


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00