“Bullying” as a political issue has gained much traction in recent years, with suicides of GLBTQ youth paving the way for a campaign to protect youth. Such a campaign is a worthy endeavor, as bullying – aggressive behavior in which the Bully, through force or coercion, habitually targets a victim, who usually has less power than the Bully or who may be otherwise “different” from the bully – harms children.
Bullying is not a new GLBT issue. In the 1990s, the Community rallied around Jamie Nabozny, a gay youth who endured considerable abuse due to his sexual orientation. Over the last year, the issue of anti-gay Bullying has garnered even more attention, culminating in the conviction of a former Rutgers University student for his role in Tyler Clementi’s suicide. We owe it to children to protect them from bullying, and each adult must do her level best to protect children from attacks that can inflict lifelong damage.
As an activist, though, I am constantly mindful of the methods used to silence those who express politically unpopular opinions in the GLBT Community. The Bully line has been used early and often to silence those who challenge the current GLBT March towards gender identity purgatory. That is, lesbians who challenge gender identity – and sharply challenge transgender women who violate sex-segregated space, including our vaginas – are bullies. Indeed, we are called “trans-exterminationists” with “blood on our hands.”
We are “bullies” because we don’t agree with you, political transgender community. Because it’s not as if we lesbians can “force” you to do anything – we cannot even get you to listen and comprehend our objections to overbroad gender identity legislation without you threatening to maim us or wishing we would die in a fire. As for “less power,” do you actually believe that a handful of lesbian activists who do political advocacy around gender identity in their spare time have power over a GLBT movement that has fully embraced gender identity as a cornerstone of our community’s liberation?
It is to laugh!
So, where is the bullying? Point of fact, there is no bullying. Adults should be able to engage in political debate – even heated, profane political debate. And adults should be able to use all the creative tools and tactics at their disposal to make a political point. The Lesbian Avengers did not ask for “permission” when they ate fire. ACT UP did not listen to critics who chastised them as “too angry.” These direct action groups deserve credit for the GLBT Movement’s success. To abandon edgy tactics because they are “not nice” is a coward’s gambit. Being “nice” has never gotten females a seat at the table. Being “nice” does nothing to improve Lesbian visibility or advance Lesbian issues. Being “nice” is a tone argument, a derail. Because even when we are “nice,” we still get accused of bullying.
Rather than crying about Bullying, how about you take responsibility for the elements of the political transgender community that “bully” Dykes? It is wrong that Lesbians fear criticizing Gender Identity because of the backlash such act will earn them. It’s wrong that lesbians have to justify why we don’t want to engage sexually with dick (or former dick) holders. It’s wrong that females cannot establish a sex-segregated boundary without having to explain ad nauseum why we want it. It is wrong that instead of addressing the legitimate grievances Females have with gender identity legislation, the GLBT Movement tells us that we are Bullies.
Imagine what would have happened if, in the 1980s, middle-of-the-road gay activists convinced Larry Kramer that he was too aggressive? What if establishment gay activists in Maryland convinced the Lesbian Avengers that they were in fact to blame for stalled Gay civil rights legislation?
It is to laugh! We need aggressive tactics – and difficult conversations – to create real change.
There is another irony about the Bully meme. Over the last year, only a handful of individuals from the GLBT Community have publically spoken out against actual violent language aimed at Lesbians. Instead, such violent rhetoric – proffered by individuals hailed as movement leaders – has gone completely unchallenged by the establishment GLBT Organizations. In the face of overwhelming silence from GLBT Organizations regarding these violent threats, calls for “niceness” now that lesbian activists have ratcheted up efforts against overbroad gender identity legislation seem hollow, at best.
Instead of appropriating a serious issue children and youth face to advance your own political cause, what if you, political transgender community, engaged in an actual debate on the issue of sex versus gender identity. The political transgender community has benefitted muchly from female socialization in a sexist society and our “endless” patience and tolerance for bullshit. It seems, however, that our patience has done run out. Stop dodging the issue with the bully club.
Originally published here.