This sparked an interesting discussion. While the sentiment is noble, it’s also both right and wrong. They were right that a woman is a woman regardless of the circumstances of her birth or the state of her genitals. However, there’s more to the argument than just that. As I pointed out, using that same logic, then the term lesbian should also be hated, as a woman is a woman, no matter if she’s gay or straight. The words trans and cis, just like gay or straight, are terms to identify with. Labels to help others understand us, and help us find ourselves as well.
That last bit is important. There’s a Canadian GLBT rights activist (yes, actually does the whole spectrum instead of just gay rights) by the name of Ivan Coyote. I’ll be honest, I don’t know the full extent of how she identifies, just that she struggled trying to figure out which pronoun was most applicable and settling on female ones, as well as identifying as butch, but however all she identifies, she has a piece she performed once talking about that need for words to help those who are confused find their identities. I’ve linked the video below, and I encourage you to watch it’s companion piece (the femme piece) as well, as it speaks a great deal about not only the femme lesbian experience, but in many ways, can be seen as a way of discussing the differences between trans men and women (with us girls being the butch and the guys being the femme in regards to visibility/invisibility, but being femme and butch respectively in many other points).
As Ivan said, sometimes that word is needed for us to find ourselves. I personally stumbled along trying to find myself until I met another trans woman and had a word to identify with. This modern wave of rejecting labels is something I find interesting. Yes, labels can be restrictive, but they can also be useful and liberating. Sometimes those labels are the condensed form of knowledge on a subject put together by those who came before us. It’s up to us to take those labels as our own, and show that we’re not a stereotype (as Ivan herself encourages other butches). The stereotype of lesbian is still heavily butch/femme, and the stereotype of a trans woman is someone male bodied who tries, and fails, to present as female. I for one am going to show the world that I am not a stereotype, but there are many labels that do fit me.
What do you all feel about labels? Have you had similar issues in the past?