Imagine my surprise to click on a link that led me to a story about a Starbucks filled with Trans masculine and gender non-conforming individuals – my kind of people. I imagined a place where on likely almost every day, everyone is welcome. Acceptance wafts through the air leaving no room for hatred and transphobia – my kind of place. Come drink coffee and live your truth! Well, it seems that may not exactly be the case here. A few days ago Tristan Fox, who writes for After Ellen, shared her personal less than welcoming experience.  That’s not A Butch Eradication, Served With a Progressive Smile.

Ms. Fox tells us that she was filled with dread and that seeing the young Transgender men – although she cannot bring herself to address them as such – in this particular Starbucks was painful to her. She wondered what the “lesbians who think they are men” thought of her. Ms. Fox repeated the word horrific and spoke of dinosaurs, regret, butch lesbians, shame and hate. She mentioned courage…and hate.

In roughly two months the United States will be joined by a number of other countries from around the world to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising by taking our annual Pride celebrations to new levels. We will be commemorating what may arguably be the single most important moment in LGBTQIA history. We will be honoring and uplifting the people of color and transgender community who came before us. We will honor courage and strike down that hate.

That Ms. Fox, as a self-identified elder of the lesbian populace, cannot recognize the importance of honoring our “family” has chosen to so publicly disrespect part of this community, is quite disheartening to me. You see, she speaks of history and proudly of ancient bravery; yet rather than hold her head high and bold, she has chosen to knock down those who paved her way.

Yes, Ms. Fox, you may be the dinosaur; but those young Trans men are of the family that made it that much easier for you to walk “up to that counter, all proud and real and butch and unselfconscious.” Their risks and voices need to be recognized and respected with the same kindness you seem to expect in your place that you believe is so threatened.

And, while I’m addressing you directly; and since you do seem to like throwing out laundry lists for all of us, please let me share a little laundry of my own here.  First, you clearly appreciate labels. I don’t. I have been labeled incorrectly most of my life. You are a butch lesbian – your words. We don’t know each other; but I, too, was a butch lesbian – not my words. I am a Transgender man. I was not, and never was, as you describe a “lesbian on testosterone” or “transing lesbian.” Frankly, not that it is any of your business – but I’m going to tell you anyway – I was not a lesbian at all. I was not some young individual swept up by transactivism or part of a transcult that thought I would become a man because it was a cool thing to do. I was a man born in a woman’s body and knew this at age 2. I began my transition at age 53 – less than two years ago – although if I’d known it came with lattes and lemon loaf, I might have done it sooner.

Second – and I can’t speak for all Trans men – it is quite likely that they aren’t judging you at all when you walk in to get your coffee…at least not as much as you are them. And maybe some still do identify as female, but some are actually male. Here’s the thing – it really is none of your business. They aren’t being told who they are – as you claim. It’s for them to tell us.

Next, “gender non-conforming” is NOT a fancy word for lesbian. It means gender non-conforming. You may want to discuss this with a reputable gender identity healthcare professional – perhaps not the one who told you that homosexuality is the first ‘step’ to transitioning. That one is both wrong and quite possibly not a professional.  I don’t mean to suggest that I have all the answers, but maybe the information here at Basics About Transgender would be helpful to you.

Sharing statistics indicating that had 80% of the youth desisted in transitioning they would simply have become gay or lesbian adults is a dangerous and old claim. We know now that there is no one way to be Trans or gender-nonconforming. Recent research shows there are many paths to take and we have so much more to learn regarding ‘Desistance’ in Transgender Youth.  

What we do know for certain is that statistics from a study recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed alarming levels of attempted suicide among transgender youth — with the highest rates among transgender boys and non-binary youth.

More than half of transgender male teens who participated in the survey reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, while 29.9 percent of transgender female teens said they attempted suicide. Among non-binary youth, 41.8 percent of respondents stated that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives. Wouldn’t we all prefer to see these adolescents grow to adulthood rather than lead them to believe that Transgender or gender non-conforming isn’t real?

Here’s the thing, Ms. Fox, just as there is no one way to be lesbian; there is no single way to be Transgender. Transgender folx are real. Yes, like lesbians, we also sit in the sunshine and drink our coffee. We read books and share space with other humans who walk this planet. We will continue to do this despite you and in spite of you. We will continue to trip over your harassment and rejection and judgment and hatred every fucking day – for as long as it takes. We will live and survive and love. That, my friend, is the Trans agenda.