Toronto Leather Pride is happening in a few weeks. In a bold move, HoTF created a specific women and trans bar space. Laying out my biases – I never thought it was perfect but was pleased that they were taking this step in support of the women and trans communities. Until female friends of mine said they wouldn’t be attending due to wording being used to describe who is a transperson and who isn’t:
“Open to Women and Trans People Only – Part of the TLP 2012 Weekend. For the purpose of this event, “Trans Persons” are considered as those who live 24/7 as the gender for which they identify. All others are welcome to attend the Fetish Party that begins at 11pm.” [cite]
I agreed with her perspective on this and recalled conversations with other members of my local leather community who had expressed frustrations with regards to gendered spaces feeling like one step forward and two steps back. So I decided that I would look into who I could make an appeal to regarding the definition of trans being used for the TLP weekend and was told to write the board.
Here is the letter I sent them, edited only for formatting and to remove my last name, which I like to keep off the internet.
Tuesday July 31, 2012
Dear Board members
My note to you today is regarding your definition of “Trans Persons” with regards to the upcoming women and trans party. First I think it’s absolutely awesome that you are working to create space for more people at TLP weekend and within the Leather Community. This goal is to be commended, especially creating the first ever women/trans bar night as part of the TLP Weekend – I’m very much looking forward to it!
However, by using such a strict, and I feel, outdated, definition of Trans Person, I am concerned that you’re actually creating more segregation and needlessly excluding people from this space.
I strongly feel that Trans Persons as they are currently defined by your website (those who live 24/7 as the gender for which they identify) is not only much too narrow to properly capture what it means to be trans*, but it actively alienates some HotF members who identify within the spectrum of trans, but choose to live beyond binary gender options.
First, there are many reasons why someone would not choose to live full times as a different gender than the one they were assigned a birth and still identify as trans (work or family obligations, safety factors, the general hassle that comes with people deciding you don’t pass well enough). Trans* identity is about identify that people chose to take on for themselves. It’s not what you look like to the outside world, or what stage of your transition you’re at – if you even chose to transition your gender at all. Even if someone chooses to use a gendered pronoun (again, work and family obligations, safety, passing privilege are all reasons they might not choose to), it may not reflect where they are at in their head and their heart about their gender identity.
Second, being Trans* is about so much more than living as the opposite gender. It’s about not fitting neatly into the gender box. It’s about purposefully spending time in another gender role. It’s about rejecting both genders completely. Defining Trans people only as those who have fully transition ignored as huge portion of the trans* umbrella.
Trans* includes genderqueer, gender fucked, gender fluid, bigendered, agendered, transsexual, third gender, two-spirited, intersexed – basically it’s everything but cis-gendered.
Finally; HotF has spoken about creating a space for Leather people that is inclusive and welcoming, and while that goal sound admirable, it’s nothing more than hollowness if your policies and actions do no back those words up. Think about your members who identify as they; or your members who, while using gendered pronouns, give their identify as androgynous, genderqueer, and gender fluid when asked. Why should they be excluded from this party? How does that reflect your goals of creating space for all?
Trans* people are members of your community and I urge you to create a space that makes an effort to include them as they have included you in their lives.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns.
Update: HOTFF has shared another press release regarding the night. Also, what I was calling HotF above is really HOTFF – no disrespect intended, I simply had my short form incorrect!