In preparation for my cross-country move during the summer, I found myself begrudgingly paring down what was previously my impressive (if I must say so myself) personal library of counter-cultural literature and publications. Part of that daunting task included rooting through the stuff that was not worth salvaging or selling (usually because of damage sustained from previous moves) and tearing out articles of interest to revisit.
While digging through an old Whole Earth Catalog (I think) from the early 70s I noticed this gay culture manifesto that included the word “f*ggot” like 50 times.
What the shit is this? I thought to myself. A quick scan showed it to be a call to arms for effeminate men to reject the masculinism in gay culture. “Fuck. Yes” I thought to myself and put it in the keep pile. I chatted up this discovery with my partner at the time, another trans woman who I’d met on a fetish site, without having any idea of the irony. No joke, I even think we were going out to a drag show that night.
What I’d stumbled across was the fierce anti-trans, anti-BDSM, anti-androgeny, anti camp and gay culture Effeminist Manifesto.
Founded by Steven F Dansky, John Knoebel, and Kenneth Pitchford (husband of old-school proto-TERF Robin Morgan), The Effeminist Movement was a short lived, tightly-knit and controversial group mostly centered around their publication project Double F. The movement, in their own words, “did not seek to the legalization of f*ggotry, quotas or civil rights for f*ggots” but instead spent the majority of their time declaring members of the Gay Liberation movement and other counter-cultural movements “enemies of feminism” and seeking to discredit and slander them. Anyone familiar with a certain branch of radical feminism would immediately recognize these tactics.
Looking over this document, I find myself torn because when I read things like:
F*ggots and all effeminate men are oppressed by the patriarchy’s systematic enforcement of masculinist standards , whether these standards are expressed as physical, mental, emotional or sexual stereotypes of what is desirable in a man.
…This means rejecting of objectification of people based on such things as [physical or facial features], genitals, ethnicity or race, physical or mental handicap or lifestyle…
…Even as we learn to affirm in ourselves the cooperative impulse and to admire in each other what is tender and gentle, what is aesthetic, considerate, affectionate, lyrical, sweet…
I’m like “this is awesome, these are things that really need to be put out there; wish the other 85% of this thing wasn’t crap”. The rest being this campaigning of a sort of compulsory celibacy akin to political lesbianism, but for gay dudes, rejection and dismantling of gay culture altogether, and this realization of the innateness of maleness and femaleness that is “outside of gender”. I have to admit I find myself scratching my head over the latter.
It’s a pretty common argument in that branch of radical feminism, this whole baffling idea that gender is wrong but people should still be categorized by estimated reproductive role and viability. I say tomato, you say transgender identity is a form of cultural appropriation. *shrug*
I really wish there was a situation where all possibility of open, frank discussion of the navigation of gender by people with a lifetime of gender-non-conforming history hadn’t already been hijacked rhetorically by strict binary narratives we have to repack our lives into in order to express ourselves in order to be understood.
Really tho, it’s not too far off from the complications of explaining the social navigation of monogamous bisexuality, something else I’m all too familiar with.
I will say this tho, I kinda wanna reclaim Eonism, which is the term they use in this when talking about trans folks. Even though I’m well aware of the etymology, it still also sounds cybernetic. So any anti-trans jerks reading this should feel free to call me that all you like.