by Morgan Boecher
Last weekend was my first time attending a Pride event of a New-York-City scale. My only other experience was when I was a teenager during the sleepy summer months in Gainesville, Florida. The festival that happened in our downtown plaza was an inspiring effort, with all the Roy G. Biv decorations and dildo raffles, but it never overwhelmed like NYC Pride does.
What overwhelmed me the most, more than the campy getups and the countless people streaming through 5th Avenue, was the comfort of finding queer folks around every corner. It made me feel a little more at home, at least. As a transsexual man with an undeniably feminine physique, I have trouble fitting within the everyday cissexual (non-trans) world. When I go butch, I look lesbian, which gets it all wrong.
However, NYC Pride weekend, subsuming all in delightful queerness, made my gender identity matter a little less. At least when I was walking around the streets being one in the crowd. At other times it mattered more.
Preceding the Sunday parade was the Dyke March, a politically charged protest demanding equal rights, the end of LBTQ violence, and visibility. Considering how cis-male-centric mainstream images of LGBTQ culture are, the Dyke March is a wonderful way for queer women to claim their space. Being someone who does not in any way identify as a dyke, I respectfully stood aside. Giving oppressed groups a chance to their own space is powerful and important. I did get to chat with a friend of mine who participated in the march, though.
Our talk of gendered space led us to ruminate over the displacement of trans people. Cissexual people are often confused about where trans men and women ought and ought not be. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is a good example, with their reluctance to allow trans womyn access to the “womyn-born-womyn” space. Anyway, while discussing the gendered barriers of the Dyke March, my friend told me that she met someone there who expressed skepticism about trans men.
“I just don’t understand trans men because I enjoy being a woman so much,” she said.
*Sigh.* Just the same sentiment I met when I came out to some proudly womyn-born-womyn friends of mine. Despite the beautiful mélange of gender and sexual diversity crowding the streets of NYC, trans experiences are still going misunderstood. It’s not that trans men devalue womanhood; it’s just that they don’t identify with it.
The Dyke March is an empowering step toward recognizing a greater range of human experience, but some trans visibility could stretch that recognition even further.