You Need Help: I’m a Trans Woman Looking For Affirming Lesbian Content

Q:

Hi :) My name is [redacted], and I’m a trans woman. I spend a lot of time on lesbian instagram and tiktok, and while there’s tons for me to relate to, it feels conspicuous how little trans women’s bodies are shown or mentioned in the lesbian memespace. Many meme accounts and other such will share beautiful art and artists depicting lesbian intimacy, even including non-binary people. But I just don’t see trans women included in that kind of thing. There will be these super relatable memes about dating as a lesbian, coming out, all that. But it feels like there’s never a reference to coming out as a trans lesbian, or any of the problems that we face, or the joys that we also have as trans lesbians. It feels like the most popular voices in online lesbian culture either don’t know any trans women in real life, or are afraid to include trans women in their material.

So what do I do? Do I ask [redacted lesbian IG memer] to post more trans shit? Do I have any right to ask people I don’t even know to include me? Thank you for your time!

A:

Hi [redacted],

I am also a trans lesbian, and I have some social media recommendations for you (and hopefully commenters will too), but before that I have a question: Why do you want to see trans lesbian-specific bodies and content on social media? It might feel obvious, but I don’t ask that rhetorically. I want you to think about what you’re really looking for. What would seeing (more) trans lesbian-specific content on social media mean to you?

Something unfortunate that frequently happens online is trans women rightfully lament the fact that frequently, cis straight men and cis gay women won’t date us. Unfortunately, because of the extreme limits of social media for any kind of nuanced or meaningful discourse, this gets characterized as us commanding people to date us.

What people who share those feelings online are actually doing (usually) is expressing their feelings about the system of oppression we live within, about how it feels to have one’s identity invalidated, and how hard it is to pursue love and affection when you’re so marginalized. What they are not doing (usually) is trying to force unwilling individuals to rectify this situation. There’s a big difference between saying “it sucks that so many cis lesbians exclude us from being potential lovers” and saying “if you don’t want to fuck me, you’re a bigot.”

The difference between a lament and a command is frequently blurred online, and sometimes in our minds… and I think it might be blurred in your question, too. Is it valid to be frustrated like you are? Yes! I am too. Is it appropriate to ask a cis creator to include trans women in content? No. You probably do have the right to ask, but I don’t think you actually want to force unwilling individual cis people to create content that speaks to you. What it sounds like you actually want is for trans inclusion to be so mainstream in the lesbian community that they want to create it, or that trans lesbian creators become more popular. I feel you. We just aren’t there yet. It sucks! You’re on the right website, though.

Now, you asked “what do I do?” Ask yourself this, I guess: Why don’t you feel included unless some piece of content is specifically about trans women? Would a lesbian intimacy drawing, for example, only feel inclusive if you could see one of the girl’s penises? If you could see a beard shadow, an “Adam’s apple,” surgery scars, some kind of particular musculature or body shape that you associate with being trans? If they are literally in the process of injecting hormones? That seems… essentializing to me. I know there’s something special about seeing trans-specific lesbian content, but that content does exist. It’s not super common, but neither are we.

Something that helps me is realizing nearly all lesbian content is already inclusive of trans lesbians. I’ve rarely seen, and genuinely find it hard to imagine, memes or art that’s specifically about or for cis lesbians only. I’d recommend that you imagine that there’s at least one trans woman in every lesbian piece of content you come across unless specified otherwise! In my mind, for example? All the ladies below are trans! There’s no reason to believe they aren’t, even if the artist had different intentions. Click to see each artist’s Twitter handle, by the way.

The point is this: it sucks that we still have to struggle with inclusion in lesbian community, your feelings are valid, and I hope you’ll be OK whether or not you can find enough trans lesbian-specific content online. I hope you can find other types of content relevant, meaningful, and fun. I hope you’re building IRL, or more substantive than social media-based, connections with kind, loving people regardless of their identities.

Now, with all of that bluster out of the way, here are some recommendations. FYP by Shelli and No Filter by Christina are great sources for trans-inclusive lesbian celebrity content. r/actuallesbians is a very inclusive subreddit (note that it’s called that because the r/lesbians subreddit is just porn), though it seems to skew pretty young. Some meme pages I’ve laughed at: @trans_lesbian_things, @mtf.trans03 and @mtf.trans.memes, @sassy.trans, @_akuithakitten_, and @bigdyckmom6. Some artists with explicitly trans-inclusive lesbian art: Bonnie Guerra, Felix D’eon, Gabriella Grimes, and Valerie Halla. And if you’re into gaming, maybe check out Hardcoded or Knife Sisters (I haven’t played either yet, to be fair, but they’re highly recommended).

Hopefully commenters can provide more recommendations, and hopefully we’ll exist in a day when the majority of lesbian content online is either explicitly trans-inclusive or the culture will have changed to where it’s easy to assume it is. In the meantime, we’ll just have to remember that we are women, we are lesbians, and any lesbian content that doesn’t explicitly exclude us by default includes us.


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.


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Abeni Jones

Abeni Jones is a trans woman of color artist, educator, writer, and designer living in the Bay Area, CA.

Abeni has written 83 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Hey, I am a trans woman and consider myself to be a lesbian since my attraction never wavered towards women. Inclusiveness in media and groups themselves can be rough for trans women. I’m also founder of WClubUSA.com and it is a fully inclusive, volunteer run, free, women-focused LGBTQ+ / queer organization that strives to do normal life things the straight world does: dinners, coffee get togethers, nature hikes, art walks, karaoke, yoga, museum lunches, etc.. We’re probably 95% “declared female at birth” and 5% trans. The point is, we are all over the country now in only 8 months with 107 groups coast to coast. WClub is changing the lives not just of many trans women, but all women, queer, and non-binary friends. Please feel free to join us?

      • I don’t think those are true. A lot of people seem to take stuff she’s said out-of-context and interpret it in the most uncharitable way possible. She talks about this in her video “Canceling”.

        Specifically about identities like “non-binary woman”, she has said she doesn’t really understand it. However, that’s more like how a cis person doesn’t understand what it’s like to be trans simply because they don’t have the same feelings about gender. She still treats such people respectfully, e.g., uses the proper pronouns.

  2. Hi Abeni,

    Thank you for this article. I’m also a trans lesbian who struggles with this. A lot of times knowing that lesbian does not just mean cis lesbian is one thing, but feeling it is another. And then it’s hard to see how much of that disconnect is coming from others being exclusionary and how much is from personal internalized shame. So I really appreciate the reminder that it’s okay to see ourselves in these works. But at the same time, like you said, hopefully one day more of the space will be explicitly trans-inclusive.

  3. Re: the dearth of trans lesbian specific content, I’d also point out that, sadly, I’ve seen trans inclusive memes on lesbian meme pages get subject to mass reports by transphobes and subsequently taken down.

  4. I’ve seen a fair amount of trans lesbian content on tumblr from both cis & trans lesbian creators. May also want to check out tumblr if you are already on there. That & insta pages Abeni suggested look good.

  5. So I’m not a trans person, nor am I on instagram or most other socials, but I was thinking about the last sentence in OP’s letter. If it were me, I’d think I’d be worried about making a mistake when it comes to making jokes or posting memes on an identity that is not my own. The subtle distinctions in making a funny joke or being offensive without meaning to is so very thin and blurry. And something different people have different opinions on. So I probably wouldn’t post them out of worry.

    I have no idea if the person OP is referring to has the same reasoning, or if they just have a blind spot or if they are willingly ignoring the trans people. I would welcome a message and a conversation, but there’s no way to know before you take that leap.

    So good luck OP and all of the other trans people out there. I hope you find the representation you are looking for. <3

  6. I think what you have to realise is, many lesbians also struggle with their own validity too. It’s like, even when they are being courted by another woman, they still are struck by doubts, “is this really happening or are they just being nice??”
    There is no authority from which your validity as a trans woman lesbian will be handed down benevolently to you. Noone will give you permission to participate. And more than likely, as people do often to women, there’ll be people who make a fuss when they notice your presumtiveness in merely existing in a space. Will they be lesbians too? Sadly yes. Will they see the hipocrisy in their actions HECK NO. But again, no authority will stand up and make judgement upon the fairness or lack thereof.
    You’re on your own, pumpkin. Make the world you want to live in, make the content you want to see, make it for all of us miserable sods waiting for someone else to make it for us.

  7. Stop thinking of yourself as a discriminated against minority needing representation and inclusion, right now. You’re a lovely, proud intelligent being not a ‘minority’. Inclusion is what fire or acid does to those trusting false friends. And representation is what a spike does with your head at the city gate if you have gained enough visibility.

    What i recommend is to do what everyone else above recommends. After you have done that and seen its worth, do the below.

    Read Anne Rice like everyone normal. Watch Terminator (all except the last) , Battlestar Galactica (the one with Model 6) also is worth watching.

    And then ask yourself one question – did any of the characters you relate to (i assume the good ones: everyone in Anne Rice pentalogy, terminators, Six) – have memes written specifically about them, with them drawn crudely and repulsively exxaggerated and ‘iconic’? Or porn with high res zooms into their subtle but singularly distinguishing features? Or affirming echo chamber communities? No they did not but still are awesome and dignified and not servile or waiting for permissions.

    Let lesser beings be caricatured for your amusement, displayed for your pleasure and hugboxed for your easy victory – and don’t worry about relationships, you don’t want to date in a support group, being dignified and and not stressed about likes will bring the right gf, not just any.

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