The following article was written for the newly formed:
LGBT Courage Coalition
My name is Aaron Kimberly. I was born female with a rare ovotesticular intersex condition and medically transitioned as an adult in 2006. Since 2008, I’ve worked as a mental health nurse in hospital and community settings. I am an associate of the Gender Exploratory Therapy Association and am the co-host of a podcast called Transparency. My concerns about the safety of vulnerable gender non-conforming children and youth inspired me to enter the public dialogue in 2021 by co-founding the Gender Dysphoria Alliance, an organization that has worked to foster greater awareness of the different kinds of gender dysphoria that exist.
My entry into public life hasn’t been entirely selfless. It’s personal, not just political. How could it not be? It’s a war over the meaning of an experience that’s impacted my life and the lives of those I care about. Being a “public figure” as some have called me, isn’t glamourous. Every weakness, mistake, and demon is on display for public scrutiny, judgment and criticism. I knew this would be the case. I knew it would demand that I face myself. That’s what requires the most courage and why I value this Coalition.
If anyone has been following my public advocacy over the past year, you may be aware that my marriage started to break down at the same time I entered public life. The stress load of what we were dealing with as a family was great and couldn’t carry the extra weight. Maybe my wife believes it was selfish of me to do this, rather than continue to carry and lead them. She doesn’t understand what’s at stake. She doesn’t understand that I need to face these things in order to love and lead well. I need a firm foundation.
Her not understanding isn’t any character flaw or lack of intelligence on her part. It’s a cultural rift between us. She’s a straight, small-town girl. I love her with all my heart & did my best to provide her with what she needed, but we were speaking different languages.
She wasn’t there when I was a confused intersex, masculine, same-sex attracted kid in a small town. She wasn’t there for the early gay and lesbian marches, with skinheads circling around. I wore my new Doc Marten’s and blistered my feet. She doesn’t understand feeling haunted by the Brandon Teena story. She doesn’t understand that as hard as I tried to protect her from her abusive ex-husband, because I have a protective masculine heart, an angry, unhinged dude stalking us and threatening me, traumatized me. Brandon Teena.
She doesn’t understand - Probably never will - I am still loving and leading, by the example of facing myself and rebuilding my own inner validation, peace, foundation and truth, rather than carry things that aren’t mine. I had to let that go. I can’t be something I’m not. Who I am deserves love and respect. I lost myself and needed myself back. I need a soft place to land too.
I can’t erase my past. I can’t erase the days spent on a bus at age 16 from my small town to Winnipeg to hang out at the dyke bar, while the kids at home thought I was an abomination.
I can’t erase the lesbian activism to carve out space to feel safe, secure, and loved.
I can’t erase the lesbian potlucks, or the folk festivals.
I can’t erase choosing to conceive and coparent a child with a lesbian.
I can’t erase the homophobia I’ve experienced.
I can’t erase the love nor the pain of past relationships with lesbians.
Nor do I want to. I don’t want to be someone else.
I am a same-sex attracted female, highly masculinized, first by my ovotestes which I decided to continue with hormone replacement therapy. I don’t regret that. This is me and my body. I only regret trespasses.
I think the LGBT got it wrong to separate all trans men from dyke spaces. Leslie Feinberg’s stone butch blues. Jamison Green’s drumming circles (I bet you even wore Birkenstocks Jamison, just like every other earthy dyke of our time). These are masculine female hearts and I love and admire them as the beautifully unusual creatures they are. We deserve our own sacred ground.
I decided to try an experiment to hold a tiny bit of dyke space in the form of lesbian dating apps recently.
My first meander was over to an app called Pink Cupid. My headline was explicit: “Old school FTM/butch”. No deception. I didn’t have much of a chance to browse. I was banned almost immediately. No men allowed! Though I noticed profiles of several transwomen before being shown the door out.
Next was the app HER. For women only. On the plus side, I haven’t been banned yet. But the only available prospects for women-loving-women in my neck of the woods were 3 middle aged transwomen doing their best KD Lang impersonation by doing nothing but awkwardly tilt their head a little.
Ok, over to Lesbian Singles. Sounds promising…
I didn’t find any lesbians. About half of the profiles were straight men. The rest were transwomen and straight/bi/bicurious women looking for a hookup.
What about Pink, which is also a “Women only” app? You have to pay to use any of the features but I was able to create a profile and browse for free. Looks more promising as far as ratio of women, but all under the age of 25, and a few middle-aged transwomen, one of whom had a stubbly beard and a pink wig on.
I can’t do Talko or Likk…never going to tell my grandbabies that I found the love of my life on Likk. Nope.
This is dismal.
I’m so sorry.
I had no idea it had gotten this bad for lesbians. No sacred ground.
If there are any feminine women who feel nostalgic for the good ol’ days of dyke bars, potlucks, Ani Di Franco’s college circuit, placing bets at folk festivals that Ferron will or will not finish a set before storming off….If you’d like to challenge an old school FTM to a game of Catan (I’m competitive). If you’re egalitarian, but butch masculinity and chivalry melts you, like how the softness of a woman melts me…I guess we’re doing it in the shadows again darlin’. We’ll be ok. We’ve done this before. Just like when we’d go downtown at night, to that unmarked building in the rough part of town, which, on the inside, felt like the safest place on earth, where we’d find love on the dance floor, or over a few drinks, or a game of pool, before stumbling out into the savage street again at closing time. We’ll find each other, and our ground again.
My unsolicited advice to transwomen:
Just like me trying my damnedest to be what a straight woman needed, breaking my own heart and hers, it’s false ground for trans women to try to give lesbians what they want and need, and claim space there. It’s selfish, and unnecessary. I understand the heartache and futility of travelling on false ground. Own yourself. Otherwise, love won’t ever feel real. You’re not a lesbian. You’re something else, that deserves its own sacred ground.
Unintentional, unperformed head tilt and genuine smile works better…here’s my profile pic: