In the 1970s, a time I wasn’t around, songs like “Lola” and “Walk on the Wild Side” did great things for the LGBTQ exhibition. They have legitimately helped some trans women, and that’s great. It’s good to know that even back then there were some influential people who wanted to break down barriers and fuck up the heteronormative status quo.
The success of such music was one of the first steps in bringing transgender subjects into the mainstream. But back then, we weren’t even called “transgender,” and biological men dressing in feminine clothes were seen as an extension of homosexuality, like a hairy guy wearing a fur suit.
Drag was one of the best outlets for trans women to be themselves, so drag sort of became synonymous with trans. Even to this day, I sometimes need to convince people that they are not, in fact, the same thing.
One need only look back a decade or so to see how the discourse around the trans community can evolve in such a short period of time. What was once seen as a community of ‘fierce’ homosexuals who had to fight to wear what they wanted has been ‘blunted’ into a community of transgender youth who talk about their surroundings as if it is still toxic and n ‘never accepting who they are.
For the most part, it is absolutely still harmful and intolerant.
I was born in 1990. I was not alive for Stonewall, and when I first came out as a trans I had educational resources as well as ancestors with a lot of experience to help me. go through the transition.
Compared to what it was like in the 1970s, or really any time before the 2010s, my transition was much easier. But it’s still not easy.
We’ve made huge strides towards equality, but when the starting point was the need to be recognized as a real thing that exists, that doesn’t mean much, especially when we’re still fighting for that thing. nowadays. I always have a deep fear whenever I interact with someone new that they will reject my identity.
I’m afraid you’d guess I’m okay with being sexually assaulted because I’m more “like a guy” than a girl, because guys are supposed to be a lot colder with that kind of thing. things, is not it? I speak from experience here. Multiple experiences.
Songs like “Lola” and “Walk on the Wild Side” perpetuate this way of thinking, and to say the opposite is to be willfully ignorant, maybe even just nostalgic. When I hear lyrics like “I don’t understand why she walks like a woman and talks like a man,” I hear an open invitation to laugh at the voices of trans women.
He feeds on the anxieties of trans women for laughs, whether it’s intentional or not, and while some might argue that it depends on the listener’s own insecurity, well… yes, of course it does. Talk to me when you have socially switched from one genre to another without any insecurity. There’s a reason we’re a vulnerable community, and I’ve seen more than my fair share of ways we’re dehumanized.
When people don’t see me as a woman, not even as a person, but as a fetish for others to “explore their sexuality”, I reject that role. I reject the idea that I am someone’s “wild side”. I reject the idea that I am someone’s Lola, the butt of a joke that attacks the physique, voice and identity of trans women.
I am not a link between men and women. I’m a woman.
Again, that’s not to say that these songs haven’t served their purpose in the past, but they were in the past. Today we know and understand gender identity better, but we have people who think they are helpful in claiming that Lola is a transgender anthem.
We are no longer living in the 70s, nor 80s, nor 90s, not even ten years ago. Sometimes things that were once meant to do good become stale and even hurtful when you consider how far we’ve come, and we’ve come too far to sometimes be called male when we just want to listen to music.
Heather Maloney is a writer, editor and creative thinker in Atlanta.
This Q Voices opinion column was originally published in Q magazine. the full number here:
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