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There’s lots to be said, and much has already been said, about the Queer/Trans invasion of spaces for lesbian and bisexual women. I guess what I am wondering is, how do we resist this type of colonization? Having women-centered spaces like Ovarit online is one thing, but keeping spaces and circles for ourselves in the real world is another.

I have heard so many stories about one TIM/male enby/straight female enby destroying the integrity of WLW groups. With the frequency this is happening it becomes apparent, at least to me that lesbians and bisexual women need to start becoming aggressive at pushing back against this. But how do we do this without going underground? I’m somewhat baffled as to how gay men have managed to keep TIF free spaces public while all exclusively lesbian events are now on the downlow. What are some strategies we can use in our everyday lives in our communities to be gatekeepers and keep spaces only for homo/bi women?

There’s lots to be said, and much has already been said, about the Queer/Trans invasion of spaces for lesbian and bisexual women. I guess what I am wondering is, how do we resist this type of colonization? Having women-centered spaces like Ovarit online is one thing, but keeping spaces and circles for ourselves in the real world is another. I have heard so many stories about one TIM/male enby/straight female enby destroying the integrity of WLW groups. With the frequency this is happening it becomes apparent, at least to me that lesbians and bisexual women need to start becoming aggressive at pushing back against this. But how do we do this without going underground? I’m somewhat baffled as to how gay men have managed to keep TIF free spaces public while all exclusively lesbian events are now on the downlow. What are some strategies we can use in our everyday lives in our communities to be gatekeepers and keep spaces only for homo/bi women?

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This is a good question. I have no idea how to advertise these groups or expand them and also keep the safety and integrity of the group. The only groups I have been a part of have ended up either dead (due to strict and functional vetting prohibiting growth and people eventually leaving through regular attrition / drama), they blew up or got TRA controlled after repeatedly accidentally letting in female people SHOCKED!!!!! at the AUDACITY of the TRANSPHOBIA!!!, or they dissolved due to fear/doxxing after infiltrators were let in and/or women in the group went back to being TRAs / trans.

Do not think that lesbian/bisexual only will keep you safe as some of these women end up dating trans people (NB lesbians etc.), becoming trans people, or end up having more sympathies towards them than the types of "mean lesbians" who can tolerate the pressure of holding this kind of group together.

Gay men have been able to keep female-free spaces public simply because 1.) men are broadly more immune to trans criticism, 2.) trans females do not typically have the institutional power to leverage any consequences on them, 3.) there are fewer "gay trans men" interested in bothering them to the degree where they'll push the issue than AGP males interested in pestering lesbians, 4.) the ones that do pester will often give up and leave if they're socially ostracized and shamed for trying (that female socialization!), and 5.) gay men often support trans males who are the only ones who really matter publicly so it gives them a degree of inoculation against accusations of transphobia.

I think the only thing that really helps is everyone being strict about security culture and at the same time realizing they cannot be perfectly safe. We really have to as a community understand that breaches of the "underground" are impossible to prevent and pivot to finding ways to support women materially and emotionally WHEN (not if) it happens and make our social networks resilient enough to withstand these blows.

I think the fear of being discovered is so big for many women that they want to fully prevent this from happening-- and you really can't, not for everyone individually, and definitely not for a group. There is no way to work at the local woke nonprofit for example and be active in the lesbian/feminist world without hitting a life upending conflict eventually, whether it's closeting yourself completely or getting exposed. Women really need to consider that they need to build their lives around flexibility/resilience to patriarchal interruption FIRST and not hope that an enclave can fully protect or save them from its effects.

When the effects of discovery was explainable as part of a personal or community identity, and one that meant a vivifying history of resistance, i.e. being outed as a lesbian, or second-wave feminists fighting against male institutions, the community could rally around each other and/or a woman could eventually find a way of survival through trauma that she could define as a kind of strength. We no longer have this as these descriptors have been colonized into meaninglessness, there is no community any longer, and a lot of the ways women have been fucked with are exceptionally difficult to describe nonetheless counteract. It is hard to tell a story of personal survival when no one will listen, when you doubt yourself, and when your own community members will reject you or distort your story.

The second-wavers and older lesbians literally had books full of descriptions of ways you could get messed with by the patriarchy-- we've built some of it, but it should be a community project to start naming trans techniques so we can collectively tell ourselves "oh, he's rubbing his socks together" when we run into trouble instead of flailing and asking whether we are ~truly the big meanie here~ and noping out. I think we really have to collectively encourage explicit knowledge of how to face these people to any degree of personal or political success instead of pretending we can run from them forever if we're sneaky enough. The problem with being on the run is that it's hard to do anything. (And if we're on the run, we really need to be willing to evolve a set of creative guerilla tactics...)

One of the issues with the radfemosphere is that we do not offer a meaningful alternative to trans identification and/or participation in queer scenes, particularly for young people. Part of it is simply because we are on the run. But you cannot expect people to maintain interest in these underground groups slash not go back to the queer world slash simply abandon them if they're simply functionally bunkers... not that a bunker is not needed right now, but the point of a bunker means that you don't live there and that you cannot live a full life in one. Former gay communities had their limitations as well because they were larger refuges from the straight world and many women left their communities to risk the chances of being in the wider world because of how stifling they were. The allure of the queer world is that it allows you to participate in broader reality while also feeling superior to it. This isn't healthy, of course, but the point is that women who join "our world" need to be given means of dealing with the greater world when they must exist in it.

I was once part of a group that encouraged women to believe that the feminist/lesbian world was the actual "real world" and that the rest of the world was in some way false or fake. There was a whole mythos around this that included spiritual and philosophical concepts, including group members being encouraged to go on retreats where this idea could be further inculcated. I didn't have a good idea of how deep this set of convictions went for the group members when I joined (it was ostensibly about a particular feminist topic, not obviously a weird metaphysical group) and was hounded by the leader for inadvertently breaking the fourth wall about this belief system. I can't control what individual women believe, but I do know a lot of women were extremely alienated by this set of ideas, even ones like myself who find a great deal of worth in separatism. There is this idea that if you inject in women a certain kind of mindset you can give them something like what the queer community gives its members-- i.e. hammering it in that women are morally superior, lesbians are uniquely stronger than other women, butch lesbians are special and rare protectors, detrans women are survivors with special teachings-- but ultimately I think doing this makes women dependent and more weak than they would have been.

Our alternative communities have to be able to withstand dissent and find ways of strength that don't depend on mythology about ourselves or those we are "shielding from" (men/trans people). Insularity might be a strength when you are hiding in secret but it is a also a potential means of breaking you-- one that both outsiders and hostile group members can use. It's not a question of finding the right ideological bent to keep people loyal or committed, or about keeping the right people out. I think the ideal is that whoever you bring in should be able to withstand leaving, should they decide to... that if the group dissolves, it is under conditions of your work being done... that disagreements move the group forwards, rather than destroy it... that members are supported, not dependent... that women can be given the power and courage to do things while feeling fear than being led to believe that they can be relieved of fear entirely.

The allure of the queer world is that it allows you to participate in broader reality while also feeling superior to it. This isn't healthy, of course, but the point is that women who join "our world" need to be given means of dealing with the greater world when they must exist in it.

This is such a good point. An article in the Willamette Weekly tried to find out what happened to the lesbian bar. The answer it gave was that part of it was the culture of trans-inclusiveness, but part of it was that society isn't unyieldingly hostile to WLW the way it was in the 40s/50s. Being a WLW doesn't mark you as an unacceptable freak the way it once did; you don't have to live in fear of your boss or friend finding out.

At the same time, there's still a need for these spaces. Meeting up with other WLW is often very hard. So it's a tricky balance to walk. Straight normie culture has become more accepting of WLW, but not necessarily more relatable to us. But if you look at what happened to the lesbian bars in Oregon, it's like WLW spaces can do no right. Excluding trans people who don't identify as women is evil (huh?), the labrys is a symbol of Greek fascism and violence against transwomen, and using the term "woman-identified" is bad too because it implies you might not think TWAW. Even if you're towing the trans theory party line, there's zero room for leeway towards WLW. A mistake is enough to want a bar closed.

It's just so obvious and so sad that the real problem is that WLW are able to do things on our own.

I think current-era WLW spaces can't and shouldn't be the attempted return of the 1950s lesbian bar. Things are different now; our needs have changed. The pressures on WLW look different than they did pre-2014 (which is when transgender stuff really started to take off). I don't know what that space would look like, but I believe in our ability to build it.