Content Warnings: Transphobia, Aphobia, and Exclusionary Rhetoric
At the height of a new internet discourse wave, its mission being to call into question the validity of every queer identity label under the sun, “Vixenamoric” was coined. It was meant to replace and/or modify the term lesbian so that they could, in essence, “find the real lesbians,” and its definition is pretty static across those who identify with it:
“Lesbians who are binary women and only use she/her pronouns, solely attracted to binary woman who only use she/her pronouns.”
The biggest takeaway there is that vixenamorics still identify with lesbianism. TERF ideology, which stands for Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminism, is a hate group that holds eclectic and varied exclusionary beliefs, but their primary focus is on excluding trans women who they’ve deemed “men,” claiming they are trying to “invade women’s spaces.”
The term “vixenamoric” was made for an explicit reason according to the creators and those who gather in its online communities: “Non-binary lesbians, including lesbians who use pronouns other than she/her, are invading lesbian women’s spaces and doing harm.”
You see, camps of exclusionist thought typically mirror TERF dogwhistles (i.e. gatekeeping spaces, telling others how they can identify, and accusing certain identities, specifically aspec people, of not being queer.) However, “vixenamorics” take this mirroring one step further. While all exclusion does some degree of the same harm, rooted in transphobia, “vixenamorics” are pretty much working off the same manual, if you will. All they did was change the title on the front.
Let’s explore this.
There are many similarities between the talking points, but I will only be breaking down four which I find the most important.
There is a common dogwhistle you’ll hear among spaces which prove themselves to be divisive, exclusionary, or just plain hateful. The notion of invasion is one of the first ideas you’ll notice being spouted by even those on the outskirts of discourse. Since the LGBTQIA2S+ community is meant to be a safe haven, this brings to the table an instinct to fend off “invaders,” however, these are often other people who don’t fit into the mold, being violently exiled and cast away. This becomes increasingly more intense as you enter sub-communities. Unsurprisingly, it also manifests in Vixenamoric spaces in a direct mirroring of TERF ideology.
Vixenamoric: “Non-binary lesbians are invading women’s spaces.”
TERFs: “Trans women are invading women’s spaces.”
While not all non-binary people identify as trans, these are clearly both transphobic. Spaces that have proclaimed themselves to be designated to very specific identities can sometimes bring a closer-knit sense of community, but more often than not, it sows the seeds of exclusion on the most arbitrary of bases, or ends up telling other people who they are and where they belong.
2. Attack on Womanhood
The second point gets more into the way TERFs view gender non-conformity. They perceive trans men as “lost women” who transitioned due to the misogynistic pressures of being a woman. I’ve personally witnessed “vixenamorics” parrot shockingly similar rhetoric about gender non-conformity and lesbianism.
Vixenamorics: “Lesbians identify as non-binary people and use he/him, they/them, and neopronouns due to misogyny, and the normalization of this harms young women. Just because society makes lesbian womanhood complicated doesn’t mean you have to detach yourself from it completely.”
TERFs: “Women transition into men due to misogyny, and the normalization of this harms young women. Just because society makes womanhood complicated doesn’t mean you have to detach yourself from it completely.”
Now, we see here a fundamental misunderstanding of non-binary lesbianism. Our detachment from womanhood is not something we chose, the same way that trans men don’t “choose to stop being women for the purpose of escaping misogyny.” It is simply our experience of gender identity. For more information, read my article on the history of non-binary lesbianism.
Trans men, in the eyes of TERFs, are “lost butches/gender non-conforming women.” In a similar vein, the lesbians who identify themselves as “vixenamoric” constantly say that they themselves are gender non-conforming, making sure to put it their in social media biographies. They state over and over that gender non-conformity isn’t the same as being non-binary, which is a simplistic statement too. While it’s true that gender non-conformity isn’t the same as being non-binary, identities that fall outside the binary don’t conform to the binary itself either. “Vixenamoric” rhetoric works off very reductive views of gender theory for gain, the same way that TERF ideology does.
3. Identity Invalidation
This is another very common thread running throughout exclusionism, but I’m going to show you how “vixenamorics” also take this to an extreme level within their talking points, all rooted in trans exclusion.
Vixenamoric: “Including people who aren’t women (i.e. non binary lesbians) invalidates lesbianism, which is same-gender attraction.”
TERFs: “Including people who aren’t women (i.e. trans women) invalidates lesbianism, which is same-sex attraction.”
Lesbian attraction has always included a very diverse array of gender identities. Throughout history, lesbians have been trans women, genderqueer, used pronouns other than she/her pronouns, and more. It’s ingrained in our culture and history. This fact is just ignored.
Is lesbianism tied to womanhood? Yes. Do all of us identify with that womanhood? Absolutely not. Think of it like this: lesbianism is a branch on the “tree of womanhood” and some of us only feel connection with the branch and not the trunk. Some of us are so far out we’re basically a leaf. That doesn’t make them not lesbians, and if another lesbian is attracted to them, it doesn’t invalidate their lesbianism either.
We see this come up as a frequent theme in exclusionism as well, typically backed by an emphasis of lesbophobia, which is a real issue, but in these cases, it’s being misused and weaponized against transgender and non-binary people.
Vixenamoric: “Allowing non-binary people into our spaces harms real lesbians.”
TERFs: “Allowing trans people into our spaces harms real lesbians.”
Excluding trans people on the basis of “safety” is textbook transphobia. Painting other LGBTQIA2S+ as a threat for existing is the same violence that the allocishet society has inflicted on us, and parroting that rheotic under the guise of protection will always look the same as real bigotry. Why? Because it is. There seems to be a certain level of awareness from “vixenamorics” about how it all sounds, because throughout all of the debates, they absolutely insist that they believe trans women are real women. This may be the only talking point they don’t have in common with TERFs.
Here’s why their claim of inclusion doesn’t matter…
Anyone who’s spent time in the trans community knows two things. First, “vixenamoric” rhetoric inherently drives away trans women due to the myriad of transphobic dogwhistles. Second, a lot of trans women are non-binary lesbians, and many non-binary lesbians also identify as trans. Any talking point that makes hard lines in the sand about who’s allowed in and who isn’t, and any ideology that establishes strict ideas of gender identity, expression, and inclusion, is an attack on trans people. The trans community already fights enough to be seen and accepted.
“Vixenamorics” can claim that they don’t exclude binary trans women, therefore they are nothing like TERFs, but they still exclude countless non-binary/trans lesbians, dictate how trans people must identify to be “real lesbians,” and parrot the same core of transphobic ideology.
The notion that lesbians must be protected from “invaders” in the form of people who don’t identify with gender the way they have determined to be okay isn’t just transphobic, it feeds into a greater hate ideology that’s led to an incredible amount of pain for the trans community.
So, if you come across lesbians identifying as “vixeamoric,” call it out for what it really is: blatant transphobia. To these people, I’m not even a “real lesbian.” Why? Because they’ve said so. Nobody gets to determine anyone else’s identity, especially not transphobes.
The best we can do to fight this rhetoric is to be trans and non-binary inclusive in our own spaces. Listen to non-binary lesbians, trans lesbians, and trans people in general. Our voices matter. We have a rightful place in the lesbian community and always have.
Transgender Help Hotline: (877) 565–8800
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