Have you heard about the cotton ceiling? The term was coined by a transgender porn actor, Drew DeVeaux, in 2012. It is a reference to lesbians having sexual boundaries which do not include male bodies (because, lesbian). The intentional breaking down of the 'cotton ceiling' and coercion of lesbians to accept male-bodied partners is becoming alarmingly prevalent.
Autostraddle describes itself as a "Progressively feminist online community for multiple generations of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies". Yet an issue from May 2018 includes an article called "How to Have Lesbian Sex With a Trans Woman" which provides very detailed advice, for lesbians, on manually and orally stimulating a penis.
Similarly, in this Allure article, "Sex With Trans Women 101: A Guide for Queer Cis Women", trans-identified male, Ana Valens, schools lesbians in the different types of 'girldicks' they may encounter and how to pleasure the transwomen who have them. And who forget Rachel McKinnon's commnent on how lesbians can learn to "get over her genital hangups and cope just fine."
Cope. Lesbians can 'cope' just fine with heterosexual sex.
This is the Cotton Ceiling. This is rape culture.
In a video called "Your Dating 'Preferences' Are Discriminatory", YouTuber and trans activist, Riley J Dennis, likens same-sex attraction to racism. Lesbians who won't date a transwoman are bigots, apparently.
A decade ago the idea of same-sex attracted people being coerced and pressured into having relationships with members of the opposite sex would have been regarded with horror by the progressive left and groups who campaign for the rights of gay men and lesbians.
But now those groups are actively validating and enabling the coercion of young lesbians to accept males as sexual partners.
This week Lara Adams-Miller drew our attention to an item from The Guardian.
In the newspaper's popular "Blind Date" item two strangers are matched up and sent out for dinner. They then both comment on the proceedings and the evening, however it worked out, is written up for readers to enjoy. On this occasion, The Guardian matched Anna, a lesbian, with transwoman, Jen.
In response to the complaint sent by Lara Adams Miller, The Guardian stated that they were not aware that Jen is trans when organising the date. They added, "It is not something we ask". Perhaps they should start.
As Lara Adams-Miller makes clear in this excellent thread, this situation has repercussions way beyond the two people involved; it enables attitudes and practices which affect all women, but especially lesbians. It is not appropriate for a lesbian to be set up on a romantic date with a biological male; this reinforces the homophobic idea that lesbians can be 'persuaded' into relationships with men and it validates dishonesty and non-disclosure in a dating context. (The law says that sex requires informed consent, otherwise it's rape.) As Lara explains:
"What The Guardian did served to normalize a dangerous, consent-violating practice in which actual lesbianism is a quirk, an aberration, a “pet peeve,” rather than the basic truth of our sexual orientation. THAT is disrespectful and hateful."
But the enabling and validating of attacks on lesbian boundaries starts at the top, at the very organisation that should be defending lesbian sexuality; Stonewall.
Morgan Page is a trans activist and former stripper who used to perform an explicit cabaret act based on their experiences as a 'sex worker' in Toronto.
When living in Canada, Page ran a workshop at Planned Parenthood in Toronto. It was called "Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women". The blurb promises that "participants will work together to identify barriers" and, chillingly, "strategize ways to overcome them."
Then Page moved to London and began working for Stonewall on its “Transgender leadership programme”.
This is rape culture, this is homophobia.
This is tacitly endorsed by the UK's major LGBT organisation.
Something has to change.