Get The L Out UK at Women’s Liberation 2020 – Liane

Get The L Out UK held a workshop at the conference Women’s Liberation 2020 in London (01/02/2020). Thank you Woman’s Place UK for organising such an event and providing a platform to lesbian radical feminist activists. The title of this women-only workshop was Lesbians in a straight world: Lesbian erasure and visibility. Our main speakers were Maji, Liane T, and Charlie Evans. Angela C. Wild and Sarah Masson chaired and introduced the workshop. Below is the transcript of Liane’s speech. Credit to Louise S. for the above picture.
 
As far as I remember I always liked girls – and I never was attracted to boys. All the girls loved me, they used to say to me: if you were a boy I would go out with you”. They all wanted to cuddle with me. I was depressed that I wasn’t a boy. I used to think there was something wrong with me.
 
There was absolutely no pressure in my family for us children to conform to stereotypical gender roles, no girl’s toys were enforced on me. Before puberty I had no problem with my body. At the age of 10-11 I used to run around topless, playing with the boys, like a boy.
 
As my period were not coming and I had no breast I was not sure they would ever come, I thought maybe I WAS a boy. Maybe there WAS something wrong with me. When I had my period I was very proud. I was very proud to become a WOMAN.
 
But then came my breasts. I realised I had to wear a bikini costume to go swimming and couldn’t run topless anymore. It made me really depressed. I couldn’t play with the boys anymore, I was expelled from football at that age because there was only a boys’ team and no girls’ team. Football was my life. It was heart-breaking. Before my breast came I used to look like a boy, not like a girl. This gave me some power in my friends’ group. I was physically active, always climbing trees, playing football and so on, and leading my group of friends – who were mainly boys. When my breasts arrived, all this stopped, my life changed.
 
I felt sexualised, objectified, and vulnerable for the first time. From the age of 12 until the age of 15 I felt deeply uncomfortable with my female body because of this. I used to have fantasies that if I laid in the sun, cover my body but leave my breasts out the sun would burn them.
 
At 15, I changed school. My friend circle changed as well. I started to come in contact with the women’s movement and women involved in it. Some lesbians were out in my school. I started to feel more comfortable with myself. I was already active in the squatting movement, occupying building that sort of thing. Loads of lesbians were involved in this kind of activism then. At 17, I left home and lived in an alternative house share of several people including a lesbian. She became a close friend. This is how I got in the women’s movement.
 
In those days in Germany – and it was similar in the UK, we had women’s centers, women’s bookshops, women’s cafes, women’s disco, were we would hang out and meet each other. There was a woman culture and lesbians were central in that culture. Lesbians were everywhere. We were very visible. We had lesbian consciousness-raising groups and discussions. It was so important being in constant contact with lesbians like me and share our experiences. Their presence validated mine, their stories made sense to me.
 
I came from a religious background and was always against the church, even as a child. When I spoke about this in my group, I was advised to read Mary Daly’s book Gyn/Ecology, which had then just been translated into German. I was 17 then, and suddenly my life made complete sense, everything fitted. I realised what patriarchy meant. I knew there was nothing wrong with me. I also felt strongly that there was something seriously wrong with everyone else: society. My lesbianism made sense in that political context.
 
I was able to be comfortable in my life and in my own body because of the strong presence of lesbians around me. I was able to understand lesbianism politically because I was raised in the women’s movement and the understanding that lesbianism is political was obvious, always present.
 
A couple of month ago I attended the Detransition Advocacy Network launch in Manchester and heard the testimonies of the detransitioned women speaking there. All of them were lesbians. Their stories was mine in my early years, their hatred of their bodies, their confusion about being female because they didn’t fit sexist stereotypes and loved women. I identified with all of it. I felt strongly connected to their lives and how they felt about their bodies. I was horrified at what had happened to them.
 
If I hadn’t been born and raised in the middle of the women’s movement with lesbians all around me, if the trans ideology had been around in my days there is no doubt that I would have been a victim of this ideology and might have thought of myself as trans. Many lesbians of my generation feel that same connection to young lesbians who feel pressure to transition, have transitioned or are detransitioning
 
This is why we at Get The L Out UK do what we do, because lesbian visibility help lesbians everywhere.