Special Guest
by Jorge Ruiz Conde and equis ruid
February 2024

Community, chosen family, safe space, belonging… are terms getting very popular within queer and feminist spaces. And although it sure responds to the human social need I perceive the overuse of them quite controversial.

Community is too often used to describe a category of people who share one characteristic. It feels too big of a word for such a vague meaning. For example, we talk about the “LGTB Community” (with capital C), as if the gay culture would hold any space for lesbians. It may depend on the lent we see it through. Under a macro lent, gay and lesbian social dynamics are a afar. But if we see it through a wide angle lent it may even look like there is a kind of belonging between these two cultures.

As an activist and academic I’ve been very focused on the macro, but for the last year I allowed myself a wider approach. As the time using testosterone went by, the semiotics of my body have been opening and closing doors intermittently. At first, the closing door of women only spaces put me through a mourning as it have been my place for almost thirty years. Then I had the chance to be part of many trans groups were I felt very welcomed. And now, I have access to solo male spaces such as men discussing masculinity groups and eventually gay clubs and events.

Although my body has changed, my identity hasn’t. I am a dyke, a trans dyke for the shake of accuracy. I could have placed myself in the transfeminist community (;P) and lived happily ever after somewhere to call safe space. But, where is the queer in encaging?

Every new “community” I navigate give me the opportunity lo learn a hole new language. Sometimes, I feel like the anthropologist trying to understand a remote culture like Goodall; every so often, I become a translator like CT Whitley and, once in a while, I go stealth and fake it until rather I make it or I’m disclosed like Mulan.

However, there are two feelings that remain the same through these experiences: belonging and otherness. I do have enough boxes checked to make it to the group but I am too dissimilar to rule out the difference. Excessively activist for the gays, overly transfeminist to the open minded straights, extremely hairy for the butches, utterly queer for the trans…and the list goes on.

I do contemplate that there is no group where everybody has all the same boxes ticked, that there will be always some uniqueness. What I’m trying to highlight is the mental and social load of learning a new language every time I happen to see myself belonging. As I improve my level of knowledge in each language it takes easier but the incubus of cultural translating in my mind never goes away.

Some people may praise this chameleonic skill and the ability to show up genuinely everywhere I go. It is quite useful, I’d admit, but is exhausting as well. The power of owning my roots and the genealogy of past and present dykes are what gives me the fuel to keep it activist, transfeminist, hairy and utterly queer. Because in the end ¿Quién es suficientemente joven y valiente para soportar el peso de empezar? (La M.O.D.A.)

Wear your values. Be part of the community.
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