Stone Butch Blues
Speaking for myself, I find it disturbing that some people were not even born in the 1970s when others were fighting for women’s rights and establishing women’s spaces, which they take for granted and appropriate as their own.
There is a poignant set of passages in Leslie Feinberg’s book, Stone Butch Blues,
I had a flyer on my refrigerator door that I’d lifted off a lamp post, advertising a women’s health clinic in my neighborhood. On Wednesday night I mustered my courage and went. “This clinic is for women,” the receptionist smiled.
I nodded. “I know. I have a vaginal infection,” I whispered.
“A what?” she asked.
I took a deep breath and spoke in a stronger voice. “A vaginal infection.”
Stillness fell over the crowded waiting room. The silence punished me. The receptionist looked me up and down. “Are you kidding?”
I shook my head. “I have a vaginal infection. I came here for help.”
The receptionist nodded. “Have a seat, sir.”
I debated leaving, but the itching and burning were getting worse every day. I watched the receptionist greet the woman who arrived after me. “Just pull your own chart and have a seat,” she said. “The doctor will be with you shortly. Help yourself to herbal tea.”
Everyone in the waiting room was staring at me.
I looked at the bulletin board: women’s dances and rituals; therapists, masseuses, and accountants. New symbols: a two-edged hatchet, a circle with a cross on the bottom. New names: Goodwomyn, Silverwomyn.
I could hear myself being discussed in loud voices. “He’s crazy.”
“Well, why can’t they be crazy in their own space?”
I found an empty chair and sat down. I noticed a book on the rack next to me called Our Bodies, Ourselves and made a mental note to buy it in a bookstore.
A shadow fell across me — a woman with a clipboard. Her nameplate read Roz. Once inside the examining room Roz threw down her clipboard on the desk and nodded toward a chair. “What’s this all about?” All my words tumbled out. I tried to tell her everything — who I was, why I’d come.
Roz sat back in her chair and nodded as though she really understood. Then she said, “I don’t know what your problem is, but this is a clinic for women who are sick and you’re using up the resources right now.”
“You may think you’re a woman,” Roz continued, “but that doesn’t mean you are one.”
My anger ignited. “Fuck you,” I shouted.
She leaned back in her chair and smirked. “What a very male thing to say.”
I felt my face grow purple with rage. “Fuck all of you!” I got up to leave.