Today, the Ad Hoc Coalition Against the Cotton Ceiling (the “Coalition”) issued a press release condemning Planned Parenthood, Toronto for its support of what the Coalition describes as a misogynistic, anti-woman, anti-lesbian sex workshop organized by transgender activists. The workshop, called “Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women” is part of a larger “Pleasure and Possibilities” conference scheduled to take place on March 31, 2012 at the Toronto Sherbourne Health Centre.
The “Cotton Ceiling” workshop is open to men and male-to-female transgenders only, and will facilitate discussion regarding “the experiences queer trans women have with simultaneous social inclusion and sexual exclusion within the broader queer women’s communities. Basically, […] that cis queer women will be friends with us and talk day and night about trans rights and ending transmisogyny, but will still not consider us viable sexual partners.”
According to the program’s organizer, male-to-female transgender activist Morgan Page, the term “cotton ceiling” was first coined by male-to-female transgender porn star Drew Deveaux, and “is a reference to the ‘glass ceiling’ that second wave feminist identified in the workforce, wherein women could only advance so high in the workforce but could not break through into positions of power and authority. The cotton represents underwear, signifying sex.”
From the Coalition’s press release:
The Ad Hoc Coalition Against the Cotton Ceiling objects to any analogy between sex and the ‘glass ceiling’ as both politically and sexually inappropriate. Unlike women’s right to equal employment and professional credibility in the workplace, trans women are not entitled—individually or as a class— to have sex with ‘cis’ lesbians, as they call us.
‘Trans women’s access to lesbians as viable sexual partners should never be framed as a barrier to trans women’s sexual pleasure or to trans women’s equal participation in “queer women’s communities”,’ said Elizabeth Hungerford, a spokeswoman for the Coalition.
The Ad Hoc Coalition Against the Cotton Ceiling represents the 282 signers of the Petition asking PPT to reconsider the Cotton Ceiling workshop. The Coalition rejects the notion put forth by PPT that the sexual orientation of lesbians towards other lesbians with female-born bodies harms queer trans women’s sexual health or well-being. We also reject the suggestion that some lesbians’ sexual boundaries exclude queer trans women from engaging as full members of LGBTQ communities. Sexual access is not an in-group entitlement; it is not required for community membership.
All branches of Planned Parenthood can serve their equality mandate without reinforcing the unreasonable expectation of some trans women that their community inclusion requires full sexual access to other community members—specifically singling out ‘cis’ lesbians to provide sexual validation. The idea that trans women are politically entitled to overcome a ‘Cotton Ceiling’ barrier maintained by ‘cis’ lesbians becomes particularly threatening when supported by the authority of an internationally renowned organization whose mission is to protect all women’s sexual and reproductive health. Reference to any women’s cotton underwear as representative of a sexual or political barrier to be broken is sexually inappropriate and politically indefensible in this context.
The petition was started earlier this week, and appears to be still accepting signatures as of this printing.
Image from here.