As a trans woman and an ecologist, I find queerness in non-human nature a profoundly important subject. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve laid in the bath reading Biological Exuberance (Bruce Bagemihl) or Evolution’s Rainbow (Joan Roughgarden) – there’s something about knowing that there are lesbian lizards in the world and orgies of gay manatees and polyamorous oystercatchers and trans clownfish and bisexual red deer and masturbating baboons and kissing zebras that just gives me hope.
I grew up with David Attenborough and wildlife programmes and ecology journals and I never once heard about these things. It was all ‘the male X meets the female X, seduces her with his bright feathers or funky dance or whatever and they very quickly mate so that they can make lots of baby Xs because that’s the whole point of life and there’s nothing else and if you disagree by biology or ideology, you’re wrong’.
Although I might be anthropomorphizing by talking about ‘dyke does’ or ‘trans fish’, I think actually in this disconnected, alienated world, we probably don’t anthropomorphize other species nearly enough. Also as Pinar, a central character from my upcoming novel ‘Memories from the Edge’ mentions:
“There’s an interesting double-bind. If animals are totally straight and cis and never queer – which is what scientists always assume – then being queer is ‘unnatural’ and ‘artificial’. If animals are sometimes queer and humans are sometimes queer, then human queers are ‘beasts, no better than animals.’ Either way we lose.”
So it is with this in mind that I am writing a series of queer animal bios. The point is not to justify our existence as trans and queer people with examples from biology (although this could serve as that if you meet one of those cis-sexists who need to be shut down), but to show that our beautiful community extends far beyond the realms of human culture.