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Trans Women of Color and Remembering Your Dead

Speaking on Wednesday at Day of Remembrance

On Trans Day of Remembrance: A Proposal

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Last night, rapper Azealia Banks tweeted a transphobic slur. Given the uproar surrounding her use of a homophobic slur (those are just 10 out of dozens of news stories about it), I assumed we could count on those same media outlets to call her out for use of the word “tranny,” right? Ah, just kidding! This doesn’t surprise me at all. Zero media outlets have reported on this.

First off, before anyone questions whether “tranny” is, in fact, a slur, let’s look at the context.

  1. She’s referring to how straight women refer to her.
  2. Obviously, she doesn’t see this as a compliment, hence the super-duper-frowny face :(((((((((((((
  3. I’ve written about this before. Here’s a quick visual.

It shouldn’t surprise me that media outlets have let this one slide on by. These are trans issues, so no one cares, right!? Say “tranny,” the general public generally won’t care (and in Neil Patrick Harris’ case, you can even get cast to play a trans woman in a Broadway musical!). But should someone use a homophobic slur, they are to be cast away, shamed for their actions, and may their career tank as a result of it!

In Banks’ “apology” for the homophobic incident (she has not apologized for the transphobic comment), she said this:

After being quickly criticized by others for her use of the word, Banks attempted to defend herself by saying her definition of the word doesn’t mean a gay male, but “any male who acts like a female.”

Oh, great! You weren’t making a joke at the expense of a gay, cisgender man, that’d be rude! You were making fun of people who dare step outside traditional gender norms! Muuuuuuch better.

Shame on you, Azealia Banks, for being a horrible person.

Shame on you, media, for showing just how silent the T really is. Offend a gay man and the world comes crashing down. Offend some trans people and not a peep out of you.

Dear Thought Catalog,

We need to talk. Our relationship as author and website started out so well. I really liked the producer I worked with, I enjoyed the exposure my articles received, and the turnaround on publishing work was beyond quick. You respected my work, never pushing for content-based edits, never making my words anything but my own.

This was until I found out that you had been seeing a sexist, racist, transphobic writer on the side. I’m talking about Jim Goad, a man who brags about having assault records in three states and the author of The Redneck Manifesto. Don’t get me wrong, we never said we were exclusive, you never promised me a website that agrees with me 100% of the time (that’s no fun, anyway).

Jim Goad, though? You can do better, Thought Catalog. Free speech is a great thing. What Goad does, though? That’s hate speech. He has repeatedly degraded women, called transgender people “self-mutilating freaks,” and proven himself to be borderline white-supremacist. 

Yes, he has a basic right to free speech. Yes, he can say all of this, however disgusting it may be, without fear of crackdown (odd that he’s in favor of the Russian law that polices speech/”propaganda”). What he doesn’t have is a right to have his views published.

You are under no obligation to publish his work, let alone tweet links to it to your 288,000+ Twitter followers. Oddly enough, I’ve noticed that whenever one of the transgender writers like Zinnia Jones, Kat Haché or Samantha Allen publish articles, you very rarely broadcast their work. Why is that?

I cannot continue to submit content to a website so willing to publish “counterpoints” where people like me are referred to as “self-mutilating freaks” and equates being transgender with being a mass murderer. I cannot continue to contribute to a website that publishes articles that state that women shouldn’t be allowed to join the military. I cannot continue to associate myself with a site that so closely aligns itself with Jim Goad.

I doubt you’ll publish this, and should you, I doubt you’ll give me the same level of exposure Goad gets. This article won’t be tweeted, this article won’t be shared to your Facebook page. This article will be buried as the list-based clickbait gets your full attention.

So goodbye, Thought Catalog. Our relationship was brief, yet full of adventure. Anyone who cares to continue reading my writing can go to my personal blog at parkthatcar.net, or check out any of the other sites I do freelance work.

Finally, before I go, I’d like to share some of Jim Goad’s own words, a “greatest hits” of Goad’s posts on Thought Catalog from the last two months. If you can read through these excerpts, finding nothing wrong with his language, fair enough.

For me, though, I can’t. Be well, everyone.

Dangerously Sensitive

“If I had my druthers, I’d bring all the boys—and they’d all be boys, meaning no girls and definitely no boys who suddenly decide that they’re girls—home to guard the true national-security threat, the one along the Mexican border. Before any of you perpetually sour-pussed pea-picking peckerwoods in the peanut gallery start grousing that I’m some sort of neocon, allow me to sternly instruct you that it’s possible to simultaneously disapprove of Islam and Zionism.”

“By the way, his name is Bradley Manning, and he’s a guy. To claim he’s suddenly a chick is to deny biological reality.”

“Before he started blowing whistles, Bradley Manning was obviously blowing other things. Despite the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was in effect at the time, Manning was apparently telling everyone who’d listen that he was gay. Perhaps even though Manning was eager to “tell,” no one wanted to risk the appearance of having asked. He reportedly told his roommate he was gay, at which point his roommate allegedly instructed Manning to stop talking to him. Manning divulged the ins and outs of a failed gay relationship on Facebook. He was even said to have kept a fairy wand at his desk. At a pre-trial hearing, Army officials claimed they were fully aware that Manning had also created a female alter ego he called “Breanna Manning.””

Fun Vagina Facts

“Canyon cunt

The largest vagina ever recorded is thought to have belonged to seven-foot eight-inch Anna Swan (1846-1888), a long-legged Scottish temptress who once plopped out a 26-pound baby, the biggest bambino recorded in world history. Although I was unable to uncover any recorded evidence of her vagina’s exact dimensions, it’s safe to assume you could comfortably fit a flat-screen TV in there.”

“The smallest vaginas, though, are the ones that don’t even exist. Roughly one in 5,000 female babies are born sans vagina. How, then, do doctors know they’re female? I suppose because they complain a lot.”

“A germ-infested slime pit

The average human girl-gash is host to 15 different strains of bacteria, “good germs” designed to ward off the renegade “bad germs” which can invade a vagina and make life hell for everyone.”

The Barren Wombs of Smart Women

Basing the article on a research you describe as:

“Kanazawa is widely known as a “controversial” researcher, which is coded speech meaning that his results cause significant discomfort among those who swallow the reigning cultural dogma. In the past he has faced disapprobation, ridicule, and even job dismissal for publishing studies that claim black women are less attractive than women of other races due to their higher testosterone levels, sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty is caused by low IQintelligent men are less likely to cheat on their partners, and attractive people are more likely to produce female offspring. He also wrote that if Ann Coulter had been president in 2001, she would have dropped nuclear bombs on the Middle East and won the War on Terror “without a single American life lost.””

Understanding the Catholic Schoolgirl Fetish

“I believe that if a woman insists on wearing clothes, at least let it be a Catholic schoolgirl uniform. I find them so hot, my testes swell like boiled eggs whenever I see one. My cock is drawn to a plaid skirt like a big pink moth to a flame. I can’t describe it because it is beyond words…it is spiritual. ’Tis something more mystical than the divine mysteries of the Eucharist. It is the power of the Holy Ghost moving between a girl’s thighs. Her plaid skirt is the matador’s red cape, and my cock is the bull. I see that red tartan pattern, and I need to get at the little furry monkey beneath it.

Raise that Cunt Kilt and fuck her. Pull her pigtails and fuck her HARD. Spread her legs like the Red Sea and savagely defile the wench. “

“How many thousands of times during her schooling has she been forced down onto her knees, eyes closed and mouth wide open, awaiting the bland Christ wafer? So the first time she takes it upon herself to get down on her knees, be sure she’ll put something more substantial in her mouth.”

It’s Hard to Be a Homo in Russia

“In the progressive narrative, homosexuals are being depicted as Russia’s New Jews, the demonized cultural “other” scapegoated for the ancient frosty nation’s myriad modern dysfunctions. The staged outrage has included the predictable kiss-ins and vodka-dumping parties and counterfactual petitions on change.org and a polemical, Godwin’s Law-addled screed in The New York Times from the Vaseline-smeared lips of homo gasbag Harvey Fierstein.”

In Defense of Women with Bad Teeth

“A dozen years ago I spent a long, torturous night with a redheaded heifer who had big taters and a tiny brain. This, mind you, was a REAL woman.”

“I’ve had other dental fetishes such as an affinity for bucktoothed women with that cute little bunny-rabbit overbite which pushes out their lips and makes it look as if they’ve been sucking cock all their lives.”

Spaying the Queen’s English

“Their handy how-to manual accepts the term “gendered” as a verb, as if sexual dimorphism is a diaphanous social construct and one actually has to inject gender into the language, yet it frowns upon “transgendered” in favor of “transgender,” as if to imply that these self-mutilating freaks were born that way.”

ImageOver the past 2 days, Kristin “Warrior Princess” Beck has taken to her Facebook account to pen some frustratingly transphobic screeds. Before she has a chance to delete them, I just wanted to capture her statements in the off chance she tries to backpedal.

This is not a woman who should represent the trans community in the slightest. Stay off TV, stay out of Congressional hearings. Please.

The “Manning debacle”… I did not ever want to give this person any of my time…
Too many media requests have poured in, so here is what I have to say:

What you wear, what color you are, your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity has no basis on whether you are a CRIMINAL or NOT. 
For this person, whether male or female to use gender identity to act “BADLY” is a slap in the face to me and everyone who does not fit the “Binary Gender Norm.” It is not an excuse for anything illegal or unjust.

This person took an oath to protect American interest and defend the constitution, and took additional oaths due to security clearances to protect information that leaders deem secret. There are legal avenues to whistle blow or bring attention to issues. THIS person is a liar and a thief and a traitor to many people. If Bradley is truly “Chelsea” then “she” is a traitor to ME personally. There is no excuse.
Another problem I have is the EGO that manning had that he would take it upon himself to make a decision to release documents based on personal assumptions, nearly no experience, and without the whole picture. Some say hero? some say traitor? I just say “misguided, egotistical Liar and thief” which can be applied to both hero or traitor depending on a few factors.

Let me pose a scenario….
LEVANWORTH-very tough place with a lot of Marines and others who defended AMERICA and are spending a year or two there for mistakes and bad conduct. Minor sentences, but still loyal to American interest.
GENERAL Prison population: Tough place to be in any prison.
MEDIA: Manning is know to every person in the prison.
SOLITARY: option for Manning to stay alive, but very lonely and its punishment.
TRANSGENDER: Most prisons have special accommodations to ensure safety for that person.
OUTCOME: Manning shows one photo or a few “halloween” photos or him and some of his friends dabbled? These photos are released and a story is unfolded….He is Chelsea and protected in special accommodations.
He will not be in general population where his life expectancy would be about a year tops….He is now using something AGAIN for his own gain. 

THE BIGGEST problem I have with the whole thing about Chelsea is that as a Transgender person and as an upstanding citizen and knowing many other transgender people who are beacons of righteousness AND that ALL Americans May become FREE. WE are right at a point in HISTORY were many people are beginning to understand who we are as Transgender, DIVERSE, and that we are just like everyone else…WE ARE ONE….now manning just dirtied the hope of a truly FREE America.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a Dream” speech was 50 years ago….I am still hoping for HIS dream of equality for ALL. America to be a beacon of Freedom and equality, to see his dream of the “red hills” come alive. I am still dreaming of equality….
Manning is a tarnish on my dream, he is a tarnish on Dr. Kings Dream.

She then doubles down on her internalized transphobia, playing the role of the gatekeeper, claiming that without a diagnosis (which Manning happens to have), Manning isn’t trans. (Side note: I don’t have a GID diagnosis, so…. I suppose in Kristin’s mind, that makes me a man?)

Kristin Beck- Press release and Personal comments pertaining to the United States Department of Defense and Transgender service. Chelsea Manning and other issues that may affect the DOD stance.

I served in the Military for 20 years. I knew I was transgender from an early age. Due to family, society and then later military pressure and expectations, I kept my feelings to myself. It was difficult, but for 40 plus years I lived as a fully functioning male in life and the military. I had my share of issues because of my internal struggle. There were some unintended consequences because of my struggle, but my gender did not make me into anything that I was not. 

Gender is something you are born with and it is NOT a simple binary modal as many people wish. Being Transgender or outside of the pure male or female construct is a way of life; it is a human condition that has been with us since the beginning of time.

Right now it is at the forefront of society and we need answers and information. I hope to give my story and information on this issue to the general public to rid the myths and misinformation that seems to prevail.

Private Manning has been thrust into the public eye in the last few days. Manning has told the military that “he” has a gender identity issue and wishes to be addressed as “Chelsea” and start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This all comes out after Manning pled guilty to criminal acts and is facing 35 years in prison.

Until a doctor signs the paperwork with their name on the dotted line, this is just a claim. The Diagnosis from an accredited doctor changes many aspects of Manning’s future and possibly regulations within the Military. The Prison at Leavenworth has 550 beds and no females. The withholding of HRT and the incarceration in that prison would then be deemed “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” and accommodations would need to be made to ensure Manning is given proper treatment in line with the constitution and human dignity.

The case with Manning brings up many courses of action for the military and many diverse opinions from everyone. The one thing that I feel very passionate about is that being transgender has nothing to do with criminal activity, mental capacity, intellectual capacity, or any other endeavor or capacity an individual posses. Being transgender is a separate issue. 

Being transgender will however affect a person who is incarcerated and their treatment within the prison system, in Manning’s case, to ensure treatment that is just and fair.

How does this case affect the military and the Department of Defense?

The Department of Defense has medical regulations that list being a “transsexual” as an “unallowable medical condition.” The repeal of DADT does not include Transgender persons. Currently in the DOD, a person with gender identity disorder, diagnosed or even displayed will no longer be able to serve.

The military has Private Manning in their care for the next 35 years, possibly much less with good behavior. The Military is duty bound to ensure Manning is not punished in cruel and unusual ways and is bound to ensure Manning’s safety. After an accredited medical doctor certifies Manning’s transgender status – which could take months – the military and Department of Defense must make some very hard decisions. 

Private Manning is still a part of the Military and withholding HRT to an incarcerated individual is deemed “CRUEL and UNUSAL” punishment by precedence set in civilian court rulings.

Regulations will have to be changed to allow the HRT to Manning and ensure fair treatment for her under the law and constitution. With these changes, the doors will be open similarly to the repeal of DADT with open service to Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual service members. 

The Palm Center has been tasked with a encompassing study on transgender military service for the DOD which will be far more comprehensive and thought out on every level; I look forward to this report.

I am distraught at the way Manning’s transgender issue has surfaced and by having this human condition tied to criminal activity. I hope the general public and those that have never met someone who is transgender will take into consideration my story and the many other extremely successful transgender members of the “world community.” 

I will continue to have a dream of EQUAL treatment of ALL members of the human race. I will continue to conduct myself with dignity and respect and hope that people will educate themselves about transgender individuals and the many attributes humans are born with. We are a diverse world, and the diversity of the human race is what makes us beautiful.

There is still vast prejudice against the various people around the world for being different in color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. Embracing our differences and diversity is a path to peace and happiness; I pray more people will take this path.

Some trans women have rallied behind her. Of course they’re all middle-aged, white, late-transitioning HBSers. Of course.

Why do I bother reading the comments? Seriously. Why? Why can’t I read an article, absorb its contents, and exit the page without seeing what the rest of the world thinks?

This is an addiction I’m struggling to break. I’m not alone, either. A Google search for the phrase “don’t read the comments” brings back more than 1.5 million results, including a July 2013 article in Scientific American about how the desire to read and respond to comments relates to anthropology.

via theoatmeal.com

via theoatmeal.com

There are more than 4 billion internet users, worldwide. No matter the piece of content, you’re bound to bump into a wall of negativity and disagreement.  I’m hard pressed to find anything that everyone can agree on. For instance, 7% of Americans believe the moon landing was a hoax, 14% believe in Bigfoot, 15% believe the government adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals, and 4% believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power (source).

Good luck trying to get them to agree with just about anything else.

As an occasional writer, I’m faced with a bit of a double edged sword: the fewer people read my article, the less likely I am to end up the subject of internet vitriol; the more readers, the higher the likelihood of ending up the subject of ad hominem attacks.

In the past week, one of my articles was published on two popular sites, Thought Catalog and xoJane. This was huge for me. Writing a piece about my experience as a transgender woman, and having it read by a mainstream audience was a delight. Eventually, though, as is the case with nearly all pieces of internet writing involving transgender people, the comments sections slowly peppered with accusations of being some sort of freak, not a “real” woman, and so on. None of which really had anything to do with the content within my article.

For instance, here’s a comment a user named “fckoff” left at the bottom of my article on xoJane (TW: transphobia):

One of several negative comments left by this user

One of several negative comments left by this user

On Thought Catalog, hidden in a pile of mostly-positive commentary was this:

tc

The thing is, most of the comments were so positive. Why is it that I can’t just brush off the negative ones? Knowing that some transphobia and gender policing will always find its way into the comments section, why can’t I stop myself before looking at the comments?

Anonymity gives people the courage to say things online that they ordinarily wouldn’t share. Anonymity makes it so easy to forget that comments like the two highlighted above are aimed at individuals of a group with a disproportionately high rate of suicide attempts.

Sometimes its good to stay cloaked in anonymity, but please never forget that when you say hateful things, there are real people on the other end. Step back and breathe.

In a recent post of mine on Thought Catalog, I gave a brief list of examples of transphobia in mainstream media. After further thought, I realized that I failed to mention two examples of transphobia in the media that planted seeds of self-doubt just strong enough to delay my transition.

In 1994, a movie called Ace Ventura: Pet Detective came out. Being 8 years old at the time, my parents were hesitant to let me see a movie that seemed to be so raunchy (for those unfamiliar, here‘s the trailer). A year or two passed without seeing it, and my desire to see the movie all the kids in school were quoting (“aaaaaaaaaalllllll righty-then!”) had waned.

In 1996, my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family gave my parents a small pile of VHS cassettes. On these cassettes were movies he’d taped off of HBO or Showtime or Cinemax. In the pile were some questionably kid friendly movies (“The Mask”) as well as some obviously not-kid friendly movies (“Showgirls”). There, in the collection was “Ace Ventura,” a movie I had more-or-less forgotten about.

My brother and I put it on. We laughed at the goofy slapstick acts, we groaned at the more sappy romance parts, but our reactions were different during the climax of the movie. My brother laughed; I felt embarrassed.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie (do I still need to say “Spoiler Alert” if the movie is 19 years old?), the climax of the movie is as follows:

  • Lt. Lois Einhorn is helping Ace track down at-large criminal and former football player Ray Finkle.
  • The audience finds out that Einhorn, who was presumably cisgender, is actually a transgender woman (formerly Ray FInkle)!
  • Ace yells out, “Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is Einhorn! Einhorn is a man! Einhorn is a man?!”
  • Ace then vomits, remembering that earlier in the movie he had kissed Einhorn, even saying “your gun is digging into my hip.” (foreshadowing! Also, heh, heh, penis-joke)
  • Ace then burns his clothes (trans people are just THAT disgusting), crying.
  • Just for good measure, the theme from the movie “The Crying Game” played in the background.

At 10 years old, as I was just starting to realize that something was different about me compared to the other boys in my class, I was taught an important lesson: “transgender people are freaks to be laughed at; disgusting human beings.”

After all, everyone at school loved that movie. This must be how everyone feels. This was the first time I can recall feeling shame, even though I didn’t understand what gender dysphoria was yet. I immediately knew that these feelings weren’t “normal,” and I needed to hide them.

A more in-depth write up of transphobia in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” can be found here.

More recently, in 2010/2011, I began watching the show “Nip/Tuck“. I wasn’t yet out as trans to myself or anyone else, but the feelings that had haunted me throughout adolescence were still there, suppressed underneath the surface.

The show, created by gay icon/”Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, includes several extremely transphobic story arcs. Among them:

Nip/Tuck (FX), which featured a storyline about a transgender woman who regretted her transition, a transgender sex worker being beaten, and an entire season about a psychopathic trans woman depicted as a baby-stealing sexual predator who sleeps with her own son. (source: GLAAD)

The “psychopathic trans woman depicted as a baby-stealing sexual predator who sleeps with her own son,” is a character named Ava Moore. She’s portrayed by a cisgender woman (Famke Janssen). Here’s how the Wikipedia article for the character reads:

Ava Moore was originally Avery Tanner, a gay man who worked as a professional escort to wealthy older women. Avery was in love with Dr. Barrett Moore (Alec Baldwin), and used his charisma to convince his wealthy female dates to finance Moore’s medical research.

However, to Avery’s growing disappointment, Barrett Moore was a confirmed heterosexual and refused to advance his friendship with Avery to a romantic relationship. Avery fell into a deep depression and, determined to have Moore’s love at any cost, asked the doctor to perform sex reassignment surgery on him. Intrigued, Moore agreed and personally undertook the mission of transforming Avery into Ava. Moore’s skill as a surgeon allowed him to turn Avery into what Christian Troy would later describe as “The Hope Diamond of transsexuals; completely flawless in every way.” Ava was happy with her new form and the two married. But problems quickly popped up, as Moore could never truly accept Ava as being a woman and instead treated her like his prized creation. Ava sank further and further into depression. Moore arranged for one of his female employees to become pregnant with his child so Ava could become a mother and hopefully pull the three together as a family.

Ava grew increasingly distant from her husband and ultimately took their child and left in the middle of the night — right before the final surgery was to be performed to make her artificial vagina deep enough to pass as biologically natural. She then began taking young lovers, since Ava believed that younger, sexually inexperienced boys would not be able to tell that her genitals were different from those of most women.

So…. yeah. Wow. Basically, after seeing that, and after seeing how the gay community seemed indifferent about the show’s transphobic content because, after all, “Glee”, I again hung my head in shame, working even harder to suppress my feelings. (GLAAD listed “Nip/Tuck” on their “What to watch” list every week during its run.

In the end, I couldn’t hide how I felt anymore. Exposure to transphobic media content led me to deny who I was, delaying transition. It’s a real problem. Readers of my Thought Catalog article seemed fixated on the idea that I just shouldn’t feel offended, that I should ignore it. That’s not how it works, though. If you take someone who is fragile and unsure of who they really are, and expose them to content that demonizes trans people, you’re going to end up driving individuals to a state of denial or even self-harm.

It doesn’t get better

August 5, 2013

As a transgender woman, I have to deal with glaring instances of transphobia on a near daily basis. “Oh, what’s that? A joke on a popular network TV show where they laugh about a ‘dude in a dress’ or react in absolute disgust thinking about ‘accidentally’ being attracted to a ‘tranny’ (see: How I Met Your Mother, South Park, the Daily Show With Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, Community, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development, Bob’s Burgers, Go On, and The Simpsons… just to name a few)? Great! After a long day, I love to come home and listen to jokes that attack my very existence!”

Image

Community – Britta is a “tranny queen?”

Should I go online and read about one of the all-too-common stories outlining the murder of a trans woman, I’ll find instances where the victim is blamed for their own demise. Similarly, authors of these stories seem to revel in the ability to play gender police, reverting to the birth names and pronouns of the recently assaulted or deceased. Even outlets that are “on our side” aren’t an exception. For instance, just this past June, HuffPost Gay Voices ran a story about a “transgender man” (by which they meant a transgender woman). After corresponding with an editor for nearly an hour, informing them that they were violating the AP Stylebook and the GLAAD guidelines for reporting on transgender individuals, he relented and “compromised” by changing the headline to read “transgender person” (while still leaving the victim’s birth name in the article).

How freaking gracious of him. I certainly hope that if something horrifically violent like that happened to me, the world wouldn’t be told about a “man” named “[birth name].”

No matter the individual, no matter the group, no matter how liberal or accepting you think someone is – they’re bound to let you down when it comes to steering clear of transphobia. For instance, take Patton Oswalt, one of my favorite comedians. He’s extremely liberal, injecting his own political views into his set. He’d never do or say something transphobic, right?

Image

Et tu, Patton?

How often does someone try to make a joke at your expense? Occasionally? How often does someone try to invalidate your existence? Never? Sadly, this doesn’t even take into consideration things that actually happen to me “in real life.”

At the doctor’s office yesterday, I filled out my intake form, and sat down, waiting with the rest of the patients. On the form, I wrote my legal name (Parker Marie [last name]) and gender (Female, as listed on my driver’s license). After a few moments, the woman behind the desk loudly asks, in front of everyone else in the waiting room, if I had changed my name from [birth name] to my legal name, essentially outing me as trans to everyone within earshot. I nodded.

After finally receiving treatment, they handed me a form with a general summary of my visit. In the upper right hand corner, I noticed this:

DESCRIPTION: 27 year old male

Really, doctor? Really? Not only did you out me to the waiting room, but you felt the need to ignore what was on the intake form and legal document I gave you?

I’m lucky to be in a position where I have a job. I’m lucky to be in a position where, by sheer genetic luck, my body has responded to hormones in a way that doesn’t immediately scream “this woman is trans!,” and thereby, I don’t get too many strange glances or harassment when I try to use a public restroom.

Still, generally, being trans sucks in the sense that there are so many people who think so little of the existence of people like you that they feel entitled to make jokes at your expense, use incorrect names and pronouns in news pieces about you, or stare you down or confront you over harmless things like the bathroom.

The individual examples listed above could easily be seen as harmless. It’s easy to go, “oh, but it’s just a joke.” That’s simple to say when it’s just one joke. Unfortunately, though, it isn’t one joke, it’s dozens, playing on endless loops in media and real life.

We’re under the impression that so much has improved for trans individuals over the years, but is that really the case? Looking at Google search trends, you wouldn’t think so.

Over the past 5 years, terms “transgender” and “trans woman” have remained relatively consistent volume-wise, while two negative slurs (“shemale” and “tranny”) have continued increasing, both finding themselves at their highest points in internet search activity.

ImageIf “it gets better” for LGB folks, transgender individuals are finding their lives getting worse. Public perception needs to drastically shift. As long as significantly more people are searching slurs than are searching preferred terms, we’ll remain relegated to the sidelines, the easy punchline to any joke.

This is where our cis allies have to come in. I simply don’t have the time or emotional energy to devote to calling out every transphobic joke on every transphobic sitcom. Like many trans people, I’m just trying to survive from day to day, keeping my head above water. It’s hard to defend yourself when you’re already being piled on. That’s why cis allies need to stand up and call out transphobic media portrayals of trans people, contact newspapers when they publish sensationalistic headlines about trans people with incorrect names and pronouns, and generally, defend us.

Samantha Allen recently wrote a great piece called “5 Tips for Calling Out Transphobia“. I consider this recommended reading for any ally looking to make a difference in the battle of public perception.

 

The book “What’s the Matter with Kansas” (as well as the documentary of the same name) is based on the odd premise that Kansas, in spite of being made up of individuals who would largely benefit from liberal policies, consistently votes against its own self-interest, electing Republicans that have implemented policies that negatively impact the majority of the state’s electorate. Overall, it’s a good read, diving into some interesting views on the mind, psychology, and perception.

After reading this, though, the same thought process leads me to ask, “What’s the matter with conservative trans people?”

I ask this, specifically, of trans people who support conservative political policies and candidates; trans people who attend churches that donate portions of their Sunday offerings to anti-LGBT groups.

Really. What gives? I am truly curious as to why someone would vote so blatantly against their own self-interest or become part or an organization (namely, the Catholic church) that demonizes them, dehumanizes them and ignores their very existence.

  1. “I’m not a single-issue voter.” – okay, well, unless you’re a white upper-middle-to-upper-class cis male, I don’t see how the other policies of the Republican party benefit you, either.
  2. “By being on the inside of these groups, I can help change things” – yes, by voting for policies you’re against, putting people in power who want to oppress you, you’re able to “change things from the inside.” Uh, no. The way politicians will change: the bigoted ones need to start losing some elections, then maybe they’d realize that their particular brand of conservatism wasn’t the widely-loved version they dreamed up.
  3. “There’s a lot more to my religious beliefs. I agree with most of it.” – again, though, religion, (speaking of Catholicism, specifically) requires you to buy into their whole bag of beliefs, not just a few of them. If you honestly believe in everything the church teaches, then you honestly believe you’re doomed to an eternity of suffering. It’s at this point that you should either find a religion that actively supports trans people, or, simply stop going/donating (seriously, if you believe yourself doomed to an eternity of torture, why not reclaim some weekend hours?).

The Catholic church’s official view is that trans people don’t actually exist. Beyond that, last Christmas, the Pope went on a transphobic rant where he denounced “people manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices — and destroying the very ‘essence of the human creature’ in the process.” Why on earth would anyone identify as a trans Catholic? The organization hates your existence. They’re ridiculous. Why would you continue to give them your donation money week after week (which, despite your hopes that they go to, you know, do things Jesus actually promoted like clothing the naked and feeding the hungry, your donations go to support anti-LGBT smear campaigns). All this, and looks like some folks at the Vatican still have time to illegally download trans porn… Hypocrites.

The Republican party believes it should be absolutely legal to fire someone just for being trans. The Republican party has repeatedly fought to defeat the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), which has the neat feature of barring insurance companies from discriminating against transgender individuals. Every Republican’s favorite conservative news outlet, Fox News, frequently make jokes about trans people (yes, those are 6 separate links).

With all this, I just have to ask, why and how? I don’t understand.

What’s the matter?

Season 6, Episode 20 – the Exploding Meatball Sub

Plot Synopsis: Lily and Barney react badly when Marshall finally quits his job at Goliath National Bank to take a volunteer position at an environmental organization. Meanwhile, Ted and Zoey’s opposing positions on the future of the Arcadian come between them.

Completely irrelevant to the storyline:

In Barney’s office

(Barney is burning a photo of Marshall; Ted enters)


Ted: 
Hey, Barney, there’s a bunch of models in the lobby, and the gossip is one of them is really a dude. You want to play “Who’s Hot and Who’s Scott?”

Barney:
 It’s always the one in the turtleneck, Ted. And no, I don’t want to play. Stupid Marshall-… ruined everything.

Ted: 
Oh, come on. Everything’s not ruined.

(A man enters)

Man: 
Guys, everything’s ruined.

Ted: 
What? Why?

Man: 
Your girlfriend somehow got the Landmark Preservation Committee to agree to a hearing. If they declare the Arcadian a landmark, the whole project is dead. The good news is, I just got the phone number of a husky-voiced hottie in a turtleneck.

(The man leaves the room)

And here are some more examples (source):

Season 1, Episode 19:

[Barney pays an escort $500 to attend a social function with Ted.]

Barney: Ted you’re my cabrone, you think I’m going to stick you with some toothless tranny from Port Authority?

Season 2, Episode 9:

[Ted’s wonders why his friends dislike his date. He alternately imagines that she had a man falsely imprisoned for statutory rape, enjoys killing puppies, and the following:]

Ted: I’ll be back in one second.

Kathy: I bet he’s going to the urinal. Yeah, I remember when I had a penis.

Season 3, Episode 8:

Ted: If there’s some potential “Ohhh….” [dealbreaker] moment, I want know about it right away. I mean, what’s the alternative?

[Cut to fantasy sequence Robin and Ted at the altar]

Priest: I now pronounce you man and wife.

Ted: I love you.

Robin: I used to be a dude.

Ted: Ohhh….

Season 6, Episode 5:

[Ted, in a rough part of town, is approached by a blonde woman shortly after being approached by a cross dressed, possibly transgender sex worker.]

Ted: Look, mister you are very convincing, and I’m very flattered. Confused, even, but I’m not looking –

Zoe: Definitely not a drag queen. But you have me rethinking this eyeshadow.

[Later in the episode after Ted compliments her looks.]

Zoe: That’s sweet. It would be sweeter if you hadn’t said I was a tranny before, but it’s still sweet.

Season 7, Episode 5:

[Ted wonders why his date is secretive. A fantasy sequence ensues where Ted is in the bathroom of the restaurant and Janet comes in.]

 Ted: This is the men’s room.

[Janet strides to the urinal and hikes up her dress.]

Janet: I know. I’m a dude.

Ted: [gasp of horror]

*siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh*