MEMBERS of the Indigenous and trans* communities have slammed bizarre comments by a leading feminist academic comparing trans women to racist entertainers who only “pretend” to be female.
University of Melbourne Professor Sheila Jeffreys, who is a lecturer in sexual politics and international feminist politics, made the claims during a feature interview on ABC Radio’s Sunday Night Safran with hosts John Safran and Father Bob Maguire last month.
An influential figure in the second wave of feminism of the 1970s, during the interview Jeffreys suggested trans women were no better than the racist entertainers of the early to mid-20th century in the USA who engaged in blackface.
“In the States for instance they (trans people) were often compared to the black and white minstrels. The black and white minstrels were white men who dressed up with blackface to imitate what they thought were the behaviours of black singers and entertainers. That was seen as very insulting by the black community,” Jeffreys said.
“Transgenderism for men is about the right to imitate and pretend to be members of the subordinate class even though they are members of – biologically and were brought up in – the superior class. That was problematic for the black and white minstrels. It’s problematic generally when a group of people claim to be another group of subordinate people.”
Jeffreys also suggested that all trans women fell into one binary: “homosexual men who don’t feel they can be homosexual in the bodies of men”; as well as cross-dressing fetishists whom women were afraid of sharing space with such as in domestic violence refuges.
“The vast majority though are heterosexual men who have a sexual interest in wearing women’s clothes and having the appearance of women. So it’s about sexism and homophobia,” Jeffreys said.
“But we’re not allowed to talk about the politics of it really, we’re only allowed to talk about the stories of individuals and feel sorry as I genuinely do for the life experience of those men who have this form of very serious mental distress.”
Indigenous queer sistergirl, Andrew Farrell, who was brought up on the NSW South Coast and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies at the University of Wollongong told the Star Observer that Jeffreys’s understanding of gender/sex categories was in many ways an anachronism of essentialist radical feminism which has not carried well into a progressive period of race and queer politics.
“There is a fear that racist, mysoginistic, queerphobic and transphobic people will take her message as truth and enact these prejudices against trans identified Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
“By reducing transgender identities to that of histrionic mimicry is more reflective of her prejudice than it is of my understanding and practice of gender as a genderqueer Indigenous person,” Farrell said.
“I argue that Jeffreys opinion is reductive and reinforces the divisive lines of a binary that is not of valid use in various cultures worldwide including some Aboriginal cultures here in Australia. Genderqueer sistergirls, such as myself, do experience overlapping dimensions of oppression highlighted by Jeffreys hypothetical.
“I cannot change my racial configuration. I can however mould and express my gender identity as unique and valid to my culture.”
LGBTI community activist and Transgender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner admitted to the Star Observer that listening to Jeffries’ theories were difficult to stomach.
“Denial that a group even exists is the first and most intense form of prejudice/vilification. The next most intense form is hugely inaccurate representation re trans women being lumped into one of two categories as either homosexual men or fetishists,” Goldner said.
“This shows no awareness of the truth re the infinite possibilities for trans and gender diverse experiences and confuses gender identity, sexual orientation and other factors.
“The idea that trans women – or anyone in the trans and gender diverse kaleidoscope – are pretending in any way gets close to the deception idea portrayed by offensive fictional media such as There’s Something About Miriam and Bamboozled. All of these sort of comments are the equivalent in degree of inaccuracy to the religious supremacists saying being gay is more dangerous than smoking.”
Same-sex marriage is secure in 17 states and Washington, D.C., and 28 states have lawsuits — often more than one per state — pending to overturn bans on same-sex marriage.
Yesterday, marriage equality seemed to take yet another positive step forward, as a federal three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the nation’s oldest same-sex marriage lawsuit. Judges in Bishop v. Oklahoma, a case first filed almost a decade ago, seemed to be leaning on the side of marriage equality with one noting that states cannot define marriage in a way that would “trample constitutional rights.”
And while the news media focused on the Oklahoma case being heard in Denver at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, a little-known case was getting started in a state court in Arkansas.
Yes, Arkansas, the former home of former governors Bill Clinton (who has since become a supporter but signed DOMA into law in 1996) and Mike Huckabee (who almost weekly, it seems, rails against same-sex marriage).
Arkansas can hardly be called a progressive state, yet there’s a lawsuit being tried, challenging that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
There are also lawsuits attempting to overturn same-sex marriage in many southern states. In fact, out of all the southern states, the only one that doesn’t have a lawsuit pending or offer same-sex marriage (New Mexico does) is Georgia.
Oddly, perhaps all the other states that don’t offer same-sex marriage or have lawsuits pending are northern states: Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Including Georgia, that’s five in total.
Out of 50 states, same-sex marriage is secure in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Bans have been ruled unconstitutional in five more states but those rulings are on hold ending appeal.
In short, 28 states and Puerto Rico have lawsuits — often more than one per state — pending to overturn bans on same-sex marriage.
At some point these cases will make their way through the court system and ultimately at least one will go before the Supreme Court. Some say a 2015 Supreme Court case is possible.
For now, it’s wait and see — but not for long.
Just remember, just ten years ago, the map of states that offered same-sex marriage looked like this:
Anais Celini won’t let her school’s decision to not let her transgender boyfriend attend prom ruin their special night.
Yesterday, The Huffington Post brought you the news that Anais Celini, a senior at Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, Queens, was told she could not bring her transgender boyfriend, Nathaniel Baez, to prom because his “transition was unconventional" and "not beneficial."
Now, the couple have decided to have their own prom and share their special night together rather than further challenging the school. As reported by Buzzfeed, a transitional housing center has already offered the couple their space in order to hold their own prom.
“We are no longer a same-sex couple,” Celini told Buzzfeed. “They need to see him as male and respect that. We didn’t want to sneak ourselves into prom, we wanted to be upfront and be respectful about it.”
This isn’t the first time proms at educational institutions have attempted to regulate the gender or sexual identities of their attendees. Last April, a transgender high school student from Pennsylvania had his name incorrectly placed on the “prom queen” ballot rather than “prom king,” denying his chance at the title.
In 2010, Constance McMillen fell victim to a cruel move by parents who did not want the student attending her prom with another girl. Parents organized a secret prom behind McMillen’s back and directed her to another location where only a few other students were in attendance.
A transgender woman of color named Monica Jones was convicted last week for walking down the street. The charge? “Manifestation of prostitution.” But Jones isn’t a sex worker. She just happens to live in Phoenix, Arizona, where a new tactic to reduce sex work provides new opportunities for police to profile vulnerable populations.
While Jones’ conviction is fully legal in Phoenix, it’s become a rallying cry for trans rights issues, since it so clearly illustrated biases ingrained in the law. Here’s a break down of all the elements that led to Jones’ arrest:
“Manifestation Of Prostitution”
One of the first problems is the incredibly vague way that Phoenix’s law against prostitutionactually defines what constitutes an arrest-worthy offense. In addition to literally offering or soliciting prostitution, the law also enumerates a number of actions that can constitute an “intent” to break the law:
Is in a public place, a place open to public view or in a motor vehicle on a public roadway and manifests an intent to commit or solicit an act of prostitution. Among the circumstances that may be considered in determining whether such an intent is manifested are: that the person repeatedly beckons to, stops or attempts to stop or engage passersby in conversation or repeatedly, stops or attempts to stop, motor vehicle operators by hailing, waiving of arms or any other bodily gesture; that the person inquires whether a potential patron, procurer or prostitute is a police officer or searches for articles that would identify a police officer; or that the person requests the touching or exposure of genitals or female breast.
According to the law, it doesn’t matter if prostitution solicitation actually takes place; simply conveying one of these other actions constitutes a violation of the law. For example, a group of cheerleaders holding a carwash could be arrested under this law for trying to advertise their fundraiser by waving at passing cars.
Additionally, the law dictates that a first offense results in a mandatory minimum of 15 days in jail, up to a maximum of six months, as well as the possibility of a fine up to $2,500. The mandatory minimums increase significantly with each prior charge a person carries. These vague “manifestations” of prostitution thus create opportunity to entrap and punish individuals with prostitution charges even if they are not actually engaging in sex work.
Monica Jones’ Arrest and Conviction
Monica Jones is a student at ASU’s School of Social Work, a sex worker rights advocate with SWOP, and a trans woman of color. When Phoenix police were conducting a Project ROSE sweep in May of 2013, Jones spoke at a community event against the program. The following evening, she was offered a ride home from a bar, only to be not-arrested by the undercover cop, who placed her in handcuffs and drove her to Bethany Bible Church. Jones, however, was not eligible for Project ROSE because of a prior prostitution conviction, despite no longer being a sex worker. Jones was charged with “manifestation of prostitution” and last week, she was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in a men’s prison.
The prosecution’s only witness was the arresting officer, who repeatedly referred to Jones with the male pronouns “he” and “him.” He alleged that she “exposed her breast,” though advocates for Jones suggest her only crime was asking if he was a police officer (knowing full well that Project ROSE sweeps were underway that weekend). The judge deliberated for less than one minute before handing down a guilty verdict. According to the ACLU, which helped represent Jones, the judge’s assumption that the officer’s testimony was credible while hers was hearsay is “erroneous and improper.”
During the time between her arrest and her trial, Jones says she was stopped by police on four more occasions while walking around her neighborhood and threatened with additional “manifestation of prostitution” charges. She explained to the ACLU how “walking while trans” has become a crime in and of itself:
JONES: “Walking while trans” is a saying we use in the trans community to refer to the excessive harassment and targeting that we as trans people experience on a daily basis. “Walking while trans” is a way to talk about the overlapping biases against trans people — trans women specifically — and against sex workers. It’s a known experience in our community of being routinely and regularly harassed and facing the threat of violence or arrest because we are trans and therefore often assumed to be sex workers.
I have been harassed by police four times since my initial arrest last May. The police have stopped me for no real reason when I have been walking to the grocery store, to the local bar, or visiting with a friend on the sidewalk. The police have even threatened me with ‘manifestation with intent to prostitute’ charge, while I was just walking to my local bar!
Police harassment of transgender people is not unusual even absent sex work profiling. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 29 percent of trans people have experienced police harassment or disrespect. Rates were much higher for people of color. Additionally, 46 percent of trans people report they are generally uncomfortable even seeking police assistance.
Jones has already filed an appeal and is continuing her fight.
Celebrations broke out at the Zeenat Club, an exclusive club for transgenders and the ‘hijra’ community in the congested locality of northeast Delhi when word trickled in that the Supreme Court had made the third gender official.
Space and dignity for transgender people
Hours of nail-biting tension on what the possible outcome of the verdict would be gave way to unbridled merriment, song and dance amongst people of the community and their supporters as they were simultaneously carefully monitoring the news.
'This is unbelievable … too good to be true! Now we have been given a means to defend ourselves,' Sanjana, a transgender, who could not stop dancing, told DW.
At another corner of the hall, with the music almost in full blast, Priti, who was gyrating to a popular movie number, could not hold back.
'I only dreamt of this situation. We are no longer invisible and are now genuine stakeholders in this country and will not be exploited or harassed for our gender identity,' an emotionally choked Priti told DW.
For long, members of India’s nearly three-million-strong transgender community, which is called ‘hijras’ in the Hindi language, have been an oppressed sexual minority. Being legally invisible, they have battled hard to gain acceptance and recognition. Finding mainstream jobs, education, medical privileges and entitlement to government welfare schemes were utopian ideals - until now.
'This is a historic judgment, and for us it is like August 15 … Independence Day and this will finally give us a sense of belonging and identity. We can enjoy all benefits like all other Indian citizens,' said Laxmi Narain Tripathi, a transgender rights activist and a co-petitioner in the case.
Activists like Tripathi said a lot of work needed to be done within the community to spread awareness about their right to education and work.
A change in mindsets is now important
The verdict came in response to a public interest litigation filed by the National Legal Services Authority which drew the court’s attention to the discrimination faced by the community. The court in fact heard testimonies of transgender people who had been routinely exploited because of their gender identity.
Because they have been denied access to public services and employment avenues, a huge swathe of the transgender population across the country have been forced to beg or become sex workers. This has only reinforced the stigma attached to them.
Not for GLBTs
However, the court order clarified that its verdict pertained only to transgender people and not to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
'With this judgment, the community's self esteem is high and we are walking with our heads held high. This is a time to rejoice and wait for the fruits of this revolutionary verdict to roll out,' Anjan Joshi, a transgender activist, told DW.
Among the crucial recommendations is their inclusion among ‘Other Backward Class’ - the official term used by the Indian government - communities to avail of the stipulated 27 percent reservations in government education institutions and offices.
Significantly, the court also ruled that if a person undergoes a sex operation and changes his or her sex, the person will be entitled to all benefits and will not be discriminated.
With the historic court ruling, India now joins the list of South Asian countries such as Pakistan and Nepal which already recognize the third gender.
I believe, in all sincerity, that the Trans Revolution has evolved, and begun again in earnest.
It’s amazing how quickly the transgender movement has gained ground in this country, and in many others. One might even say that it’s the fastest growing civil rights movement in the US at this point. But, the changes that have occurred both within the community, and outside of it, are quite staggering when you step back and take a good look at it. The best and most notable examples of this revolution are not easy to miss, truth be told.
Let’s start off with something still fresh on everyone’s mind, the CNN interview with Janet Mock and Piers Morgan. This caused quite a stir, and you would have heard about it if you heard anything about trans news within the past few months. The cause of the stir? Well, basically it came down to Janet never wanting to be referred to as ever having ‘been a boy’. Or, as she put it, she was born a baby. Where is the problem with that? There isn’t a problem with that, it’s how Janet feels, and is perfectly valid. But, let’s consider that it was barely a year ago when Anderson Cooper interviewed Kristen Beck, the transgender navy seal, her story of valor and bravery, hiding, and peeling the onion back, was told to the world. During that interview and stories, it was put forth many times that Kristen used to be a ‘he’. While it was met with some criticism, it was nothing compared to Janet vs. Piers. Why? Is it a generational gap? Have the goals of trans activists changed that quickly? Perhaps. We could even compare the Carmen Carrera/Laverne Cox interview on Katie Couric’s show against an interview with Barbara Walters and Jenna Talackova from 2012. The differences in how the questions are asked, and how the answers are given and responded to, as well as the attitudes involved, are startlingly different. Again, that was just two years ago.
What about Jared Leto? In the beginning, when the movie first came out, I heard great things, good reviews, and even praise for Leto. But then, all I heard after the movie started getting press, and got nominated for awards, was that Rayon should have been played by a transgender woman. Then after winning both a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, you could literally hear the transgender activists yelling at him for not saying something for the transgender community, some even taking him to task at film festivals. Honestly though, would you want someone who isn’t Trans speaking for those who are? But, what about a movie called ‘Transamerica’, starring Felicity Huffman. Huffman won the Golden Globe for’ Best Performance by an Actress’ for her role as the pre-operative trans girl, Bree. It also got tons of awards and press from the international community. But, where was all the hate then? There was nothing but applause from almost everyone. Was it simply that Transamerica was made 8 years before The Dallas Buyers Club? Was it that a woman was playing the trans woman, and not a man? Maybe. We could look at movie roles of trans characters in the past, but perhaps it really is simply that times are changing, and changing fast. So, let’s look at some more modern instances of non-transgender individuals playing trans characters. Amazon’s newly launched pilot for the series ‘Transparent’ has been met with mostly positive reviews so far, though it features Jeffrey Tambor playing the trans woman. Why no social media outcry against it? Perhaps it’s that this is an older trans woman, and having Jeffrey play her is acceptable… maybe? Or, how about the adaptation of a Robert Heinlein short story that’s making the festival circuit right now. It’s called Predestination, and has a female lead, Sarah Snook, playing an intersex/ftm character. Still though, no outcry there yet. Perhaps we should wait and see if it gets a nod for the Golden Globe Awards?
We can also see change in our media and television pretty regularly at this point. Almost like we are waiting to see what happens this week. Jerry Springer said he would stop saying ‘tranny’. RuPaul has finally apologized for the use of transphobic slurs after six seasons of doing so, after being called on it this year. Wendy Williams apologized for making fun of a transgender individual. Heck, even the Tranny Awards were recently renamed to theTransgender Erotica Awards. All of that happening in the last few months alone. It’s not hard to see that the attitude towards the transgender community is changing, and the community is doing its best to make sure that trend continues.
We can even watch as other countries change, probably even quicker than the US. Germany, India, and Australia, to name a few. All of which now have third-gender, non-gender, or intersex options for their citizens. But that doesn’t really seem to be anything that we’re headed towards here in the states. We seem more to be focused on re-writing the transgender code of acceptance for individuals and the way they identify completely, and quickly. This does leave out those who don’t feel either male or female, but that’s another discussion all together. We’ve even got a few states where high school students can join the sports team that matches their gender identity. Which is awesome, but for some, it has created its own rift in the transgender community. By that I mean that some of those states, Virginia thus far, have said the student must have undergone gender reassignment surgery. Which was met with trans activists outcry at the thought that someone should have surgery before participating? While it’s understandable as to why we’d be upset, it’s also worth pointing out that both the Olympics and the MMA ( where Fallon Fox fights ) have nearly the same rulings for participating in the ‘women’s’ division. And yet again, you don’t see a whole lot of uproar about that. Though my guess would be that we’ll see some before too many more Olympics come and go.
It’s been a wild ride over the last few years, especially so during this last one. We are moving forward at break-neck speed. You can almost visibly see the times and attitudes changing before our very eyes. Though not everyone, even within the transgender community, has gotten on board with the rapid fire changes in thought so quickly. Kristen Beck gives speeches on two-spirit individuals, and Chaz Bono is looked at as a misogynist by some. You can even see something akin to battle lines forming between activists like Calpernia Addams and the newer guard of trans activists, like Zinnia Jones or Parker Marie Molloy, and that’s not even the only feud going on between trans activists and supporters. While it’s great to push for change, hell, it’s admirable to push for change, I have to sit back and look at all that has been accomplished thus far, even with all the hatred for one another we seem to have when we don’t agree on something, and smile at what has been accomplished in such a short period of time.
Follow Amber Neko on Twitter: https://twitter.com/amberneko13
At a time when transgender and gender-nonconforming people the world over face harassment, violence, discrimination and even murder, we are excited to be launching a new film-based campaign from Hawaii that takes a fresh approach to making the world more just and inclusive.
The film, Kumu Hina (meaning “Teacher Hina”), tells the inspiring story of Hina Wong-Kalu, a transgender native Hawaiian teacher and cultural icon who brings to life Hawaiiʻs traditional embrace of mahu — those who embody both male and female spirit. The film had its world premiere as the closing-night film at the Hawaii International Film Festival on April 10 in Honoluluʻs historic, 1,400-seat Hawaii Theatre.
The sold-out show launched a global campaign for gender diversity (#APlaceInTheMiddle) aimed at helping audiences across the U.S. and around the world see themselves and their families, schools and communities in a new light and ensuring that no one, particularly youth, faces harassment, discrimination or violence because they don’t conform to society’s traditional view of gender norms.
Produced with the support of Pacific Islanders in Communications and ITVS, the film traces Kumu Hinaʻs evolution from Collin Wong, a timid high-school boy, to her present position as a married woman and cultural director of a Hawaiian charter school in one of Honoluluʻs grittier neighborhoods.
When Hoʻonani, a charismatic sixth-grade girl, asks to join the schoolʻs all-male hula troupe, Hina gives her the opportunity to express her inner male spirit. As teacher and student prepare for a climactic end-of-year performance, they meet many obstacles but hold fast to the idea that being true to oneself is what matters most.
The film also delves into Hinaʻs pursuit of a dream of her own: a fulfilling romantic relationship. Her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man, and the challenges they encounter, offer a glimpse of a Hawaii never before seen on film, and hopeful insights about the universal quest for love and acceptance.
Leanne Ferrer, director of Pacific Islanders in Communications, a public television organization that supports Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture, and contemporary challenges, said:
This amazing film allows audiences a bold and refreshing view of Pacific Island life through iconic Hawaiian leader, Hina Wong-Kalu. I know that Kumu Hina will inspire and bring understanding and enlightenment to all who view it.
The film is being released as Hinaʻs star is on the rise. In addition to her high cultural profile as Chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council, she just announced her candidacy for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, making her among the first openly transgender candidates to run for a statewide political office in the United States.
LUMBERTON, TX (KBMT/CNN) - A transgender substitute teacher will return to the classroom after some parents had complained and called the teacher a distraction.
Thursday night the packed Lumberton ISD Board Room was divided not by race or by income, but by ideals.
The question was whether transgender substitute teacher Laura Jane Klug should keep her job with the district.
"This is a constitutional issue. You have to ask yourself if there is any rational basis for her termination," said one commenter at the podium.
Supporters rallied behind Klug, who sat quietly amongst them. Some told the board of trustees their own struggles of being accepted.
"My question is this. When do we start focusing more on the education than the gender?" asked a supporter.
Concerned parents stood up to the board of trustees and Superintendent John Valastro, telling the district that Klug does not belong amongst students.
"This has caused elementary students to be confused. Asking questions of their parents wondering why a female teacher has facial hair," said one parent.
"We’re just now talking to our kids about the birds and the bees. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to explain this. He hired in as a male. He is a male," said another parent.
Though Klug later admitted some of what was said was hurtful, she said supporters helped her keep her composure.
"We’re not asking for anything special, we’re just asking for equal rights. I am capable of doing a job," Klug said.
Within a few hours after meeting with Superintendent Valastro and trustees, Klug said Valastro let her know the district must do what’s right according to the law. Klug was welcomed back into the classroom.
The Juno star, who came out in February, praised Cox for her work on Orange is the New Black, as well as her upcoming documentary about trans prisoner CeCe McDonald, and her defence of trans people in the media.
Page said: ”Many of you know that I officially came out on Valentine’s day. One of the best things about it was the way it enabled me to publicly show support for the people who inspire me.
“GLAAD gives the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to openly LGBT people who have made a significant difference in promoting equality for the community.
“This year it is an absolute honour to present it to an LGBT icon, Laverne Cox.
“Laverne has educated so many about who transgender people are.
“Laverne is working for every LGBT person, questioning teen and straight ally who thinks the world should be a more kind, passionate, interesting, beautiful place, where we try to bond for the ways in which we are alike instead of attacking eachother for our differences.”
Accepting the award, Cox said: “Thank you, GLAAD, for this amazing honour.
“I’m really overwhelmed, I’m still not used to getting awards… I’m an African-American transgender woman from a working class background raised by a single mother.
“We are not programmed to think we should receive these kinds of awards, but I like to think that things are changing.
“Thank you Ellen, I have been a huge fan of your work for many years and I was deeply moved to find out more of your story a few months ago.”
“Ask a Gender Therapist” Video Series has Launched!
Some might think the casual use of certain words relating to transgender women is harmless, but these words carry incredible weight.
It was a cool night in April 1997. I was walking down Hudson Street in lower Manhattan, a couple of blocks from where the gay and lesbian community center was then. I was also scared shitless.
It was my first foray into Manhattan since I’d begun presenting as a woman full-time, and I was on my way to the center to hear trans author and activist Riki Wilchins speak. Just weeks after I’d gone full-time, I’d read Riki’s newly released book, Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender, and I desperately wanted to know more. I needed to understand. I’d been gorging myself on information on what it is to be trans and what it means in the real world, but I hadn’t even begun to make any real sense out of it all. Most of what I’d read and heard just led me to more questions. This night, I hoped, would bring some answers … and it did, just not in the way I thought it would.
I was startled by a driver in a loud muscle car on the opposite side of the street who leaned out of his window. “Hey, faggot!” was all I heard about a half-second before a large alcohol bottle of some sort whizzed past my face, missing me by no more than a half an inch before smashing against the wall of the building I was walking past.
I heard the driver gun his motor, and I ran as hard and as fast as I could in the heeled boots I was still learning how to walk in. I rounded the corner of 13th Street and got about halfway to the center before I looked back and realized the driver was not pursuing me but had apparently just driven away after he’d thrown the bottle.
My heart was pounding, and I realized I was crying. I stood where I’d stopped running, sobbing and hugging myself for about 10 minutes, until the shaking stopped. As I walked the final distance to the center, I realized that I’d never been so terrified in my life.
A week later, I was in a chat room for trans women (chats and Yahoo email lists were our social media then) and I recounted what had happened. I’ll never forget what a trans woman who was much further along in transition than I was said when I’d finished the story. “You want to know what it is to be a transsexual woman? This. Get used to it.”
Truth is, the particular slur didn’t matter. In 1997 “tranny” wasn’t popularly considered to be a slur, though it was often used as one. The use of “shemale” was associated with the porn industry, and its use was seen by many trans women as the equivalent of being called a prostitute, which was seen as particularly offensive in light of the popular opinion of the time that the only reason any male-born person would dress as a woman was to entice obviously sick and perverted men to have sex with them for money.
What does matter is that my story is a very familiar one to trans women of a certain age. We came out as transgender and transsexual women at a time when we were legally protected against discrimination in very few areas of the United States, a time when it was perfectly legal and socially acceptable to deny us work, housing, and pretty much anything else just because we were trans.
We rarely reported incidents like mine to the police because it was considered a given that it was extremely unlikely the cops would do anything to help us or find our attackers but very likely that they’d find some reason to lock us up or otherwise make us regret interacting with them.
“Faggot.” “Tranny.” “Shemale.” These were the epithets we heard as the most terrifying moments of our lives were happening. In many tragic cases, they were the last words a trans woman heard before her life was brutally snuffed out. When we heard these words shouted in our direction, we knew something horrible was likely to happen next.
When trans women of my age hear these words today, we remember the fear. We remember the terror of being young, afraid, of knowing someone was out to hurt us and no one was likely to help us or even care if they did.
RSIAM - Ladyboys Never Cheat
This thing has gone viral, as they say. Well, at least for the Thai community, and has received almost 9 million views in it’s first month on youtube.
The thing that makes this interesting is it’s subject matter. Okay, it’s also kinda catchy, but anyway. It’s about this guy, and this girl, who were childhood friends. She see’s him at a bar one night, and goes over and they start talking. Seems she just wants someone that understands, and he wants someone who won’t betray him. Which hey, that’s kinda what we all want isn’t it. Anyway, this is interwoven with flashbacks to their childhood, where a young boy would protect this other young boy, his friend, from bullies and whatnot. Yeah, you’re starting to get the picture. They get to the bedroom, have a good time, they seem to care about each other, which is overlayed by the two boys getting matching tatoos, hanging out, etc. And well, you’ll have to watch the video for the rest of it. I’ll let you know it’s kinda great, and at the same time it’s a little terrible. Yes, it’s also longer. Yes, it’s sung from the ladyboy’s / trans girl’s perspective, and it’s almost something of a short film. Yes, it turns violent at one point, but that’s kinda what makes it feel almost real. Not that violence against anyone is ever a good thing, but it is a common theme much of the LGBTQ community can relate to. Keep in mind this is made from a viewpoint other than the American one. Though even some of us here a Transition Transmission will tell you the blood flowing down the face of the trans girl at the end was a little too much, but some of us liked the video overall.
So anyway, share, comment, like it, or hate it. Decide for yourself.
Transgender rights advocate Andraya Williams, 22, does her first full-length, sit-down interview with me on my web series Pillow Talk with Joanne on April 15.
Williams was briefly suspended from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte for using the women’s restrooms on March 18. She has yet to receive an apology from the school. Local LGBT rights organizations in North Carolina are organizing their second protest at the school tomorrow.
Here is a sneak preview of my interview with Andraya. We spoof her interaction with a security officer who allegedly asked in a mocking tone if she was male or female as she exited the women’s restroom.