Thursday, December 16, 2010

OK, I give up, you're right, I'm just a "tra**y", sorry for thinking I was a human being

An open letter to everyone who uses the anti-transsexual woman slur “tra**y”, to the jerk who called my friend a tra**y when she went on the bus to go to work and ruined her day, to the non-trans straight girl who called a girl she didn’t like a “tra**y” to imply she was ugly, to the hate crime assailant who called his trans victim a tra**y as he bashed her near to death, to the gay man who called his friend a “stupid tra**y” because he spilled his drink on him, to the transphobic gay man who called an effeminate gay man a tra**y because he thought masculine acting gay men were somehow “better” than feminine acting gay men, to the gay male director who sought to exploit trans women and put the pejorative in the title of his film, to the late night talk show hosts who make fun of trans women on TV and use the T word, but actually used to be in love with a trans woman behind the scenes, to the radical feminist lesbian who helps plan the Michigan Music Festival and was quoted as saying “no fucking tra**ys allowed”, to the gay male drag queens who perform “trans face” and say the T word 20 times a night to make their gay audience laugh at the thought of real trans women being taken seriously, to the trans woman who performs campy burlesque and uses the T word in her act because she get paid to be the butt of her own jokes, to the fetishist and cross dressers who say the T Word to objectify the medical condition transsexualism, to the Village Voice flamboyant gay male journalists who don’t know the difference between drag queens and transsexual woman and are clueless as to why the T word hurts, to pop culture that has morphed the T word into a punch line that dehumanizes trans people, to the people who call trans people the T word to mis-gender them, to all the gay men and their girlfriends who think it’s “cool” and hip to say the T word,to the mean people who use the tra**y as an insult, to the actresses who think it’s okay to say the T word because their gay agent said its acceptable and their publicist said it would give them free press, to the gay male editors of trashy blogs who exploit this issue and think they have the authority to tell trans women to “lighten up” for protesting hate speech, to the trans people who have such low self-esteem that they accept the T word has a fake form of endearment:

OK, you’re right, I give up, I’m just a “tra**y”: subhuman, joke, object. I should just accept that you find my medical condition so uncomprehendable that you fear it. Sorry that I had the audacity to think the trans community could integrate their humanity into mainstream society and bring awareness to the stigma and harm that the T word inspires. I now accept that my birth challenge is nothing more than a punch line for non-trans people to make hateful pejoratives out of and then bully me when I cry out for understanding and respect. I will now resign myself to my cave that your hate, misogyny and transphobia has banished me to. It was silly of me to think that tra**ys deserved anything but marginalization, depression and crumbs. I guess if the LGB portion of the LGBTI community says the T word is okay, then where do transsexual and intersex people get off on wanting to speak for themselves? I promise not to speak anymore until spoken to. Your brutality, selfishness and insensitivity has beaten me, there is no more energy in my spirit to fight. I am moving back to the forest where I don’t have to put up with your bullshit reasons of why trans people have to accept this abuse. If you need a tra**y to hop around on your stage like a clown working for peanuts, you can find me in the leper colony where the tra**ys have been quarantined to. Goodbye, and good riddens, tra**y out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pain Brought By Joy: The Joy Behar Show’s Pattern of Transphobia & Ignorance Perpetuates Harm on Transsexual, Transgender & Intersex Americans.

Pain Brought By Joy: The Joy Behar Show’s Pattern of Transphobia & Ignorance Perpetuates Harm on Transsexual, Transgender & Intersex Americans.
by Ashley Love- Founder of MAGNET- Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender

Some of the problems Americans with a transsexual medical condition or a gender non-conforming (transgender) identity face are the defamatory media stereotypes and inaccurate education about them or their issues. Although trans issues have become more visible in recent years, many journalists and television and radio hosts continue to exclude experts from the transsexual and transgender communities in their coverage. Instead, they often rely on non-trans people (in this case, gay male pundits who are not transsexual) with little knowledge or insight of their issues. These pundits misrepresent transsexual and transgender people and perpetuate intolerant views of gender and biological diversity.

Last month The Joy Behar Show had two highly problematic shows concerning transsexuality and gender identity. Previously, Joy Behar also expressed transphobic sentiments on The View.

The first incident aired in late 2006. The hosts of The View (one of my favorite talk shows) were having a conversation concerning terminology used in the transsexual and transgender communities in which Joy Behar offensively blurted out "ewww...that's weird.” :(

Then on The Joy Behar Show's November 10th, 2010 episode, the topic of discussion was the pejorative "tra**y" (an anti-transsexual woman slur). Shockingly, instead of inviting transsexual women on the show to express their feelings about this hate speech, invited instead were two unqualified and insensitive gay men (who are not trans). Radio host Michelangelo Signorile and author Greg Fitzsimmons discussed the misogynistic word with a condescending and non-affirming tone. For what reason would Behar’s producers have two gay men serve as “experts” about a slur associated with sexism and violence towards women, not men? Women can speak for themselves, thank you very much.

If the “N word” was used on TV to dehumanize a Black person, would Behar have Asian people on her show to discuss it? Or if someone in the media was using the pejorative “dyke” to dehumanize lesbian women, would Behar solely ask straight men their opinions? Trans leaders and the history of the LGB”T” movement testify that some in the gay and lesbian community are just as guilty of transphobia as non-trans straight people are, which is why it’s imperative that trans Americans be able to represent themselves.

This appropriation and lack of trans representation has stigmatizing results on the public’s perception of Americans with transsexualism. Transsexualism is a birth challenge and medical condition, and has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. “Transgender” is a term used to describe a person's gender identity. Gender is a person's identity, the core essence of who that person is. Sexual orientation describes who a person is attracted to. They are totally different concepts.

When Behar asked if the “T word” was ever used as a "compliment", Signorile remarked "there's a club in San Francisco called 'Tra**y Shack’”. The Tra**y Shack is a sensationalist male drag queen show, with gay men performing a stage act. Comparing transsexualism to male drag queen camp is not only wrong, but it exists as stigmatizing propaganda that transsexual women are "extensions of gay men" and "female impersonators". This is called "trans face", where gay men imitate trans women in a mocking, over the top and degrading fashion. Signorile undermined trans women’s dignity in their affirmed gender realities.

In Behar’s defense, at least she disagreed with Signorile's shallow defense of the “T word”. She compared the use of the “T word” to racial slurs, arguing that it’s not for people who are not a part of the community a pejorative is aimed at to reclaim it. Well done Joy.

Days later, on the November 21 episode, Behar discussed Chaz Bono's transition as a transman in a segment called “Transgender In America.” He is the son of celebrities Sonny and Cher Bono. Although Chaz identifies and presents as male, Behar kept referring to him as “her” and “she.” This maligning language was extremely disrespectful to Chaz and to all transsexual and transgender people. Behar should, and does, know better.

This episode was compounded by yet another transphobic gay male pundit, Ken Corbett, who not only used improper pronouns, but expressed his unscientific opinion that Chaz is unauthentic in his gender. Behar should have had a medical doctor or affirming psychologist trained in the facts pertaining to the transsexual birth challenge or gender identity issues, not a self-loathing gay man who resents the trans community because they bring up his insecurity of diverse gender expression.

Some discriminated against people feel the need to mimic their oppressors by oppressing others who have less social acceptance then they do. That’s clearly the behavior that Corbett was displaying in his invalid comments about trans people.

There are apologists who believe criticizing Behar’s irresponsibility and offensive content is unwarranted. Certain people in marginalized minority groups are so accustomed to the abuse and belittlement cast on them by mainstream society that they begin to be grateful for insults candy coated in advocacy. Some gay people accused trans activists who expressed their disappointment with Behar’s behavior of “unfairly crucifying Behar”.

Isn’t that something? Trans people speak out against the dehumanizing media that is hurting them and in return they get attacked and called “crucifiers”. This is a projection tactic in which those being legitimately criticized decline to take responsibility for their actions and instead attack those justly seeking accountability.

No, we will not say thank you for crumbs or the backs of your hand!

One gay man I interviewed protested the trans community’s uproar, saying: “…but Behar is a great LGBT ally”. Wrong. Behar is a great “LGB” ally. Adding the “T” in the acronym in this instance is inaccurate. Just because someone supports gay and lesbian people authentically and consistently does not necessarily mean they are equally enthused about assisting the trans community. Trans people are more misunderstood, feared and oppressed in society than gay and lesbian people, which is why some gay advocates do not always choose to be trans advocates.

What is hypocritical is that Behar consistently discusses feminist issues, yet participates in alienating oppressed women born with a birth challenge. If feminism is for liberation and equality for all women, then by invalidating trans women’s gender, she is not authentically being a feminist. To frame it in an Orwellian “Animal Farm” context, some women should not be treated “more equal” than other women.

Behar used to be a teacher- yet an ethical, professional approach to presenting such misunderstood content is to conduct unbiased, balanced research. As a news presenter, one would assume she or her staffers would do basic Trans 101 research before presenting such misleading ideas on the air. Even the Associated Press Association opposes Behar’s improper use of pronouns. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, so I’m sure she has learned that the oppressed understand their oppressors far better than the other way around.

I don’t feel Joy Behar is an enemy to the trans community, but she obviously has some phobia issues concerning gender and biological diversity. Also, the producers of The Joy Behar show are just as guilty of irresponsibility because they should have had actual trans people on the November 11th episode to discuss the "T word” slur, not have their issues be colonized by the gay and lesbian community. There are numerous trans specific organizations the producers could have gone to for trans spokespeople, such as the Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender People (MAGNET), Gender Identity Reform, Transgender Law Center, International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), , etc.

Universal joy in this world will occur when the human race ceases to fear diversity, and instead, celebrates it.

The many trans activists and allies speaking out against the transphobic and dehumanizing messages expressed on The Joy Behar Show last November are challenging a belief system stemmed from fear and ignorance, drawing a line in the sand, calling on others to join in the trans community’s outrage and letting the mainstream and gay and lesbian community know that the silent resignation of the trans community is over!