Friday, May 20, 2011

Dear Marie Claire Magazine, Thank You for Respecting Women with a Transsexual Medical Condition by Not Mislabeling Them “Transgender”

Janet Mock, an editor for, recently opened up about her transsexual medical condition publicly

AN OPEN LETTER to Marie Claire magazine:

Dear Marie Claire,

I am an organizer with MAGNET- Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender People, an anti-defamation and media advocacy group. Yesterday I read the article in your magazine about Janet Mock’s courageous choice to disclose her transsexual medical history to fulfill her passion to help people who are going through what she went through. This woman is a breath of fresh air on so many levels. Not only is she a successful professional, glowing with beauty and authentic spirit, and a role model that squashes tired stereotypes, but she is giving voice to the transsexual medical condition in a country whose gay (not transsexual) establishment is trying to alienate all people born transsexual onto a “transgender reservation” against their will.

I want to thank Marie Claire Magazine for accurately labeling Janet as a woman of transsexual experience in your marketing text, instead of problematically calling her transgender. For you see, transgender is a sociopolitical term which is reserved for people who do not conform to gender, such as drag queens/kings, cross dressing and transvestite males, gender queer activists or gender non-conforming people who identify with their physical sex. Janet is absolutely none of these things. She is a heterosexual woman who was born with a medical condition; she is NOT a stage act or fetishist.

Unethically, the term transgender is used by lazy and intellectually dishonest entities to throw ten different groups into a single category so that it’s easy for the establishment to stamp diverse groups of minorities with one scarlet letter. This is not only dangerous to the medical legitimacy of people with transsexualism and compromises their human rights, it also mis-genders them. It implies that they are “third genders”, which is a subtle and condescending slap in their face and invalidates their womanhood.

Why would life styles, activities and behaviors be associated with a physical birth condition? It’s not right. People with transsexualism are being used as a political bargaining chip by the gay and lesbian establishment, and enough is enough!

Today the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) blatantly disregarded Janet’s testimony of having a transsexual condition and enforced their political transgender stamp on her, angering many people with transsexualism across the country who are fed up with this misrepresentation. The gay and lesbian people who work at GLAAD do injustice to those with the medical condition transsexualism. They have appropriated them into their homosexual politics by mis-educating the public that they are the same thing as gay male drag queens, gay people who identity as gender queer, and even transvestite fetishists. GLAAD branding the transgender label on a woman like Janet, who is in a committed heterosexual relationship with her boyfriend, is not only inaccurate, but makes public understanding even more unattainable then it already is.

GLAAD turns a deaf ear to women of transsexual history when they resist the co-opting and rewriting of their narrative. However, it’s only a matter of time before this colonization ceases and the truth emerges. Until then, we will continue to speak out against Gay Incorporated hijacking our medical condition into their own agenda in a way that serves them, but pigeonholes us.

GLAAD needs to reform their media (mis)guide, for they are defaming the very people they are claiming to protect from defamation.

I had to write this letter of gratitude to your magazine because most media outlets generally use the trendiest buzz word around instead of striving for accuracy and understanding. Many publications misuse the term transgender when they are actually talking about someone who has transsexualism. The fact that you compassionately listened to Janet’s story when she said she is of transsexual experience, and referred to her as such in the online promotion of this article, speaks volumes about your publications integrity to do right not just by this remarkable woman, but to all people with a transsexual medical history. We are such a marginalized and misunderstood community, so it’s always hopeful when a story such as Janet’s is done with authenticity, accuracy and care.

Thanks for not enforcing transgender ideology onto this woman. She is not a gender deconstructionist, part-timer or RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant. Janet is a woman who just happened to have been born with a rare birth challenge and has decided to open up about her journey in an effort to give back.

Marie Claire magazine promoting this story accurately is a major step forward in uplifting affirming depictions of human beings born with a transsexual medical condition.

Sincerely, thousands of women across America who were born a bit different, but women nonetheless


  1. Stephanie StevensMay 20, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Ashley, I fully agree that Janet "is a breath of fresh air," which is not something I can say about some folks.


  2. It would be nice if we could cure the LGBT of its blatant discrimination and abuse of transsexuals. Signed yours truly,
    Lisa McDonald AKA amym440

  3. The Transgender Borg collective are the real problem. they are like a cult demanding every one use the exact same language to describe their personal experiencing of what it means to have been born with transsexualism.

    They insist post transsexual women describe themselves as "transgender" and "identify as transgender" while claiming to be non-op transsexuals, which means they will never ever let a surgeon's knife any place close to their male genitals.

    To call them on this is to open oneself to all sorts of abuse including charges of elitism, separatism and essentialism.

  4. Dear Ashley,

    I have rarely read anything more in tune with my own perspective as your comments on the use of the vague and misleading term "transgender".

    As a woman of TS history and a lawyer and human rights advicate involved in representing adolescents and adults living with transsexualism in Australia, I work hard to cut through that term in order to clarify the fact that my clients live with a condition of diversity in sexual formation, are the affirmed males and females they experience themselves as being and are just as entitled to medical treatment for their condition as anyone who experiences a personally and socially critical intersex condition.

    Language builds and shapes our world and our human rights within it.

    The answer to the mystification of transsexualism is clarity. As "transgender" can mean anything and is such a politically distorted term, it is not useful for, and can harm, people who experience transsexualism.

    In the Australian case called Re Kevin, the Family Court of Australia found that transsexualism was as biologically derived as any other phenomenon referred to as "intersex" and that consistent with the law of Australia, people living with transsexualism who had received rehabilitative medical Sex Affirmation Treatment were entitiled to be legally married in their affirmed sex.

    The first crucial issue for people living with transsexualism is access to medical treatment, whereas many transgender people do not need any medical treatment as their issue is diversity in gender expression and not diversity in sexual formation.

    I will be presentating on langauge and terminology and its affects on Human Rights and access to medical treatment at the WPATH Symposium in Atlanta in September.

  5. Ashley,
    Spot on dear! Well written and I hope that this letter does not fall on blind eyes. A very wise piece all the way around.

    Kristine Tarcy Hollander

  6. Great letter. Thanx for keeping the fight going.
    Lisa W

  7. I agree totally. Transgenderism is socio/political, where-as Transsexual is medical/biological! Angella~Dee x x

  8. Thank you to my community of no conformists, freinds and family and non family and.. non gay, gay, trans... something who continue to educate, challenge and re-shape our language,, perspective and push me and others to respect that there are always people who oppress others. Unfortunatly those who know or have know oppression are not exempt from oppressing.

    I must apprologize for being one of the lazy people who has inappropriately lumped too many people into the transgender lable. Via this article I understand better why this insensitive action has hurt people. I am sorry.

    Personally I I am in my own personal change... a lesbian. butch who many ask when are you going to ahve surgery..never.. I am not becoming a man, I am not a man.. but I have many qualities that are masciline idenified in our culture.. I wear 'mens' cloths... so I have kinda fallen into being idenified a sofetly transgender or gender neutral or... what ever lable has come up of late...

    all said.. thanks for this article.. I will work to be more sensitive and to work to change the organization i am the chair of the be more inclusive and disticntive...

  9. I believe I will edit my 'talks' with college classes to reflect the positive life of the transsexual, or just woman. Being a rather 'much different' sort if reference to my journey.

  10. Wow. While I absolutely appreciate the effort taken into making this distinction and while I feel that it's a point well made, I can't help but feel like a freak while reading it. I didn't think I was a stage act or fetishist; just someone born with a different idea about body and my social relationships. This is totally an important distinction and yes, there are a lot of transgendered shock jocks and loud people out there, but there are plenty of people who identify honestly with the concept of "transgender". And we are not freaks. It's not a choice, lifestyle, or behaviour. Thank you.