Rebecca Juro

Susan Stanton Responds

Filed By Rebecca Juro | January 04, 2008 7:10 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, gender, LGBT, queer, Stanton, transgender

On a page on her personal website titled "Message to TS Community", Susan Stanton, the transwoman who came under fire from the transgender community for comments that were published in a story on her in the St. Petersburg Times that were seen as unsupportive and even offensive to transgender community members and our interests by many, including myself and Marti Abernathey, has released a statement stating her views on the matter.

In the statement, Stanton describes herself as "shocked and disappointed" in the article and the way it portrayed her publicly, expressing her belief that "anyone reading this article would think I am a conceited, arrogant, depressed, suicidal victim in need of immediate medical intervention.". Stanton complains that in recent days she has received hundreds of emails from transpeople upset with the quotes attributed to her and concludes her statement with:

"I do understand how upset everyone is with me; I understand your feelings and I accept that the "trans-community" does not want me to "represent them" any longer.

Message Received!!!

I would request that everyone stop sending me e-mails since I am no longer going to read this poison any longer.

In all future media communications I will expressly state that I do not speak for or represent anyone other than myself."

It seems to me that Stanton is more than a little bitter, perhaps with good reason. Yet, one would think that's all the more reason to speak out publicly and set the record straight. Her bitterness indicates to me that she may understand the nuts and bolts of living a transgender life, but she really doesn't understand what it is to be a part of the American transgender community socially and politically. She hasn't yet really come to terms with what it means to be seen and treated as "less than equal" in her everyday life, not just to be unfairly denied employment opportunities, but also to be seen as a freak, out of the mainstream, and even a radical extremist, just because of who she is, how she lives her life, and how she presents herself to others. She doesn't yet understand what that does to people who have had to deal with that perception, not only from straight America but even from those who define themselves as our fellow community members and allies, day after day, year after year, and have been doing so far longer than she's been in the media spotlight.

As I promised I would last night on my radio show, earlier today I once again phoned Susan and tried to invite her on my show as a guest to talk about these issues and clear the air. She thanked me for calling and then hung up on me. In my opinion, this public statement does little, if anything, to put these issues to rest. Personally, I'd like to hear her tell me and my listeners herself, in her own voice and with her own words, exactly what she really thinks about transgender people and advocating for our equality under the law. I'd like her to personally respond to the questions I and other transgender community members have about what she was quoted as saying in the story, what was accurate and what was not, and what she wants the community to know about her views about us and our lives.

In addition, I'm more than a bit puzzled by her reaction. Susan Stanton worked in government and the political arena for almost a decade and a half at minimum. Did she really expect acclaim or acceptance of the views attributed to her in this article from members of a community as violently persecuted as Transgender-Americans? Did she really expect support and sympathy from a community of people who have been being legally denied employment, housing, basic social services, contact with children and other loved ones, and even simple human respect for who we are and how live our lives as a matter of course throughout history in most areas of this country? If she did, then it's clear to me that while she may understand how to live and function on a daily basis as a woman, she still doesn't have any real understanding of what it means to be a transgender person, and particularly a transwoman, in the United States of America in 2008.

Susan, if you're reading this, the invitation to appear on my show is still open, and will remain so. Come on my show, answer the questions we have. Talk to us, become a part of our community, and let us help you understand what it really means to be one of us. Make yourself part of the solution. Get to know and understand us, our history, and why we react as strongly and forcefully as we do when we hear statements about us such as those we read in that article, especially when they're seen as coming from one of our own.

One thing I can promise you, Susan, at least on behalf of myself and my radio show anyway, is that you are being offered the opportunity to speak for yourself here, with no intermediary between your own words and the public, about how you feel and what you really want the community to know and understand about you and your views. It is, of course, up to you to take advantage of it. I'm easy to find and get in touch with. You can contact me through the site where you are reading this, or just Google me. My contact information is all over the net, and easy to locate.

I hope you'll take advantage of this open door, Susan. It's not too late to set the record straight, but it will be soon. Speak out now, while there's still time, before attention fades and current opinion ages into firmly-held belief. Show us who and what you really are, before others decide it for themselves.


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Does make me wonder how much Barney had in all of this after it had his finger prints all over every thing she said.

WoW...

I do feel for her, it hurts when you step in it that deep...

Several years ago I was interviewed by a newspaper and a TV station regarding my transition.

Maybe it's because i am somewhat street smart, i insisted on setting up some ground rules before i even met both interviewers fact to face.

For the TV interview i asked for a list of questions in advance.

for the newspaper interview i made darn sure anything i said couldn't be taken out of context.


While my situation was unique and I have experience speaking in public and dealing with people
(yah i know it doesn't show here :) )

It is difficult to control the interview in these situations. All it would take are just a couple of to be spun in the article for something like this to happen.

Given That...

I just don't see how she could have allowed this to happen in the first place.
She has more experience at this then I or most of the people i know in the community.

A wise person once said..
"Never say anything in front of a reporter you wouldn't feel comfortable answering to in court"

Then again we weren't there.

What is missing from her statement is an explanation of how this may have happened considering this quote...

The St. Petersburg Times is an excellent newspaper and I consider Ms. Lane DeGregory to be a gifted writer and a personal friend so I am not sure how my words could have been so terribly misunderstood.

One would think if she wants to clear up some of the things she has said i would think an explanation would be at hand instead of the above being the only mention of her interaction with the paper.

Then again maybe she feels she is finished with the TG/TS communities.

In the long run maybe that's best.

Thanks Rebecca.

Good post as usual.
Take care
Sue

From Stanton's statement:

"As a city manager, I am sensitive to the impact that gender expression can have in the workplace. Many people in the transgender community felt my own termination was pure discrimination and have used my experience to justify the need for the passage of ENDA. However, I believe even in my own case, the reasons for my termination were far more complex then simply an unlawful act of discrimination. As a city manager, I had a responsibility to ensure my own personal life was not disruptive to city operations or inconsistent with the values of the community. Based upon the current level of understanding regarding the fundamental nature of gender identity among the general public, the Largo City Commission concluded that my conduct, following the medical standard of care for transsexuals, compromised my integrity and ability to provide leadership to my employees and was in conflict with both family and moral values of the community."

Is it just me - or does this paragraph actually make things worse? "As a city manager, I had a responsibility to ensure my own personal life was not disruptive to city operations or inconsistent with the values of the community." What does this say about her view of the rights and potential rights of trans people who either (a) happen to have attained positions of authority prior to transition; (b) live in bigoted communities; or (c) both?

I think we've now seen a transgender macaca moment.

Hi Kat..
I saw that and wonder if her termination was possibly do to her on the job behavior as apposed to her transition...
How many of us know girls or have experienced the radical mood swings and emotional outbursts that sometimes accompany the beginnings of hormone therapy. I read that and had the impression that there was something else going on that led to her termination as City Manager.

There is a whole lot under the surface of that statement.

Take care
Sue

I read that paragraph and wondered if perhaps her own on the job behavior was the cause for her termination. There is too much in that paragraph that is implied and not said...

Those of us who know many TS can find at least a couple who did their share of bouncing off the walls during those first few months of HRT.
We may have even experienced the emotional roller coaster ourselves.

Take care
Sue

Kat,

It's also worth remembering that Largo has a law (ordinance?) prohibiting discrimination against LGBT city employees, and that it was in force at the time of her firing. What I'm wondering is how the Largo City Council could just ignore that in her case, and, of course, why she's defending it.

Sue,

I certainly experienced those estrogen-induced swings as well when I first went on hormones, but what I'm wondering is if she's been in the transition process and on hormones long enough to be just a few months away from surgery, shouldn't she have gotten over that by now? Sure, it probably takes longer for some than for others, and hormones likely affect different people differently in some ways, but I dunno...it just seems like an awfully long time into the process to be able to blame her reaction solely on that.

Good point Rebecca..

I did know one person (a former coworker) who couldn't manage those mood swings even after being on hormones for nearly as long as i had been at the time.. Turns out she let it slip one day that she wes double dosing and had been for a long time...

We all have heard of Roid Rage
When the body building types take androgens the body will only use so much, the rest becomes estrogen and this is the source of Road Rage.

we also know how common hormone abuse is amongst TG/TS people. I have known of one girl who stroked out from hormone abuse five years ago.

That statement of hers was carefully crafted to be vague regarding the end of her relationship with Largo FL. If she was fired for cause that may be the reason why no suite was filed, why she is having trouble finding work and why she was so careful in crafting her statments regarding her termination.

as i have said before there is something wrong with this picture.


Take care
Sue

PS...
Sorry about the double posts the server was acting wgoofy yesterday evening...


Just an FYI - I've offered Ms. Stanton the opportunity to guest post here in reply to Becky and Marti's posts. No answer yet.


That would be good.

I promise to be nice.
Take care
Sue

Don't hold your breath. The word that's coming back to me consistently is that Stanton is refusing any and all media requests, not just mine, saying that her posted statement will be all she has to say to the community, apparently both now and in the future.

Based on the evidence I've seen, I can't say I'm surprised.

Caillean McMahon | January 5, 2008 8:31 PM

In fairness to Stanton, the community MADE her a spokesperson. She was a victim of discrimination and the latest subject of media interest. In addition, she was early in transition and had just lost her job. That is a frightening place to be. She had lost her credibility as a white straight male professional simultaneously. Socially and psychologically, she is likely adrift and scared. She is grasping at some kind of respectability and credibility by seeing herself as different from others in the trans community just as some gays and lesbians distance themselves from us for similiar reasons for public acceptance.

Many transsexuals do see themselves, their lives, and the process of change as being drastically different and apart from the other components of the trans community. This is not to excuse the remarks, this is only to put them into perspective.

Marti and Becky no doubt remember that I lost my own job three weeks before surgery, meaning no sick leave, no forseeable income and the loss of professional prestige. I reacted differently, going to court, as I told my counsel, "to make history and to make sure that this cannot happen to anyone else." I had supports, though, I had people, people from the trans-community, who supported me, cared about me and who were activists, bless you Laura deGrey, Marina Brown, Chelsea Goodwin, Rusty Moore and so many others.

Let's waste no time attacking Susan. None of us are living in her head. We have far too many more pressing issues facing the community to be mired in recrimiations like this.

Hi Caillean;

I don't call her out for making the statement that she feels she is different from other TG's (using her words in part)

I don't identify as trans-anything, even though i have lived as a paler-TG person, became pre-op TS and have been Post-Op for over four years now.
There is No crime in being different.

Stanton did say things in regards to her being different that i and others feel were well out of line even for a newly transitioning person without a job.

while i can see how you come to the comclusion that "we" (in the community sense) drafted her as a spokesperson, she still has the choice to say no and get on with her life. Instead she took up the offer and the rest is history.


Take care
Sue

Caillean McMahon | January 5, 2008 10:25 PM

Sue;
Fair enough. Time to move on, though. We do need people out there in public, as you, Marti and Becky are. I don't so much trans-identify as acknowledge that I transitioned. I identify as a woman as far as gender (I was born a chromosomal mosaic) and lesbian as far as orientation (getting married in May, btw--in Canada as I cannot in the States). Prior to ENDA I had stayed stealth as far as transition since my court case, though our as a Lesbian. ENDA made me re-think that. Though legally female, I've been feeling an obligation to "come back out" on behalf of those with no protections

Welcome back Caillean. The entire LGBT movement needs you now more than ever. :)

Caillean,
i understand.
you take care
Sue

Michele deLaFreniere | January 7, 2008 3:17 PM

I may not agree with Susan statements if she truly said them but I do understand that the media will twist most Transgender articles. With our issue in Arizona, most of the media put misinformation or a belittling twist on the majority of the articles and at times created situations to stir the pot of discrimination and inflame the situation further just to creat news.