Bil Browning

My Responsibility: The difference between "challenging" and "offensive"

Filed By Bil Browning | December 11, 2009 3:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Site News
Tags: Ronald Gold, transphobic

Bilerico Project was launched with the knowledge that vast swaths of the LGBT community had no interactions with each other. As much as we love to embrace our rainbows, our color stripes tend to have hard edges like the flag we wave instead of melding gracefully like nature's beauty. The idea behind Bilerico Project is to encourage dialogue among different areas of the LGBT community that might never interact normally.

Ronald Gold's post about gender fluidity yesterday afternoon offended many of our readers. As the site owner, I'd like to apologize to everyone who wrote in to express your displeasure with the post. The editors who reviewed Mr. Gold's op-ed were divided over whether or not we should publish it and I made the final decision; it's my responsibility. I'm sorry that I've let down so many Projectors with my judgment call.

After the jump, I'd like to explain my reasoning, point out the positives, and ask your advice on how to prevent episodes like this in the future. We are unique among LGBT blogs for our level of contributor diversity. As we go forward into unexplored terrain, we need some guideposts from Projectors so we can stay on track.

The Purpose of the Project

We've deliberately sought out the most diverse roster of contributors we can find who we think will add to the discussion. I'm proud to say that we have the highest percentage of transgender bloggers of any LGBT sites - and not just token people either; we regularly feature content from some of the brightest and most articulate trans writers possible.

We're not a "news site" dedicated to bringing our readers the latest and fastest breaking news; we're the queer opinion pages of cyberspace. With so many facets of LGBT life possible, the potential for both conflict and resolution are as unlimited as the number of participants. Many times our community doesn't march in lockstep - nor does it need to.

Bilerico Project is not a "safe space." We intend to challenge our readers and contributors to reach beyond their usual expectations and engage on some topics that might be outside of their comfort zone. We have published a guest post from an ex-gay proponent, two Congressmen who wanted to explain why they thought hate crimes legislation was a bad idea and voted against it, columns on why gay marriage is a bad idea, and a whole host of other controversial issues that the editors don't necessarily agree with but felt deserved a full, civil and open debate.

While Bilerico might not be a "safe space," it should also be a spot where our community can visit without feeling personally vilified and condemned. In my zeal to protect our goal of free speech and frank conversations, I neglected to realize exactly how hurtful Mr. Gold's language would be to many of our readers.

Going Beyond the Contributor

One of the reasons I gave Mr. Gold's post the green light was because of my mother. She has said some of the most homophobic and transphobic things to me while trying to be supportive. Like Mr. Gold, my mother is elderly and her views have been shaped by the times she's lived through. Her own long-held prejudices and opinions influence how she thinks even while she tries to shrug them off now that her boundaries have expanded.

Whether we like it or not, Mr. Gold's notions about gender identity are shared by quite a few of our queer elders and many of our contemporaries. Outmoded notions of gender identity and sexuality don't melt away as quickly as we'd like - whether or not someone comes out of the closet, is politically active, or has a long and storied history of leadership in our shared movement. Ronald Gold has a rich and significant history within our movement, but that doesn't mean he's perfect or doesn't make mistakes.

For most of our controversial posts, the comment threads provide the best reading possible. Projectors tend to be some of the smartest and most thoughtful commenters I've seen in the blogosphere. They really shape the community and help influence our thinking on LGBT issues.

The positive that this post has spawned though cannot be ignored. As I said in the comments section of his post, I believe that Mr. Gold's op-ed was well intended but the language choices he made diminished his point so incredibly that many of the reactions have focused on that glaring aspect.

Still, 99.9% of the comments made to Mr. Gold in response to his post have been passionate without being personal, compassionate more than condemning. It seems that the author's intent is also being considered by Projectors who are really moving the discussion. I'm proud of those who have commented for their restraint and courtesy when it's so easy to automatically reach for a verbal flamethrower.

How to Move Forward

The Bilerico community has done a great job of pushing Mr. Gold to re-evaluate his language choices, stereotypes, assumptions and conclusions about trans people. Several people have said the pain the op-ed caused some of our readers is too high of a price to pay. Is it?

To quote Zoe Brain from her comment on Mr. Gold's post, "Just because the ideas are unpopular doesn't mean they should not have been expressed. Monocultures where everyone thinks alike are prone to go astray. Our most cherished ideas should be able to withstand a little challenging if they're so very correct."

We won't be removing the post from the site and would instead encourage readers to join the conversation there to ensure that we make clear this one point: Transgender people are not mutilated or deluded; they are not damaged in any way. Instead, all of our friends, family, and internet acquaintances are beautiful and worthy of respect just as they are.

As the Editorial Team works together to shape a more concrete decision making process on posts we know could be controversial, how would you advise us? At what point does a post go from "challenging" to "offensive?" What made this post stand out over other controversial posts?

It was my decision that this post would challenge our readers more than it would offend them. It was my responsibility and I made a not-fully-considered decision. I'm sorry.


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I applaud you Bil. Thanks for stepping up. The one thing I would say, is you probably should have probably posted this BEFORE the post.

Wow its late, I am half asleep, and used probably TWICE in the same sentence. UGH.

*That* is the way to do an apology.

Could you give some lessons to the politicians on the (R) side -- they keep failing at them.

Thanks, Bil. I put my faith in you this time, and I'm glad you did the right thing. :D

If you're having difficulty toeing the line between "challenging" and "offensive", I'd say a post that point-blank calls out an entire demographic as being "deluded" or "mutilated", or uses scare quotes every time it refers to them should VERY CLEARLY lie on the "offensive" side of the divide.

I expect that a similar post that used scare quotes around the word "gay" or "lesbian" every time it appears, neatly dismissing the agency and experience of anyone who identifies as either would immediately be pegged as "offensive".

Gold's post could have been "challenging" without being "offensive". Perhaps he could have asked trans people whether we think we would still exist in a world without gender policing, rather than simply telling us that not only would we not, but we are also crazynuts to boot. Then we could have shared our experiences, he could have his "Trans 101" moment, and everyone could have gone home happy. Except perhaps for the people wondering why he didn't just do some reading, since it's not like the question hasn't already been answered a million times before on the internet.

That said, two apologies were needed, and we just got one. Thank you for that. Now it's Gold's turn.

Bill,
I wish I felt like it would be simple to give you a pass on this and nod my head in agreement. However, history has taught me a powerful lesson, promoting the voice of bigoted dominant paradigm cannot simply be overcome with well wishes and apologies while the offense still stands. The hope that "commentators" will correct erroneous assumptions, language, and embedded belief systems is a failed way to run a blog or a community forum.

It is on-it's-face offensive and patronizing for Men to write about "little ladies" and then instruct us in how "not to be hysterical" about the oppression and sexism we face. Similarly, what you fail to articulate to me in this 'apology', is a clear understanding of the complex interplay of privilege and power that both you and Mr. Gold wield as cissexed (or if you prefer, non-trans) people, people who have never been faced with a complex and distressing discomfort with your sex. The exceptionally bigoted, dangerous, and frequently lethal process of coming out and transition. The widespread abuse and unemployment, degradation at the hands of strangers, and public ridicule. The article simply pats me on the head and says "There, there.. you can just be a boy with long hair!" The thought of which makes me snarl.

It was an absolute lack of judgment on the editorial team to allow this to stand and I honestly question how many trans people were jumping up and down "Yes! This should be published!"

It is offensive, and equally offensive that you have not removed the offending post. Next time any of you take the opportunity to gripe, complain, or attack something negative that is written about queers ANYWHERE, in print, on the web, in a speech, from a pulpit, on the campaign stump... I will make sure to remind you of this moment when you so adamantly defended what a HUGE number of trans people told you was patently offensive, bigoted, and mean spirited.

I consider your failure to listen to Trans people's call to remove the post as a sign of tacit endorsement. I will boycott Bilerico starting tonight and encourage anyone I know who believes in social justice, equality and dignity for Trans people to do the same.

For those Trans folks who are writing here at Bilerco, I would challenge you to search your heart and ask yourself if you can in fact endorse such an attack and then trivial waving of the hand, "OH you silly trans people and your over reacting!"

This has been exceptionally disappointing and poor taste on Bilerico's part. You join HRC in the world of "Epic Mainstream Gays Fail."

First, I want to thank you, Bil, for taking responsibility for this debacle, for that is what I truly think this was. It has severely damaged the goodwill that I and many other trans people, and many of our allies, held for Bilerico based on its commitment to diversity and your ongoing efforts to educate yourself and the LGB community about trans people and the issues we face.

You say that Bilerico is not a "safe space," but I think you and I have a different conception of what that means. For me, a "safe" online community doesn't require that everyone agree with me. In fact, I come to Bilerico to learn what other people think about the events in our LGBT community in order to aid in my own understanding and help shape my personal opinions. That goal would be poorly served if everyone was singing the same tune all the time. However, Bilerico becomes unsafe when contributors or commenters are allowed to discount and disrespect my identity and tell me that what I know to be true about myself is merely a delusion and that the choices I make to affirm my identity and attempt to live a life of peace and dignity constitute "mutilation." Creating a "safe space" here on Bilerico is about requiring civility and respect, not telling me what I should think or feel, and not discounting the validity of my experience just because it's different than yours and you don't understand it.

This controversy reminds me of the growing pains that Bilerico went through not so long ago over the same kind of incivility in comments that led to the revamping of the guidelines applicable to commenters and an increased commitment to actually enforcing those guidelines. As I and others pointed out in the comments to Mr. Gold's article, he violated the terms of service for commenters. One would hope that contributors would be subject to standards that are at least as stringent as those applicable to readers who choose to commment.

So, how to proceed into the future? Don't allow contributors to do what I would not be allowed to do in a comment. Require contributors to talk about issues and speak about disagreements with civility and respect for the validity of opposing viewpoints.

It's been a long and trying day with the roller coaster of emotions that I have experienced with this controversy. I'm not expressing myself very well and I'm sure I have more to say, but, right now, I need to rest.

I hope we all can learn and grow from this experience, as painful as it's been for me and many others.

First of all, I do want to acknowledge and applaud your willingness to step forward and take responsibility for this. It's never easy to admit a mistake, and even harder to do so in front of a national audience. That takes courage, and that courage deserves recognition.

That said, this still rings hollow to me. I don't want to say "too little too late" because that's not exactly right. Rather, it smacks of an uncomfortable double standard. Where was this class of response when Austen posted her now-infamous "harsh dissection of political realities"? Where was the editorial response stepping up to defend the rights of the posters here to speak their minds? Where was your spirited defense of her right to make people uncomfortable and disturb the peace?

Further, I think in your haste to show respect to a known icon of the gay community, you do us all a disservice by sugar-coating his message. I think that if you were to take Dr. Gold's message and sanitize all of the language, it would still have been just as wrong to endorse. Rendering "mutilated" as "unnecessarily modified" and replacing "peckers" with "penises" doesn't change the fact that the underlying assumptions in his post aren't supported by the broad wealth of easily-attainable and well-documented research into the actual experiences of real transsexuals.

I disagree with your assertion that his argument was "well intended but the language choices he made diminished his point". No doubt he believes this, of course, and I can even grant that you agree with it, but I believe to the underlying majority of transsexuals who read and responded to that post, there could be no interpretation of that message which could be considered well-intended. One could, for example, make the argument that electroshock therapy, forced exorcism, Exodus International, lobotomy, and murder are all "well intentioned" tactics of an anti-gay movement that believe, honestly and earnestly, that dying pure is a better alternative to living in sin. No doubt this is the attitude of the government of Uganda, for instance. Shall we excuse their statements and actions as "well intentioned"? They believe in the rightness and justice of their actions, and surely believe without irony or doublethink that their cause is just and their course is true. That they seek to do us bodily harm is irrelevant; in the greater scheme of things, they honestly think they're doing us a favor.

Even if we grant that this is untrue of those groups, what of others? What of Maggie Gallagher? What of Peter LaBarbara? What of Fred Phelps? What of Pat Buchanan? What of Rick Warren? At what point are we allowed to say, "I'm sorry, but your premise is sufficiently divergent from mine that no amount of 'good intentions' can salvage this communication"? When is it acceptable to declare "irrevocable differences" and seek a philosophical divorce?

When people agree on the facts but disagree on the interpretations, there is room for dialogue and understanding. When people disagree on the facts, there is nowhere to take the discussion. Ronald Gold's facts don't seem to mesh with mine, and it would seem that they don't mesh with the wider realm of Bilerico's audience.

This points back to the comment I made to Antonia earlier: tolerance is a transitive, reflexive, and compartmentalized principle. I extend it only to those who extend it to me, and only in the arenas in which it is granted. To extend it outside of that realm is to indirectly advocate for one's own intellectual extermination. Dr. Gold did nothing to convince me of his willingness to include me in his worldview vis a vis sexual identity, and so I see no reason to try to include his views in mine. He and I may have no problem conversing with each other amicably on other subjects, but at least as far as transsexuality goes, he has demonstrated himself unfit for public consumption in my eyes. When he apologizes for the harm that he's caused, then I'll consider the matter... not resolved, but at least tabled.

I've been pretty busy with my netroots work to support one of our Latino LGBT politicians and preparing to move... I haven't been on here much recently. I am usually one of the biggest fans of Bilerico.

BUT right now I am so damn annoyed with you, Bilerico.com and Bil. I read Gold's post.

1) Many of the responses to his post are NOT reasonable - some are ugly nasty attacks that need to be removed.

2) Have you contacted him for some clarification? And asked him to post something?

3) Either stand by him a bit or remove the post. The multiple "he doesn't speak for us" comments before, during and at the end of his post are sad.

4) Anyone who reads the post without emotion and ready judgment can see that his INTENTION in his post was not to be harmful but to be helpful. Obviously it wasn't helpful, but the obvious intention...

STAND BY YOUR MAN at least a bit... with his body of work... he deserves better... and re-post his true first post, this isn't his first...

But while I am at it... I'd suggest that most of your new contributors you are selecting seem to lack some color... Are you really having a hard time finding contributors of color? Story in itself... I for one am pretty annoyed with you site/Bil right now. I for one will just throw my own blog out into the www scene and have my say without competing for a monthly guest post in a sea of white. God knows that I'd be bound to write something controversial anyways... And frankly there are too many LGBT/Latino people and issues to not be able to write or read Latino written posts more often, if not daily...

Well, there was just a Latino LGBT Dem elected to one of the highest political posts in America thus far... I am sure you will have another post by Karen Okamb that ignores the work of this Latino activist and others to help support his election... while she does her usual love fest articles kissing a whole lot of LGBT org arse...

** TO AVOID THE NEED FOR THE ED TEAM TO WRITE THIS: MY WRITINGS DON'T REFLECT THE WORDS OF MUCH OF ANYONE, I DON'T TAKE MYSELF TOO SERIOUSLY, YOU SHOULDN'T ANYWAY! **

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 11, 2009 7:09 AM

Robert,

I'm African-American, a member of the Bilerico editorial team, and I can say we have been working to figure out how to increase the number of bloggers of color in a substantive way.

We do have a strong roster of bloggers of color including Rev. Irene Monroe, Jason Tseng, Terrance Heath, Pedro Julio Serrano, David, Castillo and Jeff Sheng. Its worth noting Pedro writes his posts in Spanish.

If you have Latino/a bloggers who you think would be good additions to Bilerico, you can email the ed team at edteam@bilerico.com.

Michael, I respect the Bilerico Project immensely... but the lackluster response to Mr Gold's egregiously anti-trans rhetoric is disturbing.

I have been proud to lend my voice to further diversify the discourse here on Bilerico, but posts like Mr. Gold's honestly makes it difficult for me to do so.

I believe much further action needs to be taken in order to restore my faith and the faith of your readers in Bilerico.

You risk not only losing readers, but contributors as well. I think when your most invested stakeholders, your contributors, are hesitant to be associated with Bilerico due to the actions of one brand new contributor... you must consider the dire consequences of continuing to endorse his presence as a sanctioned regular contributor on the site. Else, run the risk of losing readers, contributors, and the moral high ground.

Hey Michael,

Actually I think Alex is Latino...

You are awesome so don't take this personally, I hear you on YOUR intentions. I am not sure that it is reflective of Bilerico's actions. Frankly I think I am/was really p.o.'d re this Gold issue:

I am still not amused how he is being left to hang. What he said doesn't reflect what I believe in any way. You are not likely to ever meet anyone who is transgender who will say I have ever treated them as anything more or less than who they say they are... A woman is a woman and man is a man and it isn't my right to tell them otherwise, I accept people as they are and encourage whatever steps are necessary for folks to be who they are...

But what really is ugly is how your Ed team put his post through, now he is being ripped to shreds and your team/Bil now wants to clean his hands via this post and the multiple disclaimers on his post.

EITHER TAKE HIS POST DOWN or MODERATE THOSE COMMENTS ON THERE AND STAND BY HIM... LEAVING HIM TO ALL THAT HATE AND RIDICULE IS SHAMEFUL!!!

And I guess what led to my comment re the missing diversity is I really feel that recently all your new additions have been mostly white and focused more on their professional accomplishments rather than their voice. I am not sure that Ron Gold, with all due respect I give him for his accomplishments, would have been selected as a contributor otherwise.

Also, on a daily basis, I see few if any posts by people of color. And the perception and point of view of people of color and diversity is going to be much different.

Again my case in point is Karen Ocamb. She has been the only coverage. Really? She is an awesome reporter and she knows EVERYONE and she makes that clear in most posts which tend to give us great amounts of history and background info and quotes from the LGBT & political elite.

But does she give you the Latino LGBT perspective? You see for the LGBT community this is a great thing, but for a Latino LGBT this is an incredible moment that almost brings tears. But do you have a Latino perspective no...

A recent Ocamb post states:
"But as the first openly gay person of color in a majority/minority state where homophobia still hides deep in the hearts of many..." I think she meant minority-majority state and the sentence almost has an implication that people of color harbor more homophobia. I know she isn't racist or anything, but ignorance about people of color is nothing new. I know the "intention" of the sentence will be cleaned up, but what else could reasonably be read... and she is all you can find to cover Perez?

As for finding bloggers of color, I say look for them. just as you folks track down this long list of new contributors that are all white with impressive professional resumes, do the work and find them.

I will say this. Do not invite a person of color to apply to be a contributor and then not even acknowledge their application to be a contributor. It is tacky and in poor form. I mean really? invite someone to submit a contributor app and then just ignore it? Not even acknowledge it or politely send a no thank you? How disrespectful is that? You probably haven't earned any help finding another Latino to expose to the same disrespect. Just saying...

oops meant to say she has been the only coverage re John A. Perez...

Tobi is another Latina/Mestiza writer here (just as a point of fact :-) )
Unfortunately, it does seem like the overall editorial tendencies of the project don't really encourage discussion of racism, and every time a person of color writes anything about race a bunch of white people freak out and and jump all over them.

Yeah, well I have noticed is that LGBT folks do not like to look at racism, intentional or not, in the LGBT community.

And it is obvious Bilerico is proving no different.

HELPFUL?!

Helpful how? By telling me I'm a deluded, mutilated monster? By telling me I should keep myself away from psychiatric counseling because they are obviously part of some evil conspiracy to .. do something.

No.

His post was helpful in the same way that someone saying "You better stop being gay or you're going to hell" is helpful.

Fuck that.

First of all, I do want to acknowledge and applaud your willingness to step forward and take responsibility for this. It's never easy to admit a mistake, and even harder to do so in front of a national audience. That takes courage, and that courage deserves recognition.

That said, this still rings hollow to me. I don't want to say "too little too late" because that's not exactly right. Rather, it smacks of an uncomfortable double standard. Where was this class of response when Austen posted her now-infamous "harsh dissection of political realities"? Where was the editorial response stepping up to defend the rights of the posters here to speak their minds? Where was your spirited defense of her right to make people uncomfortable and disturb the peace?

Further, I think in your haste to show respect to a known icon of the gay community, you do us all a disservice by sugar-coating his message. I think that if you were to take Dr. Gold's message and sanitize all of the language, it would still have been just as wrong to endorse. Rendering "mutilated" as "unnecessarily modified" and replacing "peckers" with "penises" doesn't change the fact that the underlying assumptions in his post aren't supported by the broad wealth of easily-attainable and well-documented research into the actual experiences of real transsexuals.

I disagree with your assertion that his argument was "well intended but the language choices he made diminished his point". No doubt he believes this, of course, and I can even grant that you agree with it, but I believe to the underlying majority of transsexuals who read and responded to that post, there could be no interpretation of that message which could be considered well-intended. One could, for example, make the argument that electroshock therapy, forced exorcism, Exodus International, lobotomy, and murder are all "well intentioned" tactics of an anti-gay movement that believe, honestly and earnestly, that dying pure is a better alternative to living in sin. No doubt this is the attitude of the government of Uganda, for instance. Shall we excuse their statements and actions as "well intentioned"? They believe in the rightness and justice of their actions, and surely believe without irony or doublethink that their cause is just and their course is true. That they seek to do us bodily harm is irrelevant; in the greater scheme of things, they honestly think they're doing us a favor.

Even if we grant that this is untrue of those groups, what of others? What of Maggie Gallagher? What of Peter LaBarbara? What of Fred Phelps? What of Pat Buchanan? What of Rick Warren? At what point are we allowed to say, "I'm sorry, but your premise is sufficiently divergent from mine that no amount of 'good intentions' can salvage this communication"? When is it acceptable to declare "irrevocable differences" and seek a philosophical divorce?

When people agree on the facts but disagree on the interpretations, there is room for dialogue and understanding. When people disagree on the facts, there is nowhere to take the discussion. Ronald Gold's facts don't seem to mesh with mine, and it would seem that they don't mesh with the wider realm of Bilerico's audience.

This points back to the comment I made to Antonia earlier: tolerance is a transitive, reflexive, and compartmentalized principle. I extend it only to those who extend it to me, and only in the arenas in which it is granted. To extend it outside of that realm is to indirectly advocate for one's own intellectual extermination. Dr. Gold did nothing to convince me of his willingness to include me in his worldview vis a vis sexual identity, and so I see no reason to try to include his views in mine. He and I may have no problem conversing with each other amicably on other subjects, but at least as far as transsexuality goes, he has demonstrated himself unfit for public consumption in my eyes. When he apologizes for the harm that he's caused, then I'll consider the matter... not resolved, but at least tabled.

Bil, I see you posted this at 3 AM. Did you stay up late to draft a response, or get up early? I guess it doesn't matter - either one shows you are concerned.

I agree with Angry Queer that some kind of warning as a preface to Ronald Gold's article might have been nice. It would have prepared some readers to expect to be offended, or even persuaded some to avoid reading it altogether.

I've met several gay men, in their 30s and 40s who believe much as does Ronald Gold. (These are not just generational beliefs related to his age) I understand their lack of insight into transsexual identity, but am astonished by their complete self-assurance that they have it right. Clearly, dialogue is needed.

Because of those experiences, I took the presence of Gold's article in the spirit of an attempt at dialogue. I think Bilerico is to be commended for trying to bridge divides in the LGBT community. But crossing those divides challenges our comfort and is sometimes painful. I guess that is why I think a cautionary preface to articles such as Mr. Gold's might be wise.

Agreed. Some acknowledgement that "Oh, by the way, we have someone here telling you how crazy you are, so you might be a wee bit offended and triggered by this." would have been nice. Much the same way we have "may be triggery" notifications for anything dealing with sexual assault on other sites.

Several people have said the pain the op-ed caused some of our readers is too high of a price to pay. Is it?

What do we get for that price paid? I mean, I can see some significant positive in the way our community responded in the comments section, but with the hurtful hateful bigotry on top that doesn't exactly send the message that the bilerico community supports us. The note on top says that the piece does not reflect the opinions of the bilerico ed team doesn't, but it really needs to go further and say that it is contrary to the beliefs of the bilerico ed team. Because it is, right?

What other benefit do we get? Ronald hasn't participated in any meaningful dialog. He hasn't apologized. As far as we can tell he hasn't grown in any way. As far as I know he hasn't even read the comments. Will he just turn around and say "Damn those trans folks are crazy, I won't talk with them any more"? Or will he spend the next several months immersed in reading our words and perspectives, trying to gain a decent understanding? Will he do a 180 and become a great ally? I somehow doubt it. But only then can we talk about if it was worth it.

In the meantime we've seen at least a few hundred people re-traumatized. We've had a few dozen regular readers decide to take us off their feed, and as a result will have fewer trans positive participants here. I feel like my reputation is tarnished by being associated with this site. And perhaps months later this will turn up in some right wing justification for mistreatment of trans people (they don't have to show people the comment section).

No. The price paid has not been worth it.

This. This a thousand times.

I could not possibly say it better.

battybattybats battybattybats | December 11, 2009 4:20 AM

This is not 1.100000th the apology required. Words are not enough.

Action is required.

Penance.

With that post you lost readers. You lost allies. You may have lost contributers and I was nanometres from demanding my previous guest post be removed from the site as well as calling for a boycott on facebook and in the sig of every site i post on.

You contributed to the hurt I and others feel inside. You added weight to the feellings of rejection. You contributed to the exclusion, invalidation, hostility that the transgender community faces. You picked up the welcome mat and slapped me in the face with it.

And its a lot harder to build up and tear down. Thats what you need to do now. You must undo the damage you did. To individual readers, to the community, to the previuous goodwill and reputation you squandered in a moment.

You can start by adding a big easilly seen, downright umnissable in fact TRIGERRING on posts which might be triggerring and COUNTERPOINT on ones where your trying to allow views like that to have their say.

And now you've personally added to peoples internalised transphobia with your editorial decision you can personally accept responsibility for working on reducing it in the community to the same degree you just added to it. Heres a link you need to read: http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1172.htm

And you better work on the issue of suicide prevention in the community. Cause thats what adding to transphobia does. IT KILLS PEOPLE! Know what the stats for attempted suicide are for Gay people? For Lesbians? For Bi? For Questioning?... For TRANS? Look them up!

You have a lot of work to do... cause you hurt a lot of people for no good reason and you are personally responsible for a lot of healling.

Pathia Red-Tawner | December 11, 2009 4:21 AM

Sorry, while I do appreciate your attempt at an apology and an explanation, it's not enough. There's challenging, there's offensive and then there's threw up in my mouth a little/wanted to throw my monitor out the window.

I'm not going to bother with a site where I find random hateful screeds more suited to Fox News Editorials, I'm sorry. Bookmark deleted. You've lost a reader.

Bruce Parker | December 11, 2009 4:37 AM

I am confused. Is he a contributer or was it a guest post? What is with the thing about this not being his first post?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 11, 2009 6:55 AM

Bruce,

Ron has written for Bilerico has a guest blogger before joining as a regular contributor. The post Bil responds to in this post is his first as a contributor.

Here's my problem, Bil, and why I think you made a bad call here. As I read his post, I personally find it to be a clear violation of the Bilerico Project Terms of Service. For that reason in particular, I don't believe that post should have been run unless and until Mr. Gold had rewritten it to conform to the guidelines of the TOS.

I've been asked to rewrite some of the things I've posted to the site for just that reason, and even though I've definitely pushed the envelope there, I've never, even at my most aggressive, ever posted anything as universally offensive and as completely at odds with the TBP TOS as this post of Mr. Gold's.

And forgive me Bil, but it feels like there's a double standard at play here, that Mr. Gold is getting far more leeway from you in failing to comply with the TOS than I or any other contributor I know of generally gets.

I don't think that's right. If Mr. Gold is going to post at TBP than he should be subject to exactly the same rules and editorial oversight as the rest of us. When we go overboard in our language use, even if the points we are making are valid, the edteam calls us on it and asks us to rewrite.

I feel Mr. Gold should have been required to rewrite his post to be in full compliance with the TOS before it was posted. Not only would it have just been the fair and proper thing to do, but it would likely have saved all of us a lot of drama and hurt feelings.

At what point does a post go from "challenging" to "offensive?" What made this post stand out over other controversial posts?
Challenging is asking me to question my basic assumptions. Offensive is echoing abusive and painful words that come from society and my own head telling me what a horrible, deluded, and fucked up person I am.

Challenging is intellectual discourse with mutual respect. Offensive is making a group of people that are supposed to be considered part of this community out to be lunatics.

Challenging can get heated at times because of strongly held opinions. Offensive is not heated. It's violent.

Mr. Gold was violent towards trans people in these ways:
1) He used derisive language to make his point.
2) He trivialized transgender experiences in much the same way as our abusers, attackers, murderers, and rapists do.
3) He echoed the concepts and ideas of the unexamined majority towards trans people.

I have generally liked Bilerico because of its willingness to publish challenging stuff and provoke interesting debate. The posts here tend to be well thought out, carefully considered, and quite reasonable. When someone publishes something that accidentally offends someone, most folks seem to have a good sense of how to listen and how to check their own privilege.

Done with sensitivity and a willingness to listen to the people he was talking about, Mr. Gold's post could have been such a thing, worthy of debate and discussion and sparking a deliciously heated, but respectful debate, much like almost every other post that has ever been on this site.

But Mr. Gold, and Bilerico.com crossed the line here. This wasn't a well-reasoned, well thought out post done by a person with sensitivity and a willingness to learn. It was a hateful screed full of unexamined privileged assumptions about a group of people that Mr. Gold has probably barely interacted with. A screed that echos the words of our community's abusers, haters, naysayers, murderers, rapists, etc. and reminds us ALL of the trauma that we have experienced.

I appreciate your apology, but I'm afraid its not enough for me, personally. If this is the currently accepted level of "respectful debate" that bilerico is going to support and have posted on their site, I cannot read this site. Encountering stuff like this, without warning, is simply too traumatic and triggery for me. I will not be regularly reading Bilerico any more for the foreseeable future, and for that I am disheartened.

Really, I think calling it "offensive" is letting it off easy. The issue isn't that it offended our delicate sensibilities, the issue is that it is hurtful and has caused harm.

Yeah, there's a difference between "offensive" and hate speech. Despite all of the apologists arguments for Mr. Gold's good intentions his post was hate speech.

Bilerico is not qualified to call itself a LGBTQ community if it doesn't understand the difference, and it's certainly lost me as a reader. While I support any trans person's decision in responding to this, I think a show of solidarity by trans readers and contributors walking away from this site would be a good start in getting the point across to Bil et al, who seem to be missing it dramatically.

Apology accepted for the article.

Now, when are we going to get one for this:

We encourage all readers to continue responding to Mr. Gold in the same spirit his post was written - with positive intent while bluntly stating your own opinion and experiences.

I remind you - the author deliberately and maliciously misgendered Jan Morris, then described post-operative trans people as "deluded". "Blunt" it certainly was. With "positive intent"... not so much. Unless you deem Dr Cameron to have positive intent when he gives his views too.

That lauding of the spirit of the post wasn't from Mr Gold - it was from the Bilerico Editorial team. I found that of greater concern than the article itself.

Your words here have done much to relieve me. Though I guess I always had faith in you Bil. This kind of thing is so unlike you, uncharacteristic.

Once more, my sympathies for taking on the thankless job of moderator - and having people like me not let you get away with it when you "err".

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 5:32 AM

Bil, I am sorry to see that so many readers only wish to read things that match their prejudices. There is a heck of a lot worse than Mr. Gold's piece which has also generated considerable vitriol of late and I have to ask: Is anyone learning anything or are they just indulging in hypersensitivity?

Even after "Arizona" I continued to read and selectively comment upon postings because this is a learning tool for us all. If someone had thrown back to me in "My Open Letter to Florida and California Republicans" that I also should have included Arizona, I would have and been grateful for the input. But instead my lapse of including John McCain's home state in my message was undermined by Towleroad and yourself. That lack of editorial and personal support for this former contributor was sorely felt at the time, but I do not give up, I go on.

Now certain projectors have complained that you have too many Caucasian contributors and not enough of this or that ethnic minority. This I find stupid because I know you have broken your back to be inclusive of everyone.

"Edit" Webster's Collegiate definition: "To prepare (as literary material)for publication or public presentation." Further: "To alter, adapt or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or suit a particular purpose."

In short, you bounce a posting back to the author with notes about what is wrong about it. Don't skewer him or her after the fact.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 5:38 AM

...and Gold's first comment was from your "managing editor."

There is a vast difference between challenging an idea and attacking an identity. What Mr. Gold did was publicly attack the "idea" that transgender people have an identity that is worthy of respect - which he has done consistently since the 1970s, when Janice Raymond was lobbying to have our rights to hormone replacement and surgery removed. Mr. Gold repeatedly and consistently fought to suppress the participation of transgender people in the gay rights movement, despite the fact that the movement would not have had its spark without the trans participation in the Stonewall riots.

One of his paragraphs was rather striking. The logic of "why can't you just be feminine/be masculine while still being a man/woman?" is pure transphobia. It supposes that there is nothing organic about gender identity, that it is all about masculinity or femininity - discounting the existence of butch and femme and completely gender nonconforming trans people who have been part of the trans spectrum since the dawn of time. But trans people - especially trans women - tend to be marginalized by cissexual queers of all kind as a matter of course; by cissexual gay men who believe that we are homophobic gay men who transition to look like straight women, completely dismissing and ignoring the existence since the dawn of the transgender movement of trans lesbians; by cissexual lesbians who believe that we are either gender traitors (trans men) OR heterosexual male rapist infiltrators (trans women); both are convinced that trans women still possess heterosexual male privilege.

And it is obvious that he still fights us. There is a difference between "only wish[ing] to read things that match [one's] prejudices," and wanting there to exist a space where one does not have to constantly fight to re-establish one's own identity over and over and over. For what it's worth, I am starting to agree that transgender people should not be in the Rich White Gay Men's Rights movement (which sometimes has the secondary effect of advancing the rights of white lesbians and bisexuals; rarely of those of queer people of color and transgender white people, and almost never of the rights of transgender people of color and poor queers of any sort). We deserve better than to be begging for the scraps that fall from the table of rich white gay men like Mr. Gold.

Ron Gold is an extremely privileged man. He has never learned to use that privilege to benefit anyone who is not like him.

The fact that it is still acceptable in the year 2009 to dismissively refer to a transgender person - AND NO OTHER PERSON - by pronouns that we do not prefer, by names that we do not prefer, by putting our names in scare quotes to make it sound like we are using an alias to fool other people, is no longer even remotely funny.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 9:05 AM

Katherine,

He needed the value of a good editor. I said as much. If Mr. Gold would not accept the editing his views needed his posting should not have run. Did you read my last paragraph of the long comment?

I'm not certain what value an editor would have had. The thesis of the post itself is carried in the URL which was the original title of the post: Transgender is a disease that doesn't exist. And he's not, as many others have pointed out, talking about our dubious placement in the DSM-IV, but claiming that transgender people don't exist, using the same, exact hateful rhetoric we've all heard before and gotten sick of. It doesn't matter how you edit it, the core thesis of the work is the same hate speech.

There is a world of difference between only wanting to read opinions that match your own and not wanting to see views that are frankly objectively offensive, come from someone with a history of marginalizing a group (see the comments relating to Gold's working to exclude groups from community events and political organizations) and which purtport to speak for a group one is not a member of.

There is no way to see this post as well intentioned. It was an unexamined regurgitation of the authors prejudices. There was no attempt to show even the most minimal respect for the groups he was commenting by moderating his choice of language or respecting peoples identities. He certainly owes a personal apology to the women he referred to as Mr.

And he owes a collective apology to trans peoples for using language to express his ideas that wouldn't just be found offensive by GLAAD - but by the AP Stylebook.

When the editor who greenlighted this post was reading other posts talking about a similar, much, much more minor infringement by an actor - it's impossible to see how he failed to understand just how offensive Gold was. Particularly when other editors pointed it out to him.

I think Bil needs to examine why he thought this post wasn't offensive and explain what value he saw this post brought to the discussion. I'm pretty sure just about anyone would see an equivalent post as offensive and am positive it wouldn't have been given space here. If I'm wrong - I guess I'll be seeing a post about Gold here next week by Payl Cameron saying something like "old faggot Ms. Thing thinks she's a real man". And we both know that won't happen.

Bil, I am sorry to see that so many readers only wish to read things that match their prejudices.

So...

Transsexuals expecting to see posts on an LGBT blog that respect other transsexuals' transitions is "prejuduce"?

Are you a persecuted christian too?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 9:26 AM

Kat,

When we stretch to understand another persons version of reality we do this thing called "thinking." Unpopular ideas (to us all) need to be expressed so that we know what is real outside the "LGBT" bubble.

Please read the full comment before you pick one sentence to deride. He needed editing, perhaps some updating. Or, to make it more simple, he needed someone to say WTF.

Now, I read, but do not agree with conservative commentators because I want to understand their arguments. I want to understand their arguments because I want to understand people and not just lump them into an arbitrary category. I do not know Mr. Gold's purported history or it's accuracy, but I depend upon Bil to know what it was and certainly Dr. Weiss was congratulatory upon his arrival here. She has made other comments since, but this was his first posting. He should have been edited for both accuracy and any errors of language that could cause unnecessary offense. Don't throw away all his experience because he used the word "pecker."

I would add that I do not agree with all he has said because I have known trans persons for 38 years, but his message remains valuable.

Many trans people spend a lot of time critiquing and analyzing viewpoints like those he addressed. My own blog is dedicated to debunking the the kinds of claims he made in his post. We are not new to these arguments, but we are tired of them, and when a site that claims to be trans-friendly gives those particular views a platform, it has so much potential to damage us.

You're trying to narrow this down to "Trans people don't like to have their beliefs challenged" but that's not it at all. We've spent a lot of time thinking about gender and gender roles, and trying to fit in without transitioning (trying to be feminine men or masculine women, trying to live as gay men and lesbians, trying to just get by with wearing the clothes and not taking the hormones), and when we've gotten past all this because it doesn't work, it's not enough, you would not believe how many people are like "Can't you just do those things instead of transitioning?" And then they assume their lack of comprehension translates into our confusion (although we're not confused).

You are berating us for not accepting hate speech. Why?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 10:06 AM

Lisa,

I am not berating anyone, but advise everyone to look at the mirror of reality. I was sure when I was 19, 20 and 21 that we were "five years" away from full acceptance of all. Vietnam and the counter culture movement was the beginning and the end of it was the courage of Leonard Matlovich.

But, we are not there yet and we still have to learn. I have quoted the dictionary meaning of "edit" and that the piece should not have run as it was *though it contained valuable insights to those who had not been exposed to them* but should have been bounced back for "appropriateness" of some of the language. Now, did you read my comments?

Yes, I read your comments. This stuck out:

Bil, I am sorry to see that so many readers only wish to read things that match their prejudices. There is a heck of a lot worse than Mr. Gold's piece which has also generated considerable vitriol of late and I have to ask: Is anyone learning anything or are they just indulging in hypersensitivity?

Sure, you said that it shouldn't have been posted, and it should have been edited, but you also said that those of us who found it upsetting and offensive are "only interested in reading things that match their prejudices" and "indulging in hypersensitivity."

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 10:15 AM

Lisa,

I referred to "a heck of a lot worse" which means topics other than the one at hand. Take just "marriage" for instance.

So your hypersensitivity comment was not aimed in whole or part at reactions to Gold's post?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 6:42 PM

Good Morning! Read Zoe Brain below.

Take marriage?

I just don't see how heated disagreements over one institution that lgbt people don't participate in fully as being far worse than say invalidating your identity as a gay man and through that anything and :everything: that flows from your idenity - as your idenity as a agy man has no validity. Which is what Gold did to another people. Hell it's not anywhere near equivilent.

Really? Really? Please explain.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 6:21 PM

Good Morning!

It is 6:15 AM and I see a fantastic sunrise happening over the Western mountains. Others below have already answered your questions very well I believe. I do not have time to weigh in on all the many hot button topics mentioned below all of which have a constituency, a victim and and anger level.

I hope you find something beautiful today Kathy!

(trying to be feminine men or masculine women, trying to live as gay men and lesbians, trying to just get by with wearing the clothes and not taking the hormones)

Well, knowing you're full of win generally, I'm sure you didn't mean to erase those of us who tried to be femme straight boys and masculine straight women. Some of us trans men and women, more often than cis men and women, I feel driven to add, are gays and lesbians.

Just one trans lesbian's moment of carping for inclusion.

No, sorry. I was trying to address the specific kinds of advice people think will convince us not to transition. "Just try to be a feminine man or a masculine woman." What I meant is that many of us tried many, if not all, of the suggested strategies before going ahead with transition, because those strategies aren't even applicable to us.

Especially considering I'm a lesbian trans woman. I probably should have expanded on the whole mislocation of "trans must really equal gay or lesbian who want to be heteronormative" because people can't imagine someone transitioning to womanhood to be a lesbian, or to manhood to be a gay man.

Unfortunately this is going to be held for moderation because your software refuses to let me create an account.

Here's the thing you still don't seem to be getting Bil: the enormous, flaming double standard you're continuing to promote. You say that publishing Mr. Gold's piece mocking the existence of transgender people and denying the legitimacy of that existence was a difficult decision but ultimately it was challenging, thought provoking, blah blah blah. Fine. I have one question for you:

Where are the Bilerico posts denigrating and denying the legitimacy of gay or lesbian people?

Why is it that whenever a post on Bilerico or pretty much any "LGBT" site comes along mocking and denying the legitimacy of the existence of a segment of the LGBT community, that segment is always trans people or bisexuals? I think you know the answer to that question as well as I do.

If a submitted piece crossed your computer screen that said gay men just don't realize that penises are supposed to go in vaginas, would you and the other editors sit around discussing the "challenge" of whether or not to publish it? No, of course you wouldn't. You'd recognize it instantly as gross homophobia and junk it without hesitation.

And yet for some reason, the kind of hatred and bigotry that would never, not for a single instant, be allowed to get published if it were directed towards Gs or Ls is deemed acceptable (or at least, "challenging") if it's directed towards Ts or Bs. (I don't have time right now to wade through Bilerico to see if there are similar posts attacking bisexuality, but they're ubiquitous at other LGBT sites as you well know)

In short, when will this website start promoting homophobia as a "challenge" as it does transphobia?

Allison Sinclair | December 11, 2009 3:27 PM

Perhaps, if they invite Richard Cohen as a contributing writer then maybe there would be some parity. But as long as what you have said is true. I don't think they will reach out and give Mr. Cohen an invitation.

"Bilerico Project was launched with the knowledge that vast swaths of the LGBT community had no interactions with each other."

ISTM that dragging up the same tired old, "Save transpeople from the mutilating medics, they must be straightened out for their own good" rhetoric that we have to face *every day of our lives* from a hostile society is just going to make lots of trans people reading this so very weary. In effect, if you want this lack of interaction to continue, providing a platform for transphobic hate speech is the best way to go about it.

Hell, as a trans female lesbian I'm *part* of the LGB "community", and yet the continued easy ride and even promotion it affords a certain kind of transphobia, and the constant refusal to accept its responsibilities to get its house in order over the shoddy and hateful way it often treats its trans cousins makes me ashamed to have anything to do with it. There's nothing new to see here folks - just the same tired old apologetics for hate speech from the usual suspects, struggling to contain their disgust at the very idea of trans people existing at all.

Bil, thanks for apologizing. I think there are some important things that you're missing, though.

First, you keep saying that Ron Gold's piece is about gender fluidity. I understand that you are trying to be nice to him by putting his article in the best possible light, but he never said anything about gender fluidity. He said trans people are deluded and mutilated. He said being trans is not real. It would be more accurate, and entirely fair, to describe his piece in words he actually uses.

Second, you mention having published a piece by an ex-gay proponent. However, I don't think you invited that person to be a regular contributor. There is a difference. There is also a big difference between publishing something controversial, such as pieces opposing gay marriage or hate crimes legislation (in which there's actually some room for discussion of racism, assimilation, etc), and publishing something that is just a rewrite of a fairly common oppressive belief.

Lastly, a few people have said, more or less,that he is stupid and transphobic because he is old and that is how old people are. This is a very ageist thing to say. There are plenty of trans elders and cis elders who are great trans allies. There are lots of young people with transphobic beliefs just like Ron Gold's. I am sad that you are trying to represent elder viewpoints by publishing oppressive things that happen to be written by older people and fit with stereotypes about what older people think.

my parents taught me to respect my elders. I do not.
to many time have i heard "I'm old , you'll have to excuse me." I will not.

My respect needs to be earned,regardless of age.
My respect needs to be merited, regardless of past triumphs and endeavors.
My respect has NOT been granted to this man Gold.
Don't care how old, or what he's accomplished, nor how many Puerto Ricans, Cubans or Bangladeshis he has bedded.
This guy gets nothing but my distain.

rapid butterfly | December 11, 2009 6:42 AM

I'd just like to echo some of the points about "safe space." I agree 100% that friends and allies can and should have vigorous discussions about issues, especially, the nuts and bolts of how to move forward in equality, all of us, each of us. These are difficult questions over which

But honestly I did not expect to see a piece that erases the validity of trans experience here, let alone, both here and defended on the utterly implausible grounds that "he meant well." I read the post. He "meant well" for some, but not for trans people.

Do you really think that, for example, trans people are not "challenged" enough about who and what we are each and every day as we simply try to go about the business of living? Is it so much to expect that here on Bilerico we might expect to be free of THAT sort of challenge here?

I'm disappointed with you, Bil, even as I thank you for the many great things about the site and the diverse contributors you have.

I'm not so willing to accept your apology. You have given me crap for the last two years on some of the things I said in the comment section, yet I focused on just one hateful person in each of those comments, and didn't trash an entire community the first chance I got.

I am willing to bet the farm that if a trans person said some similar things about, say, gay men, it wouldn't have seen the light of day. But, none of us will ever have any proof of that, except a trans contributor who tries to do so.

I'll repeat what I said in the other posting for all the public to see. After having 26 Guest Postings, you have still constantly kept me from becoming a contributor because I'm "too controversial," yet you bring someone on who makes me look like Mary Poppins. If others in the trans community want to let you dodge this bullet with a simple apology, then that's their business. Me? I don't think so.

Ask me if I'm bitter.

Ok Monica - are you bitter? :)

Sorry, I figured the atmosphere could do with a bit of lightening up. Your point was well-made.

I know they don't *mean* to have a double-standard. But that's what being in a position of unconscious privilege is all about. You don't realise you're doing it.

Oh, and if you notice, out of those 200+ comments, you won't see Ron comment once. Another one of your "post-and-run" contributors?

"I can offend people all day, but I don't have to defend my statements. If they don't like it, tough shit." Is that his sentiment?

Actually, Monica, Gold just did post in the thread a little while ago, and he's getting responses. Go take another look.

"When you're in a hole, stop digging" Dept.

One thing I regret about my post is that I failed to take on the question of gender dystopia (sic) head on. I concede I'm far from an expert on this, but I continue to believe that it is highly unlikely to have a biological basis (Is there any credible evidence for that view?; I'm willing to listen). So I posited an explanation based on societal pressure to conform to the gender stereotypes. (If there are other explanations, I missed them amidst the tirades.)
...
I don't apologize for using words like mutilation and deluded. That's what I think it is!

Now I've tried to engage Mr Gold in a rational manner. I've had plenty of practice engaging people saying similar things on right-wing and religious websites.

Bil - imagine of someone had written this as an explanation for his article.

One thing I regret about my post is that I failed to take on the question of homosexualagendaism (sic) head on. I concede I'm far from an expert on this, but I continue to believe that it is highly unlikely to be anything other than a simple lifestyle choice (Is there any credible evidence for another view?; I'm willing to listen). So I posited an explanation based on recruitment by gays and having a weak father. (If there are other explanations, I missed them amidst the tirades.)
So his stated reason for his words is that he has no knowledge of the subject, and so made stuff up. Using that as the justification to insult an oppressed group, in a situation where similar words have been used to deny them necessary medical treatment so they die.

How about words like this:

I don't apologize for using words like sick and perverted (in relation to homosexuality). That's what I think it is!

Would an article whose author used those statements to justify what he wrote have been considered for a single moment for publication here?

I hope Mr Gold continues to post though. We need reminding that views and logic like his, the very essence of cis-privilege, are not just confined to Focus On The Family and the Concerned Women of America.

And if you strip out the odious bits, he does make some interesting points for debate.

I've seen comments removed and warnings given for far less offensive matter than Mr Gold's poorly researched and unsupported foray into the etiology of trans-people.

Were I to post something like "The sexual and emotional attatchemnents of women are inherently fluid; hence Lesbianis can been seen as a natural variant while even the anatomy of men points to an unnatural and pathologied aspect to male homosexuality wholly aside fro the health risk that their promiscuus behaviour presents.." I would be rightfully castigated and reprimanded. One of our own, a prominent LGBT recycled Rad-les-sep and Evangelical arguments about trans-people and put them out there in defiance of known and demonstrable scientific evidence.

This is the kind of thing that we will see more and more of as the ENDA battle continues, an attempt to "prepare the way" for yet again throwing the trans community under the bus.

Aside from the inherent unfairness and inhumanity in doing this to the trans community, as a Lesbian activist I have to vehemently object to such propagandistic efforts.

He did comment, and added some controversial ideas about homosexuality also. Go back and look.

As an editor, one of the first things I ask myself is whether or not this writer has done her homework. I ask that question whether or not it's an opinion piece or a news piece and whether or not the topic at hand is controversial or neutral.

I just don't see how you read Gold's sideswipe and thought that it was written by someone who had done their research, laid some groundwork, offered an opinion and then supported it with some facts. He may have; he just didn't show it in that piece of writing.

He didn't meet the requirements of journalism, bloggy or not, gay or not. It doesn't, in my judgment, meet the requirements of a solid op-ed either.

It's provocative, sure, but is that enough?

1) The question of "safe space" is irrelevant. This is the internet.

2) Asking people to examine the social and political ramifications of their nature can be "challenging." Stating outright that their nature is fraudulent and deluded is offensive. I don't see how the distinction can be that difficult to make.

3) Whenever a gay or lesbian activist wants to make a "challenging" point about gender, trans people are *always* hauled back out to defend their existence. That's to be expected to some degree in the wide world of the great unwashed, but in a forum allegedly committed to a concept of alliance and community, it is unacceptable... hence the emotional exhaustion on display from so many of the commenters.

Amanda in the South Bay | December 11, 2009 7:51 AM

We won't be removing the post from the site and would instead encourage readers to join the conversation there to ensure that we make clear this one point: Transgender people are not mutilated or deluded; they are not damaged in any way. Instead, all of our friends, family, and internet acquaintances are beautiful and worthy of respect just as they are.

Ah, I see. We trans folk have to expend our own energy in order to establish that we are owed basic human respect and dignity, that our identities are just as valid as cis peoples.

If you don't believe that this is a safe space, fine. But you should at least make your contributors follow your own TOS when posting articles, and realize that no amount of backpedaling is going to make up for such an egregious assault on people's identities and lives. What I see is a double standard on Mr. Gold's part.

This whole incident is physically making me sick.

Good riddance.

Bill,

It has been said that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission, and I think your apology is a good example of this approach. It is my view that Ron Gold's post was published because it reflects ideas that you, yourself harbour, but lack the fortitude to express.

The fact that Gold uses the expression "personality" as opposed to "identity" indicates right off the bat his ignorance and feckless failure to perform any research before sitting down to pen what amounts to nothing less than hate speech.

Going back (again) to my "Tapestry" article of some years back, titled "Give Us Back Our T," this is just one more example of why we need to divorce ourselves entirely from the gay/lesbian agenda and establish a social and political autonomy independent of the gay/lesbian agenda.

The editors at Bilerico might think that the inclusion of this ignorant diatribe represents the presentation of opposing viewpoints, but it really just reflects the prevailing attitudes among the gay/lesbian community toward trans people, and Gold's piece gave Bilerico the perfect excuse to publish these ideas while disavowing responsibility for holding these views themselves. Gold should be applauded, if for no other reason for having the backbone to say it out loud.

I have deleted Bilerico from my bookmarks, and will take this opportunity to say it again. Give us back our "T." Too much time has been wasted in our community building bridges that should have been burnt long ago in service to gay/lesbian issues. Those gay/lesbian advocates who presume to speak in our behalf are, by and large every bit as ignorant of the issues that specifically affect our community as is Ron Gold, and their pretense of support for the trans community is nothing less than patronizing.

Of course, the trans community shares blame in this. So many of those who assume the role of trans leadership would sooner stand in the open doorway of a burning building crying for help than they would take the single step across the threshold to safety. We need to step up and take responsibility for establishing our social, political and economic identity as an autonomous community.

But Robyn-

You say "The editors at Bilerico might think that the inclusion of this ignorant diatribe represents the presentation of opposing viewpoints, but it really just reflects the prevailing attitudes among the gay/lesbian community toward trans people"

If that is really the case- then it all the more reason to publish the post- so you can have that conversation - and debunk it and learn from it.

What is happening here is more of a pitchforks typed tar and feathering of a guy who stated, as you say, an attitude that reflects a prevailing attitude among the gay / lesbian community.

So it seems like many people here want to shut him up- call him a bigot and run him out of the city. But no one ever learns from that. The only way to deal with misconceptions is to talk about them.

Yes, telling people that an upsetting, offensive situation is an ~*~opportunity to educate~*~ is patronizing.

No one should be required to put up with the kind of things that Gold said about trans people. Not for any reason. Not an opportunity to educate, nothing.

What we're discussing is not "talking about" his ignorant comments, capitalistpiggy. Trans people have been doing that for the last twenty years and more. We're talking about the seeming right of the privileged to waltz in, do no research, blare the same kind of weak, boring transphobia to which trans people are subjected every day, and when called on it, hide behind "Well, I'm just trying to start a discussion!" The discussion has already been had ad nauseam; if he were sincerely trying to have a discussion, he would have learned something first.

"If that is really the case- then it all the more reason to publish the post- so you can have that conversation - and debunk it and learn from it."

Yeah, because trans people don't learn from "conversations" like these every. single. day.

Certainly, Ron Gold is entitled to his opinion, but from the perspective of responsible journalism, expression of such ideas should be supported with documented fact, scientific evidence or at the very least, anecdotal personal experience, all of which are conspicuously missing from Gold's piece.

Further, Gold's failure to temper his malicious language is clearly outside the boundaries of civility, even within the context of op-ed, and publication of the piece by Bilerico editors is every bit as irresponsible as the manner of Gold's expression. This kind of journalism is characteristic of Fox Broadcsating and other propaganda machines of that ilk, and in my opinion, has no place in the discussion of issues within our community.

As such, his piece is not worthy of response in the context of a civil and intellectual exchange of ideas.

While my views are widely considered to be militant and reactionary, I can say that my opinions are based in historical fact well known to anyone well informed in these issues, which is more than can be said for Ron Gold's knee-jerk hateful diatribe.

If this piece was any indication of the direction Bilerico is headed, I look forward to future articles from Fred Phelps and Glenn Beck.

Zoe is quoted as saying:

Just because the ideas are unpopular doesn't mean they should not have been expressed.

But it doesn't mean that they should have been either.

Moreover, there is a difference between allowing speech to occur and giving it the imprimatur of legitimacy.

The First Amendment protects Gold (though, given that he's hiding out in Brazil - oops, wrong transphobe, I meant Bangladesh - I wonder what that nation's free speech rights are like) from the fear of being put in jail for typing those words - but freedom of speech is not absolute and it never has been. The law of defamation exists for a reason.

Monocultures where everyone thinks alike are prone to go astray. Our most cherished ideas should be able to withstand a little challenging if they're so very correct

So - is all of the non-science and fake journals and books that are constructing the aura of legitimacy for Blanchard-Bailey-ism a "little challenging"?

How about the fraudulent Meyer-Reter 'study' of 1979? Its mere existence gave the governmental entities that had been willing to side with transsexuals in battles for transition-related healthcare all the excuse they needed to say that there was now a non-consensus among professionals as to the necessity of such care.

Gold and Bailey.

Fouratt and Dreger.

Vincent and Dobkin.

Dreger and Gold.

Dobkin and Bailey.

Mix-n-match, add water and bake - and they all will produce the exact same quality of muffin.

The meadow variety.

Religion, corporate greed, autogynephilia and a homosexually-pure gay rights industry are "cherished ideas" that need challenging.

Calling a bigot a bigot is not engaging in 'political correctness.' It is self-defense.

Bil,

I stand up for free speech, even when it’s offensive! I’m wondering if Mr. Gold is strong enough to “Stand Corrected?” Does Mr. Gold have the courage to admit to all of us that he is wrong? While I defend everyone’s right to speak offensively it does me/us no good to listen to it unless the person offering the offensive speech is known to be willing to listen and learn from those he offends!

Dialog that builds bridges between people is something TBP should strive and stand for. You should ask Mr. Gold if he is willing to learn from his “teachable moment!”

I'd like to underscore your point, Bil, about the difference between "safe space" and "personally vilified and condemned." Gold didn't merely question the boundaries of transgender identity, something I do myself all the time. That would have been a bit outside the "safety zone," and yet not vilifying and condemning. He went far, far, far beyond that, explicitly negating, in his title, the identity of part of our community. He vilified trans identity by calling it "mutilation" and condemned it by calling transgender identity "plain silly."

If you can't identify transphobia when you see it, you can't be in the LGBT business. Well, actually you can, as I would say that 90% of gay leaders don't know it when they see it, and just try to use bland, neutral, happy language on general principles. We're seen as a prickly bunch who need to be kept away from company. But we wouldn't be so prickly if people didn't keep pricking us.

From the Merchant of Venice: "He hath disgrac'd me, and hinder'd me of half a million, laughed at my losses, mock'd at my gains, scorn'd my nation, thwarted my bargains, cool'd my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason? I am [trans]. Hath not a [trans] eyes; hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer that a [gay] is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a [trans] wrong a [gay], what is his humility? revenge. If a [gay] wrong a [trans], what should his sufferance be by example? why revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."

But we wouldn't be so prickly if people didn't keep pricking us.
Well stated.

All hail the good Dr. Weiss.

Trans people know that transphobic bigots like Mr. Gold and your mother exist in the universe. They deal with them everyday. What, honestly, was the point of throwing it in their faces by publishing and then defending a transphobic post?

Did you consult any trans contributors before posting Mr. Gold's op-ed piece?

It was my decision that this post would challenge our readers more than it would offend them.

This was not an editorial fuck-up. This was a cis-privilege fuck-up. Why don't you own that, 'k? Or else drop the "T" from your masthead, hypocrite.

My opinion of the difference between "challenging" and "offensive" is that when you spray stereotypes and misconceptions at a population you clearly have had very little interaction with and have almost no real knowledge of just to be spiteful, that is offensive. When you point out relevant weaknesses and misconceptions of that population in order to help them take an honest look at themselves with the goal of improving themselves in perception and reality, that is challenging. Mr. Gold's piece was offensive.

jolynn weaster | December 11, 2009 9:33 AM

personally i want to applaud you for your obvious
support for the mentally challanged. they like all americans deserve the right to make a living, voice an opinion and enjoy the right of the free press. it is a feather in the cap of the management of bilerico to allow mr. gold the right to state his opinion and its further encouraging to see that our MHMR facility now allow the inmates the use of computers for their english communication classes.
i have found out that mr. golds next paper will be on the mating habits of grass...we look forward to reading his next installment.
please bilerico.....be sure to publish that one as well!

I disliked Gold's post enormously, both for its insulting dismissal of transpeople and its poorly reasoned arguments. With some very light wordsmithing, his article could just as easily be published on an ex-gay site.

I do not see the editorial difference between publishing this and the raging homophobia though of other posters. I refer specifically to Yasmin Nair, whose posts are filled with vitriol towards LGBT people deemed other than "queer." Were it my decision, neither would be published.

Having said that, I like Bilerico for its diversity of opinion and because while it is not a safe space, it is often a learning space. Austen and Dr Jillian, for example, are always challenging and worth the read.

As re the "elderly" argument, I'm not a spring chicken. I'm not even an old rooster and age is no excuse for bigotry. In fact, it's probably less of an excuse.

I tend to view these kinds of posts as more challenging than offensive, and tend to encourage thought-provoking discussion. It's difficult to find the fine line between them, so I err on the side of publication and encouraging people to smack down in the comments. Mr. Gold, in my view, wrote in good faith and not out of hatred or bigotry, and that is a big difference.

One factor in determining that is the mind of the writer. You introduced Mr. Gold as someone who has worked in the LGBT community before and I expect to be open-minded. He is not John Cornyn. He can learn. Learning is better than never engaging at all. Let him write.

Also, I would like to see some kind of rule enforced that new writers, particularly those who write commentary that will be controversial, need to engage in the comments. Mr. Gold's post needed to be a conversation and elaboration on his thoughts.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 11, 2009 9:47 AM

Adam, regarding your last paragraph,you might have missed. He is in Bangladesh and the time difference makes that largely impossible.

Adam, regarding your last paragraph,you might have missed. He is in Bangladesh and the time difference makes that largely impossible.
Then maybe he shouldn't lob bombs from 12 timezones away.

I know - that is a difficult thing to ask of an American in light of the precedent established by the previous administration (and his daddy's), but if he wants to insult people on a U.S.-based website and expect to be allowed to participate in real time the aftermath of the bombing, perhaps he should get his 1973 ass back to the United States...

or perhaps you should stop shilling for him and his philosophy.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 12, 2009 5:10 AM

Gee, I used a whole 21 words to be sure he understood that the man was not "real time" to respond to the posting.

So, it is your position that only persons residing in North America should be allowed to post or comment? Gosh, that sure is open and accepting of you. OK, you're the boss.

Zoe, I'm sorry, Kat wants you to leave! :)

We can't have one of the best minds in the world any more adding important insights into this site because, well, you live in the wrong place. And it's only the USA that is important anyhow, right?

Adam Bink: You make me laugh. Here you are advocating for the hypersensitive transgender people to have a thick skin and let the man have his say, so long as he engages in the comments.

But you had a public tantrum on Open Left this very week as is, when I posted here last week ago my concerns that the media had no articles on the ENDA postponement but dozens on gay marriage. Open Left is a blog with 10 times the traffic of Bilerico, and your article was picked up widely, including Mother Jones and other progressive media. You took my point personally when it was directed against the media, suggesting I am against marriage equality, which is not at all the case. You didn't bother to alert me to your attack, and when I did respond, you didn't engage my comment, or even allow it to be included.

You attacked me personally, calling me out by name. Thousands of people now connect my name with anti-marriage sentiment.

I can't disagree with Marti Abernathy at TransAdvocate who derides your tactics as part of The Gay White Mafia. You are an apologist for transphobia. Shame on you.

Jillian,

1. There is a big difference between advocating for a thick skin, and asking for people like you to educate this man. He clearly is wrong. He is also clearly writing in good faith. He also clearly, in my view and perhaps Bil's has an open mind, based on his years of work in our movement and the permission Bil has given him to write here. He is not Jim DeMint (who, funny that, you actually list as an unconfirmed on your whip count, so maybe he's not such a bigot after all!). Gold, to me, is someone who is writing in good faith and could use some correction.

I once made the mistake of using the term "transgendered", but in good faith. I didn't know any better. I was immediately and appropriately corrected. Judging by your scathing response to Gold, I should be hung from the rafters and banned from writing again for such an utterance. If you are afraid or unwilling to help our allies or potential allies with understand our issues better in a public forum such as this with correction, I don't know what to tell you.

2. You very cordially e-mailed me privately to discuss my piece. I am not going to violate confidences by publishing your e-mail, but I cordially responded to you and made some suggestions re the whip count. You never wrote back. So, if you want to engage in dialogue, which I'd like to do, may I suggest you try that first.

Also, I also do not know to what public response you said you wrote. You wrote in your e-mail to me that you couldn't figure out how to respond on my piece. I still don't see a comment from you on my piece. Did you write a response piece here on Bilerico? I don't see one either.

In any case, I am happy to engage in dialogue, but please do not pretend I am wholly ignoring you or something when you e-mailed me and did not respond back.

3. On the substance of whether your attack was directed personally, you wrote:

Do we have LGBT and progressive media exploding with articles of protest and telling people how to lobby Congress effectively to get this moving?

Nope. Instead, a NY marriage vote that was known to be doomed sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

Um. I spend 80+% of my time writing about marriage equality at OpenLeft and organizing projects online. OpenLeft is progressive media, like Bilerico. I am from New York State. I wrote heavily on the New York State fight. I did not write heavily on ENDA. Clearly, I guess I'm the guy who "sucked all the oxygen out of the room".

Others can read my full response here, but please do not hide behind nameless call-outs and then act all shocked when someone in progressive media who has apparently sucked oxygen out of the room actually takes issue with what you wrote.

3. People who resort to name-calling tend to not have very well-reasoned arguments. If you wish to continue in such a manner, I don't have much more to discuss with you. I like rational, reasonable discussions without "you're an apologist for transphobia!" or "you're a transphobe!" thrown out every third sentence. If you are willing to have such a discussion, then I am happy to do so. Otherwise, I don't have much more to say to you. I am guessing your response, if you write one, will be the judge of that.

Have a nice weekend.

Correction- rather, ONE OF the guys who sucked the oxygen out of my room. I have evil cohorts who organize for marriage equality too, and we're all to blame for the ENDA markup getting delayed.

No, in all seriousness, I'm not alone in working on this- Jeremy Hooper at Good as You, Louise at Pam's House Blend, Courage Campaign, UniteTheFight, others all have done even more critical work.

GallingGalla | December 11, 2009 5:57 PM

I tend to view these kinds of posts as more challenging than offensive, and tend to encourage thought-provoking discussion.

How exactly does a post telling me that I seek only to mutilate myself, telling me that I am "deluded", telling me that I have no right to exist, telling me that I have no right to my own identity, telling me that I have no right to my bodily autonomy count as "challenging and thought-provoking" as opposed to offensive.

Gold's article was beyond offensive. It is hate speech, pure and simple, and will incite more violence against us. That's not "challenging". That's criminal.

I've read each and every comment on this thread and I have to say that the readers of this blog are so much more aware of reality than the editors apparently are. I've been lurking here for quite some time, though I only created an account today to comment on that poisonous screed that you didn't find offensive as much as challenging. I left Americablog after years and years because it's owner feels the same way Mr. Gold does. You screwed up big time allowing this person to become a contributor, you screwed up big time by publishing that piece of hateful excrement but your biggest screw up was that ridiculous justification disguised as an apology you wrote here. This blog is yours and of course you are free to run it as you wish. I don't expect a "safe place" but I will not participate in, even tacitly as I have been, a place that publishes bigoted, uninformed, stereotypical screeds about me and my community. I've spent the last 49 years listening to that kind of rhetoric and believe me, it tells me much more about the author than you or he realizes. I've lost a total of four jobs due to my being transsexual, (for which I have no recourse in this state, unlike, I might add, gay women or men). I've been bashed twice, (it's been attempted many more times than that), attempted suicide, (serious, hospitalization required attempts), twice, disowned by elements of my family and through all of that, never wavered in my sense of self. If it was as easy or as imagined as Mr. Gold seems to think, doesn't anybody believe that it would have been easier just to accept my birth gender? Why would I go through all of that if I was merely confused. I have an IQ tested at 154, (average over three tests). I don't say that to be a douche, I say it to make clear that if this was confusion, I could have overcome it as such. The point of Mr. Gold's venom is clearly to "put us in our place". He, like Mr. Aravosis, Barney Frank and many others, see us as unnecessary hangers on of the larger movement, the drunken uncle, the luggage at the airport with a rotten smell coming out of it. He wrote that piece solely to marginalize us, believing that in so doing he could separate the gay population from we oh so embarrassing distractions.

You screwed up and you've lost another reader. Good day to you.

Joseph Dhara | December 11, 2009 9:46 AM

Words without action become useless in situations such as this one.

I restate my request that you remove the offending post. I agree that it is dangerous, it can be cited from other sources, and used to continue to promote hateful views. This is different from dissenting views that are respectful.

I appreciate you apologizing, that is helpful.

I want the terribly damaging and offensive post removed, I truly consider it dangerous.

Bil,

You had a responsibility to apologize, but not an obligation. I think its wonderful that you did, and to see how late it came shows just how much this weighed on you.

I was shocked when I read Ronald's piece, but I remember I came in here with guns blazing as well. I recognized the tone of his piece as attempting to do something that his words were very much not.

I don't think this should have been published as is, but that doesn't mean it should not have been published. I had two pieces sent back to me in the begining for silly mistakes. I fixed them and avoided having THIS heaping helping of hate hoisted on the site earlier.

Ronald wasn't looking to hurt the feelings that he did, even if he did mean to be shocking. He needed the ed team to tell him 'there is just no way this goes up in this state. Here's why.' The last thing I want is for Bilerico to stop pushing the envelope and become a sterilized no fun zone, but there was no fun in this, and I don't want that either.

If a post needs to be sent back a dozen times before it can be scheduled, then so be it. If we're going to push the envelope, we ought do it with quality sh*t. Bilerico usually does... but this one... not so much.

That said, I'd love to hear what Ron has learned. I also really appreciate seeing this apology. I'm sure many offended readers are as well. I haven't gone back to read the comments on that one.. I'm sort of scared to, but I'm sure many have put Ron right.

I'm just a little pissed noone is reading my Buju Banton post now, though!

Buju is just conducting dialogue, adding to the discussion...as is Mr Gold, right?

Yes - I find Buju challenging and accept that he intended his music in a positive way...

yeh...

that's the ticket.

Your refusal to post my remarks concerning your "apology" for Ron Gold's piece serves only to support the views I expressed therein. Don't look now. Your hypocrisy is showing.

Laura Antoniou | December 11, 2009 10:03 AM

By the editorial reasoning expressed here, you should have just had your Mom write the piece.

Sorry, but just because he is an older man doesn't excuse him for being rude, uninformed and just plain dim. Are you really suggesting that his views belong here as a regular contributor because *all* older people are the same? Yeah, that is kinda ageist. Own it.

Also, by this editorial reasoning, you really should have some ex-gays as regular contributors. Hey, if some readers find that offensive, still those people deserve to be read! It's a damn pity there aren't any websites, publications or giant media outlets that will provide them with a space to explain their views. That's why a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans...upps...well, maybe not Trans - friendly website needs to provide that space, right?

The antiquated, ignorant views of someone who has not only not kept up with the times but who, despite some notable activism in the past, has long begged the queer community to hide anyone who doesn't look, dress and act "straight"...

That's not what I come to Bilerico for. I've been wondering for a while why I keep it on my blog rotation. Now, I don't have to wonder. Buh-bye.

Bil;
You asked for constructive suggestions and after a long walk in the cold here, I am calm enough to undertake such a response.

First of all, the staff probably needs to meet to discuss the identy of the Bilerico project itself; it is an Gay blog, a LG blog, anLGB blog or is it truly an LGBTQ site.

I know that your immediate response will be that the identity is proudly proclaimed upon the masthead, but as of late you've had a few mosh-ups where men, usualy gay men tackle the issue of gender identity. I am protective of and advocate for the Lesbians of operative history that I either know personally or represent through various undertakings; I cannot presume to speak for other member of the trans community except in support of their rights.

Grandly disregarding scientific knowledge and making trans-anything a choice is probably not a good thing to do. It tends to be seen as the sort of thing that the G/L's are constantly berating Paul Cameron for doing, or even the ex-gays.

Knowing terms is helpful as well. It is my understanding that the drive for physical congruence with the brain through surgery is called gender dysphoria, or dysphoric imperative as a trans physician Rebecca Alison framed it. A neologism like "gender dystopia" conjures up images of a society run by the denizens of a drag club, a "V for Vendetta" in chiffon.

Calling your target audience delusional is not helpful either. The APA says that they are not delusional and Mr Gold used to be very concerned about what the APA thought.

Calling a corrective surgical proceedure, approved of and endorsed by current medical science "mutilation" probably contributes little to building bridges. Again, were I to make a positive suggestion, it would probably be helpful to avoid language used by the Evangelical Right and notorious extremists such as Margaret Jamison, Julie Bindel, and others.

Were I to engage is some decadent self revelation here, I would relate that I have had, in years past, a Lesbian of Operative as a lover and can tell you from personal experience that her genitals were sheeer artistry and beauty, most certainly NOT an example of mutilation.

The condescending and dismissive anhilation of the gender identity of trans people is probably unhelpful in a Bilerico piece as well. Once again, it flies in the face of current neurobiological science and is the language of our opponents. Would you publish a piece opining that homosexuality is the result of molestation and that gays are not truly gay but damaged and need to be fixed? Unlikely. This site has hammered at those involved in reparative therapies.

Those would be my respectful suggestions for consideration of possible steps that would help to avoid this kind of event in the future. As for me, I am off to a meeting with Richard Cohen and Fr Harvey to help gay identified men get past their psychological damage so that they can be healthy, functional and productive heterosexuals and reduce the heath risk that gay behaviour poses to society by getting tax monies re-directed to federally funded Jesus camps.

It was my decision that this post would challenge our readers more than it would offend them. It was my responsibility and I made a not-fully-considered decision. I'm sorry.

Don't you think trans people are constantly challenged already? Why do we need to be shocked out of a comfort zone that we largely do not have access to?

I don't believe in safe spaces at all, so I never considered any blog to be safe space - not even my own. But when I start pondering who to shock out of their complacency, I don't start with marginalized people. It's not the marginalized people who are complacent. It's the privileged people - the ones who maintain that marginalization. And yes, people who are marginalized in some ways can be privileged in others (although it's not so simple as to separate them out and treat them as separate).

Would you honestly allow a post that called all LGB people deluded and unnatural, and said that same-sex attraction doesn't really exist? And when your commenters respond predictably (that is, with anger), would you deliver this same apology?

Wait no, Tobi didn't cover everything I wanted to say.

You think that you're being edgy and challenging. You are wrong, Bil. This is not challenging. This is not edgy. Even moreso, this is not new. This is the same old tired shit that is said by the same old tired bigots. These are arguments that were refuted in the stone age, ten thousand times on nearly every trans blog in existence. They are the ultimate old school classic crap strawman argument directed at trans folk.

What you allowed through from Ron Gold is a historical fossil of bigotry. At great cost to us (like Tobi pointed out, a cost that wouldn't have been repaid by him being convinced to drop his hate or by dialogue) you allowed something through that doesn't create any new dialogue, that didn't promote him to drop his hate (judging by his comment responses), that didn't challenge anyone.

In fact, I imagine the only challenge experienced by anyone out of this situation was the challenge you experienced to spin this in a way that doesn't look absolutely abhorrent for Bilerico. But that's the problem. You can't spin this as discussion. If you knew anything about trans issues, you wouldn't have green lighted Gold's post for "challenge" and "discussion" and "discourse" because you would have known that all of this has been dealt with ad nauseam (there's that word again. It really seems to connect well to this site's repetition of the same old transphobic tropes) by trans activists in the past and now.

When something is so old, so oft refuted, so same old same old and so horrifyingly common that it's found its way onto bingo cards and has copy paste responses readied for it then it is not challenging. It is not new. It is not diversity. It is not a discussion starter. There was no discussion. There was copy paste same old same old refutations, because of how ancient and flawed those claims are. But that isn't discussion. That isn't a challenge.

So we've paid a cost in our well being, for absolutely nothing. Literally, nothing. It isn't even an unequal trade, we have literally paid the emotional tax to the hate monger you let in for absolutely nothing. It was theft, not a barter. Gold stole my time and the time of others. Gold stole a chunk of my well being and the well being of others. This was no trade. We got nothing in return, not even unequal discourse and challenges.

And you, as the middle man, allowed this to happen. It might be wise to rethink how things work here from now on.

Well. Haven't been here in awhile just because of...life

I have read both this and Ronald Gold's posts as well as the comments section of both post. I am simply sitting back and learning.

Bil, I'm sorry, but your apology falls far short of addressing the hurt that Ron Gold's post has brought to the transcommunity or restoring trust that we might be treated with dignity on the Bilerico site.

Mr. Gold and the Bilerico editors owe a personal apology to author Jan Morris for the maligning pronouns that he hurled at her. Gold's deliberate contempt for those born different than himself is reiterated in his followup comment:

"I don't apologize for using words like mutilation and deluded. That's what I think it is!"

Deluded, indeed. It's sad that a person who worked for so many years to end false stereotypes of mental pathology will now forever be remembered for inflicting those very same stereotypes.

Deluded and mutilation.
Beyond appallling.

Can I write a piece on the detrimental effect of gay inclusion because of their reckless unprotected sex, drug use and public crusing and t-room sex?
No, nor should I be able to in an LGBT site


Thank you so much for dusting off the upper crust of bigotry in the Gay community. I suppose that a piece on the "lefty liberal Lesbians" is next?

I can read prejudices such as Ronald Gold's anywhere on the internet. I can encounter similar prejudices virtually everywhere in the real world. These attitudes are not hard to find. They are not thought provoking, roughly hewn explorations of gender fluidity. In reality, they are hate and ignorance packaged as rational discourse and common folk wisdom.

Consequently, I wouldn't classify the Ronald Gold article as "challenging." Allowing a bigoted person to post clearly prejudiced and misguided statements about a deeply marginalized group of people is more aptly described as creating a spectacle for the sake of stirring inflamed passions. This is the threshold at which an editorial venue starts to shift from a lively exchange of ideas to a verbal melee reminiscent of daytime TV talk shows such as The Jerry Springer Show.

Is that really the kind of atmosphere you wish to foster here? I have come to expect a higher quality of discourse from The Bilerico Project than this. I hope that my confidence has not been misplaced.

After the jump, I'd like to explain my reasoning, point out the positives, and ask your advice on how to prevent episodes like this in the future.

The answer to that question is simple: run the piece past several trans people. If most of them are saying the piece is inappropriate, then don't run the article. By the huge volume of negative responses from trans people on the original thread, there's a good chance the piece would have been rejected by trans people given the opportunity to review the article prior to publication.

Bil, you aren't transgender. Consequently, things are going to fly under your radar that simply wouldn't pass muster for most trans people. Something similar could be said for a straight editor managing a progressive publication that decided, in error, to post an "edgy" opinion piece that critiques LGB people using worn out homophobic prejudice repackaged as "challenging commentary."

If you want to address transphobic prejudice in the queer community, then fine: address it earnestly and forthrightly. Don't provide someone with bigoted attitudes a venue to spew their misguided ideas with the expectation that your commenters will take up the slack and correct a foolish person's hateful meanderings. Such actions wind up inadvertently tarring Bilerico with the same brush of prejudice that the foolish person paints with.

There's already enough mistrust and ill feeling between the LGB and the T. Allowing Ronald Gold's post was akin to pouring an accelerant on a raging fire. While I'm sure that wasn't your intent, The Bilerico Project now reeks of gasoline.

There is no trans person on the "Editorial Staff," and haven't been for about two years.

Ah, well... there you have it. It would seem that the cause of the problem and the solution are quite obvious.

Bil? The ball is in your court. You've got plenty of trans people as regularly contributing authors. Hence, you have a pool of people to draw from in forging a solution.

There really, really needs to be a trans voice on the editorial staff. It would have prevented this entire debacle from happening. Had you not brought this up, I was going to ask about this very topic.

"It would have prevented this entire debacle from happening."

because ... trans people all think alike?
i regularly disagree with many other trans folks on this and other sites. We dont have some specific set of opinions and political leanings because we're trans. im an anarchist, and pretty sure im regularly going to disagree with another trans person who is not. Having one trans person is not going to make all the difference in the world. It's just one step.

No. I'm certainly aware that people have differing opinions about the issues that effect our lives. What I was attempting to convey was that the editorial staff should be comprised of people from all of the blog's target demographic: LGBTQ. Even though individuals do not think as a group, they certainly know a red flag issue when they see one. Are you implying that if there were a member of the trans community on the editorial staff they might have found some redeeming quality about the post in question? Because personally, I don't see that happening.

Certainly, Ron Gold is entitled to his opinion, but from the perspective of responsible journalism, expression of such ideas should be supported with documented fact, scientific evidence or at the very least, anecdotal personal experience, all of which are conspicuously missing from Gold's piece.

Further, Gold's failure to temper his malicious language is clearly outside the boundaries of civility, even within the context of op-ed, and publication of the piece by Bilerico editors is every bit as irresponsible as the manner of Gold's expression. This kind of jornalism is characteristic of Fox Broadcsating and other propaganda machines of that ilk, and in my opinion, has no place in the discussion of issues within our community.

As such, his piece is not worthy of response in the context of a civil and intellectual exchange of ideas.

While my views are widely considered to be militant and reactionary, I can say that my opinions are based in historical fact well known to anyone well informed in these issues, which is more than can be said for Ron Gold's knee-jerk hateful diatribe.

If this piece was any indication of the direction Bilerico is headed, I look forward to future articles from Fred Phelps and Glenn Beck.

Calling us deluded was "positively intended"?

Who's deluded now...

Do not confuse the fact that my community is capable of rebutting this nonsense without flaming as recognition of Mr. Gold's "positive intent". I, for one, cited two premises where we might agree, in an attempt to educate him...but I see no intent aside from bigotry in his piece. At best, we are modeling the civilized way to assert a premise...one he should have managed to learn by now.

Do you imagine that listing the long credentials of this guy, then letting him spout diatribes, helps the LGBTQI cause in any way? Do you imagine that spreading and repeating ignorance in big headlines with contributors who you present as credible is, in any way, a cure for that ignorance?

What on Earth did you imagine you were "challenging" with this piece? And why did you feel it needed to be challenged?

It took you too long to apologize. It still doesn't register as sincere since you're still making excuses for him. Were this a matter of race, and the N*word were used, it still wouldn't be up on your site. This is THAT offensive, and your credibility is THAT damaged.

You want guidance for the future? It's very simple:

1) If you wouldn't say it about black people, or gay people, or any other oppressed people, don't say it about us.

2) Follow the GLAAD media reference guide. Just because you're not a news site doesn't make you exempt from them. The fact that you claim to be a LGBTQI site means it's going to be that more embarrassing when you have to be scolded.

3) Learn from the MANY instances where the trans community has objected to Bilerico's pattern of transphobic stupidity and actually fix it. How many Ronald Goldman's will it take to finally get through to you people?

Bil: I just wanted to say thank you for this post. Also, I wanted to apologize for losing my temper slightly in the comments section of Ronald Gold's post. I must say that I did feel personally attacked and trivialized by the language that he used. I also felt his point was expressed poorly and probably also got lost altogether for some readers (specifically trans readers) due to the hateful and inflammatory language that he used.

One of the reasons why I love Bilerico so much is for what you mentioned in this post: that it pushes the envelop and challenges, even at the risk of ruffling feathers. The whole notion of challenging certain beliefs is a core principle of my own writing that I feel is often absolutely essential in order to foster productive discussion and ultimately bring about positive change. But my writing doesn't challenge for the sake of challenging. It just happens to reflect the way I see things. Anyway, I guess that's kinda beside the point.

I think one of the guidelines that could help distinguish offensive from challenging is that a writer should possess a certain level of respect and sensitivity for others. If you have that, then by all means, go ahead and challenge the very foundation of people's beliefs. Ronald Gold's post did not convey respect in the slightest, however. His post instead amounted to trans-bashing, in my opinion.

first of all, "free speech" and the first amendment are not implicated. only the government can censor in that respect.

a private blog/forum site owner has the right and the privilege to edit or deny any post they feel is inappropriate, without recourse.

that said, mr. gold's post should never have seen the light of day. sure, some people think this way. so what. some people think equally disparaging things about the rest of the lgb community. so what. that doesnt mean that they need to be given a pulpit.

posts like these are not challenging, or written with good intent. they are worse than offensive. a bad smell is offensive. a noisy neighbor is offensive. this post by far exceeded this, not by challenging my identity, but DENYING it, in words that are demeaning and spiteful and hurtful.

words like these have been thrown in our (transpeoples) faces our entire lives. our outrage is that we did not expect to see them here.

challenging is posting whether or not i believe the evidence for a biological basis and perhaps challenging it in a rational and respectful manner. challenging is posting and asking an honest question *why* i feel that i have to modify my body so that it matches my mind.

challenging does not discount my experience or my identity simply because it does not fit with one's personal beliefs. challenging does not call me names or intentionally use the wrong pronouns -- a small thing to LGB readers perhaps, but a HUGE thing to transsexuals.

challenging requires that the post do at least a modicum of research and intelligibly express one's thoughts in a rational manner. this post had all the finesse of a fred phelps rally.

i dont expect bilerico to be a utopia where we all feel good all the time. i consistently read articles from contributors who piss me off and push me out of my comfort zone. this was different.

it tried to hurt me. it tried to tell me what i have feared my entire life is true -- that i'm just plain crazy; and it intimated that i would have been better off if one of my previous suicide attempts would have succeeded.

for all we try, non-trans people just dont seem to get it. does anyone think seriously that a transsexual WANTS to transition? like many others who have already spoken, i have paid a huge emotional price to be where i am today; and i damn near didnt make it.

i'm not here because i want to be. i'm here because i had no other choice. its really that simple, and in the end it makes no damn difference if it was biological or societal or mental.

challenging my right to exist is "with good intent?" hardly.


Personally, I can't help but think that anyone who considers that piece "challenging" rather than offensive, must share some of those beliefs. Either that or you are suffering from a inexcusable lack of awareness for a community that you yourself purport to serve.

I have to bow out here, As there is clearly going to be no repudiation of Mr Gold's statements by the site management; instead a letigimisaion of publishing them is offered.

That is no more accceptable than publishing a racist diatribe upon the shaky grounds that such opinions exist.

Bil,

As a friend and a gentleman, you have exceeded expectations here. I know your position on the issue, and I know you didn't much like the article. You're stepping on some eggshells here and making do with what you've got. I do feel like I have to walk a bit of a tightrope here, as my response in the issue is not directed at you.

Unfortunately, business and friendship do sometimes have to operate in separate worlds, and this is no exception. I do not give Bilerico Media LLC a pass on this. If it were any other organization -- especially one not attached to the LGBTQ movement, the firestorm would be all over the LGBT blogosphere, demanding apologies, redaction, and correction. Your apology does nothing to allay the fears of readers worried that this kind of discourse won't become par for the course at this blog, and without attacking these fears Bilerico Media LLC has caused a net negative impact, both on its base readership and its reputation as an inclusive resource.

I have written a post that further elaborates on these questions. I do hope that your ed team will take the time to reply in full.

One of the exceses is that he's old? Hell, I'm old, too, but what did that ever get me here? Comments removed and being turned down to become a contributor.

I was told tha Bilerico has "high standards" to be a contributor here. If Ron is an example of Bilerico's "high standards," maybe I should be thankful my name is not associated with this blog. It seems some trans contributors are having second thoughts about being associated with Bilerico, too.

Bil,
Thank you for accepting the responsibility for this. Neither is Bilerico a safe place nor should it be a dangerous place. No person should feel that he or she will come here and be attacked. Questioned and challenged yes, but attacked, personally insulted and categorically dismissed, no. I recognize that this happens from time to time in the comments but an editorial policy should prevent it happening in the articles and essays. The big problem here is that this has happened and projectors are feeling attacked.
I think that the post by Mr. Gold fails a good editorial policy on several fronts. The first front is that it invalidates the identity and feelings of a group of people. And editorial policy should not accept posts in general that do this. I understand that there are times when another viewpoint is entertained such as 'ex-gay' people, but those are exceptional and when they are allowed they need to be held to a higher standard of reason and discourse through non-loaded language. They should IMO also have an editorial note attached explaining their presence here.
Secondly it is directly insulting and offensive to a group of people. The language is judgmental, insulting and offensive. It calls them delusional, it insults their doctors, it insults the medical process by which they are assisted.
Thirdly it is directly insulting to an individual by intentionally mislabeling her gender demonstrating a willingness to insult and hurt others.
Fourthly it fails to present any sort of coherent argumentation for a controversial position which it espouses. It argues against itself internally by first questioning if people need mental health treatment and then calling those same people delusional and the use of the term mutilation was unacceptable. Even the response of the author refuses to engage in reasoned discourse and seems to come across as -I'm no expert but this is what I believe so I don't need to entertain discourse- in nature.
And lastly it crosses from the position of trying to inform and understand to a position of refusal to accept and hear.I have asked people to explain to me why they feel something or experience something. He shows a refusal to listen, to hear, to consider and to accept others in this piece.
I would suggest that those five areas be considered in future editorial decisions.
While the apology is commendable I do feel that this post so very violates the purposes of Bilerico it is a mistake to allow it to remain. I strongly urge you to reconsider this choice and remove this post from Bilerico since it has not contributed to discourse and has greatly contributed to pain and has damaged the reputation of Bilerico.

Hi there Bil first off heres a hugg for you. But in the furture I suggest perhaps a preview of new bloggers first postings.So at the minimum you can get ready for the storm to follow.

((((((((((HUGGGGSSSS)))))))))))))
to everyone now chill realax take a deep breath now didnt that feel better.

Love ya
Caty

Erm, we're not all looking for "safe space." In fact, many of us routinely play devil's advocate, go against the flow and do what could be more accurately called "challenging" others. Instead, this was like entering home and being beaten by the new roommate while everyone watches. Challenging involves reasoned arguments, not willful ignorance and tired insults that should have been dispelled by the evidence long ago.

No, you admit you were aware of the content of the post, didn't preface it with anything (which is what you've apologized for) and now that the OP has unapologetically stood behind his misgendering of Jan Morris and his insulting dismissals of "silly," "deluded" and "mutilation," you have yet to call him on it.

Sorry, but this one's a Fail.

The only reason I haven't removed Bilerico from my reader yet is because I don't know if Tobi and Dr. Weiss will still be posting here.

Honestly, between them, Zoe, genderbitch, Austen, countless others (too many to list!), all the arguments have been pointed out--his points were something that appear on bingo cards. His points are viewpoints I see come from teens, gay and straight men in their twenties/thirties, all the time, every day. It's not a discussion, it's something that has been covered thousands of times in thousands of places that five minutes with a search engine will give you days of things to read.

"Safe space" doesn't mean we all have to agree, but when someone actively misgenders and calls transitioning mutilation, on a supposedly rather inclusive site..

Kinda makes you question why you still bother reading.

Yes, I did do a cut and paste job with all the evidence. Just as I've done dozens of times before.

It's the same old rubbish, answered for the nth time with the same old data. Nothing new, nothing edgy, just trying to diminish the ignorance of those who can't be bothered to do any research themselves, but feel that their privilege gives them the right to denigrate those freaks because they're normal themselves.

Bill, the statement I have the biggest issue with is you stating this is not a safe space. I'm curious which contributors you've invited on who would not be safe for gay men to be exposed to? The reality is, most of your "editorial board" is made up of gay/lesbian cissexual people. They make certain it's a safe space for you. I don't see any such filter for trans people at Bilerico. I saw a similar (but far more informed) thread written by a straight male contributor about trans people. Did anyone question his actual experience or understanding with the community. I saw a recent glowing thread about Simon LeVay where some gay cis BIlerico editorial board members suggested he would be a great contributor to Bilerico even though he's infamous in the trans community as a Bailey/Blanchard supporter and has incredibly dismissive views of transwomen. Bill, I've been reading this blog for several years and I've never seen comparable moments for gay men (though, granted, I'm not a gay male so maybe I didn't notice) where someone who was coincidentally viewed as a homophobe was suggested as a regular contributor. Yes, there are some members of the gay community who certainly disagree with one another, but not to the extent where they literally dismiss the very sexual orientation or identity of other gay people (maybe bisexuals though) What you're really saying is, this isn't a safe space for trans people, deal with it.

Bil,

Not that I'm reading her again (You lost me forever when you invoked the Virginia Tech massacre during your freakout over voz; I never have thanked you here for triggering me, btw. Thanks.), but you want to know how to not do this again? Simple:

a) STOP HAVING ARTICLES BY CIS PEOPLE ABOUT TRANS PEOPLE

or

b) HAVE AT LEAST ONE TRANS EDITOR/HAVE TRANS CONTRIBUTORS "VET" ARTICLES

Explanation:

a) You, both as an individual and an editorial tem, have repeatedly shown that you have no clue when it comes to trans issues even when trans people have freely given of time and energy to attempt to educate you. Some people would be struck by the fact that they keep approving articles that result in universal condemnation by trans people as a sign that perhaps they have a blind spot. Not you. You just keep weakly apologising after the fact and talk about "dialogue" and "challenging views" when you "apologise". Tell you what: When you bring on board a homophobic trans person as a contributor, I'll believe you mean this. Otherwise, just follow the simple rule of banning cis queer people from writing about trans issues.

b) If you really can't swallow the idea of not having cis queer people write about trans issues, then ffs have a trans editor (best case) or have articles on trans by cis people vetted by one or more trans contributors (worst case). This would take care of your, personal and editorial, blind spot wrt trans issues.

Of course, I know you won't do either of these. You've been quite clear in the past that while trans people might fascinate you, while you might like having us as readers and contributors, while you understand that the "T" in "LGBT" stands for "Trans" and therefore your site should have articles about trans stuff, you honestly could care less about the real harms you create and further with your publication and approval of hate speech. This "apology" reiterates that as it does not address the change that is needed for this to stop happening and instead has to ask for us to tell you what to do. Apology not accepted.

How to do it differently in future? As I commented on Mercedes's blog, it's not different, even opposing, viewpoints I'm objecting to. I have lively debates with people all the time. They're stimulating, and they can be tools for learning by all parties involved.

In this case, it should have been a matter of deciding whether this particular opposing viewpoint had any basis in fact. Everyone has an opinion, but some opinions are informed and some are ignorant. Ignorant opinions do not deserve space the way informed opinions do. The initial premise of Ronald Gold's post was so weak that I should have thought a red flag would have gone up right away.

That's even before we get to the part where a trans woman is referred to as "he" and sex reassignment surgery is called "mutilation." Those kinds of things are not part of a respectful, intelligent discussion of the issues.

I don't doubt that a contigent of LGB people think the way Mr. Gold does. I've read Julie Bindel's swill. She's a lesbian. Would you allow her to write a guest post? There are ignorance and bigotry under the LGBT umbrella. Do you give them all space in your blog?

But what was the point, Bil? The point wasn't to "challenge" your readership ... did you really think that Ron Gold's post would lead some transpeople to smack their foreheads and exclaim "aha! I AM deluded and mutilated! Thank you Ron Gold! Now the healing can begin!!?" or lead others to similar exclamations of "You know! I think that Ron Gold has a point! There ARE only two types of transpeople - drag queens and transsexuals!"

I think people are giving the editorial board entirely too much credit by even acknowledging the "but this post would challenge us all" BS. There was no rational point to Ron's post at all, so let's call a spade a spade. This violently transphobic post was cleared because of the intended controversy and high-comment rate that would ensue. Period. And it has been deemed appropriate to allow such controversy to occur at the expense of transpeople by an all cis-gender team. Collateral damage to bolster the site. I don't think that Bil or the editorial board accurately calculated the risk of such a move, including the outrage of some of its contributors and the loss of some of its readership and even rumored boycotts, but it is what it is. Anything for the numbers.

Donna Cartwright | December 11, 2009 1:15 PM

I must add my voice to those deploring the publication on Bilerico of Ronald Gold’s broad, ill-informed attack on transgender people. This is not a free-speech issue: Gold certainly has a right to spew transphobic nonsense; the issue is whether a respected LGBT site like Bilerico Project should give him a platform. I believe it shouldn’t have done so.
A number of other commenters, including Ronan, Jason Tseng and Monica Helms, have already called out various double standards in Bil Browning’s defense of that decision. I can only add that Bil’s attempt to “balance” his decision to publish the Gold article by pointing to a previous guest post by an “ex-gay” charlatan just won’t wash – the “ex-gay” was a one-shot curiosity, very unlikely to be taken seriously by the great bulk of Bilerico readers, while Gold is listed as a regular contributor.
More important is the issue of relative privilege and marginality. Other commenters have already raised this question; I can only amplify it by making some comparisons. Trans people remain severely marginalized, not only in mainstream society but also within the LGBT community. We (or at least those of us who are out) are far fewer in number and have far less access to wealth and political and social power than our GLB brothers and sisters. Think of gay billionaires like Gill, Stryker, Hormel, etc., and then try to think of any trans person with remotely comparable resources.
As to political power, remember that there are three out gay members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Banking Committee, as well as many state legislators and local officials; trans people are still struggling to see one of our own elected to a state legislature or city council.
Transmen and particularly transwomen remain scarce on the staffs of LGBT organizations, and even rarer in their top leadership.
The trans community made quite rapid progress in the first seven years of this decade, but that progress has slowed in the last two years and in some areas even reversed. The mainstream media, which for a while gave us sympathetic or at least balanced coverage, has in large part reverted to silencing and erasure. In this context, the publication of a grossly disrespectful piece like Gold’s article on Bilerico strikes me as ominous.

Donna M. Cartwright

Donna, great to see you posting here. I hope you're doing well, it's been a while. Please, stick around. :)

"Just because the ideas are unpopular doesn't mean they should not have been expressed."

Mr Gold's piece didn't have any ideas in it. It was just a longer version of "I don't understand it so it doesn't exist."

Controversy and discussion are fine things. But a bald-faced negation of other people's identities doesn't leave anything to discuss. He simply told a whole lot of us that he knows better who we are than we do.

I don't know if Mr Gold's blindness is related to the well-established tradition of drag in gay male culture. But here's a call for Mr Gold on the clue phone: my life is not a costume party, and I'm not here to entertain you.

Angela Brightfeather | December 11, 2009 2:12 PM

I have read every post and most notably Mr. Gold's before writing this and deciding to make a comment. There is little I can add to what has already been said by my peers in the Transgender Community who have voiced their outrage.

My reason for commenting now, is that I belong to a small, start-up support group in Durham, NC that just got of the ground last year and is still trying to become some kind of voice in the town to represent Transgender people and in my emails this morning I found Mr. Gold's post sent to all the members by someone in the group.

Trying to overcome my personal anger about Mr. Gold is easy. Like him I am older, almost 65 now, and it's not like I have not heard or felt this kind of thing coming from gay men in the past, more times than I can count. Mr. Gold reminds me of the time I attended a drag show in Greensboro, NC about two years ago, and I was introduced to an older gay man who has been a "supposed" GLBT activist for many years and he refused to shake my hand and walked away.
So Mr. gold is nothing knew. In fact he is very recognizable to Transgender activists who have been doing it for years. He reperesents a single minded, Mattachine philosophy, that Transgender people could never fit into unless they are wholey passable enough to not be recognized or introduced as a transgender person in public.

I will remain very mad about the damage he has done within that support group however. Many of the younger members of the group don't know about the "Mr. Gold's" in the gay and lesbian community who over the years we have had to deal with. We often see them entering expensive dinners and fundraisers now a days, but just because they may look like ladies or gentlemen, does not mean they act like it. Often times, they don't have to say a word. They only have to look your way to be able to see the sense of supeeriority that they feel they have for those lesser than themselves. But to the younger people in that group in Durham, Mr. Gold is the exact opposite of what they experience in their other social groups that have GLBT youth in them and for that I am grateful. So Mr. Gold is a bit of a wake up call for them that reminds them that still, there is a lot of ignorance and transphobia in the ranks, masked as free speech or the right to speak out, even if it damages others deeply, and it exists inside the GLBT community as much as it does in the Southern Baptist Conferences or in the legislative debates being conducted right now in one African nation, determined to eradicate the lives of those that that they consider sick.

Mr. Gold's ideas about Transgender people are not only outdated and incorrect, they are dangerous and for that reason they never should have been considered by Bilerico for publication, even if they were revised. They unravel the life work of thousands of Transgender people who over the years have had to swallow such bitter pills of ignomy and dislike from gays and lesbians and find some way to carry on and be "nice" at the same time while being called bitter, angry or oversensitive. I would like to think that Mr. Gold is a dinosaur of type, but the reality is that he obviously does not stand alone and there are more bitter pills like this one that must be digested by Transgender people before we can fully be in this fight for our human rights together. Thankfully, he is becoming the exception rather than the rule.

As to Bilerico's role in all this, I think that the consideration of damage done is necessary and because it comes from a place inside of our community, it hurts no less than if it were printed in a church handout used to discredit our existence and minimalize our lives and then handed to our relatives and friends in the pews sitting next to us. The printer who printed the material, shares the responsibility for allowing his work to be handed out and must make the moral decision to participate in that process. Therefore, being of sound conscience most of the time, it's up to Bilerico to realize their role in that process and act accordingly to correct it. If that process has already started, then I hope it will short.

As for Mr. Gold, no excuses, as a human being I demand an apology. But as a Transgender person I know that if it comes without his trying to truly learn and understand about transgender people, it will mean absolutely nothing.

I suggest that Mr. Gold attend a few Transgender support group meetings in his area and sit and listen to people if he has the time. If I was a judge I would sentence him to community service by having to sit through at least six such meetings as a participant. Then, any apology might mean something.

I am very sorry to see this happen and the best pay back that I can draw from all this is knowing that justified outrage about it a far cry from what would have happened 20 years ago. So in that respect it is good to see so many GLBT people rebelling against such a post. I measure that difference as progress, even if does leave a bitter taste in one's mouth.

Bilerco may not be safe space, but there is still a line to be drawn between "allowing painful ignorance because it should be openly addressed and challenged" and "allowing blatant and malicious hate speech". It should have been self-evident to you that Gold's post was not being made in any sort of good faith, but purely as an attack on the legitimacy of the very existence of trans people.

Bil, I appreciate your intent. I want to explain one thing I think you're missing.

This is a safe space for some of us. Not safe from reading something we don't like, but safe in another way: because we're on our turf. For you to have ex-gay or otherwise homophobic folks as guests on Bilerico is not particularly threatening, because they're up against the dominant majority on this site. Ex-gays are not part of Bilerico's leadership and aren't regular contributors; but even if some were, they'd still be on our turf, here at the invitation and pleasure of the queer community they don't identify with. From my POV as a gay man, a post here by an ex-gay wouldn't bother me one bit. It would be stimulating and novel.

If a Jewish community site were to invite someone from Exodus to post, it would be a completely different story... because we Jewish queer people would be far outnumbered by the dominant straight mainstream. It wouldn't be a safe space for LGB people, being so outnumbered. And on top of that, providing a soapbox for homophobic rhetoric in a mainstream setting runs the risk of making LGB people even more misunderstood by the mainstream - with "misunderstood" serving as a catchall for "discriminated against, stigmatized, rejected, subjected to violence, and sometimes driven to suicide."

If Bilerico were to allow someone to post a racist screed, it would be the same story. I expect you take my meaning.

However much we want to consider the LGBT community a unified whole, trans people are clearly a badly marginalized, stigmatized, oppressed - misunderstood - minority. In that reality is where your queer, trans-inclusive website is situated. Even in an LGBT, trans-affirming place like this, we're not on trans turf. So this is not a safe place to provide a platform for transphobic views... and particularly not when the author isn't even well-informed or thoughtful on the subject.

If you really wanted to go there, you needed an author who could do it with at least some sensitivity, consideration, and the kind of attitude that leads one to try and understand another's experience before forming one's own conclusions. I.e., someone who's really making an effort. I think that would be far better than what Gold posted.

But still, we're not on trans turf, and it's not trans-safe.

There are ways you might structure TBP that would help - my imagination is already working - so I just want to be clear that as the site's run now, you can't provide a platform for transphobic shit and still be trans-safe. IMHO. But there are plenty of ways to play with this, if you're invested and want to consider some of them.

If you read this comment, I'd appreciate if you'd let me know. Thanks.

But what was the point of his post, Bil? The point wasn't to "challenge" your readership ... did you really think that Ron Gold's post would lead some transpeople to smack their foreheads and exclaim "aha! I AM deluded and mutilated! Thank you Ron Gold! Now the healing can begin!!?" or lead others to similar exclamations of "You know! I think that Ron Gold has a point! There ARE only two types of transpeople - drag queens and transsexuals!"

I think people are giving the editorial board entirely too much credit by even acknowledging the "but this post would challenge us all" BS. There was no rational point to Ron's post at all, so let's call a spade a spade. This violently transphobic post was cleared because of the intended controversy and high-comment rate that would ensue. Period. And it has been deemed appropriate to allow such controversy to occur at the expense of transpeople by an all cis-gender team. Collateral damage to bolster the site. I don't think that Bil or the editorial board accurately calculated the risk of such a move, including the outrage of some of its contributors and the loss of some of its readership and even rumored boycotts, but it is what it is. Anything for the numbers.

GrouchyTheGrouch | December 11, 2009 2:39 PM

I think several other people may have said this better than I am about to try to, but I think it’s a little reductive to characterize people who object to yesterday’s post as just being “afraid to have challenging conversations” or as being “easily offended” or having an obsessive need for “safe space.”

You can tell a lot about an on-line community (and sometimes the larger communities they reflect) by what information is taken as a given and what information is viewed as subject to debate. Gay people think all kinds of crazy things, OK? There are GLBT people out there who think that AIDS is not caused by HIV. There are gay people out there who believe wholeheartedly in reparative/conversion therapy. There are gay people who are white supremacists and neofascists. There are gay people who are members of NAMBLA, etc. etc. etc — and we pretty much take it for granted that these are extreme views and that there’s not a lot to discuss there, unless you’re intentionally trying to spark a pointless flame war for shits and giggles.

The fact is that you are not a neutral forum for these questions to play themselves out. You are in a curatorial role as a site editor, and the discussions that are allowed to play out or not are a reflection of the core values of your site. What you are in effect saying here is that the basic notion of trans people’s sanity and integrity is somehow an unresolved question, up for debate. That’s the underlying problem here.

What Lisa, genderbitch and Maura said, among many others. You're not cute, you're not clever, and this smells like retcon. So, what, you wait until -after- everyone complains and then are all like, "we meant to do that?" It's -worth- hurting (other people) so that you can get hits oops sorry I mean "challenge," which as GB points out, there's nothing challenging about this shit; it's older than dirt and less valuable.

And no, this was not a piece about being -gender fluid.-

The more I think about this, the more I feel that I am most upset with you, Bil, and the other editors here at TBP. I could ignore or forgive Ronald of his hateful bigotry. Hell, if the guy sticks around and listens to a few of us, maybe we could teach him a thing or two.

What I can't stomach is your tacit endorsement of his values. The way that you continually justify his post as "controversial discussion" You should know better, especially since you seem to call yourself an ally.

I want to make an observation here: Go to any one of a number of other controversial posts on your blog. Especially the ones that are heated and angry. Note how much back and forth argument takes place. Look at how deep the threads go. Now go look at Mr. Gold's post. Notice how shallow the comment threads are.

Where's the lively debate and discussion? Where's the back and forth argumentation? Nowhere. You have maybe 3-5 people supporting Mr. Gold's nonsense, and a few hundred others decrying it as wrong and hateful. You have failed to produce debate and discussion here and instead produced hundreds of upset and traumatized individuals in your readership.

Consider why that is. Why is the discussion completely falling apart here? Look at the comments, and you might see a few hundred explanations of why: What you are supporting is *more* than offensive. *More* than "disagreements of opinions." *More* than mere "hypersensitivity."

What you are dealing with is nothing less than an attack on people's lives. An attack that, despite being fought with words on the internet, can and will lead to actual causalities through murders and suicides.

Transgender people live in a society that constantly and ceaselessly tells us that we are delusional, mutilated, crazy freaks. That our experiences are all in our head and that we've "brought all of this pain and suffering on ourselves." To live our lives normally, we have to struggle with these voices both outside us and within us. We have to literally face down people that would take away our rights, our dignity, and our ability to live. We have to fight those self-doubts and fears and such within our own selves and maintain self-esteem and self-worth in the face of a crowd seeking to confirm our deepest fears, lest we give up and kill ourselves.

This isn't like same-sex marriage or employment non-discrimination. This is more like Iran where homosexuals are killed for being gay. This is, quite literally, a fight for our very lives and our ability to function.

It is a fight of ideology. A fight for society's "permission" to SIMPLY exist. It is a fight that happens in words and deeds and blogs through the world and the internet.

So perhaps you might understand our pain when our "allied" blog posts words that contribute to the side of the fight where we don't get to live our lives normally. Where we are relegated to being sick, delusional fools. You might understand that we're a little upset that our "friendly" blog post is doing nothing less than contributing to the ideology and beliefs that get us KILLED.

You are not going to get out of this by saying, "Oh, but we disagree." or saying "Oops! Our bad. We're sorry." Are you going to tell that to the transfolk you're HELPING TO KILL? Would you say that to a trans person that has just attempted suicide because of words like Mr. Gold's? "Oh, you shouldn't have taken that so seriously. We didn't agree with it after all."

Dramatic? Over-the-top? Wild? Not at all. This is the reality that trans people have to face, day in and day out. We have to quiet the voices inside our own heads long enough to stand up against the voices coming from the outside. Failure to do so means nothing less than death for some people.

Don't make it harder for us to find self-esteem and self-love. Don't support the ideologies of our murderers and rapists and give them further justification to kill us and hurt us. Don't make the voices in our own heads harder to overcome by adding more self-doubt and self-loathing. Don't stand idly by when an attack is made on a marginalized and traumatized population, especially when you have the power to stop that attack.

You've got a long way to go towards fixing this situation if you have any interest in doing so. So far, you're just digging yourself deeper and deeper.

Well said.

And Bil - and I hope you have the time to wade through all the comments to read this - there's a reason for "mad tranny disease" as some have called it. The propensity for trans people to comment, and comment, and not let things go.

It's because of Darwinian Selection. The reasonable amongst us, those who don't say "Never Give In, Never Surrender" are DEAD. Suicide, stress-related illness, or just plain giving up.

Those that survive are indomitable, strong-willed, obstinate, stubborn, pig-headed, recalcitrant, call it what you will. You might have noticed :)

Paradox expressed it well. Please re-read what was written there. It might help you understand.

Donna Cartwright | December 11, 2009 4:12 PM


I must add my voice to those deploring the publication of Ronald Gold’s broad, ill-informed attack on transgender people. This is not a free-speech issue: Gold certainly has a right to spew transphobic nonsense; the issue is whether a respected LGBT site like Bilerico Project should give him a platform. I believe it shouldn’t have done so.
A number of other commenters have already called out various double standards in Bil Browning’s defense of that decision. I can only add that Bil’s attempt to “balance” his decision to publish the Gold article by pointing to a previous guest post by an “ex-gay” charlatan just won’t wash – the “ex-gay” was a one-shot curiosity, very unlikely to be taken seriously by most Bilerico readers, while Gold is listed as a regular contributor.
More important is the issue of relative privilege and marginality. Other commenters have already raised this question; I can only amplify it by making some comparisons. Trans people remain severely marginalized, not only in mainstream society but also within the LGBT community. We (or at least those of us who are out) are far fewer in number and have far less access to wealth and political and social power than our GLB brothers and sisters. Think of gay billionaires like Gill, Stryker, Hormel, Bohnett, etc., and then try to think of any trans person with remotely comparable resources.
As to political power, remember that there are three out gay members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Banking Committee, as well as many state legislators and local officials; trans people are still struggling to see one of our own elected to a state legislature or city council.
Transmen and particularly transwomen remain scarce on the staffs of LGBT organizations, and even rarer in their top leadership.
The trans community made quite rapid progress in the first seven years of this decade, but that progress has slowed in the last two years and in some areas even been reversed. The mainstream media, which for a while gave us sympathetic or at least balanced coverage, has in large part reverted to silencing and erasure. In this context, the publication of a grossly disrespectful piece like Gold’s article on Bilerico strikes me as ominous.

Donna Cartwright

In the spirit of helping the editorial team in the future, I'd like to point out another large topical area in which offense can easily be given: HIV.

After reading the post "Why Are So Many Gay Men Grateful They Got HIV?" I asked in my comment who was reviewing the guest bloggers and their postings. I received no response. Though there were only 33 comments, nearly all of those agreed that the author's tone was inappropriate and his ideas were shallow. I would go further and say that he was deeply hurtful to those who must live with HIV. The post was certainly hurtful to me, so much that I almost quit reading Bilerico.

It's very easy to trash people with HIV. We aren't likely to defend ourselves, especially the way we got the virus. In fact, most people with HIV are reluctant to admit it to others or discuss the fact--precisely because of such reactions as that post's author. Yet, people living with HIV are most in need of the support of the community, and now more than ever the youth of our community need to hear what it's like to live with the virus. Hurtful words that send people with HIV further underground with their experiences are arguably hampering prevention efforts.

Instead of support, in that instance Bilerio sanctioned abuse and hurt. I am glad that the editorial standards of this site are being reconsidered. I suggest that more sensitivity be used around posts regarding HIV. If no member of the editorial team is HIV+, perhaps the team should seek out a HIV+ person to help review such postings.

Lauryn Farris | December 11, 2009 4:33 PM

Danielle, I think you have very well articulated the most offensive and trans-objectifying parts of the article here by Mr. Browning. Has Bilerico gotten so lost that it has no concept of challenging and offensive? Are rape and snuff films offensive, is repeatedly using the N-word in an article offensive? Perhaps we would need to be closer to the porn and African American communities to know. Gosh, I thought you were part of the LGBT community. It is now apparent only the LGB. The real lack of concern in this article, not an apology, is as appalling and offensive as the original article. You may as well have said "...you people just have to understand."

Bolt Vanderhuge | December 11, 2009 4:34 PM

"As we go forward into unexplored terrain, we need some guideposts from Projectors so we can stay on track."

Hey, here's a guidepost for you: don't approve articles full of hate speech.

Do you seriously need to have someone tell you this? Is it not common sense?

Bil-

You get character points for admitting your error and taking the darts without flinching, an "ATTABOY" for each; BUT this was a major "AW SHOOT!" and, as we used to say in teh Army, it takes at least 10 "ATTABOYS" to recover from one "AW SHOOT".

A good test for admissibility should be to substitute your own group for the group being discussed and, if you are offended, it fails the test.

I have spent many hours arguing against the opposite point of view among many transgender people who think they are okay and gay people are not, simply because there is no mention of transgender people in the bible.

I would expect that you would not allow a piece by one of them to run on your blog...in this case, I am sure such a piece would have gone down in flames.

Diversity is not the mere presence of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, nor is it acknowledging they exist, or even discussing their issues. Even the largest hate groups do that.

True diversity is providing each of those diverse groups a place at the table, and an equal voice in the discussion. Each voice brings a different perspective and adds to the integrity and the workability of resolutions that come from the discussion.

Allowing someone who has a history of anti-transgender opinion to write a piece on transgender people is at best risky, on the whole, folly and toward the worse end of the options inflammatory and divisive.

Gender Queer Riff Raff | December 11, 2009 5:15 PM

For the sake of Bilerico readers i urge the post come down. Don't any of the editors actually read the trans authors posts -
gold's post is eggregiously painful ! And at this time of year ? ...Sorry ? sorry ? i'm sorry too , sorry that since 2007 apparently nothing has been learned ET TU BRUTE ?
A Post as blantantly insulting breath takingly callous and ignorant, arrogant heartless could make past the editors to a post on the Project - how anyone could ever see Gold's post as as community building or educational is beyond me - its made me tearful in fact It hurts that MUCH !!!

WE enough of that in the comments section. Where learning may take place. No learning is taking place now , Gold's post is prime example of Transphobia and hate speech - it has consquences - it can kill.

This hit like a gut punch AND you know if those words were used in post Towards gay males the would have never pass YOUR MOM'S sniff test.
It doesn't pass mine , and i request that it be taken down for the safety of new and old Transgender readers who may stumble into Bilerico. We try to come here for community building. I will say too Mr Gold does many gay men wrong too, while many remain ignorant and hateful , many have taken time to learn..This post is bad for everyone. TRANSPHOBIC to the ength.
IT is that devisive , but together we are stronger and please a willing Trans Editor be found for the project - please. sorry is not enough - this cut too deep. sorry ? read his post
again and substitute your name where he uses transexual in his scare quotes or even the word "gays" EPIC FAIL - please take it down before more people see it.

Who benefits ? Whose agenda is served by the kind of dissension sown by this piece?
Assimilationists, those not wedded to an inclusive ENDA, those who want to turn back the clock to an exclusive gay movement.
This man is an experienced activist. Is he really this totally ignorant, totally unaware of the effect this post was bound to have ?
I really don't think its too paranoid to see this as an attempt to use Bilerico. This apology and possible changes in editorial processes are not totally inadequate in respect of the content of this article. But I'd also like to hear something in terms of this site allowing itself to be used for what constitutes an attack on the full LGBT community.

You ask what makes this entire subject offensive rather than controversial. The answer is the very notion that our identities are subject to debate is offensive on its face.

Transphobia in the gay community as a concept is controversial.

The hate speech of transphobic hate mongers, such as this hideous screed you have published, is not controversial. It's simply wrong and hurtful. Publishing it is simply legitmizing it. The fact that in your non-apology you continue to refer to it as merely controversial proves you simply don't get it.

Would you honestly publish an editorial from a gay neo-nazi suggesting the holocaust never happened and simply saying above it that you knew the views in the editorial were controversial, but we should all have a rollicking good debate?

This is ridiculous. It was clearly an ignorant article, you clearly should have known it was ignorant before you posted it. Don't make excuses just because he is an elder, take it down.

You compared it to some other essays as if it is somehow equally offensive, which I'd like to point out.

One was by an ex-gay proponent. The article was not outwardly encouraging us to change, it was talking about a project meant to encourage anti-gay Christians not to bash gays. How is that comparable?

You mentioned anti-marriage posters. Queer anti-marriage advocates are talking about a political position within the queer spectrum that does not deny identities. How is that comparable?

You mentioned two congressmen who voted against hate crimes legislation. Again, that's a political point, and they were trying to justify their own (deplorable) behavior. How is that comparable?

Stop hiding behind words! You know that this is offensive and the only way it challenges anything is if you have a ridiculously poor understanding of trans issues.

Compare yourself to this example:

"So here at Kosher Komments, we have an ex-nazi telling us all about how the Holocaust never happened. Let's all have a nice and interesting debate about this controversial topic!"

...

"Why is everyone so upset?!"

"As the Editorial Team works together to shape a more concrete decision making process on posts we know could be controversial, how would you advise us? At what point does a post go from 'challenging' to "offensive?" What made this post stand out over other controversial posts?"

Challenging= controversial but does not ignore or distort empirically established facts (e.g., biology plays a big role in determining if one is homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual or transgender). Calling transgender people delusional ignores the overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary and is not challenging.

Offensive= insulting a group ("delusional"????) characterized by a specific innate trait: race, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, etc.

AN example of "challenging"=

"LGBT people who want to serve in the military and get married are self-loathing, deluded assimilationists hell bent on their own cultural erasure."

OR

"LGBT people who oppose marriage equality and the repeal of DADT are as bad as James Dobson. They are delusional misanthropes and masochists who pathologically thrive on their pariah status."


An example of "offensive":

"There is not such thing as a gay person. Gays are just heterosexuals with same-sex attraction disorder. We should be passing laws requiring them to receive reparative therapy instead of passing laws that affirm their delusion that they are gay"

Seems pretty simple to me.

I hope you will reconsider your decision not to remove the post. You aren't GW Bush, and no one will think you are weak for not "staying the course" at all costs. Actually, changing your decision to retain a post that is astoundingly offensive and hurtful to countless people would demonstrate strength, character--not to mention empathy and a conscience.

so as long as cis folks learn something it's all good? seriously?

one thing that will never cease to sadden and infuriate me is cis people talking about how it doesn't matter how *incredibly damaging* their own processes can be to trans folks. Once again, it's all about what cis queers need and want. Never mind what queer trans folks need and desire, like some basic respect in the queer community.

exactly when and where will trans folks be feeling the "positive effects" of this supposed learning?

what "challenge" is presented to the cis queers on this site?

Expressing an opinion and delineating an argument are often two separate things and his article should be used as a great example of what happens when you confuse opinion and fact. He tried to combine the two for maximum effect and when his "argument" backfired, he then relied on his "opinion". Also, to further repudiate any arguments that may contradict his, he referred to trans people as deluded.

According to Miriam-Webster, deluded is defined as the persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.

His choice of word - deluded - only serves to call our judgement and sanity into question and not to further any discussion. Therefore, anything a trans person says is not to be believed, according to him. In addition, anyone who agrees with what Dr. Gold "argued" is also distrustful of trans people.

I hate to point this out, but your initial unwillingness to listen to what others were saying about it being considered hate speech is evidence that you also distrust trans people.

How long did it take for you to really start to question your assumptions about the validity of trans peoples' opinions?

When one of us says that something is offensive, what is your first reaction? That we are (a) hypersensitive, (b) reactionary, (c) biased, or (d) all of the above?

How many trans people "clamouring" and being "vociferous" did it take for you to start wondering if your were wrong?

What if we were too scared to speak up, as it has been in the past? Would you ever even realize that you were wrong in publishing that article?

Have you thanked any trans people for opening your eyes?

You tried to let his words slide by with a terse warning, but I still don't buy the fact that you finally understand why his words were offensive to trans people. I really would like you to delineate your understanding, because it seems that you have capitulated to demands to apologize without any real reflection.

If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me. I welcome it. I really would like to keep reading what this website has to offer considering I like what your trans writers have to say.

I hate to think I was was once again foolish and naive to believe that gay people could push aside their opinions and beliefs about gender to really listen to what trans people have to say.

I was starting to believe that trans people were finally being taken seriously by LGB people, but your failure to understand the offensiveness of his article reflects yours and many other LG activists' ingrained biases against trans people.

Sincerely,

Just another pissed off trans person.

A lot of trans folks would see questions like "Where are your lobbyists on the Hill?" as challenging, even feather ruffling. Questions such as that would be fair questions, even if pointed, about which people could dicker and come to a synthesis of opinion.

Dr Gold left no room for that in his verbal diarrhea about transgender people.

As a trans woman...specifically, a transsexual woman, I will not argue against being deluded. I will simply dismiss the argument, and the arguer, as being that of someone who is comfortably numbed to to point of petulance, and is not to have influence in my life.

To paraphrase Jenny Boylen, who is quoting Mary Poppins, "In the end, "Dr." Gold, what doesn't matter...is you!"

Please don't let the Bilerico Project go that way, too.

I only vaguely browsed the first paragraph of the Gold piece, and when I went back to review it, I see the editor has broken his word and has now removed it?! I can't decide if that's merely confusing, cowardly, or nefarious? How am I supposed to make an informed decision if I can't view it? How many NON transgendered folks are now going to feel resentment toward transgendered folks who apparently succeeded in censoring our access to what is apparently a very controversial, thought-provoking piece? Please remind me? Did it explicitly promote violence of the blood-letting type? Was full-frontal nudity involved? Kiddie porn?!
First off; I'm not entirely convinced that an editor needs to apologize for a piece, especially when it was already pre-viewed by an editorial staff. Subject to attack; yes. Allowed to express his misgivings? Sure. But to formally apologize - then vow to keep the article up - then capitulate and censor it? That's not just confusing - it's divisive. I guess the only thing journalistically important is that we all sit around, be politically correct, and sing 'Kumbaya'??? This kind of mamby-pamby feel good bs is why our movement remains so stuck in the mud. How can we agitate a change of heart in the larger culture if we can't stand to even agitate each other within our own sub-culture?

Jim, this wasn't "agitation". Nor was it "thought provoking". It was outright blatant hate speech; the kind that if it were aimed at gay people would have reulsted in an outcry that would make the present situation look like a love-in. If you care to do a little research you can find the original article archived online. You can even find a refutation that quotes large sections of it right here at this site.

Let's face it. If someone were to come in here and write that gays are "deluded" and "mutilating themselves" we wouldn't hear the end of it. That's clearly hate speech. What makes applying those very same words to trans people any different?

All three components of this trainwreck - the original post, the confused apologetic of this post stating that the original post would not be taken down, and now the 360, the removal of the original post - all neatly illustrate the lack of a coherent editorial policy.

That's what editorial policies are for, after all.

Not that this is news. Group blogs all over the blogosphere have the same issues and similar trainwrecks because of it. This particular blog both suffers from and benefits from the ownership and investment of its readership, which is just one reason why editors need to have some procedures in place to minimize the damage when the inevitable mistakes take place.

Further, taking down the post is the worst possible move. So now, the hurt feelings and outrage, and the defenses and justifications, including Bill's own, now self-contradictory post, have no context at all. It's as if it never happened? What?

Taking down the post amounts to denial not ownership, and it should stay up. Let the fallout continue. That's what responsibility is.

I would have preferred some way for folks to see what the whole fuss is about. Perhaps an editorial statement that didn't just say "this doesn't reflect our perspective" to one that said "this is an example of blatent transphobia" and be clear it was an example of what's wrong.

In the meantime, though, my recent post quotes heavily from the article in a point by point examination of it. It's not the entire post, but it's probably a good half of it or so.

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/12/ronald_gold_you_hurt_us.php

I am saddened by this entire incident and the entire situation it has produced. I think Bill Browning is a exceptionally kind and gracious man. This said the comments from Ron Gold should have been sent back to him for some reconsideration on the terms Ron Gold used. Some might call this censorship, some just being an editor. If anything can be salvaged from this it is the fact we now see there is a great lack of understanding as to what Transgender means. But I am not really surprised by this in that the very term Transgender is about as useful in describing someone that falls under it as a broad sword is at being useful as a butter knife. Ron Gold's comments really just reflect this too clearly. I hope that in the future someone might take at least the time to try to realize use of such a broad term particularly when used in the negative way is going to offend a great deal of people. I know it managed to offend me anyway.

It was my decision that this post would challenge our readers more than it would offend them.

Bil, there's a very simple test that should be applied in a case like this: If this article was aimed at me, would it offend me? If the answer is 'yes' then the article doesn't run. It either needs substantial rethinking or it doesn't need to be published.

I can't for a minute believe that you and the editorial team don't know this, so I am forced to conclude that your true attitude was reflected in Dr Gold's post. You have shown that despite your words to the contrary, you are no friend to trans people at all. You have lost my trust and now face the extremely difficult task of earning it back.

Very puzzling reasoning. I, as a post-op M2F, defend the right of individuals to write what they so desire...however I also believe that it is the responsibility of the site to point out FACTUAL errors in anything that is posted (such as calling Jan Morris "he").

With that said, the bigger issue, in my view, is that there is still a substantial portion of a group that has been called "The Gay White Mafia", who don't care about transgender issues and will throw us under the bus to get things that are important to them. HRC, under the leadership of one such individual, will come out in support of a traninclusive ENDA on one day, and be willing to cut a deal the next.

What the post demonstrated is, in my opinion, the underlying beliefs of this group of primarily male individuals who really do believe trannies are freaks. I don't want or need their hollow support, as they will turn on us a a moments notice. Fair weather friends are not friends at all.

J. P. Minsinger | December 12, 2009 2:27 PM

I was not quick enough to get to read Mr. Gold's sensational article, but I'm here now to read some of the reaction. I am not surprised by most of the comments, but amazed at how offended, traumatized, and aghast readers were to Mr. Gold's post. Do Bilerico readers come to here to be coddled & suckled rather than be challenged. I did not say "offended", but challenged. I'm also more than amazed that readers find it impossible to accept Bil's apology & explanation. I guess they would rather that he hang himself or at least be beaten & imprisoned for letting the Gold piece be published.

Bill made a mistake posting Gold's piece, and has apologized for doing so. He explained his thinking, and was in no way cavalier in his response to the firestorm he ignited. Actually, my using the word "firestorm" makes me guilty of exaggeration too.

I mean, our community is in no way united by a common cause. Our community is divided on many levels. Years ago, there was a battle over whether the "L" should go before the "G" in LGBT. Then, anyone who did not feel comfortable falling under the banner of LGBT wanted the acronym expanded to include them with a letter or letters of their choosing. Now, not even LGBTQ people of above average intelligence can remember the new moniker without pausing & stumbling. We expect the general public to understand what we are talking about?

The forgettable acronym cause of the moment is same sex marriage. All efforts on other fronts should be put in the back seat until we achieve same sex marriage. Take my word for it, and I know you won't, but same-sex marriage is not at the top of the list of battles to be fought for many members of our community.

I hope that we continue to be challenged on this blog by contributors of many different opinions.

If you seriously believe that Bill is about to traumatize you again by making a regrettable decision, you should not read the blog. If you were traumatized this time, I suggest you seek psychotherapy for your problem. Being traumatized by a blog goes way beyond being offended, and you need help.

Let me over generalize and say "drama" will always be a strong suit in our community.

The best thing to come from this is that it has stirred discussion of transgender issues.

I will continue to read this blog, and believe that Bill will avoid posting offensive language being used by contributors in support of their positions.

Now, do you think a public execution would be the right course to take for righting Tiger Wood's transgression? Or, would you be content with an apology and his working on his relationship with his wife?

No slight intended, but some of you are way over the edge with your comments.

There two things at work here.

One is the tendency for some in our communities (And I don't even feel comfortable using that word) to endlessly play the victim. That's the source of the drama you mention.

Gold's post, which was little more than a proud airing of ignorance and prejudices, could not possibly offend me and I don't really understand how it could "traumatize" anyone else. I don't know Gold; many of the more hysterical commenters admitted they didn't know Gold; so how could I feel hurt by what he has to say? He's not my father, nor my mother or a close friend so I really don't see how a 500-word post could affect me in any way, other than to induce multiple eyerolls.

Trans communities have the better argument; Gold's post contained no arguments at all. It's not challenging but it's not offensive. It's air. That's pretty much the end of the affair for me.

The editorial policies that lead to that post... Well, that's something I can take seriously.

Second, there have been and there will always be tensions within any umbrella appellation like LGBTQ. I have felt for a long time that the traditional alliances represented by that acronym are mostly fragile artifacts of culture and history and politics rather than essential and immutable definitions of who we really are, either collectively or individually. Every once in awhile it's useful to remember that our ultimate goal, I would hope, is to reach the point where that acronym makes no sense and is no longer useful.

In the here and now, that acronym waves a banner that, at best, represents a strategy, a strategy not just for surviving, but winning. Unfortunately, we can't wish away our differences, either between ourselves or between our statuses in the wider culture. So we often fight, without ever making an honest assessment of how often and in what ways the goals overlap of each community represented by the individual letters of LGBTQ, that ever expanding and increasingly more absurd acronym.

I would value a post that explored those ideas, and maybe that's what Bill had in mind when he posted Gold, but he's going to have to find someone a lot smarter, and a lot more open than Mr Gold.

Gold's post, which was little more than a proud airing of ignorance and prejudices, could not possibly offend me and I don't really understand how it could "traumatize" anyone else.

That's because it was not your very existence, sanity and personhood called into question. Your cisprivilege speaks for itself; you do not see the hurt because you were not hurt.

No, I'm sorry, but call it thick-skinned or call it whatever you want, but I would say to anyone, gay straight cis trans queer bit,

STOP BEING A VICTIM!

I have been called a faggot in the street, I have faced down a group of Latino gang bangers for harassing and following my lover for assuming he was queer, which he was, thank the goddesses, I have watched a friend stabbed in front of me for being queer and I have been openly gay in, let's see now, over 20 different countries, and you know what, I refuse to be a victim to someone's ill-considered, ignorant verbage.

My arguments are better, my life is better and anyone who thinks differently is a dumbass. Grow some ovaries or grow some balls, but either way, GROW UP!

Surely if you believe that trans people should be thick-skinned enough to tolerate any level of bashing without comment, then surely you believe that Ronald Gold and Bilerico should be thick-skinned enough to tolerate any level of pushback for producing trans-hating screeds, you think?

Or is it only those who are maliciously attacked who must suck it up?

Doesn't matter, though, you're wrong in every conceivable way that you could be wrong, and I'm pretty comfortable with that knowledge.

Really, Lisa, grow up. You don't have to defend your life to Ronald Gold. Really, you don't. Neither does anyone else. So, move on.

But further, you and I will have to make arguments we are tired of making to any number of people who are too ignorant or too busy or too privileged to have thought about before. That's our job, our burden, our destiny, if you will. And if a 500-word post, or whatever the fuck it was, makes you all sad and hurt, I suggest you find some closet somewhere to hide out until the work is done. 'Cause clearly you're not cut out for it.

Because work is what it will take and it won't be over until it is over.

I didn't defend my life to Ronald Gold. I didn't engage Ronald Gold. I called Bill out for approving that post, and for the assumptions he made about how it would be challenging and offensive.

And yes, I've dealt with everything from harassment to losing jobs to threats of physical violence as well, and Ronald Gold's post sounded a lot like the people who were responsible for those things.

Also, Bilerico's a fairly large site with a lot of readers. Bil's choice to showcase those views the way they were has a direct impact on how trans people are perceived.

But I think it's wrong to characterize the reaction to the post as "playing the victim" and telling everyone to toughen up and deal with it. This kind of thing should be shouted down by reasonable people when it pops up.

You and I must disagree about what I see as a HUGE tendency for LGBTQ folks to play the victim. Sigh. That's where the drama comes from. I hate repeating myself.

It's words. On a Web page. And yer all hurt and outraged? Please. Try watching your nephew hanged from the gallows after being accused of crimes against nature and then we'll talk about outrage.

You Americans. You talk and you talk and you're tear ducts are all red and your sensibilities are all offended. Grow up.

Ronald wrote a stupid post, of what length I don't know, that should not have passed editorial muster.

So what?

Imagine, if all the ADULTS reading this blog had simply decided not to respond. Complete. Silence. Instead of all this self-important, cry-baby bullshit. You think 250 comments is a sign of something? I think it's a sign of immaturity. Just as I think that the posting of this ridiculous screed is a sign of immaturity.

But no one's talking about that stuff. Instead, we get an utterly insipid post about barking dogs singing Jingle Bells and contradictory posts from the "editors" about what does or does not constitute challenging or offensive. Plus a cowardly retraction of a previously published post. Which, should stand, IMO, or risk looking like you're run by a queer politburo. But then, maybe you are. An editor is writing for HuffPo, after all. What other worldview would they welcome?

Go back and read the glowing introduction Bill made about Ronald Gold coming on board Bilerico. Really, who's in charge here and has anyone ever worked in journalism before? Do you think he has no sympathy for the positions he published, or do you think he's really that clueless?

For my part, I really don't know. But someone needs to grab the reins. And taking down a previously published, pre-approved post is not taking control.

It's throwing up your hands and letting the wild horses run where they will. Or else, it's killing the horses.

Yeah, like I said, wrong about pretty much everything. I'm sorry I let you waste my time.

OH, Lisa!

What an argument! Can you actually make an argument? Or do you just react?

Are you seriously asking me to make an argument in response to what amounts to "Stop being a bunch of babies?"

I did make an argument, but you went on about how there's more important things to worry about, apparently because you fail to understand the impact that broadcasting hate speech through particular kinds of media (say anti-trans hate speech via an LGBT blog) can have.

OK, I will make an argument.

A large segment of LGBTQ activists own their victimhood in ways that are not healthy or mature. Obsessing over hate crimes legislation is just one manifestation but the hysterical responses to Gold's post is another, much smaller example.

A mature response would have been to first ask why and how such an unreasoned sideswipe ever got published in the first place, using language that was sure to enrage at least some of the Project's readers. How could any editor believe that this post was not the purest example of flame bait? Another lesson in immaturity, as was Gold's post in and of itself.

A mature reader would have written an initial comment, looked at it, then deleted it and then tried to address the salient issue: How and why it got published, objecting not because of its content, but because of its lack of it.

In other words, refuse to own it at all.

An immature reader would not think twice about using phrases like hate-speech and words like "hurt" and "damaged." No, she would go on to answer Gold point by point as if there were an argument there in Gold's post; in other words, she would take it seriously and thereby give it power.

One of the most important skills of an effective activist is not just knowing which arguments to make but knowing who might be convinced by them. In this respect, Gold baited you all (and by extension, so did Bill) and so many responded in exactly the way he intended. In his mind, I'm sure you validated his opinions and he thought that those who reacted looked foolish. That's the point of bait.

There are so few signs of maturity in this situation, Dr Weiss' somewhat overly academic but properly distanced and reasonable post being one of them, that I really don't see how much good can come of any of it.

I do know that immature people revel in their outrage and hurt feelings. Immature people also attempt to goad people with inflammatory language.

Further, retracting the post self-defeats, and provides no context for anything that followed.

If you want to reduce that to my calling everyone a bunch of babies, go right ahead. It's reductive and colloquial but not inaccurate.

battybattybats battybattybats | December 14, 2009 6:18 PM

Here is a mature argument Rick, but not a pleasant one.

Considering the high TG suicide rate and attempted suicide rate which is, AFAIK well above any other single catagory of risk.

Considering the Reciprocal Ethics arguments that

A) One treats or should treat others how one wants to be treated.

B) One should treat others as they treat one as that is clearly how they want to be treatef or should fairly be treated according to reciprocal ethics

Then consider what that means transgender people should do...

Considering the history of humanity, of the justification of violence when asserting ones equal rights and demanding equal recognition of ones rights and equal justice means even murder assasination civil war and invasion are all justified and justifiable (otherwise America is not a valid nation nor France nor Constitutional Monarchy in Great Britain nor most other modern democracies) and considering that for this to be so what must be valid including the suspension of recognition of all human rights including the human right not to be murdered of all those opposing fullequality and full recognition of the equal rights of others....

Seriously you WANT the MATURE argument? Are you sure you want the logical rational consequence of accepting these logical and rational points?

Personally I want the imature argument, the one where I ignore the way that history had usually run because I dislike the idea of so radicalising the suicidal transgender people into violence and instead demand of Gay bigots to wake up to themselves and grow a brain and to realise thier obligations towards the Universal Equal Human Rights of others including defending them and supporting their assertion without recourse to the historically successful violence of the past.

Nor modern forms of violence like cyber-terrorism, hacking etc. Nor boycotts and undermining campains to harm the struggle for equality of Cisgender Cissexual Gay people because of the consequences of Reciprocal Ethics.

No I prefer the IMMATURE argument of IDEALISM. Not the Pragmatic MATURE argument of starting another Stonewall or Comptons... I'd hate to see the bloodied faces of corrupt bigoted police replaced by the bloodied faces of morally and ethically corrupt GLB anti-transgender bigots.

I'll stick to my idealism and hope the show of mass outrage actually does show the EMOTION involved in this in a productive way that CIRCUMVENTS the possible other outlets of such EMOTION. One that makes the folks here realise their moral, ethical and human rights responsibilities. As well as the potential consequences of future action that they might avoid or aim for.

Rick.. ITQBLG people ARE victims. And their are two courses of action that will change that. Recognise that victimhood accurately and change the circumstances peacefully slowly and with much noble suffering of the victims, esoecially the bottom-of-the-heap ones in the process... or the victims getting sick of it and biting back. Bloodily and violently and cataclysmiclyin precisely the way history shows us works all too often and at great cost.

We just got stabbed in the back Rick. Thats what this post being published the way it was published was. It was 'kicking the dog while its down'.

Thats a lot of hurt emotions. Now either that emotion gets released and dealt with in an idealistic way requiring greater nobility and contrition from those responsible for causing the emotion or it'll add more to the powderkeg.

Rick Comptons Cefeteria and Stonewall sit side by side in history with lots of other effective outbursts of emotional violence. If we are going to give idealism and pacifism another go people like yourself need to stretch your Emotional Intelligence to it's utmost. There is outrage. It's valid. It's emotion. Whether it ends up going into productive directions and/or peaceful directions depends on everyone involved.. even small sparks or a little bit of increased friction leading to a spark can set off a powderkeg.

Gold's post, which was little more than a proud airing of ignorance and prejudices, could not possibly offend me and I don't really understand how it could "traumatize" anyone else.

Rick, you are speaking from your position of cisprivilege. Yet what would you have said if Gold had attacked you, called you "deluded" and told you that your existence was a myth fabricated by Psychiatrists and that in his ever-so-smugly superior wisdom you do not exist?

Jessica, I believe I said what I would do, because I am an adult, I know who I am, I know where I stand and I know what I believe.

It's. No. Skin. Off. My. Ass.

I also know who my friends are. I'm not so sure that the folks commenting and over-reacting can say the same.

And I know who my friends are not. You are very clearly telling me you are not one of them. Ronald very clearly told me he is not one of them. Bil, by approving Ronald's post very clearly told me he is not one of them.

You just don't Get It, and you have shown me repeatedly that you do not want to Get It. Okay, I'm cool with that. You can wallow in this little cesspit of hate speech all you want, smug in the superiority of being a large frog in a small pond. I'm going to take myself where I am valued because you and Bil have showed me very clearly that it's not here.

Continuing my theme for this week:

One of the marks of maturity is the ability to be friends with someone who disagrees with you. But, is Ron Gold your friend? Based on his ridiculous, narrow-minded, basically dumbass post, I couldn't argue with you if you decided he was not.

Is Bill your friend? A tougher call. I think you have to take him on good faith and at his word that he didn't think anyone would be offended. You should take him at his word based on the sum of his work and not just this one incident. That doesn't mean you can't take him to task for the decision to publish Gold. You should and have. A great deal less maturely than I think is effective, however.

Am I your friend? Another mark of maturity is the ability to see past your own outrage, to ratchet it down and perhaps actually read what I wrote about Gold's post.

So consider: I don't share his opinions. He's uninformed and stubbornly intends to stay that way. His choice of words indicates an immaturity his years should have tempered.

Should his post have been published? No, but not because of its content. I think it's possible to point out that there are gay men who share his beliefs and to explore ways in which we can convince them or educate them and what all that means for an effective LGBTQ coalition. But, as it stands, his post is more like throwing a dead fish on the table and exclaiming, There! Don't it stink?! Obviously, Gold is not the one to write such a post.

But, retracting Gold's post tells me that a large, vocal and immature segment of the trans community doesn't even want to raise these issues at all, and that the Project's editorial policy is incoherent and willing to be pressured by this segment. In a month's time, if the post had stayed up, perhaps everyone could go back and read what they wrote, including, hopefully, Gold, and learn something from it. Now, that will not happen.

And that sucks, because until we do raise these issues, there will be more drama, more hurt feelings and less speech about the issues that are important to us.

Do Bilerico readers come to here to be coddled & suckled rather than be challenged.

You're begging the question. Hate speech that denies the realities of an entire group of people in favour of the author's prejudices is not and never has been "challenging".

rapid butterfly | December 12, 2009 2:53 PM

no slight intended, J.P. Minsinger, but you might consider reading an article before deciding that an ignorant screed that denies the entire validity of trans experience didn't warrant comments that might otherwise be "over the edge."

I don't think that trans people having to defend the basic legitimacy of their very existence is an example of something positive or a good "stirring of discussion of transgender issues."

Bilerico's been good for trans people before, and I trust it will be again. But.

Making apologies is embarrassing, and it's easy to insert excuses in an effort to lessen the embarrassment. Resist that urge. Those excuses can ruin an apology.

By filling up your apology with talk about "diverse opinions", "challenging", "civil debate", "controversy", etc., you seem to be saying that people who were offended (basically, anybody who knows or cares a damn thing about trans people) *don't* value these things. Apologizing only for being "hurtful", after spending paragraphs lauding your love for free speech, sounds a lot like "The problem is that you wimps don't value free speech like I do."

No. You published a completely uninformed, name-calling rant calling for the nonexistence of one segment of the community. That's not about allowing "controversial" or "challenging" content. It's a flat contradiction to the notion that Bilerico exists for queer people - all queer people, not just one subgroup that's on top. It was a mistake, a big one. Full stop.

Good people make mistakes. Sometimes we just aren't thinking right and things slip past us. An unvarnished apology can be healing.

A half-apology, though, can be worse than the initial offense. When you have time to ponder the issue, and you still spend more energy excusing yourself than acknowledging what was wrong, it gives the impression that you regret the complaints more than you regret the mistake.

Apology accepted. People, can we let Bilerico get back to the work at hand that they were doing and that so needs to be done?

Rick, I'm not basing my decision on just this one incident. There is a double standard operating here in Bilerico just as it has always operated in the LGBt community for the last 30 years. Trans people have been hounded, threatened with the FBI, Subjected to insults that would otherwise have the insulter TOSed, and generally treated shamefully. Not once but many times. Yet when we complain we're told "It's to encourage discussion" "You have to toughen up" "Don't be so sensitive" "How do you expect us to learn if you don't teach us?" Over, and over, and over. You've done many of these in this very thread. Bil may say he's a trans ally, but his actions and yours tell me something very different.


Trans people are and always have been second-class citizens among our community. We've always been told "Not today, but tomorrow." We've been thrown under the bus more times than Lucy has pulled the football away from Charlie Brown, and always you ask us to come back, to grow up, to grow a thicker skin, not be hysterical, oh, and keep contributing to our fight, we won't let you have any of the goodies but we need your help. It never ends. You shove your cis privilege in our faces and expect us to shut up and take it, then get all bent out of shape when we don't.

As I said directly to Bil, there's a very simple test for this kind of situation: If this is aimed at me, would I be hurt or insulted? Anything that does not pass this test does not belong here, purely and simply. If Gold's article had done to gay men what it did to transpeople the outcry would have raised the roof, except it wouldn't have, because Bil wouldn't ever have let it see the light of day. It wouldn't happen to gays so why did Bil let it happen to us?

Bil: You say that Gold's post was about gender fluidity. I'm sure Gold believes that. He believes that he is propagating a very open, free concept of gender. But his version (and not only his) of gender "fluidity" is based on unchangable "biology". You can be and do anything you want as long as you don't step over the boundaries of "biology". This is a very problematic concept and one that reenforces, rather than opens gender boundaries.