Tobi Hill-Meyer

Ronald Gold, You Hurt Us

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | December 12, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Ronald Gold

Note: In this post I am specifically addressing Ronald Gold's article, even though I understand that is only half the problem. I am working on a second post detailing the problems in Bilerico's current approach to dealing with situations like these, along with suggestions for how to improve the system in which they are handled.

In a matter of hours Ronald Gold's Thursday post describing trans people as "deluded" and "mutilated" was quickly met with over 200 comments decrying it as bigoted, hurtful, mean spirited, counterproductive, and above all ignorant. Bil posted a follow up about his intentions in allowing the piece to make it onto the front page. In it, and in Ronald's only subsequent comment, his "good intentions" and desire to have an "open dialog" were cited frequently,

Many of us, myself included, had not felt it necessary to outline the bigotry he exuded, as it was apparent enough in his own words. But for the sake of open dialogue here is a point by point explanation of how this piece is ignorant, hurtful, and bigoted, followed by a detailing of just exactly how this being posted has caused actually harm.

What is transgender? Well, there are two sorts who seem to be covered by the name, the drag kings and queens so good at portraying cartoon imitations of straight people, and transsexuals

Ronald makes a definitive statement denying the existence of trans experience outside of two particular kinds of trans people. Right off the bat he displays his obvious ignorance and lack of exposure to trans communities with this blatantly false statement. There are many more experiences beyond these two.

Despite the equipment they were born with that belies their assertions, they say they are really men or really women.

Very few people ever see our genitals and usually make a determination of gender based on other factors. Ronald's framing here indicates that he knows how to define trans people's genders better then trans people do. Not only is that extremely arrogant, but it is hurtful and demeaning. Additionally, note the use of the word "they." It is clear here are throughout the piece that he does not consider trans people a part of the audience he was writing to. This further marginalizes trans voices as he seems to prefer to have a conversation about us rather then with us.

Since it's not about genitals then it must be about personality.

A classic logical fallacy of false choice. There are dozens of options of what could make up gender, most likely each having an influence. By limiting it only to "personality" Ronald sets up a straw person argument as the foundation of trans existence. In reality, most if not all trans people will agree that there is no inherent male or female personality and that point has nothing to do with his conclusion that trans identity is really a delusion.

I hope I'll be forgiven for rejecting as just plain silly the idea that some cosmic accident just turned these people into changelings.

Again, another straw person. This silly idea is not what trans people are saying about our experience. Additionally, note the otherizing language of "these people" which further demonstrates Ronald's intention to talk about trans people and not with us. This casts serious doubt on his intention to "engage in dialog."

Explain to them that, whatever the other kids say, real little girls do like to play with trucks and wear grimy jeans, and real little boys like to prance around in dresses and play with dolls.

There was recently a wonderful post on gender neutral parenting. Many people, including myself, discussed our experiences being allowed to play with dolls and trucks and how that does not prevent someone from identifying as trans (or gay for that matter). Unaware of all the lives that contradict his statement, Ronald negligently denies our existence.

As for adults struggling with what to do about their feelings, I'd tell them too to stay away from the psychiatrists - those prime reinforcers of sex-role stereotypes -

Presumably this happens by endorsing or allowing transition. From this perspective, transition is only an attempt to conform to sex-role stereotypes. While this is fitting for certain stereotypical images of trans people, in reality trans people are no more likely to conform to sex-role stereotypes then non-trans people, and probably less likely too.

If a man wants to wear a dress or have long hair; if a woman wants short hair and a three-piece suit...

Again, this dismisses the experience of gender non-conforming trans people by assuming that all trans women want long hair and dresses and all trans men want short hair and suits. I'm a trans woman who wants short hair and a suit. Most everyone can see that there is a big difference between a woman with short hair and a man with short hair. And when you want to be recognized as one, the opportunity to be seen as the other is very little comfort. When trans people do conform to sex-role stereotypes, quite often it is the reverse of what Ronald suggests. Some trans women may choose to have long hair as a means to being recognized as women, yet I don't know any who transitioned as a means to be able to have long hair. And the same thing for trans men and short hair.

Overall Ronald is speaking from the perspective of the expert. He never doubts or questions his perspective even when it is clearly out of line with reality. He momentarily ponders certain aspects of trans lives, but rather then seek input from people who are trans, he comes to a conclusion with an assured conviction that it is the only logical conclusion to reach even though anyone who has gone through a trans 101 could see numerous flaws with it.

His arguments are clearly flawed, based in a lack of simple knowledge, relies on numerous logical fallacies including multiple false choices and multiple straw person arguments, but moreso then just being ignorant and wrong, they are hurtful. There are several ways in which his post, and the decision to give it legitimacy on the Bilerico front page causes actual harm.

Parenting

So, parents of such little boys and girls, do not take them to the psychiatrist and treat them like they're suffering from some sort of illness.

We can agree that illness is not a useful model here at all. But it's pretty strongly implied that Ronald's version of avoiding the illness model includes parents not allowing their children to transition. Ronald should talk with some of the organizations that actually work with trans children. Encouraging trans girls to be boys-with-sdolls and trans boys to be girls-with-trucks, with the specific intention of preventing them from being trans is only going to be hurtful.

Therapists

In reality, therapists often bar the way toward transition rather than encourage it. When I sought out access to hormones and a letter to change my driver's license there was only one therapist available to work with trans patients in town and he was horrible. He was an extremist in his advocacy of sex-role stereotypes and would often deny letters to those who did not fit them perfectly. If Ronald wishes to diminish the impact of therapists like that he should be advocating against giving them so much power over trans people. As it stands, his statement can be used to discourage therapists from working with trans people or allowing us access to hormones or surgery. With fewer options available, more people will be forced, like I was, to see disreputable therapists who encourage sex-role stereotypes.

Doctors

Similarly, the continued suggestion that doctors encourage or push people to transition is blatantly false. In reality the majority of doctors are unwilling to offer trans related health care at all, many refuse to even offer any medical care to trans people, period. Those who do offer trans related health care frequently put up multiple road blocks in order to prove our legitimacy and inoculate themselves against criticisms such as Ronald's. As a result trans people often are forced to seek out black market hormones without medical supervision. The impact Ronald has on this issue is to further encourage doctors not to work with trans patients and stigmatize those who do. The landscape of trans health care is bleak enough as it is, and Ronald's article aims to make it worse.

The Risk of Being Repeated by the Right Wing

While I doubt any doctor or therapist reading Bilerico would act on Ronald's suggestion and refuse health care to trans people, it's worth noting that his post could be cited elsewhere as a justification for anti-trans actions. This is the kind of thing the right wing searches for, an article from an LGBTQ source they could use to tell parents not to let their children transition, convince trans people to get into reparative therapy, tell doctors not to participate in mutilation, and advocate insurance companies not to cover trans health care.

Misgendering

This might be a concept that Ronald is simply unwilling to understand, but it's essential to point out that intentional misgendering of trans people is an emotionally violent act on par or worse then the use of slurs. I rarely see people reduced to tears by the use of slurs, yet intentional misgendering and to a lesser degree unintentional misgendering can and does cause significant emotional distress. You don't have to understand it to respect it. There is no benefit to be had from Ronald's intentional misgendering except to hurt and to insist that he knows trans people at their core better then we know ourselves.

"Mutilation" and "Deluded"

While most people are used to derogatory slurs being nouns and not adjectives, these two words are used in every way that slurs are. It's what people say when they want to hurt trans people. It's yelled on talk shows. It's used to silence or discredit criticism. It's thrown in our faces by attackers. And when I hear these words in real life I find myself immediately determining how safe I am, where the exits are, how far I'd have to run to safety, etc. Hearing them in print or on the internet removes the physical danger, but the fight or flight response - common as a reaction to most derogatory slurs - remains. Ronald is well aware that these words and his intentional misgendering will hurt people, yet he makes the conscious choice to hurt people nonetheless. Even after having 200+ people detail the pain he has caused by using these terms, his response was,

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

This makes it clear that his "good intentions" are nothing more than a cover story.

Additional Note: With Ronald Gold's article being taken down, I am glad that it is less likely to be picked up by right wing sources to be used against us. However, I would be dissapointed if those who do not know what all the fuss is about weren't able to see it to gain that understanding. Luckily, it is still viewable on many different sites that posted it so that they could criticize it. You can see the full post in it's entirety on Pam's House Blend.


Recent Entries Filed under Transgender & Intersex:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


I figured you'd step in with this article. Thank you for stepping up and explaining, point by point, why we transfolk were so incensed by that piece. Putting it all into summary may help people "get it."

Interestingly enough, I'd like to mention that somewhere in the 200+ comments was a trans person explaining why they hang around with straight people instead of LGB people. Their reasoning was simple: "my straight friends just seem to 'get it'." At times I tend to agree with their sentiment; with LGBT folk I think we often see projection and long-defunct defense mechanisms built at the crossroads of gender and sexuality, and they sometimes bubble over into transphobia.

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | December 16, 2009 7:39 PM

Austen Crowder writes: "With LGBT folk I think we often see projection and long-defunct defense mechanisms built at the crossroads of gender and sexuality, and they sometimes bubble over into transphobia.

Good observation - with one crucial caveat: the defense mechanisms aren't by any means defunct, nor are they subject to any sort of rollback, given the very structure and dynamic implicit to them.

I've described this elsewhere as "A common queer nightmare, indeed! - one especially alarming to those gay men whose liberation has involved first accepting themselves despite their not being "interested in girls," and then getting over the idea that their attraction for men has anything to do with femininity (or is inappropriate in a male) or that, symbolically, it's tantamount to castration."

I would urge Austen Crowder to take to heart the paragraph I wrote following that description, before she proceeds in being so dismissive:

"We can argue (fruitlessly) until the cows come home about whether that fear is as great, as legitimate - or as suicidal - as the pain felt by transgender women prior to transition; I'm merely suggesting that we're remiss if we merely brush it off."

My suggested solution: mutual respect (along with skepticism) from a distance. We're not one community, but we're all human.

Ah, Mitch. My favorite commenter. ;)

At this point, given what has transpired over the past few days, I'm just inclined to say "all right, whatever floats your boat." And, in this case, it's going to be just that. We're all human.

...yep. That's all I got.

Austen, if you'd rather go hang out with straight people instead of LGBs, then go right ahead. See how far that gets you politically. I am amazed at how far the LGB movement has gone to embrace and encompass transgender folks into the movement, only to have transgender people repeatedly voice disdain for, disapproval of, and disaffection from gays. Perhaps many of you are just now making the arguments that some gay leaders made a couple of decades ago. Perhaps it is true that the gay movement and the transgender movement have very little in common and that trans folks should appeal to the women's movement for a broadening of THAT movement to encompass trans rights. You might not know this, but the trans movement initially tried to do that, thinking that gays were too "icky." But the women's and feminist movement leadership shut the door resoundingly on the faces of trans activists. Yet you go right ahead and see if anything's different now. I doubt it.

Make no mistake: I think that the gay and trans submovements are entirely and inextricably linked, and as a gay person, I know that I have great affinity with trans brothers and sisters. But amidst all of the vitriol directed at Gold, much of it entirely deserved by his largely insensitive and ignorant post, what was lost was that one of Gold's overarching points is that the "gay" and "trans" movements are NOT disparate movements, but one and the same movement with no light in between us. I'm not sure that I agree with that perspective, but I do think it goes to show that at least among our movement elders, there is an understanding that our plights are largely equivalent.

As a gay man, I'm not amazed at how far the LGB community has gone to embrace and encompass trans people. Look at HRC, the most influential advocacy organization for the LGBT community, and how far they haven't gone to embrace and encompass. Their LGB board members went so far as to renege on the organization's previous commitments to trans people, failed to find common ground with the first (token?) trans board member the organization's ever had, and by and large with the rest of the trans/allied community.

If the LGB community's done so well including our T sibs, how come our most prominent organization's only experience sharing leadership with trans people and purportedly representing them was an epic fail? That's not a track record that merits your amazement.

Wow. What a rebuttal. Color me impressed.

If you present structural options, which I'd love to read and discuss, is it because you think the Bilerico leadership is ready to consider structural changes? Or just because you know that's what is required, whether they can digest it or not? Inquiring minds want to know.

Oh I've got a pretty good relationship with the editorial team and know that they want to hear my ideas and suggestions. I just also know that especially in a situation like this a behind-the-scenes solution isn't going to be nearly as helpful. Plus, no matter how much I like my ideas I know they could always benefit from input and consideration from the larger community.

Holy crap!.........
I missed this one. The women's movement not only did NOT slam the door on trans rights, NOW has been trans inclusive for longer than most GLB organizations. I am a long long time member of NOW.

What a thoughtful and reasonable post responding to such emotional chowder that Gold's post churned up....

There are more and more therapists willing to undertake therapy with trans people. Sure, there will always be those in the mental health profession whose focus is to "fix" the patient, but more generally, therapists will work to help the patient understand and articulate their own experience. So many trans people I have worked with in therapy simply want someone to listen to them, accept their experience, and then to help them to live the life that is authentic and integral to that experience. That's my goal with ALL of my clients. When I consult with therapists taking on their first trans clients, my advice is: "Let them teach you- their experience is your guide."

Good therapists are out there, it just sometimes takes some work to find them. I've advocated for years for a national database for helpful trans-friendly therapists, but angelfire.com and lauras-playground.com can be helpful.

Thank you, Tobi, for your work and insight.

This is the way Mr. Gold's original posting should have been addressed: Another individual's rebutting of Mr. Gold's opinion.

After having read some of the responses to Bilerico's decision to revoke the contributor status of Mr. Gold - a person I do not know, either personally or "over the internet," nor a person with with whose writing I am familiar - was the wrong decision to make.

There are many who believe the inclusion of "B" and "T" in the "gay/lesbian" community is one that simply dilutes our belief that the homosexually oriented are born homosexually oriented.

The majority of the "them" out there cannot differentiate between behavior/activity and emotional attraction; for them, each time they choose to have sexual activity with a person of the opposite gender, they are choosing to be heterosexual. They simply cannot fathom the concept there are people who aren't emotionally attracted to persons of the opposite sex... and if there are, then there's something "wrong," psychologically with that person.

When we present the struggles of the bisexual and the transgendered as "our" fight, we're doing nothing but cementing that "choice" and "psychologically damaged" image into their argument - to them, bisexuality simply proves we could make the choice to be heterosexual and have sex with persons of the opposite gender; or we could have our genitalia "swapped out" (though we'd still be sick, disgusting freaks, of course) and be straight.

Mr. Gold has an opinion. His opinion is no more, or no less, valid dependent upon the number of persons who agree or disagree with him.

Yes, we should embrace the struggles of the bisexual and the transgendered and support them in their fight for societal inclusion. We should not, however, irrevocably tie our rights and liberties into theirs.

Eric, so the opinion that all gay guy a sex-crazed and searching for a daddy that never loved them is a completely valid opinion? Even when actual gay guys say otherwise?

Eric- you're right of course. While we're at it, let's ease out the swishy gay guys and butch gay girls. After all, they just help cement a negative image in the public mind. And bottoms, really, need to go, because they help cement the image of men taking like a woman in straight people's minds, and they just don't like that.

The politically left-of-center should probably scram, after all, we don't want gay rights to be perceived as just a lefty thing. And honestly, lesbians as a whole are just too closely associated with feminism, and we can't have that relationship cementing in the straight mind.

Whew. Now we're down to the essence: half a dozen straight-acting gay male republicans. No one's gonna stop this juggernaut now. Equal rights, here we come!

Eric,

You bring up a few specific "B" and "T" criticisms our opposition can use, but they are both rarely used. Probably because they are both easily refuted. Bisexual folks can't chose who they fall in love with and "choosing" to be straight might mean leaving their partner of a dozen years first. Right wingers demanding bisexual people act straight is clearly inhumane. At the same time, plenty of people who transition are not straight, and those who are do not always receive a warm welcome from homophobes.

So while having an isolated community of gold star gays and lesbians might save you the trouble of engaging in that argument, it would not cause the opposition to give up. They would just move to other arguments. And in the meantime, you lose a huge portion of your volunteer and support base -- not only all the bi and trans folks, but all the other folks bitter at their friends being cut out.

And in the end, trying to separate out bi and trans people on a practical level is a Sisyphean task. Half or more of the people I know who identify as gay/lesbian have a sexual history or pattern of attractions that include multiple genders. More than half the trans people I know are queer. The fact is that "your" movement is "our" movement. If you want to pull all the gold star gays and lesbians to form your own organizations to push only for your rights, it's going to be pretty lonely. If you want existing organizations to do that, you'll end up with a lot of infighting and half your membership leaving.

But "your movement" is NOT "my movement."

What is your movement then? I thought you were talking about the movement for gay/lesbian rights? If you've read my bio then you'd see that I've been a part of that movement my whole life. I participate in other movements, too, but I've never left my roots. Even when I have disagreements with specific policies, I always turn out to phone bank, canvas, or whatever is needed for domestic partnerships, same-sex marriage, non-discrimination, same-sex adoption rights, and recognition of our families.

What are the organizations that you see as a part of "your movement"? The Equality Federation and the associated state equality orgs? The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force? GLAAD? PFLAG? Lambda Legal? HRC? Out and Equal? I've done work with or have connections to all of them. Bi folks, trans folks, their family members, and their friends all make up a significant portion of those organizations. So what movement are you talking about exactly?

Human rights is EVERYONE'S movement.

The only personal movement is a bowel movement.

Mutilated and delusional are two words I've had directed at me many many times and here on Bilerico as well as other places....

It was done by those who identify as "transgender" and insist I am one of them.

This issue remains the beam in the LGBt community and specifically in the "transgender". It should be finally removed before moving on to the mote in Gold's eye but I fear it never will.

Universal gender deconstructionism was the heart of Gold's justification just as it is the basis of the positions of Bindle and Raymond.......and the bulk of transgender activists.

I've said it before: Deconstruct your own gender to your heart's content and I have zero problem with that. Deconstruct mine and I'll fight you to the death.

Can we say hypocracy?

third paragraph should have read beam in the eye of the LGBt.....

In the women's rights community I am a woman, period.
In the Pagan communities I am a woman, period.
In my day to day life I am a woman, period.

Only in the world of GLBt and the trans communities am I a lesser form of woman, a "transgender" one....or if I'm lucky, a transsexual one but the modifier always there to denote a "less than" status. My sexual orientation is bisexual, so there as well I am a "less than" add on given lip service only.

And the thing is, I was born a hermaphrodite and surgically assigned male by a doctor with a god complex. I corrected that and took back my life.

Oh one more thing here. I certainly know how the insistence to always put trans-whatever in front of woman is sometimes used or seen as a mark of being less then a woman. But do you think it inherently has to be that way?

I often have other identities mixed in with my gender, radical woman, feminist woman, queer woman, woman of color, etc, and none of those are ever interpreted as making me less of a woman. Among my circle of friends, family, and support networks, being a "trans woman" marks me as no less of a woman. While I understand that's not the case everywhere and no one should feel pressured to do this if they don't want to, it makes me feel empowered to declare that this is another part of my experience worthy of being named and it is a completely separate (yet overlapping like all identities) issue from being a woman.

That was the reason many folks pushed for separating the words "transwoman" and "transman" to be "trans woman" and "trans man" -- to indicate that they are two separate identity concepts just the same as any of the identity terms I used above. Do you think that such a goal is possible? It seems to be working at least on the small scale of the circles I spend my time in.

incorrect.

You will always be a white woman.

And that doesn't make you a lesser form of woman unless *you* allow it to do so.

However, on a personal level, I find it most interesting that a person who puts so much stock into who is and who isn't part of a tiny group of people try and speak to a larger one in a space that, ultimately, is about unifying them, Gold's crap notwithstanding.

Yes, I can say it.

But can you?

Radical Bitch,

You are right. If folks can learn from Ronald Gold's post I hope they realize how inappropriate it is to misgender someone, or use misgendering language. I think that it is messed up that some trans folks feel that doing so is okay to do when it is someone that they disagree with.

I can say that I abhor the practice, regardless of the context and regardless of who is doing it. While I can't speak for the whole of Bilerico, I won't stand for it on my posts.

Bilerico needs to make you the defacto contributor for trans issues. Right away.

No other trans-centric contributor i have read, guest or otherwise, is capable of honestly engaging with someone who disagrees with them.

They either turn it into a fight, probing until they have an excuse to ban, or dismiss dissent out of hand.

Which as we all know, has only made the situation worse. i have been forced, by these people, into the position i'm in now.

You actually make me stop and rethink my views.

Seriously rethink them.

And unlike the others, you've never silenced, suppressed or insulted me in the process.

Take this for what it's worth, which here i'm sure means nothing.

Tobi,
Excellent piece, as I would have expected from you. You have a gift to analyze specific points and then comment on them intelligently.

Now, do you or any other trans contributor have any intention of writing a piece on suggested (or even "recommended") procedures/goals the Bilerico Editorial Team can do to repair the damage done by this horrific incident? However, I cannot see them listening to any suggestions people will come up with. So far, there has been zero words from them on that element of this whole situation.

I'm working on it. This has left me wiped out for the past two days, and I've got a work project to do. I'm hoping to have it up monday. We'll see how that goes.

I aim to stimulate discussion about a few different possible structural changes and see what goes from there.

Monica, first that's just not true. Second, when we're still dealing with a shitstorm of hateful, nasty emails, phone calls, blog comments and twitter messages, how the hell do you expect anyone to come up with proposals to "fix" the problem? Let's put you under attack by thousands of pissed off people and see how quickly YOU can get anything done.

Plenty of people can criticize, yet few can actually offer anything constructive about how to move forward. For someone who has been one of our most regular readers and commenters, someone who has a friendly relationship with Bil and chat online, and someone who has repeatedly wanted to be a contributor to this blog, you're awfully quick to jump on the bandwagon of hate and vitriol.

A couple of things are in play here, Jerame. First of all, under the circumstances, you have had so much thrown at you this week that even the slightest bit of deviation from support is seen as "hate and vitriol." Your perspective has been altered by the thousands of nasty responses. It is a human thing, and understandable.

Second of all, you and Bil still do not understanding the concept of "compartmentalization." You take criticism of how you conduct business as criticism of you personally. Bil did that about my comments on his photo sessions at the March.

I have nothing against either of you personally, and I would even cook dinner for you both if you were ever here in the "hood." I like you both as people, but sometimes how you run this site can make me pull out my hair. I can separate business and personal, with most people, until THEY get personal. But, you two still haven't learned to separate business and personal.

Also, you want suggestions from me on how to improve Bilerico, which I can do well in "contributing" my ideas, but I have been not given much of an incentive recently to make me want to offer my help . . . to you or Bil. I offered it to Becky. (You need to read what I posted on her article.)

Why would I offer my help to Becky? Because Bilerico is more then the sum of its parts. It's bigger then all of us. I offered it to her because she is a person I trust to present it in a way that will not be diluted.

And, the bottom line, you guys fucked up. Let's not sugar coat it with, "We made a mistake." Hell, a "mistake" is taking the wrong exit on the freeway and you have to drive back to rectify it. You just plane fucked up and none of you have admitted to it at that level. None of you. The confidence in the Editorial Staff has been shot to hell, so you think I want to help anyone on the Editorial Staff? I didn't have any faith in some of your staff in the first place. You fucked up. Plane and simple.

So, I'll funnel my suggestions through Becky. You won't know that her suggestions came from me or who. I don't want any credit in fixing this. I've resigned to the fact that I will never be a contributor here because too many people dislike me, so what do I have to personally gain by being visibly helpful? If Bilerico becomes a shinning example for the whole LGBT community, then others will benefit. I have a new girlfriend in my life to occupy my time.

Ronald Gould did not hurt us. He is just a miserable pathetic hatemonger in the wilderness. I'd never heard of him before this and I hope never to hear from him again. He can go sink into the swamp of his own miserable and disgusting hate and bile.

The Bilerico Project is the guilty party and they hurt us by giving him a voice.

Agree with Kathygnome's post. Bil et al. are the culprits. Saying "my bad" isn't good enough. Trying to spin how this may end up being a positive for "the community" isn't good enough. having deluded people explain away the post by virtue of Gold being part of "an older generation" is definitely not good enough. There are LOTS of younger Queer people and grads from Gender Studies Programs who believe exactly as he does, only using slightly updated language and fashion sense.

The only good I did see come from it was it provided a slap in the face to some of the proudly "pro-LGBT" trans people out there who've been denying the extent of this problem for a long time (and even now are attempting to explain how this doesn't change how trans people are part of a 'very important coalition'. Uh huh, right. See what happens if ENDA doesn't pass for another 6-8 months and all the transphobic muck which starts surfacing from many of our LGB allies.

FurryCatHerder | December 12, 2009 1:54 PM

While I greatly appreciate the effort at a point-by-point exposition of why Ronald Gold is an ignorant assw1pe and shouldn't be allow to post here, please keep in mind that some of us do agree with many of the points he raised.

A better response to large parts of Ron's ignorance would probably have been to point out that many of the people he's interacting with are fair earlier in the process than the average transsexual man or woman.

Yes, his closing comments, as well as his subsequent failed effort at an explanation, demonstrate that he's an ignorant, stark, raving, mad transphobe. His comments remind me of remarks by Lesbians Feminists who object to female-to-male transsexuality on the grounds that there are now fewer lesbians for them to screw. Because, of course, they reject the notion that any of them would want to screw a male-to-female transsexual lesbian.

rapid butterfly | December 12, 2009 2:43 PM

Thanks for the article. I agree though, for my part, that my main problem was the initial stance of Bil and those members of the editorial staff who tried to pitch Gold's piece as not meant to be offensive but just "challenging." It really is hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that the most likely reason for viewing Gold's piece that way is some underlying sympathy with his views that we as trans people are delusional, mutilated freaks who would have been fine if only we'd been allowed to play with barbies or toy soldiers (as the case may be) as kids....

Tobi, as always a beautiful, insightful and brilliant post DEAD ON THE MARK!

For some strange reason my straight, cisgender Republican parents chose gender-neutral parenting and allowed me to play with dolls AND trucks, kitchen stuff AND legos, and I'm better off for it. This decision however, didn't make me cis, and it didn't make me trans. It made me Phil. Oversimplifying the issue of gender identity down to who plays with the dolls and who plays with the trucks is oddensive at best, and outrageous in this context. This struck me when I read Gold's piece because I HAD been allowed this as a kid, and I am cis, and here trans folk have had the same experience. Gender is clearly deeper and more complex than 'what you present as.' Gold's piece makes a mockery out of science by distilling gender down to such rediculously ludicrously simple assertions. True, I do believe that for some people gender is more fluid, but for some people its not. I'm a cisgender man, and I don't struggle with that--even if I haven't always presented that way, just as you gave in your short hair and suit example. In some ways, what Gold is asserting undermines the validity of my gender identity too, though certainly what he says is far more damaging to transgender people as his priveledge comes from his being cis-gender

I struggle with commenting on this sometimes. On one hand I feel very strongly about transgender visibility and inclusion. On the other hand, I'm cisgender and mostly ignorant. I'm not sure whether or how to speak up sometimes. I do know I have to, though, and my fear of getting called a mysogenist--or worse, conservative--is far outweighed by my sense of duty to my transgender sisters and brothers.

I hope everytime we have this argument here at Bilerico that this time we'll have the breakthrough, and suddenly everyone will get it. Its ignorant, I know, but Bil will tell you if I'm known for anything, its my optimism. I have to work myself UP to cynicism--its very hard. Something in me says that all these posts in respose to Ronald Gold ARE reaching some people--maybe not as many as I hope, but some.

Ah Ze, The “Binary Strikes Back!”

Ze, the title of my comment here is no accident! Mr. Gold and those like him, his age or younger, lack the ability to see beyond “binary” because they’re “linear thinkers!”

I’m trying not to “bury the lead” here so bare with me please.

At Dr. Jillian Weiss suggestion I read all of Mercedes Allen’s brilliant 6 part series on transhistory… Find those links in Dr. Weiss’ comments to this post:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/12/transphobia_in_the_gay_community.php#more

Throughout my reading of Mercedes writing two words burst forth in my mind, arbitrary binary.

“Binary,” on and off… Black and White… Heterosexual and Homosexual… Female and male!

“Arbitrary,” something decided subjectively, lacking any objective study!

My mind wandered further to the medium I was reading from… The Internet!

I’m a “geekette” by nature so “1’s and 0’s” started dancing in my head!

A “Bit” of information on any computer is of course a one or a zero, which translates to “on or off” in an electronic circuit! Computer designers decided to first group 8 bits together into a “byte” to represent something other than “on or off, one or zero.” Of course we now have 32 bit bytes and bytes will continue to grow in size as chip designs improve.

The “byte” represents something significantly more complex than a bit by itself… The relationship is exponential! Similarly collections of “bytes” represent things considerably more complex than individual “bytes!” More exponential growth in meaning!

All we have as humans in this universe are our shared experiences. Shared experience exponentially grows the value of our individual experiences.

Mr. Gold’s post proves that all of us as humans must learn how to share our experiences then attempt to comprehend what we don’t understand! Love and acceptance, never mere tolerance are the exponential factors that advance comprehension and ultimately understanding!

The “Empire,” Oooppsss, “Binary” struck back with Mr. Gold’s post but we will ultimately win the war of comprehension and understanding. I just hope I live to see it!

Thanks Phil for the compliment!

Oh, I too am an optimist... I sensed though that you're not ready to admit you're a conservative! I am... Willing to admit it and optimistic I can get some, maybe not many here, but some to understand "true conservatism."

Conservatism, or better stated in today’s political environment, "true conservatism" is all about the constitution and bill of rights! The "prime directive" of the constitution and bill of rights is to protect individual freedom and liberty from encroachment by any other individual or 2 or more individuals forming a group! In this great country the "majority" does NOT rule over everything... We fortunately have a judiciary whose main purpose is to "check" abuses of a majority when said majority denies us our birthrights (as LGBT people)!

This is why “true conservatives” support things like:

Health care reform with a public option but not “single payer”

Re-regulation of the financial industry

ENDA

Oh, and yes, same sex marriage!

President Obama is an extraordinary student of Lincoln and obviously aware of positions taken by president “Teddy Roosevelt,” Senator Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan!”

Geeze, I wonder if this comment will stir up a whole new “S^&t storm” for Bilerico!

NOT

You have just essentially described libertarians, of whom i am a part of.

Not conservatives, true or otherwise.

But you know what they say about opinions.

Thank you, Toby, for taking the time to do a point by point rebuttal of Ronald Gold's article. Logical fallacies indeed! You found them all, cited them for what they are, and in so doing removed any pretense that article had to being an informed counterpoint.

I'm now working on my second open letter in my own blog. I will say this much. The article pushed me to clarify even further my explanation of my situation to those who don't get it.

sigh.

the more i read and the further i go along in my own transition, the more I wonder if we as trans people need to go our own way.

yes, it will probably take a lot longer to achieve the equality and legal protections that we deserve, especially as i fully expect to again be the sacrificial lambs for ENDA -- but i am beginning to feel that the price of being the greater GLB(t)'s unwanted tagalongs is just too high. to be fair, there have been many GLB’s who have worked tirelessly on our behalf, just as many of us have worked on theirs – it hasn’t been a one way (or a dead end) street.

but…when i read eric payne's post above, and realize that he is just voicing what so many in the "movement" say about us -- and by the way seeming to tacitly agree with ron gold's position -- something becomes readily apparent to me concerning the trans experience here on TBP: those here who want to "get it" already do; those here who dont never will -- no matter how many arguments we have or how much educating we try to do.

i dont comment much, for all i have been a consistent reader for the past few years. i sometimes wonder whats the use? if i make coherent arguments to eric and those like him that bisexual people have as little "choice" about who they are as he does; or that it takes more that retrofitting your genitalia to be "cured" of gender identity disorder, does anyone *really* think its going to do any good?

does anyone *really* think that a credible refutation of ron gold such as tobi shared above is going to make any difference to those who CHOOSE not to get it? if they wanted to get it, they already would have. its not like we exist in vacuum.

anyone?

i don’t have anything against eric, i don’t even know him, other than from what he has written here. while I disagree with the majority of what he has written, does he have a valid point in saying: “Yes, we should embrace the struggles of the bisexual and the transgendered and support them in their fight for societal inclusion. We should not, however, irrevocably tie our rights and liberties into theirs.”?

are our similarities enough? or are our differences too great? is the only alternative to being the GLB(t) a perpetual denial of our basic rights because we don’t have the political clout to force the issue on our own?

i would pose a question to the many brilliant minds i have encountered here, of all flavors and persuasions: if you were going to craft a separate trans movement, how would you go about it?

is it even possible?

should it be?

Wow. What a rebuttal. Color me impressed.

If you present structural options, which I'd love to read and discuss, is it because you think the Bilerico leadership is ready to consider structural changes? Or just because you know that's what is required, whether they can digest it or not? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tobi, I liked your rebuttal on Mr. Golds blog. I do think he was just saying what others have said and we do need to listen. He is only saying what others think and he put it into words. I didn't like it nor did most others. I felt belittled and very much a non person.

I do find that you do talk and say words that people want to hear. Politics and I'm not into that sort of BS. Of course, I don't know the language as well as you do.

If you would not have listened to some of your friends and feeling there are no therapist in Eugene, OR. you might have found one or two. I did. When you say something that is untrue then I begin to think that everything you say is untrue.

Hope you have a nice life, Tobi. I do hope you find what you are looking for.

Sheila,

You misinterpret my words here, and I don't appreciate being called a liar. Notice that I did not say he was or is the only therapist that works with trans people in town. I said he was the only one available. At the time I called six others before I got to him on my list, and each of them were full and not taking on new patients. It's also worth noting that at the time he was the only therapist on the DMV's list of approved therapists that they would be willing to take a letter from.

That was about seven or eight years ago (please don't accuse me of lying here, I honestly don't remember) and since then I've gotten to know a few therapist that are pretty good on trans issues, not to mention the university counselors who aren't always good but are always available to students. That doesn't change my experience, though, nor does it change the fact that I've had more than a couple friends ask me for a therapist and everyone I recommended was unavailable.

Tobi, I liked your rebuttal on Mr. Golds blog. I do think he was just saying what others have said and we do need to listen. He is only saying what others think and he put it into words. I didn't like it nor did most others. I felt belittled and very much a non person.

I do find that you do talk and say words that people want to hear. Politics and I'm not into that sort of BS. Of course, I don't know the language as well as you do.

If you would not have listened to some of your friends and feeling there are no therapist in Eugene, OR. you might have found one or two. I did. When you say something that is untrue then I begin to think that everything you say is untrue.

Hope you have a nice life, Tobi. I do hope you find what you are looking for.

Hi, exellent analysis of the text.
As Gold's opinion is shared by many, at least to a degree, I agree that it is efficient to discuss it in public and really adress the points that he makes.

Like many of us, I have met with his opinions before, mostly within political activist i.e. in feminist, leftist, gay and lesbian communities during the last 30 years, and not just in the US but in Europe as well.
It can be found in separatist feminist texts like the Transsexual Empire, it can be heard within contexts of "green" activist who are all for natural bodies, or who are against the beauty and plastic surgery industry.
Traces of it can be found in some transgender or gender queer contexts who "deconstruct" binary gender in a simplicistic way.

Obviously, the parts of the text about genitals and delusion etc are just plain transphobic.
The parts about genderqueer kids are more important and concern all LGBT.
The lesbian and gay communities have fought for a long time for the rights of feminine men and masculine women to be themselves *and* not be "kicked out" of male or female.
Gold feels that kids who are genderqueer might be shamed into believing that they are "the opposite sex". He demands that genderqueer kids are still allowed to identify with their birth sex.
This reminds me of some people commenting on trans kids, recently, and that studies show that only a certain percentage of genderqueer kids grow up to be transsexual adults. Others grow up to live as gay and lesbian.
I believe there is a certain fear in the lesbian and gay communities that fags and butches get forcefully assimilated into straight and/or pathologised by declaring them trans. F.e. butch/femm politics has resisted the notion that they were imitating heterosexuality.

The exellent series about trans and gay history here on Bilerico explains in depth how that fear came about.

I believe that we as transpeople shouldn't completely dismiss this fear. Instead, we should strife to understand where it comes from, just as we expect LGB people to understand our fears and hurts.
In a slightly twisted manner, as a transfag, I can indentify with Gold's claim that there are feminine men who do not want to be women ;-).

That said, I would also like to point at another weakness of Gold's argument:
"Explain to them that, whatever the other kids say, real little girls do like to play with trucks and wear grimy jeans, and real little boys like to prance around in dresses and play with dolls."

While his support of genderqueer kids is laudable, is emphasis on "real" girls and "real" boys is problematic in its reenforcing of the naturalness and binarity of sex/gender. It is also very typical of earlier "progressive" politics: After saying that it is ok for boys to be feminine and for girls to be masculine, he nevertheless stresses their "real" sex. In my teens I have been confused by that ambiguous politics that while seemingly strechting the boundaries of what it meant to be a man or women, it ultimately cememted MALE and FEMALE as almost supernatural concepts that were bound to the body, closing the borders between the sexes for good.
F.e. I have often been told that I don't need to transition, because I could be all these (masculine) things and be a girl anyway.

As was pointed out at the Not Another Aiden blog, arguments like this confuse mere gender *roles* with much more deep seated feelings of gender identification and embodied self. Being trans is usually not (just) about transitioning from one gender *role* to the other.

And as one gay male poster suggested in one comment on the Gold discussion: The text might be more about excorcising deep seated, conditioned fears about the sex/gender identity and "normalcy" of the LGB person herself/himself than about actual transsexuals.

Thanks for your great post Tobi!

Regarding responses advocating for T to separate from GLB; I'm trans and bi, and went through stages identifying as gay and lesbian on the way to where I am now. My community both online and in daily life includes LGBTTQI and straight people too. My activism includes many issues, I believe we're more likely to get the results we want working in solidarity with others who aren't necessarily exactly like ourselves. So I do my best to listen and learn.

Thank you for this post, Tobi. It so clearly illustrates exactly what was going on without devolving into a petty attack. Reading Ron's post had left me feeling like I'd gone back in time!

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | December 13, 2009 7:41 PM

There's an elephant in the room! It's the fact that transsexuals (in particular) insist that their bodies (as born) were incorrect: in effect, they insist that they were born with a deformity.

Gay people have been fighting for at least two generations for acceptance of the realization that being gay is NOT a disability -- that it's not in any way a semblance of deformity or dysfunction!

For that matter, I happen to believe (based on my own unique experience) that it would be far wiser to recognize being gay as a choice. As one who abhors hypocrisy, I never lived in the closet, and I started to realize I was gay during a (far better and saner) time when experimentation with sexuality and drugs was accepted and gender boundaries were in the process of dissolving.

I simply realized I was not interested in girls; acceptance of this was a subset of being a hippie, not of feminism. (Given that background, consider my perception of the internalized homophobia implicit in someone who now runs an "m4t" personal ad that says, "Must be passable"! Today's gay trade, tomorrow's trans competition! Talk about hurtful!)

In any event, my experience (however unique, as, incidentally, is everyone's) is that being gay was a choice -- one that I made as a result of experimentation -- one that I'm proud to have made -- as it's a choice any person can and should be proud to make!

Nonetheless, it's a choice that involves the rather fragile notion of accepting one's feelings as consistent with one's body -- society and gender be damned! Yes, calling myself "she" (as anything beyond silliness), on account of my having "deeply feminine" feelings, threatens that fragile identity -- and throwing the neologism "transmisogyny" at me doesn't change that. As trans folk should realize, "sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but names..."

Just don't call me sick or crazy, as trans people have actually done (oblivious to the bitter irony implicit in their doing so)! We live in a crazy world, where I'd be considered sane if I told my mother I'm a girl, but crazy if I denied the notion that time is money. As for science? That, too, is notoriously political, a matter of what questions one asks and of how one defines terms. Trans folk should also know better than to rely on "science."

In any event, enough of "I can't help it, I was born this way." There's nothing trivial about choosing one's identity. Suffice it to say, I believe that's a major factor in how we've reached this impasse.

More relevant here is that -- from issues of "nondisclosure" (i.e., relegitimization of the closet) to those of self-acceptance of a unitary mind/body self -- gay and trans identities are implicitly somewhat opposing viewpoints.

One can be a gay person who's supportive of rights for trans people on human rights or disability grounds, but we're only a single community in the eyes of our enemies.

As for terms like "mutilation" or "delusion," that's obviously someone's perception, and they (as much as those who take issue -- both, incidentally, by way of experience) have a right to express themselves accordingly. Considering someone deluded is not tantamount to being complicit in murder or maiming, and implying that this is the case is nothing short of a smear!

There's an old statement attributed to Voltaire and beloved by civil libertarians: "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

The attempt to stifle certain forms of expression is hurtful, too. Who decided that one should be silenced because expressing a particular view is "hurtful"? Life (from birth trauma onward) can be hurtful, and it's not necessarily because of malice; sometimes it's the result of a genuine difference in lived realities. One such genuine difference involves whether one accepts the reality of a mind/body duality itself -- which is pivotal in accepting the very notion of transsexuality or transitioning.

Deal with it. There is no real "LGBT community." That's life.

Mitch,

I noticed some of your arguments don't seem to apply to me. Such as how you go on and on about how we shouldn't silence him, but this piece is clearly a criticism on the points and not a call for censorship. I even included a link to an archived version of his post after it was taken down. I think you wrote this more for some of the other posts and just copied and pasted it here.

You seem to paint trans people as if we all have an identical ideological perspective on the matter and that is simply not true. Some trans folks use the language of disability and defect, others abhor it. Just like some queer folks fund research for a "gay gene" and others start a "queer by choice" website (and just a couple days ago they were having a conversation about being "trans by choice"). What you complain about in trans people is neither unique to or universal among trans people. Have you seriously never heard a non-trans queer person use the "I can't help it" approach? When you rant against trans people who do such things while not acknowledging either the non-trans queer people who do them as well or the trans people who don't, it gives the impression that you just want to rant against trans people and are looking for a reason. If that's not the case, please give some more explanation about your intent and the point you are trying to reach. And it would help a lot if you acknowledged the existence of such people in the process.

Deal with it. There is no real "LGBT community." That's life.

Is this a direct reference to my dialog above? I wasn't even talking about the LGBT community, just the gay/lesbian community, which I am every bit a part of as well. I don't really believe a unified community is the right framework to view things through anyway, it is more like LGBT communities. Hell, I would even pluralize it when talking about any of the individual letters in the acronym.

"I happen to believe (based on my own unique experience) that it would be far wiser to recognize being gay as a choice"

So, because you had one particular experience, everybody else should see things the same way? Going by that logic, I should believe it wiser for everyone to recognize they were born into the wrong sex. That's the inherent problem with projecting your experience onto others.

"In any event, my experience (however unique, as, incidentally, is everyone's) is that being gay was a choice -- one that I made as a result of experimentation -- one that I'm proud to have made -- as it's a choice any person can and should be proud to make!"

This is contradictory. You make a token claim at others' experiences being unique, but then assume that it is possible for anyone to choose to be gay. Many (if not most) gay people don't consider their orientation a choice, just as most straight people don't, either. Many have tried to "choose" their orientation out of shame or peer pressure and have failed.

"gay and trans identities are implicitly somewhat opposing viewpoints"

As someone who is both gay and trans (neither by choice), this makes absolutely zero sense to me.

"Trans folk should also know better than to rely on 'science.'"

Thank you for imparting such great wisdom to us deluded and uneducated trannies! Also, thanks for copy+pasting large chunks of text into several posts.

i was so involved in working my own story this week that i missed the event that caused all this trouble.

having been in the middle of one of these discussions myself, i'm struck by the unwillingness of the author to consider the responses of his readers--a path that seems to be directly the opposite of the one you'd take if you really wanted to be an expert of any sort whatsoever, in any subject.