Tobi Hill-Meyer

Dan Savage Gets Glitter Bombed for Being Transphobic

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | November 02, 2011 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Dan Savage, glitterbomb, trans rights, transphobia

SpilledGlitter_1281733645.jpgYesterday evening Dan Savage visited the University of Oregon campus in Eugene as a part of his tour filming his show Savage U for MTV. While the details are not entirely clear, apparently a representative from the "Dan Savage Welcoming Committee" rushed the stage to glitter bomb the celebrity sex columnist along with the statement "Dan Savage is a transphobe!"

As they turned tail, they added, "Glitterbomb courtesy of the Dan Savage Welcoming Committee," and just before they got out the door, "He's a racist and misogynist and a rape-apologist, too!" The operative then fled the scene.
--Statement by Dan Savage Welcoming Committee

Dan Savage has made it clear that he intends to be an ally to trans people, but he's certainly been a very inconsistent ally. Sometimes he apologizes for his transphobic actions, such as when he was criticized for saying that a Republican politician was trans as a way to insult him. Other times, he ridicules those who point out his transphobic actions, depicts them as over-sensitive, irrational, and so forth. He occasionally uses the power of his popularity to bring attention to important trans issues, but he refuses to listen to trans people when they tell him what he is doing is causing harm.

It's interesting to see the response to all this in a public glitter bombing. Savage has yet to release any statement on the matter, but it's likely to be pretty similar to his statement in an interview with David Badash last month.

"How do you disprove a charge like you're transphobic? I'm not afraid of trans people." Savage then goes into a mimicking voice, knowing not to say, "One of my friends is trans," but does say that he has a friend who is trans who comes to his house for Christmas. "We hang out all the time," Savage says. "I certainly have had a journey in the last 20 years--as have we all--on trans issues. When I started writing Savage Love 20 years ago, and you can yank quotes 15, 18 years ago and flat them up today and say, 'You know, that's transphobic,' I'd probably agree with you. 15 years ago I didn't know as much as I know now--nor did anybody."

The problem I see here is that an ally in any anti-oppression movement should not be focused on disproving the fact that they are influenced by prejudice. In doing so, he paints himself into an adversarial relationship with the trans activists who he tries to discredit in order to prove his worth. I would argue that it's probably impossible to avoid internalizing prejudicial messages. The best thing any ally can do is take responsibility for those influences and seek to be accountable for them. Yet Dan Savage is too busy dodging responsibility to actually internalize an understanding of what he is doing that is wrong.

Because while it was 8 years ago that he titled a column "Bad Tranny" where he admonished a trans woman for coming out, it was only two years ago that he used the term "shemale" to refer to trans women. Just one year ago, several weeks in succession, first when a caller discusses watching trans porn, he admits that he knows he shouldn't use either derogatory term, but declares that it's okay to do so when referencing porn and proceeds to joyfully sling around the word "tranny" ten times in about two minutes and tosses in "shemale" a few times for good measure. Then repeats his previous assertion that men who are attracted to trans women cannot be considered completely straight. A week later he verbally thrashes a trans person who got upset at being mispronouned. Then finally, he reassures a man who likes women with strap-ons that he is 100% straight as long as the cock that he's attracted to is attached to a woman - which apparently means he doesn't consider trans women to be women, or else he would have said the same thing to the guy who watches trans porn.

I have to wonder, with all that Dan Savage claims to have learned in the past 15 years, has he learned how to be less transphobic or has he only learned how to sound less transphobic while still putting out equally damaging statements?

I could go on, but his behavior has already been well documented by other bloggers, such as Masculine Toast, Bi Furious, Greta Christina, and FuckNoDanSavage. The bottom line is that when challenged on his various prejudicial influences, Dan Savage tells his critics to patiently wait for him while it gets better. This glitterbomb is one of many responses that demand, "Make it better."

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Personally, I wish he'd just avoid any mention of trans women. I feel he does more damage to the trans communities than good. He seems to never be short of things to talk about or 'bad-boy' comments even besides snarking on trans ppl, so he should just stick to that.

You left out this interesting quote from the statement on indymedia:

"Dan Savage is a transphobic and generally oppressive rich white cis gay man who came to Eugene, OR on Halloween weekend. The Dan Savage Welcoming Committee let him know that he can't be a douche with impunity."

I just love groups that fling accusations of misogyny around and then use misogynist language in their own statements.

And the oppressive rich cis gay male. Yes gay men have all the power in society.

I read savage's articles from time time to and he sure seems to use fag and dyke a hell of a lot more than he does tranny or shemale. Does that make him a homophobe as well?

That was my first thought too. "Wait. They call him misogynistic and a douche?!" Oy. The irony. It burns.


"Douche" is the very opposite of a misogynistic term. Douching is an oppressive practice that is harmful to vaginas, which makes it a great insult. This argument was settled in like 1999, people.

Tell me more. In the comments section here several contributors (and other commenters) have been taken to task for using the word as a slur.

Well, that's unfortunate, because I simply cannot see how that term is at all a slur.

Om Kalthoum | November 2, 2011 8:53 PM

Try this:

Douche is really short for the original slur "douche bag," an item used only by women. And, trust me, this slur's original users were exclusively male. Now, they could just as easily have picked an equal opportunity slur like "enema bag" couldn't they? But they didn't. Why do you suppose that is? What does this say about what any user of this term thinks about women?

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 9:11 PM

So - then being a realist about when terms enter general usage and fools errands standards only apply to certain people. Why do you think that is?

I would agree with Om -- "douche" is misogynistic.

Kathy Padilla | November 3, 2011 8:58 AM

I'm not disagreeing. Just pointing out that the standard she/he uses differs from the one she/he used further down the thread on considering she-male & other terms derogatory when applied to trans folk. In that case she argued that it should be fine as it had such wide common usage.

What are your thoughts on the - but Mom - everyone else is doing it, standard? Follow up needn't mention Bridges in Brooklyn, though my Mom would have.

I don't know any women who thinks that being called a douche or douche bag is a good thing, or even a neutral thing. It's a bad thing. Period. It is intended to bring to mind bad smells and lack of cleanliness, at minimum. But you know that.

Shemale, on the other hand, perfectly describes what the purchasers of this type of sexual experience are looking for. Elsewhere, the OP suggested "trans prostitute" as a substitute. But who's kidding whom? If a guy requests such a prostitute, someone with a vagina could possibly show up, right? So to answer the OP's question here, that's what's wrong with just using "trans prostitute."

Kathy Padilla | November 3, 2011 5:07 AM

That can't be right. I just googled it & here's a woman who thinks the word is just fine to use.

Dan Savage Is A Douchebag
Posted by: The Angry Black Woman

Category: Bigotry & Prejudice, Tumbled

June 27th, 2011

This has to be the most hilarious Bilerico comments thread ever. I can't believe we are seriously debating the misogynistic tendencies of the word douche. What a world, what a world.

"an item used only by women."

Hmmm. I understand that some gay men also use this item. Over at JMG someone mentioned that Dan Savage himself makes use of these products.

I think, when men use the term "douche" or "douchebag" they're making a comment somewhat related to "scumbag" - a term used for a condom. I am not sure that there is any real difference in their intent - the person to whom they are referring is thought of as a dosposable product intended for either personal cleanliness or to avoid conception, involving organs that are "down there." That reminds me of those Prince Charles cell phone calls to Camilla where he said how much he wished he could be a tampon, and how ridiculous that sounded.

So for me, the jury's out as to whether the term "douche" is misogynistic. It is, however, nasty and impolite language that should not be used by anyone intending to advance a rational argument.

Are we playing bingo?

-'Douche' is not misogynist language. A douche is something that *hurts* women.

-Being gay means that you lack hetero privilege. It doesn't undo your class, white, cis, or male privilege. No one claimed that Dan Savage or any other gay man has "all the power in society".

-Reclaiming a slur that is used against you is not the same as using a slur that affects a marginalized group to which you don't belong.

While douching for general hygiene reasons is harmful, it is sometimes medically useful. I'm not comfortable with douche equaling inherently bad because how will this affect the self-esteem women (and other vag-owners) who need to douche for medical reasons?

I think most of the evidence indicates that you are on the right track here, Tobi, and that Savage has really learned how to sound less transphobic as opposed to actually being less transphobic.

It seems (to me, at least) that Dan Savage lives in his own world and tends to judge others based on his own experience. That style may work well for writing about sex, but it fails when you try to apply it to writing about people and our lives outside of the bedroom.

Personally, I wish Dan Savage would stick to writing about sex. It's when he starts writing about people who are not himself that he starts to get into trouble and ends up pissing everyone off.

It blows my mind how the trans community continuously demonizes Dan Savage. His career as a writer has been built around controversial opinions and a take-no-prisoners attitude, and yes, he's made some comments that could offend, but he is an ally to the community. I'm not saying he shouldn't be held responsible for his words, but there are WAY bigger battles to fight.

Whenever I read one of these (and there is certainly no lack of Dan-Savage-as-a-trans-pinata articles on Bilerico), it just strikes me as petty. Picking apart the admittedly not-so-sensitive words (written over the course of 15 years) of a person who has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on LGBT community doesn't get us anywhere.

If we're truly going to mesh the "T" with the "LGB" (which seems to be a consistent goal), we need to stop fighting amongst ourselves and learn to educate each other, rather than publicly denounce each other.

The Wingnuts are probably loving this debate right now.

So, could you enlighten me on what positive effect Savage has had on the trans communities, or on meshing the T with the GLB? What actions has he taken, or things has he said?

In particular I am interested in things that he did without managing to make a swipe at trans women at the same time? (As far as I can tell, he doesn't concern himself with trans men, though in fairness, few gay men do. They get plenty of love from lesbians, though.)

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 2:19 PM

So - you support Dan having a take no prisoners attitude - but think others should treat him differently? Just how much glee do you think wingnuts take when he provides them cover on trans issues? And why do you think it helps us to not challenge transphobia based upon who's promoting it? I rarely see a gay guy saying that a civil rights leader on other issues should be given a pass on homophobia - if I'm mistaken - please point to some examples - perhaps fron Dan?

He should really just stick to writing about gay men. I understand it limits the value of his syndicated column - but - to be fair - he never put the business concerns of others above his interest in challenging homophobia.

It's a bit off you're chastising a cis man and telling the trans* folk to just sit there for SOLIDARITY.


We don't DO THAT. We don't say "You've done enough! You can offend anyone you want now!"

The LGBT+ community tends to ignore the "T". And that's not the fault of trans* people but the fault of cis people.

If he's an ally then he should listen when people tell him that he is being a shitty ally.

Since he doesn't, he's not one.

Um... the fact that he's been doing this for 15 years isn't an extenuating circumstance. Or are we supposed to give him a "bulk rate discount" on his hurtful, harmful bile?

I think this falls under the rubric of "Intent! It's f*cking Magic!"

Wilberforce1 | November 2, 2011 12:35 PM

I agree with brake4guars.
Has anyone told Savage the proper terms for m2f and f2m trans people? They're constantly changing, seemngly to create endless controversy. You also have a word for me: cis. It took me two or three tries on Bilerico just to get a definition. And by the way, you created this term without my permission, which seems a bit rude. Or should I say it's 'gay phobic' and demonize the entire trans community for it.
You have your own language, don't bother to tell us what it is, then call us bigots for not knowing. Of course Savage has made mistakes. But that's no reason to fly off the handle.
Please darlings. Let's stop the infighting and work together. A first step might be an email to him with the proper terminology. That could be followed by an essay here explaining simply a few of the trans worlds.

^ this. Buckets of this.

Wilberforce1 | November 2, 2011 5:27 PM

Thanks. It's always nice to hear a kind word.

Seriously? In the first place, Savage has been taken to task many, many times over the years and has had plenty of opportunities to learn. In the second place, and more importantly, to me, is why doesn't he make the effort even if he *isn't* informed by trans ppl? If want to talk about gay men before a national audience, is it ok if I use slurs and stereotypes, just b/c I don't know any better? Personally, even it were ok, I wouldn't do it. If I am going to talk about a subject, I want to be informed. Unfortunately, Savage's main goal seems to be edgy and controversial (or, an ass).

Methinks you are the gay analogy of the Apple fanboys. You worship a icon (which is fine) and won't stand for any negative talk, even if it is objectively true (which is more problematic when interacting with non fanboys).

Wilberforce1 | November 2, 2011 5:44 PM

To you, everything is a slur. That's the difference.
My freinds can call me Mary, girl, queen, f----t, or skank bitch whore, because they're my freinds. And we celebrate camp gender bending. That's an old gay tactic to get people to not take gender so seriously. You might try it sometime.
Savage is also a queen, and he's probably celebrating the same tradition. You darlings just can't take a joke.

Well, last time I checked, Dan Savage and I didn't hang out together. And I don't like tranny or shemale from anyone. Nor dyke, and not really even fag. I guess I am just a politically correct, humourless old trannie?

Oh, and though you don't know me well enough to really know what I do or dont consider slurs, but yes, prolly many things that you don't, though I really like 'queer' b/c to me is transcends a lot of boundaries (no good if the person saying it hates said ppl they are calling queer, though).

But since we are beiing all edgy here, I'd have to say you come across really pissy, like a queen with her G-string in a wad.

I don't have to take a joke from someone who isn't my friend.

Dan Savage is not my friend.

Therefore, glitterbombs away.

Your suggestion has been done.

Several times.

Here. By the author of this column, by myself, and by others.

And Dan reads here.

Guess what: The trans label is also nonconsensually applied. You don't get to be unmarked if we don't. Symmetry.

Dan is just another uppity HeMale.

I'll say He-Man to that, Deena but does that make him a Master of the Universe, an edgy no holds barred kind of a guy or just another cartoon character ?

Mr. Savage has been educated.

Not only by extremely angry types, but also by calm, persistent types.

He's been informed of what the terminology is, and he really doesn't particularly care.

The statement he makes that points out his complete lack of awareness is "I'm not afraid".

This is the same statement used when people argue against being labeled a homophobe. Which doesn't make him like them, I'll note, but points out the deep seated degree of denial.

He also trots out the "but I have a friend" trope -- just like many people who oppose the existence of gay men.

At the same time, though, this is also the guy who pointed out the issue around Juin last year.

This is a man who has given good advice to person's writing in to his romance column asking about trans people -- and also given out godawful advice as well.

Transphobia is not about fear.

It is about anxiety, it is about aversion, and it is about dislike.

Most of what he has done that is damaging demonstrates a high degree of aversion and an unwillingness that comes from that to incorporate such stuff into his life.

Aversion is the hardest nut to crack, as well, as it comes from inside one's self, and the motivation for such can only come from events, such as this, which continuously highlight his need.

As stated, it is not about disproving -- in this case, it would be disproving a negative. He may as well have said "disprove that you don't believe in god" or "disprove that you do believe in God". Neither of those things can actually be done, but people will think they can be.

Prove you aren't gay is another example of the same kind of thought.

What he can do is prove that he's an ally.

Transphobia is inherent in the culture, is institutional -- *everyone* is transphobic, including trans people, in the US. What differs is the way in which we are and the awareness we all have of it.

In his case, the balance, right now, is more to the negative side of things.

As tot he question of "bigger battles" -- I disagree. Perhaps the biggest, most challenging battle the trans community faces is ending horizontal hostilities. Both within the T itself, and within the LGBT as a whole. Because that internal strife is used against us all, and that underlying animosity works to hold the efforts for equality back -- untied we stand, divided we fall, and his actions and words serve to divide.

This isn't a battle -- this is just one exchange in that battle.

And let the glitter fall where it may.

But I think the point with Dan Savage is the offensive terms- fag, dyke, shemale, are part of his schtick.

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 2:59 PM

Ah - it's just who he is. Um....exactly?

So, he's like the gay Howard Stern? Wow, that works for me! I can see a lot in common between the two of them.

. . . or Bill Maher. (Maher has made several transmysogynistic statements to be funny - once implying that Bush counsel Harriet Miers was a trans woman, as an excuse for a laugh, when Bush was briefly considering making her a supreme court justice.)

Labeling it a schtick doesn't make it acceptable or necessary for him to do so. He can use whatever terms he wants to refer to himself, but when he throws out hateful words that apply to others, he is engaged in an act of hatred. It doesn't matter what's in his heart. We're not hurt by the contents of people's minds, but by their actions.

It's not *just* that he says words that are slurs, he says whole sentences that harm us, that position us as fake women and not deserving of the full and proper respect that human beings should be accorded. And he does this from his de facto position as a GLBT spokesperson, as an expert, as a progressive queer activist. This hurts us. This makes it easier for other people to hurt us.

Dan Savage is a hateful man. He engages in acts of hatred. That's the only meaningful definition of hateful.

It may well be part of his rhetoric however he will loose any respect (if he has any left) and/or support from the trans community. The bigger problem is the "Gay inc" in general and where and if the trans community ever have a real voice and/or stake in anything the "Gay Inc" dictates.

To quote from elsewhere on the board: This. Buckets of *this*.

Exactly. Using terms that are offensive but writing that is far and wide about opening up people to new experiences and point of view is a tactic.

It reminds me of South Park- the language is usually abhorrent- but the message usually a good one. Sometimes the message falls flat- but most of the times it is on point.

Dan's articles are usually on point- usually. I don't agree with every writer I read, and would be bored if I did.

All this over one person glitterbombing- well I guess the welcoming committee of one - accomplished their goal.

"It reminds me of South Park- the language is usually abhorrent- but the message usually a good one. Sometimes the message falls flat- but most of the times it is on point."

Mhmmm, but isn't the point usually that the boys/parents/townsppl learn and grow, and change their attitudes by the end of the show? Which leads to:

"All this over one person glitterbombing- well I guess the welcoming committee of one - accomplished their goal."

No, it isn't about this single event. It is about Savage continuously reinforcing stereotypes and slurs wrt the trans communities.

Agreed. I'd also note, unlike anyone else here, that he's treated bisexuals and asexuals with similar vitriol. Even his recent admission that bi men exist was tainted with grandstanding and whining about "bi activists." But of course, he's also OK to do that, since he's SUCH a good advocate against teen bullying. Never mind how much he bullies in his own columns, a video campaign makes it all better, right?

So I'm curious--anyone know what comment Savage had about being glitterbombed? I'm assuming he took it as all in good fun?

I hope he didn't. I hope it shocked him into thinking about his busted ways.

I honestly think you are targeting the wrong enemy. I'm sure Savage has said some insensitive things over the years. But hateful? No. While he will never know the life experience of a trans individual, he will fight for trans rights when it counts. He is not part of the problems. Savage is an advice columnist, not a guru.* Anyone who listens to him regularly, as I do, must know he uses generalizations and bad language all the time. Sometimes his conclusions are inappropriate or flat-out wrong. But he's had trans guests on his show - Buck Angel comes to mind - and he's never even so much as implied that trans people deserve less rights than anyone else. That's the most important thing, not a "she-male" dropped here or there. Sheesh! If you don't like his style, don't listen to him. But don't mistake him for a transphobe because he doesn't use politically correct language or because it took him time to accept that transsexuality as a normal manifestation of human sexuality. He believes in science and he respects your rights. This political correctnesst only hurts yourselves and your cause. Let's face it, Dan Savage is not going to lose his audience because he was glitter-bombed by a whiny, overly-sensitive kid who ran away like a coward. All I'm saying is save your vitriol for the Bachmans of this world, not the Dan Savages.

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 5:15 PM

If you're going to pass yourself off as an expert, 10 or 16 years is more than sufficient time to have learned all that difficult language. It's just weird to suggest it's too challenging.

Nor do I see a vitriol here - has anyone used inn appropriate language in stating their positions?

I'm not suggesting it's challenging, that it's too difficult for him not to use the word "she-male", not to use trans as an insult. He doesn't use offensive words because he can't help himself, he uses it because he likes to brusque at times. It's his style. He passes himself as 'an' expert, not 'the' expert, so if you want a more sensitive advice-giver, you should get your advice elsewhere. And he obviously bristles at political correctness. I don't agree with everything that he says, and I myself might choose to use more sensitive language. -But- it's a mistake grouping him with the homophobes and real transphobes of this world, and I myself am offended that people can't tell the difference.

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 5:48 PM

Ah - you should just get used to people being brusque, instead of being offended.

Shorter reberr: "You guys are being divisiiiveeee! It's not the transphobe who's being divisive, it's you for calling him on it! Stop it stop it stop iiittt!"

I agree with reberr above. If people are upset about the kind of language Dan Savage uses or views he has that they find disagreeable, his email is pretty easy to find, and I'm sure he could find the time to do an online video debate or something.

Glitter bombing somebody and then releasing a statement filled with PC jargon might give some people the satisfaction that they've stuck it to the man, but it ultimately won't accomplish anything. It's more likely to alienate others and lead them to regard trans people as shrill, whiny ingrates rather than people with a legitimate beef about something.

It's a sign that some segments of the GLBT community have become a little too complacent and comfortable when Dan Savage is an enemy demanding a glitter bombing and gay white men are the new robber baron class. I would say that until GLBT rights are secure at the state and federal level; until politicians can no longer get away with demonizing us to win votes; until views that are even remotely anti-GLBT are no longer viewed as legitimate political opinions but unequivocally as bigotry, we have bigger fish to glitter than Dan Savage.

And honestly, I think jealousy has a lot to do with it. You can agree or disagree with Dan Savage's opinions, but one thing's for certain: He's done a lot to draw attention and public sympathy to GLBT people and has received tremendous media attention for it, while the queer theory types who make a habit of attacking him haven't.

Om Kalthoum | November 2, 2011 5:57 PM

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i ROFL'd. And my thoughts exactly.

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 6:33 PM

Glitter bombing is silly. But - if your standard is how many google results exists for considering something offensive - you should apply that the next time you comment on misogyny. If memory serves - you have a different metric when applied to yourself.

Om Kalthoum | November 2, 2011 7:05 PM

You'd best believe before I posted that I googled "fag" and "dyke." You should try it. Fag clocks in at 50 million results, dyke at only 9.7 million. LOL. Shemale FTW @ 177 million. Who am I to argue?

And I'm still waiting for the fisting expert's response. Meanwhile, do you speak for these sex workers? If they call themselves shemales, it's good enough for me.

Kathy Padilla | November 2, 2011 8:23 PM

Just how many google hits makes a derogatory word acceptable to use? Or does the more frequent usage just point to greater acceptance of bigotry?

Om Kalthoum | November 2, 2011 8:40 PM

I'm enough of a realist to understand how words enter general usage and that loaded words can carry different weight depending on who uses them and with what intent. Fighting "shemale" as applied to this particular type of porn is a fool's errand.

How many hits isn't the point... this is a trans-related thread, therefore the individual known as Om has to troll it. It's a compulsion or maybe even a fetish.

Why not use the term "shemale"? First off, being a sex worker does not make someone ineligible for respect. Secondly, that's not the word the caller was using. There's simply no rationale that would lead one to think it's appropriate in that instance. Is there anything wrong with "trans prostitute"?

Additionally, the google result doesn't mean much. When porn is advertised under the keyword "shemale" it's not because the performer chose that term over others but that her bosses chose it. Some people may be reclaiming the term for themselves, but that's the vast minority of all 177 million hits. Besides, "slut" gets 393 million hits. Yet that does not make it appropriate to start calling all women (or all women in porn, or all women who have casual sex, etc) sluts. Even though I know many more women who choose the term "slut" than trans women who choose the term "shemale."

All of this is a tangent, though. I don't care so much that Dan uses those terms - especially when referring to a porn genre rather than people - except that if you listen to him you can hear the glee in his voice as he does so. That, combined with the instances I cite above make it clear that there is a problem here.

Om Kalthoum "Meanwhile, do you speak for these sex workers?" Yes, indeed I do. I have to say something about your use of the term shemale, myself as a retired shemale whore I'd like to speak for all the workers and all my girlfriends. If you stood beside me and my friends and called us shemales we would stick a knife in you.

Om Kalthoum | November 3, 2011 2:25 AM
If you stood beside me and my friends and called us shemales we would stick a knife in you.

LOL. Blogger Alert: Internet Tough Guy Loose in Thread.

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Real funny for you girls dying from AIDS and being dragged into ditches and gang raped.hahahahaha Anally raped then stabbed to death and dumped in a dumpster, real funny stuff for you om, something to just laugh and laugh and laugh about women being killed and being in danger haha look at them shemales with there dicks aren't they freaks, funny stuff, hahaha look at the girl on the corner getting pistol whipped by her pimp asshole

I have to say that I would probably here less racist/homophobic/transphobic/mysgonistic slurs at a KKK meeting then I have here tonight.

hey maybe you can show up at my funeral om give a eulogy on how funny it is for there to be another dead fagotte shemale whore talk about how we're just wastes of life, hey, who cares there whores just say whatever you want about them! I realize right now you're just laughing and laughing you caught your bait and you upset some it's hilarioius for you, I hope you think it's funny that I'm going to cry myself to sleep tonight thinking of my girlfriends that died from AIDS, I'm done with you pinheads there is no community here at all, I'd rather hang with hookers they're more moral and accepting people then fucking dan savage and all of you here

Om if you're still reading I'd like to give you your nightly joke,this one is really funny. The movie producers (pimps) that are putting up those millions of shemale websites, you should see some of the hilarious things they do to the people they so respectfully call shemales. Have you heard of something called a pumping party? A pumping party is when ts girls go pick up a bunch of silicone from the local home depot and inject their lips and hips and butts with it. Cute eh? A common side effect is a horrible painful death. A bunch of ts girls feel like they aren't attractive enough to make it in the industry and might end up giving $20 blowjobs on the street so they do this or their pimps are forcing them into it. Funny stuff hey, them silly crazy chicks with dicks! Any of you ts rights activists walking around your university with your "I Support The Sex Trade" t-shirts on might want to do something about this, little more constructive then throwing things at gay people.

Om Kalthoum | November 4, 2011 2:09 AM

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Well, I guess if you go trolling, you never know what you might catch, eh? ;)

true, man. this is a ridiculous thread.

"Zoe Brain" "special snowflake" - 40 results

Shame on you for typing out that word if I was your mother I would wash your mouth out with soap.

Well, this thread is certainly a good example of how willing gay men are to listen to and consider the issues that many trans women have wrt gay men. Not that gay men even need to agree, but at least to not just reject it all out-of-hand, and condescendingly lecture those of us who have issues.

Even if you won't listen, perhaps you could take at least enough of a step back to reframe all this, in the context of how str8 society mostly reacts to *your* issues? With saying they aren't against gay ppl, but gays are asking for special consideration and 'rights'? And making them the butt of crass humor? And telling them how they appear to the dominant group? Even if you dont change your opinions toward trans women, it might give you a little insight into your own battles.

Finally, I just wonder how str8 society sees glitterbombing of these right-wing politicians, even if they don't agree with the pols views?

"As they turned tail, they added, "Glitterbomb courtesy of the Dan Savage Welcoming Committee," and just before they got out the door, "He's a racist and misogynist and a rape-apologist, too!" "

The forgot "And a biphobe and an ableist!" Still, A+. I actually laughed out loud at this.

Dan's history of well documented anti-trans bias + the comments here = reason 547 why I'm often wondering why trans women are still trying to educate and ally with gay men.

To answer all the commenters who don’t understand why Dan Savage was targeted

Criticism vs Attack — The first thing to realize is that glitter bombing as a statement of discontent is not solely reserved for our worst enemies. It’s okay for someone to have redeeming qualities and still find their other actions unacceptable. The goal of an action like this is never to end his career or take away his readership, but to bring attention to the things that Dan needs to change. Honestly, if a student had simply asked him not to be transhpobic in the Q&A, I wouldn’t have posted about it, and neither would Queerty, Joemygod, or the Huffington Post.

Just Talk to Him — Why would you assume people haven’t talked with him about this? People have talked with him. Dozens of people. For over a decade. He commonly interprets criticism as an attack and then fires back. It

Infighting - First of all, infighting is a concept that describes conflicts between groups of people who face the same oppression. But Dan does not face transphobia. This was not an “LGBT on LGBT” glitter bombing, but a trans queer on cis queer glitter bombing — and it wasn’t the first (if you recall the glitter bombing of the HRC building).

Transphobic History — Even Dan admits that he was transphobic 15 years ago, but some of his most transphobic statements happened only one year ago. Regardless, it’s not enough to simply let time pass without making additional public transphobic comments. Apologies are in order and Dan needs to take positive action to show that his support, not just his silence.

Shocking Words — Please read more closely, it’s not just his words but what he says with them. He consistently treats trans women as not real women. (And mentions having a trans man as a friend, but no trans women.) The words are salt in the wound, but don’t let that distract you from the wound itself.

Michael Messner | November 2, 2011 7:36 PM

Just one straight, cisgendered guy's opinion, for whatever it's worth:

I'm a strong ally to the LGBT community, but I wasn't always. I used to be just a run-of-the mill lefty at best, apolitical at worst. And reading Savage Love in college was part of the process of learning that there was a hell of a lot more in the spectrum of human sexuality that's "normal" than I had previously thought. I don't speak for all straight people, but I get the sense that his writing has opened up a lot of minds.

The T is the part of the community that I know the least about, admittedly and sadly, but Savage can take at least some of the credit for the fact that I even care to learn the terminology, ask questions, and start a dialogue. Yeah, he's transphobic. So am I. So is everyone, including trans people. That's the nature of systemic oppression, as Antonia pointed out.

But the struggle for equality for trans people is going to be so long, with so many intentionally hurtful people to contend with; Is Dan Savage really where you want to spend your energy?

Frankly? Not sure. None of us, after all, is the Jerk Whisperer.

Michael Messner | November 2, 2011 8:30 PM

Isn't that kind of the point, though? If you're L, G, B, or T, you HAVE to be the Jerk Whisperer, or at least try, because straight people don't have to think about sexual orientation/gender identity. As straight people we have the option of being homophobes/transphobes and having those beliefs reinforced by others like us, or living our merry lives without having to give those issues a second thought: That's how straight privilege works.

But I'd argue that columns like Savage's (which is likely read much more widely by straight people than LGBT, just statistically speaking) do a lot more good than harm, and get people from all walks of life to think about their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their kinks, and their belief about others with those orientations, identities, and kinks. I'm not saying he's perfect or that he shouldn't care that he's offensive sometimes, but come on; I'm sure there are many deliberately offensive, phobic, closed-minded, truly hateful people out there in need of a glitter bombing.


You may argue that Dan's column does a lot more good than harm, but it's still doing harm. Does that not concern you? I'm not saying we should get rid of his column or put an end to the good things he does, just that we need to discuss the harmful things he does too. I can't help but notice, for example, that the only instance of transphobia I've ever seen him apologize for was when a non-trans person was the target of his transphobia.

Besides, no one's saying we should stop glitter bombing bigots on the right wing. We're capable of chewing bubble gum and walking at the same time. We're capable of criticizing left wing transphobes and right wing transphobes at the same time as well.

Yes, this. Dan says and does a lot of things that I not only agree with, but admire, relative to gay equality. And then there is how he acts towards trans ppl, a lot of which may not even be due to animus.

(I tend to think that when he uses his adult brain, he is awesome, and it is when he lets his inner 13-yo-boy-who-is-trying-to-impress-his-friends that he screws up.)

As I said in the first comment of this thread, IMO Dan Savage, and other gays and lesbians who aren't willing to learn some basics, should just shut up about trans ppl and trans issues. Savage has plenty of stuff to fill his 'airtime' and keep him in the public eye. When asked his opinion of something trans, esp by non-trans, str8 ppl, he should humbly demur and tell them he isnt the person to ask. He really does do far more harm than good wrt trans ppl, IMO.

"Is Dan Savage really where you want to spend your energy?"

If he's going to be presented as some kind of mainstream spokesperson (which he increasingly is) for a coalition which, at least in its milquetoast current form of inclusiveness, is supposed to include trans people, then it needs to be made clear to the media (both queer, corporate or both) that Dan isn't acceptable. Too many past/continuing issues and not even vaguely trying hard enough to listen. Too much of a magnet for a-holes (some of whom are on this thread) who drone on about "I don't care about PC-blah-blah-blah." No, throwing glitter on someone doesn't mean a lot, but it does tell Gay Inc that Dan isn't OUR man even though they're desperately trying to shove him down our throats... then the answer to your question is yes.

Michael Messner | November 2, 2011 11:40 PM

The proof is in the pudding for me, and Dan Savage has opened more people's minds to what's OK in the sack than all the queer theory/gender studies academics combined.

When did the fight for civil rights get downgraded to squabbling over semantics? You have to know how ridiculous and petty that sounds to most people, as seen so recently in this clip I'm seeing all over Facebook (the bit at 5:15). Even my wife the gender studies major did a facepalm.

Is taking issue with the language used by the "shock jock" of advice columns the best way FORWARD?

The most memorable thing I recall Dan saying about trans people was telling a trans woman she was a bad, selfish person for transitioning, because it was difficult for her family. That is not fucking semantics. It is the same as being told you are selfish for being out as gay, and that you should rot away in the closet in order to not offend your family's sensibilities.

Renee Thomas | November 2, 2011 9:09 PM

I suppose in all of this what I am incapable of understanding with respect to Dan Savage, or any other clueless cispeep for that matter, is why do you invariably default to being such an asshole on your road to education and enlightenment?

I'm reminded of the Kobe Bryant F-bomb. Remember how the L/G was falling over themselves to make sure he issued not only an apology, but a SECOND..BETTER apology? Here was a guy with an isolated epithet in the middle of a game with no prior documented history of being even insensitive to gay men. The L/G media and blogs lit up demanding and then picking apart his rather quick apology.

Now we have Dan, who does have a well documented history of continual remarks and (at best) insensitive or (realistically)intentionally harmful remarks about trans people with not one real apology offered that didn't also contain some dismissive crap.

So, what should the level of expectation be for gay people's transphobia? Obviously it isn't the level we are expected to hold cis straight people to - that seems far to high at this point.

Dan's comments have offensive terminology for everyone - fag, dyke, cocksucker, tranny, shemale - i see no proof that he is treating the trans community any differently than he does anyone else who writes in.

So then it appears that gay men should be held to some different standard regarding trans people that we wouldn't imagine holding straight people to regarding gay people. I already knew that, I'm just curious where the special line is for gay men? It isn't just about what words he decided to use. It is about how he has constantly framed and talked about trans people and used us as insults.

Accept it, anything we say will just get discounted as a tone argument, which if frivulously ignoring real and important issues. By definition, the wise gay men have far more experience and are more realistic, and are just trying to help us, in spite of our ingrateful attacks.

I have to be reminded every once in a while how many smug and entitled gay men there are, and how little interest they have in hearing how what they do makes us feel. I am a slow learner, and tend to forget how much ppl with priviledge resent being called on it, and that Bilerico is at the bottom a site for gay men. Prolly will impact my involvement for a while, then I'll get curious again. Doh!

Trinkity Trink | November 2, 2011 10:46 PM


That Republican Senator was probably the trans community's best claim to fame, and they blew it. Figuratively.

I can't find myself incensed about anything Dan Savage has done and think this is rather silly. If Dan Savage is not radical enough for you, then find someone who has the humour and down to earth charm that he does and have them start writing an advice column that doesn't make people feel isolated for one reason or another.

Excuse me while I go figure out what this shemale porn thing is all about.

Extra credit for someone who can tell me how cis and trans aren't binary labels.

cispeople identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. transpeople do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.

transpeople may identify as male, female or as something else entirely. for example, i am a non-binary transperson. i'm neither male nor female--- this is in part because i don't understand how one makes such a distinction. i'm queer and that's enough for me.

Were you required to register with the Selective Service System?

"Were you required to register with the Selective Service System?"

This comment is skirting the line of intentionally misgendering the quoted person.

But we're talking about sex, not gender here. Perhaps you didn't read Punk's statement:

" i'm neither male nor female--- this is in part because i don't understand how one makes such a distinction."
The federal government is quite clear about who is male or female sexed. The former is required to register with Selective Service, the latter is not. If s/he really doesn't understand what her/his sex is, there's a clue. I also suspect that if you or I passed Punk in the street, we would each immediately form an opinion, too. It's just human/animal nature.

But now that you mention it, if Punk is confusing gender and sex, how does one "misgender" someone without a gender?

Until the scientific research done between 1995 and the present, it might have been okay to differentiate sex from gender. Aspects traditionally associated with gender *identity* are now known to be physiologically based, and should properly be considered part of "sex," while the non-physiological aspects of gender expression (that is, expression not associated with secondary sex characteristics) still fall into the psychological/sociological/cultural realms.

One of the things we know is that while cissexist society expects sex on a strict birth-genital-essentialist binary basis, nature provides for a greater diversity.

While I personaly fit into the binary, albeit not in accordance with the cissexist society's expectations, I am well aware of people for whom the concepts of sex on a binary basis seem irrational.

When I try to classify non-binary people, I am doing so from the outside, and any classification I make is certainly subject to observer bias. But I think my world view may have some relevance to the discussion.

The binary expects "either" male "or" female. Knowing a diversity exists, but wishing to still keep "classification" simple, all we need do is extend the binary for allowing it on a two-bit basis rather than a one bit. The standard binary is digitally "1" or "0" (which, come to think of it, seems to correspond in a primitive way to images of genitalia). One can go to two bits, whiich make either = 01, or = 10, and new classes "both" then becomes "11" and "neither" becomes "00."

While still being mindful of this being a simplistic extension of an even more simplistic societal assumption relating to a quite diverse population, this helps to clarify two additional classes of "both" and "neither" to the already existing "eiher" and "or."

In some ways, both and neither can be conflated to be representative of "other," with "sliders" as to relative intensity ranging from "bigender" to "agender" (in the "gender" area") or representing the characteristics of various types of intersex developmental differences, many of which have an impact on the brain physiology that drives the gender identity.

I can classify at least some part-time crossdressers as being strongly bigendered, and at least some genderqueer folk as being weakly bogendered.

Unfortunately, the scientific studies to date relating to the physiological (genetic and ontological) differences of trans folk, does not even scratch the surface as to genderqueer folk, though it is likely that there are physiological bases for these phenomena as well, thus making is a "sex" issue and not merely a "gender" one.

I would wish this could spur on further discussion, but I don;t know how it wll be received.

No use in arguing with Om, she is always right!

Kinda like a 'special snowflake', though you can't Google her to find out for sure, since she apparently uses a fake name.

Thanks for the advice, Carol, but I usually find strong positions taken by someone with whom I disagree as an opportunity to dialogue, even if what I have to say doesn't have an impact on the other's thinkingon the subject. I figure that third party readers, seeing the essays, are capable of judging for themselves as to the relative merits of the positions taken.

What I find depressing, reading many of the comments both here and over at JMG, is the level of vitriol that comes into the conversation.

To that extent, the glitterbomber here has clearly struck nerves, both for those who think of Dan as cissexist, or for those who see the glitterbomber as misdirected. I would think that, however misdirected the glitterbombing may or may not have been, it has started some discussions. On the negative side, many of those discussions have been passionately non-productive.

I am going to look through again and see if there is anything else to which I might add a perspective,

Trinkity Trink | November 4, 2011 12:06 PM

Using "binary" to describe choice between male or female hasn't been a very effective use of language, as 0 and 1 don't mean much until they get defined. People have to find a better pejorative.

Hmmm. I don't think "binary" is intended as a pejorative, merely a descriptive term of what society does when it divides human beings into two sexes without taking into consideration those who don't fit the expected assignment except to refer to them as being disordered, deviant, defective, or diseased.

it's interesting to note that aside from being called male and female, the binary classifications aren't terribly well-defined - or when they are defined, the definitions used often require exceptions. Typically, human beings are assigned to a sex on the basis of a cursory examination the shape of infant external genitalia. That is a simple and generally effective procedure, but it does not result in a correct assignment in 100% of the cases. Depending on the criteria, one might be able to ome to the conslusion that there are errors in somewhere around 4% or 5% of cases (this estimate is based on projections made of the numbers of people with various intersex developmental differences, and also includes trans people (while I would classify trans as a form of intersex developmental condition, that is not universally accepted)). Of those not correctly assigned, many of them are unaware of the misassignment and may be comfortable with it because they gender in a way that is compatible with the binary assignment they received. Others seek to change the assignment because it does not fit them. Their incongruence may be on a "mental" plane but it is likely to be physiologically based in the wetware, and not a matter of being "disordered," just different.

i'm not confused about the difference between gender and sex. i'm not sure why you would think i AM confused, actually. i think my comment was pretty clear.

how do you misgender someone who doesn't have a gender? well, i never said that i didn't have a gender. i DO have a gender--- and it's non-binary. my SEX, however, is not for public consumption. ;)

Om Kalthoum | November 4, 2011 1:11 PM
i'm not confused about the difference between gender and sex. i'm not sure why you would think i AM confused, actually.
I was responding to your claimed confusion about sex: "i'm neither male nor female--- this is in part because i don't understand how one makes such a distinction." I took you at your word.
my SEX, however, is not for public consumption.
You're a female, maybe 19 years old, with a boyfriend. Am I right or am I right? And had I realized how young you were before I posted the first time, I probably would have refrained from posting at all.

But now that I am, have you considered this might be a phase you'll grow out of? Sure, I know how insulting that sounds. But I look around me and wonder, where are all the old geezers who make claims like you. You're like the LUG's (Lesbian Until Graduation) but maybe more extreme.

"i'm neither male nor female--- this is in part because i don't understand how one makes such a distinction."

allow me to rephrase that; i do not understand how one decides whether one's gender is male or female. i did not write that "i don't understand the distinction between SEX and GENDER".

my genitals are not your business. i'm not going to whip it out on webcam for you. and it's been a pretty long phase, actually. it's been about 25 years since i figured out that i wasn't cis.

i'm disappointed that you're this prejudicial, om.

Om Kalthoum | November 4, 2011 8:52 PM
"my genitals are not your business."
I can't say I'm all that interested in your genitals, per se. But as I said, everyone forms an opinion about another's sex in a split second upon meeting. Since I haven't met you in person, I gave you the courtesy of checking out the website you link to. I hope I may be forgiven for forming certain assumptions upon hearing that you had hit puberty, grown breasts and started menstruating. Be angry at biology, not me, please.
"i'm disappointed that you're this prejudicial, om."
If you mean you think I'm exhibiting prejudice towards you, could you quote specifically what I said that you think demonstrates that? If you just mean I'm being rude, well, I'll admit I can come across that way.

Hey Om, this is going to be totally useless, since you're not going to be convinced of anything. But I'd thought I'd provide this for the benefit of anyone who is willing to listen. Here are three examples (two of which were born male) of "old geezers" out there who are non-binary transpeople:

The 1920s artist Claude Cahun (now deceased, died at 60) lived as androgynous:

The writer of the Rocky Horror Show, Richard O' Brien, who is 69, IDs as "transgender" or a "third gender":

The performance artist and actor Justin Vivian Bond, who is 48, IDs as and lives openly as "transgender", using neutral pronouns:

There are also many examples of historical and living cultures which have third (or more) gender options. For example, the Bugis (from SE Asia) have traditionally recognized five genders which roughly correspond to woman, man, transwoman, transman, and androgynous.

The whole non-binary gender thing is in no way a new phenomenon and it's insulting to suggest that only "special snowflakes" are adopting this. If you really want to learn about non-binaries, I'd suggest spending time on the larger trans forums in their androgynous/genderqueer sections. There are plenty of older (even elderly) folks there, many of whom went through physical sex transition from one sex to another, and decided that they were actually more comfortable somewhere in the middle. There's also the site "Practical Androgyny" who is run by a really great person by the name of Nat who is in their early 30s and has been living as openly androgynous for upwards of 10 years. is another good one, which while it tends to focus on younger people, often features pictures and profiles of folks in their 30s or older.

Trinkity Trink | November 3, 2011 12:52 AM

Well, it sure seems like they're bandied about as "us vs. them". New meanings added to terms used to describe chemical structures (where they have very specific meanings) is not a recipe for quick adoption.

I'm in favor of trans...fats. They're delicious.

Though to be perfectly honest, I find myself frustrated with attempts to abruptly restructure language around ideology. Spoken language is weak at promoting understanding, but until we have telepathy or an effective equivalent, I'd say it's quite a bit better than grunting, growling or glittering. Let's avoid mentioning Twil... Nevermind.

Kathy Padilla | November 3, 2011 4:57 AM

That's why you prefer homosexual to gay? I mean gay people (in the old sense) were do much less touchy.

Well, the terminology is not limited to chemical stuctures, the prefixes "cis-" and trans" have many other applications. In the 1960's when I was a child, I had a pamphlet containing a "space terms glossary" that described the region of outer space between the upper Earth atmosphere and the oprbit of the moon as "cislunar" space - and outer space beyond the orbit of the moon as "translunar space."

The meaning of "trans-" is "on the other side of" (or "beyond") and the meaning of "cis-" is "on this side of" (or "near") when added to a term.

It's perfectly appropriate to use cisgender (or cissexual) as retronyms applicable to non-transgender (or non-transsexual) people, much as with wristwatches and the advent of digtital watches engendered the retronym "analog watch" to describe the traditional watch with hands.

Wow. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE! Of course it's not ok to go around calling women douche bags of course it's mysognistic, duh. All scientific about it...well in the king's english douche meant....haha holy christ. Well I got five billion hits for shemale so it's ok to call them shemales only 9 million for lesbians, of course it's not ok to call people shemales, that's common sense you just don't do something like that. Check this out:::::

ASSHOLES --- 25,900,00 hits on google

We're you all at the same gay pride parade and a float tipped over knocking you all in the heads causing you all to have severe and permanent brain damage

Poor Dan. All he wanted recently was for Herman Cain to prove being gay was a choice by having Herman suck his dick. Now he is being attacked by the T-mafiosa for insensitivity. This is clearly a case of excessive santorum on Dan's part. I think Rush Limpballs and Glenn Pecker need to school poor Dan on the finer skills of raping a national audience. They refined what is known as the "smooth hand-job" where the bank account throbs as you spew excrement into an excited public ear.

I have to say, as a cis female, I have been offended by Dan Savage's use of terms such as *shemale* and *tranny.* Those words rank up there with *nigger* as such that they have put a group of people *in their place.* As a gay woman, I am not offended when he uses terms such as *dyke* and *fag.*
Because gay people are much more accepted in the mainstream than trans people. And when Savage uses ugly language as he has in his columns and in his podcasts- and also trivializes the experiences of the trans community by poking fun of, and making light of, their experiences (as he did in his latest podcast), I am in full support of a glitter bombing.
I believe that when a person does things like this then any good that they attempt toward the community that they are attacking (yes I said attacking) is irrelevant.

Travelingman | November 3, 2011 1:08 AM

I am so sick and tired of T's complaining about G's. If you don't like Dan then don't read his articles, don't attend his speeches. Glitter bombing Dan is about as effective as cutting your nose off to spite your face. We have real enemies in the world and eating our own is just utterly stupid and ridiculous.

Trinkity Trink | November 3, 2011 1:18 AM

How can I report you for making sense? :)

If you're sick of the complaining, do some campaigning to get the cis gay dudes like Dan Savage to stop being assholes to trans people.

It's pretty simple.

Deal. If you'll get the trans-community here to deal with their homophobic bullshit.

So, if you will indulge me, let's do a little thought experience. If not, that's ok too! :)

Ok, so let's say that one of these homophobic trans women (from your perspective; quite possibly that person is seen among many trans women as speaking truth to power) has a situation in life just like Dan Saveage's--she has widespread audience and media attention.

Now, let's say this homophobic trans women denigrates gay men a lot. She routinely uses terms like 'fag', 'swish', 'light-in-the-pants', whatever slurs (edgy epithets?) that are used against gay men. And she calls gay men who do prostitution or porn 'rentboys' or such (I am sure there are far worse things that are used, but don't know anyting about gay porn, personally).

Now, would you feel offended by this? And if you did, would you feel you had the right to complain? What if you *did* complain, and trans women came out of the woodwork and attacked you out-of-hand as being humourless, and touchy, and worrying about language rather than say, working for marriage equality or drug programs for HIV patients?

And what if this happened a bunch of times, and the trans woman not only didn't change her approach, but ridiculed the complaints, and perhaps became even more 'edgy' (since she is a sharp-talking women, that's her schitck)?

Would you be upset about this? That this nationally known person was appearing on MSM and telling ppl how gay men are, and what gay life is like, from her ignorant and dimissive perspective? Again, would you feel this was important enough to complain about? Or would you just laugh, 'cause wow, she's so funny?

If you read this, you don't even have to answer, or you can criticize this and me, I dont care. I just would like you to take the time to actually visualize this happening in your life, and seeing how you feel. And if you truly feel that no, it wouldn't bother you at all, it's just not that big a deal, then please, do tell me that. I know I am oversensitive (I hear it all the time), so maybe I am just seeing the whole thing wrong.

Thanks, Carol :)


I don't believe we are that far off from each other.

As I stated above in one of my previous comments, to me, with Savage it is all about context. So if the hypothetical trans person you are talking about had a context of talking shit about basically everyone, using vulgar terminology- I would not care.

My experience with Savage is mostly reading Savage Love on the train here and there- and his language is uniformly salty and not pc. But the underlying message generally of his columns seems to be about self-respect, respect for others, and sex-positive.

I have only seen him on television a couple of times and those time he has made no mention of trans issues and spoke exclusively on gay issues.

At the end of the day, I have a much larger problem with what I consider Ivory tower elitism thought and speech police. I experienced it and know its roots and I find it intellectually shoddy at best. While privilege is an interesting conversation to have - I find it most often used as a way of cutting off conversation and silencing disagreement.

Language and terminology changes - I don't get a that upset about it quite frankly. Language and terminology also changes with location. A colleague came up to me and apologized because someone used the word queer in a meeting. I had to explain to my friend that the person was from SF and the word had been reclaimed.

I simply recoil at the idea of the word police - self-identified arbiters of what is acceptable speech. I usually find that these 'arbiters' can find ways of belittling, ridiculing, and marginalizing individuals in words much stronger than any of the words they originally took offense to.

Thanks for the well-thought-out reply! :)

What you do not seem to realize is that the complaints people have are not just about language, but what he is actually saying. Telling a trans woman she is terrible for not putting off medical treatment that is necessary for her mental health until her kid is in college is not actually what is in the best interest of a kid, and telling a woman she should just get over her rape and fuck her boyfriend is extremely fucked up.

I don't think it is transphobic for Dan to advise someone to delay transition for less than a year until their child is out of college. Call me old-fashioned, but I still come from the school of thought, that when you sign up to have children- their needs and priorities go first, period. Asking the parent to wait a year - seems like a fairly good compromise.

Your synopsis of the rape column is rather incomplete.

Let's put it in context. First thing, he wrote that particular column ("Bad Tranny") in 2003. I think it *was* cissexist.

While the idea of "the best interests of the child" seems at first blush to be a fine goal, transition is an issue of proper medical treatment for the parent.

Would it be in "the best interests of the child" for a parent to delay a life-saving kidney transplant for three years?

it's at best an "apples and oranges" issue.

My children were taken away from me by a divorce decree in 1999. THe same judge in 2006 had learned something in the meantime, and made an historic good ruling on a trans employment case.

Last year, my now-17 year old was being hassled at school by bullies who were making an issue of how his father was trans (there had been a very positive front page article in the local newspaper that involved me).

His response?

"My father is a better man than you'll ever be, and a better woman than you'll ever get."

A put-down that apparently shut them up and showed that there wasn't anything for him to hide.

Anyway - Savage wrote that article without a clue as to the circumstances. The suicide rate among those in or near transition is extremely high - internalized transphobia plays a huge part in this, as well as dealing with alllsorts of societal rejection. Telling someone that they shoul delay their transition might well be a recipe for a suicide.

I have had more than a few friends attempt to take their lives at some point during or immediately prior to transition, and have helped shepherd some of them through the process. More than one did not make it.

Trust me, the advice was bad, even in 2003. I will only say this - I don't think that Dan was intentionally being cissexist. But his advice clearly was bad advice.

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And if Ann Landers had advised a lesbian or gay man to remain closeted and sexless in a marriage until after the kids were in college, it wouldn't have been seen as an uninformed commentary (at best)?

Also, I would point out there is a huge difference between advising someone to stay in the closet and chastising someone who has already come out. Additionally, as LauhrioTgirl points out, if another columnist chastised a lesbian for coming out while raising kids, Dan would have rightly called them out for it. Making a clear double standard.

But while you defend that column, keep in mind that Dan has said himself that it was transphobic. He never apologized for it and only said that it was long enough ago that it shouldn't be held against him, but he has conceded that he wouldn't give that same advice now.

Three years is not less than a year (this seems obvious), and sacrificing a parent's mental health for propriety's sake is not putting a child's needs first. You are definitely old fashioned and short sighted.

You offer no analysis of Dan's rape-apologism.

I have to say that as a trans woman who first came out as a gay man at a very young age all you people are doing is making me feel sad and alone. When I go to a ts support group and I relate about my feelings I get called names because I'm not ashamed of my past when I was out at the gay clubs being a gay man. People in ts chats call me a fag and all kinds of horrible things. Horrible, horrible hurtful things because you have so much animosity towards the gay community you can't even stop to help someone who is alone. I go to TS Girlfriend and log on and at the end of the welcome message in huge capital big red letters it says "Shemale whores are not welcome here" and it's other trans women calling me these things and you know what I do I go and cry myself to sleep. Good job you made a girl cry, does that make you people feel good about yourselves? You women would throw me and Silyvia Rivera under a bus. I wish you homophobic trans woman would just go away and not come back. Throwing things at other community members, grow up this is adult time we don't throw things at people we use our words to talk respectfully with each other.

And you guys here what happened. I dropped out of the LGBT community for about 12 years but when I was in it I remember the gay guys being the most loving and accepting people I've ever met, caring and just great, giving out hugs. Guys like you got me off the street and found me a home. Now you're arguing if it's ok to call someone like me things like a shemale and just all kinds of nasty things it's like you're all trying to get every single slur out at once, to hurt as many people's feelings as possible.

You are all turning real live human beings suffering into acedimic arguments so you can wint points and stroke of your e-cocks all over each other. You know this stuff is real, this is real animosity you're causing, people are reading these things that aren't posting and there feelings are being hurt by the nasty things you are all saying about each other and calling each other. You should all be ashamed.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves, you need to sit down and apologize to each other. My parents are homophobic christian ministers and they woudl have us all thrown in prison trans and gay alike if they could of course by the time people like that get a chance to we won't be around as we'll have killed each other.

Thanks, you have no idea how much these people truly hate you and how delusional they are. There really is no dialogue with batshit insane. What annoys me the most is they steal my story. Viewing of the Gwen Arujo ! story at an upper middle class white university with a bunch of women that enjoyed breeder privilege their entire lives. You cows have no idea what it's like to be us. While Gwen and I were walking down our high school with our eyes directly looking at the ground because we're afraid if we look up a straight guy would think we looked at his bum and we'd be getting a shit kicking a bunch of you were getting a cheerleader drunk so you can stick it to her under the bleachers. When you're going around saying things like, "I had my SRS and now I'm a real woman! I was never a transsexual! I'm just a woman with a transsexual medical history!" or some other batshit insane thing, you know what you just did there by saying that, you just spit on Silvia Rivera's memory. My boyfriend and I had a picture of her in our bedroom and it was the first thing we saw when we'd wake up in the morning. Silvia that drag queen that was a hero to a little gay boy and gave her the courage to not be ashamed of who she is and hide in a closet. Stonewall was not about gay men vs. transsexuals, stop rewriting my history. Stonewall was about poor lgbt people, yes, gay men were there, even those male prostitutes were there too vs. rich people hiding in their closets, rich people hiding in the closet ashamed so they can continue to enjoy their breeder privliges, remind you of anyone Sgt Joanna? I have to sit on TS girlfriend and listen to some trans woman spout off about their tour during desert storm bombing hospitals and then listen to the same person give me a ten minute lecture because I did drag shows as a kid that is essentially telling me I'm not a transsexual I should be refused hormones and SRS because drag queens aren't women they're just dirty faggottes. Stop bad mouthing drag queens they bring tons of money and exposure for the gay community with their shows and everyone loves them. You people look and sound insane when you're down at the womyn-born-womyn rape crises centre throwing molds of cocks at rape victims. Leave girls and gayboys alone, stop bullying and throwing things at people. You were not women when you were three and you can't relate to what it's like to grow up as girl, you were boys, do you realize how crazy you sound when say you know what it's like to grow up as a girl. You sound nuts, I mean you have to pay off gender therapists 200/hr for three years to get a letter to prove your now insane. Laura's playground is trying to set up a trans town, please, send them money, get it set up and go there. The rest of us will stay with our gay brothers and sisters, take the T we'll find something else to call ourselves, maybe we'll just call ourselves drag queens just to piss you off. If you go away it will not hurt trans people in the slightest, so don't worry about us, it will make things better for us, gay men will still be at places like pflag helping us after you're gone.

Not only is Dan Savage Trans Phobic he is very much Bi phobic also. His short comings make him a poor choice as a figure head spokes person for the LGBT movement. Thus I agree with earlier comments made that the media machine needs to be made aware of his short-comings and that he does not represent the B or the T. Therefore I applaud the glitter-balling as a means of raising awareness of the controversial nature of Mr Savages expressed views.

He is a shock jock effective at self promotion and good for generating controversy upon which the media feed, but at best he is a spokes person for elements of the G and maybe the L also. here his fame can be effective but he should be straight up and honest and stop pretending to know anything about the T or the B and refrain from commenting about them.

My -- what a party we are having here.

I'll drop in just to repeat what I have stated before: Glittering is a form of physical assualt, and reflects more poorly on the perpetrator(s) than it does on the target(s). On this point, it doesn't matter if the person being glittered is Michelle Bachmann or Dan Savage.

Dan is far from being a perfect spokesperson. No argument there.

As for so many of the comments I see from transpeople here: Philosophically, I want to be an ally for transfolk. But all the unnecessary and unproductive stirring up of trouble that I see here at Bilerico causes me to just step back and let "you people" (sorry!) fight your own battles. The anger here is so out of control that anyone might be your next imagined enemy -- including me. I am not transphobic ... yet ... but I am becoming ... what word must I invent here? ... trans-leary or trans-suspicious.

I've become more and more homo-suspicious since 2007. The thing is I have actual real world events and political maneuvers to base mine on and not some posts from random folks on Bilerico (although comments on JMG, Queerty, here, and The Advocate have reinforced my opinions over the past few years).

Also, how is saying "This crap you posted about us does damage to us and our particular needs" stirring up trouble? How is repeatedly asking him to stop and giving him better tools to use when talking to/about trans people and those who date/screw/love us? inherently unproductive? I only becomes unproductive when the same person does the same things over and over.

I have often seen it said from cissexuals (cissexual women and cissexual gay men both) that trans people protesting mistreatment is divisive or plays into the [patriarchy/heteronormatives] hands.

I don't see it. Oppression is oppression, regardless of whether the oppressors are gay, straight, female or male.

Instead of calling us divisive, it might be a good idea to look at the actions which cause us to say that we feel marginalized and oppressed within our communities.

Wilberforce1 | November 3, 2011 12:14 PM

Thanks Carol and Katie. You both have made it clear that the gay community are not your freinds. Silly me. I thought we all were freinds.
Although after listening to the trans community call us bigots and transphobic nonstop, I should have guessed long ago that you are not our freinds. I'm sorry for that.

Nobody is saying that all gay people are bigots. We are saying that a particular person who is has said many well-documented bigoted things is a bigot, and that we are in no way obligated to be friends with that person, simply because he happens to be gay.

And you are not my friend, but fortunately you don't speak for my gay friends, who don't refer to me using hateful language, who don't bitch at me for not being a walking dictionary when google is just as effective, and hopefully realize that complaining about being called cis is like a white guy complaining about being called white when he gets chastised for using the N-word.

If you are saying and doing transphobic things, you are not our friends no matter what community you inhabit, and calling you out is a duty.

Nobody likes being called out when they're behaving badly. Heteros hate it too.

Wilber, you came into this with your own biases, and with a chip on your shuolder. And you are oversimplfying what I have said, so I'll put it plain and simple:

I do NOT feel the gay community, OR gay men as a group, are the enemy of trans women. Period.

What I feel is more nuanced (though I am sure this will just get leveled back to what you already want to beileve):

The gay ppl who do and say things about trans women based on willful ignorance, and belittle trans women as a goup to be edgy, are doing harm when these things have a large audience of ppl who are already inclined to have a bad opinion of trans women (I don't much care what they say 'in the family', every one makes back stereotype jokes about other groups, and esp their own group). And I feel they should NOT do this, they should just be edgy or experty on things they actually understand and care about.

As I said in another comment, I am not all DAN SAVAGE MUST DIE! OR AT LEAST BE SILENCED! I have a lot of respect for him in many, many ways, and do feel he has done and does a lot of good. But that doesn't excuse him making snarky remarks about trans women (and bi men, apparently), and most esp serving as an expert on them to mainstream media.

It's odd that you (and apparently a lot of other gay men) can't make that distinction. I still feel it is mostly due to you being called on the priviledge you have relative to trans women. It's like women calling out sexism or black ppl calling out racism: it's met with indignation and anger from men and white ppl in the same way as this. "You are too sensitive. I eat luch with a black coworker every day." "Men/white ppl are why women/black ppl have it so much better than (back in the day)." I accept that other than being trans, I have massive priviledge over most of the ppl in the US, and the world, and that yes, I have senses of tentitlement in several areas. I welcome being called on them, b/c they are important to remember, so feel free to do so. But don't tell me how I should feel about being treated as an ungrateful whiner by gay men who tell me how I am wronging them, b/c you seem to not be willing to even consider that I might have some tiny bit of a point.

Interesting... "after listening to the trans community call us bigots and transphobic nonstop, I should have guessed long ago that you are not our friends."

Yes it is trans people speaking up about specific events and more general trends within the LG that makes it clear "we aren't friends" - NOT the actual events and trends themselves.

Also, as a woman who dates men, I never got a vote on being called "straight". I think gay people should quit labeling my sexual orientation. The second that actually happens, I'll be happy to stop using "cis".

Trinkity Trink | November 3, 2011 12:19 PM

Is the aversion to "shemale" an objection to the fetish or the name of the fetish? Or both?

Trinkity Trink | November 3, 2011 3:19 PM

Or something else entirely? Seriously.

Angela Brightfeather | November 3, 2011 1:30 PM

My objections to Dan Savage were clearly stated in a previous Bilerico post dealing with DADT. If he cannot understand that Trans people do not want him representing them in statements to the media or the press, because he does so either direspectfully or because they are proven to be wrong, unreasearched and lacking of basic knowledge and that they misinform the general public about our issues, then he should have gotten the message by now.
The fact that he continues to do it and chooses to ignore that message without changing his messages in the public, is not just transphobic, but it is also remarkably insulting, arrognan and inhumane.
If he continues to be the equivelant of Rush Limbough in the GLBT community then he can continue to take the heat and the glitter for being that way. I'm pretty sure that he might even like that attention.
Tell me one GLBT person who could stand in the same room with Rush Limbaugh and not think he is a pompous, arrogant ass or that if they had some glitter they would not throw it his way and I'll show you someone who has no right even concerning themselves about our issues, let alone claim to fight or care about them. Such a person has no right to claim they should speak or represent our issues. They are dangerous to our health and way of life and would not be tolerated under conventional circumstances. Who gave Dan Savage a pass on being humane to Trans people anyway?

I spent a part of yesterday trying to stimulate discussion at a similar post over at the Joe.My.God blog (a place where, when comments get over 100 or so, becomes impossible for me to continue making comments, and there are well over 200 there now).

My POV on this is that while Dan Savage has a history of making some snarkily cissexist comments that are based on ignorance of trans issues, I don't see him as intentionally cissexist. I have had the occasion of getting things he does confused in my memory with things Michaelangelo Signorile does (much as I have an occasional mental glitch where I confuse Kevin Costner with Nicholas Cage).

When asked to point out what Dan has said or writtent hat is arguably cissexist, I googled >> "Dan Savage" transphobia

The discussion over there got extermely heated over the term "cis" or "cisgender," with several people inexlicably calling this retronym a hate term. (Trust me, it's a retronym - if I want to insult someone, I'll refer to them as "cissexist.")

Over here, the discussion seems to have evolved into different directions - but whatever it is, the glitterbombing of Dan seems to have spouted a firestorm of commentary.

I noted that it was a glitterbombing, after all, and not a cream pie.

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 2:10 PM

Tobi Hill-Meyer writes "Then [Savage] repeats his previous assertion that men who are attracted to trans women cannot be considered completely straight".

If he's referring to a straight/queer dichotomy, how is this statement wrong or hateful? I personally see being "straight" as meaning that a person's actions are conformist/reinforcing of societal norms. If trans women are queer, then I would think that those attracted to queer people are also queer. (in the broad umbrella sense of queer). (further, can a trans women be queer while being romantically involved with a externally-identified straight cisgendered male?)

If trans women are not queer, if, as Tobi implies, trans women should be considered equivalent to (cisgendered?) "women", then not only do trans women disappear (by blending in to society), they also actively reinforce ideas of gender norms.

If trans women are not queer, I can't understand how the "T" can be a part of "LGBT"--because the "LGBs" are definitely challenging gender performance. (hate using letters like this :-/)

I'm sure that some of what I said is wrong, so I'm hoping that someone will take the time to respond to this comment and educate me. To be quite honest, I'm pretty confused about how LGBT holds together.

I curious how Dan Savage (for example) is challenging any idea of how men perform gender, is it by virtue of being an openly gay man? Is a closited femme lesbian then not queer because her daily existence doesn't offer the same challenges? Are trans women especially beholden as a group to dismantle or reinforce social gender norms? If so, why?

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 3:04 PM

No one is responsible for dismantling/reinforcing gender norms. People should exist how they want. But I hold activists/advocates to a higher standard (like the writers on this website who discuss LGBT issues).

I hope that, one day, we will all live in a society where genitalia does not determine how we think or act. Gender has an inherent sexual component -- e.g. stereotypes like: girls are supposed to be attracted to boys, girls/boys have to do XYZ to attract the opposite gender; nerdy boys aren't masculine so they won't get any girls, whatever. If you don't follow the dichotomy that society sets up, then you're in some way challenging traditional conceptions of gender, regardless of how you identify. In this context, a femme lesbian is definitely queer.

Dan Savage shouldn't get a free pass for making derogatory/demeaning comments about trans people, but when Tobi writes that Savage is transphobic because "***he doesn't consider trans women to be women***", that suggests that trans women are supposed to blend in with cisgendered women. As a gay man, I find the idea of strict gender boxes to be abhorrent. I spent more than a decade pretending to enjoy manly things. That sucked and I'd prefer to just behave how I like and not have to choose a constraining gender box.

Sorry, I don't have a ton of experience writing about these things, so I hope this made sense.

Oh, and another clarification. You seem to be misunderstanding me here when you interpret my statement that trans women are women as meaning that trans women should blend in with cis women. I do not use "women" to be synonymous with "cis women." When I say "women," I mean "women," and that category can include cis women, trans women, women of color, able bodied women, queer women, straight women, etc.

Now if I had said that it is an insult to interpret queer women as not being women, it would not follow that I want queer women to assimilate into straight culture. The same thing if I was talking about those who don't consider women of color to be women, that would not imply that women of color should blend in with white women.

When any group of people are denied categorical access to their gender, it's an act of dehumanization. When gay men are declared not to be men, when women with disabilities are declared not to be women, and when trans women are declared not to be women, those are each acts of dehumanization. That is what I'm objecting to.

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 4:07 PM

Tori, I get what you're saying. Categorical gender labels should be available to everyone, but it's such a bummer that gender labels must be categorical at all. Why can't the concepts of "women" and "men" are non-rigid, more like loci in a fluid sea of gender performance? (probably because we live in an imperfect, non-understanding society).

I have a very limited understanding of the experience of being transgender* (I'd love links/recommendations that I could read to understand more). My understanding of sex reassignment is that it involves a constellation of surgery and behavioral changes (voice, mannerisms, etc) that "allow" someone to be seen as the gender they desire. Is there actually an accepted set of traits? (if so, wouldn't that be normative in and of itself?) How many traits must a person have before they are allowed to enter a particular categorical gender? (in a theoretical, not legal sense).

*(one source I found really helpful was this awesome column on mcsweeneys Balls Out: A Column on Being Transgendered , written by a trans woman).

We're getting a bit off topic, but let me point you to a good resource: Not Your Mom's Trans 101.

But I will address a more complicated question you asked as well: Is there a set of accepted traits that people aim for when transitioning and is it normative?

You might find some "passing tips" that encourage trans people to adopt gender normative or even hyper-conforming behavior. Plenty of people don't follow those tips. But they are useful to understand as realities. For instance, women in this society are expected to take up less space, men are expected to take up more. Men make a lot more eye contact, women avoid it. Men are encouraged to be sure of themselves even when they are wrong, women are encouraged to be apologetic even when they are right. And of course, there are plenty passing tips that are less directly related to sexism.

As a result, it's true that trans women who are quiet, make themselves small, and let other people run over them are more likely to pass. And it's equally true that trans men who act entitled and misogynist are more likely to pass. And there are cases where it can be a matter of safety to conform to those expectations. However, there are a great many of us, both trans men and trans women, who refuse to do so.

Trans people can conform or refuse to conform to gender expectations just the same way those who are not trans do.

Interesting coincidence (to me, at least):

GenderTrender currently has a thread going about 'transitioning from whie to black', with a large chunk of GallusMag's sarcasm directed at 'rules for how to pass as black', which are of course a bunch of stereotypes about black ppl:

Sorry, I know even way more off-topic. (blushes)

Oh, and for many of us (including me), a lot of those traditional gender behaviors arent something we do to pass, but just how we are, and can finally just express that without being considered mental (unless ppl know we are trans, then we are mental either way). This was something my sister had never understood--she felt I was engaging in behaviors she consdiered stereotypical of women as part of my transition, when it really was the other way around; I was transitioning so I could express those behaviors instead of playing at being a man.

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 6:57 PM

thanks for answering my definitely off-topic questions! :)

Thanks Joe, and you do make sense. I believe that Tobi's comment is in the context where, to Dan Savage, having sex with a trans woman is not totally straight, but then assures a man who enjoys being topped by a woman with a strap-on that he is totally utterly straight. Therein lies the "trans women are not women".

To your over-arching point (are trans women queer?). No more or less so than any segment of the population no matter how you define the word "queer". If you define queer to mean anyone who screws a member of the same sex, then sure, some are/were/will be. If it means anyone that challenges gender norms, then sure, some are - but then so are lots of people who would never ever consider a sexual or romantic relationship with a member of the same sex.

Here, I'll use me as an example. I came out as a gay boy at 15 in a small rural town. I spent the next 5 years being as out as I could and sneaking away to visit the gay bars in neighboring cities (and get as much sex as I could). At 20 I began transitioning and for the past 10 years pretty much just blend in. While the men who date me are aware of/attracted to my status as a trans woman, they largely don't consider themselves as queer. I'm "just" a woman with a slightly different body than most (not counting people who have fetishized my body). Are these guys queer? Am I? Are they more or less queer than a guy gets his wife to poke him in the bottom with a strap-on?

As I said, I blend in. People often forget I'm trans even though I'm hardly quiet about it. Am I breaking or reinforcing gender norms? Is it my duty to do either? How much of your answer has to do with me being trans?

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 3:48 PM

laughrioTgirl, thanks for sharing your story!

Everyone *should* take on the responsibility of questioning their own gender/sexuality/identity instead of blindly accepting the roles that society has assigned to us. [So, I guess you've passed my test :P (totally tongue-in-cheek)]

I clearly have a way-inclusive definition of queer, so I would call everyone in that group queer (so long as they truly accept themselves and their behavior, instead of feeling deviant).

That's why I like the term queer. It can be extremely inclusive.

But how does that relate to men who are attracted to trans women? Does an attraction to me have to imply a man is queer if he does not view himself as queer? How about Dan's assertion that the same man who is turned on by the idea of taking it in the bottom from a woman with a strap-on is totally straight?

It should be noted that I have no investment in maintaining a heterosexual identity in the men who date me, since being gay shouldn't be a bad thing and I had to deal with some pretty intense crap as a gay boy. I also will not accept the denial that I am a woman. This makes the question of the sexual orientation of men who date trans women particularly troublesome for me. In essence, there is no good answer.

I wrote this a while back:

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 7:20 PM

Ultimately, I think of queer as a state of mind. The nice thing about "queer" as a term is that it doesn't connote a particular gender or (to a limited extent) behavioral pattern. I concede that using queer so broadly could be considered equivalent to the privileged "I don't use labels" that you discuss in your blog post.

Your hypothetical is difficult to answer, but I'd draw a distinction like this: if he's only comfortable having sex with you by thinking of you as a straight cis-gendered woman, he's straight; if he enjoys and accepts your gender expression, he's queer; otherwise I have no clue.

not to excuse savage, but I'm guessing that the point of his 100% straight comment was to say: if you enjoy a dildo up the ass from a woman, that doesn't mean you're actually interested in being fucked in the ass by a guy. Which definitely shows Savage reinforcing stereotypical/categorical genders. When he singles out trans women, he's definitely discriminating between cis-gendered and trans-gendered women.

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 3:23 PM

I got an email that "Carol" made a comment on my post, but it's not showing up and I really want to respond to it (and I totally agree with her point):

Ok, so let's say that one of these homophobic trans women (from your perspective; quite possibly that person is seen among many trans women as speaking truth to power) has a situation in life just like Dan Saveage's--she has widespread audience and media attention.
Now, let's say this homophobic trans women denigrates gay men a lot. She routinely uses terms like 'fag', 'swish', 'light-in-the-pants', whatever slurs (edgy epithets?) that are used against gay men. And she calls gay men who do prostitution or porn 'rentboys' or such (I am sure there are far worse things that are used, but don't know anyting about gay porn, personally).

I cringe any time people use the word "tranny" or denigrate transgender people. People who do that are jerks and it's not okay (and sometimes even hateful). I like a lot of what Dan Savage writes and I think his popularity helps spread a more-accepting (if still flawed) message about sexuality and gender-performance. That said, some of the stuff he writes is terrible, dumb, and just not okay. (can I call him a dick if I"m a guy?)

I also must admit that I recognize, deep down, that I have a bit of internal transphobia. I spent so many years trying to "pass" by being a good, non-gay, non-feminine guy, so many years trying to maintain a stereotypical-gender-role, that I now have trouble fully letting go of that desire to pass. I try to recognize and work on that every day, but I can't deny that it's there. (I probably have some internal homophobia too, even though I'm gay...)

I wholeheartedly support the idea that gender is a performance and that it's stupid that we conflate genitalia and gender. But I feel that a subset of transgender people implicitly *support* the rigidity of gender roles by undergoing a sex-change/sex-reassignment. If a transgendered person is attempting to completely change genders, that implies that there are *discrete* genders, and the performance of those genders is inherently stereotypical. I've met a number of genderqueer/genderf*ked people and I strongly identify with that.

But I also recognize that society at large recognizes only two genders, which makes it way harder to have an amorphous, non-defined gender performance. So, it really boils down to this: I have trouble with *anyone* (straight, transgender, gay, queer, whatever) who believes and/or supports rigid gender roles, but I also recognize the need to engage with society as a whole.

I think that comment was to something capitalistpiggy said.

It's sad that we can't just be accepted for who we are, and feel uncomfortable in our own skins. I of course dont know exacly how you feel, but I do feel I can relate a bit, as I have massive amounts of internalized trans phobia, massive self-doubt, and constant feelings of worthlessness (which confessions anyone could certainly use with a clear conscience to question whether a lot of what I have said in this thread is simply projection onto the actions of others; I don't feel that it is, but on the other hand, that is why they call certain aspects of our personalities/behaviors 'blind spots').

For whatever little it may be worth, thinking of you just as you are makes me smile (really, am sitting here smiling, and feeling all warm inside).

Thanks for your comment. :)

Joe wrote:
"But I feel that a subset of transgender people implicitly *support* the rigidity of gender roles by undergoing a sex-change/sex-reassignment."

This is what transphobia is all about... projecting one's own issues onto what trans people supposedly do. Believe it or not Joe, there are people who get (or want) SRS who are not binary identified and there are trans people who are binary-identified yet totally support those who aren't. So, yes, while I appreciation your admission of discomfort with trans persons' bodies (which is pretty obvious from your statement) you still have a way to go in the understanding department.

Joe Anonymous | November 3, 2011 7:58 PM

Ginasf, I'm very comfortable with both of the groups of trans people you identify--I should have emphasized that I felt it was a small portion of the trans (and queer) community. Nearly every trans person I know personally/offline is supportive with those who aren't binary-identified/aren't binary-identified themselves. But I feel like I've read a number of trans people online (*not* the people in this conversation) who seem to rigidly buy into the man/woman dichotomy. I might also, as you suggest, be reading my own prejudices into it. Clearly they are there and probably not fair.

Here's my question though: is it transphobia to be uncomfortable with the subset of (queer) people who support rigid gender roles? I feel this way about lesbians, gays and trans people. I've met a number of gay men who feel the need to assert the masculinity and I feel the same way about them.

It's a good question. No, I'm not the least uncomfortable with their personal expressions of who they are, what their bodies mean to them and where they fit/don't fit in society. Yes, I'm extremely uncomfortable with their putdown statements (based on laziness/ignorance and projecting their own issues where they don't belong) of other people's identities.

I hope that's not a derail, but I think it's one of the reasons many trans people have an issue with Dan.

Joe, I really appreciate the approach you have to asking these questions. Let me show you what I'm talking about.

First off, understand that trans status and sexual orientation are two different things. Some trans women are queer, some trans women are straight. A basic definition says that one is queer because their pattern of attraction includes people who are the same gender as them. Being trans does not make someone queer unless their pattern of attraction includes people who are the same gender as them. Historically, it's worth noting that regardless of actual sexual orientation, trans folks have been considered to be a type of queer by bigots. Because of the large overlap of people who are both trans and queer, as well as the way bigots attack trans and queer people together, led to the coalition between trans and queer people.

Now to the main point. I could understand an argument such as what you are making. If queer means not reinforcing societal norms, then men who are openly attracted to trans women, women who wear pants, and anyone who votes for a third party candidate could all be considered queer. But that's not how Dan meant it.

Here's the key part of the problem. The contrast between how Dan approaches men attracted to trans women and men attracted to (non-trans) women with strap ons. The latter is 100% straight, the former is "at least a little bit bi." And no matter what your definition of straight is, that's a clear double standard. He even created a rule that if a guy is attracted to cock attached to a woman, then it's a straight attraction. Yet he doesn't apply to trans women, making it clear that trans women don't count as women in his mind. And while he is considered an authority on LGBT issues, he is teaching his entire audience to also believe that trans women don't count as women.

Hilarious it's so important that the guy is sleeping with you is considered straight. Right, cause if he's not then people might think your a fag right? It's almost as if these people have created an entire culture and philosophy with academic studies all built arounmd the fact that someone might think they're fags, it's insane. I've had some of these people look me straight in the eye and say they're straight women but have never slept with a man because they wouldn't sleep with gay men before their transition because they're not gay they're straight. Right, cause that would make someone think they might be a fag if they slept with a guy before SRS? It's like 3/4 of their lives are spent thinking of ways to show people that they're not fags, like you'd hear a super closeted self hating homophone talk. You should hear how they talk about bottoms, I wouldn't sleep with men before, I didn't have the right equipment I'm not a bottom! Right cause bottoms are the Uber-fags and someone thinking of you like that is like your both a rapist and pedophile combined, really you should see the violent reaction that someone might think they had anal fag sex before they got SRS.

Female to Males aren't like this, I've talked to some that have told me that they identified as lesbians before trans and they aren't ashamed of it. They don't fly off into a half hour rant if someone mistakes them for a lesbian to explain to you that they're not gay and they're straight men they just correct you about it.

Really get the trans town up it can be a mecca for rich white breeders to go and take lessons on how to be women and come out as spoiled princesses ready to trick a straight guy into sleeping with them. Honey, if you're attractive enough and you know how to make a man want you, you don't have to trick the straight guy, he's gonna want you either way.

Right, I had my SRS stop calling me a trans woman! I'm a real woman! but if someone dares to forget to use the cisgender qualifier when talking about women born as women you blow your load all over them. Right, your the real women they're the lowly cisgenders you can bully and throw shit at. Go away already.


I'm really sorry for the vitriol you've been exposed to on this thread. I've tried to confront some of it, but as a trans woman in sex work myself I reached my limit of what I could deal with and stopped interacting with that part of the conversation. But please don't mistake me for having an elitist perspective around trans identity.

This isn't about who I personally have sex with. As it happens to be, I'm primarily a dyke. The only men I've had sex with have been fags, and the only men I'd be interested in having sex with are queer. So this isn't about my sexual partners, it's about misgendering. And as I pointed out elsewhere in this thread, it's about dehumanizing.

You do touch on an interesting point, that there appears to be much more concern around trans women being seen as gay men than with trans men being seen as lesbians. I wouldn't say this is because trans women are more scared or more weak. Instead, look at the comparative responses.

Trans men often get applauded and supported when they claim a lesbian history. Whole communities idolize (and fetishize) trans men as a part of the lesbian community. It's an insult if you understand what's going on, but it's effect is celebration. On the other hand, when trans women are declared fags, it's often used to deny access to transition, access to resources, to community, or used as a part of a vicious attack.

I would place blame on transmisogyny and those who perpetuate it (who are predominantly cis but at times can include trans people of any gender) instead of with trans women as a whole for supposedly lacking the strength that trans men have.

Tobi, while I agree there is absolutely homophobia in the trans community, I think you're making this a bit too complex. Lesbians = women. Gay men = men. Shocking that trans woman, most of whom have fought and struggled just to have their womanhood acknowledged (even within the queer community) should have issues with somehow being viewed as de facto gay men. Is this so hard to understand?

You realize these people are so homophobic they'll sleep with anyone but a gay man because that might make people think they're a fag. They'll sleep with a bi, straight man or woman, lesbian depending on their orientation. They are so self hating that there dream is to not have to be a transsexual anymore and not be associated with transsexuals (except for windbag rants on the internet apparently), hence all the real woman crap they spew. They despise themselves to the very core and they hate gay men. BTW tons of women would just love to get the pants off a gay guy, so it doesn't make you gay. Taking the hero of the GAY RIGHTS movement and trying to make her into some fag bashing transsexual, she wouldn't give a rat's arse about most of you in your ivory towers.

It's not just people here it's the entire crazy delusional group of them spewing off crap their homophobic gender therapists are telling them, terrified your hormones will get cut off because your homophobic, misogynistic therapist might think you're a homosexual and not a type one died in the wool true Harry benjamin transexual.

You're still not getting it, how much they hate gay men and especially drag queens. If you go to any popular busy ts chat site and just type "gay man" and hit enter the fur will go flying, people acusing each other of just being drag queens and not true transsexuals, asking if you are accusing them of being a gay man or if you are one and if you are you should get out. Then will come at least a five minute rant about taking the T out of the LGB because they're spoiled little princess and all the attention of the entire queer movement isn't focused on them and the fact that they don't get health coverage at their fortune 500 company for facial surgery that they could easily pay out of their own pockets. On Laura's Playground a bunch non-offensive words are censored words like darn I had to ask the staff their twice to get them to censor the words fag and fagotte.

My first ts support group I went to in Vancouver I related that I felt my gender and sexual orientation were mixed together as I started to feel severe gender dysphoria because I started liking men and I think if I hadn't of started liking men then I wouldn't be a transsexual. I also said I came out loud and proud as gay at the age of 14. The rest of the meeting, people making passive aggressive slights about how I may be gay or a drag queen (saying such things like they're dirty gross words, things to be ashamed of being), side of the mouth comments about how I shouldn't come back, then when I left the worst of the lot 6'2"comes to me wigless in her best ex-swat team macho stance and says to me, "Why don't you just go out and sleep with a gay man" like that was the worst insult in the world she could think of. You guys none of this stuff is exaggeration these people really hate you.

Did you see the article about the occupy protest thing about the occupy people respecting trans rights? The first post there. One of these people hates gay so much that she had to go all the way down there to slag the LGB community as well tell lies like "the LGB is using us", that's a straight out lie. Can you imagine these poor occupy people trying to respect trans and all of a sudden some crazy tranny comes flying out to tell them how she's being opressed by lgb people. When they were nodding their heads at you hon they weren't listening and agreeing they were just hoping you would go away. We're being oppressed by fundamentalists and people executing homosexuals in the middle east (not that any of you transsexuals would care about that as it's just a LGB issue). I mean the intersex community seems to get it, they realize when a feminine intersex guy is getting discriminated against it's because people think he's gay and the intersex community seem to be grateful to the lgbt community for what they do.

I also went to look at zoe's site because I wanted to find out who would type such a nasty word for no reason. Well, she's got stuff about intersex people, great stuff about sexual orientation, stuff about transsexuals, everything lgbt related. You see that's doing something constructive, not running down to the occupy protest to slag gay people and throwing around bombs at the HRC (that makes this great pdf called so you think you're trans?). I look on google, oh more stuff from zoe, maybe interesting stuff and it's just you nutbars stalking her all over the internet cause she may or may not have changed her gender like a clownfish. Is it really necessary, all these people you are going after are doing things for people and helping them. Is it really necessary to make a special trip to the occupy protest to spout off homophobia and lies about the gay community. You people are insane, just absolutely nuts. Using your money and privilege you collected when you were rich white men (because that's what you were) to go around bullying everyone.
We need different names ya know so trans people like me can be dissociated from ones like you, so I don't get kicked out of the gay community or the next time you sneak into women only spaces because your pissed off that you have to respect that there just might be a girl there that was raped 5000 times by her dad, brother and uncle and is afraid of a penis. I don't want to get looked at like a chauvinist pig because of you. You know blanchards theory ones like me and Gwen Arujo and Silvia Rivera, you know so when they think of me they think of a cute gay boy blossoming into a woman and then when they think of you they think of ranting exmarines in pantyhose who most drag queens are more woman then. I'm suggesting we keep transsexual and you can call yourselves the GodDamnItImNotGays. Just Go Away.

What can I say Ann, if that's how you're feeling, then you absolutely shouldn't have contact with other women who are trans. You sound pretty bitter, hurt and burnt out, so... take care of yourself.

But please don't come to global conclusions about trans women based on 'what happened in your first support group in Vancouver.' That's like saying the first time I ate a meal I got food poisoning therefore I'm never going to like food ever again. Neither do I think trans people who are critical of Dan Savage (as are MANY gay men I've heard) are therefore homophobic for feeling that way.

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Anarcho-feminist socialist gender outlaws driving around in convertibles at Harvard that just spent the last fourty years of their lives as white straight males at fortune five hundered companies....defending opressed womyn everywhere, fighting for the poor!

When you're getting picked on by homophobic bullies in high school the only way to make it stop is to get all your gay friends together and confront the bullies.

Bragnanymous | November 5, 2011 1:39 PM

You know, you can get bullied for being trans in school, too. They won't do it because they know what that term means or what it encompasses, but because someone challenging their idea of gender norms is threatening to a fragile ego. And the human penchant for fearing what's different.

And while some trans people might, indeed, be extremely rich "ivory tower" types, a lot of us AREN'T. A lot of us are below the poverty level and have trouble finding work, losing the financial and emotional support of families, any number of things.

You paint with too wide a brush. As for the statement of insanity, I hate to tell you, but this can be applied to ANYTHING: homosexuality, bisexuality, you name it. It's just what someone says when they don't understand something and are not willing to make the effort to do so.

As for this Dan Savage thing, it's a lot like the argument over "is tranny an offensive word." It seems to me a lot of cis people in the LGB communities have a pretty strong sense of entitlement over our lives and situations. Not all, but a lot of the ones who comment or blog about it, certainly. They get really defensive when it's brought up that they're using their privilege -- some even scoffing that they, as gay/lesbian/bi people can even HAVE privilege, which is silly -- the way all privileged people do.

They fight tooth and nail to keep using a word that many in the group it applies to, a group they are not in, finds offensive and hurtful. Because how *dare* someone tell them what words are or aren't upsetting? How dare anyone, especially one of *those* people, right? They don't know what's offensive, they're just crazy and over-sensitive. You, as a cis person who doesn't deal with this, you are the only one who can truly say what's offensive or not, right?

There always seems to be this defensiveness in the community any time the topic of transphobia is brought up, and it's pretty unbecoming and petulant much of the time. I'd expect it of conservatives or religious extremists, but I'd have hoped this the LGB community would've been more considerate.

beergoggles | November 3, 2011 9:13 PM

Congratulations. You just treated one of our own like they were Bachmann or a Republican. The Welcoming Committee might as well be peta for all I care about them.

Are you congratulating Dan Savage for talking about trans people in the same way a Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter would?