Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dishing The Tea on "Drop The T"

A very ugly petition hit on the 4th of November that campaigns around a slogan to "Drop the T."

It asks for 6 major LGBT advocacy groups and publications to separate from the transgender community based on selling points that all amount to gross misrepresentations and willful ignorance. After listing a lot of the usual transphobic fear-mongering, it then goes on to state, "Please note that we are not advocating intolerance or prejudice against the transgender community" in a statement arguing to drop legal, media, and political representation for one of the most marginalized gender, sexual, and romantic minority groups on the planet. Clearly, the author has no idea just how violent of a world trans people live in, and is willfully ignorant of the harm they are causing by drafting this unethical garbage. Luckily, it's no longer the 60s and 4 of the 6 groups petitioned have already responded with resounding support for the transgender community.

I caught upon this petition early, and started to see who had already shared it. Considering the sheer level of ignorance found within this petition, I was expecting to find the usual suspects within the TERF community who openly advocate such harmful, and grossly ignorant views. However, what I had found in my initial searches pointed in a different direction; probably a man in the gay community.

A few days later, I stumble upon the following interview in The Federalist. I will spare you the gritty details of how I identified the individual, but let's move right on to the big unveiling of the transphobe behind the curtain that would have been stained with blood if it were written in decades passed:

The author of this petition is a seasoned gay rights blogger who identifies as left-wing, but with racist, misogynistic, and transphobic views that line him up with the neo-reactionary TERF movement quite well. His name is Will Kohler, a gay rights activist in Covington, KY, United States. He owns a blog known as Back2Stonewall. (Facebook Page.)

I will refer to the information referenced from The Federalist interview as simply "Petitioner" and when I refer to Will Kohler, I am referring to his actions which are not intended to be anonymous. Petitioner mentioned that he majored in History in college. Will Kohler graduated from New York University with a major in History. Also, Will Kohler appears to be middle-aged. Petitioner writes that he wanted to attend the Stonewall 25th Anniversary March in New York City back in 1994. Based on his appearance, he would have been slightly older than typical college age around the time of the march.

Mr. Kohler's Twitter account is @Back2Stonewall. It follows Milo Yiannopolis, the neo-reactionary blogger who promoted the petition, and Roseanne Barr the former TV star and TERF. You can also view Mr. Kohler's Disqus profile where you can see he makes trans bashing into quite a hobby.

One can note in the interview, the rather uncommon and ignorant view that Marsha P Johnson was somehow "not transgender" simply because the transgender umbrella (upon which the way was paved by Ms. Johnson's own Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) had not been established yet. As an avowed historian, Mr. Kohler should be aware of how many people who would be clearly seen as transgender now were identified merely as "queens" back then, in spite of how they did not present in a female-typical bodily appearance and/or feminine expression purely for performance, but throughout their daily lives when possible. If you can look at the story of Compton's Cafeteria and say they were not transgender, or look at the revolutionaries in STAR and say they "weren't transgender" simply because we did not popularly use that term as of yet, you are purposely missing the forest from the trees. It is not uncommon for transphobes to suggest that transgender people didn't exist until we came up with the current label, but it is preposterous and cissexist garbage. You can see a similar view asserted on Mr. Kohler's page here.

Mr. Kohler can be seen here yelling at Zoe Quinn (which is a popular pastime for misogynists, I hear) due to his emotional investment in disavowing popular accounts of transgender history.

The following image is quite telling. You can see Mr. Kohler agreeing with a patron of his blog that Johnson and Rivera were not transgender, simply because a different term was used for the same thing, a "street queen." They called the sex workers in the Compton's Cafeteria riot the same term. It's an early term for full-time transgender people. To miss that connection is to be deliberately obtuse for a historian. He also asserts that he is afraid to express his honest opinion about trans people for fear of the backlash with which his violent views would be met. This is mirrored in the Federalist interview.

Here, showing more emotional investment in the placement of Johnson and Rivera at Stonewall, he asks Miss Major Griffin-Gracy for her opinion. After she merely says "I did not run into them," he exaggerates this claim into her saying "they were not there" and then ironically suggests we should "keep personal agendas out of it."

When popular Gay Rights blog "JoeMyGod" ran the story of this clearly unethical and bigoted petition, they labeled it a "HomoCon" (short for Homosexual Conservative) petition. "Petitioner" states in the Federalist interview how frustrated he was by this. Here is Will Kohler throwing a hissy fit on their blog's comments section

While Cathy Brennan's associate Justin Norwood and his laughable Homosexuals NOT Homogenderuals Facebook page is very enthusiastic towards another White-centric misogynistic man creating this petition, Cathy Brennan and Gender Identity Watch have expressed their distaste for both the petition, and the man behind it.

Gender Identity Watch had previously publicly declared Will Kohler a misogynist. (I couldn't agree more.)

Will sure has a habit of framing nearly every instance of trans women defending themselves from intellectual violence and framing it as "overreacting." This is a common misogynistic form of gaslighting that all women constantly see. I'm sure he sees trans women as "irrational" and "overly emotional." He wrote such about Sylvia Rivera

The line from the interview "You can't alter history to make yourself feel better" is curiously similar to his comment here where he says, "They should be remembered for what they did do, not what they didn't do because some trans activist thinks it's kewl."

Another fun little line in the interview about "These labels create a competition of oppression?" Well he hasn't used that anywhere else that I can see. But he sure loves to complain about Oppression Olympics while being oppressive to nearly everyone who isn't a White gay cis man.

For more fun, try searching for the term "@Back2Stonewall privilege" for good evidence on how to say racist things as a White man. One VERY telling tidbit is that you can see from his Disqus profile that he talks about his feelings of transgender participation at Stonewall quite often. He also shared the link to the Drop The T petition within a few hours of it being posted. But the Federalist interview? While it has over 1200 comments and many of the big TERFs are in on it... Mr. Loudmouth "Stonewall wasn't teh trannies!" Kohler is uncharacteristically absent from the discussion. Wonder why he's staying out of that one? Maybe it's because he was the one interviewed and he said all he had to say already?

Mr. Kohler, you have absolutely no idea how much harm you could have caused had your ridiculous petition not fallen on deaf ears. Your worldview is archaic and had the world not progressed beyond it already, the curtain you tried to hide behind while you drafted this petition would have been stained with the blood of many, many people. Our lives are worth more than a silly dispute over who threw what 46 years ago. You can argue all you want about history, but with your drafting this petition, you have thrown a brick in the other direction; attacking the LGBT youth of today who uphold the legacy of those you have a passion for researching. And y'all better quiet down, because this street queen bashes back!

- Melissa Savage

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Come to Jesus Moment for the Trans Celebrity

Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable. It's time we had a talk.

It's easy for someone who identifies as transgender to start talking about the issues affecting them. Trans individuals are often asked "how" and "why" by those they encounter, and oftentimes feel pressured to respond. For trans people in the public eye, the pressure is coupled with a need to maintain or re-craft a public image, and this encourages them to go even further -- oftentimes with tremendous benefit to the community, but occasionally at great detriment.

Just as in every other segment of society there are those who do something well, and those who do not. The perils of a misstep whilst transitioning in the public eye can have immense consequences to the community and set back the narrative, even creating or adding to negative public opinion if someone is not well-informed or educated on the issues.

Simply because you are transgender and in the public eye does not necessarily mean that you are the best person to speak on transgender issues. If you are in the public eye and are invited to speak on trans issues, it is imperative that you do educate yourself fully beforehand. If you have not done your research and don't know all of the intricacies under the trans umbrella, the social factors and negative effects on life of those who transition outside the bubble of Hollywood or the media, then maybe you should allow someone else to speak in your stead.

A recent case in point is Zoey Tur.

Zoey presents herself as a scientist and an expert on transgender issues, yet the fact is that however well-intentioned she may be, her wild and inaccurate claims and attempts to define our narrative have done nothing but cause significant harm to the trans community.

In a recent interview on March 13th (may contain triggers), Zoey showed that she not only lacks the knowledge to speak for the community, but that she has no issues with causing harm in so doing if it results in a media appearance for herself. In the interview, Tur stated that the loss of family, job, housing and friends that often occurs for those who transition, reverses someone undergoes gender confirmation surgery, erasing all other trans identities in her wake. In addition to erasing those within the community who opt to not have surgery or those who want yet can't afford the surgery because it's not covered by their healthcare provider if they're even lucky enough to have one, she publicly re-iterated the TERF and misogynist view that a woman is merely a vagina. In Zoey's eyes, having a penis means you lose everything while having a vagina means that you regain what you have lost. This is not a message that we need to be sending to those experiencing dysphoria with no way to finance GCS surgery in a community with 42 percent suicide attempt rate. It is inexcusable.

As an intersex feminine-of-center person, I also take significant issue with Zoey's claim that "For female to males, it's a little bit different. Many have poly-cystic ovary syndrome...which has a masculinizing effect," and that if they have appropriate estrogen therapy won't have "identity issues." This is simply false. Zoey conflates sex and gender consistently throughout the video, and this is a prime example of her lack of research. Tur's reference was to a study in Japan which showed that there was a high incidence of poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, in those on testosterone therapy - but the study did not have an equal sample of trans-identified males who were not taking testosterone.

The poor understanding of science did not stop there. On the subject of trans athletes, she did correctly state that if a child does not experience puberty and transitions, they will appear cisgender, but then targeted trans athletes by stating that if someone has ever experienced puberty and then transitions, it becomes problematic because they would have an "advantage."  This is something that has been debunked by medical science and the athletic community. The only medical professional who has publicly dissented, has no clear understanding of what being transgender even is.

During the same interview, Tur makes several elevated claims regarding her place in the transgender narrative. Not only does she falsely claim to be the first transgender TV reporter when that title belongs to Eden Lane, Tur takes it one step further and actually has the audacity to compare her struggle to that of the "First black performer who was allowed to be on TV." How someone embedded in the entertainment industry and coming from a place of extreme white privilege can compare their experience with that of people of color, is both insulting and unconscionable. Transgender women of color are being killed at epidemic levels in this country. Black people of all genders and expressions are at a significant disadvantage where it comes to institutionalized racism, employment, housing, income and the judicial system. Ms. Tur's experience does not even come close to comparing with that of a transgender person of color, or even that of  Ethel Waters. Her wild comparisons simply speak to her not-so-thinly veiled willingness to readily co-opt others' struggles in an attempt to gain personal notoriety and celebrity.

Even more startling is what was not contained in her recent interview. Tur has publicly reposted anti-trans TERF bigotry using her twitter account where she ENDORSES the author's message, which is that in her view trans women are a danger in public restrooms, even though there is only a single incident on record.

Zoey fails to acknowledge the simple fact that just because one apparent transgender woman punched a cisgender woman in a restroom, it does not make trans or transfeminine people an overall danger. In the same way that cisgender women aren't in overall danger from other cisgender women, despite stories such as this on,e where a cis-woman attacks another cis-woman with a crowbar in a restroom.

Zoey misses the point that there are far more stories of cisgender on cisgender crime in restrooms than there are transgender on cisgender, and conversely more cisgender attacks on transgender people reported.

Is this a deliberate attempt at changing the narrative around transgender issues by someone who believes in surgical essentialism and transsexual separatism from the trans umbrella, or just an attempt to cash-in on the recent increase of visibility of trans women in the media? Either way, Tur appears to be speaking solely for herself.

To those in the media -- please be responsible and stop giving airtime to someone so ill-informed and ill-educated on the issues as Ms. Tur, when there are plenty of others in the public eye who are truly experts in the field - not simply because they are transgender, but because they have educated themselves with the issues - the social, scientific, and physical realities of what it means to be transgender, even if it's not underneath their own pane on the umbrella.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dear Queer People: Stop Apologizing To Heteronormativity

With great dismay this morning I read a piece on Huffington Post by Brooke Sopelsa, in which she calls for the queer community to stop policing the verbiage used by the straight community.

Frankly, I was shocked to see an Andrew Sullivan style of blatant heteronormative apologism grace the pages of HuffPost Gay, which is normally a bastion of pushing LGBT voices to the forefront in the fight, and yes, it IS a fight, for equality.

In the piece, Sopelsa says:
We are making many of our allies and potential future allies feel as though they have to walk on eggshells...aren't properly addressing their "privilege"

Very little social change has occurred in the history of the United States without speaking out or acts of civil disobedience. The gains in marriage equality and LGBT rights come on the heels of decades of queer marches, demands, and legal challenges. They did not come from trying to not offend heteronormativity. Using Sopelsa's analogy, they did not come from deliberately attempting to protect heteronormative people from walking on eggshells, they came from breaking those eggshells and making an omelette.

Let's briefly take a look at the privilege of heteronormativity for a moment. In many states, LGBT people can be fired for being queer, be refused housing, and some states even still have sodomy lawsI haven't even mentioned the privilege over those under the trans umbrella yet - the privilege not to be slaughtered for wearing the clothes they want to wear, the privilege to be able to make jokes at our expense, to call us derogatory names, the privilege of not having people ask in a matter-of-fact way as to what your genital configuration may be, the freedom to use restrooms unmolested, the security of knowing that you won't be thrown in the wrong jail if you're ever arrested, and the security of knowing that you won't be arrested simply for what you're wearing, especially if you're of color.

As queers we almost have a responsibility to speak out and tell straight people what we do and don't find acceptable. We're supposed to be fighting for equality, not hoping not to be noticed and passively accepted. 

If you're not, you're doing it wrong.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Allison Woolbert Exposed Part One

falsify information, and cause harms to other individuals in order to do so.   

Her address, 9 Orchard Circle is not owned by her, its owned by one Irving Crespi, who according to Google is deceased, and the property is in the care of one Robert Crespi.

The interesting thing about Irving is his career was in researching the  manipulation of  public opinion.
This is apparently Ms. Woolbert has been doing from the beginning.  How did she come to live there and why is she living in a dead mans house, whose career was built on researching ways to change public views? One must question the manner in which Ms. Woolbert came into the trans community and rose to such a prominent position without anyone having any direct knowledge of who she was, or is now, or what her true motives were.  She appears to be a master manipulator with connections to high places.  According to an anonymous source (we are protecting their identity for their safety) who was friends with Allison,  stated that she rented this house very cheaply from Mr. Crespi because they were friends of her family.  One wonders how much “help” these friends of the family have given her.

For those that might doubt this is the same Irving we have verified that this house belonged to the same Irving Crespi who wrote that paper.
The Chicago tribune has an Obituary for him having his date of death march 18 2004.
A lookup of  Irving Crespi in public records shows he lived at 9 orchard circle with the same year and month of death, as well as the same age.
And then the worst part of this investigation, thus far,  came to light.
Ms Allison Woolbert  is a convicted child rapist. How the law defined this act, in 1991, was as a penetrative act, unlike classifications of aggravated sexual assault today. Worse yet is that because her conviction predates 1994, she was not required to register on New Jersey’s Sex Offender Registry database, making it more difficult for anyone to discover this information unless conducting a criminal record check. In fact, Nametheproblem, a TERF website keen on smearing trans women, consistently writing about what they claim are violent trans women, also passed over this conviction. Now stop and read that one more time.

Questions have since been raised, if Nametheproblem could have been aware of this conviction for some time, and if this conviction was hidden for possible future use, which would be a significant disservice to all people, no matter who they are.  Once the group conducting this investigation – the authors of this article – began to look, it took under 5 minutes to have a complete record of this information. This further lends to the possibly that this information was already in the hands of individuals running, and associated with, Nametheproblem. One must question, if the information was not being held for alternative reasons, how it could have been missed. With little work we found an actual predator, which is extremely odd as they have devoted significant time to looking for things just like this. Is this gross incompetence or a possible situation of blackmail?
Allison Woolbert has a conviction for 1 count of Aggravated Sexual Assault in the 1st degree in New Jersey against a minor under the age of 16 who is also a relative. As a bit of background on what that charge specifically means, the law in question,  2c:14-2a,  reads as follows:
Aggravated Sexual Assault is codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a, which provides:
  1. An actor is guilty of aggravated sexual assault if he commits an act of sexual penetration with another person under any one of the following circumstances:
    1. The victim is less than 13 years old;
    2. The victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years old and
      1. The actor is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree; or
      2. The actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim by virtue of the actor’s legal, professional, or occupational status; or
      3. The actor is a resource family parent, a guardian, or stands in loco parentis within the household;
    3. The act is committed during the commission, or attempted commission, whether alone or with one or more other persons, of robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault on another, burglary, arson or criminal escape;
    4. The actor is armed with a weapon or any object fashioned in such a manner as to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a weapon and threatens by word or gesture to use the weapon or object;
    5. The actor is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and the actor uses physical force or coercion;
    6. The actor uses physical force or coercion and severe personal injury is sustained by the victim;
    7. The victim is one whom the actor knew or should have known was physically helpless, mentally defective or mentally incapacitated.
We aquired public court records of the case. At this point, we would like to warn readers about deadnaming of Ms. Woolbert here. This is an extremely unfortunate situation. Even though it is absolutely necessary to detail her heinous crime, there is no way to do so without using her deadname. However, this does not mean that this information, or Ms. Woolberts identity, are any less valid. We, the writers as well as the undersigned, ask you to not use her deadname and still refer to her as Allison Woolbert.

As you can see from the public records the rape in question happened to a minor and Ms. Woolbert was sentenced to six years in prison for this crime, it is yet unclear if Ms. Woolbert was in a capacity to care for this relative child, who is now an adult, but it is clear that this child was directly related to her, as designated by the “rel” in the above screenshots.
Upon learning of this information, members of the trans community, prompted by the authors of this article, apparently asked Ms. Wolbert directly about the information uncovered through this investigation. This is the point when Allison Woolbert seems to have panicked about what was uncovered and began to engage in further lies and manipulation of the information in an attempt to control its release and grossly misrepresent the nature of her crime, when this investigation began, and how it would proceed.

On January 7th, one day after this investigation was initiated, Ms. Woolbert drafted and published a release detailing  information about her crime. However, this release, on its own, is full of significant misinformation. When the release was first made, Ms. Woolbert dated it two days prior to when the information was actually presented to her, as you can see from the following screenshot.

As has already been mentioned, this release was made on January 7th, and not on January 5th. The writers of this article believe that this was a further attempt by Ms. Woolbert, to conceal information and represent what was know about it, when it was known, who knew it, and the purpose of finding the information. There are very few know organizations that do not have an auto-date feature built into their software, which lends to the fact that this was intentionally manipulated.

This apparent backdating of when this article was released is believed to be significant. Upon publication of this information, It took only a few hours, at most, for Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) to find it. So, had Ms. Woolbert actually published the release when she had initially claimed (it has since been changed to the actual date), TERFs would have immediately found this information. This act of deception, coercion, and manipulation of individuals and information is only  an addition to the long, well established, history of Ms Woolbert. It is also interesting to note that this investigation was initiated because of allegations of fraud, deception and abuse. It is notable that none of the individuals involved in this investigation, nor the authors of it put what was, and still is, an ongoing investigation into Ms. Woolbert’s activities in the public sphere. Once it was brought to the attention of Ms Woolbert, she began an immediate campaign to create a narrative where she has painted herself as a victim, but also smear the writers, and by extension publisher, of a story that did not yet exist.

It is reasonable for one to believe or assume that the explanation given by Ms. Woolbert (contained in the first screencap below) is also misleading in an attempt to manipulate the situation. Also, the research into her background wasn’t done until the 6th, as evidenced in the second screencap.

Additionally, Ms. Woolbert’s statements  go a significant distance in downplaying her actual crime by using language that disguises the nature of it, is less than critical of her actions, and diverts attention from additional issues that have been raised or fails to address them at all. The way people use language can tell a lot about what is being said, it can reveal intent, display micro- and macro aggressions, as well as develop specific narratives, all of which are present in this release. Ms. Woolbert stated this about the crime.

This is a mischaracterization of the nature of the crime in what seems an apparent attempt to sway public opinion about what her crime was by failing to name what she has done, in addition to using soft language to describe such. It was not just an “unconscionable behavior as a human being”, this was the violation of another human being body through sexual penetration, which constitutes rape. It is the ultimate form of intimidation and control of another human being. This failure to name what she did is extremely manipulative and demonstrative of what appears to be an inability to own her past and what she has done. Remember, that soon after TVTP was started, Ms. Woolbert had absolutely no problem permanently marking Parker Malloy for words, despite the nature of them. However, when the situation involves Ms. Woolbert, the goalpost move quickly and misdeeds must be forgiven. How can an organization that is headed by an individual that conceals their past and only reveals that when other find out about it,  goes to lengths to whitewash that past, and also crucifies others for words,  but expects different accountability for their own actions have any legitimacy? At every turn Allison Woolbert has made the wrong decision, and this emphasizes such. How can an organization headed by this person be viewed with any legitimacy in light of this crime, or any of the other significant issues raised?

This need for power and control is also evidenced in the statement itself – in its very first paragraph.

Notice the apparent attempt to control the information. It would be appropriate for one to believe that given this need to control and manipulate things, having a narrative coming directly from her allows her to direct as much attention as possible, given the circumstances of her crime, elsewhere. This is characteristic of the behavior that seems to be consistent throughout everything detailed thus far about Allison Woolbert.

This is not the end of what need to be looked at in Ms. Woolbert’s release. She also had this to say:

While it may be true that Ms. Woolbert has made earnest efforts to avoid and additional harm to her victim, a family member, it also seems likely that Ms. Woolbert has avoided any sort of disclosure about this past because of the negative effects it would have on herself. This crime, in the context of the work Ms. Woolbert has undertaken, presents an extreme ethical problem and a conflict of interest when that crime is not disclosed, in any manner.

Every person deserves a benefit of the doubt in situations of past histories. People do things that are terrible, but these things can be recovered from if people acknowledge and learn from what they have done, moving forward in their lives. However, when an individual places themselves in a position where they work with victims of any sort of abuse, it is unacceptable to do so without disclosing that previous history. Not doing so presents a situation in which that person tries to hide that past, would be an ethical violations by the standards of most organizations, and grounds for immediate dismissal. In addition, the exposure of that past can be, understandably, extremely traumatizing to an individual subject to similar abuse, especially when it is in context of a community that is already victimized by abusers. Until the point when this investigation began, and allegations were brought to Ms. Woolberts attention, there was no disclosure of that information made. It is entirely reasonable to believe that had this investigation not been conducted into Ms. Woolbert’s past, she may have never disclosed this horrible past as a sex offender who violated a child, continuing to promote herself as something she is not – A rapist.

The final section of Woolbert’s  statement reinforces much of the manipulation and misdirection outlined in these words.

It seems reasonable on the surface that Woolbert it making a genuine attempt to rectify the concealment of her violent criminal past; it looks as if it is a way to make whole the various ethical issues that her lack of disclosure has created, however, this could be farther from the truth. The “Board of Trustees” that Woolbert mentions is a hand-picked, close group of her friends. At best, this is only a disingenuous attempt to do the right thing. It is however more likely that this hand picked group of friend that directly benefits from a relationship with Ms. Woolbert would produce little more than a shell game where Woolbert feigns regret, is “removed” from her position to maintain any legitimacy, but remains in-charge. It is also likely that this hand picked group of friends do nothing and claim that this willingness to disclose (remember, this was concealed until the moment Woolbert knew it was going to come out) her history as a rapist showed her reform and suitability for the position.

As mentioned  earlier, this investigation began on January 6th. It has been an in progress article since the moment that Ms. Woolbert’s past came into the light of day. Until that point, as has already been mentioned, Ms. Wolbert made absolutely no attempt to disclose this information and presumably never would have, had it not been discovered by the writers of this article and those assisting with the investigation.

Stay tuned for the continuation of this multi-part series

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transitive Thoughts: Uncut

This is the long version of the Huffington Post article in it's complete, unedited form:

Over the course of this past weeks, I have experienced more profound doubt about my gender transition than at any other time since I earnestly began my journey last December. As the anniversary approaches, I cannot help but notice the gradual yet significant decline in social acceptance, which appears to correlate with becoming visibly further feminized. As anyone who takes the path of transition is painfully aware, there are many obstacles to overcome on the way to acceptance. Family, friends, and co-workers are the front lines in the battle for authenticity and can often make or break the transgender individual.

Perceptions of invalidation (e.g., certain telling facial expressions, length and nature of others' eye contact, nonverbal body language, misgendering), however small, build a composite picture of how society tends to view and react to you. Patterns of biases, sensitivities, and preoccupations become strikingly apparent. It is the culmination of experiencing isolated social slights, viewing inaccurate and unflattering media representations, and learning of the constant violence perpetrated against other transgender individuals that makes it seem as though the whole of society is actively attempting to prevent you from being - and being seen and accepted as - anything other than a member of your gender designated at birth. Others' willful denial of your personal truth and constant questioning of your authentic emotions and intentions communicates a deep disapproval that ostrasizes, exhausts, and disheartens.

Misgendering a trans woman, especially after having heard her referred to as a woman or having heard the correct female pronouns used in reference to her or by the individual herself, is frequently a deliberate act. This act is meant to communicate to us "I know what you REALLY are," and serves to invalidate us by denying our autonomous perspective. Intentional misgendering says "This is a game" (as opposed to the reality of our life experience), "I have the power" (as opposed to honoring an individual's power to define themselves) and "I am not playing by your rules" (because I have dismissed them as unworthy, unacceptable, or inauthentic). When someone decides to call someone presenting as female a "man" or someone with male presentation a "woman," it is a deliberate attempt to demean that person, “othering” them and exposing their identity and personhood as "invalid."

Recently, I have been experiencing difficulties from transitioning in the workplace, issues that are repeatedly experienced by all but a very small minority of those of us who transition in-situ whilst remaining with our pre-transition employer

Some of the abuse comes from a lack of understanding. Some of it comes from religious background. To some I am a freak, to others I am the devil. This reflects the experience of the majority of the transgender community.

In addition to facing what is becoming a hostile work environment, last week I was misgendered and questioned over which single-occupancy restroom I used while visiting a local bar. Due to the immense pressure to conform to social expectations and the desire to rid myself of the daily alienation I had been feeling, a few dreadful, nagging question crossed my mind demanding to be addressed: If “gender identity cannot and should not be changed” (The National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2014), and conscious change in physical presentation and appearance is the only possible way to liberate oneself from these degrading social harms, would my life be any better if I temporarily detransitioned to try and stabilize my current situation? In other words, if the act of transitioning coincides with the increase in social rejection and job insecurity I have been struggling through, can I neutralize the cause and experience a reprieve from those negative effects? While I had decided long ago that suppressing my sense of self was no longer an option, as recent events unfolded, they called into question whether I can truly accomplish what I seek in my transition.

To equip myself with the knowledge necessary for answering this question about detransition honestly and realistically, I committed myself to extensive introspection and research.

Speaking from first-person perspective, I have always been a girl. I have always walked with a natural sway. I have always communicated using my hands. My facial expressions, demeanour and mannerisms have been commented on by others throughout my life. I was also always assumed to have been gay even though I had never found all but a handful of extremely feminine men attractive and exclusively dated women. My body was modified by testosterone to make me fit the male role that was decided for me at birth, and my transition was to completely undo those effects. A truly lofty goal that with hindsight potentially set me up for failure, or at best, my recent doubts. The same desire to become thinner, more feminine than I already was, and dare I say, pretty. The same desire that so many refer to as "passing" in the community. This destructive need to feel that we will somehow match the feminine ideal, or for my trans brothers, the masculine ideal, is something that we must conquer in addition to seeking to aleviate the external pressures.

We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we must appear to be as close as possible to the feminine or masculine ideal laid out in fashion magazines, the media, T.V., and the movies. For a As trans women, we generally expect ourselves to be thin, pretty, have large breasts and small yet noticeable curves. Trans men generally expect themselves to be buff, muscular, and tall. We must seek to free ourselves from the burden of destructive perfectionism. We must come to accept that just as there are many different shapes and sizes of cisgender individuals, there will be many different shapes and sizes of transgender individuals. The fashion ideal kills some cisgender women, just as it kills some transgender women. Bodily dysphoria is not just a transgender issue, it's also an issue that affects society as a whole. Unfortunately, the effect on our community, one that suffers greatly the crippling effects of dysphoria, is markedly greater.

It has become apparent to me that we need to come to terms with what is physically attainable, and what is not. We need to stop modeling ourselves on the cisgender ideal. While I have the utmost respect for Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, and all other transgender women who fit the media model of beauty that the vast majority of us will never attain, we need to stop comparing ourselves to them. Instead, we need compare ourselves to where we were before we started transitioning, and where we are now. We need to embrace those positive changes that occur in our minds, and to our bodies - to love and accept what we have and who we are, rather than try to model ourselves on others or compare ourselves to how others look. No matter how dysphoric, how masculine you might feel that you look, there are cisgender women who are far more masculine and far less closely represent the normative image of attractiveness. The majority of us will not be fashion models, we will not develop the perfect figure, and we won't be accepted by people outside our community until we start to accept ourselves. Self-acceptance breeds confidence, and confidence is what's needed to help change opinion around us.


The identities of those who detransition do not delegitimize the identities of trans people.
Universalizing the individual experience of detransition is a fallacious tactic which, when employed, is a detriment to all transgender people who deserve social validation of their identities.
Attempting to universalize any experience is inherently oppressive. This includes the emotional response of regret as well as the physical act of detransitioning. (Detransition And Trans* Regret).

There are many reasons why a trans person would not be logistically able to alter their external appearance through medical transition, including but not limited to the financial burden of transitioning, the threat transitioning might pose to their current employment situation or living arrangement, as well as a myriad of other equally valid personal reasons. In addition, ability and practicality aside, some trans* people simply do not feel that medical transition is a step necessary for reaching their goals, finding happiness, and gracing the world with their authentic selves.  Still, many trans people, especially those with a binary trans identity, have the desire to alter their presentation in some way so that it more closely aligns with their gender identity.

Gender Advocacy Training & Education (GATE) conducted the “2011 Transition Survey,” a study meant to examine “the impacts of medically‐assisted transition (the process of changing one’s outward gender presentation with hormones and/or surgery to better align with one’s gender identity) on the lives of 448 transgender people” (Close, 2011, p.1). The sample included a diverse sample of individuals who identified as “men, women, or a non-binary gender (something other than exclusively man or woman)” (Close, 2011, p.1). As depicted in the following graph of rates of post-transition satisfaction, this study found that of those who transitioned, 94% of trans* people reported that their quality of life improved, 96% reported that that their sense of well-being improved, and approximately 90% said that their overall personality improved (Close, 2011).

Including the participants who had undergone both hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery (GCS), the overall transition satisfaction rate never dipped lower than 90%. Clearly this study supports the assertion that, for the large majority of people who choose and are able to undergo medical transition, the increase in the alignment between their external appearance and their gender identity as a result result  is markedly more favorable and significantly more affirming than their experience prior. Despite the evidence illustrating that the overwhelming majority of transitioners experience substantial if not complete satisfaction, I was still amazed to learn that approximately 1% of transgender men and women who transition do ultimately decide to follow through with detransitioning, and do so for exactly for the same reasons I contemplated it myself: self-acceptance, acceptance in the workplace, acceptance by friends and family, and acceptance by society as a whole.

However, this is far from the whole story.

Of those who do detransition, the vast majority regret that decision. Anti-LGBT websites repetitively and disproportionately publicize stories featuring a handful of people who claim that they truly regret transitioning. The number of people who actually do seem to have regrets do so not based on alterations of their personal identities or the absence of a need to present as their true gender, however. The regret these individuals feel stems from the reactions they receive from society. The disdain of and exclusion from those to whom they are closest - and for whom the acceptance of their authentic selves matters most - is so deeply affecting that it causes them to regret the painful interactions and damaged relationships. An unfortunate reality of being transgender is the very high likelihood of facing disapproval, ridicule, and exclusion within some of one's most intimate, meaningful relationships. Spouses, partners, children, parents,friends, schools, neighbors, or church leaders may not support the desperate need to transition because it is a path they are unwilling to understand or condone. Misgendering, disownment, aversion, and violence are not behaviors that are relegated to unnamed bigoted strangers. None of those who vocally express their displeasure will take into account the unique wishes, beliefs, feelings or needs of the other person.

Being misgendered or harassed is not about the choice to transition. These behaviors are about some people’s unwillingness to respect others’ decisions even when they have very little if any effect on them personally. Intentional misgendering as a form of harassment says nothing whatsoever about one's overt appearance, progress, attractiveness, or personhood. Sadly, although the burden of responsibility for experiencing and expressing this prejudice should be that of the perpetrator, the trans people who are victimized by these actions must deal with the resulting interpersonal and institutional discrimination, often with very little consideration from those in positions of power capable of alleviating these outcomes.

One of the most public accounts of detransition is the story of L.A. Times sportswriter Christine Daniels. In 2007 they publicly announced their trans identity. Approximately a year later, Christine Daniels detransitioned, reassuming the name Mike Penner. Within two years of their initial decision to transition, Mike Penner committed suicide. Christine worked in the same office as their wife, who had expressed her wish to avoid contact with Christine and subsequently initiated a very painful divorce. In addition to having experienced this difficult loss in their personal life, Christine’s sportswriting career made them a public figure in L.A., where they were known as a visibly trans woman and received many criticisms regarding their looks. The decision to detransition was apparently based on a desire to reunite with their wife, which,despite Christine following through with this decision,did not ultimately happen.

Although she did not fully detransition, the now infamous Renée Richards is an example of someone who was not satisfied with their decision to undergo GCS (gender confirmation surgery) and voiced regrets about the process of transitioning more generally. Various accounts from those who knew Renée as well as a few of her public statements in interviews indicate that her regret was due to the negative effects transitioning had on her life and the lives of her family members. Richards has since been wary of the effectiveness of the transitioning process and in opposition to surgical procedures more specifically. Although she continues to warn fans against transition when they request her advice, according to various news outlets, she has assumed the role of Bruce Jenner’s transition coach .

Richards is quoted as saying:

"It's not something for somebody in their 40s to do, someone who's had a life as a man, - - - If you're 18 or 20 and never had the kind of (advantages) I had, and you're oriented in that direction, sure, go ahead and make right what nature didn't. But if you're a 45-year-old man and you're an airline pilot and you have an ex-wife and three adolescent kids, you better get on Thorazine or Zoloft or Prozac or get locked up or do whatever it takes to keep you from being allowed to do something like this.''
- Renée Richards, The Associated Press, February 1999.

I finally had to acknowledge and accept the fact that I will continue to struggle with social ills like transphobia and transmisogyny for the rest of my life and that calling a “time-out” from the negative repercussions of social prejudice is not a realistic option. It became clear that suppressing myself after working so hard on coming to terms with who I am would be to the detriment of my mental and emotional health. detransitioning would perpetuate the very preexisting dangers which caused me to investigate and ultimately pursue transition with steadfast conviction approximately one year ago. Regardless of whether or not stalling the progress I have been making with my transition would alleviate some of the external dangers I have been facing, doing so wouldonly alter others' perceptions of my presentation, not erase my identity. Halting the logistical process of paperwork, hormones, and presentation would not assuage my undeniable yearning for society's perception of me to be congruent with my perception of myself. As Brynn Tannehill stated in her keynote speech at the 2014 TransPride National Convention, “...establishing our realness, and gaining acceptance of who we are doesn’t start with convincing other people we are real […] The difference between tolerance and acceptance is our spiritual survival. Even more specifically, though, our goal is acceptance of our identities, both internal, and external.”This overwhelming need for both ourselves and others to accept and validate our true gender identities is what makes detransition a non-option for me because in choosing external approval, I would necessarily be sacrificing my sense of self.

Knowing the necessity of both transition and social acceptance, I lament that there is no simple fix for the pervading intolerance and hatefulness exhibited by a significant portion of today's society. I believe with conviction that the only way to challenge and ultimately change others' stereotypes, intolerance, and prejudice is by living authentically as an example. The pressure from society to conform to the idea of a gender binary is great. This pressure causes many trans people to live in fear rather than to live authentically, at times feeling as though detransition is the only avenue which might allow themto retain the relationships and abilities that matter most to them in life. The normativity of traditional binary gender roles contributes to the remarkably high suicide rate of transgender people. Institutional and interpersonal discrimination will continue to claim the lives of trans people until the existing social climate undergoes radical change. The transgender community is not large enough or strong enough to do this by ourselves. We need the help of our allies to fight the pervading transphobia and anti-transgender sentiment plaguing the majority of Western society today.

Trans people need your help. In order to promote an accepting and informed public opinion, we need need assistance educating the general public, exposing falsehoods about trans identities, and increasing the visibility of authentic trans narratives in mainstream media. To put it frankly, although there are exceptions, the majority of mainstream “LGBT” organizations have demonstrated their lack of knowledge and preparedness when it comes to acting as authentic allies to transgender people.

While many forms of systematic oppression overlap within the queer and trans communities, the resources and solutions needed to combat transphobia, transmisogyny, and violence against trans POC are not exactly the same resources and solutions that have been made the most prevalent and publicized in the current and ongoing LGB legislative and social agenda. Marriage equality and freedom from discrimination based on sexual preference legislation often negate to speak to the disproportionate level of discrimination and acts of violence against those within the transgender community.

The LGB have repeatedly faltered in their demonstrations of allyship, inclusivity, and compassion. To celebrate our successes together and enjoy the liberation of establishing and maintaining our fundamental human rights together, we have to stand together. None of us is safe and free i this world until we are all safe and free. The first step in actualizing our mutual goals is to make the inclusion of  transgender people in LGB groups and organizations the standard. Taking the time to listen is and will continue to be integral in understanding that the while the social resources and institutional rights that the trans community needs (and of which we are systematically deprived) often overlap with the LGB (marriage equality and adoption rights being two offhand examples), our social standing and therefore the solutions for combating it are certainly not identical to those of the LGB. Empathy for one another should be an effective motivator for individuals to educate themselves so that we can gain real footing in changing some of the external factors that regularly result in the deaths of our friends and chosen family members.

We cannot do this alone. LGB brothers and sisters, we need your help to educate the general public and to help us change public opinion. But first we need to come together. There is a perception within the transgender movement that mainstream LGBT organizations have for many years brushed aside the transgender community. On paper, this does appear to have been the case. However, objectively, one can see that the transgender community shares some of the blame. We have failed to educate the LGB adequately on transgender issues, and have been quick to assign blame when we're not invited to the table. I would like to urge those of you involved in the struggle for human rights to please consider how your organization can help the transgender community catch up in earnest. We have been fighting with you since the very early days of the gay rights movement. Please consider fighting alongside us now, in this our time of need. If you are part of a group with an LGBT focus, please include transgender people in your groups and organizations. I ask that you listen to our needs with open minds and embracing hearts, and allow yourselves to become educated on our commonalities and our differences. 

We have been fighting with you since the very early days of the gay rights movement. Please consider fighting alongside us now, in our time of need. We need your help as much as we need to help ourselves.

In close, I wish to thank Jac Cichocki, on whom I greatly relied for their research skills, their empathy, and their strength. Thank you <3