I believe one of the reasons Pam asked me to be a permanent guest barista at The Blend is because I post often on transgender issues, with a goal of educating the broader LGBT community about transgender issues. She and I share a belief in embracing diversity and tolerance, so I’m grateful for the opportunity Pam’s provided to me to initiate discussions regarding gender identity and expression in terms of diversity and tolerance here at The Blend.
And yet, being an out transwoman has left me feeling stung a few times here at The Blend — specifically by people of trans history. For example, in response to a recent diary I wrote, a blender referred “the full time transvestites” (read: transgender people) in stating that she was “not now nor was I ever transgender.” Another blender stated that “Hiding in the [trans] ghetto may work for some, but in the long run, it stunts your growth.”
So, I think it’s time we in The Blend discussed how the baristas use the terms transgender and transsexual here, as well as what some ground rules are for discussing transgender, transsexual, and gender identity and expression related issues here at The Blend.
Unfortunately, it appears we need to discuss the ground rules in terms of the muckier details of discussing transgender issues here at The Blend — specifically keeping this blog a safe place for trans identified people to discuss trans issues and politics with non-trans-identified folk.
So, we start this discussion regarding harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful or widely offensive terminology used at The Blend about transgender people below the fold.Well, the other baristas and I use the term transgender in the most commonly used “umbrella” description of the term, and not in the how any variant of the term may have been originally conceived by Virginia Prince. We do include pre-op, non-op, and post-op transsexual people as falling under the transgender umbrella in our use of the term, as well as counting crossdressers, genderqueers, and other gender variant folk as also being under the umbrella.
Again, this is the common use of the term transgender throughout the activist community as the term has evolved, vice how the term may have been conceived. If you don’t like how we use the term transgender here at The Blend as an umbrella term, then this likely isn’t going to be your kind of blog.
When discussing civil rights (such as employment protections) for transgender people, gender identity and expression is the phrase that has come to be understood as covering transgender people. But, by no means are trans people the only gender variant folk that are covered by that legal phrasing: Men and women who don’t fit the gender norms of our broad western society — such as effeminate gay men or masculine lesbian women, for example — would also be covered by the term gender identity and expression.
Personally, I’m retired from the military, and I’m retired from work-a-day world period due to disabilities. I’m not going to experience employment discrimination in my future because frankly, I’m done being employed. Knowing that I’m forever done with work led to me to the choice of living as an out transwoman — vice the other choice of transitioning into invisibility. I could have faded within passing privilege a long time ago, but I don’t. There are transyouth, as well as not yet out of the closet trans folk, who could use some public examples of mature folk to reference and/or emulate.
And this is because transsexual people belong to the only LGBT subcommunity that members graduate from. When one thinks about it, graduation makes sense — transsexuals don’t usually come out as trans to be publicly identified as transgender their whole lives. Instead, most come out to live as their target sex. And, since transsexuals make up the largest portion of the visibly out transgender community, activists in the LGBT community will often see a high turnover of who’s out as transgender. It’s not that transsexuals that graduate from the trans community are necessarily living completely stealth lives, but often it’s that trans people just move to living their lives as the gender that they are.
So, I’m out as transsexual and transgender not for what I can get from transgender community, nor is it because I want to be “third gendered.” I stay out to the world because some trans folk need to stay out for the next generations of transitioners, if for no other reasons than to a.) work for the next generation’s civil rights and protections, and b.) to provide examples of out trans people.
Here at The Blend, I’m embraced by my peer baristas and most blenders as female, transgender, and transsexual; however, there are some Blenders who refer to people like me as living in a “transgender ghetto”. The assumption appears to be that the process of sex and gender transitioning isn’t completed unless one stops publicly identifying as transgender, and one stops hanging out with other people who identify as transgender.
And, there are less congenial comments about out trans people than we live in a “transgender ghetto”. In diaries I’ve written here at PHB, I’ve read comments left by others that attack non-transsexual, transgender identities, with less than inclusive sounding comments. For example:
- “I am sick of transgenders invading the lesbian community. I do not consider people with penises to be women…”
- “That is what makes people with transsexualism different from transgenders. We only live transworld for a short time then we become women and say good bye to the queens.”
- “Transgender as umbrella is a li [sic], it exists only as a set of identity politics that is rather Stalinistic [sic] in its intolerance of any deviation from its party line.”
- I feel strongly against and do fight against the CD’s, fetish freaks, gender benders and those claiming to be “transgender”(and the “transgender politicalist” want to absorb all of these to any degree) to have legal right to use the women’s restroom.
- Embracing the identity politics of transgender is a way of saying, “I want to dress as a woman, not get SRS and keep all my male privilege but be treated like a woman.”
- “Transgenders are transvestites with word games about gender.”
- “Transvestites aka transgenders need to have transsexuals included in transgender in order to legitimize their position even if it is at the expense on women and men who just want to get on with their lives as most do within several years of their sex change operations.”
There is a basic civility we attempt to preserve in The Blend, and that doesn’t mean barring dissent, or even passionate debate. However, tossing out inaccurate or offensive terms towards trans-identified people — people that see PHB as a safe space to come and discuss trans related issues — need to know that the baristas are working to protect this safe place for discussion online. As baristas, we shouldn’t have to — nor are we going to — call for civility in every diary about trans people and trans issues.
The baristas are going act as if all blenders were speaking to one another just as they would in a brick-and-mortar, local, LGBT coffeehouse. But, to the extent that in The Blend this hasn’t always happening in threads about trans people or trans issues, for awhile at least this barista is going to respond by aggressively enforcing one of the Pam’s House Blend Terms Of Service statements regarding harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful or widely offensive messaging:
You may not post or transmit any message which is harmful, threatening, abusive or hateful. It is not the Service’s intent to discourage you from taking controversial positions or expressing vigorously what may be unpopular views; however, PAM SPAULDING reserves the right to take such action as it deems appropriate in cases where the Service is used to disseminate statements which are deeply and widely offensive and/or harmful.
So, although this is not a complete list, this is a “hit list” of transgender-related, harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful or widely offensive terminology — as taken from the GLAAD’s Transgender Glossary Of Terms:
“deceptive,” “fooling,” “pretending,” “posing,” or “masquerading,” “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “trannie,” “tranny,” and “gender-bender”
Some additional problematic terms from me:
“that,” “that thing,” “transvestite,” “hermaphrodite,” and transgender ghetto
Actions that will also be considered problematic are attacking or mocking someone else’s LGBT-related identity as invalid or not deserving as much protection as your LGBT identity, seriously referring to someone’s gender with terminology that is opposite to a person’s gender identity, or using language that’s disrespectful of others’ gender identity or expression. And, it’s never appropriate to put quotation marks around either the transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects their gender identity. Period.
So for example, if you seriously referred to me as Mr. Sandeen or “Autumn” Sandeen in a diary’s comment section (as opposed to referring to me like that in an obviously joking manner), then I would take “action as [I, as a representative of Pam’s House Blend,] deem appropriate in cases where the Service is used to disseminate statements which are deeply and widely offensive and/or harmful.”
Again, there’s a basic civility we attempt to preserve in The Blend. That doesn’t mean we bar dissent, or even passionate debate. However, tossing out inaccurate and/or offensive terms toward a population that sees PHB as a safe space to come and discuss trans issues need to know that the baristas want to protect their safe online space. As Pam’s House Blend baristas, we’re going to protect that safe space — aggressively, if need be.