Why Chaz Bono Is a Misogynist Who Does Not Represent Us

ETA: This post is getting some attention–which I wasn’t expecting–so I made a follow up.  Here it is, if you’re interested.  The long and short of it is, I bear Chaz no ill will, but I have some serious ideological problems with him as a spokesman for the trans community.

If you’re here from Jezebel, or Radar Online, or one of the various outlets that picked up this post, and you’d like to find out what I’m about and what you can expect to find on my blog, I wrote an introductory post to explain what I do a little bit.  Cheers!


I’ve been feeling conflicted lately about Chaz Bono’s relationship to the media.  On the one hand, he’s being unfairly vilified by bigots like Keith Ablow and so many others.  He’s being misgendered, called by his assigned name, pathologized, threatened with physical violence, had medical abuse advocated as “treatment” for him, and treated in other unforgivable ways.  Presumably he went into this knowing that that would happen and believing he was strong enough to take it.  That’s brave.  I admire that.  And when people say fucked up things about Chaz, I am moved to defend him, because he’s a transgender man and I am a transgender man.  We both want full recognition of transgender people as human beings.  We are meant to be on the same side.  The hell of it is, we aren’t.

Chaz has appointed himself as the representative of a group of people who are not all like him.  He has said misogynistic and prescriptivist things about gender.  I take particular issue with his comments on trans embodiment and on women.

Here’s a link, for example, to AN INTERVIEW CHAZ DID WITH ABC.

Here’s something he says in that interview:

“If you are a man and you have breasts, any man would want to have them removed,” Bono said. “It is scary for a woman to think about it because it is something that they are really attached to. Being male and having breasts is about the worst thing I could imagine.”

Chaz is erasing the experience of trans men who don’t need top surgery.  He needs to realize that “men” is a more inclusive category than he seems to believe.  He’s reinforcing the cissexist idea that having breasts that you intend to keep equals being a woman, which we know from the experiences of many non-op, non-binary and intersex people is just not true.  Chaz is ignoring the needs and lives of many people who belong to the very group he purports to represent and to fight for.

Here’s another prescriptivist quote:

“I think of it as hormones that, you know, went in the brain but not in the body, and that’s all being transgender is. It’s just that the sex of your body and the gender of the brain don’t match up.”

Reading this, I think first of my non-binary transgender friends and comrades in arms.  Chaz is defining transgender in a way that excludes them completely from the category.  That is wrong.  I know so many trans people who saw rhetoric and metaphors like this early in their lives and immediately assumed that transgender could never refer to them, that they were outside the purview of even transgender issues, completely freakish, completely alone.  I am a binary trans man, and I do not want Chaz, another binary trans man, representing me and simultaneously mistreating my non-binary comrades in this way.

And here’s the interview that finally made me decide I was done with Chaz.  It’s with the New York Times.  Here’s a LINK.

“There’s a gender in your brain and a gender in your body. For 99 percent of people, those things are in alignment. For transgender people, they’re mismatched. That’s all it is. It’s not complicated, it’s not a neurosis. It’s a mix-up. It’s a BIRTH DEFECT, like a cleft palate.”

I do not have a birth defect.  If you feel like you have a birth defect, fine.  That’s how you feel.  Go feel that.  Do not put it onto me.  Do not define me that way, and do not define other trans people that way unless they claim that label.

It’s beyond that, though.  Chaz is a misogynist.  He is a trans man who seems to believe that his female-assignedness and his female socialization makes him immune from being a misogynist, and he is manifestly wrong.  Look at this quote about testosterone, from the ABC article again:

But an added benefit of the hormone injections, the couple said, is that the testosterone has improved their sex life.

“[It’s] just a higher sex drive, like all men,” Bono said.

All men do not have higher sex drives than women.  The idea that women have inherently lower sex drives is sexist and sex-negative.  Plus, what about asexual men?

Now this little excerpt is the kicker.  If I hadn’t abandoned Chaz before, I would have after reading this.

“I never really understood women before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for women that I don’t have now[…]No, really.  There is something in testosterone that makes talking and gossiping really grating.  I’ve stopped talking as much.  I’ve noticed that Jen [his partner] can talk endlessly.”  He shrugged.  ”I just kind of zone out.”

“You just don’t care!”

“I just don’t care!”  He laughed.

I was floored  by reading this.  Can the guy really lack self-awareness to this degree?  Does he really not realize that this is a variation on saying, “Women should shut up and let the men do the important things men do”?  Does he not realize that there are women in the trans community that he claims to represent, women who are offended by this kind of sexist bullshit?

I can speak to what the experience of being on testosterone is like.  I still gossip just as much as I used to.  I still love to listen to my female friends and I love to gossip with them.  I don’t think they’re “grating.”  And I don’t want any rich white straight trans guy going out there into the world and telling the media that testosterone made him into a misogynist.  If this is how he feels about women, I can tell you as a trans man who takes T, it is not because of T.  It is because he has some deep seated misogyny to work through.

This man doesn’t represent our community.  He especially does not represent those of us who are non-binary, non-op, women, or feminist men.  Chaz needs to do some hard thinking about what it means to appoint oneself representative of a whole group without considering the desires of all the group’s members.

And yeah, the guy didn’t spend his formative years in communities where people were actively talking about trans men and male privilege.  (They were too busy having useless radfem dialogue about trans women and their “male privilege.”)  But he certainly did spend his formative years in a world that was thinking hard about women, feminism, and misogyny.  Any guy Chaz’s age, who’s had that many opportunities to educate himselfand is still going around saying that he finds it “grating” when women talk, is a misogynist.

I think how we refuse to let this guy speak for us is that we actively and loudly contradict the messages he sends–that being trans is always a “birth defect,” that testosterone is an excuse for trans men to behave in sexist ways.  I think other visible queer people should be speaking out about Chaz’s misogyny and binarism.  (The reason this isn’t happening–and I’m not aware of it happening–is probably because Chaz has a lot of money, and queer rights organizations need a lot of money.)

The next time you hear Chaz’s name brought up in a conversation about trans issues, point out the things he’s said about surgery, “birth defects,” and women.  Because I don’t want a single person thinking this guy is the best of us.

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138 Responses to “Why Chaz Bono Is a Misogynist Who Does Not Represent Us”


  1. 1 Seth November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    This is such a great post. You’ve captured here the reasons that having Chaz as a spokesperson for the trans community is so problematic, especially since the media continues to view him as THE spokesperson. I wish I’d seen this a while ago, but I’m glad I’ve seen it now. Thanks for writing it and putting it out there for people to read.

  2. 2 ViciousGnome November 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Stephen –

    I agree that Chaz sounds like a bit of a prick in the final comments, but i don’t know if all of his comments are necessarily meant to be as broadly applied as he suggests. For him, the boobs felt wrong, and he should be more careful to ackowledge that lots of trans men are not uncomfortable with their boobs, but I think his main problem is a certain self-awareness turned into narcissim. He gneralizes his experience because he has spent so much time focusin on himself to figure this out. Doesn’t excuse his failure to recognize the diversity in the world, be it straight, semi-straight, bi, polyamorous, asexual, whatever.

    In other ways maybe when he has a chance to just llive as a man, rather than running around talking about his experience like its a new toy, he will be less of a self absorbed prick.

    • 3 CIA January 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      I agree with ViciousGnome for the most part. His transition has spawned a press conference, a book, articles, a documentary, and then a follow-up documentary that really seemed like a reality show. He has been incredibly public about it, which takes enormous courage. However, it all seems like too much and he comes off as self-involved and a bit of an attention whore, riding this publicity train surrounding his life as trans man as far as it can go. And now with him revealing he is saving for bottom surgery, I was left shaking my head.

  3. 4 Krystal November 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I’m really glad I ran across this from a quasi celebrity news site :) I was very ignorant of the trans community.. well I still am as I’m not sure what binary and non-binary mean but google is there for a reason. I am a mother to a beautiful young lesbian and I don’t know if someday she may figure out she is trans just as Chaz did but I would hope I would be informed enough to support her in a positive way and not do or say anything that would offend or hurt and now i really have some good info to go out and search out this topic more fully instead of just thinking that the brain doesn’t match the body, which is what i believed before reading this..

  4. 5 Dee Dee D. November 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Excellent points. I am a straight woman, yet agree 100% with what you wrote. There was something just so harsh and hard about what Chaz was saying about his relationship and women in general. I too realized he was generalizing some deep internal issues but couldn’t quite put my finger on it as you managed too. One thing he said which really bothered me was that he said the testosterone made him more aggressive in his relationship with regard to arguing and losing patience with his partner. I haven’t seen this in transgender people on testosterone. I thought then it was an excuse to act out and not take responsibility for his actions.

  5. 6 Sarah November 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    A friend turned me on to your blog this morning & I’m sooo glad you are doing what you are doing! If you have a minute check out my blog http://www.queerartcity.blogspot.com

    Xoxo

  6. 7 Amelia November 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    This is excellent. I’ve been really uncomfortable with Chaz Bono as the anointed spokesperson for the trans community, and I have that same knee-jerk reaction to defend him when people do wholly unacceptable things like refuse to use his name or pronouns….but, as a woman and a feminist, I was personally offended by his comments in the Times about silly chatty women and their mindless gossip and just ANNOYED by the idea that the way Chaz experiences being a transman is the ONLY way to be trans.

    Chaz experiences privilege in a LOT of ways, and I don’t doubt that his personal experience of gender via his family/community has been difficult, but I can’t allow that to excuse minimizing women or pigeon-holing other transgender folks.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Chaz is proving a whole different point that we too often neglect: transgender men, just like people of color, women, people living in poverty, etc., can be smug and ignorant…just like everyone else!

  7. 10 Linda November 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Wow, you write very well.

  8. 11 Miracle Mike Hennessey November 17, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Thank you for this fantastic writeup! It really blew me away.

    You have a new fan now…I can’t wait to read more from you.

    Keep Shining!
    Miracle Mike Hennessey
    http://www.youtube.com/IamMiracleMike (my FOX News interview about my 21 year journey with AIDS)

  9. 12 Victoria November 18, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Brilliant, smart and you are very brave to speak out and explain a few things to those of us outside your community..

  10. 13 Rex November 18, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Stephen,

    I think you hit the nail on the head in your follow-up where you state:

    “Just a couple of years after I came out, I was saying prescriptivist misogynistic nonsense too. I read a lot, I learned a lot, I spent time living as a trans guy in the world, and I came out the other side of that worldview.”

    All of us, when we embrase the concept of a non heterosexual identity become quoters and activists for just a bit. We go through a kind of ‘second adolescence’ physically and emotionally. Usually, as you said… over time we wise up, grow up (again) and mellow on the big bucket statements.

    Unfortunately, Chaz is doing this in the public eye… and the media has made him the spokesperson for a community that you simply cannot paint with a broad brush. It’s daunting enough from inside. I can’t imagine the view from outside. Those of us who have already ‘come out the other side’ cringe and wince when the adolescent queer comments come out of his mouth. I don’t get the impression that Chaz is a bad guy. I kinda think he’s gonna look back on all this at some point and do a lot of wincing and cringing.

    If you recall… Ellen wasn’t such a great spokesperson for the Lesbian community at first. Now… now she’s pretty darn amazing, and she’s almost absolutely stopped talking to the press about being who she is and has introduced the concept of “non-issue” to her massive viewing community.

    She does her work quietly and uses her money wisely. She’s changed the world. She’s beloved by most. In fact now (queer) people often complain that with all her power over the heterosexual tv watching public… that she should say more activist things. But you can’t have it both ways now… can you.

    Maybe Chaz has that power too. We’ll have to wait and see.

    As it goes… if I had to pick a “spokesperson” I’d certainly choose one who was miles past the personal justification stage… but we don’t get to pick in this case. The media does. The fact that Chaz is a public figure as the child of a beloved celebrity isn’t a terrible thing. The fact that American’s knew of Chaz as a little girl and now know him as a man, isn’t a bad thing. Even though the picture is a bit skewed… it does put a real face on things. Remember, for the non-queer community… even the basics are a brain twister. Having Jay Leno talk about what a “great guy” he is and then chat about Cher making him wear a dress, as inane as all that sounds… I think probably did a lot of eye opening good.

    My perspective is as a friend of trans guys and someone who lives on the fringe between lesbian and trans. I’ve actually learned a lot from the discussions that have now bubbled out of the genre dark rooms and into the world. And I thought I knew a lot.

    I’m an (Old School) Butch identified woman. And i’ll be honest, years of referring to myself as Butch, dressing, speaking and romancing as a Butch(who’s Femme’s much to my delight, refer to me as Mr. and Handsome, etc) has made the term “woman” seem just a bit foreign to me. I’m biologically female, and I don’t dispute that, although I don’t think anyone would have that word pop into their head upon meeting me… or getting to know me and frankly… it hasn’t been part of my identity for a long time. I’m not mad at my “lady parts”, but they’re not on display either…

    So I found myself thinking as I read your post… “Am I a non-op transexual?” I’d never heard that term. I’ll have to think on it.

    I certainly hope that doesn’t prompt another adolescence…

    And yes… check out Sarah’s Queer Art Blog. I’m featured in the “Daddy” section…

    http://www.queerartcity.blogspot.com

    ~ Rex

    • 14 Lisa December 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      Excellent points Rex. We all cringe when we look back at what we said upon coming out (in whatever capacity) don’t we? Chaz will learn alot from these posts I think as well as everyone else. Great writing all around :)

  11. 15 Em November 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Finally!!! Chaz has be call out. I really feel that Chaz, has done himself & the trans / Gay -Lesbian community a dis serving thing by his lack of self awareness . He really thinks that being a ”man” means to be a jerk, that has to act macho. This is just some of the things , as well as the way he talks to and about woman. When I saw his special on OWN I was appalled about the way he treated his wife/partner. I found also the way he speaks about the whole trans gender issues so self important and un aware of the diversity of our community in general.I loved your blog, well written & thoughtful. I really like Chaz & admire his courage to trans in such a public way, however he needs to educate himself more on what it means to be a trans.

  12. 17 The Perfect Nut November 18, 2011 at 12:39 am

    Very well said. I’m glad I’m not the only one in the trans community who feels that Chaz Bono isn’t the greatest thing since toilet paper.

  13. 18 rjp3 November 18, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Aren’t you also a rich spoiled white guy ? ;)

    You did get it right — and now I feel better about my negative feelings toward him. I was feeling bad about them because I could not point out what was bugging me so much.

    Gay guy here – who finds Chaz’s macho bullshit annoying – the things he is do not define a man. Tats, wife beaters, trucks – they define some men but not the majority.

    It is like he is playing drag macho dude — maybe he should of taken sometime in private to figure out who he really is – instead of acting out this stereotype.

    Stranger still – I always took “chastity” to be this smart enlightened person who happen to be a lesbian woman. This 180 should be a concern to people in his life.

    I am just glad the little boy who seemed so confused in those Sonny and Cher shows is finding his way – hopefully things will even out.

  14. 19 Isabelle Paxton November 18, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Stephen,

    I think you are fabulous. You’re educated, well spoken and classy and you would be a great public spokesperson for transgender community.

    Love you blog. Couple minor criticisms. Don’t just post all the glowing comments from the bloggers. You must have some people who disagree with you about Chaz. You should have their points of view on your blog, too. Otherwise, it’s Fox News. Keep it fair and balanced, Stephen. Otherwise, it just seems fake. However, I get the sense there isn’t a phony bone in your body. You have something meaningful to say and you say it so well.

    Kudo’s to your parents – they raised you right. They must be very proud of the awesome young man you turned out to be.

  15. 20 Casey November 18, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Thank you for posting this! So well said.

  16. 21 Ap Reynolds November 18, 2011 at 3:29 am

    This just proves that everyone’s experience is not the same no matter our identity.Sure hope Chaz get’s a clue!

  17. 22 Holly November 18, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Straight woman here who also picked up on the comment Chaz made regarding his partner being “grating”. It sounded immature! I guess this is chaz’s experience and maybe he didn’t mean to be annointed as the spokesperson but I’m really glad to hear how you feel b/c I wondered (as a straight person) if he represented all transgender people. Good to know he doesn’t!!

  18. 23 Genevieve November 18, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Wow, totally disagree with you Stephen. I don’t agree with everything Chaz says, but what is he supposed to say? Every time he talks is he supposed to end it with….this is just for me?
    I feel like there is too much inner fighting within the trans community….and for that matter all the LGBT community. I think sometimes people pick on the semantics instead of listening to the whole message. Again, I don’t think everything he says is “correct”, but I also don’t think he’s speaking for a whole group……he’s in the limelight & speaking, that’s it. And at least someone is finally saying something & giving recognition to being trans. Someone who has been in the spotlight since the 60s. Maybe he’s enlightening older folks who liked that little girl they saw on stage with Cher. Just feel like this post is coming off as bitter towards him.
    Who’s said he’s the anointed spokesperson for the trans community?

  19. 24 W. November 18, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Thank you for being brilliant and for saying what has certainly been on my mind.

  20. 25 dberkeley November 18, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I think it would be great if Chaz Bono received some information, perhaps an invitation to educate himself about the diverse trans community he seems to be representing. He has access to the media and so it could benefit the community if he could improve/change his message to better reflect the issues you have raised. It may also be isolating to be the child of celebrities. Perhaps, a loving (but also critical) group from the trans community could extend a hand and enlighten him … Just a thought…Thank you for this post.

  21. 26 Wendy November 18, 2011 at 8:19 am

    You make some really great points that speak volumes as an advocate for the trans community. Hopefully your blog will find its way to Chaz, and in the future he will become more mindful about articulating his experiences as his own and not those of all transgender people.

    Ironically, it seems Chaz is in need of some education around the transgender experience, as well as, that of other marginalized groups. I hope your blog has an impact on him, especially since he’s fortunate enough to have a platform for his voice to be heard.

    Thanks for the writeup!

  22. 27 diamondstylz November 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I personally think you all are too harsh on Chaz. No one transgender, if put in the spot light, will represent all of us. Its impossible. The reality if any one from such a small demographic of marginalized people that is put in the limelight will seem like they represent us all. I think this idea that he is anointing him self as the voice of the trans community, is ridiculous. He is just the one getting shine right now. There will be another one that come along that shines even more light and a different perspective. It all comes in time. I think with him getting exposure bring the conversation to other places and people for each of us to explain how our perspective differ or seems similar within the collective. There are ideologies that he has said that i disagree with but instead of bashing him…I do what is in my power to share my perspective and make that difference clear WITHOUT THE HARSH TONE.

  23. 28 Susan November 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

    As a transgendered woman I read your article expecting to find something concrete, instead I found the wisdom of a teenager. Smug and self assured in the correctness of their analysis of the world they live in. Having spent the past few decades in this “more comfortable form” ( I use that phrase in quotation marks as society will constantly negate your gender status) I have been surprised by those that say they are uncomfortable in their gender, but not in their physical form – I won’t even try and untie that knot. I am sure it means something to some people but perhaps it needs a new “label”? I must also tell you that Chaz is for me more spot on than say the person who claims to be a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. Chaz represents my way of thinking, but please note I am not implying you are wrong about the way you feel, just totally on a different page from the one that either Chaz or I am on. I am also quite sure that Chaz and my experiences have been different from yours, so negating it doesn’t mean you are right either. With much love.

  24. 29 Clement November 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Hey there,

    Good piece of writing Stephen. I can understand your points throughout this essay. As a gay man, I never really paid attention to this whole “mysoginistic” side of Chaz.
    I tend to think that Chaz doesn’t want to be a role model for the trans community. Instead, telling his own experience and journey in the public eye, surviving in his own body.
    When he says “I don’t like my boobs” I doubt it stands as “all FTM people hate boobs”. I don’t know much trans people but saw enough good documentaries to know that being a male with or without boobs is just a dual thing, who is stronger? Your mind or your body?
    What you see as mysoginistic is probably simply Chaz way of exhaling his new “himself” but to me, a clear sign Chaz loathed being Chastity (we need a psychoanalysis here to go further).
    Also, I think Chaz is something like 20 years older than you are, with more experience than you do on the LGBT scene and I think you two should exchange for The Advocate or another magazine – THAT would be an interesting reading. Confronting two experiences, two different generations…

    C

    P.S. : money was quite irrelevent in your article, the only cheap and useless point of your otherwisedly great blog entry.

  25. 30 Rhiannon November 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I’m female and reading these remarks from Chaz I wonder if he either (a) is emulating behaviours by his father that he encountered as a child (b) thinks that the way to be a ‘real man’ is to be a total male chauvanist pig or (c) just IS a male chauvanist pig….either way, he has issues.

    He also, I agree, gives a very negative image of trans people’s attitudes. There’s nothing wrong with the gender you are born into even if you decide it’s not the gender you feel you should be and he gives off an image of trans people hating the gender the originate in. Prejudice against genders is, imo, on the same level as racism, homophobia, religious intolerance etc and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    So glad, however, that articulate young men and women like yourself exsit so that a more balanced representation can be given.

  26. 31 n/a November 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Chaz bono clearly has insecurity problems- after watching the documentary about him, thats all I could think about… that his issue is insecurity and not a problem with his gender.. But thats just my opinion.

  27. 32 Brenda November 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you for articulating so accurately how I have felt about Chaz during the past couple of months. I’ve always been a fan of his (we are the same age) and cheered when he made public his intention to transition. However, I’ve been blown away and disappointed by these same comments that you discuss in your blog. As a woman, I find them infinitely offensive.

    He says he wants to be a role model for transgendered children. He won’t achieve this until he dials back the misogynistic hyper-masculinity.

  28. 33 Matt November 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Saying “something is wrong with us from birth” probably would sell very well in bible belt communities. I wonder if he’s just doing a bad job of trying to be an effective ambassador.

    Saying “shyucks, gawrsh, women sure are irritating with the yap-yap-yap” seems like an attempt to obtain credibility as a male.

    We should expect to see him pick on gay people next to ingratiate himself with homophobes.

  29. 34 Stella November 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Sharp articulation of the issues! Thanks for writing such a well thought out piece. I was floored by his crazy idea that all women must be hyper chatty (and thus annoying) and that we’re hardwired for gossip to the extent that if you are not, you can chalk it up to a mind/body disconnect. Wowza.

    That’s insane. I really hate chatting. I’m not a talkative person. I hate hashing it out over fashion, television, or other people’s break ups. Does that mean I am not a straight woman? Should I be reevaluating myself because I don’t meet that “norm”? Thanks for refusing to let those comments slide. I hadn’t heard any of them before (see: hate television) and appreciated the insights.

  30. 35 Priscilla's great grandmother November 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Dear Stephen, I am a 87-year-old great-grandmother using my great-granddaughter’s computer to ask you some questions on this transgender subject.
    Please forgive me for getting a bit lost between all the terms mentioned. I’m not an educated woman, just a curious one who is trying to keep up with everyday life as it is in these modern times.
    In the old days, children would be born with private parts that were neither this or that and it would be up to the parents and the medical people to decide which of the two genders the child should be. Horrible mistakes were made that way, ruining lives unneccessarily.

    I’ve always heard that transgender people were, so to speak, born in the wrong body. So, when medical advances made it possible to alter one’s body to the preferred gender, I thought that was it.
    But now with Chaz saying that she is a real man when, as I understand, the only thing different is that the breasts were removed and her voice changed due to hormonal treatment, and that other person who claims to be the world’s first pregnant man. In all of my 87 years I have never heard of a, naturally born, man to have had a uterus or other female reproductive organs.

    So my questions are: is gender simply a psychological feeling or need? Does it have nothing to do with actually being in a wrong body? Does it matter that chromosomes that say you are either male or female cannot be changed, even if you have full surgery? I am having heated discussions with my (great) grandchildren about this and I understand less and less what it is all about.
    Please enlighten me.
    Thank you.

    • 36 dimovier November 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      You actually got it spot on! Gender is, in essence, simply psychological. Thus, the term “real man” is kind of bunk, seeing as a “real man” would just be someone whose psyche is along the lines of “man.” There are studies being done that show that the white matter of transgender men is the same or at least highly similar to that of non-transgender men. This may or may not affect the “wrong body” sensations so many people talk about. Chromosomes are a tricky thing, but to be honest, do many people think about their chromosomes every day? On the other hand, body parts or functions that can be corrected by surgery or hormones are more immediate than genetic things, and that’s why some trans people choose to pursue medical intervention.

      Many trans people choose not to get surgery or hormones because they feel that the aesthetic results are not up to their personal wishes. Others feel that their body parts are okay as-is. In regards to the pregnant men: they simply want to have babies! They have the equipment to do it! I am glad that they at least are comfortable enough with their bodies to do it. However, they are still men. Gender is entirely psychological.

  31. 37 Rashmi November 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I remember having a conversation with my very-supportive Queer cis-friend about this. They were just pissed off and I had to tell them , not all trans folks think like him and this could be because Chaz could have been shielded from the reality a lot of trans folks experience living in the real world. I found his statements misogynistic and pretty bone-headed as well.
    Aren’t these quotes from the NYT interview?
    Such a wonderful post. Keep it coming…

  32. 38 Tom November 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    You said many times that you do not want Chaz Bono to speak on your behalf, fair enough, no harm there. We all have our own voice and opinions. I’m a gay guy and I’m not defined by every gay man or their words, actions, appearance etc.

    But you wrote this ‘ I think other visible queer people should be speaking out about Chaz’s misogyny and binarism. (The reason this isn’t happening–and I’m not aware of it happening–is probably because Chaz has a lot of money, and queer rights organizations need a lot of money.)’

    Again these are your opinions, say them but do not force your views and words on to others, especially other ‘ queer people’ ( a term we do not all subscribe too nor accept) .

    Shame you couldn’t have thought more about what you wrote in your follow up before writing your initial blog.

    Tom

  33. 39 inoculatedcity November 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Yes!

    As another trans guy who feels exactly the same way you do about Chaz Bono, this was such a refreshing read. Thank you so much for articulating it.

  34. 40 L'amica November 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Stephen, Thank you for your blog. Due to his celebrity associations, Chaz has become the current “voice” of the transgendered. The dominant culture seems content to let him be the primary “explainer” of a world they find foreign and puzzling. There are many more thoughtful bloggers on this topic who, unfortunately, will never get as much public recognition as Chaz, or as much media opportunity to represent the community. Though also “rich, white” and with famous relatives, you may be one of the only people who has a forum equal to Chaz’s who could provide some balance to the dialogue.

    I wonder if, by having to adapt to his new role so publicly, in a flood of attention and controversy, Chaz is making some unconscious, though still harmful, mistakes. It must be heady, after years of absorbing society’s prejudicial attitudes towards women and especially lesbians, to suddenly find yourself on “the team” (white, young, & male) and have access to all the privilege it provides. Perhaps in his heady rush to claim his place he believes that distancing himself from his less powerful/acceptable female associations through macho posturing will make him seem more authentically male, more powerful. I’ve experienced that with a few of my friends who, when first coming out, would teeter into misogynistic territory while trying on a butch role; sort of trying to gain more power by adapting cultural male stereotypes.

    In a perfect world, the stereotypes Chaz seems to be buying into wouldn’t exist. But as long as homophobia and other intolerance is alive, the dominant culture will always look for a spokesperson to confirm their bias and project their hatred onto. This would be why your voice is so important – thank you for putting yourself out there by addressing these issues.

  35. 41 george November 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I think it is pretty clear from Chaz’s books, and listening closely to all of his public statements that he is speaking for himself and many in the trans community. It is not apparent to me that he has made any conscious attempt to exclude anyone. But it is also not his job, or his goal, to be a spokesperson for everyone. So it seems unfair to me to expect him to be. It might even been essential for him to speak in generalizations to get the message out as broadly as possible, in terms more people can identify with.

    Id also like to express that queer is an extremely offensive word. I do not believe it is a generational thing as many seem to suggest. Im a gay man in my 20s. I would like to believe that anyone else who has been held down and brutally beaten, while being called a queer, or is aware that such things happen, would also strongly condemn the use of such a word. It just brings horrible memories to mind, every single time I read or hear the word, which I would rather not relive. Its use is at best naive and out of touch, and at worst, hateful and malicious. It is ironic for a community that spends so much energy on inclusivity and political correctness to use it.

    • 42 Stephen November 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      You bring up an interesting point about “queer,” George. I use the word in its reclaimed sense, similarly to the way the activist organization Queer Nation used the term. I have the right to use any word I feel comfortable with to describe my experiences. You can choose not to use that word, which is perfectly fine, but for me using it is empowering and positive. At this point, “queer” has a long positive history of reclamation and inclusivity. I’m certainly not the only person using and identifying with the term! I’m sorry to hear that it upsets you, but it will be a word I use a lot in this space. If that bothers you, it might be a good idea to read a different blog.

  36. 43 Al November 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Hello, idiot cisperson. Do you not realize that along with actually being trans always comes gender dysphoria? If you’re really trans* you’d want to have those nasty sacks of tumor taken off your chest. I am a feminist, but radical transphobic feminists like you turn me away from supporting the cause. Do you not realize about 30-50% of untreated transgenders commit suicide? Just because you chose to keep your saggy breasts doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t vilify their own. Just like you beg us guys to keep our opinions out of your uteri, keep your cisnose out of trans* issues.

    • 44 Stephen November 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      You’ve definitely got the wrong idea about me, dude. I’m a transsexual man, not a cis person, and I have a serious personal understanding of the need to medically transition. In fact, one of the things that’s most important to me as an activist is getting trans folks access to the resources they need in order to transition medically. Folks who want to medically transition can talk about their bodies in any way they want, but they shouldn’t make incorrect blanket statements.

      Not all trans people need surgery, actually, and not all trans people experience dysphoria. To say that you’re only “really trans” if you want to get surgery is just not accurate, besides which it’s identity policing.

      • 45 valeriekeefe November 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

        Yeah, as a happily non-operative tryke, I had a bit of a problem with this one too…

        But I think all the kerfuffle with Chaz is boiling down to this: Everyone, whether they be cis, or yes, even trans, is learning that a dudely transbro can be just as vacuous, superficial, awash in more money than brains, and drunk off the smell of his own shit as any other celebrity.

        It could be worse, the trans community could’ve had Stephen Baldwin.

  37. 46 spit November 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Priscilla’s Great Grandmother:

    I can’t respond for the author, but wanted to give you some response here in a timely way. A couple of things:

    (1) You’re awesome for thinking about it so hard and for asking the honest and open questions. Seriously, I don’t mean that to come off as patronizing — a lot of people who don’t understand just make some assumptions and don’t ask and don’t think about it beyond that.

    (2) There’s unfortunately no easy answer to your questions. If you ask 10 different transgendered people what they think, you will get 10 different answers. Gender is a difficult subject to untangle, for all of us, because there’s so much in it that both feels so central to who we are and simultaneously is constantly in an interplay with everything we see around us. For most (straight, cis-gendered — which just means “people who are heterosexual and feel no particular conflict about their gender”) people, the entire culture and set of assumptions is never a major question; for those who do feel conflict on some level, it is extremely hard to untangle the knots and get to a consistent, universal “why.”

    Some people feel it as a conflict that is fundamentally about their senses of themselves and a mismatch with the physical, as in the conflict between body and brain, say. Some feel it as a conflict that is about culture, feeling that neither gender category fits their sense of self because the _categories_ are too limiting. Some associate masculinity with manhood, some don’t, some see themselves as “in the wrong body,” some see themselves as “in the wrong gender paradigm.” I could add so many more things, honestly — there’s a huge diversity of points of view and approach. And in my opinion, at least, people who are “not transgender” actually do also have a huge process around developing their senses of “manhood” or “womanhood”, but because it fits with what everybody assumes is typical, it isn’t as obvious.

    At the end of the day, with all of the complexity and all of the different approaches, we’re challenged to find our way to feel as ok with ourselves as we can, comfortable in our skins and in our culture and in our ideals. So if somebody transitions from female to male, say, that still doesn’t mean much can be assumed about their point of view, necessarily — they may feel that, even with the complexities and the brain twists, at the end of the day, it’s the only way they can feel the most comfortable they know how in the world that is. Or, they may feel that the transition is a correction of body to match a gender that they feel is fundamental to themselves. Or… I could again go on.

    Long answer that I don’t assume is completely helpful, but it’s the best I can do. It’s incredibly complicated for some of us, less so for others, always rife with assumptions from others, and there’s no one way to find one’s path in it.

    • 47 Priscilla's great grandmother November 20, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      Dear Spit,
      Thank you for trying to clear a few things up for me. I have to admit, though, that things are still clear as mud to me. Do I understand it correctly that a person, whether biologically born in a male or female, body, can feel they should have been the other gender, yet not necessarily in the wrong body? For example, if a baby is biologically born in a male body and his chromosomes are proof, for lack of a better term, that he is indeed a male, this boy can later not only come to the conclusion that he is in fact a girl, but that he can also claim to be a girl without having body altering surgery? So that he will have all his male private parts in tact but still feel that he is a woman? And, apart from that stands the whole sexual orientation? So that this woman in a male body can be heterosexual and attracted to (heterosexual) men, or this woman in a male body can be homosexual (lesbian) and attracted to other lesbian women? Do I understand that correctly?
      But then I am confused about how the other partners of such transgender people feel when they are, let’s say, natural born females who happen to be lesbian and feel attracted to other natural born female lesbians. I think that was the case with Caz, right? So now her former lesbian partner is in a relationship with a natural born female who, partly, changed her body to agree more with her inner feeling of being a man, but she or he is neither, physically, but behaves more like a man, possibly due to hormones he takes, so where does that leave his female, lesbian partner who, I assume, fell for the female lesbian that Chaz was before? I hope you can see why this all confuses me so.
      Also, if what I said at the beginning of this long note is true, that it doesn’t take a physical alteration to be the correct gender (opposite the gender that you were physically and chromose-wise born as) but that it is more an internal and psychological feeling, how will we be able to tell on the outside who is what? Or should we simply do away with terms like “male/man” “female/woman” altogether?
      What sticks out to me most in this whole debate is that through nature, reproduction has been decided as men and women conceiving with the male role as the provider of the seed or sperm and the female as the body in which the new life develops, in the body part that only natural born females have, the uterus (apart from those women who through all kinds of genetic or medical reasons were not born with a – functioning – set of female reproductive organs). So, forgive me for just not being able to understand concepts like “the first pregnant man” when no ‘real man’ for lack of a better description has ever been pregnant before, at least not in the 87 years of my life.
      I have to get off the computer as my great granddaughter needs to use it for an assignment. I hope I am not offensive, I am trying to understand.
      Sincerely, Pat

  38. 48 spit November 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    And thank you, Stephan, for the post. It’s dead on to my feelings — I am trans, but in a very squishy to genderqueer sort of a way — a masculine-identified woman, who feels that it is a proud and wonderful thing to identify as a masculine-identified woman, with the caveat that there’s no good fit in that category for me. Nor is there one elsewhere, unless I take on the incredibly difficult task of being some other gender entirely.

    Faced with where I find myself both philosophically and medically at the moment, it’s where I stay for now. And Chaz Bono not only does not speak for me, he renders my existence to nothing.

    I appreciate that people above are asserting that he’s only speaking to his experience, but he’s certainly not going out of his way anywhere to point that out. It is the media crowning him as the spokesperson, but it is Chaz accepting that designation without pointing out that the trans community is not monolithic. It isn’t hard — all it would really take is Chaz making sure that he mention that transpeople don’t all think just like he does. But that would take him actually understanding that transpeople don’t all think just like he does, which seems to be the problem.

    And as far as the misogyny goes, there is no excuse for his statements in that regard. Ever. I say that as a woman, as a man, and as something else entirely — because I say that as somebody who believes in gender justice, respect, and meaningful equality. Thank you for standing on that same ground.

  39. 50 browneyedgirl65 (@browneyedgirl65) November 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I am a bisexual cis woman and I had much the same reaction to that interview… Relations between genders are difficult enough as it is without perpetuating stereotypes.

    But it is interesting, this whole spectrum of genderqueer/trans/gender-dysphoria and so on. For the most part, the trans “umbrella” seems to have a lot more going on under it than most folks realize.

  40. 51 Stella November 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I think in your analysis you’ve failed to acknowledge that Chaz is being interviewed by mainstream media for entertainment shows (mostly). They aren’t interested in details, they want soundbites. Under the circumstances, he has tried to provide some clarification to issues that are far too complex and in some cases unfathomable to the majority of people. Obviously he’s being far too simplistic about experiences that are highly individualistic–but given the outlets involved, what more could you expect? I have to give him kudos for not only putting himself in the line of small-minded, bigoted fire, but for attempting to pierce the darkness of ignorance with some small amount of insight.

  41. 52 Candy Kane November 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    When Chaz was little, she was never a girlie girl. She was the tomboy that her mother never wanted her to be. Sonny and Cher kept her out of the spotlight as well as her younger brother from Greg Allman.

    She never dated much because she always felt different. She struggled all thru high school with her feelings. That was because she was gay. It is not a birth defect, it is a defective chromosone gene. (almost the same thing). Most people who are born gay have the same defective chromosone. But don’t ever tell straight people anyone is born gay because they will argue their asses off.

    Chaz never wanted to be in the spotlight but was just pushed into it because his family are celebrities. Chaz wants to just live a normal life with his girlfriend. He never claimed he represented “the trangender group”. Name another trangender celebrity? I didn’t think so. Chaz is way cool.

    • 53 valeriekeefe November 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      Well, going by the Wikipedia definition: Transgender (pronounced /trænzˈdʒɛndər/) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles.

      Give me Eddie Izzard anyday. And of course, there was Hunter S. Thompson, and if I were in the business of reclaiming the unexplicit like some tried to do with Lincoln, I’d mention Chris Farley (If you ever get a chance, read “The Chris Farley Show” by his brother Tom, and Tom doesn’t know it but there’s a trail of breadcrumbs…)

      • 54 Marina January 12, 2012 at 4:39 am

        That definition confuses me a little bit. (And I will say that I am someone who supports the rights of transgendered people, but I haven’t had close relationships with any transgendered adults, so I don’t have any first-hand accounts at all about what it’s like or about.)

        How do “culturally conventional gender roles” relate to gender identity? This is a question I’ve been curious about since my daughter was very young. My best friend and I have girls who are exactly the same age. We were stay at home moms and exposed our girls to all sorts of toys and activities – those marketed toward both genders. Both girls disliked dolls and other “girl” toys. They liked sports and cars and tools.

        When they were four years old, they began preschool. This was the first time that they had any real exposure to large groups of children – children who generally stuck with “culturally conventional gender roles.” Gender immediately became a big issue for both girls. My daughter stopped playing cars and basketball because “those are for boys.” Her friend decided that she was going to be a boy. At that age, there was no convincing my daughter that she could play with whatever she wanted and still be a girl (but season tickets to the WNBA helped a lot with the basketball thing). Her friend no longer identifies as a boy, but she dresses in boy’s clothes and keeps her hair very short. People assume she’s a boy when they meet her.

        Now maybe my daughter’s friend will turn out to be transgendered, but I also wonder how much she may be influenced by a culture that is continuously telling her that she is not feminine because of how she chooses to dress and what she’s interested in. Her family is very supportive of her, but outside of her home, she is getting the message that she is not her gender because she does not conform to gender stereotypes. Would she feel like a girl if “culturally conventional gender roles” were more inclusive of girls like her?

        I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t at all mean to say that I think I understand anyone’s experience – including this child. It all leads me to wonder what it is that creates one’s sense of gender identity.

    • 55 Dave November 22, 2011 at 1:01 am

      Candy, the defective gene theory has yet to be proven. In fact, there is as much or more evidence that sexual and gender identity variance is not a “defect” at all, just part of the normal variation that occurs in nature. If you’re familiar with the statistical concept of standard deviation and the bell curve, you will find that human sexuality and gender identification plot almost perfectly. If you aren’t familiar with the concepts it won’t mean much to you, but to a scientist it’s pretty heavy-duty evidence.

      However, when it comes to the transgender condition, I think one can successfully argue for the birth defect designation. A large group of older trans people have been doing just that for years. They consider it preferable to being considered mentally ill – the current official stance. Unlike L, G and B people, who are generally quite happy with their gender identity and physical sex, a truely transgender person is usually quite upset at having the wrong body. It has long been characterized as having been born with the brain of one gender, and the physical sex of the other. (Gender is what you feel, sex is what you see.) While some choose to do nothing surgically to correct the situation, the vast majority want to make at least some changes.

      • 56 Stephen November 22, 2011 at 2:23 am

        I don’t know about all that, Dave. If you spend time with a variety of diverse people on the trans spectrum, especially young people, you’ll find some who are no-ho, non-op, all kinds of things, and very few people who enjoy being called defective or mentally ill. I question the idea that “most” trans people want surgery. I mean, where’s the reliable statistics on that?

        Please don’t use language like “a truely (sic) transgender person.” The only person who can determine whether or not someone is trans is that person themselves.

      • 57 Dave November 22, 2011 at 5:01 am

        It seems I’ll have to reply to myself since your reply didn’t have a reply button. Stephen, I think you’re reading more into what I’ve said than was intended. First, I’ve worked with a large number of trans kids, teens, and young adults in my counseling practice.

        Body dysphoria is a big problem for a large majority. Yes, some choose to make no physical changes. And I completely agree that only the person themselves can determine if they are truly transgender – or something else. Not everyone who initially considers themselves to be transgender actually is. After considerable work, some decide that they are really gay or lesbian. In one recent (and rare) case we finally worked out that it wasn’t a transgender condition at all – they had been raped at six and quickly decided that being a male would be safer (known as a “reaction formation”). It took lots of painful work to sort that out.

        I know of others who have begun to transition, decided it was wrong for them after all, and stopped, and one or two who had a second set of surgeries to reverse the changes as much as possible. (This is why the accepted standard of care requires a year of therapy first. However, some psychologits are too willing to sign off after one or two visits – dangerous in my opinion.)

        There is no shame in being born with a birth defect, at least in developed Western countries. You have no choice in the matter, just like being born black, Asian, or Caucasian. It is what it is. On the other hand, there is no need to tell the world about it, if that is your choice. Many of the young people I work with are eventually comfortable with being trans and work out accomodations that suit their needs, but see no need for everyone to know about it. Those who need to know, can know. Being trans or having been born with a birth defect doesn’t define them or their lives.

        As to stats on surgical choices, I know of no formal studies. However, among those I work with and talk to (perhaps not a true cross-section), a clear majority have either had surgery and/or hormone treatments or plan to start.

        • 58 Kim Pearson November 22, 2011 at 5:34 am

          Dave, the new standards of care do not include some of the requirements you state and I would encourage you to check them out.

          1. Psychotherapy is not an absolute requirement for hormone therapy and surgery
          A mental health screening and/or assessment as outlined above is needed for referral to hormonal and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria. In contrast, psychotherapy – although highly recommended – is not a requirement.
          The SOC do not recommend a minimum number of psychotherapy sessions prior to hormone therapy or surgery. The reasons for this are multifaceted (Lev, 2009). First, a minimum number of sessions tends to be construed as a hurdle, which discourages the genuine opportunity for personal growth. Second, mental health professionals can offer important support to clients throughout all phases of exploration of gender identity, gender expression, and possible transition – not just prior to any possible medical interventions. Third, clients differ in their abilities to attain similar goals in a specified time period.

        • 61 Stephen November 22, 2011 at 6:14 am

          I think in part this might be a difference in communities or in generations–I’m not really sure. But I can tell you that many people in the trans communities I live in do not feel the need to medically transition. It’s something very everyday in my experience of my community.

          What bothers me about the term “birth defect” is that to explain or define all transness as a birth defect is to imply that transness is always an inherently defective trait in some way.

      • 62 valeriekeefe November 22, 2011 at 7:53 am

        Replying to below:

        Ah yes, someone you know detransitioned, therefore informed consent is bad and we should go back to the good ol’ days when we weeded out all the perverts (i.e. pants-wearing trannydykes) with a real-life-experience that amounts to a lottery where those who are most passable and look best in high femme presentation without hormones are the ones who can manage to find the intestinal fortitude to stick it out long enough to get treatment.

        If I had been cis and asked for the morning after pill and got the ‘treatment’ I got through the Alberta gender system, I would have given birth by the time they’d gotten around to treating me properly.

        Scurvy isn’t the result of a birth defect. It’s the result of a person not getting what they were physiologically wired to require, and thence does it appear that their body betrays them. I feel the same way about gender dysphoria.

        • 63 Dave November 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm

          It sounds like the Canadian health care system is rather unresponsive and full of bureaucratic entanglements. Fortunately it’s not that way everywhere. With private health care in the US, we have a wide range of choices that can streamline access to care – albeit at greater personal expense.

      • 64 col November 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

        Dave it’s interesting the alignment you make with the standard deviation and bell curve .It has got me thinking..

        With the term “wrong body”, as a trans person, never wanting to specify any gender in my life, maybe even the word androgyne fits…I have never felt in the “wrong body”. As far as i know it is a western made up term to take control.

        Anyone who is told they are “wrong” whether it be physically, mentally, whatever, is basically being subjected to sub concious violence, as far as i am concerned, because then they will try to make themselves “right”, and thats an illusion because there is no wrong of right..there just “is”..just to “be” whatever makes one happy…. and yes if that involves body modification to make one feel happy, then so be it, that is ones choice…and that in itself is a huge variation as we all do our own thing in different ways.

        Going back to your comment how variation occurrs in nature, this itself explains that the world is not So Black and White, it is fluid, gender is fluid, not 2 box’s out there, binary gender, for power and control, to divide and rule..

        nothing is solid..thats quantum physics law..its everything we know that exists..

        If you would like to watch a 3 minute animation I made on about an Intersex friend of mine many years ago please do i would be honoured..they speak the truth..

      • 65 col November 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

        and yeah..KIm, really like what you say..totally can relate…thankyou
        peace, light and joy

      • 66 valeriekeefe November 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

        Yes, but at least I don’t have a full-bore panic attack everytime I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. I also don’t lose my insurance since they won’t blame any further malady on the fact that I am trans as some insurers do in the US.

        But yeah, I’d love if, like in the UK, I could order from Inhouse Pharmacy and stuff the system.

  42. 67 Andrew Gills November 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    C’mon … Really? Have you no compassion or empathy for a man who is going through second puberty in the public eye? Of course he’s going to say things that upset some corners of the community and thing he says are going to be taken out of context.

    It should be obvious Chaz Bono doesn’t represent the whole trans community. And he shouldn’t be made to feel that he does.

    I think he’s incredibly brave for putting himself out there and just trying to live his life. Most of us never ever have to deal with the media so we can say whatever we want and not worry about it being taken out of context or being given more importance than it deserves.

  43. 68 witchymorgan November 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I gotta say I need to be critical of Chaz Bono’s “bravery” for coming out as trans. What does he have to fear? He isn’t going to be physically attacked, he doesn’t have to worry about losing his job because he came out, he doesn’t have to worry about being kicked out of his place, or having to do sex work for money. As a rich white person, there is almost no risk for coming out. The braver folks are the poor people of color that come out as trans and are forced to live on the streets.

  44. 69 samallama November 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Absolutely right — he doesn’t represent me. His comments sound incredibly immature in those interviews. Perhaps in time he’ll grow up to rethink his words. I do however respect all the flak he took during DWTS, not a show I’ve watched before.

    As a white youth in the 1970s, it actually did involve considerable risk coming out, and I did live on the streets, witchymorgan. There’s still considerable risk because there are so few laws existing to ensure any degree of civil rights. But I agree – the braver folks are people of color who come out as trans. .

  45. 70 soahc November 19, 2011 at 12:22 am

    So fed up with ALL labels. Trans, woman, man, straight, gay, bi. Fuck all of them. The only thing I am comfortable saying about myself regarding gender and sex is that – was born with testicles, I like to have sex with women, and could impregnate a woman without medical help. Labels can suck my dick.

  46. 72 Shamela Andrews November 19, 2011 at 12:43 am

    You’re very young and probably have little in common with Chaz beyond being subject to the attention celeb kids get and whatever you share as two transgendered people.

    Chaz’s background is different from yours, and so is his experience, including Cher being less than accepting of him being a “Lesbian” and then her recent struggles with accepting him as a man — altho she’s come around.

    Comparing dads, something that Chaz shared on the Stern Show this week is that Sonny was very traditional Italian and controlling. Politically, Sonny was in a different stratosphere from your own dad. And even though he was accepting of Chaz as a “Lesbian,” he actually sponsored anti-gay marriage legislation.

    Chaz and Sonny didn’t speak for the last year of Sonny’s life.

    I also don’t think it’s fair for YOU to LABEL Chaz as appointing himself as the spokesperson for the transgendered. I’ve never heard him refer to himself that way or in that role and it isn’t consistent with other things he’s said.

    Bottom line: Chaz is sharing about his OWN experiences and feelings. To assume that all transgendered people feel and think and vote the same and have identical histories is as foolish as drawing a stereotype about any other “group.”

    Maybe when you’ve gained a few more years and have found a sense of humor and more of an acceptance of others who are — ironically — different from you, you’ll appreciate Chaz more.

    He cracked me up on Stern when he said that, with Testosterone, he suddenly found that his girlfriend talks too much when it didn’t occur to him before. Is that misogynist? To a newfound, bristly “feminist,” maybe, but to anyone who’s witnessed the adult human experience for a few years, it’s f’ing FUNNY.

    You have an absolute right to your feelings and reactions, but so does Chaz.

    • 73 valeriekeefe November 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

      I found it cute that you didn’t think Stephen had to deal with unsupportive parents.

      • 74 witchymorgan November 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

        Uhh… Am I the only one noticing the rampant adultism happening in these comments? Just because someone is young does not invalidate their knowledge or lived experience. Stephen doesn’t need to “gain a few more years” to know what his experience is and to also be knowledgable about social justice issues.

        I don’t need to be 50 years old to spot a misogynist when I see one and to know that I don’t have to tolerate oppression.

  47. 75 reb November 19, 2011 at 1:26 am

    To Al,

    I seriously doubt that your idea of a feminist would resound with many women. Using the term “nasty sacks of tumor” is not how I like to refer to women’s bodies. I would prefer that others do not refer to them that way either. This is in no way an argument for or against others’ choice to keep or do away with their breasts. I would not want to affect anyone’s choice over what they do with their own body. But I’m keeping my breasts and they are not saggy either. Let’s use kind language.

  48. 78 Kyle November 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I got here via the NY Post. I’m a trans man, and it’s made me go back and read other things you’ve written on here. I have to say you’ve put a massive smile on my face, and I’m very glad that I’m not the only one thinking these things. I have spoken up and made the same points elsewhere but always get shut down. So, thanks for posting this.

  49. 79 Emily Somers November 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I was recently introduced to your blog and I appreciate your well put comments.

    But I must say — as far as trans people go — our rule seems to be to eat our own first.

    I don’t think Chaz is the most articulate man I have ever met, but I’m not so sure he self-appointed himself to be Grand Ipissimus of all things trans. That was, to put it rather simplistically, a media conjuration. From my perspective, not too many people were willing to adopt this role, and I think he was fairly well positioned to play it (and played it quite well.)

    Some of what he says resonates with my experience; some of it doesn’t. Some of what he says seems helpfully elaborative; some of it makes me cringe. I understand the misogyny/essentialism critique. But I’m a little sympathetic–being in the early stages of my own transition (5 months HRT), I’ve realised a thing or two about the neurobiological activity of hormones. I wouldn’t reduce those to basic claims about ‘male brains’ and ‘female brains’, but I also can’t accept that neurobiology is only a cultural construct — a claim popular in the social humanities, which leads to no end of derision from our colleagues on the other side of campus.

    I know there’s a great deal of debate (if not outright infighting) about narratives and discourses that claim or explain a transgender experience, which we all know is as diverse as the number of people who identify with the term. Granted, Cisland may want to know a simple formula to interpret (pathologize?) trans individuals. Quite frankly, the ‘trapped in the wrong body’ trope always worked for me, but I clearly know it doesn’t for others. I think a lot of types of stories rely on clichés at first because they’re most accessible to a mainstream audience. There’s something about a little boy trying on high heels that immediately signals to an audience that something non-normative is brewing, particularly readers for whom non-normative gender identity of any kind is cause for alarm (or at least stress). The problem, though, is that after a while these clichés kind of take over the whole discourse, and through repetition they end up simplifying what is in fact a complex and individualized process.

    So how does someone in the media spotlight present a trans identity that avoids stepping on the blogosphere’s toes? Is it really necessary — and it may be, however clunky and awkward — to preface absolute every statement with, “In my experience as a trans person . . .” or “As I understand it as a trans identified person . . .” — don’t you think such preambles will be excised on the editorial floor anyway?

    In closing, let me just say you’ve won a loyal reader of your blog; and I hope you take my comments as an open-minded response to what I think is a useful conversation.

    Light always,
    Emily

  50. 80 Aimee November 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Wow, I’m rushing of to work but want to say I find this so far very fascinating, and am encouraged to hear trans people standing up for nin-binary folks who identify as queer.

    This is truly a change in what’s become trans dogma that I as a queer dyke have found totally oppressive.

    Wow…can’t wait to read more later.

    • 81 valeriekeefe November 20, 2011 at 12:39 am

      Well, again, if one identifies in a way that is at variance to one’s birth assignment that would kind of put them on the trans spectrum, so I’ve never seen why those trans people, like me, who identify as one of the two most prevalent sexes, wouldn’t support other trans people.

      I think perhaps you may be referring to tension that occurs when someone who says they reject gender then proceeds to identify and present as their assigned sex. It then seems like bluff talk from someone who refers to their lack of discomfort as lack of identification.

      I’m more than willing to go to bat for someone’s right to present how they see fit and to access whatever medicine they need to bring themselves in line with that identification, as well as social, economic, and political recognition. I’m just not really willing to give someone brownie points for finding a subversivist explanation for their cisness.

      Hi, I’m a queer dyke too… though given the construction of your paragraph, I’m not sure we share the same trans or cis status.

  51. 82 Jade November 20, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I completely agree, and I’m very glad I found your post in a roundabout way. Very good points, and I appreciate that someone has articulated these thoughts, which I have been thinking since that interview was first published. Great job!

  52. 83 Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) November 21, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I am a 56 year old lesbian and when I was a child I used to dream of becoming a man because I did not know I could live my life openly as a woman who loves women. Can’t speak for anyone else but I know what I felt and how I my feelings changed over time. I am now thrilled to BE a lesbian and a woman. When someone feels so strongly that their sex and gender are mixed up and/or somehow wrong, who am I or anyone else to say what is right or wrong for them? Until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you really have no idea what they are experiencing.

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/11/stephen-ira-warren-beattys-transgender-son-isnt-very-happy-with-chers-son-chaz-bono/

  53. 84 Dolly Pelliker November 21, 2011 at 6:14 am

    When Chaz got upset at the judges on DWTS for calling him cute and cuddly, it seemed that he was hoping people would see him as an intimidating, aggressive MAN instead of an endearing one. Chaz has always said his role model was his father. Off-screen, Sonny was known to be a sexist, narcissistic asshole with a Napoleon complex. Chaz is simply being the man daddy groomed him to be.
    Also, I don’t think Chaz has deliberately appointed himself the spokesperson for all Trans people. As he stated on his final appearance on DWTS, “…“I came on this show because I wanted to show America a different kind of man. If there was somebody like me on TV when I was growing up, my whole life would have been different.” He may have issues with misogyny and narcissism but he has courageously opened up a national dialog about the Trans world. Give him credit for that. It’s up to the rest of you to expand on the subject and inform the public as Stephen is doing…although I could do without the overly academic presentation :)

  54. 85 Niklas November 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I am also a trans* man. If Chaz really made these extremely dumb statements – OMG that is shocking and pathetic. I also do not feel represented by bullshit like this in any way.

  55. 86 Dave November 22, 2011 at 12:40 am

    You should know that a large number of older trans people have lobbied the APA and the International Gender Dysphoria Association for years, asking that they stop classifying transgender people as having a psychological disorder, and instead reclassify it as a birth defect – a medical disorder. It makes good logical sense, and helps take away the stigma associated with mental disorders. Furthermore, the only real treatment for the transgender condition is a medical one – gender reasssignment surgery and hormone treatments. You can’t “fix” the brain. Another advantage to a birth defect/medical classification rather than psychological classification is that health insurance is more likely to cover the cost of surgery and medication.
    Not everyone will agree with the elder statesmen of the trans community, but you really do need to think it all through, just as they have for many decades. Once you understand all the alternatives and challenges, a birth defect classifcation might not seem the worst thing in the world.

    • 87 Stephen November 22, 2011 at 2:25 am

      I do know that, actually. I think that may be a step forward–lobbying for it to be a physical condition, I mean–if only on a practical level (i.e. getting people access to care) but I’m not sure. I worry that it’ll only continue the cycle of pathologizing trans bodies and minds, as has been done by the medical profession since transgenderism became understood as a discrete concept.

      For me, a birth defect classification is not okay. In fact, it is deeply hurtful to me when others suggest that I have a birth defect. Some of my fellow trans people may experience themselves this way, but many do not, and blanket statements should not be made.

      • 88 Dave November 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        I think there needs to be some acceptance that some sort of classification is inevitable. The best we can do is work for the most accurate ones with the fewest unintended consequences. Our society, and especially the scientific, medical, insurance, and legal communities, have a legitimate need to classify pretty much everything, especially anything that is not typical. There also has to be a recognition that sexuality and gender identification are not binary – they exist on a gradual continuum. That’s a much more difficult thing to classify, and it’s going to take time for the world to sort out. Whatever is done, it cannot make everyone happy.

        • 89 Stephen November 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

          I guess the difference between our paradigms is that I have a little more faith in our ability to go beyond current paradigms, Dave. That may well just be because I’m young and idealistic, but you know, I’ll take the opportunity to be young and idealistic while I can.

  56. 90 Kim Pearson November 22, 2011 at 3:57 am

    He has never claimed to represent you, the entire community, etc. This is his story and his life. I will argue his right to self define in anyway he wishes just as you may do and I would defend you as well. He has no choice about being public. He is doing the best he can, which is all any of us can do. When you find yourself on television, getting death threats and such you can handle it however you see fit. It is pretty easy to sit in the comfort of your own home and criticize the work and experience of others. The fact is he is making a difference and many people relate to him. Some are even moved to be more supportive of transgender people.

    We can choose to focus on our differences or we can choose to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It is up to each of us to decide.

    • 91 Stephen November 22, 2011 at 5:58 am

      Chaz is choosing to put himself out there, and I think he does it with the knowledge that he has become one of the most prominent trans male voices in mainstream media. He has, intentionally or unintentionally, gained a lot of responsibility.

      I agree that these arguments between trans folks shouldn’t dominate the discourse–in the way the cissexist mainstream media is attempting to cause, not me–but I also don’t see that focusing on our differences precludes making a difference. Once we’ve all learned to be more inclusive of one another, we can be a stronger movement, in stronger solidarity, and with a better chance of effecting structural change. Whatever good Chaz is doing could only be augmented by being more inclusive in his language.

      (I see you’re a TYFA member, by the way. Glad to see TYFA people in comments–knowing some of the people in your organization influenced my teen years in a really important and hopeful way.)

      • 92 Kim Pearson November 22, 2011 at 6:14 am

        Chaz would have been “out there” no matter what he did. He has chosen to try to be helpful. He is living and learning under a magnifying glass. He is going to make mistakes. It is my observations that he learns from his mistakes and takes criticism very well. It is also my observation that much of what he says is taken out of context and his personal disclaimers are never included. For clarification the “you” in my post was a general “you” not a specific “you”. I have found that Chaz is very clear that his experience of his gender and journey is not representative of other peoples experience. I really wish that we could assume good intention and reach out with honest sharing of ideas rather taking shots at each other. I am on the receiving end of many of these conversations and honestly it sometimes makes me wonder why people put themselves out there at all. Being an advocate in this community is not for the thin skinned.

        I’m glad you remember us. We certainly remember you.
        Namaste,
        Kim

      • 93 valeriekeefe November 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

        @Kim

        Honestly, no. There would’ve been about five seconds of late-night monologue fodder and that would’ve been the end of it. You don’t think Amanda Simpson could’ve taken the opportunity she was given to become a celebrity trans activist? Think she couldn’t have been a regular staple on the Sunday shows? She instead felt she’d do more good by serving the administration’s political goals instead of her own. (and looking at the record of the administration, especially when it comes to trans rights, I’d say that was a defensible choice.)

        We trans people do have a choice over the degree to which we are out. What we do not have short-term control over is the violence of the reaction to the discovery of a person’s trans status, though I think that in continuing to be out and proud, those of us who are openly trans do increase visibility and diminish the power of pernicious stereotypes.

  57. 94 veemarge November 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful and discerning post on Chaz Bono. When I heard the interview in which he denigrated women I was surprised and saddened; your essay articulated, far better than I could have, the problems I had with his comments. I look forward to reading supermattachine on transgender issues (which befuddle me) and developing a post-racist mindset in a racist society. Thank you.

  58. 95 realsupergirl November 27, 2011 at 4:56 am

    I totally agree with much of what you say here, yet I also know trans men personally who feel the same way as Chaz. I think both his voice and your voice (and many many others) are important and make the trans/genderqueer community lively and interesting. There is no one voice of the trans community – and there shouldn’t be.

  59. 96 Emmjay November 28, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Well said! I, too, have been ever more frustrated and appalled by the canonization (exaltation might be a better word for it) of Chaz Bono in the media, especially in light of the misogynist and separatist points of view he has espoused of late.

    Good for you for standing up and pointing out that your community should not be represented by this one person. I do wish him the best, and I can only imagine how it must be difficult for him with the celebrity spotlight that he has grown up with. However, when he speaks for others (without their permission, it seems!) he risks making a mockery of a community, especially where his beliefs seems to be so far off track. Honestly, the antics that I’ve seen, from his conflicted viewpoints to his callous misogynism, scream identity crisis, which I feel is ironic, given that the transgender community has faced such a struggle with dispelling notions that there is any abnormal psychology underlying their identities.

    Additionally, Chaz seems to be playing the Victim, while at the same time, taking a free pass at making diminutive remarks against populations of people he does not consider himself to be a part of. It just seems exploitative of him; it irks me to no end. And he’s gotten a free pass from most of the media. The problem is, there’s inevitable backlash from such egregious hypocrisy, and when that happens the whole transgender community pays the price. No fair! If he’s gonna be that way, he should carry the mantle for himself, not for an entire population of people! You said it best though, Stephen, I tip my hat to you, and I think your words on the subject should be reprinted in every newspaper, every magazine, every history book, for that matter.

    Also, I was not aware of the nasty/bigoted remarks made against Chaz by individuals from some major media outlets. I am glad you called those out. No one needs discourse like that- it absolutely has no place in civilized society!

    Stephen, you’re classy and you’re smart, and your insights are truly appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for making the world a better place by raising the public discourse on matters for which society is clearly still evolving. You seem really self assured and well adjusted – in contrast to the display of a neurotic head case, happening, courtesy of Chaz – and normal and your blogs have given me a totally different perspective of the transgender community as representing completely normal, balanced people, no different than the rest of us.

    By the way, I had assumed that people like you were a much better and more fair representation of this community, but from my personal life/experience, I’ve only people like Chaz carrying the torch. What I had seen in my own life did not ‘jive’ with what I felt had to be true. Now I know otherwise, and it feels good to have that resolved. I also hope that as many people see your blog as possible, because you are a great example for any human being to follow- and sadly the transgender population is still marginalized. Perhaps your fine example can be a beacon for others.

    When it comes to the evolution of social issues – at least from what I’ve seen – I think that once society reaches a point that a population is no longer perceived as a threat, that population is embraced as a novelty – but only in a superficial sense. The individuals or groups representing that population, and their collective conduct/statements/choices really forge that path for how that population is perceived many years down the road, even if they are never known other than as symbols. It’s not how it should be, but we should be aware, that is how it is. Policies are influenced and so are peoples’ hearts and minds. Chaz, God bless him, is not being a very responsible steward of that during his time in the spotlight, and you have set the matter straight in a very classy, forthright articulate way. I hope he learns his lesson and has the strength to reflect and reconsider his role in all of this.

  60. 97 gloria November 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    chaz or chasity had always troubles being a kid of famous ppl
    we all know he dislikes her mom a great deal
    but through it all he is using his mom the get that attention he needs
    i felt very unsure after his trans
    the way he speaks about lesbian is very below the belt
    makes you wonder if you will and can be accepted in the society just by becoming a male and marry
    i can not accept the way he is talking about women in general,and i also have question marks for his girl friend they are both lesbians his girl fiend feel in love with a woman now she wakes up next to a man what a affect will this have on the lesbian comunity ?i love waking up next to my woman xxx

    • 98 valeriekeefe November 28, 2011 at 9:36 pm

      Can you just call him a vacuous douchebag, which he is, without degendering him? That would be nice.

      It would be nice if approval of trans identities weren’t constant a condition of being a nice person. That would be pretty sweet, then we could acknowledge, that yes, some trans people, just like some cis people, are fucking jerks, just like, apparently, being a lesbian (like me) doesn’t seem to divorce you from the unfortunate side-effects of being a bigot.

      Because now you have put me in the unwelcome position of having to get between Chaz, manly mcdudebro, and yet another cissexist person with bad grammar. It feels like watching two school bullies fighting and just hoping you’d both lose.

      And yeah, I love waking up next to my girlfriend and tickling her if she’s being too lazy to get out of bed.

      • 99 gloria December 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

        Hello Valeriekeefe
        forgive my poor English am European
        the fact of the matter is we came along way in (this part of the world) with equality we finally have equal rights and marriage, Now we have to fight again, towards some cultures who doesnt aprove of our orientation
        and want us all to go back into the closet,right yes
        marring a man and if you dont do what they want they hit you.
        great believe that is,,women still have a long way to go to get same rights.as male,(most of them )do think they are god and play god
        But than all that gender switch from chaz bono
        i respect him for coming out like that,but i trully believe he should have more respect for women in general
        his mom (and i cant blaime her tbh )wants be Treated with respect
        so maybe he should read and listen more to his mother and take that page out of his mom book
        cant trully believe what he is saying,but somewhere i
        dont understand it he behaves like yeah women dick me,well i dont sorry,if you cant treath me with any respect or dignity,dont waste my time
        if this is what gender switch means and is doing to you,yeah well than sorry i dont need it,all that macho talk,im not wating for all that
        never like men in that way,never have never will
        most of them i know smell aswell
        i love women,(not all women)but you get what i mean i hope?well in general,but i love my woman,and im happy with her she smells great and is clean,,we are all a bit of a bigot i quess,cant be helped,but i try very hard to have respect for ppl,even though i cant always understand what it they seem to have against lesbians or gay,but chaz yes it hurts,but the q remains now if he talks about women like that does this inclued all the women in his life aswell?or is it just some women?

        • 100 valeriekeefe December 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

          You talk about having achieved equality in Europe. In Sweden, for example, for trans people, sterilization is a precondition for access to medicine. That’s a level of cold cruelty that I simply cannot parse.

          You want to talk about people who use violence against people for not conforming, but apparently the campaign of sterilization and denial of treatment and just generally hoping we die quickly enough to not be a problem in the developed and developing world just doesn’t rate your attention.

          And no, Chaz did not become a misogynist because he transitioned (He didn’t switch genders, he was always a man.) but what’s truly problematic is that your respect for his gender is conditional on whether or not he says or does things you like, which isn’t a case when it comes to cis people.

          Chaz is a vapid, shallow, fraction of an adult, but he is still a man.

          And yes, estrogen is the best fragrance, in my opinion, but still, I’m adult enough to realize my opinion is subjective.

          • 101 gloria December 15, 2011 at 8:39 am

            hi valeriekeefe
            no i dont mind that chaz was born a man thats a fact of life,i dont like his mouth thats different,get what i mean i dont like the way he talks about women thats all that he is a man no problem at al.i respect that and him
            yes your right about sweden there, we are aware of all (in europe)that,and doing what we can to fight against their cruelty,the problem is Sweden is not a member of the European Union and has its own currency, the Swedish Krona, and has now held benefit.because It’s bad economic field with several countries to join the Euro. This weakens the exchange rate of the Euro,but that also means they wont let some (eu )in their kitchen so its hard to tell,what they are doing,
            but i wish my country would shake that euro and leave its nothing but troubles sofar i like to debate with you honest has nothing to do with right or wrong gives me different few on things,europe is to much involved in their own budget deficits and public debt,so at this point they dont care
            its to complex to explain it at this point,but yes money ofcourse and politics ofcourse,dont known where you are (part of the world)but to unite europe we need to have one language,like english,now its like 20 0r more different languages all together,thats hard
            subjective:can mean different things yours you mean !is individual or personal?again i like chaz honest its a great,person and i have great deal of respect for him thank you valerie wow this is amazing

  61. 102 Ben Dover November 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Is being born deaf a birth defect?

    • 103 Stephen November 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Lots of people who are Deaf do not consider it so. Look up “Deaf culture”!

      • 104 Ben Dover November 29, 2011 at 3:26 am

        In response to my (mysteriously absent) post asking just one thing: “Is being born deaf a birth defect?”

        Stephen writes:
        Lots of people who are Deaf do not consider it so. Look up “Deaf culture”!

        Pretty transparent attempt at evasion there Stephen – I’m asking YOUR opinion.

        • 105 Stephen November 29, 2011 at 5:54 am

          Sorry, apparently there were technical difficulties.

          I don’t want to speak to or define the experiences of Deaf people, because I’m not Deaf, but if you’re asking for my personal opinion exclusively: No, I don’t think being Deaf is a birth defect. In fact, I think “birth defect” is a pretty meaningless and ableist idea right from the get go.

          • 106 Ben Dover November 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

            (Sorry for repost, just want it to appear as a reply to your last)

            As much as I disagree with you, I appreciate your forthrightness.

            It must get harder, though, the more the example is extended: Throw in being born blind and/or deaf and/or paralyzed and/or any-mental-”illness” you choose. The quotes are necessary (right?) because they’re all just examples of being differently configured.

            Can you give an example of something you think IS a birth defect? (Other than being a SWM! ;-)

            • 107 Stephen November 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

              I guess I can. The first thing that comes to mind is Harlequin-type ichthyosis. I think it says something a little weird about me that that’s the very first thing I think of, ha. I’ve been wanting to write a poem about that for literally years! The wiki link I’ve posted here isn’t too upsetting, but don’t search for pictures if you have difficulty with exposed flesh etc. Not in the nudity way, in the illness way.

  62. 108 Ben Dover November 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    As much as I disagree with you, I appreciate your forthrightness.

    It must get harder, though, the more the example is extended: Throw in being born blind and/or deaf and/or paralyzed and/or any-mental-”illness” you choose. The quotes are necessary (right?) because they’re all just examples of being differently configured.

    Can you give an example of something you think IS a birth defect? (Other than being a SWM! ;-)

  63. 109 TQnation December 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    After reading that blog post, in my opinion it’s hard to take some quotes from different interviews, put them all together and make me believe your case. Having met Chaz and spent time with him, he is not a misogynist. What I feel, is that he was a “baby trans man” who wasn’t Politically Correct with everything he said. I think in the beginning, some trans men do feel a pull against anything and everything “woman” and it can appear to be very misogynistic. Some also try very hard to be everything they stereotype as “male”, even if they are incorrect. To them “All men” do this or that…when, obviously, that is not the case. I remember getting picked on by trans guys for seemingly acting like a gay male. At first, I tried to be “macho” and what I thought more “man-like” until I realized, the whole point of being trans is being MYSELF, so why be trans and then still pretend. So what if I sometimes act like a gay man?? Who cares. I think in time Chaz will get to that point himself and finally be comfortable enough with who he is to where he can embrace women as many men do instead of giving in to previous stereotypes.

  64. 110 Francine December 3, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I think Chaz is entitled to his point of view, wrong right or indifferent. While your view point may differ from his, it is my belief that you should advocate your own position in life if you so choose without knocking the next. You were born w a silver spoon in your mouth, obviously educated and probably gifted. Hopefully you will find your meaning.. You are way too young to be so critical Of anyone. Good luck to you….I ain’t mad

  65. 111 Jaime December 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    This is such an important post. I have been having a very hard and very good dialogue with a transman friend on my Facebook page after posting a link to a story about this post. As a lesbian And ally to trans folks i was horrified to read his sexist drivel in the NYT. I am so happy that you chose to speak out on this. Thanks for being a great ally to women and for checking another transman on his crap. We NEED to do this for and to each other if we want things to change.

  66. 112 kdt December 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Wow. Ok, thank you for calling out sexism and misogyny, BUT, wow.

    You state this:

    “It’s beyond that, though. Chaz is a misogynist. He is a trans man who seems to believe that his female-assignedness and his female socialization makes him immune from being a misogynist, and he is manifestly wrong.”

    but then moments later say this:

    “And yeah, the guy didn’t spend his formative years in communities where people were actively talking about trans men and male privilege. (They were too busy having useless radfem dialogue about trans women and their “male privilege.”)”

    which in one fell swoop vilifies radfems and their participation in this discussion and ignores the import of that entire discussion. Specifically, if female socialization hardly makes one immune from being a misogynist (correct) than how is it that male socialization doesn’t also inculcate issues of male privilege that need to be battled against just as hard by transwomen?

    And really, are you calling out Chaz for being a “rich white straight trans guy”? Really?

    I’d ask you not to speak for this radfem black dyke, then.

    • 113 Stephen December 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Ok, I get wanting to reclaim the term radfem, but as a trans person, it stings and scares me whenever I hear it. I associate the term “radfem” with people like Dirt, Janice Raymond, and Mary Daly, who are just like, genocidally transphobic, because that’s the word they use to describe themselves. In my community, we use “radfem” often as a shorthand for “2nd wave, transphobic pseudofeminist.” I get that you want to use the term in another context, but please respect that for people in my community, that word is not representative of actual radicalism; it is representative of people who want to hurt us and exclude us from the feminist project. You have a right to claim any term you want for yourself, but if we react with fear and distress to that term, that is because of your movement’s problematic history, for which you need to take responsibility as long as you align yourself with “radical feminism.” I really want radical feminism to be liberated from the transphobic history that it has, but unfortunately we have a long way to go, as evidenced by your comment’s insistence that trans women have male privilege.

      Trans women don’t have male privilege. They have had male privilege, yes, but upon transitioning, trans women lose their male privilege. Transphobic feminists have brought up the idea that trans women have male privilege as a way to exclude them from women’s spaces, including vitally needed services like rape crisis centers, and important cultural landmarks, like Michfest. Trans men definitely have male privilege, and I would never contest that–it’s a complicated kind of male privilege, and it definitely doesn’t work the same way as cis male privilege, but it’s very much there. I notice it and try to check it in my daily life.

      All of which is to say: You may be comfortable with the term “radfem” but many trans people aren’t, and we’re uncomfortable for really valid reasons. I don’t know whether you’re cis, but if you are, please check your cis privilege.

      Hell yeah I’m calling Chaz out for being a rich white straight trans guy, especially since he doesn’t seem to have any notion of what his privileges are! I’m many things, but I’m not a rich white straight trans guy. I’m definitely a gay white trans guy whose economic status is complex and fairly shitty for a number of personal reasons related to my trans status. (I’m not going to explain the last one any further.) It seems like maybe you’ve made some pretty intense assumptions about my life with this comment.

      • 114 kdt December 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm

        Stephen, you are making so many assumptions about my life as well it is also shocking.

        There is such a long and varied history of “radfemness” that reducing it to transphobes like Janice Raymond (who, i agree, make up a loud and significant STRAIN of radfeminism) is like reducing the entire feminist movement to a racist, homophobic and classist movement because of Betty Friedan. That definition of radfemness is narrow and shallow and betrays a certain ignorance of women’s radical politics. Radfems like Shulamith Firestone actually set the stage for making a space for a different (radical!) understanding of gender and Audre Lorde and Barbara Smith certainly do not occupy the space you purport to define radfem anything. I don’t need to “liberate” radfem politics from a transphobic history because those women you cite are one part of a very variegated movement. I wouldn’t reduce or essentialize that movement any more than I would essentialize transhistory to Chaz’s experience. Hence my being a bit a-gog at what you have said here.

        Apparently, making room for multiple experiences doesn’t stretch? But part of living on the fuzzy end of the lollipop is realizing that you don’t enjoy the privilege of individuality.

        I didn’t say transwomen have male privilege. I actually don’t believe that (that is an assumption on your part). To the contrary, I said (agreeing with you) that in the same way that it is ridiculous to believe that Chaz couldn’t be misogynist because he was socialized as a girl, there is equal work to be done by transwomen to confront their own issues surrounding the male privilege that was conveyed to them when they were perceived to be boys/men, no matter how toxic and noxious (and fleeting!) that categorization was or how toxic and hurtful it was for that transwoman to be perceived that way. As you note, socialization does not allow for immunity to the racist, sexist, classist society we move around in. As you also note, and we are in agreement here, any idea of male privilege with regard to transwomen (or people period), is extremely *complicated*, but it still *exists*.

        We all carry our privileges with us. All of us. We unpack them as much as we can, but we carry them. And part of being true allies is about acknowledging those things.

        I’m not sure, speaking of privilege, how being aware of a much wider scope of radfeminism is exerting cis privilege? Am I eschewing cisprivilege somehow simply by scorning and rejecting all things redfeminist?

        As previously noted, movements, especially those on the left, have many wings. Would you say you didn’t support the Civil Rights movement because of the work of the Weathermen? The Black Panthers? Should anyone who supported the work of the Black Panthers be accused of “not checking their privilege” because the Panthers were (in some circles, if you ignore the work of Elaine Brown and others) notoriously misogynist? Or do you acknowledge that misogyny, head on, and contextualize the movement within the period and the work?

        I do carry and exert cis privilege because I am not trans. Where I can, I try to counter that, but this is an ongoing, daily work. However, as the scion of a well-heeled Hollywood family, your being so unequivocal about rejection in this discussion bears the mark of someone whose privilege informs your own political discussion.

        If I used your formula, I wouldn’t be able to hold conversations with many people. And I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to advance my work struggling for equality amongst LGBTQI POCs and women.

        • 115 Stephen December 23, 2011 at 2:23 am

          Ok, I get you–radfem discourse isn’t limited to transphobic thinkers like Raymond etc. You want to own the term. That’s fine. But the bottom line is that the term “radfem” makes me, and many other trans folks, men and women, white and of color, straight gay bi pan etc, really uncomfortable. So, in this post, I use the term to denote transphobic radfems. I’m not alone in doing this. Lots of trans folks use the term this way.

          In this post, I think my usage of “radfem” is perfectly legit. I very much wish that “radfem” could never be used to mean that, but that isn’t the world we live in. If I lived in a world where I could call myself a radfem without engaging with a cis supremacist history, I’d do it.

          I want to tell you in as polite a way as I can that right now, you are attempting to use your cis privilege to police how trans people discourse on their own experiences with transphobic feminist doctrine. You need to check your privilege and stop policing my language. Thank you.

          • 116 Kdt December 23, 2011 at 3:49 am

            Wow. I am so not policing your language. You told me that I couldn’t *identify* as something although you have no idea of the history of the thing you condemn.

            This isn’t like we are speaking of something like the klu klux klan whose sole purpose was destruction, it was a political movement for women’s freedom, varied, polyglot and heterogeneous.

            But you try to disguise your own ignorance by shutting down conversation under the guise of privileged voices?

            Being real about history is privilege now?

            Ok, whatever makes you feel better.

            Over and out.

            • 117 Stephen December 23, 2011 at 4:53 am

              You can identify as anything you want! It’s great that you want to reclaim the term! But it is a term that makes me feel scared, and lots of others too, and it’s very important that you respect that fear in order to effectively reclaim the term.

              • 118 Nicole December 23, 2011 at 7:22 am

                Hi Stephen!

                Let me first say that I agree with much that you wrote here. I personally have been watching and reading everything Chaz Bono for months now and I have had discomfort with his anti-woman statements.

                Unrelated to anything: You might want to check out “Danger of a Single Story” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg. Chimamanda isn’t speaking about trans issues specifically, but she talks about why having a single conceptualization of a community is dangerous. I thought about this speech while reading your piece, so I thought you might enjoy.

                Now, on to why I decided to comment. Your discussion with Kdt here is quite troublesome to me. The same way you denounce Chaz as being the spokesperson for the trans community is the same reason why I am hurt by you making Janice and Mary Daly the spokeswomen for the radical feminist movement. How hurtful would it be if some cisgendered person basically said “forget what Stephen said about Chaz not defining the trans community, because Chaz is misogynistic, all trans people are misogynistic”. That is basically what you are doing when you say that since Janice and Mary are transphobic, radical feminism must be synonymous transphobia. That is simply not the case. Many radical feminists have done the work of calling out Janice and Mary on their transphobia, just as you are now calling out Chaz for his misogyny. Janice and Mary Daly do not define who I am (yes, I identify as a Black, lesbian radical feminist).

                As you do not want the transgendered community to be defined by Chaz’s actions, I would hope that you could extend that same courtesy to the radical feminist community.

                BTW: saying that other transgendered people use “radfem” as a derogatory term is not an excuse for you to follow their example. Many straight people use “gay” as a derogatory term http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWS0GVOQPs0. That doesn’t make it right. Just sayin.

                • 119 Stephen December 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

                  Oh my gosh! Okay, I know you were engaging with me for debate in a very meaningful way, but to be honest right now I’m mostly excited that you linked to that video of Adichie! It’s one of my favorite things ever. Everyone should watch it.

                  I’ve more or less said all hat I’ve had to say about the term radfem! I think that it’s totally valid for folks to identify as radfem, and I think the term can be reclaimed effectively, but in order to do that, we have to fully acknowledge its history. Part of acknowledging its history is acknowledging that trans folks like myself are uncomfortable with it because of said history.

                  It’s not that radfem is synonymous with transphobia, but that we have to acknowledge radical feminism’s transphobic past, a statement which I stand by. That’s really all I have to say about it! I acknowledge that it’s possible to critique my usage of it in this blog post, but to be honest, I stand by it, because of what the term “radfem” has come to mean to the trans community.

        • 120 valeriekeefe December 23, 2011 at 3:35 am

          Okay, for one? Trans womyn. Two words. When written as a compound, the effect, (and in the case of many authoresses, the intent) is to dilute the womonhood of trans womyn.

          For two: No, trans womyn are not uncomplicatedly gendered as men before transition. Trans womyn don’t have male privilege. Trans womyn are offered a choice as to the nature of their oppression, but they are not liberated from their oppression by not resisting their coercive birth assignment.

          And I know Stephen might not want to get into just how well he did as a result of being a ‘scion of a well-heeled hollywood family,’ and he’s more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong, but a supportive family that didn’t delay his transition would’ve been better than a wealthy one.

          PS Also, I’m happy that things are better for you now, Stephen. (Again, if I’m wrong, feel free to shut me up)

          • 121 kdt December 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm

            Two words, totally understood.

            “Trans womyn don’t have male privilege. Trans womyn are offered a choice as to the nature of their oppression, but they are not liberated from their oppression by not resisting their coercive birth assignment.

            And I know Stephen might not want to get into just how well he did as a result of being a ‘scion of a well-heeled hollywood family,’ and he’s more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong, but a supportive family that didn’t delay his transition would’ve been better than a wealthy one.”

            No one who is oppressed is “offered a choice” as to the nature of their oppression. Oppression means that you can’t control your treatment, that is part of how oppression is presented. Maybe I misunderstand what you are arguing. I don’t understand what “they are not liberated from their oppression by not resisting their coercive birth assignment.”

            My point is that when you are *perceived* as something, whether that is white, straight, monied, “able-bodied”, right handed, blond or tall, you receive privilege based on that perception. whether you want it or not.

            so throughout history, black people actively passed as white. jews actively passed as christians. lesbian women actively passed by acting/looking femme. gay men actively passed by acting/being butch. people actively attempted to gain and portray class privilege.

            and others inadvertently receive those same privileges. so really light-skinned black people INADVERTENTLY passed and received UNWANTED white privilege (great book about this here: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Notebooks-Interior-Journey/dp/0393319016) and I know as a femme, I receive heterosexual privilege ALL THE TIME until I end that privilege by outing myself or unless I am with my butch partner. and male-assigned trans women/girls receive male privilege. Do you really think that Jennifer Boylan (http://www.colby.edu/personal/j/jfboylan/author.htm) hasn’t benefited from white male privilege?

            Do you think that gender privilege (even if only perceived, and not identified with) doesn’t begin IN THE WOMB? (Ever heard of the expression that “girl babies steal the mother’s beauty? wanna talk abortion rates in China for female fetuses?) I’m not sure how the argument could be made that everyone is subject to gender privilege except trans girls and women.

            don’t believe me? ask the scientists: http://scientopia.org/blogs/scicurious/2011/03/09/baby-boy-baby-girl-baby-x/

            as noted before, being assigned the wrong gender at birth is a hideous situation to have to grow up in and live through, however that doesn’t make it invisible and that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have ramifications. Cis folk need to own their privilege and trans folk need to own the gender privilege that was given to them, wanted or unwanted.

            just as black men need to own their misogyny, black women need to own their straight privilege (when necessary), etc. WE ALL HAVE PRIVILEGE that affect the way we move in the world and being trans doesn’t create a magical eraser for those privileges.

            • 122 valeriekeefe December 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

              See… here’s the thing. You don’t need to pretend to be someone you’re not when you pass for someone you’re not to enjoy privilege.

              I’m usually perceived as cis unless someone is in a position to procure my identification. I have some subset cis privilege. I don’t suffer for it. I’m not constantly punished by my brain and body for not standing up and erasing that privilege.

              To ascribe male privilege to trans women is to assume that they aren’t punished, discouraged, and dissuaded from every iota of female expression. Cis homosexuals in Iran don’t get straight privilege after agreeing to an unwanted and forced transition. This isn’t the same thing.

              And what’s more, trans women, pre-transition trans women, don’t get gendered uncritically as male, and if you don’t believe me, there are myriad narratives I can cull, starting with the very public sexual assault I went through at the age of fifteen when a boy groped my breasts and I, holding a live microphone at the time, told him to stop. Two hundred people. The amount of beatings I took and the insinuations about my sexuality AND MY GENDER… or you could ask a friend of mine who will remain nameless who, as a male-presenting child about eight years old was regularly called ‘girl-with-a-dick.’

              Trans women are not read uncritically as men. And for that matter, I’m tired of people who seem to manage to repeat the sins of the second-wave minus one or two more objectionable elements.

              You want to talk about Chinese misogyny and the wave of selective abortions and the gender gap in suicides? Fine, but Chinese women edge men in terms of suicides. In the Western world, men kill themselves twice as often as women. For every fourteen people who die on the job, thirteen are men.

              I have lots of privilege. I’m western. I’m educated. I’m white. I’m working-class, I speak the dominant language fluently. I did not have male privilege growing up as an erased trans girl in the eighties and nineties. I had a Hobson’s choice.

              • 123 anivad January 5, 2012 at 7:54 am

                Question: Why are you assuming that your experiences as a trans woman speak for all trans women? Isn’t that exactly what people are accusing Chaz of doing for trans men?

  67. 124 Kdt December 24, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Um, no one said privilege was fun. Privilege gives perks and access. It provides various cookies. And it comes at a price. Men kill themselves earlier because the price of masculinity is very exacting and in the US requires certain allegiances and prices that are hard to live with.

    As Fran Leibowitz puts it, “if you are a white male in this country and you are president, you are a failure.”

    But what of the girls who don’t make it that far? The sex selective abortions? The girls pulled from school to fetch water? The girls who don’t go to school at all and are married off at 12? The babies in the west literally touched less?

    That’s real and it’s uncool to pretend those discrepancies and privilege don’t exist. They do. And we all have a responsibility to own our privilege. All of us. To deep dive how that informs our behaviors and understandings of the world. Who decides who gets exempted from that work?

    But you avoid all my points and instead live in red herring world.

    So once again, over and out. Not ally building so much trying to ignore political responsibility whilst calling others to task.

  68. 127 Kdt December 24, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Actually, have to address your last statement. Privilege isn’t something you choose to receive. You just get it because of perception. So whether or not you *identified* with the perception or *rejected* the perception is beside the point; the point is that the privilege was given.

  69. 128 anivad January 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Hi Stephen (I’m stalking your blog today, sorry. >_>). While I don’t contest that what Chaz said is problematic – especially the misogynist stuff – I think you might be going too harsh on him regarding his accounts of his experience of what it’s like to be trans. I think it’s unrealistic to expect him to be aware of the diversity of trans experiences and non-binary people, or that his experiences don’t constitute those of the majority of trans men.

    I know that when I first started out, I thought that all trans people felt the same way I did, physical dysphoria and all. It was how I explained myself to family and friends when I came out to them. I had the ability to do so without being in the public eye like Chaz was, but had I been, I know I would have likewise screwed up, but it would have been out of genuine ignorance and not, as some commenters here have suggested, being a self-centred narcissistic jerk. So I’d like to give Chaz that benefit of the doubt, especially since he doesn’t seem to be someone who spends a lot of time (if any) reading online social justice blogs, which themselves exist within a fairly insular community. Sure, he should have made more effort to educate himself, given that he’s ended up as a representative of the community, but that’s a separate failure that should be separately addressed. Being a self-important cissexist narcissist who maliciously ignores non-binary identities is one thing. Being lazy is another.

    I’d like to point you to an earlier post you once made, in which you wrote: “The assumption that all trans people are upper or middle class people in liberal areas who read lots of Judith Butler just enrages me. There are, astonishingly, trans people who do not attend and will not be attending liberal arts colleges in the Northeast with LGBT Studies programs where they get to participate in symposiums on gender diversity.”

    You made a point there which I’d been trying to get across to people for a long time, and I think it applies here as well. Some people – like Chaz – did not have the privilege of that kind of education to make them acutely aware of social justice issues and the wide spectrum of trans experiences. (and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s never read any Butler.) This does not make them bad people. It makes them ignorant, and to hold this against them – even out of good intentions – is classist, and falls under what I’d like to describe as ignorance shaming. This is not to deny the hurt that their words and actions might inadvertently cause, because they do cause hurt. But to question the integrity and character of the culprit should not be the reflexive course of action. Most people mean well; seek first to educate rather than blame.

  70. 129 Chaz January 10, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Frankly, I don’t give a damn my dear.

  71. 131 Taiki January 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I think you’re wrong that Chaz saying that he can’t stand listening to gossip is a throwback to “Women should shut up and let men do the real work.” In context, that’s not what he said.

    However, where you’re right that this is ridiculously problematic is that Chaz just threw that out there with out any sort of care for how it sounded.

  72. 132 GenderQueer Ally June 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I’m a genderqueer and queer woman, and I’ve mostly dated/befriended trans women. My first exposure to trans men was Max Wolf Valero’s The Testosterone Files. Because I related to his experiences as a young female dyke leather punk who liked the Dead Kennedys so much, and I still do not identify with my chromosomal gender in many ways (a mid-life transition is still something I consider), I overlooked his misogyny after he transitioned. But it’s really the same idea.

    Max says that now, on T, his emotions are controlled and he looks back at his teens/early 20s with confusion, i.e. “What was I crying about?” He compares estrogen to T and concludes that T is superior in many ways – for sex drive, energy, and emotional control. He speaks of his female partners as mysterious beings he can’t comprehend emotionally, for he was always a man. This was his coming-out book and hopefully he’s listening to criticism about it and re-considered the logic behind some of his statements.

    For example, it’s likely that his surges of anger and higher sex drive were caused by T, but I experienced identical feelings when going through female puberty, so how much of that is simply second adolescence, we cannot say. And likewise, he compares his propensity to cry in middle age to his propensity to cry in adolescence. I can say that in my 30s, my urge to cry is man, MANY orders of magnitude lower than it was in adolescence, so he may again be conflating emotional control at different life stages with T.

    While I am disappointed with such examples of misogyny, and do hope these men will move beyond them, I do also know that we all go through awkward phases when we first come out. Mine was militant libertarianism, Austrian school economics and all. Not proud of that – and I’m considering burning my writing and diaries from that time!


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