Unpacking the Media Coverage of My WeHappyTrans Video

My WeHappyTrans video has garnered a lot of attention, and I feel now is the time to say something not just about my experience, but what my experience indicates about the way cis media covers trans bodies and lives.

Let’s examine the WeHappyTrans situation.  In this article in the Advocate, where the media attention to my video began, all of the focus is on me as an individual: my parentage, my “journey,” my gender, my sexuality.*  There is almost no talk about WeHappyTrans as a project, no mention of its creators, Jen and Noah, just the cursory explanation that it’s “a website dedicated to allowing transgender people to share their positive experiences.”  In other words, the Advocate wants you to think that WeHappyTrans exists just so that trans people can talk about our feelings.  This makes sense in the cis narrative of transness.

Vivian K. Namaste, a trans theorist, has pointed out that “autobiography is the only discourse in which transsexuals are permitted to speak.”  Cis people like when we tell stories about our struggle, but only when the struggle is confined to our subjectivity.  If we talk about the larger system of cissexism, the structural problems with the way cisnormative society defines gender–in other words, if we talk about oppression and justice–cis people do not hear us.  They certainly do not give us space to talk about these issues in the mainstream media.  They hear what they want to hear: that we are exclusively emotional beings, incapable of organizing against the threat of cis violence.

This construction of the emotionally tortured transsexual does another important job: it normalizes trans suffering.  Much of the emotional suffering that trans people have to deal with is a result of cissexism.  Lack of access to medical care, disrespect from family and peers, and constant media reminders that trans bodies are worthless and require frequent monitoring/destroying.  But if cis people create the impression through media that suffering is trans people’s natural state, they can erase the real cause of trans suffering: cissexism.

Cis writing about trans people embarks on an extraordinary discursive project: to emphasize trans people’s emotions–our human qualities–in order to reduce us to overemotional, unstable creatures, dehumanizing us in the process.  Because humans who are really human aren’t completely bound to individual subjectivities.  They can think about other people, and talk about them, and talk to them.

It’s precisely for this reason that I try to avoid talking too much about my individual experience: I know that its fodder for cissexist narratives.  And what happened when I made a video about my experiences?  Exactly what I thought would happen.  I hate being right.

All this explains why the Advocate doesn’t talk about WeHappyTrans as an organization, but instead about an individual video.  It’s impossible to talk about WeHappyTrans within a cisnormative narrative.  WeHappyTrans is an organized community effort of trans people, talking to one another, reaching out to one another to create something together.  It’s more than just a website where trans people talk about ourselves–it’s a communal consciousness raising project, an effort to destroy the idea that trans lives are exclusively comprised of suffering. Within a cisnormative narrative, this is impossible, because cis people construct us as bound to our individual subjectivities.

Cis people fear trans people who talk to other trans people.  They fear the possibility that we might build communities, organize, and take power from cis people.  So they try to pretend we don’t do it.  They try to present a version of our lives in which all the other subjects we interact with are cisgender subjects.  When cis media does show trans people interacting, they never talk about anything other than their emotions.

This is not what trans communities are like.  In my trans communities, we talk politics.  We talk oppression.  We talk intersectionality, justice, and organizing.  I’m far more likely to say to a trans friend, “Hey, are you coming to the conference next week?  I want to check out Merritt’s presentations,” than I am to start a chat about the emotional journey of my transition.  I talk about my feelings sometimes–everyone does–but like other humans, I don’t make my feelings my exclusive subject of discourse.  When was the last time you saw a piece of media in which two trans people talked to one another?  About something other than their transness?  Think of it as a harder version of the Bechdel Test.

Of course trans people need space to talk about our feelings, both our suffering and our joy.  That’s part of why WeHappyTrans exists, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that this makes WeHappyTrans an apolitical project.  When trans people talk about our feelings to one another–really talk about them, not through a cis lens–we’re doing profoundly political work.  That’s why WeHappyTrans is political, subversive, and valuable.  What could be more subversive than a happy transsexual?

Then there’s another choice that the Advocate made: they picked my video, not one of the many others on the site, and billed me as “Warren Beatty and Annette Bening’s Transgender Son.” , Because within a cisnormative narrative, a trans person cannot have value on their own. Their ideas are relevant only when they are connected to cis people, especially well known cis people.  News about celebrities makes for hits, and hits make for ad revenue. Obviously, like anyone, I don’t appreciate only being valued in relation to my parents–how would it feel if you were always talked about as an extension of your parents?–but it’s also insidious beyond that.

If my work is so banal that it’s only of interest because my cis parents make movies, why report on it at all?  When I’m billed as the “Transgender Son of Celebrities,” it implies that the work I do isn’t valuable or important.  After all, if it were, would you need the added draw of my parents’ famous names to click the link?  I really hope that what I do is of interest and value beyond giving people a chance to find out what Warren Beatty’s kid is up to.  I think it is.  I’m not saying I deserve the media coverage I get–that’s not for me to decide–but I do know that the way the coverage comes says something about the cis people creating it.

The media talks about trans people only in very specific contexts.  They talk about trans people when we are murdered, when we’re connected to famous cis people, or when cis writers feel the need to discuss our aberrant bodies for purposes of sensationalism and exploitation.  As you consume media, please be conscious of why these stories are the stories that get written and published.  And the next time you see an article on a trans person’s emotional journey, or any headlines that describes a trans person in relation to a famous cis person–don’t click on it.

* There’s also the silly and borderline unethical headline, which seems to imply that the Advocate interviewed me, something I would not agree to.  The video also isn’t news–I made and uploaded it months before the Advocate had what was presumably a slow news day.

36 Responses to “Unpacking the Media Coverage of My WeHappyTrans Video”

  1. 1 sarah July 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Terrific analysis, extending my thinking, helping me put words to my discomfort.

    • 2 Melissa Wye Geraci November 18, 2012 at 3:22 am

      While I have a Ph.D. in Political Theory, I am not up on the rhetorical discourse, what is “cis”? I agree with your analysis and I work with children with severe and profound autism. They are another part of our society that are set aside. I used to see your dad every day at Paramount, never worked with him, always worked with others, i.e., Bobby Jones.

  2. 3 Lynn G. Atkins (@maestrodivoce12) July 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    You. Rock. Making the glbT nation so proud!

  3. 4 Emily Aoife Somers July 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I deleted my own ‘WeHappyTrans’ vid because I was tired of the YouTube ‘feedback’.

    So I take your points to heart. It is true that the memoir has been the dominant (if not all encompassing) genre for trans-expression. The publishing industry likes it — particularly when the standard story gets delivered with the right pinches of agony and ecstasy. I have long complained about the voyeurism of these stories, about “peering into the life” and watching he or she “bloom/spread wings/find the true self”, and so forth.

    Still, WeHappyTrans, and the countless transition blogs and vlogs and so forth, often with a lot of well-deserved pain and frustration, remain one of the few outlets for trans self-assertion. It is evidently clear that the media will f* up any attempts to tell our stories — and stories we have, not just theories . . . I have just as much an issue with abstract hypothesis about gender subjectivity, etc, that ignores that being trans is first and foremost a lived and embodied experience. Trans people, knowing that they will end up as a media caricature or an academic test case, turn to forms of self-authorship to write themselves back into existence according to their own terms. This involves a lot of pathos, and I hope we never distrust our feelings, even if they do trend towards the joyful as well as the painful.

    It is just a matter of public entertainment that stories like transitioning appeal to the human-angle end of ‘person doing the impossible’. And, for now, that’s how we’re viewed: as something rather impossible made suddenly visible. I think that’s why WeHappyTrans is so powerful–yes, it relies on stock questions and formula; and yes it encourages a very intimate and personalized account (re: an autobiography). But if we want the diversity of our experiences to be shown, and if we want the legitimacy of our variations to be presented — we’re going to make use of whatever forums we can find.

    As for talking to other trans people about my emotions — I do so frequently.And thank heavens that I can, since this allows me to be understood with explanations, accepted without annotations, and commiserate without reservations. The affective quality of being queer is the result of our distinctive experiences. And we will show the complexity of that.

  4. 5 David July 31, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Hello Stephen, THIS IS NOT A REPLY.
    While I digest your excellent piece a bit longer before replying, I wanted to make you aware of a possible typo. Last sentence in the second to last paragraph, “I get-that’s not for my to decide…”

    Sorry to be so picky, but I thought it might have just slipped past.

  5. 6 Duncan August 1, 2012 at 2:24 am

    The cis-media always wishes to focus on our journey and wishes to focus primarily on the individual much in the same way it subscribes to the “bootstrap” theory for any minority that manages to do well. It’s easier than having to acknowledge the systemic problems in our society if we can feel better about one person.
    Random – I just want to say you are correct – “Yes the South is queer!” I’m a queer, Jewish, trans guy in Jackson Mississippi and there are trans folks and queer people here. It’s certainly harder for us, but we’re living here trying to enact change even if its just by living openly.
    Damnation! I was going to leave a link about the 2010 census information and the really high number of lesbians of color households in the Mississippi Delta (run on sentence alert), but I can’t find it. …

  6. 7 Tim Chevalier August 1, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Great essay. I think you may have also nailed the reason why so many documentaries and other stories about trans people focus on the trans people’s relationships with their cis family members (and in the worse cases, which are common, the focus is on how the cis people feel about the trans person being trans).

    Have you seen the movie “Gendernauts”? I just watched it and your piece also reminded me of it a bit, in that it’s a movie that depicts mostly-male and mostly-white trans people talking in largely abstract, theoretical ways about being trans, in a way that suggests race and class — or even, for the most part, any kind of agenda for social change — aren’t concerns for any of them. (This may not be true for all of the individual people shown in the movie, but I get the distinct impression that the director, who I’m pretty sure is cis, edited the film that way.)

  7. 8 Matt August 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    When you say ‘cis people [insert generalization]’ surely you are not actually generalizing about the 90+% of the US that is cis-gendered, are you?

    • 9 Stephen August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Surely not! I clutch my pearls at the thought of it.

      Yes, I’m generalizing about whatever percentage of the US is cisgender.

    • 11 Tim Chevalier August 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      When you ask this question, are you attempting to derail a discussion about trans people (indeed, specifically about how trans people’s voices get marginalized) and re-center it on how cis people feel about having generalizations made about them? If so, can you reflect on what is it that makes you feel the need to go into one of the few spaces where the focus is on trans people and attempt to colonize it for cis people as well?

      • 12 Matt August 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

        Stephen – thanks for your clarification, it provides perspective on the merit of your thoughts. It’s absurd to say that “cis people fear trans people who talk to other trans people”, if you mean cis-gendered, which describes many billions of people on the planet (or hundreds of millions if you’re referring solely to US culture).
        Tim – No; when I asked my question, I sought clarification on an author’s assertion in an essay. There are plenty of people who deserve your outrage more than me; some of them may even care.

  8. 13 Avory Faucette (@queeractivist) August 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Ugh, this is bully-bull-bullshit. A while back you blogged about the Ms. roundtable when it was in progress, and I wanted to respond but never got around to it. I’d hate for you to think that you were included there because of your family–my ridiculous fail when it comes to pop culture and movies actually meant that I had no idea about your parents until a while after we’d gotten to be Twitter-friends. When you followed me on Twitter I just thought of you as one of the many awesome articulate nerdy trans people on my feed, and then at some point someone saw an @ reply I’d written to you and asked me “Do you KNOW who that IS?” and told me the names of your parents. I was really, really confused because somehow I’d mixed up your dad with Warren G. Harding? And was thinking “wasn’t he president, like, a really long time ago?” Eventually curiosity did get the better of me and I Googled and found out they’re semi-famous actors, but I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen your dad in anything. Your mom did look familiar, I believe she was in An American President? That was my favorite movie in 5th grade because I wanted to be a presidential speechwriter when I grew up and at the same time was all hetero-romancey-hadn’t-discovered-teh-queerz-yet and so I thought it’d be cool if I could be a speechwriter and the president could be my boyfriend.

    All of that is to say, I just wanted to make sure you’re aware that I ❤ you for your smarts and your creative thinking and your femmenergy and not for where you come from, and that I recommended you for the roundtable because I was trying to think of a smart, interesting transguy to go with Monica representing the translady contingent and me representing the non-binaries when your name came to mind. The papparazzi are dicks, and I hate that you have to go through this kind of thing–especially from the Advocate, of all people. There are so many rad videos on that site that I really don't understand why they couldn't do some sort of uplifting story about trans people and share a few videos (including yours, but with your own damned name in the headline). I suppose even the gay press is not above this kind of thing. It does make me think, though, about how we can get positive stories about trans people in the media, and about some of the lessons I've learned from media training and how those might be applied to the LGB(T) press. I'm thrilled that WHT is getting press, as Jen and Noah really deserve it, but I hate that it has to be filtered through something like this that is painful and annoying for you and just not really the point.

    Incidentally, I don't know if you caught it, but I was thrilled to see that our videos were linked on Genderfork, one of my favorite GQ/non-binary trans sites, a place where a lot of young queers and trans folk hang out and where the videos likely actually will be helpful/uplifting for those who need it.

  9. 14 happeningfish August 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Aside from the fact that I want to go in and hard-code your em-dashes (which, incidentally, sounds like a very DFW pick-up line), I was looped for six by your analysis, and it’s great. You’re unpacking chinks in the narrative I hadn’t even thought about yet.

    On the other hand, there is the argument that, until we actually manage to transition our whole society and worldview to a non-centrist model where things like “normal” and “dominant” hold much less currency, it’s hard for you to own how people will take your message. Any artist knows, for instance, that it’s impossible to control the reception of a work. I often see (usually) queer people who try very, very hard to control the way others receive them – understandably so, since they’ve often done a lot of work to be able to receive themselves and want the same recognition from others – but in many contexts people simply aren’t ready for it.

    Sometimes people make very, uh, interesting assumptions about my gender and sexuality. But even if I end up not liking the way they take my arguments, or if they haven’t got it completely, how can I regret even a bad encounter if it helps them towards understanding?

    What do you say if some people become interested in a happy trans message because they see your video, and they only watched it because they know who your parents are? It’s awful, disgusting even, that hereditary celebrity should make you more of a spokesperson, but is that just the way we roll as a species?

    Keep writing; you’ve got such a gift.

  10. 15 L August 5, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Hi Stephen: I am just a random queer person, who caught wind of your video and was interested to hear more from you rather than all the people writing *about* you. I hope you’ll take these comments from a stranger who doesn’t know you or presume to with all the humility that I intend.

    While I think your level of outrage totally makes sense (not that you need any validation from the likes of me), I hope you’ll also consider that while nobody likes to be identified as their parents’ child instead of their own person, the publicity your (wonderful) video has gotten has brought so much visibility to the WeHappyTrans project—and isn’t that part of the point? I for one got to learn about the project and watch many of the videos only after I saw yours referenced elsewhere.

    If the cis-gender narrative is all about trans suffering, then isn’t it great that so many people are finally being exposed to another side of things? Exposure in the cis-gender community aside (which, you may argue, is not at all the point), how great that some trans kid without a support network might hear about your video and then find the WHT project, no?

    Your work and your words are worthy and eloquent and important, whoever your parents are, but while you didn’t sign up for the media frenzy, I hope you’ll at least consider that there’s certainly some good that can come from it.

    I do hope you’ll keep doing what you’re doing. You’re far wiser at 20 than most. All the best.

  11. 16 purplemary54 August 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you for this excellent analysis. It reminds me of the second wave of feminism, when “the personal is political” became the mantra. Because it’s true. I hope someday the narrative gets changed, and transpeople are treated exactly as who they are: people.

  12. 17 Marilyn August 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    A few questions if I may.
    Other “media” (cough UK tabloid Daily Mail cough) re-posted the WeHappyTrans video and made a suggestive comment about your not mentioning your parents in the list of supporters of your journey. It is – not only – my belief, as you explain on your November 18, 2011 post, that you are simply guarding what privacy you have left, especially since your own popularity through this blog and other activities has taken off like a comet! Here come the questions, finally, lol:
    Having been raised in a family that has managed to keep what’s private, private quite well, how does your new “exposure” and with that the public scrutiny and even stalkerazzi affect you and how do you (try to) deal with it? You must have realized in the back of your mind that your talent and work as an activist would eventually make you a well known person and that today’s instant media world is always “hungry for more”, even when it’s not their or anybody’s business?
    I personally noticed that media often refer to you as “Warren Beatty’s son” whenever they write something suggestive and/or negative, yet describe you as “Annette Bening’s son” when their take is more positive. What do you make of that?
    Is it just me, or has Chaz Bono stepped back a bit, since your blog post with your opinion on him was the “thing” the media picked to magnify and apparently hoped to stir controversy with?

  13. 18 David Ehrenstein August 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Stephen I understand what you mean about “subjectivity” and the insistence on turning trans into a specified narrative that doesn’ affect the status quo (heaven forbid!) But what interested me most about your video was quite simply , you. You’re not only bright but extremely well-read, a quality I find in sadly short supply in the LGBT comminity these days, particularly as regards the young. Your desire to promote “We Happy Trans” is, it goes without saying more than admirable. But the Doxa (as Roland Barthes called it — an exceptionally useful term,IMO) is interested primarily in those Pesky Parents of yours. That’s quite understandabe in light of their artistic achivements. But it’s thier “fame” the Doxa find so enticing. I’ve no doubt you’ll deal with this handily in your own way in due course. But what interests me most are your other plans. A serious and wildly sophisticated individual like you surely must have considered a career as a full resswriter, of fiction, non-fiction or both.

    And it goes without saying I’d adore having High Tea with you if al all feasible.

  14. 20 Kristen August 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I am not always happy with the cis generalization either. Maybe its the fact that I’m older than you and have more experience with seeing different segments of society mistreated. I don’t think that the trans community gets a fair shot. I agree with that. I don’t think that people only focus on the “memoir” aspect because they want to devalue the trans community. Transgender, unfortunately, is something that may not be new but society as a whole is becoming more accepting of people and things that are different.
    I volunteer at a crisis center and was thrilled to see some of the young people working there who were discussing the transgender community with compassion. It isn’t that I think the trans community doesn’t deserve it. Its that I know that there can be a mentality that anything different is freaky. You shouldn’t have to be patient and wait to be accepted completely for wh you are but sometimes I don’t think its hate as much as it is people who don’t understand or don’t always know the right thing to say.
    The famous parents thing is a double edge sword. On one hand people are curious and may click just to see the famous actor’s kid. On the other hand its a great opportunity to educate people that may not normally have been reached.
    I love quite a few people who are gay and I never really think of them as gay until someone who doesn’t know them asks a question. I do wonder why people need the label or classification. One of my closest friends struggles with the fact that he is gay and says horrific things at times. I wish he’d just tell people who don’t accept him where to shove it but that’s easy for me to say. I haven’t gone through his journey. So in that respect I do think the journey is important to share. Show people that you’re the same inside as them. You’re not reduced to genitalia but show that more importantly you have a heart and feelings.

  15. 21 Dann Dulin August 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Hi Stephen, We have an interview request for you. Where can we send it? Thanks. Dann & Kelly from IN BED WITH DANN & KELLY SHOW: http://www.DANNandKELLY.com Please email us: LionDash@aol.com

    • 23 Stephen October 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      NB, other readers: Cathy Brennan is probably not someone you want to interact with.

      I’m unable to click this link. Whatever thread it was has been removed. What’s up?

  16. 24 Carolyn in Baltimore October 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Nice circle jerk here. As a feminist I’d remind you that the enemy is males and patriarchy, not ‘cis’, which is as silly a construct as gender. Violence against both women and trans is male violence. And mysogyny is the reason.
    Be happy performing femininity.

    • 25 Stephen October 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      There is really no reason to try to have this conversation here.

      • 26 Carolyn in Baltimore October 8, 2012 at 1:54 am

        I’m talking about analysis, not the journey. The analysis does not make sense. I’m not talking about porn or sexuality or making you not people. The article keeps saying cis violence – well women aren’t violent – men are.

        • 27 Duncan October 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm

          I could understand saying violence is part and parcel of the patriarchy, but I can’t agree with the statement that women aren’t violent. What about cases of lesbian domestic abuse? What about last year when a trans woman had a seizure after she was beat in a McDonald’s by women?
          You can argue this violence from women is due to internalization of patriarchical values and that women are statistically less violent, but you can’t factually argue that women as a whole aren’t violent at all.

          • 28 Carolyn in Baltimore October 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

            Name the perpetrator: what percent of transwomen are attacked by women? Killed by women. Then name it – men are the more violent sex class. The patriarchy in enforced by men and women, but mostly men, who benefit from it.

  17. 29 Amelia October 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    You seem like an intelligent person with a valuable viewpoint but I do admit that there are ways that you do minimize your class position here or rather, don’t acknowledge the enormous benefit that you have here. I don’t know if you realize what it is like to be a member of the rabble. My father isn’t an Oscar winner but rather someone who has been unemployed and on the margins of homelessness for years. My mother has a steady job but has struggled financially to raise us her entire life. We all continue to struggle financially like so many people out there. Not just my family but my entire community gets very little attention for any of our problems. It’s just part of the background noise.

    I haven’t given either the publicity or the cultural capital that you have by virtue of your family connection. My voice isn’t considered as meaningful as yours by society by virtue of my relative class position, which means I can spend years in Queer activism (which I have) and in anti-poverty work and never get a 100th of the attention that you do. I’m not say this to minimize the relative privilege of a cis person; or to minimize the oppression that you experience as a trans man. But when you consider the intersection of oppressive identities, it is hard to stomach someone who is part of the 1% not willing to acknowledge that the publicity and the platform they receive is part of class privilege and it’s not a cross that you have to bear. So I mean, I find it difficult to feel tons of sympathy for someone who is unhappy that they are given a lot of publicity due to their family connection given the fact that others are completely ignored.

    • 30 Stephen October 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      I think that collapsing my class privilege with my parents’ fame isn’t analytically helpful. I’ve been given a very “good” education by a certain oppressive standard: white, upper class, etc. I think that’s where the cultural capital you’re trying to locate comes from, rather than from my parents’ fame. As a matter of fact, most people tend to have difficulty taking me seriously because my parents are famous. Celebrities may have a good reputation in society–though I’d debate even that at this point–but their children very much do not.

      Plus, fame and class are just two different vectors. My parents could have made their money banking, or producing movies instead of acting in them, or inventing computer technology. They could be just as rich and not famous at all, and I’d have the same amount of class privilege as I currently do.

      Lastly, as I’ve explained many times, my classed experience and classed situation is not what people tend to assume it is. I can’t expand on this more because I want to be private. Please respect that, and respect that for personal reasons related to my trans identity, I’m not necessarily in the classed position that you’d expect from the child of two very wealthy people.

  18. 31 Marilyn October 15, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Old photo, I know, but I’ve always wondered if this was you at all (the byline said it was you) http://socialitelife.com/photos/warren-beattys-daughter-wants-to-be-stephen/kathlyn-beatty-at-the-home-of-her-parents-06172010-4

    • 32 Stephen October 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Nope, not me at all, which I think you can tell if you’ve ever seen any other pictures of me. That’s a friend of mine who was coming up to my house to visit, not me.

      • 33 Marilyn October 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

        Thanks for your quick response, Stephen. I KNOW! I stumbled upon a whole herd of people on a forum who had the above mentioned picture (not you) next to a self-portrait pic in a black suit (definitely you) and their discussion (I kid you not) was about how devastating the effect of your father not being able to cope (sic) was on you, hence an obvious eating disorder resulting in the difference in appearance between the two pictures. I even registered to point out the people in the two photos were not the same person, therefore they don’t resemble each other. What followed was an interesting look into the psyche of people wanting to confirm and substantiate their own truth: analysis of both pictures and finding actual physical resemblances. Sigh. I was getting tired of it, I can only imagine how stuff like that must affect you.

  19. 34 Wallie November 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    thank you so much for being a white anti-racist. you understand what it is to have white skin privilege. you know what professor/writer David Slavin is talking about when he says we suffer from a “white blind spot.” Thank you for sharing your perspective with the world.

  20. 35 Jay November 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Stephen Ira, hi, i find your site very interesting, and think I sympathize with your experience as much as a white, Jewish, Atheist, middle-aged, straight cis male can. But I did first come to your site because of who your parents are and wondering about the psychological element of what makes you who you are, and how that effected your gender identity, if it did at all–in other words, did the psychological reality of your particular upbringing in any way contribute to your gender identity (I apologize if this is a poor choice of term–please do correct me if so), or is gender identity always 100% biological? I am curious what you think. I don’t think my curiosity is prurient–it’s just something I wonder, the way I wonder anything about anyone, hopefully without judgments attached. Just my own personal project to understand as much about everyone and everything as I can.

    All that said, I wonder about the way you associate the Advocate’s interest in your parentage with your gender identity. While every article that mentions you may mention your parents, isn’t that also true of, say, Jakob Dylan, who is straight and male? Don’t all children of celebrities, even the highly successful and accomplished ones, face this same treatment? While i don’t blame you for considering it a burden in some ways to have enormously famous parents, isn’t that just the lot of those of you born into that situation? If two people make videos on the same subject, any subject, wouldn’t we expect a mass media publication to focus on the one whose parents are famous? This situation does not seem particular to trans people to me.

    Perhaps if I’m right, you won’t feel so singled out by this treatment. Regardless, I admire you and your website, and appreciate, while realizing I am not the intended audience, the opportunity it gives me to learn about experiences I don’t encounter in my limited life.

    So cheers, peace, and a long and happy life!


  1. 1 Furthering the Narrative of Trans-Suffering Trackback on October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

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