Gratitude

                I came into this course while I was just starting to get a grasp on the fact that my gender identity didn’t quite fit the person that I thought I was supposed to be.  I have fought to project this image that I thought other people would see as desirable just for the sake of fitting in. I knew I was different (I wrote a really long email to myself about how I wasn’t male and wasn’t female) but I knew it wasn’t acceptable to just let that show without trying to hide it. So I laid claim to the title of ‘freak’ and described myself as weird while growing my hair out and putting on makeup every morning. I wore dresses and skirts even though they made me incredibly uncomfortable, which is when I discovered my love for brightly colored tights and used them to sit comfortably. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up every now and again, but it’s not me every day. Some days I’m suffocated by the existence of my breasts so much so that a binder doesn’t faze me and other days I wonder why I’ve thrown away all my push-up bras.

                So right when I started admitting that all of this might actually be something that I can’t ignore, I started this semester and was excited by the potential that all my classes had. Along the way a teacher decided I was too opinionated for my sex and one of my classes refused to contemplate the words of Foucault, Butler, and Bordo . Lucky for me, I had this class to go to right afterward and that realization basically kept me sane and fighting even when I wanted to storm out of the room screaming.

                This last paper was, while difficult, incredibly cathartic. I finished it with time to spare because I got to write about what I was passionate about. I used sources just to destroy the legitimacy of their points of view. In this class I’ve learned how to use rhetoric to understand how words can oppress without meaning to as well as set people free, with just a little tweaking. I’ve gotten much more thoughtful about every sentence I speak and have learned to listen even harder when someone disagrees with me because even I am not perfect. I learned that I love theory and the way it speaks and that a lot of people struggle with it and I love trying to explain it to them, whether the theory was in this class or not.

                As much as this class has taught me, I will be sad to let it go. However, I know that it has taught me so much that I can’t really be sad that it’s ending.  I can only be grateful to have been a part of it and been able to grow and learn with it. Basically, thanks everyone for aiding in my learning and thank you, Malatino, for giving me the freedom to take what I needed to from this course and really making me want to work to understand everything. I’ll miss you all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTa1NtpSe8s

With gratitude,

Skyler Powell

 

Also, what finals do to me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLvNHvH2bhE

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YOLO

Maybe it’s because I didn’t complete my assigned blog posts. Maybe it’s because the final final final paper I ever turned in as an undergrad was incomplete. Maybe it’s because I haven’t smoked in weeks. Maybe it’s because I just can’t give up on my college career yet.

What I’m tryna say is: I feel like I’m supposed to be writing poetry or sleeping or dancing, but instead I’m writing another blog post for this class. 

So, check out Trans* Success. As you might recall (and since you are probably just Hilary reading at this point, I bet you do), I wrote my final paper for G450 on trans* self-representation and collectivization on Tumblr, and how support networks might be formed and publicized for trans* subjects to better navigate the medical system. This post is a sort of addendum so that I might expand on a blog I didn’t consider in my paper.

I focused on the ways new media helps trans* individuals to self-narrativize outside of institutional forces that require certain ways of being trans*, and gives subjects access to support networks otherwise unavailable. The Trans* Success blog represents an interesting intersection of the ways trans* online self-expression simultaneously works as a form of storytelling and of networking, but with a normativizing impulse symptomatic of neoliberal capitalism (BOOOOOO).

So, trans* Tumbling isn’t all genderfucking accounts-of-self-given-with-a-vengeance. Some of it bespeaks near-LGBT-PRiDE levels of consumer-capitalist-non-activism. Most of Trans* Success is dedicated to the collection of historical gender non-conforming individuals who “made it” in one way or another.

While I’m not convinced queer shame and future-fucking is our gateway to a better today, I’m not sure the uplifting idea of trans* “role models” is a worthwhile (a)historical project. A particularly annoying post is about the book Female-To-Male Transsexuals In Society by Holly Devor, which partakes on a Feinbergian dive through history to claim trans* subjects from the throes of misrecognition. Queering history is for sure cool/sometimes feels like baptizing from beyond the grave, but it also has the danger of naturalizing gender, or gender non-conformativity. For instance, TS writes about this book full of role models, “Perhaps from them, we can gain strength in the knowledge that we are, we have been, and we always will be.”

One of the sections of the site is called “Be The Difference,” which, come on. TS is subscribing to the idea that social change happens at the level of the individual, and the tactics the site encourages are philanthropic at best. “Be The Difference” is a list of links to organizations that foster FTM big brothers/sister or provide books, which is pretty cool. Some of the links are to donation funds for trans* youth in need of shelter or binders or financial support, which is pretty cool. Some of the links include “Shop with LGBT Buyer’s Guide” and “Pass ENDA now,” which is not that cool. The reliance on neoliberal logics (shop like the queerest consumer-capitalist-citizen you can and make sure to get that formal equality!) elides meaningful confrontation with the systems of oppression that distribute wealth upward and insist on gender-conforming subjects who only need protections based on a claimable, rights-deserving identity.

tl;dr Tumblr’s a big place with lots of ways to tell a story, there are lots of ways to be trans*, several of those ways involve practicing neoliberalism, neoliberalism is bad.

Take care!

 Patrick beane

Aftermath

 

Since my presentation was a bit short, I just wanted to talk a little bit about my subject matter.  I studied transgendered children and their place in the foster home.  I talked a lot about these childrens’ lack of agency and what that means for them.  Let’s face it, children aren’t taken seriously anyway.  They say they don’t like a certain type of food, they’re forced to eat it anyways.  They say they want a certain job when they grow up, people don’t take that seriously.  Now, yes I know that children change their minds about million times a day.  So do adults.  My point is, what do the parents of small children, let’s say toddler age and up, decide to take seriously?  If their child says they don’t like broccoli, they probably make them eat it anyway.  If their child says they want to be the “other gender” do they take the child seriously? Or do they just assume that their child is going through some sort of phase or playing some sort of game?  It’s a tough question with no real answer.  It would obviously depend on the parents.  How much the parents listen to their children and how much they brush off as a child’s mindless blabbering.

 

My project was mostly focused on foster care.  Children in foster care are at an even bigger disadvantage.  Foster parents are not always understanding.  They might not even be nice.  If you couple that with a child who is transgendered, the results could be damaging.  That’s not to say that all foster parents are horrible.  When these children are trying to decide what they want for their own lives, they are unable to make their own decisions.  They cannot sign for medical treatments.  They might not even make the minimum age requirement for the procedures that they would want to go through.  It’s also nearly impossible to get access to any of the resources they want without a signature of a parent or guardian.  For children in foster care, this is made even more difficult.

 

I compared children in foster care who lack parental/guardian support to young children from what I’ve been calling “mom blogs” that I found online. Here is an example of one of those mom blogs:

http://mykennedysstory.blogspot.com/

The mother of Kennedy talks about how much she supports her child and accepts him for who he is.  The blog is interesting because the mother talks about how her and her son’s lives have changed and how happy her child is.  She gets some comments from readers- some positive, some negative.  I won’t go in to detail about everything she talks about, but stories like Kennedy’s and other similar ones did make me think about how that relates to children who do not have this type of support.  Children who aren’t as lucky and really have no say in their own lives. 

 

It’s really just sad when you think about it.

 

-Jalyn

Helping a brother out

For my last blog post, I wanted to share an encouraging message with you all.

Throughout the course of this semester, we have considered the stereotypes that follow being a part of the Greek fraternity/sorority system (usually resulting in scoffing). Due to the large Greek population on IU’s campus, it is important to remember the massive platform that these kids have tapped into by joining their respective groups. Speaking from experience as an avid non-Greek, I admit that I, on numerous occasions, have passed sweeping judgements. However, I recently stumbled upon a post entitled “Here’s a heartwarming story from a very unexpected place” on Upworthy, a social media site that I visit frequently. After opening up the note, I was surprised to find a group of three fraternity brothers asking for donations to pay for a prospective brother’s top surgery.

Link: http://www.upworthy.com/here-s-a-heartwarming-story-from-a-very-unexpected-place

After their FTM brother was denied insurance coverage, they hopped on the Internet with the hope of not only raising money, but raising awareness. As a result, the fraternity raised 10 times their goal and got the University to clarify their insurance policies to ensure future coverage of the surgery.

This tid-bit got me thinking about the exclusive ability of the Greek system to reach thousands of people all over the nation and increase awareness about issues that effect their peers. Tapping into the privileged socioeconomic, white, cis-gender, heteronormative class allowed for this group to spread a message and “help a brother out.” Even though it is very unlikely that this act will make a difference in the lives of highly disenfranchised trans* individuals, it does call attention to the existence of trans* issues in places known for perpetuating hegemonic ideals. Thus, giving me a little hope.

-e.nash

Doing Gender the ‘Right Way’

By MK Worthington

As I’ve struggled to navigate the many obstacles which have appeared in my path since I made the decision to come out and pursue transition from female to male a year ago, the binary gender system has proven to be my worst enemy. Allies have been incredibly hard to come by and, in far too many cases, support is only extended so far as gendered expectations are met.  

A few weeks ago, Thomas Beatie, the (in)famous “Pregnant Man” who made the news several years ago when he decided bear children so he and his wife could have a family, appeared in the news again, this time because a judge denied the couple a divorce. The Arizona judge decided to ignore Beatie’s legal status as a man based on the fact he’d had children, declaring him a woman and thereby invalidating the couple’s marriage, calling it instead a same-sex union, something not recognized by the state of Arizona.

A fairly good article discussing this problem and a video of the Barbara Walters special interview with Beatie is located here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/pregnant-man-thomas-beatie-appeal-divorce-denial/story?id=18863380#.UX0zbcr_E35

A couple of weeks ago, when this story was making the rounds in the news, my employer went on a rant, telling me how she felt about Beatie and his life choices. She began by reminding me what a great friend she’s always been to me, and expressing her love and support for me and my journey. For Thomas Beatie, however, she did not have any such charitable feelings. “Men cannot have babies. They just can’t, and if that person really wanted to be legally recognized as a man, they should have accepted that limitation.”

I disagreed—vehemently. The binary gender system attempts to shove people into one of two—and only two—tiny, limited boxes that very few, if any, individuals actually fit into.

 In my employer’s opinion—and, indeed, in the opinion of the judge in Arizona and countless other Americans, giving birth to his own children disqualifies Thomas Beatie for the label of ‘man’. In one quick motion, ‘womanhood’ has been reduced to the simple act of giving birth. If Mr. Beatie had not chosen to have children his claims of manhood could be accepted—but getting pregnant and having a baby makes a person a woman. So, where does that leave infertile women, like Beatie’s wife? Does her inability to bear children make her a man then?

 Transgender individuals, like all people, fall somewhere outside of the limits of masculinity and femininity. We choose to take hormones—or not—based on what we need to feel comfortable with ourselves in our own bodies. What my employer, and others like her, seem to expect is for us to adjust our lives and our bodies to a place where THEY can feel comfortable. Those demands are unfair and even cruel. Thomas Beatie endured the acute misery of going through puberty in a female body, he housed healthy, fully functioning female reproductive organs—why the hell shouldn’t he use them if that is what he wants?

 The eventual outcome of the Beatie divorce is a much bigger issue than many people realize. Arizona is claiming the right to determine—and alter according to its own whim—Thomas Beatie’s gender. The outcome could potentially place even more devastating limits and requirement on transpeople seeking to legally change their gender status—and on the choices they can make about their own bodies.

Un-transitioning, after a lot of work.

Stephanie Miller

So, I have fallen behind on my blogs so I’m going to catch up.  I started thinking about the whole transition process.  I know that individuals have to do a ton in order to get to transition.  When we watched Be Like Others, I noticed that many of the individuals stated that they would not have transitioned/ had GRS if they did not feel forced. 

Originally, I suspected that no one ever un-transitioned.  It is so much work to get through the gate keeping practices by medical professionals.  To un-transition, there are still gate keeping issues, but not nearly as harsh or severe.  I found a True-Life episode which followed some individuals who are ‘re-thinking their gender’ as MTV puts it.  These people appear to be taking steps to un-transition.  One actually states it in this manner. 

It is an interesting watch and available on Netflix.  True Life: I’m questioning my gender again

I am pretty surprised that this episode aired.  When I watched it, It seemed like the individuals (2) had some other motives.  Both said that it was for themselves, but (ah pronoun confusions!) the individual transitioning back to female had family issues with her transition.  The individual transitioning back to male was worried about his job outlook. These concerns are real and do affect those transitioning. 

I’m just a little concerned that this was aired because it is still so difficult for individuals who want to transition to find and receive the care they need and deserve.  I feel like this reversed some of the progress that some have had in their thinking.  I started worrying about my friend who is starting his battle with the gate keeping process and if he would be doing this all to just go back.  Obviously, putting that seed of doubt in my brain started the worries, which I shouldn’t really be worrying so much about. 

My stance on transition has been reaffirmed though.  I feel if someone is willing to go through all of the scrutiny they are currently forced to deal with to transition, it is probably something that they feel will bring them a happier life.  The decision to transition should not be forced or coerced like it seems to be with those in Iran, but should be an individual decision to alter themselves in ways they see fit.

 

Transgender Representation in Media

Colleen Griffin

            As I searched the web for a possible topic for my last blog post, I turned to what I know best: media. Being a telecommunications major, I thought to representations of transgender people in the media. When searching for articles, I came across two different articles representing two different media forms and their representations of transgender folk. The difference between the two is very interesting to me, one leaning more towards negative representations and the other positive.

            The first source I found was an online essay written about transgender representation in movies. You can find the article here:

http://www.calpernia.com/diary/favorites/transsexual-cliches-and-stereotypes-in-media/

Written by Calpernia Addams in 2009 under the diary section of the website, she talks about the problematic representations transgender people have on the screen and the bad “requirements” that are associated with the various categories of on screen media. She starts her article off by addressing the fact that what she writes are “unpolished thoughts” and that the essay is a work in progress. But then she quickly assures that this critical view does not take away the talent that went into these projects by the actors, but that this critical viewing must also be taken into account to more accurately represent transfolk in media. The first category she tackles is “documentaries/reality television.” Under this category she first mentions the “Ultimate cliché Hall-of-Fame” and how certain shots are shown and fetishized in this type of film. “Subject putting on lipstick (usually in the mirror), sliding foot into high heel shoe or stockings, painting fingernails, shopping for clothes. Usually done in close-up on the body parts. Typical dissection of us into fetishized, sexualized body parts and easy broad-stroke telegraphing of a director’s ideas about femininity.” The next thing she mentions is how the before and after photo of the person’s transition is a common requirement. This also goes for a name change as well. Lastly, the mentions the “surgery and process focus” explaining how the actual medical transition is a way to keep the viewer entertained. This of course is terrible because the process is seen as entertainingly gruesome rather than a needed medical health procedure.

The next category she tackles is “Narrative Film/Television.” The first topic she addresses are the four P’s: prostitute, punchline, psycho, and poor thing! and how these titles are the roles transgender representations fit in this type of media. She then goes on to saying how most transgender roles (mention earlier) have a negative focus. Lastly, she states that all transgender roles have an assumed monolithic community.

In the end her conclusion is to ignore these common regulations and resist the stereotypes. She makes it a point to say that past all the physical appearances and the ways one represents oneself, there lies the core being of a person who is still a woman (in reference to trans-women, which the entire article is geared mainly towards.)

My next source is about the newest famous person to admit to being transgender, Tom Gabel. As the lead singer of the well-known band Against Me! it wasn’t until recently that he publically addressed his transition, and of course the Rolling Stone did an article on it. Here is the article:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-secret-life-of-transgender-rocker-tom-gabel-20120531

In this interview, Gable talks about his struggle with gender dysphoria. When talking about early signs of trans-ness he addressed his home life and the hardship his parents’ divorce caused. As he grew older and his band took off, he used music as an outlet for secret confessionals. In his lyrics, he would write down thoughts related to gender dysphoria and put them in songs. He used his lyrics as a way to “out himself.” Yet those around him were still oblivious until one day he outright told them. All were shocked; both his band and his wife give their reactions. At the end of the interview some days later, she invites the interviewer back to her house and interviews again, but as Laura her trans-self. The last bit is informative about the process she is going through and overall positive. The comments under the article by readers were either critical of proper terms for trans-people (ex. pronouns) or encouraging and praising the article for its moving story.

I think it is interesting that film is the negative media outlet, but music is more understanding. This leads me to think that hearing someone’s story is easier than seeing it. But it is good to know that the article about Gable was more recent (this month’s issue of Rolling Stone) as opposed to the four year old article written by Addams. Hoping that positive representations reflect the year they were made rather than the type of media used is what I like to think is more accurate reasoning to these two articles.

–          Colleen Griffin

Becoming Transgender

In the Transgender subreddit on Reddit, I found this picture posted as the third post from the top for the month.  It is from about a week ago, humorously titled “Why I Hate People”:

http://i.imgur.com/8Ju3uJb.png

The picture shows a screencap of a stream of facebook comments with names whited out (we’ve all seen these before).  The focus of the picture is a poster who has a red equal-sign gay rights profile picture and some opinions on trans issues that really give truth to the idea of gay and trans rights not always being fully compatible because some people who feel they are deeply involved in the entire LGBT community are not as involved in the “T” part as they think.  This poster in particular, misunderstands a couple of major things about trans rights that sadly many people also commonly misunderstand.

One of the biggest problems with her post is her first line – “That’s a very sweet child, but no 6 year old is psychologically ready to become transgender.”  Become transgender – there is so much error in this idea, but sadly it is not too uncommon.  So often being trans* is spoken of in terms of a change which occurs within a specified amount of time, rather than being talked about as the complex thing that it is.  As Susan Stryker has talked about, it sometimes is a lifetime of change and discovery, just as many people’s journeys with other things are.  If more people could hear narratives like this, perhaps they would be able to understand being trans a little bit better.

The woman in the screencap then states a general rule which she believes should apply to everyone, “I believe no one under the age of 18 should become transgender.”  Her reasoning for this general rule is her own personal insight into the situation, which is actually sheds a lot of light onto her entire post, “I have a 6 year old that likes to pretend he’s a girl.  I am nowhere near ready to even consider it.  He’s 6!  He’s pretending.  It’s part of being a kid! . . . No way my kid is going to be a transgender while in elementary school.  I think that’s ridiculous.”  She can admit her own denial and personal issue, but she continues to project her own feelings both on her own child and on others, gaining many thumbs up and praise from fellow posters.  Saying that “no way” her child is going to be transgender in elementary school is pretty presumptuous of her.  He might already be trans* – it’s not really in her control.

Everyone has their own issues with denial, whether they are about themselves or their children, but they shouldn’t spread their misinformed opinions justified as personal experience around.  If people could work to include trans topics of conversation, maybe people could learn and understand better.  Misinformation is spreading just as accurate information is.

-Chrissy Goss

Complex Personal Narratives

A few weeks ago, I had a guest speaker come into my Constructing Sexuality class.  His name was Daniel, and he was a FTM.  He began telling his personal narrative, describing how he perceived himself as more masculine than other females growing up.  He thought, at first, his “manliness” was caused by hanging out with more males than females.  His parents similarly attributed his masculinity to lack of female friends, and they tried to “socialize” him by enrolling him into female-only sports and activities.  By high school, he had started experimenting with the female gender – growing his hair long and dating men.  Because he felt comfortable around men and held similar interests with them, he said he never had a difficult time finding a boyfriend.  He had one serious relationship during that time and, after it ended, he realized he was more interested in women.  In college, he began exploring trans* issues and identifying as queer.  Then, when he realized he could identity as trans* without transitioning medically, he began adopting a trans* identity.  After college, he started binding his breasts and exclusively wearing men’s clothing.  He began hormones around seven months ago, and he said he was immediately more sexually attracted to men and sexually driven because of the testosterone.

While listening to Daniel’s story, I found it both intriguing and contradictory.  On the one hand, he is challenging traditional gender norms, describing his gender and sexual orientation as fluid, complex entities.  On the other hand, he falls into a Western paradigm crux, discussing how he shared similar “masculine” interests with other men, such as playing video games and watching action movies.  Additionally, he naturalized heterosexuality by attributing the female gender with dating men.  Thus, he ends up reinforcing a binary world, one that separates men and women and normalizes heterosexuality.

In addition, his described situation with testosterone reminds me of Patrick Califa’s story.  Califa described how after taking T, he would have physical sensations that “acquired a piquancy and an immediacy that is both entertaining and occasionally inconvenient” (437).  His desire for instantaneous, casual sex grew rapidly, and he said he suddenly understood sexual differences between the sexes after his intake of T.  Similarly, Daniel describes an intense, sexual urge for men and desire for casual sex.  What’s largely problematic about both accounts is that it presents women as sexless beings (who don’t have desires or impulses!) by attributing sex drive to an increased testosterone level.

This type of narrative is similarly highlighted in PLENTY of articles, especially in this cringe-worthy Men’s Health article called Why You’ve Always Been So Horny.  It “describes” how testosterone affects the body:

“The first [burst of T] produces a male brain: one that’s more interested in objects, actions, and competition. The left (parietal) lobe flourishes in the testosterone bath and helps you visualize objects in three dimensions (good for catching a football or watching a woman cross the street), and it boosts your aptitude in mathematics (that’s how you estimate that she’s about a 34DD).  In addition, testosterone beefs up your hypothalamus, the area of the brain that’s interested in sex. The hypothalamus is twice as large in men as it is in women.”

A part of me wants to believe this is a joke because of its BLATANT sexism but, alas, I honestly think this was printed.  Anyhow… while Daniel and Patrick clearly are complicating and challenging identity categories within their narratives [unlike this terrible, terrible article], I do think their attributions of sex drive to testosterone are perhaps troublesome and even reflect notes of biological essentialism.

http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/understanding_sex_and_the_brain/Why_You_ve_Always_Been_Horny.php

-Anna Sekine

Don’t Want My Help? Then Face My Wrath…

BY: MK Worthington

Over the past few months I have come across several online instances of shocking transphobia on blog posts and in the news from people who refer to themselves as allies. Personally, I find this trend greatly disturbing for a number of reasons. Bloggers and writers who paint themselves as martyrs who are suffering as a result of the unreasonable and ungrateful trans* community invite criticism and even hostility toward trans* people across the board. The message seems to be: “If you don’t want my help, then you can face my wrath.” And, worse still, there are plenty of people out there willing and eager to back them up based on a strange, misguided sense of righteous indignation.

 The most recent example I have of this phenomenon is a blog post that I was directed to via Facebook by a fellow author in an increasingly problematic writer’s group that I belong to. The blog post was penned by an author of gay male romance named WT Prater. Mr. Prater’s blog is public and available for everyone to see, and he actively recruited viewers for this particular post by advertising it on Facebook and in other various forums for fans and fellow writers alike. Naturally, I followed one of his links and ended up on a post titled: HELP NOT WANTED: A Letter to the Transgender Community

If you are interested, check out the post here, and read the responses as well:

jwasg.blogspot.com/2013/04/help-not-wanted-letter-to-transgender.html

It makes for a fascinating read.

Now, let me give you a rundown of my experience and knowledge of this post—and of Mr. Prater himself.

First of all, the title: HELP NOT WANTED: A Letter to the Transgender Community

This title implicates the entire Trans* community across the board, with no exceptions. Despite Mr. Prater’s claim in a response: “I did not state ALL people this or that…” – YES, he did. The title does just that.

Next, let me examine the content of the post. Mr. Prater approached an LGBTQ center because he wanted to start—and participate in—a transgender support group. When the officials at the center, (who, by the way, were not trans* people themselves), tried to explain to Mr. Prater that his involvement in that particular venture would not be appropriate, he decided to respond with this punishing rant against trans* people, turning the situation into an imagined competition over who suffers more and worse from various forms of discrimination!

Mr. Prater’s experience is NOT, as he claims, an example of the Trans* Community discriminating against another member of the “LGBTQ” community. It is, however, a clear example of Cis-entitlement and disconnect. Mr. Prater, a Cis-gendered “gay” man, did not ask HOW he could help the Trans* community, he insisted on being allowed to do what HE wanted and offer the ‘guidance’ HE knew they needed… When someone tried to explain the problems with his chosen form of involvement he turned around and attacked the very people he said he wanted to help…

The opening paragraph of his post alone is enough to turn the stomachs of most Trans* people.  He begins by saying:

“I feel like I should start this letter off by saying I am Cis-gendered male and I am gay. I have known I was gay since I was five years old and I have never yearned to be female in any way, shape or form. True, I love the female ability to dress wildly and accessorize outrageously, but I would not give up my penis for the world.”

His argument throughout the post is that he UNDERSTANDS what Trans* people are going through, but that intro proves he has NO idea… And, as if that weren’t enough, it is also a strategic misrepresentation of who he is. Mr. Prater chose to refer to himself as a ‘gay man’ for the purposes of this post, garnering a great deal of sympathy from readers who idolize gay men in an almost fetishistic way—however, within the writing community, it is common knowledge that Mr. Prater is married to a charming woman named Julie, and the pair represent themselves on that forum as bisexual. He doesn’t work alone, he works with his wife, and as a pair the dynamic is much different from simply that of a single gay man.

I believe Mr. Prater has the idea of a ‘support group’ confused with an ‘activist’ group or even a ‘pride’ group, and his desire to participate in the group reads like a creepy, voyeuristic desire. Given the frequency of violence trans* people experience at the hands of Cis-gendered individuals, gay and straight alike, his presence WOULD make vulnerable and frightened trans* people uncomfortable and unwilling to attend. He happens to be a physically huge Cis-man, intimidating on many levels. It isn’t a reflection on him as a person or even on the potential members that he’s been asked not to attend the support meetings. It is a reflection of the reality we live in. It is similar to the way an ex-Army drill sergeant would not be an appropriate group leader for a group of sexually abused women… Marginalized groups deserve to have their own groups where they can feel comfortable.  Mr. Prater is NOT trans*, nor does he have any relevant degrees or experience which would qualify him to participate in such meetings… in fact, the comments and attitude of his post show him to be a singularly bad choice for the position.

Unfortunate, his claims of being a ‘rejected ally’ cause quite a stir, lending a sort of justification to further hostility toward the Trans* Community