Scary trans monstersBottom Highlights, Trans Progressive Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Commentary: Trans Progressive
I am not a monster. I am not a creature of tooth or claw, scales or deformity – I am not any sort of monster that is an evil antagonist bent on chaos and destruction.
My transgender peers and I don’t prey on women and children in public restrooms or classrooms as some imagine. My peers and I are not the essence of the monstrous epithets and pejoratives that we have been called.
My transgender peers and I are not inhuman monsters; we are instead fully human.
I also know that I am perceived as a monster. If the sociological model’s definition of a situation is true – the definition which states “if a situation is perceived as real, it is real in its consequences” – then the perception that I’m a monster is real in its consequence.
How does one define transgender people as monsters? Well, this is how Conan O’Brien accomplished it in his June 12 monologue from Chicago, Ill.:
“Obviously one of Chicago’s nicknames is ‘The City Of The Broad Shoulders.’ Yeah. Yeah, which is much better than the name they almost went with – ‘The Unconvincing Tranny.’”
At that point Conan used his hands to outline the shape of an imagined trans woman with broad shoulders and a square body frame. Conan then dramatized a stiff hug and a short kiss, followed by facial expressions and body language to convey disgust and revulsion. He then saluted the imagined trans woman – as if to say this imagined trans woman is really a gay sailor.
The monstrous trans woman of Conan O’Brien’s imagining is one of stereotype; a burly gay man who pretends he is a woman; a parody of a woman. The most monstrous part of Conan’s description of trans women is not “passing” as female.
Conan O’Brien named his scary transgender monster “Unconvincing Tranny.”
Conan O’Brien has apologized for making a transphobic “joke” during the monologue portion of the June 12 broadcast of his late-night show on TBS. GLAAD officials contacted producers of the show after I reached out to GLAAD with news of the otherwise barely noticed slur against the transgender community.
The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) named their scary version of transgender monsters June 12 as well. In a fundraising eletter sent out by that religious right organization that day, they defined transgender monsters this way:
“Mary is a little, shall we say, confused …
“… but Mary isn’t confused about whether or not the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is going to allow someone like him to keep teaching your kids while he undergoes his transformation from ugly caterpillar into a beautiful … something or other …”
They included a fundraising photo of how they want society to view those trans women they believe are monstrous: a bad wig, thin make-up, and a nose ring and a visible beard line on a middle-aged face. And, the facial expression of their image of a transgender monster is one of her being on the edge of tears.
Later in the eletter they labeled trans people as “transgenders and she-males.”
TVC president, Andrea Lafferty named her scary transgender monsters in the eletter she signed as “something or others” and “she-males.”
Perhaps it’s time for the transgender activism of the monstrous. That’s not to embrace the idea that we are confused sexual, bathroom, or elementary school predators – that’s not to embrace the idea that we are men pretending to be women and therefore deserve to be the butt and brunt of jokes – but instead to embrace the monstrous activism of fighting back with rhetorical tooth and claw against those who define us as monsters. It would be embracing the monstrous activism of transgender “monsters” we choose to name “humans” – being not truly monsters at all.
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