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About the ‘transgender umbrella’

Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest

Ryland Whittington

When I nominated six-year-old Ryland Whittington and his wonderful parents for this year’s Harvey Milk Inspirational Award, I knew the 1,000+ people attending the Sixth Annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast would react in the same way as I did when first meeting the Whittington family … I cried, getting emotional over this beautiful story of unconditional love these two parents share and have for their now transgender boy. Although I was not at the breakfast last Thursday, reports quickly spread that there was not a single dry eye in the hotels’ enormous ballroom.

When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, I lived as a pre-operative transsexual, first in Hollywood, then making the move to San Diego. Thank goodness I realized in time that I was not truly transgendered, but just a gay man who liked to do drag – a lot!

I was ridden with Catholic guilt as a teen and believed God would only love and accept me if I was a woman, not a homosexual. I even came close to having a full sex change operation before finally realizing that I was not actually a transsexual. At that pivotal moment in my life, I stopped living as a woman 24/7.

Transgender leaders of decades past unveiled what they called a ‘transgender umbrella’. Under it, they placed transsexuals, transvestites and even drag queens. The reality is that drag queens are gay men, while transvestites are straight. In my opinion, the inclusion of those communities should not be categorized under this so called transgender umbrella. We do not belong there.

The issues facing the transgender community are too important, serious and life changing. True transgender individuals need to be the primary focus. Drag queens and transvestites wind up confusing the masses. This does not help when it comes to acceptance and educating others about the transgender community and their specific issues.

I will always remain a strong advocate for the transgender community because of my own life experience. Six-year-old Ryland, and other youth like him, do not need to have drag queens and transvestites included in the same category, they only wind up clouding and confusing the struggling journey they are on. This is my humble opinion, one that comes from decades of being involved in this most serious issue.

Mayor Faulconer to announce his GLBT Advisory Board

A bit of San Diego history. It was Mayor Maureen O’Connor who first established this city’s GLBT Advisory Board which I co-chaired with the late Barbara Crusberg. I also held the position of vice chair on Mayor Golding’s Advisory Board, as well as serving on Mayor Murphy’s.

Mayor Sanders pledged to name someone during his campaign but it did not come to fruition. He deemed it unnecessary, having a group of close GLBT friends in his circle, as well as his wonderful daughter Lisa. He knew these smart, qualified individuals would be by his side to help educate him on GLBT issues. I was working with Mayor Bob Filner, helping him on the development of his GLBT Advisory Board, but as you know, he had to resign.

During our city’s last mayoral campaign, Kevin Faulconer pledged to name an Advisory Board and I am pleased to know that in a few weeks, our new mayor will fulfill that commitment. The board will consist primarily of GLBT Democrats and some Republicans. It will be a very diverse board which will include gay persons of color and have transgender representation.

Our Mayor Faulconer is a man of his word! Sadly, that is rare in the world of politics today. He has announced his plan to march in this year’s Pride Parade as the national co-chair of Mayors for Marriage Equality, a group of distinguished city leaders that has a membership of nearly 500 mayors from across these United States.

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Posted by on May 29, 2014. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Comments for “About the ‘transgender umbrella’”

  1. Confusion is replaced by knowledge and those of us that are out there educating by being “out” there aren’t “confusing” we’re out there advocating. The umbrella includes all because together we are strong. “Who threw the first brick?” was a chant heard early on in the gay struggle and it was together with the umbrella of drag queens, trannies, transvestites, transexuals and their friends who beat back all phobia. We are still doing it today, side by side. The spectrum is inclusive like light. yes there is the rainbow of colors but there are also shades and hues between the primaries (Pri-Mary’s!). I work with every shade and hue, from boys in dresses to physically augmented girls, who come in dressed in street clothes from whatever their lifestyle is and do up the drag to entertain. Some live strictly as boys some live strictly as card carrying girls and the rest of us live, struggle, fight, show up, throw down, dish it, date, love relax happily in between. We all need eachother to get where we’re going, we all are going to get there. Along the way I’ll respect and call you as you wish, support you in your full expression and rights, as for me you can call me whatever you want, but don’t limit my expression or disrespect my contribution. I’m standing under the umbrella with everyone else, moving forward, not accepting less, and when someone lets go, I’ll be there to grab the handle and keep it up.

    • I have to disagree legitimate TS have needs that are far different than transgenders. We don’t live a lifestyle and most of us are heterosexual after we have had corrective surgery (SRS). We wish not to be pigeonholed in a trans ghetto but live our lives in the greater society much like anybody else who is born with a birth defect, has it corrected and moves on leaving the bad old days in our past.

      We want nothing to do with your so called umbrella, it only benefits transgenders who want to live a life style, and play girl or boy on the weekend or to live some in between life in a gender no man’s land.


  2. I haven’t heard the word “transvestite” in a long time. I know some people talk about cross dressing but it also seems like wearing clothes made for another gender is just a fashion choice these days.

    Also – drag queens are gay men and “transvestites” are straight? Transgender and transsexual people are also gay men and straight people. I think this article is really missing the gray areas of all of these identities.

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