The Washington Post Goes All-In on the Kinder, Gentler TERFism

It is emblazoned with a deceptive title: “Pass the Equality Act, but don’t abandon Title IX.”

Just as friendly and inviting as “Don’t Panic,” eh?

The authors profess to believe “The Equality Act’s provisions are much needed and long overdue.”

But, of course, that quoted sentence ends with the following: “with one caveat.”

The Washington Post should have displayed a modicum of integrity and demanded that the title read: “Pass the Equality Act, but ensure that it embraces a reboot of Plessy v. Ferguson‘s ‘separate but equal.'”

Janice Raymond’s 1979 The Transsexual Empire was the full-on TERF analogue to Mein Kampf.  What Doriane Coleman, Martina Navratilova and Sanya Richards-Ross have been permitted to place in the Post‘s pages is the kinder, gentler – and far more media-friendly – call to exterminate trans women.

Think of it as The Transsexual Empire with Lee Atwater’s ghost as an unlisted co-author.

Don’t use the buzzwords. Claim that you want to tolerate their existence.  But then make sure they’re never allowed to actually do anything – wink, wink! They’ll die and go to minimum-wage hell just the same!

I refuse to link to this obscenity.


Martina Navratilova’s journey into TERFism has been underway for some time, so her involvement in this really should come as no surprise (ditto for the Washington Post‘s, in light of its continued employment of Jonathan Capehart, the presumed author of the transphobic ‘incremental progress’ screed during the ENDA Crisis of 2007). As for Richards-Ross?  Well, NBC is Rachel Maddow’s employer, right?

But what of Doriane Coleman?

Coleman is privileged with a position in legal academia – a venue which is currently as free of trans women as she wants women’s athletics to be.

Yes, we know that certain high-ranking politicos who have law degrees can parachute from political lives (especially ones plagued with scandal) to law school gigs quicker than Samantha can twitch her nose or Jeannie can blink.  But the majority of law school teaching gigs are decided to some degree by hiring committees.

And I’ll reiterate: At the moment, to the best of my knowledge, no law school in the United States permits any trans woman – even ones with scholarly publication records longer than any of their tenured faculty – to be privileged with the level of ivory tower perch from which Coleman is allowed to spew her neo-Plessy v. Ferguson-ism.  (It is possible that there is currently a trans woman adjunct or two as there have been at tiny times in the past – and a few years ago even I was able to teach undergrad sections of a University of Iowa law school course offered to undergrads as well as law school students – but the real doors of the real academy remain closed to us.)

Why should we believe that any TERF‘s espousal of separate-but-equal-ism stops at one particular aspect of life?  Follow any TERF list or TERF Twitter thread. The separate-but-equal-ism does not stop with athletics because the bigotry does not stop with athletics.


Why should anyone believe that Coleman, when involved – formally or informally – in deciding who the Duke University School of Law hires, would treat a trans woman applicant equally-and-non-separately?

Again I Ask: Was Barney Frank Ever Right About Anything?

Almost two years prior to the Dec. 15, 1976 issue of The Advocate in which St. Barney promised that the Massachusetts state gay rights bills would pass in 1977, he had this to say about the 1975 session.

Advocate - 19750312 - Barney

No link, of course, but that is from page 5 of the March 12, 1975 edition of The Advocate.  In case the image is fuzzy, this is the money shot (paragraph spilling over from the bottom left column to the top right):

Rep. Frank has stated that because of the new and important differences between the 1974 and 1975 local political climates here, the general anti-discrimination measure’s chances of passage are “pretty good” this year.  Frank, who did not think the bills would pass during 1974, is considered one of the most astute political observers in Massachusetts.

I wonder what happened between 1974 and 1975.

Did the Democrats get 15-20 more seats?  Because we all know that that will guarantee passage of even a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination bill (and we all know that St. Barney did not even pretend to support one of those until 2007 – and we all know how little he really supported it.)

#sarcasm (but not as to The Advocate excerpt; that’s totally real.)

Was Barney Frank Ever Right About Anything?

From the Dec. 15, 1976 issue of The Advocate (page 8), please note the quote at the beginning of the paragraph halfway down the third column:


For those who can’t make it out:

The bills will pass in ’77.
– St. Barney

For those not keeping score, Massachusetts did not pass a gay rights bill until 1989.  By then, St. Barney had been in Congress for eight years (though he was spending 1989 calling in every political favor, marker and chit he could unearth in order to avoid getting kicked out of Congress.  Google ‘Steven Gobie.’  Just sayin’….)

Thirty years after his declaration of what would happen in 1977 he bullied the LGBT community – trans people most pointedly – with what he *knew* was capable of passing and not passing.  And then he professed to know for certain that 15-20 more Democrats would make a legitimate (read: trans-inclusive) ENDA a sure thing.

Between the Massachusetts Legislature and Congress, St. Barney drew a legislative salary for forty years.

In all of that time, was he ever right about anything?

To No One’s Surprise, The Roseanne Revival Will be TERF TV

From EW:

Darlene’s son Mark (Ames McNamara) likes to dress up in girl’s clothing. But it would be wrong to assume the 9-year-old character is transitioning or is gay. We asked executive producer Sara Gilbert (Darlene) to explain why she created the role of Mark….

SARA GILBERT: He doesn’t. That’s something that got out in the press that’s not true. He’s not a transgender character. He’s a little boy. He’s based on a few kids in my life that are boys who dress in more traditionally feminine clothing. He’s too young to be gay and he doesn’t identify as transgender….

So, to recap: An obnoxious, Trump-worshipping Roseanne Barr allows lesbian Sara Gilbert to create a 9-year-old character and defining said character in a way that insults LGBs (maybe Gilbert didn’t realize she was gay at nine – and I am not criticizing her if she claims that she didn’t; some people don’t but plenty – and probably far more – do) and erases trans people (most of whom realize that they are trans long before nine) in a way that only TERFs truly love.

One truly has to wonder if the character was not concocted in some sleazy law office in Maryland.

What made you want to create this character?
It represents the world.

No. It represents the obnoxious, Trump-worshipping Roseanne Barr’s TERF-on-steroids view of trans women.

At this point I’ll just pass along Toni D’Orsay’s response:

It is extremely bad. It means that we are going to have to go after this representation by attacking the thoughts and ideas that support it, especially since it will rely, in part, on the desistance myth, and will function in direct opposition to all the science…

… while still allowing folks for whom this is real to exist.

Yes, they explicitly say he isn’t a trans character, but do you think the media will be able to project that nuance, and do you you expect the very subtle transphobia of Barr to not be involved?

The only part of that I disagree with is her description of Barr’s transphobia.

It is anything but subtle.


#TERFIsNotASlur – never has been, never will be.

Has the Future Already Been Forgotten? A Post-2007 Transgender Legal History Told Through the Eyes of the Late, (Rarely) Great Employment Non-Discrimination Act

The article is now available on the website of the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law.  Please read before all of the pro-HRC revisionist crap is shoveled into officially-approved discourse this fall.

Has the Future Already Been Forgotten

Remember 2007: The Bait-and-Switch Began Early

On the day that H.R. 2015 was introduced:


First, Solmonese repeated the lie that the Human Right Scampaign was, in 2007, “the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization.”  (Remember, at that time it had NO trans employees, had NEVER employed a trans woman in any capacity, had just recently been proven to be fraudulently inflating its membership numbers and – of course – was not really advocating for trans rights.)

Then, he immediately referenced the first federal gay rights bill – which was a GAY-ONLY rights bill – yet he immediately followed that with a sentence utilizing “GLBT.” (Tell me that that was not fully calculated to confuse the issue.  And, also, lets not forget that the bill he referenced, not only was not trans-inclusive, but it also was not employment-inclusive! Bella Abzug’s first bill was comprehensive – as to all areas of civil rights law other than employment.)

After his usage of “GLBT” he whips back around to mixing and matching in ways that he can later mold to mean anything he wants:

nearly 90 percent of Americans believe that gays and lesbians should have equal employment opportunities. Furthermore, a healthy majority of Americans support congressional action to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Which ENDA is he referring to?

The one that was then just introduced?

Or one that would only cover gays and lesbians?

Yeh, yeh…

We know how the story ends.  But follow along.  Maybe you can convince yourselves that the Solmonese Scampaign really gave a damn about whether we lived or died.

Appletinis for all!



Remind Me Again of How ‘Incremental Progress’ Helped Trans People in Wisconsin?

WI State Detransitioning Trans Employees

But, Wisconsin has statutory sexual orientation anti-discrimination protections and Wisconsin has same-sex marriage via Obergefell v. Hodges, so all is well…

for all who matter.

I Guess it All Depends on Who “We” Are, Eh?


There has not been a day in my memory when we have not been better off than we were the day before.
– Daniel Zingale, Director of Public Policy, Human Rights Campaign Fund, in an interview in North Carolina’s The Front Page, June 9, 1995.

Daniel has/had a short memory. Five years before that date, trans people were not, via language that equates trans people to pedophiles, statutorily excluded from federal disability anti-discrimination law.

Then came the day that the ADA became law.

In Memory of Erica Bettis (2001-2002)

Most anything that emerges from Donald Trump’s mouth will get me to yell “Bullshit!”

Everything that slithers out of Mike Pence’s mouth will.

(Okay, I lied.  Anything that either one of them says will.)

And pretty much any rote, plastic-smiled recitation – by anyone – of Dan Savage’s most famous nothing-ism will as well.

It does not always get better.

Well after the Human Rights Campaign and Barney Frank began perfecting their tag-team transphobia mantra (‘This is too new to deal with!’), a major, mainstream motion picture had a trans woman as a main character – and the makers of that motion picture allowed a trans woman to play that trans woman.  Director Clint Eastwood, strange political creature that he is, saw fit to allow The Lady Chablis  to portray herself in the movie.  And Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  premiered on November 21, 1997.  A week and a half later, the Fox television series Ally McBeal featured a storyline about a trans woman sex worker – who is given a job at the titular character’s hoity-toity law firm in order to give her a chance at a life and career she had never had before.  Even if, two decades on, you’re not familiar with the episode “Boy to the World,” you can probably guess (accurately) two things about it: (1) the sex worker character of Stephanie was played by a cis gay man and (2) without any explanation whatsoever, despite being handed the sort of job that no trans women in the real world – even ones with law degrees – were even being considered for in 1997 Stephanie goes back to hooking on the street and ends up being murdered.

And the less said about Ask Harriet, the better.

Now…fast forward four years.

In the fall of 2001, it seemed as though representations of trans women on prime-time television were getting better.  Ally McBeal had recently had a somewhat less disgusting trans storyline.  There were problems with the Cindy McCauliff arc, but it was light years more legitimate than the Dame Edna-infused storyline that would soon be inflicted on its viewers.  Throughout the summer CBS touted a heavyweight new drama which would get the choice, post-60 Minutes slot on Sunday nights: The Education of Max Bickford.  The touting was not without good reason.  The title character, an Ivy League History/American Studies professor, was going to be played by Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss; another Oscar-winner, Marcia Gay Harden, would co-star as another prof in the same department (who, for purposes of intrigue, was also one of Bickford’s former students – with whom Bickford had had a brief sexual relationship.)  Bickford’s oldest child would be portrayed by future sci-fi Battlegoddess Katee Sackhoff.

Okay, CBS actually didn’t have the foresight to tout Sackhoff in that manner; in retrospect, if somehow they had been able to, I’m sure the ratings for Max Bickford would have been better (but then Sackhoff would have been unavailable a few years later and the rebooted Starbuck might have ended up being portrayed by a Kardashian – but I won’t go there.)

And, there is also no way that CBS could have known that this new series – set in liberal academia and focusing on an ultra-liberal faculty member therein – would end up premiering less than two weeks after 9/11.  Here is how Variety’s pre-premiere review – dated September 18, but probably actually written before the attacks – viewed the upcoming the series:

CBS deserves to gloat over “The Education of Max Bickford.” The much-promo’d Richard Dreyfuss starrer is primed to score with the adult crowd. A complete turnaround from “Touched by an Angel,” the project could use some tinkering, but its literary proclivities and sharp dialogue translate into a noteworthy fall entry.

Ah…tinkering.  There’s the rub.

For the main cast also included another prof character. Erica Bettis would be portrayed by Helen Shaver.  The premiere of the series features Erica coming back from a sabbatical.

Steve Bettis had left on the sabbatical approximately a year earlier.

Finally, there would be a trans woman character on a prime-time network show who was neither a sex worker nor a drug addict nor a punch line (we’ll never know if, had the absurdist comedy The Last Precinct survived beyond eight episodes, the character of Mel eventually would have been blessed with some degree of depth.)  Yes, Erica wouldn’t be portrayed by a trans woman, but focusing on that would have seemed like quibbling at the time.

Steve had been Max’s best friend and Max, while aware of the transition, was not fully comfortable with it.  But the discomfort wasn’t situated as Pat McCrory-esque right-wing, fake-morality.  Rather it was that of a middle-aged academic who thought of himself as liberal but had some trouble handling change (sex and otherwise) when it might affect him personally.  It really came to a head in what was my favorite episode of the series: “Who Is Breckenridge Long?”  The Erica portion of the story involved her receiving her post-transition birth certificate – something that unnerved Max, who, despite being anything but right-wing, nevertheless devolved into a favorite right-wing (and TERF – I know…same thing, but I digress) rant: likening gender transition to species transition.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say Max mentions dogs and Erica does something to Max which humans are known to do to dogs (hint: a rolled-up newspaper was involved.)

The other part of the story involved the person referenced in the title of the episode.  Or, more accurately, it involved a fictional alumna of the fictional school – who had worked for the real Long at the real State Department before and during World War II and, when the modern-day students of her alma mater protest her being given an award due to what Long is most remembered for doing (and, most importantly, not doing), is forced to admit that, indeed, when she was young she had been complicit in the anti-Semitic manner in which Long had operated his portion of the agency – and how it impacted the ‘voyage of the damned.’

That part of the story also involved whether people could change.  Some of the students accepted the old woman’s assertion that she had; others didn’t.  The combination of the two storylines has allowed me to use the episode not only in my trans history classes but also in history classes dealing more generally with 20th century history.

But there wouldn’t be many more storylines involving Erica for me to use.  A combination of unspectacular ratings and nasty fighting between CBS and the show’s producers led to a decision being taken to shift the focus of the series away from Max’s life at the university and toward Max’s life at home.  Someone had to go, and it damn sure wasn’t going to be the second Oscar-winner in the cast.

Now, as much as I did – and still do – lament the jettisoning of Erica, I have never been unreasonable about it.  If the decision was made to get rid of the character – whatever the reason may have been (ratings, change of focus of the show, etc.) – then make it a useful event.  I’ve always felt that the producers of the show missed a golden opportunity by not killing the character off – not via some throwaway line or the cast opening an episode by coming home from her funeral (in either event, with the character never to be heard of again) but as the main event: an anti-trans hate crime murder.

One with a useful explanation – you know, unlike Ally McBeal’s Stephanie?  An event which an ostensibly liberal show with an ostensibly ultra-liberal lead character could have used as a platform for genuine Education (capitalization intentional; remember the name of the series?) on the topic?

No, having the trans character meet the historically stereotypical fate for non-hetero Hollywood characters would not have been my first choice for Erica upon watching the premiere of the series in September.  But if forced to choose, I would have preferred it over a silent disappearance in which she may as well have just left her Ivy League tenured teaching position (you know, the type that tenured TERFs ensure that no trans women are ever considered for) to shack up outside of Milwaukee with Chuck Cunningham or some other infamously, and inexplicably, disappeared series characters.

As it was?

I tuned in to watch a new episode of the series one Sunday – and the opening credits did not include Helen Shaver.

I can take a hint.

It didn’t get better for Erica – and around the same time it really didn’t get better for the overall genre of trans characters on television.  The next one was a lawyer – only CBS didn’t bother to mention that up front.  And by ‘that’ I don’t mean her being a lawyer.  CBS mentioned that.  And, logistically, there was also a character that was trans-something or another.  Granted, anyone with any sense could have guessed how things were going to transpire on the first episode of First Monday, a midseason replacement series which premiered in January 2002…

and which aired its final episode even before Bickford aired its final one.

But what will always be remembered is the first First Monday episode.

The silence is deafening, and I have finally concluded I must be in shock or denial. Believe me, I have waited most of this week to read one commentary on CBS’s new television show, First Monday, which actually addresses my concerns about the portrayal of transgendered people in its pilot episode. Nothing.

I sensed I might be prone to overreaction when Nina Totenberg ran some really awful audio trailers from the show on Tuesday morning, decrying its appeal to base humor for content. I hoped my sensitivity to the clips I heard might be assuaged by as objective a viewing as I could achieve. I checked my ideological guns at the door of the TV room and settled in. The horror, the horror…

Let’s cut to the chase, folks. The segment that dealt with trans issues was a poorly padded beating by a blunt intellectual instrument. As Nina had so adroitly noted earlier, one was left to wonder in which universe an individual would be placed for interrogation before an opening public session of the High Court, but that was the fate of the trans person who was appealing an apparent INS ruling against granting sanctuary. She was humiliated repeatedly by the phony Justices who suggested that she could easily go “back home” if she would just “put your pants back on.” Not that the Justices actually gave this person the benefit of pronoun choice.

But it gets better, right?  Dan Savage wouldn’t lie, would he?

[W]ere you thinking this was all? But you may be forgetting the most titillating stereotype available to those whose phobic worldview lurks just beneath the surface of civility. The gorgeous babe who was Angel’s attorney was… what else… a transsexual woman herself. We were led to suspect something when, after her appearance before the Court, this attorney confided that the transgender community had anticipated putting a case before the Supremes, but her real regret was “he’s just a transvestite.” (This, of course, contradicted her explicit contention before the Court that in fact Angel was NOT a transvestite, but a true transsexual.)

Not until the “busy litigator” tore herself away to romp in a salsa club with a conservative clerk of the Court, and not until after the camera had dwelt longingly on her well-rounded bottom in rampant frottage on the unsuspecting clerk’s groin did she turn and announce that her real incentive in representing this client had come from her being “a transsexual too!” Not content with the shock value of this statement, the producers insisted in doing a voice-over on this clearly non-transsexual woman, one in which we are led to believe that her voice drop of some octaves was inevitable and natural. Need I say that this revelation spelled the end of the date? It was the end of my internal apologetics for the educational potential of the show…

I’m offended by the presumption and exploitation that CBS has allowed in this show, particularly because it’s directed at trans people. But, if this incident stood alone, it might be tolerable. What it really does is reinforce the prevailing atmosphere of exclusion, abuse and derision that is permissible in this culture towards trans people. This is meant to steal our hope, our self-worth and our courage to believe we may actually be admitted to our own social and legal community. It has a profound effect upon us, though we scarcely dare to speak about it.

Lori Buckwalter’s “Supreme Indignity ” was the sort of cogent, trans-centric analysis of the atrocity that should have permeated the LGB( ) world in early 2002.  But that world had better things to do – and nothing substantively trans was anywhere on the list.  Gay, Inc. was still smoking a cigarette after successfully ramming through gay-only legislation in Maryland the previous spring (to make the state, as HRC crowed, a “discrimination-free zone”) and it was gearing up for sloppy seconds in New York at the end of the year.  And HRC’s ‘WorkNet’ was still mal-informing the world regarding the 1979 trans-inclusive Los Angeles Civil Rights Ordinance.

I started writing this piece before the untimely death of The Lady Chablis.  Unfortunately, her death comes in the general vicinity of the anniversary of the Bickford premiere.  Nevertheless, I will understand if anyone views it as a bit tacky that, on the heels of a real trans woman who was allowed to portray a real trans woman in a real movie, I’m devoting considerable space to a trans woman television character who was portrayed by a non-trans woman.

But, remember: that was 2001.

Yes, in 2007 there was Dirty Sexy Money (which came close to disposing of Candis Cayne’s  Carmelita in the manner I’d envisioned for Erica Bettis.)  And in 2016 we have Orange is the New Black and Transparent.

But in 2016 we also have Re(Assignment), Anything and one other thing whose title I refuse to even mention.  (And if I was willing to debase myself to any degree I could probably find a few people who will still defend Israel Luna’s cultural hate crime against trans women.)

It does not always get better.

Sometimes it seems like it is getting better.

But our protections are no more ‘robust‘ than the next judge says they are not.  Anyone who tells you differently is either not trained in the law or is trying to sell you something (or both.)

And our image is no better than however much the next Hollywood opportunist wants to distort it.

Roland Emmerich: “Let’s Make Stonewall White Again!”

Well, those weren’t his exact words, but…

The director received heavy criticism in 2015 for his depiction of the events at Stonewall, with many critics claiming the film whitewashed the Stonewall narrative and erased the drag queens, transgender patrons and queer people of color present during — and largely responsible for — the rebellion.

In The Guardian interview, Emmerich is, once again, dredging up old criticism of the film — and thereby offending an entire community while doing so.

“My movie was exactly what they said it wasn’t,” he told The Guardian. “It was politically correct. It had black, transgender people in there. We just got killed by one voice on the internet who saw a trailer and said, this is whitewashing Stonewall. Stonewall was a white event, let’s be honest. But nobody wanted to hear that any more.”

Honest isn’t the word I’d use.