Archive for the ‘Pop-Culture’ Category

One of the more intriguing things for me these days is listening to ordinary people – the non-trans kind of ordinary people – trying to describe transsexuals. I’m not talking about the opinionated haters, or the agenda-driven special interests. I’m talking about average Joes and Janes just trying to understand what the heck this “transsexual” thing is, regardless of any opinions they may have about it.

A pretty good example of this recently was on the “Stuff You Should Know” podcast. This podcast usually hovers around the fifth or sixth most popular downloaded podcasts on iTunes, so they’re speaking to a substantial audience. And with that in mind, they recently took on the topic of “How Gender Reassignment Works.”

I have to say, they did a pretty decent job explaining it. They stumbled through a few things and made some forgiveable mistakes. But they had really tried to do their homework, and tried to cite recent information as much as possible (there was one statistic cited from 1992 which they were tempted to discount because of its age – thankfully I’m not a statistic!).

The main themes that seemed to grab them as the “wow” moments, as in “Wow, I never realized that about gender reassignment” were:

1. It’s not a quick or easy process. They remarked about this a number of times in a number of ways. Paraphrasing some of their comments about this: “You have to jump through a lot of hoops.” “You have to clearly and strongly want this.” “You have to spend a lot of money.” “The whole process seems designed to weed out anyone it’s not right for.”

2. There is no single “sex change operation.” There are lots of different operations and it’s all part of a larger and longer process. Some people require several operations, some gender reassigned people don’t have any operations at all. And besides…

3. WPATH Standards of Care (which they cited prominently) require living for at least a year as the target gender before they’ll allow most surgeries (with some exceptions – they called out top surgery for FTMs as an example of an exception). They clearly realized how challenging this must be.

4. There are LOTS more transsexuals among us than they ever realized – even if you only count the post-ops. They cited Lynn Conway’s research about this here – which they should, because Lynn thoroughly debunked the far more commonly cited “rare” numbers.

5. They were noticably “struck serious” over this topic as a whole once they were informed about it. After researching the whole thing they realized it’s not a joke. There’s a whole lot of injustice affecting transsexuals currently, and few legal protections. After they understood more about who we are, they didn’t feel right joking about it.

All of this contributes to my general belief that the facts are on our side, so our long term prospects for understanding and acceptance are good. Average people trying to make sense of the transsexual condition by and large draw sympathetic conclusions once they have the facts in hand. The challenge is how to get those facts better understood. And this podcast was a step in that direction.

Sure there are some people who form opinions first and ignore any facts which don’t fit. But those people are a minority – even if they can sometimes be a very loud minority. When looked at purely as something to be understood, rather than something to be judged, we tend to win people over on the merits of our case.

Anyway, check out the podcast, and let me know what you think.


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We Kill Again

Oh the humanity! Will no one stop us before we kill again?!

A German man has dropped dead after visiting a prostitute and discovering she was a transsexual, according to a report.

We’re like the basilisk in Harry Potter, only it’s not our eyes you have to be careful about gazing upon apparently.

Anyway it’s nice to see our modern media covering such important stories with the sensitivity and seriousness we’ve come to expect from them. Be sure to stay tuned for their ongoing investigative report, “The Transsexual Menace: Seriously, Don’t They Just Gross You Out?!”

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Last Friday there was a big trans-related story in the Washington Post. Apparently the conservative governor of Virginia has a former in-law, Robyn Deane, who has come out as transsexual. What’s more Deane is speaking out against the governor publicly in an election year over his positions on GLBT issues.

It’s a decent enough story. If I was writing for the Post, I’d run with it. Nothing wrong there. But then we come to the picture they decided to attach to the story.

Robyn Deane applies eyeliner

Let me ask the obvious here. What does a picture showing Deane putting on eyeliner have to do with this story? In politics scandalous little family dramas like this pop up all the time. Yet only in this one does anyone deem it relevant to focus their camera on one of the principle characters in the story applying makeup, blow-drying hair, and pulling up stockings (all of those pictures are prominently featured on the web page of the story, but I’m not showing them all here).

It’s not exactly a mystery what’s going on here. Introduce a word like “transgender” into a news story, and suddenly there’s an expectation that it needs to be covered like a drag show. Look at the man putting on makeup and womens clothes! (insert nervous giggling) It’s just like Nathan Lane in the Birdcage! (more giggling)

Every time I try to think we’re making some progress in getting people past a junior-high level of dialogue about trans related issues, I see something like this. Yeah, we’ve come a long way but there is still a LOT more room to grow.

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One of my favorite television series of all time is Firefly. So naturally I turned to my friend the Internet to tell me who on that show I’m most like. Didn’t really expect this result, but I like it!

You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)

Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
River (Stowaway)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the Serenity Firefly Personality Test

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