The Effect of Ignorance Magnified is Indistinguishable from the Effect of Pure Phobia

A comment to a new piece at SLOG:

Dan may not be trans-phobic, but he’s likely trans-ignorant.

Here are his own words:

“I’ve never known a single adult gay man who decided to run off and become a woman. The only men I’ve known who changed their gender as adults were heterosexually identified men who now identify as lesbians.” (Sept 21, 2006 Savage Love).

I’ve read similar statements by him on the Slog over the years. If he really doesn’t know grown men that were gay (or believed they were) and in their adulthood went thru a process to transition to female, then he ought to spend more time with the Trans community. I am gay, not trans, but have met plenty of individuals out there to directly refute his assertion.

That quote could be evidence of trans-ignorance.

Or it could be evidence of pro-Michael Bailey, pro-Ray Blanchard, pro-Alice Dreger transphobia.

The effect – when magnified by readers of such things acting on them – is indistinguishable: trans women are either jokes or diseased or both.

Key here is that the new post is not from Joe Fudgepacker Dan Savage.  Its from Christopher Frizzelle.

And its entitled: “State Attorney General Rob McKenna Is Not Transgender.”

Frizzelle writes:

I gotta say, I don’t get the joke, Savage. The joke—that Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is transgender—is a culture-jamming brainfuck foisted on the world by Savage years ago. It’s probably the longest-running inside joke about a local elected official around here, even though, in the history of jokes, it has a pretty glaring flaw: It ain’t that funny. Yes, it can be funny to call a person the thing they hate, assuming McKenna hates transgender people. But that’s it?

[F]or all the heat he’s getting on this one joke, he sure has written a lot over the years in support of trans people (three recent examples: here, here, here). A lot of commenters are focused on whether Savage is transphobic. I know the guy. He’s not transphobic.


I bet that those who have made employment decisions at HRC, NGLTF, Lambda, GLAAD, GLAD, et. al., would self-declare to be not-transphobic – but when you ad up their combined organization-years of existence and compare that to the number of transsexual women who have ever been allowed to collect a paycheck from any of them, a different picture emerges.  I stand by my assertion that Dan Savage is an archetype of the most important reason that trans people – transsexuals and trans-everything and trans-everybody – cannot accept any ENDA other than a legitimately inclusive ENDA.

I fear employment decisions made by gay men and lesbians infinitely more than I do – or ever will –  employment decisions made by straight people.

Christopher, I’m not making a blanket declaration of ‘You can’t offer any opinion on trans-whatever or transphobia unless you are trans-something.’ 

I don’t even know who you are or if you’re trans – and it doesn’t actually matter: I am cautioning you to be very careful about who you become an apologist for.  Savage’s use of one trans person’s plight to attempt to justify either an apology or no apology is indeed extortion.

What you have to say here is nice:

“In a society where understanding of LGBT people is uneven, people have to pay a huge amount of attention to how things may be perceived by people who are not yet supportive of LGBT civil rights,” [Josh] Friedes [of Equal Rights Washington] said. “I think Dan’s comments give license to people making fun of transgender people.

Given what transgender people are up against out there, I’m with Friedes on this one.

But you’re also one payment away from owning Savage and his transphobia.

Step back and think about whay you’re buying before you are unable to return it.

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