Calling all Transgender Allies (Yes YOU!)

Grinch pre-informed

For the past three weeks some gay men have publicly offended, marginalized, and misrepresented transgender issues and individuals. I have written about some of that mess here: Remembering Jorge while Forgetting what Binds Us. People have been at work publicly and behind the scenes to speak directly to the gay men responsible for words and actions that serve to break down community rather than build it.

The Bilerico Project, a blog that attempts daily experiments with LGBTQ issues, offered a truly failed experiment in the form of a post by Ron Gold, a new contributor to the site.  Ron comes with an impressive CV in queer activism.  According to one site,

Ron Gold was one of the five original founders of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in the USA, and he was the driving force behind the movement that got the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of “mental illnesses” in 1973.

That’s great stuff, and as a gay man, based on that information alone, Ron would stand out as a hero to me.  But in his first post at Bilerico Project,  No, to the Notion of Transgender, he instead takes the role of an uninformed and insensitive critic of transgender issues and individuals. He uses language that demeans the transgender experience and is outright offensive. Now perhaps Ron attempted to offer a post-modern philosophical musing about the nature of identity and that our idea of gender arises in part from a social construct, (something that Rikki Wilchens does expertly in the book Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer.) In his blog post, Ron failed miserably.

Instead he reinforced the long experienced expectation that non-transgender gay men do not get it and instead go out of their way to denigrate and bully transgender people. As more than one commenter to Ron’s blog post stated, with allies like that who needs enemies.

A new friend, Abby from Arizona, an intelligent lawyer with a delicious wit, first brought  Ron’s Bilerico piece to my attention through a tweet she made to the site.

@bilerico I’m so angry about this, I counldn’t read it all. | New on TBP: “No” to the notion of transgender #lgbt

As I waited in the lobby of the Hartford Health Collective for my regular check up, I read on my phone the many comments that people posted in a very short time. I appreciated the directness and the clarity of many of the comments as well as the willingness of some people to share their experiences, perhaps in hopes that narrative will help some people like Ron to “get it.” I have found many transgender people like Abby express themselves brilliantly and advocate for themselves expertly. Mercedes Allen, a bisexual transsexual in a lesbian relationship  who contributes to Bilerico Project wrote a post in response Thank You For Flying Bilerio Airlines and provides links to other responses.  Even so, everyone benefits from allies. I was glad to see some non-trans (cisgender) folks also comment to denounce the post and announce their support of transgender people.

When I got home last night, I posted the following comment,

Yikes! This is an outrageously offensive & misinformed post.

Like you I am a non-transgender gay guy, and I strongly disagree with the content of your blog post. You messed up big time. Perhaps these many comments will serve as a wake-up call. Hopefully you will not react defensively. Rather I hope you reflect, read, listen. Some. The work of being an ally means we will get it wrong. We will get corrected. We will need to educate ourselves, listen deeply and educate ourselves some more. Think of the clumsy ill-informed gay allies you may have met in your early gay days. Clueless and uneducated allies can make a mess.

But then maybe you don’t even wish to be an ally to transgender people. Perhaps you want to correct people with experiences different from your own, to sort them out like the reparative therapists tried to sort us gay guys out. Perhaps you learned that trick from our oppressors. It’s time to learn some new tricks. Start by listening deeply, then listen some more.

Ron’s blog post at Bilerico Project hurts a lot of people, and not just their feelings, although that pain should not be minimized. His words can injure community and the often tentative ties between trangenger people and non-transgender people who stand in clumps under the broad and often leaky LGBTQ umbrella. But it doesn’t have to end with hurt and further breakdown of community.

Over on a Facebook note, Michael Eric Brown of TransMentors International offers support to transgender people who have been negatively affected by the Bilerico post. He writes,

Mr. Gold’s posting has brought out a myriad of emotions in all of us, and has affected not only the trans-identified community, but also those who are our true allies (some who are gay, lesbian, bi or hetero-identified).

Some are angry (livid even), some have begun the descent into depression. Some are losing faith in the activism and advocacy work they’ve been involved in, thinking “What’s the use? It’s a lost cause.”

What’s the use? It’s a lost cause. I have felt that myself around the inclusion of lesbians and gays in the church. I have felt it in regards to activism to counter the lies and damage perpetuated by the Ex-Gay Movement.

I have grown weary and discouraged when someone who I thought was an ally took a potshot or totally misrepresented the work some of us carefully built over time. At those times straight friends like Auntie Doris and members of my Quaker meeting and colleagues like Fran, Jen, Steve and Christina from the Watkinson School  and my sister Maria and my US Marine Bronx-raised Dad and others encouraged me, told me that it is not in vain, reminded me that I am not alone. They let me know they stand with me–allies.


And I know that in the past year I have met MANY non-transgender lesbian, gay and bisexual queer folks who stand with their transgender friends and the transgender community. I think of Brian in New York and Jane in Washington State and Sharon in London and Suzy in Maryland and Christine in Colorado and Doug in Oregon and Doris in Vancouver and Tim in Tennessee and many many more.

I ask fellow allies to take a moment to write a comment of support for your transgender friends and the transgender community. What have you learned from knowing transgender folks? How has your life been enriched? Log in your support.

Thank you.


This post has 77 Comments

  1. Brian on December 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I am a non-trans queer man and I absolutely and unequivocally stand beside my trans friends–and all trans people. My best friend is a transman and he has taught me so much about life, love, faith, justice, and passion. He has truly helped me to become the man I am today.

    I want to continue to learn and grow and become an even better ally in the future. Count me in!

  2. Johanna on December 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I’m still learning all the time about *how* to be an ally, but I’m certainly convinced I *should* be one. Everyone deserves the right to express hir/his/her gender how ze/he/she wants. Period.

  3. Karin Fresnel on December 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you Peterson and all of our cisgender allies who stand by us and offer support and understanding. You are the ones helping to change hearts and minds. I hope that Mr. Gold does indeed listen long and deeply. And learns.


  4. Caitlin on December 11, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    As a non-trans queer woman, I try to work everyday to be a better ally to my trans siblings. Daily I am inspired by the patience, kindness, and courage of the trans folks in my life. The courage to live their most authentic life even in the face of constant attack by unrepentant foes, uninformed masses, and even nominal allies, is humbling, moving and truly amazing. I stand by you, I am grateful for your witness, and I love you.

    I will stand by you.

  5. Jane on December 11, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Here I am friends! I will be beside you and behind you through life. You have taught me to love more openly, to live more fully. I am reminded of the “angels” that appeared at Matthew Shephard’s funeral. They stood in front of Fred Phelps as a barrier of love so that those who were wounded could heal in light. My wings are bent, but I’m here to stand so that you can heal when you need. I will work with you until we do not need to “fight” any more. Keep teaching me; I have much to learn. Keep being my friend; I need your love. Keep forgiving me; I will make more mistakes. I promise to do the same in return.

  6. jaysays on December 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    You ask:

    “What have you learned from knowing transgender folks?”

    Well, I’ve learned what it is to be resilient. My trans-friends are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met. The adversity they face would bring most of us to our knees, but they stand fast and strong.

    Because of their strength, I know that they can recover from even this horrifying article on a once-respected weblog. But we can’t let them do it alone. Thanks for writing this piece. It’s very important that we, the cisgender allies, denounce Mr. Gold’s article and stand up for our friends and loved ones.

  7. Shellie on December 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    As the straight spouse of an amazing transwoman, I thank you so much for this post. We’ve been through so much, we’ve lost so many people in our lives who just don’t understand what transgenderism is. We are especially sensitive to this issue at this time of year.

    To have someone from our own community, like Mr. Gold, write such ignorant statements, is especially painful. In one small moment, one such posting (especially by a so-called seasoned advocate) can destroy so much of the credibility we’ve built based on REAL information, research, and experience.

    As always, we stand strong with all of our GLBT family and will continue to work against discrimination and misinformation, no matter where it comes from.

  8. Fran on December 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I am a heterosexual woman, a physican, and an ally. I have huge respect and love for my gay, lesbian and bisexual friends– it is a different world than it was 25 years ago and I am GLAD of that!

    I think the courage of transgendered men and women is even more impressive, no matter where they are on their journey. I have been privileged to be a primary care physician for several, and though everyone faces trials in life, anyone who is ‘different’ faces more than average. It absolutely amazes me the strength and patience by trans friends show in dealing with people who are at very different places on the journey of understanding what it means to be transgender. I consider myself a beginner on this journey.

    I thank all my friends for teaching me so much. I am an ally and I will help you and stand with you!

  9. Shirley on December 11, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I am a heterosexual woman. I am an ally because I believe in everyone’s basic human right to be and live themselves to their fullest potential. I am also glad the world is changing. We live in hope, with each other.

  10. Chett on December 11, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    As a non-trans gay man, I’ve come to understand that much of the baggage surrounding sexuality in our contemporary society isn’t due to sexuality or sexual acts. It’s due to a binary concept of gender. Thankfully my trans friends have helped me overcome my own narrow concepts of gender and bridge the gaps between gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s the least I can do to stand with them, united for equal rights and justice for all people.

  11. Nick on December 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    As a non-trans queer man, I have come a long way in my understanding of trans and gender issues with the help of my trans friends and their allies alike. Knowing and seeing transgender people in my daily life has allowed me to better understand what true strength is, what true inner confidence and beauty is, and what it means to truly face adversity every day. Too often in the queer community, we forget to reach out a helping hand to those who face the most discrimination and hate out of all of us.

    The road to acceptance for transgender and gender nonconforming people has been long, and has not yet reached its end, but will some day bring us as a society to a time where everyone is accepted, loved, protected equally under the law and provided with all of the same rights and opportunities, regardless of their gender expression and sexual orientation. People who promote the hurtful, offensive, and just plain old untrue idea that transgenderism doesn’t exist will be a thing of the past, and our trans brothers and sisters will no longer be pushed aside and asked to wait for what they deserve just a little longer.

    Until that day comes, I will stand with you and the trans community in the fight to expose and end intolerance, ignorance, and hate wherever it is found.

  12. Susan Collins on December 11, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    In Thailand a young trans woman sued the military for harassment. She wrote in a blog to the effect that she may win the case, she may lose the case, the military may come for her in the middle of the night, but one thing she knew for sure. The days of quiet resignation of the trans person are over.
    All those who speak with us and stand with us and walk with us – bless you!

  13. Auntie Doris on December 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I am a straight woman.

    I am an ally.

    For me being an ally to trans-folk is no different to being an ally to gay men and women. Being an ally is a personal learning experience; one filled with pain and tears, but ultimately an experience that not to be missed. Being an ally has helped me change. My opinions and presumptions have shifted. My willingness to question what I believe to be true has increased and my belief in the goodness and the God in each person has become more and more important. A chance meeting with a gay man when I was 19 started this lifelong change, and more encounters with people who are different to me has continued this exciting journey. However, standing alongside those who are broken and weeping is hard, and standing as a shield to them when they are in the line of fire is even harder.

    So, to answer the question, ‘What have you learned from knowing transgender folks?’ I probably need to change the question to ‘What have you learned from being ally?’ as it is more inclusive. The answer is simple. I have learnt to be myself. Their struggles have helped me find out who I am. Being an ally isn’t a selfish thing, but it has helped me to grow into the woman I believe God intended me to be.

    To answer the second question ‘How has your life been enriched?’ – well that is easy! My life has been changed beyond recognition. Without meeting those people to whom I became an ally I would probably have married when I was 21 and be happily ensconced in a charismatic evangelical church with a quiver-full of children. My life has been enriched by the most wonderful people. Those who challenge my perception of what is right, or what justice looks like and ultimately what God looks like. Oh, and not to mention these wonderful people have the best parties and the most outrageous fun. Life would be distinctly duller without them!!!!

    Being an ally is painful, but more than that it is a pleasure and privilege.

    I wouldn’t change it.

  14. Khyri on December 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Abby of the delicious wit, and my many other transgender friends have supported *me* through some of my most trying times. It’s the least I can do to support them in return. Perhaps because they have been brave enough to step out from behind the masks we all wear, they are some of the most *real* and friendly people I have ever encountered. I know you feel the same, Peterson. Thanks for posting this Call to Action.

  15. Jane on December 11, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    All of you rock my world and give me courage to keep standing. We should unite more often. What a thought!

  16. Jason Ingram on December 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I am non-trans, non-straight and non-trans-phobic/non-trans-bigot

    Sweet combo eh?

  17. catkisser on December 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    What have I learned from transgendereds?……that even the allies will continue to disregard the wishes of those born classical intersexed and transsexed and continue to use a term to forcibly “include” us that we find insulting, demeaning of our battle to become women (or men) without qualifiers….

    And you know this.

    Transsexuals do not trans (cross, change) gender (identity) because it is the very fact that it is as fixed as it is for anyone normborn and that’s the issue that leads one to pay the price to become real by correcting the body and the social role. Transsexuals trans (correct, change) their sex (body). ‘Tis so simple but continued to be ignored.

    Yeah, I pretty much give up…..

  18. Jane on December 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you for giving me something to think about and integrate into my life. Words and names are important and hold power.

    Thank you for speaking out and sharing yourself.

  19. catkisser on December 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    And as a priestess of the Goddess, lifelong Pagan and founder of the Cybeline revival, I thank you for recognizing something every “witch” knows….words and names have power.

  20. David Grundström on December 11, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I am a straight person who completely stand beside my transgender friends and family aswell as with the rest of the LGBT-community. I want to learn how to be a better ally!

  21. Beth on December 11, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I have learned that there is much that I take for granted in my life.

    I have learned that there is still much I do not know.

    The most important thing that I have learned (so far) from friends who are transgendered or gender queer is the incredible courage it can take to live true to oneself. As someone who at times worries too much what others think, I also learned about the freedom and reward that comes from claiming one’s own truth.

    I am still learning to be an ally. I am at times still building up my own courage to stand against the wave.

    I also have learned that without those people in my life who are trans or gender transgressive my life would be less rich and a little more empty.

  22. Brynn on December 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    As a transgender person, I just wanted to say I’m glad we have real allies like you. The transgender community NEEDS more cisgender allies, be they gay, straight, or anything in between.

  23. Ahavia on December 11, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I have grown in my awarenss, understanding and love for my trans-sisters and brothers.
    Do I understand the concept and need in my bones, No. It is outside of my experience. I have been married to 2 men, now identify as a Lesbian. I went through a drug rehab center when I was in my 20s that also tried to ‘cure’ me of being a Lesbian. They thought it worked, but I just kept it a secret until I was in my 30s and felt I did not want to die without having a woman lover. So I left hubby #2 which was the best move in my life.
    I dealing with trans issues, many of my negative feelings had to do with my feelings about men and also with my love of butch woman.
    I am now not functioning with such anger towards men and I have learned to believe the experiences that my trans friends tell me. This is their experiences and what they say is true for them. I have been blessed with so many wonderful triends who are trans.
    I believe that one should be able to dress in any way that is comfortable and right for that person. I love to wear dresses, to be as fem as this old Quaker lady can be. I would not deny anyone the right to dress up. This should not be held to one sex at all. I do envsion the day when folks will dress as they wish from little on up. Clothes shoule be fun as well as utilitarian.
    I have so much love for our young friends who are living such brave lives.
    Let us live as if the world is the way we want it to be, now. And it will be that.
    I am sending love to us all in this life adventure.

  24. Sadie on December 11, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    My life has been enhanced in so many ways by the beautiful transfolk in it. I’m a Cisgender queer/lesbian third wave feminist womyn. I’m always striving for ways to be a better ally with the trans community.

    I was very angry to read that post, claiming that trans people “don’t exist”. There was a lot of ignorance in what that man wrote. It is particularly shocking to hear what he wrote because of what he has done for the gay community. This is a perfect example of how the oppressed strives to become the oppressor, using his male and cisgender privilege to condemn others.

    Being a lesbian is an important part of my identity (political and otherwise). My partner is a transwomyn who has not undergone surgery. It hurts me (although in an indirect way) that Ronald Gold’s claims implied my partner was not really a womyn, because what would that mean? That I am straight? Of course, I do not need validation to know that I am in a lesbian relationship. But it is frustrating when people do not realize that my partner is trans and assume that we are a heterosexual couple.

  25. Allyson on December 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    To my friends who have responded to Peterson’s call: I’ve read every word you so lovingly wrote, often with tears. I simply cannot thank you enough.

    You have my love.

  26. Eddie on December 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Hi. I’m a gay male living on Long Island, in New York. The “T” is a very vital and important part of the GLBT Community of Long Island. Our Trans Brothers and Sisters have always shown their support for the rest of the Community.

    When my own mom passed away seven weeks ago, the Transgender Community rallied around me in support. I’m proud to call them my friends.

  27. This Southern Faggot on December 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Hopefully people will read this and realize that it takes a lot of privilege to be shocked and surprised by this blog post. People love to pretend (or assume) that gay men automatically are Trans allies, in the same way they assume that gay men are automatically not racist, sexist, classist, etc. But, this assumes that all oppressions work the same way and come from the same place, which clearly isn’t the case. A white, gay, middle – upper middle class, cis man is dripping with privilege, but people love to assume that by being a faggot, that somehow automatically trumps all his other privilege. But honey, white rich faggots can be just as terrible and oppressive as their straight cousins. Being gay does not mean you automatically understand race, class, ability, gender, or even sexuality.

  28. Sadie on December 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    This is a response to “This Southern F*ggot”‘s post: (As a lesbian, I do not think it is appropriate for me to use the f*g word, as my lived experience can not allow me to understand the unique ways it impacts those it is directed towards. But if you’ve reclaimed it, I totally support YOU in using the word : ) )

    I certainly agree with you. Some of the most sexist comments I have heard come from gay men. I know that gay men (especially White, cisgendered, wealthy gay men) have privileges that are often unexamined. The danger of dominant groups is that privileges do often go unexamined, especially in the case of gay men, who have the ability to see the ways in which they are marginalized but have the option of ignoring their privilege.

    I am not shocked. I DO think that because gay men are marginalized and oppressed in certain ways that they should be able to ally with others that are marginalized in other ways.

  29. ben on December 11, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    “…mutilate the bodies of the deluded.”
    ~R. Gold

    wow. deluded? really? if i had to think of one moment in my life when i was surrounded by a room full of people who were the furthest thing from deluded, it would be the transgender day of remembrance at PSU.
    though i may have been in the cisgender minority that night, i haven’t felt that relaxing, peaceful, clear-minded, and loving of an environment in a while.

    to say that trans folks are deluded is no better than saying homosexuality is a sin… a disease that only the j-man can cure. if R. Gold can’t see how he’s being oppressive, then i can only assume he would say that Fred Phelps and Co. are just “challenging” others as well.

    in a perfect world, no member of the queer community (or any progressive, forward thinking individual) would point fingers and oppress anyone. unfortunately, it never pans out like that.

    if R. Gold or any other person with similar views reads this, i can only hope they could dismount their high horse for a moment and LISTEN…. listen to the thousands of folks that are pleading to have their voices/hearts/lives heard, affirmed, and respected.
    it took long enough for the queer community to get where it is today. don’t send it reeling decades back by selling the idea that the trans community is “deluded”.

    in solidarity,

  30. Nick on December 11, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    This is a response to This Southern Faggot and Sadie.

    While I don’t personally use the word faggot too often, I appreciate other gay men’s ability to reclaim that word which has so often been used to dehumanize and humiliate.

    That being said, as a cisgender gay white man, I am so often ashamed by the ignorance displayed by others of my same community. I am far from perfect, and make no claim that I am ‘free’ of the ignorance that so often plagues communities with privilege. However, I think it so vitally important to recognize that just because white, gay, rich, cis men may happen to face homophobia at certain points, does NOT mean in any way that we are automatically allies to the trans community.

    Oppression comes in many forms, and all of these forms ALWAYS interact with each other to emphasize and exaggerate the experience with oppression many people have. Too often, we forget to recognize that discrimination can be based off of so many things, such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation, health status, religious beliefs, etc., and individuals who are members of a different community than our own/ in multiple communities experience oppression in ways entirely different from our own.

    Assuming that we understand the trans experience as a member of a marginalized and oppressed group just because we are gay is irresponsible and often offensive. Because of this, it becomes even more important to work even harder to be allies, to be there for our trans brothers and sisters when they need us, and to let trans individuals speak for themselves when it comes to explaining the trans experience. As white, gay, cis, rich(not all of us) men, we DO experience an inordinate amount of privilege, and it is so important to admit that, and work to use that privilege in ways beneficial to communities who are not afforded the same luxury by society. It is not fair to be ignorant of the things we have that others do not.

    Again, I in no way want to come across as acting like I am ‘freed’ of the ignorance my privilege begs of me. It is a continuing effort and learning experience to be a good ally to our trans friends, and one that we must all continue to strive to become better at.

  31. Jessica Sideways on December 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you for your support for the transgender community… I am saddened that Bilerco had chosen such an insensitive, heteronormative, transphobic man.

  32. Diana on December 11, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Thank you Peterson and all the allies that have stood up for us.

    It gives us hope.

    I think of the words that Frederick Douglass said at the International Council of Women in Seneca Falls New York in 1848, Douglas said this about women’s rights,
    “When I ran away from slavery, it was for myself; when I advocated emancipation, it was for my people; but when I stood up for the rights of women, self was out of the question, and I found a little nobility in the act.”

  33. Eileen on December 11, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    As one of the members of the Trans community on Long Island that Eddie, had posted about earlier. I have to thank you and all of the other allies who have had the courage to stand up and say something about this Bilerico posting.

    Being oppressed yourself does not automatically mean you can understand the oppression of others, and you can be just as insensitive and Transphobic as the AFA or any other of the well known haters.

  34. Evan on December 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I’m a little bit late to the party, both here and at the Bilerico post, but that’s okay, because my only real reaction to the piece is “Holy crap, are you kidding me?!”

    Oy vey.

  35. Oliver Danni on December 12, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I am both glad by the tremendous support from people of many genders, and also disappointed that the writing which triggered it was removed from the public view. It disturbs me greatly how easy it is to erase dissent with a few mouse-clicks. This person did not go away. This person’s views did not go away. Unless you live in a computer, erasing someone’s words from the internet does nothing to change the reality of transphobia. In real life, it persists, and the only way to change that is to continue engaging with people who do not understand. How can we do that if we pretend they aren’t there, if we erase their words so we don’t have to see them?

    Now that the post has been removed, I can’t even evaluate for myself whether this person is worth engaging with or not. Someone else made that decision for me, and as an intelligent human being I am upset that someone else has decided I should not have access to information which might offend me. I want to make that choice myself.

    But still, like I said, I am glad to see so many people abhor transphobia with such passion.

  36. belledame222 on December 12, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I’m a cis queer woman. I always think “ally” is a verb rather than a noun, but I try to exercise that verb as much as I can.

    Yeah, even if I didn’t have trans friends, on a simple “wtf?! how can you not see what’s wrong with this? ESPECIALLY as a person who’s been marginalized in similar ways!” level it’s…both outrageous and depressingly familiar.

  37. belledame222 on December 12, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Oliver: yeah, I had the same thought re: they should really leave it up there, or at least archive it, otherwise it’s too easy to revise history.

  38. belledame222 on December 12, 2009 at 1:00 am

    I’m not surprised by it, but I never cease to be -headdesky- over it. Especially when it’s not just any schmuck but someone who actually was a big name activist…yeah, for some people it’s always about identity politics, they never see the bigger picture (i.e. solidarity doesn’t mean “I and my chosen group got mine/ours, everyone else go fuck yerselves, unless we need something from you). argh, though.

    Cis feminists (queer and straight, usually of the “radical” variety, but others have failed also) can be just as bad.

  39. p2son on December 12, 2009 at 1:24 am

    I believe you can still see the post in cache form, at least my partner wrote and said he read it that way. Not sure how to do it.

    You can also read large sections of the post and see a screen shot of it in Autumn Sandeen’s piece over at Pam’s House Blend.

  40. Lila on December 12, 2009 at 1:33 am

    I am a queer cis woman, once a hardcore evangelical Christian who thought that Fred Phelps and his I’ll were right. It is amazing how much I have grown, turning into someone almost completely opposite of that high schooler. I was appalled by Mr. Gold’s post and the defense of it. I know it is nothing new to anyone, but to me it was shocking. I am naive, admittedly, conveniently forgetting how I was before and the hate I spewed. I have become friends with so many varied people, one of which is a trans man who has taught me so much and has helped me see my privilege when I didn’t even realize it was there. For him and everyone else, I am learning and hope I can help fight such transphobic behaviour. No one deserves to be told they are deluded. No one deserves to be written off. My best wishes to everyone hurt by this mess and by so much else in this world. For my previous ignorance and anger that I never gave voice but felt just the same, I apologize.

  41. Mackenzie on December 12, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Not surprised to see gay men who don’t Get It when it comes to trans issues. Quite disappointed though.

  42. Christine Bakke on December 12, 2009 at 2:11 am

    For those who need to read it, here’s the cached version of the article, which apparently was originally titled “Transgender: A disease that doesn’t exist.” (look at the URL when you click through)

    Cached snapshot

  43. Abby on December 12, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Peterson, thank you for being such a wonderful friend and ally. With this post, you have helped to restore my faith in the goodness of humankind. As I read it, and the comments from all the wonderful allies who have posted their love and support for me and the rest of our trans community, what I felt was, “the healing has begun.” As one who was sorely hurt by Mr. Gold’s words, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


    P.S. “Abby of the delicious wit,” eh? There’s a title I am honored to own. Thank you.

  44. Abby R. on December 12, 2009 at 4:48 am

    yeaaa for Abby of the delicious wit. 🙂

  45. helen boyd on December 12, 2009 at 5:08 am
  46. Zoe Brain on December 12, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Ron Gold explains his post:

    “I concede I’m far from an expert on this, but I continue to believe that it is highly unlikely to have a biological basis (Is there any credible evidence for that view?; I’m willing to listen). So I posited an explanation based on societal pressure to conform to the gender stereotypes. (If there are other explanations, I missed them amidst the tirades.)

    I don’t apologize for using words like mutilation and deluded. That’s what I think it is!”

    Imagine if someone from Focus on the Family had written this about homosexuality:
    “I concede I’m far from an expert on this, but I continue to believe that it is highly unlikely to be anything other than a simple lifestyle choice (Is there any credible evidence for another view?; I’m willing to listen). So I posited an explanation based on recruitment by gays and having a weak father. (If there are other explanations, I missed them amidst the tirades.)

    I don’t apologize for using words like sick and perverted . That’s what I think it is!”

  47. Donna on December 12, 2009 at 6:16 am

    I think some of us (I am a transexual woman and am guilty too) are part of the problem. Those of us that have made a successful transition have just gone on with our lives in the str8 world, not that I’m stealth or anything but most of my friends and people I associate with are str8. I’ve haven’t gone into the gay world in years. I don’t identify with the drag queen/king or the cd/tv world but those are the only segment of the trans population that lgb people see. I did, in my younger years, go to group meetings and performed in drag shows while I was searching for me – where I fit in. It didn’t take me long to find out I wasn’t like them at all and most of my friends there knew I was different too. I never chose to transition – transition chose me and most of my friends in the lgb world that really knew me understood that. I drifted away and began educating the “real world” and forgot all that I went thru in finding me. I’ve spent too much time educating the public on trans issues while ignoring the gay community. Time to get back to where I found myself and do a little educating there. I owe that to them, myself – and my trans brothers and sisters.

  48. Valorie Zimmerman on December 12, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Thank you for writing about this, Peterson. I’m an ally to all humans who are expressing themSelves to the world. That’s why each of us came here to Earth, I think — to be our truest Selves. We all need one another to be honestly who we are, to create the world we want.

    Mr. Gold is the deluded one. I hope this experience has opened his mind and heart to more of the truth.

    I stand with all trans people, all gender-nonconformists, all queer people everywhere. We all must stand together, for in unity is our strength.

    I love each of you commenters. Peterson, you have the best readers anywhere!

  49. Judith Bienvenu on December 12, 2009 at 8:53 am

    As of 7:45 AM EST, Saturday, Bilerico has pulled Ron’s post, and in its place is a link to a message from the Bilerico management. It’s a heartfelt apology, and apparently Ron is no longer a contributor. They got the message, loud and clear.

    I think we’ll still occasionally run into folks like Ron, until they die out. It’s when the community rallies together to say “NO, We are not going to condone those attitudes” that beliefs slowly change. All societies evolve, probably slower than we’d like.

    We took a step in evolving here. Good on us all.

    (I’m a lesbian trans-woman, still married to the most wonderful woman in the world.)

  50. Michael Brown on December 12, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Thank you, Peterson, and thank you to ALL of you who are supportive of the trans community. It’s people like YOU who will help change the way the world sees us – one heart and one mind at a time.

    Michael Brown
    Executive Director
    TransMentors International

  51. Red Seven on December 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I’m a cisgendered gay man, and have always considered myself an ally to the trans community. It’s just like they say about straight men: if they are comfortable and secure in their own sexual orientation, they have nothing to fear from gay folks. I am pretty comfortable and secure in my gender. Like a lot of gay guys, I can camp it up in certain situations, and that’s kind of fun – but I’ve never felt the sense of “otherness” in my own body that many of my transgender friends have described. When I hear their stories, though they are so unlike my own experience, how can I not sympathize (though I suppose it would be impossible for me to truly empathize)? How can I not speak on their behalf when blatantly transphobic words are spoken in my presence? How can I not do whatever I can to ensure that our workplaces, schools, and communities are as inclusive as possible? Any other option seems foolish to me.

  52. Joe G. on December 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Great way to respond to the situation, Peterson. I was reflecting in the same fashion, but privately. You’ve invited us to go public, which seems so important right now.

    I’ve learned so much from my gender variant LBG folks (from the butch women and feminine men) and trans friends I’ve primarily met online (via blogging and podcasting). I’ve learned to accept that I was a “girlie boy” when I was a kid; that there is plenty of misogyny and tons of other gender related issues amongst us gay men; that the very attitudes that oppress trans folks are the attitudes that target me as a gay man.

    I’ve even learned a thing or two about these issues from you, Peterson. ;0 (Sorry, I can’t help myself. But, you’ll understand p2son………Right?)

  53. Chris on December 12, 2009 at 10:55 am

    I am a proud trans women (in the process of reclaiming Tranny) and h aving just come out of the closet in the last year, I am new to this type of open talk. I was completely lost after reading the post. I just felt a void, an emptiness that I had not felt since I was closeted. Of course this was temporary and I went about my day. It should never have been printed. Not to add fuel to the fire but if you haven’t read the following you should… and notice the way the article closes with a “friendly” reminder to those “considering” transitioning and the economic consequences… please… as if it were a choice. For me it was transition or death, I truly believe that.,8599,1847194,00.html

  54. Chris on December 12, 2009 at 11:58 am


  55. Allison Sinclair on December 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you Mr.Toscano for your support and being an ally. I am a transwoman and proud of it no matter what anybody thinks or says. I read Mr.Gold’s comments and I thought to myself just another narrow minded ignorant individual. What he said in his post just fuels my energy and makes me that much stronger I am involved in advocacy work in educating in the Federal institution that I am employed at and in the Community. Words expressed by Mr.Gold give me even more material when educating people who not to be like. Once again thank you for your support.

  56. Janis on December 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    There is plenty of evidence for a biological basis for transsexualism, and really listening to trans people’s experience for even a short time convinced me that a biological explanation is indeed most likely.

    But more to the point: not knowing the explanation for something should not give us permission to ignore the experiences of people who have first-hand knowledge of it and create an explanation based on our own biases.

  57. Renee Thomas on December 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you Peterson,

    Whether it’s in person or in print, your wit, integrity and humanity comes shining through. Knowing that you’re an ally makes an often-tough row to hoe a little bit easier. Like Abby, Michael, Ally and all my trans-siblings before me . . . I’m grateful for you.


  58. Jeff Harwood on December 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Hey Peterson,

    I clicked over to Bilerico to read the original article and it as been removed. It’s removal is a good thing. From what little I have read in the responses here and the comments remaining on Bilerico, it was a completely acerbic and intentionally disruptive and inflammatory. It’s also a good thing because it would have pissed me off royally.

    I am not transgender, but I am a strong supporter of their rights and their lives. If anyone goes after my transgender friends, he/she is going to have hell to pay. I think of one of my good and dear friends, Darlene. She is an intelligent, witty and remarkable person.

    Furthermore, we are a community and that includes our transgender brothers and sisters. We have enough troubles from the outside without infighting and denigrating each other. If anyone from within our community initiates such an attack, he/she needs to have his/her ass hauled on the carpet and held strongly accountable. If he/she refuses and continues stir up trouble and dissension, then his/her voice needs to be removed from our community and should no longer be allowed a public voice representing us.

  59. JoanieH on December 12, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    The biggest problems I have with the slanders of Gold are this. Most of those who oppose us, especially those in the religious communities, will never even look at any of the dissenting responses to his poison – unless it affirms his position and, quite unfortunately, theirs as well. They will never even look at anything other than those things that are supportive of the original post. I have noted over time that the religious will never even consider anything outside of their narrow box of perception, being selectively blind to anything other than what affirms what their “faith” tells them is acceptable.

    Already, these people (the religious, and the religiously influenced) have the tacitly understood paradigm that “He made them man and woman” and that there are absolutely no exceptions. As they attribute the transgendered as being merely those who have made a casual choice of “lifestyle,” utterly rejecting the concept of biological diversity, there are no possibilities in their world to define us other than we are doing this for our own pleasure and perversity. In this, in light of Gold’s comments, I would say that this is exactly his view of us as well.

    Another aspect of Gold’s tirade is this. The BILERCO Project is seen by those who oppress us as being both authoritative and, in many ways, an “official voice” of the LBGT community at large. After all, they do have a significant following. In this case, the words have been spoken and, despite taking the post down, it will never be capable of being recalled in its entirety. The fact that several of my family members and acquaintances have already forwarded the original link to me is ample qualification that this is indeed the case.

    As a transwoman, I now have to live with the fact that Mr. Gold has just given my opponents another case of ammunition at a point in time when violence and denouncements against those like me are on the upswing. The damage is done and can never be totally eliminated. I would have thought that any organization that used the anagram “LBGT” would have the sensitivity to not allow such a malignant discourse to be placed on their site without proper qualification as to the type of poison it literally is. The very fact that someone with control of the content of the site would allow such must give one in my position pause to reflect, when actions and words tell a different tale, believe action.

    The only thing I can see as being in any way germane as to the “why” of what happened would be the tacit assumption that who ever allowed this to be posted was of like mind. The content was too blatant to be construed in any other way. Words are frequently political in nature and may or may not reflect the beliefs of the speaker. Action is overtly truthful and tell the hidden messages of the heart.

    Now I must ask this. Does the BILERCO Project have the integrity to properly triage this incident and take the appropriate curative actions to properly address this form of malignancy?

    Any future publication of such opinions, such as Gold’s last diatribe, can only be construed as being a total condemnation of the transgendered community and cause for those of good conscience to disregard the BILERCO Project as being, in fact, openly hostile to the TG community.

    I’m sorry to have to state these concerns, but I have the the outgrowth of this type of hatred and fear way too often. While it is true that some degree of damage control has been accomplished, there will be scars and the possibility of this resurfacing at later dates.

    Let me close by saying that in the political arena, where we fight for our rights and, in many tangible ways, our very lives, this type of thing does not go easily away. Both sides of the issue have been affected. Is it any wonder why so many in the TG segment of society despair of our need to be politically aligned with the LBG? If this is an example of friendship then who needs enemies?

  60. JennyC on December 12, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    For those LGB allies that stand here with me and the rest of the transgender community against this kind of hate and ignorance, I really do thank you so very much.
    Unfortunately, I have found attitudes like Gold’s to be true far, far more often than not. For example, in 2007 I was the first transgender speaker in the 25 year history of the local 2007 Pride dinner. (FYI: There were at most 3 TGs there, counting me, in a crowd of 175-200.) All I did was tell my story. They gave me a standing ovation at the end. I cannot tell you how many LGB attendees came up to me afterward whose first words were. “I had no idea that was what you had to go through..”
    In the 14+ years I have been in the LGBT community, I find I have to do far more education of our LGB “allies” about transgender issues than I do of hetersexual folks. This level of ignorance is just more evidence of why TGs were thrown under the bus in 2007 over ENDA – and will likely be again; if not in Federal legislation, then at the state and local level. (And I do not believe you when you say you will “come back for us later” either.)
    I recently dropped all but 2 of the board of directors position I held for several organizations. Why? Because I got the impression from certain ‘TG-inclusive’ organizations that my presence was just a reason for them to say, “Look! We’re inclusive! We have a TG person on our board!” (“So give us your money!”) The reality was my participation was nothing more than being a “Token TG” to them and my opinions weren’t worth squat. The GWMs ran things and that was that.
    I am tired; tired of fighting against the ignorance and hate WITHIN our community. That is why I will scale back my efforts, for I cannot and will not support those who either cannot or will not support ME.

  61. Nulwendy on December 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    As a transwoman i.e. m2f transgender, I am very aware of the antagonism among the LGBT community for the transgendered. I understand it. Transgendered peopel have little in common with the request of the rainbow. Many of us are not interested in issues of sexulity, the crux of the battle among straights and gays.
    Confronting the issue of gender, with all of its dimensions, with the confusion of chunky middle aged men deciding ot announce at the age of 58 they are now a lady, confronts society and sexuality on many levels.

    Being gay may be “queer” but declaring yourself another gender is just wrong. (I am applying irony with a trowel here folks.) At least in the minds of may people. Why shouldn’t some gays feel discomfort and unease at the agenda of the transgendered? Even paragons are prejudiced, no surprise there.

    I often feel that I am riding on the backs of a lot of brave pioneers, who fought for equal rights, while I glide along serenely saying “That’s Ma’am” to people who misidentify me, without the fear that was normal 25 years ago.

  62. Samantha on December 13, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Peterson, you. ARE. AWESOME! Thank you! I didn’t respond over at TBP because this isn’t the first time they’ve start something over there by posting crap. I refused to comment, especially so many other people did a wonderful job of making the neccessary points including Abby.

    “Abby of the delicious wit”

    Goodness I love that and it’s such a truism. She rocks too.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks, I love what you wrote and I agree. I also adore the responses here.

    Again, thank you, you are awesome. I have to start following your blog now that I know it’s here.


  63. Udge on December 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Count me* in. Fully agreed. Your body and how you define yourself in it are *none* of my business. More power to your collective elbows.

    * old straight white comfortably-well-off cis male, i.e. as privileged as they come — and only lately realizing that, thanks to meeting some wonderful LGBT people and their openminded friends.

  64. Suzy Wise on December 13, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you for starting this conversation Peterson, and also for the name drop, unless you meant another Suzy in Maryland. 🙂

    I haven’t read through all of these comments, and I cannot read the original Gold article because it’s been taken down, though I’ve seen snippets from other sites. From what I gathered, it’s a very incendiary diatribe about a life Mr. Gold has never experienced.

    It’s easy to sit back and tell a whole group of people they shouldn’t be who they really are, but ought to just use what they were given at birth. One can say whatever they want to, in theory. However, you cannot say/decide what is true for someone else – only for yourself. Clearly, Mr. Gold is uncomfortable with anything but the gender binary and hasn’t reached a state of evolution where he can empathize with the experiences of others and consider what it must like to live in a life of confusion and turmoil and thus have compassion. And, he hasn’t been able to articulate that for himself. He instead sits back and judges others for who they are. I feel sorry for his lack of clarity and humility. I hope he is able to find it through this exercise.

    I love the transgender people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I would never presume to know what their experience has truly been. All I can “know” is what they tell me, and I can imagine the rest of the story, which breaks my heart at times. When I see how happy they are after they’ve made the changes they wanted and needed to make, my heart swells for them.

    It has always confused me that minority groups can be just as discriminatory and hateful to each other as the majority has been known to be to us. Why do we spend so much time filling ourselves with anger, righteousness, and the delusions of grandeur that WE know what’s best for everyone else? Can’t we ever work for the rights of our brothers and sisters and trust that what we need will be provided for us? Isn’t there ever remorse when we step on the heads of others to get what we want? When we get there, isn’t the “success” tainted?

    I choose love, compassion, empathy, solidarity and peace any day.

    I am a cisgender trans ally and proud of it!

  65. Susan Collins on December 14, 2009 at 10:16 am


    i live mostly in the mainstream – all day every day i hear how strong and courageous i am – why does any one think it is a good thing to have to be so strong in the face of such odds? And why after all the fancy words am i still walking alone?
    Why do all these people tell me they are there standing and walking with me when I look around and there is no one there, just lots of good wishes and cheering on?
    When I am confronted with a pair of hateful eyes – where are you? When my mouth was smashed in with a tire rod – where were you? When hosptital staff and police told me “What do you expect?” – who objected? when the constructiion workers thought they would have a little sport with me – Did you help brush off my clothes and wash the blood off from around my eyes from the can that was thrown at me or clean the spit off my face on that cold morning? Did you help pick me up when I got the crap beat out of me in the bathroom? Did you stand with me all those dozens of job interviews when I was laughed at? Did you come to lead me by the hand out of the dark after the gang rape when I just wanted to die? Did you take the mother to task who pulled her kids away from me as I was walking down the street?

    There are lots of people that walk by when all these things happen to me and many others – who stops? Who helps? Yet i read these fancy words on this blog and i am supposed to believe them?
    I know many people who talk a very good game – and work hard for change from within – from within is a very warm, safe place to be. But stand out in the cold with us, do more than make a phone call and give speeches and be guests on trans talk shows and write wonderful things on virtual blogspaces – be willing to stand up to the hater and take a beating with us and then get back up and be willing to continue to walk with us, NO MATTER WHAT – then I will believe you. Then your words have meaning to me.
    Who is my real family? who really has my back? I know that “standing with a person while they are weeping and broken is hard, and standing as a shield against the world when we are in the line of fire is harder”, but try being that person.
    If you are not willing to – to laugh and cry and hurt and die with us – please, walk away. allies in word only is not what i or any one else needs. Cuz when I am “in the line of fire” I need some one who will stand with me, not cheer me on or tell me what a wonderful, strong person I am and how much respect you have for me and what Iam going through.
    I am a human being. Just like you.

  66. p2son on December 14, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Sue, thank you for your strong words in your comment. Time will tell who stands and who does not stand as an ally. It sounds like yours has been a journey taken alone without the support you need and deserve. I hear what sounds like frustration and disbelief towards people who have vocalized their willingness to be allies. What will happen when we are required to pay a price? Will we jump ship and retreat to our safe spaces? Likely many of us will, but hopefully some of us will not. Some of us will take the blows too. Only time will tell for sure. I know that when I travel around in public with some friends who are trans women, I see the world looking at us differently than I typically experience. I don’t know how I will respond when that world turns hostile. I may shame myself and my friends by being a coward. I would hope not, but I will not know until the time comes.

    Words are powerful because they can translate into action. In my work of trying to get non-trans people on-board it is essential that they voice their support–say it before they actually will claim it. How will that translate in the end? I don’t know. Whoever we are, when the chips are down and there is no money left to pay the bills and we are sick and beaten, we find that we have very few friends from the good times who will stick around to be with us. Hopefully there will be one or two. Such a precarious situation, which you know all too well.

    I want more than just fancy words. Of course from your end that may be all you see. I don’t know you personally so I cannot walk that road with you personally, but I can with Diana and Allyson and Jayna and Mila and Fredrik and Adam and Max and Barbara who I do know personally.

    Thank you for your hard words. They help keep me and others honest and accountable.

  67. Susan Collins on December 14, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Dear Peterson,
    I write to you with love in my heart and anger in my words and tears in my eyes.
    I thank you for your compassionate response. i have worked as a therapist for over 20 years – my last post was one of anger and passion and catharsis, a personal pouring out of all the thoughts and feelings that I have tried to downplay all this time in the cause of “community”- i am not in need of active listening techinques. Thank you, though I seek genuine dialogue, authentic communication – this issue is way too raw for me. I seek true community.
    And, Peterson, you are loved for who you are – it does not really matter who anyone *knows*. Your name is out there, people know the work you do. People who are involved know who you are. Really, as i know i do not have to explain my self to you, please know that you do not have to explain your self to me, nor do you have to defend your self to anyone. From what I read and the people I speak with, you walk the walk. And for that I call you brother.
    I can not “know” what it is to be you. You can not “know” what it is to be me. I can not walk your road. You can not walk my road. But I will defend to the death your right to be who you are and to walk the road you choose.. As I have heard you would do for another. And i give you honor and respect for that.
    That is what an ally is, to me.

  68. Riley on December 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Hey Peterson,
    I found you by way of @wonderwillow’s Twitter. As a queer FTM, I’m appreciative of you and other allies speaking up.

    I wasn’t at all surprised by Mr. Gold’s post. Far from it actually. I expected better of him (and of Bilerico) but also tempered that with reality. The reality is that transpeople as a general rule have to take flak from all sides. What is necessary for our individual and collective success is what Martin Luther King called “a dangerous unselfishness”.

    I appreciate and want allies to stand up against bigotry of all kinds. On the internet, in the boardroom, on the streets, wherever. We need you most when our voices are those that are expected. People expect to hear me going off about trans issues, but they don’t expect it from my friend who is a straight black male minister. As a movement, we need to flip the script on the expected voices. Not only does it keep them guessing, but it also shows that the whole of us won’t stand for bigotry against *any* of us.

    Have a great day,

  69. p2son on December 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Sue, I’ve been thinking about this all day, particularly when I swam laps and my mind got to float a bit. You wrote:

    I can not “know” what it is to be you. You can not “know” what it is to be me. I can not walk your road. You can not walk my road. But I will defend to the death your right to be who you are and to walk the road you choose.. As I have heard you would do for another. And i give you honor and respect for that.
    That is what an ally is, to me.

    In a very real way being and ally is simply being a good friend, a true friend, one who listens and cares and who is there for you and will fight for you and you are there for them and you fight for them. We look out for each other.

  70. Jessica Britton on December 14, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Peterson, you may not be transgendered, but you’re definitely part of the Trans community as far as I’m concerned. You’re family! Thanks for all the work you do, and for your intelligent and supportive words on this subject. (Hope to see you in Asheville again sometime!)

    Take care

  71. Erin Fuller on October 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    if I must have a lable then I am transgendered and proud of that fact! I have come to know all people related to GLBT I have had the honor of fighting for equality among Gay’s lesbians Bi-sexuals and other transgendered people as well as those who identify as hetero whom I deam as heros of GLBT people!I support all GLBT not just a particular group of our community because as I see it we all are in this together we all want the same thing EQUALITY full and unconditional I can not chose one side or the other we have enough to be concerned about let alone petty diffrences!lets all continue to fight as a group as one people the saying is true”united we stand devided we fall” I have been standing side by side stand with me and fight!

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