Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Not a Dis

On Being Used to Demean Others

I don't know when this happened, but it has now become commonplace to question someone's gender identity as a means to debase or discredit them. I first came across this with some liberals questioning the gender status of conservative harpy Ann Coulter. Now, I'll make it clear, I am no fan of her politics or her methods of expressing those views. But I've read commentaries on the anonymous blogosphere that suggest she is transgender. I've even seen a picture with a highlight window focused on her throat - ostensibly pointing out an "Adam's Apple", which, for most women is not prominent while is it usually very prominent for men, hence "Adam" and not "Eve's" apple.

Why is this a dis? Why is my existence so horrible as to suggest something inherently wrong or evil or whatever as to be of value as a measure of something deplorable in someone else? And it's not just liberals ranking on Coulter. I have also read the same thing offered by conservatives aimed at Hillary Clinton during this presidential race. Again, this isn't a question of politics, I'm not particularly fond of Mrs. Clinton either. But it is frustrating that it seems like the "perfect" slam, particularly on a woman, to suggest or joke that she is transgender. Ha, Ha, Ha...that was a "good one"!! Why?

Neither Ms. Coulter nor Mrs. Clinton are transgender. And neither is Lisa Jeynes, a British model who participated in the reality television production Big Brother 4 in 2003. The program places strangers together into a large living arrangement, then week by week one or two is eliminated by the others, a format that is at the basis of Survivor, The Great Race, Apprentice, etc. It seems that as part of the build up to the fourth season of Big Brother, there was "rumor" that one of the participants was a transgender. Interesting that the automatic assumption was that it was one of the women.

She sued a British publication - many of whom put the New York Post to shame for outrageousness - Love It! because they "quote" her as having her "fake boobs" falling out on a date with one of the other participants. They also called her a "geezer", a term I don't think connotes gender identity issues. Against the backdrop of the transgender rumor, she felt this meant they were labeling her as trans. Now her suit was tossed out by the courts - they cited it was a big stretch to take that comment and tie it to being labeled as a tranny - but the point remains why would this be "libelous" in the first place?

I guess in some ways I should be complimented many people find one, two or all three of these women attractive. And this, I guess, demonstrates that people are becoming more aware of transgenders, which is also an improvement from years past. But by being used as a "dis" its obvious there is much more education to be done.

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