Rebecca Juro

Susan Stanton: Americans “Not Ready” To Treat Transpeople As Equals

Filed By Rebecca Juro | January 02, 2008 5:29 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, LGBT, politics, queer, Susan Stanton

In an article published in Sunday’s St. Petersburg Times, Susan Stanton, who was fired last March from her job as City Manager of Largo, Florida shortly after she announced that would be beginning her transition from male to female, said that she doesn’t feel like other transgender people, and that she feels uncomfortable looking at some of us, “…like I’m seeing a bunch of men in dresses.”. Stanton went on to say that she believes that it’s too early for transgender people to be federally protected from discrimination.

“People need more time, more education. The transgender groups boo me, now, when I speak. Isn’t that ironic?…But I don’t blame the human rights groups for separating the transgender people from the protected groups. Most Americans aren’t ready for us yet. Transgender people need to be able to prove they’re still viable workers — especially in the mainstream. The biggest issue against the federal legislation is that politicians think the ladies’ rooms will be invaded by guys in drag, instead of someone like me.”

“Ironic”? Really? It’s ironic that most members of a violently persecuted minority group don’t agree with Stanton that we should be happy to continue waiting years, perhaps even decades, before we are protected against discrimination in the workplace, that we believe that protecting our right to pursue the American Dream is just as valid and just as urgent as that of any other American minority group?

What really is ironic is that someone who served 14 years in high-profile government position proving herself a viable worker, as she puts it, receiving promotions, raises, and praise from her co-workers, and then was summarily fired immediately after announcing their status as a transgender person, could utter these words with a straight face.

Perhaps I should be more forgiving here. It’s clear that Susan Stanton has little, if any, real understanding of the history of our movement, the politics surrounding it, and the fight for transgender equality in general. She obviously doesn’t know the relevant (credible) poll numbers, which consistently indicate between 60-70% support nationwide for protecting Transgender-Americans from discrimination. She’s never marched with us, protested with us, spoken out on our behalf, or served in a leadership or activist position, or any position of note within the transgender community.

What has she actually done for the transgender community? Well, she’s told her story in the media any number of times. She’s appeared in newspapers and on television and radio shows to talk about herself. She’s told her story at various speaking engagements around the country, including one I attended here in New Jersey. She’s…um…well, I guess that’s about it.

Watch for Stanton to soon become a spokestrans for the Human Rights Campaign and perhaps even a member of the much-rumored “Good Tranny Brigade”, a handful of wealthy, well-groomed, straight-looking transgender people being personally selected by Barney Frank to testify before Congress about transgender inclusion in ENDA at some point before it comes up for another vote. Stanton’s publicly stated views fit right in with the HRC/House Democratic leadership agenda to protect Congressional Democrats from feeling obligated to do the right thing by all LGBT Americans, and to somehow try to convince Members and the American public during an election year that passing an ENDA solely for those who look and act like straight people has the transgender seal of approval.

You’d think that Susan Stanton, of all people, would get it, that she’d understand better than most where our community is socially and politically and why we’re so passionate about fighting for the same rights and ability to make a living free from discrimination other Americans enjoy as a matter of course or, at the very least, considered worthy by our “progressive” government leaders of fighting for, but once a conservative politico, always a conservative politico, I suppose.

Earlier today, I invited Susan Stanton to appear on my radio show. I’ll be interested to see if she’s willing to get into these issues with me on the air, or if she’ll pull a “Joe Solmonese” and run the other way, as he did when he stopped posting at the Bilerico Project, citing a hostile environment toward HRC, instead of stepping up, defending himself and his organization from the opposing views of many of our contributors and readers, and entering into a real discussion and debate of the relevant issues.

As far as I can see, Susan Stanton isn’t a transgender community leader, not even really a follower, nor will she ever be seen as one. What she is is apparently just another self-hating Queer, making excuses for others treating people who differ from the norm like garbage. In other words, she’s just yet another right-wing conservative, regardless of what outfit she happens to put on the morning.

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There is a number if interesting issues here...
one is there is a certian mentality amongst certian people who enter the TG/TS communities who think
that just because they have a fat wallet or held
some position in their past life that makes them a leader. we have a simular person in the SanDiego
TG/TS community who feels their wallet qualifies
them to be a community leader. This person has not even been out for five years and had no trouble buying her way to being post-op. Some of us had to work rather hard for it, some of us don't get to ever be Post-op.

with people like Stanton embarrassing the community is it any wonder most people who manage to transition successfully distance themselves from the community?

Take care

I don't do skype.. it's a shame you don't have two phone lines. I would love to ask Susan some questions ... One Susan to another...


You can also contact me and submit questions while I'm live on the air by email: [email protected] or my AOL Instant Messenger: RLJ5862

The only thing I ask is that they be phrased in a civil manner, no matter how controversial the guest.

I'm hoping to have a second call-in line for the show soon, but Producer Mike Scott and I haven't been able to get that going as yet.

BTW, I've not yet confirmed Stanton's appearance on my show. I issued the invitation this morning, but have not yet heard back. If and when she does confirm, I will of course let people know here and on my own blog.

Thanks ...

Take care

Sounds like a lot of internalized transphobia and classism to me. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say if she actually appears on your show.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | January 2, 2008 7:22 PM

Omg, I can't believe she said those things!

Well, I mean I can. But then I can't!

It's infuriating that she'll be given the speaking platform, rather than others of us who are proud of who we are, have worked years to further equality, and are supportive of all of our community, not just the ones who pass well and subscribe to mainstream values and normative standards.

I wonder which "transgender groups" she's referring to. Sounds to me like there might be some serious projection going on there.

Big sigh.

Ouch Brynn....

Lets she comes to her senses before too much more time elapses and she makes a total fool of herself.

Take care

One last thing...
I have read Stanton's credentials.
She lacks one key ingredient, Experience living as transwoman.

Take care
By the way Good Post Rebecca.


We all have to learn the hard way for me that ment years as a CD now as a Trans so she will soon come around when her fame and nortarity soon fade and she is no longer being used by the powers that be.

you mean when that HRC Kool-Aid wears off?

Take Care

Janice Allison | January 2, 2008 8:18 PM

Hi my name is Janice Covington Allison the Board Chair of TransCarolina. I have been very suspicious of Susan Stanton since day one and her agenda. I pretty much keep my mouth shut over this except to close friends. I did not want to rock the boat so to speak. But I want to speak out now.

I understand that Susan Stanton has been chosen by Rep Barney Frank to speak to a congressional panel about transgender issues. I do not approve of this Along with many other transgender activists. She has no experience at all in who we are and what we are about and our needs. it is a shame that some are being mislead with Susan Stanton's help. I for one will not stand for this. I will at the right time write a letter to the Washington Post while the hearings are going on in Washington.

Ever since the beginning I knew from my own experience with city and county Governments that Susan Stanton did not have a leg to stand on. I mentioned in several post in the past that Miss Stanton was in Management / political, a job hired by the City Council of Largo under a contract as all city and county managers are across the nation. These people sign contracts. These contracts read that they cannot cause anything that is detrimental to the city, County or State for whom they are working for. Along with this they can be dismissed from their position for any reason whenever. Even something as small as if they don't like them.

Susan's agenda is like most people to survive who can blame her? She is a smart person and knew she would have difficulty in finding employment making the same type of money she did as a city manager. Her only recourse was speaking engagements and TV interviews. This includes lying in bed with the enemy so to speak HRC and Congressman Barney Frank. I guess in the transgender world she could be renamed Melita Norwood I think that would fit her nicely. She didn't know but she knew. She will realize someday the pain she caused. Or will she?

I don’t see where it would be beneficial to us to Trash or Flame her. She came out of the closet just in the past year with no experience except as a politician. Then she received a lot of attention she was a star, a crusader to many in the transgender community a Joan of Ark...Nope. She is a lot like Melita Norwood she just didn't know. She will never be an Angela Britefeather, Monica Helms, Donna Rose, Brenda Watson, or even a Pauline Park. Never in her life.

With me I am a little different than most of my friends in our society. I am always vigilant and suspicious this is my nature. A lot in our community are more passive than I like. We seem to turn the other cheek more than we should. I have been told many times "Janice be nice collect flowers." I would say not me. "Some would say let it go." I would say to them I can't. I am not of that nature you do to me, I will get even that's just me. I can't help it. Sorry.

HRC and others saw a glimmer of hope in Susan Stanton. They thought and still think we are stupid, gullible and uneducated. They had a vision that they could use Susan to rally us into giving them more money. To build there war chest. They even sent there head Gay man to SCC to butter our ass. They knew.... They are smart. Never for one minute think they HRC the enemy has a good heart. They don't. Some say IM paranoid maybe that's good in this case I can see, can you? ........HRC is like the Bully in school that wanted your milk money. They don't want us. Look at HRC's history all the way back to the beginning. It speaks for it self.

In the future the transgender may falter and give in to HRC over and over with the hope of being accepted. This seems to be our down fall. We need to stand alone. Stand up and speak we are out now, no longer a Secret Society as the News Media says. I know maybe not today but tomorrow we will prevail in our quest to be equal. All the Barney Franks cannot stop history from being written... We will win. I just hope I will live to see it.

Look at what they attempted to do to my friend Cyndi Richard a member of TransCarolina the other day In Chicago. To deny her the right of freedom of expression. To threaten her with arrest. If you don’t see it the HRC way get out is what they said to her. Miss Stanton was there speaking on HRC's behalf taking up for the enemy.

I say to Susan don't be so above us. It is obvious that you never had the experience of being hungry with no place to sleep to have to sell yourself for money to eat and have a warm bed to sleep in. Susan this is why you are alone. Don't judge us. You have not experienced the real hurts of our world. This is why your receiving Jeers. For the comments that you make.

Sorry to come off so strong. I am just tired of the lies that HRC and Barney Frank feed us along with Susan Stanton's help.


Janice Covington Allison

Well Put Janice

Take Care

Janice, I agree completely, as I said in TransAdvocate's Comments before I read your post.

I also see too much of myself in her. Same age, not as privileged, but just as priggish and conservative. Just as phobic about appearing normal. Just as willing to try to see the good side of our persecutors when they don't actually have one. Not quite as naive, but that's only because I have strong Google-Fu. I don't even know what I don't know, if you know what I mean.

100 applications... 4 interviews... no job for a year... too high a profile to ever hide... yes, being HRC's Token Tranny must look good. So many of us get desperate and prostitute ourselves one way or another, don't we?

Let's judge her in two years.

I don't buy that, Zoe. If it was really as you say, why did she have to say what she did publicly? Why did she have use terms like "men in dresses"? Even Barney and HRC haven't sunk that low. Why did she exhibit such and complete and total lack of understanding and support for transpeople and our basic civil rights?

Desperation for a job I can relate to, but this? No, Stanton's are the words of a wealthy right-wing conservative, not a poor and unemployed transperson.

Stanton's are the words of a wealthy right-wing conservative, not a poor and unemployed transperson.

Of course they are, Rebecca! She's never been anything else. Give her time to get used to her 4th class citizen status.

Though I never did, and I fight to end the whole concept. It took me a while to realise that there was a 4th class citizen status though, longer than she's had. And I wasn't being kept insulated from the facts by an upper-class network grooming me for the role of Token Tranny.

I'm still right-wing. But the neo conservative variety. That means doing something about obvious injustice, because it's our responsibility because of our privilege. I'm not wealthy on half the average wage, but compared with so many, I'm rolling in it.

Give Susan a few years. Then we'll see if she's neo or paleo.

Zoe i think Stanton has blown her opportunity...
in a few years when she has accepted that she isn't a man anymore with all the provable that goes with it.
i think you will find if she makes a re appearance into the community to try and be a "leader" the reply from many of us will be

Oh Yah it's her....
The one who couldn't stand to look at us...

The comments about being uncomfortable with others of her kind was the political kiss of death..

Take care

I started subscribing to The Bilerico Project last fall and am grateful I did. Columns like yours have gone a long way in my education on issues relating to the TG/TS communities. Thank you, thank you, thank you so.

While Susan Stanton is not new to the world of politics, she is new to being out as a transgender person. As I have, she also needs to learn more about the lived experiences of other TG/TS persons. Let's hope she's open to hearing the stories of others.

Sue, you're probably right.

Had I been thrust into the limelight as she has, than in the first 6 months, I might have made similar mistakes. There's no handbook on what to do. She saw an opportunity to help - and in her ignorance didn't know the background - so made a bit of a hash of it.

Just remember she's not been fulltime for a year yet, her careful plans derailed, and she's had to make it up as she goes along, as I did. But she had to do it in the glare of publicity, and all being given some pretty terrible council by those who should know better, those who are supposed to be working for Transgendered rights, but actually do more harm than good.

I'm a tyro, a neophyte, a beginner, but she's even more so. I can't help but see myself doing something similar. Not at one year, but at 6 months, certainly. And that's only because I'm a professional net researcher, so learn quickly.

Even then, I campaign for TS and IS rights primarily, rather than broad TG ones. I support TG rights too, but only the way I'd support any other persecuted minority, I don't identify with most TGs. But my enemies make little distinction between us, and even between Ts and GLBs, so the point is a fine one, and in practice it doesn't matter. I'm still learning. If put in the limelight now, I might still make a hash of things.

Time will tell if she too can learn. If so, I for one will be willing to forgive initial mistakes. Remember too, she's still transitioning, and that can be a very disorientating time. I'm still not finished with it myself.

hi Zoe
nothing like a good train wreck to test your people skills....

I don't know who is she is getting Council from however if i was her i would be questioning it.

We all like to help Most of us know better to then to step up to help while we are still low on the learning curve.

Now we get to see how much heart and soul there is in her methods of dealing with the things she has said... She could still come out of this smelling like a rose if she has the courage to admit she stepped in it up to her knee, and make amends.

Take care

Serious question here... At what point does one go from being a "man in a dress" to a transgender woman? I'm curious because I've always thought of drag queens and occasional cross-dressers as a "man in a dress." Full time FTM or even "part-time" FTM (dress as a man for work or whatever) I understand as "I am the wrong gender." Perhaps what I'm confused about is at which point it stops being okay to say "man in a dress." I thought it was okay to say that about a drag queen, for example. Am I wrong?

First off Bil there are three types of Cross Dressers CDs who dress just like and try to dress as a woman like I was.Guys who just wear womans clothes and finally Drag Queens who preform and act like women.

To take the next step is as much a spirtial step as anything as I knew I was just wrong as a guy at age 13.I became trans at age 52 big time frame.Lots of ups and downs along the way for sure. Also at 14 I had my first sexual encounter and guess what it was with a guy not a girl so I knew then I was also ment to be different. But for me it was a spitital encounter with my Goddess that pushed me into the next step to go full tilt girl.

Not to mention those women who are Intersexed or badly hit by PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which can cause excess testosterone, full beards etc.

I never cross-dressed. No connection to any GLBT group. Mildly lesbian, basically asexual before transition. I first wore female attire only 3 weeks before going fulltime, since I figured I better start learning how. Involuntary sex change happens to 1 in 100,000 FtoM, but only 1 in 3.5 million MtoF, we think. FtoM is usually from either the 5ARD or 17BHDD intersex conditions. MtoF is so rare we don't know too much about it, other than it happens once in a blue moon, and only to TS women. I got the quick version, where you can no longer pass as male just 3 months after the first symptoms appear. Really wonderful, dream come true and all that, but also terribly inconvenient and disrupting. I have no complaints, but I really did have to learn a lot very quickly, from a standing start. 3 years ago, I'd never even heard of the HRC or PFLAG, HBIGDA or the SOC.

That's why I'm probably over-sympathetic to Susan. Her life was suddenly and unexpectedly turned upside-down too.

Looking back, I do have one complaint. The change is only partial. External organs may shrink and retract, or Internal ones enlarge and descend, but no new internal structures grow.

Fatherhood may be possible in some cases before or after, but usually isn't. Motherhood never is. So yes, that's a pretty big complaint. Womanhood comes at a price. I wouldn't have paid it voluntarily.

Of course when my endo told me my condition had sterilised me, I couldn't transition fast enough. I started hormones shortly therafter, with a view to getting genital reconstruction to clean up the mess. The possibility of motherhood - or as close as I could get to it - was the only thing that kept the boy act going. It was such a relief though to let that all go, and just be me. In that way I'm typically TS, and identify as such. I just transitioned in an unusual way.


I just spoke to Susan Stanton briefly and once again invited her on my show. She thanked me for calling and then hung up on me.

I guess that tells me what I need to know, how about you?

The statement, "men in a dresses" has become one of those unacceptable statements, because of how many times the entire transgender community has been beaten over the head with it by the religious bigots. Other unacceptable terms are "transvestites" and "she-males."

When there is a clinical discussion or a discussion where genuine education is taking place, then one will use these last two terms to help in the education process, but adding that they should not be used to describe all transgender people.

It is my opinion that "men in dresses" should never be used, even describing drag queens. It's my opinion. I feel that I am showing respect to drag queens by refering to them in female terms, because they are part of our community. Crossdressers the same way. They have a female element to their personality and when they are showing that, then we need to respect them. Again, my opinion.

To have another trans person describe any part of our community as "men in dresses" is an insult that has no equal. By Stanton saying that, it shows her extreme lack of knowledge of the community she has become a part of.

I hope this helps you a bit.


Monica Roberts | January 15, 2008 1:15 AM

America 'wasn't ready' to end Jim Crow segregation, or for women and African-Americans to vote either, and that happened.