Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Comment of the Week: Darren Cohen

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 13, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Site News, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Forrest City murder, hate crimes against LGBT people, Marcal Camero Tye

In Joe Mirabella's post on the horrendous events in Forrest City, Arkansas, in which 25-year-old trans-woman Marcal Camero Tye was found dead in Forrest City, Arkansas, after being shot and dragged by a car, Joe wrote about the apparently improper use of pronouns by local media reports.

The local news originally reported the victim as a, "man dressed as woman" because that is how the police report described Marcel according to the reporter. GLAAD, Meghan Stabler from HRC's Board of Directors, GetEqual Arkanasas, and local activists contacted WREG to correct the story to reflect Marcal's true identity. WREG quickly acted upon the advice they were given and edited the original report.

"We should at least honor Marcal in death for who she was since she did not get that respect in life," [Executive Director of the Center for Artistic Revolution, the Arkansas Statewide Equality Organization Randi] Romo said. "We really want the media to take a look about how they report these stories."

Projector Darren Cohen asked a question that is probably on many people's minds when such awful stories come to light. How do we know what a person's gender identity is when they (or others close to them) aren't around to tell us?

I don't get it. I thought a transsexual was someone who had a sex change operation and a transvestite was someone who wore the clothes of the other sex. The article only refers to the person as 'trans.' So which is it? Was he a man in women's clothes, or was she a woman, having had a sex change operation? Are we supposed to report inaccurately just because someone wished they were something else? I agree the person should be treated with respect and dignity, but I'm not sure what the article is trying to say. Are we supposed to call men (people born male and who still have male genitalia) who wish they were female females? I passionately support gay marriage and equal rights for everyone, but I think expecting reporters and police to report inaccurately is going too far. Sorry if my question sounds ignorant, and I don't mean to offend, but the article made me realize that I might not be up on the right terminology. And I don't want to continue to offend.

This is a brave question, and Darren's good intent is obvious from his last sentence.

A number of Projectors, including myself, jumped in with a number of different contradictory answers.

Not being one I can't speak with 100% certainty, but it appears from a lot of my reading that when the term "trans" is used it is in conjunction with someone who either has undergone or is undergoing the reassignment process. As there are different stages of the process (which can take several years to complete) it is possible for someone to still have the genitalia of the pre-op sex but be living as the post-op sex. That is very different from a transvestite (or cross-dresser) for whom the term "trans" is rarely if ever used.
Hope that helps.

Wanda J | March 9, 2011 4:05 PM

Good question, Darren. The definition of transsexual is contested and somewhat ambiguous. As an academic in the field, I would say that 'transsexual' refers to someone who lives in a gender role different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned at birth, or strongly and persistently desires to. This may or may not involve surgery or medical intervention. 'Transgender' is usually used in a broader sense of nontraditional gender expression or identity, which could include crossdressers. As a rule of thumb, it is considered best practice to refer to someone who is clearly trying for a female gender presentation in the female gender. Of course, this is culturally contested and not writ in stone.

Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 9, 2011 4:16 PM

Darren, the PC term these days is 'transgender' That term basically captures the message, "I do not identify with my biological gender" but doesn't denote the stage of transition. It can refer to someone who just started dressing as the appropriate sex, someone who uses hormones for the desired secondary sexual characteristics, or someone who has gone through full transition and had surgery. Actually, many people who identify as transgender don't get surgery either because they are happy with the effect of the hormones or the cost of the surgery is prohibitive.
Marco | March 9, 2011 4:17 PM

No one who is not a part of the investigation needs to know details about the victim's genitals and her surgical status. Cis murder victims do not routinely have details about the shape of their genitals reported to the public, and the fact that this always happens to trans victims is morbid and gross and disrespectful. Saying that she is a trans woman is enough, the reporters should just stay out of her pants.

Sas | March 9, 2011 4:46 PM

Darren, in reply to your question, Gender is not physical, it is our brain sex. What is between our legs is our physical sex. I am a transsexual and I identify as female and all legal documents is female under gender.
I will be having gender reassignment surgery soon but the fact is, just because I still have the remnants of male physicality does not mean i "am a man in a dress". A transvestite is a man who enjoys wearing women's clothing for pleasure for transsexuals, its not a sexual thrill, we are just being whom we are.
Gender reassignment is a long and costly process, both emotionally costly and surgery is financially out of reach for some. Despite this it doesnt change whom we are as we were born this way.
Amanda | March 10, 2011 3:41 AM

The sheriff called her a crossdresser, the person who knew her referred to her as he but said she identified as transgender.Does anyone know for sure if she lived fulltime or intended to? From the way the sheriff was talking I wasn't under the impression that he was trying to be deliberately disrespectful to the victim instead he was just putting the information he knew out there.A person is dead and people are squabbling over the persons gender identity leaves me wondering what is more important the gender identity or the death?

Aside from this person's death how can anyone expect the media to get right the pronouns when the word transgender is nothing more than a loosely defined umbrella term. That was supposed to include crossdressers as that is originally who it was intended to cover.If a married heterosexual crossdresser is murdered are you really supposed to refer to him as her simply because of what they were wearing at the time of their death? If I get murdered I can assure you my spirit will be extremely pissed off if someone refers to me as transgender or thinks its there right to hold a candle for me on the transgender day of remembrance. I solely identify as a woman born transsexual. But I can totally forgive media confusion because it's those who claim to represent me causing the confusion by using a loosely defined term meant for crossdressers.
amym440 | March 10, 2011 10:30 AM

I am a woman born transsexual who does not identify as transgender, and I would be far more angry if the police and news called me a "man in a dress" than if they used a vague term like transgender.
Sas | March 10, 2011 11:41 AM

To me with as loosely defined as the word transgender is would be the same as implying I'm a man in a dress. Listen to what the person who new her said " I knew him, he idenfitied as transgender." Male pronouns means she thought of the word transgender and of Marcal as a men in a dress.
amym440 | March 10, 2011 4:34 PM

Except that for mainstream people who know of the term "transgender" they usually think it is just a gentler word for "transsexual". They don't know there IS any other type of transgender person. They don't think of transsexual women as "men in dresses" because of the association with the TG word; they just think that anyway. I know I got that accusation years before anyone was using the word "transgender".
As for Marcal's friend, I've seen several articles (including, you know, the one we're commenting on) that said Marcal was transitioned and identified as a woman. Her friend's unwillingness to honor that was between them.
Sas | March 10, 2011 6:31 PM

That's not been my experience with heterosexual friends and family they have all watched enough tv shows to know that Transgender is an LGB(T?) umbrella term.I think in part because of that after I told my mother I transitioned she asked me if I was going to go out with a gay man, another transgender, or a lesbian.Not one of them a heterosexual man. My moms 67 years old it freaked me out that she could think up such a crazy question like that. After prodding her to find out what her source was she claimed Oprah. I'm pissed about it to this day and tempted to go on tv just to bitch Oprah out about it. I would have expected her to find out something like that from a Springer rerun but Oprah WTF.Seriously I have no use for the word transgender or the new PC term transwoman they're both junk terms meant to cause more confusion.Ts woman or Transsexual woman works for me and I'm not offended because it has the word sex in it. Some people just need to grow up and crawl out from that oppressive PC umbrella known as transgender.As for Marcal finding out who committed the murder and ensuring they get sentenced equally too if they murdered a woman or man should be a priority.Nobody should be denied justice according to race, gender status, sexual orientation or any of the other excuses that have been used to avoid or lighten sentences in the past.
amym440 | March 10, 2011 7:43 PM

Hmmm...ya know what Amy? I've noticed a lot of unity among Gay and Lesbian people(Bisexuals are the invisible middle child,IMHO), and maybe this is because they spend less time in a circular firing squad defining who is a "true" Gay or Lesbian person.
I don't want to start an HBS flame war, but I just gotta speak up.
There's a lot of ways to be trans, and the press just need to find a way to respect that;AP has figured it out.
Regan-spot on.

Darya | March 13, 2011 12:09 PM

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Um…OK, here’s a ‘test question’ for you.
You have a body that is dressed as one gender (female) but appears it is biologically the other (male).
You look in the wallet and can find no ID or the ID is ambiguous.
[Think first name of Bobby, Kelly, Alex, Terry, Chris, Jean, Darryl]
If the ID clearly states the name is masculine [Frank, John or Thomas]
You know a little bit about trans people and look for a carry letter, but there isn’t one.

Now, how should you interpret it or report it?
You can’t say for sure the person is Transgender, Transsexual or Transvestite.
You can only say ‘male dressed as female’.
So, for the first 24 to 48 hours, until the investigation is more developed where friends and family are contacted and that matter is discussed I think the person will be misgendered no matter what you want done.

So, let’s look at the sensational side of the story for a bit.
‘Man dressed as a woman’…the only time you’ll read anything in the news about someone’s mode of dress is when it’s a ‘man dressed as a woman’. It isn’t illegal to do so and truly isn’t relevant to the story. Can it be said to be truthful? Sure, so can ‘corpse was found to have shit itself upon death’ or ‘priapism was evident during autopsy’ both of those statements are true and sensational, but you never hear that the dead guy died with a chubby and his undies filled with shit. [it’s a normal part of the death process for many]

Honestly, I think the best practice here, when a person is found dressed as the opposite sex is to use the first and middle initial along with the last name to identify the person and use gender neutral pronouns for the first 48 hours of the developing story and omit the mode of dress which is irrelevant. You do not need to say any of the 3 T’s for the story, after all, it’s a story about a person’s death. The only time you have to say any of the 3 T’s is a few days afterward and you have the full story in hand.

Your point seems to be very logical, Gina. But what gender neutral pronouns are in general usage? Perhaps no pronouns are appropriate?

John H Gagon | March 14, 2011 10:53 AM

I use "one" for 2nd person, "they" for third person in vernacular and "xe/xer" when amongst the more in crowd. What are the 3 T's? I'm learning something new every day here.

On a more grim note, I'm morose about the way this was denied as hate assuming I recall the circumstances correctly here.

Well, at least they haven't just slapped the standard 'suicide' explination to the incident.
But I'm tempted to place book on the suspect to whip out the 'trans panic' defense and the judicial system to accept it at face value.

You CAN write a story, letter or lecture without pronouns. Its difficult, but not impossible.

jami_bantry jami_bantry | March 14, 2011 8:00 PM

Hi Dr Weiss,

I wonder why the media feels it is required to (initially) report the sex (and/or the assumed gender identity) of the murder/killing victim, at all.

Why can't the media (initially) report that a "person" was killed or a "Human Being" was killed, and release further detail to the public, if necessary, when more facts are known?

If there is a need for the media to release the legal name of the person, then the name indicated on the found ID can be used, if available. The
name, sans any body/sex/clothing description, will allow the public to make their own decisions, and form their own opinions, until further information is available.

I feel that describing the body (clothing, etc) of the victim/person is unnecessary, and may just lead to further sensational journalism, and all
the consequential reactions of any other people (positive, negative or neutral).

Using the term Human Being or person, would alleviate the need to use pronouns, relative to describing the deceased.

What purpose does the (initial) reporting of the victim's sex serve?

A Human Being/person was killed/murdered. What more (initially) does the public need to know, besides the circumstances of the killing and the

This is tantamount to describing, in a media report, that the person (victim) was Black, Hispanic, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer, short in height, bald, overweight, blue-eyed, tattooed, missing digits or other limbs, had multiple piercings, etc, etc. Such reporting often leads (as we have witnessed many times), to "othering" of Human Beings.

Perhaps a media photo (or video) of the uncovered, mangled Human corpse would be useful to the media and be something the media would love to print, or report on TV (being facetious, but I feel one gets the point).

One could propose that a description of the victim might aid in identifying the victim for the purpose of contacting family and friends, and to further aid the investigation, if that is required by the investigation team.

However, it seems that further professional investigation by the LEO's, and as required, the FBI, could hopefully bring such further information to public attention via the media... at the appropriate time.

A Human Being was murdered/killed.

Am I missing something here?


You don't need to use pronouns to say a body was found.As for determining if someone is transsexual the state of the body should be a good clue even if SRS hasn't been performed yet.Even someone who recently started hormones will have budding. Someone who's been on them longer will have enlarged nipples and breasts.There are more physical clues then that. Personally as much as I hate carrying my permission slip(carry letter) I never leave home without it.One of the first things I did at transition time was to change my name.At some point personal accountability has to be factored in as well. What steps did the person take to establish themselves as a person of that gender? Now to make it even more difficult what about transmen? What if they didn't have breast reduction done yet? What if they had breast reduction but no bottom surgery? What if they had only just started hormones? What if they still legally had a female name? What if the person is a masculine appearing female? I've met more than a few that weren't lesbian or TS/TG. We cannot afford to hold law enforcement and the media to unreasonable levels of scrutiny. To err is human to forgive is divine. What we can do is to inform them of the situation ask them to use care and if they make a mistake own up to it and correct it.What we can do to help make it easier for them is to eliminate the use of an umbrella term and I would go even further and dump all the Trans terminology.Crossdressers are crossdressers, someone who transitions with no intent of finishing it genderqueer, someone who transitions with the intent of completing it regardless of surgical status TS.Simpler easier to define and causes less confusion then a supposedy PC term that offends just as many as its suppose to appease.Transgender unfairly without choice attaches people to the LGBTg community without consent. I am heterosexual I support gay rights but I also want you to support my rights not to be considered a part of your community.Not to be trapped by your use of a word who's only purpose is to hold me hostage against my will.

Since there are transsexual women who do consider themselves part of the LGBT community, (by various virtues such as being LGB, or by considering the shared oppression the more important grouping factor) there's no way to remove transsexuals from the community without making those men and women out to be "false" transsexuals. So I don't see why those that don't consider themselves part of the LGBT community have to keep going to LGBT places and demanding that everyone recognize they don't belong there.

Let's see if I understand what your saying SAS. If heterosexual transsexuals are allowed to remove themselves from the LGB those transsexuals who identify as LGB will be considered false transsexuals.You do realize that juist by saying that you are not only implying that they are false transsexuals you are helping to promote that belief. Also that if I don't like it I should shut up and not complain to the group that is using me against my will. SAS like it or not its not only heterosexual transsexuals that don't like the use of the word transgender there are also lesbian identified transsexuals.Most transsexuals I have met don't like being lumped under the transgender umbrella.There is a small minority of loud and obnoxious T people that are pushing the transgender word. What is sad about those T people is how they never apply the label to themselves. You'll never see them identify as post operative transgender women its always post operative TS women.

Nope, you do not understand, AMYM440 (not sure what the all caps is about, but whatevs). I said that it was impossible because not all heterosexual transsexuals (as well as LGB transsexuals) want to be removed from the LGBT community. As well, not all heterosexual transsexuals passionately hate the word "transgender". So all the insistence that hetero transsexuals want out of LGBT will do is create a dichotomy of "true"/"false" transsexuals, something you just did in your comment to me. And of course those people you talk about don't identify as specifically transgender; it's because it's not a specific word! It's meant to serve in moments of ambiguity, that's how umbrella terms work.

In fact, as long as we're submitting personal anecdotes as evidence, every transsexual I've met has had no problem with the term "transgender" as an umbrella, and the only ones I've encountered that do are the ones that bring it up on almost every single trans related thread on this site.

Your words: I am a woman born transsexual who does not identify as transgender, and I would be far more angry if the police and news called me a "man in a dress" than if they used a vague term like transgender.
Sas | March 10, 2011 11:41 AM
If you truly don't identify with the word transgender why are you arguing so vigorously for it's continued use?

I agree, amym. You don't need pronouns.

Darren makes a huge assumption that reporting a non-op/pre-op/genderqueer/etc. woman as anything other than "man in dress" would be to "report inaccurately just because someone wished they were something else". No, Marcel is not "something else" from how ze identified, ze is what ze identified as. " Are we supposed to call men (people born male and who still have male genitalia) who wish they were female females?" No, you are supposed to call women identified people who were assigned male at birth women. This is trans 101 here.

While there could be difficulty in reporting a person who is presenting in an ambigous way, wearing a dress tends to be a fairly nonambiguous presentation-it is almost always a feminine one. So, you find a dead person in a dress on a day other than Halloween, you report that person's death as the death of a woman until told otherwise.

@amyn 40, your definition of genderqueer is wrong. There are genderqueer people who have done a "full" medical transition, and some who do no medical transition at all. Also, with the additional barriers in place for non-binary conforming folks, even those that want some medical transition have a damned hard time getting it.

Darren wasn't assuming, Cat, he was asking. Given that this is an area in social flux, with lots of ambiguities and questions, I find it difficult to say that anyone's definition is wrong, though I may prefer a different one.

This is why I don't like being grouped under the transbrella. To understand what someone is talking about when they apply the word 'transgender' to something you must be intimate with what the word means and also need to fully understand the context. This is VERY frustrating to me as society is too easily confused in the first place.

In the news if you hear "A transgender woman was murdered". WE know what they are talking about but not everyone else does.

Current "Transgender" meaning:

Other gender variant

How the hell is the public supposed to become educated with this oppressive terminology?

And when trying to lobby for removal of health care exclusions for "transgender" people. Crossdressers need surgery?

I know I will get thoroughly eviscerated for my thoughts but this is reality. I will not be assimilated into the T-Borg collective. Putting on a dress does not cure testosterone poisoning.

I am not an 'other'. I am currently a transsexual woman and hope to be cured one day.

What I don't understand is why you seem to feel that being included under an umbrella term automatically means someone is categorizing you as a different person than you actually are. That's like complaining that being called a mammal means someone thinks you're a rat rather than a human. If someone wants to call you a crossdresser or an "other", that's what they'll say, just like the sheriff in that town.

One person hitting a concrete wall with a 20 lb sledge hammer will get through one day, but it goes a whole lot faster if beside the one person with a 20 lb sledge, you have 50 more with 5 lb sledge hammers taking turns as teams hitting in coordination.

In reality, as you put it, you will have a better chance if you have those you so despise add their voices to yours when fighting for removal of certain health care exclusions. Many of us despised by you are fighting for you.

Thanks for the non-thanks.

I, for one, agree with you, Dana, that the ambiguity is troubling. However, I don't think that "transsexual" is unambiguous either, because it includes those who have surgical intervention (of a dozen different varieties), those who live as the opposite sex with or without surgical or medical intervention, and those who desire to.

Does it really Matter what we think ? It is what the Society at large thinks and like it or not they set the verbiage and nomenclature. So with all the PC education gone on about what is Transgender they can't differentiate between Transgender and Transsexual. To them they are synonymous. Much to most of the Transsexuals chagrin. It is in my belief that this is what causes problems for TS people. The mainstream populace thinks TS has dangly parts and likes it that way. Maybe this is true and post op ts should be removed completely from the discourse on the subject matter since they are women in most eyes of the states laws and if they were to commit a crime more than likely to be sent to a woman's prison. Note the word MORE THAN LIKELY ..
So Joe .. I can see your confusion about it all..and I think facts should be what is reported not what people want the facts to be. Fact is never changed the name(still with xy name) Still with genitalia matching the name .. Unless a letter of transition showing this person was serious about crossing the devide. I know money money money.. well honey if you got the money for smokes and brews .. you can save up and get it taken care of. Expecially as cheep as it is now in thailand .. Excuses are like aholes everyone has one an from time to time they all STINK..

So the adage of walks like a duck talks like a duck its a duck.. might work ok if no one ever looked under the feathers .. But when you die they take your feathers off and examine why you died and if you are a drake they will say yes it a duck but a Drake not a hen.. and if i was mainstream i would tend to agree. If people want another gender maybe they should push for a class of OTHER.. for those who look like a hen and carry on like a drake. But for those who can not find congruency until they are FULLY female they should not beforced to endure the OTHER label.

If you aren't headed to surgery, and have the anatomy of your birth gender. Then stop shunning the labels of Transvestite or cross dresser or OTHER or etc.. and yes one could even use Transgender.. But are they really changing their sex ? no just the feathers.. and until one can stand naked in-front of others and the others identify the sex of that person.. your not TS .. Nothing like a nude beach to determine who is male female and other IMHO

Hate if you must but that is how the world sees us and to throw hissy fits over it not going to get you or us or anyone any place soon.

Just like how gay people just accepted the mainstream view that they were perverted deviants, right?. And I guess us transsexuals will just also have to accept the view that even post-op we are just mutilated and still really our assigned-at-birth sex, since hey, that's a mainstream view.

Your "nude beach" litmus test excludes every transsexual who cannot yet afford surgery, cannot get it for medical reasons, or is waiting for a better surgical technique. Since we're talking reality, how about we accept the reality that people do not fit into cookie cutter solutions no matter how much the mainstream wishes it were so.

Not to mention the many trans people who have had bottom surgery yet (by the nude beach test) still look (and sound) very noticeably "gender variant." I'm not saying SRS means nothing—I had it and am extremely happy and grateful I did—but it's absurd to think a single surgery therefore makes one not-gender variant looking.

I agree there is problematic labeling within the trans community and that "transgender" was better used as a term for non-op people than as an umbrella term, but labeling those people "crossdressers" is even more absurd and snide and stuck in a world of simplistic penis/vagina reductionism.

Ana, I'm not taking my feathers off, nude beach or no nude beach!

Ana I couldn't agree with you more...You are spot on with your thoughts and they mirror mine and many many others. Just because one wishes to be a part of the other gender doesn't make it so, and self diagnosis and self dosing hormones and going around the SOC to get what they want regardless of if it's the necessary path for them is Impulsive and dangerous. Every study including the one here clerly state that one has a much better outcome when they follow the SOC and go by the guidlines set forth by WAPATH.

Body Image and Transsexualism

Bernd Kraemer, Aba Delsignore, Ulrich Schnyder Urs Hepp Department of Psychiatry,Univers ity Hospital Zurich, Switzerland Psychopathology 2008;41:96-100 (DOI: 10.1159/000111554)

Abstract BACKGROUND: To achieve a detailed view of the body image of transsexual patients, an assessment of perception, attitudes and experiences about one's own body is necessary. To date, research on the body image of transsexual patients has mostly covered body dissatisfaction with respect to body perception. SAMPLING AND METHODS: We investigated 23 preoperative (16 male-to-female and 7 female-to-male transsexual patients) and 22 postoperative (14 male-to-female and 8 female-to-male) transsexual patients using a validated psychological measure for body image variables. RESULTS: We found that preoperative transsexual patients were insecure and felt unattractive because of concerns about their body image. However, postoperative transsexual patients scored high on attractiveness and self-confidence. Furthermore, postoperative transsexual patients showed low scores for insecurity and concerns about their body. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate an improvement of body image concerns for transsexual patients following standards of care for gender identity disorder. Follow-up studies are recommended to confirm the assumed positive outcome of standards of care on body image.

Interesting points, Brandi. So when would we actually call someone a "transsexual"? When they form a desire to have surgery, when they begin to follow the SOC, when they have some form of surgery using the SOC, or when they have genital surgery?

Jillian what about the TS women and possibly TS men who attempt to perform surgery on themselves are they not TS? If they aren't TS what would you call them?

LOL Dr Weiss .. Me either actually but it is nice to know i can should i choose to do so now. Birds of a feather sort of thing..

SAS... Money is often the excuse but like i mentioned it's a excuse and often i get excuses like that as they pay for internet and nights out at the bar and new shoes that are Just to DIE FOR.. I have walked the walk and been under the bridges cold and alone.. If there is a Will there is a way. And medically when my friend who was in her 70's had her surgery she had a bad heart and they simply did a spinal block and they did her surgery there in trinidad and by passed the heart issue and so if there is a Will there is way.. Excuses are just that Excuses ..

And to the notion we must accept the society view no i don't think we do.. but i do think we can't change everyone's point of view .. IE like from what i can see what happened in Maryland .. So many T folks in the face of people trying to force threw the inclusion that they alienated people previously on board.

Just like NON-op/vestites etc who push the limits and demand society recognize them as female and for a while got away with it if they passed well enough before the days of computer tracking. So now they get caught and while I think marriage rights are for everyone and all for gay marriage rights for all who wish.. and not that i think someone who is going for surgery is gay if they are marrying a man. But if you do so before surgery and think the society wont see it that way well i am sorry you can educate till your blue in the face.. back to the duck duck duck goose thingy.. But go when post op and most of society an has since the days of Christine Jorgensen has give post op women a pass and go have a good life.. It is only when the non/tv etc.. try to sneek past the laws .. It causes a backlash ... unjustly IMHO but facts are what they are.. So it is this reason i work and support same sex marriage equality. So everyone who loves someone can have legal agreement of mutual support.

Dr. Weiss i think Transsexual should be reserved for someone who is on the path to surgery.. after all Talk is cheep.. If one is not seeking gender corrective surgery then cool more power to them but they are not changing gender aka sex IMHO..

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Now, now -- we can disagree with others, but we mustn't call them names.

A rather glib characterization of my comment, but OK.

Agreed, Sas. It wasn't a name, but perhaps a emotionally charged characterization. I withdraw my comment about name-calling.

brandigirl | March 14, 2011 4:25 PM

Jillian I Feel like ONLY those that have been diagnosis by a trained gender professional and whom are following the SOC should be able to be called true TS women. Way to many in the Transgender Community have taken it upon themselves to do whatever they want regardless of what the "gatekeepers" as they call them say and as a result of this wide spread of free spiritedness they have totally confused and corrupted the GID to the point that the gender public has no idea who is what. they have hijacked a diagnosis of (gid) as vilification for how they choose to live their lives and to gain accepted in society IMHO. Their attempt to force society into accepting and giving them rights is nothing more then an attempt at gender deconstruction.

transgenderism is neither definable nor distinctive; nor is it a treatable medical condition.

Over the years transgenderism has evolved from thinly-disguised transvestism into a wide and vast array of odd gender-bending, often provocative (and provoking) individuals with loud voices and a socio-political axe to grind. They are the T at the end of LGBT, wielders of the transgender umbrella that provides safe-harbor to anyone wanting shelter.

I understand your point, Brandi. I do have a concern, however, about low-income trans people who do not have the kind of money necessary to be diagnosed by a trained gender professional and to follow the SOC. If and when health reform kicks in, and if and when such treatment is available without the enormous price tag, then I'd be more sympathetic. I think this issue hits particularly had in communities of color and rural communities.

brandigirl | March 14, 2011 7:24 PM

Jillian I understand your concern but those same concerns could be applied to every situation in life. For example for the low income person who has no were to live or the low income person who can't afford medical attention or needs medication...There was recently a story on the Internet about Medicaid patients in AZ who had died simply because the State had cut them off and they couldn't afford all the meds they needed. My point is that cost isn't an excuse, many of those Transsexual or potential TS have lived with the condition since childhood so it's not like they are going to die in the next week month or year. Many of us had to work save and sacrifice in an afford to get to the other side. Many others use the success of their passed lives to pay for counseling and transition...So were theres a will the IS a way. IMHO

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | March 14, 2011 11:43 PM

I'm curious, Brandi. How did you identify before surgery? Did you have these same views then?

Wow, there is a lot of hate from some of the binary id operation wanting people against, well, everyone else. I hear this constant claim that transgender id-ed people are the gatekeepers, yet I rarely to never see this kind of policing bullshit from transgender id-ed people. No, it is the upper class, mostly white, transsexual people who feel so fucking desperate to distance themselves from us freaks and queers that they shove us under the bus so quick that you could not even blink. You want to talk respect and gatekeeping? Take a fucking look at how nonbinary people live, or how non-ops, or low income pre-ops actually live. This isn't a fucking life of privilege, stop pretending like it is. And stop pretending like you are so much better because you had or want some specific thing or id a specific way. You aren't better than anyone else. Deal with it. You are inflicting the same damages on others when you behave this way. Telling non-ops that they are not real women? Seriously, go fuck yourself. You do not get to decide the validity of other's gender identity or the validity of brutal discrimination against them because they do not fit whatever the hell arbitrary standard you want to push is.

Dear Cat: I completely understand and sympathize with your hard feelings about the injustices perpetrated by society on non-binary gendered people. At the same time, this blog is not the place to vent those hard feelings, and "go fuck yourself" is not civil discourse. Because this was not directed at a specific commenter as far as I can tell, I have not decided to delete your comment. At the same time, even though you correctly feel that the views expressed by others are at the root of oppression of non-binary gendered people, who are suffering horribly from social prejudice, the place to express "go fuck yourself" is not this blog. I hope you will understand my asking you to limit yourself to civil discourse. As always, I am happy to discuss this privately, and this thread should be confined to discussing the main post, which is on the subject of how to refer to transpeople in media reports when the individual's specific gender identity is unknown.

brandigirl | March 15, 2011 9:45 AM

@cat Uh I think you have totally misunderstood my post... First it is the Transgender Community that refers to the Counselors and Therapist as "Gatekeepers". I've NEVER heard the term used to refer to those in the TG community. Secondly Theres NO HATE involved here I'm merely stating an OPINION, just like I'm sure your were in your derogatory post. Third upper class, mostly white, transsexual people are NOT f>#$%^ing desperate to distance themselves from the freaks and queers. YES many TS women are starting to stand up and fight to take back a diagnosis that has been hijacked, mutilated and distorted by the transgender community and used to vilify how they choose to live their lives. YES there are some TS women who are heterosexual and want nothing to do with the LGBT community,but ALL TS women want the media and activism orgs to make a clear distention between TG and TS and they want out from under your umbrella. I known being pre-op isn't easy I went through it to, but for those that follow the SOC that is merely a part of transition it's not a stopping point nor does it last forever. YES it's made harder by societies lack of understanding about GID and the process of transition, but those in the transgender community who CHOOSE to be non-op and not fit the binary that make life hard on themselves. I known of NO TS women who has ever said or expressed that they feel they are Better or more important then anyone in the Tg community, I have however heard many myself included who feel they are Different then those in the TG community and therefore don't belong under your umbrella. UH Seriously ! have you listen to what you said and give it some thought " Telling non-ops that they are not real women? " Lets take a look at that statement “non-op” in a MTF person meaning a person of male birth who chooses not to have genitalia surgery, so they retain the Male genitalia...hummm. Just because you Insist that everyone believe you are a female simply because you say you are one and because you dress as one doesn't make you one..... Seriously your kidding right ? Just because you walk and quack like a duck doesn't make you a duck nor does just wanting to be one make you one, and insisting that everyone buy into your fantasy and call you a duck isn't going to happen and if that makes you mad ..oh well thats life. Your right I don't get to decide the validity of anyones gender Identity in fact I didn't even decide my own Gender Identity, that's the point of counseling and therapy is to help them figure out the feelings they have and bring them to the place were they can understand those feelings and make the right chooses, whether that be transition if a GID diagnosis is affirmed or continued counseling and medication to help you live with some other condition. Once upon a time transsexualism was understood to be a person born with genital sex opposite to brain sex It was also understood that such a birth condition was accompanied by that person’s innate and unrelenting pursuit of physical correction. With the advent of transgenderism, however, the facts were lost or, more accurately — hijacked.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | March 15, 2011 12:29 PM

This statement " Just because you walk and quack like a duck doesn't make you a duck nor does just wanting to be one make you one, and insisting that everyone buy into your fantasy and call you a duck isn't going to happen and if that makes you mad ..oh well thats life." really bugs me. Its pretty much the same thing I've heard transphobes tell a post-op woman. Cause really, they could say until you can alter your sex chromosomes to xx, then you're just wearing a type of duck suit as well.

Also, stating that ALL TS women want out from under the transgender umbrella is assuming a lot, isn't it?

I agree with Jaime. I've seen similar comments in academic articles and court opinions, as well as heard them from colleagues. My position is that gender identity is different from species identity. I respect a human being's assertion of gender identity, even though it may differ from my own path to identity.

Brandigirl | March 15, 2011 2:56 PM

@ Jamie I see your point and maybe I should have said Most TS women want out from under the umbrella that would have been more accurate, as most of them I known and whom I've talked to do want out and feel it's only their inclusion under the umbrella that keeps them from gaining full and equal equality in society.....I also see your point about the duck thing but I've never had or heard a cis gender person say " they could say until you can alter your sex chromosomes to xx, then you're just wearing a type of duck suit as well."

I would argue that TS women following the SOC and striving to finish transition and whom have had surgery have far less push back from society then those in the transgender community. In fact I read a study on it once stating the very same thing.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | March 15, 2011 12:55 PM

This comment addresses the topic at hand directly. I've looked around the web at various articles concerning the death and so little is known about how Marcal may have identified. From one site, there were a few comments by someone claiming to be a good friend of Marcal's that stated that Marcal never used a feminine name and it seemed the friend didn't alter their pronoun use until others were pointing out their issues with it. What if Marcal had no issue with pronouns? We just don't know, so I would go with the best route being genderless without solid evidence as to how Marcal self identified.

It may seem odd to many of us, but there are people out there that may well live fulltime appearing in feminine dress, but happily acknowledging that they are just a "dude in a dress." If we feel that their existence detracts from who we are in any way, then we are likely the ones with some unresolved issues that we should consider working on ourselves.

In other words, I did not misunderstand you in the slightest. You have decided you are the arbiter of who is and is not a real woman and have decided that non-binary people, or people who only want certain medical transitions are villifing you. However, we are not doing so. You are the only one villifying here. What you have said is full of hate, and if you cannot see that, you are ignoring your own bigotry and the pain these ideas cause. I never villainized all binary id-ed trans people. I never suggested some of you had invalid genders or were less of "real women" than anyone else. But you have done exactly that. Your statements have been hateful to non-binary people and non-ops (as well as being massively classist). You remind me of a white supremecist I knew who found out he was part native american and then began counting native americans as a "good race" while still being every bit as virulently hateful towards everyone else. You carve out one small exception in your hate for those just like you.

I do want to qualify though, for the benefit of others, that I should have emphasized the "some" from the first line more throughout the comment. I understand that not all binary, or all wealthy white binary people who want "full" medical transition are like this. Many of them are perfectly wonderful to the rest of us and are very supportive. However, there is a subset who fits what I said to a T.

@Jillian, I will not post again on this thread, but I wanted to defend myself against Brandi's reiteration. I only went there in the first place because other commenters were behaving in a many that needed calling out when talking about certain groups of transgendered people. We should at least be allowed to defend ourselves.

Jillian it would appear by these posts that we as a community whether by choice or not can't even decide how the media should handle it.The simple fact that you are witnessing so many opposed to the word transgender should be enough to tell you or anyone else that it is a tainted word and is not accepted in large enough numbers to be used.It is time for the National and State LGBTg organizations to rethink the use of this word and drop it like the hot potato that it is. Those groups should when making any statement admit they don't represent the views of all people identified as TS or of other groups.Their claim of blanket authority for all things T or for even LGB is a misreprentation of the truth and I believe a liability for them.

I believe that debate is healthy, even when it's vigorous. Some of us believe that "transgender" is an appropriate term to cover all gender variant or nonconforming people; others do not. I respect the right of anyone to identify however they want, and to object to being forced to adopt any label.

Those of you getting hot under the collar should consider whether you are trying to force someone else to adopt your beliefs. It is no answer to say "no, it's them who's trying to force me!" This is a blog, not a prison, and no one can be forced to think or do anything here. No one is being "vilified." But some of you are definitely showing your true colors. State your thoughts and be done with it. If someone disagrees, so be it.