Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Forbes: Abused transvestite prostitutes and "chocolate action"

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 06, 2011 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Forbes magazine, Google, James Altucher, Stockpickr

Forbes, the enormous business magazine, published a blog post by James Altucher last week, entitled "Why Google Never Bought My Company."

In it, he uses the following phrase: "chasing down abused transvestite prostitutes who wanted to share their 'chocolate action'."

I imagine that phrase must have seemed pretty cool, edgy and funny to Mr. Altucher and his editors at Forbes. I have a different take on it. It makes me feel like the marginalization of trans people, particularly trans people of color, is kind of cool, edgy and funny to Mr. Altucher, who runs a stockpicking website, and his editors, who run a blog at a multi-million dollar corporation.

Laughing at the people that have been shoved to the bottom of the pile is an old trick to avoid thinking about how economic piracy of corporate interests has created a society that preys on people to create the trickle up profits that fund the rich. This is called "blaming the victim", and it's not a pretty side of human nature. I should think that anyone with sense would avoid flaunting their prejudices. Unless you assume that every reader is going to agree with you. Perhaps that is a sign of the readership that Forbes serves.

I have news for Mr. Altucher and Forbes: I don't like it one stinking bit.

As a transgender woman who has had to sell my soul, and my body, at times, who has climbed the looooong ladder from the gutter to a position as a lower-tier public college teacher, and who has to live with the concern that people are going to shake their heads and laugh behind my back, or in front of it, at seeing the "transvestite" teacher, I believe strongly that trans people who are engaging in survival crimes to keep body and soul together ought not to be the butt of Forbes' cruel, elitist little jokes.

Mr. Altucher, who writes headlines like "Why I'm not worried about $200 oil and you shouldn't be either," appears to be a bit out of touch with the street, and perhaps the common sense that God gave a horse.

I think I know why Google didn't buy your company, Mr. Altucher.

You can reach Mr. Altucher here.

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And *I* am yet again surprised at someone's shock at blatant racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., in our society.

And it's interesting to me that the rich ppl don't even have to hide their condescension of the non-rich and self-entitlement anymore; in fact, they have a whole chunk of society working hard to make them richer and even more in control.

I remember reading The Good Earth when I was very young, and have always thought there really *would* come a time when the ppl felt that 'the rich were too rich and the poor too poor'. Now I see that the rich have successfully assimilated the non-rich into the religion of capitalism, where large chunks of society are separated off and forgotten (heard anything about the 15 millions or long-term unemployed/unemployable lately?) along with the other hidden costs.

I keep wondering how all this will wind up, and most of my scenarios look like Escape From New York...

Yes, Carol, I too was surprised to see this blatant transphobia in a respected business magazine like Forbes.

No, I didn't mean I was surprised this was in Forbes, whose audience is am assuming is white male economically-entitled capitalists.

I meant I was surprised you were surprised. As Gina points out below, 'tranny' and 'she-male' seem to be acceptable pretty much everywhere, including 'gay-friendly' shows like Glee.

It is the latest fad. Even someone running for congress does it. We are moving backwards.


I agree, Dana. It's sad that our society has progressed no further than this.

OK I admit I am a Ditz. It took me quite a while to comprehend what Altucher was saying. Chocolate action confused me until I finally connected the dots and concluded that he is referring to butt sex. So this is quite a revelation. Altucher seems to be confessing that he was a paying client supporting struggling transvestites in the meat packing district ten years ago. Amazing. His choice of words is obscure but once deciphered the confession seems unapologetic. I haven't seen anyone else go on record that way in a prominent blog.

Deena, I'm not sure he was admitting to being a client nor entirely sure whether "chocolate action" refers to people of color or "butt sex" as you put it. But whether or no, he's way out of line and I'm surprised that Forbes would allow this kind of talk.

Actually, it seems to reference this post (http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2010/12/the_best_job_ever/) which is linked to in his blog entry.

Reading the actual referenced story, while the reference itself is crass, the take away message from it seems to be that there was a whole world he visited while shooting a web documentary, which often included transgender (or actually transvesite) sex workers and getting their stories. He even states that what he learned from all of this was that there was no true concept of normal and that social views of normalcy were completely constructed. He empathizes with the people he interviewed--homeless youth, sex workers, drug addicts, or just odd people or couples.

So are we upset that the reference is crass? Sure. But was he literally chasing down black trans (or possibly just transvestite) sex workers? Apparently he was, because he wanted to know their stories. And they gave them.

I would say my biggest issue is how distanced and pretentious he seems in the original entry, finding all their stories of sadness "beautiful" and the kind of buzz he got collecting them.

I don't really care about Altucher and his pathetic safaris into subculture. What I care about it how trans women, the words 'tranny' & 'shemale' and particularly trans women of color have become an accepted punchline among the wanna-be hipsters out there. And it's not just clueless Investment Managers wearing Armani, it's a lot of women and gay male bloggers in the fashion industry and gossip rags who use 'tranny' as the ultimate insult or synonym for ugly, New York Magazine who seems to have some blog or review which makes nasty cracks at trans women in virtually every issue, people who write for tv, especially cable shows which love to have tranny-hookers either referred to or to make a brief appearances to score cheap outre-points.

Yup, those 'transvestite' sexworkers as he calls them sure are funny. They're murdered more than practically any other subgroup in the world and have one of the highest rates of AIDs. And they do their work starting as teenagers because they were bullied out of their schools, and kicked out of their families and communities for being different. LOL, what could be funnier?

I'm not here to defend Mr. Altucher, only to help pin blame where blame is due. The only connection Forbes had to the insult was to provide a forum for him.

As a blogger on Forbes.com, I can tell you from personal experience that the editors never see our posts before we publish them.

While you may differ in your opinion, I think that lack of oversight is a good thing, since it allows a range of views. When they asked me to write for them, they did not ask me my opinions on social (or any other) issues, they asked me because they had seen something I'd written and they wanted someone who could blog intelligently about green stocks. I expect it was the same with Mr. Altucher.

Good point, Tom, thanks for noting it. Still, I should think that if someone made an offensive racial comment in on of their blogs, Forbes would probably be on it.