It’s ain’t easy being television’s most eligible transsexual bachelorette…

I don’t get the gay, gay gay Logo channel, but thanks to the power of the Internet, I was able to purchase and download their latest entry into the reality-dating show category: Transamerican Love Story, starring a trans woman and eight bachelors who vie for her heart. Before you slap your forehead, know that the setup is nothing like There’s Something About Miriam, a similar show where the entire “haw haw” gag was that the bachelors didn’t know the star was trans. The entire cast knows that Calpernia Addams is a transsexual, and they’re all up-front in the first episode about their own dating histories too. Interestingly, the cast is quite a mixed bag of sexual preferences and identities and experiences (or lack thereof) with trans women. Less interestingly, the guys are mostly a bunch of boring schlubs… but that sort of fits with the “frog prince meets princess” theme they keep subtly inserting.

(Some light spoilers coming up.) The most interesting thing about Transamerican Love Story is exactly how ordinary they’ve managed to succeed in making it. There are definitely more queers & trans people around than usual, and host Alec Mapa alone seems to be deliberately raising the gayness quotient of every episode by 300% percent. But as Addams said in an interview with ABC News, “When they actually see the show, they’re going to be surprised. They’re going to see a girl next door from the south living in L.A. and trying to date.” And that’s pretty much what the show is, more or less the same as “the Bachelorette,” but with a little bit of dealing with trans issues here and there–always getting an important mention, but never allowed to interfere too much. Heck, they threw the creepy “I only date pre-ops” car salesman, who used to have his own (failed) trans-porn site, off the show in the first episode. (And just when I was looking forward to being appalled by his fetishizing “best of both worlds” statements in a future episode…)

The “ordinary straight girl next door” at the center of all this is Calpernia Addams — who, it must be said, is far from your average “plucked off the casting couch” reality-show star. Although she’s certainly not a household name, she’s probably one of the most famous trans people in this country — first entering the spotlight in a brutally real tragedy, as the girlfriend of Private First Class Barry Winchell. Winchell was murdered by a fellow soldier in a fight originally sparked by the fact that he was dating Addams — a story later used for the film Soldier’s Girl. But wait, there’s more! Addams also wrote a book about her experiences, helped organize and performed in the landmark trans-inclusive Vagina Monologues in Los Angeles a few years back, and does activism and consulting related to media portrayals of trans people. And now she’s starring in a reality dating show.

I probably sound a little like a gushing fan. But what really won me over to liking Calpernia Addams was not her creative work or media activism. It wasn’t even the fact that she apparently named herself after Wednesday Addams’ great aunt, who was sentenced to dance naked in public for witchcraft–although that’s kind of awesome in its own right. No, it’s actually the fact that she cracks my shit up with stuff like this:


(hat-tip to Transadvocate)

Part of her strength as a comic performer is that when she’s relaxed and natural, she pours out this easy, dry wit with a sly dash of parody for the role she’s playing. Unfortunately, only comes across occasionally in the dating show, where too often she’s stuck reciting stilted dating challenges or making awkward, edited small talk with her TV-dates.

Now, if you just watched that clip with a “I’m reading serious subjects on a feminist blog” lens, you might be thinking, “geez, did she really have to be so insulting to people who don’t know the right etiquette about trans issues?” Actually, that’s part of the point here. A lot of the points she makes would simply be common sense… IF it wasn’t acceptable to treat trans people like bizarre objects of public curiosity and lurid objectification. If that’s not clear, you’re probably just not thinking about the fact that trans people deserve the same privacy and respect as anyone else. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to get these kinds of questions repeatedly, from strangers. I think I would just stare at them with bewildered, blank-faced horror, as if someone had just asked me if I wanted a bite of their dog poop sandwich. “What!?”

Thankfully I don’t think I’ve ever been put on the spot with any of those gems. Unlike Calpernia, I am not an outspoken performer and minor celebrity who’s becoming recognizable enough in some circles to have annoying strangers pestering her on a regular basis. But I have enough experience with various awkward situations that I’ll gladly add a couple more that aren’t questions:

“Wow… I never would have guessed! You look just like a… a woman!”
That’s right… you’ve lost at this round of “spot the tranny,” so you’ll just have to come back and play next week! It looks like your deductive powers were stumped by the elaborate game that all trans people supposedly play: “try to look exactly like a non-trans person!” (Also note: the word the speaker chokes back at the ellipsis is almost always “real.” I’ve asked.) Now, I understand that people are often surprised when they find out or are told that someone’s trans. And maybe it’s natural to express that surprise. But sometimes they also think that this is an acceptable compliment: “you don’t look like what I think trans people look like! You look like… one of us! Good job, good job!” Generally speaking, this isn’t even telling a trans person something they don’t already know. How do trans people know when we’re blending in mostly unnoticed? Well, a noticeable lack of stares, harassment, and rude questions tends to be a good indicator.

“I just wanted to say… you are so beautiful.”
Now, this just sounds like a compliment, right? And it is, on the surface. But it can also be a deeply weird compliment, especially when it has the overtones of the previous comment… or is quickly followed by it. Sure, there are some situations where it’s unremarkable to tell someone how beautiful they are: they’ve just come of the dressing room wearing their bridal gown, they’re fresh from a brilliant stage performance, they’re walking on the beach with you under the starlight and you gaze deeply into their eyes, etc etc. But most people don’t just pop this kind of compliment out when first meeting someone who’s not dressed up and who you’re not hitting on. Maybe if someone really is stunningly beautiful–but trust me, I’ve gotten this one a number of times, and I know I’m not all that.

In context, this is a specific variety of appearance-based compliment that gets said to trans people — a second cousin, perhaps, to skinny-biased statements like “wow, you’ve lost so much weight, you look great!” For trans people, what people often really mean is “wow, you are not as disturbing looking / hideous / stereotypical as I expected! In fact, you are kind of normal looking!” (I’ve even had confirmation of this after the fact on one occasion.) Again, people assume this is a compliment that trans people are very eager to hear, because they’re assuming, consciously or not, that trans people tend to be desperate for compliments about our appearance and gender-normativity. Which, as Calpernia points out, can often be true… but even then, wouldn’t a genuine compliment be better? Also, I never know what to say to this. I mean, to some extent this is a sincere compliment. So I usually just say, “awww, thanks! You’re very beautiful too.” Some of them look non-plussed after that, maybe because OMG I just compared them to me.

So, to wrap up… if you have any actual questions about trans issues that you realize you really want answered, but you’re genuinely afraid that you’ll be mocked or scorned, you can always visit our own Trans 101 thread, where all questions are OK… even the dumb ones.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the rest of Transamerican Love Story. Like I mentioned before, they eliminated the only guy who exclusively dates trans women; as soon as he told Calpernia’s friend Andrea James that he used to run a porn site, I didn’t need to see the aghast look on her face to know that they would send him packing. But there’s still a lot of potential for drama left. One of the contestants (I won’t mention who, but you find out in the first episode) is a trans guy, and it’s not clear how Addams is going to deal with that — he’s still on the show, but she was pretty open about the fact that she’s not sure she could handle dating him. The typecast “reality TV bad boy troublemaker” still hasn’t gotten kicked off, of course. And a couple of the guys have never dated a trans woman — including the two youngest guys. One of them mostly dates men and was shot down when he proposed to his last boyfriend; the producers described the other one as “100% straight” and “a practicing Christian with solid morals; he doesn’t drink, smoke, or curse.”

Guess who I think is more likely to stay on the show longer? It might surprise you, but for this show my money is definitely on the Christian kid. The whole point of Transamerican Love Story is that Calpernia is just another beautiful straight girl in Los Angeles, looking for a decent guy with whom to hook up and settle down… and as for so many women, her search is inevitably strewn with assorted losers — especially because she’s trans. I’m curious to see if the Christian guy’s religion comes up, or the other young guy’s sexuality, and can only hope that the quest to portray trans people’s dating lives as “mostly ordinary” doesn’t get in the way of showing the audience some horrific reality-TV trainwrecks. I mean, isn’t that why most people tune in — or download the show from iTunes, as the case may be?

And, because I can’t resist…

Ultra exclusive Feministe-exclusive celebrity gossip
(now that’s a line we probably won’t be repeating very much)

One of the suitors’ bios starts off like this: “Jim, who hails from Ohio, has never dated a transgender woman, but is open to a relationship with one.” I have it on very good authority that part of this sentence is not quite true!! Enough said. ;)


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39 Responses to It’s ain’t easy being television’s most eligible transsexual bachelorette…

  1. Green Tri Girl says:

    This is only tangentially related, but I’ve had some trans etiquette issues come up in my life lately. I don’t want to put the transperson in question on the spot because I’m in a position of relative authority, but I don’t want to be an ignorant jerk, either. Does anyone know of a good, basic trans issues blog, along the lines of Feminism 101?

  2. Holly says:

    You know, the idea has come up of doing a Trans 101 blog before, but I don’t know if anyone actually has. It’s a good idea.

    On Feministe we generally ask that people try not to derail conversations about trans issues with “101” type questions. But since that’s kind of the topic of part of this post, feel free to ask your questions right here. As long as you’ve watched Calpernia’s video first, that is! =D And you’re right… it’s probably better to ask someone else rather than putting someone you have authority over on the spot.

    You also might find some answers in our Trans 101 thread, where a bunch of questions were asked and answered thanks to a number of trans readers.

  3. harlemjd says:

    The Marilyn / Norma Jean comparison made me want to scream. (I know she’s not the one making it. People just ask stupid, intrusive questions about lots of things and I don’t have her patience for bad manners.) There’s a difference between knowing something and having a right to know. I may know a lot about the sex lives of certain friends, for example, because they are comfortable sharing, or wanted advice, or whatever. That doesn’t give me the right to similar information from other friends who don’t want to share. It CERTAINLY doesn’t give me the right to ask for similar information from random strangers.

    Why do so many people think that their curiosity exempts them from basic politeness? Especially in this internet age when they can go look shit up for themselves?

  4. Sharon says:

    Oh gosh to lose her boyfriend like that! I lived in a Marine Corp town for years and all of my roommates were Marines, including the gay ones. Gay/bicurious men abound in the Marine corp. Bill Clinton really needed to put teeth into gay rights in the military and he didn’t.

  5. Kate says:

    http://iamtransgendered.com/Etiquette.aspx

    Look at the flip side, there are many transgender persons who started life identified as female. Take a look at a real man; Jamison Green http://www.jamisongreen.com

  6. tayari says:

    I was really enjoying the clip until she said “guys like soft and flowing hair…” I am black and have only recent recovered from the Imus flap….

  7. Ghigau says:

    “Are you a man or a woman?” Don’t ever ask a human being this question.

    When I was twelve years old, I got a really short haircut. I remember walking my dog down the sidewalk when a group of three elderly women called to me from a front porch:

    “Hey! Are you a boy or a girl?”

    Sixteen years later, I’m still incredibly self-conscious about my (lack of) femininity. It’s the only reason I wear makeup and earrings – even when I’m out fishing on a river in the middle of nowhere.

    In other words, OMG WORD.

  8. jamesPi says:

    One thing I’ve always wondered about is at what point do most trans people feel the need to, for lack of a better word, reveal it? (only in relation to dating/hookups) If you are a transwomen and you meet a guy, go on a few dates or just a one night hookup, do you feel the need to tell him about it or just let him discover it? (if he doesn’t know, that does happen). Sorry for the basic question.

  9. L-K says:

    I was really enjoying the clip until she said “guys like soft and flowing hair…” I am black and have only recent recovered from the Imus flap…

    Yes, I took note of that particular section for that reason and other reasons, too (such as my growing muscularity, lack of softness, lack of overall “femininity”). I also said to myself, “but, I love guys with long and silky hair and ‘feminine’ features, so this means what?”

    But in spite of that particular section (yes, I know it was all sarcastic humor), I overall enjoyed it. She’s pretty awesome. I hope she does a follow up soon.

  10. Oh. Man.

    I love this woman. So much.

  11. ol cranky says:

    Sorry, but I’m now a little fixated on the idea of “trans” porn. I look at Calpernia Addams and I see a woman; every other trans woman I’ve met has also been a woman – so I don’t rightly understand what trans porn is or would be. Maybe I have a general misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about porn itself but if I were to see a woman (or women) getting it on with a guy (or guys), it’s pretty much just porn (guys getting it on with each other doesn’t happen in plain old porn; girls getting it on with each other happens in all kinds of porn, except that targeted at gay men). Does it really matter whether the person getting it on was born with different tender bits than he or she has in the film? If not, why label it as “trans porn”? (if so, why does it matter when the purpose of the porn is to focus on the tender bits in front of you?)

  12. jayinchicago says:

    You might want to emphasize that one of the competitors is trans as in FTM.

  13. Tired says:

    Here’s a free tip: Don’t ask a person you think might be a transsexual Anything About Their Past Life. Not unless you have been invited to do so.

    I don’t get the sort of stuff Calpernia talks about, not any more. But when I was going to grad school soon after my transition, I got it quite a lot. If it was from someone who I considered a friend (this was back before the WWW was in wide use), I was patient. If it was someone who I thought was satisfying a purient curiosity or was just a fucking weirdo, I brushed them off.

    My job in life is not to educate others about my anatomy, my medical history or my sexuality. These days, anyone who is marginally smarter than Chimpy McFlightsuit has access to a computer, even if they have to go to the public library, and they can do the research for themselves.

    So, if you haven’t figured this out, let me spell it out for you: You treat transsexuals like any other person. You treat transsexuals the way you would want to be treated.

  14. Holly says:

    jamesPi: One thing I’ve always wondered about is at what point do most trans people feel the need to, for lack of a better word, reveal it?

    I think this really varies from one person to the next. Some people are very open about the fact that they’re trans, even outside of people they’re dating, and expect that their dates already know they’re trans. Other trans people tend to date in social circles where there are lots of trans folks and people who have dated trans folks or are open to the idea. In those cases someone they’re dating may already know they’re trans, or consider it a serious faux pas to just assume that someone’s not trans, making the exact moment of disclosure less of a crucial turning point.

    Of course, plenty of trans people date in the general population too. Calpernia Addams mentions on her show that she tends to disclose on the third date. Other people I’ve known have their own personal policy of disclosing if things seem promising at the end of the first date, or before things get physical (whether that’s a first kiss or something more serious). The idea that trans people (particularly those who haven’t had genital surgery) tend to “surprise” their dates at the moment of having sex, a la the Crying Game, is far more a myth than a reality — especially because if you’re not sure whether your date is clear that you’re trans, most trans people are far too aware of the potential dangers or freak-outs that can occur.

    Generally speaking I’d say the answer lies somewhere in the range between “not before I have a chance to get to know you and decide whether you’re worth it, in the absence of this aspect of my history that might weirdly distort our interaction” and “definitely before things go so far, emotionally or physically, that either or both of us will get really upset if you can’t handle it.” I think a lot of trans people gauge whether and when to disclose based on cues people give off about their attitudes towards gender, towards trans people or LGBT issues, about their own sexuality, etc. There are no sure indicators, but I’ve certainly opted out of second dates based on certain “warning signs” related to rigid defintions of gender, sex, sexual orientation, etc.

    jayinchicago: You might want to emphasize that one of the competitors is trans as in FTM.

    In case it wasn’t clear enough that I was referring to him with male pronouns, I noted that he’s a trans guy. Anyone who’s confused about that is going to have to ask 101-type questions anyway, I think… and I find it difficult to really care about their bewilderment.

    tayari: I was really enjoying the clip until she said “guys like soft and flowing hair…”

    Yeah, I can’t really say that part (or a number of sections, really) resonated with me personally either. I guess I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she’s only really speaking for herself. Obviously, not all guys like the same things, even in a sloppy generalization.

    ol cranky: Does it really matter whether the person getting it on was born with different tender bits than he or she has in the film? If not, why label it as “trans porn”?

    There’s a simple explanation that will dispel your confusion: trans women who’ve already had surgery that results in “different tender bits” don’t appear in trans porn. If you really want, you can Google around and see what I mean, but suffice it to say that “chicks with dicks” is a popular slogan. This is why the car salesman dude, who only dates “pre-ops,” talked about how he likes “the best of both worlds.” Now do you get why it’s sleazy? Especially because “pre-op” basically implies “if I had enough money I wouldn’t be working for your terrible porn site, I’d be off arranging my surgery, at which point you wouldn’t want me on your porn site anymore.”

  15. denelian says:

    i do have to say this…

    rule 13 (i think) was “i think of you as a woman”, and Ms. Addams says you can’t say that.

    but, there is a transwoman i know, who has been trying to get into my pants for YEARS. i tell her, over and over, that i’m STRAIGHT, and while she may be pre-op, she is still a WOMAN in my eyes.

    so, i think this is an okay time and way to break this rule? cuz this is the entire reason i won’t sleep with her – she is a her to me.

  16. annejumps says:

    I watch Logo all the time and I’ve watched some of this. I like Calpernia; recognized her from a short that Logo shows a lot, where she’s at various acting auditions.

  17. Holly says:

    but, there is a transwoman i know, who has been trying to get into my pants for YEARS. i tell her, over and over, that i’m STRAIGHT, and while she may be pre-op, she is still a WOMAN in my eyes.

    so, i think this is an okay time and way to break this rule? cuz this is the entire reason i won’t sleep with her – she is a her to me.

    I assume it’s also because you’re not attracted to her — not because you’ve made some kind of oath or personal rule that you won’t ever sleep with someone who identifies as a woman, or who’s a woman in your eyes. I mean, it’s not REALLY about whether she’s a woman or not, is it? If she de-transitioned tomorrow, would you suddenly want to sleep with her? The most important thing (I assume) is that you don’t want to sleep with her, and therefore you’re not going to.

    I don’t know, if I were going to break a rule in that situation, it would be my rule to try and be polite and non-confrontational to jerks for as long as is reasonable. I mean, bugging someone to sleep with you over and over for years is really gross behavior. Maybe I’m exaggerating the situation, and I definitely have a pet peeve about people who want pants access but refuse to take a hint (especially if they’re whiny) — but this doesn’t sound like acceptable behavior at all to me.

  18. sophonisba says:

    tend to “surprise” their dates at the moment of having sex, a la the Crying Game

    Besides, it’s explicit in the movie that she thought he already knew, and that he met her at a bar frequented by trans women and transvestites, and that he was deeply in denial about a lot of things. She never tried to surprise him. So even The Crying Game doesn’t exactly have a ‘Crying Game moment’ to support the myth.

  19. hyrax says:

    Holly, I thought you were beautiful (at the Deluxe in Seattle) but don’t usually say things like that to people I don’t know unless there’s a pretty good reason to (hookup, special occasion, feeling sassy), plus I try not to come off as creepily exoticising.

    I liked Calpernia’s questions a lot; the ones I struggle with more are how to refer to someone who is actively in transition, or how to refer to them in the past if you knew them both before and after transition. I want to respect the identity and name someone uses and don’t always know what to do with my own storyline (NEVER mentioning having known them pre-transition seems worse). Sometimes I can just ask the person what they’re comfortable with, sometimes I have to apologize for having done the wrong thing, sometimes I don’t know what’s best.

  20. Calpernia says:

    Wow, thank you so much for the great article! I had a lot of fun making the show, and I’m really enjoying the process of getting it out there and hearing people’s reactions. I’m naturally a cut-up with a dark sense of humor, so it has not been easy for me to have to be so serious for so many years. Reality TV is all about fantasy and fun, but with this show we managed to mix in some really cool points about trans dating, relationships, family and romance.

    I was really enjoying the clip until she said “guys like soft and flowing hair…” I am black and have only recent recovered from the Imus flap…

    Now don’t be silly! I was just making that all up as I went along, and in my experience guys do like soft, flowing hair. I didn’t say they don’t like other kinds of hair, too, though. I might say I like egg sandwiches, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only kind of sandwich I like. But also in my experience, African heritage people can have soft, flowing (curly) hair as well. My African surfer boyfriend (when I first moved to LA) had the softest curly hair… I used to work my fingers deep into it and massage his scalp, it put him into a coma of bliss in two seconds flat. That only lasted for a summer, though… sigh! =)

  21. foibey says:

    A while ago in a pub:

    Flake: “Wow, you’re tits are fabulous”
    My Good Self: “Why thank you, they’re mine, and they’re tits, and that would tend to make them fabulous.”
    F: “No really though, they’re amazing.”
    MGS: “I’m always grateful for good reviews, yes.”
    F: “Can I see them?”
    MGS: “Um, well, we’re in a pub”
    F: “I mean did you get surgery or… well… where do you fit them?”

    It occurs to me that I’m not wearing a bra, and my boobs droop a bit and that would mean there’s no obvious place to hide breastforms and they’re sagging too much to look surgery enhanced, so this person isn’t actually complimenting me on my fabulous tits, but simply wants to know where I bought them. Which is nice.

  22. denelian:

    Remember that Calpernia is talking about the questions that people ask within 20 minutes of knowing her, or at least, 20 minutes of knowing that she’s TS.

    I have a TS friend whom I knew before her operation and after (she’d been in her true gender for years already before I knew her). We met online and so we’d had many conversations before I met her face-to-face. From these conversations, I knew that she had a lot of anxiety about how well she passed, and how people saw her. So both “I think of you as a woman” and “I would never have guessed” were actually highly appropriate in that situation. She had, in fact, asked for my absolute and honest appraisal of her appearance on those grounds, before we met.

    But, as I say, I’d known her for months, and known that she was TS for months; I was a trusted friend, with whom she’d shared her emotional anxiety about these things. That’s a long way different from just assuming I have a right to make such comments.

    However, I second Holly’s remark about continually pestering your friend about sexual relations.

  23. Astraea says:

    Calpernia Addams is the coolest name ever.

    The video was hilarious. My favorite part: “I’m hating you with a burning, white hot, destructive hatred…”

    I wish I could get Logo, but I might have to buy the show and check it out.

    Sort of Trans 101 question… How can cisgender people be good allies to the trans community?

  24. Mandolin says:

    Here’s a free tip: Don’t ask a person you think might be a transsexual Anything About Their Past Life. Not unless you have been invited to do so…

    So, if you haven’t figured this out, let me spell it out for you: You treat transsexuals like any other person. You treat transsexuals the way you would want to be treated.

    I think the first tip here is more useful than the second. Values of privacy vary greatly from person to person and community to community, and being in the “extremely open” range of both person and community, it’s very clear to me that “treat others as you would like to be treated” is not a good guideline for me. I imagine this applies to others as well.

    It’s a small point, but I’ve noticed this guideline bandied about in a couple trans 101 and race 101 threads, and I always feel like it assumes a universal standard of privacy and thus has a lot of potential for misfiring.

  25. Holly says:

    It’s probably a good general tip that not every individual has the same standard of privacy, so if you don’t know someone very well, you ought to initially assume that they would like a high degree of privacy. I mean, that’s a kind of common sense etiquette that most people would agree upon, no?

    The weird thing is that some people use this rule in most circumstances — for instance, assuming that people they meet probably won’t welcome uninvited questions about their sex life, even if there are plenty of people out there would wouldn’t mind. But then they apply different rules for trans people, who get asked about details of sex all the time, as if the fact of being trans is a signal that says “I’m fine with those sorts of questions!” It’s almost as if people put trans folks in the same category as someone who’s walking around wearing stilts — of course you’d assume that it’s ok to say “hey, what’s up with the stilts?”

    Hi Calpernia!

  26. Mandolin says:

    The weird thing is that some people use this rule in most circumstances — for instance, assuming that people they meet probably won’t welcome uninvited questions about their sex life, even if there are plenty of people out there would wouldn’t mind. But then they apply different rules for trans people, who get asked about details of sex all the time, as if the fact of being trans is a signal that says “I’m fine with those sorts of questions!” It’s almost as if people put trans folks in the same category as someone who’s walking around wearing stilts — of course you’d assume that it’s ok to say “hey, what’s up with the stilts?”

    Absolutely. I do get all that.

    It’s just the phrasing I usually see that makes me anxious. “Treat others as you want to be treated” only goes so far. ;-)

    Moving horizontally on the subject axis, I watched the Tila Tequila reality dating show. As someone who is bisexual, it was really bizarre and fascinating to see how the people on the show (and presumably the producers) constructed bisexuality, down to Tila frequently announcing “I’m A bisexual” which grated on my nerves every time she did it. She also did a lot of “I like men because they’re so (masculine stereotype), but also women because they’re so (feminine streotype).” Guh. And her bisexuality was treated like a punchline, in a lot of ways.

    I’m glad this show sounds like it’s shaping up to be more sophisticated, from your assessment.

  27. Holly says:

    She also did a lot of “I like men because they’re so (masculine stereotype), but also women because they’re so (feminine streotype).” Guh. And her bisexuality was treated like a punchline, in a lot of ways.

    I know. Several friends of mine won’t even use the word “bisexual” for themselves anymore because they feel like it’s totally associated with this weird “bifurcated” model of bisexuality. Which is kind of sad for bisexuality.

    That kind of annoying stuff is basically why I applied to be on the second season of A Shot At Love, so I could mess with the whole premise. Fortunately for my sanity, I applied a little too late to get in. Their application was totally ridiculous though — a completely different one for the men and women contestants.

  28. Mnemosyne says:

    I assume it’s also because you’re not attracted to her — not because you’ve made some kind of oath or personal rule that you won’t ever sleep with someone who identifies as a woman, or who’s a woman in your eyes.

    I have to say, it’s my personal rule not to sleep with someone who identifies as a woman or who’s a woman in my eyes, because I’m straight. I’m really not particularly attracted to women, so a woman or someone who appears to be a woman who was hitting on me would not be someone I would sleep with. For me, transmen yes, transwomen no. ;-)

    Sorry, just felt that needed to be said.

    Oh, and what sophonisba said about The Crying Game — a guy who goes to a bar full of drag queens, transpeople, and gay men who thinks he’s going home with a biological woman has some serious blind spots.

    IIRC, in Britain the movie was extremely controversial because it had a sympathetic IRA member as a hero. The whole trans angle was really not a big deal. Given what gay male friends of mine have told me about meeting guys from Europe and having trouble figuring out if they were gay or straight, I suspect that the bar in the film was instantly recognizable to people in/from Britain as a gay bar, but not as much to Americans, which is why it was such a “shock” to us that Dil was a biological man.

  29. Danakitty says:

    Hilarious! Great clip.

    However, I was wondering, as a journalist, I often end up asking people uncomfortable questions (questions I wouldn’t ask a friend or stranger). For example, I asked a wonderful woman named Carissa Phelps about being prostituted on the streets for the purpose of an article about youth homelessness.

    It’s not comfortable, for me, or for her, but it’s important so that awareness can be brought to the general public about homelessness.

    So what do you do in the case of, say, a hypothetical personal journey-type article about a transsexual? Are there appropriate ways of asking about the past without being insulting? Are there taboo questions that are okay in the case of a reporter interview? (Assume the reporter is sensitive and intelligent and is more trying to evoke quotable material rather than push buttons)

  30. ol cranky says:

    Holly:

    Thank you so much for explaining trans porn. I was starting to think that people may have thought I was a troll instead being the oblivious idiot I am.

  31. jayinchicago says:

    For me, transmen yes, transwomen no. ;-)

    i think you mean this the other way around.

  32. Thomas, TSID says:

    Jay, I think you misunderstood Mnemosyne.

    Holly, I was going to write to make Mnemosyne’s point, actually, and then when I checked back in I saw I wasn’t the only one to have that view. I think having a sex partner who identified as male, whatever the biology, would mess with my head.

  33. Calpernia says:

    I do hope everyone saw that, despite it all, I’ve kept a sense of humor, ha ha. That was all just my own personal feelings about my own personal experiences. And there’s an exception to every rule… in the right circumstances, I’m glad to answer any of those questions. I just felt like letting off some steam and being honest about my feelings, whether they are “right” or not.

  34. Mnemosyne says:

    i think you mean this the other way around.

    Possibly — I was under the impression that a transman was a person who was transitioning from female to male, and a transwoman was a person who was transitioning from male to female. If I have it flip-flopped, I apologize. I was trying to say that I would not date a person who identified as a woman even if they were still biologically male.

  35. ol cranky says:

    Calpernia:

    I think we all found it pretty humorous even when the bits of anger bled through. I have to admit, I was gasping in shock at some of the questions people ask. I’m one of those people with such poor impulse control that I have been known to blurt out terribly inappropriate questions (because something catches my attention and I get so curious I fixate on it) and even I have the sense not to ask most of those questions.

    -PS/liquor and pop-tarts? I think I have a crush.

  36. jayinchicago says:

    Ah, I did misunderstand that! Sorry!

  37. Marissa says:

    Calpernia,

    That was an awesome video!
    “in the right circumstances, I’m glad to answer any of those questions. I just felt like letting off some steam and being honest about my feelings, whether they are “right” or not.”
    You have every right to demand to be treated like a human being, and that is EXACTLY what you did in your video, which is why I loved it. Amazing concept really, don’t treat people different from yourself as educational tools and exotic objects. I really wonder about the state of the world sometimes…

  38. Barb says:

    How does one address a trans person? Whatever comes to mind. It isn’t rocket science 101. Most of us will clue you in if the address is wrong. Some take exception.
    What kind of questions are permissible? Be nice and ask politely. The response will be to answer the question or “That’s personal, I rather not answer that question.” And again, some take exception and get rude, walk away, or tell the one asking to “drop dead”.
    Definite no no is to cop a feel or touch without an invite. The surprise could be a resounding slap to the face for thinking she or he is public property.

    Ms. Calpernia Addams and Ms. Andrea James are two of the nicest and sweetest ladies one could ever possibly wish to converse with. From the bottom of my heart, I thank these ladies for being on the Frontlines day in and day out. I’m positive their names will be written down in the history books for their untiring efforts to raise the knowledge of and about transgender above the stigma as a mental illness. Of course both of them being beautiful ladies doesn’t hurt.

  39. Pingback: 08 Pride Post #21: Sunday morning — in church with Calpernia « virgotext

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