Tomorrow I will be interviewed by Vanity Fair Magazine for a Discovery Channel documentary program, along with Barry Winchell’s parents, as a followup to their now almost 15 year old article on the murder. That night I will be filmed for inclusion in a Library of Congress project on my own military service, as part of a project featuring several veterans.
I refused to participate in the new story about Barry several times, but was finally persuaded after learning of his parent’s participation. I think some people assume that my entire life is about the events behind the movie “Soldier’s Girl” and that I talk about it all the time… I actually don’t. People bring it up to *me* all the time, which I understand because they feel a great deal of empathy and emotion after seeing the story. Some people also assume that I have made tons of money from the film or the story. I have my letters in writing refusing payment for the film, though eventually I was persuaded to accept some compensation which allowed me to transition more fully into the woman he saw me as. I have been a reluctant participant in the story at every step, but when I do participate it is because I have a chance to either honor Barry’s memory or help move things forward for the community. The day I was brought to the network to talk about the interview, I had to go straight home to bed and sleep until the next day. I hope it will be worth it to rehash everything again.
On the other hand, I am looking forward to the Library of Congress project. It feels good to talk about my brief four years serving in the pre- and post-DADT military during the first Gulf War. Adventure and youth and self discovery and dealing with draconian oppression all make for interesting storytelling. This is going to be a rollercoaster of a weekend. Thank goodness I have my boyfriend, my friends, and a job singing and making people laugh to occupy my mind this weekend.
This isn’t a beg for sympathy. I just wanted to share this as a little preparation because I may actually be talking about these things a little bit in the coming weeks, which I do not do very often.
I had the great pleasure of performing at the first night of Our Lady J’s residency at Witzend in Venice, CA with her “queer cabaret” of LGBT, queer and queer friendly artists. I talked too much, but I had a great time and I am so thankful for each opportunity to improve my live acoustic performance skills and keep growing as an artist!
I added YouTube annotations throughout this video, so that you can skip right to the songs.
I had the honor of being Gay Pimp Jonny McGovern’s first guest ever on his gorgeous new talk show “Hey Qween!”, followed by such luminaries as RuPaul, Willam, Jackie Beat, Miles Davis Moody, Jake Shears and more upcoming legendary names. As Jonny makes clear in the intro, the show may be called “Hey Qween!” but the guests will span the full range of queer experience, male and female, gay and otherwise, trans and non-trans. His co-host is my GODDESS cohort Lady Red Couture!
Parker Molloy, Advocate.com and The State of (Online) Trans Activism
(Pictured above is “Amber“, my years-old parody of outsiders who use words like “tranny” intending to hurt. Banning words precludes commentary, comedy, academic discussion and individually chosen and claimed identities. Banning words is burning books, one word at a time.)
Update: October 9th, 2014: A new source reveals what are presented as messages from Advocate.com freelancer Parker Molloy containing misogynistic slurs and threats to withold coverage in Advocate.com if she is not awarded a place on Chicago activist Jen Richards’ “Trans 100″ list. As of this date, Molloy is still employed at Advocate.com.
Update August 24, 2014: New photos reveal TheAdvocate.com writer Parker Molloy, who has been at the center of this controversy as a vocal detractor of the “slur” “tranny” as a possible trigger for suicide and violence, called an aspiring journalist a “STUPID CUNT” and then told her to “CUT YOURSELF” and “DRINK BLEACH”. Sources fearing similar attacks have privately told me this is typical of some of Molloy’s interactions with detractors. Hate, rage and hypocrisy are descriptors that come to mind regarding what I’ve read publicly and privately. Judge for yourself. By the way, telling someone to “drink bleach” is a mockery of the suicide of bullied teen Amanda Todd. Molloy received a one month suspension.
I do not use or identify with the words “tranny” or “shemale” outside of discussion, but I stand against policing language, culture and the identity of others. This stance led to a massive debate on trans identity and revealed deeply troubling policies at Advocate.com in 2014
My primary critic was blogger Parker Molloy, writing for the separately managed Advocate.com blog edition of iconic LGBT print magazine The Advocate. After misgendering me and putting my trans identity into question in her critique of Jared Leto, I encountered a truly surprising hesitance to correct the slurs and receive a public apology when I contacted Lucas Grindley, Advocate.com’s VP and Editorial Director. Five bewilderingly slow-moving emails later, the slur was retracted as an “error”, with no public mention of the flabbergasting breach of respect that occurred. Refusing my request to continue the conversation on the phone or in person, Grindley , News Editor Sunnivie Brydum and Molloy simply moved forward as if nothing had happened.
My interactions with The Advocate reach back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s, and have been nothing but respectful. I was stunned at the attitudes I encountered from the online staff.
My response to this on the Huffinton Post unleashed a firestorm of attacks from Molloy’s supporters, including unprofessional public heckling from (VP of Advocate.com!) Grindley and Brydum on Twitter. Information poured in from private sources too afraid of similar bullying by Molloy, her online supporters and highly-placed individuals like Grindley and Brydum. These messages, sent in confidence, painted a very dark picture of Molloy’s rage, misogyny and hatred. As the debate has escalated, some witnesses have finally come forward publicly with details. I know that more exist.
Lashing out from a baseline of negative, attacking “journalism”, Molloy’s encouragement of suicide, self harm, journalistic payola and misogyny are apparently still within acceptable limits for Advocate.com, where as of October 9th, 2014, she continues to work as a writer ironically covering violence and crime against LGBT people. The continued support of their most controversial freelancer raises many questions about the journalistic culture at Advocate.com. The larger debate has raised many questions about the state of trans activism in general, especially as done online.
What more would it take for Grindley to choose to honor The Advocate’s legacy and hire writers who enhance the LGBT narrative rather than besmirch it? Do we want to wait for that next escalation to happen? Ask Advocate.com yourself: http://www.advocate.com/contact
In my writing here, I note the striking observation that many of my most ardent critics in the debate of trans identity in the media have been trans women who date women. This is by no means a denouncement of lesbian women, trans or otherwise. My history in the community makes it clear that I have a great connection with the lesbian community. I am simply recognizing a standout spike in this demographic amongst my critics, and am very interested in understanding why this is so.
There may be some uncomfortable ideas expressed in these articles, but the language used is measured and calm, with no malice intended. Any provably false information will be gladly removed or revised. This post is a response to and an overview of an ongoing situation, which I can reference when people ask me “what is all the fuss about?”
In Defense of Jared Leto
(Calpernia, for Advocate.com, March 05, 2014)
Many radical trans lesbians hated my work with “cisgender” Oscar-winner Jared Leto on his trans, attracted-to-men character “Rayon” in the film “Dallas Buyers Club”. They love “cisgender” Jeffrey Tambor’s trans lesbian character on TV’s “Transparent”, though. (Note: I think both characters are acceptable steps in our media process. The hypocrisy of support for one and not the other is what stands out to me.)
Op-ed: What People Don’t Get About Dismay Over Jared Leto (Parker Molloy, for Advocate.com, March 10, 2014)
Molloy precedes some feasible points on the actor by framing me as a “drag queen” (a man who dresses up like a woman), “a very specific type of trans woman” (and what type might that be?), and “someone who refers to herself as ‘a transsexual'”. The tone is offensive, condescending and questions my identity, but the misgendering slur is particularly unacceptable. It takes five emails with Advocate.com editorial staff to have the article revised to a striking of the term “drag queen” and a generic apology for “the error”. No recognition of the misgendering or other offenses.
A list of 100 trans women, which preliminary research revealed to be almost entirely comprised of young, white STEM-employed trans women who date other women, publish an “open letter” on Zinnia Jones’ porn blog condemning me and my friend Andrea James for speaking out against Molloy. I add it to the pile of emails and writings condemning my association with the LGB community and my “flamboyant” personal style. For some reason it “triggers” memories of childhood bullying by people who also condemned my pre-transition femininity and flamboyance, but back then it was almost never women who attacked me in this particular way.
“I F*cking Hate @RuPaul” (Andrea James, for BoingBoing.net)
Andrea responds to anti-gay rhetoric from newcomers to the trans identity, exemplified by Molloy’s expressed hatred of drag pioneer and activist RuPaul.
Objectivity is a Privilege
(For Advocate.com, by Sunnivie Brydum)
In an Op-Ed, Advocate.com News Director Sunnivie Brydum puts forth the idea that “objectivity is a privilege”, in conflict with the standard idea that “Journalistic objectivity is a significant principle of journalistic professionalism“. Says Brydum, “Indeed, as the news director at the nation’s oldest continually published LGBT publication [Ed note: Online/blog edition only], I often point out that I don’t have to be strictly objective.” I begin to gain a better understanding of the newsroom at Advocate.com and how this situation was possible in the first place.