Christian Siriano – Transphobic Bigot

Christian Siriano – Transphobic Bigot

I’ve been unhappy about the “hot tranny mess” catchphrase popularized by fashion designer Christian Siriano ever since I first heard it, and then heard it repeated amidst squeals of delight by hetero and gay people who felt entitled because “a gay person said it.” I can take a joke, and I make quite a few myself. But if I’m going to risk walking politically incorrect thin ice, I try to do it firmly within the context of comedy. Just out-and-out promulgation on a television show of the idea that “tranny” goes perfectly with “hot mess” to describe anyone who is some sort of trainwreck or other, without even acknowledging that it could be negative, is ignorant and hurtful.

I know that in cases where the slur doesn’t personally affect the person using it, and where the person is of a certain character, there is no hope of convincing them that they are being hurtful because the idea is so far beyond and outside their thinking. It doesn’t hurt them, and it just seems “right” according to their worldview so they don’t question it. The idea that “trannies” are anything other than a “hot mess” is probably as ridiculous to Siriano as the idea that the Earth is flat. But I suspect that I know quite a few more transsexuals than Siriano, and even probably more transgendered people of all stripes. It’s a very difficult, misunderstood life. And now, along with being compared to Southpark’s pedophiliac detransitioner “Ms. Garrison” (a fictional character that has been brought up to me as an example of how “sick” transsexuals are in countless emails and replies), we can expect to be labeled a “hot tranny mess” by press and people on the street eager to repeat the latest screamingly funny catch phrase from their favorite show.

Is this what my generation suffered through the 1980’s GLBT civil rights battles for? To give a 21 year old gay man the comfort of being able to slam part of the community without any sense of the tradition of cruelty and ignorance he is perpetuating? I predict this will be the next big generational conflict, when GLBT kids who grew up with “Will & Grace” on television and Ellen Degeneres/Rosie O’Donnell hosting chat shows take all that hard won progress for granted.

As I say, one reality show contest winner’s prejudice and bigotry isn’t the end of the world, but since his negativity falls within my bailiwick, I thought I’d mention it. Especially after this:

Openly gay Christian, 21, was forced to apologise to “he-she” groups for using the term “hot tranny mess” on TV to describe frocks he doesn’t like.

He further upset the “snip-tuck” brigade by saying in a magazine interview: “If you think of heterosexuals, they have white trash women and trailer parks and we have drag queens and trannies.”

If the supremely ignorant Siriano ever chooses to enlighten himself on the subject of transsexuals before the next time he slanders us to the readership of another magazine, he might check out something like Lynn Conways TS Successes page. True, it even features “white trash” like me, but I think that this only proves that (flaws and all) a White Trash “tranny” can rise above mere “hot mess” status toward a hopefully useful life.

The article referenced is from The Daily Star, and following Siriano’s lead it refers to transsexuals as “the snip tuck brigade”, “he-shes”, “shemales”, “gender benders” and the tame-by-comparison “bizarre”. Being gay isn’t a free pass for bigotry against other people in the GLBT community. I hope people continue to call Siriano on his hurtful championing of derogatory and negative phrases and stereotypes. Designing for K-Mart can be just a season or two away from even many of the lucky ones in the fashion industry, and in any case you won’t catch me squeezing my 30-something curves into one of Siriano’s “hot tranny mess”-free, “white trash”-free garments even if it was given to me. Perhaps it would make a nice dust cloth to clean up the “mess”.

PS: He did apologize in a general sense, but whenever these things follow a “backlash” and come via press release that sounds like someone’s publicity folks wrote it, I have a hard time buying it. The damage is done.

22 thoughts on “Christian Siriano – Transphobic Bigot”

  1. Right on, Calpernia. It’s thinking like Siriano’s that led to the ENDA debacle, when gay advocates yanked gender identity out of the employment non-discrimination bill and then blamed the trans community for not doing enough to educate people about trans identity. Siriano’s getting ratings and profiting from being sassy, and it sounds as if he doesn’t care on whose backs he does it. Shame on him. Thanks for alerting me to the issue.

  2. Hey Calpernia smile

    I think your point is totally true, even I feel things going that way with this new generation here in Portugal, and we don’t have much information going around on media as you do. Actually, we have none, except for the internet which is quite usefull for us!

    I belive people my age and below are caring less about respecting other GLBT persons like themselves, and most shocking, they don’t care anymore about their own rights! I even hear things like “you know, I’m only gay when we’re talking about sex”. It’s like if they felt they had to be like the most common of heterosexuals, because it’s easier to integrate yourself in society and because they deny their existence as persons with different qualities.
    And when it comes to the transexuality issue, things are getting worse. Noone says transexual, they say the equivalent of “Drag Queen”. They think they’re a bunch of crazy people and we even had two transexual persons being killed in these recent years.

    I’m getting quite scared. I think this situation may be an opportunity for polititians to take action and remove all our achieved (and quite few) rights, just because there’s no interest on our part. And the opposition is strong, believe me.

  3. Mmmm… I knew I didn’t like him for a reason (other than the fact that he’s so obnoxious). I hope you don’t mind that I reposted this in my blog on myspace.


  4. As the father of a gay son, of whom I am very proud, I know how invalid, ludicrous and hurtful stereotyping can be. The fact that Christian Sirano engages in this practice tends to boggle ones mind. I am quiet certain that at some point in Christian’s life he was the victim of this practice. There is no correlation, to the best of my knowledge, between persons’ sexual orientation and morality. The impression I have of your Calpernia, from your writings and video, you are an extremely intelligent, kind (and dare I say attractive) woman who is committed to a cause greater than producing a fashion statement. I fully support your protest to statement made by Christian.

  5. Thank you, Jillian! And thank you Pedro, Sara and GS! I know it’s just a silly catchphrase, but I’ve been hearing people repeat it more and more, which means he has added a new way to be mean to trans people to the public vocabulary.

    When he followed it up with the comparison saying that we are the “white trash” of the gay community in a magazine article that hetero readers will assume is true (they will think “a gay person must know!”), it just tipped the scales and made me mad.

  6. Oh man, I thought he’d apologized for those comments a while back. He needs to find some meaningful ways to make amends and make it clear that this kind of talk is not OK. I’d like to think that he, like many others, is being thoughtless rather than malicious – but still needs to wake up to the fact that the end result is the same.

  7. I agree completely about the damage being done. I hope I didn’t come across as defending the hurtfulness of the statements. Transphobia from the G in GLBT is real, offensive, and unacceptable and needs to be addressed by every voice out there that can speak.

  8. I can’t even begin to think of what to say except… that is one of the, if not the most rude, hurtful, inconsiderate, ignorant, horrible (need i continue?) thing I’ve ever heard of just tripping off someone’s tongue when they happened to be speaking to the public… It makes me angry and sad more than anything else.

    Doesn’t anyone give anyone else a high-five or a thumbs up or a good-natured wink anymore? That’s what everyone needs a little more of… and, dare I say, a lot LESS Christian Siriano and his unwanted comments (or anyone else’s, for that matter!)

    Some people take this whole “Free Speech” thing way out of context. You give ’em and inch, and they take a mile. Sigh.

    On a better note…

    Have a wonderful day/night/week/weekend Calpernia! You’re looking beautiful as always!

    Chelsea Erin

  9. Right on Calpernia, I guess i heard him say that several times too now that i think about it.(if he was calling people gay fag mess I think i would have heard sooner and formulated an opinion. He is a talented designer none the less but obviously not really that mature, alot of those reality shows really want that shock value
    stuff for ratings but im going to be keeping my ears more open to those slurs. I enjoyed the lTS success page. xoxo ,Richard Bowman

  10. Maybe Christian Siriano doesn’t like trans people because he thinks trans people are always trying to steal his lucky charms! wink

    (Christian Siriano is tiny! The guy looks like a little Leprechaun!) LOL

    Christian Siriano likes to bash trans people, but I bet he wouldn’t like it if someone called him a “horrible homo hobbit”! Luckily, season 5 of “Project Runway” starts this week, so Christian Siriano’s 15 minutes of fame are hopefully almost over!

  11. This may be a stupid question, but who’s Christian Siriano?
    Wait…no…that was a rhetorical question, actually.

    Imagine having to go through life with a name like Christian?
    That’s enough to warp anyone’s mind.

    I thought a ‘hot tranny mess’ was that red stuff that leaks from under my car anyway.

    Laugh it off, Calpernia dear. Don’t give that NINNY the power to disturb your fabulousness!!!

  12. This may be a stupid question, but…who’s Christian Siriano?
    No…wait…that was a rhetorical question, actually. Ha ha.

    Can you imagine having to go through life with Christian as your first name?
    That’s enough to warp anyone’s mind.

    I thought a ‘hot tranny mess’ was that red stuff that leaks from under my car, anyway

    Laught it off, Calpernia dear. It’s not worth letting that NINNY disturb your fabuluosness!!!

  13. I don’t get it ? He could be condisdered transgender himself!! I mean he dosen’t really have what I would call a masculin style to him. Transgender dose cover fem men right?

  14. What a jerkoff! Hopefully he will think before he speaks from now on. Apologies after the fact always are sort of lame… people only apologize because if they don’t they look even worse… not because they are actually sorry about what they said… just cause they are sorry they are getting such a negative reaction.

  15. hello. I agree with you calpernia. i helped Larry Brinkman here in San Francisc to pass TG right laws, and this burns my but. I hate to say this, but it was no damn fag you statred gay right it was a tranny with a brick in here purse. How do i know i have talked to people who were there lol. Im only 44 but i surrond myself with positive GLBT stuff if possible. I feel as a post op trans woman he should be drawn and quatred, the have no clue to what we went thru.I at the age of 22 was put in prision in Florida becuase i was not waering 5 articles of male clothing,in the 80’s soplease people , repect and learn.

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