David Roberts recently wrote a short piece entitled Exodus President Alan Chambers is Clear About Coulter Comment. David praised and thanked Alan Chambers for making the unambiguous comment regarding Ann Coulter’s use of the pejorative faggot:
Used in any context, this hurtful word is used to demean an individual who is valuable to God. There is nothing to be gained by denigrating others with crude slurs. In doing so, we disgrace ourselves and discredit the truths we seek to publicly elevate.
Wow: “[N]othing to be gained by denigrating others with crude slurs.” That’s a powerful statement.
I wish Alan Chambers’ idea of loving the LGBT neighbor next door by treating them with respect would be embraced by other conservative Christian/ex-gay affirming organizations, especially when it comes to transgender people like me.
An example of not taking Chambers’ and Exodus International’s cautions against verbal slurs to heart include a recent piece in The Record, the online publication of the Christian Civic League of Maine (CCLM). The piece by Mike Hein — All My Tranny Children — begins by using tranny as a slur in the article’s header. He then goes on in the article to state:
Maine Teacher Makes Queer Television History
Maine’s most famous transgendered man, Jennifer Finney Boylan, is set to make daytime network television history this week, and the radical homosexual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) organization praises ABC Television for making “the unfamiliar [transgendered men and women] familiar.”
Starring as himself in ABC’s daytime soap opera, All My Children, Boylan (formerly James Boylan) and five other transgendered adults play a transgendered support group. The group coach ‘Zoe,’ a young female character played by a Jeffrey Carlson. The now-female ‘Zoe’ character is involved in a lesbian relationship with ‘Bianca,’ another female character on the show. Boylan is the transgendered support group leader…
…Boylan remains married to his wife despite having taken on a female persona in 2001 while still in his early 30s and despite having young sons. He mentions his experiences while taping the All My Children episode recently in his March 4 Kennebec Journal column “There from Here.” “I asked my boys and my spouse if they had any interest in coming down to the set the next day to watch me film my scenes,” writes Boylan. “My son Zach wrinkled his nose.”
As one can see, Mike Hein not only uses tranny as a slur, he sedulously points out Boylan’s former male name. And even though Boylan has had sex reassignment surgery, Hein makes a point of frequently and only using male pronouns to refer to Boylan.
And further, Hein lists Jennifer Boylan’s AOL email address in a part of the article I didn’t excerpt for this piece — which if Hein thought about for just a moment he’d realize that some readers of The Record will likely send Boylan harassing emails because he provided them her e-address.
It’s pretty clear reading the piece: Hein’s (and the CCLM’s) language is intentionally demeaning to Boylan and other transgender people.
If this were an isolated incident by one ex-gay affirming organization, it would bother me, but it wouldn’t irritate me. However, the Traditional Values Coalition and NARTH have both referred to transgender women as “she/males.” And, Peter LaBarbera or Americans For Truth About Homosexuality referred to me personally as “Mr. Sandeen” and as a “transvestite.”
So many of us as former homosexuals know, firsthand, that public or private humiliation can serve no beneficial purpose. We must demonstrate compassion and honor the dignity and worth of each person.
It’s pretty clear that Exodus International, while not having said it directly in their previous statements, would find use of anti-transgender slurs and pejoratives as disgraceful as the use of anti-gay slurs and pejoratives.
It’s a little less clear if they would condemn other ways of directly insulting transgender people — such as calling transwomen “Mr. XXXXXX”, or only referring to transwomen by male pronouns. One could make an argument that they might believe referring to transwomen by male pronouns to be a compassionate response to gender confusion.
With regards to using male pronouns for transwomen, I’ve received a few personal responses from readers who’ve read The Record‘s article on Jennifer Boylan. Two excerpts:
(To Mike Hein:) I don’t wish to offend you or to be critical of you but your references to Jennifer Boylan and your use of the male pronouns “he” and “his” when speaking of Ms Boylan is very uneducated of you. If you did it simply to be impolite and annoying, then you succeeded in your goal.
I find it totally distasteful that the author of this article, a Mr. Mike Hein goes out of his way to use the wrong gender markers when mentioning Ms. Boylan in his story. This type of writing does nothing but further the cause of bigotry and hatred we have to fight every day of our lives.
I would hope that in the future Exodus International publicly condemns use of anti-transgender pejoratives as it has with anti-gay pejoratives. Given the statements by transgender women above, I would also hope that Exodus International will also counsel conservative Christian/ex-gay affirming organizations to refrain from using the pronouns and honorifics related to the natal sexes of individual transpeople (i.e. not calling a transwoman “he”; not using the honorific “Mr.” for a transwoman, etc.).
Transpeople aren’t going to respect ex-gay or ex-gay affirming organizations when they see themselves repeatedly spoken of in intentionally disrespectful terms by them. Alan Chambers and Exodus International have been pleasingly consistent in their condemnation of anti-gay slurs and pejoratives — I wish that mindset would be adopted by other Christian conservative/ex-gay affirming organizations regarding anti-transgender slurs and pejoratives.