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Gayed, Blacked, Transgendered

January 8, 2014

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Is there a term that is preferred to "transgendered"? I recently wrote an article that described a MTF person I know as transgendered. The article was positive about transgendered persons I have known (she is one of many). Upon seeing a draft prior to publication, this person flipped out so hard that I felt compelled to cut off all contact with her. I also killed the article. One of her complaints was that I used the word "transgendered" to describe her, and she identifies as something other than that. I feel like an old fart even asking, but have you heard of this? What is the new term if it's not okay to say "transgendered" anymore?

Confused In Straightland

"Let's assume CIS got the subject's identity right (versus genderqueer or agender) and is being respectful," said Shadi Petosky, a writer, a trans woman, and the cofounder of PUNY Entertainment. "Even if CIS showed her respect, CIS isn't showing respect for the English language." Transgender is an adjective like blue or tall, Petosky pointed out. It's not a noun or verb. So the correct term is "transgender man," "transgender woman," or "transgender person," not "transgendered man."

"It might help if CIS thinks about the adjectives gay or black," said Petosky. "You're a gay man or you're gay. You're not 'gayed.' The president is a black man. He's not a blacked man. Only an ignorant person or a bigot would get gayed/blacked wrong. And to say that Dan Savage is 'a gay' or Barak Obama is 'a black' sounds homophobic or racist because it dehumanizes. Trans people want dignity, CIS, so if you are saying transgender or trans outside of 'they're transgender,' you have to put man, woman, or person (or human) after it. Because that is what we are."

If all you got wrong was that one thing, CIS, and your transgender friend blew up at you, well, that's unfortunate. (We're both giving you the benefit of the doubt, CIS, and assuming that "transgendered" was the only issue.) You were trying to do right by your friend, her anger was misplaced, an opportunity to educate a well-meaning ally was lost, a friendship was nuked, and a transgender angel didn't get her wings that day.

But let's zoom out for a second: Trans folks have an awful lot to be angry about, CIS, from absolutely staggering levels of anti-trans violence to discrimination against trans people in employment to a lack of access to basic health care. But at times, righteous trans anger seems to get directed at whoever is nearest at hand, however well-intentioned or otherwise supportive that person might be. (Cough, cough.) But blowing up at you was easier than blowing up at, say, high-profile anti-trans bigot Bill O'Reilly because you were in the room and O'Reilly wasn't.

But Petosky would like you—and glittery me—to keep that misdirected anger in perspective. "People mostly seem to be fascinated by trans people right after we come out," said Petosky. "If CIS's friend recently came out, then CIS was dealing with a person who is probably going through a lot of trauma and anxiety. When I transitioned, I thought I was going to lose my business, kill my dating chances, and end up homeless. Many trans people do. People called me 'he' most of the time in those early months. My self-image was in shambles. I lashed out at some gay friends for saying things that were less than supportive. Gay men were actually some of the worst because they could be—they can be—sarcastic about stuff I was really sensitive about. It's not like we trans people have no sense of who the real bad guys are. We're just getting tons of shit thrown at us all at once and want some minor wins. We're just trying to feel safe close to home first."

So something about your article rubbed your trans friend the wrong way—maybe it was the way you brandished her as proof of your own high-mindedness?—and she suddenly felt less safe around you and she blew up. Hopefully you two will be able to patch things up once the glitter has settled.

On a related note: Media Matters for America has extensively covered the outrageous and damaging anti-trans bigotry that Fox News routinely spews into American homes, hotels, airports, and waiting rooms. (These two posts at will bring you up to speed: "Experts: Fox News' Coverage Contributes to Violence, Discrimination Against Transgender Community" and "Fox News' Transphobia Problem.") Far be it from me to give the trans-rights movement marching orders... but... if a coalition of queer and trans-rights groups came together and called for a big demonstration outside the Fox News studios in midtown Manhattan, I would be there along with tons of other gay, lesbian, straight, and bi cissies. How about it?

I'm a 37-year-old straight male and I've never had a girlfriend. I lost my virginity when I was 25 and proceeded to have sex with dozens of women over the next five years, but none lasted more than a night or two. Over the next few years, I dated with the goal of finding a relationship, not sex, and found neither, then a few years of depression. The question is: Am I screwed? Will women my age be willing to date someone with no relationship experience? Is it something I should be up front about?

Hope Over Personal Experience

There are tons of women your age who have similar dating histories—there are tons of women your age with no dating histories at all—and you won't be at a disadvantage, experience-wise, if you're willing to date one (or more) of them. Create a few online personal profiles, HOPE, and be up front, honest, and unapologetic about your dating history and your desire for a relationship. State that you are looking for a woman understanding enough to look past your inexperience and offer that you are willing and able to do the same. Good luck.

Any tips on getting over unrequited love? I'm a 30-year-old straight male who fell in love with a girl who didn't want to proceed with a relationship. I have tried the gym, movies, socializing, and dating other women, but I still can't get her off my mind. To make matters worse, I will be running into her a lot in a professional setting in a few months. It has been 1.5 years, and I still haven't gotten over her. I fear that my future interaction with her will make it impossible to move on.

She Moved On

For two years, I pined for a guy I couldn't have, certain I would never get over him. So I called him one day and asked him to have lunch. The plan: throw myself at him and convince him to leave his boyfriend for me. Failing that, convince him to resume cheating on his boyfriend with me. But five minutes into lunch, I realized I wasn't attracted to him anymore. It wasn't that I couldn't get over him during those two years, SMO, but that my ego wouldn't let me get over being dumped. With that realization, the spell broke. We ate our sandwiches and said our good-byes. Maybe you'll have the same spell-breaking experience when you run into this woman in a professional setting? If not, keep trying the gym, movies, dating, etc. until the spell breaks or your life ends, whichever comes first.

You can follow Shadi Petosky on Twitter @shadipetosky.

On the Savage Lovecast, family law for the polyamorous:

@fakedansavage on Twitter


Comments (220) RSS

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I don't think I agree with the response to L1. I think a better response would have been to tell the LW, for their own safety, to not touch trans issues, not even with an eleven foot pole. Not because they screwed up, but because that community is experiencing a lot of upheaval and they seem to attack everyone and everything when the mood strikes (and it seems it did) as a way of building their space, their culture. (Subcultures do.) If Trans people want to be written about, let them do the writing, I think. The world at large can write about it later when the community has matured and become strong internally and there can be dialogue and synergy. Right now.... it's just not a good idea.

LW#3 -- good luck. I've come to realise that 16 years later, there are people I STILL miss.
Posted by MameSnidely on January 7, 2014 at 6:58 PM · Report this
re: to Hope Over Personal Experience, I suggest David Mitchell's "Back Story," both because it's a great book and because it's a very sweet example of someone in that situation finding love.
Posted by shoopp on January 7, 2014 at 7:08 PM · Report this

Perhaps describing your friend as a transwoman will work. Or, perhaps, simply a woman.


Work on being comfortable in your own skin. When you proceed through life by enjoying it, it is amazing how much more likely others will want to share it. That, in part, is how my wife got me.

Posted by Married in MA on January 7, 2014 at 7:58 PM · Report this
I'll admit it, I chuckled at the phrase, "Dan Savage is 'a gay'". Possibly because I read it in my head with Margaret Cho's "mom" voice: "He is THE GAYYYY?!"

But part of it is because I miss the "Hey Faggot" days. Dan has learned (and helped me learn) so much since then, and I love that he's more open (especially re: bisexuals and trans* folks!), but I kind of miss the raw cynicism of his early columns.
Posted by abbw12 on January 7, 2014 at 9:00 PM · Report this
"We're just getting tons of shit thrown at us all at once and want some minor wins."

Yeah. Like chasing off your allies with a fucking huge tantrum. Sounds like a "win" to me.

"We're just trying to feel safe close to home first."

Sure you are, by lashing out at the people closest and safest to you. That pretty much describes perfectly how children will misbehave horribly for Mom and Dad in a way that they wouldn't dare to do with a stranger, because Mom and Dad are the only animals on the planet that they are sure beyond a shadow of a doubt aren't going to turn without warning and eat them. You sound like a little kid.

Not that I am any sort of expert, but this is the first time I've heard that "transgendered person" is the sort of term that "only an ignorant person or bigot would use." Fucking Eye Roll. Last I heard, "transgendered person" was the correct and respectful formulation, while the unforgivable T-word was the one that rhymes with Granny. And there are plenty of examples of adjectives that, while not referring to humans, do indeed end in "ed," from "striped cat" to "whipped cream" to "open-ended question," so that particular grammarian gambit about it being syntactically Bad English is bullshit-encrusted pendantry. The language is nowhere near as simple and unambiguous as you make it out to be.

Sounds like someone over there would be best characterized as "an assholed person."
Posted by avast2006 on January 7, 2014 at 9:24 PM · Report this
As a transgender person, I read the first letter differently. I could care less about the semantics or part of speech used. My thought was that his friend may not have wanted to be "outed" as transgender. She may be trying to live under the radar. Also, some transgender people don't actually identify as "transgender". They are just a man or just a woman and don't consider themselves as "trans-" anything.

Since there can be many different ways people within the transgender community identify, and since personal safety is a HUGE issue to anyone within the transgender community, it might be safest to ask someone how they identify or if they want to be the subject of an article before you write one for publication.

Just my two cents.
Posted by kolakona on January 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM · Report this
nocutename 7
Thank you, avast2006.
Posted by nocutename on January 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM · Report this
Chelydra_serpentina 8
One of her complaints was that I used the word "transgendered" to describe her, and she identifies as something other than that.

This sentence led me to believe that the mistake was something a little more complicated than accidentally adding an "-ed" to the end of a word. What exactly is the "something other than that" CIS's friend identifies as? CIS makes it sound like it was a word he/she had never heard of despite, presumably, having had conversations with this friend, as well as other conversations with other transgender friends.

If that's the case, the friend apparently blew her stack at CIS for not being psychic.
Posted by Chelydra_serpentina on January 7, 2014 at 9:43 PM · Report this
lolorhone 9
Oh my God, I've been gayed and blacked. Or glacked. Or blayed. You know, it's actually really annoying to have your identity turned into something that "happened" to you. But I'd still like to think a conversation is a better means of resolution than a freak-out.
Posted by lolorhone on January 7, 2014 at 9:48 PM · Report this
Thank you, Avast2006, for saying what I was thinking. I have transgender friends (am I allowed to write that?) and they have always gone more for dialogue and less for tantrums.
Posted by The monogamish on January 7, 2014 at 10:10 PM · Report this
Because of the -ed at the end of "transgender", it sounds like something that has *happened to you* rather than *something you are*, which I believe is the crux of the issue with "transgendered". "Trans" is acceptable as an adjective, but they would like you to treat them like you would a "normal" person, and not a peepshow.

Is my understanding, as a cis woman.
Posted by hurrdahurr on January 7, 2014 at 10:26 PM · Report this
Sea Otter 12
SMO's letter could have been from me, with a few minor details changed. I also have a longstanding, pine-y crush that seems impossible to get over, no matter how many distractions I throw at it (and it's really embarrassing, considering that I'm a grown-ass woman and not a teenager).

So this - "my ego wouldn't let me get over being dumped" - is the most useful fucking thing I've read in the last year. Thank you Dan.
Posted by Sea Otter on January 7, 2014 at 10:50 PM · Report this
nocutename 13
Dear Ms. Petosky and CIS's former friend,
CIS is not the enemy.
If you find his way of referring to you belittling or offensive, recognize that the error was one of ignorance, and calmly and politely explain that you find the term offensive and then tell him what words you prefer.

And perhaps it would be a good idea to reconsider who the real enemies are.
Posted by nocutename on January 7, 2014 at 10:52 PM · Report this
I love you Avast.

Can we get off the freaking nomenclature train already? Between the trans, poly, queer, whatever-the-fuck-else name wars the column is getting way boring. Not every inclination, inherent trait, whatnot needs a proper and PC-vetted name. Fuck the protocol, just be nice to everyone. See? Problem solved. Can we get a letter about a transgender dominatrix who can't get her slave to climax without a cheese grater or something now? Pretty please?
Posted by jujubee80 on January 7, 2014 at 10:55 PM · Report this
Am I the only one who wonders if the transgender person in LW1's letter is a trans man and fed up wit the LW for still calling him a woman?
Posted by migrationist on January 7, 2014 at 10:57 PM · Report this
SMO, just don't do what I did when I saw my unrequited love- sleep with them, then declare your undying love via text message. After that disaster I'm probably disqualified from giving anyone advice again, but let me just say it could be worse. These things have a way of working out eventually if you don't draw them out. So don't worry.
Posted by Really Now... on January 7, 2014 at 11:00 PM · Report this
@11: I am "left-handed." I am also "brown-haired."

This attempt to draw a distinction of "ed" meaning "something (presumably something objectionable) that has happened to you" simply is not supported by the evidence of the language.
Posted by avast2006 on January 7, 2014 at 11:27 PM · Report this
Hi, I'm CIS. Just to clarify:

- the person who freaked out on me was labeled as male at birth and has transitioned to live as a woman, so the problem was not about my calling her the "old" gender.

- To the best of my knowledge, she never did tell me what the term other than transgender was supposed to be. Then again, she sent me the demand in a series of emails totaling 3000 words in response to my article draft, which was less than 1200 words long. She might have eventually identified the term she preferred, but her verbal onslaught was so extreme and bizarre that I could not get all the way through the emails.

-I was just wondering if there is another, more respectful term coming into common use. I would have been happy to use it if there had been.

-Sorry for the grammar error, everyone. I don't think that makes me anyone's enemy, but in any case, I am ashamed. (Ha.)
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 7, 2014 at 11:36 PM · Report this
A note for HOPE: you also have a major selling point in that you haven't had a history of relationships from which to pick up bad habits. While there are definitely skills and good habits to be gained from experience, there's something to be said for developing your relationship style organically to better "fit" whomever you end up with.
Posted by Peter Kovalsky on January 7, 2014 at 11:51 PM · Report this
Dear CIS
I think the most appropriate term for your friend is a 'nasty cunt'.
Posted by Crackerz on January 8, 2014 at 12:47 AM · Report this
RE the trans thing. I am a gay person of some colour. I am extremely left wing, I donate money and my time to queer endevours. I have had some dealings with trans folk and while I completely understand that they are possibly the most discriminated and marginalised people in our society, I really don't understand why they want to lash out and hurl abuse at people who get pronouns wrong, or adjectives or whatever. People who are your staunchest allies. We are not perfect, but give us a break. I don't know how you identify unless you tell me. If I get it wrong, don't bite my fucking head off. I am not your enemy.

Bring on the hate...
Posted by JJinAus on January 8, 2014 at 1:22 AM · Report this
Hey HOPE -

Just a quick rhetorical question for you. How are you in bed? Because, honestly, if you can get them into bed that means your personal hygiene is probably okay, and that your personality is probably tolerable. I've dated and dumped guys after a night or two because they were three-pump chumps and didn't seem to be interested in acknowledging that fact and/or improving. Or they were really selfish in bed.

Just the perspective of someone who's dated scores of men. YMMV.
Posted by notgoingtosignuptocomment on January 8, 2014 at 2:39 AM · Report this
smajor82 23
@5 Walk a mile, you know what I mean?
Posted by smajor82 on January 8, 2014 at 5:07 AM · Report this
I get it that the trans community has decided "transgender" is correct, and "transgendered" insulting, and as with any community, we should all use that nomenclature. But linguistically it makes no sense. The analogy to "gay" and "black" isn't apt. If we called people "gay-oriented," or "black-colored," those would still be adjectives; the concept being modified is simply implied rather than stated when we say "gay" or "black." The particle "trans" by itself is ambiguous, and says nothing about WHAT is being crossed--it needs "gender" to be a complete idea. By the rules of English, the adjective should be "transgendered." To say that an -ed suffix always means past tense is demonstrative of illiteracy.
Posted by Juristiger on January 8, 2014 at 5:08 AM · Report this
AFinch 25
I think Dan's advice is all good...

While I take @23's point, I'm also with Avast on this one - it gets tiresome - the level of drama/vitriol/emotion is disproportionate to the offense. Yes, labels are important as totems of identity and yes, it's important and serious to (re)take control of them (see: n-word, faggot, queer, etc.) but for Pete's sake...lighten up sally. While one understands that people lash out where it's convenient and (IMHO) where they feel they can safely lash out, it also gets tiresome being abused by someone who's team/side you're on. It just gets old.

For @HOPE - the only thing I'd add is: do some serious reflection about why none of your budding relationships ever thrives. That's a long string of 2-3 date starts - and if women are willing to fuck you, then you aren't completely repulsive and hopeless, but if they are vanishing after a quick romp, then there's something going on. People do start to pre-judge you as having a defect of some kind when you reach approximately your age and - if I read your letter correctly - you have never had a single long-term relationship. Seriously...where there is smoke there's fire...or something...this is not an unreasonable pre-judgement.

I have a sibling (now age 43) like you - and another sibling, who like me, has had a couple of marriages. The first sibling was heard at my most recent wedding to lament aloud that both of her siblings had found someone, not just once, but twice, and still she hadn't. There are lots of issues...she's fair enough looking, smart, insightful, and yet all but the absolute worst social rejects run about three minutes after she says hello. Nobody blames them (either the ones who run or the rejects) or is surprised. We love her, but like CIS's friend, the lashing out at friendly folks (to name just one thing that drives men away) gets really old, really quick. What are your friends telling you that you are doing wrong? If they haven't said or you haven't asked them, do so. Be ready to hear something (and do not get defensive, even if you think they're completely wrong) you don't like, and then be ready to seriously consider how you would change that perception of you.

@SMO - For every former SO I've moved on from (whether as dumper or dumpee) as Dan says: the trick is seeing them differently. So long as they are just the old image in your mind - the perfect imagined lover (and jeebus there is a ton of literature on falling in love with the idea of the person, not the person) - you will never get over them. In fact, obsessing will just guarantee that you carve that groove (the image of your perfect mate) just a bit deeper.

If you're lucky, you can meet with them and then see their defect. If you aren't, you'll have to make a conscious effort in your own mind to see them differently. You need to spend some time focusing on her flaws - the things you didn't like. That sounds like a lot of negative energy, but it works. The whole business of actively taking control of your own thoughts (and feelings) by consciously re-framing this is the heart of CBT and it really does work. Good luck.
Posted by AFinch on January 8, 2014 at 6:05 AM · Report this
Not inclined to be on anyone's side in the CIS debate. The only non-negative spin I can devise for the response is that an ally who can take such a tirade in stride is well worth keeping. But the letter came across as a bit coy; my initial response was that writers of articles can do at least a little better. Sooner or later in a world of ever-changing terminology, one is bound to be behind the times, but the astonishment makes me want to devise an Elton Award.

Ms Cute and, let us hope, the vast majority of the assembled company will recall the conversation on the occasion of the new Mrs Elton and her caro sposo calling on Mr and Miss Woodhouse at Hartfield for the first time. Mrs Elton expresses that her sister and brother-in-law will be enchanted with Hartfield when they visit, claiming that people who have extensive grounds themselves are always pleased with anything in the same style. Emma (who has a great idea that people who had extensive grounds themselves cared very little for the extensive grounds of anybody else [I made an acrostic on that line once]) contents herself with declaring that Mrs Elton, on seeing more of the county, might think she had overrated Hartfield, as Surrey contains many beauties, adding, when Mrs Elton quotes, "Surrey is the garden of England," that it would be unfair to rest a claim on that distinction, for many counties are called the garden of England as well as Surrey.

Mrs Elton fancies not. "I never heard any county but Surrey called so."

"Emma was silenced."

At that point in the novel, it might be reasonable to expect the reader to enjoy someone being able to silence Emma one way or another, Mr Knightley not having been able to manage it.
Posted by vennominon on January 8, 2014 at 6:25 AM · Report this
27 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Since I know many people browse this with unregistered comments off, I wanted to repost 6 for more visibility:

As a transgender person, I read the first letter differently. I could care less about the semantics or part of speech used. My thought was that his friend may not have wanted to be "outed" as transgender. She may be trying to live under the radar. Also, some transgender people don't actually identify as "transgender". They are just a man or just a woman and don't consider themselves as "trans-" anything.

Since there can be many different ways people within the transgender community identify, and since personal safety is a HUGE issue to anyone within the transgender community, it might be safest to ask someone how they identify or if they want to be the subject of an article before you write one for publication.

Just my two cents.
Posted by kolakona
Posted by tal on January 8, 2014 at 6:49 AM · Report this
Thanks, Tal. I had missed that one.

The article was fully anonymous for all the transgender people I mentioned (the friend who flipped out was one of several I have known, including bosses, colleagues and a former roommate). I did not give names, describe physical characteristics, or state locations of any individual. Nor did I give the name of the organizations I had worked for or the city where all of these relationships occurred.

In my professional life I have done IT work involving personal health data, and I used the experience to pick a level of anonymity made identifying any individual virtually impossible despite their rare gender identity. I did this because I recognize the potential safety risk and psychological impact on these individuals.

So, no, I did not endanger anyone or bust anyone's under-the-radar lifestyle.

And any person can identify their gender as they choose. Does that entitle them to sending a voluminous stream of insults to someone who acted as an ally? Nope. I have choices too, and I don't have to roll over and take that.

Thanks for asking.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 8, 2014 at 7:10 AM · Report this
Take comfort in this CIS - if you *had* written or re-written your article in a way you ex-friend was comfortable with, several dozen complete strangers would have descended on you even more viciously because you didn't write it THEIR way.
Posted by RealityBites on January 8, 2014 at 7:22 AM · Report this
As an additional note about anonymity: the article was written for publication in another country, where none of the people mentioned anonymously have ever been. Seemed pretty damn safe to me.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 8, 2014 at 7:26 AM · Report this
@ 17 In the instances of "left-handed" and "brown-haired," the -ed is added to change a noun into an adjective, and to avoid ambiguity. "I am left hand" is not nearly as functional a sentence as "I am gay." I'm not sure what I think about your underlying point, but I think your use of these examples of -ed adjectives is misplaced.
Posted by pemulis on January 8, 2014 at 7:30 AM · Report this
I would think the real problem in letter one is that somebody wrote an article about somebody without first asking how they felt about having their life written about in an article by somebody else (even if safety and anonymity is assured, not everyone wants to have to be held up as an example or talking point) and it was done by somebody who didn't even know enough to know how the person correctly identified. Why didn't the letter writer talk to the people the article was using as examples (who are presumably friends, so this should be easy) and say, hey, I want to write an article about trans issues, do you mind if I use you, anonymously of course, as an example, and if so, do you have any pointers that I should make sure to keep in mind when I do so? It just seems a bit of a breakdown in basic courtesy to be told a friend is planning to publish an article about you after it was written and without being consulted. And I think this would hold regardless of what minority that friend belonged to or even if it was just some article about some incident in that friend's life. Not everyone likes to share the details of their life publicly, even in a public, but anonymous way. And when somebody else shares those details, it's always going to feel a little different than the way it felt to the person who actually experienced it, which also feels a bit weird.
Posted by uncreative on January 8, 2014 at 8:27 AM · Report this
I agree with #5 avast2006... it's confusing to me, too.

Identity labels can change faster than Ignorant Minds can keep up.
Posted by hazmat on January 8, 2014 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 35
@CIS: Someone who lashes out viciously only at people they know they can hurt without being hurt in return is a bully, not a friend.

I don't know what the respectful term is (in your zipcode, this week), but I do know you're better off without that person.
Posted by Eudaemonic on January 8, 2014 at 8:56 AM · Report this
I agree with @1 and @33 -- at this moment in history, trans people are not likely to appreciate cis people trying to write about their trans experiences. I would advise any cis author who is minded to write about this topic to bring on a trans person as a co-author early in the process. That won't shield the piece from criticism (hey, the point of writing is to spark a conversation), but it should reduce avoidable issues.

Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Re SMO, I wanted to say that it took me about a decade of never setting eyes on the person before I got over the feeling that he was the love of my life.

Even falling in love w/ & marrying someone else didn't affect the delusion. And now, twenty years later, I would be nervous to see the crush again, lest the feelings start up again. Humans are weird.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 9:06 AM · Report this
Hold up a second... The tantrum unleashed on CIS was probably a severe overreaction and improperly targeted, but calls for the transgender community or whomever else to lighten-up seems to be coming from overreaching privilege.

Until we manage to make things reasonably good, why wouldn't we put up with sometimes petty insistence that we make things better, even in what appears to be ridiculous ways?
Posted by Tremendously Privileged on January 8, 2014 at 9:17 AM · Report this
I will confess that I am a bigot against trans women of a certain age. At this point I assume the worst unless their behavior shows me otherwise. I date crossdressers, and the level of vitriol that some trans women harbor against crossdressers (and me) is eye-popping. I know it's what they've had to endure their whole life and I suspect also the hormones contribute and often they are heavy drinkers too, a toxic mix. I do have compassion, but I also have an expectation, a stereotype, borne of experience.

I had one trans woman accuse me of being a killer because I had given her some mild criticism (she had asked for critiques), and she said that after what she had lived through, any criticism whatsoever would drive her to suicide.

So yes, in my experience, overemotional, extremely wordy, easily wounded describe many trans women over forty. I don't know the age of the woman CIS describes, but I'd wager she's not young. It's a black mark on our society, and thank goodness younger trans women don't seem to be like this at all.
Posted by Marrena on January 8, 2014 at 9:20 AM · Report this
Indighost 40

I have to disagree with dan. (Or, to be more specific, Dan's opinion as written right here.) I think that dating is really all about making a good first impression, Especially on the first three dates. I think that despite everything, it DOES make sense to hide anything that the "average normal opposite-sexed person " would find shocking or alaming or unuusal or even just plain strange. You can present eccentricies in a confident, cocky way, but anything about which you genuinely feel shame or that you genuinely know will be misunderstood, you should hide until you've established your relationship a bit more.
Posted by Indighost on January 8, 2014 at 9:24 AM · Report this
gttim 41
SMO: I got the chance to get together with a woman I could not forget for over two decades. We met just for old time's sake. We dated briefly and slept together a few times. A lot of old anxieties resurfaced. I realized that as much as I wanted, we were not compatible. I moved on. After dating a few women, I am now about 2 1/2 years into a relationship with somebody very special and compatible. It could never be this good with the other woman.

Why did I crush on this woman for two years? Ego, like Dan said. Somebody else got her. They had a horrible time of it, but I lost and that hurt. All the relationships, or crushes, I could not forget or get over were all about my ego.

Funny, when somebody cuts in front of me while driving and I get mad? My ego again. If somebody pisses me off at work? Usually my ego. Funny how that all works.
Posted by gttim on January 8, 2014 at 9:41 AM · Report this
@32: My point is that perfectly functional adjectives exist both with and without "ed" endings, and that it is fatuous to torture the language in an attempt to create some bogus, fictional grammatical rule that declares the ones with "ed" on the end offensive by fiat.

In other words, the whole "You wouldn't say 'gayed' or 'blacked,' would you?" thing is both tortured logic and shitty grammar. Language is far more subtle, varied, and flexible than that. If anything, language is being "blacked and whited" by this sort of misguided orthodoxy.

Likewise, the thing with articles being verboten. I am "male." I am also "a male." Similarly, I am "heterosexual" and I am also "a heterosexual." Gee, look, words that are both noun and adjective! Putting "a" in front to form the phrase "a male" or "a heterosexual" does not dehumanize me. You could say the same thing about Dan: he is "homosexual" and he is "a homosexual" and there is nothing ridiculous about using either construction. There may be historical connotations that make "a gay" sound dehumanizing to our sensitized ears, but it certainly isn't a function of the grammar.

The worst thing that can be said about the phrase "transgendered person" is that it is apparently somewhat out of date. (Which was news to me.) If a community is going to evolve its language usage both rapidly and subtly, and then turn around and declare anyone using the next most recent terminology as "ignorant and bigoted" then then clearly the world they are actively trying to create is the one where they continue to be a misunderstood minority in perpetuity. Asking for acceptance is one thing; asking the rest of the world to chase a set of constantly moving goalposts where failure to keep up defines one as "ignorant and bigoted" is another thing entirely.

There are people who give offense; there are people who take offense; and then there are verbal highwaymen who waylay others and forcibly relieve them of any offense that might be found on or about their persons. Throwing a hissy fit over something as subtle as the difference between "transgender person" and "transgendered person" is an example of the third.
Posted by avast2006 on January 8, 2014 at 9:47 AM · Report this
To Hi_It's_CIS,

I love it when letter writers show up in the comments section! Honestly, I think that (as much as I love the column) the comments are often some of the best part. If you're still here, I have a comment and then a question.

My comment is that (without having seen either your article or her response) going into this, if I had been you and I was planning on writing the article and then showing my friend the final product, I would have contacted my friend in advance and asked her permission to mention her and then confirm what term she preferred.

The reason for this is that, as an active member in the GLBTQ community, people with a certain degree of frequency will share their gender identity as something that I would not have guessed (ie, trans people who are still presenting as their birth gender, as well as people who I would have thought were trans who use a different term) so I actively work with the knowledge that I have no idea where someone is coming from and absolutely never apply a term that didn't come from them directly.

The politics of identity are complicated and highly personal and therefore highly emotionally charged, so I would definitely know to tread lightly and ask the subject of a piece for their preferred term, first.

The other reason to have checked in first if you were planning on sharing the finished article with your friend is that even if what you said was accurate, it's likely to be something extremely personal. If someone decided to write an article about people who had experienced anti-gay violence and included me in it without asking, even if they got all of the facts right and didn't use my name, if it wasn't something I knew about and had signed off on, I'd feel exposed and possibly betrayed to have something so deeply personal about myself appearing in print even without my name.

And finally, my question, which I'm really dying to know, is what term did your friend prefer over "transgendered"? Was it something like genderqueer, or was it less immediately definable, or was that not the source of the problem?

Best wishes,
Sweet G
Posted by sweet g on January 8, 2014 at 9:49 AM · Report this
@36: First, if the friend did not want to be written about, they chould have said so without 3000 words of vitriolic email.

Second, I'm not sure you get a veto. Writers write about experiences they've had and people they've met. The subjects usually know nothing about it ever, or at least until it's published.

CIS could have asked whether it was ok to write about friend, sure. But then the friend could have asked not to be included in the article instead of freaking out, too.

Finally, CIS did not say the friend's inclusion was the problem. How the friend was described seems to have been the source of the flare up. If friend had stayed reasonable, CIS may have not only learned something, but maybe even written a piece *on the subject of the semantics around transgender people* which might have taught many what is preferred and done some good for the cause.
Posted by philly-dan on January 8, 2014 at 9:49 AM · Report this
smajor82 45
CIS' (should that be CIS's?) "friend" is catching a lot of flak. I would encourage people to stop and think about the kind of emotional trauma someone would have to go through in order to get to the point where they acted like that. Sure, the behavior is cunty, but good people can act like assholes sometimes, and a little compassion goes a long way. It takes a lot of abuse, or mental illness, to bring someone to the point where they lash out to such an extent at the slightest hint of offense.
Posted by smajor82 on January 8, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 46
@45: Your position would have some basis if there was any evidence that CIS' douchebag "friend" actually did lash out at the slightest hint of offense, rather than that the douchebag only does it to people she can get away with bullying.

I'm pretty sure that someone who actually was so traumatized that she lashed out with 3000 words in response to someone using the word "transgendered" would not have the freedom to abuse LW this way. Uncontrollable trauma-responses are not made solely when the "response" can be made at no risk to yourself.
Posted by Eudaemonic on January 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM · Report this
@42: "...and then there are verbal highwaymen who waylay others and forcibly relieve them of any offense that might be found on or about their persons."

Posted by chi_type on January 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM · Report this
@45 - Sorry, but there's no excuse for cunty behavior. Not abuse, not mental illness. We all have our personal crosses to bear and there's NEVER an excuse to dump them on other people's shoulders. I agree it's nice to show compassion for other people's asshole actions when we know they come from a place of pain, but that doesn't excuse the asshole actions themselves.

That said, I'm loathe to cast judgment on CIS's friend without seeing the article itself. There's a good chance CIS put something in there that was legit offensive (albeit unintentionally so.) That's why it's generally a bad idea to write explicitly about people you know, at least without getting advance permission and including them in the writing process.
Posted by the_spiral on January 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
nocutename 49
@45 and others who make the same point: Yes the "friend" has gone though a lot of trauma, but CIS was her friend, who apparently made an honest and well-meant mistake. The torrent of vitriol unleashed on CIS was unwarranted. If the friend objected to a descriptor, she should/could have simply told CIS what she prefers.

She's taking out her understandable frustration and anger on the wrong person; she's alienating an ally; she's behaving like a crazy jerk.

It seems in this political/cultural climate we have an attitude that says only people who belong to a specific cultural/ethnic/racial/religious/gender/sexual-orientation group are qualified to write or talk about anything pertaining to that group. Others--particularly anyone affiliated with a mainstream, privileged, or majority group--are not allowed to write about anyone not like them, or risk being excoriated.

While I get the "only family members are allowed to make fun of my family" thing, it's important to distinguish people who are insulting a minority or disenfranchised group from those who are simply acknowledging the group's existence or illuminating for others some of the issues or challenges the group contends with or faces. Once we say only trans-people are allowed to write about trans people, we end up with something like this:…

Avast makes some very good points about those who seem to want to find offense @42.

As as for the language issue, don't get me started: I'm too old-fashioned to want to have to get all teachy on Shadi Petosky's ass.
Posted by nocutename on January 8, 2014 at 10:44 AM · Report this
AFinch 50
@37 - That does make one wonder if they really might be the true love of your life. I have an exgf like that - I never felt that way about her, but she does for me, and I we are "friends" but I do not like to visit because her husband does not like it (and I don't blame him).

@41 - yes, I'm sure you are correct: it is an ego wound. Same here.

@39 - you've mentioned this before (that you date crossdressers) and I'm seriously curious about what draws/attracts you to them? I wonder the same about "admirers", or femme women who only date super-butch women. I get being attracted to the "masculine" or the "feminine" but (and I'm sure I'm exhibiting normative-het-cluelessness) aren't the 'reference implementation versions" of masc/femme more attractive? Perhaps (if this is indeed true) if you explained how/why a transwoman isn't attractive, and yet a crossdresser is...or maybe the reason you don't date transwomen is they don't want to date you?
Posted by AFinch on January 8, 2014 at 10:46 AM · Report this
smajor82 51
@41 - Well put. Someone once told me they were never cut off in traffic. When I asked how that was possible they said "Easy. I just let everyone in and leave a lot of space between me and the car in front of me." It was eye opening for me.
Posted by smajor82 on January 8, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Report this
Also, why was CIS (who is apparently straight) writing an article about trans people? What was the context and purpose? Where was the article going to be published? Did the people agree to be part of the article and if so, how much were they included in the writing process? "A draft prior to publication" sounds late in the game, and I'd be pretty upset if a friend sprung something like this on me prior to publication even WITHOUT the offensive content. I work in social sciences research and in my field its unheard of to write about human subjects without getting their advance permission AND allowing them to set limits on how they will be portrayed. I'm not willing to jump on the "CIS's friend is a hypersensitive asshole" train without more clarifying information.
Posted by the_spiral on January 8, 2014 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 53
HOPE strikes me as someone who's sexual experience is with prostitutes. I have a hard time fathoming that someone could remain a virgin til 25, have dozens of one night stands once he lost it, and not know how to have a relationship. If you have the charm and personal skills to pick someone up, what anxiety would suddenly assert itself to make him unable to ask for a second date?
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 8, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Report this
unknown_entity 54
Terrible, TERRIBLE response to CIS by Shadi Petosky and a failure by Dan Savage for not stepping in as an umpire. CIS is trying to be supportive and enlighten the public at large about transgender issues and asking why an effort of his generated a friendship destroying backlash. Shadi takes this effort to HELP reduce trans invisibility, latches on to his use of "transgendered" as opposed to "transgender (X)" as an insult comparable to a white person using the n-word to describe the President. Considering that "gendered" is a word, it seems like a minor slip-up. By contrast, Shadi's response is not quite Godwin level, but it is damn close.

As a side note, I would like to point out that knowing how someone wants to identify and label themselves is not evident up front and many people's self applied labels would be offensive to others. Dan occasionally has people calling into the podcast suggesting that all LGBT people simply use the umbrella term "Queer." Well, not only does that very general term not give you much information, but many people assume calling someone "Queer" is comparable to calling a gay man a "faggot."

Furthermore, consider the following scenario:
1) A man dressing in drag goes through the checkout line at a grocery store. The cashier says "have a good evening sir" and no one gets upset.
2) Next person is a trans-woman who still has many masculine characteristics to their appearance. The cashier not realizing this is a trans-woman uses the pronoun "sir," and the trans-woman declares herself insulted.
3) Then a cross dressing male goes through the checkout stand. The cashier uses the pronoun "ma'am" and the cross dresser takes it as a compliment to his ability to appear like a woman, but does suggest that if the cashier is uncertain about a customer's gender, the he should ask the person what gender pronoun they want used.
4) Then a masculine woman (butch) comes through the checkout line. The cashier asks her whether they want to be referred to as "sir" or "ma'am." The woman is offended, thinking that the cashiers question is a passive aggressive insult about the woman's appearance.

Bottom line: There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach that is guaranteed to not offend anyone. Lashing out at someone who fails to guess correctly the first time is counter-productive to trans-acceptance.
Posted by unknown_entity on January 8, 2014 at 11:08 AM · Report this
"Transgender women" often have psychiatric issues along with their gender identity issues. No matter what you say or do, you will be wrong.

There, I said it.
Posted by Metal8 on January 8, 2014 at 11:10 AM · Report this
smajor82 56
@48 I'm not excusing the behavior. I acknowledge that it's cunty. Note that all I did was encourage people to think about where someone was coming from. People are no different from other animals when they feel threatened - they can lash out irrationally. If you approach a wolf caught in a trap and get bit trying to free it, you can spend all sorts of energy yelling about what an asshole it is. You can also learn from the experience.

@49 - I don't disagree with you really, I just would replace your first "but" with an "and".
Posted by smajor82 on January 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM · Report this
@50 Dan had an article a while back about a guy who was interested in non-passable crossdressers. It had a name, which I probably should remember since that's my fetish, but I can't remember it now.

I am on the low end of the Kinsey scale. The idea of even kissing a woman roils my stomach a bit. So crossdressers with any sort of body mod beyond hair removal turn me off, and even if they are close to passable undressed and with no makeup, I'm less interested. I like everything about the male body; I just like it tricked out in women's clothes. I also like the female persona--most crossdressers I have met are two-spirited, with both genders inside. I find men without that feminine spirit kind of boring.

I used to not know my taste in this, and the universal response from drab men I had sex with was that I "acted like a man in the bedroom".
Posted by Marrena on January 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 58
@ 48 nocute--While I get the "only family members are allowed to make fun of my family" thing, it's important to distinguish people who are insulting a minority or disenfranchised group from those who are simply acknowledging the group's existence or illuminating for others some of the issues or challenges the group contends with or faces.

This. And if the non-trans writer does always avoid mentioning transgender(ed) people, then he's "disappearing" them, as other transgendered people will doubtless inform him (in the process of lashing out viciously at a safe target).
Posted by Eudaemonic on January 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
@49, anytime you say/write anything publicly, you "risk being excoriated." Because other people get to say what they think about what you wrote.

If you want to reduce the chances of being excoriated, do more research first. Reza Aslan had done his research, which is why he came out of that looking good. If CIS wants to post his/her draft of the article, then we'd have a better understanding of whether CIS's friend overreacted.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
AFinch @50, well, but the guy in question didn't think so, and I'm happier now that I don't think of him that way.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 61
@59--Yes. I think the overarching point here is that excoriating people who have good intentions and are trying doesn't condition them to do more research so much as it conditions them to ignore excoriation.
Posted by Eudaemonic on January 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM · Report this
AFinch 62
@57 - thanks for the reply - and if you don't want to say more, please ignore this but...

I am on the low end of the Kinsey scale. The idea of even kissing a woman roils my stomach a bit. So crossdressers with any sort of body mod beyond hair removal turn me off, and even if they are close to passable undressed and with no makeup, I'm less interested.

Right, this makes perfect sense to does this:

I also like the female persona--most crossdressers I have met are two-spirited, with both genders inside. I find men without that feminine spirit kind of boring.

which seems to perfectly compatible, but not this:

I like everything about the male body; I just like it tricked out in women's clothes.

Because...if masculinity is hot to you...doesn't highly feminine attrire wreck it? I do remember you oohing and aahing when Dan posted the link to the lingerie for men maybe it's just that the super-feminine adds contrast? I can kind of connect to that with the pinups of half-naked women in grease and garage overalls that I remember from my misspent youth; I think there are a lot of women & guns, etc., memes of this type.

I realize this is like asking someone why they like, I dunno, Brie cheese or the color blue. Feminine clothing is wonderful (and much more interesting than male), but it strikes me as very feminine. I know, a tautology at best.

I used to not know my taste in this, and the universal response from drab men I had sex with was that I "acted like a man in the bedroom".

Herm...does this extend to role-reversal? Now I'm confused again...I'm sure some pantied man in a skirt is super-grateful however!
Posted by AFinch on January 8, 2014 at 11:47 AM · Report this
AFinch 63
@60 - yep, even reading that back to myself it sounds dumb. Nobody who fails to return the feeling is the love of your life.
Posted by AFinch on January 8, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this
@5 thank you!!! My blood was simmering reading that response!
Posted by moonme on January 8, 2014 at 12:09 PM · Report this
nocutename 65
@59 (EricaP): Of course, anything one writes or says publicly puts him/her at risk for criticism--and that should be the case. I was talking about what I see as an unreasonable criticism stemming only from an attitude of you're not one of us so you shouldn't be allowed to write about us, which is the response that many people seem to have. This attitude is voiced both by people in whatever "us" group is the subject (exemplified in this case by Shadi Petosky) and those who aren't in the group urging others not in it to not write about the group (examples here include #s 1, 33, and you @36), lest you insult them, because only those with lived experience of a particular condition can possibly be expected to have anything significant to say on the subject or an ability to be enlightening. That's not only untrue and ignorant, it's useless and I think it is a response to people who get hyper-vitriolic (like CIS' "friend") and have therefore scared others away.

It's also counter-productive. if it were only black slaves who objected to slavery, that institution would likely still exist; it took the force of many, many white abolitionists and a war to stop it. If the only people who worked for marriage equality were gay, the progress we're seeing in legalizing same-sex marriage wouldn't be happening. Most of the people who are voting for same-sex marriage are straight; most of the judges who are ruling that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is a form of discrimination are straight. It's not that gay people don't have valid and persuasive points, and it's not because they aren't capable of speaking up for themselves and their issues or rights, but because they constitute a significant minority of the population. There's no reason why a cis-gendered person can't write about trans people or the challenges they face.
Posted by nocutename on January 8, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
nocutename 66
@59: On what do you base the judgment that CIS hadn't done his/her research?

As always, we only have one side of the situation, but nothing CIS has said, either in the original letter or in the comment thread, makes me think that s/he hadn't done enough research. The only thing that the "friend" seems to have objected to was the designation "transgendered." Nothing CIS says suggests that there was a different objection (though of course there could be, and either the "friend" wasn't clear about what it was she was miffed about, just as she wasn't clear about what term she prefers, or CIS is leaving that information out of the messages we're reading).

Just because the "friend" takes offense at being called "transgendered" instead of something else--what, I still don't know--doesn't mean that all trans people object that strongly--or possibly at all--to the term. Trans people aren't a monolithic entity; just like everyone else, some people take offense at something which doesn't even register on another person's radar. Look at the comments made upthread about words like "queer." Look at how different members of the black community feel differently about use of the words "nigger" and "nigga." To some, the first is offensive, and the second is not (and may even be an endearment). Some have different reactions to the second word depending on the race of the person using it. Some find it offensive in either form, no matter who utters it. Grammatically, "transgendered" is different from "transgender," "trans-woman," or "trans person," but rhetorically it's the same.
Posted by nocutename on January 8, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Report this
Are we who identify with the same gender with which we were "assigned" at birth allowed to register a complaint about the "cis" term?
Posted by repete on January 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Eudaemonic 68
It's "Cic" now; "cis" was the acceptable term last week. This week, anyone saying "cis" is a bigot, and must be attacked with thousands of words in an angry email.
Posted by Eudaemonic on January 8, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Report this
Chelydra_serpentina 69
@66 - "...just as she wasn't clear about what term she prefers, or CIS is leaving that information out of the messages we're reading."

CIS said @18 that the information might have been conveyed in the emails the friend sent, but he couldn't bring himself to wade through all the crazy to try and find out what the preferred term actually was. (If it was in there at all.)
Posted by Chelydra_serpentina on January 8, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
@5 avast2006 & @7 nocutename: Thank you both, too! I agree.

@34 hazmat: BINGO! For the win!

@42 avast2006 & again, @49 nocutename: Thank you, yet again! You both beautifully summarized CIS's situation infinitely better than I ever could, and I'm not the least bit transgender individual phobic, despite my unintentional past misuse of terminology in a previous Savage Love column.

Good luck to HOPE and SMO.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM · Report this
@68: Could you be dying of sheer boredom?
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 8, 2014 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Eudaemonic 72
It's possible!
Posted by Eudaemonic on January 8, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
@ 67 - I can think of at least one instance when we had that debate here, and it appears that the trans crowd won and we are morally obliged to call ourselves "cis" even though we might not want to. Or else they'll get all butthurt or something. Ironic, isn't it?
Posted by Ricardo on January 8, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
@73: Oy-vey. Don't get me started. I'm with nocutename (@49) on
being language / politically correct. As far I'm concerned, the world has gone batshit crazy with a labeling gun.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 8, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
@74: And guns---period.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 8, 2014 at 2:40 PM · Report this
@62 I won't tire of posting about this, but everyone else here might get tired of me posting!

There's a difference between the male body and masculinity. Masculinity, at least in our culture, is tied up with all sorts of bossy things like being in charge, being active, being a sexual subject rather than a sexual object. I like my men passive, ornamental and submissive (I'm dominant).

So for a man to be wearing clothes that a woman would wear to signal

...hmm... going to raise the ire of feminists--I am not saying that women who wear slutty clothes are asking for it, but in the context of a relationship, oftentimes when a woman dresses up it is to signal her openness

...I'm going to get into trouble no matter what I say here. I like the connotations of passive sexual availability.

partner is very grateful, and enjoys doing housework when dressed--added bonus!
Posted by Marrena on January 8, 2014 at 2:53 PM · Report this
For "She Moved On"

Oh, fuck dude, I know that feeling. Got my heart broke in my early 20s, and it took a year and a half to start to get over all of it. And then I met someone new. And the someone who is now someone who I'm going to marry (thanks MN for finally making that shit legal!). To quote Dan Savage--it gets better.
Posted by Our Lady of Disgrace on January 8, 2014 at 3:57 PM · Report this
@61, I disagree. In this case, excoriating CIS led CIS to kill the article, rather than to ignore the criticism and move forward with publication.

@65, yes, outsiders can bring good perspectives to bear and are often useful translators of an issue for other outsiders. But there are times when the issues are so fraught with tension that a writer is well-advised to solicit input from an insider.

Obviously, however, writers are free to write whatever they like. No one is censoring anyone. Just giving advice.

@66, didn't say CIS hadn't done the research. Just advised that the more research one has done, the less likely criticism is to stick.

@73 it's not a moral obligation and there are other ways of conveying the same information. But it's now part of our language, just as the verb "to google" is.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 4:50 PM · Report this
RE “blacked”: see “colored.”
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 8, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Report this
@ 78 - It's not part of the language of anyone I know in real life. Not even trans people's language. The trans folks I know like to be called "women" (since they are all MTF) and they have the strange tendency to call me a "man". It's weird, I know, but I don't see why there should be a need for me to question or redefine their identity, or for them to question or redefine mine.
Posted by Ricardo on January 8, 2014 at 4:57 PM · Report this
Also, RE “gayed”: see “perverted,” “same-sex attracted.”
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 8, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Ricardo, if “cis” serves no function then neither do “trans” or “MTF.”

@80 should read:

“@ 78 - It's not part of the language of anyone I know in real life. Not even people's language. The folks I know like to be called "women" (since they are all women) and they have the strange tendency to call me a "man". It's weird, I know, but I don't see why there should be a need for me to question or redefine their identity, or for them to question or redefine mine.”

That’s better!
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
@82 lol. yes, the people who disdain "cis" always sound to me like the people who used to resent being expected to use "Ms." just because some women were so sensitive. Or the people who found it hard to give up saying "Orientals."

Language moves on, and some people have a hard time adjusting.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Or, “I don’t think of myself as white, I’m just human.”
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 8, 2014 at 6:19 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - A regular reader of Mr Savage's column would know that "transgendered" had ceased to be (if it ever was) the generally preferred-by-the-T-community term. Granted, someone who has known and admired many people who present as T may happen to have encountered individuals who happen almost entirely to present as "transgendered", and I can see the mistake as an honest one, but an honest mistake is highly compatible with insufficient research.

Besides, the letter almost giggles. Read it with your feminist glasses on. If this were my novel, I'd never let a character ask Mr Savage, "Have you heard of this?" I'd give such a phrase a Warrender Award, being much too much, in the way Fleur Talbot changes Proudie's declaration about Marjorie in Warrender Chase from "It's affected her beautifully," because "beautifully was much too much" and Fleur can only conclude she'd been reading too much Henry James.

Now I am perfectly ready to give you credit for not reacting the way XF did to CIS' column when you had to sit through your one million and first mansplaining, and I would agree with your king's right to look at a cat and opine on his findings. I don't think taking a little care to be sure of refraining from splaining is a huge ask of someone with majoritarian privilege. (Yes, it would be nice to have the article available.)

I'll chalk this up as an example of power corrupting. In an ideal world, for instance, questions of abortion would be decided entirely by women. Unfortunately, I can't think of any issue off the top of my head where the oppressor class doesn't have a say in the matter (although I am a bit stupid this evening, having injured my shoulder today more seriously than I realized). One of the slipperiest parts of the insult of people's lives being put up to popular vote is the sense of entitlement that can creep into allies. You say, let people start saying that only X can write about group X and you get the Fox schemozzle over the book on Christianity, which is fine. My counter is, put private minority issue up to majority vote and right-thinking members of the majority draw ridiculous comparisons assuming a nonexistent level playing field (per Mr Monic).
Posted by vennominon on January 8, 2014 at 6:42 PM · Report this
nocutename 86
Mr. Ven: You say that a devoted reader of Savage Love should know or remember that "transgendered" has been succeeded by "transgender." I guess I wasn't keeping up enough. But I ask you or all those who are offended by the addition of the "ed" what the difference is. Both words can be adjectives, and while "transgender" doesn't need a noun or pronoun to modify, that seems a minor point. Is it really worth getting so angry about?

And even if the difference is a significant one to the person being thus described, don't you think a simple statement "You used the term "transgendered," but I prefer "transgender," would have been an acceptable and maybe better response?

Additionally, I take issue with your use of the phrase "oppressor class." Just because someone is in the majority, it doesn't mean s/he is automatically an oppressor.
Posted by nocutename on January 8, 2014 at 7:01 PM · Report this

Well, as long as we understand that "cis", unlike your examples, probably won't join general conversation. People aren't going to add "cis" to 99% of their gender designators. If the trans community wants "transgender" without the "-ed", I'm sure they'll get that, but what went on between CIS and xf probably was much more than "-ed". It was bigger in xf's mind what we've seen so far.

The rule is-- people eventually get to be called what they want, not what others want.

CIS does not not need to get it perfect. Internet articles have dropped the bar real low.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 8, 2014 at 7:12 PM · Report this

Oh I'm definitely White, as in "The sun is trying to kill me and my body is surrendering".

Posted by Married in MA on January 8, 2014 at 7:15 PM · Report this
Holmes 89
Transgender(ed)? As a past tense verb (with the -ed) it describes something a person did. Now, she is just a woman. Transgender as an adjective indicates an ongoing condition attached to her gender. Is the latter what the community really wants?
Posted by Holmes on January 8, 2014 at 7:37 PM · Report this
nocutename 90
@89 (Holmes): Yes the -ed can signify the past tense of a verb. It is also a way of making an adjective. As an adjective, it functions exactly the same way that "transgender" without the -ed does. A person can be transgendered or transgender; it's the same thing. Denotatively; clearly, not (for some people) connotatively.
Posted by nocutename on January 8, 2014 at 8:05 PM · Report this
@ 82 - No, it's not better, it actually makes no sense at all. I know many "folks" who aren't women. In case you were trying to be clever, you failed miserably.

Besides, my point (@ 73) is that, since there are trans people who don't like to be called certain terms (which I thoroughly understand, and as I pointed out, I like to call them "women" if they identify as such and "men" if they identify as such, it makes everyone's life much simpler), I believe no one has the right to decide that people who identify with the gender they were born with should be called "cis" if those people do not wish to be called that way. It's just as insulting as calling someone "tranny". (And don't start accusing me of discrimination because I MENTIONED the word, that's just stupid American PC bullshit.)

Finally, as of January 8, 2014, "cis" hasn't made it into mainstream conversations. "Trans" has. You can invent a term or decide of a new use for an already existing one, but you cannot force people to accept it. And you, personally, don't get to decide which terms are useful ("if “cis” serves no function then neither do “trans” or “MTF.”" WTF???). General usage does that. Please remember that you are not every English speaker.

Once "cis" enters our daily vocabulary, if it ever does, then we'll all be using it, and it won't really matter what was said today here on Slog. Till then, I'll continue to believe that it's a highly contrived term which is unlikely to catch on outside of the rather small triad of the trans community, the social sciences community, and some unbearably PC sloggers. But there is the possibility that it does become a common word. I am not every English speaker, and I am not saying it never will. I'm just highlighting the irony of a given group doing what it complains about when it's done to them by others.

@ 83 - I've used "Ms." ever since I discovered the term. It's actually quite practical, as it filled a void to describe a new way of thinking about women, i.e. not in term of their marital status. I just don't think "cis" is that useful - people are generally doing quite a good job of describing non trans people without it in daily conversation. Language does move on (I studied linguistics, I should know), but not necessarily the way a given group wants it to. And although some terms do become part of the mainstream vocabulary through constant pressure by a group, they can also disappear just as quickly. Remember when the alphabet soup was neatly summed up by "queer"? Sure didn't last long.
Posted by Ricardo on January 8, 2014 at 8:22 PM · Report this
AFinch 92
@76 - I dunno about everyone else, and perhaps I've been lax about keeping up with the conversation, and I'm definitely not trolling or otherwise trying to get you in trouble with the peanut gallery, but I appreciate the response.

...I'm going to get into trouble no matter what I say here. I like the connotations of passive sexual availability.

This I get, completely. I asked because I often get the impression that women who desire "masculine" want, as you put it, "bossy things like being in charge, being active, being a sexual subject rather than a sexual object", and that's where I see the contradiction. More power to you, and the housework, dressed or not, is a bonus.

Thanks again for giving/sharing your perspective.
Posted by AFinch on January 8, 2014 at 8:24 PM · Report this
Ricardo, no one says that ciswomen should be called "ciswomen" 100% of the time, nor that cismen should be called "cismen" all the time.

The idea is that most of the time women (cis and trans) would just be called "women." And men (cis and trans) would just be called "men."

But on the rare occasions when it's important to be able to distinguish the two, then we have a word for each. As you say for "Ms.", it's actually quite practical.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2014 at 8:50 PM · Report this
As long as you're talking about terms, "dignity" is something one has regardless of the "respect" they're shown (or not) by others. You can't give or show someone dignity. They either have it in the face of adversity or they don't. You can, however, give and show respect.
Posted by wildfire on January 8, 2014 at 11:15 PM · Report this
This is the guy from the letter posted to Dan...

So I watched the movie "Don Jon" and realized that girl was pretty much like scarlet johansson's character in the joke. And after reading your input about ego and all, I am over her now and its a great feeling. Wish that movie was released 2 years ago and wish I had posted 2 years ago. I guess better late than never and this is a great way to start the new year.

Thanks Dan and thanks all for the kind words of encouragement.


Posted by SMO on January 8, 2014 at 11:24 PM · Report this
So just before all the regulars are once again taking over the comments section and argue endlessly as to which gender should be responsible for birth control… (hint: it’s always the opposite camp)…

As a part-time transgender-person, something I myself still curious as to what it means but-thankfully-not-struggling-with-it-anymore, I think the advice to CIS was great! I also think that all of us in the “glbtqpatynynot-whatever” community should aim to EARN our respect rather than DEMAND it. This is the best way get accepted, though I’m fully aware that I’m extremely lucky to live in one of the most progressive metropolitans in the USA.

Mr. Savage, we haven’t met yet but we certainly should! Don’t worry, I guarantee you will be disappointed!!!
Posted by opposite on January 9, 2014 at 1:51 AM · Report this
very unfortunately too late now! They're already out there at each other's crotch and nothing- NOTHING!!!- will stop those "regulars"...

So glad I'm an irregular
Posted by opposite on January 9, 2014 at 2:19 AM · Report this
havingbeensalted 98
I'm trans--and I try to just say 'trans' at all times if there's any chance that the people in the conversation will understand what that signifies... for this very reason. 'Transgendered' is the word that naturally rolls off my tongue otherwise. I think in a way I DO think of it as something that has been done to me, rather than my natural adjectival state. It's something that was done to me by nature or birth or whatever, but that's how it has always struck me.
Posted by havingbeensalted on January 9, 2014 at 2:24 AM · Report this
havingbeensalted 99
ah, oops. Submitted before I was finished. Anyway, I was just going to add that this isn't a problem exclusive to non-trans people. They don't embed a chip in your head that keeps you up to date with the terms people on tumblr use when you start hormone therapy.
Posted by havingbeensalted on January 9, 2014 at 2:26 AM · Report this
To HOPE, perhaps you should see the movie Don Jon? I doubt that you have the issue with port that he did, but there seems to be some similarities there.
Posted by CMS on January 9, 2014 at 4:29 AM · Report this
The quoted comment in the answer that "CIS isn't showing respect for the English language" (etc.) is rude and ill-informed about language, as some have mentioned here. By the usual patterning of English, "transgender" is a noun just like "gender", and "transgendered" is an adjective like "blue-eyed". (See a bit of informed discussion by googling "Language Log transgender"; these comments block hyperlinks.)

The crucial point is that most trans people wish to be referred to as "transgender" without the "-ed". That's all that one need say, and it's respectful to follow this preference; but it's a distraction to offer mistaken grammatical justifications. Even if these grammatical misunderstandings played a role in the development of the term, the preference now exists and should be respected.
Posted by A Gay Linguist on January 9, 2014 at 5:18 AM · Report this

@100 CMS, SMO mentions Don Jon as well.

Posted by Married in MA on January 9, 2014 at 6:18 AM · Report this
"I realized I wasn't attracted to him anymore. It wasn't that I couldn't get over him during those two years, SMO, but that my ego wouldn't let me get over being dumped."

I am in LW's same position, and this sentence seems to be ringing true for several commenters. However can someone elaborate on it? I get it, but I kinda don't. And I can really use some advice on this subject!
Posted by PolicyChick on January 9, 2014 at 6:23 AM · Report this
HOPE-- You say you have no relationship experience, but let's guess you grew up in a family of one sort or another and thus have experience living with parents. You probably had roommates in college. You also probably have had friends, at least friends good enough for you to talk to them about some things, not everything. I'll also guess that you have work relationships, people you get along with well enough to talk about what needs to be done job-wise.

So when you think about it, you've got quite a bit of relationship experience. Build on that. A romantic/sexual relationship starts the same way. You talk about stuff. You take an interest in what the other person is talking about. You share some of your own feelings and opinions. You tell stories that you hope are entertaining. You do things together. And you do this all whether or not you're having sex together.

When you say that you've had brief sexual encounters, did those not work out because you weren't interested enough at that time in your life to call her again, or was it outright rejection in that you'd have continued seeing her, but she said no? It makes a difference. If it's rejection, you have to find out why. There will probably be different reasons for each woman ranging from her not being interested in a relationship from the start to being turned off by something about you. Probably the former.

When you first start dating someone, you can be upfront and vague at the same time. It's natural enough for someone to wonder how it is that you're single. You can answer that you've had a number of brief relationships but nothing panned out. That's good for the first several dates. In time, she'll probably want to know more. At that, the most important information is that you have a history of depression and have the condition well under control now (if that's true). Only after you've been dating for a good long time does it make sense to say anything about never having had what most of us think of as a real relationship, but you won't really have to bring it up. It will be obvious. She'll have probably said something about her ex or exes if she has them. Really, not having that sort of experience shouldn't be that big a deal. A history of mistreating women would be a much bigger one, and you haven't said anything about that.
Posted by Crinoline on January 9, 2014 at 6:44 AM · Report this
Ms Cute - I did not and do not endorse the response. As I don't have to write a comprehensive view of the entire situation, the response isn't my point of interest, although perhaps largely because I didn't see it. "Have you heard of this?" I did see, and it struck me as so objectionable as to take up a veto-proof majority of my attention to this letter. Others obviously will focus on different things; I am used to being on my own.

"Member of the oppressor class" was designed to convey the notion of how, to Oppressed Person X, even generally right-thinking MotOCs can suddenly say or do something that, if not making them indistinguishable from (Deliberate?) Oppressors (and, if I had meant Oppressors, I'd have said Oppressors and not MotOC), then at least goes into oppressor-splaining mode. [I suspect we could have a fascinating discussion of the difference between oppressor-splaining and oppressed-splaining, but the rest of the assembled company would probably pelt us with rott*ed* vegetables.] It's not even a question of a majority. Are there any men you know you can trust absolutely never to say anything just completely wrong or offensive about female experience or existence that "no woman would ever say" or some phrase of similar import? I want to make this more of a scale than an either-or; some people feel more equal than others, to be somewhat Orwellian.

I do take your point; it's a variation on why I'm (occasionally deeply) wounded when people assume I'm straight. Now, it could be that there is a great difference between oppression as committed by a minority with power (South Africa?), a relatively equal-in-numbers faction, and majorities of various sizes. Perhaps the occasions when an otherwise-ally does something that makes you see him as being Malely Oppressive occur less often for you/women in general, or are harder to reverse.

This is one area where I can endorse an attitude of Ms Driasis (or perhaps a slight variation thereon) that being a good ally or having views seen as strongly pro-X by X themselves is the baseline for Decent Human Being. She applied it to taking some pro-gay stance (supporting marriage equality, perhaps?). It seems the sort of area where allies can be particularly useful, in saying for X what X would like to say directly but regarding which a filter is useful. What Ms Driasis uses as a floor of decency in one sense I'll use as a ceiling of entitlement in another.

Striking the right balance of how/when to tell a MotOC that something (s)he's said has changed the horizon so that (s)he temporarily resembles an Oppressor and when to take one for the good of overall community probably plagues most of us, and I suspect gets an assortment of differing answers.
Posted by vennominon on January 9, 2014 at 6:44 AM · Report this
A Gay Linguist @101: Exactly.

My question for CIS is: if you actually want to know what your trans friend is on about, why ask Dan, a cis man who doesn’t know either of you? Why not just read your trans friend’s emails? That’s the truly weird part.

My guess is that you don’t actually want to know what your trans friend is on about. You want some sympathy and to be reassured that your friend is crazy and that you don’t have to do difficult things like homework and reading angry emails and engaging participation.

I get it that you don’t have to read angry emails if you don’t want to. That’s your right and that’s fine. But it makes no sense to then write to Dan to ask what was in them.
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 9, 2014 at 6:59 AM · Report this
sissoucat 107
I feel "unrequited" love for someone I see weekly in a public place and it's one of the dearest pleasures of my life. He knows about it, and he's understanding (or flattered) enough to maintain a platonic friendship with me.

I don't need to be in a sexual nor close relationship with him to be happy, to enjoy his wit and his accomplishments. But knowing he exists and is there somewhere still provides me with endless masturbating scenarii. For which I'm grateful !

It's like if auntie grizelda somehow became friends with Brad Pitt (my apologies if I mistake your crush). Would she revel in that friendship, no arguments made, or keep on trying to bed him, knowing that it wouldn't work, and that it would kill the friendly relationship ?
Posted by sissoucat on January 9, 2014 at 7:03 AM · Report this
Regarding the answer to CIS in question 1, it may not be correct grammar, but yeah, a person can be "blacked", "gayed" or "transegendered". Consider president Obama. He is black because he chooses to self identify as black, and because it is a smart political move that won him much of the African American vote, especially in the primary against the far more qualified Hillary Clinton. He is in fact half white, and raised in the a rather white community in Hawaii. So his PR people in a very real if not PC sense of the word, "blacked" him up. Much in the way that Dan Savage plays up his gay side for PR purposes, or is "gayed" - he was married to female at one point (thus "straightened")and presumable had feelings for her, even if he decided it was not going to work out. Perhaps the problem is we need to look at race, sex and gender as non binary, highly subjective conditions and let people choose the labels they want before throwing around terms such as "ignorant person or a bigot" to describe people who don't agree with you.
Posted by feme on January 9, 2014 at 7:42 AM · Report this
If LW 1's problem really was the term he used, well .... The time to freak out at someone over terminology is after you have asked him not to use a term, and explained why that term is offensive to you. And, if he's a friend, spotted him one or two slips of the tongue. If he still keeps it up after that, he's no friend of yours and freaking out is a reasonable reaction.

But if the way someone finds out a term is offensive to you is you flipping out, you are not behaving reasonably, and will lose some respect from reasonable people.

I think it is important, too, to remember that other people do understand what this feels like - not everything about being trans, but certainly the "terminology" part. Women, people with disabilities, members of all minorities - huge segments of the population have had to deal with learning to say "Don't call me that, I don't like it, and here's why". It's usually been at a painful time, too, a time when members of the group have finally had enough shit and aren't going to take it anymore.
Posted by agony on January 9, 2014 at 7:44 AM · Report this
@103, I think the point is that eventually you realize that the person isn't really so special, and the reason you're still fixated after you know it won't work out have more to do with your own issues and little to do with the object of your affections. See "limerence" on Wikipedia for more.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2014 at 7:48 AM · Report this
@110: has more to do....
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2014 at 7:51 AM · Report this
@105 vennominion,

While Members Of The Clueless Class may be scions of MOTOCs, I think it fair to make a distinction in that their offensive behavior can be corrected with the proper information. Not an excuse, but rather a solution.

Posted by Married in MA on January 9, 2014 at 8:16 AM · Report this
@110 - Thank you! VERY helpful.
Posted by PolicyChick on January 9, 2014 at 8:20 AM · Report this
nocutename 114
@105 (Mr.Ven): I'm sleepy and cranky this morning, and didn't read your comment too carefully, but I have to say that I'm perhaps not the best person to use when comparing reactions to offenses given and received. Very little offends me or gets under my skin to the point past mild irritation, and when that occurs, my usual response is to try and make the other person understand my position more clearly, because I think that most offenses occur from a lack of understanding.

I have rarely, if ever, thought of men as members of the oppressor class. I just don't see things that way. I've very rarely been upset that a man doesn't respond as a woman would. Even when I'm irritated that a specific man doesn't respond the way I want him to, I don't think of the interaction as being representative of men vs. women. I think of this person vs. me. Yes, I have encountered mansplaining, but I know so many men that have never and would never condescend to me as a woman, that I don't think of mansplaining as a male default mode. That doesn't mean I'm blind to ways in which sexism and the patriarchy affect men's and women's lives in myriad ways, but I don't think in terms of "us" vs. "them," except when it comes to political issues ("us" being liberals, "them" being conservatives) where I admit I'm far less charitable in my opinions.

I am a member of an ethnic/cultural/religious minority who is generally mistaken as belonging to the predominant ethnic/cultural/religious group, and I have to say, I am not hurt by this. I think there's no reason why people should automatically realize I differ from them in some fundamental way, and the numbers of the overwhelming majority are against me. I can choose to blend in and say nothing, nor correct misapprehensions, or, if I think it's important that someone know what my affiliation is (or if it has been insulted by someone who doesn't realize I'm part of the group he is insulting), I can respectfully enlighten.
Everyone seems to me to be too thin-skinned.

In the specific case of CIS, I will concede that s/he should have probably asked her/his friend what term she preferred before writing the article, and done some research beforehand to see if there was a term currently in vogue with the trans community. However, if you're going to have a term de jour and get ultra-strident about its correct usage, I think you're setting yourself up for ridicule.
Posted by nocutename on January 9, 2014 at 8:27 AM · Report this
sb53 115
@103 This happened to me.
In my case my crush went on even after finding and marrying a girl I liked.
Yeaaaaarrrrs after marrying, wifey pointed out that I had been selecting girls based upon height. I like tall girls. I found out that there is a huge problem for most tall girls. They Usually refuse to date shorter men.
In my case my (taller) wife decided I had some redeeming qualities and so allowed me to fall in love with her and she with me.
In my young dating days NOBODY told me about the tall/short thing. AND I had 3 older sisters, none of whom clued me in. It all worked out,..... sorta. Good luck!
Posted by sb53 on January 9, 2014 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Ms Cute - I've no quarrel with anything you say about the response to the article. Having gotten you to dial back from what appeared to be a slightly too robust defense of CIS (which I quite understand to be perhaps the most useful political response), I am content on that front.

I have no desire to attempt to convince you that you are far more oppressed than you say you are, or to hope that your assessment of your acquaintance is incorrect. Perhaps my wild guess that the relative size of oppressing and oppressed groups may come into play, or perhaps one just goes on as one begins. Having been fired specifically for being gay presumably was a start to adult life likely to produce a much more oppositional mind set than yours. Ah, well.

At least I got the concept of the Elton Award out of it.
Posted by vennominon on January 9, 2014 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 117
@108: Your comment ignores centuries of history (like the 1-drop rule) and also misrepresents Dan's history (Terry is his first marriage).

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When you're posting something people will find offensive/controversial, at minimum, you need to get your facts right.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on January 9, 2014 at 10:25 AM · Report this
smajor82 118
@103 - My own sense on these matters (drawing a lot from personal experience here) is that sometimes our feelings about another person are mostly about how they make us feel about ourselves. For me, the girl I couldn't get over was in many ways out of my league, and being with her made me feel so fucking amazing. She wasn't that great of a person and really nothing super special, but when she wanted to be with me, my ego was being fed in a major way. And that's really what I couldn't get over. Good luck to you.
Posted by smajor82 on January 9, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Report this
@SMO...I had an experience with unrequited love and in time, learned that I was yearning for a person, a love, a life that I IMAGINED. Take the gift of time and distance to look inward and examine your beliefs about love with her. Be willing to accept that some of those beliefs are not true.

I was fortunate enough to see him after many years apart. While he was still sexy, attractive, charming, intelligent, motivating...some of the reasons I loved him...I also met a miserable, shallow, punishing bully alcoholic. I came away from the meeting feeling relieved for dodging that bullet and a heart full of sympathy for his ex-wife and children.

She is not for you. Get comfortable with the fact that some things you will never know and never have. That is hard to do but necessary to move forward. When you see her in professional settings, be professional. Don't waste your time fantisizing about woulda/shoulda/coulda been. Getting stuck in that loop of the fantasy is what is hurting you and keeping you from living your full life.

For me, getting stuck in the fantasy was the damaging part, damaging to me. I hope you can get unstuck and find love and happiness in your real life.

Posted by Content on January 9, 2014 at 12:07 PM · Report this
SMO-- I recommend viewing your question/problem as 2 separate things:

1. Getting over her
2. Moving on to a new relationship

Forget about getting over her. Only time will do that for you, and even then. Most of us are walking around with broken hearts. (Note: Not a scientific claim.) But most of us manage good relationships with the other people in our lives. Frame your dilemma in terms of how to form a great relationship while still pining for Ms. Crush in your spare time.

Perhaps you can find some wisdom in my story. In my teens I fell in love and was dumped. It hurt. I cried. I told myself I was dusting myself off, but it hurt worse. I gathered together my pride and didn't beg or do anything dramatic, but I did stalk a bit. Back then we didn't have facebook or other advanced stalking techniques, but I did listen when the odd mutual friend would tell me about him.

All the while I was dating and settling for someone I didn't think could ever measure up to His Inattainable Perfection, I'd fixate on his name. Years went by, and I was aware of his happy marriage, his children, then his amicable divorce. I was in an excellent relationship of my own by that time but still pining for the One That Got Away.

As we all got more computer connected and google took over the world, I took to looking him up. I'd feel a thrill when I caught a glimpse of something (ordinary) he'd done or read something he'd posted.

More years. I friended him. I saw his recent picture, realized that he hadn't aged well or that I wasn't attracted to his 50 year old self, but sometimes he'd put up a picture from a few years after we broke up as teens. I felt the same old thrill.

Finally my current relationship and I met him in person. He was ordinary, maybe worse than ordinary. It was abundently obvious that we had nothing in common that could have made a relationship work. I didn't hate him, but I didn't like his manners or his cheapness or the way he talked about his work. (I liked his wife more. She seemed nice.) The brilliance that I'd been so attracted to just seemed naive. That's not to say he was any sort of villain. He still had some good qualities, but I couldn't see myself with him.

So I went back to my good relationship with a good man and went back to checking up on him now and then. And I STILL thrill when I see his name, and I STILL look at the picture of him from when he was 19, and I'm STILL attracted to his 19 year old self.

Bottom line is that love changes. It changes from that fluttery pit of the stomach feeling to something different. If I were preachy, I'd say it gets better, but deep down, I'm not sure I believe that. The love was going to change whether you'd stayed with that woman you're pining over or moved it along with someone else. That's a disappointment no matter what, but we don't have many choices. We get what we get. Good luck.
Posted by Crinoline on January 9, 2014 at 12:16 PM · Report this
@120 Crinoline,

Your experience is somewhat akin to my observation that my fantasies are eclipsed by the reality of my best sexual experiences.  What I mean is that reality trumps fantasy, but fantasy is within and therefor always with us.  Ideals are wonderful, but practicality is the foundation of our lives.  Annnnd, I'm totally making a hash of this...

In some ways, my wife is totally NOT the woman of my dreams.  And yet, our life together is better than I could have hoped.  Dismissing that internal discourse, to be experiencing the moment, allows me to understand the value of what I have and to be grateful for it.  

When we are teenagers, we have overriding fantasies of...whatever.  Most of us don't look forward to the satisfaction (and security) of a successful product rollout, or the satisfaction of nursing your puking sick teenager to health.  But the reality of moments like those are cornerstones of our existence, and ignoring them for the hope of fantasy dismisses who we are.  

Posted by Married in MA on January 9, 2014 at 1:18 PM · Report this
@108: President Obama would have been laughed out of the room if he tried to claim he was white. Being "black" has a whole lot to do with how everyone around you identifies you, and anyone who is obviously within a racial subgroup (mid-to-dark-skinned blacks, for example, or pale and freckly redheads) will find their attempts to invoke the one-drop rule and claim a different, more interesting race laughed at and ignored. And in a contest between two first-term senators, the experience was pretty equal. (I am really not going to dignify "she was married to the experience, which is exactly the same as doing it herself" with an answer.)

And as 117 notes, Dan has never been married to a woman. He slept with a couple back in high school, but claiming that that makes him sort of really straight except he just finds being gay exotic: is weird.
Posted by IPJ on January 9, 2014 at 3:19 PM · Report this
Both CIS and his friend are human. And we are dealing here with the eternal problem of humans who may or may not react correctly (according to some code of conduct) under certain circumstances. And all the disagreement above basically centers around the question of whether or not CIS' friend's reaction can be excused given the pressure s/he lives under, or not.

My point is that, in the end, this is difficult to ascertain. I would be loathe to make a decision without hearing CIS' friend first. What caused this reaction? Just that one word? Its adjectival use? (Nouns and adjectives can often shift places in English, by the way; the grammatical explanations are incorrect. And -ed as an adjective can be an attribution marker rather than a process; cf. "the moneyed elite", in which nothing "moneyed" the elite, they just have money... I think these claims are trying to "explain" something which ultimately boils down to how CIS' friend [i]interpreted[i] CIS' choice of words. As always, it's not in the words, it's in the people who use them -- and in the people who interpret their use...)

So, what did CIS think he was saying, and what did CIS' friend think CIS was saying? Clearly they differ. The humane thing to do would be for both of them to seek common understanding of each other's good intentions, and acceptance of their flaws. It is also quite possible that CIS's friend lashed out unjustly (though, I repeat, I would still like to hear his/her take on that). It is also quite possible that CIS wrote something that he shouldn't have -- given the pressures and situations that his friend (not simply "all transgender people, but [i]this particular person[i], who has a personal life experience with specificities not shared by all others) has had to put up with." Regardless of both possibilities, I hope they can grow beyond this incident and resume their friendship.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2014 at 7:44 PM · Report this
@Ven, I tend to agree with nocutename that the Oppressed vs. Oppressor dichotomy is an oversimplification that often confuses the issue (by, for instance, obscuring the individual, this-person-vs.-that-person aspect of it, among other things). Oppression (as we now call what used to be termed "prejudice" or "social inequality") is a much more complex phenomenon than that, and one that often results from something akin to Adam Smith's invisible hand rather than from the intentions and desires of various human groups.

Just to mention one example... I know you don't like science fiction, but you may have heard of Samuel Delany, who is a literature specialist in his own right. In one of his stories (in his famous "Tales of Nevèrÿon" series, which I highly recommend to those interested in theoretical questions concerning language, symbols, literature, and gender), he describes how a primitive matriarchal society, where men were "oppressed" (had less prestige and control over their own lives, though they themselves would hardly think of themselves as oppressed) slowly changed into a patriarchal society, where women were "oppressed" (had less prestige and control over their own lives -- and they did feel oppressed, because they were more aware of what had changed) by virtue of a process that had nothing to do with gender, and without anyone ever wanting to change anything: the natives came into contact with money, and gradually switched from an exchange-based economy to a money-based one. The effect this had on gender relation was the result of the novelty -- money -- interacting with certain features of that society that were only indirectly related to gender. After reading the story, one is moved to reflect on who or what exactly is to be "blamed" (if there is any blame?) for the shift that happened in that society.

Because, ultimately, the problems in the oppressor-oppressed nomenclature is how easily it suggests who is to be blamed -- and how misleading this facile interpretation is, both historically and with respect to how to choose the means to change the situation into a less unfair one.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2014 at 8:12 PM · Report this
nocutename 125
Welcome back, ankylosaur!
Posted by nocutename on January 9, 2014 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Et nunc, utinam patientia sileam, quum aliorum melius sit.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2014 at 8:23 PM · Report this
@125, thanks, but I just happened to be here by accident and couldn't resist posting an opinion. I don't intend to hang around. People here continue to talk about interesting topics, no doubt; and Dan's wit is as sharp as I remember. Take care.

Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2014 at 8:25 PM · Report this
@91: By way of agreeing with you (I think?), my impression is that "cis" is a prefix that is useful precisely in the context of trans-centric considerations, and less so in the context of general purpose usage. Insisting on it becoming part of standard vocabulary strikes me as approximately equivalent to demanding that everyone should converse in ASL all the time because on some occasions there may be a Deaf person in the room.

It is also somewhat ironic to consider in light of the idea that many transgender* individuals would like to simply be considered to be the gender that they present as. It is operating at cross-purposes to on the one hand insist, "I am a woman, just one with a penis," and on the other insist on inserting the cis or trans qualifier into every communication, thereby defining and perpetuating the pronounced distinction between one kind of woman and the other kind of woman.

* (See, I am perfectly happy to use the preferred terminology once it is made clear. Less willing to plead guilty to a ginned-up MotOP offense. But entirely willing to call one what one wants to be called.)
Posted by avast2006 on January 9, 2014 at 8:48 PM · Report this
The men who objected to being described as “cis” claimed that the word should never be used, not that it shouldn’t always be used.
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 9, 2014 at 10:52 PM · Report this
CIS isn't showing respect for the English language. Transgender is an adjective like blue or tall, Petosky pointed out. It's not a noun or verb.

Given that "gendered" is an adjective whereas "gender" is a noun, it would make more sense for "transgendered" to be the accepted adjective.
Posted by The English Language on January 9, 2014 at 10:57 PM · Report this
@107 sissoucat: Rest assured that I am fully aware that my sexual fantasy involving Brad Pitt (as J.D. in "Thelma & Louise") is exactly that---a delicious little fantasy. And only that. I have no intentions whatsoever of actually pursuing Mr. Pitt in real life, hot as he is at 50! He's taken with a capital Angelina Jolie and with children, for starters. Plus, although I'm closer age-wise I'm sure he wouldn't be interested in someone like me if he was single. The Jolie-Pitt clan has no idea I even exist, and I'm not about to stalk the guy anytime soon. Come on.
No worries. I am certain I will never even meet William Bradley Pitt in my lifetime, anyway, other than in my sweet little dreams.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 9, 2014 at 11:53 PM · Report this
Welcome back, ankolsaur!!! We missed you!
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 9, 2014 at 11:55 PM · Report this
133 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
As Mr Ank apparently chose just to drop a flyover post and will miss any wishes that his Latvian studies progress well, I shall clarify for those remaining that my application here is fairly specific with clearly drawn distinctions.

My best guess is that "the issue" Mr Ank addresses has almost nothing to do with mine. I was referring specifically to how a member of an underprivileged (or is "disprivileged" better?) group may take or interpret specific remarks. My application plays out more along the lines of privilege, which is exercised by most (almost all?) of us in one way or another with varying degrees of unpacking quite frequently, and which can feel like oppression to a Member of the Oppressed Class. I can refer the assembled company to a Native American woman who finds any USian mention or discussion of voting to be colonizingly oppressive; how many of us give that issue deep thought on a regular basis whenever we discuss elections? I am sure Mr Rhone could point out dozens of whitely oppressive things I've said; how instantly he could do so might depend on his experience and whether I remind him of any actual experiences he's had.

I can give a recent example. Recall the hypnosis-fascinated LW. Mr Savage's response had no clear indicator in the letter for his indirectly calling LW Husband's wife. Mr Savage being a same-sexer as well as being behind the editing of the letter and therefore likely to have knowledge not presented to the readers, this did not bother me. When one of the posters put up a vigourous advocacy (not just a defence, but representing such thinking as THE CORRECT WAY to treat an ambiguous letter) of majoritarian thinking in response to such letters which could have been much the same as Mr Savage's response, that did ding my Straightly Oppressive button. It's an automatic reflex, and it doesn't mean that I consigned the poster in question to the Underworld for all eternity the way I suspect I was so consigned by Ms Minerva for my having appeared to have committed the horrible crime of NOT BELIEVING in feminism (if cross-examined, I must admit to this being a wild guess that could well be entirely untrue, but the dramatics fit nicely into my point and I was impressed by her use of capital letters, which made her accusation very evangelical in appearance). I envy Ms Cute her certainty that so many men she knows will never say anything Malely Oppressive. Why my experience is vastly different would take too long to examine now.

Oh, dear, out of time. I hope I've made enough of my point.
Posted by vennominon on January 10, 2014 at 5:58 AM · Report this
I, too, never got the memo that "transgendered" was impolite (or even, per Petosky, "umgrammatical"-- pure baloney).

The discussion here has widened to cover other issues of gender identity, and narrowed to an agreement that people should be called what they want. Not so simple. We're lucky that "you" is ungendered or we'd have more issues in direct address (however, the common honorifics "sir" or "ma'am" do not have an ungendered equivalent). The problem is we don't wear tags indicating our genders. I don't think most male cross-dressers want to be described as "women", whereas transwomen defintely do want to be "women" (and they don't typically want to be called transwoman, they want to be "women", plain and simple).

Consider the poor on-duty cop who encounters a very mannish-looking person wearing a dress. Does he call them "ma'am" (guessing a transsexual), or "sir" (respecting his broad shoulders, big Adam's apple, coarse face, etc)? What about a short-haired titted person in pants and a loose sweatshirt? Is this a bull dyke? an FTM? a woman doing her laundry?
Posted by Hunter78 on January 10, 2014 at 7:01 AM · Report this

"Oppress" is a loaded word, and by extension "oppressed" and "oppressor" (your words). It's like calling one's opponent "fascist"-- useful exchange of opinions is immediately terminated.

Moreover, despite your back-pedaling, I believe your usage was deliberately insulting. Your posts often indicate a belief in a coming revolution where the oppressors will get theirs-- a revolution I certainly don't sense. I'm pretty sure most women don't feel "oppressed". I also consider your opinion that most women are too stupid to recognize their own oppression to be uncharitable. I'm not even sure most gays feel "oppressed"-- they have not shared your traumatic history.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 10, 2014 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Speak for yourself, Hunter.

You are correct, most educated middle- and upper-class white anglo women in north america will not feel oppressed.

You are also correct that oppression is not the word the kids use these days: they talk about choice instead.

It does not follow that oppression does not exist.
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 10, 2014 at 8:49 AM · Report this
@136/137 I'm finding that many well-employed white men feel oppressed.
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2014 at 9:08 AM · Report this
avast @128
>> my impression is that "cis" is a prefix that is useful precisely in the context of trans-centric considerations... Many transgender* individuals would like to simply be considered to be the gender that they present as. >>

That's exactly the point Alison & I are making.
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Hmmmm... I'm confused by the response to L1. I went back and reread it. Every time he used the word "transgendered" (except when referring to the word as a word) he used it as an adjective.
Posted by ephdfw on January 10, 2014 at 10:15 AM · Report this
@SMO...I had an unrequited thing for a guy for years. One big stepping stone for me was when I was out doing something I enjoyed and realized he would never have done this with me, and I actually felt sorry for him.

The BIGGEST thing for me was hearing the Savage Love podcast years ago when Dan damned people who sleep with people who are in love with them when the feelings are not reciprocated, which was exactly what this guy did. I was head-over-heels in love with him, and he knew it, and used me for sex. That made me stop blaming myself and realize what a douche he had been to me.

Now...well, if he knocked on my door, I'd probably do him long and hard for a few days then toss him out. I would still enjoy a roll in the hay with him, but no longer want him as my lover.
Posted by Sten on January 10, 2014 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Some trans* people prefer to be known as people with a transitioned history, and some take issue with "transgender" in general and consider themselves transsexual but not transgender. Some identify as gender queer or simply trans.

There is a transsexual woman on the NPR comment section who literally calls the word "transgender" a violation of her civil rights.

I imagine that's an uncommonly extreme opinion, but it's one that's out there.
Posted by Kaliann on January 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM · Report this
AppleCapital 143
@103 - I think Dan's exactly right that our egos can't get over being dumped, but I can elaborate from personal experience: I think there's also a part of our brain or psyche that tries to busy itself with thoughts in order to hide or forestall the real, deeper feelings underneath. That is to say, you can obsess all day about the person who dumped you, which is actually easier than looking at the cold hard fact that you're lonely and afraid you'll never find anyone else. The obsessive thoughts about the relationship are a kind of relationship proxy. If you can allow yourself to feel scared and alone, really feel it and open up to that vulnerability, I think the obsessive thoughts will dissipate. And – bonus – feeling that vulnerability can open you up to more connection and better relationships.
Posted by AppleCapital on January 10, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Report this
From what I can tell, CIS wrote an article about his/her experiences with transgender adults. CIS is unaware that there are possibly certain linguistic grenades that would offend some members of the transgender community (for lack of a better term). Out of a lack of knowledge and not bigotry, CIS uses a word that gives one member of that community offense. Or perhaps said friend would rather have not been in the article, even anonymously. Fair enough. When writing about a group of people that has an identity different from that of the writer, said writer will probably make mistakes. I suspect CIS sent a draft to his/her friend to ensure there were no issues with the friend's inclusion or the terminology.

Instead of freaking out and pouring out hundreds of words of outrage, the proper response for the friend would have been to say, "Many people in our community don't like the term 'transgendered'; we prefer [insert preferred term here]." And: "You may want to ask so-and-so before including him/her in the article."

CIS is coming from the position of an ally. It does marginalized groups no good to alienate people who are trying to shatter hurtful stereotypes and help others gain understanding.
Posted by DanielleinDC on January 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM · Report this
I find it a big fat waste of time worrying about words like "transgender" and fifteen other ways to label a range of sexual and gender identities. The terms are going to change tomorrow anyway, and narcissists with hair-trigger tempers are going to invent new ones and throw a tantrum if we are not mind readers and know what they want to be called.
Posted by mickey on January 10, 2014 at 11:20 AM · Report this
It's in the AP Guide that "transgendered" is not acceptable - this isn't new, and it was incorporated in the Guide after media activism by savvy LGBTQ folks. It's not open for debate; it's something that's already been established for many years.

This monitoring of transgender and queer people's behavior has got to stop. "They shouldn't be so angry" just dismisses the voices and experiences of the "angry" group. If you find yourself getting defensive or dismissive, probably time to close your mouth and start listening to why people might be pissed off.
Posted by MaggieMechanic on January 10, 2014 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Wow, Dan did it right! The comments, though, that's why all the shit he said in the past is problematic. It taught people that we're just a bunch of whiney shits.

But now he steps up to the plate! Props dude!
Posted by birdpandabirda on January 10, 2014 at 12:10 PM · Report this
@145 mickey: I agree.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 10, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Trans* people need to calm the fuck down and stop attacking anyone who doesn't instinctively know how each and every non-cis person identifies, or their preferred pronouns and adjectives. End of story.
Posted by Grow Up on January 10, 2014 at 2:46 PM · Report this
Sigh... Mickey, Avast, Auntie, nocutename: for people who "don't care" about labels and don't have the time to "keep up" with the latest terminology because you're too busy "bein' allies"? Ya'll sure do spend a lot of time online (3 days now!*) telling your "allies" to quit spending so much time caring about what we're called.

"Transgendered" has never been considered to be OK by trans* people, for the reasons Shadi listed in the original article. Sometimes we bite our tongue when you use it but we think you're kinda dense when you say it (or call us "a transgender")

There is no "moving goal-post". There is though, and has been for quite a few years now, the GLAAD Media Reference Guide, the AP Style Guide, and motherfucking** google. There is no excuse for someone writing an article on trans* people who has access to the internet to be uninformed of accepted terminology. To claim to be writing an article with the intent of educating others on trans* issues and not know that "transgendered" is not an acceptable term is either willful ignorance or sheer ineptitude.


We can take it from here, but go on and say whatever you like and complain about "cis" being a thing, it makes you easier to avoid.

*And some serious time on every previously published slog/savage article regarding the use of "tranny". Tell us all more about how you're being oppressed by not being able to say it anymore.

**I know, the swear means I just crossed the line and I'm a "crazy transgendered lady" who can be disregarded now.
Posted by tacodoomsday on January 10, 2014 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Mr Hunter - That's why I've been careful to explain that I describe circumstances when I PERSONALLY as a singular and individual person and not as a representative of every same-sexer on the planet FEEL oppressed, and generally well-meaning people APPEAR to RESEMBLE oppressors. Obviously other people are going to feel differently.

I assume that the assertion that men are in general privileged over women can be taken as a given - my conclusion from that being that the great majority of women (if not all of them) have perfectly good cause to FEEL oppressed if they do. I think Ms Cute and I might have been slightly at cross purposes, as I set the bar at exercise of privilege and hers is apparently rather higher, but I am interested in whether there are any practical conclusions to be drawn from why our experiences differ and not in trying to convince her or anybody else that she is interpreting her own experiences "incorrectly". I thought, given what she recently related of her daughter, that what she would post in this thread might be something other than what she's actually posted, but I shall just make a note or two for my files and move on.

Now, there may even be some useful conclusion to draw from how many people feel a certain way, although I rather imagine that would be despite your point. Trying to shut someone up because "most members of your group X differ from you"? I think even Claude Erskine Brown could cross-examine his way out of this one.
Posted by vennominon on January 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
nocutename 152
Mr. Ven,
I'm curious: what did I recently post about my daughter that would lead you to expect me to feel oppressed by men? I believe that my recent post about my daughter was that I have heard her indulge in a lot of self-criticism ("I'm so fat and ugly no one will ever want to marry me"), which I lamented. But judging oneself extra-harshly because of culturally distorted ideas of worthiness doesn't translate to me as oppression. I'm quite willing to acknowledge the existence of oppression in the world, whether one feels it or not, but I also think that to a certain extent, one is only oppressed if one feels oneself to be oppressed, and I don't feel myself to be oppressed even when I've been mansplained to (which I have, just not by my friends). I also don't mean to suggest that I expect never to be the recipient of mansplaining. But that, in my opinion, applied to me, doesn't constitute oppression, just annoying behavior.
Posted by nocutename on January 10, 2014 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Completely agree with tacodoomsday. Personally it seems like CIS is leaving out certain details and rather than actually read the friend's email (as he's reiterated he didn't), he's run to Savage for validation knowing he'd get plenty of it in the comments, if nothing else.

And if I'm jumping to conclusions, it's just as much a jump to assume CIS sent their friend a draft that was approved only to have that approval retracted later.

As for all this, "trans people need to stop freaking out and lashing out, we're just trying to help! we're their closest allies!" Who told you that, or are you just satisfied because you "could be worse"? The allies I trust are the ones who, in CIS's situation, would seek clarification from their interviewee BEFORE running to cry here about some bruised feelings.

But go on, keep telling trans people what they really need to do 'if' they want change, as if they're not bringing about that change themselves, without your patronizing help.
Posted by OverAndOut817 on January 10, 2014 at 8:40 PM · Report this
Completely agree with tacodoomsday. Personally it seems like CIS is leaving out certain details and rather than actually read the friend's email (as he's reiterated he didn't), he's run to Savage for validation knowing he'd get plenty of it in the comments, if nothing else.

And if I'm jumping to conclusions, it's just as much a jump to assume CIS sent their friend a draft that was approved only to have that approval retracted later.

As for all this, "trans people need to stop freaking out and lashing out, we're just trying to help! we're their closest allies!" Who told you that, or are you just satisfied because you "could be worse"? The allies I trust are the ones who, in CIS's situation, would seek clarification from their interviewee BEFORE running to cry here about some bruised feelings.

But go on, keep telling trans people what they really need to do 'if' they want change, as if they're not bringing about that change themselves, without your patronizing help.
Posted by OverAndOut817 on January 10, 2014 at 8:41 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - Well, given that it was reasonable to describe your daughter's plight as being oppressed by, if not men absolutely, at least gender roles, it didn't seem much of a stretch to assume that, even if you didn't absolutely feel tremendously (malely) oppressed, that you would at least be able to get into the frame of mind of someone (CIS' friend in this case) who did. It was not a matter of your striking me as someone who walks about feeling oppressed all day, but rather a guess that the equivalent what you experience would probably make me feel oppressed, so that I could probably make my point through your own experience.

As far as that goes, it doesn't seem far off. And, given how the feelings of A and B about experience X can differ, it isn't surprising that you don't feel oppressed, though it might be if you were to profess yourself unable to imagine how or why another woman on the receiving end of equivalent quantity/quality of male privilege could/would.

I could give a long example of something that sometimes triggers me and sometimes doesn't, but it would be really depressing and I haven't really the time for it this late in the evening. Maybe tomorrow if I'm feeling robust.
Posted by vennominon on January 10, 2014 at 8:47 PM · Report this
@53, you are assuming that he's not asking for a second date instead of the more likely scenario that he is asking for a second date and getting turned down. Just because a woman sleeps with a guy doesn't necessarily mean she wants to date him, especially when it's a bar pick up. After all, women have one night stands for the same reason most men do - because they don't want a relationship at that particular time. A woman who wants a second date would avoid one night stands and instead find an actual date.
Posted by Diagoras on January 10, 2014 at 9:34 PM · Report this
For every trans-person that complains about a terminology, there are a thousand that don't. I am distressed by the number of letters that condemn all trans-people by the behaviour, however loud and aggressive, of some.
Posted by Rachael Hk on January 10, 2014 at 10:43 PM · Report this
Ok, so, at the risk of totally projecting all over the SMO issue, I want to point out that there are a lot of assumptions being made.

There is nothing I respect less than unrequited love, and I say that as someone who has been there myself. Unrequited love is for chumps, to quote the awesome writers of A Softer World. I have been both the recipient and the purveyor of unrequited love, and in all cases, it was stupid.

In one case, I had my ideas of the person as completely confused as described by Dan and others in the comments. I have also been on the receiving end of that particular clustercuss. But unrequited love can take other shapes. I have suffered from it by not having the courage to say to the object of my affection exactly what it was that I so wanted to share with them. I've also been in situations in which I could tell the guy was never going to get around to telling me he liked me. I've even been in the position of having a guy tell me, upon seeing each other for the first time in years, that I had caused him long-term psychological problems in college because I had so spurned him. I had had no idea he even liked me that way; in fact, we haf never dated, and that particular young man made a point of leaving whenever I would happen to show up at social function that he was also attending.

So before anyone can say what the deal is here with Unrequited Lover SMO, I think first it is important to know the shape of that love. Did his confess clearly his feelings to this woman?

Because the worst unrequited love is that one bred from the idea that you could have done something more to win your happiness. That's Tue worst, not rejection; unrequited love is not so much about ego than it is about regret.
Posted by radcake on January 10, 2014 at 11:13 PM · Report this
The word transition can be used as a verb: "S(h)e's in the process of transitioning from male to female." I see no problem with using the word transgendered, since it's correctly used in the past tense as an adjective. You don't say someone is "blacked" or "gayed" because they didn't begin as non-black or straight and then invest large amounts of time and money into becoming black or gay. There's no before and after, so no past tense form of the words. Seems quite obvious.
Posted by OwlieBub on January 11, 2014 at 8:05 AM · Report this
Hi, I'm HOPE. I'm so used to avoiding comments sections that it was several days before it occurred to me that there might be some good comments here. And there were! Many, in fact. Thanks to you all.

Just to clarify my story for those who seemed curious, a big part of the reason I didn't date until 25 was anxiety. I had to get pretty drunk to talk to girls, and when I sobered up the next day I'd be too embarrassed to call them.

What helped me to finally start dating/screwing at 25 was a discovery that since I'm sort of well-endowed I could meet girls online by showing them my penis. Or maybe that just gave me the confidence to talk to them. Or maybe it was because I had a job as a lawyer and was in really good shape and that gave me the confidence. And many of those girls did want to pursue a relationship but I turned them down. I regret those in retrospect, especially a couple who probably would have made excellent girlfriends or even more.

When I was in my early thirties and wanted to start looking for a relationship, the anxiety had by that time cost me my job. And obviously the dick pics were out. But I still managed to meet many great women through online dating. And I always thought the dates went well. It's just that none of them were ever interested in a second.

In retrospect, it's pretty clear that my depression had already begun to take hold at that point. It ended up getting much worse, and I ended up hitting rock bottom with a suicide attempt a couple of years ago. But I am recovered from that now, the anxiety is under control with medication, and I am getting back into shape after letting myself go for years. But I started worrying that it might be too late to start looking for relationships. It's the same worry I have as I begin to contemplate re-entering the job market -- I know that employers see a lack of job history at my age as a big red flag.

Some people mentioned that I have had other relationships, and that's true! I currently live with my sister, with whom I get along great, and have a great relationship with my parents. I only have one friend, but we are extremely close. Unfortunately she doesn't live nearby but we talk every day. That one actually almost feels like a romantic relationship. But she loves me, just not in that way. Still, my concern was that I've never been part of a couple, and I haven't done couple things and it's that lack of experience that concerned me.

Someone else mentioned that I don't have any of the bad habits people can form. I like that! I would also add that having read/listened to hundreds of Savage Love(casts) I do have a lot of relationship book smarts.

And I will definitely check out Back Story and Don Jon. Thanks again!
Posted by jabarkas on January 11, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Report this
@160: Is this real or are you a troll? For one thing, if a woman tried this bullshit, turning down a bunch of great guys and then turning 30 and not finding a date, then getting depressed, people would tell her that she aged out of the dating game and that she's to blame for failing to manage her own mental illness. But since you're a man, you get coddled and told you deserve whatever the fuck you want. Fuck you, fuck your sexism, and fuck this misogynistic society.
Posted by Minerva on January 11, 2014 at 4:47 PM · Report this
Gender is a noun, and gendered is an adjective. Why is it then that transgender is considered the appropriate adjective instead of transgendered???
Posted by hammertime on January 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Hulk 163

Posted by Hulk Http:// on January 11, 2014 at 8:04 PM · Report this
@161 Minerva,

Wrong thread I think you wanted this one.

Posted by Married in MA on January 11, 2014 at 8:42 PM · Report this
Talk about perpetuating stereotypes. The usual response when someone misuses a part of speech is to point out the error gently. I'd suggest your action was the correct one - someone who goes nuts on you because of what is essentially a grammar error is not a stable person and not good friend material. Follow Dan's advice on word usage and be glad you dodged this particular bullet.
Posted by GG1000 on January 11, 2014 at 9:05 PM · Report this
@149: Thank you.
@150 tacodoomsday and others with the same issue: See @149's comment and take note.
I have no problem with what individuals of any kind prefer to be called, if that's what makes them happy. However, it's one thing to be respectful of others, and quite another to be forever slammed on someone else's shit list regardless of what you do to be supportive, just because the politically correct 'term"-of-the-week wasn't properly used. End of story.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 11, 2014 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Dear Hope. I'd suggest you start by making friends with some women you like. Not women you're attracted to, but just ones you like as people. Join a gym and go to yoga and talk to the 50 year old lady next to you wearing a wedding ring in a friendly way with no agenda. Ask a female co-worker to a professional lunch and talk about work. Join a group related to something you're interested in and be friendly with some of the female members. Once you get used to treating women like people rather than potential dates/sex partners/girlfriends, then try doing that with a girl you're attracted to. Focus on connecting with her on a human level instead of a sexual one at first and see what develops.
Posted by GG1000 on January 11, 2014 at 9:09 PM · Report this
@166: I'm standing pat on my feelings expressed in @74 & @75, too.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 11, 2014 at 9:18 PM · Report this
@157 Rachael Hk: You have a good point that not everyone behaves the same way, but I wasn't condemning anybody.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 11, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this
Okay. Ol' Griz is calling this a night.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 11, 2014 at 9:26 PM · Report this
Hope [and 160?],

37 yo and no gf? 25 yo virgin? Never more than 1 repeat date?

The problem is with you. Women are uncomfortable with you. Your lack of confidence. Your hygiene? Are you gay?
Posted by Hunter78 on January 12, 2014 at 7:08 AM · Report this
@171 I wasn't asking why I haven't had a relationship yet -- I already know the answer to that. But I still appreciate the speculation!
Posted by jabarkas on January 12, 2014 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Matt at writes why 'transgendered' is grammatically correct. As does Pauline Park, a self-described gender rights activist.……
Posted by JustAGuy98989 on January 12, 2014 at 2:38 PM · Report this
@150: "Transgendered" has never been considered to be OK by trans* people ...

Sorry, but that's simply not true. For example, see Kate Bornstein's 1994 book Gender Outlaw. "Transgendered" was commonly used by many trans people to describe ourselves in the 1990s, and some of us still prefer it today.

@162: Exactly. I identify as transgendered, as in "differently gendered". I have a degree in English, and I'll keep my "ed", thank you very much.
Posted by zapote on January 12, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
@166 Cool beans, but the "end of (the) story" is that while "transgendered" is not even close to the worst thing anyone has ever been called, "transgender" is not a "term of the week" but an old and easily figure-out-able preferred usage that someone writing an article on trans people can and should be able to figure out.
Posted by tacodoomsday on January 12, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
nocutename 176
@175: See #s 173, 174.
Posted by nocutename on January 12, 2014 at 5:57 PM · Report this
Oh, please. With all due respect to Ms Petosky, that pseudo-presciptivist grammatical nonsense is simply wrong. I'm gendered. So is she. So are you. I'm also right-handed, brown-haired, and hazel-eyed. There is exactly one reason that "transgender" is preferable to "transgendered", and that's the same reason that "color" is preferable to "colour": local contemporary convention. That's the only reason.

Hey, how 'bout "trans"? Did you notice how easily it slipped in to the text of your article? Just please, don't call me a transwoman or, god forbid, a trans* woman. Ugh. I find both those constructions obnoxious.

But guess what? I'll get over it if they become the accepted norm, just like I got over "email" as an unhyphenated noun, and even (though I shudder to admit it) the word "blog".
Posted by ZazzleMoonBreaker on January 12, 2014 at 7:23 PM · Report this
Bonefish 178
Here's the thing about PC terminology:

It's legitimately offensive when someone uses a term that has developed (or always had) an offensive context. For the sake of simplicity, I'll leave out the dynamic wherein slurs are re-appropriated by the group they're used against.

There are many words that have pretty much always been favored in a hateful context (eg, "faggot"). There are others that used to be the "official" term, but over time have shifted towards being preferred primarily by bigots (eg, "negro" and "Chinaman"). There are words that have been labeled politically incorrect due to iffy implications, and which mostly ignorant people use whether they mean well or not (eg, "Oriental," which was mostly abandoned due to its implication that Europe was the center of the world).

The reason these words are reasonable to take offense at is because, in their current context, they clearly reflect either hostility or unreasonable ignorance on behalf of the person using it.

This is not true for words that are merely freshly out of date for obscure academic reasons, or whose appropriateness is still in debate. It is not clear or obvious to most that "transgendered" communicates otherness or inferiority while "transgender" does not.

If a word requires an argument unpacked by a clever linguist or expert academic to explain why one is more appropriate than the other, that's a sign that it isn't reasonable to assign bigotry to everyone who uses that word (and it sounds like even academic circles haven't made up their minds on whether or not "transgendered" may actually be the better term).

There are reasonable and unreasonable levels of ignorance on all subjects, including PC terminology. A word that became obsolete three decades ago is "outdated." A word that was declared obsolete at last night's TED talk is not. Someone who doesn't know that "tranny" is offensive because bigots have been favoring it lately is unreasonably ignorant. Someone who didn't read a 6-month-old book/essay that dissected the vague etymological implications of "transgendered" and argued how it could theoretically be less accurate or affirming than "transgender" is reasonably ignorant.

This isn't to say that people shouldn't switch to "transgender." If someone has a reason to believe that this is the better term, it's perfectly appropriate to correct those using "transgendered" and to argue your case. That hypothetical vague essay I made up earlier could be perfectly on the money. You can even boast about how much more clever and up-to-date you are compared to this other person.

But it's disingenuous to behave as though this is exactly the same as their having called you a "he-she." Unless and until "transgendered" becomes favored significantly more by bigots or unreasonably ignorant people and "transgender" by the rest, it's inaccurate to universally interpret bigotry in its use.

All that said, trans people go through some shit, so I can only blame them so much for being a little too high on alert for bigotry.

TL;DR: Reasonably ignorant people should be corrected, yes; but it's only unreasonably ignorant bigots that should be fought.
Posted by Bonefish on January 12, 2014 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Oh, please. With all due respect to Ms Petosky, that pseudo-presciptivist grammatical nonsense is simply wrong. I'm gendered. So is she. So are you. I'm also right-handed, brown-haired, and hazel-eyed. There is exactly one reason that "transgender" is preferable to "transgendered", and that's the same reason that "color" is preferable to "colour": local contemporary convention. That's the only reason.

Hey, how 'bout "trans"? Did you notice how easily it slipped in to the text of your article? Just please, don't call me a transwoman or, god forbid, a trans* woman. Ugh. I find both those constructions obnoxious.

But guess what? I'll get over it if they become the accepted norm, just like I got over "email" as an unhyphenated noun, and even (though I shudder to admit it) the word "blog".
Posted by ZazzleMoonBreaker on January 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM · Report this
nocutename 180
Thank you Bonefish!
Posted by nocutename on January 12, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
@178: I thank you, too, Bonefish!
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 12, 2014 at 10:39 PM · Report this
@175: See @74 and @75 too, while you're at it.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 12, 2014 at 10:59 PM · Report this

I'm the writer of the first letter. In discussing its publication with a couple friends, I went back to my original email. The question Shadi Petoskey answers here is not quite what I meant.

The original text of my letter was edited, I presume mostly for space. Here was the original phrasing: " there a term that is preferred to 'transgender' or 'transgendered'? I recently wrote an article that described a MTF person I know as transgender.... The article was generally positive about transgendered persons I have known (she is one of many)."

I checked the article draft, too. I used the -ed ending on some occasions, but not all. This needed cleaning up, clearly; then again, it was just a draft. (Using the AP style guide can come after structure and message are nailed down.)

My initial question wasn't really about the -ed ending at all. It was about whether there was a *completely different* term that is coming into use (in the manner of changing "Orientals" to "Asians," as Bonefish usefully mentions above). I read the ultra-lengthy accusatory emails from my "friend" to the point where I could take it no more, but found no clear answer.

Through the column and comments, I've discovered that transgender is still the most common word (despite many other options), and that spelling is more important to some folks than I realized. Thanks, everyone!
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM · Report this
To Hi_It's_CIS @183,

I repeat my question @106:

My question for CIS is: if you actually want to know what your trans friend is on about, why ask Dan, a cis man who doesn’t know either of you? Why not just read your trans friend’s emails? That’s the truly weird part.

My guess is that you don’t actually want to know what your trans friend is on about. You want some sympathy and to be reassured that your friend is crazy and that you don’t have to do difficult things like homework and reading angry emails and engaging participation.

I get it that you don’t have to read angry emails if you don’t want to. That’s your right and that’s fine. But it makes no sense to then write to Dan to ask what was in them.

*** *** ***

Have you had a chance to let your friend cool down and ask her this precise question, by any chance?
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 13, 2014 at 5:11 AM · Report this
Hi Alison. I felt that this person's behavior was reaching the point of harassment. It is very unlikely that I could welcome the person back.

What I wanted to know is if there was new terminology coming into common use.

This person has some unusual opinions, and her take on whether a word is OK to use may not be the common perspective on that issue. Going from her preference alone, I would not know if a word she liked was a commonly used word or not. So even if I had read everything she said -- and it was long, and weird, and sometimes abusive -- that wouldn't answer the question.

Dan Savage would be well-positioned to know if "transgender" had been upended in favor of a totally different, new term. That's why I asked him specifically.

Cheers, and be well.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 13, 2014 at 6:08 AM · Report this
1) If you knew what word she preferred, you could google it.

2) If the word she prefers is something like “woman,” then it’s not about trendy terminology.

3) If you aren’t current on preferred terminologies (by hanging out on blogs, for instance); if the only person you know to ask is Dan ... you are possibly not well-placed to be writing an article about transfolk in the first place.

4) If you can’t be bothered to read her letters for content because they are abusive, I can’t see that you even care about the question. You don’t respect her opinion.

5) You aren’t willing to invest more than minimal effort to find the answer, which doesn’t sound like someone who cares about the question either.

This is why I have trouble reading your question as anything but a call for validation.
Posted by Alison Cummins on January 13, 2014 at 7:07 AM · Report this
@185, if this person has unusual opinions, why did her reaction lead you to kill the article?
Posted by EricaP on January 13, 2014 at 7:40 AM · Report this
Meh. You don't know me, lady.

Thanks for the help, everyone. Have a good one.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 13, 2014 at 8:40 AM · Report this
@157 This.

If he'd written an article about colored women, and a black woman flipped out about his terminology, would people leap in with their own tales about angry black women, and suggestions to avoid them because they're so touchy and easily offended?

If he'd written an article about lesbians, and his friend the bisexual freaked out about being lumped in just because she's only slept with women in the time he's known her, would there be so many "Oh, yeah, bisexuals are the worst!" stories tossed out?

Or would everyone just say, "Wow, that one person you know is really a bit off, isn't she? Nice to have her out of your life, isn't it?"
Posted by strangeway on January 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM · Report this
(P.S. CIS, it's always a good idea to ask other people how they identify themselves when writing about them. Different people are different.

I have no problem being called transgender, or transgendered, or trans, or transman, or just dude. Likewise, you can call me Dine, or Navajo, or Native American, or Indian, or even Injun. None of it bothers me. But I know some of it *does* bother other folks, and I would never assume I knew how someone else preferred to be identified.)
Posted by strangeway on January 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this
smajor82 191
@188 When pressed on an issue, you resort to dismissiveness with a hint of misogyny ... I'm getting a vision of your future ... what's that I see? Why, it's more angry emails!
Posted by smajor82 on January 13, 2014 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Re: the guy who is 37 and has never been in a relationship, I wonder whether there is something he is doing that is a turnoff or dealbreaker for the women he is dating. He doesn't seem to know what it is, and I'm not going to speculate. However, I wonder whether it would be possible for him to contact some of his old dates, explain that he is on a self-improvement kick, and ask for feedback about what he did that made them uninterested in a relationship. Then he could try to implement that feedback in future. Likewise, if he has a sister or a good female friend, maybe he could ask her for advice about how to be more successful at dating.
Posted by MissBoring on January 13, 2014 at 1:25 PM · Report this
All of this makes me want to crawl under a rock and hide from the world forever.
Posted by Ow-my-head on January 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Misogyny, @191? ...I'm also a lady. You wanna stop telling me what to call my own gender? Thx.

Anyway, still meh. I can't please everyone, and I'm feeding the trolls quite enough just replying to you. I feel @193's pain.

Thanks to all. Take care.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 13, 2014 at 6:12 PM · Report this
@191 Being a lady doesn't mean you are incapable of misogyny. And calling someone else a "lady" without first knowing their preferred terms, especially when doing so in a dismissive way strikes me as offensive. In fact, offensive in the exact same way as writing an article about somebody without first asking them what their preferred terms are to describe themselves. Although the latter is worse.
Posted by uncreative on January 13, 2014 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Mako&Muldrow 196
Ok,just to summarize what I think is going on here (and I could of course be wrong):

(1) people get to choose what they call themselves, and this is really important to them for lots of reasons.

(2) people might belong to the same community but still have very unique, specific, detailed, and most of all strong preferences about what they get called.

(3) both people-who-name-people AND people-who-get-named-by-themselves-and/or-other-people take themselves VERY SERIOUSLY (and you should too! or else!)

(4) about 800,000 children die annually from infectious diarrhea worldwide. DIE. ANNUALLY. that's like 1.5 kids per minute, no big deal. if we spent as much time championing clean water and basic medicine, as we do deciding what to call each other and whether or not to be outraged, imagine what we could accomplish. don't even get me started on other and more complex diseases.

(5) if you are still struggling for a reason to chill out, begin by meditating on your home's on-demand hot & cold running water.

(6) go do something nice for each other! seriously. go be allies (and remember, allies is not a unidirectional word; it implies that both parties are strengthened by the alliance). somebody owes somebody else here cupcakes. cupcakes for everybody.

(7) stepping off soap-box now. apologies, and I probably deserve whatever criticism is about to get heaped my way.

PS: In a major update to that column several months ago (wherein I last over-exercised my fascination with medical science): Swedish doctors are now performing uterus transplants, with the goal of complete pregnancy.
Posted by Mako&Muldrow on January 13, 2014 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Thanks, guy. I appreciate your perspective.

I live in a developing country. That is the country where my article was intended to run. It's a majority-Muslim nation, and the people who are transgender here face very serious risks and often cannot reasonably be expected to speak up on their own behalf. I'm a rare lucky person who would speak under my own name about my extensive exposure to them in my home country in a positive light. Toxic remarks from so many relatively privileged people in the first world make it hard to stand up for these virtually-invisible people elsewhere. Big, big sigh.

I moved here to do global health work, and yes, there are many preventable child deaths here. Oh, and my home does not have hot running water on demand! That's not standard everywhere, y'all. If all you have to worry about is whether a lady called you "lady," then, wow, lucky you.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 13, 2014 at 10:12 PM · Report this
Mako&Muldrow 198
I'm not a guy. But you can call me that, if you send cupcakes.
Posted by Mako&Muldrow on January 13, 2014 at 10:30 PM · Report this
Cupcakes for you, lady or whomever.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 13, 2014 at 10:53 PM · Report this
HOPE- Since you have no trouble attracting partners but cannot keep a relationship going I sugest you take a page from an old dating show. Have a friend set you up on a blind date that they record. Afterwards have the person give their overall impression of you and say if they would or would not date you again and why. Then watch the tape to see what habits and ticks you might have that could scare off a potential mate. You might find that what you think is cool and sexy is coming off as rude and serial killerish.
After you get the information make a seriou effort to curb your more offensive habits and go on a second blind date and do the same thing. I hope this helps!
Posted by bxtorr19 on January 14, 2014 at 1:47 AM · Report this
smajor82 201
@194 Ha! I've never heard anyone but old white guys address people as "lady". You sure you're not my Uncle Tony? Keep up the good work over there, doll face. The world needs more broads like you.
Posted by smajor82 on January 14, 2014 at 4:41 AM · Report this
@196 (5):

How I wish more people would appreciate the value of our most important commodity: clean, potable, water. Do yourself a favor, try to figure out how you would obtain drinking water w/o a ready supply of bottles from "somewhere else" if your local water source becomes unavailable. That is what people in WV and fracking zones are living with. This is happening because we, as a Society, are letting it happen. And, if you did that little exercise I suggested, correcting the problems after they occur are very, very difficult.

Posted by Married in MA on January 14, 2014 at 7:10 AM · Report this
I think Dan should sponsor Ven to Sochi.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 14, 2014 at 12:19 PM · Report this
At CIS. When anyone comes out and makes public a portion of their vulnerable inner self (as gay, as a vegan in a hunt-and-BBQ family, as a different gender, as a thoughtful guy who secretly enjoys The Bachelor), it's a bit like adolescence. They hear questions as judgement, jokes as threats, friendliness as sarcasm. And they may lash out in very unpleasant ways. Don't take it personally, just be kind.
Posted by beccoid on January 14, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Alanmt 205
Neither past trauma nor coming out are get out of being an asshole free cards.
Posted by Alanmt on January 14, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
Mmm hmm. Cis is doing damage to the English language.
Posted by Learned Hand on January 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM · Report this

I'm one of the people Dan mentioned when he wrote, "There are tons of women your age who have similar dating histories..."

I didn't get into my first relationship until about 8 months ago. Not only that, I was a virgin when I began that relationship. Oh, and I'm 41. Yes, I literally was the 40yo virgin.

I'm not gonna lie to you, while much of the relationship has been freaking fantastic, a lot of it was really hard too. My girlfriend is also 41 and she's been in quite a few relationships throughout her life. I had to learn many things that a lot of other guys with more experience know intuitively.

The best thing I can tell you is to educate yourself. There are tons of great books out there on relationships. One that I would recommend is No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover (awful title but as a feminist ally, I can say that it's not as bad as its title makes it out to be).

Hang in there buddy. Educate yourself. Put yourself out there. Be honest. Take risks because that's the only way anybody ever learns.
Posted by lonetomato808 on January 14, 2014 at 4:57 PM · Report this
Mako&Muldrow 208
just curious, do we know if Cis' first language is English?

for example, if we knew that she's not a native-speaker, would that make a difference in how we feel about her choice of diction / syntax and method of addressing others?
Posted by Mako&Muldrow on January 14, 2014 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Thanks. I'm a native English speaker, but I was having that thought myself. When you learn your third language as an adult, you get used to glancing past small errors and being wrong a lot. What's an "-ed" here and there, really?

In my second language, the pattern indefinite article + adjective can be standard and non-offensive (i.e., "a transgender"). My third language has no articles at all, but rather classifiers that are used rarely and in ways English speakers would not expect. Petosky's idea that indefinite article + adjective = oppression makes literally no sense in that language and its close linguistic cousins... which are spoken by over a billion people. My second language is spoken by another 400 million.

From 8000 miles away, First World Complaints sure can sound pretty provincial.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 14, 2014 at 8:50 PM · Report this
HOPE, I would not go announcing that you're not very romantically experienced straight up. Not because it's anything to be ashamed of or worried about, but because it's not the most interesting or important thing about you, and saying it suggests you think it IS, which potentially IS a problem.

I saw a guy on a dating site lately whose first line was "I'm schizophrenic." Schizophrenia does not mean he's undateable! But it should have been at the end of his profile, after he'd told you why he was awesome, or something he told dates after he'd built some kind of connection with them. Not TOO late, of course, but not immediately.

If asked about exes, I would say something like "I've dated a lot, but it's never really got to the point of anything longterm." It's true, and sounds totally unremarkable. That'll probably do for the first date or two. On date three, you can open up a bit more. But don't treat it like some big horrible defect they have to get over. Because it isn't. If someone is pressing you for WHY you haven't had an LTR (yet not making you uncomfortable, I had one guy who was practically making interview questions out of it, not romantic), you can say "Ehh, I wasn't really looking for anything serious when I was younger, or if I was I had some dumb ideas about where to look, and unfortunately I was off the market with depression for a while in my 30s, but I'm much happier now." Again, put like that, it sounds pretty unremarkable.

I'll offer you the benefit of some self-therapy I gave myself recently. I've had relationships but not that many, and not that much sex, (so hey you're ahead there!) and the relationships tended to be short or weird or I didn't feel they really counted. At any rate, I had this unacknowledged fear, the same fear you have, that there was something wrong with me. I didn't want to think about it for a long time, I wanted to be positive and pretend it was just about bad luck and so on (and I had HAD plenty of that). But one day (while going through a depressive patch too) I thought, okay, I give up pretending I don't feel like this, let's poke it with a stick and see what happens. What COULD be so wrong with me that I can't ever have a happy relationship? Am I ugly or unsanitary? No, I can point to a lot of people who have been or still are attracted to me. Is it that I'm unlikeable? No, I have a lot of friends. Is it that I'm incapable of attraction and caring? No, I have a history of that too. Can I not live with people? Nope, done that, just not with a partner. Am I actually evil? Invaded any countries? Tortured anyone? Pretty sure I'd remember. Okay, so what is left that's so wrong with me?

And all I could find at the bottom of the heap was... what's wrong with me is the fear that something is wrong with me. And that's it. Total Fear Itself situation. It makes me second-guess my feelings, panic about people finding me out, and rush out of situations early because I'm scared of not being able to handle them later. So all that sucks. But there is nothing ACTUALLY wrong with me and I don't NEED to feel like this. I could go on dates and feel curious and relaxed, not on edge yet determined to perform.

I can't give you the happy ending to this story yet, but I felt so much better once I thought that. I'm going on a second date tomorrow. Good luck! Try to stop being scared.
Posted by Green Lizard on January 15, 2014 at 6:49 PM · Report this
Honestly, I think that Hi_It's_CIS is straight up trolling us.

She's a woman, in a position to write an article about transgender people, in a third-world Muslim country. Process that for a second. A woman. Quite probably a *European* woman. In a third-world Muslim country. Who is getting *published*. With articles about gender issues. Pull the other one.

Then, of course, realize it's an article that she writes without first talking to the people she writes about, but nonetheless sends drafts to them (or maybe *just* sends a draft to the one acquaintance she has who will go totally nuclear about it?) after the bulk of the writing is done. And then cuts off all contact with her friend that doesn't like what she wrote, because the friend is acting totally crazy and unreasonable. But in spite of the objections being crazy and unreasonable, she also kills the article, because the friend--with whom she cut off all contact, because that friend is so crazy and unreasonable--is upset. Kills the article, even though that friend is in another country and in no position to read the final product. Kills the article even though she didn't care enough about her friend's opinion to ask about it before writing.

And even though she initially claimed her letter has been edited, and the "ed" thing had *nothing* to do with the friend's objections, she's now glommed on to the "Yeah, it's a language thing! If you knew more languages, you wouldn't care about grammar anymore! First world problems, LOL!" solution that was offered her here.

I had to pull the batteries out of my bullshit detector because I was afraid of going deaf.
Posted by Vila on January 16, 2014 at 10:53 PM · Report this
Also, if she's really in a developing Muslim country 8000 miles away, she's doing her posting between 4am and 9am. Kind of a funny time for a somebody with a day job to be internet surfing, eh?

If she's *not* somebody with a day job--if she's writing unsolicited articles about trans issues freelance--what's her visa say she's in the country for? And where does she sell her articles about things the locals don't care about?
Posted by Vila on January 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
There's a hilarious Vice article on trans life in which the author also objects, as a side note, to the word 'transgendered'. It's under the honourable mentions in the entry for T.…
Posted by LilyAngelica on January 19, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
There's a hilarious Vice article on trans life in which the author also objects, as a side note, to the word 'transgendered'. It's under the honourable mentions in the entry for T.…
Posted by LilyAngelica on January 19, 2014 at 2:24 PM · Report this
Hi. In light of comments, I recognized that killing the whole article was a bit of an overreaction.

Recognizing the good the article could do, I re-edited the piece to remove former friend, contacted a few of the other people for their response, heard some pretty big enthusiasm, and sent the revised piece to my editor here in Bangladesh.

The response has been hearty and positive. You can read the article here:…

Stay well, everyone.
Posted by Hi_It's_CIS on January 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM · Report this
Okay, seriously, in the nicest way, HOPE, get thee to a therapist. If you are attractive enough that women will have sex with you, but not go out with you again afterwards, you've probably got some personality issues that are getting in your way.
There's still hope for you, but only if you become aware of what your issues are. Don't be a 47-year-old guy who's never had a serious relationship.
Posted by sweatermoose on January 21, 2014 at 9:33 AM · Report this
For CIS (or, more accurately, his nutso friend, whatever gender-noun is applicable), from Dan's review of Sarah Palin's book:

"And if I may: Gay people have been persecuted for years, for centuries, for motherfucking millennia. Really persecuted, primarily by people of faith. And our persecution didn't take the form of straight people wishing us well but failing to use precisely the right phrase. No, we were burned at the stake, arrested, imprisoned, committed, lobotomized, thrown out of our homes, and fired from our jobs; our children were taken from us, our partners were barred from our hospital rooms during medical emergencies, and on and on and on. And yet... somehow... the joy of giving and receiving blowjobs wasn't drained from our minds and hearts.

If centuries of persecution didn't ruin blowjobs for gay people, Sarah, "happy holidays" isn't going to destroy anyone's Christmas."

If someone uses the wrong word, with the right intentions...big fucking deal! Ignore him, teach him, whatever. Happy Holidays!
Posted by dadwouldbeproud on January 22, 2014 at 10:52 PM · Report this
To Ricardo, #73, #80 & #91
regarding the term "cis" - it is my understanding that the terms "cis" and "trans" come from chemistry. From the dictionary -

"trans-" is "a prefix used in the names of chemical compounds that are geometric isomers having two identical atoms or groups attached on opposite sides of a molecule divided by a given plane of symmetry" while

"cis-" is "a prefix used in the names of chemical compounds that are geometric isomers having two identical atoms or groups attached on the same side of a molecule divided by a given plane of symmetry"

in other words; trans is where the two pieces are on opposite sides (body and mental gender) and cis is where the two pieces are on the same side (body and mental gender)

So it is not an invented term, just less well known.
Posted by EPW on January 30, 2014 at 8:03 AM · Report this
ForkyMcSpoon 219
As was pointed out, the -ed suffix can sometimes make adjectival forms out of nouns.

As in "brown-haired" and "left-handed" or even "horse-faced" or any number of things.

I think the problem is that the derivation did not go in the order people are thinking it goes now. And it's ok if people want to prefer "transgender" to "transgendered" but I don't think it's ok to impute all sorts of negative motivations to people using a normal grammatical process.

Gender is a noun. It can be made into an adjective, "gendered". Hence you can say something is "male gendered". But if they're gendered in a way that crosses (i.e. the meaning of "trans-") from the assigned/birth gender to the opposite gender, then they were "transgendered".

Likewise, someone could complain that they do not have a "transgender", and that "a transgender" is not a thing. They have a male or female gender. Since they transitioned from the opposite sex, they are transgendered.

Really, it's a pretty minor point and it's not a case of the -ed suffix being used to dehumanize or imply that their transgenderism is something that happened to them. The -ed suffix is used simply because "gender" is (grammatically) a noun, and hence it took an -ed suffix to become an adjective. It doesn't NEED that suffix, and it certainly seems that "transgender" is the more common term (when coming before "person", "man" or "woman", "transgender" was several times more common on Google results, while it was about a 55-45 split before "people"). It seems that "transgender" is now firmly an adjective without any additional ending, even though "gender" is not.

The reason that you wouldn't say "gayed" or "blacked"? Because those are and were already adjectives. Simple as that.

Honestly, as a linguist it can be quite annoying to read activists (my experience being with feminism/gender studies) talk about language...
Posted by ForkyMcSpoon on February 4, 2014 at 2:45 PM · Report this
I can't stand when wishy washy people write 'cough, cough' in their sentences. Own your words. Say what you mean. No one can hear you and you aren't writing a movie script where a person would say the line out loud after coughing. It's just lazy. If you're going to write a strong statement, then own it or don't write it at all.
While I'm on it, the other one is to write a really solid post and make some valid points in it, only to tack on at the end, 'just saying'. There is no need for the 'just saying' because again, if your words come from a place of understanding and support for others then those who agree are going to be just as clued up and those who 'debate' and 'argue' are going to do so whether you do the written descriptive equivalent of covering your head with your hands or not.
So, those who do those lazy communication techniques, knock it off. Just say what you mean and if you can't handle that others disagree then maybe you ought not be saying it at all.
Posted by Frederica Bimble on March 25, 2014 at 10:42 PM · Report this

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