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When trans concerns are centered on white, gay, cis men.

Since I know many who are likely to read this don't know about Ms. Amanda Simpson and what has happened in reference to the announcement about her I'm going to give some background.  Those who know this can safely skip the next three paragraphs.

Recently, President Obama appointed Amanda Simpson to be the Senior Technical Adviser for the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security.  What brought attention is that Ms. Simpson being out as a trans woman, has served on the board of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and is being considered by many to be an activist.  She has been incorrectly claimed to be the first trans person appointed by a president, though by the information available to me she is one of a very small number to have been appointed.  There have already been at least two people who identify as or have histories as transgender or transsexual persons appointed previously, one by the current administration and one fourteen years ago.

What has been written about Ms. Simpson varies in a way that I find predictable, everything from recognition of her background and education, which are impressive, through claims that she only received the appointment to promote an unrelated agenda (that she was not actually qualified or that there obviously had to be a more qualified candidate,) and, of course, straight into claims that being trans means one is not capable of being qualified by definition. The later two usually include a dose of ungendering for Ms. Simpson.

Her appointment also became the subject of derisive remarks and at least one skit on The Late Show with David Letterman (hereafter “Letterman” as that is the convention among many.)  The skit in question is a trope that has been used more than once in movies.  Letterman's show has provoked outrage over the depictions as being transphobic and requests or demands for an apology.

Today I found a piece posted about the Letterman situation which takes exception to the content of the show, but does so in a way with which I completely disagree.  It is on, a property of Diversity Guides LLC, which appears to be owned by Brian McNaught.  You can read the biography of him published on the site here:  I would suggest doing so to understand that this post has significance beyond being “just a blog post.”  In particular, that this is a person who provides professional diversity training and, thus, has a position of influence that is significant.

The post:

Can you spot the critical failure?  There are several problems, but there's one which really underlies them all.  I'll give you a hint: “His reaction of disgust was not to Simpson’s sex reassignment surgery but to his horror that he had been involved with a man.”

In his effort to define the matter strictly as one of homophobia, Mr. McNaught expresses transphobia.  He explicitly ungenders Ms. Simpson.  He directly states that he views her as “really” a man, exactly what Letterman's skit portrays, and makes this view the root-cause of the homophobia claim; his entire post requires acceptance of this belief.

Questioning Transphobia calls this Transphobic Tropes #1 – “Really” A Man/Woman.  I find it particularly important because I see it as the dangerous first step in #5: the trans deceiver, which is used to justify violence against trans people and leads to the increasing list of names on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This belief says that trans people – that their bodies by virtue of existence – are lies and affronts, and that not only do they deserve whatever happened but that whomever does it to them was actually the victim.  In the simplest terms, this belief gets people attacked/killed and gives social justification, even defense, to their attackers/murders.

P.S. This has been cross-posed in a slightly modified version from my personal journal.

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