Updates – please see end..
These days, I expect transphobic remarks and insults to come from the mainstream media (such as Saturday Night Live) and the extreme alleged-Christian right. But when they come from people who you would think are your allies for civil rights and equality, it continues to show that we need more education within the equality and Democratic Party fronts on the lives of transgender people, especially transgender women.
It is very accepted and understood in the equality community that the use of the word “tranny” is an insult to transgender people in the same manner that the “N-word” is towards African Americans and the three letter “F-word” is towards Gays and Lesbians.
The 8th Edition of the GLAAD Media Guide refers to the word “tranny”:
Defamatory: “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “trannie,” “tranny,” “shim,” “gender-bender”
These words only serve to dehumanize transgender people and should not be used.
While we are not surprised when our enemies use this type of language in Facebook posts, it is a little more alarming when someone who currently is (or in this case, just recently was) in a leadership role of a major political organization involved with equality and rights for women would make transphobic remarks.
This relates to a Facebook post made by Deb Dale. Until recently, Deb Dale was the executive director of Arizona List, an organization which is dedicated to “electing pro-choice Democratic women to every level of office in Arizona.”
In her posting, made while on vacation in Bali, refers to a Thai startup airline who has opened hiring of flight attendants to include transgender women. She referred to the airline as an “all tranny airline”. Then, she takes a little swipe at pre-op trans women:
If she was on a plane with an all-African American flight crew, would she have referred to that as an “all ni**er airline”? I surely doubt it.
When this post was made (Saturday, January 29), she was still listed on Arizona List's website as their executive director. As of Thursday, February 3, her name has been removed from the site.
I have attempted to reach out to Ms. Dale upon reading this message. Although she has been on her Facebook page since Saturday, she has not responded to my outreach.
With that said, it gets me wondering if these hateful feelings towards transgender women, especially those who are pre-op run further in the Arizona List organization and in the Arizona Democratic Party. If a transgender woman (including a pre-op) who has a pro-choice standing on the Democratic ticket runs for political office, will Arizona List endorse them?
There are many transgender women like myself who registered Democratic and pro-choice. Just as I feel that transgender women and men should be given equal, non-discriminatory treatment where it comes to employment, housing, credit and public accommodation, I also feel that a woman should be permitted to terminate a pregnancy, especially in cases of rape and incest and without unnecessary restrictions.
I will be honest with you, back in 2006, I was afraid to “come out” and finish my transition fearing this state as being a hostile place. However, I have discovered that Arizona is a major state for activism for transgender. Several nationally known trans activists live in this state and an organization that helps transgender youth is based here in Arizona. Therefore, there is no excuse for anyone who is in a leadership role of an organization to take the time to educate themselves on transgender issues from a political standpoint.
There's too much hostility in this state coming from the other side. Let's not add to that hostility. Please educate yourselves and keep the welfare of transgender women and men (including those who have not completed surgery) in mind when developing platforms and policy.
2/4 update: I finally heard back from Ms. Dale. She said her comments were not intended to hurt anyone and that she has other trans friends and that's the word they use. Tere are some in the African American community who casually use the N word in the same context but when spoken in public (or semi-public), it is not appropriate. I told her about the report that came out from the NCTE today regarding the reality of the state of transgender people where it comes to employment, housing and harrassment. The transgender community needs to be taken seriously as this is the direction of our life, not just playing dress-up on Friday nights. People, please watch your words.. they can hurt and you may not realize it until after the fact. =m