Dealing With Classic Derailing When Teaching About Trans Lives

Crossposted on Musings From Hedon

For the past two weeks I've been all over the damned net trying to maintain my temper while dealing with a very depressingly high concentration of white middle to upper class gay men posting comments on various websites in reply to articles or blogs about the SNL Estro-Maxx sketch or the Craig Ferguson “My long lost half sister Peg” sketch. There are reasons so many trans folk are losing faith and trust in a large chunk of the gay community, feeling like we're conveniant tools to help fight their pet causes but to be discarded or thrown under a bus when WE need them. Honestly I actually have less issues with femisogynist lesbians bashing us the last two weeks than with smug dismissive gay men.

The general consencus among these white Gay en is that we in the trans community should just lighten the fuck up because these two skits were all in good fun, just harmless jokes doncha know? We're just too damn oversensitive, we need to lighten up and grow a funnybone.

Yadda yadda yadda.

I've cited Derailing for Dummies so many times the past two weeks I almost have the whole bloody thing memorized.

So I'm going to paste a couple things here. The comment of mine that got the most likes on Disqus and got the most people saying “Okay maybe you're right” of the hundreds I've posted the past two weeks, and the classic derail attempt it was in reply to.

The Derail attempt. (After I'd been pushed to start cussing in frustration at the bullshit lengths these guys were going to to avoid admitting the harm being done. 500 points if you can spot the classic derail attempt).

“It's really too bad that you can't keep a civil tone and refrain from the profanity (and that goes for everyone)–it would really give more credence to your arguments. That said…do you happen to notice that “Peg” seems pretty happy with herself? So, if you're taking the leap to casting her as transgender, she's out and proud. But I agree with the previous posters who equate this to Milton Berle, Flip Wilson and I'll add Jonathan Winters and all the Kids in the Hall and Catherine Tate (look them up). The comic conceit of “obvious bad drag” does not a transgendered character make. So before you cast stones at CBS and Craig Ferguson, consider what you're really criticizing. (In this case, it's simply a monotonous skit.”

And my reply, the one which got the most Disqus likes and got through to people.

“Nope, sorry, but you're just classic derailing again to be able to dismiss me so you don't have to acknowledge you're completely wrong. Using a tone argument, “You're being too angry/hostile/profane therefore nothing you say is of any import” is classic derailing done by privileged idiots who don't want to have to expand their worldview to include the lives of marginalized people. This is how you convince yourself you'e better than me and therefore your inherant superiority automatically disempowers my justified rage in your mind, and you can dismiss me as overreacting.

So the only one losing ANY credibility here is YOU. Especially given the examples you cite, which back up NOT your arguments but mine. Earlier you argued that men wearing women's clothing didn't automaticaly equate to trans bashing. I agreed but argued that in the case of the SNL sketch and the Ferguson sketch it did because gender variance was the sole and only point of the “joke” in these cases. By citing comedians like Berle, Wilson, KITH and Winters, you're only strengthening MY argument, because NONE of those comedians were playing gender itself as the joke. They were all always portraying actual women when they crossdressed for comedy. Flip Wilson's Geraldine for example was NEVER played for “Man in a dress” laughs, she was played for “Angry black mother” laughs. The character was a straight-on woman, and the jokes were rooted on her attitude, NOT her bodyparts.

SNL and Ferguson cannot say the same. The entire point of both sketches was to mock gender variance, and you CANNOT argue it away or deny it in Craig's case just because the guy playing Peg has come out before as male characters and tried to disgust the audience.

Both sketches relied on negative demeaning stereotypes of trans women to get their laughs. Both mocked trans women as silly freakish people who are just weird and abnormal and there to be mocked or treated like sexual deviants. Both used facial hair to emphasize the whole “This is just a man in a dress” meme.

So sorry asshole, but your derailing attempts have failed and so has your lameass privilege based argument. And my very justified anger, amplified by your staggeringly self-absorbed ignorant arrogance, does not dilute the fact that I am RIGHT, you are WRONG, your privilege has made you ignorant of what trans people have to truly put up with, the damage shit like this does us, and the damage YOU do by perpetuating it rather than educating.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. YOU are not trans, so YOU do NOT get to tell US what is or is not offensive to us.”

I wish it didn't take me being pushed to the limits of my already pain-reduced patience to drive me to a point where I can articulate myself enough to actually get the fuck THROUGH to people, but sometimes anger can be a good tool if you find the right lens through which to focus it.

I just wish I could've gotten through to more people. The bulk of those I've been dealing with still think we're all just uptight humorless trannies who need to take a joke.

But if SNL or Craig had done a sketch with a white guy in blackface singing Mammy, or a guy playing a hyper effeminate gay man looking for 10 year old boys to show his “lollypop” to, these assholes would be first in line out for blood demanding SNL/Ferguson apologize for the bigotry and that they remove the offending sketch. 

But hey, we're just silly trannies, we just need to learn to take a joke. Right?


And I don't care who I piss off by having the nerve to stand up for myself and my sisters. Our lives are NOT material for bad comedy.

Exit mobile version