The Stumbles of “Strut”

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Outrage over something clearly problematic is easy. My last post didn’t take a lot of effort to get my point across since casting yet another cis person as a member of the still poorly represented transgender community is such a cut and dry case of fuck no. Though even then some people will fail to grasp exactly why you’re angry, the bulk of the readership tends to at least figure it out after you make your case (and I did have a few people say they hadn’t understood why it was a problem until they read the post).

Pointing out the problems in something less blatant is a much greater challenge. Hell, it can even come across as being too picky or trying to find faults just for the sake of doing it. It becomes more touchy when the subject matter appears to be actually progressive and done with the very intention of making right the sins of poor representation. And while I’ll agree that being outright angry over such things is definitely not the right way to go, holding back criticism as a thank you just for trying sends the message that the entity in question got it 100% right, therefore no one needs to try any harder than that to appease said community.

What the hell am I going on about? Well, it’s been revealed that the Oxygen network has picked up a new show called Strut. Seemingly framed like America’s Next Top Model but without being a competition, the show is produced by Whoopi Goldberg and features a modeling agency that only works with transgender models.

Click here to watch the trailer.

If you’re thinking, ‘Faith, how can you think a show like that looks bad?’, let me go ahead and say that I don’t. I actually think this looks like a good show and I plan to at least give it a shot. It shows real transgender people who are allowed to talk about their own struggles. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with it and I believe those issues have merit. Like I said last time, I refuse to just take what I’m given simply because I’m given so little to begin with. I will always be picky about how I’m represented in the media, even when the media in question is trying to get it right.

To break down the issues I have with this show, we need to tackle them from two different angles. First, there’s the issue of Strut as a progressive entity (as in will work to actively progress transgender acceptance). We live in a world where people have access to a near infinite amount of entertainment options. Between hundreds of channels, on demand sites like Hulu and Netflix, Youtube channels, podcasts, ebooks, and everything else the digital age has to offer, there’s virtually no chance you’re ever going to have to watch, listen to, read, etc. something you don’t want to. Strut is a progressive show produced by a progressive person and presented on a progressive network. It’s preaching to the choir. And while that can be good for the choir, it’s not going to achieve anything meaningful in the long run. The people who actually need to be exposed to these people and their stories will still be able to easily sequester themselves away from it. If the show were on NBC, CBS, or even a bigger cable presence like FX or TNT, it would have a greater probability of at least having someone stay on it till their show came on afterward. On Oxygen, it might was well be in a box wrapped in caution tape reading: WARNING: THIS SHOW WILL BREAK YOUR IGNORANCE.

Of course I’m not touting any of this as a fault of the show itself (that’s coming next), but more as an overall observation. Anyone who thinks this is going to be a means of turning public opinion is sorely mistaken. This is any other reality show; period. Nothing more, nothing less. And the thing that makes me the maddest is that very few content creators seem to be fighting for the simpler solutions that actually would work to make things better. I don’t need a show just for trans people, I need trans people on the shows people already watch. Instead of this, couldn’t we get a trans contestant on Dancing With the Stars? How about on Survivor, or Big Brother? These shows are already watched by millions of people, both the progressive and the ignorant. That’s where we need visibility! America’s Next Top Model actually got this right by having transgender contestants in with everyone else. That’s proper representation!

You want to really shake things up? Give us a transgender contestant on The Bachelor.

I said a while back in my post about neutral bathrooms that attempts to be inclusive can often just be a different kind of exclusive. In the bathroom example, the point is that neutral bathrooms are a great thing to have, but to build them specifically so transgender people have somewhere to go is just singling them out in a different way. “You’re not allowed to exist,” becomes “you can exist, but only over there.” Strut has the same feeling to me. There are a ton of shows just like it all over the place, each with a cast of men and women representing a variety of colors, ages, and sexual orientations. Why can’t we just throw transgender into that mix? Why do we need our own special version of what’s already out there?

Secluding the transgender experience from the rest of media further pushes the notion that varying gender identities are abnormal; they must have their own special place because they don’t fit in with normal life. For a long time you couldn’t get a gay character in a story unless the story was about them being gay. That’s gotten better over time, but transgender representation hasn’t caught up. Strut might be telling some great stories about the transgender experience, but it’s not letting those stories exist alongside what our collective culture already knows. What’s more, it’s doing it in the safest space imaginable outside of an online only medium.

As for the show itself (and this is purely impressions off the commercials as I’ve not seen any episodes yet), it’s another show about runway models. The transgender aspect is simply a gimmick, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I still think it looks like an entertaining show, but there’s nothing remarkable about it. I will say, however, that if we have to have a show with an all transgender cast…can it please not be models? Not to put down models or modeling in any way; it’s a valid profession that takes a great deal of work and talent, but so much of the stigma about transgender people is already centered around appearance.

It would be so easy for the plot of this show to be about how well the models appear cis when the pictures are submitted to magazines, billboards etc. If that turns out to be the goal these men and women have, then the narrative will actually become something harmful. So much of the transgender experience has been poisoned by the notion that passing equals validity. I know I’ve fallen into that trap more than once in my life. The idea that one’s gender identity isn’t worthy of respect unless they can pass for a cis member of said gender is an incredibly difficult battle that most of our community has to fight. Telling the stories of transgender people through the framework of a modeling show is only going to exacerbate that notion.

I’d like to stress again that everything I’ve presented here is speculation based on how the show has advertised itself. Once it’s out and I’ve had a chance to watch it, I might return to this topic and offer more insights. Until then, it’s hard to get excited for something like this. It’s hard to see this as a step forward when the greater advancement could have been made in a simpler way. It’s hard to be optimistic when so many of the same old problems with transgender representation are already showing up in the marketing for this show. It looks like a fun show, but if it’s aiming to be anything more than that, anything meaningful for the lives of the people it portrays, I find it sorely wanting.

-Faith

UPDATE: It’s come to my attention that Big Brother actually has had a transgender contestant before. Just goes to show you how much reality TV I watch.

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Gay Geek Girls Gossip Episode 6: Buying Stock in Butt-hurt Creme

Faith and Tig are fresh off of Charlotte Pride and ready for Dragon Con! They tackle the ways to be a good geek, Faith rages about trangender representation, and Tig sneezes really loudly.

Listen or download here.

Hosts: Faith Naff and Tig Pollum

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Music: “Every Time You Look Around” by Gavin Dunne: used with permission.

Trans-face: Exploiting Transgender Characters

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Once upon a time when I was in college, I took a creative writing class. We had to write short stories and have the class read/critique them. I wrote a story about a sniper who finds out his next hit is an old boyfriend. When I came to class the next day after everyone had read it, I kept hearing the same question: this is a really good story, but why did you make him gay? I thought it was a strange question so I asked why they wanted to know. ‘Being gay has nothing to do with the story,’ was the general complaint. ‘Why would you make the character gay if it was just some espionage thriller?’

Hopefully you already understand why this is a shitty thing to ask. I mean, why can’t my sniper be gay? I think he had dark hair, too, but no one asked how that was integral to the story. The LGBT community has always had trouble finding good representation in media. It’s thankfully gotten better since I was in school. I think of characters like Captain Holt on Brooklyn 99 and Connor from How To Get Away With Murder; gay characters whose sexual orientation has nothing to do with the core of the story. They’re just gay…and it’s normal. Because being gay is normal.

Sadly, the same kind of cultural enlightenment hasn’t been extended to transgender characters. First off, even having transgender characters in a mainstream piece of media is rare. With the notable exception (as always) of Orange is the New Black, there really aren’t any trans characters in big name shows or movies (and even Sophia is just an occasional guest star). The bulk of trans representation is currently restricted to small, art house productions as well as online shows like the phenomenal Her Story. Occasionally, directors with the glimmer of Oscar statues sparkling in their eyes will take on a project with or about a transgender woman.

Unfortunately, the directors who do this end up committing a greater sin than not representing trans people at all. They may want to have a trans woman in their story, maybe even portray her in a positive light, but all that gets undermined when they cast a cisgender male to play the part. You already know what I’m talking about. Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, and just announced; Matt Bomer in Anything. Critics call it inspiring. Hollywood calls it progressive. Wanna know what I call it?

Black-face.

Sound harsh? Sound like I’m blowing things out of proportion? Well, let’s take a look at what black-face (as a general term, not a literal comparison) is. It used to be that black people weren’t allowed to perform as actors, but script writers still wanted to include black characters in their stories. So they took white actors, painted them to look black, and had them perform the part. Fast forward to today, we have non-transgender actors and actresses being dressed up and “painted” to appear as transgender characters, therefore allowing the character to be portrayed by an actual transgender person. It’s no different. It’s the same exploitative practice with the same intent behind it and results from it. It’s trans-face

We can go into debates about levels of bigotry behind this and the practice of literal black-face decades ago, but nothing would change the fact that the actions are one in the same. When you physically alter a person to look like someone they’re not just to play a part instead of giving that part to an actual member of that demographic, you’ve committed the exact same act. What makes this even more astounding though is it’s being done in films that portray the transgender character in a positive way. These movies aren’t mocking their transgender characters, they’re not setting them up as villains or objects of disgust (well, not all of them). The filmmakers themselves genuinely seem to want to shine a light on the struggles, but the sentiment rings hollow when they don’t include actual transgender people in their cast. For fuck sake, transgender actresses like Jen Richards (Twitter: @SmartAssJen) even auditioned for it!

I’ve shared this concern with people before who didn’t understand my anger. “Why are you making such a big deal about it? They’re not demonizing the character. It looks like a positive movie.” And then there’s my favorite…”shouldn’t you just be happy that they have a transgender character at all?” No. No, I should not. I refuse to fall into that notion of beggars can’t be choosers. I don’t care if it means I never see another transgender character on the movie screen: if they cast a non-trans person to play the role, I will not see the film. That’s not even just a transgender sentiment. A lot of people thought the LGBT community should be thankful to the people who made Stonewall. Hey look, it’s a movie that champions your movement! It shines a spotlight on one of the most defining moments in your fight for equality! Aren’t you happy they made the movie and want to go see it over and over? No fucking way.

It’s funny, a lot of media, especially video games, get accused of “pandering” to LGBT people just for having a gay or trans character. Just simply having one is ‘pushing an agenda’ with the film. That’s not pandering. That’s just having a diverse cast. But movies like Stonewall are pandering because they assume we’ll be thrilled just because you bothered to do it at all. Sorry, but no. We have more respect for ourselves and our history than to sell out to your white-washed, revisionist garbage.

To bring that back home, I don’t care if the transgender character in your movie is a positive character. I don’t care if you’re making them the hero. You didn’t let an actual transgender actor/actress with aspirations to be a big movie star get one of the very few roles even possibly written for them. I don’t need to know anything about your movie other than that, because that tells me that your compassion is only skin deep. We may get next to nothing, but we will at least demand what we get is worthy of our praise.

This whole problem goes deeper than most people realize, especially those making the film. Going back to the black-face thing, transgender people have to overcome an extra hurdle when it comes to acceptance. Racists look at black people and say, “I know you’re there, but I still hate you.” But our bigots look at us and say, “you don’t really exist; you don’t deserve anything just for wanting to be something you’re not.”Bigots say they hate our sin and not us, feeling justified in their notion that who we are is a matter of choice.

I said back in my post about the Rocky Horror advertisement that, while media can be targeted to a certain audience, the marketing and news for that media will be consumed by all. Those people saying transgender experiences aren’t real have their ignorance backed up every time a cisgender man portrays a transgender woman. It just further insinuates that being transgender is just cross dressing and pretending to be something you’re not. That same actor wearing makeup and a dress on the screen will be on the red carpet during the premier in a black suit, and everyone will see that. It will color their perception of the transgender community. These movies exacerbate already damaging misunderstandings about transgender people, and lives are on the line.

And even if we could move past this and get actual transgender people to play transgender characters…can we please be something other than sex workers? Look, I’m not looking down on sex work. I have a great deal of respect for it and think it gets about as bad a reputation as transgender people. I’m just sick of it being the only way Hollywood knows to represent us. There are indeed a lot of transgender sex workers as it’s often the only kind of work trans women can find and there are a lot of cis men with a fetish for us. The slur tr**ny exists because the porn industry created a whole genre for guys who get off fucking transgender women. Hollywood knows this. In fact, it seems to be the only thing they know about transgender women, so they overuse it. It’s like how they can’t seem to think of a way to make a cis woman seem dark and angsty without getting her raped. It’s lazy and perpetuates already tired stereotypes.

I for one will never be desperate enough to just take whatever is tossed to me. I will not hold back criticism just because a piece of media acknowledged I exist. People say change comes slowly, and that’s often true. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept slow when it doesn’t have to be. I don’t want to wait until I’m an old woman to see authentic representation of my community in big budget movies. You can call me ungrateful, but I’d rather think of myself as knowing I’m worth more than what I’ve been given. These movie makers aren’t doing us any favors by hiring cis men to pretend to be us. All that does is make things worse.

And to Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer: Shame on you. For fucking shame! I always thought better of the both of you. You’re each fine actors and have done wonderful things for many good causes. I don’t know. Maybe this only further highlights just how little understanding there really is about the transgender community. If one of Hollywood’s biggest names when it comes to social progression teams up with an outwardly gay actor to make a movie with a transgender character and even they can’t get it right, things may be worse than I thought.

-Faith

Gay Geek Girls Gossip Episode 5: Fake-ass Looking Shelf Tits

Fresh off their trip to Charlotte Comicon, Tig and Faith discuss boobs because…well, because boobs. They talk about diversity in the new Star Trek series and a segment about the Olympics leads into a discussion on the dangers of outing someone without permission.

Listen or download here.

Hosts: Faith Naff and Tig Pollum

Like what you hear? Please contribute to our Patreon!

Music: “Every Time You Look Around” by Gavin Dunne: used with permission.

Quit Bitching About Millennials

I normally like to start these things with some random thought that transitions well into whatever my topic is, but I’m going to skip that this time. If you’re one of those people who’s ever complained that “young people today are so lazy” or “they just want everything handed to them”, or maybe even, “they have no manners or respect”, this post is for you. I’m 32. I was born in 1984, right at the tail end of Generation X. Because of that, I feel like I’ve lived most of my life in a sort of neutral middle ground between X and Y. I have friends that fall distinctly into each group also. I’m not saying that makes me any kind of authority on the matter, just that it colors my viewpoint on this whole thing.

See, some Gen X people and a lot of the Baby Boomers like to complain about the upcoming generation now in college or new to the job market. They whine that they have no manners, spend too much time on their phones, want to make everything politically correct, and are just basically causing the downfall of the once great United States Of America. If that’s you; if that’s the way you think; then here’s the tl;dr summary of the rest of this post:

You’re wrong. Now shut the fuck up.

If you’d like me to elaborate on that, keep reading.

Millennials are just fine the way they are. They don’t need to be more respectful or disconnect from technology. They simply grew up in circumstances that you can’t even comprehend and thus have a drastically different world view than you did as a youngster. We honestly need to look at each point made against them one at a time in order to explain all that, so let’s dive in.

Assumption 1) Millennials spend too much time online.

I’m hitting this one first because the points I make here will kinda tie in to everything else. The notion here is that Millennials are constantly on their phones or computers checking Facebook and Snapchat instead of interacting with actual people or focusing on stuff that’s actually important. First off, let’s address the elephant in the room; if iPhone and Facebook had existed when we were kids, we’d have been just as glued to them and don’t you fucking deny it. 15-year-old me used to dreaof having technology even half as cool as that. I was a kid back in the dark ages before the internet and my family wasn’t exactly a bunch of chatter boxes back then either. We read newspapers, magazines, and watched TV.

Oh yea, did you all forget that before the internet we were all “watching too much TV”? Remember how TV was destroying families? Guess what; before then it was the radio. Human beings have always found ways of distracting ourselves from interaction. With the internet there is at least still interaction going on. You couldn’t communicate with TV back in the 80’s and 90’s. You couldn’t type a rebuttal to what you read in a magazine. If anything, Millennials are more social than any generation before them. With texting and social media, we communicate with other people now more than ever. Sure, it’s not face to face, but if being social and interacting with people is the whole point of the argument, can you really say they’re doing worse than we were staring at the TV for hours on end?

The internet is actually going to be a big focus of basically every point from here on out so keep that in mind.

Assumption 2) Millennials Don’t Care About Anything Important

Nothing is more ironically absurd than a Generation X’er complaining that Millennials are slackers. Gen X practically invented slacking. Think about movies like Clerks where slacking off was championed. The 80’s and 90’s were the time when everything was “lame”. School was “lame”, getting a job was “lame”. It was a time of supposedly embracing the counter-culture, but our counter culture didn’t stand for anything. And we figured out really fast that you can’t make a living off thinking stuff is “lame”.

You definitely can’t say the same for Millennials. Their counter-culture means something. LGBT rights, #BlackLivesMatter, feminism; these are the things they’re pushing. We wanted to fight the establishment, but had no idea what to replace it with. Not only do the Millennials have a vision for the future, they’re fighting hard for it! Think about movements like Occupy Wall Street, the explosive rise of the Bernie Sanders campaign, and of course the protests in response to the killings of black men and women by police. I see stories all the time about girls in high school staging demonstrations to protest the sexist dress code. We had the same dress code when I was their age and we didn’t do shit about it!

Millennials actually fight for something, they get off their asses and try to make a difference. Through the power of the internet, they shine a continuous light on all the crap we either didn’t know about or did know about but said nothing because we thought we were the only ones who saw it. Fuck, remember when we used to think race relations were getting better? How would we have used such a powerful tool at their age? Would we have honed the internet into such a powerful weapon against injustice, or just used it to amplify our echo chamber of decrying how “lame” everything is?

Assumption 3) Millennials Are Lazy and Want Everything Handed to Them

As a tail-end Generation X’er, I can say confidently that my generation was the last to experience something that will likely never happen again: we were the last kids able to grow up ignorant. In the modern world of constant connectivity and unfiltered information (depending on source), the only type of ignorance left in the world is willful ignorance. We grew up with teachers and other adult leaders enthusiastically telling us that we could be anything when we grew up. We were told the sky was the limit as long as we believed in our dreams and worked hard to achieve them. It wasn’t until we spent a few years in the real world that we found out that was a load of shit.

Millennials don’t get the luxury of that bubble to live in. Sure, adults still feed them the same crap about the American dream and the importance of a college education, but then they can go online and get the real story. They can find out that finding a starting salary that can afford you a living is pretty much impossible. They already know most college degrees are ultimately worthless and will only saddle them with an inescapable amount of debt. They know that the generations before them reaped the benefits of an America shaped by labor unions and tight restrictions on businesses, only to then become Reagan-voting idiots who allowed all of that to fall apart once they ‘got theirs’.

And they learned all of this as early as grade school

Work hard and you can achieve your dreams? We know that’s a load of crap now that we’re adults, but they know it before even joining the work force. Meanwhile, they also know that in countries across the ocean, people of all ages are reaping the benefits of socialist societies where they would have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. You can’t save money for retirement if you can’t afford insurance. You can’t buy a house if minimum wage keeps you in poverty. Fighting for socialized medicine and free college isn’t asking for a hand-out; it’s demanding a real chance to succeed the way the old-guard keeps telling them to succeed.

The way they know is bullshit.

But you know who is making a decent living now? The guys playing video games and unboxing stuff on Youtube. It sounds crazy, but advertisers are paying big money to get their ads placed in front of viral videos and the creators of said videos are making a very comfortable living as a result. To Millennials, that has become the new image of success. It’s not about getting a job that you’re going to hate and never make enough doing anyway. They don’t want to be the next PewDiePie because they just want to play video games all day, they want to be the next PewDiePie because it’s a viable path to a successful life.

Assumption 4) Millennials Don’t Have Any Real-World Skills

Millennials don’t know how to change a tire. Millennials can’t balance a checkbook. Millennials can’t drive stick. Millennials can’t read a map. Any of these sound familiar? Even I’ve been guilty of spouting one or two of these off before. We like to think of Millennials as unprepared to face life because they don’t possess the “real-world” skills they need.

I was stupid for thinking this and so are you.

You want to know what kind of stuff our generations largely don’t know how to do: shoe a horse, churn butter, and make clothing. We don’t know how to do these things because technological and societal advancements have made such knowledge largely obsolete. Milennials know plenty, but they didn’t bother to learn the stuff we had to do that simply isn’t needed anymore. Balance a checkbook? My banking app does all that for me. Change a tire? A few taps on my smart phone and a wrecker will be out in a few minutes (hell, my phone carrier even offers that as a service). Read a map? Who even has a map in their car now thanks to GPS? Why do we demand Millennials take the time to learn dying social skills? I certainly don’t plan to learn how to use a printing press to produce this blog.

On the flip side, how often do you ask some young person a question about how to use your smart phone? How about when you need to fix your computer? They might not know how to change the oil in a car, but they can write code to make an app. Millennials aren’t stupid. They just know what skills they need to learn and what archaeal practices we’re holding onto for nostalgia’s sake. Maybe instead of whining that your teenager won’t bother learning to do their own taxes you could take a class in HTML and get with the times.

Assumption 5) Millennials are the “Pussy” Generation

I saved this one till the end because this where I’m going to stop being nice. If you’ve made it this far and still aren’t with me then you likely agree with this assumption and need a sterner talking to than most. Do you complain that Millennials worry too much about being politically correct or that they’re always offended by everything? Well, you might want to check the back of your pickup truck because I’m willing to bet your Donald Trump bumper sticker is a little crooked.

Where do you people get the fucking nerve to treat the push for equality as a bad thing? Politically correct is a term that needs to die in a fire because it means nothing. It’s just a short-handed way for bigoted fuck-sticks to shrug off the people calling them out for being bigoted fuck-sticks. Not only is this assumption about them wrong, the reason it’s wrong perfectly shows why Mellinnials aren’t just okay, they’re better than many of the generations that came before them including mine. Millennials have managed to finally understand what most of the rest of us still don’t get…

You shouldn’t stay silent on injustices that don’t affect you.

The reason this generation has brought about such an onslaught of “political correction” is because they’re giving a much louder voice to movements that have existed for decades but were largely ignored. You think #BlackLivesMatter is something new? The term may be, but police brutality against the black community has always been there! It’s just that now it’s getting broadcast on Youtube and white Millennials are adding their voices to those of black men and women seeking justice. You think transgender people just suddenly showed up out of the blue? We’ve always existed, but now the internet is giving us a voice and Millennials are helping us to carry that voice to more ears.

We no longer live in an America where it’s everyone for themselves. Thanks to the movements that Millennials have started, social justice is now a collective fight. I fight for the black man’s right to walk down the street without getting harassed by the police because he is fighting for my right to live authentically and use my correct bathroom. And what’s more, straight, white, male Millennials were the first to actually realize they have a lot of privileges they take for granted. Political correctness is something you whine about when someone calls you out on not being responsible with how good you have it. You’re too big of a coward to face it, but they’re not. Millennials know that their social status can be used as a tool to help others less fortunate. And all this is to say nothing about their fight to save the environment. Remember when we were growing up and your car was a status symbol? Now you’re cool if you don’t use one because you’re trying to save the planet.

Pussy generation? Bitch please. They’ve got bigger balls than you could even dream.

So yea, stop bitching about Millennials. They’re doing just fine. They’re going to be just fine.

Fuck, they might just save the world.

-Faith

Pokemon: The Tao of Sylveon

Here’s something I’m sure no one but the most dedicated MRA’s and PDE‘s will argue: a stupid amount of things in our culture are gendered for marketing purposes. Men and women, both trans and cis, use a lot of the same kinds of thing each and every day. We all have to eat, sleep, work, play, and occasionally relieve ourselves in the bathroom. Now, many of those things we do together, and thus we don’t see a lot of separation. For example, restaurants don’t bring their food out on different colored plates depending on the gender of the person ordering it.

However, once you cross over into the things we buy specifically for our own, personal use, things start too fall on either side of a very distinct line. Just about every teen to adult human being shaves at least some part of their body on a regular basis in this country, but a trip to the razor aisle will yield you two sectioned off groups of blades that are each “designed” for a specific gender. Now, we all know that there’s little to no difference between these items and any difference that is there isn’t supporting a vital function of the instrument (think Venus razors with the bar of soap around the blades), but marketers still feel the need to put a boundary between them as though a pink razor pressed to a man’s face will simply fail to cut a single hair.

We see this in a lot of adult stuff but that doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of gendering in things we see marketed to children. Even before kids are born, their lives are being pre-filled with toys, books, bedding, outfits, and even bath soaps meant to set them up on a specific side of the arbitrary gender binary. Toys are by far the worst perpetrator of this. Just about every piece of plastic aimed at the entertainment of young kids has been branded specifically for either boys or girls. You can argue that there are plenty of neutral toys like Legos, but even they are now themed differently with opposite color schemes and cartoon mascots on the boxes.

I clearly remember growing up as a boy and having a lot of toys aimed at that gender. I had Ninja Turtles and Batman action figures, Hot Wheels cars, Nerf guns, footballs, you get the point. Now, I liked my toys. My action figures especially were some of my favorite things to play with. But whenever I would go to daycare or somewhere else where there was a single room full of toys to be shared, I would always gravitate towards the Barbie dolls and the My Little Pony figures. Those were the things I didn’t have access to at home so I wanted the opportunity to play with them. See, I hear a lot of transgender people say they grew up “hating” the things they were given that were gender coded. I know trans men who only ever wanted to pull the heads off their baby dolls. I know trans women who would make their Transformers have a tea party when mommy and daddy weren’t looking. While that’s a perfectly valid experience, I didn’t share it. I liked my boy stuff, but I also liked girl stuff and I wished there were things that would allow me to enjoy both at the same time.

I finally got my wish in late elementary school when the first Pokemon game released for the Gameboy.

I was obsessed with Pokemon from day one. Aside from the fact that it was a well made RPG with compelling game play and a fun journey to be on, Pokemon was a one-stop-shop for everything I found entertaining. The little monsters (and no so little ones) you captured and battled with ranged from incredibly cute to extremely big and powerful. Some of them were even both. My team of six represented a snapshot of myself, with both masculine and feminine seeming monsters populating the roster. It was the first time ever when I didn’t have to choose. What’s more, Pokemon was something I could admit I liked and get away with it (To a point. High School became a different story). To my parents it was just another video game, and I had a few male friends that also liked it. While I wasn’t exactly free to express all of the reasons I liked the game, I was at least able to openly find enjoyment in something somewhat girly.

I have no idea if was intentional on the creator’s part or not, but I feel like Pokemon taught my generation of nerds (and those after me) a lot about gender expression. The monsters you could catch, even those just in the 150 real original Pokemon encompassed such a wide variety of tastes. I knew trainers who battled with Pokemon solely on how cute they were. I knew others that stuck to a specific type, or only wanted to use big ones that looked like actual monsters. Others still played a mix (like me). Pokemon could be anything to anyone. That could have been enough, but the game design goes a little further to actually convey some subliminal messages about acceptance.

For my fellow Poke-nerds, think back to the original three starters you had to choose from. What’s one thing they all had in common? Well, I’d say they were all pretty goddamn cute. Seriously, there’s a reason toy companies made bank off of stuffed animals of these things. They’re cuddly looking as fuck! Now, a lot of your very masculine fans of the game might have never wanted to try it if that’s all you ever got, but think about what those three evolved into. Gamer-bro X might not be too keen on picking a cute little lizard to start out with, but he’d sure as hell loved to train that thing into a big, fire-breathing dragon! Well, to get that dragon, you gotta step outside your comfort zone for a few levels and play with something cute. They knew some kick-ass moves like flamethrower to make them seem a little less “girly”, but at the end of the day you’re still playing with a creature that your girlfriend or sister probably thought was adorable.

And this is to say nothing about people like me who liked the cuteness factor but didn’t want to admit it. I got teased for saying I liked My Little Pony and Barbie, but I could play off my Squirtle love by claiming I was only training it into a big, bad, Blastoise. It was convenient cover, and it allowed me to feel safe enough in my hobby to peruse it. Looking back, I wish I’d taken more of that time to really try and understand how I felt about being a boy, but that’s a subject for another time.

As more and more versions of Pokemon came out, more monsters were added to the rosters that pushed the boundaries back a little farther. They also added the ability to have a female avatar as well, making the game more accessible to girls. In Gold and Silver (probably my favorites of all the pre-DS releases) many Pokemon were even designated male or female. This is where I think the game made another big push in the gender diversity. See, they didn’t make all the cute ones female and all the big tough ones male. Each species could be caught as either gender. So, yes, that adorable little pikachu you caught with its big eyes and cute little smile might have been a boy.

Gold and Silver started teaching players (again, not claiming this as intentionally) that males and females could look a variety of different ways. Females could be big and tough. Males could be cute and cuddly.It was all good, and the trend continued throughout the rest of the series. When X and Y came out for the 3DS, they introduced a new Fairy type to the game which quickly became my favorite Pokemon of all time.

sylveon

Sylveon

Look at that thing. Look at how goddamn cute it is! I was loving sylveon the very first time I ever saw one. It was a kick-ass fairy type that evolved from an eevee. See, I feel that sylveon represents the apex (at least so far) of Pokemon’s push for acceptance. But I have to do more than just show you a picture to help you understand why.

We’ve talked before on the show about things being “coded” either masculine or feminine. Big muscles, armor (real armor, not boob-plate bikinis), strength, confidence, and power are thought to represent masculinity; whereas bright colors, passiveness, flowing movements, and (sorry to say) weakness are thought to represent femininity. Key words in both of those statements are “thought to”. When it comes to the look of characters, females are treated rather unfairly. Our culture has always (very wrongly) thought of being male as some kind of default state, whereas the femininity of a character has to be clearly expressed to the audience with visual markers.

Think of a character like Mickey Mouse. He has absolutely no markers on him that definitely distinguish him as male, yet if you took someone fully immersed in our culture who’d somehow never seen Mickey before, that person would likely say Mickey was male. There’s nothing on him or about him that identifies him as such, but that means he embodies that stock, default state of being that we only allow males to have. On the reverse, think of Minnie Mouse. She wears a dress, high heel shoes, and most importantly, a bow on her head. In fact, re-watch some old Mickey Mouse cartoons sometime and see if you can identify any female characters that aren’t topped with a bow. As a society, we’ve been trained to only think of a character as female as long as they have visual markers to identify them as such. Watch this video from Anita Sarkeesian for a more in-depth look at this subject.

When you look at sylveon, every single marker it’s given is a visual cue that screams feminine. It has pastel colors with a large amount of pink, big eyes, flowing streamers, and…to literally top it all off…a bow on its head. Every single facet of sylveon from head to tail is meant to convey femininity, and I’d bet good money any non-Pokemon fan would refer to this character using female pronouns if shown a picture. Given my previous example about Pokemon genders, you’re likely expecting my point in all this to be that sylveon can found as both male and female. And while that’s true, there’s a bigger point to be made.

It isn’t that some sylveons are male… …most of them are.

See, a sylveon has to be evolved from an eevee, though it’s by far not the only evolution for that particular Pokemon. The interesting point of note though is that in X and Y, the games where this creature was introduced, male eevees were far more common to catch than female ones. That meant that if you saw a trainer’s sylveon, there was a high probability it was evolved from a male eevee. Imagine the mental gymnastics required to remember to call this thing a “he”.

There were several Pokemon fans, myself included, that looked at sylveon as a  direct representation of the struggle in being accepted in one’s gender identity or method of expression. I’m transgender. I know in my heart that I am female. But I know plenty of people who love girly stuff yet still identify as men. Sylveon is their champion. Sylveon is a way of getting their friends to understand them. You can watch them scratch their heads as you tell them you’re a boy but you just like to play with dolls and wear dresses, or you can just say, “think of me as a male sylveon”. It’s kinda like how some transgender geeks like to use the regeneration aspect of Doctor Who to explain our transition (i.e. we’re still the same person but we just look different). It’s a reference that puts it into understandable terms for those not going through it.

That’s what sylveon is to me; it’s training for people who need to stop assuming genders based on visual cues. It’s an exercise in respecting someones means of gender expression. As I stated already, I’m not implying that any of this was a deliberate intent of the creators. However, one of the beautiful things about pop culture institutions is that they can do more than they were intended to do based on how the consuming public interacts with them. Pokemon is still one of the most important things that has ever impacted my life. It’s one of the things I credit with helping me discover myself. I wish sylveon had been around when I was a teenager, but I’m happy it exists for the next generation of trainers who need a little help expressing themselves, and those who can use it to better understand the world around them.

-Faith

The 4G Show Episode 4: Go Go Bat Nipples

This week things get a bit heated as Faith and Tig accidentally veer into politics while discussing several San Diego Comic Con announcements. Our fearless heroines also discuss the implications of feminine and gay styled villains.

Listen or download here.

Hosts: Faith Naff and Tig Pollum

Like what you hear? Please contribute to our Patreon!

Music: “Every Time You Look Around” by Gavin Dunne: used with permission.

Busting #BernieOrBust

(NOTE: This post is about politics. Don’t think this is going to become a normal thing. It’s just that we’re in a situation where the election is the most LGBT relevant issue at the moment and it’s all that’s on my mind to write about. I promise political posts will be rare from me.)

I’ve always found it interesting that our culture tends to describe advances using the same words. Whenever something better or worse comes along, we always describe it as if it’s the pinnacle of either its greatness or infamy. I’m 32 years old. I’ve grown up seeing the world change quite a bit, but each new advancement was touted as the absolute best possible. Have you seen a commercial for Verizon Wireless and their “blazing fast 4G-LTE network”? So have I, but I also remember commercials for “blazing fast” 3G, and “blazing fast” mobile web.

Now I’m not saying this is a bad or ignorant thing. These were all the apex of what could be achieved at the time, so we liked to use our most descriptive language. What makes me bring up this thought is my example of it going the other way. From 2000 to 2008, America was “led” by President George W. Bush. I’m not going to go into everything he did wrong, but let’s just highlight the endless, costly wars and tanked economy for now.

That was the president for my teenage to young adult years. That was when my eyes were starting to open to the bigger world around me. I got to experience Bush’s effect on America and all the ruin he put us in. Then, just like now, his dissenters took to our “blazing fast” internet to complain about him. One of the things I remember a lot of people doing was comparing Bush to Hitler. Like with the cell phone example, I can’t really begrudge it. I mean, sure, it comes from a place of ignorance on the global scale of history, but in the personal context of what we’d lived through, it was the worst situation we’d ever been in. We all knew Hitler was actually worse, but the Holocaust was that thing we learned about in school that happened a long ass time ago and the world had learned its lesson now. We were sure that in the modern-day, it couldn’t ever get worse than Bush.

Fast forward eight years and now we’re staring down the barrel of a Donald Trump presidency. Trump’s rise has been a wakeup call for my generation that words mean things. We called Bush Hitler as a way of expressing he was the absolute worst. But now we’re faced with a candidate who is frighteningly similar to Hitler on an actual level (blaming minority groups for the downfall of the nation; promising to make the country great again by getting rid of the filth). Our past expressions of anger have robbed the comparison of any real weight.

“Trump is like Hitler!”

“Yea, you said that about Bush, too.”

“No, I really mean it this time!”

“Whatever.”

See the problem? 3G was ‘blazing fast’ once upon a time, but hindsight is 20/20 and the words have lost their impact.

To say the least, this election cycle has been a cluster-fuck of emotional turmoil. The Republicans have seen the rise of a leader I didn’t think was possible without sacrificing a virgin to some dark god and the Democrats have allowed cheating and voter suppression to ensure their primary process was basically a waste of time. I’m a Bernie girl; always was. Sanders was the first candidate basically in my whole life that I 100% believed in. I wanted him to win. I still think he could have won in a 100% fair primary election. But that didnt’ happen.

Still, I said from the beginning that I would back whomever got the Democrat nomination and I still stand by that. Clinton will get my vote. She will get my vote because she’s the best chance I, my family, and my community has. A lot of my fellow Sanders supporters have not done the same. The #BernieOrBust movement has sought to throw a wrench in the system by pledging to vote 3rd party, write Bernie in, or just not vote as a means of boycotting the 2 party system and the illusion of choice.

On the surface, it’s a noble thing. The system is corrupt. Hillary’s win does have a dark shadow cast over it. The idea of taking on City Hall as it were sounds brave and romantic, but in the context of what’s going on it’s dangerous and alarmingly short-sighted.

In trying to understand the Bust crowd, I’ve noticed that a lot of them seem to be in their late teens to early twenties. This puts a very important context to their way of thinking. They are at the age I was during the “Bush is Hitler” years. With that in mind, I want to make my plea to them to change their mind in a way that hopefully puts everything into perspective and doesn’t belittle what they’re trying to achieve.

Here goes…

Dear #BernieOrBust people,

I get it. I wanted Sanders to be president more than anything. I’m a lot older than a lot of you and I’ve never seen a candidate so perfect for the highest office in all my life. I also agree with you that the primary process was a load of shit. In a fair election, Sanders might have won. Hillary’s campaign worked with party leaders to ensure Sanders didn’t win. All of that is valid. Clinton has done some shady things before and isn’t the strongest candidate to go up against Trump. All of that is true. All of that is valid.

Vote for her anyway.

I’m going to wager you’re somewhere in your early 20’s. Let’s ballpark it and say you’re 22. That’s probably a good average age for the Busters. If you’re 22 then you were born in 1994. When Bush was elected you were 6 years old. You were 7 when 9/11 happened. That’s not old enough to really understand what was happening. I was about  your age during Desert Storm (the last time a Bush sent us to fight in the Middle East). I remember not understanding it beyond the fact that we’re fighting a war in the desert. Your understanding of Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror was likely similar.

When Obama took office you were 14, and as you grew into more mature thinking, you did so under a charismatic, compassionate, and intelligent leader. A lot of your actual world view was likely shaped in this time. You also got to see an explosion of social progress during the time in your life when you were old enough to comprehend it. You’ve seen the wars scaled back or ended. You’ve seen Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense Of Marriage Act sent to the trash where they belong. You witnessed the passing of the Affordable Care Act. You experienced the economy turn around, unemployment fall, and the lives of Americans overall improve.

What’s more, you’ve seen amazing advancements for the LGBT community. The White House was lit up in rainbows, pride was given an official month on the calendar, the Stonewall Inn was named a national landmark, marriage equality came to state after state before finally going nation-wide. Your teen and young adult years have been a flurry of social and economic progress, and you’ve been able to experience it on a ‘blazing fast’ internet that would have blown teenage me’s mind.

Now it’s time to elect a new president and you’re old enough to vote! Even better than that, you got to campaign and vote for Bernie Sanders; an actual socialist! An actual believer in European style social constructs that put healthcare and education in everyone’s reach! He wants to legalize pot and punish those who fucked stuff up to where you’re not able to afford a house or find a decent paying job! Everything is going so well!

And he didn’t win.

Look, I was as crushed as you are. It broke my heart to know I wasn’t going to be able to vote for Sanders in November. Like I said, he’s the best presidential candidate I’ve ever seen! I get the anger, the heartbreak. I share it all. But my generation understands something a little better than yours just because of what we’ve experienced: change comes slowly. When you’ve experienced an explosion of social progression, it’s easy to think it always works that fast. But it doesn’t. Sanders would have been that continued rapid progression like we’ve been seeing and want to continue seeing. Given the context of your worldview, seeing the brakes pumped can feel like a full stop or even a reverse. It’s like being on the interstate for hours going 80 and then having to go 35 once you’re back in the city. It can feel like you came to a dead stop, but you didn’t. You’re still moving, still going forward, and that’s what’s important.

This is what I want you to understand. Clinton does not represent backwards movement. We just might be getting off the interstate for a few miles. Every progressive advancement of the last 8 years she supports. She supports gay marriage, trans military service, Obamacare, raising minimum wage, and a lot of other things. See, what you’re mad about isn’t the issues, it’s the process. You’re mad that the election was rigged (to a degree). You’re mad that things weren’t fair. You’re made that a politician can be dishonest, do shady things, make backdoor deals, and still win. What’s worse, you’re seeing all of this in the age of Wikileaks and Anonymous, which shines a brighter spotlight on those things then has ever been possible before.

In the face of all that, you want to continue fighting the good fight, to stand up for what you believe in. If we elect Clinton, then we’re not moving forward, not progressing! Wrong. We are still progressing, just not as fast as you’ve become accustomed to. See, young adults see the corruption in the Democratic ranks and see a betrayal of the American system, a great injustice that must be stopped before it’s allowed to get away with its wrongdoings.

My generation and those before me see…politics. This is nothing new, it just has more transparency than before. We know elections aren’t always fair, that politicians do messed up shit behind closed doors, make secret deals. That’s normal. What we’re trying to get you to understand is that “buying in” to the process isn’t a betrayal of the American election system, it’s just not a change  we’re going to see this go around. Not voting for Clinton because of these scandals is like winning thousands of dollars in the lottery and refusing it because you didn’t hit the jackpot. Sometimes you don’t get everything you fought for. Sometimes you have to be willing to compromise in order to not lose what you have obtained.

See, in being so angry about the process, you’re failing to notice the progress we have made. Again, it’s not really your fault. You grew up in a different time. You have a mindset of things as the way they are having been the norm forever because they’ve been a part of your forever. You have a president who supports gay marriage, who recognizes the struggles of transgender Americans. That’s awesome, but it wasn’t always the case. You may or may not know this, but Obama first campaigned against gay marriage! Supporting “traditional” marriage was part of his original campaign in 2008, but the LGBT community still overwhelmingly supported him. Why? Why would we vote for a man who didn’t fight for what we wanted? Because he was the best chance of moving forward. He wasn’t with us then, but he was smart enough and compassionate enough to be swayed in the future.

As I said earlier, you probably don’t remember much about the Bush years, but that actually was a time of moving backwards. The housing market collapsed, the stock market crashed, unemployment skyrocketed, war seemed endless, and LGBT advancement halted! Here’s another thing you might not know: under Bush we came frighteningly close to a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. If that had passed, it wouldn’t be legal anywhere today because amendments are nearly impossible to get rid of. That was terrifying! Obama didn’t support gay marriage, but he didn’t support an amendment banning it forever, and that’s why we voted for him. He was slow progression, not going backwards. We weren’t getting everything we wanted up front, but the assurance of moving forward was there.

Fast forward to today. The Democrats have adopted the most pro LGBT platform in our nation’s history. It supports marriage equality, ending conversion therapy, and even transgender rights. Fuck, they let a transgender woman speak at the convention! That would  not have happened in 2008! The Democrats have never been as safe a bet for continuing to move forward as they are now, but the #BernieOrBust crowd could throw all of that away because 99% isn’t as good as 100%

And keep in mind that those things we’re mad about aren’t exactly being forgiven. The corruption has been uncovered. Wasserman-Schultz had to step down to a chorus of boos. Backdoor deals and shady politics may have won again, but they didn’t make it out without injury and the stage is set to fight them even harder next time. What’s more, Bernie’s popularity and rise is a big reason why the Democrat platform is as progressive this time as it is. Clinton has taken up a lot of the things Bernie was fighting for. Sanders always said it was about us and not him, and it’s more important that his ideas and passion make it to the Oval Office than him.

Busters, I implore you, don’t throw this away out of spite. Stein and Johnson are not good alternatives to vote for even if they did have chance in Hell of winning. We are on the verge of electing a man who will not only halt progression, he’ll put us back on the interstate going back the other way, back farther than you or I are old enough to remember! One thing we have in common is we’ve both always been live in a world where abortion couldn’t be banned. Trump could easily form a Supreme Court that overturns Roe V Wade and sees that undone (and he’s said he plans to). This is a man who seeks to end marriage equality, deport immigrants, demonize Muslims, it’s scary stuff. In the face of that, when we’re walking on the edge of such a disastrous future, can you please be willing to accept slow but continued  progression? Can that please be good enough for you?

I hope so, because my future depends on it…

-Faith

The 4G Show Episode 3: Bask in my Social Justice Warrior Glory

Gotta Catch’em All! Faith and Tig dive into Pokemon GO, weighing the pros, the cons, and discuss how the game has taken over the world. Plus a bit of Emmy nomination news, listener questions answered, and Tig’s painful sunburn.

Listen or download here.

Hosts: Faith Naff and Tig Pollum

Like what you hear? Please contribute to our Patreon!

Music: “Every Time You Look Around” by Gavin Dunne: used with permission.

Rocky Horror Picture NO!

There’s a great meme I saw once that said you could fairly judge anyone based on what movie they know Tim Curry from. It’s a thought that’s always made me laugh, especially since Curry has had so many roles that each seemed so different from anything else. For me, I’ll always know him as Dr. Frank-n-furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Seeing Rocky Horror every Halloween has been a tradition for me and my partner since we first started dating. I love the performances, I love the music, and I love doing the Time Warp again, and again, and again, and again…

I could probably do an entire post just dissecting the original Rocky Horror movie. When you look benefit its surface of campy, theatrical goodness, you find it’s messages of sexual liberation and personal freedom to be true to yourself that are as needed today as they were back in the 1970’s. Now, the Firefly canceling tyrants over at Fox (no, you get over it!) have decided to revive the tale this Halloween.

And I’m…not feeling like coming up to the lab this time.

I’ve tried to stay positive about this project. After all, stage companies do Rocky Horror all the time. This really shouldn’t be any different, right? I mean, it’s just the same thing on a bigger scale. And it’s not like anyone hasn’t heard of the show before and at least could recognize stuff from it if it were shown to them. So, this should all be good…right? Well, I felt that way until they cast Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-n-furter.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I adore Laverne Cox. I think she’s an amazing actress and she’s done wonderful things to advance the transgender community. And it’s not that I think she would do a bad job in the role. She certainly has the stage presence to play the world’s most fabulous mad scientist. See, my problem was never her staring in the show, but her staring in the show during this point in our cultural history. To loosely quote one of my favorite internet critics, Bob Chipman: “media doesn’t exist in a vacuum”. You can’t consider a movie, TV show, book, play, song, or whatever without considering the world in which it exists.

It’s not a matter of Cox playing Frank-n-furter. It’s her playing the role of a transvestite who is also a villain while she, in real life, is a transgender woman and transgender people are already fighting a stigma of being sick and deranged. Frank-n-furter is a great character, but he’s one that basically embodies the unfounded fears the general population actually have about the transgender community. To see an actual transgender person, arguably the biggest transgender name in the world next to Caitlyn Jenner, assuming that role does not bode well for further transgender perceptions.

Still, this could work yet. The people who turn their noses up at transgender people aren’t exactly the same people who will give a shit about a remake of Rocky Horror. I can’t recall ever seeing any uptight Republican types in the audience with me tossing tissue paper and blowing on noise makers. This probably won’t even show up on their radar.

Then this happened…

FB_IMG_1469152016691

…oh boy…

Now, as a fan of the show, I get how this advertises it. I know all about Brad and Janet stumbling into Frank-n-furter’s castle and being very freaked out by his ostentatious nature. I get how Frank-n-furter himself dressed very flamboyantly, is overly touchy, and likes to strike dramatic poses. I get how the whole story revolves around giving in to your desires and facing what you think is either weird or taboo. I get all of that, and if this existed in a vacuum, this would be the perfect billboard for the show.

But this show exists in the real world, and the real world really sucks. The real world has bigots who threaten to kill transgender women for going to the bathroom. The real world has politicians calling us sick, demented, and a threat to the safety of children. The real world mistakes transgender women for drag queens and doesn’t understand the concept of gender identity. That’s the real world, and the real world is going to be seeing this sign.

This is what has me really worried. This isn’t a commercial that’s airing on FOX. This isn’t a YouTube video you’ll only stumble across if you’re already looking for similar things and you wouldn’t have to watch even if you did find it by accident. No, this is a billboard (or a banner; I’m not entirely sure but I’m going with billboard for this post; my points remain valid either way). It will be seen by all motorists who pass it, from the most helpful of allies to the most vial of homophobes. They will all see this. They will all interpret this. It cannot be avoided. With that in mind, we need to be responsible and think of the message this will communicate to someone who already hates transgender people as they pass it every day on their morning commute.

That person sees Laverne Cox, someone already famous for being transgender, dressed in the same manner of flamboyant costume that their pastor or political representative has told them transgender women wear all the time. She is laid out on the couch with a leg in the air, communicating sexual promiscuity. There are two “normal” looking people (white people no less) at the other end looking very uncomfortable being in her presence. Her foot is touching his face, indicating that she’s okay advancing on them even though they’re visibly uneasy. And to top it all off, the word “trans” is literally at the top of the whole picture.

That is not a person now eager to throw on an Eddie costume and start singing about how they really love that rock and roll. That’s a person who is seeing the media literally manifest all their fears about transgender people on a giant sign for them to see each time they get in the car. This is likely someone who doesn’t actually know any transgender people, has never interacted with them, or at least didn’t recognize them in passing (pun intended). An image like this can only increase their fear and anger towards the transgender community. It can only put transgender women in even more danger. Imagine that person seeing this billboard day after day and then seeing a transgender woman go into the same bathroom as their daughter. Just think of what’s going to go through their head when they connect the two actually unrelated-though not to them-things.

 And what makes me really upset is that I feel Cox should have considered this. Has living in the lap of luxury shielded her from the very real dangers other transgender women face? I know she’s an advocate, but does she now feel so safe in her economic position that she failed to see how this advertisement could put her trans sisters in harm’s way? I mean, I was already worried when she took the role in the first place. But now this…this?!

As a transgender woman who is neither rich or famous, I do have to live with these constant fears. I have been threatened with violence and death just for using the bathroom. I have been called a freak and a danger to children. I’m not saying people don’t say these things about Cox, but she’s not in a position to feel as vulnerable to actual violence as someone like me is.

I wish they wouldn’t put up this sign. I wish they would just keep the advertisements for this production targeted. Transgender people, especially  transgender women, live in a frightening reality. Transgender women have a much higher likelihood of facing violence and murder and it’s still legal to blame the fact that they’re transgender as the reason they were killed (trans panic defense). I’m sure no one at FOX will ever see this post, but if by some reason these words do reach their eyes, I implore them not to use this image to promote the show. Rocky Horror fans may love it, but it could have very real consequences for transgender women already living in fear. And to Laverne Cox, please don’t lose sight of your community. Advocating for transgender rights is great, but a person in your position needs to watch every single move, because the world certainly is.

-Faith