4/9/14

Open letter to Andrea James and Calpernia Addams.


Calpernia Addams waited three months  to announce her advisory role after Dallas Buyers Club premier  as the trans community speculated on whom or if anyone has advised Jared Leto for "Rayon". Then, after announcing her involvement in the movie she slammed those who posted opinions about his problematic role as "elitist hypocrisy."

Op-ed written by Marti Abernathey and kelli anne Busey

It started with Addams March 5th Advocate Op-ed: In Defense of Jared Leto followed by Parker Marie Molloy March 10th Advocate post, critical of Addams, titled "Op-ed: What People Don't Get About Dismay Over Jared Leto. Everything was civil up to that point, but that civility came to an end with Calpernia Addams dismissive April 2nd Huffington Post article "Parker Marie Molloy's Transphobic and Homophobic Slurs Don't Matter, but Our Response Does".  Addams inexplicably attempts to invalidate Parkers transgender identity because of her youth and  attacks her style of journalism and advocacy writing:


“A few weeks ago newcomer to transition and lesbian/trans issues Parker Marie Molloy purposefully misgendered me and called into question my identity as female in an op-ed piece for Advocate.com by calling me a ‘drag queen’ and saying that I ‘[refer] to [myself] as 'a transsexual.’ Apparently she's expressed similar sentiments about Carmen Carrera and others. I was freshly returned from speaking at Oxford University and recording my acoustic LP in London, so I filed the incident under ‘See If This Still Matters to You in a Few Days" and resumed my busy life here in Los Angeles.’”


“I wasn't sure who Molloy was, but I assumed that she was another one of the nutty trans hacktivists who had been ‘triggered’ by the buzz generated when Jared Leto thanked me in his Oscars acceptance speech.”


Blatant ableism of Addam’s “nutty trans hacktivist” aside, the dismissive and elitist tone of her piece is evident. If you disagree with her, you’re wrong and a “nutty trans hacktivist.”.


Addams and James have stated Molloy slurred her by calling her a drag queen and a transsexual. One look at Addams’ website and you’ll see that she brands herself as “America’s Transsexual Sweetheart.” As far as being called a drag queen, since when is that a slur? Self identification should be respected, but the implication here is that being a transsexual is at odds with being a drag queen. Drag is performance art, drag queens are performers, and they perform at drag establishments such as Hamburger Marys. If you perform at a Vegas show club, you're a showgirl. If you dance and sing at a drag bar for money, it’s not a slur to call you a drag queen regardless of your gender. How different is “drag queens are men, drag kings are women” than “trans women are men, trans men are women”? Is Monica Beverly Hills not  trans because she identifies herself as a drag queen? From LOGO’s Mark Blankenship on why Hills was not cheating while being trans on RuPaul’s Drag Race:

“Because ‘drag’ isn’t just about dressing up like someone of the opposite sex. It’s about donning a persona. It’s about an artist using his or her talent to create a larger-than-life performance that somehow captures, critiques, celebrates, or enhances our typical understanding of identity. Think about RuPaul’s Drag U, which focuses on turning biological women into “drag queens” for a day, just so they can feel fabulous. When they dress outrageously and take on stage names, those women ARE drag queens.


I know where this argument leads: By my logic, you could say that anyone dressing up in any kind of costume or notable outfit is putting on drag.


And… yes. That’s exactly what I mean.


Drag is everywhere. In this history of drag balls, for instance, there have always been categories like “executive realness,” in which gay men dress as heightened versions of heterosexual business men. In those cases, those queens aren’t rocking girl drag, but they were still in drag. When I put on a suit and tie for a work event, I’m rocking executive drag. And so is Donald Trump.


The point is, we’re always putting on identities. We’re always performing a self for the world. We’re always in drag. All of us.
---------------------------
While Addams can choose what to call herself when she performs at a drag establishment, implying that drag queen is a gender identity is a form of internalized transphobia. There’s a difference between a performer’s gender identity and their performance. Being called a drag queen isn’t a misgendering slur.


On April 5th Andrea James chimed in with her vitriolic screed “I F*cking Hate @RuPaul”. She began by slamming Molloy for a tweet, since deleted, in which Molloy expressed her frustration over RuPauls unrepentant transphobia. This tweet made its way to the pages of TERF central 'Gender Trender'. Cathy Brennan, a virulently transphobic woman spends much of her time examining the trans agenda using every opportunity to insert hate hoping to drive a wedge between trans people and the feminist movement.

This image has since been deleted from Gender Trender but its important to note, if Brennan agrees with your sentiments, its time to check yourself.


A  quick synopsis of James’ post on Boing Boing:


  • Parker Molloy is a newbie trans person, an unethical journalist, who has an unhealthy addiction to Twitter.
  • The Advocate isn't the same as it used to be, and Molloy is just trafficking outrage for linkbait.
  • Molloy is a heckler, not a journalist because she isn't polite.
  • RuPaul is a drag queen who is allowed to be transphobic because he's a boundary breaker/drag queen/entertainer.
  • Molloy has disdain for drag, and is an internet shut-in who uses made up pseudo-academic jargon.
  • Most vocal anti-RuPaul hecklers are trans women who are primarily attracted to women.
  • She-male, tranny, he-she, shim, chicks with dicks, dolls with balls, sluts with nuts, or guys in disguise, are hilariously offensive slurs, but drag queen is a slur that must not be used.
  • Twitter activists are mean and don't build bridges and don't do anything, witness #CancelCOlbert.
  • I don't hate Rupaul, Rupaul has made a lot of money, sold a lot of product and donated a lot of money to LGBT charities.


Suggesting that Molloy is a pseudo-journalist “shut in” is not only ableist, it’s factually incorrect. Molloy is a well respected journalist who has contributed to Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, and Salon.com. She also has a Twitter account at ParkerMolloy and a website of her own where she provides personal opinion and commentary. The meme that James is trying to promote that Molloy isn’t a journalist is simply an ad hominem. Plenty of journalists have Twitter accounts where they communicate their own personal views.. By James’ logic, Ezra Klein, Andrew Sullivan or Glenn Greenwald aren’t journalists because they have twitter accounts where they discuss their own personal opinions.


It’s also a bit odd that James complains about new/social media on Boing-Boing. Boing-Boing is definitely not part of the old media establishment. This amounts to "GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU YOUNG KIDS" while standing on someone else’s (new media) lawn.


James goes on to say “These trans folks have developed their own pseudo-academic jargon like cis-het, which means ‘cisgender heterosexual,’ which itself means ‘non-transgender straight person.’”Pseudo-academic? James might want to check with actual academics, since it’s a term used in, you know, academic papers.


James also gives RuPaul an out because he’s a drag queen and suggests that Twitter activists don’t actually accomplish anything. This simply is false. James asks "Why does Molloy, who is transgender, fucking hate RuPaul? Ru used the word “shemale” recently on RuPaul’s Drag Race and has unapologetically used a number of other taboo words over several decades, like “tranny” and what-not."



Trivializing transphobic words and phrases that are used by those who kill only serves to highlight James’ separation from the transgender reality.


RuPaul has made a living using transphobic verbiage in his show, capitalizing on the outrage from our community to rake in the dough. RuPaul shouldn’t be given any more of a pass than Kelly Osbourne was given for her “chick with a dick” comment. Calling out Osbourne did have an effect. She apologized and her millions of twitter followers were educated along with her about the Transgender Day of Remembrance. You can point to other Twitter led movements as well that had actual positive results. Even James’ example of #cancelColbert fails to prove her point. The Colbert Report has a viewership of 1.9 million people a night and the controversy made into the New Yorker, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street journal, and many well respected media outlets. The people who viewed Colbert’s show or read about the hashtag activism were informed of controversy around the Washington Redskins name. Awareness of the problem is one of the first things you need to do to fix a problem, and #cancelColbert did just that.


James also alluded to Malloy’s sexual orientation, saying “It’s noteworthy that the most vocal anti-RuPaul hecklers are trans women who are primarily attracted to women.” Why is this noteworthy? Would mentioning that Calperina “I date straight guys, dumbass” Addams spends much of her time working in gay male culture be remotely relevant to the conversation at hand?  For all of James’ comments about not bridge building and the Twitteratti simply being a “ the worst of two worlds: heckling and gotcha-style journalism”, what exactly does mentioning Molloy’s sexual orientation prove? Trying to judge someone on their intention or motivations is troublesome and doesn’t do anything to build any bridges or heal any wounds. Seems more like “gotcha-style journalism” that James complains about in her own post.


In the end, I’m not sure why either James or Addams have chosen to point their sites on Molloy, rather than on the the questions Molloy asks about RuPaul, or the industry they work work for. Does the industry need someone to speak up for it? Worse, do they need someone lobbing personal attacks in defense of the indefensible?


Those that claim to be allies or part of a larger LGBT community shouldn’t be given a break because of who they are. In fact, they should be held to a HIGHER standard than those people who do not self identify as LGBT or as an ally. No amount of personal attacks on Molloy, “shooting the messenger”,  willl change that.




8 comments:

poitbrain said...

"I was freshly returned from speaking at Oxford University and recording my acoustic LP in London" yada, yada, yada...


Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun?

poitbrain said...

Darlie Says:
"Women doing drag call themselves Faux or Bio Queens. Drag Queens are men, as cross dressers are men and they are both part of the transgender community.. Liza didn’t like Ellen’s joke much did she!

“Self identification should be respected, but the implication here is that being a transsexual is at odds with being a drag queen.”

That would be correct, it is"

No, it really isn't. It's a more recent opinion - perhaps the last decade.

Some cis women describe themselves that way (Bio queens nomenclature etc) - usually of a certain age and cultural background. I'll note that Dolly Parton is quite comfortable calling herself a drag queen - which - if you check Calpurnia's web site - she herself also states - and feels quite comfortable saying. Joyful, really.
http://www.calpernia.com/diary/transsexuals-who-are-ashamed-of-transsexuals-twaats/

"(Well, Ok Dolly Parton is a drag queen, but in the most wonderful way!)"


Life and identity is complicated. All of these perspectives are bound by their times.

And - a good deal of this is personal in nature - not political.

I'll leave the professional logrolling questions to others.

Unknown said...

"No, it really isn't. It's a more recent opinion - perhaps the last decade. "

No, actually, that is false. The entire history of drag has been men doing women. Drag is the acronym for "dressing as girls" . There is no other version of it beyond what I described. Faux or Bio Queens , women imitating men who imitate women , are not describing themselves, that is what the gay community calls them .

You misquoted Dolly.

"It's a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I'd be a drag queen.”- Dolly Parton

Life is complicated. People are crazy. There is only one kind of drag queen , and they are men.

poitbrain said...

I quoted Calpernia, not Dolly. She refereed to Dolly as a drag queen. Check the linky. I screen shotted the page as well.

I stand corrected in the part where I stated she claimed being a drag queen. She has, however, entered drag shows. And been a drag performer - with her character being herself.

Your derivation for drag is considered a fanciful and more recent one - and from the US. The 1940's But the OED shows the term being used in theater back to 1870 at least. With the derivation of their skirts dragging on the floor. Just as your preferred terms are from a time you may see as bedrock and immutable - but others see as just another part of the continuum. The world neither started nor will end with the terms bio or faux queen.I'd wager the decade will see new one before it's end.

But by then, perhaps neither of us will have a lawn left to tell people to get off of.

Unknown said...

Not to "drag" out the point. This article is from 2008, six years ago.


"Can an activity, an action, determine gender or transform someone from being a woman to being a drag queen? Does involvement in gay culture negate my womanhood? I simply answer with: Do women not sing and dance? Do women not wear beautiful clothes and costumes for performances? Do women not wear theatrical makeup and wigs for performances? If doing those things makes someone a “drag queen”, then Britney Spears, Madonna, Diana Ross, Christina Aguilera, Cher, Rita Hayworth, Carmen Miranda and Dolly Parton are drag queens. (Well, Ok Dolly Parton is a drag queen, but in the most wonderful way!) "



It clearly says, working in a gay club , wearing theatrical makeup and wigs for performances does NOT make you a drag queen. That is pretty clear.

The reference to Dolly is joke and an aside. Calpernia adores Dolly and I think that joke was made with Dolly's drag experience in mind. Now lets finish with a full disclosure of Dollys statement. In context, it explains everything.


"Parton also dishes about that time she entered -- and lost -- a drag queen celebrity lookalike competition. "They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated -- made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything," she said, laughing. "So I just got in the line and I just walked across, and they just thought I was some little short gay guy...and I got the least applause!"

She then added, "It's a good thing I was a girl or I'd be a drag queen.""


Since you mentioned it. Yeah, and she lost. But she was doing Faux Queen, not drag.


Theater was always men playing , Greek theater, Japanese kabuki , back to Shakespeare. That doesn't change the fact that the modern drag queen we are talking about was totally about gay men doing women. The repulsive term "fish" was even used to describe how well they did they passed.


Will there be new terms for women doing women ? Maybe, but till then, enjoy Faux Queens.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-varrati/girls-will-be-girls-love-your-faux-queens_b_2594642.html






poitbrain said...

I;m sorry - but that's really a bit of rigid thinking.

Dolly certainly didn't call it doing faux queen. Cis women doing boy drag in the 70's & 80's didn't call it faux queen. The term starts in the mid 90's onward or so? Hardly one of the eternal veritudes.

For that matter - drag queens in the 40's through 80's mostly referred to themselves as Female Impersonators (especially "before the Goyim"). Because drag queens saw the phrase being perceived as derogatory and didn't want it in ads.

Faux queens is the only word because faux queens is the only word - circular reasoning is circular.

Unknown said...


I”;m sorry - but that's really a bit of rigid thinking. “

When history becomes less ridged so will I.

“Dolly certainly didn't call it doing faux queen. “

Dolly wouldn’t know, she is not a member of the community.


“Cis women doing boy drag in the 70's & 80's didn't call it faux queen. The term starts in the mid 90's onward or so? Hardly one of the eternal veritudes.”

Have any documentation of women doing drag in the 70,s and 80’s ? I’d love to see it. I thought that was the disco era, not the drag era :) Im serious, Id love to see it.

“For that matter - drag queens in the 40's through 80's mostly referred to themselves as Female Impersonators (especially "before the Goyim"). Because drag queens saw the phrase being perceived as derogatory and didn't want it in ads. “

They used different terms because they could be raided or murdered for being gay. Actually , the gay community saw it as drag queens as derogatory. There was always an anti queen subtext in trying to not be seen as “limp wrested” They struggle with it now trying to avoid that caricatured feminized stereotype,


“Faux queens is the only word because faux queens is the only word - circular reasoning is circular.”

“In San Francisco, the first ever Faux Queen pageant was produced as a benefit by Diet Popstitute and the first title holder was Coca Dietetica aka Laurie Bushman. The Klubstitute Kollective was formed after Diet Popstitute's death to continue to raise funds and provide a space for the performers who, at the time, weren't always welcome in regular drag venues. Pageant organizer Ruby Toosday had "friends who got fired (from drag clubs) for being women...it seemed like we had definitely hit a nerve. Contestants were judged on drag, talent, and personality by an all-star panel of judges[9] and the winner helped "femcee" the following year. The pageants were held from 1996 to 2005. Although there is interest in holding another pageant some question if the need is there since faux queens have integrated into modern drag circles.
Fauxnique (dancer & performance artist Monique Jenkinson) became the first faux queen to win a major drag pageant - competing against male or MTF drag queens - when she was crowned Miss Trannyshack 2003. From Bust Magazine: "'(drag) comes down to a sort of self-awareness, a self-consciousness about playing around with femininity,' says Fauxnique. She adds that while drag for her is primarily about performance, it's also a 'rejection of traditional oppressive forms of masculinity_—and that's part of an affinity with gay men as well. I wouldn't say every faux queen is a feminist, but I would say that a part of them is in some way.'"
In the 1970s and 1980s, Russian-born Brazilian faux queen Elke Maravilha became a popular TV personality after participating as a judge inChacrinha and Silvio Santos talent shows. According to her, "many people think I am a transvestite. When they ask me this, I jokingly reply that I'm a man indeed. And of the most gifted ones".“

poitbrain said...

Yes - I do have evidence. Right in your post that you cribbed from wikipedia.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, Russian-born Brazilian faux queen Elke Maravilha became a popular TV personality after participating as a judge inChacrinha and Silvio Santos talent shows. According to her, "many people think I am a transvestite. When they ask me this, I jokingly reply that I'm a man indeed. And of the most gifted ones".“

Only, she never called herself a faux queen. The term is being applied retroactively. It's an anachronism.

You also conveniently elide the next sentence:

"The comedy films Connie and Carla[14] and Victor Victoria both centre on faux queens, but the main characters of both films are women who are forced by circumstance to work as faux queens."

Which were of course decades before your "prove to me a time before the 90's trope"

Viktor and Viktoria being from 1933 in the German original. With many, many remakes along the way.

Oh - and you may have heard of that Shakespeare fellow and the principal boy role. And who he was often cast in contrast with?


Try again.