Dana Lane Taylor: I Rise to Your Challenge

Today I found that I was the subject of yet another Dana Lane Taylor gauntlet throw-down. Dana is an opinion leader in the TS Separatist group and in this post she seems to claim complete ignorance of any crossdresser leadership within the trans community except for the evil Virginia Prince. Well, as with the last time Taylor threw out a challenge, I accept!

On the outset I have to question the honesty of the following statement:

“There is a stigma surrounding male crossdressers which Charles (Virginia) Prince tried to address years ago which ended up causing harm to transsexuals.”

First of all, we’ve done this dance over and over again. Taylor and her ilk make an assertion of fact, I ask to see the evidence they used to draw their conclusions and they then tie themselves in knots (up to and including burden shifting) trying to avoid admitting that they have no evidence and that their assertions of fact (like the above quote) are merely unsubstantiated opinions masquerading as truth. Unsubstantiated assertions of fact seems to be the stock in trade of many (certainly not all) Separatists. A statement such as the above quote is intellectual junk food designed for the credulous and dogmatic.


“Why aren’t they urging the self-identified Sissy Maids and admitted transvestites to get dressed up in their Sunday best and approach their lawmakers to help get laws passed? Why not? Because the TeeGee leadership doesn’t want people to know what Transgender really means. So what they did was used the label Transgender, threw everyone they could into it, and put the face of transsexuals on it. Transgender is just a smoke screen so the public can’t see what is really going on. The men are hiding behind the skirts of women.”

Claims of pseudo-omniscience concerning the motivation of others should serve as a red flag to the cautious reader. Taylor seems to assert that crossdressers don’t dress respectfully when meeting with lawmakers because it’s what adults are expected to do in professional situations; no, crossdressers dress respectfully only because the “ TeeGee leadership doesn’t want people to know what Transgender really means.“ After claiming inerrant knowledge concerning the motivations of the “TeeGee leadership”, Taylor goes on to make some testable fact claims:

  • Transgender is just a smoke screen so the public can’t see what is really going on.“ Apparently a conspiracy exists wherein the transgender leadership tries to hide the fact that the term “transgender” covers all non-cisgender people (even the CosPlayers and Visual Kei) in the same way that the term “gay” covers all same-sex-loving people (even the leather daddies and studs).This is a testable statement. One way of testing this assertion is to simply survey what the transgender leadership has taught government entities about what “transgender” means. Did the transgender leadership teach the government that “transgender” only equals transsexual or, did they teach the government that it was an umbrella term?
  • The men are hiding behind the skirts of women.” Crossdressers are apparent accomplices to this conspiracy and are willingly “hiding behind the skirts of women.”A simple way of testing this assertion would be to review the evidence of involvement crossdressers have had in the progress of the trans community. Fortunately, I’ll do a little of that in this post.

Did Taylor offer up ANY evidence to substantiate these assertions of fact? Nope. So, my response to this intellectual hucksterism is to again quote the inimitable Christopher Hitchens, “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

Dana goes on to write:

“I haven’t seen a single male crossdresser take a leadership role by lobbying for transgender rights. Almost every one of those who are in these roles identify as women. Now, why would this be? I think it is something a lot of people don’t think about but I bet those leaders know very well why.”

Later she throws down the gauntlet challenging:

“Maybe someone in the leadership roles will prove me wrong and write an article mentioning all of these people, in detail, and try to justify broad definitions of gender identity and or expression being included in all public accommodations. Monica? Autumn? Christan? [BTW, my name is spelled “Cristan”] Any takers? And how about some of you guys who a crossdressers with names such as Lilly Tgirl or CD Janie get all dressed up and walk into the office of a lawmaker and lobby for your rights?  How about someone named “Sissy Maid Faggot Steven” get all dolled up and lobby?”

A transvestite-identified man named James Howell was the first to do trans lobbying on behalf of ALL trans people. His organization was called the Transvestite Information Service (TIS) which was personally backed by Reed Erickson (a transsexual). The TIS went on to help start one of our nation’s first national trans organizations called the United Transvestite and Transexual Society.

Transvestite Information Service: First national attempt to contact, dialogue with and gain information about ordinances which barred both crossdressers and transsexuals from dressing in female clothing if they were sexed male at birth.

JoAnn Roberts began being active in 1980 and co-founded the Transgender Renascence Association in 1987. In addition to publishing a number of trans magazines, she started the Transgender Forum back in 1994.  She’s one of the (seemingly) many that’s been credited for coining that nefarious, oppressive umbrella term “transgender” as meaning a community of non-cisgender people. Here’s what else she’s done as a transgender leader:

I had been very active in community politics, but not so much of late. I’ve served as the head of Renaissance twice, initially as its first Managing Director and then as Chair of the Board for its 10th Anniversary in 1997. I was Chair of the board of the American Educational Gender Information Service (AEGIS) from 1992 to 1996. I was elected to the International Foundation for Gender Education board twice and last served in 1994. I was a co-founder of the Congress of Transgender Organizations (CTO), the Transgender Alliance for Community (TAC), GenderPAC, and lastly the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC). I also authored the original Bill of Gender Rights in 1990, which was later expanded into the International Bill of Gender Rights.

Or, what about:

  • The fact that I have proof that crossdressers were lobbying on behalf of all trans folk since the 1970s?
  • The fact that I have proof that crossdressers were openly part of what it meant to be “trans” in the 1980s when doing political work? (Proof #1Proof #2)
  • The fact that both crossdressers and transsexuals have been targeted by fundamentalists since the 1950s and that even in the 1950s normal people (non-fundamentalists) didn’t view transsexuals and crossdressers as abominations.
  • The fact that transsexuals were having legal issues way, way before the Dana’s conspiracy theory has crossdressers ripping the rights away from transsexuals: Proof #1, Proof #2; not to mention Anonymous v. Weiner, 1966; Hartin v. the Director of Bureau of Records, 1973; or, Anonymous v. Mellon, 1977

Yah, yah, yah… I can hear you now: “Well, maybe so… But why are you hiding those really weird trans people, hum?”

One “weird” crossdresser immediately comes to mind since I live in Texas:  Leslie Cochran

“Leslie Cochran, local homeless transvestite icon, has run for mayor multiple times, and during his first bout for the position, in 2000, he came in second to Kirk Watson (with 7.7 percent of the vote). Standing 6/4′ in heels, Leslie is both the king and queen of weird Austin. Well spoken and will liked (by most), Leslie has become a notable tourist attraction, homeless advocate, and regular nightlife reveler.”

– Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas by Joshua Long

While I wouldn’t call Leslie Cochran a transgender leader, I will say that he is open about being a crossdresser, that he’s a homeless activist and well-loved in the Texas state capitol.  Need I really mention Stu Rasmussen? While both male-identified people have been looked upon as being “weird”, they seem to be well-loved, productive and accepted in their cities… as they should be.

Also, I would call the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence a leadership organization within the community. I can’t point to any one sister as being a trans leader, but I can say that the Sisters were the first to respond to AIDS when it was ripping through the GLBT community. I can say that they were in the business of saving lives, helping the dying and “used drag and Catholic imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and [to] satirize issues of gender and morality.” While the Catholic church was protecting pedophiles and killing millions by telling Africans that while AIDS was bad, using a condom was worse, the Sisters were out there protesting this stuff through performance art and doing measurable good in their community.

I mention the above people/groups only to dispel the preposterous notion that the most outrageous among us are somehow so tainted that they are useless and/or cannot hope to better society. In fact, what is evident is that yes, even someone that appears in public looking like this…

Sister Sistah, Sister Dana Van Iquity and Sister Kitty Catalyst O.C.P. at San Francisco’s NAMES Project Quilt office on Market St. working on the Sister’s Nuns of The Above memorial quilt.

… deserves to have a chair at the table, deserves full 14th amendment guarantees, deserves to live a life without being crippled by shame (their own or our own) and that they are a valuable part of our community.

And just so there’s no misunderstanding, representatives of the crossdressing community have always played significant roles in the Houston trans leadership and community. (Do I need to say yet again that Houston is where trans law was born?) Whether it’s helping to lead groups or organizations, lobbying in Austin, conducting charity work, being there for others or answering the trans community hotline day and night for 15 years, crossdressers have stood shoulder to shoulder with their transsexual, intersex, etc brothers and sisters and I see no reason why that will be changing anytime soon.

Now, as to the whole bathroom red herring:

“Jolle Ruby Ryan wrote an article about being proud of fetish transvestites under the transgender umbrella. I was actually a bit shocked that one of the voices of this community would say this. The only place I saw this article posted was on her site. Nobody else in the leadership roles of the transgender community touched it. Why? Because this is the kind of thing that can destroy their chances on getting broad gender identity laws to pass. The general public does not want men in women’s private spaces. This is why a lot of laws for protections of transgender and transsexual folks don’t pass. And some do but public accommodations are stripped out. The transgender leadership keeps the cross-dressing men, sissy maids and those inflicted with paraphillic infantilism in a dark basement, and for good reason.”

The link Taylor seems to find so perplexing is apparently some blog post wherein someone dared assert that all people of non-cis experience, behavior and expression – even if that expression is sexual in nature – should be able to live a life free of shame and guilt. Yes, I know. Terrifying.

The above quote makes the following assertions of fact, without – yet again – providing any evidence to support such assertions:

  • The quote apparently assumes that the TG Borg knew about this person’s post and has purposefully withheld comment lest we draw more unwanted attention to the abhorrent notion that even transvestites have a right to live life without being crippled by shame.
  • The only reason trans protections do not pass is because of the crossdressers and that real progress can’t be made until they go away.
  • Paraphilic infantilism = transgender
  • Guys in maid costumes are being kept in a “dark basement” as part of the TG Borg conspiracy because reasonable lawmakers will think that they’re just trying to gain access to stuff like the women’s showers.

Consider that the quote must inherently assume that laws/ordinances prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance could be nullified by trans protections based upon gender identity and/or expression. If the safety of cisgender women are of real concern (as Taylor claims) when discussing trans protections, then there must be some some rational for that concern, right? I mean, surely separatists would never spread fear-based hyperbole knowing full well that there’s no evidence to support the idea that trans protections somehow circumvent existing safety laws … right? Consider that Taylor’s assertions were written at a time in our history wherein the number of companies, states, cities and municipalities, schools (public and private), community colleges, universities and governmental agencies protecting trans folk from discrimination based upon gender identity and/or expression is (compared to 15 years ago) tremendous. Consider also that this tremendous growth is an upward trend.

My Challenge to Dana Taylor

Dana, how many real-word examples can you give which demonstrate exactly how protections against discrimination based upon gender identity and expression nullified existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance so that, for example,  neither the courts nor police could do anything but stand by while some some guy with a tutu on his head publicly masturbated? Since I hear your ilk (and fundamentalists too) consistently crow on and on about this, I’m guessing that you (like the fundamentalists) must have several real-life examples of how trans protections have undone 100s of years worth of law protecting people against violence and exploitation. Where are all the freed panty-wearing pedophiles who roam the streets today because trans protections equaled their get out of jail free card? Dana, you threw down your gauntlet, now allow me to do the same.

In a post, list 10 real-world examples (wherein you cite your source for each) where protections against discrimination based upon gender identity and expression allowed abusers to circumvent laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. Show me – and everyone else – just how serious your assertions of fact should be taken. Show us, for example, the pedophile who was released from jail because of his panty collection. If you cannot or will not do this, you will have proven that you have no substantive argument. Moreover, your  inability to support your assertions will become evidence that supports spreading notions that in fact, you don’t know what you’re talking about and that you’re just making stuff up and that you are just as bad as any fundamentalist who prepares unfounded propaganda for consumption by the credulous mind. I’ve responded to your challenge; will you respond to mine?

Please don’t weasel out of this by claiming (without evidence) that while you can’t do it right now, we should just accept on faith alone that trans protections will inevitably be used by someone, somewhere at some point in the future to commit some crime which would not have of otherwise occurred. Also, please do not equivocate and claim that a non-op or crossdresser using the women’s restroom is like rape/assault/ect. because, in fact, it isn’t. Making unsupported prognostications and playing word games is nothing more than  intellectual hucksterism. Please rise to the challenge and produce just 10 real-world examples wherein protections against discrimination based upon gender identity and expression allowed abusers to circumvent laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance.

cross-posted from Ehipassiko

Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.