A few hours after this week's Scene
hit newsstands, I received a letter from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition
(posted in its entirety after the jump) regarding our cover story
. The story is about El Dos de Oros, a South Nashville bar that caters to immigrant laborers and attracts women and transvestites who are paid for their companionship. The letter takes us to task for the use of the term "transvestite," saying that the word "is a perjorative [sic] term and is considered insulting."
They preferred that we use the term "cross dresser." At least one gender studies expert says that either term could apply to men who dress as women (or vice versa) and that the label "transvestite" is not an insult, per se.
The second part of the letter finds fault with the use of the pronouns "he" and "him" when we refer to Gracia and Ashley. "The Transwomen described in the article should have been referred to as "She" in every single instance," says the TTPC, even though the "transpersons" in question referred to each other with male pronouns and often used the masculine forms of Spanish words when talking about themselves and their friends.
It seems that this is an unsettled matter even among those who are experts in the field. We'd like to open the floor to you folks, and if there are any cross dresser/transvestite/transpeople out there, we'd especially like to hear your opinions.
What follows is the email (titled "Incorrect Use of Gender Terminology") that I recieved from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition:
It was with interest that I read the story in the June 28 issue about El Dos de Oros. It was with great dismay that I saw the totally incorrect use of terminology regarding the transgender customers of the club.
First, the term "transvestite" is a perjorative term and is considered insulting. If a male-to-female transgender person lives in their birth gender, then the proper term is Crossdresser.
Second, regardless of whether or not a transgender person has transitioned, that person should always be addressed by the gender pronoun appropriate to their gender presentation. The Transwomen described in the article should have been referred to as "She" in every single instance.
If Gracia and Ashley, and any other transgender patrons of the club, live full time as women, then they are women, not boys. And if they do not live full time as women, then they can be described as crossdressers. Either way, they should still have been described with female pronouns in every single reference.
We hope that you will attend our event tomorrow evening at Watkins College (listed on Page 34) to meet members of Nashville's Transgender community and to learn more about how we should be described and addressed.
Marisa Richmond, Ph.D.
Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition