As a parent of a gay child, active in Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays since 1986, I was astonished to read the somewhat illiterate letter by retired Dr. K. Marion Weisberg claiming expert knowledge of the transgendered community but revealing considerable ignorance concerning certain truths and changes in concepts that have long been accepted by both the medical establishment and members of both the gay and transgendered communities.
"Transgendered" is now used as a broad term to designate all "birth males and females" who feel some degree of difference in and discomfort with their original gender identity. Such people may include transvestites (crossdressers), transexuals (both male to female and female to male), and intersexuals (individuals born with a mix of both male and female sexual organs and internal conditions relating to gender). And, because gender is not equivalent to sexual orientation, transgendered people can be heterosexual, gay, or bisexual. Some cross-dressers really consider themselves bi-gendered but choose to remain with their original physiology/biology, as do others despite their inner transexual feelings.
It is absurd to cling to the worn-out theory of "fetishness" or "sexual pleasure" as motivational. Even CDers are now beginning to understand that their urge to manifest occasionally as the other gender is probably biologically determined, just as we are now beginning to understand that "gayness" also is based on biological and genetic determinants.
Others feel within themselves [and many medical specialists agree with this likelihood] that they really should have been the opposite gender but were identified erroneously according to appearances at the time of their birth. The latter are those true transexuals who, if they can afford it and choose to be modified surgically, will follow a regimen of hormones indigenous to the opposite sex and then seek, gradually, sex reassignment surgery. it has been long years since the word "transgendered" only referred to transexual males of the latter description.
Dr. W's statement that you will never find CDers in the company of another male is ridiculous. They much prefer to meet in open, friendly and supportive atmospheres with other transpeople, family members, and friends-gay, straight, or transgendered- who love and accept them regardless of gender or sexual identity, temporary or permanent.
Nowadays, more and more transgendered people are being championed, defended, and enjoyed by members of PFLAG all over the U.S., who are finding that their levels of intelligence, talent, personality and character are superior to that of the average person-in the same manner that we have found the same levels to be widely superior within the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. More and more of them are finding the courage to defy public opinion and come out to the world as their "true selves."
In fact, the loudest and most heartfelt champions/advocates of the civil rights of the gay/lesbian/bisexual community have been PFLAG members, along with those of the transgendered community who are already out. A good number of the latter are devoting themselves to doing the long overdue research on this beleagered group in our culture. Now, with our growing Transgender Special Outreach Network (coordinators in almost half of PFLAG's chapters in the U.S.), we of PFLAG are learning to include this minority group in our extended Family. We will continue to work to educate both our own members and the outside world regarding the truth about this cruelly misunderstood group of fine people.
As to the Human Rights Coalition, of course it is a respected group of people who have worked hard for human rights. Many of us, however, were dismayed when ENDA's wording did not take into account the transgender community. Many T's are gay, too, and will have to continue to fight a two-front war against the prejudiced public.
No, the HRC is not perfect, but it was persuaded that it would be political suicide if it included the transgendered under ENDA's umbrella. Does that not, in itself, demonstrate the urgency of the need of transgendered individuals for protection against the ignorance of prejudice? If including the transgendered would be "T-arring the GLBs with the same brush," guaranteeing ENDA's failure to pass, what does that very fear prove if not that the T's are our latest most despised minority to be left undefended, murdered, attacked, mutilated, rejected, and humiliated at will, without the same protections afforded their fellow citizens?
--Daphne S. Reed, Amherst MA.
To The Editor:
Recently, one of your columnists, Pam Young, wrote an article regarding the sphinx-link enigma named Teryl-Lynn Foxx. Similar to many others, Ms. Young attempted to pierce the veil of mystery surrounding Miss Foxx and has, admittedly, not been able to do so.
While I do not consider myself an expert on Miss Teryl-Lynn Foxx, I do have ten years on-the-job experience as her soul mate, friend, confidant, and lover. I believe my comments, therefore, are steeped in the proof of day-to-day living with Miss Foxx. I would like to add my insights to those of Ms. Young, and tell you what Miss Foxx is not and who or what she really is.
Miss Foxx is not duplicitous. She is open and honest-to a fault. Do not seek her opinion if you are afraid of hearing the truth. Of course, she expects the same from others--tell her the truth.
She is professional. Miss Foxx always arrives prepared for any engagement and she is early. In the ten years I have known her, I have never heard of a show being delayed because she was not on time. As an entertainer, Miss Foxx has frequently been the recipient of Entertainer of the Year awards and Life Time Achievement awards. As a long-time favorite on the gay cabaret circuit, Miss Foxx still has the ability to surprise and delight an audience with her innovative presentations. As the frequent winner of Entertainer of the Year, she was given the honor of being placed on the Board of Directors, allowing other entertainers access to the coveted award.
I have heard comments that Miss Foxx is all about money. These comments are usually from people who expect her to work for a mere pittance, say $20 a night-resplendent in a designer gown, plus providing her own current music, while they reap the benefit of her performance. While they insist on such finery and music, they are not willing to pay for it. Miss Foxx's entertainment is her profession, along with her fashion modeling, and these are the ways she earns a living. Would these same individuals expect to do their jobs at perhaps ten percent of their usual and customary wages? And yet, Miss Foxx is considered mercenary and all about money.
"All Miss Foxx's clothes come from Sak's Fifth Avenue, and her gowns are personally designed by Stephen Yearik." While Miss Foxx has excellent fashion sense, not all her clothes are designer originals. She is perfectly happy with a wide variety of clothing. And while Mr. Yearik has designed some gowns for her, she also has gowns from other sources. All her clothing, however, has been legitimately purchased. Miss Foxx does not resort to boosting clothing from stores.
There have been comments that Miss Foxx is "The Ice Princess," and is cold, distant, and aloof. While this may be the stage persona one perceives, it is so far from the true Teryl-Lynn Foxx. Miss Foxx is open, warm, and outgoing. She is helpful to others who share the same transgendered dream. She is caring and concern about our special community of gay, lesbian and transgendered persons. While she is friendly, she does not have time in her life for back-stabbing or pettiness. But, do her wrong, and there will be hell to pay. She does not suffer fools lightly-and if you try to mess over her, you are a fool-and she will get you in the end.
As the man who has shared the past ten year's of Miss Foxx's life, I know her as a warm, loving, caring, devoted individual. Each day I spend with her is a joy-a joy of discovery (learning more of the sphinx-like mysteries), a joy of love, a joy of togetherness. Since she has entered my life, I have been lifted to a higher level of existence than I ever imagined I could achieve. It is with her love, guidance, inspiration, and motivation that I become greater than I was. To be loved by Miss Foxx is akin to achieving nirvana.
I realize my comments are biased, based on a lover's vision of his adored one. I, too, still ponder many of the mysteries that surround Miss Foxx. Some mystique adds glamour, some adds intrigue, and some is necessary for one to preserve his own sense of personal integrity. But all in all, Miss Foxx is no different than you or me. She is merely a person striving to be the best, to reach the top of her profession, to be recognized for her accomplishments, and to live her life as a person full of love of God, family, and people.
Some mysteries are not meant to be solved-and thus it is with Miss Foxx!
--Edward Q. Castle, Sr.
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