Tired of These Stupid “Jokes”

No sooner had I managed to calm down after the David Letterman nonsense that I discover that it has become the fashion amongst left-wing Americans to “joke” about how Anne Coulter is “really” a man.

And then I saw this, in which Stephen Fry joins the ranks of gay men who demand our support when one of them gets attacked but is only too eager to dump on the trannys when the mood takes him because “everyone knows” that trannys are pathetic scum who deserve to be laughed at.

Let’s get this very clear, people.

1. Every time you make a joke about how someone born female is “really” a man you are reinforcing the idea that trans women are something shameful. It is like kids in a school yard yelling “spastic” at the current target of the bullies.

2. Every time you describe trans women as “deceptive” you are denying their gender identity and their right to live as they feel appropriate. You are also making it harder for them to get access to jobs, health care and so on. You are labeling them as inherently dishonest.

3. Every time you describe trans women as deceptive sexual predators you are reinforcing the myth that trans people only do what they do in order to satisfy perverted sexual desires.

4. Every time you advise men to be wary of being “deceived” by trans women you are providing support for the “trans panic” excuse for murdering trans women. This is no different from the “gay panic” defense for murdering gay people, which is still being used today.

5. Every time you attack trans people but actually only attack trans women you are reinforcing the idea that for a woman to want to live as a man is a natural and understandable ambition but for a man to want to live as a woman is somehow shameful and degrading.

Really, I’m all for having a sense of humor, but it is not necessary to be cruel in order to be funny. Humor should not depend on belittling someone other than yourself who you think is unable to fight back.

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14 Responses to Tired of These Stupid “Jokes”

  1. Brian says:

    I was trying to frame a question relating to this after I saw QI and the reactions to that piece and I hope what I’ve come up with here will be taken in the genuine way in which it is intended. If you are trans (either -male or -female), but pre-op (or you never intend having an operation, or the like), is there a generally accepted… etiquette from the point of view of meeting people with whom you may become romantically or physically involved? I’m really not trying to suggest what anyone should or should not do, I’m asking what you think is right? Is it a case that people should assume nothing of anyone they meet, or, well, doubtless something more complex?

    Anyway, I do hope this hasn’t come across as offensive or assuming or anything, genuine attempt to widen my own outlook and knowledge and awareness of others. Thanks.

    • Cheryl says:

      The short answer is “No”; that is there is no generally accepted etiquette. The trans community is very diverse, and what works for one person might be seen as unacceptable by another. There is a huge difference, for example, between someone who is unable or unwilling to have surgery for some reason, and someone who is merely waiting to be allowed or afford surgery and can’t bear the thought of intimacy prior to the operation.

      There’s also a very long history of psychologists advising trans women that they should never reveal their background to potential lovers as anyone who knew would clearly only be interested in having sex with a freak rather than with a real woman. That needs to be worked through.

      • Steve Cooper says:

        I have to say the diversity of the trans community was brought home to me when I lived in Oxford and helped set up a LGBT center in the city (not sure if its still open). One of the first volunteers we got to help us gut the old building we were given by the council and help decorate was a lesbian transsexual. She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

        But I have to say that even within that community full acceptance was not 100%, although I gathered she had much better acceptance by lesbians than some of the other trans-gender female members had from straight men.

        But why some gay men seem to have a problem with people of the trans community I’ll never understand. People of Stephen Fry’s age are old enough to remember the prejudice that gays & lesbians went through to get to where we are now. We didn’t fight for the equal right to be prejudiced.

        But then I can remember in the 70’s gay & lesbian activists lamenting about the lack of support we got from the black community and many of the worst puff’da jokes coming from black comedians.

  2. V says:

    I tell myself there will be a time when kids won’t corner their peers in the locker room and insult them by calling them queers, when whether they are or not has nothing to do with it. When people won’t insult women by calling them “handsome” or “mannish”, and people won’t insult men by calling them “pretty”.
    When style guides will include a bit about not obsessing about the appearance of gender “variant” people.

  3. Kendall says:

    There’s lots to pick on with Coulter that’s unrelated to her appearance; I’ve never understood–or appreciated–that particular tack (which isn’t new re. Coulter).

    BTW, “spastic”–wow, I haven’t thought of that one in a long time.

    • Cheryl says:

      I guess that shows how old I am, doesn’t it.

      • ARNOLD AKIEN says:

        To V on Pretty .. a little while ago I bumped into a woman of my .. 60 plus .. generation who had the good fortune to go to school with me . She introduced herself to me, reminded me of who she was, and in the course of conversation remarked that ‘ all of us just Loved Your Pretty Golden Hair ” Oh how I did blush .. prettily .. whilst remarking that whilst the Girls did like my .. now absent .. hair the Boys didn’t and some of the same would often remark upon my clearly being a ‘Poof ‘ … this despite the Girls liking my company.

        Prejudice isn’t all that easy to define or all that easy to circumvent since as often as not it has to do with the deeply felt deficiencies of the prejudiced rather that the attributes of the people that that are prejudiced against.

        Prejudice against women by those who fancy themselves to be True or Real MEN is still fairly commonplace … and this can become very nasty indeed when it tips over into the prejudices of religion. I’ve just finished reading this …

        ” But the trial was thrown into turmoil on Friday, when Judge Warren Wilbert acquiesced to a defence request to allow the defendant to argue that the murder was a justified act because of his belief that in killing one man he was saving the lives of unborn babies. Sometimes dubbed a “necessity defence”, a conviction for voluntary manslaughter which could be punishable by as little as five years ā€“ instead of life ā€“ in prison. ”

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/a-death-sentence-for-abortion-doctors-1866129.html

        The US of America can be a Very strange place indeed.

        Beyond that there is the hinterland that lies beyond precise definition of who is what and What is a true Woman or Man, or a Real Gay, Or .. whichever.

        As a ‘ normal ‘ man I find myself to be saddened by the prejudice that is constructed by those who are prejudiced against by main stream society and who should know better than to create their own prejudices on lines that they find satisfying to their own egos.

        Frankly, though I am not easily impressed and am very far from being gentle, I find myself to be bloody Awed by those gentle transsexual people who are prepared to stand up and declare who they are at whatever the risk in the hope and expectation that by so doing the future will be a better place and that someday they will be accepted as being ‘ normal ‘ even by those who consider themselves to be ‘queer ‘

      • Kendall says:

        Well, no older than me (and probbaly younger). ;-)

  4. Zander says:

    Really, Iā€™m all for having a sense of humor, but it is not necessary to be cruel in order to be funny.

    Can somebody tell the League of Gentlemen, Lucas&Walliams, Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, and just about everybody else doing comedy these days?

    I absolutely agree with your main point–Fry was out of order and should be ashamed of himself–but it’s a fact that the vast majority of currently fashionable “humour” *is* based on cruelty. You’d think the continuing popularity of repeats from a gentler age would give them a clue.

    However, not to derail the discussion, I repeat I agree with your point. It’s nobody else’s business what gender anyone was born with, unless the person hirself decides to make it so. What matters is the gender you want to be, and the question of “deception” does not arise.

  5. Daveon says:

    The Coulter stuff has been around for a fairly long time now and came in, if memory serves, when she put out a series of “galmour” shots of herself and started talking about how women shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    So while I agree with your point, I think they keep hitting Coulter with this because she really wants people to see her as a beautiful woman and ignore the ugly nature of her rhetoric. While it’s crass and certainly insulting to transgendered people it seems to hit home with her.

    • Cheryl says:

      I can understand people wanting to hit Coulter where it hurts, but by doing so in this way they are very much buying into her rhetoric. Firstly they are accepting the view that being a trans woman is somehow shameful. And secondly they are buying into the idea that bullying vulnerable minorities is the right way to conduct political discourse.

      • Daveon says:

        And secondly they are buying into the idea that bullying vulnerable minorities is the right way to conduct political discourse.

        Heh. Frankly that is pretty much all that Limbaugh and Faux News have in the armory – look at Limbaugh’s comments on Haiti yesterday. It seems to be par for the course in the US.

  6. Rachel Swirsky says:

    Tracked here from Bibliophile Stalker — nice post. Thanks for writing it.

  7. Ray Radlein says:

    For what it’s worth, one of the quickest ways to get yourself downrated into oblivion on Daily Kos is to make an “Ann Coulter is a man” comment.

    One of the more prominent members of the Trans community there, Robyn Severn, has just about run herself ragged over the years making the point that “my identity should not be considered an insult,” but the message has pretty well sunk in by now.

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