Tri Ess: Still Rude

A while back, I found an email inviting me to be the keynote speaker for Tri Ess’s Holiday En Femme conference which was to take place in November, in Chicago. I immediately asked the organizers if the National leadership were okay with me being asked, since Tri Ess hasn’t been happy with me since I wrote My Husband Betty and criticized Tri Ess’s policies in its pages. They had reason to be unhappy with me, that is, which is why I was surprised when I received the invite.

The organizers were confident they were in the clear, having been told that HEF is an inclusive conference. That said, over time, National got wind of what they were planning & had some problems with it – not just with me as the keynote choice, but with workshops on hormones & some other things.

The organizers who invited me eventually quit because they felt the national Tri Ess leadership were trying to control everything to a degree that made it impossible for them, the local organizers, to plan the event.

That said, I had given my professional word that I would speak, and so repeated my agreed-upon conditions with national. They were agreeable to the same conditions. Jane Ellen Fairfax and I exchanged a few pleasantly agreeable emails, even.

A local friend in Chicago emailed me a few days ago just to say hi and happened to mention, in passing, that he hoped Tri Ess had at least let me know before putting that message up on the HEF website. Not having any idea what he was talking about, I went & checked it, only to find this message:

The Board of Tri-Ess held a Conference Call last evening in order to determine the status of the various elements which are necessary to a provide an enjoyable, enlightening and productive Holiday En Femme for all of our Chapters.

After thoroughly reviewing this project for viability in meeting these goals, we determined that, with the short time remaining, Holiday En Femme should be canceled for 2009.

The Board of Tri-Ess wishes to recognize and thank those chapters as well as the many individual sisters and supporters who participated in our endeavour and offers a deep respect for all who made every effort to try to provide you a quality Holiday En Femme.

I had genuinely hoped I could work with Tri Ess on this event so that we could let bygones be bygones, and then, instead, I find this is the wholly unprofessional way they chose to (not) let me know the event was cancelled. I even waited a week before posting this information to give them time to notify me officially – and I wouldn’t have posted it if anyone there had gotten their act together to be professional. They didn’t. I haven’t heard a peep of an apology, an explanation, or even official notice that the event isn’t on.

So yeah, Tri Ess still sucks. It especially sucks that they cancelled it this year, as the conference should have been used to celebrate and recognize the contributions of Virginia Prince, who founded Tri Ess and who died in the past year.I expected people to put aside petty politics in order to recognize the passing of an important trans leader: silly me. I expected, at the very least, for someone who runs the organization to be professional.

That said, Tri Ess doesn’t represent the best of the crossdressers I meet. Some of them have gotten a lot of support out of their local chapters, but I still can’t recommend anyone join an organization that embarasses itself with behavior like this. Crossdressers, you deserve better.

10 Replies to “Tri Ess: Still Rude”

  1. Sadly, for some of us just first coming out, a local Tri Ess chapter may be the only accessible resource. Even in a huge metro are like Chicago, there are basically only 2 main trans groups.

    I suspect that Tri Ess may be dying, though. National Tri Ess talked about HEF 2009 as “must succeed”, yet it failed. And Tri Ess managed to alienate a number of people, including you, a local trans knowledgeable therapist, and assorted membership along the way. The HEF that was envisioned to bring together tore apart instead.

    In AA, one of the traditions stresses the principle “principles before personalities”. In Tri Ess, I have been a seeing a whole lot of personalities before principles.

  2. Following up on Josie’s point and paraphrasing a well-known one: “it’s the testosterone …!” …

    I just feel for those like her who have no other welcoming (?) space/options close to home.

    I’m appalled that in these times when we need to join forces for an better future for all, TriEss is closing its doors more instead of opening them wide to all who need its support. I suspect institutional (possibly inner, personal, transphobic) fears and insecurities somewhere in the subtext, and lament the disrespect it has exhibited to its founder and long time leader.

    The cancellation of the event and their bad PR with their invitees are ominous. On an optimistic note, let’s hope that chaos (in the wise Chinese view) will be seen not just as crisis, but also as opportunity …

  3. People in denial do some hurtful things to those close to them as well as to “strangers”. TriEss does not hold the secret of peace of mind, but the burden of constant denial and evasion. That those characteristics would color their actions follows naturally. TriEss isn’t just rude, they are increasingly irrelevant in today’s world. Thankfully, they are not “the only game in town” for lots of folks.

    Helen, you are to be commended for agreeing to speak at their gathering, even though it has been cancelled.

  4. Untill a few months ago I was the President of a local Tri-Ess Chapter here in the NYC area.At that time our chapter was notified of a pending action by National Tri-Ess to revoke our charter for being non-compliant with several core Tri-Ess bilaws. Our members , after being presented with all the issues and the pros and cons of remaining a Tri-Ess chapter voted to give up our charter and become an independent all inclusive support group. We did not take this action lightly. Tri-Ess did help many of us find our footing as we came out into the TG world and for that we thank them. However we felt that the time had come to distance ourselves from an organization we felt more and more disconnected from.
    Were we in violation of those bilaws? Yes we were-we freely admit we were and given the chance to do things over, we’d do things exactly the same way.
    Since that day we walked away, I’ve been in touch with 2 other chapters who heard about us. But they didn;t hear about us from National Tri-Ess. National Tri-ess has never made public the fact that any chapter has ever left-They just quietly remove all traces of their existance from the website-Kind of like how we put duct tape over the “Tri-Ess” on our group banner.
    Oh and Helen-you sure called it on the confernece!!
    Cynthia Majors
    Former President
    Chi Delta Mu Support Group

  5. Tri-ess needs to get thier heads out of their asses and realize that the cd community is ever changing even the ones with spouses. and all national cares about is $$$ and the membership. they are no way a reflection of what cross-dressers are today and the needs. tho my chapter has been since removed from Tri-ess we do not miss them, how ever i do think that my chapter will not change in order to meet the needs of today’s cd.
    as i think i would do a lot better at changing that.

  6. Tri-Ess is an easy target because they’re organized, but I’ve seen similar behavior with other groups of trans-people. Between passing and not passing, pre- vs. post- vs. non-op, op versus cd, trans-fundamentalism, etc, I’m saddened at how we are using our differences to fracture and self-marginalize ourselves instead of working together to improve the overall situation for us all (I even had one trans-person tell me I cannot identify as trans because I’m not working towards living full-time, after I wrote a post on another board trying to push people to call their senators about ENDA).

  7. Helen, I am sorry about you not being contacted when the event was canceled. When the National Board canceled the event, they did not notify or even discuss this decision with the new planning committee who was meeting weekly with national, of which I was on. So again please accept my personal apology. Chris Grost VP Membership and Outreach Chi-Chapter Chicago

    1. Chris, you folks at the Chi Tri Ess have always been good to me. No worries. We should talk about doing an event together which National can’t interfere with, perhaps.

  8. Helen,

    Sorry to hear about your tsuris (grief). It is interesting to see the similarities in politics that we saw a few years ago when you spoke in Boston.

    I agree with Valentina and am saddened that we cannot unite to support each other, regardless of where we are on our Trans journey.

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