Two Trans Lives

There’s the celebrity version of Chaz Bono and a puff piece about him and the documentary of his transition in The New York Times which is unsurprisingly vapid, predictable, and full of gender essentialism and stereotypes about trans people.

This other article, however, in a Madison alt weekly called Isthmus, focuses not so much on Rhiannon Tibbetts’ transition but on her activism and the inequalities and injustices in trans people’s lives.

I prefer the latter, especially as the journalist actually spoke to someone who knows about the trans: Anne Enke, who teaches Gender Studies at UW Madison. It’s not just that, either — it’s that the focus is on what the trans person in question does much moreso than about who she is, per se.

You’d think The New York Times might not suck occasionally, but they keep doing godawful coverage of trans stuff: not just Chaz Bono’s story but the recent Renee Richards myopic was covered in a sloppy article by Maureen Dowd that presents every old saw about the unhappy, regretful trans person, and somehow connects it to the recent abuse suffered by Chrissy Lee Polis in that Maryland McDonald’s. As a writer, what I see in this article is Dowd at her desk, a press release from Richard’s producers on her desk, and the viral video of the attack on Polis on her laptop. Brilliant, Dowd: that took about 12 seconds of research. Maybe you should forward the check to Mary Ellen Bell who actually did some work.