Chaz Bono is getting a ton of media attention lately. I have to admit that whenever a trans* person makes the news I get nervous. I always worry that they will say something stupid, misrepresent the community, bring unwanted attention, etc. When there are so few people of a particular group making the news then whenever someone does it automatically seems like they are speaking for the entire community. Other people are analyzing the articles about Chaz and I thought I would share some of the responses. I was hesitant to wade into this discussion because there are lots of people discussing Chaz. He is a polarizing figure right now. But I also know that he is the face that a lot of people are equating with being trans* and so some comments seemed necessary.
* Cameron Partridge has a great post up about Chaz Bono. Any time a trans* person makes headlines it can be a tricky thing, especially when that person is new to transitioning. I think Cameron’s response to Chaz is loving and kind and I am thankful for it.
* As a counterpoint to Cameron’s article, here is a post from the Trans Group Blog.
I haven’t read Chaz’ book or seen the documentary. I was dismayed to read the interview with him in the NY Post. I think this is a really tricky situation. I know that when I was first transitioning, in the bath of hormones, I said and thought some really stupid things. Fortunately I wasn’t being interviewed for the newspaper. I’m not excusing what Chaz said by any means. And I hope that his comments can bring light to the misogyny within the trans* community. We all need to be working to combat misogyny, especially within our own communities. I also think that people early in transition need to be really careful. You’re going through puberty. You’re trying hard to fit in. You’re probably overcompensating a bit. My views about how I view myself and my transition have shifted drastically in just the 3 1/2 years I’ve been transitioning. Now that the first glow has worn off and I am getting comfortable in my new life I have relaxed quite a bit. I don’t feel the need to prove myself as much. I don’t overcompensate as much. Had cameras been following me in the beginning I am sure I would have said offensive things as well. I think that once Chaz is further into his transition and gets some more education about the community he has the potential to be a better spokesperson. But this is also a danger; whenever someone is allowed to be a spokesperson for a community as diverse as the trans* community there is trouble. And Chaz is a privileged, wealthy, white man. His experiences will not be the same as the vast majority of the community. I hope that he can use his privilege to bring light to the people who are really affected by transphobia and violence.
It’s a tricky thing to be crowned (or crown yourself) the spokesperson. I do wish that Chaz would do a bit more listening and a little less talking. I also realize the need for trans* people to call him out when he messes up. And for people who aren’t in the first glow of transition to share their stories.