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Why Do We Feel the Need to Transgender the Dead?

Earlier this month, a list of vaudeville-era “non-binary and transgender public heroes” compiled by actor Jeffrey Marsh was circulated widely on social media. The accompanying photos are fascinating, which helps explain why the list has been re-Tweeted more than 7,000 times. But notwithstanding the above-quoted title, only one of the listed entertainers are actually transgender. Nor did any of them call themselves “non-binary”—since the term didn’t exist until recently. Rather, what Marsh actually has provided is a list of people who cross-dressed—a practice that was common in the days of vaudeville and early cinema, largely because audiences found it entertaining.

Marlene Dietrich

One of the listed figures is Marlene Dietrich, who dressed in male clothing and kissed another woman in the 1930 film Morocco. But Dietrich was not trans, even if, like many of her stage contemporaries—including Bessie Bonehill, Vesta Tilley, Ella Wesner and Gladys Bentley—she experimented with gender-bending. (The word Dietrich would have used to describe this practice, I suspect, would have been acting). Marsh’s statement that Dietrich “openly dated folks of various genders” is inaccurate in that Dietrich dates both sexes given that Deitrich was bisexual—but that has nothing to do with what costumes she wore as an actor.

Marsh’s list symbolizes a larger trend whereby dead gay men and women—as well as bisexuals, and others who cross-dressed for reasons completely unrelated to their actual identity—are claimed by today’s social activists as transgender. Leaders in this movement have included Harry Benjamin, a German-born American doctor whose 1966 book, The Transsexual Phenomenon, blurred the line between performative cross-dressing and actual (as we would now call it) transgenderism. Anticipating the modern age of trans activism and himself the medical force behind pushing for transsexualism within the field, Benjamin announced the “transsexualism” of various gay historical figures: King Henry III of France, the Abbé de Choisy (whose memoirs reveals that he cross-dressed); and, apparently, the entirety of the Yuman people living in what is now California and Mexico (based on Benjamin’s misunderstanding of the concept of two-spiritedness within some indigenous cultures).

Stormé DeLarverie

In our own era, no historical figure is too sacred to escape retroactive trans recruitment—not even Stormé DeLarverie, the black butch lesbian credited with starting the Stonewall riots in 1969. As Claire Heuchan notes, many of the same activists who once acted as feminist and gay-rights champions now have decided that the best way to “celebrate a woman’s achievements” is to “credit a man.”

Last month, controversy erupted after it was announced that Scarlett Johansson was to play the role of Dante “Tex” Gill (born Jean Marie Gill) in a film titled Rub & Tug. Gill (1930-2003) was a Pittsburgh-based pimp, mobster, drug dealer, and massage parlor owner who chose to live under a male identity. After the film was announced for production, articles appeared with titles such as “13 Trans Actors to Follow Instead of Scarlett Johansson” and “Trans Actors Protesting Scarlett Johansson’s Trans Role Are Told They’re Jealous, Unskilled Whiners.” Stung by the accusation that she was stealing a job that should properly go to a trans actor, Johansson quit the project (which is now, predictably, in limbo, following the departure of its star). And pundits debated whether it is legitimate to demand that trans characters be played by trans actors. But such discussion assumes the fact of Gill’s transgender identity. Throughout history, many women—lesbians especially—engaged in cross-dressing for no other reason than to escape homophobia, and to get by in intensely sexist milieus (such as, for instance, the criminal underworld).

This field of social history has been thoroughly researched and documented by academics for decades. In her 1992 book Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety, for instance, Harvard professor Marjorie Garber profiles dozens of famous (and infamous) cross-dressers throughout history—right up to Madonna, David Bowie, Prince and Little Richard. In Garber’s view, cross-dressing has existed as both symptom and catalyst for cultural anxiety, whereby the transvestite (her term) challenges society’s prevailing definitions of masculinity and femininity.

David Bowie’s Hunky Dory

Garber began Vested Interests with the claim that “there can be no culture without the transvestite”—a term that, distinct from “transgender,” signifies a person (usually a man) who enjoys presenting himself in clothes and fashions associated with the opposite sex, but who retains a gender identity (to use the modern formulation) assigned at birth. A quarter-century later, usage of the word transvestite has become heavily stigmatized, as it suggests cross-dressing to be a mere act. Thus has the inspirational gay-rights and AIDS activist Marsha P. Johnson been reinvented posthumously as transgender, even though he identified himself explicitly as a gay man and a drag queen right up until his tragic death in 1992. Too often, trans activists prefer to ignore the quotidian realities that (a) many men have enjoyed or profited from dressing up as women since time immemorial; and (b) many women (lesbians, especially) have cross-dressed throughout history as a strategy to avoid or deflect the stifling social norms associated with femininity.

Garber examines the life of Billy Tipton, born Dorothy Lucile Tipton, a jazz pianist who formed the Billy Tipton Trio and started touring the Pacific Northwest during the Great Depression. Tipton had five common-law wives, adopted three children, and was understood by friends and family to be a heterosexual man. That is, until paramedics were called to revive Tipton in 1989 due to a haemorrhaging peptic ulcer—upon which time Tipton was discovered to be biologically female.

Much energy has been invested in re-writing Tipton’s history as a trans narrative. Yet the evidence suggests that Tipton was a lesbian who also happened to be pursuing a career as a jazz musician—an ambition that would have been difficult or impossible for a woman to realize in the early 20th century. Despite evidence that Tipton was involved in several lesbian relationships, the musician has become one of many who’ve been posthumously transitioned by others—a process of “dead transing” that, as writer Carrie-Anne Brownian noted, typically involves rewriting a historical figure’s life in a way that erases their homosexuality.

Historical figures such as Hatshepsut, Joan of Arc, Queen Christina, Ann Bonny, Mary Read, Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar, Hannah Snell, Charley Parkhurst, Carson McCullers, Radclyffe Hall and Norah Vincent represent just a handful of the applicable case studies: women who found it easier to lead armies and nations, command pirate ships, drive stage coaches, or write books when they presented themselves as men. George Sand and Colette both wore men’s clothes, as did James Barry, the female doctor credited with performing the first successful Caesarean section in the UK. (Like Tipton, Barry was assumed to be a man until her death, at which time it was discovered she was female.) Moreover, should we be surprised that, at a time when women generally were barred from military service, someone such as Frances Clayton would fight in the U.S. Civil War among roughly 400 other cross-dressing female members of the Union army? Even Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, once had to pretend to be a man in order to register with race officials—just as women in today’s Saudi Arabia regularly cross-dress in order to drive cars or infiltrate social spaces from which they are formally excluded.

Rather than acknowledge how sexism has caused such women to distort their identity in order to achieve their ambitions, the modern trend is to play down the underlying sexist and homophobic bigotry of the past. On Slate, for instance, Alex Myers argued recently that the

[I]nsistence on a progress narrative distorts our understanding of gender and history. By repeatedly asserting that women only dressed as men to gain some advantage, we dismiss the notion that some women understood themselves to be men—regardless of whether that gained them anything or not. Of course, for those living in a misogynistic culture, passing as a man absolutely grants privilege. That’s an inescapable fact. But that doesn’t mean that access to this privilege was always the motivating factor for a woman to live as a man.

Myers’ use of the term “privilege” is strange. The historical campaign for women’s rights was motivated by a desire for a life free from rape (both within and without marriage), domestic abuse, oppressive honor codes and sexist professional strictures. If not being forced to bear a dozen children while enduring a forced marriage qualifies as “privilege,” then the word loses all meaning. By means of such linguistic slippages, activists construct fictional worlds in which women want to be men, as opposed to simply seeking liberation from bigotry.

“It’s homophobia, it keeps happening, and I’m so tired of my own community rewriting history,” is how Lesbian filmmaker Amy Dyess describes the transitioning of dead lesbians. “In the past, pronouns (he, him, she, her) were used interchangeably and affectionately in the gay community. Gay men have addressed each other as ‘girl,’ lesbians have addressed each other as ‘bro,’ ‘dude,’ ‘papi,’ and so on. It didn’t mean the same thing, and sometimes it was a matter of survival. In the [American] south, I asked a girlfriend to stop correcting everyone who mis-gendered me…because it was safer for both of us that way.”

Butch women and effeminate men always have employed wardrobe innovations to signal their homosexuality to other members of the gay community—just as cross-dressing became a way for gay men and women to escape persecution by hiding in plain sight. Anyone who wonders why Joan of Arc continued to wear men’s clothes in prison need only crack a book on the history of this era: She didn’t want to be raped. Much in the same way that Mexican baroque-era nun, scholar, poet and playwright Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz considered cross-dressing as a means to gain access to university education. It wasn’t that these women cross-dressed to be men. It’s that they cross-dressed not to be women. In the specific case of gay women, this coping mechanism, if employed successfully, also came with the ability to refuse marriage, to develop one’s professional ambitions and to build wealth.

The tension I am describing here is sometimes dismissed as a mere subcultural feud between radical feminists and trans advocates. But the transing of the dead now has gone mainstream. Even The New York Times has falsely tried to recast Marsha P. Johnson as a “transgender pioneer.” And Anne Lister, whose 18th centuries diaries described the details of her lesbian relationships in her native Yorkshire, was transed during a recent LGBT History Month event, when the York Civic Trust unveiled a historic plaque on the church where Lister and her partner, Ann Walker, took their commitment vows. Eschewing any reference to Lister’s life as a lesbian, the plaque’s creators labeled her “gender-nonconforming.”

*   *   *

Activists in the trans community have long claimed that gender isn’t about vestiture, but about an inner sense of self. But this theory doesn’t pan out in the real world, which is what history should record. The transing of the dead therefore should be seen as part of this effort to rewrite history in a fictional way: Every instance of cross-dressing, whether on stage or off, is spuriously interpreted to mean that the figure in question was communicating some secret truth about their “gender-nonconforming” souls. For those of us who have long championed gay rights, it feels like a ghoulish, faux-enlightened form of gay-conversion therapy.

These cultural grave-diggers imagine themselves to be fashionably transgressive. But what they are really peddling is a deeply conservative notion of what it means to be male or female. According to this conception, the lesbianism of historical figures is reimagined as a rejection of womanhood itself, just as the act of dressing as a woman for stage or fetish is reimagined as a rejection of manhood. The dead cannot possibly speak for themselves. So it is up to the rest of us to ensure that the true narratives of feminist pioneers, gay men and lesbians are not removed from the pages of history.

 

Julian Vigo is a contributor to ForbesTruthDigCounterPunchDissident Voice,
HuffPost UKand The Ecologist. Her latest book is Earthquake in Haiti: The Pornography of Poverty and the Politics of Development (2015). She can be reached at julian.vigo@gmail.com.

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56 Comments

  1. “it feels like a ghoulish, faux-enlightened form of gay-conversion therapy.”

    To me this immediately brought to mind Mormons and their baptisms for the dead (of various celebrity).

    • I think this article is kinda lame. The author treats this buzzfeed-like tweet as being indicative of the voice of all “trans activists”. It is obvious, and not very interesting, to argue that people should not be categorized as transgender if they did not identify as this themselves. The tweeter was simply highlighting gender nonconformity of past public features. Also the term “gender-nonconforming” does not necessarily refer to transgender individuals, but rather a pattern of behavior that is a typical for one’s assigned gender.

      Seems like the author of this article was grasping at straws to write something against transgenderism. Nothing intellectually interesting or related to free speech in the article.

      I expect better from Quillette.

      • Part of the problem lies in the imprecise nature of the use of words gender and sex. Transgender shouldn’t really mean transsexual, unless you believe that gender is synonymous with biological sex. Radical feminists deny any overlap between gender and sex, that masculine and feminine are artificial constructs imposed upon people by The Patriarchy, and some trans activists deny the reality of biological sex and this bizarre view is becoming increasingly influential in the mainstream by people terrified of being on the wrong end of history or legal action.

      • Concerned says

        This article is a legitimate response to the “trans-washing” of historical figures. While that issue isn’t going on in academia, there is another problem that you touched on – the use of social media to disseminate information that is presented as “factual” when it is not. People on social media seem to have a fascination with “alternative” or “revisionist” history as they cannot trust the “establishment” for reliable information, because it is seen as racist/patriarchal/misogynist/transphobic/homophobic etc. It is dangerous, as people now will believe such “woke” information distributed in those social media circles as “facts” because it is suite to their own confirmation bias.

        Just because you don’t see social media as a threat, it does not mean that it isn’t. You point out the emphasis on “gender-nonconforming,” when people on the internet conflate that with transgender/queer/etc. under one umbrella. As far as the sentiment of the trans movement on social media, those historical figures, to them, are claimed to be”trans” or “nonbinary” even if the historical context does not support that.

        • Runaway says

          Labeling historical figures does go on in academia and publications from activists who ID as feminists, or trans, or both, I’m sad to say. Academia and the public are both guilty of being out of touch a times (or sometimes a little too attached to dogma), and while I am certain some historical figures can be considered trans others saw gender nonconformity as an expression based art. I definately don’t mean this comment as a debate with the person above, but more to present a few things worth thinking about and how the current trend fits into what has been done in the past, sometimes by the public and sometimes by academics and various fields of study.

          “Gossip” has been made on some figures that they were not who we know them as sometimes for decades or longer- though it usually looks more like “this queen had power, we should dig up her body and determine if she was actually a man” such as with Christina, Queen of Sweden whose remains were reinspected in the 1960s after several centuries of speculation on her sex.

          In some cases in archeology & anthropology we’ve seen remains discovered which had lavish burials or simply weapons which were labelled to be male simply because of objects burried with them, only to realize later some of those remains were of women and our bias led to an assumed bias in the relevent cultures that did in fact have female warriors, or at least some exceptions on occasion. Sometimes we also have propaganda that remains more viewed as fact than the truth as well with historical women, look at those who have been accused of comitting beastiality (myths realted to Catherine the Great). These incorrect assumptions helped contribute to sexism at the time of their discovery and reinforce sexism and homophobia in those fields with effects that can still sometimes be felt today, as well as racism and other oppressive views.

          It wasn’t uncommon for historical lesbians or bisexual women to have fictional male “lovers” inserted into stories decades or centuries after their deaths (in the case of Sappho). (In some cases of course- women did this themselves I’m sure to dissuade harassment since being homosexual or bisexual isn’t historically a safe thing thanks to bigotry.) History is often unkind to people who are minorities, and even the respected knowledgeable fields can make mistakes and be subject to bias against certain people, and often these patterns can take many years to correct but the damage is never truly undo because being a minority who is persecuted often has cumulative damage which can result in a phenomena not unlike complex ptsd at times. Granted these are only a few examples that tend to be decades old now, and things usually tend to be more in a literary accusation of sorts. Personally I do see the relevence of wanting to see ones historical ancestors who share certain characteristics with modern day people.

          However I do think we owe it to the people of the past, their decendants and others now to be cautious when labeling historical figures without their testimony. You’d be surprised the number of people who did in fact write things like “I just do not love men, I would rather be a spinster if I cannot be with a woman in a bond more than sisterly or friendship” (not an exact quote but a sentence which in spirit I have encountered more than once in my reading). To me such writings are clear, and the closest thing we have to proof of identity or sexuality since it is not something which can be tested biologically and digging up graves is disrespectful (for such a reason) in my view anyway.

          Some of the cases involved in the above post which is clearly not academics of course are harmful in more ways than one, one spreading myths about historical figures can be somewhat cruel because it confuses people and leads to repetition of non-facts, but in this case we sometimes have figures who did claim to “love both men and women” or who were lesbians and clear about it (maybe not using the word) having their histories rewritten by another minority because it has been decided that these other minorities are more (for lack of a better word) “popular” now, not because it was a more correct way to look at their lives. It is one thing to correct falsehoods with revision, another entirely to rewrite them and take from someone else- especially very clear figures. If someone wants to write fiction by all means, but that’s not the same as an article distributed as fact.

    • Justin says

      The Mormans have been doing precisely that for decades – the living can gain credit with the big guy if they bring people who are already dead into the faith. One big controversy came when some enterprising brother tried to ‘save’ the victims of the Holocaust listed in the Yad Vashem.

      • Just Me says

        Big difference though, whether the Mormons baptize somebody after death has absolutely no effect, and does not imply those dead people were *actually* Mormons in their hearts. Only Mormons believe this actually has any effect.

        This reinterpreting of dead people’s sexual identities is another matter entirely. It is meant to have an effect on everyone’s concept of gender identity.

    • markbul says

      Classic ‘whataboutism. Has nothing to do with the article above, and just tries to distract attention.

  2. Justin says

    Bowie once referred to himself as a ‘closet heterosexual’.

  3. ga gamba says

    That the transwomen and the radfems war between themselves is fine by me. They’re both leftist identitarians, and we’ve better off when they harass each other and give us a respite. Articles like these are presented to shape an anti-trans narrative, so you ought to at least understand the underlying intent.

    Frankly, I have sympathies for both transwomen and the radfems to an extent, though certainly not their economics. If an adult wants to transition their sex it’s no skin off my back, and they should be accorded all the rights as anyone else, but no more than others, which is where we part company because many transpeople are coercive arseholes who make special pleadings. As for the radfems, I have no opposition to female-only private spaces to include public businesses, but like the transwomen they too frequently employ the one-rule-for-me-and-another-more-restrictive-rule-for-thee gambit. They too are often censorious and are quick to demand others be no platformed. They can also teach Alex Jones a few things about concocting conspiracy theories.

    Anyway, both teams forgot to claim J Edgar Hoover. Which one of you want him? We’re organising paranormal kickball and he wants to know which team he’s on.

    • I get your points but please bear in mind that you don’t have to be radical to be a feminist (one who believes in equal opportunity) nor do you need to be a feminist at all to be a terf (despite the r and f). A lot of normie women are threatened by men in women’s spaces.

      • There is no such thing as a “terf,” which is a slur telling women to shut up because they call crossdressing men men. Besides, it isn’t accurate. So-called “trans men” are welcome by radical feminists because they are women. Sick of liars.

        • You might perceive it as a slur but it isn’t anymore than WASP. If you are a radical feminist who believes in women only spaces for those biologically women, not those who aspire to be women, than you’re excluding trans women, hence you’re a trans exclusionary radical feminist, or TERF for short.

          • ‘Terf’ is a slur. It isn’t the term adopted by radfems, ‘gender critical’ is.

            Radical feminists haven’t changed their position to exclude transwomen because transwomen have never been the prime focus of radfems: the abolition of gender has, hence ‘gender critical’.

            Referring to gender critical feminists as ‘terfs’ is no more value-neutral than calling the civil rights movement a bunch of ‘uppity n*****.’

          • ga gamba says

            No, I don’t perceive it a slur.

            I part company with public accommodation laws imposed on private business in that I think anyone may exclude anyone else for whatever reason. If Farrakhan’s Fruit of Islam cafe has a black-only policy I’m OK with that. It may reap the rewards or suffer the consequences from that business model. If transpeople want to set up their own trans-only businesses I accept that too. Male-only golf clubs don’t offend me.

            Much of today’s resentment is due to hypocrisy, be it perceived or actual. Feminists demand the end of male-only private spaces whilst making special pleadings for their own female-only (and trans exclusionary) ones. Blacks demand segregated facilities reserved for their exclusive use. And on it goes.

            The only place that must accommodate and include all is the publicly financed sector such as government offices, public universities, and the like.

          • ga gamba says

            @Speaker, though TERF isn’t a term adopted by radfems, they don’t control what others call them. Sure, it grates your authoritarian souls, but that’s OK. You deserve to have your noses rubbed in it. Frankly, TERF is entirely accurate; you ought to embrace it. That you consider it a slur is likely due to the shabby PR effort on your team’s part. Aside from bona fide Nazis and alt-right types, your group is one of the most detested by everyone else. Chalk that up to your screeching, your antics, and your hypocrisy. How to Win Friends and Influence People is not an instructional manual on behaviour to eschew.

            But if scoring own goals is the tactic, which it appears to be, keep on keepin on.

      • This. I’m far from a ‘radical feminist’ (I think concepts like ‘teh patriarchy’, ‘rape culture’, etc. are horseshit) but it’s obvious that ‘gender’ varies over time and across cultures and has at least an element of social construction while sex is firmly rooted in biology.

        Tempted as I am to let radfems and trans slug it out I have genuine fears about the safety of women who are denied spaces of their own (even in rape shelters) and ‘women’s’ sport has become a fucking mockery.

        Add to that the massive increase in ‘gender dysphoria’ diagnoses among young (and frequently autistic) girls and the very disturbing stories coming to light about transgender activists Aimee Challienor and Jesse Bradley in the U.K. and I’m prepared to reluctantly ally myself with radfems for the same reason we made treaties with Stalin.

        • ga gamba says

          I’m prepared to reluctantly ally myself with radfems for the same reason we made treaties with Stalin.

          That only worked for those who didn’t actually have to live under Stalin’s bloody regime. And don’t forget, Stalin made a treaty with Hitler too that green lit the invasion of Poland (by both Germany and the Soviet Union) which was the fatal spark.

          I share many of the same concerns you have, but TERFs aren’t an ally even though I have some sympathy for their views. It’s the RF part that puts me off.

          Best to recognise malevolence for what is it. The radfems are at war with many more than trans women. Don’t neglect to consider that when thinking of a side to pick, the sideline is a genuine side too.

  4. Plain Old Joe says

    I’m Bored…. Really, I am. Can we get back to interesting discussions.

  5. Whyaxye says

    “The crow wished everything was black, the owl that everything was white.”
    (William Blake)

  6. Cross-dressing homosexual I understand, as these are differences among humans who come in all variety, including a dressing difference that’s entirely socially constructed. But transgender, the actual belief that you are the opposite of what you demonstrably are (for most anyway as there are surely some biological oddities in which male/female is not clear by their body and DNA), will always seems delusional to me. That’s not suggesting discrimination against them is okay, but they certainly are not to be held in high esteem, thought brave, etc. We don’t harass people with other diseases or delusions, but we don’t elevate them as better than health and clear thinking.

    • There is no such thing as a “transgender.” They are all crossdressers or transvestites of one type or another. The whole trans thing is absurd on its face. Sex is a material reality, not an identity. “Gender” is sex roles, which is masculinity and femininity, and one cannot identify as a sex role. “Gender identity” does not in fact exist. People have been so gaslighted by this trans nonsense and many have been silenced for telling the truth, it is hard to just put out basic facts. Men cannot be women. Women cannot be men. Clothes don’t make one the opposite sex. Personality traits do not define a sex. End of story.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Well said Susan Nunes.
        Progressives are permanent adolescents who just want to deny reality because they think that somehow that makes them intellectual or interesting. Actually it makes them look like fools.
        It’s time we stopped indulging these people.

      • There is a small number of people who have dysphoria and want to be the sex they aren’t and not only dress in a way typical of the opposite sex but take hormones and/or have surgery. Those are transsexuals, although in reality they remain the sex they were born, no matter that they do to themselves.

        Transgender can be anyone who doesn’t confirm to stereotypical gender norms, which is many people to some degree and as gender isn’t fixed nor synonymous with biological sex, only loosely tied to it, then you’re not really ‘trans’ in any meaningful sense. You’re just nonconforming to your culture’s notions of gender.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Wicked One
          Well said. The problem seems to be that these trans people want to trumpet their difference and be accepted as normal at the same time. They thus have to pretend that the big bad world is against them, when in truth no one cares a jot.

  7. Coolius Caesar says

    It’s not that hard to understand: rewrite history to justify the present and the future. The biggest irony of all this is the outraged gay community when they literally did (and do) the same thing to people of the past!

  8. Just Me says

    “If not being forced to bear a dozen children while enduring a forced marriage qualifies as “privilege,” then the word loses all meaning. By means of such linguistic slippages, activists construct fictional worlds in which …”

    The core of their political strategy is doing that linguistic slippage thing…

  9. Good and interesting article. But may I say, welcome to our world. For years gays and lesbians have been hinting, when not outright insisting, that many if not all straight people are really deeply secretly homosexual or at least bi. Even in the absence of any evidence, they claim it is or was repressed. This homosexing has been applied to both the living and the dead.

    This is annoying to say the least, insulting to say more, not because there’s anything wrong in being gay, but because it’s a mind fuck.

    • This kind of talk and gender bending generally is moral decadence and is a hallmark of society in decline and not the reverse. Bets? Read some history.

  10. Farris says

    I guess the entire troupe of Monty Python is transgendered.

  11. martti_s says

    The idle minds of the American rich elite come up with darker and darker garbage every day.
    The wall should be built to keep it from spilling to other countries.

  12. Charlotte says

    She goes on to list numerous other examples and evidence of posthumous transing – did you even read the full article? The tweet is only briefly mentioned.

  13. Moishe Pipik says

    In what’s left of the gay community, “Drag shows” are now politically incorrect. It used to be a staple of gay male entertainment: a male performer dressed as Cher or Carol Channing or a fictitious amalgam of female characteristics would put on a show with singing, lipsynching, and insulting members of the audience with bitchy, campy jokes.

    • Moishe Pipik says

      ….this can’t be done anymore. The younger people will complain that it’s “transphobic.” But it has nothing to do with “transgendered” people. It’s a man in a dress doing a comedy act, a type of performance that’s thousands of years old.

      We need “safe spaces” for older gay men who can preserve what used to be a unique gay culture, without the “intersectionalism” and acceptance for any “genderfluid” tagalong disturbed person who’s just looking for a place to fit in.

  14. Transgenderism is inherently misogynistic. It’s about conforming to gender stereotypes rather than challenging them. If a woman ‘behaves’ like a man she’s now a man, not a woman who refuses to stay in her appointed role. Ditto men who don’t act manly.

    At Manchester Pride recently a trans speaker referred to the recent protest by lesbians at London Orode and said if they tried that in Manchester they’d be ‘dragged away by their saggy tits’. It’s hard to imagine that sort of mysogyny being accepted from anyone else but a man in a frock.

    We’ve also had Pride and Stonewall openly supporting a 20-something transwoman who assaulted a grandmother, bomb threats against meetings of feminists and a series of frivolous lawsuits against women who have spoken out about changes to the law.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Because they are masochistic. They have an irresistible craving to be ‘oppressed’ by the Patriarchy, which happens to be whatever group that protests their ‘wokeness’, no matter how bizarre, because being oppressed, being the underdog, gives their lives meaning. Makes me wonder what their reaction would be were they to find themselves in a real patriarchal society, like Saudi Arabia or the Patriarchate of Kzin.

  15. Alphonse Credenza says

    Camille Paglia has written on the historical perversion — for that is what it is — of feminized men at the end of empire. Just another example of the nihilists who insist life has no meaning and can this attribute whatever idea they desire to whatever other idea they choose: as long as it riles someone. Sad. Very sad. Not for me. For them!!

  16. Cassandra says

    Most of the women who ‘ cross dressed’ on the stage did So for the titillation of men!

    The breeches roles in restoration comedy, the music hall singers dressed as ‘ swells’ are noth famous examples of this practice, at times when ‘modest ‘ women wore skirts to the ground, and so,end legs were are matter of excited speculation. The women in question were as far as I am aware, almost entirely heterosexual, and quite often promiscuously so.
    Similarly, the Venetian Senste encouraged courtesans to wear male dress, in order to boost trade.
    Of course, the real,problem with re writing history in this way is that until the invention of synthetic hormones , and the development of supportive care and anaesthesia,,it was actually impossible to ‘transition’ in the sense of effecting a real detectable physical change. Males could be castrated, leading to the lack of development of secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair and a broken voice. This practice was fairly widespread in the Persian and Byzantine Empores, and had a brief recrudescence in the eighteenth century, where it was performed to achieve a falsetto vocal style. But these people were identified as eunuchs, that is,neutered males, they were not regarded as women, because they did not have the secondary or primary sexual characteristics of women..

    So to pretend that previous generations had transgended people is simply incorrect factually. It is on a level with claiming that Julius Caesar invaded the British Isles by submarine. Yes, he invaded, no, he did not invade by submarine, because this was not available to him.

  17. Bubblecar says

    “Transgender” is basically a modern invention, and trans activists know it, hence the scramble to fabricate a past for the category. In doing so they’re quite happy to stomp all over the history of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and people who just enjoyed dressing up.

    It’s certainly not just radical feminists who are increasingly annoyed by this. I sense a growing split in the LGBTQIWTF alphabet, as more of us realise that this unwieldy umbrella configuration is really not serving our interests and is very susceptible to being hijacked by those with an agenda that is frankly hostile to homosexuality.

  18. Pingback: Why Do We Transgender the Dead? | Volunteer petunia

  19. Michelle says

    I absolutely loved this article, refreshingly told simply as it was and not embellished with nonsensical dribble as per Jeffrey Marsh, in order to propel their own agenda. Great stuff!

  20. markbul says

    The author doesn’t mention that it has long been the practice of gay academics and writers to ‘out’ people of the past, and to decide for them how they saw themselves. Thus, the great ghost story writer and academic M. R. James has been called out as gay because he had no female partner during his life, and spent his time associating with men. With the term ‘gay panic,’ they make gay those long dead entirely for their own – strange – pleasure. So now the trans-confused are doing it to lesbians and bisexuals? Dog bites man.

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