The Duality & Unity of being T
Defining who we are: Being Transgender after the Jerry Springer Effect
Jan. 8, 2013
Recently on Face book a friend posted a blog about the damage done to the Transgender community by tacky talk shows like Maury Povich and Jerry Springer. I had grown up seeing too many of the shows that she referred too. I agreed there was nothing positive in their content for the T community so I shared the post. I was shockingly surprised at the number of other Trans people that left comments condemning the post. As one put it, “shouldn’t we be a little more thankful for the attention we do get in the media”. Another stated in caps “thank God we’re being talked about”. My favorite was “even bad attention is good attention”. I had heard this said in a similar way and as a Trans actress of 22 regional stage productions and two independent films, I too once believed the old line that even bad publicity was good publicity. I had several Trans showgirl friends that had appeared on the more, dare I say more tasteful shows. Both friends Paula and Chavon had appeared on the pageant shows, where contestants would compete in evening gown, talent and bathing suit. The pageant segments did seem to give appreciation to the art form of gender illusion but near the end of the show we were always reminded of its intent. Which one of these lovely ladies do you think was really born a ‘man?’
Man; that word said to a trans-female or woman to a trans-man can sometimes sting like the words fa…. or the dreaded N word. The ultimate meaning of the show was to exploit these women who had just given their best in modeling gowns and talent just to be reminded in case they had forgotten that they were men. The host even persuaded the audience, whom seem to be no more than Roman spectators watching Christians being feed to the lions, to choose the one that looks more like a ‘dude’. I’m aware, after the comments on the post on face book, that many will not like this being said. I know of many and therefore, more than likely more than I’m aware of ,girls that have done the show. Most received a free trip to Chicago and given fifty to a hundred dollars for their humiliation. Of course one cannot ignore the greatest drive of them all, to have been seen on national television because as we all know, no publicity is bad publicity.
Jerry ‘the anything for a dollar’ Springer, by far was the worst of all. To this day girls receive calls to be on the show. I’ve been asked on ten or more occasions to come to Chicago for a taping. When I stated I don’t have any drama going on in my life that could be spilled on their show, I was always asked well don’t you have a girlfriend whose boyfriend really wants you? Or are you sleeping with your straight females’ husband? The answer was always no and I went on tell to them what I thought of their show. What I thought of them meant little and the calls continued until finally I agreed to do the show, came up with a plot with friends that had the producers saber teeth dripping but under one condition. “When I arrive onto your show” I said, “I’d like to start off by doing one thing.” “Whatever you want, tell us.” The producer replied. “I’d like to slap the shit out of Jerry and tell him what a fucking scumbag he is.” That was my last call I received from the Jerry Springer show.
That was my stand and I can only control what I do or how I’m presented to the world. Everyone else must make their own choice. Like the old saying in Hollywood goes, the show goes on. Though I refuse to ever watch the show and require any one in my presence to as well. I’m aware the “Omg it’s a dude show” persist to this day with girls resorting to fighting and snatching wigs off for the entertainment of the barbaric Roman audience. Is it just innocent fun? Just to have a free trip to Chicago to hang with friends, or a chance for an improvised performance? Is there any harm in the whole act of not letting a guy or girl know the ‘T’? I’ve had my moments of dating guys that didn’t know. It is something to be said to be treated just like any other girl on the block. Just a few dates don’t mean I have to go to bed with him. I’m sure he has some idea already and just playing the game. Why should I tell him what I have between my legs? He’s not my type and I’m not going to get serious so what’s the harm? We all have many lies we tell ourselves to get us through the day. If you think for a second you’re the first trans-girl/guy to date someone who doesn’t know ‘T’, think again. Trans-people had been going thru those experiences years before any of us alive to read this today and will long after we’re all gone. So what’s the consequence?
As far as the constant Springer show that glorifies the drama of a guy who’s been sleeping with a beautiful girl for months and didn’t know goes. What harm has it done? When I began to transition in the nineties was totally different from today. My girlfriends who are just beginning their transition are constantly telling me stories of people in the mall, stores etc., that go “that’s a ‘dude’ ha ha”, as if they were now the audience on the show. To me as far as American society in media, or in life is concerned about transgender people is…can you tell if ‘it’s’ a boy or a girl. If you feel this way also, thank Jerry Springer and Mary Povich by turning them off.
This past year my girlfriend Shae met a genetic female at work. They hit it off, she told her T and they became great friends. This is nothing new for Shae; she lives in a small rural town as an openly trans-female and despite what you may think of rural America. She’s been invited in nearly everyone’s home for dinner including the mayor. But Shae says whenever she’s around her friends boyfriend makes smirks and quickly leaves the room. So she asked her new friend is it something she’d done to him? The girlfriend said no, it’s the transgender thing. He had a bad experience. Shae not being naïve to discrimination due to being Trans stated, but he don’t even know me. Has he ever met a transgender girl before? The gf told her that was the issue, that he had in fact met a trans-girl, back in the early 90’s. Seemed he had dated a beautiful girl in Florence area and feel in love with her. He had her over to meet family and friends for dinner. She invited him on a trip to Chicago. Yes, the infamous Springer show, where she proceeded after he confessed his love for her on national television, that in fact, and to the delight of the audience, she was a man. Shae told me with a rare seriousness in her voice, that the gf went on to tell her that he has admitted that had he not been on television he would have killed her. Worse is that even decades later, she went on to say, whenever he sees a transgender person he gets very angry and sometimes confrontational towards them. He even wonders sometimes while shopping are the women they are passing in the stores are indeed women or men. Needless to say this is one guy that has been forever tormented by his moment on Springer. Shae told her new friend she wasn’t like that, and the gf understood and explained that she has tried to tell him how much of a great friend Shae was to her. But it did not matter and that he can’t even stand talking about the subject without getting extremely angry.
Who is to blame? Springer for having a show that has left mainstream television without any taste left at all. Or the girl that thought it best to go on national television to release such a private detail with someone she already been intimate with? Or a society that finds humor in the humiliation of others? Or a society that’s content on using a group of people with emotions, feelings, families and life, as a question game? To belittle a person’s true self to a simple joke. However, you must take your own stand because only you can control what you do or how you present yourself to the world. But you do have some responsibility on the impression you leave on someone that may affect another years down the road. I personally choose to be remembered by men I’ve known as a lady and not as the girl they later found out was a ‘dude’.
Sabrina Samone, T.M.P.
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