Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lofty Causes and Every Day Causes

Rhonda Williams
By Rhonda Williams

There are lofty causes and every day causes.

Elizabeth Warren, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts stated in a recent Time magazine article, “Because of our Constitution, senseless discrimination cannot survive when it is brought out of the darkness. And it is because of the tireless work of jurists, lawyers, husbands like Jim Obergefell, and countless other LGBT Americans who stepped forward to speak out, that our nation will no longer look away from what our Constitution requires.”

Yes, a lofty victory we can all celebrate. We are the “T” part of LGBT and must stand and make sure we are recognized in lofty causes, as our turn comes up. There are those working for us that deserve our support. One of these is Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. NCTE is a social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. NCTE facilitates a strong and clear voice for transgender equality. Go to their website. Read. Support!

However, some causes may not seem so lofty, but you as an individual can still make a difference. Stana takes every opportunity to do outreach as I have done in the past, speaking before college and school groups. The questions are amazing and seeing the light of understanding coming on, is rewarding. This is a one-on-one opportunity and makes a difference.

Palm Beach County had a very unfortunate homicide take place in in 2012. I will quote from the most recent Palm Beach Post article on the incident: “A Palm Beach County jury on Thursday acquitted Luis Rijo De Los Santos in the 2012 attempted murder of a cross-dressed prostitute but was unable to reach a verdict in a related shooting where he killed another cross dresser and injured a third. The jury’s inability to decide unanimously on the other three charges after more than 50 hours of deliberations forced Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley to declare a mistrial for that part of the case.”

Very unfortunate at many levels. Let us hope for a retrial and justice prevailing.

My reason for bringing this is up is to applaud the Palm Beach Post staff writer Daphne Duret's correct terminology. How did this happen?

In all articles prior to May of this year, the victims were referred to as “transvestite prostitutes.” As we all well know, this is a socially loaded expression. After reading, several articles referring to the three victims this way, I decided to write to the newspaper.

The e-mail opened this way, “What were you thinking? Why did you use the term transvestite? Did you not realize that 'transvestite' or the short version 'tranny' is as offensive to the gender community as the N-word? Why not just call the accused Mr. Rijo De Los Santos, ‘a N... man’? That is how offensive I see the term 'transvestite' and it all but suggests that the transgender prostitutes deserved what they got. What difference did it make how they were dressed? A murder happened.”

The next articles used the better expressions “cross-dressed.” All previous articles were changed. Ms. Duret remarked back to me in an e-mail, “After I got your first email it sparked a 15 minute conversation in the newsroom.”

Senator Warren continued, “As a nation, we see now that discrimination heaped (upon) LGBT Americans violates protections laid out in the Constitution. We see it because countless Americans have stepped forward to make themselves seen and to expose ugly discrimination for what it is: a denial of liberty and equality for our fellow citizens.”

My point here is that a well-positioned letter, e-mail, conversation, and outreach opportunity can make a big difference. We can each do our part. Lofty causes and every day causes – individual actions – all victories to celebrate!

Source: Lulu
Wearing Lulu

Kira Sadovaya
Kira Sadovaya, male model


  1. AnonymousJuly 08, 2015

    Let me warn you about Mara Keisling. I've known Mara since her first night "out" when she didn't even have a fem name. In fact, we sat around and came up with her first name...Mara came from her mom later on. Mara is a wonderful woman and a pleasure to be around but DO NOT turn your back on her. You see, along with being a tireless, hard working advocate for transgender rights, Mara has an unparalleled sense of humor and she will strike just at the moment you least expect it and you will never see it coming! Until you are figuratively on the floor bleeding!

    OK, I am confused. When did Transvestite become offensive and Cross Dresser become the new buzz word. After all, they mean exactly the same thing. Trans=Latin for Cross and Vestimentum=Garment Vestis=A Dress Vestitus=Clothing. Is this one of those new words the community decided it didn't like? OK, I can understand someone who is TS not wanting to be called a TV, but I'm afraid I don't see any correlation between Transvestite and the N word. If it's used as a pejorative, then call them on the way they use it, not the word itself. After all, if you are familiar with the African American community, you'll hear the N word used A LOT. Sorry, I've been a Transvestite for 50 years.

    1. We are all free to use whatever term to describe ourselves and yes there are those that use the N-word freely which I find it to be highly offensive. One of my sources or reference when dealing with the media has been the “GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Issues” located at

      However, as describes in the GLADD article I personally find transvestite (slang - tranny) defamatory in that it is dehumanize transgender people. People judge others before they have a chance to know them, when in fact that person could have ended up being one of their best friends.

      You are right that transvestite literally mean crossdresser although many times it is connection to the term transvestic fetishism. Transvestic fetishism specifically referred to a person of one sex dressing in the clothes of the other sex and specifically for sexual gratification.

      Wikipedia at made this interesting observation: After all the changes that took place during the 1970s, a large group was left without a word to describe themselves: This group was not particularly happy with the term "transvestism". Therefore, the term "cross-dresser" (which has exactly the same meaning as "transvestite") was coined. Self-identified cross-dressers generally do not have fetishistic intentions, but are instead men who wear female clothing and often both admire and imitate women.

      I do love Stana’s term “Femulate”.

  2. A great article on the importance of showing tolerance and acceptance as a means of seeking tolerance and acceptance.
    I do wonder sometimes if there is some underlying current to be part of the agrieved class. I am not offended by words like transvestite or tranny. It comes down the context.
    It is sad if the Palm Beach jury reached an incorrect result based on prejudice againts the victims. I looked at a few of the articles but they were somewhat shallow and did not give much analysis of the victims or the accused.

  3. Interesting points made here, both by Ms Williams and Anonymous. I always find the terms used awkward, especially when I describe my self. I have never liked transvestite, possibly after it was used in the Monty Python "lumberjack" sketch in a mocking way - and although I agree with Anonymous's points, I think people using that term often do it in a non respectful way. I think when I have told people recently about my other half I've said "I cross dress" - this seems slightly more appropriate to me.

    I rather like the term "Trans" or "Transgendered", but as I see from the "GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Issues” I am neither of these, being an occasional cross dresser. I also agree that Stana's "femulator" is a very good term which describes my position exactly and would be pleased to see that come onto popular parlance. It better describes the whole process - mannerisms, voice, body language, etc. and not just the wearing clothes normally associated with females.

    A really good article, Rhonda. You have a good pool of contributors to your wonderful website, Stana, long may this continue.

    Michelle x