Dina’s Diner

| May 8, 2017

ATTACK FROM THE LEFT FLANK

Samantha Allen, Ph.D.

TheDailyBeast.com is an online magazine and its March 15, 2017 edition carried an article by Samantha Allen, Ph.D. headlined “What Makes a Real Woman? Welcome to the New Liberal Transphobia.” Dr. Allen’s article recounted several instances of trans disparagement from supposedly liberal and feminist commentators.

She wrote: “Recently, we witnessed it when Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie conspicuously avoided saying that transgender women are women — citing tired, decades-old arguments about privilege and socialization. [Adichie said] “So when people talk about, you know, ‘are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women. I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of changed — switched — gender, it’s difficult to accept for me that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.”

Dr. Allen points out that no one is saying that trans women have had the same life experiences as women born female. Even among naturally born women, life experiences and privileges (or lack thereof) differ from individual to individual. Dr. Allen also gave several examples of liberal commentators and celebrities partially blaming the trans rights movement — particularly related to the restrooms issue — of contributing to Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election.

In England, Allen pointed to two instances when a feminist radio host (Dame Jenni Murray) made verbal put-downs of trans women and wrote an article in which she said “Be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman.” She referred to a transgender vicar as a “man who has claimed to have become a woman.” She also criticized trans journalist India Willoughby’s stance against unshaved female legs on the grounds she can’t understand this women’s rights issue because “she came to this [femininity] fairly recently.”

This thing goes back even further. I remember many years ago reading about the controversy at the Michigan Womyn’s Festival when they banned trans women from attending because they weren’t born women. I think there were also some traditional gay activists who were reluctant to welcome trans people into their movement because they felt it would turn off some of their recently converted supporters.

As political blocs get broken down into more and more particular categories some in-fighting is inevitable because toes start to get stepped on within groups that should be supportive of each other. You would expect liberals and feminists to be always “on our side” but turf battles break out occasionally. You don’t expect it but neither can you be completely surprised by it.

DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS

The New York Times had an Op-Ed piece by contributor Lisa Selin Davis on April 18, 2017 titled “My Daughter is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.” Ms. Davis’ essay told a surprising story of how her 7 year old daughter’s tomboyish appearance and interests are interpreted as nascent transgenderism.

Just a tomboy, just a tomboy.

The surprising thing to me about it was how the young girl’s teacher, pediatrician and others just assume that she is transgender rather than the simpler explanation that she is a very young tomboy. Mrs. Selin writes: “In many ways, this is wonderful: It shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity and transgender issues. But when they continue to question her gender identity and are skeptical of her response the message they send is that a girl cannot look and act like her and still be a girl. She is not gender nonconforming. She is gender role nonconforming.”

In the old days — you know, about two years ago — people would make the mistaken assumption that a girl tomboy was a budding lesbian before even thinking about transgenderism. Now, because transgenderism is a new shiny object in our culture, some people go right to the most extreme explanation.

The upside-down nature of the assumption reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where a reporter thought Jerry and George were gay and he says in exasperation, “I was outed and I wasn’t even in!” If a young girl likes sports or if a young boy plays with a doll, should the default assumption be that they are transgender? I hope not. And now I will be even more skeptical of reports about kindergarten age kids “identifying” as trans. Maybe it’s just the “enlightened” parents and overseers jumping to conclusions.

BEWIGGED!

Be-wigged Kylie Jenner.

Celebrity news sites were flush with photos and commentary about the May 2, 2017 Met Fashion Gala in New York City. One of the interesting headlines from the Gala coverage was about Kylie Jenner — one of the extended Kardashian-Jenner family — and her “Platinum Blonde Bob” hair-do, as the HollywoodLife.com website called it.

Well, it turns out that Kylie’s short blonde hair was a wig. According to the website, it was the same style wig she wore to last year’s event but its predecessor was jet black. And you thought there was nothing interesting and vital going on at the Met Gala, tsk-tsk.

I’m sorry to say that I wouldn’t know Kylie Jenner from Cara Delavigne from Gigi Hadid from soft pillows but I was intrigued by the use of a wig (a normal wig, not a costume wig) by a young woman at a high profile event. Wigs are near and dear to my heart — as I’m sure they are to most of the readers here at TGForum.

Celebrity women have long used wigs as part of their beauty repertoire and some even made a business of selling them, like Raquel Welch, Eva Gabor and Arlene Dahl. But those ladies were from two or three generations ago and nowadays the use of wigs and extensions and falls, etc. are used by many women, particularly (it seems) in the music business, but mostly to add an exotic element to their hair-do’s rather than simply in place of their natural tresses.

Doing some research, I found out that black women use wigs and hairpieces frequently for everyday use. And the cost of wigs specifically made for black women are less expensive than for white women. I couldn’t find much about wigs for everyday use by young women. Most of the styles pitched for younger women seemed more appropriate for crossdressers, frankly. And then there were many novelty wigs with odd colors or styles for — what? — nightclubbing, cosplaying, waiting in line for Katy Perry tickets? But not much for everyday use it seemed.

Maybe Kylie Jenner will kick off a new market for be-wigging millennial women, though I doubt it. In all likelihood, we crossdressers will have most of the ersatz Rapunzel locks for ourselves.

SHEER IS THE WORD, IS THE WORD, IS THE WORD. . .

One of these women is Kendall Jenner.

The Met Gala (see above reference) seemed to attract plenty of attention-seeking females in sheer gowns (and one catsuit) that are getting dangerously close to becoming boringly predictable. At one time the carefully planned “wardrobe malfunction” was sure to get the subject in the newspapers and television. Now the wardrobes themselves are designed as malfunctions, you could say.

Perhaps not surprisingly, another Jenner-Kardashian (this time, Kendall) generated a lot of faux shock by wearing a sheer mesh gown to the Met Gala. Kendall’s gown was said to be reminiscent of Rose McGowan’s mesh gown at an MTV awards show in 1998. I mention this only because I just wrote about my memory of McGowan’s great gown in my February 13, 2017 Diner. I said in that column three months ago that Rose’s fishnetted, bare-ass gown was still the undisputed champ of red carpet pose-downs. And it still is — in spite of Kendall’s copycat.

DEADLIER THAN THE MALE?

Doan Thi, suspected assassin.

I was looking around for some items about crossdressers and crossdressing in North Korea since that country is in the news so much lately. I came across a related news item in Britain’s Sun and Mirror newspapers (TheSun.co.uk and Mirror.co.uk). These two British tabloids were the only sources (that I found) to report the speculation that one of the assassins who poisoned North Korean jetsetter Kim Jung Nam in Malaysia was a crossdressed male. The articles appeared on February 16, 2017 just a few days after the public attack and murder.

If you recall the original reports, two young women were arrested shortly after they applied a topical poison on the victim’s face. The women claimed they were duped into the act by others. The victim was the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It is widely believed the murder was directed by the North Korean government for reasons unknown.

In the Mirror article it said that a Malaysian paper (The New Straits Times) reported “there was likelihood that one of the assailants who approached Kim — one from the front to distract him, the other to grab him around the throat from behind — was a man disguised as a woman. The paper said the man police might be looking for could be a 40-year-old agent from the North Korean intelligence agency known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau.” One of the arrested female suspects, Doan Thi Huong, is a Vietnamese national who participated in a televised Idol singing contest in her country and had some glamour photos posted as “Ruby Ruby.” A sultry assassin and a crossdressing secret agent. I smell a blockbuster coming soon to a theater near you.

British tabloids are notorious for sensational headlines and a brief peruse of the New Straits Times website turned up a lot of “crossdressing” items so maybe these papers are just looking for a salacious angle to a well-covered story. Our own CNN.com did have a list of male suspects arrested or wanted by Malaysian authorities investigating the case although none was singled out as a crossdressed accomplice. Damn those journalistic standards — always getting in the way of a juicy story.

I had originally intended to do an item contrasting the happy-go-lucky South Korea that idolizes androgynous and sometimes crossdressing boy bands with the stultifying authoritarian North Korean culture. I had no idea that it might turn into a crossdressed murder mystery.

MAY DAY! MAY DAY!

A sexy soviet citizen.

Well, I’m a week late with commemorating May Day but blame that on our editorial scheduler. May Day was always a big day for Communist countries with impressive displays of martial firepower. It seems now to be reduced to poor old North Korea to keep up the tradition with rockets and goose-stepping soldiers.

I had been planning a scintillating review of Communist Crossdressing as a tie-in to the May Day festivities. Unfortunately, there is scant evidence (at least that I could turn up) of Soviet or Eastern Bloc, or Red Chinese proletarians in drag. I think the authorities kind of disapproved of that sort of thing in the days of Khruschev and Mao. Broadening the search (so to speak) to include sexy communist genetic females was also a bit of a wash-out — though I did find one distaff Russki sexily posed in the hatchback of a Soviet era Pinto-knockoff. Sometimes you gotta take what you can get.

May is also associated with the Maypole — a piece of folk tradition that was a pagan fertility celebration. The idea of associating a fertility ritual with crossdressers who have none of the plumbing needed for any type of fertility seemed, well, futile. Maybe I should have focused on the pole. . . .

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Category: Fun & Entertainment, Opinion

About Dina Amberle: I started crossdressing and going out publicly in 1988. I joined the Renaissance group in the Philadelphia area that year and later became chapter leader for two years in the '90s. I always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Renaissance newsletter and magazine throughout my membership years. I've been writing for TGForum for several years now. I also contributed items to LadyLike magazine and other TG publications before the advent of the internet. My hobby-within-a-hobby is singing live as my alter-ego Dina Sinatra and I have had the opportunity to do that with several accommodating performers and in a number of venues over the years since the mid-1990s. In the Diner column items here, I try to relate crossdressing or transgender themes (and my own pet peeves and fetishes) to the larger world -- and vice versa.

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