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    November 20, 2007

    Who's the fairest twink of them all?

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: I've updated this post, and backed away some from some of my provocative prose here, in a later post worth checking out.

    Alexander_oThere’s something about “Alexander O.,” one of the contestants for “Coverboy of the Year” in the D.C. gay mag Metroweekly. The other ten finalists in the popular annual contest gab about the typical mix of fashion, pop culture and boy craziness that we’ve come to expect of the 20-something twinks featured weekly in the publication’s “Coverboy Confidential” profile.

    But Alexander’s bio reads a bit more, well, lesbian. His favorite TV show is “The L Word.” If he could have dinner with three people, alive or dead, he would pick Angelina Jolie, Katherine Moennig and Judy Dlugacz.

    It’s safe to say that 99 percent of gay men don’t know Katherine Moennig is the actress who plays the sexy, butch character of Shane on said Showtime series, and the remaining 1 percent couldn’t pronounce Dlugacz, much less know she’s the founder of lesbian Olivia Cruises.

    And then there is the matter of Alexander’s girlfriend, Melissa, who he describes as “hot,” “smart, sexy — she’s everything.”

    The editors of Metroweekly — which began years ago as Michael’s Weekly, a typical gay bar rag and now identifies as “Washington D.C.’s GLBT News Magazine” — never come right out and explain how a lesbian became a “Coverboy,” but we find a clue in Alexander’s willingness to talk about transgender issues.

    “I just want to be more visible and spread awareness,” says Alexander. “It’s OK to be transgendered — or not.”

    Inclusive words, to be sure, but Alexander’s campaign to be Coverboy of the Year is sure to rub some the wrong way. He’s already been introduced at a banquet of transgender activists, who were urged to support him, and a number of trans email lists are drumming up votes as well.

    Adam_d It rubbed me the wrong way for the sake of “Adam D.,” another Coverboy finalist and, I should disclose, a friend and former tenant of my Washington, D.C., apartment. To be honest, I teased Adam endlessly when he posed for MW, not to mention when his three picks for that fantasy dinner were James Dean, Enrique Iglesias and Jeremy Bloom. But Adam is smart and incredibly sweet and has his sh*t together, and at least I know who his threesome is!

    If Alexander’s underground campaign should succeed, as I suspect it will, it wouldn’t be the first time that trans activists have ruffled GLB feathers. For years, male-to-female trans women have tried to attend the female-only Michigan Womyn’s Festival, leading organizers to adopt a controversial “women born women” admissions policy.

    Lesbian journalist Jennifer Vanasco has written about how the popularity of gender-bending among young lesbians has all but eliminated femmes from the under-30 crowd.

    “Young women who once called themselves butch now call themselves tranny bois, and these tranny bois are mostly dating each other” Vanasco, a self-identified femme, wrote in a provocative column from a couple of years ago.

    Some of those who champion gender bending claim it will once and forever explode gender stereotypes, but it’s not immediately clear just how. Are “tranny bois” really bending genders when they don’t feel comfortable self-identifying as women in touch with their masculine side? Or is it reaffirming gender stereotypes to say that being butch means being a man?

    If Alexander is indeed someone who would have identified as a “tomboy” or a butch lesbian a few years back, does being a “tranny boi” really make him a gay twink, too?

    What’s most striking about Alexander isn’t necessarily what he may or may not be packing below — he’s happy to do a striptease on request, by the way, according to his bio. It’s that Alexander, who comes off as completely endearing whatever gender he identifies with, is more lesbian or even straight male than he is gay boy — spiky hair and tank top aside.

    We’ve all seen how changing cultural conventions can irritate, even as they generate greater tolerance and acceptance. Tranny teens have run for homecoming queen, and Bill O’Reilly practically foamed at the mouth earlier this month when a pair of happy lesbians were voted “cutest couple” for their high school yearbook.

    But breaking down mainstream conventions is different than pressuring one minority group to include another as one of its own. Some of those tensions came to light during the divisive debate over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and whether to go forward with “sexual orientation” protections if the votes weren’t there for “gender identity” as well.

    Some of us were upset at the idea that GLB people aren’t deserving of equal rights, or even our own organizations, because of the “LGBT” groupthink that has taken over the movement.

    Those who wanted to scrap Barney Frank’s gay-only ENDA, on the other hand, argued that gays are necessarily gender non-conformists. Some even broadened the definition of “transgender” far beyond transsexuals and cross-dressers to include anyone who doesn’t fit masculine and feminine gender stereotypes.

    But by saying “we’re all transgender,” in effect, the word itself becomes too watered-down to be useful as a descriptor. There are important differences between sexual orientation and gender identity, and blurring the lines doesn’t do anyone a favor, after a point.

    Is a butch lesbian who identifies as a tranny boi no different than a gay twink, despite his passion for “The L Word” and Angelina Jolie? If Alexander wins Metroweekly’s Coverboy of the Year, will he “raise awareness” of transgender issues, or just raise a few hackles about how political correctness can rob the fun out of even the silliest of beauty contests.

    Stay tuned. Voting on Metroweekly.com finishes this weekend.

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    Comments

    1. Just Meeeee on Nov 20, 2007 2:18:58 PM:

      OK, Chris, we get it--you're still bitter about the trans group disagreeing with you about ENDA, but is it really necessary to try to politicize this "silliest of beauty contests"??? Try to think of another way into your twink tenant's pants, because this approach is just downright embarrassing.

    1. anon on Nov 20, 2007 3:03:58 PM:

      Oh, where to start, Chris. If your other posts didn't reveal your bias against trans folks -- and other gender variant folks, then this does. Are you really in a position to comment on the multiplicity of identites within the lesbian community? It is true that the community has shifted in terms of the range of identities that have come into parlance (i.e. tranny boi) but how does that take away from butch lesbians? As a butch-ish lesbian, I take offense with you generalizing about the lesbian community. I take further offense at you presuming to know the politics behind the michigan womyn's music festival and citing to one source for authority. The politics behind that festival are complicated. That complication reflects the reality that for many people, they don't have the privilege to choose sides on the gender binary. I would include myself in that category. Even though I am completely comfortable/proud identifying as a woman, the discrimination I face -- by and large -- has to do with the fact that I appear boyish in certain settings.

      Could your fear of 'tranny bois' have something to do with your own prejudice against anything lacking a penis? For a refresher on how homophobia (and now, transphobia) relates to sexism please see the following book, which I consider essential reading for anyone claiming to be a spokesperson for LGBT issues: "Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism" by Susanne Pharr.

      Anyway, go ahead and use the MW contest as a way to espouse your views. As the last commentator pointed out, it's embarrassing.

    1. adamblast on Nov 20, 2007 4:05:21 PM:

      Your post is thoughtful and throught-provoking, Chris. I wish I could say the same for the responses, howevere well-intentioned.

      Gay men have no right to generalize about transfolk or trans issues? Book X or Y is required reading if you're not an ignorant transphobe?

      *IF* transfolk are facing a strong backlash from gays and lesbians, they deserve it in spades. Their attempts at "dialog" are at least as patronizing and biased as anything you've written.

      But then, no doubt, I'm only writing this because I want in your pants. I have a penis, after all, and am actually happy to use it--which clearly disqualifies me from worthy discourse in transworld.

    1. Steve Scott on Nov 20, 2007 5:05:30 PM:

      Chris, thanks for the Metroweekly “Coverboy of the Year” story. It may seem like a minor thing, but how minor is it really? A woman (trans boi), pretending to be a 20-something gay man, has entered the contest. Trannies all over the country are being asked to vote for her. If she wins, she will knock a real guy out of winning. Hmmm. How dare we bring this up! Who are we to question the motives of the trans boi/trans girl community? We don’t want to throw them under the bus now, do we? We need to take the moral high ground (i.e. what they tell us to do). If we don’t, we hate all women, hate all lesbians, and most of all hate all trans bois/trans girls.

      The sham of the “LGBT family” has been exposed for exactly what it is, a political convenience for the very small numbered T community. They need to get their own political organizations and their own “Coverboy of the Year” contest.

    1. Dennis Chase on Nov 20, 2007 5:09:40 PM:

      It is so irritating to see a trans boi poising as a gay man in the contest. But, according to some extremists, we are not supposed to have an opinion about one minority group invading another minority group. After all, (horror above all horrors), we’re men.

      We have, in a post-ENDA world, become the evil gender to most trannies and to now to some lesbians.

    1. anonymous on Nov 20, 2007 5:10:11 PM:

      I'm a lesbian, and I agree with Chris.

      I was thinking of moving to San Francisco recently, but after asking around, I heard that all of the old lesbian places have been taken over by tranny boi genderqueers.

      And if you want to talk about sexism, how sexist is it for transpeople who spend half of their life as men (either MTF or FTM) to tell women how to define their space.

      "But breaking down mainstream conventions is different than pressuring one minority group to include another as one of its own. "

      This hits the nail on the head, Chris. The transpeople need to create their own magazines/books/social events instead of trying appropriate and destroy the work of gay people.

      " is it really necessary to try to politicize this "silliest of beauty contests"??"

      It is political - and the transpeople know that. They are trying to push a straight FTM into a gay men's magazine. Seriously?

      And is it really necessary to politicize a silly music festival in the woods? Transpeople apparently think so, since they been driving out in the woods and harrassing the Michigan Women's festival for 15 years.

    1. Matt on Nov 20, 2007 6:11:57 PM:

      If I recall my MetroWeekly editorial policies correctly -- and God knows that I have my finger on THAT pulse -- then the hell could they have allowed this in the first place?

      The "Coverboy of the Year" must have appeared in a previous issue, which seems to be March 8, 2007, in the case of "Alexander O."

      What kind of bone-headed statement were they trying to make back in March? And how are the "finalists" nominated?

      If they are nominated through popular acclaim (emails, etc.), then the trans community should be ashamed of itself. If they are nominated by the editors, then MetroWeekly should be ashamed of itself.

      Either way, Chris's valiant efforts notwithstanding, this is a fait accompli. I don't see how it's a fair fight for one transexual (or lesbian?) to be able to walk away with this contest when the vote for ACTUAL gay men will be split nine other ways.

    1. david on Nov 20, 2007 10:55:15 PM:

      Chris -- keep up the great work exposing the outrageous gayphobia of the political Transmovement -- especially the deranged entitlement of the new "gay" transman community. I agree with adamblast that actual gay men are "banned" from opinion on trans topics -- especially anything dealing with transmen who declare themselves "gay". Gay men are being told they are bigots if they have a problem with the new transman "activists" who are fighting for their "right" to be in gay men's bathhouses because they are "men". They also say that since queer people have rejected binary gender/sexuality and everyone queer is so fluid sexually that they welcome men with any kind of genitals in their sex spaces that all gay men who are part of the LGBT "community" must do the same. If they do not, they are branded transphobic bigots -- yadda yadda yadda. I just thank the stars that I am now am an old fag (gone forever from "gay" politics and community because it does not exist any more -- it is one letter in a very strange stew). I am thankful that I was able, before the end, to have experienced the wonders of a true gay Golden Age (from the mid '70s fantasy right through the 90s original Bear scene). The last 10 years have seen the outcome of a Queer/Trans beer hall putsch and the results are so angry, nasty, accusatory, vindictive, ahistorical and gay hating that the young are welcome to it! From the outside it is not mere tiresome in its Stalinist rigidity but it is antithetical to the spontaneous joy and authentic fun of the sex and comradeship and community that I knew amongst men of all gay stripes. What a shame. A sad shame.

    1. ano on Nov 20, 2007 11:51:27 PM:

      So, Adam, et al., just so I'm getting this right: an FTM is never welcome as a gay man? Wait, I thought according to Chris sexual orientation and gender identity were separate things. Gosh, if you're so concerned about keeping them separate, what difference does it make to you if a trans guy identifies as gay?

      As for the MI festival. Ugh. So, I definitely agree that MTF's have been the beneficiaries of male privilege as men. But just because they have been doesn't mean they can't be welcomed into women's spaces now, right? Also, don't GLB people technically live as "straight" before coming out? Does that mean that those GLB people who live half their lives as straight should be excluded from the community? By your logic, anonymous, it seems so.

    1. Kevin on Nov 21, 2007 5:28:06 AM:

      This Alexander seemed more like a straight guy on first read of his entry.

    1. david on Nov 21, 2007 8:23:24 AM:

      Ano -- a question -- can a person with a vagina be a "gay man" when one of the elemental aspects that 98% of gay men cite as sexually arousing are the primary (genitals) and secondary (beard, hair, etc.) sex characteristics of males together and not one without the other. To translate this into real language, almost all homosexual men who identify as gay get erect (hard-ons, boners) at the combo of these male attributes (and this has nothing to do with penis size nor with accidents where penises become deformed or cut off or the other absence of penis exceptions cited by transmen as "proof" that gay men do not require a penis to get aroused). Ano, you speak of sex like most queer and trans people -- in complete abstractions -- speak concretely of sex -- how many gay men get off on "guys with pies"? Can a man with a cunt ever be the object of homosexual male desire? Does the presence of a person with a vagina belong in a gay male sex space. We know that transmen believe these things. What do gay men think -- has anyone even asked them?

    1. Kevin on Nov 21, 2007 11:34:39 AM:

      Good questions, David. I'm not sure it's too productive for us to get all worked up about who 'belongs' where -- MW is an independent publication, and if Randy or Sean wanted to include an inanimate carbon rod in the competition, it frankly wouldn't be anyone's business to claim it as some infringement on our rights as this or that community, etc. Gender-bending, or 'gender-fucking' or whatever extremity you want to assign it (what next, gender-raping? gender-annihilating? then what?) -- it's all just a provocative exercise, and we're provoked. The question is open, tho, as to what the point of it all is. I'm sure there is one, or two, but often enough all we see is just the attention-grabbing provocation and nothing substantial to go with it. Case in point - this Alexander situation. I wish MW had given some kind of context rather than just chuckling and moving on to the next bit of weekly confection.

    1. Citizen Crain on Nov 21, 2007 11:46:50 AM:

      My take on that, Kevin, is that MW's editors purposefully laid low about including Alexander, knowing the trans groups would be drumming up votes. If they made a big deal about it, there might be a backlash in favor of the gay boys. But this way, Alexander could win "fairly" -- a.k.a. stealthily -- and his victory be celebrated (in high profile fashion) as a win for tolerance.

      Some of the commenters are a bit more worked up about this than I am, but I do think Alexander reads more lesbian or straight male than gay or (certainly) gay twink. And when I got word that the trans groups were campaigning for him, that definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

    1. Sean Bugg on Nov 21, 2007 12:44:38 PM:

      Per Kevin's suggestion, I've decided: Starting in January the feature will be rebranded as "Carbon Rod Confidential." Questions will include "Which do you prefer, a round hole or a square peg?" and "Do you think of yourself as horizontal or vertical?" I haven't decided as yet if I'll accept applications from fuel rods, wooden dowels or camshafts.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Nov 21, 2007 12:48:34 PM:

      "So, Adam, et al., just so I'm getting this right: an FTM is never welcome as a gay man?"

      When they decide to become one, sure.

      But what "Alexander" is doing is trying to play gay man without actually having to be one.

      Question: since gender doesn't matter, would you fully support a gay man being entered in a lesbian magazine cover contest, and then gay men voting en masse to ensure that that person was elected as a "statement"?

    1. Allen on Nov 21, 2007 12:56:51 PM:

      Reading his bio, he seems more like a straight guy than a gay one.

      That's odd.

    1. Kevin on Nov 23, 2007 8:02:09 AM:

      NDT: On your question, I'm sure there are plenty of 'fagents provocateurs' who'd love the chance, esp if it sells magazines and click-rates.

      Sean: As a camshaft fetishist, I denounce you.

      C2: I totally get your point, and am in now way minimizing it. It's interesting to have it pointed out - I'm not sure there is a gigantic political meaning behind it, tho. If the gay press of Washington were a Facebook profile, I think MW is more a poke than a message :-)

    1. SFer on Nov 28, 2007 12:18:28 AM:

      Just posting to say that I'm another lesbian who agrees with Chris (and, as a 20-something femme-y lesbian in SF - bet y'all didn't know we still existed, I share the frustration of the lesbians whose hard-won spaces have been usurped by "genderqueer," "trannyboi," and all the latest "edgy" identities.)

    1. ano on Nov 29, 2007 1:19:31 AM:

      to SFer and NDT: Alexander's case isn't about pushing some fad-ish, hipster, "edgy" identity. He's a guy who happens to be transgender who entered the Coverboy contest. Sure, he refers to himself as a "tranny boi" which is simply another way of saying transgender man. It's not about "edgy," it's just about who he is. What in the MW policy restricts "Coverboy" to biologically born boys? And, if it were to restrict it to biological males what is the justification for that? As for "edgy" labels, I agree that they can be annoying and over the top and I do grieve the loss of lesbian-identified spaces. But isn't it all semantics anyway? Butch lesbians -- at least some (not me) -- now using the terms "gender queer," etc.? When did the LGBT community become the speech police?

    1. gaytransman on Dec 1, 2007 12:06:35 AM:

      I'm surprised and ashamed at how unabashedly transphobic many of these comments are, let alone the sad article, itself.
      I thought we were, as a queer community, surpassing this. Obviously not.
      I agree that this article is embarrassing.
      I am a gay transman. No, not a lesbian. Nope, not butch either, never was thanks. Not a woman.
      I'm wondering... in your definitions, if Alex is a lesbian because he likes women... would that make me a straight woman if I date men? oh... my that is funny. I've been full-time male for 8 years, so that is a really funny concept.
      See... we transfolk have our identities pretty clearly defined for ourselves, individually. It's the rest of you who get it confused.
      I thought we were getting close, but...there's a long way to go.

    1. aliza on Dec 1, 2007 12:35:52 AM:

      god forbid someone ruffle the feathers of gay white boys who just want to have a little fun beauty contest...on the cover of a COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. get used to it. trannies are part of the community whether you chose to see them or not. they spend money in the community and they shop at the stores and restaurants who advertise in the paper. you'll take their dollars but not respect them. nice. i know more fags who'd chose rosie and ellen as dinner guests over any men. and...before you realized you were gay and you had a little swish in your five year old walk...and the boys on the playground called you a fag or a sissy because you were different even when your sexuality wasn't completely formed...that's gender presentation discrimination. and it happens to adults regardless of their sexuality and it should be protected. all those butch straight women who live in new jersey or who work on farms or in factories...it you took them out of their workplease and put them in corporate straight, white america would likely be descriminated against because of their masculine appearances...that's why a broad definition is a good idea.

    1. MisterB on Dec 1, 2007 12:36:49 AM:

      How insightful it is to see that you can define an entire class of people based on your own skewed perceptions of a few individuals, whether it be the trans or lesbian community.

      The only issue I can see here is that perhaps a straight man shouldn't be in a gay man's competition. That's about as far as I can agree with anything remotely regarding this article. Because this is still a man, a male, with every right to be in the masculine realm as anyone.

      I wasn't born with factory-standard male parts either, but y'know what? I don't identify as a tranny, or a cross-gender-whatever, or anything of the sort. If you were with me in public and called me a woman or "she" or whatnot, you'd get laughed off the scene, because I sure as hell wouldn't be seen as the crazy one. I'm not the bearded lady, my friend. I'm beyond butch; I'm a bloody bear, buddy. And I have the fur to back it up. I've earned my beard, and I'm damn well not going to stand for someone thinking I'm pretending.

      I recognise my state of having not been born with the proper anatomy, but at the same time, I am as self-aware of my status as a man as anyone born with bits that dangle. I am a man. A gay man. A gay man who is recognised as a gay man by gay men. Gay men who aren't afraid of catching The Straight or of being considered less queer if they are attracted to me. Gay men with a modicum of decency in respecting my status as a fellow male.

      However, we can always play it your way, and dictate the entirety of a person's identity by their genitals, which would thus make you, sir, a dick.

      Have a lovely evening.

    1. CHRIS IS A TRANS PHOBIC A-HOLE on Dec 1, 2007 12:50:12 AM:

      You're ignorance is disgusting and astounding. You call yourself an educated, journalist who also happens to be a gay man??? You bring shame to the gay community because you should know better. You should know how people stereotype and judge you- if the rest of the LBT community subcribed to the same ignorance you do then you're pretty much a child molester, who sleeps with anyone and anything, does large amounts of drugs and has AIDS. GROW UP YOU IGNORANT FOOL

    1. Joshua on Dec 1, 2007 1:27:21 AM:

      the GLBT community is all about everyone and everything. it seems perfect that a king should enter into the cover boy realm. the cover boy world is a superficial, twink-owned circle of bullshit as it is... why can't someone shake things up?

      any thoughts otherwise puts you in the hatred-fueled world of mister phelps. shut the fuck up and get over it. sorry if a woman takes away from your votes.

    1. CHRIS Crain on Dec 1, 2007 1:35:53 AM:

      **********************
      WHY CHRIS CRAIN REALLY WROTE THIS..........

      OK, GUYS I ADMIT THE ONLY REASON I WROTE THIS IS BECAUSE I'M IGNORANT, NARROWED MINDED AND COMPLETELY INSECURE WITH MYSELF. MY PREJUDICE OF TRANS PEOPLE STEMS FROM YEARS OF INADEQUACY IN EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE. LETS FACE IT, REGARDLESS OF WHAT I MAY THINK ARE BIG LIFE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, I'LL NEVER BE ANYTHING MORE THAN A BIG ZERO ANYWAY YOU SLICE IT BECAUSE WE'RE ONLY AS BIG AS OUR MINDS ALLOW US TO BE. THE ONLY WAY I'M WORTH SOMETHING IS IF I BUILD MYSELF UP BY TEARING OTHERS DOWN. TRANS PEOPLE ARE THE LAST ACCEPTABLE TARGET TO PICK ON AND I FEEL SO AWFUL ABOUT MYSELF THAT ITS THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER (THAT AND PICKING ON CHILDREN, SMALL ANIMALS, AND BEATING UP SENIOR CITIZENS). I KNOW THE TRUTH IS TRANSMEN ARE MORE OF A MAN THAN I COULD EVER BE OR GET. I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK BY PICKING ON TRANSMEN IT TAKES THE FOCUS OFF OF THE FACT THAT I LOOK LIKE HOWDY DOODY AND A JUNGLE BUSHBABIES LOVE CHILD.
      FOREVER BITTER AND INSECURE
      ~CHRIS CRAIN (OR JUST SOMEONE WHO THINKS HE'S AN A-HOLE)

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