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Dan Savage: ‘Reports Of My Recent Trans Slurs Are Grossly Misleading’

I did say “shemale.” I read the question as-written, repeated the term in my response, and then used “transexual” in place of “shemale” (“transexual sex-worker,” “transexual porn”), modeling the use of less offensive terms, before circling back to “shemale” in order to unpack why some find it offensive. I never used the phrase “freaky tranny porn.” I never said the word “tranny” at UCI at all; indeed, I’ve made a conscious effort to stop using “tranny” after the memo went out last year declaring the word an off-limits “hate term.”…

… Back to what went down at UCI: It’s clear from the transcript—and it’s clear from the way that my remarks are being actively and maliciously misrepresented—that the people pushing this “Dan Savage is transphobic!” meme are not honest actors. False accusations of engaging hate speech are themselves a form hate speech—particularly in the hothouse environment of LGBT activism. Any honest reader of my column, like any honest person who attended my Q&A at UCI, knows that not only I am not transphobic, I’m pretty rabidly pro-trans.

Or: If I’m the enemy of trans people everywhere, trans people everywhere could use more enemies like me.”

– Sex columnist and LGBT activist Dan Savage responding to reports that he said “shemale” and “freaky tranny porn” during a recorded talk at University of California Irvine. The offending slurs got him glitterbombed by pro-trans student activists.

On:           Nov 15, 2011
Tagged: , ,
    • Henry

      I agree with Dan that his accusers aren’t honest. This is transsexual homophobia – another reason to jettison the T in LGBT.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe

      Nothing worse than a gay man telling transgendered people what their experiences and feeligs are. Dan Savage should apologize and move on. I think it is disgraceful the blind allegiance behind him.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Riker

      @ewe: Apologize for what, exactly?

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • o

      Those darn pro-trans students, glitterbombing innocent people. When will the madness end?

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • (the) Rooney

      Transsexuals hate on gay people, which is backbiting behavior, because they don’t know who they are. If they weren’t so uncertain of themselves, they wouldn’t need anyone to hate. It’s a shame they can’t get things together.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Henry

      @o: If innocent people keep getting glitterbombed, soon glitterbombing will have no meaning.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mike128

      @Rooney: Don’t you think that’s a little bit of a gross generalization? You think an entire community of people “don’t know who they are”? In that one statement alone, you reveal the transphobia that’s rampant in the gay community.

      Imagine if the same thing was said about gay people who made demands on the straight community. “Gay people hate us because they don’t know who they are – they’re just confused and angry”. Sound familiar at all? Sound like bullshit at all?

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • (the) Rooney

      @mike128: Actually, you don’t even know if I’m gay. I could be bisexual or an ally. This shows that you just want an excuse to hurt gay people. Unlike straight people who tell gay people we’re just confused, I have a legitimate reason for saying that the vast majority of transsexuals don’t know who they are. They want to be the opposite sex and they haven’t gone through the surgery – that’s the definition of being confused. Do they want it, or not? What do they want? I don’t have the same criticism for people who go through the surgery, or who would if they COULD. But by definition, transsexuality is about dysphoria – self-confusion – not about who you love.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe

      @ewe: Get a life troll!!!!

      Nov 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      I posted a link to his original statements a while ago to show that what the activists were claiming he said was NEVER said.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jcrass

      @Rooney – wow. seems like you need to do some research. but i guess if you are reading d.savage for all your info about trans* folks, your comments make sense.

      i’m gay and transgendered and haven’t had any surgeries. the only thing i’m confused about is why jerks like you feel entitled to comment on my life, my body, or my identity.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Opheliac

      @Henry: Um… Tobi Hill-Meyer is actually gay. So STFU with your transphobia.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Henry

      @Opheliac: Tobi isn’t the only person who’s misconstrued Dan’s comments. So get your tranny ass back in the kitchen.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • o

      @Henry: Wearing an apron while naked and sucking on a spoon dipped in chocolate, like all women who ENJOY being women!

      Nov 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DenverBarbie

      Bruce LaBruce recently wrote an article in which he said something along the lines of, “They want to do away with homophobia… why take all of the fun out of it?!”
      I cannot help but to wonder if sometimes our community truly does thrive on the hatred, get off on it even. It seems as if that could be the only logical explanation for attacking someone like Dan Savage. Savage has made transphobic statements in the past (a decade ago), but has apologized since. This is not an evangelical preacher or a politician in favor of overturning Lawrence v. Texas, this is a gay man who has done a number of great things for the LGBT community (It Gets Better…). It really, truly feels as if we are being angry just because we sometimes like to be angry.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Henry

      @DenverBarbie: Since the whole LGBT thing is a sham, there is no “our” community. There’s gay people, bisexuals, and transsexuals allied for politics and separate socially. This is especially true since a lot of bisexuals are self-hating and would like to set back gay rights – even drive gay people to suicide from despair. After all, most bisexuals are with a partner of the opposite gender. They have nothing at stake.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Miguel

      Dan Savage is absolutely right. I listen to his podcast once in a while and he has had a good amount of trans advocate guests to speak about trans issues, always in a very sympathetic light. I can honestly say I don’t know of any other quasi-mainstream media figure that delves so much into trans issues in a positive way.
      So, if this group of trans activists thinks he is a big enemy they are clearly a bit on the deranged side.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • missanthrope

      @(the) Rooney:

      Troll is trolling.

      And Henry’s either a troll or horrible transphobe and biphobe, don’t know which.

      Different day, same old cis-supremest shit.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mike

      Anyone who listens to Dan’s podcasts knows he’s a very supportive Trans ally. It’s obvious.

      Shame on queerty for implying otherwise. What is their beef?

      Nov 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JoeyB

      So tired of seeing this media whore everywhere.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tallest

      @JoeyB: Is it your opinion that any who works in the media is a media whore? What makes Dan Savage more of a media whore than anyone else?

      Also Trans-activists need to get their shit together and stop attacking allies. First NY marriage, then Dan Savage, who next?

      Nov 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeff

      Henry is clearly a biphobe and transphobic troll who is parroting this media whore Dan Savage.

      DenverBarbie, Dan has never apologized for being Transphobic, biphobic, or racist at all. Dan has also never admitted to being wrong when giving out his ‘advice’ that’s not actually coming from someone who knows anything about GLBT issues or human sexuality at all. Then again you are in denial and excusing Dan’s biphobia and transphobia.

      Dan is no ally to trans people, bisexuals, and he’s an embarrassment to the GLBT community and doesn’t speak for any of us, just himself.

      Nov 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeff

      Until Dan stops the martyr and professional victim routine about how he is so picked on by the bi and trans community and how he has never been wrong on this issue and people need to just accept his words as infallible, I won’t accept him as an activist at all. I’m sorry. He is a shock writer and a humorist and if he can’t be more responsible, then he should leave it at that. Because I do really worry about the impact he has on bi and trans youth.

      Thankfully a lot of LGBT youth and LGBT adults see Dan as the snake oil seller, media whore, and hypocrite that he is and know fully well that he’s very biphobic, transphobic, and racist and nothing more than a conceited asshole and not any sort of expert on GLBT issues or human sexuality at all.

      Nov 16, 2011 at 12:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe

      @Joe: oh please. He says “i am a freak, i am a freak.” Girlfriend, he is way past high school. Grow the fuck up.

      Nov 16, 2011 at 2:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe

      @Riker: Don’t play dumb with me. If he didn’t have anything to apologize for he wouldn’t feel the need to respond the way he is. Try that transference bs with someone who is playing “freaky” man. I hate that Psych 101 crap.

      Nov 16, 2011 at 2:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe

      Dan Savage says “If I’m the enemy of trans people everywhere, trans people everywhere could use more enemies like me.”
      WHAT AN EGO!!!

      Nov 16, 2011 at 2:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DenverBarbie

      “I certainly have had a journey in the last 20 years—as have we all—on trans issues. When I started writing Savage Love 20 years ago, and you can yank quotes 15, 18 years ago and flat them up today and say, ‘You know, that’s transphobic,’ I’d probably agree with you. 15 years ago I didn’t know as much as I know now–nor did anybody.”
      -Dan Savage

      Does he need to get down on his knees and lick the feet of a transexual woman clean? What else would you like him to say?

      And is this the biphobia you speak of?


      As a (for all intents and purposes) bisexual person, I’m not seeing it so much.

      I most certainly am not saying Dan Savage is the second coming, but these glitter bombings are counter-productive. Can we criticize real, threatening enemies?

      Nov 16, 2011 at 5:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trent

      Don’t we have enough people trying to tear down our allies? Dan Savage has always been a voice for the gay community. Even if you don`t agree with the advice that he gives.

      Also, he has always seems very trans positive in things I have read. But I will be one of the first to tell you that I don`t try to even understand Trans-people. It is not that I don`t empathize with them; I just dont understand it 100 percent. I am ok with that. I don`t understand a lesbians love of vagina; but that doesn’t mean I can’t respect it.

      We all got lumped together in this Acronym (GLBT) and for this reason we are supposed to understand each other 100 percent. This is stupid. I had a trans woman come speak to me in university and one of her biggest points was that she did not understand gay people. She did not hang out with them and she didn’t understand why people lumped them together. I tend to agree.

      Nov 16, 2011 at 9:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Riker

      @ewe: So, you think he should apologize for what, exactly? You still haven’t answered my question. He says he didn’t say it. Where is your evidence that he did to demand such a thing?

      Nov 16, 2011 at 9:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Henry Holland

      We all got lumped together in this Acronym (GLBT) and for this reason we are supposed to understand each other 100 percent

      What cracks me up is that I don’t recall there being a vote on whether to play alphabet soup –I believe we are now up to LGBTQIA– and whether L should go before G, nor whether I want to be politically allied with TQIA. Just because some LGBTQIA Borg decided it doesn’t mean I have to buy in to it.

      Then there’s the use of the bullshit term “cis” (yes, I know what it means and I think it’s redundant nonsense). Hell, I loathe the term “gay” because of its association with being frivolous, lightweight and dismissible, but “queer” has its own problems. Don’t get me started on the use of “phobia” either…

      Wee! Words are so much fun!

      Nov 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dave

      @Henry Holland: I could not have said this better myself. When was the vote to completely redefine gay into something that links us with transsexuals and crossdressers. That linkage is a stereotype. It is something to be fought, not embraced.

      The usual justification for LGBT is that well, the gay bashers lump us all together anyway. Assuming this is true (and I don’t think that it is true in all cases), that would never be a reason to redefine ourselves. You don’t let gaybashers define who gay people are. Gay men are men. Lesbians are women. Bis are men or women as the case may be. But being gay, lesbian or bi does not mean that you identify with another sex or that you want to alter your sex, or that you want to dress up like the opposite sex.

      Nov 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allen D.

      I’d be ok with going back to just “Gay and Lesbian”. I’ve had trans friends who have told me “well, if I was in the right body, I’d be heterosexual”. So, just because someone’s a sexual minority, why are they in ‘our’ movement? Do we need to add a “P” for the polyamorous?

      Nov 17, 2011 at 1:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Riker

      @Henry Holland: I had somebody try to use LGBTTQQ2SAIA or something like that on me, and actually got offended when I told them they were making things up.

      Nov 17, 2011 at 2:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allen D.

      @Riker: That’s awesome. Ha!

      Nov 17, 2011 at 4:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mav

      As a transgender editor, it cracks me up to see people get so wrapped around the wheel about the acronym thing. There is so much overlap in the trans community and the gay/lesbian community that any division between the two is completely semantics and unapplicable to real-world secenarios. [Lest we forget, drag queens and butch women are the ones who *started* the whole fucking thing.]

      Besides that, semantics are the last refuge of PC morons. And don’t we ALL want to be like those fucking idiots? I didn’t think so.

      I’m transgender, non-op (FtM). I identify my sexual orientation as lesbian when people ask because it’s the least complicated answer and the one least likely to get me dragged behind a pickup truck. But I came out to my family as transgender from the very beginning. I present myself to the world as a young man in hair style, mannerisms, clothing and general attitude – because I am, and always have been – but am still seen as a young woman (albeit an extremely masculine one) because I have a pair of tits, and as such will probably *always* be seen as a woman because I feel sketch about the idea of cutting off any part of my body or taking experimental hormones. I make a prettier “boi” as a biological female, and don’t want to gain fifty pounds or lose all my hair or get hormone-induced cancer or be chained to the medical community for the rest of my life as if I had some sort of chronic disease trying to make the outside match the inside. I’m still gender dysmorphic at times, but the overwhelming majority of it faded with a) coming out, and b) the self-acceptance that followed.

      Point being, while I identify as transgendered, I tend to hang with (and date) lesbians and support general GLBT issues. Basically when people enquire about my sexual ambiguity, I tell them I’m “queer” because that sort of covers the bases of both orientation and gender identity. As to what “queer” means, well, I let people draw their own conclusions about that. Everyone seems to have a different definition anyway. Mine only fits my personal experience.

      REGARDLESS of someone’s life experiences and whether you empathize with them or not, if they are being oppressed by society and/or the law, you should stand up for them if your sense of social justice extends anywhere beyond your immediate self-identification. Which it should if you’re not an egocentric asshole. I have nothing in common with Tibetan refugees, but I still stand up for them. I don’t share life experiences with the 99ers either, but when people make stupid jokes about those people, I stand up for *them*, too. I don’t know what it’s like to be displaced or hungry or broke or violently gay-bashed, but I can put myself in the shoes of any person who has.

      If you’re unwilling to give support to other social justice movements, you have NO RIGHT expecting support for your own.

      All sentient beings are created equal.


      Nov 18, 2011 at 9:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeff

      Here come the excuses and claims that Savage simply can’t be Transphobic, or biphobic, racist, or full of hate like he is towards trans people, bisexuals, black people, and anyone that’s not a rich white gay man living in a McMansion with a kept husband like Dan Savage does.

      Thankfully his own words speak more for him than people who worship him, want to pretend that he’s never been transphobic, biphobic, or racist, and that he’s somehow not a self centered embarrassment to the GLBT community that only cares about himself, and not about GLBT equality or rights. Savage is no better than Perez Hilton and if you think he cares about anyone but himself and being a media whore you have not been paying attention to him.

      Savage never admits that he’s wrong at all and thinks that all of the false BS he’s said over the decades about bisexuals, trans people, people with HIV or AIDS, people into various kinks/fetishes and consensual BDSM, and black people in the state of CA is all correct and he’s always right even when actual experts in human sexuality correct him and tell him that he’s wrong about said subjects.

      Until Dan stops the martyr and professional victim routine about how he is so picked on by the GLBT community and how he has never been wrong on this issue and people need to just accept his words as infallible, I won’t accept him as an activist at all. I’m sorry. He is a shock writer and a humorist and if he can’t be more responsible, then he should leave it at that. Because I do really worry about the impact he has on bi and trans youth.

      Thankfully a lot of LGBT youth and LGBT adults see Dan as the snake oil seller, media whore, and hypocrite that he is and know fully well that he’s very biphobic, transphobic, and racist and nothing more than a conceited asshole and not any sort of expert on GLBT issues or human sexuality at all.

      Nov 19, 2011 at 3:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trevor

      You clearly like to pick fights when you’re outmatched, Jeff. Are you a hick? That would explain the drinking. A word to the wise, repeating your threefold mantra about Dan in every paragraph doesn’t make you any more right – it makes you appear pathological. So, next time, unless you want people to think you’re a homophobe, hold your tongue before you falsely accuse a very public gay man who also happens to be perfectly upfront about himself and his views.

      Nov 19, 2011 at 4:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Opheliac

      @Henry: Pfft, I’m not even trans. xD Seems like you’re a transphobe AND a sexist. Sometimes, as a lesbian, I feel like I’m not accepted on this site. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for lesbian trans women…

      Dec 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JustEmma

      It is sad that anyone believes any lie coming out of the mouth of such a cruel man. He never apologized for the long list of hurtful things he has said about trans people over the course of this career…and yet now claims to be an ally? How much more awful can one man be?

      Jul 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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