Macunaima wrote:An open letter to Bill Armintrout from another wargamer who does support work with trans people and sex workers.
I can't post this on your site because you banned me last year after the noted extremist Mithmee threatened to kill me and I responded by "outing" Mr. Chester Sleezer with his real name (which was already available on his TMP member page). You considered this cyberstalking, asked me to justify it, and then never bothered to even get back in touch after I did justify it (repeatedly), even though Mr. Sleezer's threats were a clear breach of TMP's guidelines and, arguably, several laws as well.
So it goes.
What I'm writing to you about today is the latest imbroglio you have gotten yourself into regarding what seems to be your completely laudable support for transexual people in the Phillipines. Let's recap how the story has gone so far, according to the folks on Frothers:
1) Frothers commented on the strangeness of The Editor's posting about his female editors
2) Someone at Frothers jokingly observed that they look like transwomen.
3) To Frothers' shock, someone in fact found a blog for Philippine transwomen, "transpinayfinder," on which Bill's new editors all post, photos and all. This blog was started by and run by a figure calling himself "Monty Schwab."
4) After much discussion and joking about this state of affairs, Bill arrived and began debating with Frothers. One thing he claimed is that there's a charity that helps the transsexual Filipinos, and he helps with the charity.
5) Some digging was done and an aggrieved transsexual's posting on Facebook indicated that Monty Schwab is actually William Armintrout of New York.
6) Bill has never flatly denied that he is "Monty Schwab." It turns out the so-called charity is paying the "girls" for their stories and for editing TMP. This position was much derided.
7) The transsexual editors were all brought here by Bill to post, and some of them inadvertently let things slip, especially that Bill is Monty Schwab.
Let me make myself perfectly clear where I stand on all this, presuming it's true:
1) Given the prejudices transpeople face, I think it's a perfectly wonderful thing that you are helping some of them get jobs as TMP editors. Good on you!
2) 150 USD is not a bad salary for this sort of work, especially by Filipino standards. The people doing it are adults and can quit any time they want. They are not being exploited.
3) It is no ones' business what you or any other consenting adult decide to do in the privacy of your own homes.
4) Speaking as an aging, overweight white guy who studies prostitution in a so-called third world country (Brazil) who does trans- and sex work support work, I find it INCREDIBLY offensive that certain assholes think your only interest in the plight of transpeople needs must be prurient. There are many people, of all types, who do this sort of work and do not have sexual relations with the people they help. I will give you the benefit of the doubt here, even if no one else will. Arguably, sex workers are one of the most stigmatized groups of people on the planet and trans people - who often can only get sex work when they can get any work at all - are even more stigmatized in this already "understood as disposable" group. Anyone with half a heart and half a brain should be able to see how these people need all the aid they can get and those of us who try to help shouldn't be virtually slandered as dirty old men.
But, given all this..... Jesus Christ on a fucking pony, what the hell were you thinking, Bill?
If you are going to do this sort of support work, YOU DO NOT DO IT ON THE QT, hiding your identity while posting coy and sexualizing banter with the people you are trying to help.
You are a well-off, white, American middle-aged guy, my friend. The people you are helping are quite publicly out and about about what they are and what they do. They don't need you to "protect their privacy". The only person's privacy who you are protecting here is "Monty Schwab's", who by all accounts is someone EXTREMELY close to you, if not you yourself.
I have been working with transpeople and sex workers for ten years: NO ONE does this stuff anonymously while running sites like "TransPinnay Helper", Bill, precisely because working with stigmatized groups like this, in places like Brazil or the Phillipines, can easily lay one open to charges of sexual exploitation or trafficking of persons. YOU DO NOT DO TRANS AND SEX WORKER SUPPORT ANONYMOUSLY. No one does that unless they are doing something illegal or - and I'm pretty sure this is your case - they themselves are mortally embarrassed by the people they are associating with.
If your trans employees are out and about - and they are - the only possible conclusion is that the "privacy" you are protecting is "Monty's". And if he's not straight forward about what he's doing, then you should have serious questions about him. If he is you, then you should ask yourself what "help" is this that you're giving that doesn't even have the courage to speak it's own name.
A simple declaration on TMP: "We are proud to support transsexual rights and hire transsexual employees" would have been all it took.
Sure, Frothers would have whooped and laughed and some of your own right wing TMP supporters would have sputtered. But that would have been it. That was all that really needed to be said. And, presuming that some of your workers are cisgendered female and some trans-, nobody's "privacy" would have been any more violated than "Monty's" photo blog already violates it. You could've invited prying personalities to knock themselves out trying to figure out who is who. This is PRECISELY what we do with the Daspu Fashion Line here in Brazil, when we put sex workers, university professors, police women and movie stars all on the same catwalk in our line of clothes, saying to the audience "Some of the people on the catwalk tonight are sex workers. Can't tell the difference between them and the movies stars, cops and teachers now, can you? So maybe you should rethink your prejudices about whores, you reckon...?"
What you really seem to be scared about here is being outed YOURSELF. Even though your own life is hundreds of times more privileged and economically stable than the lives of the folks you are trying to help, you're apparently not willing for one single minute to help share the burden of the prejudice and stigma those transpinnay women SHOULDER EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THEIR LIVES. You and Monty are gawkers. You are fooling yourselves if you think that you are "helping" people by tossing them a bit of cash and not coming along for the ride yourself.
And this is made all the more serious, to me, by your on-going relationship with the Latter Day Saints, which is one of the most trans- and homophobic religions out there. In fact, from where I'm sitting, what this all looks like is that you won't come forward on what you are doing because fear that your own religion will castigate you for your acts.
Please, for the sake of the people you claim to want to help, put an end to this farce by either publicly cutting your ties with "Monty" (unless he's willing to publicly make it known who he himself is) or letting it be known you are him. And if that's true, then just tell people you support trans people and are doing everything in your power to help them get work and financial stability. If people don't like that, fuck 'em.
But don't continue with this BS about "protecting privacy" when the cat is pretty much entirely out of the bag. Either take a stand regarding what you believe in or head to confessional (or wherever it is Mormons go when they've been bad little boys and/or girls). You can't be a trans supporter and simultaneously try to not let anyone know, PARTICULARLY if what you are trying to do is work for trans rights and not, say, fulfill some weird little redemption fantasy of your own...
Best of luck,
Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette
If anyone with a functioning account who doesn't worry about being banned could post this to TMP, I'd be grateful.