Last month, we received this email concerning the August, 2013 Godless Perverts Story Hour, which was held at the Center for Sex and Culture. After discussing the issues among ourselves, and asking the permission of the author, we’ve decided to publish it here on the blog, so that the issues can be addressed publicly.
The tl;dr version is this; the author saw parts of M. Christian’s performance as transphobic, especially one line that mockingly speculated that Ann Coulter has a penis. This isn’t a new idea, and it’s been criticized by queer communities before, such as in this piece from last year, at The Advocate. (Caution: You have to watch a few seconds of video to get to the article.) There’s also this article, from Jezebel, which gives a lot of things that Coulter should be ashamed of. Whether she’s cis or trans isn’t one of them.
We’d like to thank Jessica for writing us about this. We welcome criticism and commentary on our events, especially if you think that we’ve gotten things wrong. The whole point of Godless Perverts is that atheist communities have often built spaces that are closed or hostile to all but a narrow spectrum of genders and sexualities. Godless Perverts exists to build spaces that are much more open. We apologize for failing to do that here. We know that building such spaces is a lot easier said than done, and we hope that people will continue to give us feedback.
We offered M. Christian the opportunity to respond to Jessica’s comments, but he declined.
Dear Godless Perverts,
Let me start out by saying, I absolutely love the Godless Perverts Story Hour. Also, I apologize that the issue I want to address is in regards to something that happened quite a while ago. However, I still feel that it is an important thing to address if you are interested in creating a welcoming and inclusive space for queer and trans individuals.
At the Story Hour that happened last September, I was surprised by a transphobic humor piece read by M. Christian (the Jesus’s penis story). First, he equates having a penis and being a man, which I can understand is just a reflection of the cissexist society that we live in (though perhaps a queer writer should have known better). Then, he make a joke about Ann Coulter having a penis, which I can’t think of any other interpretation to, except Ann Coulter is a transwoman, and is therefor gross. I didn’t understand the joke, and saw a number of people, including transwomen in the audience, cringe. My partner and I strongly considered leaving at that point, and I overheard another group talking about leaving (they didn’t return after intermission). I assume it made many people in the audience (both cis and trans) feel unsafe and excluded.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I would really appreciate it if at the next Story Hour, you would address the idea that everyone is welcome in the space and call out transphobia in the future. I am sorry that I didn’t address this when it first came up.