Jim Fouratt:

A classic example of transphobia in older-generation gay men

By Lynn Conway

January 20, 2006 [Updated 1-21-06]

 

 

Jim Fouratt is an older-generation gay journalist, activist and thought-leader who was one of the founders of the Gay and Liberation Front in New York [1]. 

However, Fouratt has since become infamous among transgender people for his conflation of transgenderism and homosexuality, for equating gender transition to "anti-gay reparative therapy", and for writing that postop transsexual women are really just misguided gay men who've undergone "surgical mutilations".  Somehow Fouratt and many other misogynist gay men of his era just couldn't handle the idea of male-to-female transsexual transitions and sexual reassignment surgery. The whole idea of it made them crazy somehow.

The transphobic views of such "Fourattists" held sway in the elite gay community during the 80's and 90's. It was a time when prevailing gay male wisdom derided postop women as "crazy queens who'd gone too far".  That provincial viewpoint became so entrenched that many gay psychiatrists, psychologists and social pundits pitched in and pushed it too, as it if were simply a matter of fact. Many such men, men such as Simon LeVay, Dean Hamer, Ray Blanchard, James Cantor, James S. Fitzgerald, Chandler Burr, Steven Pinker, etc., published and/or promoted such transphobic viewpoints, often referring to trans women as "transsexual men".  After all "they knew queens" - or so they thought.

The extent of such confused thinking among gay men was exposed on May 28, 2000, when the New York Times Sunday Magazine published an article by David France entitled "An Inconvenient Woman" [2].   In the article France retold the story of Calpernia Addams, whose lover Barry Winchell had been brutally beaten to death by Army buddies when they discovered he was dating a trans woman.  France then revealed how gay media of the time deliberately avoided reporting the fact that Calpernia was a trans woman, but instead consistently referred to her as a gay man . 

It apparently hadn't occurred to gay journalists that they were misreporting Calpernia's gender, because most gay men back then thought of such women simply as gay  men "in drag" - and this misreporting conveniently enabled gay media to spin Barry's murder as a "gay hate crime". At the same time, a series of actions to keep Calpernia's identity as a trans woman hidden from national media (presumably to avoid "confusing them") revealed an undercurrent of consciousness of this duplicity.

The Times article caused quite a stir in the gay community. On hearing about it, and of the growing awareness of its possible significance and correctness by respected members of the gay community, Jim Fouratt went on a rampage:  He widely circulated an e-mail letter in which he claimed that the "New York Times promotes sexual reasigment (sic) as a solution to gender varinace (sic)" [3].

Fouratt's letter reveals why "sex changes" so confused and enraged gay men of that era:  Many simply thought of transsexual transitions as some kind of socially-forced "cures of homosexuality" that were submitted to by "confused, crazy queens". This shocking but incorrect imagery was incredibly disturbing to gay men, and many felt compelled to rail out against such "mutilations".

Meanwhile, times were changing in the trans community. For almost two decades the community had suffered in silence while being vilified by prominent lesbian feminists, in books such as Janice Raymond's The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male (1979, 1994) [4, 5] on up to Germaine Greer's The Whole Woman (1999, 2000) [6, 7].  By 2000 trans women had really had their fill of such defamations.  They were organizing on an increasing scale, were becoming more openly visible and were finding their own voice. Upon learning of Fouratt's letter, the newly organized National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) posted an alert on May 30, 2000 in which they reprinted the letter [8] (see below). 

A further-enraged Fouratt struck back on June 18, 2000, during a widely publicized appearance as a principal speaker at the Heritage of Pride Rally in New York City.  Perceiving himself in open warfare against people who wanted to cure homosexuality by sex changes, he made vicious anti-trans remarks during that speech.  But this time he'd gone too far.  His shocking remarks were rebuked by protests during the rally and in publications immediately afterwards, not only by the trans community [9, 10] but also by the larger gay and lesbian community [11, 12]. 

Times had clearly changed. Things that seemed perfectly OK to say the year before now seemed almost crazed.  A younger generation of savvy gays and lesbians were now in contact with trans reality on the streets. Many had read David France's Times article and had been discussing it among themselves. Many personally knew trans women and had seen for themselves that they were NOT gay men in denial. Thus a major paradigm shift was underway as more and more gays and lesbians "got it" regarding trans women and trans men.

Fouratt stumbled out into that paradigm shift and got chewed up by it, in the process becoming widely perceived by gay and lesbian leaders as an anachronism and hatemonger. As a result, we now use the term "Fourattist" to refer to such older-generation gay transphobes.

By 2002 the paradigm shift that had earlier swept through the streets of New York was moving through elite gay and lesbian organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), as a new generation of leaders challenged traditional thinking. HRC went on to become a major force for trans rights, and by 2003-2004 was having great impact through its "Corporate Equality Index" (CEI) - which by then required companies to provide GI&E protections if they were to retain "100%" status [13]. Fouratt must have cringed to see this dramatic shift in gay thinking.

Unfortunately, many old-guard Fourattist's are still around and some are entrenched in elite positions in fields such as psychology and psychiatry.  From those vantage points and totally out of contact with reality on the streets, such elites still caricature trans women as being "crazy gay queens gone wrong", in a long hangover of old-time gays ways of thinking. 

A classic example of ongoing Fourattist stigmatization occurred in 2003, when J. Michael Bailey published a book entitled "The Man Who Would Be Queen" [14].  As a "straight-man" spokesman for the old-guard 1980's-1990's gay science clique of Simon LeVay, Dean Hamer, Ray Blanchard, James Cantor, James S. Fitzgerald, Chandler Burr, Steven Pinker, et al, Bailey proclaimed as a scientific fact that most transsexual women are simply extremely effeminate gay men who get sex changes in order to have sex with lots of straight men [15]. Fouratt must have been ecstatic to see "science" so emphatically support his traditional views.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bailey and his Fourattist promoters, Bailey's bizarre book led to investigations that revealed ethical and research misconduct on his part at Northwestern University, leading to his fall into disgrace after forced resignation as Chair of Psychology there [16, 17, 18]. This scientific fiasco subsequently exposed and widely discredited many in the old-guard gay science clique who, out of arrogant self-interest, had been promoting Bailey and his book.

Meanwhile, the paradigm shift in thinking about transsexualism is finally diffusing through the younger ranks of psychologists and psychiatrists. Although the old clique of transphobic gay psychologists and psychiatrists still occupy positions of influence, they now face the same eventual fate as Fouratt:  Their legacy will be that of unrepentant transphobes, as men who viciously attacked the identities of trans women - in response to their own inner demons and their conflation of gender identity with sexual orientation.

References:

 

1.  Matt & Andrej Koymasky: Biography of Jim Fouratt as journalist and gay thought leader, Andrejkomasky.com

http://andrejkoymasky.com/liv/fam/biof2/four2.html

 

2.  The New York Times, "An Inconvenient Woman", by David France, 5-28-00.

 http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20000528mag-calpernia.html

 

3.  Jim Fouratt: "ALERT: New York Times promotes sexual reasigment (sic) as a solution to gender varinace (sic)", e-mail letter from JimFour@aol.com, 5-27-00.

http://web.archive.org/web/20020704045131/http://ntac.org/news/00/05/30fouratt.html

 

4.  Janice Raymond, The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male (1979, 1994).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807762725/104-1990904-8671900?v=glance&n=283155

 

5.  Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex History: "Enemies of the Community: Janice Raymond, Ph.D.", TransHistory.net, 1998.

http://www.transhistory.net/history/TH_Janice_Raymond.html

 

6.  Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman, (1999, 2000)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1862300577/202-8415558-4813445

 

7.  Lynn Conway, "Prominent feminist espouses bizarre 'theory of transsexualism' in the book The Whole Woman", LynnConway.com, 2006.

.http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Rogue%20Theories/Greer/Exorcism%20of%20the%20mother.html

 

8.  NTAC Alert: "New York Times promotes sexual reasigment (sic) as a solution to gender varinace (sic)", 5-30-00.

http://web.archive.org/web/20020704045131/http://ntac.org/news/00/05/30fouratt.html

 

9.  NTAC: "SexPanic! slams Jim Fouratt's transphobia",  6-18-00.

http://web.archive.org/web/20050310185540/http://www.ntac.org/news/00/06/18sexpanic.html

 

10. NTAC: "How does one deal with Jim Fouratt?", 6-19-00.

http://web.archive.org/web/20050222130214/http://www.ntac.org/news/00/06/19rubin.html

 

11. Gay Today: "Controversial Activist Slammed at New York Pride Rally - Backs Turn on Jim Fouratt in Show of Community Anger - Self-Promoter Said to Cause 30Years of Movement Malice", by Jack Nichols. 6-19-00.
http://gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/events/061900ev.htm


12. Greenwich Village Gazette: "Jim Fouratt Slammed at Heritage of Pride Rally, by Jack Nichols", 6-23-00.

http://www.gvny.com/columns/nichols/nichols6-23-00.html

 

13. HRC: "Workplace Discrimination: Gender Identity or Expression", HRC.org
http://www.hrc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Transgender_Issues

 

14. J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen, National Academy Press, 2003.

http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10530.html

 

15. "Direct Quotes From Bailey's Book", compilation and commentary by Lynn Conway, LynnConway.com, 2003-2004.

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Bailey/BaileyQuotes.html

 

16. Lynn Conway, "An investigation into the publication of J. Michael Bailey's book on transsexualism by the National Academies", LynnConway.com, 2003-2005.

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/LynnsReviewOfBaileysBook.html

 

17. Andrea James, "Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence Clearinghouse", TSRoadmap.com, 2003-2005.

http://www.tsroadmap.com/info/bailey-blanchard-lawrence.html

 

18. Lynn Conway, "A Quiet Victory: J. Michael Bailey is forced to resign as Chair of Psychology at Northwestern University", LynnConway.com, 12-19-04.

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Bailey/NU/Quiet%20Victory.htm


 

 

Copyright 2006, Lynn Conway.

All rights reserved

 




Jim Fouratt's transphobic response to the New York Times article about Calpernia Addams

 

National Transgender Advocacy Coalition
05/30/00
ALERT

The following note, by Jim Fouratt, has finally begun to be forwarded to concerned individuals in the LGBT and queer communities. It is always sad to see someone as well known as Jim denigrating how others express their identities and singling them out for abuse. It is equally sad to see him utilizing such a dated, frightening and divisive rhetoric such as the one that had been proposed by other transphobes, including Janice Raymond, over 20 years ago. In fact his attack sounds surprisingly similar to that currently utilized by anti-choice, anti-feminist and anti-gay groups against women and the LGBT/queer communities. His e-mail address is JimFour@aol.com, so please write Jim and let him know how you feel about his bigotry and blatant misrepresentation of the facts. Also please feel free to forward this note to others for their comments.


Subj: ALERT: New York Times promotes sexual reasigment (sic) as a solution to gender varinace (sic)
Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 2:58:21 PM
From: JimFour@aol.com


I am shocked to hear a member of the Imperial Court endorsing this blatantly homophobic article written by a gayman. Yes, this is a tragic story. Murdered because he was perceived to be gay, Barry Winchell deserves all our grief and anger. As do his loved ones including a gender variant gayman self named Calpernia Sarah Addams, a professional gender illusionist.

All around us we see these attacks on gaymen who do not conform to some kind of Tom of Finland or Andrew Sullivan image, What is new is we now see gay academics and pop journalists embracing this new push to make gaymen and lesbians straight by leading them to endure painful physical body manipulation and dangerous hormonal injects to take on the topography of the conventional definition of what is male and what is female. Modern medicine is once again trying to cure us of our desire for same sex love.

Our gender variant gay and lesbian population is under intense pressure to deny their homosexuality and to take all physical, hormonal and emotional steps in order to be accepted into heterosexual society.

First we had Boys Don't Cry which told the horrific story of a 19 year old baby butch lesbian who was first raped and than murdered because she had the audacity to role play and act on her desire to love and have sex with women. In death Brandon Teen became the poster girl of the reparative therapy movement (aka transgendered) for adult gender variant gaymen and women and in this guise was deemed acceptable frirst to Hollywood and than to a larger straight audience.

We are familuar with the smarmy tabloid journalism of gaywriter David France. Who could forget his bizarre book on Andrew Crispo? But does the New York Times need to sink to the level of the National Inquirer doing a Talk-ish sex/celebrity/death feature? I would hope not.

The Barry Winchell story needs to be told. How homophobia both external and more importantly internally puts at risk most homosexuals and lesbains and all gender variant individuals, How the rush to gender reassign through the wonders of modern medicine has ultimately failed ... where in the sensational picture of a professional skin strutter was there any reference to the 30 year John Hopkins study of sexual reassignment and how ultimately it did not improve the self image or well being of the subjects in their program. The results of this study caused John Hopkins to cease sexual reassignment as a solution to gender dysfunction. Or where is the information on how most transsexuals who are not closeted have very few job options other than in the adult entertainment and/or sex industry...Wendy Carlos and Dr. Renee Richard's are the exceptions.

The Imperial Court can be a powerful voice in confronting the solutions that are now being promoted by mainstream publications like the New Times and by the toxic, anti-gay/lesbian "queer" academics. Neither group is a friend of the Cherry Grove and/or Court community, Why can't Calpernia Sarah Addams dress, act and be himself as a gaymen, The Court sets a powerful role model of how to be who ever you want to be and to be true to your gay male identity. After all, this construction of 'women" is totally informed by gaymale sensibility and has little in reality to do with the essence of being female.

Speak up. Help those gender variant gaymen and women who are under siege to save their pennies to mutilate their bodies to gain acceptance into the heterosexual society.

Would be most interesting in hearing each of your response to this increasingly serious attack on who we are and how we live.

Jim Fouratt >>

 


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