Columnist Benjamin Paige hideously defames trans child in "GayZette Denver"

 

Investigative report by Lynn Conway

March 10, 2008

Copyright @ 2008, Lynn Conway.

[V 3-19-08]

 

On March 6, 2008, Kelley Winters alerted us to a horrible rhetorical attack on a young trans child and her family by columnist Benjamin Paige in the March issue of GayZette Denver (see below).

 

You can view the original online version of Benjamin Paige's hateful column in our evidence files as a jpg at this link and as a PDF at this link. But please be warned: the article contains some of the most hateful and shocking language we've ever seen used against a transperson - much less against a young trans child and her family. It's not something to read if you're stressed-out, having a bad day or feeling a bit depressed.

 

Following the initial alerts about this article, Rich DeMarah the publisher of the GayZette quickly pulled the online version of the article, and issued a retraction and an apology. However, Benjamin Paige was not to be heard from. He offered no explanation for why he wrote the article, nor did he apologized for doing so.

 

Google searches soon revealed that Paige was a member of the Board of Directors of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, leading to calls for his resignation and raising serious questions about the internal climate of the ICRME (the Denver chapter of the "Imperial Court System", a major gay drag organization).

 

At first we thought Paige might be an older-generation gay man of a familiar type - Fourattist's, we call them - who lash out against transitioned women, calling them 'mutilated gay men' and worse. Sadly, it turns out he's a younger-generation gay man who's apparently dedicated to carrying on Fouratt's ill-informed and divisive legacy (click here for a photo of Paige (more)).

 

As news of Paige's column spread, several transitioned women who'd been members of the ICRME courageously stepped forward. They expressed concerns about the future of the ICRME (see open letter from Eden Lane), and concerns that a strident minority of members had created an anti-transgender climate within the organization (see open letters from Dana Yost and Jazmine James)

 

Meanwhile, Benjamin Paige remained unrepentant and unapologetic. Instead of showing remorse, he angrily attacked those who had complained about his column and reiterated his transphobic mischaracterization of pre-pubertal gender transitions. 

 

On March 15, 2008, Jazmine James and her husband attended a major ICRME social event, and received a deafening applause from the audience - sending a signal as to which way the winds were blowing within the larger membership. On March 16, 2008 the ICRME Board of Directors unanimously voted to accept the Paige's resignation from the Board.

 

This investigative report documented the controversy as it unfolded, from the initial alert to the final decision of the ICRME Board:

 

 

3-06-08:  E-mail alert from Kellley Winters

3-06-08:  Evidence file: JPG image of original article by Benjamin Paige (warning: contains hideously shocking language)

3-06-08:  Retraction and apology by Rich DeMarah , publisher of the GayZette

3-06-08:  Further commentary on the article and the retraction in Andrea James' site

3-07-08:  Is Paige being let off the hook by Denver's gay comnunity?

3-08-08:  Paige identified as a member of the Board of Directors of "The Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire"

3-08-08:  Notes from Eden (Blogspot): "An Open letter to a community service organization"  - Eden Lane

3-10-08:  Words.. There has been some strong reaction to my post regarding Benjamin Paige - Eden Lane

3-10-08:  An open letter regarding the anti-transgender climate within the ICRME - Dana Yost

3-11-08:  Benjamin Paige issues statement - Benjamin Paige

3-13-08:  An open letter regarding the anti-transgender climate within the ICRME - Jazmine James

3-14-08:  An open letter to the Leaders of the Imperial Court System - Lynn Conway

3-15-08:  Formal Statement by the ICRME - Tom Japhet

3-16-08:  Benjamin Paige issues another statement - Benjamin Paige

3-16-08:  An update from Jazmine James re climate within the ICRME - Jazmine James

3-16-08:  The ICRME Board of Directors unanimously votes to accept the resignation of Benjamin Paige - Tom Japhet

 

 


 

3-06-08: E-mail alert from Kelley Winters:

 

Dear friends,

I was horrified to learn of the following column in the current edition of a
local adult gay newspaper, Gayzette Denver.  As most of you know, a young
affirmed girl, her family and her school district were cruelly attacked in
the national press following a sensational and defamitory report by Denver
NBC affiliate KUSA-TV on Feb 7.  Sadly, the worst of all, the most hateful,
the most sickening attack on this innocent child has come not from the
religious right but from within our own GLBT community in Denver.

I ask that individuals and organizations in the Colorado GLBT family respond
to publisher Rich DeMarah with the message that this hateful journalism has
no place in our community and a demand for a retraction, deletion from the
online edition, and an apology.  I also ask that GLAAD and TYFA respond as
well. Contact information for this publication is at the bottom of this
message.  You may also wish to contact advertisers, some of which I believe
are Colorado Business Council members.

Thank you,
Kelley

 

[text of column was attached to Kelley's e-mail]

 


 

Update of 3-07-08: Paige being let off the hook?

 

A major gay site published a story today about the GayZette Denver retraction and apology. Quite amazingly, the article did not mention Benjamin Paige as author of the hateful article:

 

PageOneQ: "Gay publication apologizes to community for article about transgender Colorado student"

 

We also noticed that the GayZette has done nothing to sanction Paige, and began to suspect that Paige was being let off the hook by the gay community in Denver.

 

The question naturally arises, why?

 

 


 

Update of 3-08-08: Paige identified as a member of the Board of Directors of the "Imperial Court"

 

We've learned that Benjamin Paige is a rather prominent up-and-coming member of Denver's gay community, and this may explain why he's being let off the hook.

 

For example, Paige is a member of the Board of Directors of "The Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire" (ICRME) and a recipient of one of their "White Rose Scholarships". Here are some links regarding the ICRME and confirming Paige's high-level membership in the organization:

 

Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire

http://www.icrme.org/default.htm

Board of Directors

http://www.icrme.org/boardofdirectors/boardofdirectors.htm

White Rose scholarship recipient
http://www.icrme.org/whiterose/whiterose.htm

 

The Imperial Courts are a major worldwide gay drag organization. Here are links to a recent article describing the organization, and to an ICRME page showing some of their key members and giving you some idea what it's all about:

 

"Let's hear it for the boys":

http://www.outlook-mag.com/CurrentIssue/tabid/54/newsid378/1326/Lets-Hear-It-For-the-Boys/Default.aspx

"College of Monarch" (from the Denver area):

http://www.icrme.org/CollegeofMonarchs/collegeofmonarchs.htm

 

Benjamin Paige's exposure as author of a hideously transphobic column is a terrible stain on the image of that organization, raising disturbing questions such as whether Paige is "representative of the culture of the Imperial Courts?"  Of particular interest is the fact that Paige is on ICRME's Board as Director for Corporate Development. He's the one who coordinates their fundraising from gay businesses in Denver. Quite a guy to have out there representing ICRME as a "GLBT" organization, eh?

 

Could it be that the Imperial Court also intends to whitewash this situation, and retain Paige on their Board? If so, they're going to have some serious explaining to do.

 

 


 

Update of 3-08-08: Eden Lane sends open letter to the ICRME:

 

3-08-08:  Notes from Eden (Blogspot): "An Open letter to a community service organization" - "Today I am terribly sad to report that a wonderful community service organization I once worked with has come under negative attention due to the published writings of a current Board member. The Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire. The Publisher has published a retraction already, I hope this organization also takes a public stand" - Eden Lane

 

Link to Eden Lane's open letter to the ICRME
 

3-10-08:  Words.. There has been some strong reaction to my post regarding Benjamin Paige - Eden Lane

 

 


 

Updates of 3-08-08 to 3-13-08 (links to separate pages):
 

3-10-08:  An open letter regarding the anti-transgender climate within the ICRME - Dana Yost

3-11-08:  Benjamin Paige issues statement - Benjamin Paige

3-13-08:  An open letter regarding the anti-transgender climate within the ICRME - Jazmine James

3-14-08:  An open letter to the Leaders of the Imperial Court System - Lynn Conway

3-15-08:  Formal Statement by the ICRME - Tom Japhet

3-16-08:  Benjamin Paige issues another statement - Benjamin Paige

3-16-08:  An update from Jazmine James re climate within the ICRME - Jazmine James

 

 


 

Update of 3-16-08: The ICRME Board of Directors unanimously votes to accept the resignation of Benjamin Paige:

 

From: Eden Lane
To: Lynn
Sent: Sunday, March 16, 2008 10:07 PM
Subject: Resignation of Benjamin Paige

 

In a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mtn. Court System on Sunday, March 16, 2008, the Board has unanimously voted to accept the resignation of Benjamin Paige from the Board of Directors based on his communication via email and text message.  The policies and procedures of the R.M.C.S. clearly states R.M.C.S. will not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, non-disqualifying mental or physical disability (including HIV status) or veteran status. The Board believes in the rights of individuals to express their individual viewpoints, but when those expressions become incompatible with the day-to-day operations and purpose of the organization the Board will strive to ensure the success and mission of the organization.  We sincerely thank the members of the organization and the community at large for their thoughtful input on this difficult situation.  As leaders of the organization, we are exploring opportunities to open further discussion and education about gender identity issues.

On Behalf of the Board of Directors

Tom Japhet
Board President

 

 


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