Desperately Seeking Tina Foster

How a viral article about trans acceptance from the lesbian community may be fake.

An article titled, “Transgender Dating From a Lesbian’s Point of View” by Tina Foster on the website The Transgender Guide, has gone minimally viral over the last week garnishing almost 200 Facebook ‘likes’ in just the last day.

Tina FosterThe Transgender Guide labels itself an “Online Community for Transsexuals, Crossdressers, Transgender & All Gender Variant Individuals.” The site is managed by “Lori the Webmaster” and features blogs, shopping, photos, resources and a chat section among other things geared toward the transgender and gender non-conforming community.

“Great article,” “a must read,” and “finally someone who dates us” were the comments that prefaced the article as it was tossed from friend to friend. The piece garnered enough attention to briefly hit Twitter with the same kind of wide-eyed optimism you only see on a two years old when he is smearing an ice-cream cone all over his face.

The optimism of course was that there was light at the end of the dating black hole people who are transgender suffer. A positive message about someone from the lesbian community that experienced us in a way we have never known. A way that we weren’t used to, it was a glimpse of relationship hope and a possible turning point in LGB[t] relations. A Détente if you will.

It peaked my interest enough to click on the link to find the article itself riddled with transgender tropes and stereotypes. The meta-tag read, “A personal article by a lesbian that has dated transgendered females and her point of view.” “Transgendered” was the first clue to what this article would reveal.

“I am an early 30s, genetically born female that identifies myself as a lesbian.” Author Tina Foster says, “I can tell you honestly that I am 100% lesbian.” Throughout the piece, Tina was very insistent that she was a lesbian to the point of describing to the reader what a lesbian is.

The article continued with the expected list of tropes including using the word ‘transgender’ as a noun, how well her date looked and acted like a woman, and how the author was intrigued by this person who is transgender to the point of saying, “I pride myself on my open-mindedness. So I figured “Why Not?””

Author Tina Foster was incredibly surprised when her transgender date didn’t try to trick her or trap her stating, “She [her Trans date] was very up front about it, didn’t try to trick me or anything like that.”   Once again this perpetuates the myth that we as Trans individuals or as a community are trying to trick cisgender people into dating us.

577Intrigued myself, the article was gaining popularity so I reached out to The Transgender Guide via their contact page and asked about the author Tina Foster. A simple Google image search had revealed that the picture used for Tina Foster was a stock photo from istockphoto.com and is tagged as a photo search for “Padded Jackets,” “Puffy Jackets,” and “Smirking Looking Up” images. Tina Foster suddenly became “Tina Foster.”

An hour had passed so I tweeted The Transgender Guide what I had found regarding the photo of “Tina Foster” and asked if they could put me in touch with her. The TG Guide responded via tweet, “Not all article writers like their photo taken and it is not unusual to use model photos. The article is genuine.” I once again asked for the author to get a hold of me via twitter.

After some digging, it appears that “Tina Foster” may be a fictitious person whose residence, according to Zoominfo is the TG Guide headquarters in Salt Lake City Utah. The first and last known publication of anyone named “Tina Foster” with TG Guide credentials is from 2012, the date that this article was originally written and advertised on the chat forum of TG Guide’s “Lori the Webmaster.”

586Assuming the article, as well as the author is fake, the question has been asked; what’s the damage to something only “mildly offensive” being published?

The article, for whatever reason it was created, recycled every myth related to people who are transgender while perpetuating the ‘petting-zoo’ appeal of the community. It played to the trapping myth, trotted out the “just like a woman” analogy, reinforced the binary with the “genetically born female” quote, used the minimizing noun version of us [a transgender] and put us as people in the experimental dating pool as a last resort “why not?” option.

The damage continues when people in the community stood as a bullet proof vest in front of an unverified blog posting with comments like, “is nice to know that people do see us as desirable,” and “Give her the credit for being opened minded and seeing use as women.” Something that the author never did when she wrote about her potential transgender date saying, “She looked like a woman, acted like a woman, spoke like a woman, moved like a woman.”

587The real damage this post created was a phantom LGB “ally” that Trans people were willing to defend simply because this “100% lesbian” dates trans women. Through its instant resonance with a community that finds it nearly impossible to find a date, it created so much false hope that people in our community – even once they realized how toxic this article is – rushed to take the side of the ghost simply because of the hope they saw in a potential dating partner –real or not.

Continued requests for an interview with “Tina Foster” have been ignored and while we doubt that “Tina” will ever be heard from again, The Transgender Guide needs to know that if this is in fact a made-up article, what kind of false hope and potentially hurt feelings they may have inflicted on a community they have dedicated themselves to helping.

“Never heard of her” one blogger – who wished to remain anonymous – for The Transgender Guide said when asked if they had heard of Tina.  So “Tina Foster?”  We are desperately seeking you for an interview.

My name is Claire-Renee Kohner and in January of 2014, I came out as transgender. My family fully supports my transition and, along with the Minneapolis trans community, my transition has been extremely positive. My journey should be fun, so keep your arms and legs inside the cart, it's going to be a wild ride.

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5 Responses to Desperately Seeking Tina Foster

  1. Transgender Guide August 31, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    You have totally misrepresented the nature of the article. It was published to help transgender people as should be evident if you read the article without twisting the words or quibbling about the use a pseudonym to protect the author’s identity

  2. Lexie Cannes September 1, 2015 at 12:59 am

    I don’t see a smoking gun. Yes, the site appears dubious — mainly because of the fake photo, but they’ve a right to create whatever they want, even a lousy dating site. Likewise, you’ve a right to knock it’s value to the trans community.

    However, you’ve no evidence of the creator/writer’s intent to deceive. Maybe something smells fishy, but it’s not proof. Likewise, a pseudonym, pen name, nom de plume, is utterly common in the literary world, George Orwell, Toni Morrison, Clive Hamilton (CS Lewis) Alice Addertongue (Benjamin Franklin) and Lexie Cannes are all pseudonyms.

    Furthermore, trans people, especially, for obvious reasons, would be more likely to use a pseudonym.

    Then there is the “interview” thing. Why should this be publicly forced on anyone? Most people don’t do interviews. Heck, even I don’t do interviews. If asked someone to do an interview, I certainly wouldn’t make their response public.

    Then there’s this, from your article: ““Never heard of her” one blogger – who wished to remain anonymous – for The Transgender Guide said . . .” Don’t you see the irony here?

    This “Tina Foster” may or may not be up to no good. Either you have the proof or you don’t. Here you don’t and you’re trying to take a shortcut with your investigation techniques.

    I don’t know Tina or care to look at the website, but lets not risk driving legit trans people/writers back into stealth (or worse, outing someone) in the absence of a smoking gun. You can however, keep looking for one.

  3. Claire-Renee Kohner September 1, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Yes, I understand the irony of the last paragraph, it’s deliberate and second, yes, Trans people people would be more likely to use a pseudonym, but the author isn’t transgender.

  4. Kelli Busey September 1, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Lexie Cannes it doesn’t strike you as disingenuous that the cover photo is labeled to represent the author when in fact it is a stock photo?
    Yes, using stock photos to represent someone who wishes to remain anonymous is a common practice but only when said photo is clearly labeled a stock photo.

    Doesn’t it strike you as rather odd that the site offers us contact information with the author but refuses to give it when asked?

    That may not qualify as your ‘smoking gun’ but it is newsworthy in the opinion of the editors at Planet Transgender and a topic that needs to be discussed.

    The TG Guide has earned a large following and has published an article that is being understood by the greater trans community as factual.

    We are excited that they have and would like an opportunity to interview the author of the article.

  5. Lexie Cannes September 1, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Yes, odd. Yes, stock photo, a red flag. But still not enough at this point to make a case — a Grand Jury No Bill. We can agree to disagree.

    Yes, the trans dating thing problematic. When you look at the many trans dating/quasi-porn sites on FB, one comes to realize that trans people need to steer clear of ALL “dating” sites unless vouched by someone they know. The lopsided number of males on Ashley Madison shows that even hetrosexuals aren’t immune to being conned in this arena.

    And yes, this is an important topic for trans writers to cover.