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.
The 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.
Intrigued 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.”
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.”
The 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.