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When Heteropocrisy Comes Home to Roost (1996)

When Heteropocrisy Comes Home to Roost (1996)

©1996, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny: Op-Ed: When heteropocrisy comes home to roost. Chrysalis: The Journal of Transgressive Gender Identities, V. 2, No. 3, p. 33.

Thumbnail Illustration: Virginia Prince and Dr. Harry Benjamin as the dour farmer and his wife, from Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic. My thanks to the late JoAnn Roberts for her help with the image.



View Chrysalis Pages, Heteropocrisy (PDF)


When Heteropocrisy Comes Home to Roost

By Dallas Denny


There is a longstanding tradition of “making nice” in the transgender community. Disagreements and differences of opinion often don’t make it into print. Commendably, the leaders of the various national and local organizations are interested in building community and wish to present a positive face in their newsletters and magazines. I have played this game as much as anyone else, even when I have had to bite my tongue to keep from opening my big mouth.

Sometimes, however, holding one’s silence is morally indefensible. For the good of the community, for the welfare of the individuals who comprise it, and to keep one’s own integrity, something must be said. This is one of those times.

In June, 1995, I flew to Houston for the ICTLEP Law Conference. That evening, when I called home to check my messages, the very first one was from a frantic counselor who had called me about one of her clients, who had tried to kill herself with a gun which misfired.

I spent the longest few minutes of my life listening to the rest of the messages to see if the therapist had called back. Fortunately, the emergency was over; my friend had been hospitalized and hadn’t suffered physical harm.

It was when this woman (who identified as transsexual, but who enjoyed attending the meetings of the Sigma Epsilon group and was getting support from the group) was told she was not welcome that I knew I could no longer avoid discussing this issue.

Sigma Epsilon is the Atlanta Chapter of Tri-Ess, the Society for the Second Self, an organization for heterosexual crossdressers. Since the departure of Linda Peacock, the chapter’s wonderful president several years ago, I have watched Sigma Ep go from an open, vibrant organization to its present closeted, exclusionary state. Terry Murphy fought valiantly to preserve the Sigma Epsilon she loved, but ultimately lost it.

Like a turtle withdrawing into its shell, Sigma Epsilon has pulled back from the larger gender community and purged itself of members who identify as bisexual, gay, or transsexual (except for a few, like myself, who, as “Friends of Sigma Epsilon,” have been allowed to retain our membership. One officer, who came out as transsexual, was told she could stay because she remained in a loving relationship with her spouse. Besides, they said, the group really needed her. She resigned in disgust.

In what I can only characterize as arrogant heteropocrisy, Sigma Epsilon has denied there was a purge; to prove it, the Southern Belle, the Sigma Ep’s newsletter, carried a letter from a transsexual woman who wrote that she had never experienced discrimination at Sigma Epsilon meetings. She has since had SRS and promptly was informed she would no longer be welcome at meetings.

What I find almost beyond belief is that at least two of the driving forces in Sigma Epsilon’s “reinvention” have serious transgender and sexuality issues. One told me privately that she was planning to live full-time as a woman. She has also propositioned several pre-op transsexual women. It would be all right, she said to one of them, because it would be a heterosexual relationship. “I think of you as a woman.”

In the past six years, member after member of the Sigma Epsilon group have come to me privately for advice about hormones, electrolysis, and surgery. More than a dozen members or ex-members are living full-time as women, and some have had SRS. Some have been Sigma Epsilon officers. Two of the members of the Board of Directors of Tri-Ess National live full-time as women. What is going on here? How can moral, sensitive people delude themselves to the extent that they think they are “heterosexual crossdressers” while wanting and in some casing having what is essentially a sex change?

I’ve heard and read the rhetoric put out by Tri-Ess and its chapters in an effort to justify their exlclusionary position. It’s hollow and patently self-deluding, at best, and psychotic at worse, a desperate attempt to rationalize what is ultimate an unjustifiable position.

If no one was being hurt by all the verbiage, I could and would keep my silence. But lives have been and are being affected, and the community is being split because of the action of people who are just not facing up to who they are and what their organization is. I hope my status as a friend of Tri-Ess and Sigma Epsilon does not require my continued participation in the delusion.

Tri-Ess is not really an organization of and for heterosexual crossdressers. It is an organization with a membership and a leadership which contains a significant number of underground transsexuals and bisexuals. Those who are willing to lie about their gender and sexual issues and those who for all practical purposes have a sex change but describe themselves with the words “heterosexual crossdresser” are welcome; while those who are honest about their issues or use other terms to describe themselves are shown the revolving door. The organization is based on a fundamental deceit.

It’s high time for Tri-Ess to stop proclaiming loudly that it is what it is not and that it is not what it is. It must either open its ranks to all who would support its goals or enforce its present membership criteria honestly and impartially. I’m hoping for the former.


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