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The Flip-Flopping Crossdresser (2002)

The Flip-Flopping Crossdresser (2002)

©2002, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (2002, Spring). A word from the editor: The flip-flopping crossdresser. Transgender Tapestry, 98, p. 6.

The flip-flopping crossdresser was once the bugaboo of the trans community— and not all that long ago!




The Flip-Flopping Crossdresser

By Dallas Denny


Several years ago, at the Southern Comfort conference, I found myself at a reception hosted by the good folks at TG Forum, for whom I wrote a monthly column. As I noshed on veggies and crackers, I chatted with other activists about the dreaded, ominous, and outrageous flip-flopping crossdresser.

You know the issue, even if the term isn’t familiar. Should transgender employment protection extend to individuals who don’t have a consistent gender presentation— that is, to those who alternate between male and female presentations at work— or should the protections extend only to those who permanently cross gender lines— that is, transsexuals and full-time transgenderists.

The activists were polarized on the issue. Several opined with agitation that there was no room in our movement for flip-flopping crossdressers; they were ruining it for all of us. No company would tolerate such behavior. They were a travesty and a disgrace and a menace; they were clowns, they trivialized those of us who took our gender seriously.

I stood there eating carrots and thinking about Mary Ann Horton, who not only flip-flopped at work, but had convinced her employer, Lucent Technologies, to adopt policies which protected her back-and-forth gender presentation.

Peter Oiler, a former truck driver for the Winn-Dixie corporation, has been in the news these past several years. Oiler was fired when the stuffed shirts at Winn-Dixie learned he was a crossdresser. Oiler didn’t dress at work; he was spotted, dressed, away from the job, and some fine soul blew the whistle. Oiler’s dressing was private and presumably none of Winn-Dixie’s business, but the suits apparently thought it was.

Oiler’s cause was taken up by transgender activists and eventually by the American Civil Liberties Union. Winn-Dixie has been subjected of protests in several cities, including Atlanta, my home town. The website <> lampoons the corporation, which tried to shut it down (and sort of succeeded; see Monica Helms’ column in this issue).

Recently, there has been some division on the Oiler issue within the community. Some transsexuals feel, as did some of the activists at the TG Forum reception, that the issues of crossdressers are trivial when compared to those of transsexuals. Their arguments usually focus on the 24/7 distinction—transsexuals live full-time and face discrimination and dangers that crossdressers generally avoid because they are part-timers.

Crossdressers, as Peter Oiler discovered to the detriment of his bank account, face discrimination also, but rarely as often or as severe as that faced by transsexuals. Many transsexuals have difficult and dangerous lives, and altogether too many wind up dead by their own hands and at the hands of others.

That said, and being transsexual myself and in favor of legal protections for transsexuals, I’d like to go on record as being in favor of protections for every gender-variant person— not only the transsexuals, but the transgenderists, the serious crossdressers, the occasional crossdressers, the drag queens, the genderblenders, the butch lesbians and effeminate gay men, and those whose gender presentations are so unusual it’s difficult to tell just what they’re about. And I’m all for employment protections for flip-flopping crossdressers. You go, Mary Ann Horton!

It’s never good policy to pursue rights for the few at the expense of the many. It’s never good policy to seek rights for those at the center at the expense of those at the margins. Eventually, it comes back and bites you.

I firmly believe that when the world is safe for flip-flopping crossdressers, the world will be safe for me.