I knew my husband was upset when he IM’d me at work, and asked if I had listened to the latest Savage Love podcast #577 with Buck Angel. I knew someone, either Dan or Buck had probably said something shitty again, and my husband’s incredibly protective nature over myself, and other people in the transgender umbrella was on guard.
I listened to it. I’d like to say I was surprised, but I was not.
Buck Angel was the first transgender man I had ever seen. He had my attention immediately, because as an undisclosed transgender man, seeing someone that might be like me was really cool. I looked up to his acceptance of his body, and confidence in himself.
However, Buck doesn’t come without problems. There are folks that have discussed this in more detail. Below are just a few articles. There are a lot more archived snapshots of Buck’s problematic record on things out there, but I found the sources more chaotic and difficult to easily link up. These give the general idea.
For me, as an auditor with an accounting degree, it was the pyramid scheme that really caught my eye, and caused me to look into Mr. Angel with a bit more depth. I’m not even sure he understood what that was, but perhaps he thought it was a good money-maker for himself, and a few folks would get surgery out of it. Yet, a pyramid scheme was exactly what it was. It was a crass prioritization of his own income with a 25% take of the prospective charity donation haul that really put a bad taste in people’s mouth.
When I first came out, and talked to other transgender people, I was told by a frustrated transgender woman at a live meet-up that sometimes transgender people are the worst to each other. I think she was right, sometimes.
My biggest issue with that podcast was I was witnessing Buck as a transgender man, who had managed to get on hormones and get the surgery he wanted, belittling a newly out of the closet transgender man that was most likely just starting his journey. I guess this is the situation for the caller due to the young age.
Right out of the gate, Buck called the caller by feminine pronouns. A simple question about being frustrated because the caller couldn’t find gay men that were interested in him turned into a rant by Buck about “trans men” not being transgender enough to be taken seriously.
We don’t know that caller. For all we know these were his first steps out of the closet. He might not want testosterone or surgery because of health or money concerns. He might feel differently a year from now. Also, there are perfectly acceptable transgender men, that don’t want testosterone or surgery at all. That doesn’t undercut their gender identity.
You can’t take someone’s gender away from them just because you don’t like their path through transition, yet that is essentially what Buck did.
I felt to some degree Dan allowed Buck to continually misgender the young man for sensationalism. It’s Dan’s show, and by allowing Buck to chronically misgender the young man, Dan is complicit in the insult. Are we to believe that Dan doesn’t have full control over his show, and could have told Buck to be respectful, even off camera? I felt he was too busy crowing happily because Buck was saying what he wanted to say himself, but couldn’t.
Dan has his own issues that have surfaced again and again, but he does seem to learn from it over time. I feel he’s done a lot of good political things for the community, and once he gets his fingers burned, he re-evaluates his stance, and moves on. That’s why I listen to him. I can accept missteps as long as someone is showing growth.
Buck? I have not seen that kind of growth. His insistence that he is transsexual, because he had top surgery, and that anyone that calls themselves a trans man is not trans enough was weirdly out of touch.
In the above articles he has also doubled down on his comments about using the word “tranny” and about the need to disclose your transgender status to avoid embarrassing and humiliating partners. See the above links for all that.
Mostly, I object that Buck seems to think that you have to clear a bar of masculinity with testosterone and at least top surgery to be transgender enough to be taken seriously.
I think as a community we need to stop gatekeeping each other, and telling each other that transgender people aren’t transgender if they don’t follow the one true narrative. If Buck can be the self-described “Man with a Pussy” and make his own definition of masculinity, then why is that option not afforded to the caller.
(Edited the above paragraph, because I accidentally a word making the meaning the opposite of my point. Fixed.)
Since I wrote this, and scheduled it to post, there has been an update.
The next podcast in sequence published a transgender man that nicely pointed out that the response to the caller was unkind. It was super nice, but still pointed out the issue.
Then there was a Savage Love Letter of the Day post that also had a response, where the issue of Buck misgendering the young man repeatedly was addressed.
It’s a bit of an eye roll, but I suspect they will do better with the podcast moving forward. That’s kind of Dan’s thing. He says bitchy shit, gets an uproar going, then he does better. I have to say, that I do think that I read somewhere that Buck walked back those statements about bottom surgery, that they are referencing.
Buck did put an apology on his Facebook page, of sorts:
I wanted to post here before some people make assumptions about my time on the show. During my advice, I accidentally misgendered the caller. Twice. I actually didn’t even realize it until someone posted that I did it intentionally. I would never misgender a fellow community member on purpose and if for some reason you think that, you are wrong. This was the first time that had happened. I made a public apology to the caller. It was really a horrible thing. But mistakes happen. A that’s the facts. Now I know some will say I’m just back peddling and I expect that, but I am not. I made a mistake I am owning it and I am moving on. If you want to use this as a way to continue hate you are welcome. I am not. Thank you for listening and hearing me. Love Buck
I often hate the nitpick the words people use for an apology to find more offense. That said, this kind of sucks. When you take the misgendering in the context of having two different people with celebrity status dog piling on a young transgender person that came to them for help? It’s shitty.
Plus, this seems to be missing a sentence that I read originally when it came about Buck stating he made mistake and he’s now moving on. I don’t have the skills to track the original, but the original made me just roll my eyes.
In the followup article I linked originally, Buck stated his desire to educate, and work for the community in a more political activist fashion these days. If that’s the case, he really needs to get his shit together. He has years of this kind of thing at this point.