July 15, 2010 Published in the August 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

Join the conversation about “Becoming Nicole" (June 2010)—Stacey Wilson’s feature story about the transformation of her high school math teacher, Nick Kintz, into Nicole—at

Matters of Importance

Congratulations to Nicole. I’m glad she’s happy and relishing her role as an activist. I am thoroughly disgusted by the article, however. If this were any other woman’s story about overcoming an obstacle or conquering a medical issue, there is no way the author would have spent so much time obsessing over the clothes and makeup the person was wearing. The important parts of the story are missed because of the author’s myopic, sexist views about what makes a woman.

Nicole transitioned in a public school. Her colleagues and the students at the school consider it a nonevent. That’s important. She was prepared to lose everything and “scared shitless” about transition but found a way to move forward despite the challenges she faced. That’s important. She lost the love of her life because of the depression and mood swings she suffered from. That is important. Her child still loves her. That is important as well.

Saying her consumption of Heineken Light is a sign of womanhood is offensive. Is the author actually implying that men don’t drink light beer? Finally, the second paragraph in the article shows an incredibly ignorant and insensitive worldview. Playing up the stereotype of gender variant people as men in dresses with no fashion sense is simply appalling. This is a horrendously sexist and shallow article about someone who deserves better treatment than she received from the author.

A Deeper Look

You should really learn a little about trans people before you write articles about them. Why do you constantly misgender Ms. Kintz? Why do you have a bizarre and fetishistic need to constantly focus on her clothing? And can we talk about your genitals and surgical past and future? This is seriously the most misogynistic article I’ve come across in a long time. Your freakish obsession with Ms. Kintz’s femininity serves to reinforce the notion of trans women as artificial and fake.

Back to Reality

Comments like these remind me why I don’t spend a lot of time in the trans community anymore. There’s a lack of real-life perspective that occurs when people become immersed and intertwined with the politics, and a similar rigidity that prevents us from seeing how other “average people” might view and approach the things we’re complaining about and where they need to enter the conversation.

A Teachable Moment

I was directed to this article with a reference to how horrible it was. But honestly, as a trans woman myself, I don’t find it that bad. What I think so many in the community fail to realize is that there is a desire by a lot of people to know and learn, but there needs to be a starting point. Articles like this, telling stories like this, are (I think) the start of a good movement of education among the general populace. Stacey, allow me to be a change in the usual voice thus far and say that I actually enjoyed this article, and while it didn’t present any new information to me, it probably helped someone, and it was nice to hear such a successful story.

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