Can ANTM's Isis Do For Transgender Americans What Will & Jack Did For Gay Men?Joshua Alston asks in Newsweek if the inclusion of Isis in this cycle of America's Next Top Model will promote more acceptance and understanding of transgender people. I share Alston's hope that it can — although I wouldn't point to a little on-camera, male-titillating faux-lesbian action as an example that panic over transgender people is diminishing. As Mediaweek reports today, reality TV is filled more and more often with contestants for whom sexuality and/or gender is neither an issue nor a plot point, which is a great step forward. But I sadly doubt that Isis' appearance on ANTM (or Laverne on I Want To Work For Diddy) will usher in a new age of transgender acceptance — certainly if Fox News and its anti-transgender biases are anything to go by..I am not sure that what limited social acceptance the homosexual community has gotten from positive media portrayals — assuming that those portrayals were not a result of a growing acceptance homosexuality in the first place — can be translated into transgender acceptance because I don't think that the philosophy that guides even a basic level of tolerance among conservatives can itself be translated. Partly, I think this is because a significant level of conservative "acceptance" of homosexuals is rooted in the "love the sinner, hate the sin" philosophy. Transgender people, to many, are the actual embodiment of that "sin." Also, I think that the root of a great deal of homophobia that the gay community has had to fight lies in a complete inability on the part of homophobes to not think about the sex that other people are having. But, for the transgender community, it seems that intolerant people don't just obsess over what they're doing with their private parts, they obsess over what they look like. Just ask porn star Buck Angel, who takes shit from both breeders and gays for his genitals. Or Michelle Bruce, who was the mayor of Riverdale, Georgia and faced a lawsuit to disclose her "true" sex. (She won that lawsuit, but not before she lost her bid for reelection). Transgender intolerance comes from some of the same intolerant places as homophobia, but it also draws from people's understanding/ignorance of gender and identity, which makes it much tougher to fight. In addition, while people in America are slowly coming around to the belief that gay men and women deserve the same rights as their hetero sisters and brothers, the same cannot be said for transgender people — even within the gay rights community. When the House was looking at passing a bill last year to eliminate workplace discrimination against homosexuals — a bill, notably, that stood almost no chance of passing the Senate and less of avoiding a veto — Democratic Congressional leaders opted to remove provisions related to discrimination against transgender people. Worse yet, groups like the Human Rights Campaign signed off on it, saying that they'd totally help transgender people get their rights... but later. So, maybe a beautiful young transgender woman like Isis will be able to push the acceptance-ball slightly forward for others — I certainly hope she can. But would I stake anyone's rights on that? No. People shouldn't have to wait for the larger society to accept their sexual identities to achieve the equal rights guaranteed by our Constitution and the freedom from discrimination promised by our (supposed) political philosophy. I think we could try providing all Americans with the rights they ought to be entitled to and simply enjoy Isis' time on ANTM for the great reality TV turn that it is. The New Transgender Reality [Newsweek] Isis [ANTM] Gay Talent on Nonscripted TV Continues to Rise [Media Week] For Some, Fox Apology Not Enough [glaadBLOG] Being a Woman in Politics Is an Unfair… Advantage? [Wonkette] Good News, Crap News [Wonkette] Pelosi/ HRC ENDA 'Bargain' - The Inside Story [Gay City News]