In Wyoming, LGBTQ advocates #LiveAndLetTutu #WeHaveSissysBack
April 30, 2017 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) visited Greybull High School for a scheduled Q&A with students in grades 6–12 on April 20. Enzi responded to a question about LGBTQ rights in Wyoming with an anecdote about a man being surprised at the fact that he gets beat up for “wearing a tutu to the bar.” For Wyomingites, Enzi’s anecdote wasn’t random. It instantly called to mind Wyoming resident Larry "Sissy" Goodwin, a Vietnam veteran, retired professor and well-known crossdresser whose story has been featured by media outlets. Enzi apologized to Goodwin, and Sissy said “he offered an apology and I have no doubt to believe it was genuine.

Goodwin's comments, continued:
“He was very genuine with his comments. I think we had a respectful dialogue. If anything comes out of this, we both agree that it’s opening a discussion and illuminating the issues to the benefit of everyone concerned.”
...
Enzi made an analogy that Goodwin described as touching.

A person can start with a clean sheet of paper and if they criticize another human the paper becomes wrinkled. The person can apologize and try to smooth out the paper, but wrinkles will remain, Goodwin said.

“The moral is I can apologize and I can smooth this paper out and it’s OK,” Goodwin said. “But of course not; there’s still wrinkles and still a little hurt. I thought that was an interesting analogy.”
Some in Wyoming have Sissy's back, and wore tutus to bars in protest and support. (Ed.: Goodwin doesn't own tutus, he said, but he sometimes wears petticoats, which people may mistake for tutus.)

And his wife of almost 50 years has his back, too, as they told Story Corps back in 2015:
Sissy Goodwin: Remember when I was beat up in front of our house?
Vickie Goodwin: Mmmhmm.
SG: The guy kicked my teeth in. To have your son have to witness that was pretty terrible.
VG: Yeah.
SG: Remember the neighbors we had? He came out with a knife one day and threatened to castrate me. I call those people fashion critics. But the younger generation, they don’t care what I wear.
VG: I remember the time that all your students dressed up for you.
SG: They all had pink shirts on and either pink or purple hair ribbons. The whole class. That told me a lot. Did you ever … think to leave me, because I was different?
VG: You and I talked about it. But I loved you and I wanted you in my life, and I wanted you in our children’s life.
SG: I know, early on, you were embarrassed to be with me, and I felt so bad for you, because now I’m not the man you married.
VG: Well we’ve been married for over 46 years, and I love the person that I have become because of you.
SG: You didn’t know you was marrying a fashion horse, did ya?
VG: I didn’t know that I was marrying someone who was going to take up two-thirds of the closet.
SG: [Laughs]
The two moved to Oregon in 2015, when they left Wyoming after he retired from being a college science instructor in Casper. Their plan was to buy a small farm to raise goats and chickens, maybe play golf and do a bit of grilling, while living comfortably in gender independence.

He said "I don’t think the goats or chickens will be too critical."
posted by filthy light thief (22 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fascinating. What a strong person!

I'm a trans woman in the Northeast, and I've been so lucky I feel guilty. My transition has gone so smoothly. Basically, transphobia against me has come down to two guys intentionally calling me "sir" or "dude," and that's it. I can't help but feel like a fraud, and like I've done nothing to deserve this acceptance.
posted by ikea_femme at 10:05 PM on April 30, 2017 [20 favorites]


That's the thing about acceptance, nobody should have to do anything to deserve it. You just do.
posted by Apoch at 3:58 AM on May 1, 2017 [26 favorites]


I'm about 95% sure we've had an FPP about Sissy Goodwin before.
posted by hoyland at 4:37 AM on May 1, 2017


Not in the sense of "this is a double", but in the sense of "someone with more time than I do right now might want to track it down".
posted by hoyland at 4:38 AM on May 1, 2017


Apology aside, Senator Enzi still sounds like a dick.
posted by shoesietart at 4:54 AM on May 1, 2017 [17 favorites]




I note the shift from a person being assaulted in public places like the street to a hypothetical about going into a bar where he's be likely to be unwelcome.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:59 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


I note the shift from a person being assaulted in public places like the street to a hypothetical about going into a bar where he's be likely to be unwelcome.

1) Unless it's a private club, a bar is almost certainly going to fall squarely into public accommodation territory, so a bar is a "public place."

2) Shift by whom? Do we have some kind of Enzi-specific corpus of homophobic comments to find a trend in? Otherwise, one comment by one guy is different than comments by others. So what?
posted by PMdixon at 6:46 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm about 95% sure we've had an FPP about Sissy Goodwin before.

Sissy Goodwin Previously

Included/buried in the OP as "whose story has been featured by media outlets," when his story got national coverage in 2013.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:03 AM on May 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's things like those pictures of those cowboys and rednecks in tutu's drinking beer in that make me think this country might eventually get it's act together.
posted by jonmc at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


That exchange between him and his wife is spectacular.
posted by Green With You at 8:29 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


PMdixon, it's much easier to live without going into bars than to not use the street.

Enzi (the senator who started the discussion of tutus and bars) chose an example which wildly underplayed the risk of violence for cross-dressing men.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:37 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, Enzi is an authority figure who told a group of middle school kids that it's okay to physically assault people if they read as anything but straight cis. Fuck him and his apology.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:00 AM on May 1, 2017 [16 favorites]


And he said that when asked by one of the students "What work are you and your comrades doing to improve the life of the LGBT community in Wyoming? How do you plan to help Wyoming live up to its name as 'The Equality State'?" He said Sissy, by dressing the way he does, is "kind of asking for it."

WTF, dude? After you said anyone can do anything they do ... as long as they don't push it in other people's faces.

Anyway, I take great solace in hearing about his class "all had pink shirts on and either pink or purple hair ribbons. The whole class. That told me a lot."

"the younger generation, they don’t care what I wear" -- with that, and the questions the high school kids asked Enzi (PDF of rough transcript on Google drive) -- the kids are alright.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Don't feel like tracking down sources right now, but it seems like the "qu**r got beat up for doing thing in place, and that's to be expected" anecdote seems to be a conservative ritual these days. Enzi is parroting a lot of similar rhetoric.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:31 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


PMdixon, it's much easier to live without going into bars than to not use the street.

... Yeah I guess being excluded from most of society is better than being excluded from all of it but you'll forgive me if I'm not especially willing to deploy that distinction in a charitable fashion.
posted by PMdixon at 10:43 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Was it meant to be in a charitable fashion? I think the point there is that even in this loathsome thing Enzi did, he minimized the real danger LSG and others face every moment of their lives. LSG once got assaulted and permanently maimed in front of his own house. He had a neighbor threaten to mutilate him.

Enzi took this life and instead portrayed it as if it was something someone was doing to provoke people in a social location they deliberately went to. As if it was something done first and foremost to provoke and cause expected and desired conflict. It is not calling for a person to self-ostracize, it's erasing the constant danger that person is in by virtue of simply trying to be themselves.

I think that's a condemnation of Enzi, not an extension of charity.
posted by phearlez at 11:58 AM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


as if it was something someone was doing to provoke people in a social location they deliberately went to.

Gotta have an excuse to be a control-freak son-of-a-bitch. When one excuse wears out (righteous indignation) or doesn't have social currency any more, someone will think up a new one. Some people are leaders in thinking up new excuses why people who-ain't-just-like-us need to toe-the-line.
posted by Twang at 12:21 PM on May 1, 2017


I feel the need to unpack three assumptions behind Enzi's anecdote:

1. There is a natural code of gender.
2. People who don't assent to that code deserve violence.
3. Violence is an expected part of how people socialize in bars.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:02 PM on May 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


If you're as punchable as Enzi you probably are inclined to expect violence in any social interaction.
posted by phearlez at 2:28 PM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


SorryWatch have a post up discussing Enzi's bad apologies and including some nice photos of tutu-clad people (and pets) socializing.
posted by Lexica at 3:17 PM on May 1, 2017


phearlez, thank you. That's what I meant.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:20 PM on May 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


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