Home » News » #LGBTHM Q and A with Angela Gardner – Editor, TGForum. com

#LGBTHM Q and A with Angela Gardner – Editor, TGForum. com

Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised by the approval you weren’ t expecting. ”

– Angela Gardner, Transgender Forum (TGForum. com)

TGForum. com is a weekly online magazine with news and features for the trans* community featuring a resource library, frequently published articles, and a safe room for connection, creativity and raising trans* consciousness.

Editor Angela Gardner took some time to connect with us via email to answer some questions about the one-of-a-kind online forum.

Jaye : Hi, Angela: your business is really robust. TGForum. com is extremely comprehensive– equal parts neighborhood website, news website, secure/private shopping stop, and much more. There’ s a lot of introductory/Trans* 101 available too. That’ s alongside resources for trans* persons of experience and the neighborhood.

So from 1996 to now, can you share with us how the site’ s advanced over time?

Angela : The site was founded by JoAnn Roberts, Cindy Martin and Jamie Fenton. In 1996, there was no pre-built social networking site software like there is today, so Jamie Fenton built it from scratch. The first iteration of TGF was all Web coding done by the writers who added. Cindy Martin was the editor and she would get everyone’ s HTML file by email and put the new content together for publication every Monday.

Content wise, the site was normally meant as a forum where individuals could discuss and learn about all of the transgender issues. There was input through the significant others of TGs, humor in the form of cartoons, TG history in the form of articles and photos of pull through history and medical info; the list goes on.

At the time it was started, TGF was a subscription based site. You had to pay a yearly fee so when you became a subscriber, you can see all the content and use all the features such as the bulletin board, the chat room and create your own profile and post your photos. Non-subscribers can read the articles but couldn’ to see the photos or graphics. That was the Free TGForum version.

As the Web got more and more free spots where TGs could interact, TGF membership began to go down. The two other companions left and JoAnn Roberts employed me to be the editor. At my urging, she went to a free publication plan and solicited more ads to support the website, as well as asking for donations from customers. The loyal users did step-up with contributions and the site made it through the first decade of this one hundred year. Software for Web publication had caught up and surpassed TGF, so JoAnn changed over to a Wp based site.

That was tweaked and modified into the TGF you see today. Two things occurred when we moved to the WP format: we started accumulating more registered users (registering unlocks certain features) and our page views began to increase. The old TGF archives going back to 1996 had been taken down. So there is a wealth of information that is now not available, but We try to add back the more important and still relevant things every year.

Jaye : Ever-expansive. That’ s so great. I know your your publication and forum addresses drag entertainers since well– do you think we’ re coming to a place where trans* persons and drag performers are more mutually inviting and inclusive?

Angela : I’ ve always felt, and TGF’ s stance has been, that pull artists are attracted to the whole concept in the first place because there’ s some bit of “ transness” in the character. Most gay queens just think it’ s because they’ re homosexual but how many gay men take the time, effort and expense to outfit flawlessly in drag? Some may do it for Halloween now and then several have no more interest in wearing women’ s clothing and makeup compared to majority of straight men. So we feel that drag queens and female impersonators are our sisters on the transgender spectrum. There is still a lot of education to be done, but you’ re going to see content about RuPaul’ s Drag Race and other notable queens on TGF.

Jaye : Fighting for the right to exist/fit in/have a “normal life… ” it feels like such an irony. Societally, it feels like trans* living continues to be very much a battlefield. Achieving normalcy seems to be a right so many aggressively look for to deny. Have you seen a shift in-culture in terms of trans* persons around the idea of being stealth?

Angela : Stealth still goes on. It requires courage to declare openly that you were born a different sex compared to one you’ re presenting towards the world. In some places that can still get you killed or beaten up. Not merely in rural areas, but parts of some of our big cities TGs are often in danger. Stealth may actually raise that danger as a transwoman interacts with people in her sphere like a woman. Men are a threat considering that she doesn’ t know how they will react if they learn that her genitals are not matched to her display or have been reshaped by surgical procedure. Transphobia is homophobia and again, the world needs more education.

Jaye : What about feeling pressured to declare a gender (and opting out of doing so)?

Angela : Choose a gender! Start playing! Seriously, individuals should just be who they are. If a person doesn’ t feel particularly one particular gender or another they should be free to test out any spot on the gender range. Gender identity should be left up to the individual and once chosen should be privileged by everyone. But being various will always be a challenge to some people. Once again — education!

Jaye : On that note, would you hold any official TGForum events, or is your website more of a conduit and connection space?

Angela : No events other than our new content add-on on Monday. It had been discussed from time to time, but we decided that our location was to bring information and a secure space to transgendered people on the Web. So no conventions or rave events.

Jaye : Interested to hear your thoughts on this. Mister Cee’ s public revelation about his connections with trans* persons provides opened up some great discussions about love– why cis men and others are shamed for loving trans* women and exactly what this says about our culture.

Janet Mock, Laverne Cox and others continue to address the idea and open the floor to a more inclusive and affirming discussion. Do you have any thoughts to share with our readers in light of these latest events?

Angela : I think this is part of the education that needs to be done. Mister Cee by coming out and being supported, even though he was outed against his wishes, lets other males who enjoy sex with transwomen know that their life might not be totally ruined if they stopped living over the down low and let their particular circle of friends and family know that TG ladies turned them on. Every TG admirer isn’ t likely to suddenly declare himself right away however it will get them thinking and maybe the hiding and skulking around TG nightspots to have brief encounters may diminish and they can start having sincere relationships. That would be better for everyone.

From a personal perspective, I have a boyfriend and we go out to dinner a couple times a week. Often we are in the suburbs and now then we do fine dining in Philadelphia. The number of times we have been treated with disrespect (presumably because I am TG) can be counted on the fingers of just one hand. Or less. Most of the locations we go, from diners to fine restaurants, people all treat us with the same degree of regard that they give the other patrons. And so i think, at least around Philadelphia, the idea that TGs and their partners are as normal as any other few is beginning to sink in. Once again, with the caveat that there are some locations it’ s best not to proceed just because they may not be that enlightened. Yet sometimes you are pleasantly surprised by the approval you weren’ t expecting.

Jaye : What is your opinion on the CIS cookies/CIS tears meme, and similar? [e.g. http://chaseross.tumblr.com/post/30953527685/recipe-for-cis-cookies ]

Angela : I used to be unaware of the page. It seems an attempt at ironic humor but appears a bit bitter. TGs need to be conscious that “ CIS” people have never ever stopped to think about what gender these are. They may have experienced attractions to same sex people and had to wrestle with “ am I gay” but the majority of them wake up each morning and don’ t even believe “ it’ s great to become a man” or “ I love being a woman. ” That’ s just the way they have felt all their life. It’ s only TGs who feel like a gender that doesn’ t match their genitals, whether they feel that way all the time or part of the time.

So TGs might just want to give the other people a break. Go ahead and answer their stupid questions. Point them at websites where they can learn more. Yes, it’ s annoying but if you bite their nasal area off they’ re going to simply spread the word that “ young man those TGs are cranky. ”

Jaye : TGForum proactively shares triumphs and successes that trans* individuals experience along with breaking news and calls to action. Is the LGBTQ community trending more towards this particular focus? Can you recommend similar websites, art or media that articulates the entire spectrum?

Angela : It’ s hard to say. I am so focused on making TGForum the best source for information which i haven’ t spent much time looking around. I suppose I should but….

Jaye : I understand you’ re an artist as well, and expert at graphic design along with your editorial work. Do you have your own consultancy as well, and is that affiliated with TGForum?

Angela : I wouldn’ t call myself an expert and I haven’ t marketed myself as such. I look at TGF and see something that needs done (like the new content slider graphics each week) and I just do them. I learn the technique I need and apply it. Immediately thereafter, I may forget how I made it happen. So I don’ t feel I’ m an expert, just a person which includes of the tools needed and a search engine to find out how I make this or that will appear on the screen. If individuals want some graphics I’ deb give it a shot, but other than my weekly TGF deadline I don’ to work well with deadlines.

Jaye : How can folks get involved with TGForum. com (article distribution, joining the site, advertising, volunteering—are subscribers required for membership)?

Angela : There’ s a link directly on the home page under my picture that lets people submit a write-up or article idea. I’ m happy to hear from anyone who desires to contribute and recently, we have added some folks who used the link. Like i said, you don’ t have to sign up anymore, but if you become a authorized user I can give you contributor or author status and your posts will be credited to you and your profile info will appear at the bottom of the post.

Jaye : Do you accept financial donations?

Angela : All of us stopped soliciting donations when JoAnn Roberts sold the site to a new publisher. What people in the community can do to include their support is to tell suppliers who have products the community wants/needs to contact us about advertising.

Jaye : Excellent—thanks again for connecting with us and our readers, Angela.

Angela : Thanks Jaye! Let me know if you need clarification or have more questions.

As you can see, Angela is very accessible—if you want more information, you’ re seeking resources or would like to contribute to TGForum in any way, she welcomes you to connect with her at www.TGForum.com.



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