Midtown watch defends using ‘transvestite’

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First neighborhood activists got local news to take the bait on “increased violence” by “gangs” of Midtown sex workers that Atlanta police refuted. Now they’re sticking to their guns on the pejorative term “transvestite.”

Are trans sex workers increasing their perceived menace to the area near Piedmont Avenue and 3rd Street? The not-in-my-backyard neighbors of Midtown Ponce Security Alliance said yes, and local media jumped all over the case.

The neighborhood watch group is led by Peggy Denby, who is known for not just looking for and reporting crimes but having sway with police, the city and media against gay nightlife and her distinct lack of compassion for the homeless. Depending on which gay you ask, she is either a menace herself or the Atlanta neighborhood’s savior.

The alliance’s latest targets are “extremely aggressive” and “violent” cross-dressing prostitutes and their johns. The group says the sex workers travel in “gangs” to chase, verbally berate and even attack and rob neighbors who confront them about being there.

A recent newsletter from the alliance caught the attention of WSB and 11 Alive, which issued an on-air “transvestite prostitute warning” (video above) and later changed the wording for its written online report: “Residents in Midtown have been dealing with the problem of cross-dressing prostitutes for decades.”

Atlanta police retorted that there is no evidence of prostitute “gangs” or increased violence in Midtown. An Atlanta police spokesperson also said a new initiative will crack down on sex workers, but APD wasn’t ready to release any details on the initiative.

Despite the police rebuttal, the Alliance not only leaves multiple reports about their “violent gangs” claim on its website, but later posted a treatise that sanctimoniously tries to justify the term “transvestite.” The group regularly calls arrestees “transgender or transvestite” or uses one term or the other when they think they know the difference.

The article cites the American Heritage Dictionary as having no reference to “transvestite” being pejorative and admits that the Associated Press doesn’t have an entry for “transvestite.” Then their message goes to great lengths to say “transvestites” aren’t transgender, and that the difference is that “transvestites” change clothes.

Transvestite serves as a physical description at a given occasion in the same sense as a work uniform worn only at certain times, or like a red shirt which one wears at whim.

The article goes on to post photos of alleged prostitutes in action wearing female attire vs. mugshots that take on a more male look.

But Midtown Alliance didn’t check with LGBT media and wordsmith sources, like say, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s guidelines for reporters. GLAAD makes it clear, as other outlets have learned the hard way, the word “transvestite” is a no-no.


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