Stephen Ira Beatty, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening's 19-year-old transgender son, became an international headline this week after publishing a blog post critical of Chaz Bono -- who is arguably the most famous transgender man in the world and an unofficial spokesperson for the transgender community.
But perhaps the real news story here is: Guess what?! Warren Beatty has a transgender son -- why have we not heard about this before?
Stephen Ira Beatty -- or simply Stephen Ira, the name he write under on his blog Supermattachine -- has a few things to say about that: Things that make us feel slightly ashamed, and that we will address in this article.
The original blog post, Why Chaz Bono is a Misogynist Who Does Not Represent Us, appears to have been first picked up by the Daily Mail. It begins by offering Bono some lukewarm support, but goes on to criticize the former Dancing with the Stars contestant.
...when people say f--ked up things about Chaz, I am moved to defend him, because he's a transgender man and I am a transgender man. We both want full recognition of transgender people as human beings. We are meant to be on the same side. The hell of it is, we aren't.
Chaz has appointed himself as the representative of a group of people who are not all like him, Beatty continued. He has said misogynistic and prescriptivist things about gender. I take particular issue with his comments on trans embodiment and on women.
Beatty went on to accuse Chaz of erasing the experience of trans men who don't need top survery regarding Bono's comment in an ABC interview that being male and having breasts is about the worst thing I could imagine.
In a follow-up blog post titled In regards to Chaz Bono, Beatty addressed the media attention to his initial statement about Bono.
I noticed that my post about him was getting some attention, and I'd like it known: I bear the guy no ill will. I just don't want anyone thinking that he's qualified to offer Trans 101, you know? Stephen Ira wrote.
I think he's got serious issues with women, and I think he's needlessly prescriptive in the way he chooses to talk about trans identity, he continued.
But Chaz already gets so much sh-t, and you know what? Just a couple of years after I came out, I was saying prescriptivist misogynistic nonsense too. I read a lot, I learned a lot, I spent time living as a trans guy in the world, and I came out the other side of that worldview. I didn't have a huge amount of fame or exposure when I came out, though, the way Chaz did, and didn't feel obligated to make myself a spokesman.
I would be more than happy to sit down with Chaz, have a drink, and talk with him about how he can think and talk about gender in a way that's more inclusive, Stephen went on. He seems like an all right guy, his questionable views aside.
And from what I've seen, he's really remarkably good at the cha cha.
In sharp contrast to Cher -- for better or worse - neither Beatty or his wife Annette Bening appear to have ever publicly commented on Katherine Beatty's transformation. (At least not in any context that IBTimes was able to locate).
The 2010 article Will Warren Beatty every [sic] accept his girl becoming a boy? in the Daily Mail indicated the elder Beatty's PR rep was unwilling to discuss the situation, and cited a National Enquirer story that claimed Beatty was beside himself over the situation. The unnamed source said Beatty and Annette have tried to deal with this over the years when their daughter was younger but she is determined to go ahead with a transgender operation.
Up until the Chaz Bono frenzy, Stephen Ira Beatty had kept his identity pretty much under wraps. According to the Daily Mail, the young Beatty at one time tweeted under the handle Eugene Tapdance, but a Twitter account with that name no longer exists. IBTimes found an entry under the name Eugene Tapdance on message board called The Sueniverse.com. The 2010 post includes a bio that shares some similarities with Beatty, but only some (for example, this person claimed to have gone to Brown, but IBTimes understands that Beatty went to Sarah Lawrence.)
After the media coverage of his comments about Bono brought attention to his blog, Stephen Ira added another post addressing the attention - which he doesn't sound very happy about (sorry, Stephen!).
I did not want to come out to the media, he wrote. I figured that information was private, and honestly, probably not very interesting. After all, I've never sought fame or done anything interesting enough to warrant fame. My parents have. I haven't done anything fameworthy, unless you count being born in a certain context.
Stephen Ira goes on:
I have had my privacy invaded and deeply personal information about me broadcast. And nothing about the situation has to do with me. It has to do with a cis supremacist society, one in which trans people do not have the right to privacy or basic human courtesy with respect to our lives or our bodies. The world does not have the right to know whether I am on testosterone, whether I intend to have various different surgical procedures, or anything else about my body. The fact that my body is a trans body does not make it public property or a matter of public knowledge. The fact that my life is the life of a trans person does not make it a matter of public knowledge.
As you can see, the kid is smart, and rather persuasive. But we have to take issue with one comment: The right to privacy question has more to do with Beatty being the son of celebrity parents than it does his transgender status. Celebrities and their offspring have been the target of intense media scrutiny for as long as celebrities have been a part of our culture. Sure, transgender is a key word in the headline this time around, but the media will pounce on any story that promises to pull the mask off a star, however briefly, and allow us mortals to think we're getting a peek inside the private lives of celebrities, or their children -- whether it's a pregnancy, a marriage, a divorce, a nip slip, what have you. Sure, it's kind of gross and ridiculous, but it's the world we live in.
So, Stephen, you're both right and wrong at the same time when you say: The fact that my body is a trans body does not make it public property or a matter of public knowledge. The fact that my life is the life of a trans person does not make it a matter of public knowledge.
Being a trans person does not make you a matter of public knowledge: Being the son of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening does.
As commenters on Stephen Ira's blog have pointed out, he's a fantastic writer and seems like a pretty awesome person. We hope that Stephen will at least consider the possibility that some of this attention comes from the fact that he has a lot of really compelling things to say, and he says them well - even when he's bitch-slapping celebrity journalism.