It's Contagious
Is Westword a bad example?  Denver's biggest newspaper, The Denver Post also included an obituary written by Claire Martin.  
The article's subtitle:

      "Joanne Conte, who was once a male, fought so many different fights."

The article tells how Joanne “transferred from a man to a woman.”  Supposedly, the “sex change” explains everything she did in her political career.

Obituaries for other community leaders list their accomplishments and thank them for their devoted service.  Even in death, a transsexual can't escape the mythology and ridicule.

See:  The Denver Post, Life of Gender, Politics:  Joanne Conte, who was once a male, fought so many fights; by Claire Martin 3 February 2013.

In comparison, this is the City of Arvada’s posted notice of Joanne's death:

"Former Arvada Councilmember Joanne Conte Has Passed Away Condolences to family and friends of Joanne Conte, former Arvada Councilmember (November 1991 - November 1995.)  Joanne passed away on Sunday, January 27.  Joanne was an influential leader and will always be remembered."


The Secret Life of

Joanne Conte

The New Gender Paradigm

This is Westword's portrayal of Joanne Conte, the elected official who thought she could solve all of Arvada's problems.

Not on Westword's watch, by gum.  They're just performing a community service. 

Joanne Marie Conte died on 27 January 2013.  She was 79.  Her death led to a flurry of articles in the media recounting the story of her amazing life:


After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, Joanne leaped into politics in Arvada, a large suburb on the northern edge of Denver, Colorado.  For more than thirty years, Joanne enthusiastically conducted campaigns to clean up local government — her trademarks were fiscal reform and controlled urban growth.  In practice, however, she went after every instance of mismanagement she happened upon, from trash collection to shady expense accounts to voter registration.  In 1991, she was elected by a large majority to the Arvada City Council:  She was a political outsider who represented the average person against a firmly entrenched establishment.

Unfortunately, political reform wasn’t what the Good Old Boys on the Council had in mind.  When they saw the election results, the other Council members took up a collection that paid a private investigator to find something that could be used to eliminate the irritating gadfly.

Success!  The investigative reporter discovered that Joanne’s family had raised her as a boy.  Her relatives disowned her in 1973 when she refused to maintain the pretense any longer.  In other words, Joanne Conte was found to be transsexual.

Karen Bowers, staff writer for the Denver-area tabloid Westword, published an article that outed Joanne.  A rapidly blooming political career was crushed.  The  self-righteous reporter pocketed the blood money and carved another notch in her typewriter.


If you can’t beat them, join them.  Excluded from politics, Joanne later became a talk show hostess for the local radio station, 850 KOA-AM.  That career was also short-lived:  The station promoted her show as, “Is it a man?  Is it a woman?”  How nice for them to call her an “it”.

After that, Joanne did appear from time to time on national Talk Shows and as a commentator for KGNU-FM, a Denver-area community supported radio station.

The American political scene has become stagnant  and dysfunctional due to the influence of high finance and special interest groups.  Ms Conte was the kind of politician the country needed:  hard-working & idealistic, outside of the establishment, and immune to special interest.  Karen Bowers & Westword showed how easy it was to manipulate the masses and subvert the political system.

Life Lessons

On one hand, Joanne was a role model.  Her accomplishments belied the widespread caricature of transsexuals as a "disturbed man in a dress".  She was smart, insightful, and socially adept.  When allowed, a transsexual can win an election by a landslide and make significant contributions to the community.

          …As long as no one finds out.  In today's hostile society, secrecy is the only strategy.

A transsexual is just like everyone else until a reporter gets ahold of the medical records.  Outing — like what Karen Bowers did -- is a crime.  If nothing else, it's a violation of federal medical privacy laws.  It's definitely not in society's best interest.  That article in Westword inflicted more irrevocable long-term injury on Joanne than if the editors had sent a gang of thugs to assault and rob her.


"True to her outspoken nature, the region's leading transsexual politician blamed her November defeat on sex-change jokes made by constituents and critics during the campaign. 'This whole experience was like being a Jew in Nazi Germany,' complained the aggrieved Conte."
      -- Westword:  Cleared for Take-Off, 27 December 1995

Not that Westword is willing to admit their complicity in fueling transphobic hysteria to remove someone from political office.  In part, the issue is whether transsexuals should be "out" and what being "out" means for a transsexual.  Transsexuals have traditionally used the term to describe adoption of right gender expression in public -- Joanne Conte was "out"  and successful.  

But gay & lesbian advocates apply the term to a formal public announcement of their private sexual behavior.  Being "out" is good, even if it's involuntary.  So Westword performed the service of revealing the "truth".  The "truth" they revealed focused on the status of Joanne's genitals.  Karen Bowers knew that Joanne was Really a Man because the DSM told her so.  

Westword offered their own obituary for Joanne in their 4 February 2013 issue (Calhoun:  Wake-Up Call).  Its author, Patricia Calhoun, maintains that the outing performed some sort of public service.  Maybe it forced a good person out of valuable public service, but it supposedly increased public awareness of transsexuality.

          ...By perpetuating and enhancing the myths that fuel transphobia.


"Joanne Conte was a pioneer in that cause, even if a reluctant one."

       -- Patricia Calhoun, Westword

As proof of Westword’s trans-friendly editorial policy, the obituary mentions Sex Machine:  Dr. Stanley Biber has made 3,500 women -- and 300 men, a Westword article published 27 August 1998 about “sex-change operations” done in Colorado.  The article was based on the same mental illness, genital disobedience, Really a Man diatribe.  And the obituary forgot to mention that the Biber clinic was forced to close its doors in December 2010 due to that the mythology that Westword advocated.

"But more important, two decades later, would a politician feel that she had to keep a similar past a secret?"

        -- Patricia Calhoun, Westword

So transsexuality doesn't keep talented people out of public office any more?  If so, I wonder why Colorado doesn't have any transsexuals in government service?  Likewise there are no elected transsexuals in the federal government.