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Saturday, August 18, 2012

In Praise of Pink Essence and Social Networking

To rip off old Willie Shakespeare and misquote him, I would like to say that I come here to praise Pink Essence, not to bury it (and other similar transgender social networking websites).

If you are not familiar with Pink Essence or other social networking websites such as URNotAlone, perhaps you might visit one of them and see if you enjoy being a part of an online community specifically for those who are transgendered and those who support them.

I speak specifically of Pink Essence in this article because that is the social networking website that I have been most familiar and I have participated to varying degrees of activity for almost 4 years. UrNotAlone is notable in that it was the first of it's kind and was begun in 1995. There are some others too that I have heard of in passing but I am not really knowledgeable about them.

There are a lot of people who love Pink Essence and those who don't care for it at all. There are members who have been active on the site and remain very involved to this day, those who briefly become members, find it is not their cup of tea and close their membership without ever having much involvement in the activities available and those who were once very active on the site who remain members, though participate almost in a nominal manner. This latter type of member would probably describe me best. Then there are the members who remain very active since they joined to this day.

There are people who vehemently loathe Pink Essence and denegrate it and its creator for various reasons. There are ardent members of the site who seem to devote much or all of their online life to it like some people on Face Book do.

The detractors complain about all sorts of things they don't like and some of them demonize the creator and owner of Pink Essence. Personally, I admire her. She has created something that has been a source of support during a terrifying time for a transgendered person when she comes to terms with who she is after years of either being in denial of herself, or being aware of who she is but living in terror others learn about her. Typically, she has never known anyone like herself or has no where to turn to gain access to support groups or knowlegable allied health care professionals who could be of help to her. Sometimes even when these resources are locally available she may almost be petrified with fear and a site like Pink Essence is her first foray into coping with herself in a healthier manner. This is one of the most important reasons that these sites exist.

In addition to that, Pink Essence also offers ways to express one's opinion on things Trans, non trans, and trans related including chat rooms and blogging. There is a forum on book reviews, on spirituality, on people who have the same career, information on how to contact professionals who help transgender people. There are political discussions and information on real world support groups, social gatherings and transgender conferences where one may meet others on a similiar journey and have the opportunity to speak with many professionals face to face. Most important of all is the opportunity to forge life long friendships like I have with some of the members of Pink Essence. They don't live very close, but they have become some of my dearest friends and I never would have gotten to know them without the presence of Pink Essence on the internet.

Is Pink Essence perfect? Of course not, silly! It has its strengths and its challenges. Some people call them faults, but I think a challenge is something that can be overcome. A fault is something there is no hope to ever change.

Pink Essence is really a big extended family. As in all families, there are squabbles; people get mad at each other and cut each other off emotionally. Sometimes they "kiss and make up" and sometimes they never have anything to do with each other ever again. They become estranged. They adore their "mother" (the website owner and creator) and sometimes they get angry at "mother" because something occurs they don't like.

Personally, while I have had some disagreements with the creator of Pink Essence, just as anyone does in any type of relationship. Most importantly though, I really admire and respect the creator of Pink Essence for what she has created. She has something she created that hasn't just helped people in the U.S., but it has helped people all over the world. I think that is pretty special, don't you?

For a later article I wrote on the potential downside of membership in Pink Essence and other social media websites please follow this link:

I would like to again restate, I believe that Chloe Prince created something very positive for transgendered people, but nothing is seldom all good or all bad; it is up to the user of social media to be responsible in educating themselves about the benefits and risks of belonging so social support websites.


  1. Hi Sherri,
    As always an interesting post.
    This one should strike a chord in most who know anything about "Pink".
    You are correct about the feelings of some (pro & con) about it's founder but speaking only for me I have stayed out of that debacle. Don't care.
    I think the site itself does serve as a very valuable "jumping off" point to those in the community- especially the transsexual girls.
    "Pink" taught me very quickly the "warm and fuzzy" perception of the trans sisterhood wasn't quite so. For example:
    I thank "Pink" for lessons in the political trans world of the place transgender women should be versus the transsexual.
    So yes, I'm one of those who keeps a membership there and even recommends it...with a warning label.

  2. A Crossdresser support site, drag performer advertisement spot, and transsexual social media training wheels...all rolled into one drama-filled, non-gender conforming breakfast burrito.

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  4. Sherri, I have been a member of Pink Essence (AKA, PE) for 3 years and when I first came it was a source of help and inspiration as well as support. I find now I am there to help those of similar circumstance as I, or I suppose a source of ministry. There are many other good sites such as Andrea James', Suzie's Place etc. but Pink has the additon of allowing individual expression via picture postings, blogs and the chat room, so in total I believe it is the finest of trans support sites.

    I have mixed emotions about the founder as well, but her contribution to helping trans people is unquestionably huge, so I support PE,not for her sake as much as for the community and members.

    Erica, "drag performer advertisment spot"? I'm not sure of what you speak.

  5. Sorry but I am not a fan. I found that while there were a large number of nice and helpful people on PE, there are an equal number of the trannier-than-thou crowd. The fact that you have to identify "what" you are and your likes/dislikes when you first create an account, likely at a point where you are not even sure "what" you are, adds to this class system of members.

    I have nothing against Chloe though. I recall once that she actually tried to reign in some of these "mean girls" but to no avail.

    I have found the sisterhood I've been looking for on other sites which ultimately lead to my coming out.


  6. Thank you for this blog. You yourself are a real treasure for us transwomen. I have always felt that therapists who themselves were not transwomen were not the ones to help our people.

    An example is my ex who is listing on her site transgender counseling, yet she tells me she is unable to handle seeing me in person as a woman.

    I have benefitted very much myself from PE and other trans sites. I have learned much, and made many friends online.

    If my liberator had not invited me to transgender meeting, without my knowing what it was, I might still be in the doldrums, wondering why I was so different. I transitioned to full time the next day. I never felt I needed any therapy, I had support from the group and later from trans sites. I was outed as a transwoman the other day to a woman I had just met by her new boyfriend, the son of my gg bff; she didn't believe him!
    "Helen" an alias.

  7. Well, Helen, to be honest, as a member of WPATH, I apply the standards of care to myself. Most of would like to have a therapist who is transsexual too, but the odds are not in our favor that we will be able to find one. I'm it for a very large area of Virginia and West Virginia. There isn't anyone for me to go see for over three hours drive.

    My therapist is not a transwoman, nor had she ever worked with a transsexual before. She has done an excellent job with me because she is very skilled. Believe me, I have very high standards on who I consider to be an excellent therapist.

    I'm sorry that your ex wife can't deal with who you are. I can appreciate her statement if she was unaware of your gender identity prior to your marriage. My ex wife didn't know and I can understand why she didn't want to see the real me.

    I hope that your ex sought appropriate clinical supervision before deciding to work with transsexuals. It is important that we have great self awareness so that we don't bring our own baggage into psychotherapy (countertransference). It would be unethical to practice in a specialized population if one is carrying a lot of negative emotions about a spouse who has the same issues she has decided to treat.

    In graduate school, I learned that a problem is a problem is a problem. It really shouldn't take only a person of color to work with a person of color, a person with scizophrenia to work with a person with scizophrenia, a person with cancer to work with a person with cancer or a woman of transsexul experience to work with a woman of transsexual experience. Although when one can find a therapist who is a man or woman of transsexual experience, that can be a bonus.

  8. This a reduced comment I made 2 years about PinkEssence (PE) I made on another's blog. It remains true even today.

    Chloe - how many lives has she touched in a great way?

    Her gift to all of us is Pink Essence. It has brought many of us together in a safe, warm, inviting place. A place where we can gather to share everything - things that mean a lot to us when are overwhelmed... we can cry, we can laugh, we can be silly or we can be serious... the important point is we can be... we can find hope when none seems logical... we can find proof that happiness is not a mirage but a reality that many sisters eventually find...

    There's no doubt in my mind that PE is saving lives. and that we all help others in trouble by being members. What is another person's life worth? What is your' s worth? It's this and other miracles that make PE wonderful. Because of Chloe and PE we get to watch miracles everyday!

    And while Chloe isn't perfect, how many sisters would go 1/2 way around the world to support others sisters? It's even rare that those with loved ones would go with them.

    And then our sisters on that trip shared their photos with us... giving to everyone of us back home while they were under pain, less than ideal photographic situations... I can so feel the magic of PE... and the warmth of some very genuine girls with great hearts...

    Might I mention I own one of the lives she saved?

  9. i totally agree with you. i have not taken advantage of all of the help on this site but am trying to now. i too admire the creator of Pink Essence a and am deeply grateful to her.

  10. Pe is a wonderful site where people can go for support and to provide support. Without Pe, I would not have met you, and Marsha, and Tegan, and Rachel, and so so many other wonderful people. We have laughed together, cried together, rejoiced with each other, confided in one another, prayed for each other. I am better for having been part of this great community.

    I first joined URnotAlone, which I still believe is a great and pioneering achievement. On there I met many wonderful and diverse people. One of those people led me to Pe. I rarely log in to URNA now, as there are only 24 hours in a day. Sadly, my life has been quite complicated in the last year and I rarely get to log in to Pe now. So FB, which is easier to access on the road is my "home" now.

    Sure I have my issues with Pe. No site can be all things to all people. And I refuse to enter into anything other than positive conversations about other people, Chloe included. But, Pe is still the standard in my book.

  11. Its not easy, to find a balance in ones life as a Trans identifying person. Balancing the lives and labels and the jargon and the feelings all under one roof, while trying to balance your own... well, I do the best I can. I'm not perfect.

    My goal with PINKessence, only had one REAL goal. To connect us... so that out of many... we are one.

    1. It's difficult to balance the personal and private with the need to help others who share some of the same experiences. I never wanted to be more than the woman I am. In a perfect world, I would get through this and go on with my life simply as another woman. I describe myself as a woman of transsexual experience. However, because of my professional skills and my values, I have to serve those who have needs such as my own. I cannot in good concience not use my skills to help others have experienced something similiar as I have and work towards a better life than you and I have. This requires my sacrifice of my privacy personally and professionally when I would prefer to live this life privately. I give workshops at.every opportunity. Other than the.conference fee being waived and sometimes some meals, I do this at my own expense without expectation of compensation because its so important and the importance isn't about myself. It's about so many of us who suffer and dont deserve that. You and I have had the same purpose. We want people like us to have happy and healthy fulfilling lives. What you have done may never be fully appreciated, but for people of mine and similiar experience, we will always know what you have accomplished.