Posted: October 21, 2010 in Bodies, Damned binaries, Gender, Personal, Relationships
Tags: , ,

Trigger warning for cisfail.

I gave C. a massive piece of my mind the other day over her use of the word ‘tranny.’ I think maybe I was too aggressive over it, but the first time she said it she got my back up by saying I couldn’t make her, and the second time prompted me to bring out all the big guns.

Now then, guess the counter-arguments (from more than one person, I’m not just blaming C.)…

  • It’s just a word!
  • It’s nowhere near as bad as ‘nigger’.
  • It’s a descriptor.
  • You’re not my parent.
  • Nobody else cares.
  • I’m sorry you’re offended (I wasn’t; but the word is offensive) but no-one else is (everyone else referring to a bunch of cis folks).
  • So should I use transvestite?
  • Political correctness…
  • Transvestite is just what it is!
  • We’re not interested in this stuff.
  • Trans? But that’s just like tranny!

Cisfail… Shall I pick these statements apart?

  • It’s just a word. A word which is steeped in a history of abuse. People die with that word ringing in their ears.
  • It’s nowhere near as bad as ‘nigger’. It should be pointed out that I was the one who brought the ‘nigger’ debate up; I said, ‘it’s offensive in the sort of way nigger is offensive’; while I know that nigger comes from a far longer history of abuse and oppression, I thought that it would perhaps give C. some idea of it. Also, in today’s society, explicit transphobia is perhaps less condemned than explicit racism. This is not intended to minimise the impact of racism on POC and I apologise if I have allowed my white privilege to get the better of me.
  • It’s a descriptor. It’s not. It never was. It’s a term of abuse. It’s a term that’s being reclaimed by some as a descriptor; that doesn’t mean it’s okay for general, unaware use.
  • You’re not my parent. So? I’m informing you of something that should be a matter of common decency – I don’t need to be your parent.
  • Nobody else cares. Simple reason why – you’re cis. I’m not, and I’ve had it yelled at me, sniggered behind my back. Nothing too bad, but – if you’d experienced it, you’d know. You’d care.
  • I’m sorry you’re offended, but no-one else is. Could this be again a matter of cis privilege?
  • So should I use transvestite? Er – no. Transvestism is closer related to cross-dressing than being trans (-gender or -sexual), although there may be some overlap. The word can be inappropriate because it recalls the old man-in-a-dress trope.
  • Political correctness… Politics isn’t correct on this. Politics doesn’t care about trans people. It’s not political correctness, it’s human decency.
  • Transvestite is just what it is! Clarification – not referring to the person as ‘it’ but the ‘phenomenon’. Incorrect.
  • We’re not interested in this stuff. What – human rights? You’re not interested in human rights? You’re not interested in being a decent human being?
  • Trans? But that’s just like tranny! Incorrect (an ‘s’, an ‘n’ and a ‘y’ differentiate the two). Also, trans doesn’t have the history of abuse.

I’m a few days late in posting this, but really and truly I need to vent my anger somewhere. I think it will probably stick in C.’s head (and hopefully D.’s and anyone else who was there) and niggle away – I hope so. C. didn’t say everything on this list, and doesn’t deserve the full blast of wrath – I’m also sure I tackled it wrong, but I guess more practice for next time – although what happened was wrong.

  1. Dreki says:

    “you’re not my parent”? What the hell are the people you’re talking to FIVE?! When did five year olds start using the t-word?!

  2. JKBC says:

    I sometimes think they MUST be five! It was a ridiculously childish response. However, one indication to the contrary – I haven’t caught a whisper of the t-word since (from them). So I hope it niggled. Bloody culture-that-supports-transphobia and cis-folks-that-don’t-question-it.

  3. Unfortunately, I may have to remember to tell the next person who calls me “tranny” without my permission that people die hearing that word…

    • JKBC says:

      It just makes me so angry that people can’t see how inappropriate it is to use it as though it isn’t a word that has gone so far that the only way in which it can be used is when reclaimed by people who have the right to reclaim it. I’m pretty sure I missed a couple of arguments against it, but they’re all up there to be used.

  4. My girlfriend and I both use the word to describe ourselves – in private. I don’t want people (especially cis people) to think it’s a word that can be used lightly or without express permission. I have some qualms about using it as a man but I want to reclaim it as it is a word that has been used to hurt *me* personally, even if it is not generally used to hurt trans men as a group. In private, I’m also reclaiming “f*ggot” as that word has been used to hurt me even though I am primarily attracted to women. I want these words to have less destructive force when used to hurt me so I make them *my* words, I give myself the right to use them comfortably when with my lovers and let my lips get used to the feel of them and my ears get used to the sound of them. So next time these words are used against me, it’ll hurt less.

    • JKBC says:

      Cis people shouldn’t need telling that they shouldn’t use words like that lightly, without permission. It’s your total right to reclaim the words. I think it gets levelled at all gender non-conforming people, even if the general group people think of when they hear it is trans women.

    • Dreki says:

      Also, for counter-arguments: “So people who work on cars shouldn’t be allowed to talk about transmissions?! (I think that’s what’s called “tranny”, I don’t know jack about that stuff)”. I HATE that one. I don’t know if it’s a US specific slang, but it’s a really common response to “You shouldn’t say tranny, it’s offensive”. That’s… two completely different things. They’re homonyms. Not the same word. Funnily enough, most trans people are not a part of a car and most car parts aren’t trans people.

      • JKBC says:

        Oh EW, that’s AWFUL. I’ve never come across that one, but that’s absolutely terrible. There’s a lot of words that start with trans- though, I wonder if it comes up with other things? (I hope not…)

        • Dreki says:

          No, there’s a specific car part that is (at least in the US) referred to as a “tranny”, so people bring that up in the argument as if it’s at all relevant.
          It might still trigger someone who’s faced transphobic violence with that word, which is bad, but it’s certainly not the same thing as referring to a person as that.

          • JKBC says:

            Oh, I see. I hadn’t come across that before – should have Googled before, my fail there, whether or not the slang is around in the UK Google told me it existed – but I see how that’s different. Still a lot missing-the-point, but definitely not such a problem.

  5. […] don’t think I’m very good at it – last time I did it, over ‘t****y’, this happened – but pointing out that inanimate objects are incapable of having a sexual […]

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