“Tranny” Is a Form Of Hate Speech

1 04 2009

Continuing on angryblkfeminist’s subject of offensive words, I’m getting fed up with people (even feminists and liberals) throwing around the word “tranny.”  For those of you who weren’t previously aware, “tranny” is a slur.  The usage of the word has become so normalized in the media and in casual conversation that many people don’t even realize (or care to realize) that the word has negative implications.  But in fact the term is offensive and derogatory.  Queenemily over at Questioning Transphobia put it this way:

See, the word “tranny” gets used with alarming regularity in the media, and I’m not sure it actually registers that it is a slur.  It’s always so jolly, like it’s a whimsical, fun term that cis people can throw around with abandon.  Always with the implication that trans people are laughably pathetic.  Because my identity, our history, of itself is a joke.

What is missing  is that in my personal experience as a trans woman, “tranny” is a form of hate speech.  The last person who called me it literally spat on me.  It’s frequently paired with “faggot”–yet no-one sprays that word liberally around the media.  When someone spits a word at you, the implication is clear– you’re disgusting, barely even human.  And that disgust is worked out violently against the bodies of trans people.

So why do people keep throwing around the word “tranny?”  Some cisgendered people (people whose gender identities match with the socially assigned behavior or role for their sex) might argue that they have heard the word used by some trans people and therefore it is completely okay for cis people to use as well.  But just because an individual trans person chooses to use the word does NOT give cis people the right to “reclaim” the word or throw it around.  Even if you consider yourself an ally, you simply don’t have ownership over the word since you have not been oppressed, harassed, attacked, and discriminated against in the same way that transgendered people have.  

Some cis people may truly just not know that the word is problematic.  I have had many friends tell me that they had no idea that the word was offensive.  Well, now you know.

Here is queenemily’s guide for the word “tranny:”

DON’T FUCKING USE IT UNLESS YOU’RE TRANS.*  *And even then…

Did you all get that?  Good.


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17 04 2009
Jason

…Oh god.
I love you for posting this.

I hate being called trans, as well, personally, unless the topic of conversation is my transgenderism. I don’t like the way “transman” and “transwoman” somehow suggests you’re less of a man or woman because your physical gender was made, not born. But I have no issues with the words trans- just it casually being used towards myself.
I am a MAN.

But tranny- oh god, yes. I had some issues in school whilst trying to work things out, and I was bullied at one point- physically and verbally- for being briefly perceived as a “tranny”. They used the word liberally and with disgust.
…And I was so messed up by it, I didn’t deal with the whole “oh, wait, I don’t actually WANT to be a woman” thing for another seven years after that.

“Tranny” has so many negative connotations that using it towards someone will send their hackles up. Just like “fag/faggot”. True or not, people hate the word being used towards them.
…I personally also hate the word “queer”, since it’s meaning used to be “odd” or “wierd”. Hmm. Gay = wierd. Grand.
I just hate hearing it- it’s another that sends my hackles up, even if a lot of gays feel fine using the word.

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