Now here’s a chilling thought, as the trans community prepares to commemorate our not inconsiderable roll call of dead – murdered, mostly, by fuckwits who can’ t see beyond the label – on our own day of remembrance: the very last word a victim will have heard, out of all the words in the dictionary, is more likely to have been “tranny” than any other.
Can I “prove” that? Of course not! It just happens that early in my transition, when I was so much more obviously trans, the word i heard most often as ordinary everyday term of abuse was “tranny”. On about half the occasions when the threat level escalated to the point where i felt in real danger of violence, the ‘bon mot’ of choice by the aggressor was “tranny”.
Talking to trans friends in the UK the picture is much the same. It may be “just a word” for 99% of the population: but for us it is something else. I don’t think it exaggeration to suggest it is to the trans community what the swastika is to Jews, the uniform of the KKK to the black American community.
That’s why we object to it. More: that’s why there is a sense of community “ownership” of the word. Why, to the irritation of not a few non-trans commenters, we both condemn its use…then spray it around on programmes like trans summer.
Worse: when called on our supposed inconsistency, we bloody trannies have the effrontery to assert that its “our” word. That only WE get to decide when to use it, when its offensive.
Huh? Unreasonable? Much. But very understandable. There is a very real sense that we have paid – many times over – in blood for that word.
It’s a bit like…oh, imagine if u will, a bunch of town planners wanting to relocate a battlefield war monument. They may have every reasonable reason for doing so. But I suspect all the reasonableness in the world wouldn’t go far to impress the vets who fought there, whose comrades died there…
It’s a shame. Without the history, “tranny” is quite a nice word: rhythmically light, ever so slightly cuddly. That’s why many trans folk still use it, with friends, when they can be sure its not abuse, threat or harbinger of danger.
Which is why it confuses the broader public. Why, in general, we fight and fight to exclude it from disrespectful media headlines…then go home and laugh about it. Why, too, its use continues to divide.
That’s a pity. As Sarah from TMW said yesterday: surely we have better things to argue about? Er, yes. And no.
As hate token, it remains something worth fighting against. But for all that, I suspect the battle is lost and – unexpected consequence of trans summer – we will have to accept now its wider use?
why? Because the terms of debate have shifted. Subtly. But shifted all the same. The perspective has changed, the focus on a different question, which is not “why use the t-word, when it causes so much grief”, but “why can’t we use the word when you do all the time?”
The answer, as above, is pretty clear. But I think now its distraction. Sometimes, the mark of the good strategist is to know when to abandon a particular fight as not worth the aggro.
We may just have reached that point over “tranny”.