Posts tagged respect

The press is back to its usual tricks: what changed?

It is pleasing – very! – to be able to report today that some weeks after publishing a disgracefully inaccurate and disrespectful piece on trans and intersex police, the Sunday People is to issue a partial correction in line with representations made by the Press Complaints Commission.

Much less pleasing to read their response and realise that even as Leveson continues his merry way, very little seems to have changed regarding their attitudes for accuracy or even respect for minorities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Death becomes her…

How would you like to be know at your funeral? Mostly, i guess, my own answer is much the same as others would give: with respect, and as i have lived.

Which is to say that my own life and my obvious life intentions should be respected and not play second fiddle to anyone else’s issues.

Except: there are some instances – like murder – where stripping away the veneer may be a sad and awful necessity. Read the rest of this entry »

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This is MY sofa!

Morning, trolls. I bet you think this is about you. Which, in a way, it is…though not, lest you be getting ideas above your ugly trollish station, any single individual troll. Nah. Its not about YOU. Its about all of you, with a dash of serendipity courtesy of a recent exchange with the brilliant blog from feminist (and delightful creative writer) Lorrie Hearts.

Similar issues, similar frustrations – and two posts bubbling up as a result. Here’s the first, which i guyess is mostly about manners. Read the rest of this entry »

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Giant leaps forward on name change

Well, that went well. Very well. All in all, it suggests that I may finally have a good chance to get something done about the scandal that is name change procedures in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

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Everything in moderation?

I have been sorely tempted, of late, to moderate some stuff on here. Tempted but, with two very specific exceptions, i haven’t succumbed. My hope is we can keep it that way – though i strongly suspect that the very fact of my posting this post might just lead one or two folk to tweak my nose…to see how far they can go before i hit the roof. Read the rest of this entry »

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Respect the Transgender Day of Remembrance

After years of disrespect, shoddy reporting and at times downright abusive coverage of trans issues, today, of all days, feels like a good day for the press – and the UK media in particular – to up its game. To note that this, the 20th November is a day when the world’s growing trans community stops for a moment to remember its dead.

Or failing that, to forego printing yet another piece that subtly mocks, either because we are such “funny creatures”, and therefore deserving of mockery – or worse, humiliates, embarrasses and sometimes endangers because those reporting trans stories just couldn’t care less. Its just another story and the fact that stories about trans men and women have led to violence, to murder are just unfortunate by-products of the way things are.

History of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR)

Now in its 13th year, the TDOR was originally created in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to commemorate the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.

In 2010, TDOR ceremonies of one form or another were held in almost 200 cities in 20 countries across the world. This is a time when the trans community comes together, in solemnity and in celebration, to remember its dead.

Trans crime statistics

Statistics compiled by Trans Murder Monitoring suggest that somehwere in the world, every 72 hours, a trans man or woman is murdered. The absolute numbers are small: but if any other group in society was being killed off at quite such a rate, there would be a global outcry.

Many of these killings are located in South America: but to attempt to use murder alone as a measure of trans abuse – to argue, as the Daily Express did, just one year ago, that because there had been no homophobic murders reported, this was a non-issue – is simply sick.

As anyone working closely with the UK trans community will know, for some, just surviving is an achievement. Last month alone delivered its quota of shocking stories: trans men and women attacked, hospitalised – or just too afraid to leave their house, as a result of bigotry.

As a result of bigotry in part inspired by the press.

The role of the Press

There is not enough time here to detail the extent of press culpability on this issue. One simple story should suffice. Early on 16 November, news agency Reuters circulated an outwardly respectful narrative, initially published “straight” (without picture). A little later in the day, however, it had gained a powerful and grainy image by way of illustration: a picture of a transgender prostitute working the streets of Tegucigalpa.

That really doesn’t help.

Even when they think they are being sympathetic, the press seem incapable of taking their collective heads out of the gutter.

Apology – and Petition

I won’t be in London to commemorate this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance: bit of a cock-up on the child-minding front, and whilst i am happy to bring the boy along, i suspect he isn’t up to what he would see as a load of boring grown-up stuff.

But i will be there in spirit.

Meanwhile, therefore, I am putting up a petition to ask the press, today of all days, to respect the sensibilities of the trans community. In the UK, to ask especially those tabloids and mid-market papers that get so excited about groups disrespecting poppy day to demonstrate a similar degree of respect for today’s day of remembrance.

That is all.


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Doing it French style

“Bonjour. Aujourd’hui je vais vous presenter quelques gays”. (trans: “Hi. Today i’ll be introducing you to some gays”)

Huh? What is the bint going on about? Well, i’m making a point – which is, if you look closely, that in French, “Gay” appears to be a noun. It probably isn’t. But that’s how it looks.

And this is my long overdue taking issue with the whole “don’t write about gays, trans, etc. as though they are nouns, because that is disrespectful”.

No, if you’ll pardon my French, it fecking is not. However, it does appear to me that two issues have got inflated, alongside a very old-fashioned and, dare i suggest it, paternalistic pre-chomsky view of grammar.

Sometimes a noun…is just a noun

The basic argument i encounter often is “don’t write about ‘a gay'” cause its disrespectful. Well, it MAY be…but the disrespect is nothing to do with the grammatical usage.

The French sentence above exemplifies something that French does often, and which you can tell they’re doing because they have grammatical gender.

In a bar, you might ask for “un creme”. Wassat? Its a coffee with milk in it. OK. Look closely: its “un”…grammatically masculine. Only “creme” is feminine: so shouldn’t it be “une creme”?

Nope: because French drops words out…and “un creme” is shorthand for “un café creme”: “creme” is acting adjectivally, though it has the function of a noun in that request.

Ditto my intro. Trans Aide (just renamed to Association Nationale Transgenre) quite happily write about “les gays”. They seem to be “nouning” the term…but my guess is that in origin the underlying thought is a sentence referencing “un type gay”.

Back to English. The basic grammar pedant claims that noun and adjective are two totally separate categories. No they ain’t: you got that view from doing English grammar, itself borrowed, in large extent, from a 19th century model of Latin grammar – and its just wrong. Too absolute…too lacking in fluidity to cover language comprehensively.

English abounds with adjectives acting as though they are nouns. Colours, f’rinstance. Snooker: how often does a commentator suggest someone is planning to “pot the black”.

They mean “black ball”…but it would be tedious if they kept inserting balls into their voice-over. If you see what i mean.

Loads and loads of other instances of adjectives acting nounally. “I read two books last week: the more dangerous was by the Marquis de Sade”.

Basically, in loads of situations, language is quite happy to drop trivial words, like “one”, “person” and so on if it speeds up and makes sentences that bit faster.

Just think of police reports: “the suspect is a female”. really? How disrespectful! Only its not. Its just usage…

Respect is the key

Which leaves us where on talking about “gays” and “trans”? First up, i think the regular squawk about nounifying has a lot to do with fashion and follow-the-herd stuff. There’s not a real grammar issue there…and its slightly disingenuous to claim there is.

However, if an individual i am talking to objects to a particular usage, i’ll respect that: there is no need to be rude face-to-face, and if someone dislikes “trans” as noun (or just “trans”) when we’re chatting, i’m not so crass as to force my usage on them.

That’s a bit like gender and titles: if someone identifies as female, identifies as “Ms” its crass to insist on addressing them as other.

In general journalistic use…i’m not impressed by the (enforced) pedantry. I know that there are some much bigger arguments around the language used in respect of any minority and if particular words become viewed as generally disrespectful, i’d go with not using them.

I won’t write “mong”, “poof” or “tranny” unless…there’s a point to be made or some irony somewhere in there. I certainly do not regard those as acceptable terms for everyday journalism.

Otherwise, there is another, possibly more important point. Refering to someone as “a gay” can be perceived to be reducing them to their sexual orientation. I synmpathise…having early in this transition process fallen out with calling myself transsexual. It felt far too limiting and sort of defined me by my gender identity.

That’s a bigger, fairer point…though not totally sure how to get round it. Since it isn’t solved by inserting a noun: calling me a “trans woman” is no better, in this respect, than calling me “trans”: its still limiting.

Dunno. Will be interested in comments. I suspect this one leaves me at odds with a certain community view…but grammar, language, words…those are all, in their way, obsessions of mine…and i dislike restrictions, espesh when they are created on the back of a misunderstanding of what grammar is.


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Press stitch-up (postscript)

So. Just following up the image thing, and i locate an image for Cathy Daniels in the Sun archive – at least i presume this is where i’ve located it.

The url just happens to be:

I’d assunme (I know… always dangerous) that is something to do with that paper.

And i just LOVE the respectful title they’ve given the shot. “trannie_main”

I mean…can’t their picture desk even spell “tranny” properly nowadays.

Still, if that’s how they view such images and the person behind them…as just another “trannie”…then no wonder there is so little respect when it comes to what they publish about trans issues.


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