46 comments:

  1. "I'm going to wear it every.single.day for all eternity until it rots off of my body or becomes a second skin!"

    Uh, maybe you could have others made just like it, in different colors maybe. Just saying...

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  2. Snowbush: Fine, fine. I suppose there's a measure of practical wisdom in your input. ;P

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  3. Why is this funny? Because a trans man has made it?

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  4. Anonymous: No. Because a trans man wears it. And because it's downright rad. And adorable. And transtastic. And fun!

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  5. Well, just a thought that trans man <> trans woman.

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  6. @Anonymous: Thanks for the comment and link! I read iphisol's perspective and the slew of comments that ensued from her sharing.

    The thing is, there are a lot of underlying themes fueling her perceptions that are debatable.

    Plus, it's infuriating to me how she attemptes to illustrate it as an MTF vs. FTM scenario when, in reality, it's more of a generational difference when it comes to discourse on the use of language or gender identity in the first place.

    On top of that and in a nutshell, her theory of "dehumanizing" language is no credit to progressing trans rights because it is DEEPLY flawed both in its understanding of the nature of language and in its understanding of how languages change over time.

    She seems to say that words cannot have more than one meaning: it means this and that's that - which is absurd.

    What a language with its gender system means is what people use it to mean. It is an evil principle to think that we can tell other people what they mean by what they say, because of some theory we have that makes it mean something in particular to us, even when they obviously mean something else.

    And it's particularly evil to discriminate against someone who she perceives as "FTM" and, therefore, "male" and lacking the right to utilize language in a way (s/z)he deems empowering and positive.

    She claims the word "tranny" in and of itself is "dehumanizing" - but, the implications of the principles she's touting are what's dehumanizing and totalitarian: what individual people think and want is irrelevant and to be disregarded - ESPECIALLY if they're the evil privilaged "male".

    She says that the word "tranny" inherently serves to "disparage, undermine, or hypersexualize" trans women - which, in many cases, it has been. But even if some speakers meant it that way, it is actually irrelevant to the freedom of individuals to mean whatever they intend to mean through language in the conventionally available forms that they choose.

    Notice how she expressed zero interest in actually having a discussion with that feller wearing the "O G TRAN E." shirt? She was just automatically offended based on her flawed interpretation, entirely irrelevant to his intent or the blatantly trans-positive context (he's trans and proud of it!!!!).

    She writes, 'I'm performing this benefit for another trans woman and here's this person flaunting the fact that he can use that word without consequence, and that he either hasn't thought it through enough to wonder whether ANYONE would be hurt by that, or else he doesn't care."

    Sounds to me like he could easily "hide" the fact that he's trans. And chooses not to - like many trans people of my genderation and those who aren't stuck in outdated flawed notions of self-censorship. Other trans individuals, including others who identify as MTF, also use the word "tranny" and other words to proudly and openly identify themselves as trans without fear. We do this despite potential discriminatory "consequence" and, with myself, also as a tool to positively educate and face intolerance head on.

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  7. [more!!!!!!!]

    This is particularly terrifying in cisgender-men-only spaces, like public restrooms where I'm openly wearing a shirt that identifies myself as trans (no matter what word is chosen to do so; my preference is for fun and silly, like Tranny-saurus Rex or Transtastic! or something along those lines). I guess that doesn't count as a potential "consequence" to her, even though I could easily choose to hide being trans? How would that help anyone in the world who's trans, gender-variant, or targeted for not being gender "appropriate"? I'm sorry, but the world is full of variation and bigots have to deal with that, one super sweet and adorably-dressed tranny at a time.

    I do agree with her that there are more individuals who identify as trans men, genderqueer, or FTM who use the word - and, in many cases, I'm betting it has a lot to do with the invisible nature of many trans men who absolutely refuse to live stealth and feel THAT proud, positive, and empowered to be trans. In solidarity with ALL who are in the trans spectrum; including those who are intersex, gender-variant, trans women, trans men, genderqueers, on and on and on and on. None of whom I'd ever dismiss or write off as "inappropriate".

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  8. Couldn't disagree with you more. "You look like a Tranny", "When I put on a dress I look like a Tranny" "THAT'S A TRANNY!" - none of these are used against Trans masculine people.

    It's a safe/ effortlessly empowerful word for the boys, because language is always safe for boys. List 5 terms for trans masculine people that reduce you to hypersexualized faux men, dismissing your gender as flawed/"doing it wrong"/not radical.

    You say that more trans male folks "reclaimed" (how can you REclaim what isn't YOURS?) the word than trans female people. Why do you think that's the case?

    I HAVE reclaimed the word. Trans male people undermine a very empowering act on my part by claiming the right to do so.

    Here is an idea "Shemale" used to be used for "masculine women" - you guys want a word, there is one that actually has a history and context ready for you.

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  9. "I do agree with her that there are more individuals who identify as trans men, genderqueer, or FTM who use the word - and, in many cases, I'm betting it has a lot to do with the invisible nature of many trans men who absolutely refuse to live stealth and feel THAT proud, positive, and empowered to be trans."

    Or perhaps it's because trans doodz have ZERO negative experience with the word, so it's easy as pie to "reclaim" - though one can hardly "REclaim" a word that it's used against you.

    Nice that you frame this as a pack of super empowered guys running around all empowered doing empowerful edgy stuff what trans women are... what exactly? OH right getting KILLED for being Trannies. When sarah Silverman says "when I get dressed up I look like a tranny" - then makes an uncomfortable face, she isn't talking about trans guys.

    I'm glad you can dismiss a well reasoned thoughtful discussion about reclamation of words, and loft Trans guys at the same time, dismissing the often contentious history and relationship with that word that trans women have and trans guys simply don't.

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  10. @laughriotgirl: Disagreement and discussion are good, so thank you for posting. I love it! :]

    There are a million things I hear in a day I could list that are utilized to write off transmen as faux men, like "runts with cunts", for example. The thing is, it would be impossible for -me- to list 5 terms specifically due to my argument above: What a language means is what people use it to mean and it is an evil principle that I entirely disagree with to think that we can tell other people what they mean by what they say, because of some theory we have that makes it mean something in particular to us, even when they obviously mean something else.

    In the case of language, it has absolutely everything to do with context and intent. Clearly, "runts with cunts" is intended to be malicious, dehumanizing, cruel, and transphobic. But someone could use various combinations of words within a malicious context to express violence and intolerance towards trans people.

    I never used the word "reclaim" - but the word IS mine. And the word is used towards me whether I am offended by it or not. And it was used towards me a million times before I even transitioned, where I was frequently read as MTF when I'd wear anything feminine. I even had transwomen attempt to help me "pass"; and I'd reply, "Oh, no. Thank you. I'm fine. I'd prefer to be clonky and gender variant. Thanks though!" ;]

    Just because I'm less visible to society (now) or many people don't even know that FTM transfolks *exist*, doesn't negate my ability to own and use in a positive context language that's directed towards me (and others).

    ###It's a safe/ effortlessly empowerful word for the boys, because language is always safe for boys.###

    That just isn't true. Not to mention that seeing this issue in such a binary context doesn't in the slightest do the trans-spectrum any justice. There aren't just "boys" and "girls" in the arena of trans experience and identities.

    Plus, irrelevant to language preference, t's rarely safe for any gender-variant person, especially living in a red state, to not do everything possible to conform to what's considered "gender appropriate". Period. The thing is, we should do everything we can to live out and proud despite that - because, in turn, culture adapts and becomes more tolerant, aware, and accepting. With a word that HAS been used against ME throughout my entire life (including pre-transition), I do have the right to reclaim it as something positive and empowering. And so do my cisgender friends, who I would absolutely LOVE wearing "Tranny!!!" shirts because it communicates, "If you now think I'm trans, that fucking rocks. Because being trans rocks, and I'd love to be read as trans!"

    ###Trans male people undermine a very empowering act on my part by claiming the right to do so. ###

    How so?

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  11. ### what exactly? OH right getting KILLED for being Trannies. When sarah Silverman says "when I get dressed up I look like a tranny" - then makes an uncomfortable face, she isn't talking about trans guys.###

    No, she isn't. Because she isn't a trans guy. Trans men have been attacked and killed also - I take it you've never seen the movie "Boys Don't Cry," which portrayed the life of a transMASCULINE teenager in the Midwest who was murdered?

    The thing is, this isn't a discussion about which "camp" on the binary "girl/boy" fence has more murders on their "side" in order to have the "right" to empower a word that IS used against them - or anyone who is gender-variant, for that matter. That's just silly. People who don't even identify as trans are discriminated against, attacked, or outright murdered simply for being GENDER VARIANT. If anyone doesn't "pass" as "gender appropriate", they frequently hit up against the wall of gender discrimination and cultural pressure/violence/discrmination to conform, repress, or hide. And that isn't an issue exclusive to an imaginary MTF/FTM binary.

    ###I'm glad you can dismiss a well reasoned thoughtful discussion about reclamation of words, and loft Trans guys at the same time, dismissing the often contentious history and relationship with that word that trans women have and trans guys simply don't.###

    How is it dismissing to read it and respond to it? That's a RESPONSE, or fuel for dialogue and discussion. Disagreement isn't synonymous with dismissal. :]

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  12. "And it was used towards me a million times before I even transitioned, where I was frequently read as MTF when I'd wear anything feminine."

    A slur used against trans-feminine people/ assumed to be trans-feminine people. It seems you were called Tranny when people thought you were a trans woman. This appears to back up the idea that this is a gendered insult that is not usually applied to trans masculine people as an intended insult to their trans masculine identities.

    Look at the shirt image, or the one from the first post. Trans feminine appearing dinosaurs. Are you are really promoting trans male visibility here, or are you furthering trans feminine oppression?

    "Trans men have been attacked and killed also"

    Check the statistics. You are comparatively far far safer than I am. The fact that "Boys Don't Cry" was made as a feature film with a well-known actress is rather telling. A film treating a trans woman's murder even remotely as a serious subject has yet to be made. But, while connected, is a different subject wrt M2F vs F2M acceptance.

    "The thing is, this isn't a discussion about which "camp" on the binary "girl/boy" fence has more murders on their "side" in order to have the "right" to empower a word that IS used against them - or anyone who is gender-variant, for that matter. That's just silly."

    It's easy to dismiss language as a precursor to violence and an aid to enabling that violence when you aren't affected as much by the violence. The ting is, Tranny, Shemale, Chick with a Dick, and on and on are used to minimize/justify the level of violence trans women experience.

    The above words serve to ungender us which in turn makes our murders so completely understandable and justified. We aren't people or women - we are "trannies".

    In the linked LJ thread, you see a number of comments from trans women of all ages saying That this hurts, triggers, marginalizes them or makes them feel unwelcome or unsafe. Then you have trans guys essentially telling them their reactions aren't valid. Do you see this as dismissive?

    "She seems to say that words cannot have more than one meaning: it means this and that's that - which is absurd." (You talking about the LJ thread)

    She doesn't say this. She is, however, discussing the meta context of language and how "Tranny" is always used in a gendered manner to police "real" feminity. To tell trans (and cis)women they are doing it wrong. I can actually understand that for a trans masculine person being told "you do being a woman wrong" could actually be a compliment or empowering. This is why I have reclaimed the word - because I don't do femininity "wrong" - by all accounts I do it very well. This is also why trans guy claiming the word undermines trans women REclaiming it.

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  13. @laughriotgirl: Yes, the word "tranny" IS frequently used as a slur against trans-feminine people who are perceived as gender-variant - I'm not disagreeing with you on that. BUt it is not exclusive to those who identify as MTF - it is also used against people who are gender-variant, period (and not just feminine); amongst a whole slew of slurs on top of a mountain of ignorance, intolerance, and maliciousness in a world where most cisgender people are only aware of and accept binary genders.

    Various words have been used towards me pre and post-transition; but it is not the words in and of themselves that I have a problem with. It's the context and malicious intent. Someone could tell another human being, "You're fat and ugly and I want you to die." without using a single derogatory term and communicate a great deal of hate and maliciousness.

    The only difference I've experienced pre and post is that a number of slurs have changed from "tranny" to "fag" or "queer" - which I also choose to own and utilize in an empowering, positive way.

    ###Trans feminine appearing dinosaurs.###

    The dinosaur is intentionally trans-feminine, per my request. The reason I wanted it this way is due to the fact that I am more masculine in appearance and desire people to be a bit confused by the shirt. For all they know I'm cisgender, a trans man, a trans-masculine woman, a drag queen - who the fuck knows. Who cares! The word "tranny" denotes "transgender" and a silly femme dinosaur communicates that I'm proud to be gender variant and somewhere in the trans spectrum, femme/masculine/combination; doesn't matter. Everyone should go around communicating that they'd love to be seen as a tranny - because us trannies rock, and there's nothing to be ashamed about or to hide.

    ###Check the statistics. You are comparatively far far safer than I am.###

    That depends a great deal on how gender conforming you or I appear and where we live. The more gender conforming one appears (assuming (s/z)he's not "discovered" - especially alone with violent discriminatory men, for example), the safer. The less gender conforming, the greater the risk.

    As one self-identified genderqueer trans-feminine individual puts it, "The other side of this challenge is if I wear female clothing or dress androgynously, but don’t try to “pass” as a woman, I’m more vulnerable to experiencing possible discrimination or violence. I’m not going to even bring up public restrooms, suffice it to say that while I use the one that pertains to my birth sex, I am occasionally told “Ma’am, this is the wrong one".

    i.e. when she's clearly gender variant ='s greater risk.

    Location-wise, if you live in a blue state or a more liberal, LGBT-friendly area, you're 80 gazillion times safer than someone who's gender variant living in a small town in a red state. Someone doesn't even have to be trans - they're at risk for violence if they stray at all from the two options of either hyper-masculine "man" or a hyper-feminine "woman".

    Trans-masculine individuals are not all one way with one identity; or even the same level of "masculinity" or definitions - there are many trans men who are incredibly feminine and still identify as trans men. There are trans guys Who are gay, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, queer, on and on. There are trans men with breasts or who don't use hormones at all. There are trans women who "pass" (which is a term I hate and don't believe in; but in this context I mean "passing" as "gender appropriate" to mainstream binary culture) especially now that many trans women are able to transition via hormones earlier in life or delay male puberty - and there are those who have a very strong trans identity and absolutely love being gender variant and identify as genderqueer and have absolutely no desire to "pass".

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  14. [more!!! ohmygawd!!!]

    The thing I love about the word "Tranny" the most is that it's technically short for TRANSGENDER - not just TRANS WOMEN; it's non-gender-specific, it avoids the usual clash between FTM/MTF/genderqueer/drag queen/androgynous/gender-variant/transsexual etc. It is an absolutely INCLUSIVE term. With myself, for example, I do NOT identify as FTM or "Man" and saying "transsexual" is so long and clinical and doesn't at all encompass my identity. "Tranny" fits my identity much more accurately. It's cute, simpler, empowering, and positive. Tranny shows that we are not a homogenous community with one voice and one identity, and has the potential to be absolutely positive if we choose it. I also identify as "Queer" for the same reason; it's a word that's NOT gender-specific, it doesn't adhere to the gender binary, it's inclusive of the fact that there are many unique gender identities within the queer community, some in between and others overlapping with existing LGBTQ categories - oh, and it fits me.

    As anyone in the very diverse and complex trans community (not just MTF, even though they're the vast majority currently) use it in a postitive light, tranny is another way of saying yes, I am and so what! Got a problem?

    Plus, sociologists often argue that one way a group of victimized or marginalized people can begin to overcome this status is to reclaim demeaning vocabulary – a process called amelioration. It's a process that is inevitable and positive. :]

    ### The above words serve to ungender us which in turns makes our murders so completely understandable and justified. We aren't people or women - we are "trannies".###

    I understand what you're saying, but I disagree that the WORDS cause and perpetuate violence. I suspect that a highly-pressured and rigid binary gender system where people are categorised as either male or female and entirely fails to take into account the diversity of gender and the ways in which gender can be experienced has way more to do with it. Oh, and ignorance, too. And hate.

    When it comes to words, I say, expression not suppression. When good-hearted people get on their high horse about allowing certain words, that horse is about to go down a slippery slope.

    ###I can actually understand that for a trans masculine person being told "you do being a woman wrong" could actually be a compliment or empowering.###

    Please don't assume that the times I've been targeted, harassed, violated, and discriminated against were ever a "compliment" or "empowering". They weren't. They were terrifying, dehumanizing, infuriating, traumatic and demeaning. Just because I've chosen to respond in a way that I feel is empowering and you disagree doesn't warrant writing off my life-long experience of gender variant discrimination as a "compliment" of some sort. That's way insulting, riotgirl. Be nice, k? Discussion! Respect! :]

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  15. "Yes, the word "tranny" IS frequently used as a slur against trans-feminine people who are perceived as gender-variant"

    I'd agree more if you removed the "gender-variant" part. It's commonly used to police very binary ID'd cis and trans women. Have a little too much make-up? Tranny! Wearing a shorter than expected skirt? Tranny! Not comfortable in an evening gown and look it? - TRANNY!!!! "You look like a tranny" is generally not said to indicate one looks like a woman in a suit.

    "But it is not exclusive to those who identify as MTF" - Slurs get used against all types of folks. I've been called racial slurs simply because it was the worst thing someone could think up at the time. I would imagine that POCs would be correct in feeling I had not real claim to to the N-word.

    RE: Trans-Feminine Dinosaur - You talked a little about trans-masculine invisibility, and I have heard this used by no few trans guy and trans-masculine GQs. You are still perpetuating "Tranny" = Dude in a Dress. Any confusion, negative reactions, or positive comments will be the result of the link between the word and trans women not trans guys.

    RE: Statistics: No, really, look at the TDoR list. Locally, we go back over previous years to include all the past trans-masculine people so it doesn't seem like a bunch of murdered women. I'm not saying that conforming to gendered expectations doesn't confer safety - I'm living proof (as are the vast majority of trans guys if you are honest). Let's not get into the "discovery" trope WRT trans women's murders - kay?

    Also, look at the locations of folks on the TDoR. In the US these women aren't killed in tiny towns in the Bible-Belt. DC, New York, Miami, San Francisco...

    How ever else a trans-masculine individual identifies, he still benefits from the positioning of masculinity (even female masculinity) over femininity. Also, for trans women "passability" (hate that word as well) does not preclude a strong trans identity. Having a strong trans identity does not imply a genderqueer identity or desire for gender variance.

    (Cont. later)

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  16. "It (Tranny) is an absolutely INCLUSIVE term." - Except when it's used I guess. It may not be short for "Trans Woman" (though that could be argued), but it is unevenly applied to MEAN "Trans Woman" - or cis woman who look so ridiculous the worst insult is to call her a trans woman.

    "Plus, sociologists often argue that one way a group of victimized or marginalized people can begin to overcome this status is to reclaim demeaning vocabulary – a process called amelioration. It's a process that is inevitable and positive."

    Yeah, well aware here. That gets to the root of the issue, and the one I keep bring up. In order to RECLAIM a word, one needs a CLAIM to the word. While I have been called "fag" no few times, and I embraced it from 15 to 20, I don't any longer. Why? It's not my word, not my insult, and not mine to decide is actually empowering. For me to decide that I'm empowered by the word would be DIS-EMPOWERING to gay men. Just because I am likely be called "fag" when I tell someone I'm trans (and my bf definitely is incorrectly called one) doesn't mean either of us can reclaim language by proxy and call it "empowerment".

    "I disagree that the WORDS cause and perpetuate violence." - The words codify the environment and the dehumanization. This allows the violence and marginalization to occur with near impunity. I'm not a woman, but a "tranny", I'm a failed caricature of a woman to be mocked, ridiculed and ultimately killed.

    "When it comes to words, I say, expression not suppression. When good-hearted people get on their high horse about allowing certain words, that horse is about to go down a slippery slope."

    That guts the complete point of reclaiming word as empowerment. If all words are up for grabs regardless of history, context, or meta-meaning then any old European guy can stake out a claim to the oppression Africans and pick and choose what is and isn't insulting, hurtful, or empowering. He can do this without consulting with the folks who have to actually live with the consequences or taking their criticisms seriously.

    This brings me to another point about "tranny". When used by/about trans-masculine folks it's seen as edgy and radical and ironic (as most things with trans guy ultimately become thanks to lesbian exotification). When applied to trans feminine folks it implies being shallow, vapid, and apolitical. Trans women are often dismissed within the GLB (trans male) community for being all of these things - with "tranny" thrown in to drive home that point. (Visit any post on the gay guy blogs like Qweerty, JoeMyGod, Towlerod and see how tranny is used to undermine the voices of trans women and not trans men). Tranny is, ultimately, used by cis people to minimize trans women. Increasingly this is being done by trans guys who are also trying to claim the word as their own. Some "solidarity"

    Sorry I came off as dismissing your experience. That wasn't my intent, and I honestly apologize.

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  17. @laughriotgirl: To my understanding thus far, you've expressed the perspective that there's "trans-feminine" and "trans-masculine"; and that anyone deemed "trans-masculine" does not have the right to use the word "tranny".

    Do you agree with me that there's more to the story than just "men" and "women"? If you do, then you should realize that transgender is an umbrella term for a vast spectrum of identities, sexes, genders, and the varied ways that's all expressed.

    "Tranny", in the usage of some within the trans spectrum, is short for "transgender" and not specific to trans-women. It has a history of being used as a derogatory term towards gender-variance (particularly trans-feminine who are assumed to be "men" dressed as "women", cisgender/transgender/intersex/etc.) because we live in a world where everyone is expected to be cisgender and either "male" or "female" - and anything "other" is, by default, lesser-than, faux, or negative.

    But being trans is anything but lesser-than, faux, or negative; and I won't ever bow down to the assumption that calling anyone trans, tranny, or transgender is inherently derogatory. That's giving the bigots more ammunition. They don't own it - we do.

    The reality is this: I am trans. I have been my entire life in many different ways. Just as you are. We are very different trans people with different experiences, perspectives, and identities - and that's a beautiful thing. I'm also just as entitled to utilize a term I feel is inclusive, all-encompassing of a slew of identities and various forms of gender expression (i.e. short for "transgender/transsexual/genderqueer/queer") as you are.

    You seem to be incredibly determined to a.) paint trans people in a binary feminine/masculine manner similar to some radical feminist patriarchy binary and b.) dictate language power over those you determine are "masculine" because those who are "feminine" are designated as the "sainted victims" while those who are deemed "masculine" are oppressive. And so goes the frequent case with this type of ideology where it supplies a language through which it is easy to be a victim and always someone or something that can be blamed. In this case, you're blaming anyone trans-masculine as part of an overall oppressive regime.

    But this is a "truth" of yours that is entirely contrary to reality, human nature, and real-life experience, as demonstrated in my arguments above (like when a cisgender woman could be read as a "tranny"; i.e. communicating "You're gender-variant and that's bad! Be embarassed!"). Your approach is to eliminate what you consider to be a disparaging, discriminatory, or offensive word when used by the oppressive "masculine" - entirely at the expense of clarity, inclusiveness and logic.

    ###You are still perpetuating "Tranny" = Dude in a Dress. Any confusion, negative reactions, or positive comments will be the result of the link between the word and trans women not trans guys.###

    You fail to realize that there are trans guys who ARE dudes in dresses. We're not all one way with one mode of expression and the same little "masculine" outfits. ;]

    However, you did bring up something true and unfortunate for dudes. It's much harder for anyone perceived as dude to express in a feminine manner. It's like the 1950s for guys (or those read as such in an abusively gendered world) when it comes to how limiting it is for gender expression. :(

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  18. [more!!! ahhhh!]

    In this age and thanks to feminism, girls can be Superman or fairies, lumberjacks or princesses. Girls, in many cases, have the whole range of gender expression open to them. We may call them tom-boys but climbing trees and playing matchbox cars is a possibility for girls. Despite the fact that I experienced a great deal of discrimination when I was perceived as a she, I was entirely free to dress however I chose. Not so for boys -- from the clothes they wear to the toys they play with -- there is a proscribed set of options. Boys not only will be boys, we seem determined to ensure that’s the case. And this is not just a re-enforcement of the importance of masculinity above all things -- it’s an implicit and powerful devaluation of what's feminine in all of us. Now that I'm perceived as he, I feel much more concerned about physical violence if I'm openly trans or stray from anything masculine.

    Now why in the HELL would I ever want to play into that? Now that I'm perceived as "man" the only option available to me is anything appropriately deemed "masculine"? I'm now magically transformed into a privileged oppressor because I'm hairier and smellier than I was a year ago? Isn't that the kind of bullshit we should be challenging by just simply being ourselves and proudly while maintaining a good sense of humor?

    As Andrea Fay Friedman (the actress with downs syndrome who Sarah Palin flipped out about in an episode of Family Guy she was offended by) wrote: In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.

    Well put!

    ###How ever else a trans-masculine individual identifies, he still benefits from the positioning of masculinity (even female masculinity) over femininity.###

    Uh oh, another underlying core belief we disagree on. However, I do like the features we do share when it comes to our mutual concern for feminine individuals and a determination to see them fairly treated. We very much need that concern and energy, but we don't need militant gynocentrism and misandrism.

    It is true that there is a great deal of discrimination against femininity. There's a strong history, for example, of looking down on hyper-feminine lesbians; but then a slew of lipstick lesbians got sick of it and began rebelling against ridiculous andrognous ideals that feminists like Ann Ferguson and Joyce Trebilcot celebrate (I'm more in the camp of equity feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers, who struggles for equal legal and civil rights instead of accenting the differences of genders, perpetuating the abusive gender binary, and adancing personal agendas).

    Or how the directory of a gender identity research treatment program at UCLA reported that unlike their "tomboy" counterparts, "sissy" boys were quickly marked for rejection. The boys in this program all had suffered harassment. One seven-year-old boy, it was reported, had his shirt torn off by classmates to see if he had female breasts.

    And there is also masculine abuse and pressure gender-wise, like lower college graduation rates, being entirely disposable culturally (for example, some years 100% of all worker-related deaths are men; and who cares?), higher suicide rates, health care disparities, male-only military conscription, - a number of problems stemming from perspective of life-styles, stresses, discrimination, physiological habits, emotional repressions, and sociological pressures.

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  19. [even more! ohmygawd!]

    But the thing is, in this discussion the complexities of gender have been ironed out, reduced to a series of reassuring but stupid assumptions. The feminine principle is essentially generous and virtuous; masculinity is its opposite: selfish, untrustworthy. So culturally hard-wired is this bias that most of us take it for granted but, just now and then, small instances of nonsense emerge which remind us how addled our thinking about gender has become.

    It IS nonsense - and trans exemplifies and challenges this (not just transsexuals; all gender-variance!). There are many people who are suffering under the thumb of rigid gender abuse; all of whom have the right to be themselves. If I want to wear a dress, I shouldn't be at risk for doing so or even automatically assumed to be "trans" just as women who wore pants in the early 1900s were. And if I don't, I shouldn't be told that I'm an oppressor who doesn't have the right to utilize empowering language.

    ###Also, look at the locations of folks on the TDoR. In the US these women aren't killed in tiny towns in the Bible-Belt. DC, New York, Miami, San Francisco..###

    It's true that prejudiced people are everywhere, and yes, that includes major cities with large LGBT populations. Larger populations in general, statistically, have more violence overall. More people, see. But that doesn't negate the reality that smaller towns ARE more dangerous and violent for anyone "other", per capita on a much smaller-population scale.

    ###I'm not a woman, but a "tranny", I'm a failed caricature of a woman to be mocked, ridiculed and ultimately killed. ###

    Not if I were to call you a tranny. From me, the word would mean that you're brave, beautiful, and entirely woman. And hence, the beauty of empowering language. ;]

    See, the thing is, from early on I learned fast that with self-expression you have no duty to placate or appease other people. If you do that, you're not being honest to yourself and your life becomes miserable and suffocating. So self-expression culminates in the right to offend. It's inevitable.

    Let my mind and others in the trans community be free to reason rather than just emote and to pursue objective truth rather than subjective virtue. I'm not your oppressor - I'm your friend. Someone once said, “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”. That statement is as oft quoted in these situations as the situations themselves arise.

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  20. I'm going to take a bit before I comment on these three posts out of utter frustration and head explosion.

    The reasons are:

    1) You seem to think I'm completely ignorant on Feminism, gender theory, and queer politics. Rather than address my points you seem like you are explaining to me what's really happening as if I don't have any context.

    2) You are coming across very much like an MRA (Men's Rights Activist). I'm trying to tell you what's going on with trans women/ trans-feminine people and how language and the corresponding meta conversations translate into oppressions. You, OTOH, are telling me guys/ trans masculine folks have it soooo much worse.

    3) Telling me, a trans woman, as if it's some revelation that I could never have known that sissy boys get a rawer deal with gender policing. Yeah, kinda living that here.

    4) The lack of attention to "Tranny" being applied to women woman-appearing people. You want a conversation about the word being "cool" and "empowering" and all the bad stuff isn't really what you mean. While I, and a number of trans women in the linked LJ are saying "No, it's complicated for us and makes us fell unsafe, unwelcome, and hurt" When there is such a strong divide on something that is so clearly drawn between two camps, there is something at play. That something, so seem unwilling to address or even allow as an option.

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  21. Damn I came so late to this party!!!!

    @Laughriotgirl ; I want to address your number 4 point above.

    I think its completely appalling that ANYONE has ever made you feel unsafe, unwelcome, hurt, and less of a women by calling you a tranny. Its so hard in our time and age when so many words do cause individuals to take sides. You talked about being called Fag earlier on, and how you had to “unclaim” that word, in a sense. I get that, I’ve had to do the same with Dyke.

    I think the thing that both of you need to understand. Regardless of how many incidents you can site that back up your side of the argument. Words invoke a wide range of emotions in people. You can reclaim a word all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that when you look at a this t-shirt you hurt because of something that’s happened to you in the past. Yet, that’s not Mel’s fault, and it’s not any trans masculine “Tranny” word loving individuals fault either. It’s the fault of ignorance and stupidity.

    If we choose to use tranny as a positive term regardless of our trans identity status, that’s ok! If the word tranny envokes pride in me, then hell yes I am proud to call myself a tranny. I am proud to wear shirts that show trannys, even if it is a tranny dinosaur, I’m proud to stand up and fight for the rights of any individual who is simply trying to be who they feel they really are. There is no right or wrong in this argument. I can tell you numorus times where I being more masculine have been called a tranny when I put on a dress, I’ve even been called tranny in situations before I even knew what a tranny really was. I really think it all comes down to your intent, and the intent here is not malicious, its not harming, its quite the opposite. We all fight the same battle here regardless of gender.

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  22. @laughriotgirl: Don't let your head explode and stop feeling frustrated! This is good and positive, and I'm excited for your thoughtful response! :]

    To address your comments thus far,

    1.) That is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I think, actually. It's very clear to me that you're intelligent, thoughtful, and, above all, entirely passionate. That's why you read my blog post in the first place, instigated discussion, and come back to read my feedback and respond with your own. I enjoy your thoughtful responses and genuinely read every.single.word you write carefully, think about what you're expressing, and do my best to respond as clearly as I can articulate.

    2.) Everyone should be a men's rights activist, in my opinion. And a women's rights activist. And a trans rights activist - and a gender freedom altogether activist!

    I never said or even implied that trans-masculine folks have it "worse". I was giving examples of how notions of gender dualism are very harmful to all individuals. This is actually a perfect illustration of the problem when even daring to mention something like "some years 100% of ALL worker-related deaths are men" is automatically read as oppressive and not even worth discussing or thinking about; written off entirely.

    I wouldn't assert that my experiences have been "worse" than yours, for example. Just different, but similar in the context of a culture that perpetuates and reinforces the underlying belief that gender consists of two exclusive types: femine and masculine. End of story. The expression of what's consider "masculine", for example, is not even the same within a microcosm of culture. Plus, many who look and consider themselves male frequently act in definitively feminine ways.

    It's also entirely untrue that feminine in its various representations is inherently "weaker" or "less" than "masculine".

    3.) I know you are. And I'll go out on a limb and assume that you've likely dealt with bullshit feminine discrimination your entire life. Where expressing anything feminine is punished and looked down upon, and being expected to conform to masculine pressure. On the flip side, my entire life I have been discriminated against for not adhering to the one.other.gender.role prescribed to me: feminine. I was frequently taunted for being a "tranny", for being a "dyke", for being a "fag". I had girls leave the locker room when I'd enter, or scream when I'd walk into a bathroom for as long as I can remember. I've had full-grown men yell at me, "You want to be a man? Then I'll treat you like a fucking man!" in order to rationalize physical violence against a "woman". The list goes on and on.

    The moral of my story isn't that my experiences have been "worse" than yours - they are different; and the moral I'm attempting to illustrate to you is this: when individuals enforce gender norms and expectations, and, in the process, construct gendered systems of dominance and power it hurts us all. And you're doing exactly that by getting stuck in this psychology of ironing out my gender expression, crumpling into a tiny little suffocating ball, and tossing it away into a garbage can you've deemed oppressive and call "masculine" like I'm on some far mega-distant end of a two-option scale. Even to the point that, to you, I don't even have the right to language if I'm not "feminine" enough. This isn't reality, and it's JUST as bad as someone masculine telling you not to "worry your pretty little head" about something. Both are sexist, hurtful, and shouldn't be reinforced.

    4.) There aren't just "two camps".

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  23. @Kegg

    "I think its completely appalling that ANYONE has ever made you feel unsafe, unwelcome, hurt, and less of a women by calling you a tranny."

    Yeah, it's why I'm rarely in Queer/Trans "Safe" Space these days. I'm hardly alone in this feeling, lots of trans women are are even more queer identified than I are leaving these communities because of this and other related issues.

    "You can reclaim a word all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that when you look at a this t-shirt you hurt because of something that’s happened to you in the past."

    I'd classify the feeling as similar to a guy wearing a shirt with "Bitch" on it.

    Yet, that’s not Mel’s fault, and it’s not any trans masculine “Tranny” word loving individuals fault either. It’s the fault of ignorance and stupidity."

    While the personal history around specific uses of the word belong to specific individuals. "Fault" (and I'm not here assigning blame) does lie in not considering the complicated relationship that many trans women have with the word. Or considering that, and deciding that making a statement is more important/ more fun/ should be universally empowering/ whatever. Not inherently "bad", but not without it's own set of problems.

    "If we choose to use tranny as a positive term regardless of our trans identity status, that’s ok!"

    Christian Seriano calling cis women "Hot Tranny Mess" - is totally OK? He thought it was positive in an ironic/ funny sort of way and he has a trans identity (as in non-trans).

    "I can tell you numorus times where I being more masculine have been called a tranny when I put on a dress, I’ve even been called tranny in situations before I even knew what a tranny really was."

    This again affirms the idea that "Tranny" is a gendered insult unevenly applied to trans-feminine people. Something that has yet to be acknowledged.

    "I really think it all comes down to your intent, and the intent here is not malicious, its not harming, its quite the opposite."

    And if the end result is trans women, trans-feminine people feeling increasingly unwelcome in our own communities, unsupported, and silenced that's OK because that's not the intent?

    A couple months ago, I went to see the Athens Boys Choir in a local coffee place. I was pretty excited as I've recently come back to what I consider my home town.

    I left before the show was over. Having cis lesbians I knew call themselves "tranny chasers" (Like it was going out of style) and trans men/ trans masculine folks dropping the word like it was a collective shared first name made me uncomfortable. I was pretty OK because there was a good mix of folks at the show - uncomfortable, but managed.

    The final blow was when I went outside for some air and a conversation with a couple (I assume given the location) trans guys and cis women. One of the women actually complained that there were "so many shemales" in the crowd". The quick and ready agreement that "Yeah there are" from the guys let me know what I needed to know.

    "We all fight the same battle here regardless of gender."

    I increasingly wonder about this.

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  24. @laughriotgirl: Hot tranny messes are the.best! Have a sense of humor. I'm a hot mess to the max!

    ###This again affirms the idea that "Tranny" is a gendered insult unevenly applied to trans-feminine people. Something that has yet to be acknowledged. ###

    I have acnowledged this repeatedly in my responses, actually. It's a genderened insult derived from the perpetuation of the idea that there are only two very distinct modes of expression: masculine and feminine - and men are all masculine and women are all feminine: a notion that you're perpetuating here, also.

    As I responded before in direct acknowledgement, in this day and age there's a very limited proscribed set of options anyone perceived as "man" has in regards to gender expression. Thanks to feminism (yay!!), anyone perceived as "woman" have a whole range of gender expression open to them. For trans-women, many are mistakingly perceived as "men", and it's very upsetting if a "man" expresses himself in a feminine manner - this entirely stems from discrimination against those who are expected to conform to the box of "masculine" (which is very limiting; likened to the world of the early 1900s for women).


    And also because most people automatically accent the differences of genders and perpetuating the abusive gender binary. Culturally, trans-men and trans-women don't even exist - only "men in dresses" do, which is bullshit and needs to be challenged. Which I do, every single day, living proudly and openly in complete violation of their assumptions about gender, what's appropriate for the box I've been alotted in their irrationally polarized minds - which includes wearing my adorable tranny shirt. :]

    ###One of the women actually complained that there were "so many shemales" in the crowd". ###

    Exactly.

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  25. @laughriotgirl: Watch the video of Bill O'Reilly comparing transgender people to Ewoks, for example.

    Trans-women and trans-men DO NOT EXIST - only "men who dress like women" or "women who dress like men" - and how dare a "man" stray from his extremely proscribed and hyper-limited set of options when it comes to gender expression!

    You can paint this all about how "masculine" rocks and is powerful and "feminine" is victim and oppressed - but it's not, at all, that simple. In reality, most people are a great range of masculine and feminine - characteristics that aren't superior/inferior; just different.

    Anyone, trans or not, who do not fit in the culturally enforced narrow confines of binary gender (especially men) end up suffering and being abused for it; most of whom do everything they can TO fit, at the expense of truly being ourselves. :(

    ReplyDelete
  26. ###One of the women actually complained that there were "so many shemales" in the crowd". ###

    Exactly.

    - Even reading with the context of the previous paragraph, I am not sure what you mean here?

    "Hot tranny messes are the.best! Have a sense of humor. I'm a hot mess to the max!"

    because being offended can only mean a lack of humor. It can mean that comments don't happen in a vacuum, that people are not islands, that there isn't cultural context and history - it's all about the all mighty great arbiter of what's funny.... the one who wants to freely offend without criticism.

    If my position (and many other trans women's) on this is reduced to the above then I'm probably done.

    Trans women will continue to slowly move out of "trans space" and cis women "chasers" won't have to worry about "shemales" in their midst. It's happening as trans women increasingly feel silenced, shamed, and decidedly unwelcome. Transsytastic huh?

    ReplyDelete
  27. "I have acnowledged this repeatedly in my responses, actually. It's a genderened insult derived from the perpetuation of the idea that there are only two very distinct modes of expression: masculine and feminine - and men are all masculine and women are all feminine: a notion that you're perpetuating here, also."

    Actually, no you haven't. You did say:

    "Tranny", in the usage of some within the trans spectrum, is short for "transgender" and not specific to trans-women. It has a history of being used as a derogatory term towards gender-variance (particularly trans-feminine who are assumed to be "men" dressed as "women", cisgender/transgender/intersex/etc.) because we live in a world where everyone is expected to be cisgender and either "male" or "female" - and anything "other" is, by default, lesser-than, faux, or negative."

    ...not specific to trans women...

    Even in the top quote, you skirt the issue of real life application of the word, who it targets directly and indirectly in the VAST majority of instances. You are making it about not conforming to gendered expressions, when it's actually often applied to very gender-conforming women. Mr Seriano specifiaclly means it as code for ugly and/or poorly dressed. Ann Coulter is VERY gender conforming, yet has the word used in nearly every "progresive" blog about her. It's used to tell people you aren't trying hard enough or you are trying too hard at being a woman/feminine and we see through your ruse - and your ugly.

    "For trans-women, many are mistakingly perceived as "men", and it's very upsetting if a "man" expresses himself in a feminine manner - this entirely stems from discrimination against those who are expected to conform to the box of "masculine" (which is very limiting; likened to the world of the early 1900s for women)."

    I get what you say, but not your conclusion - rather where your conclusion ends. I'd take it further to say that boys/men transgressing "masculinity" outside of very specific instances is so powerfully punished because of the positioning of "femininity" as "worse". Like being gay man, it is a betrayal of manhood and lowering ones self to the status of woman. The end result is pain for the individual perceived to be a man - fully acknowledged here. The root of that pain )as I have experienced it) is the positioning of masculinity as positive and femininity as negative.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @laughriotgirl: That entire statement is entirely inclusive of trans-women, actually. It's trans-women EXCLUSIVE, however, because the concept we're discussing isn't that simplistic. Just because -you- perceive it as being specific to trans-women doesn't make that reality; and doesn't necessitate that I hop on to the same bandwagon in order to articulate a response.

    It IS about not conforming to binary gender, which is much more limited for anyone perceived as "man" (which, in some cases, leaks into mistakingly perceiving trans-women as "men"). There's a great deal of discrimination towards someone who is seen as a "man" wearing makeup, a dress, or expressing one's self in a feminine manner - and this discrimination also carries over to women who wear "too much makeup" or who appear masculine while expressing effeminately (i.e. gender-variant; not trans-women) and aren't expressing their expected femininity "appropriately" or pulling it off well according to rigid, irrational, and abusive binary standards that generate a great deal of suffering for those of us who don't "fit".

    In contrast to your assertion that it's specific to feminine-oriented discrimination and not to anyone perceived as "man" being extremely limited in gender expression; imagine the hundreds of years pre early 1900s when a very similar phenomena occurred for women who started to wear pants, exhibit "masculine" characteristics, etc.

    They were considered to be "cross-dressers", frequently physically assaulted, and there were even literally prohibitions against girls and women wearing trousers in schools, the workplace, and restaurants.

    Why was that so stringently repressed when, according to your logic, "masculine" is so encouraged? Because "masculine" is inherently stronger and better as you continuously purport ... or uh, how about because of the strong rise of feminism, which opened a whole range of options of gender expression to women?

    Which is a GOOD thing. And by saying this it doesn't auto-negate discrimination against feminine, as you may end up reading into it (because, as you've expressed before, even daring to say anything about "masculine" discrimination is somehow a hierarchy of "it's worse!!!", when, actually, I mean that it's present in order to illustrate points in regards to gender discrimination; albeit in different forms).

    And this is exactly why I don't respond well to your expectation that I self-censor and give oppressive power to a word that HAS BEEN USED AGAINST ME REPEATEDLY (also in contrast to your assertion that it's trans-women-specific) throughout my ENTIRE LIFE and doesn't inherently mean JUST ONE THING. I have already been a party to and witnessed its utilization in a whole slew of entirely inclusive, positive, and empowering ways by a whole slew of individuals within and outside of the trans-sprectrum; also negating your assumption that it's always, inevitably and inherently negative and deragoty.

    You haven't once directly responded to the points I've made in terms of non-binary gender expression abuse and instead opt to simplify and discriminate against me because you see me as "masculine" in a fantasy realm of two very distinct hierarchal options. This thread is littered with your frustration with the fact that I won't stay in my place, absorb, and mindlessly agree with you. That's unfair, discriminatory, and insulting.

    Cut that out. I entirely respect you and want to discuss and exchange ideas. I would never, ever treat you the same because you express effeminately. That would be discriminatory, too. You're entirely entitled to language you deem empowering, and so am I. Especially in a world that isn't all that friendly towards those of us who don't fit in those suffocating little binary packages.

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  29. *NOT trans-women EXCLUSIVE, I meant.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "That entire statement is entirely inclusive of trans-women, actually. It's (Isn't) trans-women EXCLUSIVE, however, because the
    concept we're discussing isn't that simplistic. Just because -you- perceive it as being specific to trans-women doesn't make that reality; and doesn't necessitate that I hop on to the same bandwagon in order to articulate a response."

    Google the word and see who it's applied to in the meta context. As I said above the word targets femininity in the VAST majority of cases, inclusive of the examples provided here. Even Chaz Bono, while Tranny is certanly used in comments threads about his transition, "Shim" seems to be the more popular ungendering term for him. In reality, many trans women seem to have a problem with the word, as evidenced by the LJ thread, the discussions around TOTWK, posts on Questioning Transphobia, and the article "What Trans Misogyny Looks Like" on the Bilerico Project. It appears far fewer trans male/ trans masculine./ Female Assigned GQ (etc) have that issue.. why do you suppose that is?

    "It IS about not conforming to binary gender, which is much more limited for anyone perceived as "man" (which, in some cases, leaks into mistakenly perceiving trans-women as "men")."


    Are we still discussing "Tranny"? Is that only tangentially related to trans women now? Am I totally misunderstanding you here?

    "There's a great deal of discrimination towards someone who is seen as a "man" wearing makeup, a dress, or expressing one's self in a feminine manner - and this discrimination also carries over to women who wear "too much makeup" or who appear masculine while expressing effeminately
    (i.e. gender-variant; not trans-women) and aren't expressing their expected femininity "appropriately" or pulling it off well according to rigid, irrational, and abusive binary standards that generate a great deal of suffering for those of us who don't "fit"."

    I hope this isn't up for debate? Because I have to say again that I spent the most vulnerable part of my life living that.

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  31. "In contrast to your assertion that it's specific to feminine-oriented discrimination and not to anyone perceived as "man" being extremely limited in gender expression; imagine the hundreds of years pre early 1900s when a very similar phenomena occurred for women who started to wear
    pants, exhibit "masculine" characteristics, etc.

    They were considered to be "cross-dressers", frequently physically assaulted, and there were even literally prohibitions against girls and women wearing trousers in schools, the workplace, and restaurants.

    Why was that so stringently repressed when, according to your logic, "masculine" is so encouraged? Because "masculine" is inherently stronger and better as you continuously purport ... or uh, how about because of the strong rise of feminism, which opened a whole range of options of gender expression to women?"

    Why? because women had to be kept in their place as subservient. The strong rise in Feminism did largely cause this...kinda. You mentioned before the enforced androgyny of 2nd wave 70's Feminism. At that point all things traditionally "feminine" was suspect. This was easy to pass into the mainstream, because... *well, why wouldn't a woman want to more like the men-folk.. stands to reason really* (masculinity positioned above femininity) - are you in disagreement with that? That maleness is held in higher regard than femaleness? Because I've lived that power shift.


    "Which is a GOOD thing. And by saying this it doesn't auto-negate discrimination against feminine, as you may end up reading into it (because, as you've expressed before, even daring to say anything about "masculine" discrimination is somehow a hierarchy of "it's worse!!!", when, actually, I mean that it's present in order to illustrate points in regards to gender discrimination; albeit in different forms)."

    OK I've avoided this because I'm afraid it will just be a huge cluster. When you initially brought these up, it seemed like a big distraction and an attempt to bait me. Also an attempt to diminish what I was talking about wrt trans women. Obviously sexism hurts everyone, and individual
    pain should not be discounted in lieu of over-arching cultural oppression. I'm not however on-board with Equity Feminism which is predicated on there being an actual even power distribution with different pools of power roughly evenly divided between "men" and "women".

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  32. "And this is exactly why I don't respond well to your expectation that I self-censor and give oppressive power to a word that HAS BEEN USED AGAINST ME REPEATEDLY (also in contrast to your assertion that it's trans-women-specific) throughout my ENTIRE LIFE and doesn't inherently mean JUST ONE THING. I have already been a party to and witnessed its utilization in a whole slew of entirely inclusive, positive, and empowering ways by a whole slew of individuals within and outside of the trans-sprectrum; also negating your assumption that it's always, inevitably and inherently negative and deragoty."

    I have never said it's always, inevitably and inherently negative and derogatory. I have said that for trans women there is a complicated relationship with the word. It's not just me who has this daft idea the word is loaded. A large swath of the trans woman community feels this way. A large number of trans women feel alienated when it seems like we are being forced to either suck it up or get lost.

    "You haven't once directly responded to the points I've made in terms of non-binary gender expression abuse and instead opt to simplify and discriminate against me because you see me as "masculine" in a fantasy realm of two very distinct hierarchical options. This thread is littered
    with your frustration with the fact that I won't stay in my place, absorb, and mindlessly agree with you. That's unfair, discriminatory, and insulting"

    I am sorry if I have been insulting. I'm willing to listen if you would like to point out where/how I was simplifying you/your gender. As to my
    frustrations, they all center around the feeling that I'm either not communicating to you why I feel the use of "Tranny" is problematic or you are not listening. I have felt at times attacked and insulted (You did equate me to radical feminists).

    "Cut that out. I entirely respect you and want to discuss and exchange ideas. I would never, ever treat you the same because you express effeminately. That would be discriminatory, too. You're entirely entitled to language you deem empowering, and so am I. Especially in a world
    that isn't all that friendly towards those of us who don't fit in those suffocating little binary packages."

    Once again, your choice in empowering words leaves many trans women feeling alienated/ unwelcome/ uncomfortable. It's your empowerment. Perhaps because I am binary ID'd I'm not aware how one being non-binary is particularly more empowered by using "tranny". You make it sound like using "tranny" is some sort of life-line or inherently important. I bring this up because I have "felt" the same attachment to it from cis gay men and lesbians as well as binary ID'd trans guys. Like using the word so so very intrinsic to ... something very important that nobody has been able to vocalize.

    I will ask this again though:

    ###One of the women actually complained that there were "so many shemales" in the crowd". ###

    Exactly.

    - Even reading with the context of the previous paragraph, I am not sure what you mean here?

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  33. @laughriotgirl: Which I agree with - individuals who are perceived (mistakingly or not) as "men" straying from their limited options for gender expression are targeted a great deal. Hence my wearing a shirt that points towards this directly, particularly because I appear more masculine and want to challenge those assumptions about my gender.

    The thing is, the shirt this discussion has stemmed from is very obviously not literal - it's satire, parody, and humor. Free speech. Fun. A joke that rests on a double-entendre surrounding the word "Tyrannosaurux" and the idea that this dinosaur is all big and powerful and MASCULINE!!! dun dun dun! Like me! Well, not really. But let's pretend. ;P

    Keep in mind that activists and artists (like myself and my trans-lovin' friend with this shirt) have always used many techniques to dramatize concerns - parody, satire, exaggeration, symbolism, metaphor, dream, and fantasy. In the long run, free and open discussion of the issues raised by controversial "Offensive" art and other forms of expression has the best chance of achieving progressive goals and equality for minorities.

    Dismissing it as inherently oppressive simply because we have a different interpretation of humor and advocacy than you do does nothing to promote trans equality.

    ### am sorry if I have been insulting. I'm willing to listen if you would like to point out where/how I was simplifying you/your gender.###

    Earlier you began discriminating against and compressing my gender identity with comments like:

    ***I HAVE reclaimed the word. Trans male people undermine a very empowering act on my part by claiming the right to do so. Here is an idea "Shemale" used to be used for "masculine women" - you guys want a word, there is one that actually has a history and context ready for you.***

    or

    ***Or perhaps it's because trans doodz have ZERO negative experience with the word, so it's easy as pie to "reclaim" - though one can hardly "REclaim" a word that it's used against you. ***

    I've never been called a "shemale", actually. I've been called tranny a million times, and never "shemale" - not once. These comments and a slew of others like it a.) make very narrow and ignorant assumptions about my gender and experiences and b.) were all clearly attempts to invalidate my perceptions and credibility, painting me out as a member of some canonical "oppressor of all minorities" masculine class. That's unfair of you.

    I ask that with this or future discussion with those you put in the "masculine" box to try not to strip me or anyone else of my trans/gender variant identity and experiences like that. I'm proud of being trans and it took me a long time to get here and come out, especially living in Utah.

    ###I hope this isn't up for debate? Because I have to say again that I spent the most vulnerable part of my life living that.###

    Not at all. I suspect we agree about the feminine discrimination - just bopping heads on our interpretations of the causes, humor, and, seemingly, our perspectives on binary gender. :]

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  34. [more!]

    ###This was easy to pass into the mainstream,###

    I'm doubting that the feminists who fought that battle would agree with you that it was "easy to pass into the mainstream". All of that getting arrested for violating LAWS against wearing trousers, for example, could do that. And fifty years later it wasn't even easy to pass into lesbian culture, who saw it as an affront to feminism and an oppressive replication of heterosexual male/female norms. Or how now, a hundred years later, it's illegal in Utah for a "man" to have too many "woman" articles of clothing on.

    ###I have said that for trans women there is a complicated relationship with the word. It's not just me who has this daft idea the word is loaded.###

    And I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm confused about why -my- complicated relationship with the word and -my- history of shame and embarassment when it was used against me is entirely invalid and even "oppressive" to you? That's what I entirely fail to understand, and this is why, in an attempt to understand it, I realize that you have psychologically compartmentalized me into a very distinct binary world and, from that perspective (which isn't me), it's easy to dismiss me as privileged oppressor and yourself as oppressed victim.

    That's not what this is about. I'm not over in the "masculine" camp and you in the "feminine", at odds and entirely distinct. We BOTH have entirely valid experiences and identities. The difference is that we have entirely different interpretations of advocacy and humor; and, instead of discussing THAT or the t-shirt this stemmed from specifically, it's turned into a discussion about why you feel that I don't have a right to language that's been used against me, and trying to figure that out.

    So back to the shirt and the sarcastic humor inherent in it, the reality is that human beings are various and idiosyncratic; we each respond to things like this in different ways - as obviously illustrated here. The value of free speech, especially frequently attacked and misunderstood satire (my personal favorite!), is that it permits a wide range of ideas to flourish so that individuals can grow, learn and decide for themselves what ideas to accept or reject.

    Any movement to remedy oppressive attitudes depends on freedom of speech, not PC self-censorship and fear of having a sense of humor and having fun. Without the liberty to protest, parody, and mock, we won't ever be able to make any progress toward equality or breaking down sexist/gender stereotypes in our culture. Hopefully that sums it up with more clarity! :]

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  35. Mel, I did ask you some specific questions above,that I think would be helpful if you answered. This isn't an expectation that you do so, but a request for clarification on some points.

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  36. To your last comments:

    I don't know what more I can say that hasn't already been said.

    I still fee that your response to the LJ article appeared to be dismissive. You also appeared to position the woman who was made to feel unwelcome in trans space by the O G Tran E shirt as lacking an ability to understand how language REALLY works - Since you want to redirect the conversation back to the shirt and the JL article:

    "What a language with its gender system means is what people use it to mean. It is an evil principle to think that we can tell other people what they mean by what they say, because of some theory we have that makes it mean something in particular to us, even when they obviously mean something else."

    Rather than wonder why this is the case for many Trans women, you imply that Trans women are not in a position to determine what is offensive and in what situations. If this isn't correct, I apologize, but that's how I'm reading your answer to Anonymous.

    "She claims the word "tranny" in and of itself is "dehumanizing" - but, the implications of the principles she's touting are what's dehumanizing and totalitarian: what individual people think and want is irrelevant and to be disregarded - ESPECIALLY if they're the evil privilaged "male". "

    The flip side of this is: What she is experiencing isn't valid or is less important than what other people want. Her reaction is less important and in need of addressing than (yes, in this case) what some guy wants.

    "She says that the word "tranny" inherently serves to "disparage, undermine, or hypersexualize" trans women - which, in many cases, it has been. But even if some speakers meant it that way, it is actually irrelevant to the freedom of individuals to mean whatever they intend to mean through language in the conventionally available forms that they choose."

    I hardly think the history and context of the word is "actually irrelevant to the freedom of individuals to mean whatever they intend to mean". Divorcing a word from it's context and history for the sake of irony/shock/humor/ passive-aggressive offense is a pretty self-serving hipster argument.

    "Sounds to me like he could easily "hide" the fact that he's trans. And chooses not to - like many trans people of my genderation and those who aren't stuck in outdated flawed notions of self-censorship. Other trans individuals, including others who identify as MTF, also use the word "tranny" and other words to proudly and openly identify themselves as trans without fear. We do this despite potential discriminatory "consequence" and, with myself, also as a tool to positively educate and face intolerance head on."

    So the poster is "out-dated" obviously not cool enough to "get it" because her experience is from some weird world where words mean stuff. You also seem to position F2M folks as inherently more proudly and openly trans than M2F ("including others who identify as MTF," - xOMGx even the girl trannies can be cool). Tons of openly trans women HATE the word.

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  37. @laughriotgirl: Thanks for responding further! I'll read and address your questions/respond ASAP. It's PRIDE WEEKEND here in Utah so I'm going to be weekend online negligent. And guess what? Today will be Utah's 1ST EVER Trans March. Very excited! :]

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  38. Mel - I didn't realize it was Pride for you all or I wouldn't have written such a long post. Have a blast.

    We have a Trans/Ally picnic the day before Pride here. It'd be nice to have a march, I'll have to work on that here. ;)

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  39. ### I did ask you some specific questions above,that I think would be helpful if you answered. ###

    Which questions?

    ###Rather than wonder why this is the case for many Trans women, you imply that Trans women are not in a position to determine what is offensive and in what situations.###

    I understand the why (especially as you've done a good job elaborating and explaining), but I don't agree with it. Of course she's in a position to determine what is or isn't offensive to her - we all are. Anyone is. For example, when two men walk down the street holding hands, a number of people may feel offended by that. But that doesn't necessitate those two men alter their behavior because, as I wrote before, "...from early on I learned fast that with self-expression you have no duty to placate or appease other people. If you do that, you're not being honest to yourself and your life becomes miserable and suffocating. So self-expression culminates in the right to offend."

    ###he flip side of this is: What she is experiencing isn't valid or is less important than what other people want. Her reaction is less important and in need of addressing than (yes, in this case) what some guy wants.###

    It is valid. I know that she isn't the same as a homophobe, so don't get me wrong. I'm only using this example as an analogy, in an example that we can both relate to in order to illustrate the point I'm getting at. :]

    So, disclaimer aside, the same argument could be made for a homophobe who's offended by those two men walking down the street holding hands. Just because those two men don't agree that what they're doing is offensive, it doesn't mean that the homophobe is somehow "invalid" or "less important". Catering to what someone deems "offensive" isn't the answer, in my opinion. Having a discussion about it to understand one another is, as we are now. :]

    ###You also seem to position F2M folks as inherently more proudly and openly trans than M2F ("including others who identify as MTF," - xOMGx even the girl trannies can be cool). Tons of openly trans women HATE the word.###

    No way! First, as I've tried to clarify before, I don't believe that there are just FTMs and MTFs. There are a whole slew of people under the transgender umbrella, and all of us are equal - albeit different. Which isn't a bad thing. The thing is, tons of openly trans women LOVE the word. During the pride march, for example, my older, open-and-proud trans women friends were the biggest fans of my shirt. I didn't hear a single negative thing about it, not once. I only received smiles and compliments from every single person who saw it, feminine and masculine, genderqueer, fluid, trans women and men, of various ages.

    Clearly this isn't inherently about some masculine vs. feminine scenario, but more about how individuals feel about PC self-censorship vs. having a sense of humor (parody and mocking) and having fun.

    Speaking of masculine/feminine, have you ever listened to Ivan Coyote's poem "To all the kick ass, beautiful fierce femmes out there..." ? You might enjoy it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q7IzwUa_kI&feature=player_embedded

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  40. p.s. DO organize a march. Look at my most recent blog post - there's a link to an article that ran about it in Q Magazine. The turn out was awesome!

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  41. Mel - I'm glad Pride was so much fun for you this year. I'm still debating if I'll go or not. Some of my friends and I were pretty insulted last year by a couple of the folks who are now part of the organizing body for the march.

    Any way...

    Rather than super quote the questions I had. I'll just ask them here. The full context is found after you posted:

    "*NOT trans-women EXCLUSIVE, I meant."

    My questions are:

    You mentioned, and I agree, that trans-male/trans-masculine/ Female Assigned GQ/Fluid folks seem pretty invested in claiming the word "Tranny". So do many cis gay men. More invested than trans women (etc.) seem to be. Why do you suppose that is? - that more people who trend toward one end of the spectrum (and cis gays) feel this way?

    This comment:
    "It IS about not conforming to binary gender, which is much more limited for anyone perceived as "man" (which, in some cases, leaks into mistakenly perceiving trans-women as "men")."

    makes it sound like trans women are only targeted by the word "tranny" as some tangential "leak" - like it's really about policing masculinity and the fact that some trans women get caught in the cross-fire is a sad symptom of transphobia. I'm curious if I misunderstand you on this.

    Finally, what did you mean by this:

    "###One of the women actually complained that there were "so many shemales" in the crowd". ###

    Exactly."

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  42. Mel,

    I'm not sure we have much more to talk about. You say you understand why some/ many trans women have problems with the word in general. You say you understand why more of us have problems when trans male/masculine/GQ's/fluid folks claim it (in spite of its history and it's general use within the culture and who it intends to target). But you "don't agree with it" - what don't you agree with?

    Do you not agree with it's use in mainstream culture to target/shame women (folks perceived as women)? What don't you agree with?

    "Clearly this isn't inherently about some masculine vs. feminine scenario, but more about how individuals feel about PC self-censorship vs. having a sense of humor (parody and mocking) and having fun. "

    I absolutely hate positioning this discussion as "Mean PC Feminists" trying to bum out the "funny ironic funsters" - big meanies...

    It's about trans women feeling like they either have to suck it up and take it to be in trans space or just go away. ** Because when we bring it up we get called "Big meanies trying to ruin all the fuuuunnnn". Rather than deal with that (and cis lesbians freaking INVESTED in being called "Tranny Chasers" FFS) it's just easier to not show up. If that's the ultimate goal - rock out, cuz that's what's happening.

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  43. Hey, I'm the original "anonymous" that posted the question and link. For the record, I'm a trans man (stealth, so I haven't left my name).

    I am glad to see that some conversation has been spurred here. Personally, what troubled me was the image of a masculine dinosaur in feminine attire. It seemed to play into the traditional use of "tranny" as referring to a "really a man" trying (and failing) to "look like a woman." And, worn by someone who looks like a cis man in public would probably be interpreted in that way, in my view.

    What mostly troubles me is not the discussion internal to transgender circles about how the term hurts trans women or how trans man are trying to reclaim it, etc. I mean, it does trouble me because I don't like that trans women feel that their voices aren't being heard. But the LGBT community has quite a few "in-fights" and discussion of terms that will probably continue for a long time.

    What really concerns me is seeing the word used in a way that sends a message - intentionally or not - that this is an okay word, value-neutral, for non-trans people to use. I see (again, in my experience, primarily genderqueer, FTM or transmasculine people) use the term in queer marches or parades or T-shirts, etc. And then I hear cis people use the word lightly. I don't want to be the language police, or ignore the fact that words can and do change referent and implication.

    However, I've had cisgender people who knew me before transition feel like they could use the term towards me, or about trans people in general... and have had to correct them, at least let them know it's not an unproblematic term and likely to hurt some people. An analogy (which is imperfect, I know), is if white people were to get the message that calling black people "nigger" was just another way of referring to them. Or that white folk could overlook the history of that term and just start to reclaim it.

    Anyway, I can see the legitimacy of saying "let's not let terms stay static and have power over us!" and "let's enjoy fucking with the gender binary!" ... but it's hard to walk the line between celebrating genderfuckery and mocking failure at passing. I don't have the answers, but, personally, I won't use the term out of deference to the concerns of trans women that I've heard. And when I see it used in a way that invalidates their experience, directed specifically at the "man in a dress" image, I will speak up.

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  44. ###More invested than trans women (etc.) seem to be. Why do you suppose that is? - that more people who trend toward one end of the spectrum (and cis gays) feel this way? ###

    I don't agree that this is the case. I think that a good variety of individuals across the trans-spectrum are fine with it and use it, depending on how they feel about advocacy and their own, personal brand of humor and expression.

    ###makes it sound like trans women are only targeted by the word "tranny" as some tangential "leak" - like it's really about policing masculinity and the fact that some trans women get caught in the cross-fire is a sad symptom of transphobia.###

    Not the word - transphobia, homophobia, and gender abuse/ignorance/discrimination. Trans-women get caught in a whole well of cross-fire, stemming across the board and in terms of individual experience, location, etc.

    -- with the "shemale" comment, I said "Exactly." because it illustrated the point I was trying to make above, about someone who may or may not identify as "trans-woman" being filtered through a rigid gender binary lens and written off as a "man dressed as a woman" - which, for some people, they really are "men dressed as women" (drag, or men who are feminine and love feminine attire but aren't transsexual) which also shouldn't be punished and discriminated against; stemming from the extremely limited range when it comes to gender expression that men are allowed culturally.

    Just recently here in Utah, for example, a boy was sent home from school for wearing a kilt. They had mistaken the kilt for a skirt, which threw the entire school into an uproar. In defense, no one addressed "What if it was a skirt? So what?", but instead defended the kilt as appropriate MALE attire, don't fret!

    ###What don't you agree with?###

    I don't agree that, being trans myself, I'm doing anything to hurt trans-women by using the word in an empowering sense just as you do. This is precisely why this discussion unraveled into one about gender, masculinity/femininity, MTF/FTM, etc., because you started out by saying that -I- did not have the right to use the word because I'm, through a binary interpretation of gender, "masculine". Which, to me, I don't agree with, consider discriminatory, dismissive, and unfair - and entirely disagree with. If that makes sense?

    ### and cis lesbians freaking INVESTED in being called "Tranny Chasers" FFS) it's just easier to not show up###

    Dag nabbit. Just show up. YOu are trans and need to go to these cultural celebrations and have fun. Just realize that there will, of course, be a wide range of people who have different ideas about advocacy and their own gender/identities/expression. This happens all over the place. Being an animal rights activist, for example, it's a constant that I interact with other activists who have VERY DIFFERENT ideas about strategy than I do - but that doesn't mean I'm "unwelcome" or that they're attempting to disrespect me, personally. In this example, we all clearly care about animals and want to reduce suffering - and, by my showing up and having discussions about strategy - we all end up becoming more effective in the end, and learning from one another. :]

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  45. @Anonymous: Hey again "Anonymous"! :]

    Glad to see SOME conversation? A whole LOTTA conversation! I'm glad about it, too. Good job stirring it up.

    ###It seemed to play into the traditional use of "tranny" as referring to a "really a man" trying (and failing) to "look like a woman." And, worn by someone who looks like a cis man in public would probably be interpreted in that way, in my view.###

    Someone who looks like a cis man who'd be very, very proud to be seen as "really a man" trying (and failing) to "look like a woman." Why? Because there's nothing wrong with that, and plastering that pride affirms this.

    ###... but it's hard to walk the line between celebrating genderfuckery and mocking failure at passing.###

    Unless you don't believe there's such a thing as "failure at passing". How can someone fail at "passing" when they're are openly living as themselves, and PASSING, entirely, as their own unique fold in the tapestry of natural human diversity?

    ###I won't use the term out of deference to the concerns of trans women that I've heard. And when I see it used in a way that invalidates their experience, directed specifically at the "man in a dress" image, I will speak up.###

    How does it invalidate a trans woman's experience? Especially when it's not just used towards trans-women in a discriminatory manner?

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  46. So, I think this is the crux. You ask, "How can someone fail at "passing" when they're are openly living as themselves, and PASSING, entirely, as their own unique fold in the tapestry of natural human diversity?"

    But the history of "tranny" is caught up in the trope of "man in a dress", "not a real woman", etc, and images of poorly applied makeup and "obviously men" cramming oversize feet into stilettos. The rhetoric is - "You [trans woman] fail at being a woman. Your appearance falls short of our standards. Your gender is not that of a woman, but of a messed up man, because we say so."

    The image of a "tranny dinosaur" parallels everything I've just described. Look, here's a dinosaur that looks RIDICULOUS! *He* is trying to fit his dinosaur feet into the wrong shoes! That makeup is silly and boy, is that obviously a wig. Heh, I get it, it's a TRANNY DINO! Because TRANNIES ARE MEN TRYING TO LOOK LIKE WOMEN!

    Ha ha! So funny! ...

    This is the message that the shirt sends without interpretation, especially worn on a male person. If I didn't know you were a trans man and I saw that shirt on you, I'd think, "What an ignorant prick." Perhaps if we took the time to have a conversation, your views would become apparent, I might see the humor and nuance in it, etc.

    But it's a T-shirt. It sends a quick message that relies upon cultural tropes for interpretation.

    And yes, people can "fail to pass." They fail at passing all the time, when their gender identity is questioned, ridiculed or rejected. Ask any trans woman arrested and put in the men's jail cell. Ask people who are queried "Are you a man or a woman?" Etc. It's all well and good to talk about the "unique fold in the tapestry of natural human diversity" but some people don't want to be special unicorns of gender, they just want to walk into a grocery store, be seen as a woman, and leave.

    As to how it's not invalidating and not directed at trans women, if you can't see that, well, I don't know how else to put it.

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