Pick Your Battles Instead of Picking Fights: Transsexual and Transgender are Nouns as well as Adjectitives

The semantics fight over transsexual and transgender being adjectives instead of nouns is one of those dogmatic sorts of arguments that caused me to describe people caught up in that sort of dogma as being the Transgender Borg.

I’ve been in movements since 1962.

The first groups I encountered who fought over things like that were the Trotskyites.

I eventually saw these factions as the coffee house revolutionary theorists.

We are transsexuals and transgenders. Those are the respectful terms for people who are transsexual or transgender.  Just like gays and lesbians are the proper terms for people who happen to be gay or lesbian.

After all the effort to get a T stuck after the G and the L this semantic fight seems kind of ridiculous.

Save the energy to fight crap like “Shemale” and even “Trannie” or “Gender Variant” and the ilk.

Transsexual/Transgender is both an adjective and a noun through common usage if not through the politically correct language police.

There are far more important battles to fight.

This is an Ashley Love/Doña Quixote tilting at windmills word game; a waste of time and energy that will involve protesting allies as well as actual opponents.

Addendum: At some point or other people have to start agreeing on some sort of shared language.  All the post-modern games about identities, sub-texts and readings may be fine for some sort of post-grad gender studies program but how in fuck are you supposed to write something like a hate crimes law or an inclusive employment/accommodations law when you can’t get even a small group to more or less agree on some common terms to define the people you are trying to protect.

Contrary to post-modern thinking words have meaning and aren’t just a bunch of linguistic grunts open to interpretation with different meanings and readings for all.

That sort of thinking is a bog.

I describe myself as post-transsexual because SRS was a long time ago.  But based on my life history I’m a transsexual.  I was assigned male at birth, grew up a transkid and had a sex change operation, so by definition I am a transsexual.

GLAAD wants to call me transgender, but I don’t identify as transgender.  Now if I need legal representation and GLAAD, the organization that wants to call me transgender  is putting up the money and lawyers to advance my case based on laws they spent time and money getting enacted to protect me………

Well in that case my mother and nana taught me there is only one acceptable thing for me to say:  “Thank you so much, I couldn’t have done it with out you.”

14 Responses to “Pick Your Battles Instead of Picking Fights: Transsexual and Transgender are Nouns as well as Adjectitives”

  1. Jessica Sideways Says:

    I dunno, I don’t think transgender should be used as a noun. After all, we don’t call other people “genders”. But there I go again, arguing semantics. ;-P

    • Suzan Says:

      Yeah but we do call gay people gays and lesbian people lesbians. Our being transsexuals and transgenders kind of goes with our being part of that queer alphabet soup.

  2. Jessica Sideways Says:

    Perhaps so but I guess I don’t like that term as a noun because I would like to think I’m deeper than that. I’m not just a transsexual woman or a transgender woman nor is it an alternative to being a woman – because with the term “gay” or “lesbian” as used to apply to a person, we can safely assume the gender of who we are talking about. With the word “transgender” though, it is the creation of an other – which is fine for someone who is gender queer but not for those of us living as female or male.

    Am I rambling?

    • Suzan Says:

      Rambling… What I am saying is pick your battles. What’s fine for coffee house philosophical discussions is a waste of time going to war over. I watched Ashley Love disintegrate into irrelevance when she protested GLAAD when GLAAD is putting up the lawyers for a bunch of cases that are important to us.

      This isn’t all that important.

      Lots of times arguments over these things seem to be the territory of relatively privileged folks or people who came from a privileged position who don’t have more serios issues to be involved in.

      • Jessica Sideways Says:

        Yeah, that is destructive. Focus on the pragmatic, real-world issues that we can all agree are plaguing us as a community today.

        I want to be able to marry my chosen and preferred after I find her (and since I am a lesbian, that’s a tough thing to do), I’d like to see stronger anti-discrimination laws – I can worry about terminology later.

  3. BlackSwan Says:

    I’m going to side with Jessica on this one. I would like to be able to have a choice not to hyphenate my sex/gender with the “trans” label. I would rather see GLAAD create a rule that demonizes the media/reporter that claims the right to out us. I feel that I only need to come out once and then only when its absolutely necessary for medical needs or in a serious committed relationship. I see no correlation with constant outness and pride, and like any medical condition its only my choice to disclose it publicly–I shouldn’t be made to feel shame for not “keep’n it real” and wearing the scarlet TS around my neck. .

    • Suzan Says:

      You only have that choice if you choose to never do anything that causes the media or anyone else to ever focus any attention upon you.

      Transsexual and transgender are polite terms and we’ve fought long and hard to get people to use those terms instead of things like “shemale” and “former bloke”.

  4. BlackSwan Says:

    Suzan maybe I’m not making myself clear and I apologize for that. I personally feel that those terms “transgender” and “transsexual” however well meaning don’t define my reality whether or not they were fought for another’s agency. I’m under the impression as I’m sure Jessica has pointed out that it “others” us regardless of that well-meaning intention. Any terms that take away my ability to access the benefits in life afforded to me as a birth right by an artificially imposed privileged class system should be my choice not someone else’s even if I’m I’m a public figure. Anything that others me does that.

    For example if transsexual was a temporary place between the sexes then it shouldn’t be a label for life. Even if I say I’m white, female and heterosexual it may imply a class system, but terms of identify that carry a stigma should be optional not mandatory. I not only feel the stigma is wrong the label is wrong for for being branded with the stigma.

    We need a better language or prohibit the press.

    • Suzan Says:

      I think you are living in a fantasy utopia land, unable to separate how you personally think of yourself from the real need for a common shared language that works when writing laws and fighting legal battles.

      As for the press. Anything you do or say any act no matter how inadvertent can and probably will expose you to their writing about you.

      Have a spouse die and try to collect their benefits, something that is standard for cis-sex/gender people and it turns into a big fucking battle with the press involved.

      I’m simply saying pick the battles and don’t waste time on the pointless. Transsexual and transgender are both commonly used as both nouns and adjectives. Fight the fights over the really nasty slurs not fine points of grammar.

      Further your identity or mine shouldn’t have any impact what so ever on equality or human rights including legal protections, right to marry or live in dignity.

  5. steviejayne Says:

    The sad fact is that we attract press attention for the simple reason that “sleaze” sells papers. It’s not sleazy to be ourselves, but that is what we have been portrayed as. It’s a classic case of othering. Anything different from what is deemed to be the norm will attract either ridicule or hatred or sensationalism, We may be able to move on in our lives but, at some point, the past will always catch up with even those so deep in stealth they are in the Mariana Trench.

    As for labels, it is human nature to want to categorise things. English is a language which needs nouns and adjectives for almost everything. It is surely better that those of us with a transsexual history are described as transgender by society than the insulting terms which are otherwise used?

    During the aftermath of the treaty with the British Government which established the Irish Free State, which was a precursor to the Irish Republic, Michael Collins said he didn’t want a civil war over a form of words to describe what was independence in all but name. Surely it was better to have a free state with self-government than direct rule. We all know the history of what followed.

    We should acknowledge that transgender and transsexual are different, but we have commonalities and that what we have in common is more than what differentiates us.

    Surely it is better that we work together to defend ourselves against the bigots out there in the organised religions and far-right parties than fight against each other?

    • Suzan Says:

      I use the form TS/TG or transgender and transsexual. This is not the point.

      But I’ll be damned if I will get involved in a fight over the fine points of grammar as to use as either a noun or an adjective.

      Eats Shoots and Leaves…. Fuck me…

      Transsexual and Transgender are words that function as both nouns and adjectives.

      Next issue.

  6. BlackSwan Says:

    You know this is BS (giggle to the pun), I don’t think the press even uses a (race term) directly to any individual unless that individual identifies as such. There are so many mixed races now and the term “colored” is a very passé term that a reporter can’t really just identify someone as Asian (various countries), African (various countries), Latino (various countries). Why can’t we borrow that reasoning? Why don’t we apply it across the board to age, gender and national origin.

    I was able to be in Toronto Canada for an even called “Pride” where one million where on the street that day. Mostly strait people! F**’n Wow!! It was jaw dropping that the term Gay was dropped from the Pride event. It was one big solidarity to the people of Canada–I don’t want to leave. I have to when we wrap the show. Dammit. I managed to visit the intersection the day before to view the pathetic “trans” march the with roughly 2-300 people in it; I followed your post.

    I think you know who I am by now and I really don’t want to wait another 30 years to see the promised land–sorry not how I roll will, but your smarting than me about our history and I’ve watched you opinion evolve from your comments regarding the way GLAAD defines us.

    Lets start living with what it should be like 30 years from now; NOW, not defining our lives based on that imposed class system. The class system wants us to wear the scarlet T around our necks–don’t they? That’s what your teaching me with what you write here–right? You sound like my mom so I’m all ears–she was a real hippie chic too.

    I offer this as a solution; If an identifier term has a stigma you cannot discard, discard the term.


  7. phyllis Says:

    When i battlethe starghts i use the Art of War as a guide

    • Suzan Says:

      Lot of wisdom in that book which like the Book of Five Rings is about more than war.

      Especially the parts about deciding where to fight, when to fight and working from strength.

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