It’s Time to Stop With The T Word

From The Advocate:

Some may think using the t word is permissible, but trans women who are the target of the hate that the word conjures don’t necessarily agree.

BY Parker Marie Molloy
February 20 2014

Last year I wrote a piece on The Huffington Post titled “Gay Dudes, Can You Just Not?” that generated digital eye rolls, nasty comments, and even threats from readers. It was critical of use of the word “tranny” by gay and bisexual men. The central idea was that the word, which I’ll now simply refer to as “the t slur,” is, in fact, a slur. It’s a term tied to a history of violence, oppression, anger, and hate. It’s a term I’ve been called by those who wish to harm me. And frankly, it’s a term many trans women, like slain New Yorker Islan Nettles, hear immediately prior to falling victim to physical violence.

I dared to inform those who use the word, who think they have a “pass” on account of themselves being part of the “LGBT community,” that it’s not their word to use, and it’s not their slur to “reclaim.”

As expected, response to my essay was dismissive and hostile. “The author is way off base,” one commenter wrote. “The word is just a shortened version of ‘transvestite,’ which is another description of a drag queen,” another said. “Words are just words,” said another. And referring to the use of the t slur on Glee, someone wrote, “You can easily tell that the kids of Glee were saying it out of love in the classroom,” and telling me to “lighten up, grow up.”

I never fully got the opportunity to refute the things said in those comments. But it’s that time of year again, when RuPaul’s show heads back to the cable, and the already high level of transphobic content on television spikes. So what better time than now to tackle this issue again?

Leela Ginelle at PQ Monthly described the conversation following my previous essay as “breaking the queer corner of the Internet.” Here’s my attempt at putting it back together with a warning: fragile.

RuPaul and others contend that the t slur isn’t aimed at trans women, and therefore, he, as a cisgender, gay man, is welcome to use the term as he sees fit. He’s gone so far as to denounce those who have apologized for using the term. “It’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous!” RuPaul told The Huffington Post’s Michelangelo Signorile in 2012. “I love the word ‘tr*nny.’”

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