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Say No to 'Trannie'

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Say No to 'Tranny'

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The term 'Tranny' or 'Trannies' has now become so common it has lost the endearing nature it started out with. What was once a term used between friends in fun has become a term of oppression and objectification. In short a 'hate crime' word.

It is fairly easy for an abuser to use this term for humour, or to simply throw it into television programmes to get a cheap laugh. Drag artists who, for the most part are not transgender resort to using it to poke fun at their audience. This word should be seen in the same way as the N-Word is for the black community. If you are not black then you should not be using it, and the same applies here. It can be used in domestic violence, street attacks or even the workplace usually under whispers.

Of course there are many times when words are used that are similar, a mechanic discussing transmission may use 'tranny', and of course the transit van has this name as does the transistor radio. Nevertheless these days if you say the word 'tranny' it more often than not only means one thing. A transgender person is nearby or it is being used to get a laugh at their expense.

The press and media are guilty of its overuse along with 'she male' (another offensive word), and ladyboy (if used anywhere other than Thailand this is abusive). From innocuous programs like the Simpsons to other cartoons like Family Guy and The Cleveland Show. Others include BBC Three teenage programming, teen soaps worldwide, fashion programmes ('to look as bad as a tranny' for example), and even a series like 'Come Dine with Me', where the narrator seizes upon its use when given the opportunity. Transgenderzone.com (transgender media archives) recently put together a video file of clips for broadcasters of it's use in their schedules and found that from our media archives the term was used hundreds of times over a short space of time. In some cases in the last place you'd expect it to be said with no repercussions for it's use in this demeaning way.

This has got to stop. Even when taking into account the small number of transgender people who do use this word as a descriptive for themselves, this still does not give broadcasters licence to repeat it out of context, or comedians to abuse it simply because other areas like race, sexuality, sexism and religion are taboo. This over use has now left transgender people overly ridiculed, and facing abuse way out of balance considering how few transpeople their actually are in comparison to the other major groups mentioned.

The British media regulator Ofcom is aware of this issue now and is sending guidance to broadcasters and producers, but more effort needs to be put in to raising awareness.

A perfect example is the recent use by Simon Cowell (and this was investigated by Ofcom at our request) when he described a singer. "I have heard trannies sing better than that." Mistakenly comparing transgender people to drag acts - the excuse that was given for its use. This not only shows ignorance it also demonstrates how far we have to go to at least help people understand what they are actually saying when using it.

There are little or no positives to it's use. It allows abusers an easy and simple term that rolls of the tongue (or abusive spray can graffiti on walls) to a term even someone intoxicated could remember usually with the F-word placed in front of it. I suspect you have seen it, heard it and felt it's impact if you are a transgender person.

How can this change?

This can only change with individual transgender people turning the tide of it's use, as long as they understand what can happen when they accept it as a descriptive term, and how, what can be a self deprecating gesture amongst peers to 'fit in' (say with cisgender friends) can result in this being turned on themselves. The term 'tranny' is like any weapon and like any other weapon, carry it around and use it and sooner or later its going to be used on you.

We at Transgender Zone have always reminded people the price they pay for it's use and although it is hard to stop we can at least show some unity across the web by discussing it or displaying one of our banners.

You are welcome to debate this in our forums of course.


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