SAY NO TO "TRANNY!"
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'
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.
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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