On Slurs and Problematic Labels: Part 1 – Slurs

[CW//Discussion of slurs]

[These are my personal thoughts and ideas on the topic. Anyone who wishes to have discussions on these thoughts are welcome to when I feel able, but attacks at me will simply get you blocked and removed from my life.]

There’s a continuous topic always just below the surface (or often above) of trans* discourse, brought right back to the forefront by the announcement of Laura Jane Grace’s new memoir. Ms. Grace, ever the punk rock artist, chose a highly divisive title for this: Tranny. Those 6 little letters have caused hours of yelling, dissolution of friendships, and a lot of hurt for me, people I love, and a lot of others. There are a lot of really good, powerful arguments for why trans women should reclaim this label. I’ve heard many, and I understand those view points pretty well. From the usefulness of trans sex workers for label, to using it as a tool to fight back against those who will throw it as a weapon as us, to blunting the edge of the knife that is used to stab us. These are all reasons that make sense on some level.

But I also understand that often those who feel that way have different levels of privilege. Amy Boyer has a pretty well thought out piece on the ideas of privilege and it’s place in the reclamation of these slurs: https://medium.com/@amytranscend/reclaiming-slurs-not-for-the-privileged-d0cd06286c4e#.v32fq4rhq
I agree with a lot of her intent in this piece, or at least my reading of it. I think anyone who wishes to reclaim slurs that aren’t simply addressed at you individually, but at part of a group you belong to, should always consider how the most at risk, the most marginalized are going to be affected by those actions.

Does this mean only the most affluent, well off trans women are the ones reclaiming these slurs? Definitely not. I’ve seen poor, disabled, trans women of color who have all been very vocal in their reclamation of these slurs. So what I feel on this subject is this:

  •  I don’t give a shit what a transgender woman, or transfeminine person calls themself to refer to themself, be it something that’s a slur, a very specific trans label, whatever. The right to self identify is extremely important. I may have trouble wanting to associate with someone who wants to openly label themself as such, but I definitely respect their personal choices.
  • if someone is explicitly open to being called those labels, then others who are comfortable can call them that if they wish, just so long as the person in question is perfectly fine with that. Then those things are absolutely fine in my book.
  • But you definitely should understand why you feel so safe to reclaim those things, never, ever refer to people who aren’t explicitly okay with those labels, and respect the fuck out of the many, many reasons a lot of us don’t feel safe enough to do so.

I’m a trans women of few privileges at this point in my life. I’m white, I’m able bodied. Those are my biggest two. But I’m poor, I’m neurodivergent with disabilities, I’m not cis-passing, and many other things. I’ve had tranny thrown at me more than I ever admit to, because I’m not comfortable talking about it, how it makes me feel, how unsafe it makes me feel.  Telling me that I need to reclaim the slur to remove it’s power is victim blaming. That’s no different than telling me I need to engage in activity that will remind me of my rape, or the physical abuses I’ve suffered in my life.

This is about compassion. About respecting my right  to not want to be triggered for the trauma myself, and many others have and still experience.

Thank you

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