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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That Loving Hate (a poem)

[CW//abuse]

I miss the touch.
I miss the feel.
I ache inside.
A broken doll.

The pain returns.
The familiar weight.
The crushing fingers.
The loving hate.

I want it back.
Evening drops.
I long for it.
My breathing stops.

This broken doll.
This mangled toy.
This worthless trash.
It finds no joy.

I miss the hurt.
I miss the pain.
Throat shut tight.
Never whole again.

Old Writings: A Tribute to Exes (2008)

(CW// Ableist Language)

(This was a speech I gave in a public writing class years ago. We had to do a special occasion speech and I chose a tribute. I would never write this like this now, but I won’t be editing it at this time at least.)
Almost everyone has had their heart broken by a former lover in the past. If you’ve never had yours broken, consider yourself lucky, and I hope you never will. For those of us that have, I speak today. I speak these words to you, the Exes, so you can know how we, the heartbroken, felt then.

To those of you who have broken our hearts, you should know that a part of you will always be with us, you will always be remembered.

We will always remember the movies you said looked stupid, not the one’s you introduced us to.

We will always remember the music you hated, not the great bands you showed us.

We will always remember the foods you said were disgusting, not the delights you had us eat.

We will always remember the books you complained about, not the treasures you brought to our attention.

We will always remember the places you never liked, not the ones we now go to each day.

We will always remember the ideas you called moronic, not the thoughts we discussed at great lengths.

We will always remember the mean looks you gave us, not the smiles and silly faces you made.

We will always remember when your touch felt distant, not the loving embraces.

We will always remember when you kept things secret, not when you confided in us.

We will always remember the minutes spent fighting, not the hours spent in peace.

We will always remember the hurtful things you said, not the sweet words you said for us.

You will always be remembered, for all the things we loved that you hated, because the things you showed us are forever tainted with the emotions now lost.

My Favorite Color (A Poem)

(CW// Self Harm)

The metal is cool against my burning skin.
I haven’t started yet, but I can already see the lines.
A memory of the past, the future.

Perhaps this can cut through what I feel.
Perhaps this can make it real.
Perhaps this will be the time.
Perhaps this will make it fine.

To cut, to not, to heal, to rot
Why does it matter?
What’s the point?
I don’t know what to do anymore.

Fuck it, why not, right?

Transformation – A Poem

A rusted hinge, a lifeless day,
A missing wheel, hardened clay,
A broken doll, a sundered clock,
A shattered mirror, a key-less lock.

A forgotten toy, an unopened gift,
A time of pain, a massive rift,
A mind of chaos, never clear,
A life somber, lacking cheer.

A beacon of light, slicing haze,
A map to lead, exit the maze,
A point of reference, one to seek,
A new found joy, no longer bleak.

A place of awe, of wondrous sound,
Visions of beauty, dance all around,
This fire you lit, striking the coal,
Forever burns, inside this soul.

(For A)

Sea in the Desert – A Prose Poem.

The sea is a thing of majesty; the origin of life, mother of all.
She is a thing of beauty, power and awe.
A surface of glass, clear and sharp.
A continual dance of calm and chaos, motion and still.
Cool to the touch, warm to the embrace.
That beauty is what first drew me, but what held me is more.
The surface is just a piece.
Hidden beneath lie wondrous depths, mysteries beyond compare.
She does not share them lightly.
Few will ever truly know the sea, her beauty, her depth, her power.
Fewer still will love the sea.
She is a fickle mistress, selective of who she allows.
The sea has chosen to share her wonder with me, and I am forever blessed.
My sea in the desert.

(For A)