Faggot Ru Paul: trannys need to “get stronger”

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By Cristan Williams
@cristanwilliams

 

The faggotRuPaul Andre Charles, claims that trans people are “bitches” who need to “get stronger” with regard to his use of tranny. In an interview on WTF with Marc Marron, RuPaul said:

You know, if your idea of happiness has to do with someone else changing what they say, what they do, you are in for a fucking hard-ass road… I dance to the beat of a different drummer. I believe everybody — you can be whatever the hell you wanna be, I ain’t stopping you. But don’t you dare tell me what I can do or what I can’t — say or can’t do. It’s just words, like, ‘Yeah, you hurt me!’ Bitch, you need to get stronger. If you’re upset by something I said you have bigger problems than you think.”

Within drag culture, tranny has an in-group meaning that does not mean what the rest of the world means when they use the term. For the rest of the world, tranny is a term one might use while beating or killing a trans person. RuPaul believes that because his in-group context does not align with the rest of the world’s usage of the term, he should be able to associate the term with Logo’s brand.

Therefore, the standard RuPaul advocates for is that when a term has a non-slur meaning within the context of a smaller in-group culture, people shouldn’t question its use when members of that in-group use the term in the wider culture, even though the wider culture views the term as a slur.

In a recent HuffPo Live segment, a rap group who appeals to youth culture asserted that faggot doesn’t mean what gay men think it does. In essence, the group made the same argument RuPaul made regarding his use of tranny. The group said that in their in-group, faggot doesn’t mean what what gay men think it means and therefore, their casual use of the term in the wider culture should be supported.

“In an ideal world, we’d be able to explain it and it’s all good. There has to be a category for everything, so us saying ‘faggot’ has to be homophobia… What a crazy world it would be in which we were the evolved ones? It all comes down to context.”

This group’s view of faggot isn’t new. Back in 2011, this same group said “I have gay fans and they don’t really take it offensive, so I don’t know. If it offends you, it offends you… Some people might take it the other way; I personally don’t give a shit.”

Defending in-group usage of fag, SouthPark devoted an entire 2009 episode to explaining that fag doesn’t mean what the larger culture thinks it means. Louis CK likewise advocated for his in-group youth culture use of faggot:

It should be noted that the rap group claims that faggot has a positive context while the SouthPark/Lois CK context is negative. However, both claim that faggot doesn’t refer to gay people. Therefore, according to RuPaul’s standard, those coming from youth culture in-groups should be able to use gay slurs without gay people confronting them.

However, when the then 26 year old Amanda Bynes wrote, “Follow me on twitter you faggots!” RuPaul blasted Bynes tweeting, “Derogatory slurs are ALWAYS an outward projection of a person’s own poisonous self-loathing.”

But, for RuPaul, tranny is somehow different. When Lance Bass apologized for his use of tranny, Rupaul said:

[Laughter] It’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous! Words — it goes back to grade school: Sticks and stones, you know the rest. The thing is you have to look at the ego, you have to follow the money, and the payoff. And the payoff is that the ego wants attention no matter what. It will try to get it wherever the hell it can, whether it’s positive or negative. So you have to ignore it basically — you have to starve it out. And unfortunately in our culture one person can write a letter to the network and they shut something down. It’s unfortunate. But I love the word “tranny.”

And no one has ever said the word “tranny” in a derogatory sense. In fact, you have to go to the intent of the person saying it. Of course Lance Bass, his intent would never be to be derogatory. Never. So, you know, that’s really ridiculous. And I hate the fact that he’s apologized. I wish he would have said, “F-you, you tranny jerk!”

It should be noted that Bass cited RuPaul’s usage of tranny in his apology.


My purposeful use of faggot with regard to RuPaul is meant to draw attention to the tension that can exist between in-group and out-group meanings. Being a gay man, RuPaul has undoubtedly had faggot used against him. For most LGBT people, the term gets its context from the fact that it is the go-to slur people use while they are beating and/or killing us. However, youth culture asserts that the term has a different meaning.

As a non-gay person, what are we to make of my use of faggot regarding RuPaul? Do I mean it in the rap group’s positive context, the Louis CK/SouthPark negative context or am I using it as an anti-gay slur? Herein lies the issue with the casual use of tranny.

The majority of people who use both tranny and faggot mean it as a slur. Moreover, these are the slurs people use when they are murdering us. When the non-trans gay man, Neil Patrick Harris said his deep voice sounded like a tranny to a largely cisgender heterosexual audience, what and more importantly, who was the heterosexual cisgender audience laughing at?

That, then seems to be the issue for the trans community. While a gay man might know who he’s laughing at, the trans community seems to know who the cis community is laughing at when a gay man uses tranny.


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