What’s In A Word? Context, Ya Fag!
June 15, 2007
Taking The Tyranny Out Of The Y
June 22, 2007

Ok, Maybe I’m Just Cranky

The headline from a recent Rex Wockner PrideSource  post screams “Transsexual becomes mayor of Cambridge”.

What would you think of this headline: “Gay becomes mayor of Cambridge”? Now, I know that “Lesbian becomes mayor of Cambridge” does work, but that’s because being a lesbian denotes sex automatically.

At the very least, I wish he’d have written it as Transsexual woman, or Trans-woman. It’s frustrating to transition, go through all that it entails,  only to be objectified and thrown in some “oddity of the day” category.

Maybe it’s just me. Some of this is definitely personal. A friend told me recently  that  “you’re at the top of a short list of the most important trannies in the blogoverse!” I don’t really want that. I want to be known as a PERSON, not an OBJECT.  I want to be known as a writer and a blogger, not as a “tranny” or ” transsexual.” I want people to see me as a person, not a constructed THING.  To me, when someone doesn’t denote man or woman, it’s like a slap in the face. You’re not a woman, you’re a TRANSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXUAL! At least that’s how it feels to me.

Discuss?

33 Comments

  1. sabrinastar says:

    Marti,

    It is kind of a mixed blessing, isn’t it? It’s nice to see that transsexual folk are elected to positions of governmental authority in some places, a thing which would have been unthinkable just a decade or two ago.

    But on the other hand, each of us is so much more than “a transsexual.” I don’t spend most of my day thinking about that part of my life. (Well, it depends on the day, i suppose.)

    This progress will happen in stages. It’s still salient when a transsexual person wins an election. In 20-30 years? Perhaps it won’t be, in which case it won’t be the headline.

  2. sabrinastar says:

    Marti,

    It is kind of a mixed blessing, isn’t it? It’s nice to see that transsexual folk are elected to positions of governmental authority in some places, a thing which would have been unthinkable just a decade or two ago.

    But on the other hand, each of us is so much more than “a transsexual.” I don’t spend most of my day thinking about that part of my life. (Well, it depends on the day, i suppose.)

    This progress will happen in stages. It’s still salient when a transsexual person wins an election. In 20-30 years? Perhaps it won’t be, in which case it won’t be the headline.

  3. eastsidekate says:

    I agree with Marti, transsexual is an adjective, not a noun. And when society and the media uses it as a noun, they stop treating us like people, and start treating us like objects.

    IMO, it is possible to respectfully use transsexual as a noun. Perhaps the PrideSource post was an example of that.

    However, until the dominant culture and media changes to the point that everyone acknowledges that transsexuals are people (with the same rights as everyone else) and not things, I think everyone should stop using transsexual as a noun. It’s not [i]that[/i] hard once you think about it.

  4. eastsidekate says:

    I agree with Marti, transsexual is an adjective, not a noun. And when society and the media uses it as a noun, they stop treating us like people, and start treating us like objects.

    IMO, it is possible to respectfully use transsexual as a noun. Perhaps the PrideSource post was an example of that.

    However, until the dominant culture and media changes to the point that everyone acknowledges that transsexuals are people (with the same rights as everyone else) and not things, I think everyone should stop using transsexual as a noun. It’s not [i]that[/i] hard once you think about it.

  5. Vaughn says:

    Marti,

    I think if this was a perfect or a better world than it is, we who have or are going through the transition process wouldn’t have to deal with labels, categories, and/or compartmentalization. Unfortunately, society as it is currently constructed, labeling happens and we’re the ones who either have to live with it, fight it, or find ways to change it. I wish it could be otherwise, but at this juncture in my life I’m just not that hopeful.

    In the meantime, for myself, I draw strength from every headline I see that shows those of us who either have or are going through the transition process in a positive or at the very least, a progressive light. It’s my opinion that every time the positive/progressive spot light falls on someone from our community (gay, lesbian, bi, trans) it’s a good thing because it brings our stories to the forefront for others to see and learn from. Personally, I just recently got my A.A. degree from my local community college and I’m going on to get my B.A. and Masters in psychology. But during my time at CC I spoke every quarter to the Human Sexuality class, when offered the Gender and Society class, and when appropriate, in my other classes about what it’s like for myself to be going through the trans process. Every time I did so, I made those who had not been aware (I currently live in a small town where not being aware is a major thing), that they now knew someone who was trans, who was going against the so called ‘norm’, and who (among other things) has to face what to them are non-issues as major decisions. From the comments I’ve personally heard and from those I’ve been told of second hand, I’ve made a difference in these lives. And now, when these young people (most of them) see an article in the newspaper or on TV about someone being trans – no matter whether it’s a transwomyn or a transman – who is making headway in a positive way, they’ll remember me and it will connect them on a personal level to the issues at hand. And I believe, and hope, that they will act to bring about the better world that I believe, (and I could be wrong in this but I’m going to risk saying it anyway) that we all would like to live in.

  6. Vaughn says:

    Marti,

    I think if this was a perfect or a better world than it is, we who have or are going through the transition process wouldn’t have to deal with labels, categories, and/or compartmentalization. Unfortunately, society as it is currently constructed, labeling happens and we’re the ones who either have to live with it, fight it, or find ways to change it. I wish it could be otherwise, but at this juncture in my life I’m just not that hopeful.

    In the meantime, for myself, I draw strength from every headline I see that shows those of us who either have or are going through the transition process in a positive or at the very least, a progressive light. It’s my opinion that every time the positive/progressive spot light falls on someone from our community (gay, lesbian, bi, trans) it’s a good thing because it brings our stories to the forefront for others to see and learn from. Personally, I just recently got my A.A. degree from my local community college and I’m going on to get my B.A. and Masters in psychology. But during my time at CC I spoke every quarter to the Human Sexuality class, when offered the Gender and Society class, and when appropriate, in my other classes about what it’s like for myself to be going through the trans process. Every time I did so, I made those who had not been aware (I currently live in a small town where not being aware is a major thing), that they now knew someone who was trans, who was going against the so called ‘norm’, and who (among other things) has to face what to them are non-issues as major decisions. From the comments I’ve personally heard and from those I’ve been told of second hand, I’ve made a difference in these lives. And now, when these young people (most of them) see an article in the newspaper or on TV about someone being trans – no matter whether it’s a transwomyn or a transman – who is making headway in a positive way, they’ll remember me and it will connect them on a personal level to the issues at hand. And I believe, and hope, that they will act to bring about the better world that I believe, (and I could be wrong in this but I’m going to risk saying it anyway) that we all would like to live in.

  7. “I disagree, Marti…in fact, you’re doing it right now, and every time you post under the TA banner.”

    You’re assuming that one has to be trans to be an advocate. Sorry, that isn’t the case. Hell, one of the longest running transadovates in the state of Indiana, Lori Sirtosky, isn’t even trans! I’d consider her an advocate.

    “Celebration and education…there’s nothing wrong with either, any more than there’s anything wrong with honoring one’s religious, racial, ethnic, or national identities.”

    Wrong. Religion and national identity is something one can choose. C.S. Lewis was a great writer and Maya Angelou is a great poet. Their greatness isn’t built solely on their religion or ethnicity.

    “C’mon, be honest Marti…if you really wanted to hide, TA wouldn’t exist, nor would have done Trans-Sister Radio or any of the other community-relevant work you’ve done in radio or print. People who really want to be invisible just don’t do stuff like this.”

    Ya know, this comment does really upset me. How dare you call me a liar? I will not tolerate that ever. Just because you do this for your own reasons, don’t assume they are the same as mine. I’m out and open because I feel it benefits others, NOT ME. I think there are injustices that are heaped upon this community that will never be solved by hiding in the closet. That doesn’t mean I have to swim in being pigeonholed and love that someone sees me as a thing. Don’t you dare EVER to assume you know my reasoning for doing what I do. Honestly, I’m disgusted and disappointed that you’d do so.

    “I’m proud of who I am and I’m not afraid to say so. You’ve never impressed me as someone who was very into trying to live stealth, either.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever said in this post that I wanted to live stealth. That is your conclusion.

    “As long as you’re the webmistress of TA, it’s just not a credible argument.”

    So you’re the arbiter of credible arguments? I don’t think I got that memo. Do me a favor, don’t pretend to know my heart or my actions.

    I do this because it needs to be done, not because I get my jollies from it.

  8. “I disagree, Marti…in fact, you’re doing it right now, and every time you post under the TA banner.”

    You’re assuming that one has to be trans to be an advocate. Sorry, that isn’t the case. Hell, one of the longest running transadovates in the state of Indiana, Lori Sirtosky, isn’t even trans! I’d consider her an advocate.

    “Celebration and education…there’s nothing wrong with either, any more than there’s anything wrong with honoring one’s religious, racial, ethnic, or national identities.”

    Wrong. Religion and national identity is something one can choose. C.S. Lewis was a great writer and Maya Angelou is a great poet. Their greatness isn’t built solely on their religion or ethnicity.

    “C’mon, be honest Marti…if you really wanted to hide, TA wouldn’t exist, nor would have done Trans-Sister Radio or any of the other community-relevant work you’ve done in radio or print. People who really want to be invisible just don’t do stuff like this.”

    Ya know, this comment does really upset me. How dare you call me a liar? I will not tolerate that ever. Just because you do this for your own reasons, don’t assume they are the same as mine. I’m out and open because I feel it benefits others, NOT ME. I think there are injustices that are heaped upon this community that will never be solved by hiding in the closet. That doesn’t mean I have to swim in being pigeonholed and love that someone sees me as a thing. Don’t you dare EVER to assume you know my reasoning for doing what I do. Honestly, I’m disgusted and disappointed that you’d do so.

    “I’m proud of who I am and I’m not afraid to say so. You’ve never impressed me as someone who was very into trying to live stealth, either.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever said in this post that I wanted to live stealth. That is your conclusion.

    “As long as you’re the webmistress of TA, it’s just not a credible argument.”

    So you’re the arbiter of credible arguments? I don’t think I got that memo. Do me a favor, don’t pretend to know my heart or my actions.

    I do this because it needs to be done, not because I get my jollies from it.

  9. beckygrrl says:

    I disagree, Marti…in fact, you’re doing it right now, and every time you post under the TA banner. Celebration and education…there’s nothing wrong with either, any more than there’s anything wrong with honoring one’s religious, racial, ethnic, or national identities.

    C’mon, be honest Marti…if you really wanted to hide, TA wouldn’t exist, nor would have done Trans-Sister Radio or any of the other community-relevant work you’ve done in radio or print. People who really want to be invisible just don’t do stuff like this.

    I’m proud of who I am and I’m not afraid to say so. You’ve never impressed me as someone who was very into trying to live stealth, either. As long as you’re the webmistress of TA, it’s just not a credible argument.

  10. beckygrrl says:

    I disagree, Marti…in fact, you’re doing it right now, and every time you post under the TA banner. Celebration and education…there’s nothing wrong with either, any more than there’s anything wrong with honoring one’s religious, racial, ethnic, or national identities.

    C’mon, be honest Marti…if you really wanted to hide, TA wouldn’t exist, nor would have done Trans-Sister Radio or any of the other community-relevant work you’ve done in radio or print. People who really want to be invisible just don’t do stuff like this.

    I’m proud of who I am and I’m not afraid to say so. You’ve never impressed me as someone who was very into trying to live stealth, either. As long as you’re the webmistress of TA, it’s just not a credible argument.

  11. nexy says:

    heh, welcome to the patriarchy. if you’re not a white, christian, middle class or above man, then you’re an object. and they’ll define you anyway they please, with or without your consent. it doesn’t matter what you think or believe, or who you are. we live in their world, and are forced to live by their rules.

    in fact, it is only by their rules that we are transsexuals at all. if gender and sex weren’t so falsely and rigidly defined, we’d just be people who had some cosmetic surgery and some bio-chemical alterations – like much of the population of the world.

  12. nexy says:

    heh, welcome to the patriarchy. if you’re not a white, christian, middle class or above man, then you’re an object. and they’ll define you anyway they please, with or without your consent. it doesn’t matter what you think or believe, or who you are. we live in their world, and are forced to live by their rules.

    in fact, it is only by their rules that we are transsexuals at all. if gender and sex weren’t so falsely and rigidly defined, we’d just be people who had some cosmetic surgery and some bio-chemical alterations – like much of the population of the world.

  13. “But, to your original post, I do look at the term transgender more as a adjetive than a noun. Saying what kind of transgender person — beit transwoman or transman — would have been helpful to the headline.”

    Autumn, you’ve hit the nail on head with that comment. This post was written my Rex Wockner. He’s not just some joe schmoe hack. He’s w well respected journalist.

    Usage of transsexual or transgender as a noun rips away our sex identity, and shouldn’t be used in that way, especially by veterans that should know better.

  14. “But, to your original post, I do look at the term transgender more as a adjetive than a noun. Saying what kind of transgender person — beit transwoman or transman — would have been helpful to the headline.”

    Autumn, you’ve hit the nail on head with that comment. This post was written my Rex Wockner. He’s not just some joe schmoe hack. He’s w well respected journalist.

    Usage of transsexual or transgender as a noun rips away our sex identity, and shouldn’t be used in that way, especially by veterans that should know better.

  15. “But Marti, everyone and anyone who posts here is declaring themselves trans every time we do it.”

    Really? I never saw a signing statement on that. A trans-ally could be a transadvocate.

    “but the reality we all know is that being trans is the one aspect of our lives that makes us most different from the norm…it’s what makes us interesting to str8s.”

    Speak for yourself. You may love the title, but I don’t. My genitals or my sexual identity isn’t something I to be remembered by or known for.

    “Our notoriety is wrapped up in being trans, but we shouldn’t run away from it, we should us it as a platform from which to both celebrate and educate.”

    Oh? What is this “we” you speak of? I’m not going to “celebrate” my transness any more than I’d celebrate my brown eyes. And I don’t want to live the rest of my life being referred to as “brown eyes.”

  16. “But Marti, everyone and anyone who posts here is declaring themselves trans every time we do it.”

    Really? I never saw a signing statement on that. A trans-ally could be a transadvocate.

    “but the reality we all know is that being trans is the one aspect of our lives that makes us most different from the norm…it’s what makes us interesting to str8s.”

    Speak for yourself. You may love the title, but I don’t. My genitals or my sexual identity isn’t something I to be remembered by or known for.

    “Our notoriety is wrapped up in being trans, but we shouldn’t run away from it, we should us it as a platform from which to both celebrate and educate.”

    Oh? What is this “we” you speak of? I’m not going to “celebrate” my transness any more than I’d celebrate my brown eyes. And I don’t want to live the rest of my life being referred to as “brown eyes.”

  17. In the news today, same story, different headlines …

    from the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Nelson gets life in police slayings” …

    from the Cherry Hill Courier Post, “Transsexual cop-killer gets 2nd life term”.

  18. I have to agree with Becky — I see it as a good thing.

    When we’re out and show that we have varried and interesting lives, varried interests, and diverse perspectives, we show our humanity to other LGB folk, and we provide examples for our next generations of not yet out transfolk.

    But, to your original post, I do look at the term transgender more as a adjetive than a noun. Saying what kind of transgender person — beit transwoman or transman — would have been helpful to the headline.

    Of course, we ALL know (*wink-wink*) that transgender people are all white, middle-age, male-to-female transsexuals. 😛

  19. In the news today, same story, different headlines …

    from the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Nelson gets life in police slayings” …

    from the Cherry Hill Courier Post, “Transsexual cop-killer gets 2nd life term”.

  20. In the news today, same story, different headlines …

    from the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Nelson gets life in police slayings” …

    from the Cherry Hill Courier Post, “Transsexual cop-killer gets 2nd life term”.

  21. I have to agree with Becky — I see it as a good thing.

    When we’re out and show that we have varried and interesting lives, varried interests, and diverse perspectives, we show our humanity to other LGB folk, and we provide examples for our next generations of not yet out transfolk.

    But, to your original post, I do look at the term transgender more as a adjetive than a noun. Saying what kind of transgender person — beit transwoman or transman — would have been helpful to the headline.

    Of course, we ALL know (*wink-wink*) that transgender people are all white, middle-age, male-to-female transsexuals. 😛

  22. beckygrrl says:

    Y’know, after reading the Wockner piece, I have to take issue with Mayor Bailey’s attitude about being trans, especially this quote:

    “People can take me as a role model if they want,” Bailey told The Times. “But for transgender people, all we want is to disappear and become normal, so I don’t want to let it define me.

    “When you go through transgender experience and come through the other side, you are just happy to get on with normal life, normal problems, so this is a wonderful opportunity.”

    Oh really? Just who the heck does this woman think she is, that she can speak for me and for every other transsexual person? What if don’t want to hide who I am? What if I’m out and proud and like being that way? What if, just say, I were a transsexual who was inclined to get behind a radio microphone and and raise some hell? Oh wait…

    How dare this woman presume to speak for me and for the entire trans community? What gives her the right to do so? I’ll define my life on my terms, thank you, not those of some politico clearly shamed into silence on her identity for the sake of her career.

    Role models like this woman our community does NOT need!

  23. beckygrrl says:

    Y’know, after reading the Wockner piece, I have to take issue with Mayor Bailey’s attitude about being trans, especially this quote:

    “People can take me as a role model if they want,” Bailey told The Times. “But for transgender people, all we want is to disappear and become normal, so I don’t want to let it define me.

    “When you go through transgender experience and come through the other side, you are just happy to get on with normal life, normal problems, so this is a wonderful opportunity.”

    Oh really? Just who the heck does this woman think she is, that she can speak for me and for every other transsexual person? What if don’t want to hide who I am? What if I’m out and proud and like being that way? What if, just say, I were a transsexual who was inclined to get behind a radio microphone and and raise some hell? Oh wait…

    How dare this woman presume to speak for me and for the entire trans community? What gives her the right to do so? I’ll define my life on my terms, thank you, not those of some politico clearly shamed into silence on her identity for the sake of her career.

    Role models like this woman our community does NOT need!

  24. beckygrrl says:

    But Marti, everyone and anyone who posts here is declaring themselves trans every time we do it. I agree with you that it would be nice to be known for other things, but the reality we all know is that being trans is the one aspect of our lives that makes us most different from the norm…it’s what makes us interesting to str8s.

    Our notoriety is wrapped up in being trans, but we shouldn’t run away from it, we should us it as a platform from which to both celebrate and educate.

  25. beckygrrl says:

    But Marti, everyone and anyone who posts here is declaring themselves trans every time we do it. I agree with you that it would be nice to be known for other things, but the reality we all know is that being trans is the one aspect of our lives that makes us most different from the norm…it’s what makes us interesting to str8s.

    Our notoriety is wrapped up in being trans, but we shouldn’t run away from it, we should us it as a platform from which to both celebrate and educate.

  26. I’m talking more about how media, or even just queer media will portray us. Removal of sex identity turns us into a thing. An oddity to behold.

    I don’t like that, at all.

    People here treat me with respect and dignity, for the most part.

  27. I’m talking more about how media, or even just queer media will portray us. Removal of sex identity turns us into a thing. An oddity to behold.

    I don’t like that, at all.

    People here treat me with respect and dignity, for the most part.

  28. Oliver/Danni says:

    Yeah. Well, I think people who only know you from your blog probably only see that part of you because that’s mostly what you post about. But your friends (or at least, your friend ME) know better.

  29. Oliver/Danni says:

    Yeah. Well, I think people who only know you from your blog probably only see that part of you because that’s mostly what you post about. But your friends (or at least, your friend ME) know better.

  30. “You also happen to have a blog specifically about trans issues, which would be different from if you were someone who blogged about garden gnomes or lemonade stands and happened to be trans”

    I know. I guess I just want to be seen as more than that, ya know? Being trans isn’t something I’m doing to myself, it’s something I am. I don’t mind the “trans” part, I just am bothered by that being all there is to me. I AM a woman. I interact in the world as a woman. So when someone in my clan is seen as only a “transsexual,” it bothers me.

  31. “You also happen to have a blog specifically about trans issues, which would be different from if you were someone who blogged about garden gnomes or lemonade stands and happened to be trans”

    I know. I guess I just want to be seen as more than that, ya know? Being trans isn’t something I’m doing to myself, it’s something I am. I don’t mind the “trans” part, I just am bothered by that being all there is to me. I AM a woman. I interact in the world as a woman. So when someone in my clan is seen as only a “transsexual,” it bothers me.

  32. Oliver/Danni says:

    I see you as the crazy awesome bitchgoddess of awesomedom and I love you dearly. 🙂

    When I said that, I meant that everyone on that list had in common that they are important transsexual bloggers. I don’t know anyone else on that list well so I don’t know what else you might all have in common but that. You also happen to have a blog specifically about trans issues, which would be different from if you were someone who blogged about garden gnomes or lemonade stands and happened to be trans. The gender of the mayor of Cambridge is (or at least should be) totally irrelevant to how they are viewed in the role of mayor…but your gender as a person who blogs about trans issues is a little more relevant to your role in the trans blogging community.

  33. Oliver/Danni says:

    I see you as the crazy awesome bitchgoddess of awesomedom and I love you dearly. 🙂

    When I said that, I meant that everyone on that list had in common that they are important transsexual bloggers. I don’t know anyone else on that list well so I don’t know what else you might all have in common but that. You also happen to have a blog specifically about trans issues, which would be different from if you were someone who blogged about garden gnomes or lemonade stands and happened to be trans. The gender of the mayor of Cambridge is (or at least should be) totally irrelevant to how they are viewed in the role of mayor…but your gender as a person who blogs about trans issues is a little more relevant to your role in the trans blogging community.