Recently, once again, Bilerico had a post that incited the trans community.
That's actually pretty easy to do. Well, the incite the trans community part.
As one of the "official angry trannies" of the interwebs, I'm going to give a brief primer on ways to talk about trans issues without setting off alarm bells and triggering the likes of me showing up in your comments and demonstrating the angry part really well.
1. Don't ever call us a bunch of angry trannies. Don't even call me that. The fact I'm angry is directly related to the fact that you said something really annoying. Now, I happen to believe that we, as individuals, are responsible for our own emotions. People do not make me angry, I make myself angry. However, the fact that I am angry does not, in and of itself, mean my arguments have no value. Indeed, usually when I'm a bit peeved, my arguments are better because I'm aware that I'm angry and I need to be more careful.
2. Never call us crazy for being trans. In any way. We aren't. We are not delusional, misguided, suffering from illusions, nuts, or anything of the like. At least, not on account of being trans. Being trans may have caused other issues due to people saying things like we're angry or we're crazy all the time, in everything, but in and of itself it is not that way. If you want to call someone crazy, please confine it to people with severe mental breaks that make them lose touch with the world around them. Trans folk generally aren't that way -- and related to this I should point out that calling anyone crazy who isn't is actually a form of prejudice against people with mental illness like bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's, depression, and a host of other ailments. Don't be a jerk, in other words. Mental illness is not catching, and yet we have a greater fear of it than we do the swine flu.
In fairness, I call people crazy all the time -- including myself. Indeed, for several years, my online name was a variation on "insane". And I do so in a very ableist way, and I am indeed working on it. Hard to do when I'm peeved.
3. Never confuse the words surgery (a medical procedure done to save a life) with mutilation (intentional disfigurement). Transsexual genital surgery is not a mutilation. It is a tool used today that is merely a variation of something done for thousands of years. It does not disfigure. It transfigures, technically. When you think about using the word mutilation, you are placing the value of that person's genitals over the value of that person's ability to express themselves and be themselves in a manner that is best for them. For you it might be a mutilation -- if you are not trans.
4. Never speak about trans issues without talking to a lot of trans folks. And by a lot, I mean not only in number but in kinds. There are a whole bunch of different kinds of trans people. I covered this in my last column. So don't talk about trans stuff after only talking to transsexuals. Add some cross dressers, bigendered, agendered, travesti, and more in there. Get a feel for the whole thing. Otherwise, you will make a mistake that hurts you as well as us. This one is important since transfolk also include straight people -- and as a straight person, I can say that a lot of us straight people are getting really upset by that.
5. Never, ever, think you know more than trans people do about their situation.
Seriously. Even if you are trans. That letter T is so big a group that you cannot know all of it -- even in my last column, I admit I don't know all of it. We are a vast group that is unified primarily by our difference from other people. And the ways in which we are different are so diverse that one would likely spend one's entirely life studying them.
6. Never forget the trans world when you speak about LGBT. This one is a special pet peeve of mine, as I'm *seriously* pissy about it when people start off saying how they are going to talk about some LGBT thing and then totally forget to talk about the T part.
Conversely, I get equally pissy when people talk just about the T part and use LGBT. If you don't know about the trans part (or the gay/bisexual part), then learn it, before you talk about it. OR don't use LGBT. Use just LGB, or just B, or LG or TL, or BLT. Mmm, sandwich...
7. Never call the women men and the men women. I realize that one's pretty basic, but its amazing how often that happens. And no, you can't go just by name or by picture. If you can't make your argument without telling a woman she's a man, then you can't make your argument. And if your argument is that a woman is a man, you need your head examined, per (2), above.
8. Never talk about all trans people as transsexuals. There are, as I pointed out in my last column, more types of trans people than you can count, and transsexuals are actually only a small part of the whole. Doing that gives the homophobic transsexuals out there (yes, they exist, just like transphobic homosexuals do) an excuse to talk about how you are stealing their identity. And then there's the fights among us, and you know, I'd rather fight with cis people. Trans folk are really mean. Including me.
9. Do not conflate sex with gender. Related, don't conflate sexual orientation with gender identity. They are not the same things. Male does not equal man, female does not equal woman. Sex is physiology and biology -- naked people lying on a table. Gender is everything else. (personally, I hate the legs and head phrase, but its safer than nothing). If you can't see a person naked, then you aren't talking about their sex, you are talking about their gender role, their gender expression, or their gender identity. And those are three different things as well -- so don't conflate them.
10. Don't tell us you aren't Cis. It is not an insult. It is not something to drag you down to our level. It is not an identity (although you can use it that way if you want -- who am I to tell you ya can't?). All it means is that you aren't trans. And we use it because it says you are our equal -- something like the way a lot of people use straight as way to say just a different sexual orientation.
Ten simple rules -- and I'm fairly sure the comments will add more. Follow them, logically, and you find that you will not run into the sort of stuff that usually gets people into trouble here.
As a note, I follow a similar set of rules regarding LGB folks. And I'm a straight gal.
Well, mostly. But that's for a different post...