Antonia D'orsay

You Look Like a Tranny

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | March 02, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Christian Siriano, Daily Kos, GLAAD, Keith Olbermann, make an apology, media, News, Rachel Maddow, That's so gay, The Cleveland Show, trans, trans advertising, trans awareness, trans news of 2010, trans portrayals, transgender, transsexual

Yes, you.

Trans lives -- and, especially, the lives of trans women -- are apparently a very effective and "shocking" insult.

Especially among women.

There are "tranny shoes" on network comedies, "You look like a tranny" in CW reality shows, tall models who are inferred to have extra anatomy on Comedy Central, slapstick humor about trans lives on prime time cartoons, and, of course, the esteemed Keith Olbermann using trans lives on national television to mock the woman who did that same thing regarding Rachel Maddow and an aide to KO and joked about his mother's death.

In a way she's generally mocked by most so-called progressives and liberals, who, fairly obviously, aren't being particularly progressive or liberal in their use of such.

So, to all of those people, let me say one thing about this:

"That's so gay."

"That's so gay," meaning stupid or ugly or wrong, is a second place finisher to "You look like a tranny."

I can say that because, well, some of the people who've used our lives as an insult include gay folks.

Especially gay men.

I know that's not very popular to say. And, to be perfectly frank, if I was worried about popularity, I wouldn't say it.

And most folks who know me will know that I'm not saying that to be mean -- after all, I support the LGBT community as a whole, and I march in the cute little parades and I say the stuff about equality that so many of us say, and I did sorta spend months composing 30,000 different posts about how gay people and trans people are OK and not any of that bad stuff people say.

Notice how fast all of that went out the window?

Our collective lives are not an insult. Not a joke. Not a good laugh-getter. They are not a way to show that you look down on Ann Coulter (which, I should note, if you are looking down at her by using our lives as an insult, then, well, you sorta have to look down at us).

I'm not talking about "tranny" being a slur, mind you, either. In the communities of color and poverty that I spend a lot of time in, tranny is not a slur. It's actually something of a compliment. It's akin to "queen," which is not short for drag queen unless there's one around.

I'm talking about using the lives of trans people as insults in the same way that the lives of gay people are used as insults, and I don't care who you are: it's wrong.

It's wrong if you are a dirt poor white farmboy in the big city for the first time raised on red-blooded hatred and bigotry, and it's wrong if you are a Madison Avenue advertising executive looking for some new way to shock people into remember the product, and it's wrong if you are a cable news channel salaried talking head who said some really awesome stuff about how dumb the crap around Prop 8 being passed was.

And it needs to be apologized for in the same way that the mistake was made.

Sorry KO, I'm not going to let you off, even though your dad is ill and in the hospital and even though the incredibly dimwitted Ann Coulter insulted your mother.

Sorry Tosh.0, you don't get off either. Puerile and infantile potty humor may be your stock in trade (and these days, that's pretty good stock and trade), but the lives of tall trans women are already hard enough without you opening your yap.

Sorry CW, I know it's a "reality" show and all, but I also know you get to edit stuff for the most dramatic effect.

My life is not dramatic. It's not sad. It's not really all that bad, and if you were to actually film most trans folk, you'd find that while they have a crapload of stuff to deal with from the rest of the world, we actually have pretty great, typically boring lives unless, of course, we really are drama queens.

And I'm willing to admit that yeah, some of us are.

And I know that GLAAD was at least made aware of all of these incidents. I'm not asking for trans stuff to take the lead (even though I'm pretty sure that if you solve trans stuff, you end the rest, too), but at least make it equal. So that you go after a trans thing each time you go after a cis LGB thing.

[Update: This post was originally written on Thursday night, the 26th. Since that time, I've had an opportunity to speak with Rich Ferraro, D of PR for GLAAD, and he's given me some really good news. He told me about the CW thing before I told him, and the CW has agreed to pull the spot. GLAAD is working with the Tosh.0 show, as well, and apparently they are being a bit unwilling to issue an actual apology. He also assured me they will speak with Keith Olbermann's offices as well.]

No one ever seems to say a word if the trans community doesn't, and then when we say something, we get told we are too angry or that there's no such thing as privilege and the person saying it doesn't have it.

Speak out. We might not have a lot of money, but we do have a lot of time and we've got bodies.

All of you, you need to apologize, publicly. You can even do it with humor. But it has to be in the same format as the way you did the dumb thing in the first place.

So, KO, a quick post on Daily Kos is not enough. Just not even close, and yes, we all know your father is ill and we all know your mother just passed. We also know that pain -- in case you hadn't heard, a lot of us are disowned by our parents.

Get through this hard time. But remember that you did this twice before. You let Musto on your show to do it, and you blew it again later, and then you completely skipped over the trans appointee stuff.

We're starting to think you don't like us. And if you don't, then for God's sake, man, just say it on camera.

CW, edit that damn commercial for High Society, because someone was high when they edited it and it certainly isn't speaking about society.

And just to show you all how it's done, when you apologize, all me to give you an example.

I apologize for having used gay, lesbian, and bisexual lives as an insult. I am aware that they do not have terrible lives, I do not look down on them, and I consider them some of the best people I know. I ask forgiveness for my indiscretion. I'm sorry.

See, that wasn't hard now, was it?


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The Ann Coulter insinuations are offensive (no matter how evil she is) as is the High Society commercial. High Society, by virtue of its direct connection to Gossip Girl, is watched by a lot of young teens (and even younger) and "tranny" thrown around by the bad girl is bound to become the new "No Homo" or "that's so gay" in no time. Like TV executives even care.

But honestly, my biggest issue is people in the trans and LGB community who throw tranny around like they're waving a baton. This includes transmasculine people, ftms, and GQs who have not been oppressed with the word tranny and don't get to reclaim it. That includes Cisgender gay men and lesbians. And they need to be called on it hard and often. And they need to be rebuffed post haste when they start carping on how trans women are policing language, being humorless, or too sensitive, Then these groups actually display the entitlement to lecture people who've been oppressed by that language, (which in reality is all about stripping trans women of their womenhood) as though they have any right to make those decisions.

As to poor communities... it's not unusual for oppressed people to internalize the language of their oppression. You could call that reclaiming or you could call it even more ingrained oppression (I don't think it's any of my business to weigh in on that one). There are many people in the black community who refer to trans women as "gay" but I don't think that legitimizes the mislabeling.

The problem comes when people outside those communities start appropriating and even owning/stealing the language. And before you know it, it's no longer someone in the ballroom scene tossing around tranny , but a commercial about white rich kids on the CW (and let's face it, if you look at some of the interview videos of Vogue Evolution, you'll see a lot of that group's transphobia towards Leiomy, their trans woman dancer). The only way you can contain hate speech is to call people out on it. Google "tranny" and see what comes up and you'll know exactly why it is, indeed hate speech specifically aimed at demeaning trans women.

I'll be blunt. I'm more often oppressed through the use of the F word than I am the T word.

In the CoP I work in, its not so much an internalizing of the term, as a genuine reclaiming -- hurl it at them as an epithet, and they'll have a field day with you.

I generally don't wade into the whole tranny is bad or not argument -- I haven't the time or patience for it, as it's far more complicated than people really want to look into.

I mentioned it only because it was important for me to differentiate what I'm doing here from that fight.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | March 2, 2010 9:25 PM

Hear! Hear! Thank you so much for pointing that out. I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness being accused of "defending Ann Coulter" when other people call her such clever names as "Man Coulter" and so forth. Ha, ha, how very funny! I know very little about Coulter's personal life but I have seen nothing to suggest that she is anything other than a biological woman. Whether she is or not, it infuriates me that people who call themselves "liberal" and "progressive" and "enlightened" love to use her rumored tarns status as a cudgel to attack her, when there is just so much easier ammunition just lying around. I wrote Olbermann about his unkind words. I thought I would get at least some lame platitudes back but so far, nothing.
As for Tosh, I tried watching that clown once prior to his anti trans rant that Bil talked about here and found him to be a self loathing little man who insults other people to feel better about himself. Some humor is okay and some is not and it's really a very bright line. Is the humor designed to promote joy or is it designed to be hurtful? Is it done out of humor or is it done out of contempt?
One thing you didn't mention is the veritable plethora of movies out there that make trans women, cross dressers and pre-ops look like a bunch of psycho killers, (Psycho, Dressed to Kill, The Silence of the Lambs to name just a few). It's no wonder several of us die from bashing every year.

I'm not sure one *can* defend Ann Coulter.

Seriously. I'm genuinely not sure which is worse -- that she's grouped with us or that our lives are used as insults.

Both are, to me, equally insulting. I went with the lives as insults thing because, sadly, I know a few trans folk who think she's great.

*sigh*

You're right.

But I can still look down on Coulter, right?

Absolutely. And with passion, no less.

I do.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | March 3, 2010 7:43 AM

Absolutely. I detest her with passion and insult her with gusto. There's no reason to accuse her of being trans though, like that's a BAD thing when she gives us oh so much to work with.

In fairness, Dyss, I took a poster on this blog to task last week for using trans as an insult.

Sometimes your allies do object.

OMG Thank you I was feeling overtly sensitive for being offended when I watched him say that.
Now I am validated and it feels good,thank you!

Well, yeah! Of course I agree. Love the lines "I know that's not very popular to say. And, to be perfectly frank, if I was worried about popularity, I wouldn't say it." My local network hates it when I point these things out, they will "love" my alter ego's (Revlon Robyn - I now let 'her' take all the blame ;) re-posting of this.....

Well, yeah! Of course I agree. Love the lines "I know that's not very popular to say. And, to be perfectly frank, if I was worried about popularity, I wouldn't say it." My local network hates it when I point these things out, they will "love" my alter ego's (Revlon Robyn - I now let 'her' take all the blame ;) re-posting of this.....

Antonia - I love this post! Thank you!!

Right on!

And ugh, I should NOT have read the comments on that Keith Olbermann link. So many people defending it with the "She did it first!" excuse. Sorry, you either get that, or get the moral high ground, not both. :P

Revlon Revolt | July 8, 2010 12:11 AM

To be honest I think the trans need to find their own movement. Trans has nothing to do with orientation and frankly, they hold our movement back (like you, I'm not worried about popularity). Its time for our movement to go GLB and to let them take their attention elsewhere. I am disturbed that they are part of our movement. We talk until we are blue in the face about dropping conventional gender roles, just for them to turn around and switch genders because they were "born in the wrong body." No, I am sorry, the community talks out of both sides of its mouth on this one!

Further more, take a good hard look at what they teach. St Louis's own "TransMafia" as it is known or "transhaven" as the trannies call it teaches that it is GOOD that they are classified as having a Psych illness. As Robyn (who commented above) and HIS good friend Eugene told a group at Trans 101 they want INSURANCE to cover this "disability"... I also heard she and Eugene once tell a family their child should be placed on hormone therapy before the age of ten... in Eugene's words "The earlier, the better."

Now tell me, when the GLB community consists of many people who really DO have family values and who DO want FULL equality, why do we include a community that wants to ride on the backs of insurance companies and SSI as "disabled" and that wants to put children on hormone therapy? Why are we inclusive of a group that wants OUR equality but demands different treatment??

Cut your losses!

Ok, first of all your cis privilege and trans misogyny are showing. Sad really...

You have no right to use the word "tr***y" as a slur. If TRANS people want to reclaim it, then it's up to them but being outside the community; as you seem so proud to point out; you have no right to use it. You also don't ever intentionally misgender someone... it just shows you to be a rude asshole, possibly a troll and negates any good points you *might* have made.(not that I saw any)
As for hormones. They aren't being forced on your children... or any children for that matter. It's a choice that should be left in their hands. Not mine, the gov't, society... and especially not yours. For children who experience gender dysphoria, puberty can be a horrifying experience. Often leading to depression, low self-esteem and suicide attempts or worse. Being FORCED by society to watch your body betray you, watch it turn into something you're not... You wouldn't want to experience that I assure you, but would like to force others to? Just sick... I also *love* how you use the same scare tactics that the "christians" for example use against you. ("Think of the children") What no lavatory scare?
I too am sick of cis gay BS. We "hold you back"? How quickly you forget your history... Stonewall; the great beginning of the gay-rights movement; Was instigated by trans women fighting the police. In fact the police were there in the first place to arrest... wait for it... trans women.
So please read up on your history before you go on about the "damage" trans women have done "your" movement.
Cheers!