I was recently on a private author forum on Facebook where a well-meaning blogger was asking for books to review featuring "Tranny" characters. Other well-meaning authors shared the post and my blood began to boil.
It was mind-blowing to me that anyone involved in writing, editing, promoting, publishing, reading, reviewing or discussing romances in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and or queer and or questioning realm would not know how offensive the word tranny is to the transgender community.
I use the word community loosely because I have discovered there really isn't one and people who are transgender have the loneliest battle of all the letters in GLBTQ. I don't know how people can have missed the flap over Kelly Osborne's use of the word or the rising awareness of transgender people.
But using the word tranny seems designed to offend.
In this same forum after I complained, an author commented that her own editor used it as a slur in her edits! Truly!
Rest assured the word is offensive and is mostly used as a slur, not in a kindly way. We need to be mindful of that. We need to respect all the letters in GLBTQ. I am also stunned that so few authors understand the word queer and think it is offensive. If you are going to make a living out of a genre, get to know the letters and what they mean, please.
Queer Culture has its own special issues but I am not going to stray from this topic to address it even though I get many emails from authors asking me about it. Google it!
There are some things I'd like to address regarding transgender and why sensitivity and some knowledge is essential. I have a dear author friend who is undergoing gender reassignment surgery and I know two who already have. For those who dare to think they know all about being transgender - they just. Do. Not.
Chastity Bono has done so much to educate us all about living with being transgendered. Perhaps he said it best here: "Obviously the transgender movement has not progressed in the way that the gay and lesbian movement has. But I'm an activist - that's just the kind of person I am. "
My experience with M to F transgendered people is different from F to M. They are often the targets of slurs. Transgender men live with constant fear and rejection. The two transgender men I know well came out to a group of friends who had no idea they used to be women and the reaction was horrible. Disgusting. And the group was mostly made up of gay men and lesbian women! One of the gay men suddenly didn't want to swim with them and made disparaging remarks about 'girly bits' and 'eunuchs'...
Both these men risked a lot in revealing their truths. Somehow though, little things started to make sense. They are both still afraid to use men's rest rooms. Dinner in a restaurant can prove uncomfortable. One has a penis and it is functional to urinate. The other one does not. He looks and dresses like a man but has no penis. He fears the retribution of being caught in a men's room with no dick. He fears going away on camping weekends with male friends and showering in a communal setting.
He has good reason to.
Here are the most recent statistics of transgender health issues that may give you pause.
28% had been subjected to harassment in a medical setting
26% had been physically assaulted in at least one health care setting
24% had been denied equal treatment at a doctor’s office or hospital
19% had been refused medical care due to being transgender or gender non-conforming (the rate was higher for transgender people of color)
13% had been denied equal treatment at an emergency room
10% had been sexually assaulted in at least one health care setting
I read an awful story where a transgender man said, “I was forced to have a pelvic exam by a doctor when I went in for a sore throat. The doctor invited others to look at me while he examined me and talked to them about my genitals.”
Facts about transgender people and health here
The transgender men I know live with fear, snickers, misunderstanding, rejection, abuse and intolerance in their quest to be who they are, who they want to be. And shouldn't they be allowed to live the lives they want? They were born this way. To marginalize them with offensive slurs, by calling them trannies will not mean they will go away...hopefully.
Because here's another statistic you probably don't know. The suicide rate in the transgender community is higher than any of the other letters in the GLBTQ. That's right.
Are you proud to slur them now?
Still want to snicker and call them trannies?
Remember the next time you want to put them down and call them he/she/it that it is hate speech. It is as offensive as using the N word.
I will conclude with this. We all need to be kinder, gentler and more understanding with one another. We need to learn more about the issue to 'get it' so I am offering up an ebook of my novel The Wine-Dark Sea
which features a transgender character, but he is M to F and is based on my friend's husband. I am proud of this novel and I am glad I met this man who fought to change his life.
My author friend whom I mentioned earlier, who is undergoing reassignment surgery, recently wrote to me. He has been forced to undergo months and months of expensive therapy and all the other things transgender people are forced to go through before they can be even considered for surgery. His last e-mail broke my heart in a million pieces. He wrote, "I've been waiting for the letter from my therapist saying I am accepted into the program...waiting for her to come up with yet another excuse about why I can't."
Gay men get to be gay, lesbians can be lesbians, queer and questioning? Have at it. None of them require a host of hoops through which they are forced to jump, by others, who may or may not have their best interests at heart. We need to be mindful of this. The private pain. Behind closed doors. The whispers, the snickers...the fear...behind whispered words. Perhaps this gives you a tiny glimpse, a start, a spark of understanding about how brave these men and women are. What transgender should stand for is 'Tall'. These people stand tall. I stand right with them. They are my heroes, my friends. Tall, tall friends
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