Some day I plan on writing a post (or series of posts) about the many problems and issues of trying to “date” while being trans, but in the meantime, I wanted to write a little about the topic of trans slurs. Like most nerds these days I use Reddit for a variety of reasons, and in response to one post someone sent me the following message:
So first, yes, the terms “tranny” and “she-male” are generally considered offensive, and yes they’re even offensive to me. I don’t use them much in my day to day life except when I’m bordering on panic, or having a breakdown. They only really come out in my daily life as a result of all the crippling/overwhelming anxiety and shame I live with.
In my online life however, I’m trying to use them as a kind of “acceptance therapy” if that makes sense.
I’m not female (genetically I’m not 46,XX) and I lost both the socio-economic and genetic lotteries; I wasn’t able to transition before puberty, or be raised/socialized as a normal girl. And after 6 years now on hormones I still don’t pass for female, so it’s safe to assume I never will. I also wasn’t born into a country with socialized health care, so the likelihood of ever affording surgery is almost nil.
So I have to find some way to be ok with the fact that to the vast majority of people, I’m a freak; I’m just a man in drag, trying to “invade” women’s spaces.
I’m just a “tranny.”
Quick aside, if you really want to argue this, go read up on “HB2” just signed into law in North Carolina. This isn’t the first or last time anti-trans laws will be codified.
And sure, other people have (and will continue to) use these words/slurs with the explicit intention of hurting me. Though it’s much more common online (It happened at length back when I was hardcore playing “Lord of The Rings Online”) than in person; in real life it’s usually more subtle, a cashier of waitress will shift to gender neutral (or sometimes outright male) pronouns “hey guys” instead of “hey ladies” if I’m around.
One day in particular I’ll never forget…
Three years ago, just a normal day out to lunch with my mom, we go to a local diner (like a Denny’s) and the hostess greets us, “Hi lad-” she literally stops mid-word, pauses and recovers, “Hi guys.”
Other times it’s more subtle, the hostess or cashier won’t stop mid word, but will change to gender neutral for any subsequent interaction. That happens so frequently that trying to remember every instance is impossible.
This is why “Hi guys” is just as upsetting to me as outright slurs; it’s subtle, and nuanced, and it strips me of my identity in a seemingly polite way. It’s another way for people to tell me, “You’re a fraud, you don’t fool me, I know you aren’t female.”
As one therapist told me a couple years back, I’ve developed borderline agoraphobia from this.
That’s reality for me, even living in the greater Los Angeles area, one of the most “progressive” and LGBT friendly areas in the world.
So at least if I’m up front about it and use these slurs to describe myself, it dulls the pain ever so slightly when someone uses them with the intent to harm. Maybe it even cuts off some would-be harassment attempts before they begin, I don’t know.