I learned something new this week and that is that the term ‘transsexual’ is now considered a dirty word by some. I don’t know how or when this happened. I only know that a transgender activist that I personally know and have great respect for has recently posted this information on a transgender website. According to the activist the term transsexual has been heavily associated with sex, thus the reason for their personal desire for trans or transgender to become accepted terms. I always thought transsexual was the term used for those who identify as the opposite gender to the gender they were born. I decided to google the word ‘transsexual’ and the results seemed to agree with me.
Now, here is where my confusion begins. I was under the belief transgender was the umbrella term for the gender diverse. The binary/non binary folks, drag queens/kings, gender fluids, transsexuals etc. are all under the transgender umbrella collectively. Yet why do transsexuals now get to be the whole umbrella? If a new term is preferable wouldn’t transwoman or transman be more suitable? The world is evolving and the transgender community is finally getting some visibility and acceptance, though there’s still a long way to go. Language is constantly evolving too but with the transgender community it almost seems like it’s every week. Pronouns change and I understand that some non-binary folk want to be referred to as ‘they’. I get it. ‘They’ is a non-gender specific term.
Tranny is also now considered a derogatory term. The majority of the transgender community believes this word as having negative connotations as it has historically been used in a derogative bullying way. Therefore, one can understand the aversion to that word. There was a hullabaloo that lasted for a number of years over changing the name of a popular event known as ‘Tranny Bingo’. Those for and against the change appeared evenly split. Eventually the threat of court action resulted in the event undergoing a name change. No more Tranny Bingo. Now the event is known as ‘GenderBender’.
I also have the problem of having to edit a couple of chapters in my book if the word transsexual is now a big no-no. A few chapters are about working in a transsexual brothel, which at the time was literally advertised as a transsexual brothel. Do I edit out this term in my book or not? I sincerely don’t want to offend. Though, seeing as the problem with the word appears to be because it has sexual connotations then maybe I should keep it in my book because sex is what happens in brothels. Therefore, my use of the word appears correct. The word queer once held the same negative connotation as tranny but has been reclaimed and even become part of the gay alphabet soup of LGBTIQ. Maybe I can reclaim the word transsexual as a positive though as a cis female what would I know?
Maybe my editor Kaz can enlightened me. She is transsexual (or now transgender, I’ll have to ask her) so lives the experience. She’d know better than I. Without Kaz’s motivation and help with my blog I doubt I’d have gotten this far. Though I have cursed her secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) at times for pushing me to have confidence in myself and my writing. For that push means work and I’m basically very lazy. So I invite Kaz to give a short precise insight of her view. I know from experience to trust what she always has to offer. Kaz my lovely, patient, talented editor over to you…
As a transsexual woman I will not cowtow to the politically correct warriors (who are, in my opinion, in the minority) in my self-identification and expression. Personally I feel that the transgender community (yes, using the umbrella term) has a great deal more obstacles of greater importance to challenge and battle than the use of the word ‘transsexual’. Let’s talk about equality in the workplace, provision of funded gender affirming surgeries, access to specialist health services and the plight of those trans and gender diverse individuals who are incarcerated. I’d rather see these zealots take on the battle against the terms ‘shemale’ (which originated as a South-East Asian term for transsexual sex workers) and ‘shim’. Pick your battles, people!