Earlier this week Quinnae Moongazer wrote a well crafted open letter to Kate Bornstein, drawing attention to the things she says that invalidate trans people with binary genders, especially within how she uses, discusses, and defends other people’s use of the term “tranny.” Kate immediately wrote an apology and said she would only use the term among friends, forgoing it’s use in public. However, one day later she realized that her apology was premature, written before she had a chance to process the whole thing. She wrote another post explaining that she actually would be using the term in public.
I had a lot to say about this, and to Kate directly. This began as a comment on her blog and expanded into something bigger. So I’m placing it here.
I saw your post the other night and it really lifted my spirits. I’ve always appreciated your writings but have been a bit alienated from you for a while now – because of this and the other issues Moongazer raises. But let me be clear, in certain circumstances I like the word tranny too. In pretty limited ways which make total sense to me and my immediate community, I use it. But what was difficult for me was not that you used it, but how you dismissed the concerns of those who felt hurt by it. And how you stood up to defend the right of anyone to use it in any “positive” context.
If a gay cis man yells out to me “Hey there, fabulous tranny.” Or a straight cis man announces “I love trannies!” That’s going to make me uncomfortable – I hope I don’t need to explain why. I’d try to tell them that and that it’s not an okay use (even though it’s positive) or what might be a better way to frame their sentiment. When they hear that THE Kate Bornstein said it was okay, possibly even preferable, for them to use the term, it undoes the education I was working on. Continue reading