Monday, 27 February 2012

'Miss' will do nicely

Over at a friend's, a conversation developed about what we preferred to call ourselves nowadays - 'we' meaning 'advanced-stage transitioners'.

We rejected the term 'tranny' completely.

It's sometimes claimed that 'tranny' is used in a semi-affectionate way between trans people and their allies, making it all right for others to use it too, perhaps to suggest insider knowledge or sympathies. Well, maybe this was once so, and I admit that two years back I personally felt fairly tolerant about being called a tranny; but no longer. We all now reserved the word for a person who crossdressed as a woman in such an unstudied, ludicrous and embarrassing way that they would be foolish not to expect adverse comment and nil acceptance. It wasn't quite a sneer word, but nothing to be proud of.

People starting their transition are bound to make the odd faux pas while they develop their female alter ego. Some may need to experiment radically with femininity; or make a statement; or defy conventions; and to do it all boldly. At this early stage they may feel that the risks of ridicule are small compared to all the freedoms and thrills on offer. Can you blame them if they dress and behave flamboyantly, quite unlike the ordinary natal women and girls? They're celebrating, they're finding their way, and it's entirely understandable. And they won't mind being called a 'tranny' for parading in public, not then, not even if 'Oy, tranny!' is shouted at them rather unkindly, because the T word does at least recognise their triumphant touchdown on Planet Female.

But it seems inappropriate and undeserved to call anyone who has seriously commenced their transition a 'tranny'. They are in for a hard two or three years, and ought to be admired for taking on the task. They need all the support they can get.

And it's an absolute mortal injury to those who have won through to the end. After all the time, effort, money and emotional capital you have to pour into transition - not forgetting the physical pain as well - you most certainly do earn the right to call yourself a 'trans woman'. In fact we agreed that 'trans woman' was the only acceptable term. Or simply 'woman', especially if you have made yourself indistinguishable from the ordinary natal version. After all, if you have finished with your transition, the 'trans' bit is redundant.

There are a host of other words floating around: 'transgendered', 'queer', and many more. We felt they were meaningless, mainly for being too inclusive and liable to lump quite different people together. Apart from that, they were labels we didn't want. When you have begun to settle into a proper way of life, strange labels can get in the way. And it's not as if there will ever be a Queer Party to vote for, with a broad and realistic agenda.

Speaking for myself, the only label I need is 'Miss' in front of my name. That says exactly what I want people to know about my gender and status.


  1. Once you've changed sex, "trans" is not redundant. It's simply not applicable. Some seem to hang onto it, but I can't imagine why. I certainly wouldn't.

    - Ariel

  2. Yes, Miss or even Ms will do fine thank you very much. I have even been addressed as Mrs a couple of times. I like it when people ask about my husband, not that I want one but it is a sort of symbolic recognition of my womanhood. Yes, 'Trans' is no longer necessary.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  3. As a transman I've never been called "tranny". I have been called "lesbian" and "butch" by people that have no knowledge about me at all. Which actually kind of makes me laugh because people aways confuse gender and sexuality.

    Sir, will do just fine for me thanks.

  4. Never went for tranny.
    Queer if I'm talking about sexual orientation is fine.
    Trans is a bit general, but I tend to prefer it to some arch phrase like 'woman of history'. Especially those of us who transition late in life need some easy way of communicating that our time line varies from cis people. And I don't see it as a qualifier, any more than identifying as a woman of colour means that you're not fully a woman. Of course if there's no relevance to that information then just woman suffices.

  5. I had a brief flirtation with 'Ms' but soon settled on 'Mrs' since I am definitely married and wear a wedding ring on the 4th finger of my left hand to mark the fact.

    Although I've yet to transition completely (not long now!) I sense that I left the 'tranny' stage behind long ago, when this ceased to be a recreation and became a serious matter of lifestyle. If called upon to explain my origins, I'm happy to be a 'trans woman' but for most of the time 'Mrs' suits me fine.


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