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.