I thought this was very well said. Yes, I discovered the article because it linked to one of my own posts but I’m reblogging it because it’s just damned good advice. Is it advice I necessarily follow in my own daily life? No and yes. Not as put here, no, but I have my own version of some of this stuff.
The employee filling out my information got to a page about gender. There were four options: “Male,” “Female,” “Male Impersonator,” and “Female Impersonator.”
If it were not for my fear of the NSA, I might have pointed out to this person that, for a governmental body as intent on intelligence collection as this one, it was certainly going to have trouble gathering accurate information with those four options.
I certainly hope that everyone reading this article knows that trans people are not “impersonating” anyone.
However, many well-intentioned people simply don’t know the language that we use for ourselves. They want to treat us with respect, but they often fail because they don’t know the practicalities of how to do it.
Some may have heard that the trans community is very “sensitive” about words and are extra nervous about this as a result.
I say, though, that we aren’t “too sensitive.” That label is used to dismiss the concerns of oppressed people time and again.
Society has built a language and mentality that does not accommodate trans people or allow us to exist. We have created new language and reshaped old words to build a place for ourselves in the world.
These words work to reframe an entire language that is focused on cis supremacy. Of course, using the right language is not everything (check out Jess Ide’s article on page ten of this newspaper for a more in-depth analysis of this).
Language is not a replacement for tangible support of the trans community. But shifting our words is an important step in shifting our ideas and actions.
These words are not the wailing of a “sensitive” community. They are tools that can bring us all closer to gender-based freedom.
Just to be clear, when I use the word “trans,” I am using it as an umbrella term for everyone who doesn’t completely identify as cis. When I use “non-binary,” I am using it as an umbrella term for everyone who doesn’t solely identify as male and female.
I know that many people’s experiences and identities are more complicated, but I’m using those words as shorthand in this introductory article.
I also want to acknowledge that I am only one person in the trans community. I cannot speak for everyone. In particular, I want to acknowledge that my race and class privilege has likely influenced this piece, although I’ve tried to mitigate it.
I’ve done my best to make this list inclusive, but many others might have more to add or say differently on these issues. And I absolutely welcome you to comment and engage with others on this topic.
Language changes over time, space, and culture/subculture, and although I have done my best to gather as much information as I can, this list is definitely not the last word on this topic. If you are trans and have more to add, please let me know! (Continue reading on @evrydayfeminism)
- Obama Gives Shout Outs to Marriage Equality, Lesbians and Trans People in State of the Union Address (musingsofamildmanneredman.blogspot.com)
- China’s Transgender Sex Workers Reveal Why They Feel ‘Marginalized And Vulnerable’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mourners for Black Queer and Trans Lives Attacked by Castro Bar (truth-out.org)
- Stern: Saks Shows Feeble Commitment to Trans People (bilerico.com)
- Green Party leader ‘disappointed’ by candidate’s comments about trans people (pinknews.co.uk)