Currently (May 2014), across the word a debate is again unfolding with regard to transphobic slurs (Trannie, She-male, He/She), the use and effects of them and those who use them.
This campaign serves to collate and give a voice to the members of the transgender and gender-diverse communities who reject the use of transphobic slurs against them and to bring reason to the current debate; something that is currently lacking.
There are two sides of this debate:
Those who use these words:
It is argued that these words (such as Tranny) are affectionate and are historically used by drag acts to self identify; the words are used to poke fun of gender diverse people and should be reclaimed to take back the power from those people who would use them to attack, harm and degrade us.
Those who are affected by them:
It is argued that words like Tranny, she-male and he/she dehumanize and other us to an extent that our identities are even more difficult to realise in a world that already sees us as different. The word is used in conjunction with discrimination, hate, abuse and violence and is often the last thing beaten and murdered transgender people hear during such attacks. The words have sex industry links and are used, in modern day, to add legitimacy to such attacks. The usage of these words has changed over time and younger generations feel utterly dehumanized by them.
It is argued that these words are no different than any LGB or racial slur, which have all been, and quite rightly so, fought against to allow people to live respectfully and peacefully.
This campaign falls on the side of and supports the latter.
Recently the biggest public usage of this word has been on the LOGO TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, where the host RuPaul has used such words to ‘poke’ fun at those people in the community; those who live their lives in the face of adversity and at the hands of such slurs, every day. When the TV show was challenged, it agreed that the use of these slurs was inappropriate and it sought to distance itself from the situation, however RuPaul himself then took to the media, re-asserting that in the realm of entertainment, despite the feelings of those who are oppressed by such words, he would carry on using them and that we simply needed to ‘toughen up. This has been reiterated by supporters of RuPaul.
It was also claimed that this sentiment was not held by transsexuals or the transgender community, but that it was a few ‘fringe’ individuals that were seeking to garner media attention and increase their ‘victim-hood’.
This campaign agrees that people have a right to identify as they choose, however we also agree that as an oppressed group of people, those who find words such as Tranny and She-Male offensive and derogatory, especially in relation to their own identity and with regard to respect, safety, violence and murder that they have a right to do so. Oppressed people are always the only people who should define what oppresses them.
~Murder and Violence
In 2014 and for IDAHOT (May 17th), the TransRespect vs Transphobia and their Trans Murder Monitoring Project (TTM) launched their statistics for the period between January 1st 2008 to March 1st 2014, which shows that there have been 1,509 ‘reported’ killings of trans and gender variant people in that time.
It is worth noting that these figures only represent reported murders. Many more go unreported as incidents relating to transphobia and involving transgender and gender diverse people.
“Sadly, from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2014, the TMM already registered 75 murders in 13 countries. These are only preliminary results, and the numbers are likely to grow even larger during the course of the year. While often the actual circumstances of the killings remain obscure due to lacking investigation and reports, many of the cases documented involve an extreme extent of aggression, including torture and mutilation. Many cases are not investigated properly by the authorities.
Apart from these 75 reported murders in 2014, the ever-growing TMM archive has registered numerous cases in 61 different countries since 2008, most of which hardly received any public attention at all.” – Source TMM
Unfortunately, our community does not just suffer from horrific murder statistics for such a small group of people, but many people also die of suicide too. The attempted suicide statistics for the Transgender community is as high as 41% in some countries, which when compared to 1.6% for the rest of the population, really puts things in perspective.
People attempt suicide for a variety of reasons, but these are often reflected in a lack of acceptance, family and social rejection, bullying, hate and of course violence. Words such as Tranny contribute to this lack of acceptance and do not help transgender people to live out in the world without fear rejection and of being targeted.
This is the international campaign to show that we will not be silenced with regard to words that oppress us and that are used to hurt, discriminate and bully; words used to deny us services and that prevent us living life safely and with respect. To protest the words that are used against us when taking our lives. Transphobia ruins lives. We welcome you to submit your images to this campaign. Please send them to email@example.com
This is the international campaign to show that we will not be silenced with regard to words that oppress us and that are used to hurt, discriminate and bully; words used to deny us services and that prevent us living life safely and with respect. To protest the words that are used against us when taking our lives.
Transphobia ruins lives. We welcome you to submit your images to this campaign. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
This campaign is not a Wipe Out Transphobia (WOT) specific campaign, rather we are giving this campaign a much needed platform to people who feel oppressed by the use of transphobic slurs; with specific reference to tranny (trannie), she-male and he/she type references.
The campaign is being hosted by Wipe Out Transphobia to try and balance the debate, which has been very one sided thus far.
This campaign is not seeking to erase words or history, or to stop people using them in a personal context, rather it is aiming to show that because a large section of the transgender community are not comfortable with this word (for the reasons explained above), that acts like RuPaul should take this into consideration when using words many consider slurs, both on TV and Radio. Doing so perpetuates the violence others face regularly.
We are categorically not trying to tell people they cannot self-identify as they feel, this is against our core belief, however we are asking for consideration of the people who do find difficulty with these words. We are essentially trying to flip the debate and show that while people have a right to object to this campaign, we should also take a lot of notice of those who object to these words, especially given their modern, social use.
Individuals have a right to identify as they please, however people also have a right not to be forced to identify with words that are regularly used to oppress them.