Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Repeat-Quit Using 'Tranny' To Insult Cisgender Women

You know, the ignorance of Perez Hilton, some of my fellow African-American peeps and others on transgender issues shines through at times.

Nowhere does it shine more brightly than with this bullshit in gossip blogs and elsewhere on the Net of calling cisgender women that you're either jealous of, are over 5' 7" or have some androgynous features transwomen as an insult.

For example, my fellow Texan Ciara Princess Harris (she was born in Austin, so she's a Texan even if she grew up in the ATL, peeps) has been getting much hateraid from some elements of the Black community who continue to call the singer and Wilhelmina Model a transwoman. The rumors got so crazy it was claimed that she was intersex and had made the transgender declaration on Oprah.

While there are many women who we Black transwomen would embrace with open arms if they did make such a declaration to the world, she's said she wasn't in a New York Daily News interview:

R&B sensation Ciara just wants everyone to know: She's all woman. "You know what's funny? The rumor that I used to be a man," she told us at the launch party for Vibe Vixen magazine at Frederick's. "They said Oprah said that on her show," she laughed. "I've never been on Oprah in my life - we all know I have years before I go on Oprah, so come on!"

None of her boyfriends are complaining, and if they've gotten intimate with her, whatever genitalia they found between her legs is none of our business. As far as I'm concerned, Ciara's statement closes the book on this wacked discussion.

But I and many transwomen have a major problem with peeps ignorantly calling cisgender women 'trannies' to be insulting. If they're doing it to call these women 'ugly' or 'less feminine', maybe its because they have insecurities about their own gender identities, androgynous features they possess or they secretly want to date and have intimate relationships with transwomen.

The other thing I get irritated about is that as if Black cisgender women didn't have enough historical baggage to deal with concerning the Eurocentric beauty standard they've struggled against for centuries, now they get whacked with this as well.

Too many times and far too often Black cisgender women get whacked with that 'tranny' tag. Besides, if you haters haven't noticed, some of my sisters can more than hold their own in the beauty department as well.

But enough nonsense. Stop calling cisgender women 'tranny' to insult them. You're only shining a spotlight on your Bushian level of ignorance on transgender issues when you do so.


Dennis R. Upkins said...

I'm not surprised. We still make gay jokes because in this society gay is something to be ashamed of.

It's a damn shame all around.

Anonymous said...

I'm thoroughly sick of this too. And what's even more ironic is that 90% don't even know what being transgender means. Just ignorance all around.

@Jamie It must be nice to be able to turn off your sexuality like that. I love women.

Monica Roberts said...

As I noted in the post, it's not just women doing it to each other.

It's men, and most disgustingly GAY men that are guilty too.

Bunny said...

Lauren: I don't turn off my sexuality. Mine is just different than yours :-)

Monica: I understand that. I was just pointing out that women are mean to each other, so it doesn't shock me. And, well, in my experience, now that you mention it: so are a lot of gay men, who tend to be a lot like women in that way.

I know that's not PC, but that's the way I see it.

Monica Roberts said...


Jamie, I absolutely despise that conservative concocted term 'politically correct'

Janie, I understand the point about women being mean to each other as well. I am one.

Tami said...


Tami here. Got a question for you, but don't have your e-mail addy. Can you hit me up at

This is a great post, btw.

Gina said...

Eventually, we will get it in our heads that 'tranny' is an insulting term to ANY woman, either cis or trans. It is all about ugliness, putdowns and not about womanhood. And the sooner transwomen, gay people and ftm-spectrum people stop using it, the better. And I'm getting rather sick of people saying "it's only a word, try not to personalize it". Well, it is personal to me. It's a dis at how real my womanhood is and I don't tolerate it. If we would all start doing that, transwomen would begin to get a lot more respect. One of the first steps in liberating a downtrodden community is zero tolerance of the speech that's used to demean it. And no amount of "reclaiming" is going to make that change.

Monica Roberts said...

Done Tami...

rioTgirl said...

This isn't about reclaiming a word, and I'll say I'm pretty fond of using that particular word, much like I used "queer" among my friends back in tha day.

However, cis-folks applying that word to other cis-folk and as a put down for Trans*women is at the heart of transphobia. It implies two conflicting cruddy ideas about gals like me. 1) We are "trying too hard" and are over-the-top "feminine" and 2) We aren't trying "hard enough" and leave some physical/emotional/social cues to confirm the "fact" we are really men.

This also places cis-women who may be allied with us in a position to distance themselves from us. It comes out like "Trans* aren't bad, but how could you ever think I was one of those people?"

When cis- fey gay guys and left-leaning bloggers use it to poke fun at famous women or to cast aspersions on political rivals (Mann Coulter anyone?) is serves the useful purpose of pointing out to the aware that they and their causes are not for me or my causes even when they may intersect.

Renee said...

You know what else, this argument is done to declare transwomen unfeminine as well and strip them of female status. This is nothing but patriarchy and trans hate combined. You see if we keep women fighting amongst each other to hold up a ridiculous beauty ideal, we won't focus on the real issues.

Gina said...

As I see it, way too many people are feeling entitled to throw 'tranny' around. And, no, it's not used in an affectionate way. Most often it's a joke that, in some way, degrades our womanhood, appropriates our experience or says "I know what you really are and AREN'T". From my perspective, this entitlement needs to stop and the word needs to be 'reeled in' back to the community of women who it was used against for us to decide where to take it.

Moreover, there is a real issue of ftm spectrum people and gay men telling transwomen whether they should be okay with "queer" people using the word or not and I'm getting really tired of them appropriating that decision. When it's used in reference to ciswomen it's a synonym for "ugly" or "not woman enough" when it's used against transwomen it means "obviously a man", "expendable" or "victim" and I'm not any of those. My perspective is, if you're going to refer to me as such or use it in my presence, you damn better be a transwoman living as such 24/7 and be a very close friend of mine.

Anonymous said...

I am a proud transsexual woman and I still hate it when someone uses the word 'tranny.' Be it gay men, straight men, natal born women, or another trans woman using it, I still think it's an ugly and offensive word.

If we want others to respect us and use the correct terms, we must do so in our OWN community. Transsexualism is already confusing enough for the majority of people who are not trans, we really don't need all these offensive terms on top of that.
Folks are gonna say, well I heard another trans say it, why can't I say it? and blah blah blah...
We must be the change we wanna see in the world... it starts with us.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for you. But first, I just wanna make it clear that I have nothing against black women.
In my experience, whenever I get 'read,' why do MOST black women tend to be the most vocal or make a big deal out of it? Is it because it's cultural or black women can clock a trans woman easier?

Monica Roberts said...

Glad to see you pop in again!

No problem sis, it's an honest question.

First I have to ask what was the reaction you received from those women? That will tell me what kind of people you ran into.

There are some of my peeps who have faith based Hateraid of transpeople, there are some who are just ignorant and there are some who are the most wonderfully supportive allies a transwoman could have.

Black transwomen do tend to transition early.

We also have many who start FI (female illusionist) careers as a way to transition WITHOUT getting slammed by AA religious, familial or cultural disapproval, so there's a cultural familiarity with transgender peeps on a basic level.

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica:
the kind of reaction that I received from those women are very immature and just straight up mean and at times nasty. They would go, oh, that's a man or talking/making fun of me at MY expense.

Now, I do have to say, I blend in very well but I am not unclockable or is there such a thing? I just find that most black girls, tend to read me easier and are very VOCAL about it when they do read. But make no mistake, I have no problem letting any bitch have it either. Just because they could tell, that does not mean they can make fun of me at my expense.

Monica Roberts said...

Yep, that's the attitude you should have.

Those people you ran into were straight up ignorant transphobes, but know that you have Black cisgender women who are our allies and will openly love, embrace and support you.

Always remember sis, I'm proud of you for the being who you are and evolving into the strong woman you were born to be.

Remember as well that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I you need me for anything sis, hit me up on my e-mail. I also do chat from time to time too.

Gina said...

Melania, unfortunately, 'letting them have it' is exactly what they want. They want you to lose it so they can call you irrational. If you let them know, in a calm voice with a pleasant sh*t eating smile, they're immature and ignorant it sinks in deeper and they can't brush it off. :-)

Monica Roberts said...

I've found the best way is to be what my mom calls, 'nice-nasty'

You insult them with a smile on your face and a calm even tone. You also make the insult so subtle that they have to think about what you said, and by the time they realize you've dissed them, you're safely out of the area and they're stewing in their pissivity because you made THEM look stupid in the process.

That ability will come with time. Also 'playing the dozens' helps you develop that skill.

Anonymous said...

I totally agreed with what you said. I usually just ignored it and go on about my business but sometimes it's hard. There are situations that you can't just ignored. Especially when it's a respect thing.
I am not saying that I'm perfect 10 but I do have it going on. Some natal born women at times can't take the fact that another trans woman can look better than her.

I just look at them like stupid animals and pay them dust! Bringing yourself down to their level takes a lot of work and energy. I find that how people treat you has a lot to do with how you carry yourself. If you have confidence, they will think twice before doing or saying anything stupid.

Unknown said...

While I agree that hurling transphobic insults at ciswomen is bigoted and damages all women, at the end of the day, transphobic slurs are designed to injure transgendered people.

As a ciswoman who's seen her share of heterosexist insults, I'm less concerned about the wounded feelings of ciswomen than I am about the lives and basic safety of transwomen. While Ciara and other celebrities do damage control to save their reputations, transwomen face discrimination that most ciswomen can't imagine on their worst day.

Gina said...

I would like to hear a ciswoman ally who has the cojones, security in her own beauty and self-esteem to reply to the 'tranny' insult by saying "that I look like a transwoman isn't an insult... in fact, it's often a compliment, thank you."

Kyría Ioánna said...

This is not new. In the Oxford Hindi Dictionary, I found that one of the definitions for "hijra" is "ugly woman." :(

Disassociated Press said...

THANK YOU! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I get so tired of that ignorant "racist" mess from other black people until it is sickening. I have had it done to me because I am tall, slender and mixed.
I remember when I lived in Paducah, a group of black men told one of their white coworkers that I as a transsexual. The man approached me to ask if it was true in the middle of a Ryans cafeteria as his black friends looked on.
I think that was the closest I had ever come to wanting to shoot someone. I was very hurt but I can't say that I haven't had it done before while visiting black areas. I am a former runway model and have constantly had the insult thrown at me.
Eventually, I remarried and move to Italy with my husband. I have to children and eventually would like to move back to the states but I don't want my daughter to deal with the same situation. I am sure it will be worse being that she is blue eyed.