I was recently pondering all the bru-ha-ha over the idea of same-sex marriage. It is interesting to see how states will give **EXACTLY** the same rights and privileges as straight/het married individuals but because it’s called civil unions, it’s viewed as not enough. I dunno. Either way I look at it, it is a form of a social contract and commitment between two or more people (IMO — it’s so nice that it’s limited to just two people, as if we’re only capable of loving just two but that’s a whole other post on-to-itself, I think). And really, you know, words are powerful things and something we take that for granted. We use words to describe who we are and where we’re going in life. And sometimes those words seem apt to us but to others they are adequate or wrong. Take for example, transgender. For most definitions it is about the fact the person views themselves as different from birth gender.
refers to any gender variant person. It is a broad, relatively recent term referring to people whose gender identity or expression falls outside of stereotypical gender norms.
Source: Google Definition Search
When I compare this to the various definitions of transsexual we seem some overlap:
– a person who has undergone a sex change operation
– transsexual(a): overwhelmingly desirous of being, or completely identifying with, the opposite sex
– a person whose sexual identification is entirely with the opposite sex
Source: Google Definition Search
Now, yes, transsexual does fall under the domain of transgender. What’s interesting is that society seems to be ok with the term transgender but not so much the term transsexual. It’s not just the “trans community” (at least those that I am familar with so this isn’t a broad brush thing) that seems to view it as a more acceptable term. When you read various articles and newspieces, a transsexual is often associated with a trans sex worker who has been murdered while transgendered refers to others that are seen in a good light. The use of transgender in the news media is well over double that of transsexual. It’s a curious thing why.
As I think of the historical evolution of the word and the world of transsexuals/transgender individuals, it makes me wonder if there is a negative stigmata associated with that of transsexual. That is, a transsexual is a bad thing (e.g., pedophile or other “sexual deviant”) whereas transgender is a good thing and is viewed in a positive light. Mass media has largely used the term transsexual to define individuals that were corrupt, scheming and evil in many ways. That’s not to say that there aren’t trans individuals who aren’t that but there are many — more than likely the majority — who are nice, average people just living life. So why is it we only see transsexual in the terms of a negative?
On the flip side, transgender has been taking a lot more of a positive look on things and seems to be more accepted as a path for individuals to pursue in their quest to match up their gender with their view of their gender. When the terms are looked in a better light then perhaps society may look at the individuals who use those terms to describe themselves in a better light. The term tranny, a term I don’t particularly like because of it’s historically insulting and demeaning use, continues — in mainstream use — to have a negative connotation to it although it does depend on the context and who uses it. For some it is a form of ownership to our own history and that is true in many ways. For some “trannies”, there is a sense of pride to take ownership of it and self-identify with it.
So that leads me to a self-question: do we acqueise to what society wants in hopes that it may lessen discrimination or do we use the words we want to self-describe ourselves as we see fit? I’d rather be hated because I used words that better described me than loved for words that made me look fluffy (although, I really am fluffy, to borrow Gabriel Iglesias term)