RuPaul appears to have been at the centre of a storm in a big gay teacup lately.
With her show ‘Drag Race’ no longer having the term “She-Mail” included in it and the annoyance of some within the LGBT community at her casual use of the word ‘tranny’, RuPaul has been biting back. I have to say that I agree with her.
I’ve never seen RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I am aware of the show and its content. I wonder how many people getting annoyed at the use of the term ‘She-Mail’ and the word ‘tranny’ have actually watched it and seen the context in which those words are used. The word tranny has long been used to describe transvestites and Drag Queens; it is not a word that is exclusive to transgender people or even used by transgender people. This is something that those getting annoyed at its use in RuPaul’s show should keep in mind. RuPaul describes herself as a tranny and it is quite apparent that her use of that word and of the term ‘She-Mail’ relates to herself and other Drag Queens, rather than being a slur towards to the transgender community.
Something that has been bothering me for some time is the way the LGBT community are so quick to turn on each other. Whether it’s the above issue of getting precious over certain words and terms or gay men criticising other gays for the way they look, it’s clear to me that the gay movement is becoming its own worst enemy.
There are so many horrific things happening around the world, such as the anti-gay regimes in Russia, the new laws in Brunei, and the ongoing persecution of LGBT people in some African countries. Even in our own country there’s still great injustices and the threat from the outside still exists. Rather than infighting we should be focused on what we can achieve together to eliminate that threat.
Coming back to the policing of words (and it is policing), I really believe that some LGBT people need to lighten up and consider the context that words are used in. I’ll give you an example…
I was once called a “f**king disgusting queer” by a homophobic man who wanted to beat me up just for being gay. Those words used in that context are offensive and completely unacceptable. However, I have also been called a “queer dear” by one of my friends. The word ‘queer’ is used in both of those examples, but only one is offensive and that is because of the context it is used in.
I’ve spoken to transgender friends of mine about this and the feeling among them is that the word tranny doesn’t apply to them and they are not offended when somebody uses the word in reference to Drag Queens or transvestites. It is only when they are called trannies that it becomes offensive. Again it comes back to the context in which words are used.
I truly believe in people being able to identify in any way they want and use any words they choose as long as it’s in a positive and empowering context. Just because some in the transgender community don’t like the word ‘tranny’ or the term ‘She-Mail’ being used towards them it shouldn’t mean that RuPaul or anyone else isn’t allowed to apply those words to themselves or others who identify with it.
There are more shocking and pressing matters in the world that we should be focusing on instead of policing the words that others in our LGBT community use. Otherwise there is a real risk of the ‘gay movement’ eating itself from the inside. RuPaul, I salute you for speaking the truth.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.