Why I Love The Word Tranny

Questions have been raised in the media recently about the use of a word which, some say, is degrading and offensive. In fact, it's quite the opposite...
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Questions have been raised in the media recently about the use of a word which, some say, is degrading and offensive. In fact, it's quite the opposite...

NYCDownlowAtLovebox

I noted there's been some backlash regarding one of my favorite words ever.  Gabourey Sidibe was recently under fire for using the word, Lance Bass has been in trouble as has Kelly Osbourne and Neil Patrick Harris.

But I love the word Tranny.

I recently read a blog by Dana McCallum. Dana is a senior engineer at Twitter. Dana also happens to be Transgendered. Dana believes the use of the word Tranny is offensive and has "never once heard the word “tranny” used lovingly".

I have only ever used the word lovingly. And I love the word Tranny.

I love the word Tranny because to me the word is not a label - it's an explanation of an ethereal energy - a quality that defies gender and doesn't have the constructs of gender. It's a unifying, liberating and all encompassing word.

As with all words, intention, intonation and inflection are all important in the perception and meaning of a word.

McCallum explains that Tranny is a word used to make trans people feel like shit.

If I were to use labels to describe myself - somewhere in there would be the word gay. For years this word was used negatively to describe me. Now it's purely factual but depending on how it is said it is either offensive or factual. Labels are sometimes useful, they are descriptive but when I think of the word Tranny I have a feeling, a feeling that whoever is being spoken of is a comrade, a fellow sista, an evolved person of exceptional quality.

Some years ago I  hosted a competition loosely based on America's Next Top Model - I called this show London's Next Top Tranny.  The idea was to promote, express and give a platform to artists, performers and - in my opinion - holy beings who brought joy to many a persons life.

My right hand was the wonderful performance artist Ryan Styles. Today Ryan is Rhyannon, an equally evocative and emotive artist as Ryan was, but she has transformed her outer apperance in to the glorious creature she always was within.

One contestant of my competition was Lola Lypsinka, a brave, pole-dancing female to male transgendered performer who now performs in drag.

The winner? Jeannie Dee, a 65 year old truck driver with one tooth (and what a lovely tooth it is) and a proud transvestite.

By explaining some of the individuals involved in my competition I am hoping to shed light on my use and understanding of the word. You see, the word is not directed at a specific entity.  The winner of the second series of my competition was Fancy Chance, a (female) burlesque performer who a at 5 feet towered as tall as any other contestant by sheer stage presence and persona as she mimed and mimicked The Artist formerly known as Prince.  There was some disagreement among some audience members as to whether Fancy Chance should have won or not because she is not technically a 'Tranny'.  In my book she absolutely encompassed everything that the word describes: Power, Humour, Humility, Grace and Acceptance.

I think of performers such as Holestar - a gay woman who dresses as a man dressing as a woman.  Or as she proudly describes herself - A Tranny with a fanny.  Or Jonny Woo, who Time Out magazine, London described as a 'Tranny Superstar'.  Woo is a glorious, expressive artist who single-handedly transformed the cabaret scene in London in to it's current exciting, forward-thinking and beguiling form, beginning with his wonderful 'Tranny Lip-Synching' competition.  His aim? To liven up a gay-scene that had become 'body fascist'

These are not hateful people, they are people who believe in the right of individuals to be whomever they choose to be. They have fought battles on behalf of transgendered people, on behalf of drag-queens, on behalf of women, on behalf of gay people.  They love you. And they love the word Tranny. And of-course, who can deny RuPaul, one of the worlds most visible champions of people being whomever they want to be, she also loves the word Tranny.

There are bigger battles to fight, bigger wars to be won than denouncing those who use a word with love and affection as we do.

Hailing from the UK, I now reside in North America, it's a new experience for me within the community of performers. Not so long-ago I had a disagreement with a performer who I introduced on to stage as a Drag Queen. The term 'Drag-Queen' was deemed offensive because she was, in her mind, a 'female impersonator'. I respected her right to be introduced however she saw fit but internally I took offense to the belief that 'Drag Queen' was an offensive word. Drag Queens are not offensive to me.

If one is offended by the word Tranny, then this word is not for you, it does not describe you and you are well within your right to find it offensive. But Trannies are not offensive to me.

I retain my right to love the word Tranny. And with love, I will continue to use it.

Read more from Russella at The Fabulous Russella