Transman, FTM, tranny… do names matter?

(I don’t know how interesting this post will be to anyone who isn’t transsexual..)

Some of us call ourselves transmen. Others prefer to insert a space and make it trans men. And yet another group prefer the older FTM or its variants such as F2M. Then there’s what we might call the ‘hard core’ who insist on MTM, because after all they’ve always been men at least in their own minds, or even just men, unqualified by anything suggesting change or ambiguity. Oh, and let us not forget those who identify as genderqueer.

Does it matter? If one person is happy to be referred to as a transsexual while another demands that they’re identified as a transsexual person, because “i’m a human being who happens to be transsexual, not a transsexual who happens to be human”, is that an issue? My answer would be no, it isn’t – as long as you don’t try to force your own terminology down the throats of others. And in case you’re not sure what i have in mind by ‘force’ here are a few examples: guilt tripping, PC policing, and my pet hate, just because i love language, citing pseudo-grammatical claptrap about not using ‘adjectives’ as ‘nouns’.

There are far too many passive-aggressive (and quite a few just plain aggressive) people in our trans communities, far too many people who object to anybody other than themselves deciding what they can and can’t be called, yet who feel free to make the decision for others. So i find myself reading things like “the use of the word transsexual as a noun is offensive to trans people”. Really? Odd. I’m a transsexual and it doesn’t offend me. Don’t remember anyone ever asking me about it either.

The real reason this sort of thing annoys me though is that i do think there are names which are unacceptable. The word tranny for instance might possibly have some value as an in-word (although i’m yet to come across it being used in that way) but there’s no doubt that in any other context it’s the equivalent of calling a trans person (actually, usually a trans woman) a nigger. Yes, that horrible.

By obsessing about trivia – should we or should we not put a space in transman – we reduce the power of our criticisms of names that actually are insulting. We also end up fighting battles with our allies when we should we concentrating on the war against intolerance. It’s not over yet.