Why I use ‘trans’ and not ‘trans*’
June 30, 2011 § 4 Comments
Not a long post, nor a particularly deep one. But something that I feel needs to be said.
It worries me, the investment so many people make in language. As if it were a concrete system, a fixed reality, an external truth.
Some people feel that the word ‘trans’ always and forever implies the continuation of ‘man’ or ‘woman’ to make it complete. And that ‘trans*’ is preferable, so as to include non-binary people.
My gender is far from binary. I dispute the idea of ‘gender’ completely, at a philosophical level at least ( practically, it has its uses). Adding an asterisk makes no difference to me. I love the word ‘trans’ – as a challenge, a partiality, a prompt, an action. Asterisk or no, whatever works, whatever is easiest, is fine.
What bothers me is the idea that people would consider language to be so static, so immutable that ‘trans’, itself a challenging and disruptive term, would need to be changed to accomodate part of the trans community. And that there are people who feel that they don’t have the right to challenge a word to accept the complexity of their identities. To feel the ownership of it, the flexibility of its margins, the paltry reflexion it provides of reality.
We have better things to fight for, for our community. We should keep language in service to ourselves, and not the other way around. Which is not to deny the importance of thought, of linguistic debate, of challenging the dominant threads of discourse. But it is to say that, whenever we might feel excluded, we have the right to insert ourselves into the mix, rather than splitting away and dividing against each other.