Laura Jane Grace, the out and proud transgender first lady of modern punk rock, has written a memoir due to hit bookstores this fall. And like just about every song the front woman of Against Me performs, the memoir’s title is in-your-face, honest and no-holds-barred.
The title is Tranny, often referred to within the trans community as “the T word,” for its potency at offending people.
But as viewers of E!’s I Am Cait reality show saw this past season (see the clip below), there is a real divide among trans people: some say it’s time to get past the pain-in-the-gut reaction to the word “tranny” and reclaim it, even celebrate it as has the drag community; others argue that the continued oppression of transgender individuals combined with our history of being beaten and killed in disproportionate numbers qualifies it as a slur and nothing more.
And opinions outside the relatively small trans community matter, too, as LGBQ and straight readers significantly outnumber trans consumers.
LGBTQ Nation posted a question on Facebook, asking users if they would be offended by the title, and how’d they might react if they saw the book on a bookshelf or in the hands of someone. The responses varied, but to a large degree the overall response was that while many found the “T word” offensive, they reflected that it would be the author’s right to use it for herself, just not for the community at large, and that it was sure to grab attention.
Rolling Stone recently interviewed Grace following a show and asked her about her thought process behind choosing such a controversial title:
“I hate that word. I loathe that word. Obviously with the subtitle too, of calling myself a sellout, that’s a word that was thrown at me throughout my career, and tranny is a slur that’s been thrown at me. So there’s a certain amount of word reclamation but there’s also a certain amount of representing that part of the experience of gender dysphoria, of being trans, is self-hate. And that was a big part of my journaling, was self-hate. Just writing about how much I fucking hated myself and how much I felt like a disgusting fucking tranny. That’s where the title comes from.”
Grace expressed herself in greater detail in a blog back in March, essentially defending the power of the word. One of her biggest fans, Kathryn Anna Fortunato of New York, commented, “She’s got the right to use the word as a member of the community. Ru Paul is a MAN, and he has no right to the word whatsoever.”
Here’s a sampling of some other solicited responses from Facebook, from everyday folks and some famous names. We invite you to add yours here as a comment to the story, or on our Facebook page, and we’ll revisit this issue once the book is published in Autumn.