Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Do you use “Trans*” I started using just “trans” many years ago before it became fashionable, I kind of morphed into using it. I didn’t like the label “transsexual” it sounded too clinical, transgender wasn’t bad but it didn’t really identify me. Trans-woman was closer but eventually I just started to say “trans,” there is an essay in Slate about using “Trans*”
Why Trans Caught On
By Reid Vanderburgh
December 8, 2014

With only two words to choose from, man or woman, boy or girl, those who re-examine gender find themselves bumping up against the limitations of English. How can two words begin to capture the experience of the complex social process we call gender? Those redefining gender for themselves expand the lexicon far beyond two words, such that it becomes clear there is no consensus at all on terminology. For instance, some happily call themselves transsexual, noting they did change the sex of their body and this feels the most descriptive to them; others recoil in horror at the idea, exclaiming, "How can you use that term, it’s so medical model and pathologizing!"

Note how many of the above terms include the prefix trans. In the interest of pragmatic inclusivity, the shorthand term trans has become part of the community lexicon. A newer term still is trans*, reinforcing the idea that there are multiple possible endings to follow trans. Even there, consensus isn’t possible. Some view trans and trans* as two different populations of people—trans is viewed as the umbrella term for those who undertake some form of physical transition, while those who are trans* are in a middle-ground of gender that doesn’t pursue physical body modification. Others view trans as a fluid, deliberately-vague term that stands on its own, much like the term queer; the term trans* makes more clear that there are multiple identities under consideration, that one should then ask, "What does your * stand for?"
When I give workshops I joke “Don’t look at the bottom of the page for the asterisk because it means multiple suffixes” and sure enough there are a few people in the audience who were looking all over the page to see what the “*” means. 

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