Tranny is OK but Transsexual isn’t?
I posted last week about the lyric changes in the Glee episode. They cleaned up some of the lyrics for a tween audience, but the cultural cache of the original Rocky Horror was the confrontation of two worlds — the po-dunk world of Denton High, that represented queer people’s communities and families of origin, and the Transylvanians, who represented queer people’s communities and families of choice — and the fact that the latter world wins because it corrupts the former. So cleaning up Rocky Horror just misses the point; it’s supposed to be provocative.
Anyway, one of the lyric changes was taking the word transsexual out of “Sweet Transvestite” and replacing it with “sensational.” It made no sense to me, since if there was a problem with the word transsexual, which there isn’t, then there should have been a problem with the word transvestite.
And there should definitely be a problem with the word “tranny.” (Follow that link to read why many people find that term offensive.) When Mike, who was supposed to play Frank N. Furter, drops out of the play, he says:
I really want to do it, but [my parents] are just not cool with me dressing up like a tranny.
I’m the last person who would advocate banning a word, any word, from TV. We have few enough and cleaning up art and reality for the comfortable consumption of others is maddening.
But consider the good press Glee got last year for its episode involving the word “faggot,” where Finn called Kurt “faggy” and Kurt’s dad gave a big speech on the word and homophobia. Gay bloggers loved it up and everyone sang kumbaya and learned a big lesson.
So what’s up with just casually dropping the word “tranny” without any response at all? I plain don’t buy that the creators of Glee are in the dark about that word, considering that they’ve already caused controversy with the word “she-male” and heard an earful about that and then decided to mingle brands with a movie/play known mainly for transvestitism.
Again, I’m not in favor of any word being banned. If it was a show that frequently used slurs to show the characters’ roughness, that’d be one thing. If they used the word to discuss it, that’d be another. But it’sGlee, all pixie stix and gum drops, that made a whole speech about not using the word faggot not too long ago, and they even decided to edit out the word transsexual.
It’s a strange case of selective sensitivity, probably because being against the word faggot makes them look all liberal and open-minded, while using the word tranny makes them feel edgy. That’s my best guess, and it makes their little speech against the word faggy obviously empty. My humanity isn’t a tool for other to strengthen their brand.