‘Shem***’ is not OK to use in any venueTrans Progressive Thursday, March 27th, 2014
Commentary: Trans Progressive
I’ve had a back-and-forth with Nicole Murray Ramirez at LGBT Weekly over RuPaul’s promotion of the term tra**y. We disagree on the pejorative nature of the term, but it says something that the former Tra**y Awards has changed the name of the event to the Transgender Erotic Awards.
“When we named the show the ‘Tranny Awards’ in 2007 the climate was different and the usage of the word ‘tranny’ was appropriate as a catchy title in an online porn event,” creator of the awards event Steven Grooby explained in a Cosmo magazine article. “As we aim to be inclusive of all areas of transgender erotica and are looking to broaden the appeal of the show to mainstream media, we believed it was time to re-brand the event.”
Even Jerry Springer recently announced that he’s going to stop using the term tra**y because the term has clearly become offensive.
But now RuPaul has gone clearly into antitrans pejorative use. In season 6, episode 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he used, and encouraged the use of “shem***” by LGBT and straight people in how he and the drag queens on the show used the term.
There is no gray area, as there is with tra**y, on the use of the term shem***. This is a vile term that trans people (outside of the porn industry) don’t use to describe themselves. There are African Americans who refer to themselves by the n-word, and there are gays who refer to themselves by fa**ot, but essentially there just aren’t any trans people outside of the porn industry who refer to themselves as shem***s.
Of course, if one refers to gays as fa**ots, RuPaul takes offense. June 2, 2013 he Tweeted at Amanda Bynes about her use of the word fa**ots in one of her Tweets. “Derogatory slurs are always an outward projection of a person’s own poisonous self-loathing @AmandaBynes,” he wrote.
So when it comes to anti-trans derogatory slurs, RuPaul must either be a hypocrite or self-loathing – there is no gray area here. His use of the term shem*** in an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race is giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and straight people permission to use a derogatory, dehumanizing slur.
Apparently, RuPaul has no idea of how the term has been used by members of the LGBT and feminist communities to deride trans people. It was back in 1979 that lesbian and feminist Janice G. Raymond used the term in her book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. She justified the use of the term, describing trans women with the term “male-to-constructed female” and that trans experience can be boiled down to trans women’s “artifactual femaleness.” Raymond’s use of the term isn’t the only time the term was used to deride and dehumanize trans experience and trans people, but it epitomizes it.
Trans people deserve to be heard about which terms are problematic, defamatory and derogatory. We trans people deserve better from our LGBT entertainers than what RuPaul gives us; what he gives us is use of, and functionally working to normalize the use of, one of the most vile anti-trans pejoratives that function to dehumanize trans people.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=46291