I’ve been unhappy about the “hot tranny mess” catchphrase popularized by fashion designer Christian Siriano ever since I first heard it, and then heard it repeated amidst squeals of delight by hetero and gay people who felt entitled because “a gay person said it.” I can take a joke, and I make quite a few myself. But if I’m going to risk walking politically incorrect thin ice, I try to do it firmly within the context of comedy. Just out-and-out promulgation on a television show of the idea that “tranny” goes perfectly with “hot mess” to describe anyone who is some sort of trainwreck or other, without even acknowledging that it could be negative, is ignorant and hurtful.
I know that in cases where the slur doesn’t personally affect the person using it, and where the person is of a certain character, there is no hope of convincing them that they are being hurtful because the idea is so far beyond and outside their thinking. It doesn’t hurt them, and it just seems “right” according to their worldview so they don’t question it. The idea that “trannies” are anything other than a “hot mess” is probably as ridiculous to Siriano as the idea that the Earth is flat. But I suspect that I know quite a few more transsexuals than Siriano, and even probably more transgendered people of all stripes. It’s a very difficult, misunderstood life. And now, along with being compared to Southpark’s pedophiliac detransitioner “Ms. Garrison” (a fictional character that has been brought up to me as an example of how “sick” transsexuals are in countless emails and replies), we can expect to be labeled a “hot tranny mess” by press and people on the street eager to repeat the latest screamingly funny catch phrase from their favorite show.
Is this what my generation suffered through the 1980′s GLBT civil rights battles for? To give a 21 year old gay man the comfort of being able to slam part of the community without any sense of the tradition of cruelty and ignorance he is perpetuating? I predict this will be the next big generational conflict, when GLBT kids who grew up with “Will & Grace” on television and Ellen Degeneres/Rosie O’Donnell hosting chat shows take all that hard won progress for granted.
As I say, one reality show contest winner’s prejudice and bigotry isn’t the end of the world, but since his negativity falls within my bailiwick, I thought I’d mention it. Especially after this:
Openly gay Christian, 21, was forced to apologise to “he-she” groups for using the term “hot tranny mess” on TV to describe frocks he doesn’t like.
He further upset the “snip-tuck” brigade by saying in a magazine interview: “If you think of heterosexuals, they have white trash women and trailer parks and we have drag queens and trannies.”
If the supremely ignorant Siriano ever chooses to enlighten himself on the subject of transsexuals before the next time he slanders us to the readership of another magazine, he might check out something like Lynn Conways TS Successes page. True, it even features “white trash” like me, but I think that this only proves that (flaws and all) a White Trash “tranny” can rise above mere “hot mess” status toward a hopefully useful life.
The article referenced is from The Daily Star, and following Siriano’s lead it refers to transsexuals as “the snip tuck brigade”, “he-shes”, “shemales”, “gender benders” and the tame-by-comparison “bizarre”. Being gay isn’t a free pass for bigotry against other people in the GLBT community. I hope people continue to call Siriano on his hurtful championing of derogatory and negative phrases and stereotypes. Designing for K-Mart can be just a season or two away from even many of the lucky ones in the fashion industry, and in any case you won’t catch me squeezing my 30-something curves into one of Siriano’s “hot tranny mess”-free, “white trash”-free garments even if it was given to me. Perhaps it would make a nice dust cloth to clean up the “mess”.
PS: He did apologize in a general sense, but whenever these things follow a “backlash” and come via press release that sounds like someone’s publicity folks wrote it, I have a hard time buying it. The damage is done.