Op-ed: Burning Books, One Word at a Time

Apr 18, 2014
LGBT
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Op-ed: Burning Books, One Word at a Time

A new movement cracks down on 50 years of LGBT culture, writes Calpernia Addams in a provocative Op-Ed for The Advocate

Op-ed: Burning Books, One Word at a Time

Calpernia Addams: “I stand against censorship. I stand against the new thought police. I stand for art and self-determination.”

To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child. —Cicero

Some time in the early 2000s, I saw a profoundly troubling trend being born in the newly popular Live-Journal-type blogs. It later spread through Tumblr and Twitter, across our small, bright quilt of communities: an online thought police. The officers of the thought police felt deeply entitled and were intent on unraveling a half-century of LGBT community-building to insulate themselves from what has become the unendurable offense of much of today’s activism: feeling offended.

The Internet is a world of words, whether typed, superimposed on cat pictures, or spoken in videos, and decades of boundary-shattering LGBT culture have delivered up dictionaries full of scandalous language that make children — particularly those who’ve been windburned by a lifetime of hovering helicopter parents — very uncomfortable.

Right now, the endless flap over the gender community’s language is a hot topic, with RuPaul’s televised shemale and tranny games highlighting the question of who gets to say what in our balkanized communities. The language cops, in this case conservative trans women who object to their use under any circumstance, want tranny and other such words completely banned. I understand the arguments against the insult, but I don’t think these torch-wielders realize that transsexual women do not own the experience of gender crossing or the language created around it. Both the experience and the language have a long and hard-fought history across many groups; our history books are full of these stories. In seeking to blot out our internal language of historical words like tranny, the thought police are essentially burning books, one word at a time.

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[…] Right now, the endless flap over the gender community’s language is a hot topic, with RuPaul’s televised shemale and tranny games highlighting the question of who gets …read more     […]

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