As I wrote earlier this year, I’ve been considering for a while whether to change the name of my website due to the controversy over the word tranny. This blog post is probably anticlimactic, but at this point I’ve decided to put the decision on hold and just stick with Trannies In Trouble. It’s a good name and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback. I’m still leaving open the option to change it at a later date if, for example, some major controversy over the word were to arise, or if I started getting lots of email from people saying, “Sandra, c’mon, you gotta change that name!” But neither of those things are happening.
As an aside, I have to acknowledge that this whole question of whether to change the name or not is something that obviously worries me more than it does anyone else, as I’m the one who would have to make it happen. I can imagine someone reading this and thinking, “Sandra, give it a rest, none of us who like your site give a hoot about the controversy and we all like the name, or at least are neutral about it. Stop worrying!” I’ll admit, it is a little crazy-making the amount of mental energy I’ve expended considering the whole question. But if I’d known twenty years ago just how controversial the T-word would become I probably would have chosen a different name.
Two opinions though that I especially valued came from two younger trans models whom I’ve worked with. Both of them said they like the word tranny and have no problem with it or with the name of my website. They’re at least thirty years younger than me and have transitioned and are taking hormones – they’re exactly the kind of younger trans women whom I worry may be offended by the name. One of them also said (and I’m paraphrasing), that she doesn’t like the gatekeeping and policing of language and behavior that one often finds in the trans community. For me, one hypothetical question I often ask is, if someone wasn’t telling you that the word tranny was objectionable, would you find it offensive on your own? A number of people have in fact written me saying, “I didn’t even realize that there was any controversy over the word!”
Another thing that also influenced me but in a backhanded way is the fact that the word tranny is considered hate speech on Facebook. It’s one thing not to like the word, or to judge it as problematic, but labelling it as hate speech just seems like the kind of all or nothing thinking that doesn’t allow any consideration of context or of intent. According to Facebook, I guess the word is just bad – bad in all cases – a position that lacks subtlety or nuance. There’s no acknowledgement that some of us identify with this same apparently taboo word. Anyone who visits my website can easily see that I’m using the word in a humorous and tongue-in-cheek manner. Facebook’s inflexible stance I actually find counterproductive. It just makes me say, “Now, wait a minute.” I’m just not so easily convinced.
My sense is that attitudes against the T-word may actually be starting to shift, as I’ve heard from quite a few people who also object to the policing and “gatekeeping” of the word. But then, this may just be wishful thinking on my part. Maybe.
Many other people also wrote me saying that they’ve been following my site for years and many said they like the word or just don’t think it’s that big a deal. And several pointed out that the name of my site is a brand that’s been around for years and that there’s really no pressing need to change it.
I do own a few good back-up dot com domains that I could use, (TGirl Trouble, TGirls In Trouble, Binding Transactions) but again, with the feedback I’ve received, I think I’m just going to put the issue on hold again (believe me, I’ve been thinking about this question for years now!) Besides, while the back-up names are pretty good, Trannies In Trouble is probably the best name I could ever possibly dream up. Plus, the technical issues involved in rebranding and changing the site would be significant. Maybe next year I’ll feel differently, maybe not. In the meantime, barring any unforeseens, the site will be continuing on as it has for twenty years now. So that’s where I’m at at this moment. Maybe things will change, but in the meantime this tranny owes a big thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts and feedback!