Ok, I’m the last person I expected to be advocating for a new character in Glee. There are already too many characters. But you know what? They can’t keep retconning their ages forever. Finn and Puck, for instance, are simply starting to look too old. Glee is going to have to graduate some of their students, and bring in some new ones. One of these should be trans-identified.
Remember the epic smackdown Finn got from Burt when he used the word “faggy”?
Now, imagine a cast member tweeted that many of her friends (who are gay) happily use the word “fag” as a term of endearment. Does that make it ok? No.
Let me be clear: I have nothing against Ashley Fink. I adore her character, and from what I’ve read, she’s a really great person too. I quite admire the way she handled that rotten Rosie O’Donnell comment. I don’t think she’s trying to be offensive. I think she’s just unaware.
Re-claimed (or pseudo-reclaimed) words are complicated things.
In one way, I’m all for them. I, for instance, identify as queer. Not only does it resolve the sometimes confusing issue of being attracted to (a very specific subset of) male-identified people from time to time, but it also helps describe my rather complicated gender identity.
However, queer is a really hot-button word. A lot of my friends find it hurtful and offensive. I don’t consider it my place to use in where people who’ve been oppressed by a word are upset by it. I would use it loudly and proudly around people who are upset by it for different reasons, but I don’t want my words to hurt others for no other reason except for me to prove some arrogant point.
The hot-button word at the moment is “tranny”. And while it seems trendy with some younger people who — let’s face it — are exceptionally LGBT positive, it has still been (and remains) a term of abuse for trans people and for those who don’t fully comply with gender norms.
I’ll compare it to my youthful confusion over racism. I grew up in a nice, quiet area where a lot of people had skin of different colours. It’s not something I noticed especially. I remember a girl making a speech about her experiences of racism in our community and I immediately felt defensive. Racism? Here? No. That kind of thing was limited to crazy places like Nazi Germany or South Africa.
As I got older and learned to listen better, I learned that there was plenty of racism in our little town.
The point is, that just because my friends and I were unaware of the oppression, didn’t mean it didn’t exist. And as a white, English speaking person, I had no right to question the experiences of the minorities around me.
I have friends from all letters in the LGBTQ spectrum. But the only ones whose opinions matter when it comes to the word “tranny” are my friends who are transgender or transsexual. I’m not going to take the word of drag queens on this. I’m not taking the word of straight allies (well-intentioned and lovely as they may be, they will never, ever understand).
Glee needs to address what it addressed for gay kids, for trans kids. We need to see a ground-breaking smackdown of the word “tranny”.
Would you welcome a trans character? Do you think that Glee could do the story justice?