I've been putting an asterisk after trans* to signify that I'm talking about a whole bunch of trans-ID'd people at once: transgender, transsexual, transmasculine, transfeminine, whatever. I thought this was "correct"--not in the politically correct sense, but in the sense of using the most inclusive language possible. But recently, I received the following message:
I love your blog. As a transmasculine genderqueer person, it has provided me with resources for clothing and style and perspectives that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. However, I wanted to let you know that while I'm sure you have the best intentions, it's not cool to use the asterisk on the end of the word "trans". It's an easy mistake to make. For one thing, the asterisk is unnecessary, but more importantly it has been used in the past to exclude trans women from the word trans. "*" turned the word trans into a term specifically for trans men, excluding women and nonbinary people to an unpronounceable punctuation mark. I hope I've been helpful and I look forward to reading more of your blog.
...So this is where I turn to you for help, dear readers. Trans, trans*, or something else? Help me out. And while you're at it, maybe you can share some other terms that you like or don't like.
I've used both trans and trans* as seemed appropriate at the time. I've never seen the * used as an exclusionary mechanism myself, but of course other people's mileage may differ, as your quoted message shows.
4/6/2015 12:49:56 pm
Thanks for this link--much appreciated. It's a very thoughtful post.
4/5/2015 07:54:02 am
how does it exclude trans women?
4/6/2015 02:38:19 am
Never seen the "*" associated with trans until your article. "Trans" says enough to include all those who identify in some way as trans. The "*" is completely unnecessary.
4/6/2015 06:30:04 am
I use the * the same way as you and its purpose is to be inclusive of all who fall under the trans umbrella. It is in no way exclusionary in my opinion.
4/6/2015 09:16:24 am
I too have been mis-using the * too then. Damn, if it's not the gender police in the bathrooms, it's the punctuation police on blog sites. It's really difficult these days to write anything without offending SOMEONE out there. Like they say, you can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time and none of the people all of the time...or something like that. Rock on, blog on, and do it in your own style! :) ~MainelyButch
4/6/2015 12:51:41 pm
True enough, Ang! Thanks for the comment. AND even more so for YOUR great blog, which I always enjoy reading. :)
4/6/2015 08:30:36 pm
+1 for never seeing trans* used in an exclusionary way or specifically for transmen. Indeed, the whole logic of the * is to draw attention to and acknowledge the diversity of identities that fall under the trans umbrella, including non-binary and genderqueer ones.
4/9/2015 03:22:33 am
I think the argument against the * isn't so much that the word trans* excludes people but that it implies that trans without it doesn't include those people which is what makes it problematic. I'm nonbinary and transmasculine and I've stopped using it myself, although I don't have a really big issue with other people using it, and I think it's usually used with good intentions.
Trans without the asterisk traditionally means those of us on the binary, while with the asterisk was meant to include non-binary and genderqueer identities. It’s a geek thing to include an asterisk in search terms or queries to include anything and everything. It’s meant to be inclusive of anyone under the rainbow, even to the extent of intersex, gender-variant, and gender-nonconforming individuals.
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