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Author Topic: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?  (Read 1967 times)

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Offline AidenTopic starter

Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« on: November 11, 2010, 09:49:30 AM »
In the last week I have heard GLAAD speak out against the shows: Glee and Jersery Shore.

Jersery Shore incident that lead to the outrage
http://www.thedailybeast.com/video/item/the-situation-flirts-with-tranny-on-jersey-shore/
The article
http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/02/glaad-jersey-shore-reunion-shows-examples-of-transphobia/

Glee article
http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/story/glee-slammed-by-glaad-bosses_1179755

Susan Sarandon speaks out against Glaad.
http://www.shewired.com/Article.cfm?Section=2&ID=26098

Also there has been a lot of spotlight on "Bullying" and it seems to be the new trend to focus on, but is Glaad taking it to far? Are they playing the victim in order to get more attention?


Offline Trieste

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 09:56:27 AM »
I don't really know why this is even a question. They are following the civil rights playbook pretty much to a T, and wondering if "Civil Rights Group #26 has Gone Too Far" is part of the publicity. I find that disturbing.

No, they haven't gone too far. No, they're not crossing a line. No, they're not being inappropriate. They are calling people on the use of a derogatory term, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you choose to ignore the fact that 'tranny' is offensive to some, you'll have to deal with the consequences - just the same as if you choose to go around calling people 'fag'.

And I don't even know why Susan Sarandon's opinion is being presented as special. She was in a movie a couple decades ago that featured a man in fishnets. It's like asking Tom Hanks for his take on suffering from AIDS. It's not relevant and it's actually a little ridiculous.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 10:27:39 AM »
With the caveat that I don't have a television and am going solely on the articles:
I have to agree with Trieste completely about the Jersey Shore incident. Pejoratives shouldn't be used as punchlines and the myth that MtF transsexuals are trying to 'trick' straight men is offensive.

The Glee incident, well, it really depends on how accurately the article is reporting:
Quote
In the Glee tribute, actor Harry Shum Jr.'s character Mike is forced to pull out of his role as Frank-N-Furter because his conservative parents don't want him to look like a "tranny".

A statement from GLAAD reads, "The casual manner in which the word was used is jarring, even if he (Shum, Jr's character) may have been repeating what his parents said.
I presume that his parents' actions aren't being represented here as a good thing, and in that context it doesn't seem to me that the word is being portrayed positively either or being used as a joke. If anything the opposite looks true. If you are creating a fictional work that shows closed-minded people, you shouldn't come under fire for portraying them as closed-minded. Nor does there need to be a PSA every-time a slur is used.

But, once again, I only have that article as a source for what happened, so maybe things played out differently.



Regardless, even if they had overreacted in both cases (which I do not believe they did), Aiden's premise can't be carried on two isolate incidents. I don't think you can characterize the organization from these two cases. And I don't think you can put enough of a spotlight on the bullying problem GLBT people (and even those heteronormative people who are assumed to be GLBT by their peers) experience.

Offline Noelle

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 01:10:08 PM »
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and just say a few things...

I can agree that using 'tranny' as a punchline is shitty in the same way that parody movies (you know the kind) beat to death the 'omg dude ur gay' easy laugh point...But in many ways, organizations like GLAAD can be very quick to take things out of their context. People were offended by the book To Kill a Mockingbird because of its use of 'nigger'. But that was period speak. It's the way people spoke then, using "African-American" wouldn't be appropriate for the character or the setting, and now we are fortunate enough to know that it's not acceptable. In terms of Glee, it's the same deal. I don't see Glee as a show that particularly aims to show idiocy the same way Jersey Shore does. When you're portraying real situations (much as it was pointed out about so-and-so's father using 'fag'), using those words can not only be genuine, but can serve a real point. We can't scrub out the usage of hateful words in media and pretend they go away or don't exist, but we CAN use them in a careful way to show a viewpoint.

In an ideal world, seeing Jersey Shore use the word 'tranny' would just serve to expose them for the bunch of failure dipshits they are. Everybody knows the people on Jersey Shore are total wanks, that's why they watch it. Sensible people would be able to understand that their derogatory easy-punchline act is an unimpressive appeal to a crowd of arguably lower intelligence who actually respects or admires their stupid antics and wants to emulate them and that those people are total fucks. That's not how it is, unfortunately, and that's the distinction between Glee's usage and Jersey Shore's. One has some real substantial (I guess you could say artistic/creative?) merit, whereas the other is just cheap entertainment.

However, I will say that berating them for a negative attraction towards a trans person is not entirely appropriate, either. If I were hit on by a beautiful woman who hadn't undergone a full sex change, I wouldn't want to be with them either if I wasn't into women with penises. It doesn't make people who would any better or worse, it's all preference. We have no obligation to be attracted to certain qualities and those who are are not superior in any way except to say they have just one more choice. It is reprehensible to treat them as less than human for who they are, but finding certain things less than desirable is certainly not the end of the world. I just wanted to make this distinction because I can see some of the wires potentially getting crossed in this argument between having a negative reaction because you find them unattractive or undesirable and having a negative reaction because of an inaccurate societal portrayal of trans individuals.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2010, 01:23:37 PM »
If I were hit on by a beautiful woman who hadn't undergone a full sex change, I wouldn't want to be with them either if I wasn't into women with penises.

I'm not trying to single out this quote without addressing the whole post, and I'm going to let you finish address the rest of the post when I have more than a couple minutes before I have to leave, but I want to point out that the problem was not with the "I'm not interested" facet. As Alice noted, it was more the "zomg TRAAAAAP" mentality.

I don't have a television, either, and even I know the Jersey Shore folks are supposed to be pretty ignorant. However, I don't think that should excuse them any more than it would excuse it if I managed to get a show on the air that joked about how I chain my stereo up when I know I'm going to have black company over. It goes past the line of tasteless into unacceptable.

Offline Noelle

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2010, 01:34:43 PM »
No, I agree with you completely, and that's why I added this at the end:

Quote
I just wanted to make this distinction because I can see some of the wires potentially getting crossed in this argument between having a negative reaction because you find them unattractive or undesirable and having a negative reaction because of an inaccurate societal portrayal of trans individuals.

I think there's a blend of both reactions going on, though obviously one is more legitimate than the other. As I said, it doesn't excuse them...it's hardly being used in the same vein as Glee, which is where I differ from GLAAD, who has failed to see that nuance.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 12:53:02 AM by Noelle »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2010, 03:57:12 PM »
I donít think GLAAD has ďgone too farĒ per se but only because they simply issued statements of condemnation.  My opinion is that GLAAD is doing more to hurt their public image by issuing these harsh criticisms.  Truth is Iím more offended that MTV withdrew the scene while at the same time I am able to hear the men in Jersey Shore refer to the women as bitches, grenades and kick women out of their beds for not putting out.  That behavior, to me, is more violent and demeaning then a discussion of a tranny.  The show is offensive in almost every aspect and that is why people watch the show, in order to see the ignorance of these people.  I would suggest GLAAD take a page out of their own book when people complain about gay and lesbian incidents on television.  Change the channel.

While I donít watch Glee, the context of the statement seems to be condemning the word.  Perhaps I am wrong as I did not see the scene, but Glee doesnít sound like the sort of show that makes a habit out of cheap laughs like that.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2010, 04:23:20 PM »
'Grenades'?  That's the first time I've heard that used as a slang term for women...  Do I dare ask?

The only exposure I've had to Jersey Shore has been a couple guest appearances of the main characters on shows I happened to be watching (RAW, and Rehab) and hearing the news that Snookie was drunk in public (shock and amazement!)

One thing that should always be considered when a fictional character uses a word as a slur is the writer's intent.  Is the character a guy (or girl) someone you're supposed to admire?  Or one that's supposed to be seen in a negative light?  Are we supposed to emulate them or despise them?  If we're supposed to despise them, then I would say 'Join us in despising this villain.  But also, join us in cheering the hero that has to combat the villain.'

Offline Will

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2010, 08:16:58 PM »
As someone who saw the episode of Glee in question, I can say that Glee didn't paint "tranny" as a fun word to use, or a funny word.  It painted it as a close-minded and derogatory word.  It was one incident among several that were meant to illustrate the community's reaction to high school kids putting on a production of Rocky Horror.  I just don't see how it's all that offensive; it was treated as a negative thing, it wasn't a punchline in any way, and it made perfect sense in context.  Honestly, writing movies and television on the premise that there is no homophobia in the world would come off as incredibly false.  The only solution would be to take all homosexual themes out of our entertainment, and that seems far more offensive.

Offline Jude

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 12:57:54 AM »
Has GLAAD gone too far?  I don't think so, but it really depends on what the organization intended to communicate.  If you view their commenting about these incidents as them strongly condemning the shows in question for what was said, then they definitely have in my view, but if you view it as them simply complaining about what happened -- in the same style you would complain about something that upset you but isn't particularly egregious on a personal blog -- then it's perfectly fine.  It doesn't hurt GLAAD to let the larger society as a whole know what hurts the feelings of transgendered individuals, because without being made aware of the the feelings of the minority, the majority would be unaware of what offends and hurts them.

Nevermind, yeah, GLAAD needs to learn to choose its battles if it actually wants a shot at cultural relevance.  This direct quote from their blog puts them on the level of PETA for me:  "GLAAD has reached out to Fox and Glee producers to discuss how to move forward with this matter."

EDIT:  Struck-through material was my original post before I read the blog entry on Glee here:  http://glaadblog.org/2010/10/29/glee-episode-hits-the-wrong-note/

EDIT2:  They convinced MTV to air Jersey Shore with that segment censored, which is incredibly stupid.  Yes, it was offensive, but the show is full of offensive things.  That's the point -- it's basically a live action version of South Park.  Start chopping off offensive segments and there's nothing left.  Humor doesn't have to be PC and shouldn't be -- the point is mocking that sort of idiocy.  Look at Michael Scott in the office; he's pretty terrible.  It wasn't presented to say, "Hey kids, do this!"  No one with a brain in their head watches the Jersey Shore to look for a role model.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 01:14:28 AM by Jude »

Offline alxnjsh

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2010, 08:46:15 AM »
I think it is for individuals in the transgender community to shape what is considered offensive. We all can have opinions on it, but it's a basic issue of respect. I'm for one glad that it is bringing up discussions and people are thinking about transgender people.

It's one of the issues I have with broad brush strokes about the universal use of language. In different context and subtleties, the word may not be negative at all. In fact on the Joy Behar show, Michaelangelo Signorile lgb and t advocate from Sirius/XM's OutQ said that "tranny" isn't a derogatory word at all in most contexts.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2010, 09:44:44 AM »
EDIT2:  They convinced MTV to air Jersey Shore with that segment censored, which is incredibly stupid.  Yes, it was offensive, but the show is full of offensive things.  That's the point -- it's basically a live action version of South Park.  Start chopping off offensive segments and there's nothing left.  Humor doesn't have to be PC and shouldn't be -- the point is mocking that sort of idiocy.  Look at Michael Scott in the office; he's pretty terrible.  It wasn't presented to say, "Hey kids, do this!"  No one with a brain in their head watches the Jersey Shore to look for a role model.

Yeah, that's what they say about Jackass.  I vote with my remote - and I've seen it work when a devoted group sets their mind to it.

Offline Noelle

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2010, 12:36:27 PM »
I hope Glee doesn't back down from their decision. GLAAD has/had a really great opportunity to open up an actual purposeful dialogue about not only the word but the trans community and their PC policing is misplaced. This might even reflect negatively on them for going after a show that -- as far as I'm aware, might actually be the most pro-gay show on television right now (apparently there's one/several gay characters and one who just came out?). They're shooting themselves in the foot over a false alarm.

Offline Star Safyre

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2010, 06:26:51 PM »
In education, we have a strategy called overcorrection.  Did your teacher ever make you write your misspelled spelling words over and over?  Did they ever demand absolute silence after a particular noisy time?  Did your parents ever make you do a chore over and over and over until you did it right every single time?

If a teacher wants a bit of quiet, if they want you to spell a word correctly without conscious thought, if your parents want you to complete a task flawlessly, they're going to nitpick and catch every single tiny flaw and bring them to light.  If you want someone to do something done right, you have to make sure they do it right every single time you're watching.

That's what GLAAD has to do.

If they want people to not be homophobic in their language, humor or beliefs, they have to catch and point out every incident they find.  They have to take their cause very seriously.  If they don't, no one else will.  If they let something slide, they're setting the standard for everyone else who agrees with them.  To ignore it is hypocritical and breaks the corrective process.

Offline Will

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2010, 08:27:24 PM »
I'm not sure overcorrection is quite as effective a strategy when you're dealing with grownups who can't be sent to detention.  If the students that were being too noisy could just ignore you, I doubt it would be effective with them, either.

And it's debatable whether the Glee incident qualifies as homophobia anyway.  It's more like punishing a child for talking when they weren't.

Offline Jude

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2010, 10:13:22 PM »
I can't imagine a world where homophobia, racism, and all of the other ugly sides of human nature are barred from humor.  If that's the goal of GLAAD then we'll just have to agree to disagree, because I'm never, ever going to sympathize with that goal.  I believe in equality, not total PC domination of the culture to point that everything is sterile and unoffensive.

This is an episode of one of my favorite shows recently:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/180938/its-always-sunny-in-philadelphia-mac-fights-gay-marriage#s-p1-so-i0

I'm wondering why GLAAD hasn't attacked them yet.

Offline Noelle

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2010, 11:58:50 PM »
The problem is, GLAAD is putting Glee's usage on the same level as Jersey Shore. It's already been pointed out that the situations and the shows' respective intents are blatantly NOT the same. They're fixing what's not broken. They fly into action in response to a word without reading into anything else. I think Glee's context is precisely how the word SHOULD be used -- in a calculated, intelligent manner that has a bigger, but not always blatantly obvious message. They want people to understand and sympathize with the trans community, and yet they want control of exactly what people say about it in exactly the way they want it said. That's not how communication works.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2010, 10:05:00 AM »
I'm not sure overcorrection is quite as effective a strategy when you're dealing with grownups who can't be sent to detention.  If the students that were being too noisy could just ignore you, I doubt it would be effective with them, either.

And it's debatable whether the Glee incident qualifies as homophobia anyway.  It's more like punishing a child for talking when they weren't.

Dunno. People can be pretty authoritarian (to steal one of Veks' favorite words). Milgram's experiment and it's various repetitions show that not only will people listen to others if they perceive them to be in authority without the motivation of threat of repercussion, they will listen even when being told EACH TIME (as dictated by modern ethics standards) essentially, "You do not have to continue, you will suffer no ill effects if you do not continue, and you can easily say stop right here. Now, increase the voltage and shock 'im again."

Detention is what keeps kids in line probably because they haven't learned to be afraid/respectful of authority yet.

Offline Will

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2010, 01:59:46 PM »
If they perceive the authority to be, in fact, an authority, then sure.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2010, 02:05:23 PM »
The problem is, GLAAD is putting Glee's usage on the same level as Jersey Shore. It's already been pointed out that the situations and the shows' respective intents are blatantly NOT the same. They're fixing what's not broken. They fly into action in response to a word without reading into anything else. I think Glee's context is precisely how the word SHOULD be used -- in a calculated, intelligent manner that has a bigger, but not always blatantly obvious message. They want people to understand and sympathize with the trans community, and yet they want control of exactly what people say about it in exactly the way they want it said. That's not how communication works.

I agree with this.  When the character who uses the word is portrayed as the kind of close-minded, intolerant bigot that GLAAD is fighting against, then that ties the word in with the portrayal.

Offline errantwandering

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Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2010, 10:32:45 PM »
You have to pick your battles more carefully.  If it is a genuine issue, then you should absolutely make a big deal.  If you throw a hissy fit about even little things, you cease being a rights group that people listen to and become those crazy people that everyone tunes out.  Exposure of an issue is a good thing, it gets people thinking.  Overexposing anything leads to people tuning out everything that you say.  Just look at PETA; they flip out over everything, so even the good parts of their message get ignored.  The only people that take PETA seriously any longer are PETA members and people that started out already agreeing with them.  Your average person tunes out the second their name is spoken.

Offline dominomask

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2010, 03:21:29 AM »
Per the article: "Unfortunately the larger problem here is that the word 'tranny' has become an easy punchline in popular culture, and many still don't realise that using the term is hurtful, dehumanising and associated with violence, hatred and derision against transgender people - a community that is nearly invisible in media today."

I can't comment on Jersey Shore...where would one even begin?  But I watch gLee (when I can...I caught the Rocky episode).  And I actually have friends who are transgendered or otherwise "gender queer".  For the record, they don't all agree with which words are offensive and which should be "taken back".  Some of them, I think, would opt to take ironic offense at GLAAD, an organization that acronym-ized the transgendered community out of their front line of their mission, taking such umbrage on their behalf. 

But.

Shum Jr.'s character is minor, and mostly comic relief...gangly, hapless, and one-dimensional, but generally sympathetic.  Things that would hurt another character are just a canned-laughter cue for the Gilligans and Screeches of the television world.   The scene where he used the word was peripheral and banter-y, and as a writer, I would say the lines did bear the marks of words having been chosen for comic effect alone, not to show any conflict or confusion in the character as a result of their being used.  I have to agree with the quote from the report on that account, and even more strongly on the very real problems of fear and violence that gender-queer people face daily.  I've coached a friend who was legitimately frightened for his life on the particulars of testicular cancer and the side-effects of treatment so he would have an alibi in case his co-workers at the mechanic shop ever catch on that he's strapping down his breasts.  "Boys Don't Cry" is not fiction.  The level of entitlement that people feel to abuse, torture, and dehumanize transgendered people would chill you if you ever saw it directed at someone who was real in your life. 

In this case, I think that GLAAD *is* picking their battle wisely...gLee is a show that is very popular, and, more importantly, has a good chance of listening to the criticism and considering it.  They're not wasting their breath, nor are they stepping outside of their functional purpose.  It's not like they're trying to get the show canceled or anything.  I doubt they will have any effect on the makers or lab animals of Jersey Shore, but the comparison serves to point out the sort of dogs one lies down with when capitalizing on ugliness for laughs.

Generally, if people hear "GLAAD" they tune out.  But include the name of a show they're interested in and they might pay attention long enough to find out what was said and have some kind of counter-message enter their awareness.

Hence this thread, right?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 03:29:07 AM by dominomask »

Offline Bayushi

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2010, 09:25:48 PM »
GLAAD's original intended purpose is something I agree with, as a lesbian.

But GLAAD is no longer anything like their original purpose. Instead, they are more of a political action committee than anything, seeking to censor anything they might possibly disagree with.

Something everyone needs to learn to do, not just gays/lesbians/trans, is to learn to just f**king deal with it. The world isn't fair. The world isn't even nice. Thicken that skin, and move on.

While blatant bigotry is one thing, something along the lines of the gLee incident should never have even been news. Don't bother getting me started on Jersey Shore, a show I have nothing but contempt for.



PS: I don't even watch gLee.

Offline Transgirlenstein

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2010, 11:30:20 PM »
Speaking as a lesbian trans woman....

First of all, Trieste said everything I was going to say.  Get out of my head Trieste :P

I can understand why it was used in Glee.  From what everyone is saying, it was used by characters who are close-minded and conservative.

I've never seen Jersey Shore but that clip made me want to hurt someone.

The problem is, it is not just assholes like those guys who think the word 'tranny' is okay.  Saying the word 'tranny' is okay and harmless is like saying the word 'nigger' isn't offensive to black people.  I can understand why GLAAD is coming out for this.  We have reached a level where being gay or lesbian is becoming more and more acceptable.  However, we are in a world where being trans is NOT okay.  People think the word tranny is a fun, non-offensive word that is okay to use cause we are all freaks.  We face a lot of prejudice from both gay and straight people.  Just read some of these comments:

"There is no reason for the word 'Tranny' to get censored because it's not a swear word nor is it meant to be offensive in any way shape or form. And they talking about, guess what, A TRANNY! That TRANNY should be arrested for COMMITTING FRAUD because he protrayed himself as a woman to a straight man! If anyone, the 'Situation' should be furious! The TRANNY deserves worse treament! Go cry somewhere else GLAAD-throwing the gay card around like everyone should bow down to you and take it up the A$$ like you guys do! NO THANK YOU!"

"GLAAD is wrong. If you are at a club and a Tranny comes up and makes s*xual contact (from a touch, to a kiss, or more) then you can use "Tranny alert!" with no problem."

You know how often I have to read these comments?  More then I would like to.  Akiko is right in that it is important to learn that the world isn't fair.  It doesn't mean we can't improve it.  It's hard enough dealing with lesbian women who see me as a freak, or a fake woman, or a man in a dress or any other hurtful things without hearing an offensive name slung around and being told "Nah, it isn't offensive.  Stop being offended tranny."


Upon reading the Glee article:
Quote
"Unfortunately the larger problem here is that the word 'tranny' has become an easy punchline in popular culture, and many still don't realise that using the term is hurtful, dehumanising and associated with violence, hatred and derision against transgender people - a community that is nearly invisible in media today."

I quoted the above for truth.  I can understand a character using such a term to show how close-minded or hateful they are but GLAAD does have a point.  The trans community is nearly invisible and the term 'tranny' is indeed very hateful.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2010, 11:33:28 PM by Transgirlenstein »

Offline Bayushi

Re: Is GLAAD taking everything to serious?
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2010, 01:37:00 AM »
You know how often I have to read these comments?  More then I would like to.  Akiko is right in that it is important to learn that the world isn't fair.  It doesn't mean we can't improve it.  It's hard enough dealing with lesbian women who see me as a freak, or a fake woman, or a man in a dress or any other hurtful things without hearing an offensive name slung around and being told "Nah, it isn't offensive.  Stop being offended tranny."

Well, the sad truth is that yes, it's offensive. I am not "for" offensive speech, and do not use it myself.

However, the First Amendment wasn't written to protect speech everyone agrees with. It was written to protect speech that may offend others.

Frankly, we all have the right to get offended. But we do not have the right to censor their speech.

Period.

PS: I don't like it any more than you do, Transgirlenstein. I have had a couple transgendered friends (both IRL and here on Elliquiy), and I understand that it's difficult to be accepted. It's bad enough being accepted as a woman who happens to be lesbian. Throw in the gender shift, and I'm sure it has to suck at times.

But we can't start censoring speech now. Slippery Slope, Newspeak, etc?