The Conversation over the Controversy of the Transgression of Neil Patrick Harris (UPDATED)

Okay, try to follow me here: Dan Savage was recently glitter-bombed and vilified for using the word, “tranny” at a college Q&A, when a student asked a question using the word “tranny” and Dan repeated it. Much hand-wringing ensued by the fringe of the Trans community, and nothing anyone can ever do or say (especially Mr. Savage) can undo the perceived insult. The attacks have been so fierce I’ve even read denunciations of Savage’s work with the It Gets Better Project. I’m sorry, but if you are going to attack something that saves lives and helps thousands (and is the work of many, many other people) you’re an asshole.

It’s not that Savage hasn’t said some boneheaded things in the past, it’s that he has clearly and publicly corrected them, clarified them, and apologized when necessary. The fact is he’s done much more good than anyone, or any mistakes he’s made, can erase. But he’s white, biologically male, and has been anointed by  the media to speak for the GLBT community; let’s face it, haters within the tent are going to hate.

And now the much beloved (and much less controversial) Neil Patrick Harris used the “T” word, and from what I read, in an actually insulting way.

So Dan Savage blogged about that incident. Then his readers responded; the conversation continuing on his blog is actually quite sane, spirited, and enlightening (I’m sure the trolls will get louder, but read past them.)

For what it’s worth, both Harris and Savage deserve the benefit of the doubt; their responses should be heard, and then the real – you’ll pardon the expression, transgressors – should be attended to. It’s not like there’s been a shortage of haters. The friends of and the GLBTQI community need to quit attacking their own.

But then I’ll probably be attacked for saying that. Which is a shame, because you won’t find a stronger supporter of Transpeople and Trans rights. You will  find a lot of non-supporters who are much better spoken than I – and never say anything that can be used against them.

Read the whole thing here: The Transgression of Neil Patrick Harris | Slog.

UPDATE: Yes, NPH has apologized:

Neil Patrick Harris apologized today for using the word “tranny” during a segment of Thursday’s Live With Kelly. “Truly sorry for saying the word ‘tranny’ on Live this week. Twice!” tweeted Harris. “Should have been more thoughtful. Didn’t at all mean to offend.”

And good ‘ol GLAAD has accepted his apology thusly:

GLAAD accepted Harris apology in a statement this afternoon. “It’s heartening to see a celebrity of Harris’ stature recognize and apologize for using the slur in such a timely manner, and for greater media attention being paid to its use. Many people do not realize that the word ‘tr*nny’ is one of the most hurtful and dehumanizing slurs that transgender people hear. Most transgender people associate that word with personal experiences of violence, hatred and derision.”


Well said. But rather than taking the word back, now we have another word which we cannot speak aloud or write without an asterisk inserted. This is not progress. I’m against “dirty” words, full stop.


About Jack Jamison
Jack Jamison is a writer, photographer, and raconteur living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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