Trans issues and Language

I just received an email from the National Geographic Channel about their upcoming series “Taboo”, sent because of our posts on trans issues. It pointed my attention to a particular video clip, described as follows:

One of the topics covered is transgenderism, and NGC has just posted this clip sharing the life of a pre-op transsexual, who has everyone confused about what it means to be a man, but herself.

And here’s the video clip:

Many things struck me about the email, after viewing the video-clip. (1) The man in the clip has had surgery to remove his breasts and his uterus, so he’s not pre-operative. But clearly the email’s author is focussed on the lack of a penis. He doesn’t express any interest in getting a penis, so he doesn’t seem to be pre-that-op either. (2) I don’t see anything at all confusing about this man’s description of his life– I’d expected him to do something like reject both gender identities, but he’s very strongly identified as a man. (3) The email’s author persists in using a feminine pronoun, which does indeed generate a confusing sentence. It really seems to me like most of the confusion is generated by the way the clip is described.

3 thoughts on “Trans issues and Language

  1. I thought that was Loren Cameron (from the tattoos). He is most definitely *not* pre-op, and if the emailer knew anything about Cameron’s work (, they wouldn’t have made such a statement.

    I saw Cameron present at Washington University a year or so ago–he takes photographs of transpersons in various stages of “op” and talks about the kinds of identies can be had in relation to the operations available.

    It is really a strange thing, too, to look at Cameron’s body, presentation, etc. and hear the pronoun “herself.” To me, that is more “bizarre” than anything.

    Someone else whose story is interesting to hear, speaking of transmen, is Jamison Green. Green and Cameron are two transmen who are, without a doubt, men (as society understands “masculine”).

  2. I am a legal male. My birth certificate, passport, drivers liscense, and every other form of identification that I legally possess documents me as a male.I state in the film that I am a male and have been male for 20 years. AND I do have a penis, albeit a hybrid, small one that is clinically termed a clitoris/micro penis. I describe it in some detail in the film, and also right here in this video clip. The person who is using the gender pronoun “she” or “herself” or anything else in the feminine about me is being resistant to my transgenderism and male identity. It is generally considered to be transphobic behavior.
    Thanks to all of you for your supportive comments, your inclusion of me in discussion, and for viewing the Taboo documentary. Warm regards.

  3. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I thought the pronoun chocie in that email was very poor. I didn’t get to see the film, but I was left a bit worried about it since the email I quoted came from the National Geographic Channel. I hope they did a decent job. I’m really impressed by the educational work you’re doing– it must be very, very difficult.

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