by Angus "Andrea" Grieve-Smith

Category Archives: Verbal Hygiene

What is an ally?

What is an ally? No, really. The way people have been using the term in identity politics is a significant extension over previous uses. It’s important to understand this, and its implications. Allies have been a tricky topic in trans politics lately: how should they be treated? Do allies have rights or responsibilities? How does […]

They’re my women’s dresses

In 2011, transgender comedian Eddie Izzard was interviewed on the Australian talk show The Project. As clips from Izzard’s live shows played, one of the interviewers said, “It’s wonderful watching these highlights, it’s a journey of outfits for you. Famously, you’ve dressed up in women’s dresses.” Izzard responded, “No, I wear dresses. They’re my dresses, […]

We don’t hold elections

After I posted my take on the “transgender/transgendered” debate on Facebook, a friend-of-a-friend who’s a gay man with some inside knowledge mentioned that in deciding to endorse “transgender,” his organization talked to representatives of several national transgender organizations. While that’s way better than nothing, it’s not enough information for them to be able to say […]

Why I prefer “transgendered”

The “transgender/transgendered” debate popped up tonight, first on a Q&A by Zinnia Jones (aka Lauren McNamara): Point: The structure of “transgendered” suggests action, as if it were something you were subject to – that you are a person who has been “transgendered” and that is the reason why you exist in your present state. We […]

Colonizing ontologies

Brin pointed me to a great blog post about how we relate to other people’s categories, especially the categorical systems used by other cultures. (The author, Boldly Go, calls them “epistemologies,” but they seem to be what I’ve heard called “ontologies” or “taxonomies.” I think “categories” is the most straightforward term. And yes, I do […]

Not because she was a trans woman

Pronouns matter. A few months ago I lost a friend over pronouns. There were other factors, but the breaking point happened when this former friend was complaining about a neighbor of ours, a trans woman. I agreed that it sounded like the woman was being a jerk, but after my former friend told me the […]

Breaking down the binary/non-binary binary

Sometimes I’ll ask self-appointed trans “community leaders” – who act like they’re speaking for all trans people – to let the world know that non-transitioners exist, and we have needs, and they’ll bust out something like, “oh yes, and nonbinary people too!” (Last year it was “genderqueer people too!” Sometimes now they add “genderfluid.”) It […]

Hands off my umbrella!

I was first referred to Monica Roberts for her explanations of why RuPaul doesn’t count as trans. A few months later I asked a gay black man about trans self-identification in black communities, and he pointed me to Roberts. I was, honestly, more convinced by the assertion (I don’t know if it’s true or not) […]

“Trans women” and the erasure of transvestites

Transgender politics is notoriously full of terminological arguments. It’s an age-old expression of power: the right to decide which categories people get put in, who belongs and who doesn’t, who is condemned and who is spared, who is mocked and who is praised. These arguments are compounded by the problems that we humans have in […]

The kind of coming out we need

Last month I highlighted some good research done by Lal Zimman at the University of Colorado, where he found two conceptions of coming out among trans people that were very different from the way the term is used by lesbians and gay men. In the comments, my friend Caprice Bellefleur hit on the next point […]