I’m allowed to be offended.
I just want to state that off the bat because I’ve heard it told that I should not be offended by things that offend me and if I am offended, I should at the very least keep my mouth shut about it because the act of taking offense can make people not offended feel uncomfortable because they were not offended.
Like when a TV show reinforces trans stereotypes, I should bite my tongue when others around me chuckle lest they be forced to confront the fact that I and those like me are worthy of ridicule by the media at large. I should just smile and reduce my presence so as to make everyone around me feel better. The needs of the many to laugh outweigh the needs of the few or the one to not be dehumanized. And too often, like the good girl that I am, I sit quietly and smile through the pain and try not to let my discomfort spoil everyone else’s good time.
But I’m allowed to be offended by the trans woman at the bar who the main character mistakenly hit on. I’m allowed to be offended by the trans woman in the documentary staring at herself in the mirror longingly (and all the other items that make up the drinking game often played when watching these shows). I’m allowed to be offended and to voice my offense and to make others uncomfortable for finding humor.
I’m also allowed to not be offended. I love the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was a huge part of my life once upon a time and while I recognize that the film itself is pretty terrible, it’s still a whole lot of fun to be a part of in the performance space. This article from The Mary Sue rightly takes issue with the remake with Laverne Cox (because this is a bad idea for many many reasons most notably that RHPS should exist entirely within the midnight movie space is occupies), but goes a step further in the belief that this cultural thing should fade away because the author, who has never actually been to a live performance of the film, thinks it should. I think it is because she is offended and she wants everyone to be offended even though she says that she understands that people like it, but she knows people who don’t, so it should just go away.
She is allowed to be offended, as are others. She is allowed to voice her opinion as I am allowed to when I am offended or when I am not and I want to dance and sing along with Tim Curry (not Laverne Cox, though…at least not in this…I’ll happily dance and sing with Laverne elsewhere). And I suppose people are allowed to laugh at stereotypes of all flavors, as they do even when I am offended or others are offended. And sometimes they should be made to feel badly about it if the offended party feels that lines have been crossed. And if they are offended by my being offended, perhaps it can open up a line of dialogue about what it means to take offense or to just laugh at the absurdity of a thing.
Because really, being trans is terribly surreal and absurd in all of the best and worst ways. Unless you are trans, you don’t know what it means to be trans. You can’t hang out with us and get a sense of what our lives are really like. You just can’t. Our lives are often too weird and indescribable for you to get from a conversation. But I suppose you could say that about any group that you are a part of and others are not. Except seriously, trans is weirder.
And we trans take offense or don’t and you don’t know which way we think because we are not all the same and so if you are worried we might, you should probably just assume we are.