[Editor's note: As one of the truly iconic and influential LGBT musicians, 67-year-old Jayne County has seen and heard it all over the years. She fought against oppression at the Stonewall riots alongside Marsha P. Johnson, worked with Andy Warhol, and palled around with entertainment legends David Bowie, Lou Reed and Divine. After being banned from Facebook for 24 hours in April for using the words "shemale" and "tranny" in a post and even receiving death threats for being outspoken, the eternally punk County has been raging at activists who've called out RuPaul for alleged "transphobia" and tried to police the use of language within the LGBT communities. County has had enough and contributed the following op-ed exclusively to Queerty.]
I know that my alter ego, Wayne/Jayne County, is known for offending many people, but really, death threats? All because I have fiercely defended the use of the word “tranny.” Hey, that dreaded word belongs to me. And as I see it, no one has any right to take away a word that has been a part of my vocabulary for many years! And a lot of other people feel the same as I do.
Tranny is not a slur word and I resent anyone trying to make it one. It’s the intent behind the word, rather than the word itself, that can be sometimes offensive. It may be a silly word, but it’s certainly not worthy enough to be banned. That is censorship, pure and simple and no better than right-wing Christian extremists or any other tyrants, who want to force their narrow-minded, conservative opinions on others. I do not want to live in Aftrannastan, and my religion is not The TrannaBan.
I could hurl the word “angel” at you with such wrath and ridicule that it would become offensive and send shudders down your bony back! Who and where, do the Word Police, get their orders from? God? Rush Limbaugh? (I read that he may be on the side of the activists, and if that’s the case then I am more sure than ever that they are absolutely 150 percent wrong.) Did they play with the Ouija board one drunken night, and suffer from the delusion that they spoke to the ghost of Stalin? Or maybe their orders came from the Great And Powerful Oz? Oops, don’t pull back that curtain! There could be a very, scared, bitter human being hiding behind it — one that wants to lord over the rest of us so much that they are willing to destroy the LGBT community in order to do so.
Actually, I wonder if these fringe word fascists even want to be members of the LGBT community. Since they feel no one else in the community has any right to offer their opinions, I must conclude that these extremists really aren’t in the community at all. They are outsiders. They remind me of the Trojan horse sent to our community to destroy it from within. In my mind, all they are doing is alienating a lot of people that could have been on their side. They say they want respect. Well, respect has to be earned, and demanding it, by threatening, and bullying members of the LGBT community will only get you disrespect.
These word fascists have been pressuring the press with threats and bullying to not print any alternative opinion. This tells me what kind of people these conservative censorship bullies are. They are behaving like a pack of ungrateful little brats. They are disrespecting our history and our rights. That’s right. If they are using their rights to abuse my rights then they don’t deserve to have their rights at all. These holier than thou “guardians of language” remind me of a bunch of old fuddy duddies and party poopers. Old church ladies, hiding behind their living room curtains, peering out at the neighbors and becoming upset and indignant because someone’s skirt is too short or one of the neighbors has come home really late. Do they have axes hidden in their over-sized handbags, just in case prohibition is repealed? (You’re supposed to chuckle there.) That’s how ridiculous I see this entire debacle.
This creepy infatuation and obsession over silly words that may or may not be used in an offensive manner has got to stop. It is dividing us at a time when we need to stick together more than ever. I am old. I’ve been around the block more times than a hooker on bad speed. I have seen them come and go and rise and fall. I was there for all three days of the Stonewall riots. I’ve marched in more marches than a Marine band. I’ve marched for African-Americans, and women’s lib. I marched to end the war in Vietnam, and fought for animal rights. I personally knew Miss Marsha and hung out with Andy Warhol, Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling. (Miss Marsha would be appalled by these so called trans activists!) Never have I seen such insulting, shameful, destructive behavior toward our community.
I have been knocked down, slapped, spit on, raped and run down by a policeman on a horse. I’ve been called every name in the book. Faggot, cocksucker, scum, bitch, freak. But do I seek to have those words banned? No. Do I consider myself a victim? No. I refuse to become anyone’s victim. I pick myself up, straighten my wig, dust myself off and hold my head up high. I shall not be beaten down! I am not a victim and no one can make me one. I fight on, not just for my rights but for everyone’s. Attacking people like RuPaul and other artists who have paved the way for others is shameful. They are taking away the focus from our real enemies, which is just what the bigots and homophobes want.
We may have come a long way, baby, but there is still a large faction of people not just in this country but all over the world who would like to push us so far back into our closets that they would have to pump air to us. And don’t think that it can’t happen. That’s exactly what happened to the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1930s. Burning books, one word at a time, is not the answer! (Thank you, Calpernia Adams!) So while we are fighting each other over words and their proposed offense, the wolf is watching and waiting behind the door. We stumble, we fall, we’re gone. So wake up children. Wake up and smell the real enemy and stop blaming your own people for your own paranoia about perceived offensive words. Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you — unless you let them!
Dear Word Police, please take your death threats and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine! I’ve been threatened by cowards a lot more scary than you.
Also, I will soon be going into the studio to record two new tracks — a Beach Boys-style called “Check The Tranny” and an animal rights song called “Leave My Pussy Alone.”