Xtra! refuses to refer to transgendered subjects by their preferred pronoun

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Xtra! refuses to refer to transgendered subjects by their preferred pronoun

 

Stuck on labels

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There's been a label brouhaha brewing over at Xtra! Canada's Gay and Lesbian News. It's not actually that hard a job to refer to people how they want to be referred to, as much as we've been making a fuss about it lately. A simple business most of the time, every now and then accommodating when requests come up. We've been doing it for years, certainly the part where things flow, adept and change. That's all just part of the game, except some people just really don't want to change.

It started in November when Xtra refused to honour artist Elisha Lim's request to be referred to by the pronoun "they." Although the magazine did run a story quoting Lim saying these words, it would not honour the pronoun switch. A few weeks later Xtra interviewed Lexi Tronic, a trans and sex worker's rights activists. Edmontonians may remember her for the time she spent hosting weekly drag shows here and others might have caught her as one of the original stars of Showcase's breakthrough sex series KinK. The story's editor, Danny Glenwright, decided to share the story on his personal Facebook wall and when he did so he added Tronic's birth name. Tronic was naturally uncomfortable with this, especially since it turned out the two had known each other since childhood in Winnipeg and shared many acquaintances. Glenwright, an editor at an LGBTQ paper, claimed he didn't know sharing the birth name of a trans person was a faux pas, which would mostly be OK if he had just removed it after Tronic asked. Instead he defended himself profusely, used the creepy "some of my best friends are trans!" argument and basically reacted in a variety of transphobic ways. After calls for a boycott he would later issue what was deemed an apology, but the bizarre piece of writing blamed Tronic more than it repented. A few weeks later Calgarian singer-songwriter Rae Spoon would turn down an Xtra! cover and interview because they wouldn't respect "they" as their chosen pronoun and explained it in their blog. Surprisingly, Xtra! allowed poet and 11-year column writer Ivan Coyote to do a piece criticizing them on it called "'They' is me."

 

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Maysie Maysie's picture

Ivan Coyote's amazing article: "They" is Me

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I humbly request that Xtra do some serious thinking about what it means for a queer paper to refuse to honour such a fundamentally basic issue so important to many of its readers, or potential readers. All of its trans, gender non-conforming, gender-queer readers and all of our many allies. Call us what we wish to be called.

And in case you are still considering calling upon rules of proper grammar to justify ignoring our need to be seen and respected for exactly who and what we are, well, my lovely wife has prepared a fairly comprehensive reading list of reference materials proving that not only is it perfectly correct to use "they" as a singular pronoun in the English language, it was first done in the 16th century. My wife is my favourite ally of them all.

So, Xtra, it is too late for you to lead the way on this issue, but you still have an opportunity to step up and be a better and more accurate and diverse voice for the true GLBTTQQI communities that seek to find information and support and recognition in your pages. Please, this is not a complaint. It is an opportunity. An opportunity for you to make this paper better. More diverse, more trans-inclusive, more relevant, more courageous, more real, more truly queer. Call us what we want to be called. Be a part of changing our language to better reflect the world that uses it to communicate. Make me proud. Proud enough to keep on writing here for another 11 years.

Red Tory Tea Girl

They've done that, they've referred to trans people by cissexually-constructed names that those trans people have explicitly declared are no longer legitimate.

I expect this sort of thing from the wadfemz (reference to their habit of using the phrase twanz just so somebody knows) hate machine, like gendertrender et al, in fact, I've been their recent pinata of the week, but Xtra? Well, I guess the T is still considered silent by some.

PS: Can I say I'm heartened to see cis allies bringing this sort of thing up for once?