What’s in a name?

I sat back in the bar’s long, church-pew booth and listened to the members of the drag troupe talk. One turned from the conversation.
“I had another one of those trans moments today.” she said in a heavy voice. “I got called a faggot.”
She isn’t trans, but she passes for male better than I do. I knew how she was feeling… the feeling that you’re less than a person.

The first time I was called a faggot it was screamed from an SUV as it appeared and then disappeared into the streets of Cincinnati. At first I felt a sense of accomplishment for passing, but it was quickly replaced by a familiar yet fresh fear. My hypervigilance spiked, followed by other my all too familiar traits of PTSD. My body filled with an ‘unsafe’ feeling as the injustice coated fear seeped into me. I looked over my shoulder as I walked away. I kept looking for five more days…

What makes a faggot a faggot? My friend is a girl but looks like a boy. I’m a boy who looks like a girl. If faggot is intended to mean homosexual, if only I could tell shouters just how accurate they are. I’m a guy who looks like girl who looks like a guy, who was born a girl, who fucks girls and boys and boys who were girls, and girls who were boys, and people who were never one or the other or anything at all… Is it hypocritical of me to argue or get upset? In my own, closed circles I call myself a fag, a tranniboy, and queer – all controversial words considered to be hate speech. Is our pain caused by the words or the malicious intention. Which is the one we need to remove? Does language have the power, or do we?

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