Thoughts on the asterisk form of trans*?

Discussions related to nonbinary experiences, identity and expression. 'On topic' discussions that don't fit anywhere else.

Thoughts on the asterisk form of trans*?

Postby quarridors » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:30 am


This blog post originally started as a draft post for this forum that ended up getting far too long:

Practical Androgyny: About that often misunderstood asterisk

I'm interested in hearing what everyone else's opinions are about the asterisk?

I think the most important point is that people need to actually understand the diversity under trans* and do meaningful things to actually include people who don't fit the dominant narratives, or who are nonnormative even among trans* people. I see enough people use the asterisk and then show little to no understanding of what it might include that I do wonder if it makes it too easy to look like you're being inclusive with out actually being so.

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:21 pm
Location: Nottingham, UK

Re: Thoughts on the asterisk form of trans*?

Postby sparrowsion » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:40 pm

My personal view is that I'm definitely in favour of distinguishing an umbrella term from a term for ... I want to say "normal transgender people", meaning those with a broadly binary identity, or at least fit the normal trans narratives. Because I know we have enough in common that an umbrella term is meaningful, but that our experiences can be sufficiently different that I don't want to be seen to be appropriating their term. I would feel like an intruder in a "trans" space, but absolutely not in a "trans*" space. (I've not encountered the thing of nominally "trans*" being not fully inclusive, but my experience T-excluding "LGBT", and, earlier in my life, "LGB" looking suspiciously at the bi, means I wouldn't be surprised.) I expect many people questioning their identity feel similarly: maybe they (and I) will one day be sure of a trans identity, or maybe not. I guess this comes down to that question of who owns "trans" and gets to define it as an umbrella or specific. And if the former, what, if anything, do we use for the latter? And having said that I'm in favour of "trans*" as a concept, I entirely agree with your dislike for it as a word, because of that confusing (and invalidating, if you're reading as linguist) *.

Meh, not really any useful contribution there. I guess I'm just thinking out loud.
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:36 am
Location: Llandovery, Wales

Re: Thoughts on the asterisk form of trans*?

Postby Taka » Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:46 am

i personally use "trans" as an adjective, and use it to denote anyone who can't say for sure that they're perfectly cissexual in any and all ways.
this is because i like terms that look like and can be used as (practical) words of a language.

trans* has two weaknesses the way i see it.

one is that it isn't a word ("*" isn't a recognized letter of the english alphabet at least). talking about people as [this isn't even a real word] feels odd.

the other is that the asterix is a widely recognized wildcard, and anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the use of wildcards and does not know the history of the term, will automatically start including all words that start with "trans", while also excluding everything that does not start with "trans".
when i read "trans*", i do this, and can't really help myself or stop this from happening. i read trans, transgender, transsexual, transmission, transylvania, transatlantic, transcriber, trans-siberian... and find myself including things that aren't supposed to be included while excluding things it was meant to include.

a whole nother thing is that language is dynamic and constantly evolves. unless it dies, which is a real tragedy.
what was a word yesterday may not be a word today, and what everybody mocks as ridiculous today may be a common word tomorrow.
a word's meaning also changes over time. this has proven somewhat problematic when reading old books (like the bible), because of terms such as "effeminate" which once upon a time meant a man who loves women a little more often than he should, but now somehow happen to mean something quite different and almost opposite of the old meaning.
how a word is used, will in the end determine what it means. no matter the intentions were when it was created, it's how people use it right now, today, that really matters. even "sunflower" can become a cuss word if people start using it as one. some friends of mine once unintentionally proved this point by trying to replace cuss words with the name of a poor little flower that started to sound very derogatory to the users after only a couple of weeks of trying not clean up their language a little.

discussing how we use words, and the intentions our causes behind our own personal language usage, is still worthwhile though. it is never bad to be conscious of how we use language and how it affects others.
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:10 am

Re: Thoughts on the asterisk form of trans*?

Postby blossombreeze » Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:58 pm

Personally, I have heard the argument many times now, since hearing the term, that trans* often times erases experiences of transsexual and transgender women. I don't really understand how this is, but it has made me uncomfortable with using it as an umbrella term. I try to be as specific as possible when speaking about individuals, but when addressing general trans communities, I feel most comfortable not using the asterisk. I don't really know if this is politically correct or not and I don't mean to offend people by doing it. I always looked at trans as including experiences of feeling the opposite gender than the one you were assigned, or feeling a mixture between the two, or no gender at all, having dysphoria or not, and transitioning or not transitioning individuals. All of that, and experiences I haven't thought of since I'm no God and don't have the final say in who gets to be a part of what community, is included in my mind when I'm talking about trans communities. At the same time, I always looked at the trans umbrella as nonbinary being its own umbrella term for agender, genderqueer, genderfluid etc. and having some cross over into the trans/transgender umbrella. Kind of like a venn diagram, where both are not subsets of each other, but can exist together in different individuals or circumstances. I believe there are a lot of reasons for trans people who do have dysphoria, or who are transitioning, to seek spaces where people are going through those same struggles. So me, as a non transitioning, cishet appearing but still nonbinary asexual pan-romantic human being with slight dysphoria some of the time, can understand that I'm not going to be accepted in every trans discussion because of my specific privileges. So I don't refer to myself as trans because I feel nonbinary/genderqueer/genderfluid all fit me better and cause for less confusion, but I can acknowledge thats not the case for everyone because not everyone looks like me or is treated the way I am based on gender and sexuality.
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:24 pm

Re: Thoughts on the asterisk form of trans*?

Postby Iamanit » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:05 pm

My impression of the asterisk was that it represents non-trans gender-variant persons. Trans represents transgender people (both binary and non-binary) where as trans* is meant to be inclusive of all gender-variant people. Many who crossdress still identify with their birth sex, so they would not be trans, at least imo.
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:05 am

Return to General Nonbinary Discussions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest