Gay Slurs | San Francisco | Transgender

Organizer Of San Francisco's 'Trannyshack' Party Drops 'Tranny' From Name

Amid the continued public flap about Ru-Paul’s use of the word “tranny”, Heklina Heklina — the organizer of San Francisco’s “Trannyshack” party — publicly announced that she would drop the word “tranny” from her party and re-brand it with a new name by 2015.

HeklinaIn a public Facebook post, Heklina said, “Whether I like it or not the very name of my legendary nightclub has become political.” She then explained why she originally chose the name and what compelled her to change it:

First, a little history about the name Trannyshack, and the club itself. When I started the club (waaaaaay back in 1996) the word “tranny” did not have the charged weight to it that it has today. Simply put, it was not (arguably) considered a slur word, and not even thought of on the same level as the words “dyke” or “faggot” (two words which, maybe ironically, have somehow become less charged and have been “reclaimed” to a certain degree-for instance, leading the Pride Parade in San Francisco every year are the Dykes On Bikes. I can’t imagine in this day, a contingent called Trannies On Bikes). There are people who might argue this, but I’m sorry it just was not a word thought of as a slur on the same level as today. It was just not. I considered the name transgressive, and cutting edge…

Every walk of life came to, and performed at, Trannyshack. Gay men, lesbians, drag kings, drag kings, M to F’s, F to M’s, Faux Queens, and yes, even straight people. It won every award for Best Drag show in SF every year, and is generally thought to have redefined drag on the West Coast. It didn’t matter (and still does not) what gender you were, or what you had between your legs, if you were a great performer you were welcome on the Trannyshack stage. It grew to mean a great deal to a great many people…

However. Increasingly, and in the past year especially, it’s become clear to me the meaning the word tranny has taken on. I’ve tried to avoid the issue because I’ve spent almost 20 years branding and promoting my club. But more and more, I am asked on the street, in interviews, and online about my thoughts on the word, and the name of my club. I’ve given the answer “Oh, my club is different, it means so much to so many people, it’s this it’s that, etc.”, but it’s been nagging at me.

I started to talk to people close to me about the need for a rebrand. What really was the clincher for me was a post I saw on Facebook by a performer at my club . I wasn’t tagged in the post, but came across it anyway. He said how excited he was to be performing at my club but, out of embarrassment, he couldn’t type the name of it, and something along the lines of “you all know where it is”. Ouch, OK. Time for a rebrand.

I am in the business of (hopefully) entertaining people. It’s never been my intention to hurt people. I am not another Shirley Q. Liquor, wanting to offend just for sake of it. Also, on a purely business level, I don’t want to be viewed as archaic, out of step with the times, like an ostrich with my head in the sand.

She added, "As I see it, there’s two ways we can deal with this. We can see this as progress and a step forward, or we can engage in fighting and divisiveness. Whichever one you choose I am going for progress, and away from hurt and anger." 

Until the 2015 rollout, Heklina has decided to use “T-Shack” as a temporary name while she researches a better one. She then refused to engage the matter further via Facebook, but invited people to talk with her about the old and new names face-to-face.

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Comments

  1. Well said!

    Posted by: JustJe | May 25, 2014 10:40:34 AM


  2. No matter what you call trannies, they will still be angry, mentally ill, and anti-gay.

    Posted by: Tyler | May 25, 2014 10:43:19 AM


  3. Is it still O.K. for the mechanics at AAMCO to refer to an automatic transmission as a "tranny"?

    Posted by: Bill | May 25, 2014 10:45:52 AM


  4. Heklina is a party promoter and really got the message when someone avoided hash-tagging her event. Renaming is likely as much about keeping it appealing to younger people as it is genuine sensitivity. Either way, the word is on its way out and queer humorlessness is on its way in.

    Posted by: kipp | May 25, 2014 10:55:36 AM


  5. This is misdirected...don't give in to the always angry hypocrites...

    Posted by: styler | May 25, 2014 10:55:59 AM


  6. Ok... the word has NOT changed. It still means the same thing to everyone except a handful of loudmouth tranny activivists.

    Maybe we should all boycott the event and tweet and whatnot if he does change the name.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | May 25, 2014 11:48:58 AM


  7. Bravo...this is the way you handle controversy and gracefully compromise. Memo to RuPaul..teachable moment to review.

    Posted by: NotSafeForWork | May 25, 2014 12:24:21 PM


  8. What I find offensive is ignorant comments such as the one above:
    "No matter what you call trannies, they will still be angry, mentally ill, and anti-gay."
    I love a good generalization.

    Posted by: JimmyD | May 25, 2014 12:54:33 PM


  9. What bores! What's wrong with the word "tranny"? It's just an abbreviation of "transgender". Whether some people use it as an insult is irrelevant.

    Posted by: Pandion | May 25, 2014 12:55:42 PM


  10. hmm
    T-shack is an improvement? We all know what the T is.

    I'm sure if you called a black person an "N-word" instead of using the actual word, you'd still be in trouble. LOL.

    Posted by: Qj201 | May 25, 2014 12:57:49 PM


  11. Why not Trans-shack instead of the abhorred 'Tranny'?
    The:
    Trans-gender, trans-man, trans-woman, trans-sexual
    Trans-vestite
    Trans-racial
    Trans-contintental
    Trans-formational
    Trans-personal
    Trans-mutative
    Trans-cendental
    Trans-gressive
    Shack.

    Posted by: Rolf | May 25, 2014 1:05:34 PM


  12. I get why she changed it.

    We should all stop using the word "queer" for the same reason.

    It wasn't an issue until the bitchy ugly drugged-out SF trannies that made this an issue made it one; THEY are THE problem.

    Just sayin'.

    Posted by: NVTodd | May 25, 2014 2:19:56 PM


  13. tranny, tranny, tranny, tranny, tranny, tranny, tranny, tranny

    Posted by: MOZ's | May 25, 2014 2:29:49 PM


  14. As a tranny I use the word all the time myself. As with all words it is 100% about intent when any potentially derogatory word is used. That having been said if another tranny told me it made him or her uncomfortable I would not use it in their presence, common courtesy.

    Then again I'm mentally ill by all accounts so I guess my opinion really doesn't matter. ;)

    Posted by: Andrea | May 25, 2014 2:54:04 PM


  15. I thought Tranny was cute and endearing. Its also short for Transmission, which is what makes a car operate properly. When did it become a slur? The word faggot means a burning piece of wood, which really is a slur. Even the N-word is short for Nigerian, am I missing the slur there? Seems meh. When we call a child a kid, aren't we referring to a goat, sort of slurish if you ask me.

    Posted by: Tom | May 25, 2014 3:19:45 PM


  16. I think I'm not LGBT any more.

    This movement used to stand for freedom.

    Posted by: Randy | May 25, 2014 3:46:35 PM


  17. in this instance "tranny" was never a reference to transgender it was about transvestites and female impersonators

    i find it annoying that the trans community has hijacked this word and turned it into something bad

    i also find it somewhat telling that it seems to be the mtf segment of the trans community that is making the most noise about it

    Posted by: micheal d | May 25, 2014 4:03:20 PM


  18. Bizarre.

    Posted by: Rowan | May 25, 2014 5:19:11 PM


  19. This is such a great statement. RuPaul could learn a few things.

    Posted by: JMC | May 26, 2014 4:24:55 AM


  20. Why don't we ban all language.

    Posted by: Gary | May 26, 2014 1:44:20 PM


  21. Should we round up and stone all the trannies who still identify themselves by and use the word "tranny"?

    Posted by: Knock | May 26, 2014 8:55:39 PM


  22. Wow. Even black people can still say the N-word, and only white people who still want to use it give them crap. When I was a kid, I was called a girl. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, but when you use the word to hurt someone else's feelings, that's the problem. I think that's the problem here, there's no regard to the intent.

    Posted by: Armando | May 26, 2014 10:45:25 PM


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