Drag Diva Lady Bunny Weighs In On ‘Tranny’


In an interview with Paper Magazine, drag personality Lady Bunny spoke on her new show Clown Syndrome and during the interview offered her opinions on the use of the word "tranny". She pulled no punches, saying:

Tranny is an abbreviation for transvestite and transsexual, so I'm free to use it since I fall with that category. Much as blacks can use the N-word. I know tranny from London, where they abbreviate everything — breakfast is brekkie, biscuit is biccie. Tranny is used affectionately on the club scene. Even transsexual advocates like Jayne County and Kate Bornstein have come out and said that these words aren't necessarily slurs.


And I'm sick of people thinking they can ban words because they make them feel bad. Boo hoo for you! Any time we choose a different path in life, we're going to get shit for it — whether you choose to be openly gay, trans or even a straight guy with tattoos all over his face. If you don't have the balls to take s–t, then choose an easy path. And for huge gay organizations like GLAAD to join in to censor Ru or anyone else confuses me. "Gender bender" is on GLAAD's list of banned words. That's what Frank-n-Furter, David Bowie and Sylvester were–that's not a slur except to the most precious, uptight goody two-shoes.


  1. Tony says

    So according to this has been, if I don’t want to be called a fag I should opt or choose to be straight. These bitches are starting to sound like some straight up right wing nut jobs.

  2. Anon says

    Tony, if you don’t understand, don’t just jam someone else’s arguments into your anti-gay pet-theory you have on-hand folded into your breast pocket.

    You MUST be trolling. Either that or you’re extremely stupid.

    Lady Bunny didn’t say that.

    You were the kid who would force puzzle pieces together that didn’t fit.

  3. Ted says

    @Tony…Actually what “this has been” is saying is that people need to act like adults. Life is hard and if you crumble when someone calls you a name like “fag” or hurts you feelings in some other way…you are going to have a very rough row to hoe. Been called a “fag” a lot in my life. I’m still alive.

  4. Factoid says

    I don’t really understand why they need to use the word, especially since it doesn’t apply to gay men, which is what the drag queen is v tranny bc the later is not about drag.What are they defending here? The right to be as screwed up as straights ?

  5. Factoid says

    By the way, I’m tough and say that people should defend themselves. , including physically if it comes to that.

    The comment however that one should just get over being attacked verbal gets it backwards

    Weak is accepting when someone is crapping on you with a smile

    These queens are just rationalizing

  6. Polyboy says

    Transvestites, gender queers, transmen, and transwomen all fall under the umbrella of “Transgender.”

    These hashtag activists are trying to narrow the playing field of who can be called “transgender” by playing with definitions, especially the anti-drag, anti-realness, camp.

    Transvestites can say tranny all they want.

    And leave the “cis” crap to organic chemistry.

  7. Joseph L. says

    I agree with Lady Bunny. Sorry, but if I call another gay man a “fag” and he gets offended by it, then he’s an uptight goody two shoes. I’m also Jewish and make Jew jokes. So what. Get over it, and fight the REAL enemies of the community.

  8. SulRid says

    I must admit, I’ve been feeling fairly ambivalent about this whole conflict. But I’m getting a little tired of people who merely dress up as what I am for entertainment and take it off at the end of the day getting to say what words should and shouldn’t be used to describe me.

  9. steve says

    thank god we have drag queens like RuPaul and Lady Bunny to inform us on social policy and give us their cultural critique. I appreciate their opinions – but when people who have spent their lives studying gender issues get less attention than the opinions of these people – we’ve got a problem.

  10. Tyler says

    It’s like watching a war between 2 wings of an insane asylum. Maybe the trannies or the drag queens will try to create an alliance with the castration-seeking neutrois or the genderqueers who insist on being referred to with plural pronouns.

    How did LGBs ever get mixed up with this bizarre menagerie of creatures? It’s all very amusing, but we have lives to lead and futures to build and LGB youth to support.

  11. Carmelo says

    But what does Danny V say about it? That’s the only opinion that matters! An affluent cis white person who wears women’s clothing (aka a transvestite) said something, bring out the pitchforks! I noticed there hasn’t been a post by him today, hopefully he got the boot.

  12. Marvin says

    There’s only one thing I look for to determine whether a word is offensive or not: the speaker’s intention. Gay, for instance, is not a bad word. But if someone begins to shout “Gay!” at me repeatedly in the hope of making me feel like there’s something wrong with me, I will be offended even though the word gay itself is not offensive. Again, that is because even though the word itself was harmless, the intention behind the word was not.

    Now, in the case of drag queens using the word “tranny,” we see the reverse. The word has a negative connotation, but the drag queens who use it are not intentionally trying to insult transgenders. If I were transgender and a drag queen used the word “tranny” to refer to other drag queens, I probably would not be offended.

    I do think there are legitimate reasons why some transgenders would prefer the word “tranny” to go away. For many, hearing the word could bring back bad memories of situations when the word was used to insult them. Nevertheless, even if we try to remove “tranny” from the vernacular, it would easily be replaced by another slur so long as transphobia exists. That is the real problem we should be focusing our attention on because, as they say, there are no bad words, just bad intentions.

  13. Honesty says

    Most younger LGBT people don’t defend the word “tranny” because we know it’s stupid on top of being offensive. Why are all these old people up in arms over a stupid word?

  14. says

    Amongst my friends who are transgendered there is no “One Opinion” on this, but it does cross over into N-word and “fags can joke with fags” territory. a number of my MTF friends use “tranny” – non-pejoratively – and for what it’s worth these are friends of mine who don’t “pass”, and have no desire to – and I think there’s a crossover there in that regard, similar to my specific self-identification as “Queer” as well as gay.

    I remember many years ago seeing two school children fighting, and one hurling “BLACK!” at the other as an insult. Yeah – using the person’s ethnicity, hurled as invective. No need to use the N-word – the kid was already making a connection that “the ethnicity” alone could be used “against them as an insult”.

    There’s a difference, of course, between self-identification, words being used between “friends and family” ( IE, the SNL skit – Dyke and Fats… “you don’t get to call us that! those are OUR words! we’re friends we love each other!”) and then third parties with no real connection or association to those words who toss them around and then act oh-so-bothered by the suggestion that, you know, *they use different words and not those ones*.

  15. Optimus Prime says

    Well, most of us Autobots call Deceptecons “tranny” all the time, since we’re just “Transformers”…robots in disguise 😉

  16. Derrick from Philly says

    I love Lady Bunny and I go to her blog everyday…well, every week day (not as much as I come to Towleroad and Rod Beta 2.0, but I go to and I enjoy the Lady Bunny Blog). I’ve also seen many of her videos and I enjoy them, and I also enjoy her comedy routines and her parodies of popular music.

    BUT, I have to disagree with the great Lady Bunny on this issue.

    If a Transwoman tells you NOT to call her a “tranny” then don’t do it–that’s all. Why is it so difficult?

    I think of someone like Laverne Cox as a Transwoman and a woman. And that’s that.

  17. pablo says

    “If a Transwoman tells you NOT to call her a “tranny” then don’t do it–that’s all. Why is it so difficult?”

    But who is doing that? No one is calling anyone names. What’s happening is people are being told they can’t use the word at all.

  18. Island Planet says

    Preach Bunny. The aspect of this issue that always seems to get overlooked is the difference between saying the word ‘tranny’ and calling someone a ‘tranny’. Whenever a transgendered woman or a drag queen or a straight guy in a skirt for halloween is referred to in the press they are derisively and rudely called a ‘Tranny’. That is not acceptable to me. But for one drag queen to refer to herself or another drag performer as a ‘tranny’ – well why would a transgendered woman be hurt by that? Or even think she has a say in that situation?

  19. Derrick from Philly says

    Why not just stop using the term “tranny” completely? Why not avoid the controversy completely?

    I’ve had other Black folks refer to me as “n.gger”. And I’ve had some other Gay folks refer to me a “f.ggot”. I told them, do not do that–and there was no understanding smile on my face.

  20. Derrick from Philly says

    Let’s say that Rupaul or Lady Bunny, or Ricky Martin or Elton John went to a Gay Pride event and started off their perfomance with, “Hey, you f.ggots!”

    There would be some Gay folks who would think it was funny. There would be others who’d be furious.

  21. pablo says

    “Let’s say that Rupaul or Lady Bunny, or Ricky Martin or Elton John went to a Gay Pride event and started off their perfomance with, “Hey, you f.ggots!”

    There would be some Gay folks who would think it was funny. There would be others who’d be furious.”

    Who cares? Remember when Pride was fun and welcomed subversion? Remember when we didn’t demand drag queens to be squeeky clean? Put on the film Pink Flamingos — some people think it’s funny, but some people find it infuriating. So the movie shouldn’t exist because someone got upset by it? The movie should be altered? You guys are messed up with this line of reasoning.

  22. says

    This dispute rose from a situation where people who identify as Transwomen are participating in drag pageants and interacting with drag divas. While I understand the reasons why this happens (it’s damn hard for Transwomen to find employment, for one), it doesn’t seem to be a good idea. In a drag setting, you’ll never be taken seriously as a woman! And you will encounter the kind of profound disrespect exhibited by RuPaul, Lady Bunny and a majority commenters on Gay blogs like this one. If you want your gender to be respected, don’t do things that call it into question!

    It’s not for me to chart the course of any Transgender Rights movement, but I think Transactivists want to avoid any situation where transsexual persons get confused with transvestites. Confusing them leads to more ignorance, and Lord knows, there’s enough of that already! There needs to be a hard line of demarcation drawn.

  23. Erik says

    “If a Transwoman tells you NOT to call her a “tranny” then don’t do it–that’s all. Why is it so difficult?”

    If a man or a woman tells you NOT to call him/her “CIS” then don’t do it–that’s all. Why is it so difficult?

    Amazing how those who are offended continue to justify and advocate for a word that offends because it fits their worldview. This term was not created by “cis” people to define themselves, it is a label applied by outsiders to designate them.

  24. Randy says

    Good to see some common sense on this issue. There’s a lot of it out there, which I suspected and am glad to see confirmed.

    But our organizations have been dominated by self-appointed conservative censors, lately. I hope they’re taking a lesson from this teachable moment.

  25. says

    actually, Erik – you’re wrong on that one. CIS is a word that comes from the fields of social science and study. and if you actually get butthurt about the term “Cis” i think you can go flush your head in a toilet because that’s pretty petty, ya chump.

  26. Markt says

    What is the alternative term? You have to say the whole word – transexual or transvestite? The word Homosexual isn’t used (mostly) because it sounds like a classroom and it’s long. There has to be something shorter and less clinical or Tranny remains in the acceptable lexicon. So what is the alternative(s)?

  27. Edgar Carpenter says

    The first time I heard the word “tranny” it was used by a transvestite to describe himself. And that was the group who used the term for themselves first – it had been used by them for decades, and I heard older and younger transvestites use the term freely. Some, but certainly not all, of those people would consider themselves transexuals today, but that was not a common term or identity. So I’d say transvestites of any gender identification own the word ‘tranny’ as much as anyone else.

    Later it was also used by transexual friends to describe themselves. They didn’t use it as a bad word, or a denigrating word. It was NOT a pejorative term except in the sense that any word at all can be a pejorative if it is said in tones of contempt – so ‘transexual’ or ‘transgender’ or ‘gay’ or ‘man’ or ‘women’, when said with contempt (and they all sometimes are, you know), become pejoratives too.

    The group who now claim that ‘tranny’ has always been and will always be a pejorative term for transgendered or transexual persons are just making that up. Totally making that up. Why would they do such a thing? I don’t know, ask them.

    I tend to use the words another person uses about themselves to describe them, so I will continue to describe tranny-identified people as trannies, transgender-identified people as transgender, transexual-identified people as transexual, etc. etc. etc. I really don’t care what someone chooses to call themselves, and I’m happy to use their preferred terminology.

    So please, if you hear me refer to someone who identifies as a ‘tranny’ as a tranny, keep your thought-control impulses under control. That person has the same right to self determination that you do, even if you don’t like it, and even if you think it is “wrong” in some objective way outside of your own head.

  28. J says

    Sorry Little Kiwi, I can’t agree with you on this one. Having the term “cis” come from social science and study, as you proclaim, still means it was not a self created moniker. Given that social scientists only created/used that term in a setting related to trans expression, it’s difficult to say “cis” is a natural or authentic descriptor. Besides, the only difference between getting butthurt over the term “cis” and the term tranny is how much emphasis you personally place on being offended, which means there really is no difference at all. We can’t prioritize the offensive words of one group over another and still maintain objectivity.

  29. Edgar Carpenter says

    @little kiwi – really? Some peoples’ feelings of offense are real (if they agree with what you are offended by), but other people’s aren’t (if they’re offended by things you’re not offended by)? Do you have any awareness of your remarkable level of hypocrisy and faulty thought processes?

  30. Bill Lundy says

    The issue, as I see it, is whether it is proper use of our efforts to ban words that don’t offend absolutely everyone, especially words that have been in casual use in a non-threatening, non-disparaging way for decades. I’m all for calling people out who are using words to harm, but otherwise, I don’t much like the idea of censoring the use of words that aren’t, in and of themselves, pejorative. If you don’t like a word, let the people know who you interact with, and I’m sure they’ll respect your feelings. But don’t try to force everyone into that same box.

  31. steve says

    iam a 63 year old gay man. ot . with a partner for 37 years. politically active.

    i have always felt if a member of a minority group tells me what they need to be called i comply. thus my negro friends became my black friends and then my African American friends… and so one with other groups and sub cultures. according to some logic hare i should have just told my negro friends to get over it an let me call them what i want to call them

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