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During the early 2000s, there was some confusion and debate over whether the term was a pejorative, was considered acceptable, or a reappropriated term of unity and pride, but by 2017, the word had been banned by several major media stylebooks and was considered hate speech by Facebook.
Roz Kaveney wrote in The Guardian in 2010 that tranny had recently appeared to be undergoing reappropriation to be used with pride by trans activists, but "it didn't take", due in part to the word's continued use as a term of abuse. After using the slur in 2011, Lance Bass said he had thought the term was not a slur after having heard it used on RuPaul's Drag Race or Project Runway, but he apologized for using the slur after learning that it was not acceptable. GLAAD's 2011 Transgender Resource Page said the term is "usually considered offensive and/or defamatory to transgender people".
Justin Vivian Bond and Kate Bornstein have historically advocated for use of the term, with Bond saying in 2014 that banning the word does not eliminate transphobia but rather "steal[s] a joyous and hard-won identity from those of us who are and have been perfectly comfortable, if not delighted to be trannies." Bornstein claimed the word was used in the 1960s and 1970s in Sydney, Australia by trans people as "a name for the identity they shared", but said no one should think Bornstein was giving them permission to use the slur to describe anyone without first knowing the term they used for their gender identity. In Tranny: An Evidence-Based Review, Cristin Williams reviewed historic use of the slur and found the first published instance in 1983, originating among gay men. Williams expressed doubt that the word originated long before then.
In 2014, the Tranny Awards changed its name to the Transgender Erotica Awards, citing feedback from the "extended trans adult community" as a reason to stop using the term. In 2017, Facebook's anti-hate speech algorithms started blocking posts containing tranny, as well as the slur for lesbians dyke and the slur for homosexual men fag.
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- Dottie Lux; Lil Miss Hot Mess (14 August 2017). "Facebook's Hate Speech Policies Censor Marginalized Users". Wired. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
- "GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Terms". GLAAD. 22 February 2022. Retrieved 16 March 2023.
- Kaveney, Roz (30 June 2010). "Why trans is in but tranny is out". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- Bass, Lance (23 December 2011). "Why We Shouldn't Use the Word 'Tranny'". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- "GLAAD's Transgender Resource Page". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Archived from the original on 3 January 2011.
- Lowder, J. Bryan (30 May 2014). "Is "tranny" a slur or an identity? Who decides?". Slate Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 August 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- Bornstein, Kate (12 July 2009). "Who You Calling A Tranny?". Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Williams, Cristan (28 April 2014), Tranny: An Evidence-Based Review, The TransAdvocate, archived from the original on 15 May 2017, retrieved 18 May 2017
- Molloy, Parker Marie (14 March 2014). "'Tranny Awards' Changes Its Name, Not Its Nature". The Advocate. Archived from the original on 14 March 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2017.