My foot and my mouth, together as ever

So I did an interview with Lauren Zurchin at Lytherus. It’s long, but go listen if you like, and by all means enter the Shadow Scale giveaway. Thanks to Lauren for the good talk and the opportunity!

Before you watch it, I experienced a moment of intense brain-farting during this interview as I was talking about my trans friends, and I am worried that my clumsiness will make folks (real people, who matter to me) feel hurt or unloved. It was one of those times when you say something and it just doesn’t sound right, and then you flail around like the proverbial bull, knocking porcelain shepherdesses off the shelves. I am thoroughly embarrassed by it, and I’m sorry to be such a verbal klutz (there’s a reason I’m a writer and not a talker).

Here’s a little lesson in the use of the word “trans” today (as I understand it, as was outlined for me by the patient friend I turned to as soon as this interview was over, because I knew I’d screwed up). Usage is evolving, which is kind of exciting really, but it means that if you’re as old as me, and were actually alive during the time of the Roman Empire, it’s easy to get confused and stumble. Trans is not just a prefix anymore, but is becoming a stand-alone adjective. “Use it the way you would use queer,” said my friend, and that’s a useful guideline.

Because here was my brain-fart: I uttered the phrase “trans friends,” and my sad, wee brain thought “transfriends,” with trans as a prefix. It means something slightly different as a prefix, when it’s used in words like transubstantiation or trans-unsaturated fatty acids or Trans-Siberian Orchestra. As a prefix, it means “across,” and so I got absurdly snagged on the idea of how one could be an across-friend.

It may seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but 1) I really don’t want to hurt people with my bungling, 2) I really am embarrassed, in particular because I knew this and knew better, 3) the only way, in my experience, not to get hung up on words that are emotionally or politically charged is to say them more often. To practice. Alas, practice means sometimes hitting wrong notes along the way.

If you watch the video, you may find that there’s some other place I’ve dropped the ball without even noticing (we two Southern white ladies talk about diversity and PoC characters and we do our best but there’s so much potential there). Do not be afraid to let me know. This is why we came down from the trees (as another friend of mine likes to say), so we can talk and work and make things better.


4 thoughts on “My foot and my mouth, together as ever

  1. Don’t worry too much. Your trans friends will forgive you, if indeed you actually need forgiveness. That’s what friends do.

      • Heh heh, 60 years of sticking my foot in my mouth (plus being a wise arse to begin with) pretty much schooled me in the the idea that words can hurt unintentionally. Not that it stops me from lipping off or anything….

        My friends know I’m a damned fool with a smart mouth, and love me anyhow. Indeed, many of them enjoy it as performance art (or sideshow, LOL )

        At the end of the day all is forgiven on both sides or the friendship wasn’t meant to be.

  2. I am currently reading (and much enjoying) Shadow Scale. I am really taking my time because there are so many layers and SO much to think about! One idea in particular is that of a society that fully embraces the idea of multiple genders, including ceremonies of declaration that fully empower the individual… lovely.

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