Anonymous asked: Could you please explain why when people make a text post or something about Trans people they put an asterisk next to it? Like, Trans*.
Adding the asterisk is an attempt to show inclusivity. In mainstream culture, trans or transgender is still often thought of as just trans women or trans men. However, it is actually an umbrella term for a whole host of other identities such as people who are genderqueer, agender, bigender, gender fluid, cross-dressers, or any other gender non-conforming identity. So adding the asterisk tells your audience you are referring to all transgender people, not just trans women and trans men. Here’s a decent article investigating its origins.
Like any attempt at inclusivity, it is fairly controversial. Some trans individuals don’t want to be included in a presumptive community many argue doesn’t exist. Or some think that all of those identities should not be lumped together because the experiences and struggles of each are so unique. The usage may even be appropriative of people of color and transmisogynistic. You can read up a little on the arguments against using the asterisk here.
It’s similar to how any variation of the initialism LGBTQ isn’t going to be perfect. If you add more letters, you’re still leaving someone out and it’s perhaps more obvious at that point. If you attempt a different initialism like GSM (Gender & Sexual Minorities) or QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay), some people may have arguments against those as well or there may be people who don’t know what they mean and then whatever you’re trying to say is just white noise to them. Here’s one of our videos on this topic.
It’s tough to decide what to use when you’re speaking generally so, in some ways, adding an asterisk for inclusivity is great, but being aware of how what you’re using could be problematic or inaccurate is also vital. Our recommendation is to really think about the context in which you’re referring to a group to help you decide which term to use and if a catch-all phrase is even needed. And, of course, if you’re speaking about or to one specific individual, just ask them (respectfully) which terminology they prefer.