Would you call an effeminate man a fag? Would you call a woman with short hair a dyke? Of course you wouldn’t. So why do you think it’s okay to call anyone a tranny?

Maybe you don’t know that “tranny” is a slur, which is totally understandable. If you’ve ever been to a drag show, chances are you’ve heard a drag queen say it to get a laugh. Or maybe you’ve just never thought about it. I’ve done this before with other pejoratives, and I felt pretty sheepish when I was confronted. But I’m glad I was confronted!

Or maybe you do know it’s a slur and you’re being hurtful on purpose. I certainly hope that’s not the case, but I’d be a fool to think that nobody is saying it to be cruel.

Whatever the reason, you’ve probably never said it around someone who had the courage to call you out, because if you had, you would stop saying it. So here I am, calling you out. Please don’t say “tranny.” It hurts. It’s a word people use to make trans people feel like shit, to reject our humanity, and to isolate us from the rest of the world. It’s a word people scream when they are beating us, strangling us, shooting us, setting us on fire, and dumping our bodies in ditches. Think I’m exaggerating? Click on that link and read the causes of death. I have never once heard the word “tranny” used lovingly. It’s not a joke, it’s never funny, and it’s never the right thing to say, even if you and I are close.

Think of the worst thing anyone could ever call you: a racist, misogynist, or homophobic slur, maybe. Imagine people around you casually using that word to talk about other people. That’s what it’s like when someone says “tranny.” It makes you feel like a joke, a freak, like you aren’t a human being worthy of even the most basic respect, even if you aren’t the specific person they’re talking about at the time.

Well, we are human beings, and we deserve respect. We are regular people with jobs and families and lives just like yours—notwithstanding the astonishing rates at which trans people are unemployed and rejected by their families because of discrimination. We have the same hopes and dreams as you, the same fears, and the same daily struggles and triumphs—again, notwithstanding the monstrous ways some people mistreat us. And we have been through hell. Even the smoothest transitions are fraught with difficulty. Emerging from that just to have people reduce you to a joke is dehumanizing.

I hope my fervor is not off-putting. I hope I’ve convinced you to delete “tranny” from your vocabulary, or bolstered your refusal to admit it entrance in the first place. But most of all I hope the next time you hear someone say it, you’ll have the courage to convince them too.