On offence, phobia


Homophobic. Transphobic. These words don’t make sense to me. We’ve used “homophobic” all my adult life, and the other day a co-worker use the term “transphobic” in conversation about yet-another screed on topics of how people should exist, which existences are acceptable or real or make sense. Must have been the relative “newness” of “transphobic” that struck me this time.

Here’s my trouble. Men who loathe women/feminism aren’t “gynophobic.” And white people who loath and abominate people of color aren’t “ethnophobic.” They are not scared of women or people of color. They’re misogynists and racists — they’re anti-woman and they choose to believe in race as a thing in order to use the concept again others, the hate is implied clearly. But, not –phobic, not fear. I might feel sympathy for someone who is afraid, and yet, I have never for a moment in the long history of my empathy for every downtrodden thing felt sympathy for these views or the people who hold them.

Why fear in the case of transness and queerness? It just hit me the other day — this is weird. It’s like hyphenation “rules.”

The old Greek suffix for hatred or aversion is -misia. It even sounds good. Let’s practice.

Transmisia. Homomisia. Gynomisia. Enthnomisia.

Misia: hatred of, aversion to.

Daniel Harris is a transmisiac. Sounds like maniac, sounds unbalanced. *grins

I, on the other hand, am a little androphobic and anglophobic because in a white supremacist and patriarchal culture, that’s just good thinking.


So, when a transmisiac or gynomisiac or ethnomisiac makes shit-tongued comments about how other people should exist in the world beyond having decent table manners, I am of offended. My moral sensibilities are disturbed and distracted by that kind of noise. But, when one of these misiacs lets go with their hate and their need for power, tansgender and genderqueer and gay folks and women and people of color or immigrants are DAMAGED. They are placed in fear, they are warned that their lives are at stake, they are made to live with WARNING blaring in their minds all the time.

That these communities suffer a kind of social PTSD is part of what I mean by this word “damage.” Theodore Adorno coined it for this purpose decades ago.  It’s use would give us a way to intervene in misiac discourse that goes beyond the relatively powerless word “offence.” Detractors might be able to claim that they are offended by responses to their privileged slights-of-hand, but they cannot claim to be damaged. They may live in a state of annoyance, but they do not live in a state of bodily and mortal fear that they get up and overcome every-single-day just to get to work.


What say you, then, Traveller?

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