I love me some Achewood. I mean, I love this comic. I even have four panels blown up and hanging in my living room, thanks to Sig Fig being the most amazing woman ever.
So you can imagine my dismay when I discovered this strip this morning.
Now, I should point out that Achewood is frequently rude, raunchy, and occasionally downright offensive. But I like to think that it usually qualifies as satire, and any truly wrong remark is paired with a foil (usually thanks to Roast Beef). But this? This is not okay.
Here’s my e-mail to Onstad, and I hope you’ll follow suit:
First, let me thank you. You helped my girlfriend give me the greatest Valentine’s Day present of all time–four blown up Achewood panels, which are currently in our living room begging to be framed. You’ve also given me ample gift ideas for her, which is awesome.
But I was uncomfortable with today’s strip. And because I love Achewood so much, I thought I should let you know why. Actually, uncomfortable would be putting it too mildly. I’m offended, and I’m upset.
I’m upset because you took a perfectly good concept–aww, look at Philippe being all precocious!–and used a really offensive slur to get your point across.
Now, I know that often part of the hilarity of Achewood is having cats with their junk out talkin’ all hell of trashy. And I usually really enjoy that. Really, I do. I like to think I’m not one of those uptight people who Needs To Just Get A Damn Sense Of Humor.
I know that a lot of people seem to think “hot tranny mess” is an okay thing to say after that idiot Christian Siriano popularized it on Project Runway. But it’s really not. We could talk about language reclamation til we’re blue in the face, but the bottom line is that it’s not okay for a cisgendered man to use a term that is still primarily used as a slur (including on transphobic TV shows and in newspaper headlines) to create a cute new trendy phrase.
Try to think of it this way: would you have written that same strip with Philippe using the n word? (I really, Really hope the answer is no, and I assume it is.) For many trans folks and their loving allies, “hot tranny mess” is just as big a slap in the face.
Please. I love Achewood, and I know you’ve been going through a tough time with the move, but please return to your high standards. Don’t stoop to material that’s just plain wrong.
We have to hold the people we support to higher standards. I can’t let this go just because I love Achewood.