Every so often, we receive emails that read something like this:
“Why does the world need a car site just for LGBT shoppers? How the hell are their needs any different from the rest of us?”
To which we typically respond:
“In some ways, the needs of LGBT car-buyers aren’t any different from those of their straight peers. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transfolk want cars that look good, that are reliable, that they can afford.
“The problem is, for generations, the auto world was a place for straight men — a place that excluded women, LGBT people, and others. Many of us have been laughed at by mechanics and talked down to by salesmen (yes, usually men) because of our sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Unfortunately, that same dismissive attitude also exists on many automotive websites. Gaywheels is a place where LGBT consumers can learn about cars and discuss them in a friendly environment.”
For anyone who doesn’t believe that penultimate sentence, look no further than Michel Deslauriers‘ review of the 2015 BMW X4 entitled “2015 BMW X4 xDrive35i: the transgender vehicle“, posted today at Autogo.ca.
As you can tell from that title, Deslauriers has no idea what the word “transgender” means. He criticizes the X4 as “a vehicle that’s trying to please too many people at once”, as if that’s what transmen and transwomen aim to do by transitioning. (Fun fact: it’s not.) He goes on to fret over his inability to classify the X4, dubbing it “confusing”.
I barely know where to start.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Deslauriers is a cisgender, heterosexual man. Like many such men (and gay men, and straight and gay women), Deslauriers is flummoxed by queer things that don’t fit the status quo and don’t fall into neat categories. Like people who reduce transfolk to their genitals — often offensively referred to as their “plumbing” — Deslauriers finds it impossible to take the X4 for what it is. And so, he does what many people do in that situation: he pokes fun at it.
To Deslauriers credit, he doesn’t seem to put much stock in his metaphor of the X4 as “transgender”. He uses the word once in the title and only once in the body of the article. It’s pretty clear that he’s using it for shock value, not because he’s interested in doing any deep thinking about how an inanimate object might possibly self-identify as something other that how it’s been classified, how it might endure ridicule from family and friends, or how it might go about changing itself to fit its proper identity.
And honestly, that’s the most offensive thing: using the word “transgender” as clickbait. It’s sloppy and lazy — though of course, we fell right into the trap of giving him the publicity he sought.
[h/t E. Maulbetsch]