SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The popular San Francisco institution Trannyshack will drop the “tranny” and change its name to appease transgender activists, said drag queen and founder Heklina (aka Stefan Grygelko) this week.
“It’s finally time to be in step with the times,” Heklina said. “The name of my club has taken on this political element. It was never meant to be political or offensive; it’s all about entertaining people.”
The Trannyshack formed in 1996 as a performance troupe that traveled across the country, occasionally making international appearances. But 18 years later, Heklina says the word tranny has taken on a new, derogatory meaning in the transgender community.
“It was never really a slur when (Trannyshack) started,” she said. “It wasn’t a word like fag or dyke, but it’s taken on that meaning in the transgender community. That’s what their oppressors call them.”
Although pressure has been mounting for years, the decision to change the name coalesced about a year ago when Heklina said she read a Facebook post from a young drag queen who wrote that she’d be performing at the Trannyshack, but refused to call it by name.
“I don’t want people to be embarrassed of where they are performing,” Heklina said, adding the generational divide is largely responsible for the changing connotation, with older people still referring to the Trannyshack affectionately. Tranny was even commonly used as a verb to describe the practice of getting into drag a couple of decades ago, she said.
Regardless, Heklina said plans to move forward with a total re-branding of the club, announcing a new name sometime early next year. Some ideas include “The Shack,” or a more appropriately, a reference to the politically correct furor that inspired the change: “Backlash.”