A mental elf issue

Here’s one of my favourite jokes.

A man walks into a bar and orders a drink. He looks at the other patrons and realises that the man next to him has a small orange for a head.

“Excuse me,” he says. “I can’t help noticing that –”

“I have a small orange for a head?”


“Would you like to know why?”

“Yes. Yes, please.”

“Well, once upon a time I found a grimy old lamp. I cleaned it up with an old rag and to my great surprise a genie popped out. ‘O Master!’ he said. ‘You have freed me from my prison! I shall grant you three wishes!’ Great, I thought. So I wished for great riches and good health, and he granted me both.”

“My goodness!” said the first man. “So what on earth was your third wish?”

“My third wish?”


“Oh,” said the man. “I just wished I had a small orange for a head.”

The case of Luis Padron reminded me of it, because he too has a small orange for a head.

No, not really. But he’s spent £45,000 to make himself look like an elf.

This, inevitably, is being reported as him being “trans-species”, which he isn’t, because elves don’t exist.

Also, he specifically says he isn’t trans-species. The Daily Mail:

During his appearance on This Morning Luis revealed that he is often described as ‘trans-species’ but says that this is not something he agrees with.

That said, this time last year he reportedly told the Daily Mail that he did consider himself trans-species “in the same way transgender people feel”.

The Mirror went with this headline:

‘Trans-species’ fantasy lover born in wrong body risked life for costly and painful £45,000 transformation into an ELF

Whether Padron believes himself to be trans-species doesn’t really matter, though. Some people do claim to be trans-species, and they’re problematic for trans people.

We’re the last people to want to police other people’s identities, but this stuff is inevitably used to delegitimise trans people: the “identify as” trope that’s used to belittle and mock us.

(Incidentally, there’s a fascinating article to be written about the surgeons who facilitate these transformations, like the US border surgeons who treat the mental illness of body dysmorphia by amputating healthy limbs: there’s a lot of money moving around. But again, this is problematic because people would lump them in with the surgeons who operate on trans people.)

I have absolutely no problem with anybody who wants to look like an elf, or a cat, or Barbie’s partner Ken. But there’s a huge difference between that and being transgender. Identifying as a werewolf, as some people do, is just dicking about on the internet. Getting yourself to look like an elf is akin to wanting a small orange for a head.

This matters because trans people are, as I’ve written before, the target of a wedge strategy attacking all LGBT people. The word “real” is used again and again. Equal marriage is not real marriage. Trans women are not real women. Being trans is not a real thing.

Rights are only for real people.

In other words, this shit has consequences.

Claiming to be trans-species (or trans-racial, a term used in adoptions but appropriated by a white woman called Rachel Dolezal amid much controversy) gives people yet another stick to beat transgender people with.

It filters through the culture, too.

Here’s David Sexton, sniggering in The Standard over books by two people pretending to be animals in order to get book deals:

Transgender has a challenger. Once the Kardashians have become leaders in the field, transgender can hardly claim to be transgressive… Time to move on. A new frontier beckons. Trans-speciesism is the future. There are plenty of people out there who suffer from species dysphoria these days. They feel they are a non-human species trapped in a human body, rather along the lines in which transgender people feel gender dysphoria. We may just be at the start of a major new liberation movement.

Does he finish with the “I identify as…” trope? Of course he does.

For myself, I have long identified as, essentially, a parrot, a blue-fronted Amazon I think: cheerful jabbering and plenty of nuts.

Here are some tweets and comments about Padron’s story.

“See what happens when we give a bit of understanding to nutters? Trans has now moved on to this. But we must accept this as normal in our schools I suppose.”

“He looks like a fairy. Maybe one day he will realise he wants to be a woman.”

“I was waiting for species to be added to the list of trans identities.”

“This BE WHO YOU REALLY ARE trend has got to stop!”

In many cases trans-species is used to argue against the whole trans political-correctness-gone-mad thing, with commenters urging others to check out the videos of virulent alt-right bigots.

This is part of the drip-drip-drip I’ve blogged about previously. Seeing somebody described as “trans-species” on breakfast television might not mean much to you or have any effect on your day, but for us it’s different: it’s yet another thing people use against us, yet more “evidence” that we aren’t real.