Dear tumblr, this is not a one-man problem.
First off, yeah, as trans* this is a comment that hurts, especially from someone I love and admire. But it shows very well the systemic nature of transphobia, the casual way in which a slur like this is assumed to be okay - not, in fact, seen as a slur - where other words of similar nature would not.
So let me just examine this a bit more and point out a few things.
1) Dear Robert Downey, you shouldn’t use that word. It hurts people. It hurt me. You probably wouldn’t have made a racial slur or a homophobic slur in its place. If you happen to know someone who knows Mr. Downey’s aunt’s cat or something, please point that out to him, because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know. Why am I sure? Well, listen to the rest of that clip, and read the rest of this entry.
2) Dear tumbrl, why are we making gifs of this particular quote? Why not bits of the rest of that source (click the nifty little x above for the entirety), where he pretty much sporks the idea that there might be something wrong with Holmes and Watson sharing bed, clothes and cross-dressing for each other. Because those bits are awesome. Why are we using the one bit where there’s a slur? We shouldn’t use it either, and that’s what’s going on here - it’s propagating a slur.
3) The answer here is that a opposed to many other kinds of prejudice, transphobia is largely invisible, unaddressed and still relegated to the land of “haha-funny”, allowing people to use it casually and not be called on it. Because most people don’t know! Trans* people are marginalised beyond what is imaginable, and this word is a symptom of that. By using it and by reposting it as funny, the plight of especially trans* women (whom this word has traditionally been used against) is turned into a joke. Don’t do that. The only people who can use this word and not have a problem are trans* women.
That little bit of interview there is fab for me as a gay guy. For me as a trans* guy it’s painful, but nowhere near as much as it is for my trans* sisters. Let’s just learn from this, yeah? Don’t be an arse, it’s that simple. If you didn’t know you were, then all you have to do is not do it again. I’m not trying to guilt anyone here, I’m trying to point out that this is a problem in the world we live in and that this problem needs to be addressed and lessons be taken from it.
Oh, and Robert Downey? If you ever read this, I’d still totally do you. Just sayin’ ;-)