How to think about trans people

DSGamer wrote:

Time for a fork of GWJ?

This issue feels like it's completely destroying GWJ. It's in so many threads. Can we just stop demonizing members of the community who have difficulty with this? Or who insist on calling someone by their legal name?

Who is demonizing members of the GWJ community? We're having an open, honest discussion. I may be ignorant, but it seems to me as this discussion has been respectful in how we deal with each other.

Edit: ah never mind

The whole calling someone by a name they don't want to be called by (irrespective of whether they were born with it) makes me think of this.

SixteenBlue wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

Or who insist on calling someone by their legal name?

EDIT: Damn it, SB, stop doing that.

Is Scooter the real legal first name of Scooter Libby? If not, we certainly didn't get a sh*t back then.

WIKI Break: Nope, it's not.

Nevin73 wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

Time for a fork of GWJ?

This issue feels like it's completely destroying GWJ. It's in so many threads. Can we just stop demonizing members of the community who have difficulty with this? Or who insist on calling someone by their legal name?

Who is demonizing members of the GWJ community? We're having an open, honest discussion. I may be ignorant, but it seems to me as this discussion has been respectful in how we deal with each other.

Ditto. Aside from me getting snippy with Nevin73, which I was corrected on, it's been a pretty good discussion IMO.

Sidenote, *highfive* to Nevin73 for respectfully correcting me in spite of my crotchetiness.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
Farscry wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

Time for a fork of GWJ?

This issue feels like it's completely destroying GWJ. It's in so many threads. Can we just stop demonizing members of the community who have difficulty with this? Or who insist on calling someone by their legal name?

Who is demonizing members of the GWJ community? We're having an open, honest discussion. I may be ignorant, but it seems to me as this discussion has been respectful in how we deal with each other.

Ditto. Aside from me getting snippy with Nevin73, which I was corrected on, it's been a pretty good discussion IMO.

Sidenote, *highfive* to Nevin73 for respectfully correcting me in spite of my crotchetiness. :)

Demonize is a bit strong, but threads like this have put me on the lookout for communities where LGBT understanding and acceptance isn't something that has to be taught and debated.

Don't leave me!

RoughneckGeek wrote:
Farscry wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

Time for a fork of GWJ?

This issue feels like it's completely destroying GWJ. It's in so many threads. Can we just stop demonizing members of the community who have difficulty with this? Or who insist on calling someone by their legal name?

Who is demonizing members of the GWJ community? We're having an open, honest discussion. I may be ignorant, but it seems to me as this discussion has been respectful in how we deal with each other.

Ditto. Aside from me getting snippy with Nevin73, which I was corrected on, it's been a pretty good discussion IMO.

Sidenote, *highfive* to Nevin73 for respectfully correcting me in spite of my crotchetiness. :)

Demonize is a bit strong, but threads like this have put me on the lookout for communities where LGBT understanding and acceptance isn't something that has to be taught and debated.

I can't understand what it must be like to be in your shoes but I would say that understanding and acceptance of any minority position absolutely needs to be taught. Human beings aren't wired to be naturally accepting of those different than themselves. I generally see these threads as a net positve in that people are sharing how their minds work and how their thinking is formed.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

Hyp, I am having a trouble discerning between what appears to be two overlapping claims -- for an identity, and for a gender identity. What I don't fully grasp is the agiotage around the Chelsea part of the deal. While the legal name change is pending, do I indeed exhibit undue callousness and insensitivity to the transgender issues if I continue to refer to her as Bradley, don't refer to her by first name at all, or even refer to her by any arbitrary female name, e.g. Samantha Whatsherface Manning, since it still does acknowledge her gender identity? Or is it a transgression more along the lines of incorrect references to branding/identity, such as calling Mary Kate And Ashley Olsen "the Olsen twins", or saying "Marc Sinclair Vincent" instead of "Vin Diesel", calling Samuel L. Jackson simply (gasp!) Samuel Jackson, or not keeping up with the currently chosen names of P. Diddy or Snoop Dogg?

To make it clearer where I stand in the context of the whole issue: I don't have any issues with accepting Manning a female, and I do believe strongly that she is a hero. Making the disclosures to WikiLeaks, she basically sacrificed her freaking life. But for the critics, it is not enough -- they also demand that she should have be a saint. I do believe she should be able to get the gender reassigment treatment.

I'd say the key thing, as I've mentioned before, is that gendered names are pretty much universal in our society. As a result, asserting that someone's improperly gendered name (i.e. their old one, possibly their legal one—note that it's not uncommon for jerks to keep refusing to use proper names even after it's legally changed) carries the feeling of actively rejecting their actual gender.

And, as I've also noted, legal name changes are not something that's super easy to get, necessarily. It's not like you can just walk into a DMV and tell them to switch it. Depending on where you are, there can be a fee of a couple hundred bucks, a requirement for taking out an ad in the classified section of a local newspaper, a requirement to stand before a judge and explain why... etc. Because of that, the insistence on "only legal name changes" (despite default willingness to defer to branding in the case of publicly-known figures) for recognition of trans* peoples' names just doesn't feel respectful.

RoughneckGeek wrote:

Demonize is a bit strong, but threads like this have put me on the lookout for communities where LGBT understanding and acceptance isn't something that has to be taught and debated.

This is perhaps the most understanding and accepting community for this stuff I've ever seen. Not kidding.

That's why I care enough to keep coming back and making these points.

And I do believe that if I keep working at it and trying to make them more clear, people who disagree will begin to understand what a big deal this stuff is. Because, yeah, it really doesn't seem like such a big thing when you're looking in from the outside... but on the inside, it's a lot different.

No way to solve that except keep trying and trying.

Farscry wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

Time for a fork of GWJ?

This issue feels like it's completely destroying GWJ. It's in so many threads. Can we just stop demonizing members of the community who have difficulty with this? Or who insist on calling someone by their legal name?

Who is demonizing members of the GWJ community? We're having an open, honest discussion. I may be ignorant, but it seems to me as this discussion has been respectful in how we deal with each other.

Ditto. Aside from me getting snippy with Nevin73, which I was corrected on, it's been a pretty good discussion IMO.

Sidenote, *highfive* to Nevin73 for respectfully correcting me in spite of my crotchetiness. :)

Demonize is a bit strong, but threads like this have put me on the lookout for communities where LGBT understanding and acceptance isn't something that has to be taught and debated.

EDIT: To expound a bit, this isn't a "f*ck it, I'm out" post. I'm not going away. I like the site and community here... especially the IRC folks. If I was wanting to find a group of people to play a particular game with though, that wouldn't be GWJ. I wouldn't want to invite real life friends along to play and have to worry about them being offended.

Hypatian wrote:

And I do believe that if I keep working at it and trying to make them more clear, people who disagree will begin to understand what a big deal this stuff is. Because, yeah, it really doesn't seem like such a big thing when you're looking in from the outside... but on the inside, it's a lot different.

No way to solve that except keep trying and trying.

Indeed.

Culture shifts don't come easily. And to those standing on the side of not wanting to shift, I understand that it does make them feel like suddenly they're being persecuted or demonized. It's hard to move past that feeling. But that doesn't mean that the shift shouldn't happen.

Until Hypatian wrote her "coming out" post and started talking about the reality of life as a trans* individual, I honestly had no knowledge or understanding of any of the concerns or issues facing them (or heck, any understanding of what being trans* versus cis* was all about).

It was an eye-opening post for me to read, and then to continue reading as Hypatian has shared her struggles and changes and successes with us since then.

There've been times where I was on the side of the shift where I thought "wtf? why all this brouhaha about trans and cis?" and so on, but rather than going with the human instinct to just write it off as a concern for "those people", I've really put an effort into questioning my perceptions and attitudes.

So the short version is, I've shifted to the side of embracing this cultural change over time. And it never would have happened were it not for threads like this one, where we had conversations both for and against the cultural shift. Yes, the pressure is growing to get those who stand on the "old" side to move over to the "new" side, and that's natural. It's much like the shift from demonizing gay marriage to embracing it as a culture. Or demonizing atheists to embracing them as a part of our culture. Or muslims. Or minority ethnic groups. Etc. It's tough to make the shift from the way things were to the way they should be.

Who is being demonized? Can you link to that?

DSGamer wrote:

I know these things matter, but we're talking about a huge shift in consciousness. Demonizing people who are trying to make the change or willing to listen, but aren't quite 100% there doesn't seem very productive.

I know you feel this way, but I honestly don't believe that anyone intends to make you feel demonized. You're a smart, awesome, caring person, and I have tons of respect for you. I may have made the shift, and while you haven't quite shifted yet, it's apparent you're putting a lot of thought and care into it, and I think in the long run you will. But unfortunately when you're still on the other side of that gap, it feels like you're being put upon.

I hate that you feel that way, but I also hope that you'll be able to embrace the shift in consciousness sooner than later.

DSGamer wrote:

RoughneckGeek, I wasn't talking about the trans* community being demonized here. If anything I think there has been a huge effort on the part of the community to understand, learn and respect that this is an issue we don't understand and experiences we don't know about. We have vocal members of the community who have, for the most part, been patient.

I'm referring to the "for the most part" part of this. I feel like the people being demonized are people who are struggling with this. Who are slow to catch up. Or who, as someone elegantly put it, have the gears seize up in their brain when someone says Chelsea Manning. I think most of GWJ is trying really hard to be understand. And yet these spats keep coming up when someone insist on calling someone by their legal name or fails to use the proper pronoun.

I know these things matter, but we're talking about a huge shift in consciousness. Demonizing people who are trying to make the change or willing to listen, but aren't quite 100% there doesn't seem very productive.

I realize now that I completely misread your original post. Frankly, that you or anyone else would feel demonized for not coming around quicker gives me a mental whiplash. Most of this thread is people being told that something is offensive, why it's offensive and then refusing to change behavior. Or better, they justify bad behavior with phrases like "legal name" when that point has been brought up and responded to multiple times within this very thread.

My threshold for tolerating that disregard for someone else's feelings is admittedly low. Once someone has displayed that kind of response they are no longer someone I want to hang out and game with. When you've reached a point in your past where you were willing to cut family off for their lack of acceptance, it's rather easy to do the same with some random person on the internet.

DSGamer wrote:

That's kind of my point. The understanding isn't going both directions.

Chelsea Manning's legal name is, in fact, Bradley Manning. I'll call her she here because it's been requested by people in the community who know better than me. Because I've been informed about it. But I'm not going to run around scolding and disowning relatives and friends because they don't do the same thing. I'm not going to tell them that they're wrong or that they're insensitive or prejudice because they are discussing the actual case using her legal name and her technical gender.

That's a difference between you and me then. When my dad referred to Bradley Manning, I did correct him and asked him to use Chelsea instead. He still slipped up a few times during the discussion, but he was obviously trying. He didn't balk and refuse because she hasn't had a legal name change yet. He also doesn't ask to see ID when meeting one of my trans friends. Why would he? It's basic courtesy to address a person by the name they give. He doesn't really understand, but he doesn't need to in order to show that basic respect.

RoughneckGeek wrote:

He doesn't really understand, but he doesn't need to in order to show that basic respect.

And that's all it really comes down to. Is it wrong to call Manning by her legal name? Technically, no. You're not wrong.

It generally seems like there is a lot of "Please" and "Thank you" in posts seeking alteration in pronoun usage, which I guess makes this the politest demonization ever.

Anyway, if I may, why the use of *? And if, as I suspect, it's just shorthand, why the shorthand?

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Anyway, if I may, why the use of *? And if, as I suspect, it's just shorthand, why the shorthand?

I've actually been wondering that too, I started using the * because Hypatian was, but I just haven't gotten around to researching it.

Farscry wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Anyway, if I may, why the use of *? And if, as I suspect, it's just shorthand, why the shorthand?

I've actually been wondering that too, I started using the * because Hypatian was, but I just haven't gotten around to researching it. :D

If the answer turns out to be "to allow for both the roots -gendered and -sexual," which just occurred to me, can I win a cookie?

I don't know what side I am on, so I will say I am on both sides. I have a question, if you came to me and called me Kazar and I corrected you and told you that I prefer the name Thorp, would you refuse? I believe that most people, and even everyone here would respect my wishes. Does the gender of the name really matter? I know girls that are named Sam or Chris. Sure they are short for girl names, but I still call them by what they call themselves.

Regarding the person of this discussion, while I don't know much about the case itself (I must be living in a hole), since discussions about Manning are in a legal context (the crime committed), shouldn't the legal name be used?

kazar wrote:

I don't know what side I am on, so I will say I am on both sides. I have a question, if you came to me and called me Kazar and I corrected you and told you that I prefer the name Thorp, would you refuse? I believe that most people, and even everyone here would respect my wishes. Does the gender of the name really matter? I know girls that are named Sam or Chris. Sure they are short for girl names, but I still call them by what they call themselves.

Regarding the person of this discussion, while I don't know much about the case itself (I must be living in a hole), since discussions about Manning are in a legal context (the crime committed), shouldn't the legal name be used?

Her name is not the crux of any legal issue she is facing... so why does it matter? Scooter is not Scooter Libby's legal name either... but no one cared then.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
Farscry wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Anyway, if I may, why the use of *? And if, as I suspect, it's just shorthand, why the shorthand?

I've actually been wondering that too, I started using the * because Hypatian was, but I just haven't gotten around to researching it. :D

If the answer turns out to be "to allow for both the roots -gendered and -sexual," which just occurred to me, can I win a cookie?

More or less. It's more proper to use only for trans*, not cis. Trans* is meant to imply the wider range of gender possibilities--bigender, agender, genderfluid, etc. There's some criticism because it's often used as a blanket without really considering those things (much like there is criticism of causes being spoken of as LGBT even when they don't have anything much to do with the B, and certainly not the T.)

kazar wrote:

I don't know what side I am on, so I will say I am on both sides. I have a question, if you came to me and called me Kazar and I corrected you and told you that I prefer the name Thorp, would you refuse? I believe that most people, and even everyone here would respect my wishes. Does the gender of the name really matter? I know girls that are named Sam or Chris. Sure they are short for girl names, but I still call them by what they call themselves.

Regarding the person of this discussion, while I don't know much about the case itself (I must be living in a hole), since discussions about Manning are in a legal context (the crime committed), shouldn't the legal name be used?

In general, the current feeling is that it's appropriate to use the new name even in a historical context. (i.e. this is the identity that this person is affirming, and it's an identity that they've always had. They're the same person, after all--just fitting into the world in a different way.) Of course, in the context of quotes, it's reasonable to quote the source verbatim. This is, however, a case where someone especially sensitive might substitute the new name editorially.

In the case of legal name and legal proceedings and documents and the like... if you're not writing legal documents, it shouldn't matter. It matters in documents because they must be precise. In discussion of legal matters? Unless the legal matter involves what name they're using directly, it's not important to be so precise.

(And that's where the procedure I've mentioned that's used at some health clinics comes from: The legal name needs to be recorded for insurance purposes and ID and the like, but the preferred form of address is included separately so that the patient may be referred to respectfully in a situation where everyone feels especially vulnerable. And that's what makes it so upsetting when medical professionals [em]don't[/em] respect that.)

As far as gender of a name really mattering: It can, it does. At least... for the person that the name identifies. I know that for me, now that I have a name it's going to take a while to get used to. I'm not used to the idea of being "Katherine". But... I can definitely say that the name "John" has been causing me difficulties for a long time now.

I'd say that this is a situation where being trans can make a real difference. I have a friend who goes by George. Her legal name is Jessica. It's cool that she goes my George, and she's totally comfortable with it, and so is everybody who knows her. (And in fact, many people who know her wouldn't even know who "Jessica" is without an explanation.) But this is a kind of cis privilege. Cis people who choose a name of whatever gender aren't going to be freaked out about it (as I'm increasingly freaked out by my name). Cis people can get away with a gender-non-conforming name when trans people would be criticized. (Imagine if George were a trans woman--that name would potentially be one more masculine cue along with others to make people say "Well, you're *really* a man", whereas with a cis woman it's just "Oh, that's an interesting nickname.")

In general, it's always going to matter most to a person who chooses a name they wish to be called. Name expresses identity, regardless of why one chooses it, and in general we respect peoples' wishes with respect to the name they wish to be known by. That's true whether they're leaving a name behind due to bad memories, or adopting a new one due to new aspirations, or even if the form or name was chosen just to assert control over one's self image. (How many "Jonathan"s have you known who prefer to go by "Jon", or refuse to go by "Jon", for example? Similarly, using a hypocorism for a woman's name is frequently done when behaving in a way that belittles her. If someone's name is "Anne" and they go by that and everybody calls them that and someone arguing with her suddenly starts calling her "Annie", they're expressing disrespect by using an unapproved belittling form of her name. This happens a [em]lot[/em]. If someone chooses to go by "Annie" themselves, that's up to them, but when somebody else pushes it on them... that's a different story.)

And for trans people, that link between name and identity is [em]almost always[/em] a big deal, for obvious reasons.

There are reasons that people who have a long history with someone may have trouble adapting to using a specific name for a person and avoiding using a name that they used to use regularly. That's true no matter what the person is trying to express by changing their form of address. Refusing to make the effort denies the person control over their own identity, and is rather painful. We make allowances at times (parents' pet names are typically embarrassing, but we put up with them to a certain degree because it's not *such* a big deal, and we understand the history), but it's really not that much to ask that people adopt the new form.

We do it all the time with characters in MMORPGS and the like, for example. I was Hypatia for [em]years[/em]. We do it for handles in forums and gaming services. We generally disapprove of people who make changes frequently with no real rhyme or reason because it complicates things and is confusing--but as long as it doesn't happen every other week we have no real problem when somebody decides that "xXxLegolasxXx69" is maybe not the best expression of who they are, despite their long years of using it.

So yeah, trans people make allowances, too. But we also ask that people do their best, because that old name? All it represents to us is years of lost opportunities and pain and a person people imagined existed who was never us, no matter how much we tried to fit the shape they expected. When they use the old name? It tells us that they want us to try to fit back into that box, and it was entirely too painful getting out of it the first time.

Does it make me a dick to say that I find the term "cis" to be, I don't know...disturbing and/or mildly offensive? I'm simply male. Others can qualify their gender identity, but for me, I'm just a guy.

Hypatian, I think I understand now where our views haven't met. I look at Manning and see an individual. My references to Manning (for I don't have interaction), to me, are simply between Manning and myself, and are contextual to the way I came to know about Manning. As I don't know or care about Manning, I tend to have very little respect of her wishes. As you may have gathered, I'm not a hugely empathetic person.

I'm guessing for you it is reinforcement of the struggles you and others have gone through in finding, accepting, and seeking acceptance for your true gender (apologize if this all comes out awkwardly).

I just want you to know I never intended any offense to you or anyone else. I just don't quite see eye to eye on the name thing for Manning. But I think I understand where you are coming from a little better. Thank you for your perspective.

(And that's where the procedure I've mentioned that's used at some health clinics comes from: The legal name needs to be recorded for insurance purposes and ID and the like, but the preferred form of address is included separately so that the patient may be referred to respectfully in a situation where everyone feels especially vulnerable. And that's what makes it so upsetting when medical professionals don't respect that.)

As a point of clarification (which may already be accounted in the quoted post in question), there are specific times when medical professionals are required to refer to a person by their legal name, and to elicit a response confirming the identity. This is done to reduce (optimistically, to eliminate) the instances of the wrong people getting their foot amputated. Outside that, nurses at least get taught things like therapeutic communication - basically that word choices matter. It goes against that treatment principle to insist on calling people things that upset them.

Sure, you're simply male. Just as I am simply female. As soon as you go beyond that, we need qualifiers. If we want to distinguish between your experience as a man and mine as a woman, there needs to be a word for that. The word we use for my experience is "transgender". The word we use for your experience is "cisgender". Cis is the opposite of trans--they're both Latin prefixes. They've been around a long time.

The issue is that if you don't have a term for "the thing that isn't trans" you end up saying "the difference between the experience of trans women and women" or "the difference between the experience of trans people and normal people". This... clearly has problems.

The same thing happened with homosexuality... and guess what, we coined new terms for that, too, and while they're now totally non-controversial, that wasn't always the case. Why did we do it? Again, because "what is different between gay people and normal people" is complete bullsh*t, but "what is differenct between gay people and straight people" is not.

So, without this if you are "just a guy", what does that make my friend who's a trans guy? Something other than "just a guy"? And yet, he really is just a guy too. Make sense?

There's no reason to call out whether someone is straight or gay, or whether someone is cis or trans... except when that matters in the context. And that's really the important part: If it matters, put the two experiences on an even footing, because both are just situations that come up in our complicated world. If it doesn't matter, don't include it.

In the context of my post, I was specifically calling out the experience that cis people have, and how that is different from the experience trans people have. Hence, the term is important and useful.

--

Regarding Manning: I do thank you for working to understand this. It's true that Manning is an individual, but so is everybody. I think the hardest thing is making the connection that "slurs" are not always just about taboo words. When a person calls someone a racial slur, after all, they're insulting that person... they're not insulting everybody else, right? The broader harm is in the nature of the insult, which is obviously directed at all people of that racial background... as if it's something bad to have that background. And that's true whether the term you use is recognized as a "bad word" or not. To use a slightly different example, if someone were to say "f*cking f----ts" or "f*cking homosexuals" to someone in the same tone of voice--whether or not they were gay--in the same disparaging way, it doesn't matter that one term is generally acceptable and the other isn't. They're both slurs, and specifically they're both slurs on gays, regardless of the target's sexuality.

And that's the same sort of harm that I see in treating someone in a way that is disparaging towards trans people. On the one hand, it's that one person's appearance or behavior or inner sense of gender or whatever that is being doubted or ridiculed.

But on the other hand... the mere fact that people think these things are [em]things to be ridiculed[/em] that means that it is disparaging against [em]all[/em] people with a similar experience of gender, or who have asked for similar treatment.

And we get that treatment a [em]lot[/em].

One of my biggest challenges as a trans woman is trying to keep myself strong enough to face the inevitable mockery that's going to come my way when I'm more obvious. And it will come, I have no doubt. That's basically been [em]the entirety[/em] of my therapy, which I've been attending every couple of weeks for most of a year: getting to the point where I am secure enough in myself to deal with that sh*t without breaking down. Being certain enough that when things go really wrong (like I expect encounters with my dad to go), I'm strong enough in my resolve to say "I don't have to listen to this abuse, I'm out of here".

The historical way for trans people to break away from being treated that way was to "go stealth". Leave family, friends, career, everything behind. Start a new life with nothing, and never, ever let anyone know that you are trans.

But that way of doing things is really sh*tty--and for a lot of us, it's not even possible. So the better way? The better way is to try to educate people, to try to make people understand what hurts, and why it hurts, and to empathize enough that the attitudes of society as a whole change, and over time trans people stop having to pass each other warnings like "you don't want to see that movie--the first t----y joke happens 5 minutes in."

And yeah, to respond to other people: I don't expect you to go out of your way to correct family and friends all the time. We all have limited resources, and invest them in the things that we care the most about. But if you understand enough to stop finding things quite so funny, people are at least going to notice the pained look on your face and not feel quite as certain that the joke was funny. And every so often, something might come up that's a big enough deal that you do feel that you can weigh in.

That's all I'm hoping for, really.

So... thanks for listening.

I'm having a little trouble grasping the offensiveness of "cis" in the context of gender discussions. Does it have a historically negative association? My Google searches just brought up a bunch of blog grumblings with horrid comment sections.

Amoebic wrote:

I'm having a little trouble grasping the offensiveness of "cis" in the context of gender discussions. Does it have a historically negative association? My Google searches just brought up a bunch of blog grumblings with horrid comment sections.

Folks who bristle at the use of cis probably do so because they are often going to first hear/read it in the context of cis privilege and/or cissexism and kneejerk defensiveness their way into 'What the f*ck? I'm not prejudiced/oppressing people etc.'

Doesn't make it right of course, but from what I've seen, it's generally why.

Historically, it's used to describe types of isometry and in geography (cis/trans-alpine). Which could have harrowing associations for specific people, I guess, but I don't think there's anything generally speaking.

A hyphen is threatening when you see yourself as the default.

It sucks when someone treats you like you're not normal.

SixteenBlue wrote:

It sucks when someone treats you like you're not normal.

Isn't that rather the point?

juv3nal wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

It sucks when someone treats you like you're not normal.

Isn't that rather the point?

Yes it is.