How to think about trans people

SallyNasty wrote:

Well, you went into a funny picture thread and told a poster that they posted a picture that was hurtful, probably quite unknowingly.

FTFY. There was no rant, no flinging about of accusations, just a mention that it was hurtful and a link to why. That's about as gentle as it gets.

Just a reminder: It was not the picture that was upsetting, it was where some of the comments on the picture went. Maybe I should have been more precise about that? I didn't quote anybody in the picture thread and I didn't attribute the quote I included in this thread because I didn't want anyone to feel that I was calling them out.

This is why I don't like this conversation. Hyp says she feels a certain way - everyone jumps to her defense. I say I feel a different way, or the comment struck me as slightly off - obviously i am an offensive anti-trans asshole. Enjoy your day, folks.

Saying "X made me sad and this is why" is not the same as saying "X made me sad and if you don't feel the same way you're an asshole".

SallyNasty wrote:

This is why I don't like this conversation. Hyp says she feels a certain way - everyone jumps to her defense. I say I feel a different way, or the comment struck me as slightly off - obviously i am an offensive anti-trans asshole. Enjoy your day, folks.

Literally nobody has claimed that. These people disagree with you and have expressed their reasons why. If you want to bow out based on that, you are of course free do to so, but please don't paint this as some sort of Internet Defense Squad out to smear anyone who disagrees with Hypatian, it's disingenuous.

Yes, I'm confused, too.

SallyNasty: Could you point out what has made you feel attacked? Some quotes, maybe? I'd love to figure out what it is that makes people feel that way when I certainly don't intend to upset them (much less attack them). Knowing more would hopefully let me avoid that in the future.

I can see where Sally's opinion was called offensive. Not by you, Hyp, but i do think Sally has the right to feel a little dogpiled here.

On topic, I thought the entire nuance regarding the picture was very educational, and I appreciated the dialogue.

Yeah, I never claimed you were an asshole Sally, and I'm sorry if I came off that way. I was just trying to say that no matter how light hearted, "in the name of fun" the advice was it was still advice saying that someone who was offended should find another time and place to say so. I think we can all learn and have more fun in the future if people who are hurt by comments like this speak up and let us all know.

Seth wrote:

I can see where Sally's opinion was called offensive. Not by you, Hyp, but i do think Sally has the right to feel a little dogpiled here.

I disagree. Sally claimed that they were being labeled transphobic when this was very much not the case, and there is a rather wide gulf between what was actually posted and that.

Social, I claimed Sally's statement was more offensive than what happened in the picture thread. As the person who said it, I will own up to Sally probably feeling hurt by it. I didn't mean to imply any judgement on Sally for saying so but I did want to point out that self-censorship in the name of others' fun probably isn't the answer here.

Oh, it was what Jolly Bill said? OK, I can see how that might come across as being accusatory.

On that thought: I did actually consider sending a private message to the first poster who'd said something that made me sad. But, well, there were a few reasons I decided that the public post was better. First, a private message will always feel directed at you personally, and more accusatory because of that, even when that's not intended. Second, there had been some other comments going the same sort of direction, so I'd feel like I might have to PM those posters as well. And any future posters following along the same lines.

Most importantly: This wasn't a matter of "this is super offensive! It needs to be taken down!", it was a matter of "this will upset people, as it has upset me, and I don't think you intended that." If I PM'd the poster, they could have taken down their post, or posted an apology, or done neither. And in the future, they would hopefully be more aware of what might cause unintentional upset. But I didn't want an apology, or for the post to be taken down--I just wanted people to be more aware. With private messages, only the people I contacted individually would be aware, and they'd probably feel significantly more personally accused. With a public post, I could let everybody participating in the conversation (readers as well as posters) know that it was a little bit of a problem, and where to look if they wanted to know more.

That's entirely fair, and if Sally was hurt I have no issue with them expressing that, or you two working it out.

What I take issue with is responding to criticism such as yours by declaring something along the lines of 'You're calling me transphobic, homophobic, etc.'. It distracts from the actual discussion by painting the other party as an aggressor, especially when no such claim was made.

In general, I try to do the latter, because I believe that people who aren't trying to upset me would rather know that they have so that they can avoid doing it in the future. And that's what I've done here. Is that a problem for some reason?

Check this out

It's a funny picture and a bunch of funny comments. If you think about it, it's mostly white dudes making fun of mexicans, and they're not exactly mean spirited, but it's still kind of offensive (Ha! You're only good for physical work and mowing lawns! Modern day slavery!"). If I thought about it for long, it'd be really offensive, because some people bring up the immigration debate and all that, but as it is, they're not mean-spirited or intending to insult, so it's actually kind of nice, in a weird way. Wouldn't accomplish anything if I complained, brought up the immigration debate and told everyone how they were being racist, except making people uncomfortable around mexicans later. I don't want anyone to be uncomfortable around me, like they have to walk on eggshells. If they f*ck up and say something really offensive without knowing, I'll just ignore it because they're probably not trying to be rude. Is it the proper place to complain, an image website? Should it make me uncomfortable just because it's directed at my general race, not even me personally?

I mean, I could get offended at basically every depiction of Mexico ever in Hollywood, but I'd rather just let it go, because most of the time it's not meant to offend, it's just a stereotype (and trust me, out of stereotypes, mexicans are probably only behind Middle easterners). And even if it's offensive intentionally, it says more about the person doing it, and I'd rather just shrug it off. f*ck, I'll even join on the joke. Mexicans joke about each other all the time anyway.

But in the, how do you say, bigger picture? it's nice to be included and recognized in the discussion, even if it's just stereotypes about tacos and wrestlers. Life feels too short to try and educate everyone about how you think. So I say, bring it on, we're not that sensitive. It's not the G8 summit or whatever.

That's what I'd think is the problem with complaining about jokes (that weren't mean to harm) to "regular" people, it only makes them uncomfortable around you later on. Is this wrong? I'd rather have people be comfortable around me, specially people I like, even if they're a little racist. If you really think about it, jokes shouldn't even exist because most of them point out social stuff that can be seriously depressing (even "dumb blond jokes").

I dunno, I probably turned this more into a discrimination thing and not exactly focused on your trans issues, but regarding the comedy side of it, they kind of intersect I suppose. What I've noticed in the few gender-stuff websites I checked out, there's a lot of repressed anger and sensitivity, probably because of as you said, having to live almost your whole life in discrimination. It's probably a different way to think about it on your side, because I don't get how you can have the guts to go through a physical transformation and go in public every day, but pictures still offend you. It might be dismissive but I'd rather go "Don't think about it too much", is that the wrong approach?

On the other hand, yes you should stand up for yourself, but also, you know, pick your battles and all that. This issue is too complex for me anyway and I should be working so I'll stop now : s

My battle is: GWJ is an awesome place, and I'd like it to be awesomer. The people here are fully capable of understanding where I'm coming from, and many are interested in doing so. And the only way to change and improve society is to make sure that people understand where it needs to be changed and improved.

These same sorts of things, of course, can be passed off as "just joking" by people who do intentionally want to hurt--and that's another reason I'd like people to be conscious of the effects that words can have. People who are discriminated against hear a lot of this stuff (and actions like it)--there's even a word for it, "microaggressions". It's the stuff that builds up day after day and you can't ever really complain about it because it's always little stuff, but all together it's not so little at all.

Letting things go... it just doesn't help. It's the stuff that leads to crazy-ass white people apparently thinking that blackface is totally OK. It leads people to believe that "Oh, it's totally OK to say this" when in fact it's not OK, but the people who are upset are too polite to mention it.

You mention not being super upset by poor stereotypes of Mexicans in U.S. media. I'd like to note that as a Mexican man living in Mexico, you've got a certain advantage over people of Hispanic descent living in the U.S. I'm not going to try to speak for such people, but I imagine that it hits a lot closer to home when you're getting the side-eye at stores, when people are muttering the same sorts of things under their breath (or out loud) in your presence, when major political speakers are pretty much outright saying that people like you should "go home" even when you very much [em]are[/em] home.

And that's where I am with gender issues. I'm home here. I don't have anywhere else to go. If I did decide to go somewhere else in the world? It would be just as bad there. When people are trying to pass laws that make it so that I can't go to the bathroom in peace, and other people don't care because it doesn't seem like such a big deal... that's a real serious problem for me and people like me. It's important. And the stuff for how to handle transgender kids in schools... all of the opposition suggestions for "better" ways to handle things pretty much boil down to "well, why can't they just not be trans?"

So I do the little good I can: I try to educate this small corner of the Internet, filled with people I consider my peers, so that they'll understand the problem better. So they'll understand just how much popular culture (even quite liberal parts of it) bags on trans people. I don't tell folks here that they're awful. I don't try to sugar coat things, either. Only once have I felt the need to demand an apology, from someone who was clearly and unambiguously saying things meant to offend.

You're right, it's necessary to pick your battles. But if I can't occasionally and politely bring up the problem in as open-minded and positive a place as the GWJ forums, well... then when and where exactly [em]can[/em] I bring it up? I'm not going to jump into every conversation that upsets me and say "oppressors!" or any crap like that. But every once in a while, of course I'm going to speak up and say "Hey, you know, this is really kind of uncool. I'm not going to derail the thread, but go look over here where I explain why."

Final final note: I'm really confused that people keep saying things that seem to suggest that I've gone off on some ranting screed, calling people assholes, etc. etc. That I am "angry". All I have done is say "hey, this upset me, if you have the time, please look over here to understand why". I haven't named any names or called anyone a bigot. In fact, nobody involved in this has behaved in a bigoted way, and I'm not angry at all. I'm just a little sad.

So... how is that an angry rant? How is that in any way inappropriate? I don't get it.

Allright, thanks for the response, I both agree and disagree with you, because deep down I know you're right, idealistically (is that a word?) you should stand up for the stuff that you think is wrong.

On the other hand, people always believe they're "right", and they're going to be aggressive when challenged (even in a gentle way), which is why it's tough to correct people who might not care about your problems, even if they're completely unaware of being offensive, and even when they're corrected in the gentlest way, so it might even be counterproductive. That's where I'm torn mostly. I see it every day, people hate being wrong, even when they're knee deep in wrongness, and sometimes they dig deeper when challenged.

Anyway, I believe that individuals are fundamentally good so I'm sure some will care and change. Groups of people, ehh, I dunno... People in mobs are kind of dicks. I wonder what if this kind of things even have solutions. Anyway, thanks for the patience to my dumb ass thoughts

Popular health club LA fitness is coming under fire after allegedly telling a transgender woman that she is no longer allowed to use the women's locker room at her local facility.

Yanel Valenzuela told reporters that the manager at a Montclair, Calif., branch of the establishment allegedly requested she no longer use the women's locker room. The incident reportedly occurred after Valenzuela shared her personal transition story with an employee in an effort to seek workout advice catered to her specific needs.

“It gave me emotional stress,” Valenzuela told reporters. “I don’t think it was fair... I felt hurt because I don’t understand why she did it. She had no reason. She had no complaints from anyone."

Not only was Valenzuela asked to no longer use the women's locker room, the manager was reportedly unmoved after Valenzuela showed her drivers license, which reflected her legal sex as female. She also had a formal letter from her doctor regarding her transition.

So, yeah, even though she jumped through the required legal and medical hoops and all, they still feel totally cool about discriminating. *sigh*

And in other news, that story I posted before about the girl in Colorado who was "harassing" other girls simply by being present in the bathroom (and who nobody had made any real complaints about until the news services showed up at the school unannounced)? Yeah, that's not the only one of these:

California Conservatives Fabricate Another Story About Transgender Restroom Harassment (Zack Ford, ThinkProgress)

Hypatian wrote:

So, what's the issue? Why are people suddenly jumping in here to tell me I'm too sensitive?

In my case it is honest solicitude for your mental health and overall happiness.

I understand that turning off the thinking and analysis is nigh-impossible. But I wouldn't want some of your potential becoming jeopardized by becoming one of those people, to paraphrase an unknown anarchist, "for whom the ordinary 8 hours a day of oppression just aren't enough."

I guess I'm saying you should shave off some of your Twitter time to watch videos of adorable cats.

Don't worry, I relax plenty, and do lots of other things. Trust me, you do *not* want to see the sh*t-storm that is [em]all[/em] the bad stuff that happens to trans people, all the time. This is just the highlights reel of what I see, and there's a huge amount that I don't.

So if you think it's a lot, consider that. ;> I'm not looking for ways to be offended, I'm ignoring a lot of it that's still rather important.

There are a lot of positive trans things, too, though, and those are really great to hear about. Like Samantha's Vagina on indiegogo, for example. And honestly, this bill in California that conservative groups are trying to repeal with a ballot initiative? It's [em]amazing[/em] that such a thing was passed on a state-wide level. That's [em]awesome[/em]!

And when I'm feeling blue, I definitely avoid diving into things.

But, well, the stakes are kind of high. There's a strong current of progress for trans rights right now in the U.S., but the anti-gay-marriage folks are turning their sights in that direction, so... I feel that it's important to do my part and make sure people understand at least a bit.

Remember that a big part of privilege is being [em]able[/em] to ignore something. I still have privilege in a lot of things, though I try my best to pay attention to injustice that doesn't effect me whenever I can--but trans rights, I can no longer ignore. They're the things that will effect me more and more in my every day life. They determine what places I'll feel safe living in the future. They determine things like how careful I'll have to be about choosing a primary physician, a landlord, an employer. How much I'll have to plan ahead to make sure I'm close to restrooms I can use safely when I'm out shopping. When and how I should tell someone I'm interested in romantically about who I am and what kind of life I've led.

I hope that by calling some attention to things--gently, quietly--I can help make a difference by helping cis people understand what's at stake for us. I know that what I've shared has already changed minds on these forums, sometimes quite dramatically, and that gives me a lot of hope. I hope that people will in turn share some of what they've learned with others when it seems appropriate, and that society will improve. That's how I believe things ought to work. That's the best way I believe [em]I[/em] can help myself and others.

Things don't always work that way, of course. There are trans activisits out there who take a much more strident tone, many of whom have been actively hurt by the system, who are filled with outrage, who take no prisoners, who shout for rights. I can't criticize their approach, either: It [em]is[/em] important that some of us be loud, and be heard. It's just not how [em]I[/em] do things, and that's fine.

Righteous anger breaks through walls. Quiet explanation improves the chances people won't want to re-build them.

I guess that's part of why I get confused when people say things that seem to imply I'm one of the louder sort of activist. I follow some of those folks on twitter, and trust me, you can tell the difference.

Hypatian wrote:

It [em]is[/em] important that some of us be loud, and be heard. It's just not how [em]I[/em] do things, and that's fine.

Righteous anger breaks through walls. Quiet explanation improves the chances people won't want to re-build them.

I guess that's part of why I get confused when people say things that seem to imply I'm one of the louder sort of activist. I follow some of those folks on twitter, and trust me, you can tell the difference. :D

In order of paragraphs: Strongly agree; beautifully said; I would not and hope no one here would apply the "S" word to you ("strident").

Transitioning from MtF would have been nice to do if I had done it when I was younger, but I am too old now and the effects of TRT has probably irreversibly changed my body so I couldn't really ever pass as a female. It is unfortunate because I do not think I work too well as a male, but the time has passed for any meaningful change for that. So I am just going to focus on becoming more masculine. Which might sound strange for someone that would have liked to have transitioned, but if you can't do the one thing you want, then you might as well try to do the thing you can as well as possible. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but it is what I have got. Actually, now that I think of it, there was a MtF on youtube called Jesslyn or something that was really into bodybuilding as a male as a way to cope with being a male. It kind of sounds like me. She ended up making the transition and turned out well, but then disappeared from YT a while ago.

Edit: I'll expand on my thoughts a bit. I can pass as a male even though I feel like a fraud. If I tried to transition now, I feel like I would probably stuck in some form of gender purgatory where I am neither really male or female and acceptable to no one, least of all myself. So I think that's where my misgivings for transitioning lie personally.

I thought that way for quite a while—twenty years. I was wrong in a number of ways.

One was that I thought I was OK as I was, that I was happier to be the best guy I could be. Eventually, I realized I was slowly killing myself. My life was broken, and I was doing a pretty good job of convincing people I was OK, but... I was not in good shape at all. That was really my primary motivation to start thinking in depth about trans issues again—the realization that if I didn't embrace my gender identity in some way I was just going to completely break one of these days. That led to me deciding to consider transition.

The other is that I thought I was a "hopeless" case. I mean, seriously: Bald, overweight, super-hairy, bushy graying goatee. I'd always had the sense that I was pretty masculine in most of my features. I was... wrong. Just wrong. There's a lot of distance between where I am now and where I want to be, still. But not nearly as much as I imagined back when I was 16, even. Today I discovered that when I'm on the femme side of what I'm comfortable with going out in these days (women's flannel shirt, jeans, shoes), people are starting to treat me differently. Even though, well, I'm rather stubbly today in preparation for electrolysis tomorrow.

I realized that I had a "chance" pretty early in the "thinking about trans stuff again" time... it was just sort of "Okay, maybe... this could work?" And combining that with feeling like the risks were a lot bigger than I'd ever considered them to be, that tipped me well over the edge.

Anyway, stuff like this is always up to you. But do listen to yourself, and keep an eye out for the kind of self-isolation that I experienced. (It was increasingly awful for 10+ years and I never really noticed.) If you do see signs of that, go see a counselor. Not "go see a counselor to start transition", but go see a counselor so that you can have the support you need to keep your life going however you want it to go. Be safe.

...I am confused.

I'm having trouble reconciling the somewhat distasteful joke against women Zane with the very human depiction of himself right there.

I need time to think that one out a bit.

Hypatian wrote:

Anyway, stuff like this is always up to you. But do listen to yourself, and keep an eye out for the kind of self-isolation that I experienced. (It was increasingly awful for 10+ years and I never really noticed.) If you do see signs of that, go see a counselor. Not "go see a counselor to start transition", but go see a counselor so that you can have the support you need to keep your life going however you want it to go. Be safe.

I wouldn't know where to get started. I suppose the good thing is that since I require TRT to have normal testosterone levels I wouldn't have to really worry about androgens if I came off of it and tried to transition, heh. I will muse over it.

ZaneRockfist wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

but go see a counselor so that you can have the support you need to keep your life going however you want it to go. Be safe.

I wouldn't know where to get started. I suppose the good thing is that since I require TRT to have normal testosterone levels I wouldn't have to really worry about androgens if I came off of it and tried to transition, heh. I will muse over it.

Musing is good.

Musing after speaking with a therapist/counselor is even gooder.

For what it's worth, near-total strangers on the Internet are pulling for you.

Unrelated: Can we honor, again, the woman who made so many of the games some of us grew up on?

I wrote a spoilery article about an indie game called Problem Attic by Liz Ryerson that I think might be relevant to this thread. Here is a pertinent screenshot:


I write that the game is, in part, about the protagonist's transformation into a female; although this reading is informed to some extent by who the author is, I tried to avoid referencing this in the work itself because I was worried I didn't know enough about the subject not to embarrass myself. You should all play it! It's awesome.

Today's bit from twitter, a reasonably long set of tweets bitter about coverage of ENDA.

@ZJemptv (Lauren McNamara) wrote:

The title says "workplace bias against gays" yet most of the substance of the article is actually about trans people. Senate Vote on Workplace Bias Against Gays Poses a Test for the G.O.P.
Insurance paying for surgery, "men wearing dresses", "drag performers", "ick factor". None of the actual objections are about gay people.
Just goes to show that these protections are especially important for trans people - we're the ones most openly targeted for discrimination.
Also, that whole right wing argument of "gays can just hide their orientation at work"? Not so easy when you're trans!
I don't even know what that would mean for me. Expecting me to bind or something?
Seriously, look at those arguments. Oh no what if insurance has to pay for a procedure that every medical body recognizes as necessary?
What if trans people want to work as teachers? Can't have that, no way!
It's almost like this employment non-discrimination act would mandate non-discrimination in employment or something. Perish the thought!
It blows my f*cking mind that these people need to be reassured that, no way, trans people won't be allowed to work as teachers or anything.
Like what the hell is wrong with you. They're seriously acting like who we are should inherently preclude us from some professions...
...and everyone's trying to meet them on that level? Just, holy sh*t.
Like they literally call trans people an "ick factor".

The whole cis-as-default-audience thing is so WEIRD sometimes.
I mean you see people making arguments like, can't have trans people teaching in schools! and you realize they actually expect people to... nodding their heads in agreement with that. As if, you know, trans people aren't actually out there in the world and reading all this.
Because no, actually, I do not see how I am an "ick factor", or why I shouldn't be allowed to teach, or why insurance shouldn't cover me.
For trans people, there's an unavoidable subtext to articles like this: "This is not for you."
Articles written on trans stuff from a cis viewpoint are extraordinarily obnoxious.

"What would you tell your child?" Um, they say this as if trans kids, or kids who will grow up to be trans, don't even exist.
Wow, poor you, living in a society where people like me exist. Excuse me while I break out my tiny didgeridoo and play a mournful hymn.
"would force schools to keep and hire transgendered teachers in classrooms with children as young as 6"
Well I'm a mom and that means I work with children as young as 6 every day so I kinda don't see the issue here?
Do they have any idea how insulting it is when they imply that we shouldn't be around kids? Not just insulting - wholly unrealistic.
Do they not realize we have families? That we have children, siblings, nieces and nephews, all sorts of relatives?
Like, their idea of what we are is so disconnected from the reality of our lives, it's almost more incomprehensible than it is offensive.
They don't even know enough about us to attack us in a way that makes any kind of sense at all.

And more regarding ENDA:

Polls Show Huge Public Support for Gay and Transgender Workplace Protections (Jeff Krehely, American Progress)

Even among voters who identify themselves as feeling generally unfavorable toward gay people, a full 50 percent support workplace nondiscrimination protections for the gay and transgender population.
The survey also found that 9 of out 10 voters erroneously think that a federal law is already in place protecting gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination. A similar number of voters also did not know whether their state had a gay and transgender workplace discrimination law. These numbers show the huge disconnect between voter perceptions about workplace protections and the realities that gay and transgender people face on the job.

As CAP recently reported, studies show that anywhere from 15 percent to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment at the workplace. An astonishing 90 percent of transgender people report some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job. Nearly half of transgender people also report experiencing an adverse job outcome because of their gender identity. This includes being passed over for a job (44 percent), getting fired (26 percent), and being denied a promotion (23 percent).

And yet, it's pretty much certain not to even be brought to a vote in the House.

I, Lily Lambda, a transgender woman and leathergirl, was kicked out of Holy Cow, in San Francisco, on Folsom Street, in gayborhood, in the leather district, during October 2013, after unsuccessfully summoning the San Francisco Police Department to protect me. I spoke with Holy Cow management after the fact. Parts of the incident were recorded by cell phone camera.


We went home. I was so traumatized I couldn’t speak. Panic attacks, intense fear. I was literally shaking and had to get in the bath tub to warm up. I had been attacked. I was dehumanized. My body was objectified. My gender was rendered illegitimate. And like so many trans women before me, the police did nothing to enforce the law or protect me.

This is why gender identity laws exist!


Including excerpts from the SF regulations regarding gender identity protections under the city Code.

This sort of thing is a tame example of why I push the way I do, why I try to quietly be activist about things and make people aware. The fact that this sort of thing can happen, even in a place like San Francisco's gayborhood, even with laws and regulations on the books that ought to prevent it... You can imagine how much worse things can be in places that don't have the same sort of queer culture, and that don't have legal protections in place. Places where the stakes are much higher.

You can imagine why trans people might be hesitant to involve the police in any sort of situation.

The little indignities build up into bigger problems. This is nothing compared to the problems trans women (particularly trans women of color) in NYC faced under stop-and-frisk policies. It's nothing compared to the discrimination faced by trans people in areas that do not have laws against discrimination based on gender identity. But just like other expressions of patriarchy in our culture, it starts with the little things. The things that lead us to understand subconsciously that "that's just the way the world is".

So: Don't accept the way the world is. Aim for something better, every day.

That must have been terrifying for Lily. How is it these guards/bouncers/police aren't better versed in the laws that exist and, quite frankly, in decent human behaviour? There was no call for them to treat her that way - trans* or not.

Has she written any follow up regarding her letter? I hope the police and the guards were taken to task on this.

I'm glad you're fighting the good fight to help make people aware of this, Hyp. I can never fully understand the horrible things that trans* people go through at the hands of nasty, bigoted, close-minded people, but I can understand that shrugging it off as "That's just the way the world is" is never going to bring about change for the better. That kind of behaviour is NOT the way the world should be.

She mentioned contacting a few different organizations in that post two days ago, but she hasn't posted any follow-up yet.