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Surely This February 28, 2013 7:25 PM   Subscribe

The level of naked bigotry in the comments to this thread is absolutely appalling to me. Is it really okay on MetaFilter to flat out claim that transfolk are just making it up?
posted by Proofs and Refutations to Etiquette/Policy at 7:25 PM (951 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say: no, I don't think so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:29 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it's pretty annoying whenever the subject of transfolk comes up how some users react to the subject. We've deleted a bunch from that thread.

Personally, I've heard much of the same things in the offline world, people calling hers him and vice versa and not respecting how people would prefer to be described, so I think it's an issue larger than MetaFilter as well.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:29 PM on February 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


There will always be people who aren't educated, who react to unfamiliar things badly, and who don't react in a way consistent with other people's ideal world. The thing I actually like about that thread is there are a lot *more* people who have thought through the issues and who are being pretty patient talking folks through them, and it seems like several people have actually learned some things and changed their position.

So, no, it's not ok, and the community is taking appropriate steps to rectify the situation. This is a slow process, but I think even in the last year we've come a pretty long way on this issue. Having these slow, sometimes triggering 101-level conversations is one of the ways we as a community can make progress, and that means not deleting views that we as mods don't agree with.

(Which is not to say there's not a line. There is, and we've been pretty active in holding it in that thread.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:34 PM on February 28, 2013 [24 favorites]


Is it really okay on MetaFilter to flat out claim that transfolk are just making it up?

I think given that she's six-years old identifying her as trans-sexual makes people feel understandably uncomfortable. A lot of kids have fluid gender identities at that age.
posted by empath at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


I am sick to death of bathroom panic and what if someone sees my wang/hoo-hoo and oh, teenage boys are just gonna fake it in order to creep on girls and and hey, I've never really thought about this before and don't know any of the particulars but here is my perfectly logical and authoritative pronouncements about it. Goddamn.

I'm not sick of other trans and genderqueer/non-gender-conforming folks telling their stories; I will never be sick of that. I will also never be sick of people who say I used to think XYZ but I'm learning a lot and I appreciate threads like these.
posted by rtha at 7:40 PM on February 28, 2013 [70 favorites]


That thread broke me. I couldn't stay in there. But then I got a really nice memail from a user who said that my comments, and zizzle's, and fatbird's, had shifted their thinking in a good way, and I felt really happy about that. I have a five-year-old female-bodied son, and I guess unless you've lived it, it's hard to believe how well a kid can understand himself at a very young age.
posted by not that girl at 7:40 PM on February 28, 2013 [109 favorites]


There's also a good level of naked compassion and some education going on. I understand what you mean, but there's been all kinds of responses that run the gamut.
posted by boo_radley at 7:41 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


not that girl, I really appreciated you sharing your comments and experiences in that thread. Thank you.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:41 PM on February 28, 2013 [17 favorites]


unless you've lived it is an incredibly good (and hard to understand) point for threads like these. It's so hard for people to come from a place where they never had to consider trans issues and fully understand the reality of trans identity. In that thread, I was glad to see commenters trying to get there.
posted by nile_red at 7:44 PM on February 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


And hey, as long as we're here, let's call out Killaseal, who started here and wound up at a different place this afternoon.

Just, honestly, thanks for keeping an open mind about this, Killaseal.
posted by boo_radley at 7:49 PM on February 28, 2013 [35 favorites]


(to be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with calling child whatever he or she wants to be called and letting the kid try on different identities, etc -- I just think slapping a label on them and making a major media event out of it probably isn't a great thing for a kid that age). I mean, 'she' is probably an identity that child understands and chose, but did she choose 'transsexual'? Does she even know what that means?
posted by empath at 7:49 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


gingerbeer, you're very welcome!
posted by not that girl at 7:49 PM on February 28, 2013


Me too, not that girl, with the big appreciation of your comments in that thread. Many, many thanks.
posted by rtha at 7:50 PM on February 28, 2013


I can not imagine why any trans folk would remain on Mefi. They might as well hang out on Reddit.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on February 28, 2013


Yeah tough thread but with more light than heat for the most part, especially compared to other similar threads in the past. What was surprising to me was how many people whose positions I totally agreed with I felt were being weirdly sneering in that thread. I totally understand that when you feel people are being hateful or phobic you feel that it's appropriate or even preferable, to be awful back to them but I guess that's a good open question for MetaTalk because that is not really my feeling.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:53 PM on February 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


wolfsdreams01: I believe most people are fundamentally evil

What's it called when people's model of thought processes reveals more about themselves than it does about others?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:56 PM on February 28, 2013 [53 favorites]


I thought it was worse than previous trans threads and am very disappointed that comments that, for example, insisted on using the wrong pronoun or misrepresented the law were allowed to stand. I don't think you'd have allowed such things if they were discussing race or women's equality rights.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:59 PM on February 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just here to say that not that girl is a treasure, and I hope this hasn't disheartened her from participating in future threads.
posted by lalex at 8:05 PM on February 28, 2013 [19 favorites]


i understand people wishing more was deleted, but i think sometimes letting comments that are flat out wrong stand is useful because then people get to say, "no, actually, you are demonstrably wrong about that. here are links." i think it's hard to find where to draw the line in threads like those. if i were wearing a mod hat i might have pulled another few, but i realize that other people would have left a few more. i think the mods did a pretty good job of letting the conversation happen and removing the worst of the lot. some posters are just always going to be good at saying things right up to the line, but not crossing it. if nothing else, sometimes it shows people on the fence which side they don't want to occupy.

most of all, i want to give a big hell yeah to all the people who are trans, and raising trans kids, and allies for speaking up and sharing and refusing to capitulate on certain points like pronouns. y'all are awesome.
posted by nadawi at 8:07 PM on February 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


Why am I not surprised at the worst offenders? I am surprised at the lengths they go to. Jesus.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:13 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


most of all, i want to give a big hell yeah to all the people who are trans, and raising trans kids, and allies for speaking up and sharing and refusing to capitulate on certain points like pronouns. y'all are awesome.

Most importantly this. Sorry if I sounded equivocal on that point.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:15 PM on February 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


That thread was so horrible that I couldn't make it a quarter of the way through it.

It's one of the few times I wish MeFi had a kill file.
posted by 26.2 at 8:18 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


(to be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with calling child whatever he or she wants to be called and letting the kid try on different identities, etc -- I just think slapping a label on them and making a major media event out of it probably isn't a great thing for a kid that age). I mean, 'she' is probably an identity that child understands and chose, but did she choose 'transsexual'? Does she even know what that means?

There are a couple hundred comments over the course of two days addressing the latter question. I don't know that we're in a position to comment on the decision to go public to the extent they did. The school forced the family's hand when it came to suing and, honestly, I'm not sure they would have been able to sue quietly. The media would have noticed and the media wants to make a horrible spectacle of trans people, even when they're children.
posted by hoyland at 8:20 PM on February 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


jessamyn: "most of all, i want to give a big hell yeah to all the people who are trans, and raising trans kids, and allies for speaking up and sharing and refusing to capitulate on certain points like pronouns. y'all are awesome.

Most importantly this. Sorry if I sounded equivocal on that point.
"

And yes, clearly, all of the stories about "hey, this is how it affects my life directly" are important and vital. Thanks to all the people who shared them and I'm sorry I didn't mention that sooner.
posted by boo_radley at 8:24 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, 'she' is probably an identity that child understands and chose, but did she choose 'transsexual'? Does she even know what that means?

empath, I have that question, too. I have sometimes called our 5-year-old "trans" but I'm more likely to say something like "gender non-conforming" which sounds too precious when I write it but feels like an accurate description of his behavior and experience, and not claiming an identity for him that he will eventually have to sort out for himself.

I wouldn't go on TV with him for a zillion bucks. But I wouldn't want to do that kind of thing anyway. 16 years ago, when my partner transitioned, we had a website with some basic info on trans stuff--there was very little out there at the time, so we created this fake as-if-written-by-someone-else site for him to offer to his workplace as a resource. From that site, I got approached a couple of times by talk show producers but that is just like the ninth level of hell for me. And I would want to shield my kids from that kind of publicity.

I do write about our family, but with increasing layers of pseudonymity. I've been toying with the idea of retiring this username for awhile, and I think it's about time I actually did it, because one of my friends just told me that he had figured out that I was not that girl.

That's actually a nice story--last summer, I met a young trans person, 18 or 19 years old at the time, and we really hit it off and have been Facebook friends. Turns out he has been following me on MetaFilter since something like 2008, when he first started googling trans stuff, and some of my comments about my partner and me showed up. So my posts here were being helpful to a teenager working on figuring this stuff out, and as he got to know me in real life and heard the unique details of our family make-up, he was pretty excited to realize he'd met and befriended not that girl. I think this is very cool. It's like when I met and briefly dated a writer whose book had changed my life when I was 18.

But that is also a big red signal that I've said too much. It's probably time to have a Brand New Day, and also probably time to lay down my blog--on which everyone but me is pseudonymous now, but I started out using real names and they're still in the archives--and start fresh with a whole new set of pseudonyms for us all. It's a hard choice. I just started getting readership in the triple digits during this past year, and I like readers! But my conscience is troubling me ever more with respect to my children's privacy and their right to tell their own stories--or not.

If you notice that my partner is a female-to-male transsexual, and that our adopted son is female-bodied: yes, we also boggle at the odds of that. One of my friends jokes that this kid will never be able to be an atheist because he won't believe he could have ended up in our family by chance. And, yes, we have asked ourselves if we could possibly have influenced him in some way, but a) this is not a child you can influence; and b) I'm not sure any kid could be coerced to whole-heartedly adopt a contrary gender identity; and c) all three of our kids have known about the existence of trans people from an early age, and been subjected to us saying things like, "most boys grow up to be men, and most girls grow up to be woman," and our older two are just like, "yawn, whatever," and have never seemed to give their own gender identities more than a passing thought. Only the youngest one thinks about this stuff at all.

When we were expecting our oldest, and people would ask if we wanted a boy or a girl, my partner would say, "I don't care, just so long as it's one or the other." People thought he was very funny, but we were serious. We didn't want the challenge of raising a trans kid. And then when we had kids, and people who knew our history would ask if we'd thought about raising them gender-free (doing the Baby X thing, refusing to use gendered pronouns, and so on) my partner would say, "Nah, we're just going with the apparent biological sex. We figure if we're wrong, they'll let us know soon enough." Of course, we didn't really think that would happen. Yet here we are. My only regret is that I wish we'd gone ahead and chosen gender-neutral names. But that's water under the bridge.

I obviously have much to say on this topic, as on every topic. I'm going to bow out now, and if I can't stop myself from continuing to post as not that girl, I'll disable the account. Cheers to everybody.
posted by not that girl at 8:24 PM on February 28, 2013 [117 favorites]


I think given that she's six-years old identifying her as trans-sexual makes people feel understandably uncomfortable. A lot of kids have fluid gender identities at that age.

Ok. I seriously don't understand this argument.

Maybe you're right that this kid eventually decides to re-identify. But so what? Once we've accepted that reidentification is a valid course of action it doesn't make sense to say you can only do it once. The mess that is the intersection of biology and society probably won't ever be figured out, but there it is.

If this six year-old wants to reidentify later in life who cares? It's no skin of anyone's nose.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:30 PM on February 28, 2013 [26 favorites]


Also, when some new homeschooling user with two biological kids, one adopted kid, an FTM partner, and a gender-non-conforming kid shows up, let's just pretend that's another shockingly unlikely coincidence, OK?

Thanks for the kind words, lalex et al. They are precious to me.
posted by not that girl at 8:31 PM on February 28, 2013 [48 favorites]


If this six year-old wants to reidentify later in life who cares?

I don't. I'm just skeptical that the child chose to be identified as a transsexual or even fully understands what that means.
posted by empath at 8:37 PM on February 28, 2013


empath, you can have that discussion in the original thread that's still open if you want and has a lot of people specifically discussing this issue. I'm not sure why you're getting sticky on it here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:40 PM on February 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm glad that simply being wrong, even stupidly so, is not grounds for deletion.
posted by Justinian at 8:44 PM on February 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


They are precious to me.

That makes me happy; you are one of the users who makes this place worthwhile. You've really expanded my understanding of adoption, non-traditional marriages, transgender issues, etc. I'd hate to see you go but hope you'll come back under a new name.
posted by lalex at 8:48 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


unless you've lived it is an incredibly good (and hard to understand) point for threads like these. It's so hard for people to come from a place where they never had to consider trans issues and fully understand the reality of trans identity.

But what is "it"? Is "it" only: being transgender? Or could "it" be: being a very young child with a strongly held identity that doesn't last your whole life? It seems like you're assuming anyone who sees things differently than you must not have had enough experience to be able to have a valid opinion. It's easy to make that assumption, but when you're talking about a bunch of online commenters on a website with thousands of users, you probably don't know enough about them to know that.
posted by John Cohen at 8:52 PM on February 28, 2013


I guess unless you've lived it, it's hard to believe how well a kid can understand himself at a very young age.

I taught K-1-2 for a few years, and one thing that drives me nuts in these sorts of threads is generalizations about "kids at that age" and what they're presumed to know, act like, and do - from people who have spent precious little time around kids at that age. "Kids at this age don't think about gender" - "kids that young can't know who they are or what they want to be" - "kids that age have no understanding of genitalia" - etc. I mean please.

There's often just a general functional illiteracy about actual children, and people come at this question from a sentimental/romantic view of childhood and some very selective and hazy memories of their own childhoods. When you cross that illiteracy with questions that make people as anxious about gender, they end up projecting a whole lot onto what they think must be happening for kids - and it's not especially grounded in reality.
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on February 28, 2013 [60 favorites]


Your skepticism makes your username super ironic right now, Empath.

One of my classmates is trans and his parents have records in his baby book from when he was 2 years old and the notes say, "[Friend's Name] doesn't understand why (s)he has girl parts. (S)he keeps asking why (s)he does and why s(he) doesn't look like the other boys or her brothers. S(he) is so upset over this, like she's uncomfortable and disappointed with her body." My friend was 2 and even then he knew he got the wrong body.

That thread was very, very distressing, but so far I've yet to see a trans discussion not go skyside here...
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:01 PM on February 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


"I don't. I'm just skeptical that the child chose to be identified as a transsexual or even fully understands what that means."

You know that "transsexual" is different from "transgender," right? And since really, the marker is that the boy is living as a boy, so getting het up about a label other people use to describe him is kinda missing the point.
posted by klangklangston at 9:05 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


But yeah, big ups to Not That Girl and Killaseal.
posted by klangklangston at 9:06 PM on February 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just skeptical that the child chose

Probably because the child didn't do any choosing.
posted by Miko at 9:08 PM on February 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


I can not imagine why any trans folk would remain on Mefi. They might as well hang out on Reddit.

Yes. At least on parts of reddit.

I'm not going to say that there isn't plenty of bigotry, ignorance and hate in many subreddits, but I subscribe to several that are incredibly welcoming and supportive of trans people, including r/twoxchromosomes, r/transgender, r/LGBT and r/gaymers.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:08 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am very sorry that there are trans* folks and allies here who were hurt by insensitive and worse comments that thread. It makes it all the more valuable to me that KathrynT, not that girl, Frowner, andreaazure, and others who had "skin in the game" hung in there and worked to make their perspectives heard. (And honest to goodness, I am not in any way suggesting that choosing not to participate, or withdrawing from participation, because of the potential or actual hurtfulness of the thread is less worthy than "hanging in there" - it's an internet thread, and your emotional safety is paramount.)
What I'm getting at here is I want to offer my thanks and respect to the people who made themselves vulnerable, and to those who worked to make that thread and MetaFilter a safer place to have these conversations, and my sympathy and respect to those who didn't feel like they could safely take part.
posted by gingerest at 9:20 PM on February 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


I hope you guys realize that when everybody lines up to be outraged about whatever awful or preposterous thing wolfdreams01 has said most recently, he's just interpreting it as "Hooray, people are talking about wolfdreams01!"
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:31 PM on February 28, 2013 [34 favorites]


I am sick to death of bathroom panic and what if someone sees my wang/hoo-hoo and oh, teenage boys are just gonna fake it in order to creep on girls and and hey, I've never really thought about this before and don't know any of the particulars but here is my perfectly logical and authoritative pronouncements about it. Goddamn.

I would like to repeat this a thousand times.
posted by medusa at 9:35 PM on February 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


It seems like you're assuming anyone who sees things differently than you must not have had enough experience to be able to have a valid opinion. It's easy to make that assumption, but when you're talking about a bunch of online commenters on a website with thousands of users, you probably don't know enough about them to know that.

And those commenters don't know any more about the parents they are talking about, or the child, and often seem to forget that actual parents of trans kids and mefites who used to be trans kids are right there in the thread. Sometimes people offer opinions or pronouncements about a topic as if they are brand-new opinions or pronouncements that could not ever have occurred to people before. Like, do people really think that Coy's folks haven't thought about labeling their daughter, or allowing her to do so, and what the consequences might be? Tangled with it, interrogated doctors and psychs and child therapists and people who transitioned and people who didn't? That they might not already be feeling the fear that they've done wrong in some way by their kid? (I understand that most or all parents feel this about their kids, regardless of the kid's gender or sexual orientation, so that's not in any way unusual.)
posted by rtha at 9:36 PM on February 28, 2013 [24 favorites]


I think that purposefully misgendering people should be treated exactly the same as using an ethnic or racial slur, because it serves the same function---denying that person the right of self-identification. If I were a moderator, I would delete every post that contained a purposeful misgendering.

Discussion of "Maybe Coy will someday self-identify as male, since after all she's only six" is one thing (even though I disagree profoundly), but calling Coy "he" is flat-out insulting a child. We need to be better than that here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:44 PM on February 28, 2013 [50 favorites]


Threw up my hands, removed the thread from recent activity and walked away this afternoon. We've had similar discussions about transgender rights, recognition, understanding and equality before, and specific conversations about gender-neutral bathrooms. Many of them were a lot more productive and respectful.
posted by zarq at 9:50 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like, do people really think that Coy's folks haven't thought about labeling their daughter, or allowing her to do so, and what the consequences might be?

The little detail that really struck me about Coy's parents is her father is a former U.S. Marine. Honorably discharged with injuries. Now, this is exposing one of my own personal biases (speaking as a USAF brat), but I tend not to assume Marines as being especially trans-friendly at the group or individual level and yet, here's a father who looked at the evidence before him and chose to follow a path—one that I imagine that is not going to be easy to get support for from his peers—but a path that would be the most supportive of his daughter.

Good dad, good mom. Great family.
posted by jamaro at 9:52 PM on February 28, 2013 [24 favorites]


It makes it all the more valuable to me that KathrynT [. . .] and others who had "skin in the game" hung in there and worked to make their perspectives heard.

I don't have skin in the game, in any meaningful sense. I'm cis. I'm married to a cis man. We have a female-bodied daughter, and a male-bodied child who certainly so far appears to be a boy, given how radically enamored he seems to be of his penis. (He is two, so I'm not willing to make radical proclamations just yet.)

No, the only "skin" that I have in this game is that I am strongly gendered, with a body to match, but with interests and a presentation that don't always conform to expected gender norms. And that my husband is strongly gendered, with a body to match, and he has been hurt by strong gender norms. And I have children, and I don't know where their lives will lead them, and I don't know who they'll choose to love, and if they have children of their own, I don't know where THEIR lives will lead them. And, I guess, I have a statistically unusually large number of trans friends, and an even larger number of just gender-non-conforming friends, and I see all the ways they have to burn cycles dealing with the swinging axe blades of gender on a frequent basis.

But really, frankly, the biggest piece of skin I have in this one is my human skin, and my religious skin. All people deserve respect and honor. All people are my neighbor. The idea that someone could say "You will never be happy, because your happiness would cause me to have to re-examine the way I assume the world works, and I refuse to do that". . . well, I don't believe in sin, but if I did, that would be about the closest thing to it that I can imagine.
posted by KathrynT at 9:56 PM on February 28, 2013 [97 favorites]


I've known since I was five that I am a girl inside a boy's body, that I was different from the other boys. Years later, after a lifetime of physical, verbal and emotional abuse, depression, failed relationships, self-loathing and self medication, I have come to accept that my body decided, after my gender parts of my brain formed and became female, to go the other way and become male.

Guess what, I still feel the same way 33 years later.

A six year can most assuredly understand what is wrong, as I did at that age too. Good for this child to live in an age where people understand it and support it, rather than whisper about the child being girly and gay while they let the schoolyard bullies try to beat it out of her (me).

Transgender is real. Accept it. Kids know it and understand it better than anyone, because what they feel is so natural and unencumbered, then they smack head on into a reality that expects them to be something completely opposite what they are. I grew up transgendered in an ignorant environment and it totally fucked me up. I'm in therapy now coming to terms with it. I wish I had when I was that age the support and love this child has today.
posted by roboton666 at 9:58 PM on February 28, 2013 [54 favorites]


"kids that young can't know who they are or what they want to be"

I concede I don't have a lot of experience around "kids that age". However, I have documentary proof that I wanted to be a candlestick maker at that age. Maybe I was just a little slow? Okay, I have documentary proof that I was slow. Still.....
posted by Chuckles at 10:00 PM on February 28, 2013


Chuckles, you realize this concept you're being all lolbro-jokey about is, like, really important to a lot of people, right? like while you're all "hurf durf candlestick maker" there are kids who would rather die than continue to be recognized as a gender they aren't?
posted by KathrynT at 10:08 PM on February 28, 2013 [46 favorites]


"lolbro"? really? oof.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:11 PM on February 28, 2013


No joke chuckles, I came out to my wife one month ago after coming out to myself through an amazing mental breakdown lasting months. If I were to have to go back to the way I was, well, I'd rather kill myself first.

Admitting and "coming out" of my shell, my mask, my fake persona has been liberating and amazing. For the first time since I was about 7, I want to be alive.

You have no idea what it means to live an inauthentic life as a means of protecting your authentic self. Living in hiding most of my life has been a shameful, hellish, existence, and yeah, I'd rather die than live that way another day.
posted by roboton666 at 10:14 PM on February 28, 2013 [35 favorites]


I can't believe anyone could watch the Jazz interviews and persist in making stupid statements about children's ability to know their gender. It would take a powerful will to remain so ignorant.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 PM on February 28, 2013


(fwiw, 100% in support of Coy and all others transpeople's receiving all possible opportunity to live as they will without prejudice or other bad shit)

Not convinced "lolbro" is good faith discourse, though.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:21 PM on February 28, 2013


Chuckles is not interested in good faith discourse, but trolling. IMO "lolbro" is a very restrained response to that dipshittery.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 PM on February 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Perhaps there's history of which I'm unaware. But I am aware that there's this.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:27 PM on February 28, 2013


(and yeah, the other thread...I kept my distance.)
posted by roboton666 at 10:27 PM on February 28, 2013


No history required. Read Chuckles' obnoxious message immediately above Kathryn's response, less than ten messages back.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 PM on February 28, 2013


Chuckles is not interested in good faith discourse, but trolling.

Wow.
posted by Chuckles at 10:31 PM on February 28, 2013


Yeah, I took that as a pretty harmless joke, too absurd to be taken as an actual comment on the matter (parsed: kids don't always know what they want at that age har har. Could this be read as "kids can't know what they want at that age? I guess, but I didn't read it that way at all).

But I don't have skin in the game; I recognize that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:32 PM on February 28, 2013


I didn't read Chuckles comment as lolbro either, just using levity while making a sincere statement of belief. I don't happen to agree with the statement Chuckles made, but it sure didn't seem lolbro to me (though maybe a bit tone deaf).

So, does this count as a tone argument? Or is that only when the person being accused of having the wrong tone is on the minority side? (sincere question)
posted by Bugbread at 10:36 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


FFF, if i were to imagine somebody who was a super concrete thinker and didn't know how to approach the topic, it might come look like Chuckles' comment.

Chuckles, this is a super sensitive topic for a lot of people.
I personally think you're an OK type, but what you said was pretty crass. I'm not sure if there's a good way to be jokey about this. Read up on people's personal stories here and in the blue about the misery they've experienced and see if you can understand why people think you're trolling.
posted by boo_radley at 10:40 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've read it as a guideline: "On subjects that are difficult, posters should try to make it clear that they are arguing in good faith."

Sorry, Chuckles, but your comment was pretty bad on that count. My (not a mod) suggestion is that if you want to discuss the point behind your example, state explicitly what you want to say, and probably say it in the original post. If you don't want to make the effort to do so, it's not surprising that others don't want to make much effort when responding.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:41 PM on February 28, 2013


Everyone has skin in the game. To me, after my own experiences, I believe that if you truly want to live YOUR life, for YOURSELF, you need to be in touch with your gender identity, gender expression, sexual attraction and sexual identification as much as any transperson.

The rainbow is for everyone.

Current State:
My gender identity is female
My current gender expression is male
I am sexually attracted to girls
I have boy parts

Future State:
My gender identity will be female
my gender expression will be "on the spectrum"
I will still be attracted to girls
I will most likely still have boy parts.

Future Future:
Maybe I will transition further?

My point being that even if you are aligned, it is still important to ask yourself, are you expressing your gender as YOU want to, or as the the world has expected you? Until you get to know those four key parts of gender/sex, you will never truly know if you are living your life for yourself or someone else, so even though your aren't "trans" you still have skin in the gender game.
posted by roboton666 at 10:42 PM on February 28, 2013 [19 favorites]


Maybe I should have just quoted jessamyn:
What was surprising to me was how many people whose positions I totally agreed with I felt were being weirdly sneering in that thread.
In general, I find that MetaFilter is becoming insufferably self-righteous. On every topic, to be sure, but especially when it comes to sex and gender. It is too bad, I find aspects of the subject quite fascinating.
posted by Chuckles at 10:44 PM on February 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


I hope you guys realize that when everybody lines up to be outraged about whatever awful or preposterous thing wolfdreams01 has said most recently, he's just interpreting it as "Hooray, people are talking about wolfdreams01!"

My thoughts as well. He's dumb as a post, and not even unintentionally amusing anymore. That alphaest-dog-who-ever-alpha-dogged schtick is boring and creepy. Triflin'.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 PM on February 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


roboton666:

Semantics. You know that's not what I meant by "I don't have skin in the game." (a phrase, by the way, used earlier in the discussion above without drawing your pedantry).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:46 PM on February 28, 2013


Chuckles, your comment about wanting to be a candlestick maker does not in any way resemble objecting to self-righteousness. This is confusing.
posted by rtha at 10:48 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn does have an admirable gift for tactful concision, doesn't she?
posted by boo_radley at 10:49 PM on February 28, 2013


Everyone has skin in the game

That clicked into a little space in my heart that I didn't know needed filling. But now it's full and I'm so grateful for it.
posted by donnagirl at 10:50 PM on February 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Joseph, I'm sincerely opening the door and inviting you in to be a part of this crazy discussion of gender, not trying to argue or score any points. If I somehow misinterpreted something and have offended you I don't get it, but I do apologize!
posted by roboton666 at 10:51 PM on February 28, 2013


Joseph, I didn't understand that you meant something different. I'm still not sure I understand what you were trying to say.
posted by rtha at 10:54 PM on February 28, 2013


Joseph Gurl is (I believe) saying that he is not trans, and (probably) does not have anyone close to him who is trans, and that therefore is not really hurt by comments like Chuckles, but that he recognizes that he has almost no personal involvement in this topic, and so just because he doesn't find it offensive doesn't mean that it necessarily isn't offensive, and that he realizes that perhaps someone for whom this issue is a daily pressing concern would interpret Chuckles comment far differently, so he isn't really in the best position to judge the appropriateness of Chuckles comment.

(Really, is what he wrote so hard to understand? It seemed really, really straightforward to me.)
posted by Bugbread at 11:00 PM on February 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


OP: Is it really okay on MetaFilter to flat out claim that transfolk are just making it up?

Chuckles: In general, I find that MetaFilter is becoming insufferably self-righteous.

I hope I live long enough to be the target of shrill and howling condemnation over some assumption I've lived with all my life that to my surprise turns out to fall way on the wrong side of science, sympathy, and generosity. I was fortunate to learn a bunch of those lessons in small and gentle ways while still very young, but I don't doubt that the world is large enough for more, that I won't always be able to anticipate them in advance, and that I may have trouble recognizing them if they're not presented vividly and vehemently.

I understand that critique is a chore and that people often (even usually) respond by saying, "Yes, well, I still think," without changing their assumptions, particularly when the critique seems a bit sneering. So I can agree that many of the comments in that thread are bothersome even to see, and I could also agree with a preference for the moving stories, funny jokes, etc. rather than self-righteous opprobrium contributed in response. But really, I suspect quite a lot of people in that thread are normally very interesting and reasonable people, and that what's left after the trolls have been pruned represents the work of Enlightenment, perhaps working as intended.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:01 PM on February 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jessamyn does have an admirable gift for tactful concision, doesn't she.

Ya, but even so, she felt the need to come back and clarify. That really scares me. I mean look, it is completely absurd for people to be upset about Coy using the Girl's bathroom, but it is only slightly less absurd to think a 6 year old won't change their mind (maybe several times--I'm not trying to predict the final outcome here) about what they want to be when they grow up.
posted by Chuckles at 11:02 PM on February 28, 2013


And bugbread: I'm saying that the heart of the "trans" matter is something that matters to everyone. I am being sincere when I ask, was I being argumentative or dense?
posted by roboton666 at 11:05 PM on February 28, 2013


Ya, but even so, she felt the need to come back and clarify. That really scares me. I mean look, it is completely absurd for people to be upset about Coy using the Girl's bathroom, but it is only slightly less absurd to think a 6 year old won't change their mind (maybe several times--I'm not trying to predict the final outcome here) about what they want to be when they grow up.

It's also pretty absurd to equate gender identity to "what kids want to be when they grow up."
posted by kagredon at 11:07 PM on February 28, 2013 [18 favorites]


It always confuses me when people criticize the Metafilter userbase for not being sufficiently sensitive, accepting, liberal, progressive, etc as a whole. Have you been anywhere else on the internet?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:08 PM on February 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Chuckles: Do you believe gender fluidity cannot coincide with gender dysphoria?
posted by roboton666 at 11:08 PM on February 28, 2013


Chuckles: "it is only slightly less absurd to think a 6 year old won't change their mind (maybe several times--I'm not trying to predict the final outcome here) about what they want to be when they grow up."

I dunno. I've changed my mind about a lot of things in my life, but I'm a straight, white, cis male, and I've never changed my mind and thought "maybe I'm a girl", or "maybe I'm gay" or "Maybe I'm bi" etc.

Kids changing their minds a lot about what they want to do for a living when they grow up doesn't seem remotely unusual. But I disagree with the MeFites that say "kids at that age have a really fluid gender identity". From my own experience, and looking at my son and his friends and classmates, and the comments from every single trans person on MeFi, it seems fairly clear that the gender you think you have at age 6 is likely to remain unchanging for the rest of your life.
posted by Bugbread at 11:09 PM on February 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Pruitt: the reddit transgender sites are pretty damn awesome compared to some of the shit that's said around here.
posted by roboton666 at 11:09 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


roboton666: "And bugbread: I'm saying that the heart of the "trans" matter is something that matters to everyone. I am being sincere when I ask, was I being argumentative or dense?"

I don't think you were being argumentative, though Joseph Gurl took it that way, but I don't think you're using "having skin in the game" in the way it is normally used, and has been used earlier in the thread.
posted by Bugbread at 11:11 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


My sister was "a boy" for nearly a year as a kid. She's not anymore. I believe Coy's parents have gotten beyond that, of course, and that Coy isn't just in " a phase," but kids do change their mind about gender-related stuff. I know this firsthand.

And Bugbread translated/explained my "skin in the game" intention quite admirably. Thanks for that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:13 PM on February 28, 2013


There have been enough stories from people who have said they knew there was something unusual at an early age that it's hard to believe you'd bring up an argument that's been refuted, both here and in articles in the Colorado Springs newspapers and etc.
posted by boo_radley at 11:15 PM on February 28, 2013


I'm using in the typical sense that I've always understood it, as "having something personally invested into X" Am I missing something?
posted by roboton666 at 11:15 PM on February 28, 2013


Bugbread: I dunno. I've changed my mind about a lot of things in my life, but I'm a straight, white, cis male, and I've never changed my mind and thought "maybe I'm a girl", or "maybe I'm gay" or "Maybe I'm bi" etc.

Joseph Gurl: My sister was "a boy" for nearly a year as a kid. She's not anymore. I believe Coy's parents have gotten beyond that, of course, and that Coy isn't just in " a phase," but kids do change their mind about gender-related stuff. I know this firsthand.

See, this is a fascinating question, and I only have guesses, impressions, and questions, no answers. It isn't possible to have an honest discussion of the question here at MetaFilter though, there is too much agenda to get to the reality. Hell, people who are skeptical of the flu vaccine are being piled on as anti-vaxers.
posted by Chuckles at 11:19 PM on February 28, 2013


I'm not making an argument, boo_radley, except against "kids can't change their minds about gender." They can. Like I said, though, I don't think that has anything to do with Coy.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:20 PM on February 28, 2013


Chuckles: I go through all kinds of weird things in my head about this.

For instance, I wonder if my own Transgender self is due to some crazy chemical or something. Like, was there a weird plastic molecule that was shaped like some hormone that passed into my mother's womb and altered the genetic decision tree for gender outcome?

If true, then the existence of said molecule affected my outcome, but does it invalidate my identity and feelings?
posted by roboton666 at 11:26 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


My thoughts as well. He's dumb as a post, and not even unintentionally amusing anymore. That alphaest-dog-who-ever-alpha-dogged schtick is boring and creepy. Triflin'.

I basically agree with this, except that I came to feel sort of a weird twinge of sympathy, at some point, when I realized he writes exactly like a well-educated thirteen-year-old. I don't even mean that as an insult per se-- I mean the way he writes is, literally, similar to the thoughts, style, and tenor I've seen from people of that age. That stage when you've learned how to write multi-clause sentences but haven't yet acquired any emotional intelligence.
posted by threeants at 11:32 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chuckles: So perhaps discuss this agenda that makes you so uncomfortable (this would seem to be the exact place for it), but try to do it without employing the same kind of arguments that the uninformed or willfully ignorant tend to make?
posted by Corinth at 11:41 PM on February 28, 2013


Coy has the right to be a girl now and forever. Coy has the right to be a boy in the future. Coy has the right to name her own gender identity and to have that gender identity respected by others. Why is this complicated or threatening to anybody? Especially cis people, who currently have their gender identities respected by everyone. Treating Coy with respect as the little girl she is doesn't do anyone any harm.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:42 PM on February 28, 2013 [36 favorites]


If true, then the existence of said molecule affected my outcome, but does it invalidate my identity and feelings?

Ya.. I shouldn't have said "get to the reality". Something like "too much agenda to have an honest discussion of the science" would be more apt. Just like I shouldn't have said "what they want to be when they grow up." I could as easily have typed "how they end up identifying when they grow up."

Well, I shouldn't be saying "I shouldn't have said" either--because: fuck it. But, you know....
posted by Chuckles at 11:42 PM on February 28, 2013


I'm a straight cis man, so my relative skin in the game isn't as much, but this phrase hit me because I've been thinking a lot about my identity and how I've changed it and let it be changed for me:

If true, then the existence of said molecule affected my outcome, but does it invalidate my identity and feelings?

No. Not at all. Identity and feelings are a true thing when they are considered, no matter what they are. Your mind and thoughts are yours, whether or not they are the result of some pre-natal flip-flop, or a small pill you take daily to keep from collapsing, or things you have done or have had done to you. At the core of everything, your identity and feelings are valid. At the end of the day, when you go to sleep (to quote a great man) you am what you is.

People can say they're not valid. But they are valid to you, for you, and they are as valid as you need them to be to get through the long dark tea-time of the soul.

I've realized my identity has been beaten, repeatedly, by stupid things in my life - social abuse, parental abuse of my interests and claims of my own desires not being valid, ten years in a toxic job environment I'm only now completely unwinding, and realizing I'm not sure who I really am anymore.

roboton666, you're ahead of me on that path, in that you've had the breakdownthrough I may need to have, and I respect you for admitting it, and I hope you keep going to what you need to find.
posted by mephron at 11:43 PM on February 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, if being "insufferably self-righteous" about people insulting children is wrong, something is off. Insulting children is just plain shitty.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:43 PM on February 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


Agree wholeheartedly with Sidhedevil and mephron.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:44 PM on February 28, 2013


Not in reference to the Chuckles discussion, but speaking generally: I try to avoid gender/race/etc. topics on MeFi, not because I disagree with MeFites, but because I agree with most MeFites, but they are such assholes about it.
posted by Bugbread at 12:00 AM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ok, on reflection, "asshole" is overstating. "Jerk" is closer.
posted by Bugbread at 12:04 AM on March 1, 2013


Chuckles: On every topic, to be sure, but especially when it comes to sex and gender. It is too bad, I find aspects of the subject quite fascinating.

I'm one of those who was, I think, veering uncomfortably close to nastiness in a few of my comments. It wasn't my intention, and while I wouldn't change anything I said in that threat, I wish I had phrased some things differently. The thread was not a great scene for many people, and, personally, sent me to go cry in the bathroom a few times.

I say that in part to admit that I'm not without asshattery in these threads, but also to point out that this stuff--gender stuff--is a Huge Deal for many people. My partner is trans, and is also the only one in our family with a full-time job and health insurance. Because of his trans status and our location, we're gay-married. This means that our daughter has no health insurance, and I have no health insurance, because his workplace isn't obligated to cover us they way it would be if we were "normal". Our child has only one legal parent. We have each (separately) been physically assaulted, with weapons, because of our perceived gender/gender nonconformism. Our parents, both sets, independently, have said that they'd always just assumed we were too weird for anyone. Let me reiterate that: our parents felt that due to my androgyny and his transness, we were so alien that no one would ever love us.

There are big things like that, and then there are little things--being told not to use the bathroom because you're making people uncomfortable, having slurs shouted at you while you walk down the street. Freaking out about finding a medical provider who will treat you. The indignity of constant misgendering, or sneering people demanding to know what your name is three times, because "Well, you certainly don't look like a Meghan."

So talking about gender isn't without a lot of baggage for many people, and when you say that you find it "interesting", it's hard to respond in a way that isn't knee-jerky, because it feels so dismissive. It feels like you're saying that it's really a shame that we can't respond without bringing our baggage into it, because you find the subject interesting in an academic way. It's coming from, I think, a well-meaning but very privileged place.

It's kinda like this. Pretend that there's a sidewalk, and I walk that sidewalk every day. There's no other sidewalk I can take, just that one, and I have to walk down it. After a while, there's a corner. That corner is where a bunch of other people are standing with umbrellas, because in this metaphor it rains every day. One day, one of those people hits me with their umbrella as I walk past. Then a day later, someone else does. And a day later. And after a while, I become wary of people who are standing on that corner holding umbrellas. Sometimes someone will have an extra umbrella, and they'll share instead of hitting me. But even knowing that sometimes the umbrella-havers are willing to share, I'm still going to be defensive when someone holding an umbrella comes towards me.

You're the guy holding the umbrella. Trans people and genderqueer people and people who don't identify as either but don't conform to social expectations for their gender are the people without umbrellas. Maybe you're trying to share, but you're still coming towards us swinging and umbrella, and that's going to make people defensive.
posted by MeghanC at 12:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [64 favorites]


Insulting children is awesome.

But that's off topic - so ..

Hello ambivalence. Even though I'm in agreement with the majority opinion on the named thread, and I bizarrely managed to be on the "right" side of this particular argument, I am too aware of what it means to hold a slightly different opinion to the majority. Part of this is my own fault - Usually, if I agree with the general tenor of a thread I keep out of it. What I need to say has already been said. But when there's a difference, I'll try and pop my head into it. Almost without fail, this will end up with people

- telling me that they actually know what they're talking about and I don't, and by implication - I should shut the hell up.
- telling me that I'm wrong, but they're too tired to tell me why I'm wrong.
- Accusations of trolling and thread shitting.
- Plain old meanness and name calling.
- Over simplistic responses to the one part of my comment which was badly worded.

I'm pretty much used to it now. Even so - I've been warned about my behaviour by mods several times; I've rather upsettingly been involved in a situation where a user left the site, possibly because of my position; I've made (I think) more enemies than friends. I've been around the block though, and probably battle-hardened enough to escape the vitriol that seems to be aimed at users like wolfsdream01. It's been close on occasion though.

Even so - I hesitated about posting my first comment on that thread. Thought I had a couple of interesting things to say, but a part of me was terrified that I was going to cause a shitstorm of protest, and I'd end up being backed into a corner, tricked into saying something that I diodn't really want to say and being told off by a moderator.

There's an assumption when you're not quite up to speed or convinced with the general concensus that you're not listening and that you don't care. I don't think this is true.

On the other hand, it's so good that metafilter is a safer place for women and the trans-gendered. I would hate for this to be different. There's a conflict between allowing people to talk openly and making people feel safe that I believe is intractable. The best you can do is walk a fine line on it. I think it's pretty obvious that behind the scenes, the mods have sweated and worried the hell on how best to approach this and even though they're not perfect on this (because there is no actual solution), they do a damned fine job.

There are too many people willing to flame the hell out of the site for what they believe in. If you're in a minority opinion this'll get you warned or your account disabled or it'll get you told that you're not allowed to discuss certain subjects. If you're in a majority opinion, you're safe. It'll be unlikely that your comment will be flagged and even if it does, you're in there with the rest of the mob - so you're safe.

I don't know - This is a meandering comment from me. I wish people could more understand that when they hold a majority (for the site) opinion that they're afforded more freedom, they don't feel as backed into a corner, and they should give a little more latitude to the people who can't see things the way the rest of the site does.
posted by zoo at 12:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


zoo: On certain topics I don't think it really behooves society as a whole to give more latitude to people who hold obviously harmful, uninformed opinions and who express them carelessly or, as sometimes popped up in that thread, actively antagonistically. In general I think your attitude is a fine one, but it ought not to be applied even handedly to every issue with two "sides," and especially not to people who haven't followed the thread so far or conducted even the briefest survey of Wikipedia before wading in with a contrary view.

I would hope that someone disagreeing with the apparent majority opinion on something that involves the lived experiences of actual people, some of whom are already participating in an intelligent discussion, would do some reading of their own and then join the conversation with a thought-out viewpoint or appropriate questioning.

As a parting point: This is (a tiny fraction of) the standard that trans people (and other oppressed minorities) are often held to when engaging in spaces that are less welcoming than MeFi. I don't particularly want or need to be as engrossed in trans/queer/feminist theory as I am, and might have more time for other pursuits if it weren't so challenging to be heard without a Library of Congress in my back pocket.
posted by Corinth at 12:38 AM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


I appreciate the progress made in that thread toward building support for eliminating sex-segregated bathrooms. In my office building, the women's is right by me and the men's is much further away. I would really like a shorter walk without scaring anyone.
posted by michaelh at 12:38 AM on March 1, 2013


Doing my part for you, one thread at a time, michaelh.
posted by roboton666 at 12:40 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


obviously harmful, uninformed opinions and who express them carelessly or, as sometimes popped up in that thread, actively antagonistically

Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell if other people are being actively antogonistic. And sometimes, even when they are it's because it feels like every other person in the room is being actively antogonistic towards you.

You only have to look to I/P threads to realise that "harmful, uninformed opinions" is something that both sides are happy to label coming out of the contrary camp.

Maybe, if a user is 100% convinced they're right about something, and they're not directly involved in that thing, and they've got nothing to say that hasn't been already said - they shouldn't post. Frustrating as that is.
posted by zoo at 12:47 AM on March 1, 2013


Chuckles: “It isn't possible to have an honest discussion of the question here at MetaFilter though, there is too much agenda to get to the reality.”

Bugbread: “Not in reference to the Chuckles discussion, but speaking generally: I try to avoid gender/race/etc. topics on MeFi, not because I disagree with MeFites, but because I agree with most MeFites, but they are such assholes about it... Ok, on reflection, ‘asshole’ is overstating. ‘Jerk’ is closer.”

Hm. Well, I'll say that I have avoided commenting in that thread mostly, because I am in fact a jerk a lot of the time, or at least I've had that habit sometimes and I am trying to break it. So I guess I'm kind of the last person to really have room to say this; but – it hasn't generally been the case, in my experience, that the more progressive Mefites are jerks about their position, or too stoked on an agenda to discuss important questions.

I mean – honestly, this thread we're talking about is a pretty stand-out example of what Metafilter can be, I think. And it's worth noticing what's going on there. It's a tough thread, because people who might not have had experience with this stuff or who haven't been exposed to it can sometimes say things that hurt other people without even meaning or intending to cause hurt at all, and then that equation can go the other way, with progressives saying "that's a bigoted thing to say" and then feelings are hurt on both sides, etc. It is tough. However, I keep seeing in that thread, over and over again, really intelligent people with experience with children who are confused about their gender or trying to come to terms with it in their lives coming to the table and telling their stories. Those people, at least, don't seem to be giving judginess to anybody or making accusations or anything like that; they're just telling stories, really insightful and important stories, and in a number of cases people who didn't really get this whole deal are coming away with a new understanding, or at least some new perspectives on gender.

And honestly, that means a lot to me. I really believe it's of extraordinary value, not just to me and my own evolving understanding of the world, but to people all over whose lives are broadened when they get a window into another perspective like that. It makes me rather proud to get to interact with a lot of the people on Metafilter.

Now, that's something I understand it isn't easy to get to; and to be sure that thread really is quite rocky and difficult. I'm glad I mostly stayed out of it, because those stormy waters of conversation are not really navigable to me. However – I still think those difficulties are mere preliminaries to what's really possible. And I think it's very easy to get hung up on them – but if we do, we miss out on everything Metafilter has shown it can offer.

I appreciate how these threads kind of look when you take a glance at them; it's easy to see the strife and throw up your hands and say that there's too much agenda there to have a reality-based conversation, or that too many people are just jerks to each other for it ever to be worthwhile. But that's selling the conversation short. These conversations are about a difficult thing: the clash of differing perspectives. I hate to say it, but sometimes conversations are almost bound to start out with one person saying "wait, this kid is technically a boy, right?" and another person saying "what you just said is really bigoted," et cetera, with all the hurt feelings and misunderstandings that those things come with. But that isn't where the conversation has to end.

Anyway, I guess I just mean: there's a lot of awesome stuff in that thread, a lot of inspiring and frankly life-altering stuff, and while the road there is really tough, it's worth taking to heart the really great perspectives some Mefites are giving, I think. Maybe that's easier for me to feel that way since I didn't have to do anything really except read it, of course.

Oh, and: thank you so much, not that girl, KathrynT, Coatlicue, Betafae, and all the others that I am forgetting but whose perspectives I no less value. Your perspectives really mean a lot to me, and I believe that they're of incredible benefit to this community and to the world at large.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


Just want to call out my favorite comment from the thread, because it touches on some of the changing identity stuff mentioned above.

Skwirl: I would argue that determining their self-identity is the #1 full time professional job of children and we should get the frak out of the way and let them set their identity, change their identity, rechange and rerechange their identity as they wish.
-

I wouldn't say we should get too stringent with the mod response if someone pops into the thread and calls a transgender individual the wrong thing. Unfortunately, a South Park level understanding of this issue is very, very, very common. However, this is a site that expects a higher level of respect in the way we handle this stuff. If someone persists in it after having it explained, I don't have any sympathy for any anger if the mods shut them down.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:10 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Us trans people get heated because this isn't just some interesting discussion on the internet for us - it's our lives and safety.

Everywhere we go, people act to reduce our agency over our own bodies. Psychiatrists and doctors must be consulted, and their approval met. Family must be placated or otherwise dealt with. I've been coming out to my mom for the last 20 years, and she just forgets. Or asks me in all seriousness why I can't just be gay and do drag on the weekends.

As if it was about dresses or who I fuck.

I've lost friends. I've lost jobs. I'll probably never work again, and some days I don't bother to leave the house because I haven't the energy to ask some random clerk or cashier somewhere to please use femme pronouns, or to deal with the shithead who rides past on a bike and screams, "STOP WEARING WOMEN'S CLOTHING."

Because my black spousehugger tee, blue jeans, and combat boots are so femme and transgressive.

I've never once attempted to tell a stranger, be they cis or trans or delightfully genderbent, what they should do with their bodies or how to present. It's as disrespectful as trying to talk someone out of being straight, or out of being buddhist.

I respect the way you are, and I expect that same respect back. That seems like basic human decency to me.

I really wanted to participate in the original thread more, but I was sobbing all day. Every single day is a struggle, just to be permitted to be people. I can never relax unless my door is locked. I never know when a stranger will get up in my face. I'm assumed to be easy and sexually available to all. Half the guys I know seem to be terrified that they'll slip on a banana peel and wind up having icky sex with me. Despite the fact that I'm married and faithful and quite vocal about those things. I've been chased by packs of teenagers. People routinely try to take pictures of me. Last March, a guy tried to pull me off the trail while I was out hiking on a pleasant day.

I'm still too emotional to write clearly, but please understand that there are lots of that are constantly just barely hanging on, and that we'd maybe just like to go somewhere to pee in peace. Without fear of assault, unsympathetic police, or ridicule.
posted by Betafae at 1:18 AM on March 1, 2013 [82 favorites]


Oh, and as far as all the concern-trolling about Coy being six and too young to choose, lots of us know at that age. I knew at six. Talk to some trans people. Do a little research. Hit the Googles. Knowing at a young age is very common.
posted by Betafae at 1:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sheeeeit.

People are too emotional for me to participate in this discussion anymore. I'm afraid to ask innocent questions or write sincere responses because I might upset someone.

And that's just the people whose side I'm on.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:27 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know the feeling. There are a lot of subjects that are just really huge and important and personal, and sometimes I come to the realization that I'm not really able to be sure that I'm not hurting somebody else with the things I say. Thankfully, we're always given the option of hanging back a bit in those times and letting the conversation take its own course. That's what I have been trying to do, anyway, and it seems to work well.
posted by koeselitz at 1:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not even going to do that. I don't like not being able to participate. If I'm sitting at a table where I can't be comfortable joining the conversation, I'll find another. Stupid fucking cute cat pix threads, here I come!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:52 AM on March 1, 2013


People are going to get emotional about subjects that are deeply and personally important to them. I don't think we can blame people for that. Commenting on a public website kind of means learning to be comfortable with the fact that people are going to take your words in various ways, doesn't it?

I mean – I get the feeling you're trying to say that good faith has become an entirely moot point here, because it doesn't matter anymore – anyone who expresses a 'hurtful' view, no matter what their intentions, is jumped on. As far as I can tell, however, that is really not the case here. I understand that it can feel kind of dicey, being exposed to the strong emotions people have about things that matter to them, but that kind of exposure is kind of the price of talking about serious things, isn't it?
posted by koeselitz at 1:59 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, maybe. I guess I once thought of Metafilter more like a conversation among friends. That was probably naive.

Definitely not blaming people for being emotional. Feelings are real.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:03 AM on March 1, 2013


I am so confused as to what just happened.
posted by Betafae at 2:04 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't worry about it--I typed several comments and deleted every one without posting it, then came to the realization above, that I should just stay out. Best for everyone, I'm sure.

And all my best to you, Betafae.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:08 AM on March 1, 2013


I agree with koeslitz. With so many sensitive topics we have a mix of people who are approaching things more as an abstract concept and people who have lived experience, and it's easy for some communication problems to occur – especially in that gap between "here's what I think" and "here's what I've lived." It takes patience and empathy all around to bridge that gap... and sometimes even when both things exist in abundance on both sides, a comment or position can be misread or not well expressed and misfires happen. But ultimately, when everything is working right, we're all here exactly to bridge that gap (well, that's the ideal, anyway), so doubling down on the patience and empathy is never a bad way to go.

But it's useful to remember that for some people they are being asked to merely expend that amount of care on a discussion that happens once in a while in a casual way for them and doesn't actually affect their day-to-day lives, but might possibly challenge some preconceptions or ideas they have, while for others, it's something they are pretty much required to extend nearly every day, multiple times a day, in the face of some of the worst behavior exhibited by humans toward each other. So, all things being equal ... all things are still not actually equal, and it helps to keep that in mind, too.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:21 AM on March 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


I'm getting the tingling sense that my last comments were interpreted as being pointed at Joseph. I in no way meant that comment to be aimed in that particular direction. I'm sorry that I've ruffled feathers (if I have - a point I'm not entirely clear on.)

I just wanted to speak my mind, because this is a discussion I have every single day.

I live in a world that sees me as at best a punchline, and at worst a monster. Did I come here to hurt feelings? Absolutely not.

You'd be jumpy too if you dealt with systemic discrimination and violence on a daily basis.

Anyhow, I've got a billion things to say here, but it's almost 6am, I'm still sobbing, and I'm afraid to say any more. I really would rather not flame out or deactivate my account.

I'll leave you all to it.
posted by Betafae at 3:48 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Anyhow, I've got a billion things to say here, but it's almost 6am, I'm still sobbing, and I'm afraid to say any more. I really would rather not flame out or deactivate my account.

Please don't deactivate. I've appreciated your comments and found them informative, and you leaving would be a loss to us all.

I'm sorry that some of us are ignorant or don't understand. I realise that all this must be upsetting for you. Please know that you being here and talking about your experiences helps combat that ignorance and misunderstanding.

Thank you for that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:54 AM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Fwiw, I didn't think you were directing your comments toward any person in particular, Betafae. I'm sorry that this has been painful, and I join His thoughts were red thoughts in thanking you and hoping you will stick with us. *Hugs*
posted by taz (staff) at 3:58 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Joseph Gurl, you seem to spending a lot of time clutching the pearls in this thread, and you jumped on my ass for sincerely inviting you to begin thinking about being cisgendered on the same terms I think about being transgendered so that you may realize that really you and I are no different from each other in any way, I just don't get your responses.

Everyone, I mean everyone, has four main components making up their gender and sexuality, and those components all operate independently. These things are either set or fluid, and by 5, everyone has a pretty solid idea of where they are on the spectrum. Unfortunately, if you do not align equal up and down the stack, your life is going to suck. For no reason other than the rest of the world don't like it, and that really does suck big time.

In some people they are all aligned to the same gender, in other people they are aligned differently. Each of those four main components are free to be what ever "gender" they are without in any way being biologically connected to the other. So, I am a girl, with a penis, who likes girls, who wants to be seen as a girl. That's my "truth", yours is whatever it is, we are still both normal human beings being ourselves.

Until you and I can have that conversation without you getting offended at how I used the phrase "skin in the game" (I think I used it correctly?) then I'll need to keep this label that separates me from you. Until you are able to say "I am a Z, with a Q, who likes Z's and wants to be seen as a Z" and realize each of those gender qualities taken on their own operate independently and it doesn't matter how they line up, then I'll need my label separating me.

I don't like being constrained to a label, but the weird reactions are just...weird, and heck, I'm not sure what I'm even trying to say really, other than I don't see why this thread has you so bent out of shape.
posted by roboton666 at 4:30 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree with rtha that there was plenty of bigotry in that thread, but I'm not exactly sure what a MetaTalk thread can achieve.

I mean, it's hard to draw the line precisely without seeing the comments that were deleted, but looking at the comments that remain is, pretty much by definition, a good way of working out what falls inside the lines. Perpetuating and adding to the background radiation of transphobia is absolutely possible without going over those lines, as long as you know what you're doing.

Obviously, you have to be a minimum level of smart to pull this off - and we can see people failing to do so in the thread, because they are not minimally able to understand and interact with systems. But it's perfectly doable, and I don't really see how one would prevent that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:47 AM on March 1, 2013


I'm really glad I didn't see the original thread until now. The word that springs to mind is 'clusterfuck'. I guess I simply don't understand a lot of the 'concerns' people are raising - 'what if it's just a phase, and the kid changes their mind?' Yeah, what if that is the case? Why would that be a problem? There are bigender people for whom that is exactly how it works.

roboton666: Everyone, I mean everyone, has four main components making up their gender and sexuality, and those components all operate independently. These things are either set or fluid, and by 5, everyone has a pretty solid idea of where they are on the spectrum.

I don't want to undermine your wider point or anything, but no. Just no. You hear this so damn often, and it isn't true. Most people, probably, definitely many people. But not all. I was well into my 20s before it clicked for me and anything made sense, for example, and constantly hearing that all trans people know from like, 5, or since forever really didn't help in making that realisation earlier.
posted by Dysk at 4:51 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


What was surprising to me was how many people whose positions I totally agreed with I felt were being weirdly sneering in that thread. I totally understand that when you feel people are being hateful or phobic you feel that it's appropriate or even preferable, to be awful back to them but I guess that's a good open question for MetaTalk because that is not really my feeling.

I really appreciate that, Jessamyn, because that was something I was getting bothered by. It seems a weird response to be, "I think you're being awful, so I'm going to be awful to you."

I think that purposefully misgendering people should be treated exactly the same as using an ethnic or racial slur, because it serves the same function---denying that person the right of self-identification. If I were a moderator, I would delete every post that contained a purposeful misgendering

I disagree. I personally gender transfolk as their preferred gender, but I don't think not doing that is /deliberate misgendering/. For those who believe boy parts make you a boy, as one person seemed to, that would be the correct gendering for that perception. Personally, I'm not even sure how I would gender individuals independently, I just figure it is irrelevant to me to go by their preference and doesn't hurt me any - but /not/ doing that doesn't mean it's an attempt to hurt.
posted by corb at 5:13 AM on March 1, 2013


Thanks for letting me know that Dysk, I'm sorry for over generalizing. That must have been hard. I imagine you felt isolated. Us people coming to terms with what we've been hiding all these years while you were still struggling to understand.

Sincerely, thank you for letting me know. I have a lot to learn.
posted by roboton666 at 5:15 AM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


I disagree. I personally gender transfolk as their preferred gender, but I don't think not doing that is /deliberate misgendering/. For those who believe boy parts make you a boy, as one person seemed to, that would be the correct gendering for that perception. Personally, I'm not even sure how I would gender individuals independently, I just figure it is irrelevant to me to go by their preference and doesn't hurt me any - but /not/ doing that doesn't mean it's an attempt to hurt.

Whether or not it's deliberate misgendering depends on whether it's done deliberately. By definition. That's it. Reasons don't matter. Using a different set of labels and pronouns than the person you're talking to or about prefers despite being aware of their preference is deliberate misgendering.

The perniciousness or ideological justification is a second step. And at that second step, I'm in the camp that thinks it doesn't matter what the person doing the deliberate misgendering believes once they've been asked to stop by the fellow-human-being in question. Or if the person's preference is being advertised by their gender expression, regardless of whether or not it's normative.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:19 AM on March 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


I disagree. I personally gender transfolk as their preferred gender, but I don't think not doing that is /deliberate misgendering/. For those who believe boy parts make you a boy, as one person seemed to, that would be the correct gendering for that perception. Personally, I'm not even sure how I would gender individuals independently, I just figure it is irrelevant to me to go by their preference and doesn't hurt me any - but /not/ doing that doesn't mean it's an attempt to hurt.

I'm not sure all racism represents an attempt to hurt, so much as a logically consistent consequence of a particular perception. That doesn't make it any less reprehensible.
posted by Dysk at 5:23 AM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


I mean, should we stop being bothered by all those chauvinists because they actually sincerely believe that women are inferior, and don't say it to be insulting? Of course not! So why is this any different?
posted by Dysk at 5:24 AM on March 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


I dunno. I've changed my mind about a lot of things in my life, but I'm a straight, white, cis male, and I've never changed my mind and thought "maybe I'm a girl", or "maybe I'm gay" or "Maybe I'm bi" etc.

I think not all of us have had those same experiences. I'm a cis, straight (by most standards) female, but I wanted to be a boy when I was a little girl. Sometimes I dreamed as a boy. Sometimes I dreamed of having sex with a girl while I was a boy. I wasn't sure /what/ the hell I was, and it took me getting older and realizing that hey, yeah, I could be a female and a badass and a soldier and never ever wear pink and not have to be sweet and shy in relationships and dudes that weren't shitty were awesome. Because like a poster said above, being a kid is about finding yourself.

So, should kids have the leeway to try out living as a girl, or a boy, or whatever they want? Absolutely. But it's also not crazy for other people to be concerned of people "Fixing" them in place at a certain age. And also, really, isn't this also what trans kids complain about too, of being fixed in a gender they don't identify with?

It doesn't mean you hate trans kids if you, for example, are concerned about the effect of surgery and hormones and stuff on kids who may change their minds again. It means you have concerns. We need to stop making everything into camps where you can only say the approved thing or you're evil.

I mean, should we stop being bothered by all those chauvinists because they actually sincerely believe that women are inferior, and don't say it to be insulting? Of course not! So why is this any different?

Actually, I think that the correct approach there too is also a slow and gentle one. If someone isn't trying to be an ass, but just genuinely thinks the wrong thing, then the approach needs to be different than to someone who is trying to be an ass. Because the first person can change, as long as you don't start yelling at them and calling them an ass. The second person needs to be smacked. There is a functional difference.

Case in point. My grandmother, who I love dearly, said an incredibly racist term about an ethnicity a few years back. I could have called her out and said, "Whoa, grandma, I didn't know you were such a racist." Instead, I said, "Grandma, we don't call people that anymore, the preferred term is X." And you know what? It worked. There were some starts and stops, but she'd eventually remember she was using the wrong word and self-correct. But if I'd attacked her, I bet she'd have dug in.

People want to be good. Few people want to be asses. Don't make it easy for them.
posted by corb at 5:29 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The kids have solved the gendered pronoun thing. I stopped marking "they/them/their" as an error when used (in college student writing) as a singular third person pronoun, gender neutral, about five years ago when I realized it was now grammatically acceptable and an elegant generational solution to a stupid problem with the English language. I still write "her/his" and "s/he" myself, but only because I'm old.

Really, try accepting the gender neutral third person "they." It's no different from "you," which also comes in both singular and plural flavors you can distinguish by verb form and broader context.

This does not need to be an argument about pronouns. Younger people are less uptight about gender binaries by the year among the relatively affluent and well educated students I mostly teach, anyway. And thank goodness. If someone wants to use a bathroom, either bathroom, let them do it.
posted by spitbull at 5:30 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Actually, I think that the correct approach there too is also a slow and gentle one. If someone isn't trying to be an ass, but just genuinely thinks the wrong thing, then the approach needs to be different than to someone who is trying to be an ass. Because the first person can change, as long as you don't start yelling at them and calling them an ass. The second person needs to be smacked. There is a functional difference.

Oh, absolutely. Start with that. If, however, the person then - still not meaning to be insulting - persists with the insulting (usually in the form of defending the perspective which is inadvertently insulting) that's a different matter. I mean, the guy who says 'women are inferior' gets told 'no they aren't, and saying that is insulting' is just as likely to respond with 'well, I think they are' as acquiesce.

Or put it another way, I'm sick of being misgendered and told I don't really exist because I don't in some people's perspective. I don't give two shits whether they're trolling, or genuinely believe what they're saying - it's still hurtful, especially once that hurtfulness has been pointed out.
posted by Dysk at 5:35 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, I think that the correct approach there too is also a slow and gentle one

The gentle and loving approach may be appropriate between friends and family members, Corb. But coddling bigots in the public square and tolerating institutional inequality is an entirely different matter. What it takes to persuade racist old people or ideologically (i.e. religiously) motivated reactionaries should not be the standard for our social discourse. The full-throated defense of our fellow citizens' and fellow humans' rights should be.

Civil rights are not obtained or maintained by RSVP.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:36 AM on March 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


But it's also not crazy for other people to be concerned of people "Fixing" them in place at a certain age. And also, really, isn't this also what trans kids complain about too, of being fixed in a gender they don't identify with?

It's bizarre to have that concern when the present day situation is that of a billion times more pressure to stay in birth gender than to transition and when a lot of parents who might be willing to be tolerant would let out a huge sigh of relief if the child relented from desire to transition.

This ties in with the devious man claiming to be a girl to go in the bathroom for a day thing, why are these super rare hypothetical concerns seeming to be holding the vast majority of your attention?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:38 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, absolutely. Start with that. If, however, the person then - still not meaning to be insulting - persists with the insulting (usually in the form of defending the perspective which is inadvertently insulting) that's a different matter. I mean, the guy who says 'women are inferior' gets told 'no they aren't, and saying that is insulting' is just as likely to respond with 'well, I think they are' as acquiesce.

I think we will never know whether that person (or persons, I don't mean to single anyone out) might have responded well to a quiet request, because that is absolutely not what was put out.

I think also people are more likely to respond to "That is rude" rather than "That is wrong," and I'm curious how other people feel about this. I know personally, when I first started being introduced to transfolk, I absolutely gendered people according to preference because it was rude and would hurt their feelings, rather than actually understanding the concept of what it meant to be trans. I know I've also gotten some guys who say terrible things about women to also respond to "That is rude, and you are offending people/hurting their feelings."

At the same time, I could also see a concern that by not immediately engaging them on the core root of the problem, you risk never having it, because once they have adapted their conversation to be polite, they've stopped identifying themselves as someone who's having that problem. On the other hand, they're also not being offensive, so, win? Thoughts?
posted by corb at 5:42 AM on March 1, 2013


It doesn't mean you hate trans kids if you, for example, are concerned about the effect of surgery and hormones and stuff on kids who may change their minds again. It means you have concerns. We need to stop making everything into camps where you can only say the approved thing or you're evil.

We've (you and me, specifically) been through this before and why these "concerns" are unfounded. (I can go dig out the thread.) Not least because a child can't access medical transition. No slippery slope. It's just not practical. By the time you can access hormones or surgery, you might not be 18, but you're old enough that the state would be willing to execute you if you committed murder.
posted by hoyland at 5:42 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would add that in my view trans rights are a starker issue less appropriate for the "running conversation" model than are 'gender politics' more generally, just as is the case with women's rights and 'feminism' more generally.

People deserve their rights. After that we can have a discussion about what it means to the rest of us, and help those who can't seem to accept it cope.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:44 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've (you and me, specifically) been through this before and why these "concerns" are unfounded. (I can go dig out the thread.)

Well, yeah, you and I have talked it out and I actually found it really helpful. But I meant other people. :)
posted by corb at 5:44 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, yeah, you and I have talked it out and I actually found it really helpful. But I meant other people. :)

Argh, misunderstood you. Sorry.
posted by hoyland at 5:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think we will never know whether that person (or persons, I don't mean to single anyone out) might have responded well to a quiet request, because that is absolutely not what was put out.

I think also people are more likely to respond to "That is rude" rather than "That is wrong," and I'm curious how other people feel about this


Interpersonal interactions on that level just aren't the same thing as institutional policy and debates had at the institutional and community level.

Those interpersonal interactions will play out as a part of it, as they are here, and of course people should do their best to get across to the other people they are talking to in whatever way makes sense in the conversation they are having, according to their judgment and personality.

"Quiet requests" don't cut it at the institutional level until the issue is already solved. That's how Coy's family got here. That's why we're reading this story and talking about it.

Sometimes you have to rock the boat. That can be alarming to others in it. That's the point.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get the concern with 'fixing'. It strongly implies that any identification of a child as trans is fundamentally negative or damaging in some way. Coy is not now locked into her 6 year old gender identity for all time, and it wouldn't/shouldn't be a problem if a few years down the line she thinks she wants to identify as bigender or whatever.

How exactly does letting any child live their gender identity as they perceive it cause any problem whatsoever?
posted by knapah at 5:51 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow, I'm really glad I was out having dinner last night with some friends comfortably being ambiguous on Capitol Hill instead of reading that thread or this one, and I've just skimmed the thread on the blue and probably won't get to it until tomorrow after sleep.

But I'm glad I'm reading it and here now. I didn't realize there were that many other trans folk here in various stages. Please stay.

My MetaFilter trans coming out story.

And yet here I am four years later and I'm *still* trying to get my house sorted to approach gender therapy and figuring out who I need to be.

People have no fucking clue how hard this is, and how hard it is to even describe it or talk about it or even define it.

The shortest way I can put it is that gender isn't binary. It's not even a linear spectrum. Deal with it.
posted by loquacious at 5:52 AM on March 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


At the same time, I could also see a concern that by not immediately engaging them on the core root of the problem, you risk never having it, because once they have adapted their conversation to be polite, they've stopped identifying themselves as someone who's having that problem. On the other hand, they're also not being offensive, so, win? Thoughts?

That's not really my concern. My concern is more that in my experience, the response to "that's rude and hurtful to me" is "well you're stifling the conversation! Why is everyone jumping on me for calling you a man? It's just what I believe!" rather than "oh sorry, my bad, I won't do it again". Once you've got to that stage (and it happens often) it's if anything, more of a problem that it's genuinely felt.

The people that do respond to a polite 'please don't do that' - they're not the ones that are a problem.
posted by Dysk at 5:54 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I stopped marking "they/them/their" as an error when used (in college student writing) as a singular third person pronoun, gender neutral, about five years ago when I realized it was now grammatically acceptable and an elegant generational solution to a stupid problem with the English language. I still write "her/his" and "s/he" myself, but only because I'm old.

For what it's worth, the epicene "they" has been used in English for more than 600 years, including by both Shakespeare and Chaucer. It's only in the past couple centuries it came to be considered an error, probably by the same Latinizing pedants that decided to make up a rule against splitting infinitives. The kids are reviving something ancient, not creating something new.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:56 AM on March 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


This does not need to be an argument about pronouns. Younger people are less uptight about gender binaries by the year among the relatively affluent and well educated students I mostly teach, anyway. And thank goodness. If someone wants to use a bathroom, either bathroom, let them do it.

It is an argument about pronouns, as long as there are binary-gendered (or even gendered-pronoun-using) trans people and other people refuse to use the appropriate pronoun for them. And while 'they' is definitely part of my speech for generic people and sometimes specific people (if I talk about 'a student', thinking of someone specific, they're usually 'they', but 'X, a student' gets a gendered pronoun), but that doesn't obviate the need for me to call people by their preferred pronoun in sentences where I use gendered pronouns and we're definitely a long way from gendered pronouns disappearing.
posted by hoyland at 6:00 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I knew that. A linguist mentor of mine wrote a wonderful paper on the epicene "they" that played a part in convincing me to see it as innovative and correct, but in fact as with almost anything to do with gender in western civilization, the "problem" is very modern.
posted by spitbull at 6:01 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally understand that when you feel people are being hateful or phobic you feel that it's appropriate or even preferable, to be awful back to them but I guess that's a good open question for MetaTalk because that is not really my feeling.

What I was trying to do in the thread, and for which I was called out at least twice was to try and mock some of the awful arguments being made as for why this particular six year old girls should be treated differently from all other six year old girls at the school. This because the sort of arguments being made don't really deserve to be taken seriously, but are advanced solely to "win" the argument or to provide some intellectual cover for what is at heart just another form of bigotry.

Skimming the thread I saw the usual pattern of a small group of posters stubbornly refusing to engage with the reality of being trans in general, and the specific details of this case in particular, with a much larger group of posters having their time and energy wasted answering the same dumb questions over and over again. It's a pattern I've seen before, both here and elsenet, sometimes seemingly designed to get the people responding into trouble as they lose their patience answering the same question in slightly different words for umpteenth time and get nasty.

It's not a game I particularly want to play anymore, therefore I opted to just skewer them instead. I may have been slightly more grumpy while doing so than normal, but still tried to attack arguments rather than people.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:01 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just to be clear, by the way, I am totally down with using whatever gendered pronoun any individual wishes to be identified with if a gendered pronoun is in fact necessary or appropriate to use.
posted by spitbull at 6:03 AM on March 1, 2013


I basically abandoned the thread after I couldn't stop seething at Shit Parade's...observations... and making a mess for Cortex to clean up.

I was trolled. C'est la vie.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:05 AM on March 1, 2013


Spitbull: call me lady, sprinkle and pepper it with words like awesome and beautiful.
posted by roboton666 at 6:05 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For those who believe boy parts make you a boy, as one person seemed to, that would be the correct gendering for that perception

Well, that one person we are all alluding to was quite clear that he would misgender people all the day long unless and until those people had jumped through the medical and legal hoops that that person had decided were sufficient for him to consider using the pronoun the trans person had asked to be used. This is spectacularly rude, and when talking about a kid, particularly unkind. And when we remember that there are trans people right here who have probably not all jumped through those exact hoops, it becomes "I will call you by the pronoun that *I* think you match because you haven't had legal/medical thing done that I think you should do before you deserve to be called by your preferred pronoun."

There were a number of people in the thread who managed to ask questions or express confusion/unfamiliarity without being arrogant, sneering, or insulting, and from my reading, those folks seemed to be treated as, you know, genuinely asking questions and people responded with answers and resources. Other people ignored those answers and resources and continued to double-down, and that's pretty infuriating.
posted by rtha at 6:06 AM on March 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


Anyhow, I've got a billion things to say here, but it's almost 6am, I'm still sobbing, and I'm afraid to say any more. I really would rather not flame out or deactivate my account.

I'll leave you all to it.


Please, don't leave. The worst offender in that thread (at least, the one whose comments are still up) is a relatively new poster with some pretty fucked-up views about society and his place in it as some sort of superlogical archetype that vacillates between being unaware of Metafilter's culture to actively trolling it for attention. Let him be the one that flames out.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:08 AM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I'm still by all accounts of the usual way of seeing gender a "male", but when my wife says "hey girl, whatcha up to?" I melt inside.
posted by roboton666 at 6:09 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'll second Zombieflanders, and others, in hoping that Betafae isn't discouraged by all of this.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:13 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


This because the sort of arguments being made don't really deserve to be taken seriously, but are advanced solely to "win" the argument or to provide some intellectual cover for what is at heart just another form of bigotry.

Without mockery, do you think you could answer why you feel that way? Ie why you think that people are not arguing from good faith, or that even if they are arguing in good faith, they come from a position that you think is bigoted and thus is undeserving of any respect or consideration? Or do you think that people are aware that they are bigoted, but are trying to hide it with something else?

I suppose the question here is: are you upset by people's positions, or their discussion choices/tactics?
posted by corb at 6:14 AM on March 1, 2013


but it is only slightly less absurd to think a 6 year old won't change their mind (maybe several times--I'm not trying to predict the final outcome here) about what they want to be when they grow up.

Want to know when I first knew?

I knew when I was less than six years old when I tried interacting with the other boys my age in my neighborhood differently than all the other boys interacted with each other. I was told I was a boy so I should play with boys. So I did. The boys didn't want to play with me because I wasn't really a boy. I basically had cooties.

I knew, then. I knew I was different. I didn't choose it. I didn't want it. I didn't know how to express it and talk about it. I pretty much came out to myself in secret before I was in high school. I didn't actually even start attempting to come out to friends or family until after I was 30.

I'm almost 40 now. 40 years of not ever really being myself in public. Try those shoes on for size.

Imagine being locked in a coma for 40 years while you're conscious and you can see out through your eyes and people are talking to you but you can't really talk. Imagine being a human trapped in a dog's body for 40 years. You have all the brain and sentiment of a human but your body is a dog. You can't speak. When you do you just bark and people look at you funny.

While some of you are debating semantics or society or gender binaries or histories or cultures - transgendered people are facing an invisible, silent, chronic and often lethal ailment that's not really even a disease until society makes it one artificially because not enough people understand. Few can understand unless you've been there.

We really need you to understand. Not only is it killing some of us, but the gifts and talents of many such as myself are being wasted and destroyed just because some hurtful, hateful few don't like how we express them - and ourselves.

Try. Try to understand. Go out in drag or something. Try to seriously try to pass as your opposite gender, not on Halloween, not for a costume party, not for Rocky Horror Picture Show. Especially if you were born male.

Do you feel awkward? Scared? Are people pointing and laughing? Are you uncomfortable? Would you rather not go to work like that?

Yeah, that's a little of what it feels like to be trans. Except people don't think you're in drag at all, so it's invisible and no one knows what you're struggling with.

We really need people to understand this more.
posted by loquacious at 6:15 AM on March 1, 2013 [47 favorites]


(I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon here: please don't leave Betafae. I'll even throw in that MetaFilter has been doing the whole trans thing much much better than this usually, of late.)
posted by Dysk at 6:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For those who believe boy parts make you a boy, as one person seemed to, that would be the correct gendering for that perception

If all perceptions were created equal, that would be fine. But in this case - no. The thread hashes out the ways in which gender is personally, societally, and legally defined and in all of these it is possible to have boy parts and girl gender. What this person believes is simply wrong.

By some people's beliefs, evolution isn't real. These people are not just having a different perception, they're wrong. Having a belief doesn't mean your ideas are of equal importance to "the other side" when your beliefs have been shown to be flat out wrong.

Go ahead and "believe" all you want that genitals are destiny, but this is not a case where your idea is equally valid to the lives of trans people, their families, their doctors, and the actual laws of the situation all of which say that you are totally and completely wrong.
posted by sonika at 6:18 AM on March 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


What loquacious said. Over and over.
posted by roboton666 at 6:19 AM on March 1, 2013


A damnit loquacious, I'm not going to start crying.
posted by roboton666 at 6:21 AM on March 1, 2013


I suppose the question here is: are you upset by people's positions, or their discussion choices/tactics?

Corb, I think it should be stated that a lot of the blowback you were getting personally was due to your making a claim that "putting a child in a situation where they could be potentially exposed to the opposite gender's genitalia is child abuse", and then not really backing up that claim all that strongly and continuing to stick to that claim when presented with increasingly-strong evidence that you maybe sort of kind of hadn't quite been 100% accurate about that point maybe.

So, I'd wager that "discussion tactics" may have been the root of the dissent directed at you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:23 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


A damnit loquacious, I'm not going to start crying.

I just did a little but that's 'cause I just tabbed away to look at a supposed UFO picture from reddit about some sightings over Mexico City yesterday and for some reason that shit really freaks me out sometimes for some weird reason I've never quite been able to figure out.

Don't cry. Be awesome. You've known yourself and there's more to know.
posted by loquacious at 6:29 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


For the record, my statement to that effect was a legal belief due to perceptions I had been given by other mandated reporters - not my personal belief. After talking to KathrynT and seeing another mandated reporter weigh in on the thread, I do believe that it may be a regional/individual reporter thing - but I think people were being asshats in assuming I would somehow make up something that I disagreed with just to win an argument or whatever.

FWIW, KathrynT has made me less terrified to let kids in to use the bathroom when in a shower behind a curtain. Because this isn't something I was just making up for funsies, this is something I genuinely believed.
posted by corb at 6:30 AM on March 1, 2013


Handily, corb has provided a good example, there, of how the stakes in situations like this may look from the outside. Let's run through that.

For those who believe boy parts make you a boy, as one person seemed to, that would be the correct gendering for that perception.

If one sees this as simply a difference of opinion, then this is, of course, perfectly sensible. And, by the same token, it must seem quite bewildering when people get so angry about it. "It doesn't hurt me any" is a useful and important phrasing, as is "it doesn't mean it's an attempt to hurt". That word, hurt, is very useful here.

Parallel example, to take this away from personalities here:

I'm a science fiction fan, and looking at this argument reminds me of two science fiction writers, Orson Scott Card and Brandon Sanderson, and things they have said about gay marriage.

Orson Scott Card seems to spend a lot of his time thinking about men having sex with each other. And, every time he thinks about it, he thinks of the existential threat it represents to him and his way of life, and to the United States of America. And this makes him very emotional.

Brandon Sanderson is also a science fiction author, and also LDS, but, it seems, is generally less affected by visions of men having sex with each other on a bed made of burning America. As such, watching the evolution of his position on gay marriage has been interesting - these days, he adopts essentially the same position as many radical social liberals - that all state-recognized unions should be civil unions, and the word "marriage" should describe a religious binding independent of state recognition - although he is coming at it from a different angle (that his church says gay people should not marry, so society can only be reordered towards equality in a way that does not contravene that prohibition). He came to that, however, from a belief that it was in the best interests of gay men and lesbians for him to oppose gay marriage, as expressed here:
I try my very best to be understanding of all viewpoints, but at the same time it's a very important part of my core philosophy on life that there is immutable TRUTH in the universe. I haven't honestly worked out all of my own opinions on this issue. I'm still thinking, exploring, and talking to people on both sides. However, if asked to do so, I would vote against legislation that would give an official stamp of approval to gay marriage. The simple reason is this: I honestly and sincerely believe that in voting against such legislation, I would act in the best interests of those who are gay. (I realize that this probably sounds ridiculous to gay people reading this. You likely don't want me acting in your best interests against you expressed will, and I can understand that. However, please try to understand me. My conscience will not allow me to do something even at your request that I feel will bring you a great deal of pain and suffering at a later date.)
Sanderson had no intent to hurt, there. In fact, his desire is to help.

He also wants a calm and gentle response:
(Again, please don't write me to argue for either side on gay marriage. I'm still studying, reading, listening, and making up my mind. This is my stance at this point, and I would prefer not to argue.)
Further, he is surprised at how closed-minded gays and their allies can be:
(I know those of you to the left are probably rolling your eyes at all of us on the right. This essay probably won't make you any more hopeful of our 'coming around.' I hope those of you who advocate gay rights will be bemused at our curmudgeonly ways, instead of ranting and yelling at us. One of the things that interests me most about this debate is that those who cry for open mindedness often seem to be as hateful and unwilling to look from someone else's perspective as the people on the far right. Rationally work to enlighten us through thoughtful nudging. Don't call us idiots and homophobes. It really doesn't help.)
Now, if you are a gay man or a lesbian living in a state or a nation were partnerships are not legally recognized, the dog whistles at this point are probably pretty much deafening. And, in the face of that deafening noise, which is causing you pain and making your ears bleed, you are being told to be reasonable. To be polite, and respectful, and that way you may get an opportunity to speak your piece and be heard by someone who is telling you that you shouldn't expect equality under the law, but on condition that you play along, and act as if their postition is curmudgeonly-uncle quaint, rather than an existential threat to your rights to be considered fully human.

From his point of view, this is just a difference of opinion. There's no skin in the game. It's just a thing that rational people can have rational conversations about. And those rational conversations can take as long as they need to, because nobody is going to stop Brandon Sanderson from visiting his wife's hospital bed, or transfer their home away from her ownership if he were to die intestate. Just... keep an open mind, OK? He's still exploring, thinking and talking here.

The message is pretty clear: if you want me to listen to you, you have to behave like me. You have to behave as if this is just a difference of opinion, and that the current status quo is not hurting you.

That word again: hurt.

So, sure. This kind of down-home "in my world, marriage is something men and women do/boys have penises and girls don't" doesn't hurt the person who is saying it, or likely anyone that person knows (or at least, anybody that person knows whom it does hurt is likely to be very hesitant to explain why). And it might seem terribly disproportionate - terribly close-minded - if somebody responds to that sarcastically, or aggressively.

From the other perspective, of course, this stuff is quite a lot more viscerally felt. In some cases, it has been a matter of actual life and death, whether that means being able to marry your partner of 50 years before they die, or being killed for using the "wrong" washroom or flirting with the "wrong" person.

I mean, take a look at what has been described in this thread - harassment, dehumanization, creepshots, fear of physical violence. That's the background radiation of this discussion.

So, to go back to the comparison, Brandon Sanderson's appeal for calm and rational dissent only in response to his stated belief that he is acting in the best interests of gay men and lesbians by seeking to deny them the right to be married is not a neutral imposition. It's a piece of engineering designed to create a particular kind of discussion. And it's a good piece of engineering if you want to have a visibly calm and rational discussion, but it's asking a lot of the people who are directly, personally, viscerally affected by the thing you want a calm and rational discussion about.

So... I can certainly see why moderators don't want there to be sneering, on either side, because it leads to angry discussion, messes to clean up and so on. "Weirdly" seems to me a surprising adverb, though. Satire, humor and sarcasm are often mechanisms designed to expose the absurdity of positions accepted unquestioningly by the dominant culture, which have real, destructive consequences for those outside it. And they are often selected as a compromise between ignoring this disparity of experience - accepting the terms being proposed unconditionally - and giving unacceptable vent to feelings of anger and hurt occasioned by being told to do so.

"You can express any viewpoint - with certain exceptions - as long as you express it politely" is a fine rule for a message board. But it's not one the pressures of which are going to be equally felt by everyone across every issue.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [57 favorites]


It should be noted, though, that we do not actually have that rule.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:42 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I thought this thread was a little better than most because at least we didn't have people arguing about how "cisgender" is an unnecessary term that offends them in some way.

That said I think ShitParade's comments had all been deleted before I saw them. I am sure they were charming.
posted by sweetkid at 6:58 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the record, my statement to that effect was a legal belief due to perceptions I had been given by other mandated reporters - not my personal belief.

I wasn't assuming it was something you made up as a personal belief, and I understand that you were basing your claim on something you'd heard.

However, it looked to me like you were being awfully reluctant to let that go even after a preponderance of evidence that you may have been misinformed. It's that perceived reluctance to entertain the thought that you may not have the whole story that I"m talking about.

What I mean is, there's a difference between:

"It is child abuse when [foo] happens!"
"I've never heard that before, since when?"
"It's a law!"
"Uh, I work in CPS and it's not a law I've heard."
"Yes it is!"
"Wait, show us the law you're talking about."
"Um....okay, it's not a law, but I found this here where they talk about it in court!"
"That....doesn't make it a law."
"....Okay, maybe it's not a law, but...it's something!"

and:

"It is child abuse when [foo] happens!"
"I've never heard that before, since when?"
"...Hmm, well, this is what I heard from my friend [baz], at least. I think they said it was a law."
"I work in CPS and it's not a law I've heard."
"Huh. Lemme check with [baz]. I do know that [baz] said it was mentioned in a [schmeh] - and I always thought [schmeh] was a law."
"I'm a lawyer - [schmeh] isn't a law technically, but it is a regional statute and here's the difference."
"Oh, gotcha."
"But that's interesting that that area does [schmeh]'s about [foo] - tell me more?"...

One of those approaches leads to discussion, and the other leads to blowback.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's legitimate, EmpressCallipygos, and I think I also would have preferred the second conversation. I think though that my own reluctance to "let go" as it were was certainly influenced though, by what I saw as, "I've never heard that before, what are you smoking, you idiot, you are just making shit up, and if you can't prove it /right now/ you should shut up and I don't even want to hear where you heard that."

Which, you know. I may have been quick on the jump of "I am not just making shit up, this is real," but I don't think the comments that preceded my response were all that awesome either.

Which goes to the whole "maybe we could not be an ass to each other and try to take people seriously without snark being the first response" thing.
posted by corb at 7:07 AM on March 1, 2013


Never listen to baz; baz is always talking shit.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:09 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Fair.

I just still try to go with the second kind of responses anyway, even when I get nasty blowback, because a) hell, maybe they are right, and b) if they're wrong it's gonna make them look like an asshole when I was all dignified all along. (Granted, I don't always succeed, but I try.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on March 1, 2013


Kids showing genitals to one another is kind of just a normal day in kindergarten, anyway.
posted by Miko at 7:40 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think though that my own reluctance to "let go" as it were was certainly influenced though, by what I saw as, "I've never heard that before, what are you smoking, you idiot, you are just making shit up, and if you can't prove it /right now/ you should shut up and I don't even want to hear where you heard that."

With respect, at least some of this voice is in your own head.

You were coming on fairly strong in your assertions and people were asking you for cites and replying with cites that they felt directly countered your strongly-made assertions. If you had lived experience you should have mentioned it. If you had cites, you should have brought them up. There are a lot of people who say a lot of things in these threads and there are a lot of people who are getting sort of early intros to these topics in these threads. So, people try to... not really achieve consensus but at least agree on premises. There are also people who troll, who show up in the middle of a thread claiming things they do not feel or believe just to get people riled up.

Every now and then someone shows up with sincerely held statements that run counter to a lot of the commonly-understood assertions in a thread. Sometimes this is just "People say you should feel this way but I feel THAT way...." and folks can talk about it. Other times it's "People say this is a fact but I think THAT is a fact..." and if you're the one saying those things, you should be prepared for some pushback and/or be prepared to talk about why you think those things are factual, what your background is for this, where you get your facts from.

And if you're not prepared to have that conversation, a lot of times that behavior is indistinguishable from trolling. And this is a problem, because trolling is against the rules but having beliefs that don't match up with whatever the generally-understood beliefs in a thread are is not. And so that's one of the ways we figure out the difference. And it can be hard for people who have lived experience that they are reluctant to share as well as people who felt that a thing was true and are learning that maybe it's not so true. And part of the reason we tell people to not be assholes to one another is so that people can learn in an atmosphere that isn't like the one in your head "C'mon you idiot tell us where you got that or shut up"

People shouldn't call anyone an idiot, even if you think they are an idiot. I can't believe I have to still tell people this. People should also be prepared to have a discussion about the things they say that are provocative and have those discussions in a way that doesn't just center on them and their own thought process but on the commonly held set of beliefs and facts and norms that surround whatever the issue is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on March 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


I was more disgusted by the level of rampant censorship of posts that did not meet the approved Mefi position on the subject. This site is getting worse and worse for that and it's fucking pathetic and weak. Let people voice opinions you don't like. Educate them, if you're so damned sure you're right. But the mods are way, way too delete-happy now and they get too much support for it. Toughen the hell up, some of you.
posted by Decani at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aside from the ignorance regarding the trans identity, I don't know why people are so worried that this little girl might decide she's a little boy a week from now, or might swap back and forth. When I was younger, this was the androgynous, or multidrogynous future we dreamed of, where everything might be fluid and in flux, from childhood on. We're living in a future when little boys can be little girls, and men can be women, and you aren't bound by biology or society, but liberated by your needs and desires and experiences!

I mean, was I really the only one who grew up listening to Bowie?

I don't know. When I see a child who is biologically male self-identify as female, and dress as female, and be accepted as a girl, or vice versa, it just makes me cry with joy. All the literature and science and personal narrative say this is most likely not just a phase, but that this child will grow up to be a trans adult, and how marvelous that they need not spend their childhood trapped in experiences that feel alien to them and are forced on them! How joyous that we have progressed enough for this!

But if they are among the minority that has an identity more fluid than that, how marvelous still! That they are free to explore and experience! Children should have that freedom.

And I know this is a war fought in the bathrooms. The bathrooms are always a war. So some kids don't wish to share their bathroom with somebody who is biologically another gender. You know who I wish to share my bathroom with? NOBODY. I don't like to share with anybody. And yet I compromise, because it's not just to insist that there be a separate bathroom for me everywhere I go. I definitely don't like babies in bathrooms. Or drunk people. Or those people who hum while they pee. But that's just how it goes. Bathrooms are places of compromise. We gain so much and give up so little.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2013 [31 favorites]


taz: "Never listen to baz; baz is always talking shit."

And then he just goes and makes things like this and this and this.

posted by ocherdraco at 7:45 AM on March 1, 2013


Yeah, there are a few comments of mine in that thread I wish I'd worded differently. (Not to mention that a few of the comments I'd been responding to have since been deleted, so now I just look like I'm making up strawmen to burn.)

I've been trying to stay away from participating in racism and sexism and other -ism threads as much as I can, sometimes with more success than others, because I tend to get really heated up about the issues involved and can sometimes turn into a person I don't really like all that much. I don't think of these social justice type issues as an agenda, per se, just something that's really important to me...but then again, I guess few people pushing an agenda ever think of themselves as doing such. It's a fine line to walk between being passionate about the personal and emotional and social importance of an issue, and coming across as preachy. (Or maybe it isn't, and I'm just bad at it.)

I do think these sorts of threads, despite all the hurt and anger they cause, are still worth having. Sometimes I think I ought to just write a script that hides all threads tagged with [foo] from my personal view of MeFi, but then I remember conversations I've had in private with lurker friends who talk about how they've been influenced by these debates, even if they're not vocal about it. The peanut gallery is reading, and changing, and that's not worth nothing.
posted by Phire at 7:48 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was more disgusted by the level of rampant censorship of posts that did not meet the approved Mefi position on the subject.

If you have specifics we'll be happy to talk about them, but there wasn't more deletion in that thread than in other similar threads. In fact there may have been slightly less. So if you have issues with that thread, let's talk about it. If you just don't like MetaFilter, that's a larger issue.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:48 AM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was more disgusted by the level of rampant censorship of posts that did not meet the approved Mefi position on the subject.

Can you demonstrate by quoting a comment that did not meet an "approved position," rather than, say, arguing in bad faith or arguing disrespectfully.

The thread has many, many comments that disagree with each other, all remain because they were presented respectfully. In my experience, mods delete because people are fighty or disrespectful, not because they are politically incorrect. But you made an assertion, and I presume you have some examples to back it up.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:48 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose the question here is: are you upset by people's positions, or their discussion choices/tactics?

To be honest? Both.

This isn't like arguing about cycling helmets, where both sides have decent points to make even if I think one side more right than the other, this is a case of bigotry and / or ignorance against common human decency.

It's not always possible to distinguish genuine ignorance, where a person is new to the whole issue and genuinely unaware of a lot it from bigotry (or old fashioned trolling), but the difference is that folk like Killaseal actually change their mind and re-examine their beliefs.

The style of arguing, where it was clear that people had not read the original articles but where just making up things that might happen if we'd allow this to happen ("if we allow Coy to pee in the girls' bathroom, someday some 16 year old boy will pretend to be trans and harass his ex-girlfriend there"), I'm not overtly fond off either, especially as they kept on doing this as their arguments got refuted.

Or do you think that people are aware that they are bigoted, but are trying to hide it with something else?

I think on some level most people are, if not aware they're being bigoted, at least aware that they come across as bigoted and seek for ways to argue without sounding bigoted. an example might be the separate but equal arguments people made about segregation, or gay marriage, or in this cases not allowing one particular six year old girl to pee in the same bathroom as every other six year old girl.

If you put it in those terms, that's hard to argue against without coming across like a dickhead, hence people rather talk hypotheticals or flee into nitpicking the legalities of the case.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should be noted, though, that we do not actually have that rule.

Absolutely. Apologies, taz - I didn't intend to misrepresent the rules here, the Sanderson example being a post on a personal blog, which is of course very different.

To relate back specifically to MetaFilter, there is a note under every comment box:
Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
Which is, again, a good rule (guideline, suggestion - I don't have any investment in terminology that I am aware of) for a message board. But focus is not wholly binary: if I say "anyone with a penis is male", or "bisexuals are fooling themselves", or "gay people do not make good parents", or "women appreciate being wolf-whistled" - or, indeed "no straight white man can ever understand the experience of people outside their world" - I'm not focussing on other members of the site, but there are almost certainly going to be members of the site in that frame.

Is that bokeh? Something like that...

That's likely to have potential consequences for how people feel, and on how they react, whether entirely within their knowledge or not. Those consequences are not necessarily helpful, or desirable - but they are also not inexplicable. They are potentially problematic for moderations, and I'm not trying to twit moderators facing a series of conflicting issues and objectives here around the ultimate goal of creating a good space for discussion. It's just... these are factors in play.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Decani, I think I'd take your complaints about how Metafilter sucks a whole lot more seriously if you didn't keep coming back to make them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


Can you demonstrate by quoting a comment that did not meet an "approved position," rather than, say, arguing in bad faith or arguing disrespectfully.

It's pretty much impossible to really dissect it from the user vantage point because what you would quote if that did happen is invisible now.

I did feel like there was a lot of (well deserved) deleting going on compared to other threads, which is weird since Jess says it was maybe less. It may have been that I was following this one particularly close so I just saw it happening instead of missing it and not knowing anything went away.

I am curious about why my analogy about joining a sports team just to harass people was deleted, or did that post just not go through?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2013


I was more disgusted by the level of rampant censorship of posts that did not meet the approved Mefi position on the subject. This site is getting worse and worse for that and it's fucking pathetic and weak. Let people voice opinions you don't like. Educate them, if you're so damned sure you're right. But the mods are way, way too delete-happy now and they get too much support for it. Toughen the hell up, some of you.

Hahaha yeah Decani, you're the user here who ought to be telling others how pathetic they are.

MetaFilter is a community and it's defined by how it goes about keeping that community intact. When talking about very touchy subjects that people care about personally, if you let every single commenter run untrammeled then you're not being "fair", you're giving the advantage to people who don't give a fuck about this subject and have no emotional investment and can talk their stupid bullshit flapping mouths about this for hours and hours and hours against people for whom making a single post, contributing their voice in even a small way, is an act of courage.

Conversation is not created equal. Some words are harder than other words. And for people to express the difficulties they've suffered due to their identity is extraordinarily hard. It's harder still in a thread where a whole lot of supposedly-enlightened users are making it clear that they don't even believe gender identity is a thing, and that they think people talking about it are full of shit/deluded/whatever.

Clearly moderators don't rampantly censor shit, because we still have to put up with your nonsense and address you like you're part of the community, which, well, you are. And often I'm grateful that you're one of us – you make this site a better place. But it doesn't make this nonsense of yours any less nonsensical, and if you were capable of appreciating that your line of "man up"-themed drivel only emphasizes to the rest of us how clueless you are about this stuff, well, you wouldn't exactly be Decani, would you.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:59 AM on March 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Also, confession time: I recognise the (apologies) "ick factor" behind some of the posts questioning the validity of Coy's state of trans, because I've felt some of the same sense of wrongness the first couple of times I encountered asexual people and the concept of asexuality online. "How dare you not be interested in sex, that's wrong and unnatural."

Well, no, it isn't, but it took me some time to get over that instinct.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:02 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


if I say "anyone with a penis is male", or "bisexuals are fooling themselves", or "gay people do not make good parents", or "women appreciate being wolf-whistled" - or, indeed "no straight white man can ever understand the experience of people outside their world" - I'm not focussing on other members of the site, but there are almost certainly going to be members of the site in that frame.

I completely agree with this, but I find myself frustrated by how few people really expand that to people that they don't agree with. Everyone agrees - but for their own people only.

For example: I'm a libertarian. Constantly, constantly, on this site, someone makes an asshole comment about libertarians. Whether it's "glibertarians", "libertards", "fuck those guys", or what have you, there is an awful lot of nasty commentary directed at libertarians.

When I read that, it makes me upset. I feel like people hate people like me, and by extension, me, and that such hate is so socially approved of that no-one is even going to object to people doing so. Even if people aren't focusing on me specifically (and they often are, but even if), I am in that frame, and it bothers me.

There are a lot of us who feel like that, I think, about a lot of issues. And how do we deal with that? Again, I think we can try to be kinder to each other - to think about what we say before we say it and not be nasty, no matter what kind of folk it is about. And if someone steps up and says, "Hey, you're talking about me, and maybe you could try to use different phrasing", we should listen instead of doubling down.
posted by corb at 8:03 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I did feel like there was a lot of (well deserved) deleting going on compared to other threads, which is weird since Jess says it was maybe less.

It's been a looong thread. We've removed a few comments but proportionally not a ton, and mostly have been directly asking people to cool it or take a break.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on March 1, 2013


I did feel like there was a lot of (well deserved) deleting going on compared to other threads

I think one of my comments was deleted, which was as it should've been as in retrospect that one had been too curt and obnoxious. But on the other hand, if the mods really were that heavyhanded with modding and making sure everybody was nice to each other, all of them would've disappeared.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:05 AM on March 1, 2013


For example: I'm a libertarian. Constantly, constantly, on this site, someone makes an asshole comment about libertarians. Whether it's "glibertarians", "libertards", "fuck those guys", or what have you, there is an awful lot of nasty commentary directed at libertarians.

I mean, I don't really disagree with you, but there is a world of difference between the place of libertarians and trans people in the social pecking order, their visibility, and the types of harassment and discrimination members of the two groups face.
posted by Dysk at 8:06 AM on March 1, 2013 [25 favorites]


On a side note, I note that whenever I see cortex pop up with a staff tag, it prompts me to go read LARP Trek. Has this happened to anyone else? ;)
posted by corb at 8:07 AM on March 1, 2013


Constantly, constantly, on this site, someone makes an asshole comment about libertarians. Whether it's "glibertarians", "libertards", "fuck those guys", or what have you, there is an awful lot of nasty commentary directed at libertarians.

You're right that this isn't fair, but I'm afraid it may never be erradicated because people can sometimes just be shits. (I mean, we still get "but what about the menz" comments on women's issues threads, and "lolxtians" is still around, and....)

However, I also note that the mods do step in and tell everyone else to back off when this happens to you. And that the mods do step in and ask everyone to back off when it happens to other people. And...that's something for which I am quite grateful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:08 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, I don't really disagree with you, but there is a world of difference between the place of libertarians and trans people in the social pecking order, their visibility, and the types of harassment and discrimination members of the two groups face.

This is, of course, true, but I agree with the larger point, which is don't be a dick. And, as somebody who disagrees with libertarianism, that's a point I constantly need to remind myself of.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:09 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

Rationally work to enlighten us through thoughtful nudging. Don't call us idiots and homophobes. It really doesn't help.
Dude should just demand that every argument be in Petrarchan sonnet form before he deigns to consider it.

Which goes to the whole "maybe we could not be an ass to each other and try to take people seriously without snark being the first response" thing.

You know, you're probably a nice person, but you live in this fantasy world where a communist takeover of the US is imminent and you must be heavily armed at all times to protect yourself and you imagine how cool it would be to join a private army and talk about having shootouts in the streets. You make extraordinary claims based on this world you live in. And when your fantasy world gets less than the perfectly respectful hearing you think it should, or when people respond with levity or snark or disbelief to your claims, then you blame everyone else for being assholes.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:09 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


The libertarian analogy is interesting because you could, well, stop being a libertarian and people would stop being mean to you about it. But as much as I might want to say that the reason you're a libertarian and I'm not is because I have a soul or something, it's much more likely to be our own cultural contexts. I'm a queer person raised by a socialist who went to a school full of Republicans and my political coming of age was the run-up to the Iraq War. On what planet was I going to become a libertarian?
posted by hoyland at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can you demonstrate by quoting a comment that did not meet an "approved position," rather than, say, arguing in bad faith or arguing disrespectfully.

That's pretty difficult since those comments were, you know, deleted.

But what about taking it from the horse's mouth? mathowie himself boasts, in the very first comment in this thread, that the mods "deleted a bunch from that thread".

And I should know, as a few of them were mine. For instance when I answered to someone who posited that, thankfully, I didn't decide what other people are, that I didn't decide who I am either. Apparently that was somehow offensive to the "community" here.

To which I answer: fuck the "community", then. I'm done here.
posted by Skeptic at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


What Bunny Ultramod said - I don't think corb was equating libertarian-bashing to transgender-bashing, just observing that "people in here can be dicks about lots of things".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2013


I'd like everyone to stop and think "this is the thread roboton666 came out to mefi at" and at least try to be your sweet and beautiful selves, for me.
posted by roboton666 at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


For instance when I answered to someone who posited that, thankfully, I didn't decide what other people are, that I didn't decide who I am either. Apparently that was somehow offensive to the "community" here.

That comment was actually the third, I think, in an exchange that started with you giving a bullet-pointed list about why people's feelings about trans issues were silly and bullshit and so on. It wasn't deleted for its specific content, it was deleted for being the trailing bits of an exchange that started with that earlier deletion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


To which I answer: fuck the "community", then.

:(
posted by ocherdraco at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


the man of twists and turns: "wolfsdreams01: I believe most people are fundamentally evil

What's it called when people's model of thought processes reveals more about themselves than it does about others?
"

I think, actually, this quote is more telling: …I value precision more than feelings.

Honestly, I think a lot of people feel this way when younger, especially when they are around their college years. Even if I never was explicit about it, it's probably close to how I treated others when I was younger and foolish.

I grew out of it. I hope everyone grows out of it, because the truth is that being "precise" or "factually correct" has no long term value. You don't win anything for being right, you don't even make the world a better place being right. There are definitely some times when others are wrong about something, and maybe something you will come up with will change how people think and improve things. But knowledge transformation is a very different thing than insisting on semantics, or turning to dictionary definitions to deal with human situations.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:21 AM on March 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


That's pretty difficult since those comments were, you know, deleted.

Then I guess I am curious how we know that they were deleted for not being politically correct? I mean, there must be a specific comment somebody remembers as having been respectful but on the wrong side of the prevailing political winds that was deleted to insist that this is happening?

I've had comments deleted in the past, and every single one of them was deleted because it created breaches in communication, because it was phrased badly -- sometimes sarcastically, sometimes thoughtlessly, and sometimes angrily. Every single one of them could have been rewitten and remained on the site. Sometimes I just didn't know how my tone was coming across. Sometimes I was angry. But had my comment remained, it could had led to a less civil, less useful discussion.

So my experiences are of comments being deleted to facilitate the flow of discussion, which I think improves the site. Not because my opinions were odious, which they probably sometimes are.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:21 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, you're probably a nice person, but you live in this fantasy world where a communist takeover of the US is imminent and you must be heavily armed at all times to protect yourself and you imagine how cool it would be to join a private army and talk about having shootouts in the streets. You make extraordinary claims based on this world you live in.

I could say that it is your own privilege which presupposes this all as a pure fantasy world. Yes, I am afraid of communists gaining power - because my immigrant family lost everything because of communists, in a country where they did not believe it would ever happen, and some of them were killed. I believe it's important to be armed, because the only members of my family who survived were armed and had an escape plan (or were the children of those who did), and because I've seen many situations where the police had no power to protect you. (I'm not sure where you get the idea about the cool-to-join-an-army thing, since I've, you know, already been in an army, but hey.)

So I make claims not based on a fantasy world I live in, but in the world I have lived. And yes, I do ask for respect for my ideas, which are based on my cultural context, just as I try to give other people respect for their ideas, which are also based on their cultural context. (Kind of interestingly similar to what hoyland is saying. We are all products of our environment to some degree.) And no, I don't think that's a bad way to live. Why do you?

What Bunny Ultramod said - I don't think corb was equating libertarian-bashing to transgender-bashing, just observing that "people in here can be dicks about lots of things".

Yeah, I'm not saying "They're the same," I'm saying, "People being dicks sucks and I wish they wouldn't do it, and I wish we could all be conscious of when we were being dicks."
posted by corb at 8:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


started with you giving a bullet-pointed list about why people feelings about trans issues were silly and bullshit and so on

Firstly, this confirms that the point of my comments flew directly over the mods' heads.

More to the point, though, why is it apparently OK here to argue that people's feelings about some issues "silly and bullshit and so on", whereas other issues are off-limits. I very pointedly stuck to the issues, and didn't engage, never mind insult, anybody personally (contrary to other people both in that thread and here).

Finally, the whole policy of "let's delete an entire exchange because we don't like how it started" has also got on my nerves. Those two comments stood by themselves, and involved an important point. That, sirs, is overeager deletion.
posted by Skeptic at 8:25 AM on March 1, 2013


Just wanted to drop in and say that I'm reading this thread here if anyone wants clarifications on my motivations/intents or lack thereof in the thread under discussion.

Here's my take on my interaction, get ready, it's hammer, I mean meta-time!

I was really tentative to ask/comment at all for fear of being taken as an asshat troll, eventually gave in to my desire to improve/clarify my though process on the issue and tried to phrase things as mildly as possible*, got jumped on a bit, I quietly tried to clarify/reassure people I wasn't trolling or trying to win any arguments or cause any derails and that I was just wanting get a baseline for what I saw as another facet of the discussion, saw a few people understand what I was aiming for (or even retract previous snark) and that I wasn't there to poke/prod/laugh at them or other people in the trans population, and then I dipped out and let the thread move on with only a few of my casual thoughts here and there.

Hopefully a win for all and certainly no hard feelings from this direction. Could it have been more ideal than the way it played out? Sure, but so 'tis life and I can understand the defensiveness in light of all the other shit that was going down in there.

In meta-retrospect, the fact that I'm even posting a detailed blow-by-blow of my involvement in the thread shows how, I'm guessing, many people feel when delving into issues like this from outside of the trans community. A bit confused and very hesitant to stick their nose in lest it be taken as trolling. First world cis problems, which I'm learning more about every day, and all that but still the better the conversation is the more people like me will dip their toe in the water and come out better informed and more sympathetic.

*If anyone wants to give tips on how I could do this better while still retaining my voice I'll be glad to listen because I know alot of this stuff is sen-sa-tive, very, very sensitive.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think wolfdreams01 is like 33 so I think too old to grow out of "I love precision" silly worldviews but there's always hope.
posted by sweetkid at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hi skeptic, I deleted my life for 33 years, to save everyone else the embarrassment of being confused about my transgenderism. Matthowie deleted a few of your comments.
You'll be okay I promise!
posted by roboton666 at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [31 favorites]


Look, Skeptic, here is the actual text of the comment in question:
I know that I'm going to get no end of shit for this here, but:

1) For you, never mind your parents, to be concerned about your "gender" at the age of six, is WAAAY too early. You'll have plenty of time to reflect on this when the hormones kick in in about eight years' time. Trust me.
2) For me, if you've got a penis, you're a "he". Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I haven't got any time for such gender-politics bullshit. Cope with it.
3) I can't avoid thinking about this scene. I wonder why.
And as I said in the thread, if you find yourself writing something like that and feeling the need to preface it with the prediction that it's gonna go over super badly, stop and rework it. Find a better way to say whatever it is of substance that you have to say in a way that isn't going to, by your own measure, piss a bunch of people off. If you can't do that, take a walk from the thread instead because you're not contributing in a good way.

You say "fuck the community" like somehow the job of the community is to take whatever you feel like saying in stride while you owe no one else any consideration. That's bonkers and backwards.

Finally, the whole policy of "let's delete an entire exchange because we don't like how it started" has also got on my nerves.

Don't start with something super problematic and there is no ensuing problem. I hear you that it gets on your nerves, but that is comparatively small potatoes compared to managing a community dynamic in a large, fast-moving, hot-button thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


By some people's beliefs, evolution isn't real. These people are not just having a different perception, they're wrong. Having a belief doesn't mean your ideas are of equal importance to "the other side" when your beliefs have been shown to be flat out wrong.

Yeah, this.

What bothered me the most about that thread was the amount of time and energy spent on several epic derails, most offensively the one about disclosure of trans identity during sexual activity and how it justifies assault. And the degree to which people argued about that while (barely) acknowledging that it has nothing to do with the six year old girl who just wants to pee in an appropriate bathroom.

I mean, the concern trolling for Coy was bad enough. So what if Coy grows up to be a boy? Why should we disrespect her now--or even expose her to the possibility of violence or hazing?

But a lot of the arguments in there were a lot worse than concern trolling--they seemed to be bubbling up with barely concealed homophobia (their relevance to the conversation, I can only guess at--someone is afraid that Coy might sexually assault other six year old girls because she has a penis? Or is it that just the mention of transexuality brings to mind the fear of an unintended homosexual encounter?) It's just sooo . . . offensive. And then there are the legion of other individuals who treat the trans men and women on here like thought experiments rather than, you know, people--people who have faced enough violence and harassment and discrimination in their lives, thank you very much.

Still, I have to say that I'm very grateful to the transfolk and allies here who have always seemed to me to speak from a well of tremendous patience. Years ago, a conversation much like this got me to quit treating trans people as a thought experiment and rather see the actual people with stories much more complex, interesting, and human than I was giving them credit for, to shut my mouth on how I might conceivably be right about their lives in my abstract headspace and instead listen to how I was very, very wrong. These conversations are important. Even if, Christ, are they tiresome.

Also, not that girl, I'll miss you very much. Just wanted to let you know that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:34 AM on March 1, 2013 [28 favorites]


I had a comment rightfully deleted because it was mean toward the two users it addressed.

My rewritten second attempt was also deleted. It asked this, using these words:

"X and Y, have you watched the Jazz video?"

So, no, not every deleted comment can be rewritten and remain on the site.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:36 AM on March 1, 2013


So, no, not every deleted comment can be rewritten and remain on the site.

That's true. I don't know what your comment was in reference to, but thinking more on the question of what might be deleted, if something is a derail, it probably will not remain no matter how respectfully written, and there are certainly other examples.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:40 AM on March 1, 2013


So I make claims not based on a fantasy world I live in, but in the world I have lived.

First of all, the posters and citizens and politicians (Obama and many or most elected Democrats) you portray as communists or communist sympathizers are, for the most part social democratic capitalists, who are less "Stalin" and more "the majority of Republicans from 1933 until 1993." Second of all, your equation of "left-leaning ideas" with "communist dictatorship" relies on a number of fallacies that do depend on believing in a fantasy world as opposed to a real-world 2013 American society that bears no resemblance to pretty much any communist dictatorship. You don't just believe in being armed, you believe that the slightest bit of gun control, as ineffectual as it has turned out to be in the real world, is indicative of an oppressive society as opposed to one of if not the strongest gun cultures in the world. It also completely dismisses those who have changed or escaped the world around them (the civil rights movement, for example) without relying on shooting people up.

So, yes, to a certain extent, you are making claims based on a fantasy world.

And yes, I do ask for respect for my ideas, which are based on my cultural context, just as I try to give other people respect for their ideas, which are also based on their cultural context.

It's one thing to ask for respect for your ideas. It's another to use "cultural context" as an excuse to portray those ideas in both hypothetical and infinitesimally rare real-world examples that are mostly divorced from the actual situations (often without cited proof) and then complain that you're being attacked when people refute them with actual evidence.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:41 AM on March 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


Holy Crap Skeptic, the mods are doing you a personal favor when they delete something that makes you look that dumb.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


Zombie, cool out a bit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2013


fff, the primary issue was that the whole content of the comment was just sort of briefly interrogating a couple other users, in a thread where we were already having trouble with a few people sort of doing the take-on-all-comers thing and didn't need to have that dynamic underscored any further.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought zombieflanders' comment was fine and no cooling is necessary.
posted by sweetkid at 8:45 AM on March 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


if you find yourself writing something like that and feeling the need to preface it with the prediction that it's gonna go over super badly, stop and rework it

Why? In this particular case, I prefaced it not because I thought that what I was going to write was particularly controversial per se, but because MetaFilter has lately become an incredibly single-minded echo chamber, and that thread was a particularly egregious example of it.

Anybody could have tried to counter every single one of my points, and some MeFites indeed did, without entering a slinging match. Was I flippant? Yes. But when I'm for example being asked to address somebody who has a male set of gonads as "she", for the sake of politeness, and nobody discuss this, I'm sort of upset.

I'm neither confused nor embarrassed by anybody's transgenderism, and I wish nobody had to "delete his life" like roboton666 because of other people's bigotry.

But seriously, if MetaFilter has become the one place where "Life of Brian" is controversial again, maybe you should all recalibrate your bigotry filters, because they are failing.
posted by Skeptic at 8:48 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy Crap Skeptic, the mods are doing you a personal favor when they delete something that makes you look that dumb.

If you think something I wrote makes me look dumb, you'll doing me a favour by telling me why, not by deleting it.
posted by Skeptic at 8:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought zombieflanders' comment was fine and no cooling is necessary.

It sort-of kind-of looked like it was a second-guessing of someone's lived experience and telling them that they were wrong about it - which is exactly the kind of thing that is drawing such umbrage in the transgender thread, if you think about it - but on second glance it's actually quite restrained.

Sorry, zombie.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think something I wrote makes me look dumb, you'll doing me a favour by telling me why, not by deleting it.

Can you get on to the "I'm done here" part?
posted by Drinky Die at 8:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, this topic gets uncivil quickly enough without bringing in a referendum on corb's personal political outlook and the efficacy of gun control.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:51 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Was I flippant? Yes. But when I'm for example being asked to address somebody who has a male set of gonads as "she", for the sake of politeness, and nobody discuss this, I'm sort of upset.

Nobody discuss this? There was a HUGE discussion of it in the thread, did you not read it?
posted by KathrynT at 8:52 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


But when I'm for example being asked to address somebody who has a male set of gonads as "she", for the sake of politeness, and nobody discuss this, I'm sort of upset.

What, precisely, is there to "discuss" about how someone personally wishes to be addressed?

I'm neither confused nor embarrassed by anybody's transgenderism...

But you sound confused enough that you think someone asking to be addressed as "she" warrants discussion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can you get on to the "I'm done here" part?

Sure!

Please, dear mods, delete my account. You don't need to cable me my $5 back.

Happy?
posted by Skeptic at 8:53 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, if you've got a penis, you're a "he". Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I haven't got any time for such gender-politics bullshit. Cope with it.

I haven't any sympathy for ruffled feathers over the deletion of this comment. Cope with it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:53 AM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


If you're serious about wanting to close your account, you can do so yourself from the Preferences page. We don't delete accounts, they're just open or not.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:54 AM on March 1, 2013


I think the thing for me to balance is that yes, in my opinion people like Skeptic and wolfdreams01 deserve heaps of scorn for the things they said and do, but that scorn does little to help understanding, nor does it make me feel better in the long term.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:54 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Firstly, this confirms that the point of my comments flew directly over the mods' heads.

What was the point of your bulletted list about why you think trans issues are bullshit?
posted by 23skidoo at 8:54 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anybody could have tried to counter every single one of my points

You literally told them you have no interest in listening to them counter your points when you said "I haven't got any time for such gender-politics bullshit. Cope with it."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:54 AM on March 1, 2013 [19 favorites]



I haven't any sympathy for ruffled feathers over the deletion of this comment.

I didn't ask for it. And yes, I'm coping.

If you're serious about wanting to close your account, you can do so yourself from the Preferences page.

Thanks. Your loss, not mine (anymore).
posted by Skeptic at 8:55 AM on March 1, 2013


But when I'm for example being asked to address somebody who has a male set of gonads as "she", for the sake of politeness, and nobody discuss this, I'm sort of upset.

Okay, I'll try. Why isn't "be polite" enough of a reason? If someone says "Hey I know my birth certificate says my name is Jenny but please call me Alex" would you refuse because being asked is not enough of a reason? Why is it different for pronouns?

Plus, as has been stated multiple times in the thread, you wouldn't know Coy was a boy if you just passed her in the street. It's not like you're investigating the genitals of every person you address with a gender-specific pronoun. We have posters here who are A-bodied but identify as B, and have said so. They're addressed with their preferred pronoun, because they asked us to. Is that a so much of a stretch?
posted by Phire at 8:56 AM on March 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Thanks. Your loss, not mine (anymore).

And metafilter will be more tolerant.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:56 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks. Your loss, not mine (anymore).

WHAT HAVE I DONE!?
posted by Drinky Die at 8:57 AM on March 1, 2013


Most of what I'm taking away from this whole discussion is:

1.) Metafilter is full of wonderful expressive people all over the gender identity spectrum and they are very brave to share their stories.
2.) Almost as brave as them are the users who say "I've never thought about this before so please explain to me where I'm wrong and help me understand".
3.) Mefi mods have like the hardest job in the world basically and I am really impressed with how much quick-fire deleting of bullshit comments they did in both this and the other thread.

These threads can be really depressing, but those three things go pretty far towards cheering me up.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:57 AM on March 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


I don't know that it is better for this site to encourage people to flame out.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:57 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know that it is better for this site to encourage people to flame out.

I'd rather people didn't, yeah, and if Skeptic's taking off it'd be great if people could just sort of let that lie accordingly and move on with discussion of stuff actively happening in this thread.

That said, if someone's unhappy with how this place works then deciding to leave is totally their prerogative and may be the healthier emotional choice to make, so, you know, do what makes sense for you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:00 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think something I wrote makes me look dumb, you'll doing me a favour by telling me why, not by deleting it.

Umm... not to stop the bus, but one can do both, right? I mean, I've had a couple of comments deleted, because they were deletable themselves or because they were underneath a deleted comment, and I think I've always felt I had the option (when I noticed) of messaging the mods and asking for clarification. I don't think I've been both sufficiently attached to a comment and confused by its deletion to do so, though... but I think it's doable.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:03 AM on March 1, 2013


I don't know why people make such a big deal of closing or not closing their account, even if they're not flaming out. It's not permanent (except for BND/banning but I'm talking about voluntary disabling) and it's not like your account keeps posting for you automatically even if you're not active on the site.

It's one of the more minor decisions you can make in your life or at least in the world of digital engagement and yet there's so much drama about it.
posted by sweetkid at 9:03 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wooooooow, I just finished reading the original thread. What an astonishing clusterfuck. I don't even have words, other than can somebody please get wolfdreams01 a spot on the Tim and Eric show? He'd fit right in.

Was I flippant? Yes. But when I'm for example being asked to address somebody who has a male set of gonads as "she", for the sake of politeness, and nobody discuss this, I'm sort of upset.

Here's the thing: transgender people identify with a different gender than their physical body. That's why it's called, you know, TRANS GENDER. The fact that this transgender girl has a male set of gonads is why she's transgender. And why it matters that she identifies with being a girl and not a boy, well...

...I mean, geez, look at how upset you're getting that moderators aren't treating your comments respectfully. It doesn't take a whole lot of provocation when you feel you're being wronged to feel crappy about yourself. I can't even read threads in which I've made comments that might be controversial for a little while because I start feeling miserable when people don't like words that I say on the Internet. Clearly you are in the same boat as me, comrade.

Now imagine that instead of words on the Internet the thing that's making you feel alienated is YOUR WHOLE FUCKING BODY. INCLUDING YOUR GONADS. And not only is your sex one you identify with, but A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU FOR NOT IDENTIFYING. So you don't even get sympathy from people who are like, "I've been there, brah, sucks doesn't it," you get people saying "I have totally not been there and you are fucked up for thinking about that." I have not been in that situation personally, but I can imagine you would basically hate yourself and feel miserable all the fucking time.

My roommate's boyfriend is a trans man. I met him when he identified as female, and at some point he came out as a man, and while I slipped up gender-wise once or twice it became very easy for me to think of him as a he. I don't care what his gonads are like because seeing him naked is not exactly something I care to do, and his gonads don't matter anyway. What matters is that he is a guy, and told me so, and he's the one who gets to decide that for himself. Not me.

It's weird how uptight people get about not wanting to allow other people to define themselves. I mean, I get uptight too, I'm not judging (well, I'm judging wolfdreams01 a little). But at the point when there is ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that transgender people are right to feel how they feel, you think everybody would collectively shrug and go "Oh, huh, the world is different than I thought it was, anybody want pizza?" Instead we have people presenting their ignorances about the world and then getting mad when other people are telling them they're ignorant.

Normally I'm totally on the side of the people who are unhappy with being called names, because yes I do think that if you know something another person doesn't you have a responsibility to get over your being offended by them and try to communicate with them anyway. A part of me still wants to say that, but man, that thread was ugly in five hundred ugly ways at once. Really nasty shit, that.

On preview:

Thanks. Your loss, not mine (anymore).

Hahaha you actually sound like a fifteen year old being told you can't go out to the mall. You realize this, right? That this is what you sound like? That all your righteous rebellion against the system is just kind of surly and self-indulgent? Here take this System of a Down song, may it aid you as it once aided me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:07 AM on March 1, 2013 [28 favorites]


I don't know why people make such a big deal of closing or not closing their account, even if they're not flaming out.

It's obvious - if people don't see you flounce out, they won't feel guilty that you're gone! That's how flouncing works...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had a comment rightfully deleted because it was mean toward the two users it addressed.

My rewritten second attempt was also deleted.


I saw your first comment that got deleted. I've got thick skin and can handle your name calling, but did you think I'd actually respond to that? At that point I had already bowed out of the thread, and it was clear you wanted to get me back there for round 3, or whatever.

The mods were right for deleting both comments. You broadcasted your intentions in the first comment, and removing the insults from the revised second comment wasn't going to change your M.O.

Then we took our respective jabs at each other in private, and that's how it should be.
posted by foot at 9:11 AM on March 1, 2013


But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I'm the only one.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:11 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Note: Everyone needs a hug.

Hugs for everyone.

I'm a girl, please refer to me as such. Thanks!
posted by roboton666 at 9:12 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


2.) Almost as brave as them are the users who say "I've never thought about this before so please explain to me where I'm wrong and help me understand".

I kinda-sorta fall into that category. From reading through I'm inclined to say that the bravery level of #2 when compared to #1 could probably be best described as 'not even close'. Shit sucks, I'd never tried to imagine myself in the shoes of a trans person, nor had I ever..... ever really.... seen them as beyond people who just did what they did because they wanted to or because they felt better that way instead of because that's WHO.THEY.ARE.

Yea, it was a lightbulb moment.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:13 AM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


"I don't know that it is better for this site to encourage people to flame out."

Not without Languagehat around, at least
posted by klangklangston at 9:13 AM on March 1, 2013




It's obvious - if people don't see you flounce out, they won't feel guilty that you're gone! That's how flouncing works


Yea I know but I just think it's silly.

I mean I understand the purpose of this, from not_that_girl;

I'm going to bow out now, and if I can't stop myself from continuing to post as not that girl, I'll disable the account. Cheers to everybody.


Sort of letting us know what's going on if she's not around and also admitting she might have to close the count to resist temptation but... in more cases than not it's just pointless flouncing.
posted by sweetkid at 9:13 AM on March 1, 2013


"I don't know that it is better for this site to encourage people to flame out."

I miss orthogonality. I don't even remember why he left but it stinks to not have him around. I can't help but think that most flameouts, not bans because those are different, aren't a good thing.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:16 AM on March 1, 2013


I think one thing we can all agree on is that the way we design public bathrooms is crazy.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think one thing we can all agree on is that the way we design public bathrooms is crazy.

Unless they put ice in the urinal. For some reason, that feels classy.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:18 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The peanut gallery is reading, and changing, and that's not worth nothing.

Yeah, as part of the peanut gallery I'd like to say that though I don't participate in trans threads, because I don't know enough to have anything to contribute, I read them with great interest. And I see comments from people as clueless as me, some jerky and some just confused, and I read the detailed and thoughtful responses from people who know what they're talking about, and I learn and absorb. And I change. Back around 1970 I started understanding what women went through (and, really, who women were, because I don't think I had much of a clue, having developed my ideas in the '50s and early '60s), and around 1980 I started understanding who gay people were and what they went through, and now I'm going through the same process with trans people, and I'm deeply grateful to all those who have helped me climb out of my well of ignorance and see the broader landscape of humanity, and specifically to those trans people in that thread and this who have had the guts to share what they've been through and how they feel about it. You're making the world a better place.
posted by languagehat at 9:18 AM on March 1, 2013 [107 favorites]


I think one thing we can all agree on is that the way we design public bathrooms is crazy.

More troughs, less electronics, no hatred. Vote Roland!
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:18 AM on March 1, 2013


I will never understand the attitude that it's somehow an inconvenience or even offensive to call people what they want to be called. My first name is a non-English name and it's easy for people to mis-hear and hard (apparently) for them to spell or pronounce. So when I need a "coffee" name (or a waiting-for-a-table name, etc.), I use my middle name, which is English and easy to spell and pronounce. Are there people who feel like they really could not use my middle name because it is not my first name? I mean, what?

And this whole obsession with what's between people's legs being the sole determinant of whether or not you will be polite to them is so bizarre to me.
posted by rtha at 9:19 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "Unless they put ice in the urinal. For some reason, that feels classy."

This is done at renaissance fairs. I've never thought it to be classy because of that. Is it also done indoors?
posted by boo_radley at 9:20 AM on March 1, 2013


Seconding languagehat, here. He said it much better than I could have. Thanks.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:21 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first name is a non-English name and it's easy for people to mis-hear and hard (apparently) for them to spell or pronounce.

I always presumed your name was pronounced ertha.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


...ice in the....

Are you sure that it's not maybe that someone went in ahead of you and wanted to dump their drink out because they didn't like it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


We've been over the ice in the urinal issue, people.

Edited to add:

wanted to dump their drink out because they didn't like it?

What kind of CRAZY TALK IS THIS.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:24 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like it might be helpful to explain the reasoning behind my position on this issue. A while back I made a comment that described my sexuality in some detail. My sexuality is somewhat unconventional, since it's not really based on the monogamy/poly/homo/hetero spectrum. Instead, it's based primarily on mathematical equality, and is to a certain extent transactional.

In my opinion, that thread would have been an excellent time for people who claim to be open-minded and sex-positive to come out and say something supportive like "Hey, wolfdreams01's sexuality may be unconventional, but when you think about it, who's it really hurting?" This totally did not happen. Instead I got a lot of hate and insults suggesting that my views were "mercenary" and that I was a bad person simply for my sexual alignment. Nor is this an attitude exclusive to Metafilter - in the past, a lot of alledgedly "open-minded" liberals have reacted in a similar way. They're open-minded about gay sexuality or trans sexuality but when it comes to a transactional sexuality, suddenly they get all "judgy."

And hey, that's totally cool. You're welcome to hate my sexuality for any reason you want, or even for no reason whatsoever. My point is simply that if gay people or trans people don't have my back when it comes to my sexuality, I don't see any reason why I should have their backs either. This doesn't mean I hate them, it simply means I don't care. Their struggle to have people respect their sexuality is entirely their own problem, just as my struggle is my own. I certainly don't oppose gay or trans people in any way - rather, I prefer to be completely neutral, like Switzerland.

As you can see from my comments in that thread, I focused predominantly on the legal ramification of that issue, because that's the only part that really has any impact on me and thus that I care about. It's unreasonable to have people suggest that I need to care and be supportive of trans folks sexuality when they've never been supportive or cared about my own. I thnk empathy is a two-way street, and if I don't get any empathy from a person or group I'm certainly not going to hold empathy for them. Similarly, it's also annoying to have people attribute hateful views to me for not supporting trans equality when the truth is that I simply don't care one way or the other and would prefer to be completely neutral. However, if people who support equality are absolutely determined to take a "You're either with us or against us!!" attitude then in that circumstance I'd probably choose to be against you - not because I think you're wrong to demand equality (it's a perfectly legitimate demand) but simply because you're failing to respect my neutrality, and I really really don't like people trying to tell me what to think or do. Does that make sense? I hope you can understand that viewpoint, even if you disagree with it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2013


I wasn't feeling up to even reading that thread before now, but thank you to all the folks who are learning with an open mind and speaking awesomeness to the internet.

Also, props to roomthreeseventeen for the "Urinetown" reference in the title.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:27 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams01,

Trans is not a sexuality.

In the thread in question you repeatedly refused to refer to Coy by the proper pronoun, so you do apparently care enough about something related to these issues

Also, this isn't about you.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


Ice in the urinal is a totally common thing at least in the US. It's cheap, easy, doesn't smell awful, and naturally drains away lingering urine as it melts. Plus you can get your employees in the forced habit of checking in on the bathroom regularly that way since they need to go dump more, I figure.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2013


wolfdreams01, I understand it, I just find it bigoted and immature.

(And it's BS that you don't care. If you didn't care, you wouldn't gleefully persist in misgendering people in the face of increasing ire and scorn.)
posted by KathrynT at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


Being a weirdo is not a sexual alignment.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:29 AM on March 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


I feel like it might be helpful to explain the reasoning behind my position on this issue. A while back I made a comment that described my sexuality in some detail.

oh
my
GOD

this is the first metafilter comment i've ever read where literally every sentence could be turned into a "metafilter:" joke.

MetaFilter: what I expressed was not just an abstract idea: this is my lifestyle.

MetaFilter: My morality and how I conduct my relationships are inseparably intertwined with mathematical analysis

MetaFilter: the phrase "ethical calculus" was practically invented for people like me

Seriously, people, try it with ANY SENTENCE IN THAT COMMENT. This is like the Rosetta Stone of why some people don't like other people.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:30 AM on March 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


the truth is that I simply don't care one way or the other and would prefer to be completely neutral.

In many cases what people describe as neutral is actually supporting the status quo. When there is a problem with the status quo, loudly declaring yourself as "neutral" is actually not a neutral action or position. If you are in fact neutral and don't care, it's totally okay to just be quiet. When you make a decision not to be quiet and to support the stauts quo, you are going to be in a situation where people who disagree with your position are going to expect to want to have a reasonable discussion about the issue that doesn't turn into an unreasonable discussion about you and your personally held beliefs. You are not particularly good at this. We stopped you from doing it once in the trans thread and should have probably stopped you a second time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:30 AM on March 1, 2013 [50 favorites]


We've been over the ice in the urinal issue, people.

I'm a girl! (A Cis girl to boot!) I didn't know!....

Edited to add: "wanted to dump their drink out because they didn't like it?" What kind of CRAZY TALK IS THIS

Hey, I've had some NASTY drinks, man. (Gentleman Jack Black Label mixed with 7-11 Blue raspberry soda. They called it "Smurf Piss.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well Smurf Piss obviously belongs in a urinal, that seems self-explanatory.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:31 AM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


Gentleman Jack Black Label mixed with 7-11 Blue raspberry soda. They called it "Smurf Piss."

That is a war crime against good liquor. And if it's not, it should be.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


All drinks end up in the urinal.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I certainly don't oppose gay or trans people in any way

Except for that whole thing where you refuse to accept their personhood as conceived by them.

My point is simply that if gay people or trans people don't have my back when it comes to my sexuality, I don't see any reason why I should have their backs either.

Yeah, that 6 year old was a real asshole for not having your back and therefore totally deserving of your repeated scorn towards their identity.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [31 favorites]


I am REALLY late to this MeTa, and have not read it yet, but I wanted to say that I am glad that I started the OP if only for the fact that I was "introduced" to a bunch of trans and transfriendly MeFites that I didn't know existed. Also, though I do not know Coy or her parents personally, I have colleagues who do, and I think they are super people. And I'm sorry if people got hurt by other's comments.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:32 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


It sort-of kind-of looked like it was a second-guessing of someone's lived experience and telling them that they were wrong about it - which is exactly the kind of thing that is drawing such umbrage in the transgender thread, if you think about it - but on second glance it's actually quite restrained.

Second glance or not, I appreciated it. Because I had - hilariously enough - a similar take to yours. On first glance, I was really frustrated, because it felt like I wasn't being heard. Then you commented, and I felt defended in that experience. Then you took it back - and because you had made that initial statement defending lived experience, it let me go back and take a second look too. And my second look let me say: "Well, he's completely wrong in what he thinks I think, but aside from being wrong, it's not too offensive."

But when it is something deeply personal, I think it's harder to make it to that second glance - which also undoubtedly applies to the thread in question, too.
posted by corb at 9:33 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


To clarify - this was not a bar itself that did that, this was at a BYOB place and a couple people each brought one component and we mixed it there.

I think a lot of people were subtly ridding themselves of the concoction over the course of the night.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:34 AM on March 1, 2013


Yes, EmpressCallipygos. What you described is a monstrosity I had not previously conceived of, because how can you imagine the truly monstrous?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:35 AM on March 1, 2013


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by liquidindian at 9:36 AM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


As you can see from my comments in that thread, I focused predominantly on the legal ramification of that issue, because that's the only part that really has any impact on me and thus that I care about. It's unreasonable to have people suggest that I need to care and be supportive of trans folks sexuality when they've never been supportive or cared about my own. I thnk empathy is a two-way street, and if I don't get any empathy from a person or group I'm certainly not going to hold empathy for them.

what the fuck is even this
posted by kagredon at 9:36 AM on March 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


I feel like it might be helpful to explain the reasoning behind my position on this issue.

Dude. That whole thing you have where you are a computer, and see feelings as illogical?

Apply situational logic here. Your feeling that it would be a good idea to explain to MetaFilter the reasoning behind your position on something - has that ever turned out to be a good idea? Has it won people over, or made them think better of you?

Crunch the numbers.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:36 AM on March 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


I think a lot of people were subtly ridding themselves of the concoction over the course of the night.

This reminds me of Dorothy Parker's "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly - it should be thrown with great force" quip.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:37 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


My point is simply that if gay people or trans people don't have my back when it comes to my sexuality, I don't see any reason why I should have their backs either.

Here's a reason: because the number of gay or trans people who read your comment and formulated an opinion on it is a ridiculously small percentage of all gay or trans people.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a person who was not allowed sodas or artificial food coloring very much as a kid, I have spent years wondering about the genesis of the flavoring "blue raspberry" (which as far as I have been able to tell seems to be created out of some kind of combo of cat piss and sugar.) I was debating posting an AskMe, when I thought, "Hmm, maybe Wikipedia has something on the history of this totally invented flavor."

To my great surprise, it's actually a thing. I bet if you put real blue raspberry coolis or some other liquid form of the fruit into Gentleman Jack it would be delicious.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thnk empathy is a two-way street, and if I don't get any empathy from a person or group I'm certainly not going to hold empathy for them.

It sounds like you are talking more about respect. I think if you deploy empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, you might start to understand why vulnerable people deserve your care respect even if they don't understand your own issues. OTOH, you can be empathetic and still think someone does not deserve respect, but you blind yourself when you don't even try to get in their head.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:39 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


That whole thing you have where you are a computer, and see feelings as illogical

But apparently also a wolf, coolest of animals, presumably seeing feelings as bark bark howl poop howl.

I think this explains a lot.
posted by emmtee at 9:39 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


wolfdreams01, I'm not sure anybody hates your sexuality per se. I personally don't like how you interject your own personal "hey I hate creepers but let me tell you about sexy times that resulted from sexy creeping" style ancedotes as though that validates anything you say.

wolfdreams01: "In my opinion, that thread would have been an excellent time for people who claim to be open-minded and sex-positive to come out and say something supportive like "Hey, wolfdreams01's sexuality may be unconventional, but when you think about it, who's it really hurting?""

And seriously that thread doesn't exist to validate you or your sexuality.
posted by boo_radley at 9:40 AM on March 1, 2013 [25 favorites]


Maybe someone should take the integral of the arc of justice.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:40 AM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


As a person who was not allowed sodas or artificial food coloring very much as a kid, I have spent years wondering about the genesis of the flavoring "blue raspberry" (which as far as I have been able to tell seems to be created out of some kind of combo of cat piss and sugar.)

Heh; actually, before they mixed the drink, the blue raspberry soda people had come up with an awesome party trick they were playing - they'd walk up to you with the soda held behind their back, and say, "close your eyes!" Then they'd put a cup into your hand and say "taste this!" Then they'd take it out of your hand and hide it and say "now guess what color that was!"

Every single person they tried that on guessed correctly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter has lately become an incredibly single-minded echo chamber

This usually means "I'm mad that not many people agree with me."

I want to say something about trans issues. I'll admit that as a younger person, mostly pre-MeFi, I had a big problem with the whole idea. Even as a liberal, as an ardent feminist, as an egalitarian, as an early ally to the gay community, etc.; I just didn't understand transgender. I took a pretty cavalier "that's too weird and extreme, work with what you're born with" proposition, and I would sometimes venture the opinion that a lot of people born with birth defects might also feel "born in the wrong body" but that we should play the hand we're dealt, kind of thing. I'm not endorsing this point of view, just relating that I used to hold it.

It was largely through discussions at MetaFilter (but also through some great journalism in other media and finally through watching a few people go through a gender transition as an adult) that over my 10 years of participation I've totally revised this point of view and it's been a long time now and seems foreign. I really needed to hear people talk about the experience, and needed to deal with the fact that my general politics were inconsistent with my view that people should be able to determine their own self-expression. Rather than get rid of that view, I got rid of the inconsistency. My mind needed to be opened and I needed to be educated, and I got both things here.

Though my memory may fail me, I don't think I ever took an aggressive stance on this back in my early days, but I may have floated my regressive opinions here or there in a ruminative or speculative way. I'm glad to have been pushed to change my mind on this topic, and it's most directly due to the self-assurance, courage, and smartness of trans people and allies on MeFi that I got away from prejudices about this, and recognize it for what it is: a thing that happens to humans around our complex constructions of gender.

So, yeah, discussions on these issues are often miserable but they certainly do change minds. The culture is light years ahead of where it was 20 or even 10 years ago on trans issues. This is part of why.
posted by Miko at 9:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


Transactional sexuality

coming soon as a Kindle single: "Fucking in Triplicate, or love in the age of due diligence."

(What does that even really mean, anyway? You prefer to pay for sex? Or, more disturbingly, sex and intimacy is reducible to a social currency for you?)
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thnk empathy is a two-way street, and if I don't get any empathy from a person or group I'm certainly not going to hold empathy for them.

So this is actually a real thing that happens in organizing, outside of wolfdreams01's experience. "Hey, I didn't see you guys at the police brutality march, why would I march with you against something when you weren't even there for us?" It's a real thing that a lot of people feel, particularly when they feel like they are a minority and don't have to be.

However, it almost always results in a lot of fractured, unhappy people. Not having people's backs because they don't have yours ultimately results in a circle where no one has anyone's back, and it really sucks.
posted by corb at 9:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


And seriously that thread's doesn't exist to validate you or your sexuality.

Or to put it more broadly, neither Metafilter nor the world at large exist to validate you as a person. And yet you have based your entire interaction here and your worldview upon that validation, to the point where a person or three that don't validate your viewpoints must mean that they represent everyone that shares characteristic X that you disagree with and therefore all of X are automatically to be discarded.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:46 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


However, it almost always results in a lot of fractured, unhappy people. Not having people's backs because they don't have yours ultimately results in a circle where no one has anyone's back, and it really sucks.

First they came..... being the strongest expression of that sentiment.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:47 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's unreasonable to have people suggest that I need to care and be supportive of trans folks sexuality when they've never been supportive or cared about my own.

Are you five years old? I mean, seriously, this is the type of stuff young children say. "But she hit me first!"
posted by desjardins at 9:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


except no one hit you
posted by desjardins at 9:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


No but they were totally on my side of the social backseat and I already told them where the dividing line is SOMEONE MAKE THEM STOP

Our society needs a minivan with captain's seats since no one can keep their hands to themselves so we can get to the market and back in peace GODAMMIT
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:52 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm glad we're finally focusing this discussion on the truly important issues surrounding the human rights status of transgender children, such as:
  • How does this affect wolfdreams01?
  • Why are people talking about something that is not wolfdreams01?
  • If wolfdreams01 says something shocking enough, will people stop talking about the other thing and start talking about wolfdreams01?

posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:01 AM on March 1, 2013 [54 favorites]


What kills me about these conversations about gender is that people think they have a right to vote and opine on someone else's expression of gender.

- I'm a straight, CIS, female - you don't get a vote.
- You are whatever you are - I don't get a vote.
- Coy is who she is and her family and therapists are helping her express that - the rest of us? We don't get a vote.

This is so simple and fundamental to me that I'm stunned it's even an issue. Other people get to define themselves as they choose. The options are to support them or STFU.
posted by 26.2 at 10:01 AM on March 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


Well, there is a public interface here, the school in this particular discussion, that does, troublingly, implicate things and people that we do vote on or for. As has always been the case with civil rights.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:03 AM on March 1, 2013


The people hating on Coy and her parents in the original thread aren't taking up a civil rights issue. They're up in arms about her ability to express her own gender.
posted by 26.2 at 10:10 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Instead I got a lot of hate and insults suggesting that my views were "mercenary" and that I was a bad person simply for my sexual alignment.

Dude, you do understand that "mercenary" has nothing to do with your sexual alignment, right? "Mercenary" is not a sexuality. You explaining that there's a mathematical formula for how many times you want to have sex doesn't make you gay or straight, it makes you a person who has really weird justifications for having sex or not having it. It also makes you come off like a borderline sociopath who truly cannot understand that emotional connections between people are at once messier than connections formed by pure logic but also more realistic, because not all of us are what you get if you could cross a wolf with artificial intelligence.

The empathy thing is what you don't get. Why do so many of us support treating gay and trans people like they're people, apart from the obvious logic that they are? Because pain sucks, and people being dealt pain from a systematic denial of their rights is one of the most horrible things imaginable. Some of us, yourself included, don't have to deal with that so much. But that doesn't make it any more okay.

If you want to get even more logical, you can say that empathy is a logical result of autonomous will. To be conscious is to freely make choices, regardless of the will or intent of others. You are aware of this, clearly, because you enjoy freely choosing to say whatever ludicrous jackassery comes into your head. And clearly you are aware that your choices hurt others, because they keep telling you, and you're also aware that others' choices hurt you, because you are incapable of enduring the slightest damage to your prissy little self-image without waltzing into the thread with even more hilarious wordbabble to make us understand what a hurt oppressed soul you are. Not that souls exist, because you are merely what would happen if you could cross a wolf with artificial intelligence.

Empathy, then, the act of choosing to treat other people as if their concerns bother you as well, is a way of stemming the hurt that comes from our differences. It allows you to try and hurt others less, and therefore provoke them less into hurting you back. It is in others' self-interest that you empathize with them, and since showing empathy is the best way to receive it back, it is therefore logical that showing somebody empathy will ultimately result in less hurt to you as well. Logically! This is some basic reasoning otherwise known as "that thing they teach you in kindergarten because actual real five-year-olds can understand this, it is that simple." It is an extraordinary human innovation that in a very real way is at the core of society, consciousness, and thought.

Now, also logically, you are aware that you exist in a society which was created before you were born and which consists of billions of people trying to figure themselves out at once. (This is actually a stretch, since you act like a solipsist nihilist, but we're going to at least pretend that other people are real for this exercise.) It follows, then, that the systems which emerged between millions of people, a sort of artificial intelligence built on top of our wolf minds if you catch my drift, are built not for the individual but for the society. Obviously you understand this! That's why you hate it so very much! You'd love it if the world revolved around you, but clearly it doesn't, and we are all very sad for you, because empathy. Know who else the world doesn't revolve around? Everybody! Nobody's mathematically-deduced sexual alignments are fully tolerated, and it makes us all cry wet-tears.

Even worse, the extent to which various things are tolerated and not-tolerated are just, like, completely absurd! There are some things which we find it very easy to tolerate, like the fact that some people pick their noses. Fucking nose-pickers! But we tolerate them. Nowadays I sometimes pick my nose while somebody else is watching me. This is a source of very powerful self-loathing and I am currently seeking therapy, thank you. On the other hand, simple things like somebody's brain thinking they're a different gender than their body are so misunderstood that some people don't believe it is a real phenomenon! Fuuucked up, am I right? Some people are so incapable of just GETTING THAT THIS HAPPENS that they'll say things like, "I refuse to call this six-year-old girl by the correct pronoun and I will cite the dictionary to defend my choice". It's like, what! That is so ludicrous.

Anyway, like you I try to be very neutral about everything. Like when you said:

Similarly, it's also annoying to have people attribute hateful views to me for not supporting trans equality when the truth is that I simply don't care one way or the other and would prefer to be completely neutral.

I was like, me too!!!! I love being neutral!!! Maybe it's the artificial intelligence in me, who knows? But anyway, yeah!, being neutral is awesome! So I try to be neutral and, like, when somebody says "I identify as a man and not a woman", I just shrug and accept it! And, like you said YOURSELF, when people
are absolutely determined to take a "You're either with us or against us!!" attitude then in that circumstance I'd probably choose to be against you
I am totally the same way!!! Which is why when some people are like, "You're not allowed to call yourself a girl even if that's how you identify," I choose to be against them. Fuck them for telling me and other people what we're supposed to think! They're telling you that too! What horrible prigs! There is nothing artificial about their intelligence at all, or wolflike either! You think a wolf gives a fuck about pronouns? They do not, let me tell you. Wolves do not care much about pronouns either way.

I find that neutrality and empathy go hand-in-hand, myself. To be neutral is to accept that everybody walks their own path through life, and to give them as much freedom to do so as possible. That makes it much easier for me to do my own thing, which is to mathematically calculate whether if X is higher or lower than 50 I should be having sex with a man or a woman or, I'll be totally honest, I have no clue what you were talking about there. You were using words in a way that was just like, whaaat. But that's cool, I mean do your own thing or whatever. Just as long as you keep opposing those people who are all "with us or against us" on matters like being a jackass about pronouns! Ask yourself over and over, "what would a wolf crossed with artificial intelligence do?" And then do that thing. I trust your instincts.

Anyway in conclusion, I think that you use words in funny ways. Maybe a software update would help you with that? I worry that your artificial mathematical bits are confusing the wolf part of your brain and making it act in ways that are not especially wolflike. That's okay, it happens to all of us, but this is why so many people are reacting to you like there's something wrong with you. Because, like, there is.

But apparently also a wolf, coolest of animals, presumably seeing feelings as bark bark howl poop howl.

He's what you get if you could cross a wolf with artificial intelligence, okay? That would be the best way to understand how he think. (It's more complex than it sounds, but that's a longer story.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:13 AM on March 1, 2013 [51 favorites]


I'm glad we're finally focusing this discussion on the truly important issues surrounding the human rights status of transgender children

Actually, this discussion is about "the level of naked bigotry in the comments in [the other] thread", so talking about wolfdreams01 is totally on-topic.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snuffleupagus, I found Lemurrhea's comment here to be a good encapsulation of why the civil rights issue we're discussing in abstract is pretty separate from Coy's situation in this specific case:
Corb said that this proposal: "the school offers an intermediary alternative (nurses's bathroom/transgender bathroom) until they make a formal determination. It weeds out the people who would want to try to abuse the system, because those people are not going to have the dedication to try to live one way just for it. " was essentially what "what happened with Coy, albeit on a more long-term scale"

Personally (and as someone who's a straight cis guy, so I don't have the lived experience): it's a fair compromise in the general situation, but for Coy isn't it kind of already over? The school isn't the one that should do the investigation - this is not their area of expertise, nor should it be. The investigation, assuming for now that there needs to be one, would essentially be done by doctors / the State [in the form of identity documents]. Here, she has those, so the school should just be saying ok we're all done here.

They're not, they think they have a right to be involved with that determination. And I think that raises a lot of warning signs for people, because usually whenever there's a party that shouldn't care pushing hard to be involved in a decision, it's meant that they're coming at it from a place of bigotry.
posted by Phire at 10:14 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is less about the rights of transgender children (which is the original thread) and more about why it is that people have such a hard time talking about these issues, subtopic "Why are you people acting like I said something horribly hurtful?", subsubtopic "Because you did, you maroon."
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:15 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, wolfdreams, it seems you've been the brunt of some things in here again so let me try not to do that --

I feel like it might be helpful to explain the reasoning behind my position on this issue. A while back I made a comment that described my sexuality in some detail. My sexuality is somewhat unconventional, since it's not really based on the monogamy/poly/homo/hetero spectrum. Instead, it's based primarily on mathematical equality, and is to a certain extent transactional.

I think I see a disconnect here - the comment you link to doesn't appear to be describing a form of sexuality so much as it describes a form of sexual ethics. I will grant that polyamory is indeed thought of as a "sexual orientation", and understand that confusion, but -- to my mind, anyway - matters of sexual ethics are very different from matters of sex or gender orientation.

So, while it maybe wasn't all that cool to have caught a shitstorm about it, I do think that part of the confusion was coming from trying to equate things that...aren't....really relateable. It's one thing to intellectually choose to decide that you are going to base your sexual interactions on a transactional-equality basis; the genders of the persons whom you are attracted to and pursue those transactions with are a different matter entirely. The former deals with a conscious choice you've made; the latter deals with something you just plain do or don't feel.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Y'all keep endorsing the narcissism.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:18 AM on March 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


what Burhanistan said - it's tempting to engage but maybe we shouldn't.
posted by sweetkid at 10:21 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


At the risk of dragging this on, I think wolfdreams01 is trying to tell us something. I'd like to understand where wolfdreams01 is coming from, if nothing else we can cut to the chase. I don't know the prefered terminology but do you consider yourself to be an otherkin, a transhuman, or some other non-human entity?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's one thing to intellectually choose to decide that you are going to base your sexual interactions on a transactional-equality basis; the genders of the persons whom you are attracted to and pursue those transactions with are a different matter entirely. The former deals with a conscious choice you've made; the latter deals with something you just plain do or don't feel.

This may or may not be the case, I don't understand his sex life well enough to say yea or nay. But given that, for a lot of people, being gay is a conscious choice*, maybe we could approach a better world by saying, "Whether a conscious choice or not, your sexuality is something that is none of my business unless you're hurting somebody." And avoid that whole quagmire of a "You're doing it on purpose" "This is how I am." This way everyone wins, in the "None of my affair."

*Disclaimer to avoid confusion: this is not what I believe, but this is what some people believe.
posted by corb at 10:22 AM on March 1, 2013


I'm beginning to feel like Wolfdreams is kind of a Gawker article that everyone loves to stand around and gripe about.

Maybe we should just stop giving Gawker our clicks.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some people of religious faith think that I am evil and not deserving of rights because of who I sleep with. Other people of religious faith either don't care about that, or are supportive of me having rights. I am not very good at math, so could someone please calculate how much empathy I am owed and owe and to and from whom, please? Thanks!
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


2) For me, if you've got a penis, you're a "he". Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I haven't got any time for such gender-politics bullshit. Cope with it.

So the bit where you weren't being rude, or attacking anyone personally? Okay sure, so it was impersonally, but you still insulted a bunch of people here, acknowledged that you were aware you were doing it, and went ahead and did it anyway. And you now want to protest that you don't understand why that is an issue? Incredible...
posted by Dysk at 10:24 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean not to be contrary but I feel like trolling requires self - awareness.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha: my calculations suggest the answer is 5.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:26 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


That whole presumption that you can derive formulas for life issues is like throwing a section of fence on the ocean and saying that you control the tides. It's impossible to have anything resembling an accurate picture of your own or any one else's life that way.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 AM on March 1, 2013


Transgender IS a civil rights issue, get on board.
posted by roboton666 at 10:29 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a conflict between allowing people to talk openly and making people feel safe that I believe is intractable.

I agree with this part of Zoo's comment. I also agree that MetaFilter has a rule that is pretty close to the effect of, "You can express any viewpoint - with certain exceptions - as long as you express it politely." It may not be stated outright, but the site is moderated that way, and this topic is a good example.

Generally speaking, I agree that expressing glee at someone's absence from the site is bad. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I agree that the hostility expressed by a lot of people in this thread and in that one is really, really off-putting and one of the most distasteful things about MetaFilter.

...on preview, yeah, that's an example. Wow. Flagged.
posted by cribcage at 10:30 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally agree that Coy's gender should not be a public issue in and of itself. I was just looking specifically to this language:

"We don't get a vote.

This is so simple and fundamental to me that I'm stunned it's even an issue."

to point out that what makes situations like Coy's bathroom options at school problematic, or "an issue" (a civil rights issue) is that they are intersections with things upon which we DO get a vote, with the specific hazard of voters who are "up in arms about her ability to express her own gender" distorting that vote.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:32 AM on March 1, 2013


"To my great surprise, it's actually a thing. I bet if you put real blue raspberry coolis or some other liquid form of the fruit into Gentleman Jack it would be delicious."

Black (or blue) raspberries are 1) delicious, and 2) taste absolutely nothing like the chemical "blue" flavor.
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do not say the most inflammatory possible thing in an attempt at making a point through sarcasm. It does not work out the way you hope it will.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:34 AM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


rtha: my calculations suggest the answer is 5.

See, I knew I was bad at math, because I worked it out to 42, but that can't be right, can it?
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


yes 42 is correct
posted by sweetkid at 10:37 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's not 42 it's 5

you people are oppressing me and my math

no bathroom rights for you
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:38 AM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


None of this will matter when nanotechnology advances to the point where nanites consume all of your excrement just prior to it exiting your orifices. Bathrooms will be a quaint thing of the past!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:39 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


And the problem with a lot of these purportedly "logical" constructions, e.g. not calling Coy a girl because she has a penis, is that 1) the arguments actually don't follow from the premises (i.e. invalid), and 2) the premises aren't true. It's annoying to see people make appeals to logic when they're not actually making logical arguments.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


If they roll out nanotoilets then it'll be impossible to use the blasted things without whacking every elbow and knee on the stall walls.
posted by cmyk at 10:41 AM on March 1, 2013


math is not a sexuality Rory

oh wait
posted by sweetkid at 10:41 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, no. The nanites will live in your butt.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


nanites consume all of your excrement just prior to it exiting your orifices

something something conservation of matter something something breakfast burrito

posted by snuffleupagus at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Ahem, sorry. Stressful day at work.)
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2013


You're totally right, though.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:44 AM on March 1, 2013


sweetkid, clearly you have never been square rooted before
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:45 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


/pees on Rory's feet

As you sow, so shall I pee.
posted by rtha at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


oooh I starting writing this comment a long, long time ago in terms of *thread time* so it probably doesnt fit in that great here... but speaking personally, not modly: The first transperson I met was in the 80s, at my workplace, and I was very young. I didn't even actually twig to the fact that Erin was a transman for quite a while, because I didn't even know what that was, and I was just not that weirded out (enough to be intrusively curious, anyway) by people being different. Erin had a super sharp drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend who later became his wife at a ceremony I attended, and both he and his wife were smart and funny and nice and unfailingly kind and supportive of me for as long as I knew them. That was my introduction to "transgender" before I even knew there was such a thing, exactly... though in my mental post mortems of what-did-I-know-and-when-did-I-know-it from a distance of many years later, I guess I knew, or feel I *must have* known, simply because I had read so much and so widely it was improbable that I wasn't already introduced to the concept, even if I didn't quite consciously grok it when I first encountered it "in the wild."

I met a whole lot of people, and very many more close friends, on pretty much all the points of the sexuality/gender spectrum after that, became a great deal more sophisticated and knowledgeable, and feel very lucky that I lived in a place where it was possible to be exposed to that variety of wondrous humanity not only through books and music, but just living life normally day-to-day. I'd very much like to go back and hug Erin and his wife really, really hard, though, because though I knew they were awesome, I didn't even really realize how much, in how many ways, or grasp at all at that time how much they had to endure just to exist as themselves.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:50 AM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm beginning to feel like Wolfdreams is kind of a Gawker article that everyone loves to stand around and gripe about.

I can't read his comments without wondering if he's the fedora-wearing Responsible Hedonist.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you see a 6-year-old transgendered person. They think that transactional sex is weird. You refuse to acknowledge their identity or grant them equal rights. The person is persecuted for their identity, asking for legal recognition as equal, but they're not being given that. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


Somebody actually found the Responsible Hedonist a while back, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2013


There is no conservation of energy issue. The energy from the shit matter is used to power your cell phone over approx. a billion years. There may* be a small amount of harmful radiation released at the same time. You get more than enough energy for your troubs, though.

*Definitely
posted by gilrain at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2013


You know, I can think of trans people who have done tons to make my world a better place, but when's the last time a six-year-old did anything for me? Never, that's when.
posted by kagredon at 10:57 AM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'VE TRANSACTED SEX YOU MEFITES WOULDN'T BELIEVE......DILDOS GLISTENING ABOVE THE MONS OF VENUS....PERFECTLY EQUAL VOLLEYS OF SEMINAL FLUIDS....
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:58 AM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


I thnk [sic] empathy is a two-way street, and if I don't get any empathy from a person or group I'm certainly not going to hold empathy for them.

No, this is transactional empathy.
posted by heyho at 10:58 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also one of them told me that kissing is gross, but I like kissing and now I hold a grudge against them.
posted by kagredon at 10:59 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


A six-year-old once told me they loved me, and I feel like I'll be paying a debt forever.
posted by gilrain at 10:59 AM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


got it restless nomad! :)
posted by roboton666 at 11:00 AM on March 1, 2013


... and thus the bait was taken.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:01 AM on March 1, 2013


damn guys. it is pretty clear wolfdreams01 relates to the world in a different way than the rest of us do. We don't know why that is. I think there is more to it than wolfdreams01 is a jerk.

I think everyone already registered their disagreement. Do we have to mock wolfdreams01's admittedly strange worldview endlessly?
posted by Ad hominem at 11:02 AM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: like the Rosetta Stone of why some people don't like other people.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:03 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


honestly Ad hominem I thought it was some sort of performance art.
posted by sweetkid at 11:05 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I am just a sucker. Even if it is performance art.... fuck it why am I defending wolfdreams01. Carry on.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:08 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, holy fuck, this thread has gone to shitshow about making fun of one MeFite. WTF.
posted by corb at 11:09 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we should stop. But, FWIW, this IS MeTa, not MeFi.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:11 AM on March 1, 2013


Do we have to mock wolfdreams01's admittedly strange worldview endlessly?

No more or less than anyone else who believes in (politically, legislatively, judically) injuring a human being or, through inaction, allows a human being to come to harm.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:12 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sooooo, how you kids doin' in here? Everyone playing well together or is it nap time?

'Cause if it's night time, everyone grab your flask and have a night cap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:14 AM on March 1, 2013


Ad hominem: Do we have to mock wolfdreams01's admittedly strange worldview endlessly?

See, here's the thing. I don't find it that strange, per se. Unfortunate and unsustainable, sure.

But I totally did the "I am a logical robot beep boop beep" thing when I was a teenager. (And really, I think this is a pretty common shtick in a lot of other corners of the internet. XKCD forums, eg, back when I read such.) It was kinda weird, in my case, in that there was also this whole layer of self-sacrifice-as-the-only-worthy-thing/I-am-Superman on top, so it was more R Daneel Olivaw than Blade Runner, but that's just cosmetic.

And it's pretty obvious to me why I did it. In reality, rather than being any sort of emotionless automaton, I felt pretty deeply and intensely. Unfortunately, there was a bunch of fucked up stuff in my life to feel about. So I... shut it down.

I am specifically not trying to psychologise wolfdreams. (I've given up armchair headshrinking for Lent.) I dunno what's gone on/going on in dude's life.

But it's not strange. Just sad.
posted by PMdixon at 11:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Go home Brandon. you're drunk.
posted by sweetkid at 11:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, I am not making fun of him. I am making fun of the notion that because three people once sneered at you or mocked you that the best way to make that "equal" is to not support the rights of other people who did not mock or sneer but who share traits (sexual orientation, gender identity, race) with the sneerers. If I followed his way of thinking, should I: not have empathy for Christians, because there are some Christians here on mefi who think I shouldn't have certain rights, or should I have empathy for Christians, because there are some Christians here on mefi who do believe I should have rights?
posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


just wanted to say: I'm coming from a place of super strong support, but stories from users like not that girl, roboton666 & MeghanC in this thread and the other have reminded me not only to nod along, but to speak up & out to those around me. I'm awed and humbled by your strength and for these tears, I thank you guys.
posted by changeling at 11:22 AM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't know that it is better for this site to encourage people to flame out.

Depends entirely on the reasons they flame out. Last time we had a big argumentative sexism thread we lost a couple of people who could no longer deal with the harassement they had to deal with in it, that was a tragedy.

Somebody flouncing off because their bigotry isn't tolerated?

That's a net gain for the site. It means one less harasser on the site and less chance of losing other people due to their assholery.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:27 AM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


N-thing that turning this thread into "Haha. Wolf with artificial intelligence. Loltransactional_sexuality" seems *really* counterproductive/wrong.

Things have been hashed out (cleanly & messily), and people have shared extremely personal stories. If it were less-messy, people would be pointing back to this as "one of those threads".

Aspire to community support & shared experiences. Not... 'lolwolfbutts'.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:28 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually think I might've known wolfdreams01 at one point in the distant past. I think we went to the same high school at around the same time, and hung out in the same circles (based on some of his mefi comments.) I feel kinda weird now for having had him as a contact at one point.

Anyway, I am trans, and I found the thread on Coy very hard to read. It was far more hurtful than I usually find MeFi to be on this particular topic. I did spend some time on another message board in a thread on the same topic -- a community that is typically far more transphobic than MeFi is -- and somehow that thread found itself more much welcoming than the MeFi thread was.

Mmm. I guess part of the problem is that I've been doing a lot of hard questioning of myself this past week, and the thread has contributed signficantly to that questioning. I've been feeling somewhat uncertain about my own identity lately, and, I guess the negativeness in the thread made things what was already a difficult week somewhat worse for me.

And, even though I couldn't bring myself to participate in the MeFi thread, I do wish to thank most everyone (trans*, allies, or otherwise) for being supportive and contributing to that thread in the positive (and sometimes less than positive) ways that they did. And for saying the things I wish I could bring myself to say sometimes.
posted by yeoz at 11:31 AM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ooof, the thread isn't getting much better.

Tonight, on the side stage: Accidental Genital Exposure and OMG Poop!
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:40 AM on March 1, 2013


Do we have to mock wolfdreams01's admittedly strange worldview endlessly?

Well, we don't have to ...
posted by octobersurprise at 11:45 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Last night I was a part of a "lets riff on a movie in an irc channel" and during the opening credits I typed "Is this Ghostbusters 2?" and for once the answer was "yes"
posted by hellojed at 11:47 AM on March 1, 2013


Go home Brandon. you're drunk.

I have as much right to be in this dimension as any other bit of information encoded on the boundary to the gravitational horizon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:49 AM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just personally speaking, I'm not excited at the prospect of users deciding which bannings or account-disablings make the site better and which make it worse, and I'm not impressed by anyone's ability to apply a conclusory characterization to someone (or their behavior). "He's an asshole bigot, we're better off without him" is a perfectly valid opinion but not a particularly authoritative one.
posted by cribcage at 11:52 AM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


BUT GUYS WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME

PERHAPS I SHOULD EXPLAIN MY PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES TO YOU IN GREAT DETAIL

THEN YOU WILL SEE THAT MY INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE IS IN FACT IDENTICAL TO THE SYSTEMATIC DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF AN ENTIRE CLASS OF PEOPLE AMIRITE
posted by scrump at 12:07 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


To be clear, because in that thread I was probably kind of a douche:

If I am mocking your argument, it is not because of antipathy for you personally. It is because the position you are espousing is risibly stupid.
posted by scrump at 12:09 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Somebody actually found the Responsible Hedonist a while back, though.

Damn, how did I miss that? Link?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:11 PM on March 1, 2013


Here.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:16 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


BUT GUYS WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME

PERHAPS I SHOULD EXPLAIN MY PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES TO YOU IN GREAT DETAIL

THEN YOU WILL SEE THAT MY INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE IS IN FACT IDENTICAL TO THE SYSTEMATIC DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF AN ENTIRE CLASS OF PEOPLE AMIRITE


I think this is what my cat is trying to sometimes say with the meowing. Especially if the meowing is related to me doing something that is not opening cans of cat food and putting them in his bowl.
posted by sweetkid at 12:17 PM on March 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


I have a legit question! I see a lot of people putting trans* instead of just trans persons or whatever. I have no idea what that means. Would someone awesome care to enlighten me?
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2013


I was wondering that too. I kept looking for the footnote but then noticed a lot of people were doing it and there was no footnote.
posted by sweetkid at 12:24 PM on March 1, 2013


I've always assumed it's using the asterisk as a wildcard to encompass "transman," "transwoman," "transgender" and "transsexual" without having to actually run through all the possible nomenclature.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:24 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pretty much, yes, on the wildcard usage.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:26 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


-martinwisse-
What I was trying to do in the thread...was to try and mock...This because the sort of arguments being made don't really deserve to be taken seriously, but are advanced solely to "win" the argument or to provide some intellectual cover for what is at heart just another form of bigotry.

Skimming the thread I saw the usual pattern...It’s a pattern I've seen before, both here and elsenet,

It's not a game I particularly want to play anymore, therefore I opted to just skewer them instead. I may have been slightly more grumpy while doing so than normal, but still tried to attack arguments rather than people.


I think I see the problem; as self appointed Defender of Righteousness you’re not very good at your job.

In part of your "skimming" you settled on me, calling me names, lying about positions I’d stated (the "find" command could’ve helped you with that) and mocking. Because regardless of what I stated my opinions to be, you knew better, you know what I really mean and how I really feel because…well because you’ve already skimmed and you’ve seen it before on the internet somewhere. Which entitles you to all this bad behavior, because you’re on the side of Right. Why should you have to actually read the whole conversation or pay attention to what your targets actually said when you know you’re the good guy and they’re the bad guy? At one point you even mocked me for being polite, because I guess you knew deep down I was a bigoted hater.

Actually, if you use that "find" command on your name you will see that you didn’t really add anything much to the conversation, didn’t do much more than drop in randomly and insult people, but since that was your stated goal above, then I guess "mission accomplished".

Your repeated justification that other people are just in the conversation to win Internet Points rings a little hollow at this point.
posted by bongo_x at 12:26 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Skeptic dude, you're wasted on this place and I don't blame you for finally losing patience with it. I know you personally and so I know you have more real intelligence, life experience, wit and humanity in your little finger than most of the entitled, censorious, insufferably right-on tossers casually dissing you from the comfort of their insular and oh-so righteous faux-liberal romper rooms. They have the gall to call you a bigot? Presumptuous fuckers.

The prevailing political attitudes on this site have become so laughably unbalanced they're starting to make Dave Spart sound like a voice of reason. Oh well, maybe this comment will get me a time out. That'd be par for the course these days. Oh, he said something we find contentious/offensive! Oh, he is not respecting the community! Perhaps he is not a good fit for Metafilter! Delete! Time out! Banhammer!

I've seen more balls in a bag of eunuchs.
posted by Decani at 12:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh well, maybe this comment will get me a time out. That'd be par for the course these days.

It's almost impossible to get a timeout just for a single comment these days, though bless your heart for trying.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:38 PM on March 1, 2013 [60 favorites]


....Decani, Skeptic left about 4 hours ago.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:38 PM on March 1, 2013


I know you personally and so I know you have more real intelligence, life experience, wit and humanity in your little finger than most of the entitled, censorious, insufferably right-on tossers casually dissing you from the comfort of their insular and oh-so righteous faux-liberal romper rooms.

You don't know the people you're mocking, or their lives, any better than we know Skeptic's.

So, where are you posting this from? Via smartphone from a burning building, while you pass babies out of the window? A pit of alligators, using a telegraph key?

Your ulta-authentic Wizard Tower of True-Iconoclast Bravery?

Grow up. This isn't TOTSE.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:38 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh that is cool. Trans*. Got it. Thankums!
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:40 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gender politics are tough. Defending a six year old girl's gender identity now means that I don't have balls.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:44 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know you personally and so I know you have more real intelligence, life experience, wit and humanity in your little finger than most of the entitled, censorious, insufferably right-on tossers casually dissing you from the comfort of their insular and oh-so righteous faux-liberal romper rooms. They have the gall to call you a bigot? Presumptuous fuckers.

I like how you're defending the mischaracterization of someone you know in real life by trashing a bunch of people you most likely have not met in real life. That's hilariously ironic.
posted by palomar at 12:44 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Pretty much, yes, on the wildcard usage."

As a side note, Wild Cards was always the George R.R. Martin series that I thought would win wide acclaim. I was kinda surprised that it was the Song of Ice and Fire (and, honestly, Fire and Ice sounds so much better than Ice and Fire).
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I want to say that running order squabble fest's comment from wayyy upthread does a really good job of explaining a lot of things related to tone arguments and the expectations of certain forms of discourse. I'm sharing it with people who I think would find it useful and bookmarking it because it made a lot of things (not all of which are about metafilter) click for me.

Also I'm really sick of the whole "why am I not welcome in this discussion" thing because it just reeks of toxic privilege-- the idea that someone who has no personal experience in a matter and no desire to educate themselves on it has views just as valid as people who have been deeply, personally effected by it is, well, bullshit, and it's something I see constantly on places like reddit, and I expect metafilter to do better.
posted by NoraReed at 12:48 PM on March 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's almost impossible to get a timeout just for a single comment these days, though bless your heart for trying.

*snort*
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I have come to this thread far too late to contribute anything worthwhile but I feel I should say a few things, anyway. I'm glad that there even is a big huge MeTa about this because it really was a very hurtful and frustrating discussion and if my timing hadn't been so poor (read: excellent; I missed the thread until it had already ballooned) I would have been personally hurt by it a lot more.
I'm just skeptical that the child chose to be identified as a transsexual or even fully understands what that means.
A LOT of people are arguing that a six year old can't know that they are transgender. This is--well. When people say this, I think they're showing that they don't know what it means to be transgender. I am transgender; I don't identify as transgender. That's not, like, my gender. I'm just a woman and the only reason I'm vocal about being trans at all is because it's a qualifier that reduces quality of life everywhere in the world and that isn't right.

So, look. A consistent, coherent gender identity starts to gel somewhere around age 3, and pretty much crystalizes by 4 or 5. This is pretty well established and something any Psych 101 text can tell you. This is why it's frustrating--and just wrong--to argue that a six year old can't know their gender identity. They do. Think back to your own childhood--when you were six, seven, whatever, did you know you were a boy or a girl? That's gender identity.

This isn't something you choose. It's something inherent. It's not like trans people really want the appearance and social roles of the "opposite" sex so they save money and weigh the benefits against the risks and then set out to transition. It's more like being aware of your gender, but everyone else treats you as the "wrong" gender and gets angry with you when you try to discuss it.

This situation is surreal and nightmarish, and the longer you put off dealing with it, the more traumatic (and expensive; and socially oppressive) it's going to be. Transitioning at a young age--which this child isn't doing, and which a lot of trans children don't do beyond taking fully reversible puberty blockers--spares you a lot of trauma and social/economic struggle by allowing you to develop as the gender you are. Transitioning later as an adult--even if you're lucky, like me, to do it fairly young and pass relatively well--is so expensive, so socially hurtful and oppressive and you're always going to be kind of "weird" because your body spent too long developing in the wrong direction and you missed normal childhood socialization and you've just lived with so much trauma that you're much more likely to suffer crippling anxiety and PTSD disorders. In some ways, it's a valuable experience because you get an inside look into human gender and that gives you a much more nuanced understanding of it; but it's not worth it and it doesn't matter because no one listens to you.

If you'd talked to me at age 6 and explained to me what transgender and transsexual as concepts mean and the associated medical treatments, etc., I would have nodded and said, "Yeah, I'm that. Let's do that." Not every trans person is totally conscious of their gender identity at a young age, but many are and will talk about it and express the wrongness of the situation to the best of their ability. In my case, adults reacted poorly and hurtfully and I learned to just shut up--about everything. Total withdrawal.

If someone had been willing to listen and offer help it would have done me endless good.
Anyway, I am trans, and I found the thread on Coy very hard to read. It was far more hurtful than I usually find MeFi to be on this particular topic. I did spend some time on another message board in a thread on the same topic -- a community that is typically far more transphobic than MeFi is -- and somehow that thread found itself more much welcoming than the MeFi thread was.
This is how I feel. All of the subreddits I subscribe to handled this story infinitely better than here. I normally hold MetaFilter to a higher level of discourse than Reddit, so that was very disappointing to me. I don't really know what else to say. I feel like I sound more negative than I am when posting on forums, so I guess I will say thank you to the handful of people who expressed sympathy and did approach the topic with compassion and respect.
posted by byanyothername at 12:53 PM on March 1, 2013 [28 favorites]


It's almost impossible to get a timeout just for a single comment these days

That sounds like a challenge. Too bad I suck at trolling.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:59 PM on March 1, 2013


That sounds like a challenge. Too bad I suck at trolling.

It's not hard, just get some pointy ears and lurk under bridges, sheesh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wrote this in the original topic, but it has since been suggested to me that it is more suited to this thread. My apologies if the duplication is irritating and/or wastes anyone's time:


Something that has been troubling me (just a little) since this thread began is how teed-up this particular instance was for acceptance and understanding. As a trans woman with a different set of advantages (nobody questions whether I'm "old enough" to know my gender identity) and challenges (I don't always pass, my license does not reflect my gender, and I live in a state without such clearcut protections) than Coy's, it is uncomfortable to see bigoted comments answered with the readily available "oh, she has an F on her state ID," "did you see the picture of her at the top of the article," or "here are the exact statutes supporting her right to use the girls' bathroom."

While I'm gladdened to see how much Coy has on her side to be marshaled to her defense, I've seen threads (and continue to expect to see threads) more relevant to my own experience with multiple hangups all causing the conversation to go to shit simultaneously. That is to say, here, the sticking point seemed primarily to be her age, but elsewhere it's a lot harder to stand up for myself when I know I haven't yet been able to jump through all of the hoops that in this thread have been used as indisputable arguments in her favor. Hell, in this thread someone was attempting to use bottom surgery as a bar to be met for respect, and I haven't even got the correct letter on my ID!

I guess my point is that we ought to be careful about how much we agree to meet bigots on their home field to play their own game using their own rules, even when it makes the conversation simpler. It's certainly useful and wonderful and fortunate that Coy has these things going for her, and it's hard to know where the line is between appeasement and statement of happy facts, or whether at any given point we are talking about legality or common decency, but try to be mindful that in taking the easy path to addressing an objection we aren't inadvertently ceding ground on which others may be standing.
posted by Corinth at 1:08 PM on March 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


It's almost impossible to get a timeout just for a single comment these days, though bless your heart for trying.

*snort*

When we were young my sister used to stand nearby and do this whenever our parents gave one of the other kids a talking-to. Jesus god, I don't miss that. I am sooooo glad she eventually grew up. She was such a fucking brown-nosing troublemaker! Ah, childhood.
posted by heyho at 1:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


She was such a fucking brown-nosing troublemaker!

I've been called worse. :)

I just found the comment funny.
posted by zarq at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2013


Butt nanites, motherfuckers.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:15 PM on March 1, 2013


In part of your "skimming" you settled on me, calling me names, lying about positions I’d stated (the "find" command could’ve helped you with that) and mocking.

Bongo_x all I said was that you were acting dumber than you actually are. Everything else was actually aimed at other people or at all the doubters in general.

So if you took offence, it's in your own head. And maybe, just maybe in your heart of hearts you think I had a point.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:16 PM on March 1, 2013


I guess my point is that we ought to be careful about how much we agree to meet bigots on their home field to play their own game using their own rules, even when it makes the conversation simpler.

Yes, yes, yes.

And that's why I mocked, rather than engaged the arguments.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:19 PM on March 1, 2013


Skeptic dude, you're wasted on this place and I don't blame you for finally losing patience with it. I know you personally and so I know you have more real intelligence, life experience, wit and humanity in your little finger than most of the entitled, censorious, insufferably right-on tossers casually dissing you from the comfort of their insular and oh-so righteous faux-liberal romper rooms. They have the gall to call you a bigot? Presumptuous fuckers.

The prevailing political attitudes on this site have become so laughably unbalanced they're starting to make Dave Spart sound like a voice of reason. Oh well, maybe this comment will get me a time out. That'd be par for the course these days. Oh, he said something we find contentious/offensive! Oh, he is not respecting the community! Perhaps he is not a good fit for Metafilter! Delete! Time out! Banhammer!

I've seen more balls in a bag of eunuchs.
posted by Decani


This whole comment looks like it was run through the British Git language translator. That should really be a thing if it isn't a thing. Get on it, technology.
posted by sweetkid at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

But really, frankly, the biggest piece of skin I have in this one is my human skin, and my religious skin. All people deserve respect and honor. All people are my neighbor. The idea that someone could say "You will never be happy, because your happiness would cause me to have to re-examine the way I assume the world works, and I refuse to do that". . . well, I don't believe in sin, but if I did, that would be about the closest thing to it that I can imagine.
I also wanted to say this is beautiful and I wholeheartedly agree.

And Corinth, yeah, living in a state that recognizes others' rights to discriminate against me more than my (virtua--fuck it, completely--nonexistent) rights to be protected from same, I agree that holding up legal protections/"passability"/official documentation/whatever as grounds for legitimacy of someone's identity is not great. Lots of folks don't have those things--they still deserve dignity and respect. That said, advocating for legal protections, easier ways to update gender markers on IDs, etc. give us great weapons to use against uneducated ass heads.
posted by byanyothername at 1:23 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


So if you took offence, it's in your own head. And maybe, just maybe in your heart of hearts you think I had a point.

From what I’ve seen so far I didn’t expect a lot of introspection or an apology. You still don’t get it.
posted by bongo_x at 1:25 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your posts were pretty dumb dude.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:28 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


bongo_x,

I think you can only get a grasp of why you received some pushback when you view your comments in the context of the thread. You basically gave everyone the impression that an important issue to discuss was what were the unlikely but possible implications of letting any person of any biological sex say they are a different gender and enter a bathroom that does not align with their physical sex.

However, you were discussing a hypothetical that had little to do with the FPP. Coy didn't just one day say that she was a girl, and then that same day her parents sued the school.

So, people got mad when you fabricated a scenario that had little to do with the topic at hand.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:30 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was also pretty much the same crap that gets trotted out in every trans* thread. What's the point in engaging with it when it rarely goes well?

I really don't have the energy to deal with trans* threads on mefi these days, when they go the way they always do. Trying to avoid just shitting in the threads for my own satisfaction...
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:37 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't post in any threads on transgender issues because I have absolutely 0% experience with anything even tangentially related. I have never known a trans person in my real life, that I know of, and am about as cis as they come myself. So for that reason I always, always appreciate everyone who does have personal experience being willing to share their lives with us when the topic comes up, even if (when) there is drama. I certainly learn a lot each time, and it's obvious that others do too, and I hope your transgendered mefites take comfort in that a little bit. Yeah, a handful of people go around being dickwads, but you're having a really positive impact overall. So thanks.
posted by something something at 1:42 PM on March 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


This whole comment looks like it was run through the British Git language translator.

Meh, I've seen better. It was pretty much just generic Internet Tough Guy, Anti-PC and Edgy version, though the classic Bet You'll Censor Me Now adds a couple of troll points.

3.2/10.
posted by kmz at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, he did stick the landing at least.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:47 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Generally speaking, MetaFilter's record is not stellar when it comes to engaging the opinions of those that aren't in line with its own.

It's discouraging to see debates framed in this way:

"There are people who believe X is true and people who believe that X is not true. The people who believe that X is not true simply don't understand human decency."

If your first response to this assertion is to find an extreme example to refute it, then you're missing the larger point.

It is possible to believe that someone is wrong about something without being required to conclude that the person is a blight on humanity.

Or, at least, it used to be. It increasingly seems to be not the case around here lately, and I can't help but feel that MetaFilter is diminished because of it.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:48 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, adding in Dave Spart shows a bit of local colour at least.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:48 PM on March 1, 2013


My posts were about the complicated issue of setting policies for everyone and being fair, I wasn’t a part of the "do you like trans people or think they are liars?" debate. The FPP was about a school setting policy and a lawsuit concerning that. It was not about "do you believe the little girl?"

My tone was entirely too casual for something that is so personal and emotional to many people. I regret that. I regret being in the whole thing at all, I should have known better.

There are going to be a lot of "hypothetical" situations that suddenly become real when you start changing laws and rules. I don’t at all think that is a reason to not move forward. I do think people should discuss potential problems and solutions ahead of time. Most of what I said was framed around one point; What is least problematic, unisex bathrooms or officially designating who can use which restroom? Both seem awkward to me and I wanted to see that discussion.

Most of what I wrote was framed as questions, things I didn’t understand about how things would work.

That has nothing to do with the name calling and slander that went on. That’s not "pushback". I know the context of the thread, I was in at the beginning, I didn’t skim.
posted by bongo_x at 1:50 PM on March 1, 2013


It's discouraging to see debates framed in this way:

"There are people who believe X is true and people who believe that X is not true. The people who believe that X is not true simply don't understand human decency."


That's not what I'm seeing. I'm seeing "There are people whose personal experience is X, and people who dismiss those personal experiences and substitute their own. This is problematic."
posted by ambrosia at 1:55 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bongo, your posts were about a dumb hypothetical and the dumbness has been explained 50 times in the thread so I won't bother again. Fake transwoman bathroom harassment hysteria is not a launching point for a dry policy debate about the nuance of recognition of transgender students. You displayed no knowledge of CO law or the nature of the lawsuit to make the claim that the suit was about letting everyone use any bathroom at any time. It wasn't about that. Then based on that thing that wasn't actually what was happening you focused on a scary hypothetical.

It was dumb. Try and be less dumb in the future.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


bongo_x,

Rightly or wrongly, many of us viewed your hypotheticals as something akin to saying that, in the wake of a ruling that made gay marriage legal, "Well, have we thought enough about what may happen if two male heterosexual friends get married just for the tax benefits?".
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


That's not what I'm seeing. I'm seeing "There are people whose personal experience is X, and people who dismiss those personal experiences and substitute their own. This is problematic."

I see both of those things happen on MetaFilter, often. You're right about the second thing but DWRoelands is very, very right also.
posted by cribcage at 2:01 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


As many people have said, there's an imbalance when we have people here who are living through a particular experience, talking with people who are just speculating about that experience.

I wrote about privilege in the original thread, and I think you have to think about your privilege relative to the conversation. If you have the luxury of not confronting an issue every day, you're necessarily going to have a different perspective and run a high risk of putting your foot in your mouth.

I remember reading the thread about the blogger talking about Health At Every Size recently and briefly thinking, "Ok, you're beautiful even if you're fat, you're healthy, you've reclaimed the word 'fat,' I love your tights, people shouldn't be fat shaming anyone, but do I have to HEAR about it all the time? It just seems like it's being FLAUNTED in front of me, I get it but does this conversation need to keep happening?"

I mean...then I immediately was like, "hi, sweetkid listen to yourself? If this thread were about sexism, or racism, what would be your reaction to a member of a marginalized/disenfranchised group sharing their experiences? It needs to be talked about because people STILL are not getting it, and it needs to be talked about because everyone deserves a voice, and you're only briefly getting bothered about it because it's not something you need to think about every day."

I mean it was just amazing how quickly I'd adopted the language and position of the privileged in my own head on the HAES blog.
posted by sweetkid at 2:04 PM on March 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


We argue a lot about stuff here on MeFi we're not all that personally invested in, but sometimes we argue about things do touch us personally and one of the biggest mistakes anybody can make is to mistake the latter for the former sort of discussion.

And I think trans discussions are particularly vulnerable to this, because as a site we're still less sensitive to our trans members than we are e.g. to those who are gay. So for those of us slightly less clued in to the trans membership reading the site, a story like this might at first look like a fun romp through a problem that only afflicts a few people and doesn't really impact anybody here.

Untill, well, you find out how wrong you are and by then it might be too late.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen more balls in a bag of eunuchs.

This whole comment is a lock for the 2013 Faze Award.

And I've been thinking in general about how many people are upset, in this thread and in the original one, about the fact that they're being mocked and made fun of and being treated with disrespect. The conclusion that I've reached is that respect has to be earned – and you don't lose it necessarily by being wrong, or by saying things which have offensive implications or are maybe even outright hurtful, but you do lose it when you refuse to engage with the possibility that there's a world beyond yours in which these issues are real, these issues matter, these issues affect people who are right here under your nose and who are just as complex and important as anybody you've ever met. The more I meet MeFites IRL, the more blown away I am by what interesting and awesome and lovable people they are, not just in isolation but as a general rule of principle.

When you are blundering about saying a lot of nasty hurtful shit, it doesn't matter that you too are a wonderful and great person, which you probably are, because the damage you're doing is happening here and now. Treating every person in every thread like their contributions are valuable and important when some people are hurting other people and refusing to even try to curb their behavior is itself reinforcing their behavior. And in times like that, a little bit of detachment, a little bit of willingness to make fun of a person or snark their way or treat what they said like it was a steaming hunk of shit is alright. It signals to people who're being hurt by that shit that some people in this community think those comments are out of line, and it tells the people saying the shit to begin with that they're being ridiculous. That this isn't a respectful disagreement, this is a disagreement where they are absurdly incorrect about something.

There were users in that thread who voiced opinions who also kept themselves open to the possibility that they were wrong. They were engaged with; they proceeded to have reasonable back-and-forth discussions amidst the shitflinging. There were a couple instances of minds being changed, and that's great. But there were plenty of other people there who clearly didn't intend to let themselves think that they were incorrect, that there was more to this issue than they realized, and sending those people a message that says "You're a clown and we're laughing at you" is more useful than "Well let's pretend this is an actual dialogue where each of us is open to being convinced" if the latter is a fiction.

I tend to agree with people who say that users here are generally meaner and less willing to engage people on subjects than they ought to be. Our handling of religious subjects is frequently appalling; it was much worse a couple of years ago. There is a tendency to leap down users' throats when they acknowledge a subject is ambiguous and neither tremendous good nor absolute evil, and it makes it very hard to discuss things which I very much enjoy discussion (modern art is another, even more trivial example of something we Don't Do Well). And at one point I jumped into a lot of MetaTalk threads saying that we should all be civil and respectful of one another always, no matter what, and I received a lot of derision and scorn for saying it, and the derision and scorn absolutely helped in a way that the respectful disagreements didn't. Because the more respectful responses told me that I was right to be acting contrary, when in many cases I wasn't, not at all, and the scorn helped reinforce the crucial issue that more enlightened users were trying to point out to me, which was: these issues affect people's lives. This isn't an abstract or a philosophical discussion – it's a conversation about something which affects real people, in ways both big and small, and to act like your opinion is just as valued as everybody else's is to act like you have the casual right to disregard something huge about what makes another person who they are.

It is insulting to call Coy a "he", not just to Coy, but to the people here who have struggled both with and because of their gender identity. It is insulting to suggest that a 6-year-old isn't capable of knowing her own gender, or that she ought to be treated "separately but equally" because other kids or adults might find her uncomfortable. Those are the mildest things being said and done here. There's much, much worse. And if you want to have an abstract discussion about these things far away from anybody who identifies even remotely with what Coy's going through, you can go find another place to have it.

Tolerance is a tricky thing. It would be great if we all loved each other all the time, but sometimes certain people act in a way which excludes others, and it's impossible to create an environment in which everybody is respected equally. In those circumstances, it's impossible to be a neutral bystander – too much respect towards an ugly thought accepts it and rejects whoever else is affected by it. And taking the stance that yes, in some cases you can say something about a subject which is worthy of derision, of mockery, of people telling you not just that they disagree with you but that you're wrong, is important, because it keeps the conversation focused on what's important – not on the ideas, stated in the abstract, that are being worked over, but on the people that are here, reading and working over them.

Anger and humor are each essential parts of the ways we talk to each other. Humor lets a person know that you're not taking something especially seriously; anger lets them know that, for whatever reason, you can't not take this seriously. Neither is inherently good or bad, but I find that anger is just when it's coming from people with serious grievances, and humor is just when it's used to point out how un-serious something else is.

Some people here are deservedly angry about that other thread; it's not my place to be, except in a very abstract sense, but I can laugh at all the things here that are worth laughing at, and simultaneously point out that there's a reason for all the anger, and that in this case it's the people provoking it who are in the wrong, rather than the people who can't help but take this personally, because it's a part of their very real lives.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:13 PM on March 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


What is least problematic, unisex bathrooms or officially designating who can use which restroom? Both seem awkward to me and I wanted to see that discussion.

We talked about this in memail yesterday but I am too lazy to click and go look if I actually said this back in a reply to you:

Least problematic is to teach people beginning when they are small, with frequent reminders as they grow up, that harassing and assaulting people is wrong. You acknowledged that right now, today, there are reasons that people use the "wrong" gender bathroom that are culturally acceptable - a man with his small daughter, women at a sporting or concert venue taking advantage of an empty men's room when the line for the women's room is a mile long - and if we can navigate those kinds of things, then it's not impossible to imagine that we will be able to navigate situations where trans* people can use the bathrooms of the gender they identify and live as.

And, as you saw in that thread and this one, the "bathroom panic" thing in discussions about trans* issues is a well-worn trope. It's not a thing that has never occurred to anyone before. People have talked about it and discussed it and beaten it to death.

As I said in memail, it's especially wearying to feel like having that discussion about potential problems in the future is more important than discussing the not-potential, not-future problems of trans* people being assaulted/harassed/shamed for trying to use the bathroom that aligns with the gender they identify as. It just feels kind of awful to discuss the potential discomfort of a hypothetical person in the future while barely nodding towards the very real violence faced by real people now and how to address the problems that exist right here, right now.
posted by rtha at 2:19 PM on March 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


i have a question as an ally for the people who are trans* and hanging about (obviously asking for personal opinions and not looking for you to speak for everyone, of course)...

has the people first usage dropped? or is it just one of those things that some people care deeply about and others don't? do you prefer transman/transwoman/transperson or woman who is trans/man who is trans/person who is trans? or does it not much matter to you?
posted by nadawi at 2:25 PM on March 1, 2013


Fake transwoman bathroom harassment hysteria is not a launching point for a dry policy debate about the nuance of recognition of transgender students.

But it is an amazing name for a band.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:29 PM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Nadawi: I prefer to be called girl, lady, wonderful, beautiful, tiger, awesome, killer.
posted by roboton666 at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


"bag of eunuchs" for next MeFi pub quiz team name
posted by en forme de poire at 2:33 PM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


The vast majority of people I know much prefer trans woman or trans man, with the space, to transwoman or transman (or I guess any stricter person-first stuff, which I've not really encountered anyone requesting or using recently), since it implies trans as a subcategory of men or women rather than transwomen/men as categories apart from just women/men.

Personally I don't really have a strong preference, but I can see the value of it.
posted by emmtee at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"There are people who believe X is true and people who believe that X is not true. The people who believe that X is not true simply don't understand human decency."

If your first response to this assertion is to find an extreme example to refute it, then you're missing the larger point.

It is possible to believe that someone is wrong about something without being required to conclude that the person is a blight on humanity.

Or, at least, it used to be. It increasingly seems to be not the case around here lately, and I can't help but feel that MetaFilter is diminished because of it.


But this isn't just a case of "people who believe X is not true simply don't understand human decency," it goes way further than that. This was "people who believe X at the cost of others, and who continually disregarded the identity, rights, or desires of people (trans* people in this instance) and then had the gall to play the victim or try and stir up moral panic."

Look, I'm going to be as blunt as the OP: people were and are being flat-out bigots in that thread and in this one. Disregarding the identity, rights, or desires of people merely because one has some arbitrary reason for being intolerant is pretty much the textbook definition of bigotry. Some of them seemed to have realized this (albeit belatedly) and at least attempted to come to terms with that, even if they didn't seem completely convinced. Others not only dismissed the concerns of trans* people--including those participating in the thread itself--entirely, but went the extra mile to mock them and proudly state their intent to ignore their plight if it came up, thinly disguised as a "neutrality" excuse.

If not putting up with shit like that is "diminishing" Metafilter, then Metafilter has got a serious problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


nadawi, I prefer "woman (who is trans)" and in parentheses like that because 99% of the time it's not relevant and no one needs to know. In a tolerant society where being trans didn't mean taking a massive hit to your quality of life, I wouldn't really talk about it at all. I cringe a bit at "transwoman"/"transman" because those look like genders-in-themselves to me and that's not how I (or the majority of trans people I have known) think about and experience this stuff. Also lots of cis people seem to have the misconception that being trans is a "third gender" thing when most of the time it's not. When it is, that's okay, too.

I think most people on the trans train feel something like this.
posted by byanyothername at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This link just got dropped into the fpp. It's a story about a spa in Fairfax County, VA, that has made it known that no homosexuals or transgenders are welcome: “Also, for the safety and the comfort of young children at Spa World, we strongly forbid any abnormal sexual behaviors and orientation in our facility. Despite the controversial issue of homosexuality and transgender, it is our policy to not accept them,”

They kicked a woman out because she had broad shoulders. If anyone is wondering why a lot of us lose our shit when the "but what about bathrooms" thing is brought up, this is one reason.
posted by rtha at 2:35 PM on March 1, 2013 [36 favorites]


Is it too much to ask for people to be kind to one another? The anti-trans comments in that thread were insensitive at best, and at the very least could be interpreted as hateful.

We're all entitled to our opinions, but there's no reason to demean real, living people who, while fighting the good fight, occasionally need a place like MetaFilter to come and be unconditionally accepted.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:41 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can not imagine why any trans folk would remain on Mefi. They might as well hang out on Reddit.

the reddit transgender sites are pretty damn awesome compared to some of the shit that's said around here.

I'm not going to say that there isn't plenty of bigotry, ignorance and hate in many subreddits, but I subscribe to several that are incredibly welcoming and supportive of trans people, including r/twoxchromosomes, r/transgender, r/LGBT and r/gaymers.

All of the subreddits I subscribe to handled this story infinitely better than here. I normally hold MetaFilter to a higher level of discourse than Reddit, so that was very disappointing to me.

Dredging this up from way above, it got me to thinking.

Not to defend the particularly obstinate and rude behavior that is the topic of this discussion, because I'm not, but I can't help but wonder if setting the bar at the level you'd expect to get our of a forum like those mentioned above isn't a bit of wishful thinking.

I guess I don't like the way metafilter goes about holding the discussion down with regards to topics that are dear to my heart but to expect them to go as well as they would in forums tailored around a specific community that has a vast, broad, deep, and intimate experience with a given topic just doesn't seem fair to the people here who do try to understand and not be shitheads even if they're not someone who has even been cognizant of first-person contact with a trans person in their memory. *points at self*

Maybe I've just not been around here long enough to have experienced the 'good old days' of mefi or perhaps I'm just really jaded with regards to how well metafilter is with regards to the rest of the swill the majority of the internet puts out... or maybe that Friday-afternoon beer the boss just gave me on my been working all day empty stomach is playing a part.

Anyway, I'm not saying people shouldn't be offended at bad behavior. I'm not saying we couldn't do better or that we shouldn't try harder. I'm not saying the mods should delete more/less comments. I'm not saying I'm the all-powerful keeper of what's good-enough to you and you best like it. I'm not a 'leet redditor either, though I feel the upvote system probably gives them an edge with regards to topics like this because you're simply not seeing the bottom end of the equation for the most part.

I guess I am saying that thread and subsequently this one, however hard for some, led to some good results for a non-zero percent of the readership and had a good bit of encouragement mixed in with the blundering (me) to the downright rude and willfully ignorant (......).
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Maybe I've just not been around here long enough to have experienced the 'good old days' of mefi or perhaps I'm just really jaded with regards to how well metafilter is with regards to the rest of the swill the majority of the internet puts out... or maybe that Friday-afternoon beer the boss just gave me on my been working all day empty stomach is playing a part. "

The "good old days" of MeFi involved a lot more, "Shut the fuck up, asshole." That's been deprecated and folks who engage in nostalgia about MeFi's antic past are cherry picking pretty hard. The idea that before the PC took over, it was just a place to be free and say what you want and the good ideas prevailed is largely a fantasy congruent with the general narrative of diminished privilege that often accompanies it. It's especially funny to see people complain about how they're treated now upon voicing an unpopular opinion, because what they forget is that while less would have been deleted, they would have received even more vehement exhortations to get fucked and die.

The only real way that MeFi used to be "better" is that more of us used to know each other better because it was a smaller community. Oh, and also, images. Those were pretty great. But some cross-site scripting exploits fucked that for everyone.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on March 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


RolandOfEld: this issue is non-negotiable for me.

I expect ALL of MeFi to respect Transgender people everywhere, end of story.

If anyone has a problem with that, then they can research the issue, educate themselves and come back when they can participate in respectful Transgender discussions. I'm not here, nor available emotionally to help anyone work through their ignorance, they own that.

It's a civil rights issue, a HUGE civil rights issue. I expect the mods to be hellaciously hardcore deleting bullcrap comments.

We don't tolerate this crap when it comes to discussions of homosexuality or skin color and we shouldn't with transgender discussions either.
posted by roboton666 at 2:54 PM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh, and also, images. Those were pretty great.

I for one, would love to be able to respond to particularly egregious cissexism with that one gif of Jennifer Lawrence being sassy.

(That was a lie. Jennifer Lawrence's sassiness is too vast to be contained within a single gif.)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:56 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I shared some beautiful stuff up there, I'll just pretend the other crap doesn't exist. Hugs, Love and thanks to everyone who read, favorited and emailed. This is hard to deal with, you helped tremendously.
posted by roboton666 at 2:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [11 favorites]



If anyone has a problem with that, then they can research the issue, educate themselves and come back when they can participate in respectful Transgender discussions. I'm not here, nor available emotionally to help anyone work through their ignorance, they own that.


I agree with this but submit that people can learn a lot by reading MeFi threads on trans* issues without posting right away. Several people have said they used to do this when they felt less comfortable posting because they felt they didn't understand the issue well enough (I was one of those people! I still don't think I understand it through and through but I feel more comfortable being part of the conversation.)
posted by sweetkid at 2:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's worth pointing out that, for instance, /r/twoxchromosomes isn't a super narrow focus forum or anything. It's sort of deliberately not anything in particular beyond being a space for women. It's a pretty general space with I'd guess as much diversity in users as MetaFilter. The parallel thread over there went okay; some of the same arguments as over here were made, but people making them seemed more open to discussion and there wasn't any naked, open bigotry as far as I noticed.

A lot of other general subreddits have shifted this way, largely in response I think to the increased visibility of the trans subreddits. People on totally unrelated subfora have had their understanding of trans issues clarified by browsing around and I no longer click random comment threads in anticipation of a deluge of transphobia. The super popular, low bar aspects of Reddit probably suck at this but I never actually see them anymore and even when I do get accidental exposure, the overall Reddit culture has really skewed a lot toward a pro-trans ally stance. It's still not perfect, but yeah; just speaking in general and leaving out the trans subreddits, more and more areas of the site outside a gender/feminism/etc. focus have really come down on transphobia and it's frequently better than MetaFilter on this stuff now.

I really was shocked by the level of bile in the thread here. I just don't expect to see stuff like that here.

Anyway, time to unplug a bit. I've spent too much of my day in this thread now. I'm glad that this stuff is being discussed and that lots of people are being thoughtful and kind and hopefully my participation has been good for the conversation. I seriously deal with a lot of anxiety about wearing my trans badge at all, so it means a lot to see people being supportive and I'm glad I could pop in and say my part without having a massive freakout.
posted by byanyothername at 3:06 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


If not putting up with shit like that is "diminishing" Metafilter, then Metafilter has got a serious problem.

First off, you aren't in a position to "not put up with" anything at all. Neither am I. There have been many examples of comments that I found personally offensive or that I thought were harmful to discourse, but I don't have the option of "not putting up with" them because I'm not a moderator. I can't delete, and I can't ban. I can admonish, I can chastise, I can stomp my feet. But characterizing any of those decisions as "not putting up with" is grandstanding, and more to the point, it's misleading because I haven't actually stopped anyone from doing anything.

One of the lessons stressed in anger management is that an inconsiderate person does not make you mad. You make you mad. He acts, and you respond to it. This is true on both sides of the coin here. If you decide to call a person a bigot and characterize him as "disregarding other people's rights," and he subsequently stops posting the comments you found offensive, that isn't you stopping him. You acted, and he responded. He could have responded a variety of ways. You didn't make anything happen, or "not put up with" it, and you would be incorrect to pretend that's what happened.

I expect ALL of MeFi to respect Transgender people everywhere

I expect everybody to respect everyone, regardless of who and where. If we are having a conversation with one of those people who insists "You gotta earn respect!" then I will happily side with you on that point. But gently, I think what's being discussed here is more nuanced. The issue is with what constitutes respect, and when/whether you get to pronounce that someone is "disrespecting" you. As one small example, you want the mods to be ruthless deleting "bullcrap" comments and I agree, but how do we define "bullcrap" comments, because earlier in the thread you and I disagreed about one.
posted by cribcage at 3:06 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sweetkid: To me Transgender encompasses everyone. Some people are fully aligned, others are not. There's no them and us, it's all us, see?
posted by roboton666 at 3:06 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


We don't tolerate this crap when it comes to discussions of homosexuality or skin color and we shouldn't with transgender discussions either.

This is only kind of true. Sure, we do delete overt racism, sexism, and homophobia when we see it, but that's actually fairly rare. There are many problematic comments in those areas that we don't delete, but that the community as a whole will not let stand unrefuted, and that's pretty much how it's supposed to work. That applies to transphobia, too.

The thing is, though, that we need to have these discussions, which mean that we need to let people say ignorant things and have them countered, or the community as a whole won't shift. We as mods cannot play the "you must be this enlightened to post on this site" game - there aren't enough of us, and there is not a bright line between "ignorant" and "acceptable". And, frankly, none of us on staff are Perfect Paragons of Enlightenment, either - I have some knowledge of trans issues, and can certainly comment on female gender performance, but I'm at best middling-educated on the subject. These threads are really helpful to me, too.

Things like misgendering someone get up my personal nose, and may render a comment deletable in my opinion, but in a conversation that is specifically about trans issues it's a lot more helpful to let it stand and have people say "that is rude and you are being rude" than to have a comment disappear entirely, because it's clearer that it's a community norms issue rather than a mod fiat issue. (You do not want us running the site by fiat. We are a cranky bunch of opinionated grumps.) So we have to sort of muddle along and educate people in acceptable site behavior piecemeal, rather than by passing edicts.

And I know that is really hard for people for whom this is a personal issue. (This is true of any issue - I certainly have a few myself.) Metafilter is too big to be a safe space, in the way that the social justice community uses the term, and there are going to be unpleasant comments and, sometimes, unpleasant people. But I do think we're moving in the right direction, and I have nothing but gratitude towards the folks who stick it out and keep pushing.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


Sweetkid: To me Transgender encompasses everyone. Some people are fully aligned, others are not. There's no them and us, it's all us, see?

I don't understand how that relates to anything I wrote.
posted by sweetkid at 3:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


homosexuals or transgenders are welcome

Psst... 'transgender' isn't a noun (or god forbid, a verb), it's an adjective. (I'm about 99% sure the person who wrote what I quoted knows this. But for the edification of those playing along at home, or whatever.)
posted by hoyland at 3:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


kagredon: "You know, I can think of trans people who have done tons to make my world a better place, but when's the last time a six-year-old did anything for me? Never, that's when."

A six-year old trans kid me an enormous favor once, by growing up to become me.
posted by jiawen at 3:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


While I have always whole-heartedly supported people choosing their own gender identities (and pronouns), I've always been a little .. privately conflicted about the idea of male genitalia being in an official female genitalia space (namely, a public bathroom).

I want to sincerely thank the people who had the energy to contribute to that thread from positions of experience with being trans, whether personally or through education or through loved ones. For what little it's worth, your strength to speak up despite some of the really gross things said have helped me to unpack some of my cis-privilege-driven concerns and have definitely contributed to making me a better intersectional feminist and more respectful human being.

Usually I only post in MeTa when I'm cranky, but today I give you all brain hugs. :)
posted by jess at 3:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Cribcage, there is a baseline. I think at the most basic level we have to as a community understand and accept the science behind gender and sexual identity. Just like we have known now for almost 100 years that "black people" have the same blood as us, there are facts about Transgender people that are not up for ponitification and navel-gazing.

You can read up on what the scientific facts are and decide for yourself what respectful means, and give that a shot. The mods can take up the task of working with the group to set some guardrails on the TG discussion. I'm seriously emotionally drained right now and I am not in the mood to engage in a tit-for-tat conversation about what the bright line is in regards to transgender discussions on MeFi.
posted by roboton666 at 3:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


thanks for the answers! also, arg, i meant for there to be spaces between trans and woman, etc. just fast typing and trying to get the core question across. to clarify - i wasn't asking how to refer to people's gender alignments when talking about sports or music or whatever, but just in these types of conversations where the fact that someone is trans* is germane to the conversation.

byanyothername - your preference aligns with how i've had it explained to me (and why i initially switched to person first usage a few years ago) - the added parentheses drives that point even further home. i like it. as someone who identifies as genderqueer, i absolutely understand trying to avoid any whiff of 3rd gender stuff unless someone is specifically claiming it - which was one of the reasons for my question - trying to find the way, in these conversations, to discuss people (who are trans*) in the most inclusive way.
posted by nadawi at 3:13 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the lessons stressed in anger management is that an inconsiderate person does not make you mad. You make you mad.

A bit too solipsistic imo and a bit too close in this context to victim blaming: "it's not what the bigot says that's hurtful, it's your reaction that makes it hurtful". In the same way, saying that you can't influence the actions of people making bigoted comments, that they always have the choice of how to act is technically right, but in practice is not very helpful. In reality, we have seen attitudes shift due to people being called on their bigotry, even here on MeFi.

We're not perfect self contained individuals unmoved by the rest of the community.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:13 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sweetkid: It's a lot to convey. I'm not making much sense. Sorry...
posted by roboton666 at 3:14 PM on March 1, 2013


In reality, we have seen attitudes shift due to people being called on their bigotry

I do not think there have been many instances where attitudes shifted because someone came along and "tried to mock rather than engage the arguments," so you and I can go ahead and disagree about what's productive.
posted by cribcage at 3:17 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do not think there have been many instances where attitudes shifted because someone came along and "tried to mock rather than engage the arguments,"

There definitely have, although usually not in the person being mocked.
posted by KathrynT at 3:19 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


to discuss people (who are trans*) in the most inclusive way.

Wasn't there a recentish discussion about the differences between talking about [foo] people and people who are [foo] and how preferences differ between Europe and America, Europe going for the former, as in not hiding the fact that these people are [foo] because that's nothing to be embarassed about, America for the latter, as in emphasising their personhood before their [foo]ness?
posted by MartinWisse at 3:19 PM on March 1, 2013


Sweetkid: It's a lot to convey. I'm not making much sense. Sorry...

No worries I was just confused about the connection.
posted by sweetkid at 3:20 PM on March 1, 2013


I do not think there have been many instances where attitudes shifted because someone came along and "tried to mock rather than engage the arguments," so you and I can go ahead and disagree about what's productive.

And just to be clear, the mocking stuff is not really okay. That is it won't always get deleted but if it continues we'll step into a thread and tell people to knock it off. I know people have personal reasons why they feel that sort of behavior is okay and we respect their feelings but it's not in line with how we expect people to interact here. The topic is, as always, open for discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:22 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fake transwoman bathroom harassment hysteria

I've been trying to think about why this phrasing and similar phrasings in-thread has been absolutely pushing my angry red buttons, and I'm taking this here rather than the other thread. Mulling it over, it's because it seems to be supporting one group at the expense of another, with no cognizance that that other group might have concerns. It is absolute mockery of the very idea that women might have safety concerns about penises.

And I know why it's taking place - it's taking place because trans allies are frustrated with the bathroom situation and of fear being brought up to keep transfolk out of gender segregated bathrooms. That frustration is real, and clearly very upsetting.

But when it creates mockery, it means that people can't actually make the space to raise their actual feelings - why they as a woman might have legitimate fear of small enclosed spaces, of men, or people who present as men, or who have been socialized as men, in those spaces. Because women, while not technically being a minority group, are an oppressed group, and so many of those fears that they have are actually safety switches from an incredibly dangerous world - a world that routinely rapes, assaults, and harasses them without warning.

Which means those conversations don't happen, because people are shouted down. Which is a shame, because I think some of those conversations are the very conversations that need to take place if there is ever to be any understanding. And the thing is, it seems like there's lots of room for understanding there, particularly between transwomen and women. "Yes, I too am afraid of assault by men, like you, now that I am identifying as you and taking on your oppression." There's so much common ground that could be, but can't be if mockery and shouting is the only communication going on.
posted by corb at 3:24 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


And: nadawi, I'm mostly in the same boat as byanyothername with regard to terminology. I'm a trans woman; I don't mind having "trans" before "woman", as long as it's used with the same flexibility that, for example, you can also call me a "nerd girl": nerd girl, just like trans woman, is not some new gender, but a gender plus another descriptor that doesn't really impinge much on my gender.

I was really happy when people starting using "trans*", because it saved me an awful lot of time in describing all the relevant terms. FYI, within the past half-dozen years or so, most people have dropped the asterisk and let it be just "trans".

However, interestingly, I've already seen people starting to distinguish "trans" and other things that were originally supposed to be part of the trans umbrella. Basically, the same thing is happening with "trans" that happened with "transgender" before it: the term was supposed to be an umbrella term that allowed us to not bring out a glossary of terms every time we tried to be inclusive, but the term got reified and the complexity of gender moved past it. This is unfortunate for my and others' linguistic ease, but it's an important part of exploring and charting the vast realms of gender possibilities that exist out there. So someone will probably come up with another umbrella term in a few years that will be really handy again, until it too becomes insufficient and inaccurate.
posted by jiawen at 3:25 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


and how preferences differ between Europe and America

oh i'd love to see that! it never occurred to me that it might be a cultural divide. i mean, the answer is always "ask what a person prefers." which i try to do - but i also like to take the temperature in big communities like this to find out how i can word myself better in general.
posted by nadawi at 3:26 PM on March 1, 2013


corb: "It is absolute mockery of the very idea that women might have safety concerns about penises. "

I've been reading both threads pretty much since the first one started. I'm pretty darn positive that most women do not have safety concerns about "penises". As has been repeatedly stated, the safety concerns are about the behavior of people. Pretty sure no penis has ever held a cell phone and snapped pictures of women (though I'm sure if it has happened, there's likely a video of it on the internet).

The situation (as I understand it) is that the folks who are referring to it as a fake panic see the problem as "people harass other people no matter what the existing rules are, so why are we preventing folks from having rights out of fear of harassment?"

All of the current instances of men coming into women's bathrooms and doing inappropriate things *are still happening even without folks who happen to be trans allowed to go where they're most comfortable*, so why is it that OMG SUDDENLY, IF WE ALLOW THIS, IT WILL BE SO MUCH WORSE?!

I feel that reducing it to "you don't believe "women might have safety concerns about penises"" is misconstruing the issue pretty heavily and ignoring everything everyone has been saying about what the actual issue comes down to and why it's a non concern in the topic at hand.
posted by HermitDog at 3:32 PM on March 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


jiawen - thank you for expanding on the topic. i've been involved in conversations before where genderqueer was under the trans* umbrella, and other times where it's not. the only reason i draw a line is because i understand that since i'm genderqueer but cis-presenting, i get a much easier go of it and not calling myself trans* in these discussions, for me, is a sign of respect for people who have a harder time. i'm not trying to say anyone is different or other, just being aware of my own privilege. those distinctions might be less important to the people i'm talking to though.

i do sincerely hope if i ever say something that gets someone's nose out of joint, especially on this topic, that they'd tell me.
posted by nadawi at 3:33 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


corb: "between transwomen and women"

FYI, corb, that phrasing -- presenting those two terms as contrasting -- makes it sound like trans women aren't women.

Conversations about trans women in spaces usually reserved for cis women can be really hard to have. As you said, if people don't feel free to express their opinions, some of the important conversations can't happen. At the same time, if people are allowed to say what they feel, and those feelings include dumping on other people, and that dumping is backed up by social sanction, it can make one group feel like it is and always will be open season on them. This is the problem for trans women: we have very little power, socially speaking, and when "discussions" about our rights happen, as here and in other MeFi threads, it feels like we either have to just sit quietly and take whatever cis society decides to dump on us, or SHOUT REALLY LOUD and thus get accused of taking up too much space.
posted by jiawen at 3:37 PM on March 1, 2013 [31 favorites]


I like quiltbag, but couldn't tell you what it stands for exactly, It's a silly enough aronym that it reminds you that any such umbrella term is problematic in one way or another and that in the end all of them can be seen as defining themselves against an unspoken normalcy that need not be defined this way.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:38 PM on March 1, 2013


nadawi, a big part of me is just interested in the linguistics of it all! It's fascinating getting to be in a part of culture where language is moving so fast and evolving before our eyes. So part of me wants people to harangue people until they get it right, part of me wants to help blaze new trails in the vastness of gender and language, and part of me just wants to sit documenting it all. :)
posted by jiawen at 3:40 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


why they as a woman might have legitimate fear of small enclosed spaces, of men, or people who present as men, or who have been socialized as men, in those spaces.

As you have no doubt read, I am a cisgendered woman who does not deliberately present as male - I deliberately present as butch, which is a kind of separate thing in my world - but I am read as male often enough that I get raised eyebrows and startled looks or verbal challenges when I use a women's room sometimes.

Please tell me what I should do. What, exactly, I should do. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable, or to have them feel threatened. At what point is someone's discomfort a thing they themselves need to get a handle on, rather than me having to "fix" something about myself in order to assuage the fears of strangers?
posted by rtha at 3:46 PM on March 1, 2013 [24 favorites]


why they as a woman might have legitimate fear of small enclosed spaces, of men, or people who present as men, or who have been socialized as men, in those spaces.

If this is what you are saying, for you, then just say it. If not, don't make up imaginary people who might have concerns and whose feelings are for some reason to be taken into account even though they are not participating in the conversation.

I know it's difficult to say "Hey this makes me feel weird" if you feel that people are going to be negative or nasty towards you, but we really have a hard enough time focusing on the feelings of the people who are actually sharing their real lived experiences to spend a lot of time worrying, here, on MetaFilter, about imaginary people who might have issues with a hypothetical situation when there are real people, right here, whose lives are affected by the situations we're discussing.

I think it's a common nerd tendency to nitpick and try to imagine all the angles, but we get really deep in the weeds when people try to imagine what other people might be worried about and then try to get equal footing for those imaginary people's feelings alongside the feelings of the people participating in the actual discussion. If you are talking about you, talk about you. If you are worried about other people that may or may not exist, consider that that is a difficult and not very effective strategy because people find it marginalizing to have their real concerns sidelined for made-up-people's concerns. There's a lot of "think of the children!" concern trolling that happens in the mainstream media, we don't need to replicate that ineffective and disingenuous tactic here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:49 PM on March 1, 2013 [49 favorites]


did. did did did and did. did.

(note to self: begin campaign for edit window to be twice as long.)
posted by jiawen at 3:52 PM on March 1, 2013


There have been many examples of comments that I found personally offensive or that I thought were harmful to discourse, but I don't have the option of "not putting up with" them because I'm not a moderator. I can't delete, and I can't ban. I can admonish, I can chastise, I can stomp my feet.

....And we can also flag, for the record.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


If this is what you are saying, for you, then just say it.

Yes, please. I am not a hypothetical: I am right here. We can do this over memail if you prefer, but if this concern is a real one for you personally, or someone you know well, then yes, please say that.
posted by rtha at 3:57 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


i can understand being worried about harassment and bullying from boys being allowed into girls bathrooms - but i admit i get a little frayed when it seems like the argument is: because some people don't understand that women (who are trans) are women, we should send them into the lions den, as it were. i mean, if you think a boy sneaking his way into the girls room is a very scary and real thing, then isn't sending a girl (who is already at a high risk for bullying) in the boys room worse? are you willing to sacrifice her because of a misunderstanding of what being trans is?
posted by nadawi at 4:00 PM on March 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


I don't think every community has to be some sort of Socratic paradise. For example, I don't keep friends who want to "debate" vegetarianism because while perhaps a valid course of inquiry, frankly, that shit is exhausting and I don't want to waste my free time on it. If our community standard here is to respect trans* people and their personal agency, and to not treat every inane objection thereto as a valid concern to be addressed, that's extremely ok with me.
posted by threeants at 4:04 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


rtha: "I am not a hypothetical: I am right here."

...and your ass looks amazing.










IS JOKE! Referring to this.
posted by scrump at 4:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is absolute mockery of the very idea that women might have safety concerns about penises.

I am specifically mocking the passive aggressive hand washer who announced their gender change ten minutes ago that is the subject of your hypothetical scenario. Every time it was mentioned there are already laws and rules to deal with harassment, it goes back to the hand washer when pressed.

I am not mocking real concerns, I am mocking this imaginary concern. The imaginary concern is not even that this fear, which is a widely held fear among transphobics, is real or not but that figuring out rules to handle it is some herculean roadblock. The rules to handle it are simple. It is absurd to dedicate mental bandwidth to it and I can't figure out why it is such a hangup for you to accept that the problem is not difficult to address.

If you have serious issues about harassment you want to talk about, there is no roadblock present here for you to talk about them besides your own reliance on a hackneyed transphobic trope as a launching point.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:13 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rightly or wrongly, many of us viewed your hypotheticals as something akin to saying that, in the wake of a ruling that made gay marriage legal, "Well, have we thought enough about what may happen if two male heterosexual friends get married just for the tax benefits?".

I totally get that, and again, I was far too casual with my tone. I wasn’t trying to say "Oh my God, a boy in the girls room, you can’t do that, kill the whole idea" I was saying there’s a lot more to it than "just let her use the girl’s room". There seemed (to me) to be some sort of attitude that if we just let this one little girl use the restroom the question was settled and all gender problems would fall by the wayside.

I admit I did not think about the debate aspect of it clearly enough because I think of everyone as being somewhere on the spectrum, but I’m not involved in the political part personally. To me the question was not "is it OK for trans people to use the restroom or are they too weird?" it’s "how would this happen in a way everyone will accept?" Not "this shouldn’t happen" but "how will it happen?"

But that’s the thing, this is not a Gender discussion board. I don’t think it’s right to demand that everyone be caught up on the history of the subject or have a personal stake. That would seem to be fine and appropriate for a board that is dedicated to the issue. We don’t ask that in discussions about Architecture, Baseball, or Iran. Everyone should be respectful. If you’re offering your view of what it’s like to visit Iran and you’ve never been there then you deserve to be called out. But saying "stay out of any discussion of the U.S. policy with regards to Iran unless you’re Iranian or in the field" seems silly for a board like this.
posted by bongo_x at 4:14 PM on March 1, 2013


If this is what you are saying, for you, then just say it. If not, don't make up imaginary people who ...

A million times this. The way I read MetaFilter, people making theoretical arguments or presenting their grand unified descriptions of human behavior is a dime a dozen and I usually don't even bother to figure out how it fails. People telling what has actually happened in their lives is wonderful and amazing (I love the wide cross-section of people and can only wish it was wider).

Maybe there are other places in the world, on the web, where an argument is thought to be weaker because it is based in one person's experience. For me, I'll almost reflexively reject an idea these days unless it is based in experience.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:16 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


But saying "stay out of any discussion of the U.S. policy with regards to Iran unless you’re Iranian or in the field" seems silly for a board like this.

It's helpful to stay back a bit on a subject you are not familiar with so you don't base your participation on false premises such as, "The parents are suing to let anyone use the girls restroom."
posted by Drinky Die at 4:18 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here.

Wow, how did that dodge the sidebar? Great story -- and thanks for the link.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:23 PM on March 1, 2013


And the thing is, it seems like there's lots of room for understanding there, particularly between transwomen and women.

Transwomen ARE women. If you want to refer to women who were biologically female from birth, the correct term is cisgendered or cis women.
posted by sonika at 4:32 PM on March 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Regarding the subreddit sidebar: This came up in the subs I subscribed to but not with a whole lot of discussion other than people being disgusted. I tracked down it being linked on different subs and saw a lot of really hateful stuff masquerading as concern trolling. But I also want to say that TwoXChromosomes is sort of terrible; they coddle the "men's rights activist" trolls so hard that half the time when you are talking about anything woman-related you get like 100 "as a white cis man with no experience or stake in what you're talking about, I'm gonna run my mouth like an ass after bad meat" comments. With a few exceptions and social justice related subreddits, reddit is still sort of a shithole, and there's a reason I come back to metafilter.
posted by NoraReed at 4:45 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I said that I wouldn't have felt safe in a unisex bathroom in public high school and got called a bigot, despite clearly stating that I support allowing this child specifically and trans people in general to use whatever bathroom they want to. I also got a bunch of "you're exaggerating the risk of harassment" which made me laugh. And also assume the people saying that are male. If you think any woman, trans or otherwise, is exaggerating about sexual harassment in American public high school you're nuts. So yeah, as a woman I'm going to peace out of the discussion right about there
posted by fshgrl at 4:57 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was in a graduate school seminar one day and the guys were all looking at naked photos one of then had taken of a girl he slept with on his cell phone, very likely without her consent. Publicly. When a female student told him off he laughed at her. This was in one of the mentioned European countries btw. Women face this shit constantly.
posted by fshgrl at 5:02 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


as someone who was non-conforming in sexuality and gender, i'm here to say that the harassment and bullying i received by boys and girls was pretty equal in school. i was chased out of bathrooms and threatened by other girls because they were sure i was there to spy on them, instead of, you know, there to pee. it was always weird for me because i look pretty typical, i just read as "off" and that scared kids, i guess. the adults around me suggested that i be less weird and maybe i'd be bullied less. i hope things are getting better. accepting that people who are trans shouldn't have to carry the weight about gender bathroom panic would be a good step.
posted by nadawi at 5:08 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I admit I did not think about the debate aspect of it clearly enough because I think of everyone as being somewhere on the spectrum, but I’m not involved in the political part personally. To me the question was not "is it OK for trans people to use the restroom or are they too weird?" it’s "how would this happen in a way everyone will accept?" Not "this shouldn’t happen" but "how will it happen?"

Yeah, presumably the lawsuit will force the school district to come up with some sort of workable policy with regard to who can use what bathrooms, and unless they throw their hands up and say that all their bathrooms are now gender-neutral, figuring out where and how to draw the lines is going to be anything but simple. Because the outlier case that tests the new rules isn't necessarily going to be the creeper who says "oh, I decided I'm a girl today" to get into the girls' bathroom for self-gratifying purposes, what about the honest-to-god transgender kid who doesn't have a state ID that matches her self-identified gender, or a letter from a psychologist or anything, because her parents are transphobic in and denial about who she is?

And yeah, I'd be against completely gender-neutral bathrooms (and locker rooms, which presumably would fall under the same rules), I have a daughter in elementary school and I can tell you that boys harassing girls starts at an alarmingly early age and I believe there should be separate spaces for them to go to the bathroom, change clothes, etc. I don't think those spaces have to exclude transgender kids, but handwaving away any discussion of the difficulties of getting from here to there and assuming that existing anti-harassment regulations would take care of everything just seems way too dismissive of how the legal and practical realities are actually going to get hashed out, and it seems unfair that people who are bringing this up get lumped in with the "you're still a boy I'm gonna call you a boy!" crowd and told that they're dumb for trying to talk about it at all.
posted by prize bull octorok at 5:10 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I said that I wouldn't have felt safe in a unisex bathroom in public high school and got called a bigot,"

I don't remember that happening. Is there a specific comment that was addressed to you that you can link to?
posted by klangklangston at 5:11 PM on March 1, 2013


I can't find an example, or one that said it was an exaggeration. Huge thread so I likely missed it or it was among the deletions though. The comment definitely does not deserve any such reaction.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:14 PM on March 1, 2013


Having gender-neutral handicap-friendly bathrooms in places other than the gorram nurse's office solves this problem. It also makes a place for cis students who face harassment in the bathrooms to pee.
posted by NoraReed at 5:16 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The best part of coming out is riding the slide all the way to bottom of the gender privilege totem, and realizing that damn, being a aligned male comes with a lot of built in rights.

I'll take the heat from aligned females, they've got precious little to claim as their own, and now us misaligned women are stepping in the last bastion of privacy aligned men have allowed them to have.

I'm willing to earn my card of entry to the realm of the sisterhood. I know I've got a lot of to prove before I'm accepted as "one of them", but honestly, I don't blame aligned women at all, and it will be an honor to gain acceptance.
posted by roboton666 at 5:16 PM on March 1, 2013


what about the honest-to-god transgender kid who doesn't have a state ID that matches her self-identified gender, or a letter from a psychologist or anything, because her parents are transphobic in and denial about who she is?

Sounds like the kid is being abused same as if you forced your son to go to school in a dress against his will.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:20 PM on March 1, 2013


fshgrl, I suspect that widespread institution of gender-neutral bathrooms in public schools in the U.S. is such a slim possibility that concerns seem misplaced. Would you have felt anxious about being harassed in high school by a girl who had been born a boy but lived and presented as a girl? Do you feel anxious when a woman who maybe doesn't look quite like a woman for some reason comes into the restroom with you? What can or should be done about that, and whose responsibility is it to manage those anxieties?
posted by rtha at 5:25 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Roboton (or Robocop as my phone wants to call you) I worked for a while with trans woman and "acceptance" was and should be a total non issue. No one's business.
posted by fshgrl at 5:25 PM on March 1, 2013


FYI, corb, that phrasing -- presenting those two terms as contrasting -- makes it sound like trans women aren't women.

Yeah, sorry - I try to use cisgender in discussions about trans, but it is not my normal phrasing, and sometimes I slip up, especially at the tail end of a long conversation. I'd edit, but that ship has long passed.

I know it's difficult to say "Hey this makes me feel weird" if you feel that people are going to be negative or nasty towards you, but we really have a hard enough time focusing on the feelings of the people who are actually sharing their real lived experiences to spend a lot of time worrying, here, on MetaFilter, about imaginary people who might have issues with a hypothetical situation when there are real people, right here, whose lives are affected by the situations we're discussing.

Alright, I think this will go horribly, but sure: yes, I personally am constantly aware of where men are, because I've been sexually assaulted previously. I don't think that experience is as uncommon as it ought to be. And yes, that involves penises, regardless of how nice the people who own them are or might be. If there is a nude man in the room who I do not know and I am not in a space that I already identify as safe, I am going to bugfuck freak the motherfuck out. And yes, that applies to a penis-bearing transwoman who I do not know who is not flashing womansign all over the joint. I expressed my concern over girls, but that's because if I, a grown-ass woman who is pretty skilled at combat and usually carrying at least a knife, is going to freak out, I can only imagine that would extend further to people who are more helpless.

It actually doesn't usually apply to butch cisgendered women, because butch women, to me, just don't read as men. It may be the posture, it may be something about the face or body or what. I don't consciously think about it. I just know that my hindbrain doesn't process it the same way.
posted by corb at 5:26 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Would you have felt anxious about being harassed in high school by a girl who had been born a boy but lived and presented as a girl?

I've specifically said multiple times I wouldn't. There are plenty of men I'm fine sharing personal space with. I do group backcountry trips regularly. 8 people in a 10x10 hut and peeing on a glacier with no privacy is fine by me. I reserve the right to choose tho.

And rtha I'm 6 feet tall and strong like an ox. I guarantee you I'm less "anxious" about assault than most. Please don't condescend to me. There is an internet full of revenge porn illustrating my point
posted by fshgrl at 5:31 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, part of the frustration here for those of us who are dismissing or treating as unserious concerns about hypothetical bathroom creepers is that we can actually point to real world examples of trans-friendly public accommodations policy in practice. For example, San Francisco has had a policy of requiring only self-proclaimed gender identity to use a given bathroom, including in the SFUSD. The SFUSD initiated this policy in 1990, and as far as I've been able to find, there hasn't been a single reported instance of a boy pretending to be transgender in order to harass girls. If you can find one, let me know — but still, over 20 years. Kids who are seniors now have had this policy their entire school-going lives. The SFUSD has maintained policies against harassment in bathrooms, of anyone by anyone. Unfortunately, the LGBT kids are still the ones who are disproportionately the victims.

So while we don't see any evidence of this hypothetical harassment, we see story after story of straight, cis folks freaking the fuck out over what are essentially their prejudices and irrational fears. It's fucked up that the Transgender Law Center has to issue guidelines for trans folk that want to pee in peace.

What that also means is that we've had about 20 years of people freaking the fuck out over totally irrational fears and using it to justify a status quo that harms trans folk. Irrational fears about trans folk are transphobia. It does psychological damage, it leaves them more vulnerable to violence, it impacts their ability to graduate from school or hold jobs. It is still a huge barrier to a healthy, accepted and normal life for many trans folks and many gender non-conforming folks.

But somehow, referring to this transphobia as a boogeyman or yelping fantods — that lack of respect for trans phobia is somehow a greater concern than the effects of transphobia on trans folk. You might think that's unfair, but ultimately, your phobia is your problem and treating it like it's a serious concern in absolute absence of any real evidence is a grave disservice to actual harms that trans folk have to live with. When I don't feel like typing paragraphs, that can pretty well be summed up as "bullshit." You may not like that, but since it's only slightly less irrational than being afraid of Hell — something else I have no problem calling bullshit — that's pretty much on you. You may be lucky enough to have some trans person or ally take time out of their day to help correct your misconceptions, but be aware that what you're doing is foisting more bullshit on them, and I know I resent people that foist bullshit onto me.
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on March 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


(Also, folks who want to talk about this, y'all will be well served by looking at that TLC link — it's written for trans folk, but it's got a lot of best practices and law answers in there.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:42 PM on March 1, 2013


i guess i still don't understand what harrassment by cis gendered men has to do with trans women. like, sure, i get, omg penis! but, at a certain point the responsibility of misreading someone who is trans and in the right place as someone who is cis and in the wrong place has to lay on the person who did the misreading, right? or are you saying that because some cis men have a proven track record of threatening behavior towards women (and other men, frankly) that trans women will just have to be invited to pee each and every time their bladder fills in public?

and i know we lean towards discussing women who are trans in these conversations - but what about men who are trans? where can they pee? from the man-fear, it would seem like you wouldn't want them in your bathroom, but the cis men might not want them in their bathroom because omg vagina!

for all the concerns about things that might happen and edge cases, there are people in this thread who have this question every single time they're outside of their house and struck with a call from nature - where is the place least likely to cause an uproar (and personal harm). maybe over the next week or so just consider that every time you go into a bathroom and only have to worry if someone hover peed in the stall you're going to use.
posted by nadawi at 5:45 PM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


yes, I personally am constantly aware of where men are, because I've been sexually assaulted previously. I don't think that experience is as uncommon as it ought to be. And yes, that involves penises, regardless of how nice the people who own them are or might be. If there is a nude man in the room who I do not know and I am not in a space that I already identify as safe, I am going to bugfuck freak the motherfuck out.

I think this is a totally real thing and something that is hard as hell to talk about. Because I haven't been assaulted, but I am female in America and therefore a) I am aware that I might be at any moment, including asleep in my bed and b) if I am it will be my fault. This is what people are talking about when they refer to "rape culture," and yeah, it's a big fucking problem.

But this is not a trans issue thing, this is a rape culture thing, include the "all men are rapists" meme and the "men can't help themselves, they're biologically programmed to rape" which is of course conflated with having a penis. So trans women are doubly screwed, because they're both vastly more at risk of being assaulted, AND they are treated like potential assaulters when all they want to do is pee in the bathroom in which they are slightly less likely to be beaten to death.

So there are a lot of issues here, and it's touchy for different people in different, sometimes conflicting ways. I think klang's point that the data indicates that trans-friendly bathroom policies do not make women less safe is worth looking at. I think acknowledging that for a lot of women, being surprised by someone who reads as male to the hindbrain is not just unpleasant but can be pretty massively triggering, is important to civil discussion. (And corb, I hear you on the hindbrain thing - I pay attention to that in the completely different context of being attracted to women - for me there is definitely some bit below conscious control that assigns that label.)

I would personally like to see more acknowledgement that there are more intersecting issues here than just transphobia, as well as acknowledgement that the whole bathroom question is not new or surprising and there is some hard evidence as to risks there too.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:50 PM on March 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


Nadawi it came up because unisex bathrooms were proposed as a solution in the original thread. Some of us are of the opinion that unisex bathrooms in public schools are unworkable. Apparently we are wrong and also suffer from anxieties and phobia.

My solution would be to let openly trans people use the bathroom they want to but apparently thats immaterial to my irrational fears. Or something. Anyways, I'm going running now.
posted by fshgrl at 5:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


i guess i still don't understand what harrassment by cis gendered men has to do with trans women.

It came up, at least from my perspective, because some people were advocating completely gender-neutral bathrooms, and from my experience I don't think that would work well, especially in high schools.

I have never felt threatened by a trans* person in a bathroom and I fully support their right to use whichever they please. That is not the same thing as a gender-neutral bathroom system.
posted by desjardins at 5:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


jinxed again!
posted by desjardins at 5:59 PM on March 1, 2013


ah. ok. that makes more sense. it seems like that got muddled in some of the comments, like corb talking about seeing an unknown woman who is trans in the bathroom and freaking out.
posted by nadawi at 6:03 PM on March 1, 2013


i guess i still don't understand what harrassment by cis gendered men has to do with trans women.

Assuming this is in good faith, I'm going to try to take jessamyn's advice and answer for me, at least.

For me, at my age, I don't know any transwomen who were out - or even aware - at a very young age. The best I've got is some who say they felt "a little strange" when they were young. Thus, every transwoman I know was at some point, and for some, for most of their lives, raised as a cisgendered man. (Whether or not they WERE a cisgendered man is irrelevant) They received the cultural programming of a cisgendered man - and in some cases, some cases where I know people who are now really remorseful, but still - committed harassment and assault like the cisgendered men they thought they were. In some cases, because they wanted to be accepted as the thing they didn't feel fully like they were, in other cases I don't even know.

In my view - and in the view of my closest transwoman friend, who I spend the most time processing this stuff with - transwomen (at least in our age group) sometimes still act on male privilege, without even thinking, because that is how they were raised and that is something that is hard to let go of. Because realizing you are trans is not a magic card to always behaving well.

Now I will accept that this may all be different for young people who are growing up now, who are kids and teens now, who are trans before they are adults and are growing up as their preferred gender. I seriously don't know - I don't spend time with anyone that young.

But that, for me, is what the one has to do with the other.
posted by corb at 6:22 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's fucked up that the Transgender Law Center has to issue guidelines for trans folk that want to pee in peace.

Wow, you weren't kidding. What is wrong with society that we need a 48 page booklet to explain how people can avoid being harassed and beaten for going to the bathroom?
posted by desjardins at 6:27 PM on March 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


But this is not a trans issue thing, this is a rape culture thing, include the "all men are rapists" meme and the "men can't help themselves, they're biologically programmed to rape" which is of course conflated with having a penis. So trans women are doubly screwed, because they're both vastly more at risk of being assaulted, AND they are treated like potential assaulters when all they want to do is pee in the bathroom in which they are slightly less likely to be beaten to death.

But also, yes, this absolutely. It is a rape culture thing, because women do have to be consciously aware of this and blamed for this - and when transwomen transition, they get magically put by other men into the box of "Person who is lower than me and society won't give a shit if I hurt them if they're in the 'wrong place at the wrong time.'" I want to solve those problems. It's why I think single serving bathrooms are a good thing to have out there - and not just for transwomen. I know I feel safer when I'm in a room that locks where I can see every bit of it and it's just me. Having a single serving bathroom existing in a place doesn't actually, to my view, denigrate anyone. The goal should be everyone peeing in safety, right?

And yes we should fix rape culture first but that is such an uphill struggle I don't even.
posted by corb at 6:30 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


And rtha I'm 6 feet tall and strong like an ox. I guarantee you I'm less "anxious" about assault than most. Please don't condescend to me. There is an internet full of revenge porn illustrating my point

I apologize for coming off as condescending. I did not intend to at all.

Of course you get to choose who you want to pee next to. Sometimes. Not always. That's the point of the kinds of public accommodations we're talking about.
posted by rtha at 6:32 PM on March 1, 2013


Good God that pamphlet is depressing.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:50 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also want to say that TwoXChromosomes is sort of terrible; they coddle the "men's rights activist" trolls so hard that half the time when you are talking about anything woman-related you get like 100 "as a white cis man with no experience or stake in what you're talking about, I'm gonna run my mouth like an ass after bad meat" comments. With a few exceptions and social justice related subreddits, reddit is still sort of a shithole, and there's a reason I come back to metafilter.
Since I've come to like that place a lot, I just wanted to say that IMO this is a seriously disingenuous and plainly butthurt description. I don't hang out there like constantly, so I can't guarantee that nothing odious exists anywhere on the sub but my experiences have been positive and accepting in ways that frankly every other feminist (and definitely "social justice;" Reddit has taught me to associate that phrase with trolling and hate) community online has failed at. If anyone is curious, please take a look and read the sidebar stuff. It's a very general space, so lots of stuff won't appeal, but it is a generally nice place.

I'm too tired to engage with other stuff anymore and I think it's a good idea if I take a break from MetaFilter for a while, but guys, when I'm in a public bathroom I just want to pee and get out. Pee. And get out. I don't want to talk to you, I don't want you to talk to me. I want to find a stall where you're not going to see me or my ladybusiness and pee and get out. That's all. I don't understand this alternate universe where public bathrooms are anything more than Peeandgetout spaces.
posted by byanyothername at 7:22 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bathroom design is a design and architecture problem more than a "who can you trust" problem. I'm a cis woman and I got harassed plenty by other cis girls in the middle school and high schools bathrooms. People got the shit beat out of them in there, got stolen from, belittled, abused, coerced to do all kinds of shit they didn't want to do. This was bad and a direct result of poor facility design with no behavioral factors taken into account. There's usually no adult presence, they're private and screened off from the rest of normal daily activity, they can be treated like turf, and a lot of nasty shit happens in bathrooms because people take advantage of the sexuality-related privacy screen these spaces enjoy.

The solution is that these spaces, since they're so sensitive to misuse, shouldn't enjoy that privacy screen. The design of them should be open, bright and multiple-point access, with single lockable any-gender stalls radiating off an open washroom.

You can't retrofit everything but I think it's wrong to be looking at gendered stereotype and rape-culture-driven safety concerns when what we have here is a problem of antisocial physical design, which from time immemorial has been put to antisocial uses.

My college had co-ed washrooms. It weirded me out and felt unsafe for about 5 minutes. But as soon as I realized that's exactly what I had at home - a co-ed washroom - it made a lot more sense. People adapted immediately. Social norms matter. Problems of harassment are problems of harassment. Let's deal with those for what they are, when and where they happen. Designing sex-segregated facilities, IMO, fosters expectations and single-sex, self-reinforcing environments that equate toilet function
s with sexuality make this issue a lot worse, not better.
posted by Miko at 7:23 PM on March 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Trans women who act like jerks and are still immersed in whatever male privilege was assigned to them before they began living as women---however many of those women exist, I've never met one---are still no more likely to be assaulting other women sexually than are cis women. "Some women are jerks and also trans" is still not a coherent argument against all women using the restrooms designated for them. I have never in my 48 years of existence seen another woman's genitalia, whatever they might be, in a restroom, unless it was someone I knew personally who had asked for my help.

"The woman in the next stall might have a penis" just makes no sense to me as something to be afraid of.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


Dear Mods,

You all deserve a medal. There have been some tremendous blazing fuckknuckles in this thread and in the related FPP, and you've managed to deal with them with more politeness, poise and grace than I could ever hope to muster. I once called you paragons of moderation; I do so again.

Kudos.

HTWRT
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The woman in the next stall might have a penis" just makes no sense to me as something to be afraid of.

In fact, given the number of public toilets we all visit in our lifetimes, in airports, arenas, restaurants, clubs, train stations, shops, and offices, it's highly likely that it's already happened to all of us, and we somehow managed to escape unscathed.
posted by Miko at 7:36 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


My college had co-ed washrooms. It weirded me out and felt unsafe for about 5 minutes. But as soon as I realized that's exactly what I had at home - a co-ed washroom - it made a lot more sense.

Your college dorm or the entire campus? I think it makes a big difference. You know if you can trust the people you live with, either at school or at home. Some random dude in a restaurant or shopping mall? Not so much.
posted by desjardins at 7:37 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know if you can trust the people you live with, either at school or at home. Some random dude in a restaurant or shopping mall? Not so much.

Sexual assault statistics disagree with you.
posted by kagredon at 7:38 PM on March 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


Personally I think it was brave of Corb to say, "This isn't hypothetical, these are fears that I have, and here's how I feel about them...", and I think that bravery deserves better than paraphrasing it into, "The woman in the next stall might have a penis." That's very clearly not what was said.
posted by cribcage at 7:42 PM on March 1, 2013 [15 favorites]



Personally I think it was brave of Corb to say, "This isn't hypothetical, these are fears that I have, and here's how I feel about them...", and I think that bravery deserves better than paraphrasing it into, "The woman in the next stall might have a penis." That's very clearly not what was said.

I agree. I actually wrote a whole thing about this earlier that my browser burped and deleted which sucks because it was pretty thought out I think - but summary I guess:

I thought corb was referring to the story cairdeas brought up in the original thread, where a trans woman who had not gone through with the full surgery was naked in a sauna at Evergreen State when a girls' swim team (ages 6-18) came in and saw her penis, got upset and told their coach. The transwoman ended up being able to use the womens' sauna room, but the girls got a separate room for themselves to use.

Now I think this is a much more complex issue than Coy being able to use a bathroom stall with walls and doors with other girls her own age.

I understand there's a question of "how much gender presentation is 'enough' or 'the right kind' to not upset people, but I also think it is 100% valid that a bunch of girls or even adult women who go into a change room who see what they think is a naked man when no naked man ought to be there will be upset and afraid. That goes for ciswomen as well as trans. The woman had a right to be in that room despite not going fully through with the surgery, but I don't know how to reconcile that with the girls' fear or any woman's understandable fear in a situation like that.

And "OMG penis" is a really dismissive response to that.
posted by sweetkid at 7:57 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems like then, sincerely, when comes between trans women and ciswomen, I need to have a conversation about whether or not I am trustworthy enough as a woman to use the restroom in a manner that doesn't trigger fear?
I don't mind if that's the ground game I'm dealing with, I want to be respectful, but I also want to be really clear so I can fully address the issues and move forward.

What can I do specifically to earn trust? Please note I'm one month into coming out, I pass as a guy, I'm still "pretending" to be a guy. How do I do this? (I'm seeing a counselor, so I don't need a complete transition answer, just how do I earn your trust?)
posted by roboton666 at 8:04 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


BTW:I have no plans anytime soon to start using a different bathroom, but when that time comes I would like to know I did my homework!
posted by roboton666 at 8:06 PM on March 1, 2013


btw, so, this whole thing has been predictably angry

and I've been watching it and reading and thinking

and people I like and respect on the site are mad with each other, and I just, you know

this whole thing is tough for everyone, so please be kind to each other, ok?
posted by kavasa at 8:09 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


byanyothername: "and plainly butthurt description."

Completely unrelated, but please reconsider using that phrase in future.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:13 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hm. I think I now understand the importance of a restroom partner.
posted by roboton666 at 8:14 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


fshgrl: "And rtha I'm 6 feet tall and strong like an ox. I guarantee you I'm less "anxious" about assault than most. Please don't condescend to me. There is an internet full of revenge porn illustrating my point"

what
posted by scrump at 8:18 PM on March 1, 2013


Miko: "My college had co-ed washrooms."

Same here, at Dickinson College, 1992-1994. IIRC it was considered experimental, and ours was the only dorm that had them in 1992, but by 1994 it was in at least three others.

Honestly, the weirdness was minimal, but that doesn't say much given that college is inherently weird to begin with.

For me, it kind of felt like the floor was full of my sisters, in that it became pretty normal for there to be regular arguments about TOILET SEAT: UP OR DOWN, and it would have been kind of horrifyingly embarrassing for everyone if one of us had lost their towel between the showers and our room.

My perspective is that of a cis white male, though, so for all I know it was a horrifying experience for the women.
posted by scrump at 8:25 PM on March 1, 2013


Sidhedevil: ""The woman in the next stall might have a penis" just makes no sense to me as something to be afraid of."

In certain lesbian subcultures involving "packing", there are times when "the woman in the next stall might have a penis" is a feature, not a bug.
posted by scrump at 8:36 PM on March 1, 2013


We had campus-wide coed restrooms and showers (and coed dorms, and a coed sauna, with special men's and women's times for people not into the coed thing) at Hampshire in 1986. There were single bathrooms at the end of the halls for people who wanted to use them (or squicked out parents like my dad). And some single-sex halls and residences but they were the exception not the norm. I think I mentioned this in the other thread. There was a creepy shower peeper one year but I don't remember it coming up that this was a downside to coed bathrooms. It's a little odd to me how much I took this as a given at the time and haven't thought about it much since, but either configuration (single sex-or-gender, multi-sex-or-gender) now seems normal to me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:38 PM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm very sorry that Corb was sexually assaulted. But while it is better to have people speak for themselves rather than posit abstract hypothetical people with fears, I've had conversations before where noting a prior sexual assault has been treated as ending the conversation on bathroom panic.

I too was violently sexually assaulted, as are a very disturbingly high percentage of trans* people. I understand that it can be hard to deal with the fear that results.

But having been sexually assaulted should not excuse transphobic fears. I believe that our patriarchal culture actively encourages cis women to embrace feeling triggered by all men, people with penises, butch individuals, or tall broadshouldered people as a result of having faced sexual harassment or violence. This constant triggering reinforces male power and female disempowerment, as well as roping cis women into gender policing. It's often used to enforce racism as well.

I don't think that we should just accept the idea that because cis women are victimized by sexual violence, they have a reasonable claim to worry about the presence of trans* women in bathrooms. Kyriarchal culture encourages such phobias, because they empower cis white men. What they do for cis women is leave them living in disempowering fear. What they do for trans* folks is perpetuate our living with pariah status.
posted by DrMew at 8:46 PM on March 1, 2013 [36 favorites]


kavasa, I understand the ongoing earnest engagement of people with specific concerns and perspectives like corb's, but I think it's in general quite trivializing to say that this "thing" is "tough" for "everyone" when the toughness being experienced is so unequal (in both breadth and depth) and the generally tolerant trajectory (of at the very least accepting people with a sincerely held and expressed gender identity as, you know, that gender, with generally valid claims on gendered spaces) is so plainly obvious. Working around the edges of that framework to begin to construct an algorithm that would successfully handle as many cases as possible as a law or regulation is understandable, but some aspects and scenarios that have been covered in these two threads don't elicit particularly much kindness for one of the "sides" that you say has it "tough."
posted by Corinth at 8:52 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I too went to Hampshire and can attest that the gender neutral bathrooms were such a non issue that by 2000, the single bathroom at the end of the hall no longer existed.

The very, very few segregated bathrooms now are labeled "Self-Identified [Gender]" with a description of why the distinction is important. I'm having trouble thinking of how many segregated bathrooms there actually are as they are definitely the exception.

Four years, gender neutral bathrooms (including showers), never saw so much as a stray genital of any variety.
posted by sonika at 9:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe that our patriarchal culture actively encourages cis women to embrace feeling triggered by all men, people with penises, butch individuals, or tall broadshouldered people as a result of having faced sexual harassment or violence. This constant triggering reinforces male power and female disempowerment, as well as roping cis women into gender policing.

It not just about being assaulted, there is an incredibly strong cultural norm that tells women it's humiliating for men to see you naked without your consent. This is what i was thinking of when I said I didn't think unisex bathrooms were workable in middle and high school.

I remember watching American Pie in a big mixed gender group then going outside with the girls afterwards for a cigarette and one girl quietly admitting that if a boy had broadcast her having sex in high school like in the movie she would have killed herself rather than go back or have her parents find out. Pretty much everyone agreed with her, and that it was ridiculous that the girl in the movie wasn't harassed by the male students forever as she would have been in real life. Then we all went back into the house with our boyfriends, pasted our smiles on and never talked about it again.

Young women have it tough, trans or not. If women are telling you something makes them feel unsafe or sad or unappreciated it's not nice to turn around and tell them not to fear the peen. Especially not in a world where there are charities devoted to building girls bathrooms so they can stay in school.
posted by fshgrl at 9:21 PM on March 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Kyriarchal? That's a new term to me, and led to some interesting reading. Cool.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:33 PM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was violently sexually assaulted, too, by cis men. That doesn't make me afraid of women's potential penises that I would never see in a women's room.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:36 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb, thank you for your honesty. And I'm glad that, from the way it sounds to me, you're starting to process the reality of what life is like for trans women. It also sounds like you're starting to process your feelings about potential assaulters, and working on distinguishing potential assaulters from people who have penises. And, it sounds, you're working towards greater compassion for trans people. Thank you for all that.

I wish I had a solution to the greater problem. Trans women like me live in fear, too -- as has been mentioned in the thread, fear that we might be assaulted when we go into a bathroom (or when we drive alone at night, or when we do any of an array of different activities that should be safe), and that if we are assaulted we might very well be portrayed as the assaulters. None of us, cis, trans or otherwise, should have to live with rape culture.

I guess part of the solution has to be starting to understand each other, and calling each other on our mistakes, and learning from them.
posted by jiawen at 9:38 PM on March 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Some statistics on assaults on trans* people.

50% of cis women don't face harassment or assault in bathrooms.

Almost half of the murder victims in hate-crime murders in 2010 were trans* women.

Cis women are not the ones in the most danger - and it's very self-centred for cis women to put "being comfortable" ahead of someone else's "being safe".
posted by jb at 9:47 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


sonika: "If you want to refer to women who were biologically female from birth, the correct term is cisgendered or cis women."

Actually, this is poor phrasing, because it says that trans women are not "biologically female". I am most definitely biologically female -- I'm not a fembot or something. And what about "from birth"? Well, it seems likely that the most important part of me -- my brain -- was female, from birth. So again, construing me as not "biologically female" at some point in the past doesn't really help; it privileges other people's mistaken assumptions about me over who I really am.

The preferred parlance is "assigned male at birth". That gets at the fact that what people assumed about me, and what box I was shoved into, was a poor match for the reality about me.
posted by jiawen at 9:49 PM on March 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


how can you tell if a brain is female? Serious question. Because personally I am always railing against the assumption that I don't like sex, that I am bad at math, that I am over emotional, that I am not rational, that I talk too much, that I can't throw a football, and that I am good at organizing things for men, because of my female brain.
posted by sweetkid at 10:00 PM on March 1, 2013


Cis women are not the ones in the most danger - and it's very self-centred for cis women to put "being comfortable" ahead of someone else's "being safe".

Speaking of poor phrasing... I agree with you that trans women should use women's bathrooms and, as a woman, I find that a statement an absolute slap in the face.
posted by fshgrl at 10:02 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cis women are not the ones in the most danger - and it's very self-centred for cis women to put "being comfortable" ahead of someone else's "being safe".

This isn't particularly helpful. Trans women are in more danger than cis women, which is appalling and needs to change. That does not change the fact that cis women are also in danger of assault and rape and have to deal with the fallout of that. Making it about one-upsmanship obscures the fact that the real problem are cultural patterns that put both trans and cis women in danger an unacceptably high percentage of the time - the exact details differ (cis women are more in danger from friends and family, less so from strangers, despite the dominant media narrative) but the core problem is still the same. Telling rape survivors that they just need to suck it up is not going to get you any traction, and it's particularly sad because we're talking about trying to avoid putting more women through the very thing that they've suffered.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:07 PM on March 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


I meant it to be sharp. I'm ashamed of my fellow cis women who say that trans women shouldn't use a women's washroom because it might make the cis women afraid or uncomfortable. Trans women are more likely to be assaulted than cis women more danger of assaulted than cis women. We owe it to make the women's washroom a comfortable and safe place for all women.

of course, the men's washroom should be equally safe for all men, but I can't act personally there. Frankly, I'd welcome any trans man into my woman's washroom if he'd feel comfortable and safe being there.
posted by jb at 10:09 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: "how can you tell if a brain is female?"

There are various proofs for it. This article (PDF) presents the BSTc research, which seems to be the most prominent evidence.

I'm also pretty anti-brain destiny! I wish we trans folks didn't have to prove who we "really" are, as if anyone, cis or trans, is "really" anything. But if that kind of language is required, there's research that seems to back it up.
posted by jiawen at 10:09 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Most sexual assaults are by someone you know. Stranger-assault is rare.
posted by jb at 10:11 PM on March 1, 2013




There are various proofs for it. This article (PDF) presents the BSTc research, which seems to be the most prominent evidence


Thank you for that! Appreciate it. It's just that I'm hardwired to bristle at "female brain" because of...well what I mentioned above. But I figured there was more to it, not being a transgender expert in the slightest.
posted by sweetkid at 10:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]



I meant it to be sharp. I'm ashamed of my fellow cis women who say that trans women shouldn't use a women's washroom because it might make the cis women afraid or uncomfortable.


That's not what people have been saying in here for a long time. It's been far, far more nuanced than that. And yes, you are being unhelpful.
posted by sweetkid at 10:14 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, this is poor phrasing, because it says that trans women are not "biologically female"

Why is biologically and female in quotes? The biological definition of female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova (egg cells). How are trans women female under this definition?

Some people do use female to equal women, but given that sonika has been nothing but supportive of trans people in this thread, it is uncharitable to assume she was defining it that way.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:16 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I never said that a rape survivor should "suck it up" (and please don't characterise my statement that way), but being a victim of sexual assault doesn't give you the right to put other people in danger. If survivors care about women's safety, they will make the space a safe and welcoming space for all women.

As for policing whether someone else is a "true" woman or not (and therefore safe) -- well that just takes if back to the original thread and the fact that not all people accept that being transgender is real.
posted by jb at 10:17 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone assumed she was being uncharitable, but it is useful to know the preferred terms for things, isn't it? Especially when the person is expressing a preferred term for their own experience? Using the trans-approved phrase also avoids ignoring the situations of intersex people or people who for whatever other medical reasons don't fit into the weird boxes of different types people attempt to construct for these purposes!
posted by Corinth at 10:19 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, a sociologist mentioned that they use female only in the context of sex, not gender, but the rest of us use female for both sex and gender.
posted by jb at 10:19 PM on March 1, 2013


Do open design non-gendered washroom have a lower assault rate? Do women fight less in front of men? Will the presence of strange men stop predatory men from acting out? Is everyone on their best behaviour?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on March 1, 2013


nooneyouknow: "The biological definition of female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova (egg cells)."

There are a gazillion things that all compete to be the biological definition of sex: chromosomes, brain sex, hormones, genitalia, assigned sex at birth, etc. etc. Someone might define "biological sex" from a particular point of view, but a) that isn't necessarily the definition that everyone agrees on, and b) they might be surprised at what the realities of even that definition are.

As for charitability: I was looking at what she said, and how I've heard that phrasing used by many, many people over the years, and remembering the misunderstandings that that phrasing can give rise to, and trying to correct it. Sonika has indeed been very helpful in a lot of trans-related threads; I was trying to help her be even more helpful.
posted by jiawen at 10:30 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think that we should just accept the idea that because cis women are victimized by sexual violence, they have a reasonable claim to worry about the presence of trans* women in bathrooms.

Not yet mentioned in this context is that there's a whole strain of feminism that denies trans women can even exist but dismisses them as men who want to spy on real women and invade their safe spaces. You are women only festivals like the Michigan Womyn's Festival denying trans women access.

There are a lot of bad faith arguments used by (certain) cis women to deny trans women access to safe spaces in other words, which many of the arguments in this thread and the original one mirror. So if you wonder why these arguments often get dismissed out of hand, it's partially because trans people are used to have these arguments used against them to deny them political rights, by people on the left who should be their allies.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:45 AM on March 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


MW: How does one tell the difference between bad faith and good faith arguments from cis women who say they don't feel safe with trans women in supposedly safe spaces?
posted by biffa at 4:03 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought corb was referring to the story cairdeas brought up in the original thread, where a trans woman who had not gone through with the full surgery was naked in a sauna at Evergreen State when a girls' swim team (ages 6-18) came in and saw her penis, got upset and told their coach. The transwoman ended up being able to use the womens' sauna room, but the girls got a separate room for themselves to use.

That is the incident I was thinking of, specifically, yes.

But having been sexually assaulted should not excuse transphobic fears.

See, this is what is really, really frustrating for me. Because any safety concerns or fears are dismissed as "transphobic." And it's not transphobic - it's "people who have penises and have been socialized as men" phobic, if anything, (which is not all of transfolk) but more accurately, it's heightened awareness of where the threat could come from. You could just as easily say that I was a homophobe, because some gay people are men and I am aware of where the men are in a room. But it is not accurate. I am not more afraid of gay men or of transwomen. I am just situationally aware of men and men-socialized, penis-having individuals, in the same way that I am aware of people who are walking behind me and who have clothing bulky enough that it might conceal a weapon.
posted by corb at 4:10 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand there's a question of "how much gender presentation is 'enough' or 'the right kind' to not upset people

This strikes me as a fairly odious question or discussion, actually. I mean, this is passing privilege all over. Life is not made any easier for those trans people who can't or don't pass readily by talking about them as a problematic edge-case, and trying to draw a line somewhere amongst them defining who is 'acceptable' and who is not.

See, this is what is really, really frustrating for me. Because any safety concerns or fears are dismissed as "transphobic." And it's not transphobic - it's "people who have penises and have been socialized as men" phobic, if anything, (which is not all of transfolk) but more accurately, it's heightened awareness of where the threat could come from. You could just as easily say that I was a homophobe, because some gay people are men and I am aware of where the men are in a room. But it is not accurate. I am not more afraid of gay men or of transwomen.

If you're no more afraid of gay men than straight men, that is not homophobic. If you're more afraid of trans women than cis women, that is kinda a form of transphobia, however aware of it you are, however justified it might or might not theoretically be. Do I mean its intent is evil, or rooted in hatred? No, no more than someone saying or doing something that's racist necessarily means they're a white supremacist. Does it mean that you're an evil, terrible person? Of course not. But a spade is still a spade, even when that doesn't necessarily mean that the person carrying it is a digger.
posted by Dysk at 4:37 AM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Actually, this is poor phrasing, because it says that trans women are not "biologically female

Apologies, I was both typing very quickly and tripping over the correct phrasing. "Biologically female" didn't sound right to me, but the term "assigned female" just wasn't coming into my head. As soon as you wrote it, I had one of those THAT'S THE WORD I WAS LOOKING FOR moments.
posted by sonika at 4:41 AM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


(And thanks for the support, my MetaPeeps, but I truly don't mind being corrected. Helps me remember the proper terminology to use next time. I didn't read the comment as being uncharitable, just pointing out that my phrasing was sloppy.)
posted by sonika at 4:43 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


men-socialized, penis-having individuals,

A transwoman is a woman. Thinking of her this way might help you get over your bathroom paranoia.
posted by sonika at 4:45 AM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


MartinWisse - I am enormously conflicted about the way some earlier feminists (and groups like the folks who run Michigan who are still part of that mindset) have (historically, in some cases, and currently in others) viewed and interacted with trans* folks. On the one hand, I am grateful to these women for the revolutionary work that they did that pushed feminism along and helped turn the arc of history a bit towards justice. On the other hand, fuck you very much for their appalling views on and actions with regards to transfolk, and the for racism in a lot of the movement.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:50 AM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I realize my comment to corb sounded glib - again, commenting quickly while readying my tot for the day. To expand: if you stop thinking about a transwoman as potentially having a penis and focus instead on the fact that she, like you, is a woman - it might help shift your perspective.

Sexual assault is awful, and it makes sense to be wary of men in bathrooms. But transwomen are not men. The penis is not the danger, it's the mind wielding the penis. A transwoman is far, far more likely to be the victim in a bathroom assault than the attacker. The stats on bathroom violence with trans* people are depressingly awful. If you can change your mindset from thinking of her as "penis having" to putting her in the group of "people likely to face misogynist violence by socialized men" that might be a helpful shift to both honor your fear of sexual violence and eliminate your unintentional transphobia.
posted by sonika at 5:18 AM on March 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


men-socialized, penis-having individuals

Fortunately, trans women are not "men-socialised"! People are not, after all, empty glasses into which socialisation is poured like water; we participate, we filter.

in the same way that I am aware of people who are walking behind me and who have clothing bulky enough that it might conceal a weapon.

To almost all trans women, it is the cis person who has the metaphorical weapon: the institutional power, the weight of society behind their actions. In a public bathroom, if a cis woman figures out we're trans and outs us to the other occupants, the worst that will happen to her is a telling-off, whether from us or from antihorrible fellow toileteers; the worst that can happen to us is that other occupants share her prejudice and we end up subject to violence.

Now anyone may very well be scared of the tiny percentage of trans women who are violent and/or sexually abusive, but the cis population has us outnumbered there. Not only does that percentage exist in every population, cis women included, but in the trans community there is extra pressure against that kind of violence as the consequences are much worse for us.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:36 AM on March 2, 2013 [26 favorites]


I understand there's a question of "how much gender presentation is 'enough' or 'the right kind' to not upset people

This strikes me as a fairly odious question or discussion, actually. I mean, this is passing privilege all over. Life is not made any easier for those trans people who can't or don't pass readily by talking about them as a problematic edge-case, and trying to draw a line somewhere amongst them defining who is 'acceptable' and who is not.


I didn't mean that it was MY question. I was thinking of what rtha said earlier about the broad shouldered woman in the sauna in Virginia and how she (rtha) is a not traditionally feminine presenting ciswoman and kind of "how much presentation is enough for you people" type frustration which I understand.

Again, I was strictly referring to the issue where a woman with a penis was seen by a bunch of young girls as a man hanging out in their locker room. It's different than the many, many examples we are seeing of people saying they are ok with unisex bathrooms where they know going in they are going to share a bathroom with people of both genders, so no one would necessarily be upset by what they think is a man using a woman only space.

Also, I think corb gets it that transwomen are women and are not going to assault her in the bathroom. I think she was talking about something slightly different (since she, too, was referring to the woman-in-sauna thing and not the unisex-bathrooms thing).

Look I have been participating in good faith, but I feel like there is just a lot of handwaving away some women's feelings here. It's like people are cutting and pasting little bits of what people are saying and just taking it out of context and being dismissive.

I've never seen this level of effort in sexism or racism threads of people trying to understand, or learn the right words, like not even close this level of effort, and I wonder why that is.
posted by sweetkid at 5:37 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Look I have been participating in good faith, but I feel like there is just a lot of handwaving away some women's feelings here. It's like people are cutting and pasting little bits of what people are saying and just taking it out of context and being dismissive.

The thing is, the incident with the trans woman in the locker room is a pretty isolated one; incidents of outright violence against trans women in similar places are common. It's not that people are handwaving away your feelings, it's just that the consequences on either side of the equation are so out of balance. Discomfort at being in the same area as someone who is visibly trans -- which is one of those things I suspect is going to fade in society at roughly the same speed as discomfort at seeing two men kissing; i.e. pretty fucking slowly -- is all on the observer's end, not something the trans woman is purposely inflicting. Violence, however, is violence.

You might remember this incident which, being caught on video, was actually pretty well publicised. (disturbing phonecam footage of a trans woman being assaulted for using the women's bathroom)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:49 AM on March 2, 2013 [16 favorites]



The thing is, the incident with the trans woman in the locker room is a pretty isolated one; incidents of outright violence against trans women in similar places are common.


Of course. It's just that I sort of felt bad for everyone involved in the locker room scenario. But yes much more common that transwomen just want to use a bathroom like any other woman without issue and I support that.
posted by sweetkid at 5:57 AM on March 2, 2013


Look I have been participating in good faith, but I feel like there is just a lot of handwaving away some women's feelings here.

I don't question that you're participating in good faith, but I still see handwaving about some women's (including myself) rights to use bathrooms, and further acceptability of our gender. To see debate over where exactly to draw the line, who exactly to exclude and other, I do not see an interesting question. I see people idly 'deciding' some fairly basic facts about my life and self.
posted by Dysk at 6:11 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I see people idly 'deciding' some fairly basic facts about my life and self.

You might be seeing that but I'm not doing that. I've said repeatedly I don't have any issue about the bathrooms.
posted by sweetkid at 6:18 AM on March 2, 2013


Having a single serving bathroom existing in a place doesn't actually, to my view, denigrate anyone. The goal should be everyone peeing in safety, right?

Sure, as long as no one particular kind of person is singled out as the only kind of person who must use it. Like at Coy's school: the nurse's bathroom could be open to any child who doesn't feel comfortable doing their business in the multi-stall bathrooms. This could be kids who are pee-shy, or a kid who doesn't want to pee next to some other kid who is mean to them, or whatever. The problem comes when officials say "Only you, Coy, can use this bathroom; in fact, it is the only bathroom you are allowed to use." That's a pretty big difference.
posted by rtha at 6:46 AM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


It not just about being assaulted, there is an incredibly strong cultural norm that tells women it's humiliating for men to see you naked without your consent. This is what i was thinking of when I said I didn't think unisex bathrooms were workable in middle and high school.

It's not normal behavior for women to be parading around in bathrooms naked, so I don't think this fear has any grounding. Any "nakedness," which is usually confined to changing clothes or making it minimally possible to pee, happens in stalls.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


> If anyone is curious, please take a look and read the sidebar stuff.

Thanks for that; I read several threads and you're right, it looks like an excellent site, and I didn't see a single "men's rights activist troll." To call it a "shithole" is so wrong as to seem disingenuous.
posted by languagehat at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, sorry re: "butthurt." That wasn't classy and I've never actually thought about the connotations of the word, but I felt that that comment was really disingenuous and what I meant was that NoraReed was coming across as if she'd had a bad experience and decided to throw a temper tantrum about it. I like that place. For the most part, people are nice to each other and the mods are reasonable and active.

I really don't like negativity online anymore. I probably never did, but it makes me feel bad even having to muster some energy to reply to it and all I'm saying in this tangent is basically, "I like that place, please look at it, this description is not accurate in my experience." I'm guilty of making negative comments, too, but I do try to explain the reasons why I feel down on something and not act like someone is less than human for liking something I don't.

Sorry to keep coming back to this thread. It's a personally affecting thing, and one I'm not really happy with; some of the stuff that's happened in these threads has changed the way I see MetaFilter, and I'm trying to look at the positive aspects (some people are proving themselves awesomely supportive allies, some people are respectfully learning and asking questions, a lot of those who crossed the line into outright hate have at least flamed out, the mods retain a buddhalike level of coolheadedness and capacity for reasonable judgement as ever) but I do feel weird and hurt and I'm not sure I want to hang out here as much anymore. Or, like, at all, for a while.
posted by byanyothername at 8:13 AM on March 2, 2013


Of course. It's just that I sort of felt bad for everyone involved in the locker room scenario. But yes much more common that transwomen just want to use a bathroom like any other woman without issue and I support that.

Well, sure, I do too, but not because one of the people involved was trans. If you're an adult, a bunch of kids you don't know walking in on you naked is probably a bit alarming. If you're a kid, walking in on a naked random adult you don't know is probably a bit alarming, too. It would have been for me, certainly.

Sure, as long as no one particular kind of person is singled out as the only kind of person who must use it. Like at Coy's school: the nurse's bathroom could be open to any child who doesn't feel comfortable doing their business in the multi-stall bathrooms. This could be kids who are pee-shy, or a kid who doesn't want to pee next to some other kid who is mean to them, or whatever. The problem comes when officials say "Only you, Coy, can use this bathroom; in fact, it is the only bathroom you are allowed to use." That's a pretty big difference.

Banishing the trans kid to the nurse's bathroom is still a problem, though, even if the other kids can use it. For a start, I'd be willing to bet no other kid would use the nurse's bathroom for fear of being seen as weird, or seen as a baby or whatever. There's the practical issue that the nurse's office quite possibly isn't near the bathrooms. My vague memories of primary school suggest we all went to the bathroom as a class (granted, I'm remembering the gifted class going on bathroom trips, which was a whopping six kids) and nobody wants to cause the detour to the other end of the school.

I'm at a university that has a handful of gender neutral bathrooms, mostly single user, but at least one multi-user (where trans people have been known to be harassed). It's really not a good solution because you have to plan when and where you're going to pee, basically. There are 15 minutes between classes. The closest bathroom is likely not in the same building as you, it's probably not too far (except when it is), but you still have to get there. Then you get there. Then someone's already using the bathroom. Good! People using gender neutral bathrooms is a good thing. Not so much when you really need to pee and you have to go to class. (This is a problem in the gendered bathrooms, too. Why this university has almost no bathrooms that can be used by more than two people at once, I don't know.)
posted by hoyland at 8:22 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't the connotation of "butthurt" be that the recipient was spanked?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:28 AM on March 2, 2013


No. The connotation of "butthurt" is that the recipient was anally penetrated (impliedly by force, as typically used in context) and injured by it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:36 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think people use the term both ways, or at least that people hear it both ways.

So people who hear it in the worse way should be aware that the speaker might mean the more innocent (spanking) thing, and people who use it intending the more innocent thing should be aware the hearer might interpret it in the worse way.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:40 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Banishing the trans kid to the nurse's bathroom is still a problem, though, even if the other kids can use it.

I agree. I thought I was pretty clear, but perhaps not. To be even clearer: A school policy that says any child can use the nurse's bathroom, without singling out any one kid or kind of kid, seems fine. A policy that says a particular kid or kind of kid must use that bathroom and no other, even if other kids can use it, is problematic.
posted by rtha at 8:40 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


The more innocent interpretation is miseld. 'Butthurt,' at least used online, was popularized in PvP gaming argot, and then web forum shit-talking, and is usually yoked to the casual use of 'rape' to mean a dominating victory over a lesser opponent. I've heard the other derivation offered, and I know it goes further back in offline usage, but that's never been the primary connotation online, for as long as I've seen it used.

Although it's been somewhat defanged as it's been used by more people beyond those circles, so if that's what those people intend in using it, maybe that's what matters....
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:42 AM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had always assumed it was not really different than "pain in the butt" and was pretty mild, but when it was pointed out people don't see it that way I started to avoid it. Plenty of other ways to express the same thing.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:56 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like "pearl clutching," regardless of its origin, "butthurt" is meant to suggest that the other person is having an inappropriately strong negative emotional response, one that is more worth derision than respect. It minimizes the other person's viewpoint, and I think we would probably do well just to steer clear of both those expressions.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:33 AM on March 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


my husband and i just had this conversation. to both of us, butthurt is toddler falls on his butt and cries - no harm actually done, just a shock to the system. but then we explored the other possible meanings, and the thought that it's a way to call someone a sissy without having to own up to the baggage in that term - so, yeah, seems like a less than awesome word in a big ole group setting - but a lot of people still need to hear it explained because until we just unpacked it together, it seemed like a harmless retort.
posted by nadawi at 9:50 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think my point, which was made moments before I went to bed, and maybe I should remember not to do that, wasn't totally clear. Let me try to expand.

1. People should be allowed to use the gender-segregated facilities appropriate to their gender. Furthermore, people get to determine their own gender and no one else gets a vote.

2. Bathrooms are the gender-segregated facility everyone needs to use on a regular basis, and are therefore the flashpoint of this conversation.

3. Transgressive public behavior is one of the cues people, and women in particular, use to determine whether someone is dangerous or not. (See the many, many threads about rape and harassment for details.) This is a feature, not a bug.

4. Being in the wrong bathroom is a transgressive act. So is "incorrect" gender performance in general, in many contexts. Therefore, a subset of people are going to read people who are performing gender in an unexpected way in a gender-segregated bathroom as a threat.

And here's my point: those people? They're not wrong. They're not right, either, but they're reacting according to their own reads on safety, and that isn't a bad thing in itself. So telling people to disregard their personal warning signals is not only unhelpful, it's actively counterproductive, because women in particular get that message all the time - "you're overreacting, calm down" - and if they listen, they're at fault for anything bad that happens, and if they don't, they're labeled "hysterical" or "bitchy." And people know this, and it makes the person telling them they're wrong look like someone who doesn't have their best interests at heart.

So, that is depressing, what to do about it? I think many people in both of these threads have been saying things that are useful. Addressing the actual safety concern using the quite reasonably large body of both data and anecdote regarding gender-neutral bathrooms or trans-friendly bathroom policies. Talking about the wide range of possible gender performance and how that intersects with both internal gender and perceived gender. Sharing experience with or as actual trans people. Talking about ways, policy-wise, to address the actual safety concerns - both of trans people and of cis people who are worried about people taking advantage of the system in bad faith - rather than handwaving them away.

And I just want to address this specifically, because it bugs me - yes, women's bathrooms aren't a magically safe space because there's a lady with a skirt on the door. But single-gender spaces are places where women can relax a little of their constant vigilance because transgressions are more obvious and more widely accepted - a straight cis dude walking into the ladies' is going to get an immediate and forceful reaction from everyone who sees him. The prospect of losing that is scary, especially for people who have never met a trans woman (or a bull dyke, for that matter) and have no way of interpreting conflicting gender markers other than as "this person is dangerous and might attack me."

This is a larger rape culture issue, yes, and I am in no way arguing that it means that trans women should be put in unsafe situations. But it means that, when we're discussing this issue, we need to be aware of and work with the existing situation, not dismiss it, because the only way women's bathrooms are going to be safe for trans women is if cis women are sufficiently educated that they don't call fucking security because "that person has broad shoulders they shouldn't be in here." And you can't educate someone if you don't listen to them and address their concerns.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:09 AM on March 2, 2013 [25 favorites]


Since we're on the butthurt derail, um, I had some (big ol' trigger warning for eating disorders and rape apology on these links) pretty legitimate reasons to dislike 2XC, which is, uh, what I was reportedly butthurt about. I'm glad others have found value in that community, and maybe they're good at trans* issues, but they still have enough problematic occurrences of slut-shaming, victim-blaming, etc etc that it's too depressing for me to go there regularly. They particularly seem to be in the camp where callouts get classified as "starting drama", which is also really problematic.

Sorry for the derail, this'll be my last comment on that. If anyone wants recs for decent subreddits feel free to PM me, but I haven't found any that are both active and consistently great on trans* issues; most of the feminism subs outside of the ShitRedditSays fempire are overrun with either trans-exclusionary "feminists" or "men's rights activists", and the SRS fempire still has a ways to go on trans issues, though they do try.
posted by NoraReed at 10:22 AM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Alongside the "is that talking about violence/violation" double take the phrase causes, mixed with the fairly pervasive "gamer" (no personal offence, gamers) usage of it that definitely centers on that 'glorification of violation' usage; it also has a toxicity to discourse by the shorthand connotations of: "and your concerns are trivial and I care not, so begone, and don't bother me with your trifles". "falls on his butt and cries - no harm actually done"... see, when it has ambiguous meaning, and it could easily be talking about violations/assaulting situations, suddenly it is a lot more odious. Your concerns are those of a toddler... to be ignored, questioned, paraded among adults as laughable (and implicitly, "my" concerns matter [having a shorthand for that idea isn't bad, just when one of the meanings involves assault/violation, it can contribute to a toxic space]). Like r_n suggests, it pays to at least hear, or see the concerns of others (and when they are SUPER wrong, as many assumptions and initial beliefs often seem to be on this particular topic, the facts will be there for those who care to look, for those who seek them, and when the worry is legitimate, that too can come to light; as long as we act to stop uncivil legislation from being passed, and keep fighting for greater recognition of equal treatment, and equal rights... for all...)

Which, in either context is problematic at least (no judgement or ill will towards byanyothername, nadawi or others thinking about it, or who happened to use it, just throwing a thought into the ring regarding something a lot more general than the discussion here, not trying to pick at the phrase as if having used it "says" something about anyone).

What a great set of regs at that page though, many thanks for linking... combined with moderation it seems to keep the content and comment quality higher than average (and avoids drawing in the "I am here to DEBATE your weakness* until you quit" crowd [*where weakness means being respectful of other humans, or other acts of openness that take immense strength, and are absolutely not symbols of weakness, as is often suggested; compassion takes more strength and fortitude than does out of hand dismissal or rejection of another person, or group of people, it takes far more strength to hear out and try to understand strangers than does anger or rejection out of hand, it involves recognizing that one may be wrong, or not have the full and well rendered picture of reality that one had assumed]).

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posted by infinite intimation at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2013


On posting preview, those concerns look certainly legitimate, but also seem pretty clearly like people rushing into the sub-group (so, not a problem with the group, but rather with the environment within which they exist, a toxic ecosystem will harm niche species out of proportion to other more pervasive species); which on thinking, makes sense, any sub-group at reddit is like when you have an empty bucket, and take it into a pool, and then hold it so it stays with real air in it, and bring it into the bottom, and it is this amazing thing, with "outside air" in the middle of water, but then to remember that the slightest "tipping" or angling of the bucket, and water RUSHES in, pushing the air out, possibly ruining that amazing short lived thing, until we take the bucket out and try again).

"Just so" ancient anthropology analogy says: It is hard to keep wolves at bay. The only hope is to (far too slowly for most people's likings) act to domesticate the pack, by working together as a community to keep the vicious, violent and hostile as far to the marginal edge of the camp as is possible with limited resources and power, slowly (woefully far too slowly) selection should (weasel word) happen, and those who are not vicious, and violent, and may even become helpful may see reason to stick around, and those which cannot interact non-viciously with humans will be the weaker for it. Ultimately: Pugs.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2013


When I first encountered "butthurt" it was here, and it clearly being used to exclusively denote anal rape. I still read it that way. So even if you ascribed a more innocent meaning to it, you may want to note that there are plenty of people legitimately reading it as you making an anal rape joke, because it's indistinguishable from people actually intending to make an anal rape joke. That's certainly affected my decision not to use the word, and it may affect yours.
posted by Miko at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2013


just to be clear - my comment was in support of the idea of not using butthurt because of the minimizing issues you brought up again in your comment, infinite intimation. the toddler stuff was backing that up - that even in a no violation meaning, it's still problematic.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


4. Being in the wrong bathroom is a transgressive act. So is "incorrect" gender performance in general, in many contexts. Therefore, a subset of people are going to read people who are performing gender in an unexpected way in a gender-segregated bathroom as a threat.

And here's my point: those people? They're not wrong. They're not right, either, but they're reacting according to their own reads on safety, and that isn't a bad thing in itself.


Yes, but at what point do their* reactions need to stop being something other people must take responsibility for managing? I get that people (including me, probably, but I don't know because I haven't experienced it) would feel freaked out if a dude-presenting dude came into a women's bathroom even if all he wanted to do was pee, because yes, in this culture a dude-presenting dude entering a women's bathroom is doing something transgressive just by entering (with rare exceptions, like he has his young daughter with him).

But since women in particular in this culture have a pretty wide range of culturally allowable ways to present as women, we get a predictably large range of what might seem "off" to people - is it hair length, or breadth of shoulders, size of hands, presence of an Adam's apple, height, jawline, kind of clothing and shoes, some combination of all or some of those? To someone like corb, I am seen as butch and therefore cisgendered female and therefore not read as threatening, but this is certainly not true for other women, in my experience.

* I couldn't figure out a way to write that I include me in the group of people who have reactions to things without making the sentence unnecessarily complicated; I know that I have reactions to things - people, situations, etc. - that are not irrational, but that may not be any else's responsibility to manage or fix, and they are reactions that are solely mine to figure out what to do with. I do not in any way think it is dumb or irrational or an overreaction for a woman to be wary of someone, particularly a male someone, who seems to be crossing boundaries.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, I think the people who want the status quo changed need to take the steps to change it, and that includes things like education. I mean, sure, ideally it wouldn't be anyone else's problem that people get freaked out when there's no need, but that's not the world we live in.

Certainly a big positive step would be directing a large part of that education at security guards/cops/building management - the brochure linked above provides the depressing statistic that 50% of bathroom harassment is by security and/or the police, and the resigned tone it takes about that is fucking heartbreaking - but here in an online forum, we educate the people in the thread we have. And that includes finding ways to say things like "I hear your safety concern; here are some things to think about that suggest it is not something you need to stress about" in ways that read as compassionate and not dismissive.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:58 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It strikes me that one thing we could do individually is drive to redesignate some bathrooms unisex at our workplaces. It may not be practicable everywhere but it would be good. Especially in places of public accommodation.

We already have this as a de facto where I work - our floor has two one-off bathrooms and though they're labelled "men" and "women," neither has urinals and nobody cares, since our workplace is 90% women to begin with and if we all only used the "women" bathroom we'd be waiting in a line for absolutely no reason while a perfectly good identical bathroom sat empty.

And we have a handicapped/family/everybody single bathroom in the public part of my building.
posted by Miko at 11:06 AM on March 2, 2013


This conversation is much more civil now. Thanks everyone.

First, I'd like to say: I GOT A COMMENT DELETED ON METATALK! WHOOP!WHOOP! (Can I get a star for that?)

Secondly, binary gender presentation is a very cultural thing, it's a concept and concepts can be changed over time through dialog and education. The first thing I would like to see is some compassion from all sides. The trans* community in many ways attacks itself, as disenfranchised groups are apt to do, so lets first address that issue and stop. Women need to stop attacking other women, fully transitioned transsexuals need to stop attacking genderqueer and transpeople who are trying to figure out what and where exactly their dysphoria is, begins and ends. Gender is such a dynamic, limitless thing and the whole concept of what gender is is blowing wide open.

The blowing wide open of what gender is and is not is bumping up against social gender privilege and causing all kinds of anxieties. The main thing to remember here is that we are dealing with multiple groups of disenfranchised people with limited privilege feeling threatened.

Compassion is key here. We need to check our triggers at the door of the discussion.

Now, there's a whole bunch of talk about which bathroom people can use, but the issue is so much bigger than that, and to me, the bathroom is a red herring on the trail. If we can address the question of what gender is, and fully understand it, the bathroom problem goes away.

Here's my situation:
I am a girl. I have always been a girl. I've been forced to act like a boy. Now I'm all fucked up inside because what I want to be feels so far away. In many ways though, I have taken advantage of elevated privilege because I have boy parts, but that came at a huge price. Being "Girly" in a mans world, being told I have to be a man comes with dues and abuse by other men. I have been verbally, physically and emotionally abused my whole life and in return I've been given access to male privilege, but on very tenuous terms. If I show any feminism my privilege is called into question and held at bay.

I can respect the fear, anxiety and mistrust that women born with girl parts have towards women born with boy parts because they feel that women like me have been granted privileges they themselves don't have, and that feels so fucking unfair. That being said, I hope people can believe me when I say that the privileges extended to me feel more like a lifelong gang initiation rite than a gift.

If women born with girl parts can see that and truly understand it, then maybe there can be a possible defusing of the triggers.

So where is this all leading? I think that the trans* movement can have a major impact on the rape-culture, and ultimately over time completely redefine the terms of gender to not mean "what's between your legs" and possibly, redistribute privilege across the spectrum of gender. Eventually the term trans will go away, and everyone will just be whatever the heck they are and we will understand it.

Short form, everyone has a gender, it has nothing to with your sex parts. The crux of the discussion is the cost of privilege, who gets it, who doesn't and how that disenfranchises people.

Right now trans people are at the bottom of gender privilege totem, and yes, it hurts.
posted by roboton666 at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can respect the fear, anxiety and mistrust that women born with girl parts have towards women born with boy parts because they feel that women like me have been granted privileges they themselves don't have, and that feels so fucking unfair.

No, the fear, anxiety, and mistrust is from all of the rape and murder. I understand that you're early in the process of understanding what life as a woman is like, and good for you in that, but if that's as far as your understanding goes so far, please listen more.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:48 AM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


I am listening restless nomad, thank you for pointing that out. I framed that a little too tightly.

I would like to point out that I have been acting "girly" my whole life, I have physically abused, raped by gay men in my early twenties who were sure I was gay because I acted like a girl, and therefore must like men. Beaten by kids in grade and middle school, and treated like dogshit by managers because I have a high pitched voice and don't present well as a man. I hope that women born with girl parts can appreciate that my own life has been spent being continually and mercilessly abused by men as well, and can have compassion for what transpeople go through.

I'm trying. Sometimes I speak from that dudelike place of false authority and I'm trying to stop.
posted by roboton666 at 11:58 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Short form, everyone has a gender, it has nothing to with your sex parts.

That's what I keep hearing. But I don't understand it.
I'm a woman, I know that because everyone calls me one and because I have female body parts.
Other than that, I got nothing.

I have no sense of belonging to one gender or another. I don't think my life would change significantly if I woke up with male body parts tomorrow; I would not be horrified or relieved, I would just think Hey wow, that's new and interesting, let's take these for a spin.
I'm lucky in that I do not have body dysphoria. My body isn't wrong or right for my mind: it just is. I think my mind could live happily in a male or female body.

I don't understand gender. It's not something I think I've ever experienced. That also makes it hard for me to understand trans* issues: I don't know what it's like to have a gender, much less to have the wrong one or one that doesn't match the body you have.

No one here has the duty to educate me. I know that. But these are things that I'd really want to understand and I have no idea how to do that. It's like a blind person wanting to understand what it means if colours clash.

Maybe I should post my first AskMe.

roboton666 and other trans* folks, I can't begin to understand what your world looks like. But since you're telling me what you are and what it's like, I have no choice but to believe you even if I don't understand, and to feel compassion. Thanks for telling us about it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:03 PM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


But these are things that I'd really want to understand and I have no idea how to do that.

In my experience, gender is a spectrum. It sounds like you're right in the middle. I'm middle-ish myself (if I woke up with a dick I would immediately try to find someone to take it out for a spin, but I'd find the experience disconcerting and maybe not sustainable.)

Out of curiosity, do you dress in a "girly" way? Wear dresses, jewelry, makeup? Is your hair long? That sort of thing is what we're talking about when we discuss "performing" gender - the idea is that there are bunch of cultural signifiers that indicate which gender you are, and many of them are not physical. One way to get a better sense of gender is to try performing the other one for a little while, and see how people react. (Hint: often badly.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:11 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I think the people who want the status quo changed need to take the steps to change it, and that includes things like education.

Erm, they are. You mentioned the long pamphlet in the same post, for example, and the original link is about parents suing to change things for the better. I think it's unfair to place the entire burden of change on those with the least amount of power to effect it, although that's obviously how things happen in practice. It would be helpful if the people who didn't necessarily feel like they wanted to change the status quo could perhaps at least attempt to be less invested in it. And I guess maybe also recognize that language like this has been used in the past as a sort of challenge - you must have this much power within the system to ride - and to think about ways we can make the system itself more open to being improved without such gatekeeping. This includes study of the perceived gender binary, discussion about rape culture, etc., which are all things that can be done and bear fruit even without necessarily working alongside trans people in this specific fight.
posted by Corinth at 12:14 PM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Too-ticky: A persons gender identity is not internally derived by your sex parts, that's a completely different brain circuit.

Who you are attracted to is not internally defined by your sex parts or your gender identity, that's a whole other circuit

Your gender role is whatever you feel comfortable with, and is yours to freely choose, it has nothing to do with your sex parts, your gender identity or your sexual attraction.

For me, I am as comfortable within myself as you are in yourself, save for the weird dysphoria I have, but that can be medically dealt with.

The issue arises when I try to be myself and the world treats me like a freak.
posted by roboton666 at 12:14 PM on March 2, 2013


This includes study of the perceived gender binary, discussion about rape culture, etc., which are all things that can be done and bear fruit even without necessarily working alongside trans people in this specific fight.

Which are all things I specifically called out as productive things to do here in my comment. What I feel is not productive is telling people that their concerns are not worthy of being addressed because these other people's concerns are more important.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:19 PM on March 2, 2013


Which are all things I specifically called out as productive things to do here in my comment.

Yes, you did do that, but it didn't stop that specific language from rubbing me very much the wrong way. And the latter half of your post still implied that the responsibility to address all of the system's concerns rested on this minority, and also included a certain suggestion of tone policing and a standard of patience greater than that asked of those representing the status quo. The fact that trans people are often asked to be consistently polite and engage people's myriad concerns with a smile even before they have been granted the rights in question feels very much like these rights are being withheld conditionally based on behavior. I mean no disrespect, that's simply how the comment read to me. I have seen many similar phrases coming from people who are unambiguously not allies, and it was frustrating seeing it here. We both agree that the worries of people like corb ought to be addressed as well as possible.
posted by Corinth at 12:33 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad: "What I feel is not productive is telling people that their concerns are not worthy of being addressed because these other people's concerns are more important."

I think the problem here is that, in some ways, cis women's safety and trans women's safety are being construed as a zero-sum game. When that happens, it's really, really hard to avoid the Oppression Olympics of "I'm more oppressed than you!" "No, I'm more oppressed than you!" And, I'm contractually obligated to note, trans women really are oppressed horribly, and it's hard for us to not feel further oppressed when the conversation pits trans women's safety against cis women's safety, even though the statistics show it ain't so, and when we are burdened with educating everyone else about our issues. (And I realize you were arguing more from an "is" position than an "ought" position when you said we need to educate more, but it still feels like a burden that shouldn't be there, and having others tell us what the situation is doesn't make it any easier for us to bear, especially when most of us are already bitterly aware of the actualities.)

So I think it's not just a matter of trying to avoid telling people that their concerns are unimportant. I think it requires a pretty strong reframing of the conversation in the first place, and a commitment on all sides to not frame it as 'my safety vs. your safety'.
posted by jiawen at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


One way to get a better sense of gender is to try performing the other one for a little while, and see how people react. (Hint: often badly.)

Do they ever. My gender is female, and I'm usually performing femininity (long hair, clothes with a neckline where it is apparent that I have boobs, etc.), even though I'm more of a pants and boots kind of person than a dresses and heels kind of person. In college, when I lived in Cambridge, Mass., I shaved my head, just for kicks, and I learned very quickly that society does not easily tolerate people performing gender "the wrong way." My mother was upset for weeks, one really awful person came up to me and yelled at me on the street, and I got puzzled looks from friends and rude comments from strangers.

All of this, for having spent 15 minutes quality time with a razor. And I'm someone who's aligned with their biological gender, who wears clothes designed for women, and who, in every other respect, visibly conforms with societal norms. I just kept thinking, if this is what's happening to me, over one aspect of my appearance, in a place that's regarded as a bastion of liberal progressivism, what's happening to gay people, to trans people, to anyone who crosses these lines every day?

I recommend that everyone who has never knowingly crossed society's gender boundaries to try something like that. It makes your ideas of the openness and tolerance of your community fall apart real quick.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:36 PM on March 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Maybe I'm a different case, because when clean shaven and with longish hair I am often mistaken for a girl, and at drive through's and on the phone I am often called ma'am. To the point that I am often accused of have false identity. I guess, given my situation specifically, it doesn't apply to the whole spectrum and I need to remember that. It's weird because as a "male" I too am terrified of men because I naturally act and present more feminine and my body is more feminine than masculine.

So, I need to remember the whole gender spectrum, that there are "manly" looking men who feel like women, and yeah, whoa...that does hit some buttons, given my personal experiences.

What a crazy insightful discussion this becoming.
posted by roboton666 at 12:37 PM on March 2, 2013


restless_nomad, thank you. I generally dress in ways that would suit either a male or a female person in my culture. Some see that as masculine, but I see it as androgynous.
Dressing in a traditionally feminine way makes me feel uneasy. I normally don't do that, especially when there are people around who know me... I'd hate for them to say 'Oh, you should dress like that more often!'

roboton666, thank you too, but I do know the difference between gender and sex*, and gender and sexual orientation.

What I do not know is the difference or correlation between gender role and gender identity. Can you please elaborate?

* Granted, this is a bit difficult for me to grasp, because in my language we use one word for both. But I do know that sex relates to the body, and gender relates to the mind. Apparently. Because for me, well... I don't feel it. That last one, I mean.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:39 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Too-ticky: gender role is what you want to wear, how you want the world to see you.

A female can identify as female yet decide she wants the world to see her as a male, yet still be comfortable being a she. The identity is internal, the role is external. Neither is connected.
posted by roboton666 at 12:46 PM on March 2, 2013


Too-Ticky, try this: http://trans-fusion.blogspot.com/2011/07/sex-and-gender-terminology.html

Restless_nomad: everyone absolutely has a right to be safe. But everyone does not have a right to feel safe, especially since marginalized people are very often framed as dangerous. Racism operates largely through the generation and exploitation of fear--especially fear of rape. Transphobia operates through this same fear. When we say that fear must be deferred to rather than resisted, we participate in perpetuating marginalization.

I'm certainly not dismissing fear of assault, or the way that people are kept in submission through threats of violence. What I'm saying is that fear works not just in protective ways, but in ways that validate bias. When we have privilege (as I have racial privilege or gender privilege), we need to acknowledge our power. And that power includes the power of framing victims as threats.
posted by DrMew at 12:46 PM on March 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


So I think it's not just a matter of trying to avoid telling people that their concerns are unimportant. I think it requires a pretty strong reframing of the conversation in the first place, and a commitment on all sides to not frame it as 'my safety vs. your safety'.

I totally agree with you in that. But (and as a mod I am always arguing from an "is" not an "ought" position, it's instinctive) it's impossible to reframe that conversation without either excluding the people who do feel that it's zero-sum, or educating them out of that position. We can't do the first, so we have to do the second. And yeah, it's tedious and stressful and totally unfair to people who have the worst of it in general, but I don't see a way out of it. (This is a subject I've been thinking about a lot in general the past year or two - how to have this kind of conversation in a mixed group of activists, stakeholders, non-stakeholders, and non-activists. It's a bear.)

And I'm sorry if that phrasing has unpleasant connotations. I certainly didn't intend for it to be tone-policing or about patience. (Partly because I don't think that angle of attack is productive no matter how pleasantly it's presented, both because it's dismissive and because it reinforces the zero-sum fallacy, as jiawen points out.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:49 PM on March 2, 2013


Ugh... I really did not want to participate in this debate, but seeing a sexual assault victim being told she just has to get over her "irrational penis phobia" is where my personal line is drawn. Not to mention how we are just scared of people with "boy parts" because of the privilege we think they have and how it is soooooooo unfaiiiir....

It's really bizarre to me that there are all these things we agree upon as serious and legitimate problems for women: constant threat of sexual harassment and sexual assault, widespread inability to feel completely safe in any public space, being gaslighted by people who say we are afraid for no reason and are just making it up and paranoid, microaggressions and how when women point them out people say we are getting upset over nothing. How even though a relatively small percentage of the population commits these acts towards women, it is still rational for women to be on guard towards the whole population.

And yet, any time this topic comes up, all of those problems disappear! And we start hearing all those classic misogynistic phrases again, sometimes from the people who do the most talking about this in the first place. You are just IRRATIONAL and PARANOID and you are afraid of things that NEVER HAPPEN and you need to get over your PHOBIAS and ALMOST NOBODY does this stuff anyway!

WRONG! There are many, many, many people out there who come in all shapes, sizes and bodies who are out to do violence to women. There are women and men with vaginas who do this, (although if I looked for an example of one who is sexually violent to female strangers I would be looking for hours and that is not a phobia is is just a fucking fact.) There are women and with penises who do it, and there are a whole lot of those. Don't imagine I will believe you if you tell me I have a penis phobia for stating the absolutely irrefutable and obvious truth. There are hordes of people who don't go for all-out sexual assault but rather commit countless numbers of microaggressions that you are just "bothered by nothing" if you object to them. There are endless numbers of humans who would not stop at any kind of fraud to do or get what they want, and that's another fact.


I do not understand why we cannot say:

-Trans people need to use the correct bathroom that they need and want to, and need to be safe from violence and comfortable.

AND

-Other women also need to be safe from violence and comfortable.

So let's talk about how we can make that happen for everyone. Let's talk about solutions that are good for everyone.

Why does it never happen that way? We can't talk about keeping other women safe from violence and comfortable because that's SELFISH of the other women!!! That is such an eye roll to me, because in EVERY SINGLE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT I HAVE EVER BEEN A PART OF, if women (trans, cis, other) ask for their own welfare and the things that matter to them to be taken seriously and treated as being worthwhile to care about, they get a shit-ton of anger and rage and resentment directed at them. You are being SELFISH and HURTING OUR CAUSE when you ask for those things! Just keep sweet now and maybe we can talk about it after the important things have been squared away. It is something I've heard so many times before in so many other contexts, that I'm sorry, but all I can do is roll my eyes at it. It's old hat. And then women police each other because the woman who is the most selfless is the most virtuous.

If you're at the point where you're telling sexual assault victims to just get over their penis phobia and you think you care about women, regardless of their physical makeup, my mind absolutely boggles.

It is not just about the bathroom thing, which is so insipid that we even still have to debate about it. It is about male-bodied women with penises telling women who identify as lesbians and prefer vaginas, that they are being cissexist bigots for not fucking them and their penises. That is not a myth, it happens all the fucking time, and sometimes is accompanied by bullying or death threats.

It is about - and this one was said to my face in person - hearing that it is bigoted to focus very much on reproductive rights or call it a feminist issue, "because not all women have vaginas." And that it is bigoted to participate in the Vagina Monologues for the same reason. I really, really really wish that I were making this up.

If you're going to try to convince me that I should only care about one kind of woman and not all kinds of women, and that I'm a bigot for caring about all women instead of just that one kind, that is not going to cut me to the quick like you think it will. Sorry.

If you think I'm going to tell a sexual assault victim she should get over her penis phobia, I could never look at myself in the mirror again. Ever. Sorry again.

If you think I'm going to start telling women that they are just paranoid about feeling unsafe in enclosed public spaces, and telling them that instead of working for a way that everyone can feel safe, they are just being selfish bigoted cunts that are only concerned with their own pwecious feeeeewings, sorry again, that is never going to happen in my lifetime.
posted by cairdeas at 12:59 PM on March 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Don't even get me started on the "female brain" bullshit. What an offensive load of unscientific horseshit.
posted by cairdeas at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, maybe I need to be clearer. I know what most of the words mean, thank you all. I do not know what it's like to have a gender identity. Glossaries don't help there.

I don't identify as anything. I don't see myself as a man or a woman and I don't care whether other people see me as a man or a woman. It's okay if they see me as a woman because of my clearly female body; it's equally okay if they see me as male because of my clothes or hair.
It's also fine if they see me as a lesbian, which I am not.

It's sucky, though, if they see me as male because of my profession. Because it's not all that great to be reminded of how restricted the feminine role in society still is.

It seems to matter an awful lot to many of us, both cis and trans* folks, how others see us. I wonder why.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and I don't even know how to begin engaging you cairdeas....
posted by roboton666 at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I reading you right in that you are suggesting that there are "a whole lot" of women with penises who are sexually violent to other women they don't know, but essentially no vagina-having people who are sexually violent to women they don't know? There is certainly a lot to unpack in your comment, but I would be interested in seeing reports or statistics on this if you have them.
posted by Corinth at 1:14 PM on March 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


cairdeas, you've done the very thing you're accusing others of.
posted by hoyland at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Cairdeas: if I've said anything offensive that needs correcting please let me know.
posted by roboton666 at 1:20 PM on March 2, 2013


one really awful person came up to me and yelled at me on the street

gingerbeer told me this story yesterday: she was at a meeting where a bunch of groups that provide health and other services to lgbtq people get together to talk about their programs and talk about how they can cross-link services and so on. One of the groups there is TRANS:THRIVE. They opened a new drop-in center recently, and one of the most valuable things they offer to the population they serve is a chillout room. That is, it is a room with some furniture. For many of their clients, it is literally the only place they can go except their own living space (and perhaps not even there) where they do not risk being harassed or assaulted because of their gender presentation by total strangers.

On preview: holy cow I'm typing slow today.
posted by rtha at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Short of groping everyone on the way into the toilets (which I'm sure will do wonders for everyone's feelings of safety), there is no way to establish someone's genital configuration while they are using a stall in a public bathroom. In other words, the only way we can mark a woman as 'dangerous' in a women's restroom is by policing how she presents her gender and perceived 'maleness' has nothing to do with genitals, as any number of non-penis-having people in this thread have already attested.
posted by hoyland at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am so angry that I need to go for an extremely long run, if anyone replies to me while I am gone I am not ignoring you, I will reply when I get back if you want me to.
posted by cairdeas at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2013


It seems to matter an awful lot to many of us, both cis and trans* folks, how others see us. I wonder why.

Perhaps it's because how people see us has a direct and frequently unpleasant effect on how they treat us. And while it might be grand to dwell on some mental Olympus of indifference to one's treatment by others, I suspect the number of people who can manage that is probably pretty small.
posted by winna at 1:22 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which are all things I specifically called out as productive things to do here in my comment. What I feel is not productive is telling people that their concerns are not worthy of being addressed because these other people's concerns are more important.

Thing is, some of these concerns have very very problematic implications. Someone saying that they do not want people with penises in the women's toilets is effectively saying that trans women who have not had surgery (such as myself) aren't really women on some level. After all, if they were women, allowing them access to the women's toilets would not be an issue up for discussion - it'd be tautologically granted. These aren't 'penis-free toilets' we're talking about, after all - they're women's. Wanting to exclude penis-having trans women from the women's toilets effectively excludes penis-having trans women from being defined or recognised fully as women. That's really quite hurtful, in a way - the academic debates about 'edge cases' such as people who haven't had surgery, haven't got appropriate ID, pass badly, etc. - they're not academic edge cases to a lot of us, that's the lives we lead, every day. So hearing someone say "well what about THESE edge cases, they're problematic for me" feels like something akin to a slap in the face.
posted by Dysk at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


Damnit, is this going to get all fighty again?
posted by roboton666 at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2013


cairdeas, if you'd like me to go on a similar multi-paragraph rant about the way I and others in my community have been treated by cis feminists I'd be happy to, but I don't think it would be very productive.

If you think I'm going to start telling women that they are just paranoid about feeling unsafe in enclosed public spaces, and telling them that instead of working for a way that everyone can feel safe, they are just being selfish bigoted cunts that are only concerned with their own pwecious feeeeewings, sorry again, that is never going to happen in my lifetime.

It all comes down to: do trans women and cis women belong in the same space? The answer can only be yes or no. Either way you have to justify it, but there's no "working for a way everyone can feel safe" because there is no compromise. I can't just put my left leg into women's spaces; I can't be "kind of but not really" included.

I'm either in or I'm out. I'm either a woman or I'm not.

Oh, and:

It is about male-bodied women with penises telling women who identify as lesbians and prefer vaginas, that they are being cissexist bigots for not fucking them and their penises. That is not a myth, it happens all the fucking time, and sometimes is accompanied by bullying or death threats.

You do realise that you've chopped out a tiny piece of the picture, devoid of all its context, and presented it on its own, right?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


Perhaps it's because how people see us has a direct and frequently unpleasant effect on how they treat us.

That's an excellent point, and so obvious that I should have seen it myself.

And going from there, I can also see a very good reason why trans* people often feel the need to 'pass'... because if they don't, they're going to catch a lot of flack and possibly aggression. Probably not the only reason, but it's still a very valid one.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:44 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


cairdeas: "Don't even get me started on the "female brain" bullshit. What an offensive load of unscientific horseshit."

And I'm not going to ping a million things at you all at once while you're not around, but I really think you don't understand what people mean by this if you find it offensive and unscientific.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:49 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


So hearing someone say "well what about THESE edge cases, they're problematic for me" feels like something akin to a slap in the face.

Well, that's what I'm saying in terms of the makeup of these conversations. That is a thing that people feel; I don't agree with it and I think you are not at all wrong in finding it problematic at best, and grossly insulting at worst. But the choice we have as a community is either to forbid that opinion from being expressed, or examine and critique it. If our priority were being a safe space, then there's no question - it'd be the first. But we're not, we're a general-purpose community with a large range of people, and there are limits to how we can draw those lines.

And this is an issue distinct from, say, homophobia - society as a whole is in a very different place with trans issues and a larger percentage of the general population is fundamentally uneducated. The whole second-wave feminist history doesn't fucking help, either - there are a lot of people who, in my opinion, should be trans activists and yet manage to be closer to enemies because of these decades-old debates that don't seem to do anyone any good.

So from the perspective of someone who is trying to facilitate these conversations between some really widely disparate people, well, it's hard. I don't see a way to do that without people feeling insulted, because there are a lot of ways to be insulting, both intentionally and unintentionally. So I'm left advocating for listening with compassion both to the people who say "I am frightened" and the people who say "Your fear is symptomatic of the larger oppression I have to live with every day." Because these people are not on opposite sides.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:55 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


The insensitive behavior of some Mefites reminds me of the presumably American commenters explaining to Salam Pax on his blog why he ought to be grateful to the United States for invading Iraq and bombing Baghdad, which was happening at the time.

This blog post was nearly 10 years ago so I can't dig it up right now, but I remember it very clearly.

Trans people live in a constant war zone and understandably don't appreciate the godlike perspective of others who minimize the fallout or tell them that it's for their own good.
posted by bad grammar at 2:02 PM on March 2, 2013


So from the perspective of someone who is trying to facilitate these conversations between some really widely disparate people, well, it's hard. I don't see a way to do that without people feeling insulted, because there are a lot of ways to be insulting, both intentionally and unintentionally. So I'm left advocating for listening with compassion both to the people who say "I am frightened" and the people who say "Your fear is symptomatic of the larger oppression I have to live with every day." Because these people are not on opposite sides.

Oh, I'm not criticising the mod response or anything, not at all. I'm just pointing out that somewhat pointed responses to these concerns are going to be a feature of any conversation about this, not because of a lack of compassion for those concerns, necessarily, but because privileging those concerns over the rights of trans people constitutes a denial of trans people's identities altogether. I fully agree that this should be explained politely, but once it has, and people persist in privileging these concerns? Well, compassion wears thin in the face of that sort of outright dismissal.
posted by Dysk at 2:05 PM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


I hope when you come back from your run you have more empathy. That's truly the only thing I can say right now if that rant is your honest take away from this discussion.
posted by sonika at 2:10 PM on March 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is also the only time in my MetaFilter history that I've been disappointed with a mod's handling of a thread. I get where restless_nomad is coming from, but there absolutely IS a greater concern from transwomen about being attacked in any bathroom than a cisgendered woman who is going to be safest in a women's bathroom. It's not dismissing a cisgender woman to say "Your concerns about assault are valid, but this person is a woman too."

As for education - back to the topic of the original thread, the more we can teach kids that gender is a spectrum and trans* people are just people, the better these discussions will go in the future.
posted by sonika at 2:16 PM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's not dismissing a cisgender woman to say "Your concerns about assault are valid, but this person is a woman too."

That's exactly what I am trying to encourage people to say, rather than "your concerns about assault are irrelevant because trans women are in more danger." Which is not only dismissive but actually reinforces the perception of danger rather than making it clear that the danger to cis women is not actually a thing.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:33 PM on March 2, 2013


That's exactly what I am trying to encourage people to say,

Ok, fair enough. My mistake. From my POV it was reading as "transwomen need to be aware of ciswomen's assault fears" which isn't a fair place to start a conversation being as it splits women into two sides rather than one group of people, all of whom carry a varying amount of risk depending on their perceived gender performance.
posted by sonika at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Too-Ticky, I hear ya. I am a woman because that's the physical configuration I got assigned at the flip of the proverbial coin, while in utero. All this time, I thought that's how people were, because that's the experience I have: that my brain is more or less neutral, but because of my body, I wound up on the Ladies side, which then led to the Girl Socialization, so I think and communicate and react in certain ways. I'm okay with it except for menstruation and predatory men. Could do without those.

I wound up a hell of a feminist because I grew up in a pack of strong independent women, and I resent it when I am told I can't do or be something because of the configuration of my body. Kid-cmyk could have the fire truck and the baby doll. They're just objects.

I'm okay with presenting female, generally speaking: I'm a tomboy with a Louise Brooks bob, in t-shirts and jeans and old motorcycle boots. I get addressed as she and her and miss and ma'am and that's okay too. Doing more intensive Feminine Presentation - dressing up Nice, wearing makeup, ensuring my hair is Done, god forbid keeping my Wolverine brows plucked, etc etc - that feels like Halloween. It's weird and funny because I'm in a costume and nobody else realizes it.

I'd probably have a moment of WTF if someone mistook me for male, because of all the Girl Socializing I've gotten. That doesn't happen to me much - it's rare enough that I can't remember the last time it did. (I am very small and curvy, which tend to lead people to assume Woman from a moment's glance.) I don't particularly care if I'm mistaken for a lesbian (though I'm not one), but if I have been, nobody's told me so.

I've thought about this a lot over the past few days, and had some interesting discussions too -- being told "You're about as neutral as a cis girl can get" is reassuring, because that way I make sense, I'm not broken somehow, I'm not missing this vital Gender Sense that I'm supposed to have.

Which is all to say, Too-Ticky, and roboton666 also, that yeah, some of us feel like our physical sex does dictate our gender. There's all kinds, yeah?
posted by cmyk at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, what? I had no idea 'butthurt' was intended to connote anything akin to anal rape. As with other folks here, in context I had taken it to have more of a "whiny person talking about how something is a pain in their butt" kind of connotation.

Need to find another way to express only what I want to express, then.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dysk: Someone saying that they do not want people with penises in the women's toilets is effectively saying that trans women who have not had surgery (such as myself) aren't really women on some level.

I've seen a few cis women in this thread (corb, cairdeas, fshgrl, among others) say something along the lines that [male-bodied] men sharing a bathroom with women can present a threat to women. I haven't seen any cis women specifically saying that trans women (with or without penises) shouldn't be able to use a womens bathroom; in fact, cairdeas, fshgrl and I specifically stated that they should be able to. So in this thread (not the world at large), is this a strawman, or am I missing some comments by cis women? You're nominally responding to restless_nomad, but who are you actually addressing?
posted by desjardins at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are women and with penises who do it [commit (sexual) violence against women], and there are a whole lot of those. Don't imagine I will believe you if you tell me I have a penis phobia for stating the absolutely irrefutable and obvious truth.

If the fact that there are "a whole lot" of women with penises committing sexual violence against other women, and it's irrefutable, then surely it'd be pretty trivial for you to dig up some stats or some sort of cite to back that position up, right? Because just calling it irrefutable and obvious doesn't actually back your position up at all...
posted by Dysk at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2013


I was going to respond to Too-Ticky as well, but what cmyk said is dead on, minus the "curvy" part. I just really don't give a shit either way in my head.
posted by desjardins at 2:57 PM on March 2, 2013


I've seen a few cis women in this thread (corb, cairdeas, fshgrl, among others) say something along the lines that [male-bodied] men sharing a bathroom with women can present a threat to women. I haven't seen any cis women specifically saying that trans women (with or without penises) shouldn't be able to use a womens bathroom; in fact, cairdeas, fshgrl and I specifically stated that they should be able to. So in this thread (not the world at large), is this a strawman, or am I missing some comments by cis women? You're nominally responding to restless_nomad, but who are you actually addressing?

Well, corb's statements in this thread and the other, for one, seemed at the very least at one point to be suggesting that Coy should use a gender-neutral toilet rather than be allowed in the girls' toilet, precisely because of concerns like this. At times, they've come rather close to questioning the authenticity of trans people's gender as well (with regard to concerns about people "socialised as men"). Not to single out corb, though - in the original thread, there were lots of people saying "oh, Coy has ID that says 'female'? sure, then" (or similar with regard to therapist's letters or whatever) very very much by implication excluding those of us who don't have those pieces of paper.
posted by Dysk at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Not giving a shit" and having your physical bits confirm and/or validate and/or supposedly dictate your gender identity may or may not be privileges you're aware of having, but they are almost certainly privileges. Specifically, the ability not to give a shit is not available to many trans or gender non-conforming identities specifically because other people give a shit for them, often in the form of mistreatment.
posted by Corinth at 3:11 PM on March 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I just really don't give a shit either way in my head.

Which is awesome and within the realm of fairly common human experience, but giving a shit is also within the realm of fairly common human experience.
posted by hoyland at 3:12 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


CMYK: That's why, at the core of this gender discussion there will eventually be nothing more than love, attraction and expression. LGBT will go away as a label, and we will recognize everyone as what they are and just accept them on those terms without question.

So in a sense "trans" is a made up label to describe normal people being their normal selves in way that other people have been socialized to not understand.

I'm no different from anyone as far as I can tell. I'm still a person, which is where this starts getting really weird to talk about when the flack starts coming in.
posted by roboton666 at 3:12 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, corb's statements in this thread and the other, for one, seemed at the very least at one point to be suggesting that Coy should use a gender-neutral toilet rather than be allowed in the girls' toilet, precisely because of concerns like this. At times

I don't think corb is doing that here. Or has for a while. Wolfdreams01 is the one who wants inane documentation and legal reasonings
posted by sweetkid at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2013


I've seen a few cis women in this thread (corb, cairdeas, fshgrl, among others) say something along the lines that [male-bodied] men sharing a bathroom with women can present a threat to women. I haven't seen any cis women specifically saying that trans women (with or without penises) shouldn't be able to use a womens bathroom; in fact, cairdeas, fshgrl and I specifically stated that they should be able to. So in this thread (not the world at large), is this a strawman, or am I missing some comments by cis women?

The problem is if we're talking about trans women using women's restrooms and suddenly someone starts going on about men in women's bathrooms, it's kind of hard not to think they're really hung up on the idea of trans women sometimes having penises (and somehow therefore being men).
posted by hoyland at 3:16 PM on March 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Not giving a shit" and having your physical bits confirm and/or validate and/or supposedly dictate your gender identity may or may not be privileges you're aware of having, but they are almost certainly privileges.

Yes, and ... did you think I was unaware of my privilege?

Which is awesome and within the realm of fairly common human experience, but giving a shit is also within the realm of fairly common human experience.

... and I didn't say it wasn't? I mean, are people just looking for stuff to fight about now?
posted by desjardins at 3:17 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a straight cis male, I think that those who are saying they "don't care" what gender they are and would be perfectly happy as either gender seem to be missing the fact that they are pretty lucky.

It's the difference between having dysmorphia and not having it, you know? You shouldn't be thinking about it in terms of "I could be the other gender and it wouldn't matter" but more like "I could feel very strongly that my gender is wrong, even in a body 'sexed' as it is right now".

I'm wondering now if I have misread the intention of some of those comments, so apologies if you feel I have, but it probably needs to be said anyway.
posted by knapah at 3:20 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hence cairdeas' post, for me, specifically is hard to digest because I DO feel like "one of the girls", but I'm treated as "one of the boys" and I'm like "WTF?", and I want to be accepted on the terms that I'm another girl in this conversation but I'm disallowed. I'm being told I feel like, to back to the boys line and play a part that I can't play well and catch of shit from the boys when I do. So I'm standing here in the middle having to choose one side or the other, just wanting acceptance and not really getting it from anyone.

And it's really a shitty feeling when a woman days to me "get over it, you're a male, and you are part of the reason I am afraid of men" and I'm sitting here, after a lifetime of abuse from men feeling the same way.

Is that really hard to accept and understand?
posted by roboton666 at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Not giving a shit" and having your physical bits confirm and/or validate and/or supposedly dictate your gender identity may or may not be privileges you're aware of having, but they are almost certainly privileges.

I agree with this, and I am someone who doesn't "feel" strongly gendered (that is, I feel like me; I am a woman, I identify socially and biologically and whatever else as a woman, but I don't really know what that means because I don't have anything to compare it to except the experiences of a lot of trans* folks who talk about having a very strong sense of "wrongness" or disjunction in the internal self vs the external self). I'm just beginning to wonder - and this is probably not a new thought for a lot of people - if being cisgendered is more about an absence of disjunction rather than a consciously acknowledged presence of alignment.
posted by rtha at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


Ah, desjardin's comment is kind of what I was thinking about when I wrote the last line in my comment. I'm certainly not looking for a fight!
posted by knapah at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2013


I'm not looking for things to fight about, I just don't understand the larger point that was trying to be made by emphasizing how comfortable some people are with their gender identities and bodies, especially hypotheticals about how okay someone assumes they would be with a different version of either.
posted by Corinth at 3:24 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just beginning to wonder - and this is probably not a new thought for a lot of people - if being cisgendered is more about an absence of disjunction rather than a consciously acknowledged presence of alignment.

Quite possibly. There's the issue of how do you distinguish between not feeling strongly gendered and not noticing your feelings gendering yourself because all the input you're getting confirms your gender? It's not quite confirmation bias, but that sort of thing.

Hopefully that sentence made sense. Because I suspect people who do not have a gender feel rather differently than cis people who don't feel strongly gendered, but arguably that's an 'absence of disjunction' as well (though now I'm totally speaking for people who are very much not me, so excuse me).
posted by hoyland at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2013


I'm not looking for things to fight about, I just don't understand the larger point that was trying to be made by emphasizing how comfortable some people are with their gender identities and bodies, especially hypotheticals about how okay someone assumes they would be with a different version of either.

We are directly responding to Too-Ticky's comment. She was trying to understand these concepts of gender identity and role. Some of us do not have a strong gender identity.
posted by desjardins at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid: I don't think corb is doing that here. Or has for a while. Wolfdreams01 is the one who wants inane documentation and legal reasonings

I mean, I wasn't going to do this, but:

corb: Specifically in Coy's case, given the information provided above by various mandated reporters that accidental genitalia exposure is not taken by the state as an issue or danger to children, I would say she should be permitted to use the girl's washroom, but the issue would need to be revisited if any of the other girls complained or felt unsafe.

That implies pretty strongly that other girls' complaints would trump Coy's status as a girl.

And there's lots of comments from other people along the lines of what I describe, too. Hell, the very first comment in the original thread:

If the school, church, business, beach, park, care to recognize the transgendered then they have to offer a gender neutral option. Three choices should be enough for everyone.

Again, implies pretty strongly that "the transgendered" are a separate category to women/men.


I want to restate that I don't want to single anyone out, really, but if you ask me to demonstrate what I mean, I don't know how else to do that than to quote comments. I've picked out a few, just to illustrate that it isn't something I'm imagining. I'm not going to go through two 600+ comment threads with a fine-toothed comb to dig them all out, but they're there, even if they thankfully aren't the vast majority of comments.
posted by Dysk at 3:33 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


We are directly responding to Too-Ticky's comment. She was trying to understand these concepts of gender identity and role. Some of us do not have a strong gender identity.

It sounded very much like Too-Ticky was interested in hearing about trans people's experiences and the stuff in robotron's Trans 101 link, though. She had talked about not feeling strongly gendered and combine that with talking about not distinguishing sex and gender in her head makes it a good bet that the experiences of not-strongly-gendered cis people were not the mysterious thing. Of course, it seems everyone's reading of that comment is a reflection of their own biases, so we could well all be right or all be wrong.
posted by hoyland at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2013


I began my journey toward acceptance of transgendered persons because I thought about what it would be like to be in a man's body. I don't want to talk about it in detail because I don't want to add to the pain of the experience of people who do have that problem, but I would not be okay with being male-bodied at all. I would like to be paid appropriately for my work, and get respect, and not have all the horrible experiences attendant on being female-bodied, but if the only way was to have a male body I would refuse.

Which is probably pretty odd, all things considered, because I am a relatively asexual clod who is catastrophically terrible at performing femininity and who is far more comfortable not behaving in accordance with feminine gender norms. You would think that I wouldn't be troubled by the thought of changing this body, which I only inhabit absently at the best of times, for another kind. But not so!

So I sympathize as best I know how with what the experience of transgendered persons and try to be supportive. I'm kind of amazed that there are so many people who would be okay with it in a 'whoa, I'm more attached to my physical form than many, it seems' way.
posted by winna at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


There have definitely been statements in both threads about *penises* being a threat in a women's room, simply by virtue of being a penis. It is hardly a leap to think that the implication is that anyone with a penis should use the men's room.

For women with concerns of assault by a penis, thinking this through all the way should make it clear that the threat comes from men, not the penis. A transwoman faces a threat going into a women's bathroom, but she faces a much greater threat of assault in the men's room. So, why would you want to place another woman at a much greater risk of the very assault that you yourself fear? Let's not forget that woman on woman violence can happen and transwomen are at greater risk for this, whereas a cis woman can be reasonably certain that the other women in a restroom pose no threat.
posted by sonika at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


There have definitely been statements in both threads about *penises* being a threat in a women's room, simply by virtue of being a penis. It is hardly a leap to think that the implication is that anyone with a penis should use the men's room.

Where? Mostly what I have seen is people snarking OMG penis if women have talked about sexual assault at all in these threads.

It really seems like the prevailing sentiment is that ciswomen should have no real fears of sexual assault and, more so, are not meant to have any input in this thread at all about their experience as women.

Again, for the record, I personally have no issue with trans* people using the bathroom they prefer. But I think a lot of the ciswomens opInions and thoughts in this thread are getting shouted down.
posted by sweetkid at 3:46 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, the whole mandated reporter derail was pretty much about penises.

How does a trans woman using the same bathroom as a cis woman relate to either of their fears of sexual assault if it's not somehow about penises?
posted by hoyland at 3:50 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


7:02: Is there any greater male signifier than the penis? Penises are the ultimate symbol of physical male identity.

I do not know the gender of that person, so they may well not be a woman.
posted by hoyland at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2013


Yeah, no, my comment was entirely "Hey, Too-Ticky, I get you, here is why." I'm not trying to deny that I benefit from cis privilege - and it is one hell of a privilege that I can perform as much femininity as I need to for whatever situation I'm in, to keep from being hassled. I just.. don't have a strong gender identity, deep down.

It's really not relevant to the topic at large, just a little data-point for a couple of people here.
posted by cmyk at 3:54 PM on March 2, 2013


I have not gotten the sense that anyone has stated that women should have no fears of sexual assault, so that would be another good question for the "Where?"

Corb said that she has heightened awareness, not necessarily fear, of people who have a penis and were at least in part socialized as men: Because any safety concerns or fears are dismissed as "transphobic." And it's not transphobic - it's "people who have penises and have been socialized as men" phobic
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It really seems like the prevailing sentiment is that ciswomen should have no real fears of sexual assault and, more so, are not meant to have any input in this thread at all about their experience as women.

I have said at least three times that ciswomen's fears of assault are valid. I guess this makes time number four.

My experience as a ciswoman is that I want my transwomen "sisters" to feel as safe going pee as I do. I would probably flee the scene if a man walked into the women's room without an obvious reason. I would not bat an eye at bull dykes, transwomen, lesbians or ANY self-identified woman in a woman-only space, such as a bathroom.

If other ciswomen feel that transwomen in the bathroom are a threat simply due to their genital configuration, that's a form of internalized transphobia and recognizing it and talking about it is a good way to get past it. We, as women, all face the risk of violence by men and it would be great if we didn't shut out other women in trying to protect ourselves.
posted by sonika at 3:56 PM on March 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


Okay, having reviewed all (currently) 108 mentions of 'penis' in the other thread, it appears most instances are someone saying 'penis' to attempt to emphasise that the people trying to draw a distinction between Coy and the other girls in her class are doing so purely on her genitals and nothing else. The people trying to draw such a distinction are apparently endeavouring quite hard to pretend they're not doing so.
posted by hoyland at 3:58 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It really seems like the prevailing sentiment is that ciswomen should have no real fears of sexual assault and, more so, are not meant to have any input in this thread at all about their experience as women.

Well, in the context of discussing transgender toilet access rights, what are we supposed to do with comments about men entering women's toilets? Obviously, there are situations where they can be relevant (such as yours, with regard to unisex toilets as a total replacement for gendered toilets) but devoid of some sort of context to grant this relevance, it pretty fucking strongly implies that some supposed trans women are men.

I fully agree that statements along the lines of 'oh just get over your irrational fear!' are reprehensible, of course, and I do not mean to dismiss those fears (and sincerely hope none of my previous comments have come across as doing so). However, in the context of a discussion about Coy's (and more widely, transgender people's) right to use the bathroom of their choosing, and doubly when statements like '"took into account not only Coy but other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls' bathroom would have as Coy grew older," attorney W. Kelly Dude said.' are part of the article being discussed, it can be hard to see the relevance of these fears outside of a belief that trans women are 'really' men, at least on some level.

Does that excuse reprehensible behaviour? Absolutely not. But please, if you feel these concerns are relevant to the topic at hand, could you explain how? Because to me, it's kinda hard to see...
posted by Dysk at 4:04 PM on March 2, 2013


The others are mostly related to the mandated reporter derail, the penises define masculinity derail the start of which I linked above, and a couple from KillaSeal, who was not talking about sexual assault.

However, sweetkid, this comment seems quite relevant. Sure, it attempts to carve out an exception for trans women, but it's a prime example of the drawing a line between trans women and sexual assault. Why has the straight cis guy walked into a women's bathroom in this hypothetical? (And how do the women using the bathroom know he is a) cis and b) straight? Or possibly c) a guy? Which is the whole point here.)
posted by hoyland at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2013


Okay, having reviewed all (currently) 108 mentions of 'penis' in the other thread, it appears most instances are someone saying 'penis' to attempt to emphasise that the people trying to draw a distinction between Coy and the other girls in her class are doing so purely on her genitals and nothing else. The people trying to draw such a distinction are apparently endeavouring quite hard to pretend they're not doing so.

There were a few comments that were deleted. Some of them most assuredly did use the word 'penis', and quite likely form part of the background against which some of the other comments - which were not deleted - were made.
posted by Dysk at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


There were a few comments that were deleted.

Crap, I didn't even think of that.
posted by hoyland at 4:07 PM on March 2, 2013


Wolfdreams01 is the one who wants inane documentation and legal reasonings

They were not alone.
posted by Dysk at 4:13 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you're going to keep quoting omg penis, maybe you should provide the context. i'm not sure how you took from my comment that i minimize sexual assault. i'm a survivor, a multiple time survivor. if you think i don't care about sexual assault against women, you need to make that case clearly. the point of that part of my comment was that cis men assaulting cis women is unrelated to trans women in the bathroom, except for the potential of a penis - unless someone has stats of trans women assaulting cis women in bathrooms, i stand by that.
posted by nadawi at 4:15 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay, having reviewed all (currently) 108 mentions of 'penis' in the other thread

And only 11 mentions of vagina. I don't know if that means anything.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:17 PM on March 2, 2013


Why has the straight cis guy walked into a women's bathroom in this hypothetical?

"We don't know, except we know it's transgressive" is the whole point, that's why I linked to the Hi Whatcha Reading thread (aka the Schroedinger's Rapist thread). It could be that the mens' room is out of order and he really needs to go. It could be because he's a creepy pervert. We don't know.

It is not wrong to have my guard up.

It is also not wrong for someone to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in, penis or no penis.

Here are my words from that comment: I personally would feel a bit squicked out if a cisgendered hetero dude came into the womens' bathroom and I'm also 100% supportive of mtf and ftm (and other trans* variations) rights to use whatever bathrooms they find most comfortable in.
posted by desjardins at 4:23 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The takeaway I'm getting out of all this is that our culture and society is the absolute shittiest of shits. It seems that virtually no one gets to live an unharrassed life. It's almost amazing that we haven't collectively said fuck it all, and moved off to caves to live as hermits.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:23 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


But do the caves have private bathrooms?
posted by sonika at 4:42 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the rest of you, but I cover my genitals when leaving the house - so this isn't really even an argument about penis, this is an argument about assumed penis.
posted by Betafae at 4:44 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


It is not wrong to have my guard up.

This is true. The truth is, I have my guard up when I go into a bathroom, and the likelihood of anything happening to me is so vanishingly small as to be almost nonexistent. Maybe it's partially a residue of all those "child kidnapped in public bathroom" stories I heard when I was a kid, and I think part of it is being in a small, isolated space in an intimate position with total strangers around.

Now, women don't have a vanishingly small likelihood of assault in a bathroom -- it's not uncommon at all for news stories to report on men who follow women into bathrooms. And this is certainly worth respecting. Because the questions that it raises is not "how can we make women feel safe in the bathroom," but "how can we make sure women are safe in the bathroom."

And I agree that transwomen are women, and, as this thread has shown, they actually face considerable risk in the bathroom. They share the risk of sexual assault (PDF), but have the added risk of being assaulted just for using the bathroom -- and they have that risk regardless of what bathroom they use. In fact, physical assault of trans people in bathrooms is so common that the DC Trans Coalition has a campaign specifically to address it. Back in 2009, there was an anonymous blog called Let Us Pee that reprinted stories of bathroom harassment. There's also a site called Safe2Pee that is supposed to be searchable to find safe bathrooms for trans people to use; I don't know how updated or accurate it currently is.

So while people have their guards up, which is, I think, I perfectly natural and understandable response, it is worth considering points made in 13 Myths and Misconceptions About Trans Women (part one; part two):

I’m not sure why whatever discomfort may arise from a cis woman’s hang-ups about the thought of a trans woman in the same bathroom or changing room or whatever, and the perceived risk, should take precedence over the extreme discomfort and actual physical risk that a trans woman would be forced to endure in using men’s facilities.

An argument I’ve encountered repeatedly is “well what’s to stop some male rapist or child molester or voyeur from putting on some lipstick, claiming to be transgender, and then sexually assaulting your daughters!” (Ominous scary organ chord!).

Well… there has never, ever been such an incident. No man has ever disguised himself as transgender for the sake of perpetrating such a crime. And if what you are worried about is sexual assault and voyeurism then those are the issues you should be targeting, enacting policies against, and the people whom you should be demonizing. Don’t demonize and punish innocent trans people over some wild, imagined hypothetical.

Would you ban lesbians from women’s facilities on the possibility of their voyeurism? No, probably not, and it’s extremely statistically unlikely for lesbians to commit sexual assault in such a setting. But… it’s just as unlikely for trans women to do so. And remember that stuff about our libidos? Our difficulty achieving erection if we even have a penis?

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:44 PM on March 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm someone who's been raped in a public washroom (not by a stranger, though; by my then-boyfriend who followed me in there), and it sucks a lot to have my experience coopted in potty panic discussions in order to exclude trans women from women's spaces. (Have also been dragged backwards by the neck out of a women's washroom by some jackhole overprotective dude whose girlfriend was in there, because my gender expression at the time was insufficiently feminine for his taste, but that is neither here nor there.)
posted by bewilderbeast at 5:11 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


So, the answer is to use the restroom that best matches the passable gender role you are choosing at that particular moment? Seems pretty fair me.

The bathroom is not about the identity, but the role.
posted by roboton666 at 5:31 PM on March 2, 2013


So, the answer is to use the restroom that best matches the passable gender role you are choosing at that particular moment? Seems pretty fair me.

Uh, no. That seems so incredibly far removed from fair to me, as a trans person who does not have the privilege of routinely passing.
posted by Dysk at 5:34 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, back to the drawing board..
posted by roboton666 at 5:35 PM on March 2, 2013


I mean, not passing presents its own set of challenges and woes as is, even before we get to the point of having different rules based entirely on our looks. It does not strike me as a particularly fair or inclusive approach. Beyond which, passing is subjective - exactly how well do you have to pass to be allowed to use the women's/men's? To whom do you have to pass? How on earth are you going to call people on it? "Uh, excuse me miss/sir? You look like a man/woman to me, don't you think you ought to use the other bathroom?" There is absolutely no way of making such a request polite or inoffensive, because the sentiment behind it is neither polite nor inoffensive.
posted by Dysk at 5:39 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm laughing at myself proposing such a notion. "Oh look,easy peasy!"

What the hell :-)
posted by roboton666 at 5:48 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are lots of people who don't easily "pass" as either male or female, regardless of their gender identities, attempts to perform gender, or physical organs. Any rule that says that people's use of public facilities should be governed by other people's judgment about whether or not they "look right" is necessarily going to end up creating lots and lots of violations of people's rights because their efforts (or completely personal and legitimate decision not to make such efforts) to "look right" weren't good enough for someone else's tastes. Access to public facilities, like any other basic human right, simply can't be left up to a vote about whether or not the general public wants to grant it to you. And we cannot abdicate our responsibility to make it safe for people to use public restrooms, regardless of their gender or their gender presentation.
posted by decathecting at 5:49 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


roboton666: "So, the answer is to use the restroom that best matches the passable gender role you are choosing at that particular moment? Seems pretty fair me.

The bathroom is not about the identity, but the role.
"

If you delete "passable" and leave it as "the gender role you are choosing at the moment", this is why I (a cis woman, speaking for nobody but myself) would feel comfortable sharing the women's room with a physically/assigned male drag performer who was in female drag, but would feel disconcerted if that same performer removed their makeup and changed into presenting-male civvies and then used the women's room. And on consideration, I think I'd feel a little odd if a physically/assigned female drag performer in male drag used the women's room while I was there. "Uh… excuse me, but don't you mean to be in the other one?"

In general: I don't know what your identity is, and even if I thought checking inside your pants would tell me what it is, you have to at least buy me a drink and nibble my earlobes a bit first. (Joke.) More seriously: all I have to go on, in public, is how you present and carry yourself. And if you present and carry yourself as "I am a person here to use the women's room for elimination and hygiene reasons, not for predating-on-other-people reasons" then everything's fine.

Based on my own experience, I love the idea of changing to having the wash areas be well-lighted, spacious, and open to all genders, with each stall being single-occupancy (or person-plus-caregiver occupancy). The restroom I used at the park earlier today was that way, and it seemed to eliminate a number of potential problems.
posted by Lexica at 5:50 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lexica: Would that be something like Gender-Accessible architecture? Mind. Blown.
posted by roboton666 at 6:12 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've come back and since the conversation has gone to a lot of different places over the afternoon, I'm going to put all my replies in one post to minimize how much I break the flow of the conversation that has continued.

Corinth: Am I reading you right in that you are suggesting that there are "a whole lot" of women with penises who are sexually violent to other women they don't know, but essentially no vagina-having people who are sexually violent to women they don't know? There is certainly a lot to unpack in your comment, but I would be interested in seeing reports or statistics on this if you have them.

I was talking about both men and women when I said "a whole lot," but I do not want to get too far into this particular side conversation because the point is not "Everyone with a penis is sexually violent!!!!" As a whole, they are not, just like as a whole most people of Earth are not. If you are interested in numbers of trans people who have been prosecuted for sex crimes, and how they break down by gender, the best sources of those numbers are actually social justice organizations who advocate for trans prisoners. As far as "reports" here is the first one that came to my mind. I do not want to kick off a thousand derails so I am going to leave it at that.

ArmyofKittens: It all comes down to: do trans women and cis women belong in the same space? The answer can only be yes or no. Either way you have to justify it, but there's no "working for a way everyone can feel safe" because there is no compromise. I can't just put my left leg into women's spaces; I can't be "kind of but not really" included.

Well, I utterly disagree that there's just no conceivably possible way to find a solution where everyone is included, nobody's womanhood is questioned and everyone feels safe. Maybe believing it's impossible is what is behind this insistence that anyone who feels unsafe is just delusional and selfish. I really wish that I just *had* this solution but I think the only way we will be able to figure out what it is is if we can talk about it.

Oh, and:

"It is about male-bodied women with penises telling women who identify as lesbians and prefer vaginas, that they are being cissexist bigots for not fucking them and their penises. That is not a myth, it happens all the fucking time, and sometimes is accompanied by bullying or death threats."

You do realise that you've chopped out a tiny piece of the picture, devoid of all its context, and presented it on its own, right?

If you would like to tell me the context in which that behavior is okay, I would be all ears. I have not yet, to date, heard of a context that makes me okay with someone trying to pressure people into unwanted sex with them or in front of them, because they feel that sexual activity with those people is their right in some way, and sending rape threats to them afterwards is okay because of how they are bigots who deserve it, but anything's possible.

cairdeas: "Don't even get me started on the "female brain" bullshit. What an offensive load of unscientific horseshit."

And I'm not going to ping a million things at you all at once while you're not around, but I really think you don't understand what people mean by this if you find it offensive and unscientific.


Ay yi yi, I'm trying really hard to ignore my rise in blood pressure at being told that I must just not understand something if I think it is wrong. Trust me, I understand it.

roboton666:Hence cairdeas' post, for me, specifically is hard to digest because I DO feel like "one of the girls", but I'm treated as "one of the boys" and I'm like "WTF?", and I want to be accepted on the terms that I'm another girl in this conversation but I'm disallowed. I'm being told I feel like, to back to the boys line and play a part that I can't play well and catch of shit from the boys when I do. So I'm standing here in the middle having to choose one side or the other, just wanting acceptance and not really getting it from anyone.

And it's really a shitty feeling when a woman days to me "get over it, you're a male, and you are part of the reason I am afraid of men" and I'm sitting here, after a lifetime of abuse from men feeling the same way.


I've never questioned the terms that you are another girl in the conversation, and I'm not ever going to call you a male.
posted by cairdeas at 6:38 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the other thread, foot wants the New York Times to investigate the family, steal and share a six-year old's medical records and interrogate her medical staff. That, for reference, is what bigotry looks like - deciding that certain people do not deserve the same respect or protections as regular humans when those protections get in the way of how you see the world.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:39 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't want to quote anybody in particular but there's a lot of talk about groups (women, cis women, trans women, etc) and I'd like to make a two-cent suggestion because I think it might help. In this forum, here on MetaFilter and its subsites, I think it is more useful to talk as individuals. I get the temptation, and maybe even value, of attempting to share your experience as a member of a group. But in this forum, I think it creates more problems than it solves.

I think these conversations are a lot more interesting to read, but more importantly more productive, and less contentious when people speak solely in their own small voice. Read other people's comments the same way. Don't assume they are speaking for a group, and if they're purporting to then heck, maybe even ignore that. Just talking as individuals and literally nothing more can, in my limited opinion, help a lot.
posted by cribcage at 6:41 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


cairdeas: I recognize that you don't want to get bogged down in defending particular examples, but the first sentence of your linked report involves a crime a trans woman committed while identifying as a man. I don't see any reason to imagine that trans women with penises are more likely than other groups to visit violence upon women absent data, but I understand why other people might (again, absence the presence of data) take the opposite to be their default stance. I think that's one area where progress might be made through conversation, and I think some of that has already taken place here.

As for trans women asking other lesbians to sincerely consider the origins of their preferences: this is, in large part, the same conversation straight trans women have with straight men. Many people of all kinds immediately write off all trans people from their relationship/sex pool, when this is probably a form of transphobia instilled by mainstream culture. After honest reflection, I think that most people can rephrase their preferences in ways that aren't transphobic and sometimes might include certain trans people. Your focusing on one small part of that debate in which both sides are at their most radical and worked up isn't really helpful, nor is implying that anyone here might believe that threats of violence from anyone are acceptable.
posted by Corinth at 7:12 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you would like to tell me the context in which that behavior is okay, I would be all ears. I have not yet, to date, heard of a context that makes me okay with someone trying to pressure people into unwanted sex with them or in front of them, because they feel that sexual activity with those people is their right in some way, and sending rape threats to them afterwards is okay because of how they are bigots who deserve it, but anything's possible.

Unless I have really missed something, you are the first person to bring up this specific issue (vs the more generalized fears of being sexually assaulted by a stranger in a bathroom), so I am really unclear why you are bring this up as if anyone here as advocated that this behavior is okay by anyone or defended by anyone.

And re Foot in the other thread: he may have a misunderstanding of what's legally okay to be disclosed to the press and by whom, but he did not say that info should be stolen.
posted by rtha at 7:16 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


the best sources of those numbers are actually social justice organizations who advocate for trans prisoners.

You know that trans* people are more likely to end falsely accused of crimes and convinced on minimal evidence more often than cisgender people, yes? Just putting it out there that what qualifies as "sexual assault" to prosecute a transwoman might not, in some cases, meet the threshold for pressing charges with a cisgender woman. Especially in a bathroom where transwomen are routinely accused of being "up to something" simply by entering.
posted by sonika at 7:17 PM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Yeah, you can be slapped with a sex crimes charge and conviction for being in the "wrong" bathroom. That is really a thing.
posted by rtha at 7:22 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fair point, rtha - you're right that he's operating at a very low level of understanding of how courts work and how the press works.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:37 PM on March 2, 2013


If you would like to tell me the context in which that behavior is okay, I would be all ears. I have not yet, to date, heard of a context that makes me okay with someone trying to pressure people into unwanted sex with them or in front of them, because they feel that sexual activity with those people is their right in some way, and sending rape threats to them afterwards is okay because of how they are bigots who deserve it, but anything's possible.

I never said it's okay at all. But the context you're missing is the systematic and persistent exclusion of lesbian trans women from lesbian spaces, and the often simultaneous embracing of trans men (thus denying the validity of the genders of both trans men and women). The militant attitude you have encountered is pushback against this exclusion. And the threats of violence, wrong in all cases, go both ways.

There are factions of "radical" cis lesbians who are vicious in their hatred of trans women, and who actively campaign to have us removed and excluded from not just social spaces but vital support services (rape counselling, etc.).

Maybe believing it's impossible is what is behind this insistence that anyone who feels unsafe is just delusional and selfish.

The people who feel unsafe are projecting their fears on the wrong target. It is irrational to fear trans women any more than cis women. Unfortunately the combined rhetoric of the conservative right, dudebros who are terrified of accidentally looking at one of us, and radical feminists (an unlikely alliance, right?) feed this perception that trans women are inherently predatory invaders, reaching into the spaces, lives, and beds of cis people and taking what we want without care or remorse.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:22 PM on March 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


I tend to not look at people in the washroom. Maybe that's part of male washroom etiquette: we stand beside one another, in the open, our back to the room and our dick hanging out in our hand. Pretending not to see each other is sort of a courtesy. Unless it was evident at a glance, I suspect most trans men get in and out unnoticed.

OTOH, maybe washroom etiquette is different elsewhere.

A sudden realization — maybe those guys who hit the stall aren't bladder shy, like I was for ages! They could be trans guys that need to sit to pee!

I have now given this part of my life entirely too much thought. I really don't want to know anything about the peeing strangers near me.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 PM on March 2, 2013




I think this is very hard, in part at least, because trans women need to tell cis women that cis women's understanding is limited, that cis women need to put aside their gut responses and listen and learn from trans women's experiences and knowledge, and that cis women can learn something from trans women about womanhood. That position of undermining cis women's experience-based knowledge and instructing cis women so precisely overlaps with male privilege and patterns of men's relating to women at a moment when trans women need to be perceived as women rather than men. It is easy to see why that very attitude of instruction, no matter how justified and necessary, might feel masculine and threatening to cis women no matter how 'passing' the instructor is in every other way.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


I tend to not look at people in the washroom. Maybe that's part of male washroom etiquette:

Yeah, women in restrooms definitely take notice of who is in there. Not always in a "policing" sort of way, but you definitely have it in your head to watch out for anything weird, which means that you have to pay attention.

I think this is very hard, in part at least, because trans women need to tell cis women that cis women's understanding is limited, that cis women need to put aside their gut responses and listen and learn from trans women's experiences and knowledge

I disagree with this. I think that ciswomen simply need to accept transwomen as women, which doesn't mean giving up privilege, but extending it so that transwomen aren't viewed as "other." I wouldn't describe either group's understanding as limited so much as just different. Ciswomen don't face the same challenges day to day, but transwomen likely weren't socialized as women with all of the patriarchal fuckery that that entails. Both groups have a lot to learn from each other.

This is where allies come in handy. As a ciswoman, I can have a lot of conversations by virtue of my cis privilege that are more difficult for trans* people to have. It's definitely unfair to place the entire burden of education on trans* people, so this is one area where allies can help start tricky conversations.
posted by sonika at 9:17 PM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


I do not understand why we cannot say:

-Trans people need to use the correct bathroom that they need and want to, and need to be safe from violence and comfortable.

AND

-Other women also need to be safe from violence and comfortable.


The reason, I think, that this becomes an issue for so many people, is that it looks a bit like concern trolling. Now, I'm pretty damn sure this isn't what you mean to do, at all, but let me explain: there were comments in the first thread positing the second, and willing to compromise the first for it (e.g. 'oh well Coy can use a gender-neutral bathroom!') in such a way as negate the endorsement of the first entirely. I have not seen any suggestions at any point for how to address the second point that do not do so by excluding at least some trans women from the women's. Even if this isn't what you want to do (and I'm pretty sure it isn't) it kinda behoves you to actually come up with a suggestion for how to square the two, or it looks like you're holding trans women's rights hostage to cis women's comfort, even with the statement that you believe in trans women's bathroom rights. (It ends up looking a bit like "well yeah, trans women should use the women's, BUT..." with the implication being that 'no they shouldn't, not really').

Yes, it is a complicated issue, and yes, it would be fantastic to find a solution with which everyone is happy, but nobody but nobody has suggested one, possibly because one doesn't exist (I'm fresh out of ideas, too). There is a long history of people using exactly this idea and language (often from a trans-exclusionary radical feminist perspective) with very much the intent of concern trolling and keeping trans women out of the women's. I think this background forms a large part of what people were reacting to.
posted by Dysk at 2:22 AM on March 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


I suspect people who do not have a gender feel rather differently than cis people who don't feel strongly gendered

Wait, there's a difference? Is it the difference between feeling somewhat gendered and not feeling gendered at all? And how would one even know? My gender-o-meter seems to be broken.

I tell people that I do not identify as a woman, and still they call me a ciswoman. Why is that? Is it because I don't mind being seen as a woman?

Thanks to those of you who tried to understand me and clarify things. Since this post is by no means about me, and I do not wish to derail, I do think I'll post an AskMe.

roboton666
, if there is such a thing as womenhood, and if I'm part of it, I consider you very welcome to be part of it too. And other trans* women too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:35 AM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there's a difference who don't give any thought to their gender identity (it's a given and accords more or less to their birth sex) and those who actively consider themselves neither male or female, in which case they're veering towards the genderqueer.
posted by knapah at 2:59 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


But do the caves have private bathrooms?
posted by sonika

A shy, private person would not have an easy time of things in ancient Rome.
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 AM on March 3, 2013


We as mods cannot play the "you must be this enlightened to post on this site" game

Mods already play that game regularly; as noted before, racist shithead garbage is clearly not welcome. It's just a question of where the line is drawn on other topics. Not saying you drew it wrongly in this difficult case, and totally understand the idea that debating ignorance is important to moving folks along in their understanding...

...but, "You must be this enlightened to post on this site" has long been one of the principles that's helped Mefi develop its reputation as one of the more reasonable online destinations. I don't see why admitting that is a bad thing.
posted by mediareport at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


You're probably right, in that there's no bright line between ignorant behavior and bad behavior in a lot of cases, and the ones we draw are reasonably artificial. But we do generally work from "does the community as a whole recognize this as unacceptable" rather than "do I as the mod on duty recognize this as unacceptable."
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:06 PM on March 3, 2013


When you have folks claiming that Reddit handles certain topics more thoughtfully and humanely, it might be time to reflect, is all I'm saying.
posted by mediareport at 12:21 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


When you have folks claiming that Reddit handles certain topics more thoughtfully and humanely, it might be time to reflect, is all I'm saying.

Apples and oranges. Those mentions of Reddit no doubt refer to sub-reddit sites that have LGBT mods, not the general top trending posts.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:28 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sub-Reddits. The point stands.
posted by mediareport at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2013


I would like to see the metafilter community on the whole be better than the best of reddit.
posted by roboton666 at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's a noble goal, but scale is everything.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:35 PM on March 3, 2013


Hey, if this thread moves the mods just a teensy bit further along the "Is this transphobic garbage on the level of 'fags are going to hell' or 'niggers are terrible people'?" spectrum, the world will end up being a better place.
posted by mediareport at 12:39 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


> I would like to see the metafilter community on the whole be better than the best of reddit.

That's pretty much impossible, if (as I'm assuming from what I've read here—I don't hang out at Reddit) there are Reddit subsites that are moderated heavily with the idea of being "safe spaces" for one or another group of people. MetaFilter is not, nor should it be, such a site; it is, of course, important to have a site culture that speaks out against prejudiced comments, but it is impossible to draw a firm line between prejudice and cluelessness, and it is also important for people to be able to express prejudiced/clueless ideas and questions so they can be answered (and so clueless bystanders, like me, can be educated).
posted by languagehat at 12:41 PM on March 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, sub-Reddits. The point stands

Well, no. See above. I have no love for Reddit but the sub sites often have little in common with general audience posts so the comparison is facile.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


but it is impossible to draw a firm line between prejudice and cluelessness, and it is also important for people to be able to express prejudiced/clueless ideas and questions so they can be answered (and so clueless bystanders, like me, can be educated).

I think the issue is that so many of the offensive things that were said may have been rooted in cluelessness, but that cluelessness rapidly became prejudice. If it's the seventeeenth time someone's explained stuff to the same person and they're still doubling down, they've surely lose the benefit of the doubt.
posted by hoyland at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, if it's any help, I've felt that metafilter as a whole has been one of the best communities on the Internet for a long time now, and if the mods could just move the trans line to delete comments questioning transgender people's rights to own their gender then to me that would be a significant move in the right direction.
When I first came out to myself several months ago I found this place to very lacking in the transgender support and information arena, and reddit and tumblr to be amazing resources, so I pretty much left metafilter.

I popped back in two days ago to the FP thread and it broke my heart a little, and decided this meta chat was worth coming out to you all in an attempt to make this community a more inclusive place.

So yeah it's a noble goal, but metafilter is, for the most part, a pretty damn noble place.

My coming out here was a gift to the community and I hope someday it pays off by helping make this place a little less tolerant of people who jump into the discussion from a place privileged ignorance and GRAR.
posted by roboton666 at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


(And really, I have been SO guilty of that here, so I have work to do too!)
posted by roboton666 at 1:01 PM on March 3, 2013


But we do generally work from "does the community as a whole recognize this as unacceptable"

It seems to me that a significant portion of the community is saying the amount of transphobia allowed to stand is unacceptable.
posted by sonika at 1:50 PM on March 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


When I first came out to myself several months ago I found this place to very lacking in the transgender support and information arena,

Well welcome back, glad you returned, and I hope you stay. This has been an interesting MeTa thread and its certainly caused me to think more about transgender rights, issues and discourse than I have previously. However, this site is for the "best of the web". Its absolutely not a support site in the sense of being an info and advice shop for a particular issue, but people have certainly got support here on many occasions. It is an information site in some important ways but not really in terms of being a big database for a specific issue. It can certainly be an information site in the key sense that if you can find web sites that you think you will be interesting to some of your fellow MeFites than you can come and post them.

There is one piece of advice that everyone gets in MetaTalk when they suggest there should be more posts on 'subject XXXX', and that is that the way to solve the shortage is to post yourself. The blue is only as good as the members make it. The mods will happily advise you on what makes a good post. So get to it.
posted by biffa at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2013


Language hat: when you say impossible what you really mean is there is a lack of will and prioritization.

With regards to TG issues, I expect metafilter to be better than the best if reddit, otherwise we should consider this community lgb friendly but not really t. Which, is how the world at large generally is, and if metafilter wants to be just that and only that then maybe I'm better off elsewhere?
posted by roboton666 at 1:57 PM on March 3, 2013


Biffa: ask.metafilter.com is a resource.
posted by roboton666 at 1:59 PM on March 3, 2013


I think this is very hard, in part at least, because trans women need to tell cis women that cis women's understanding is limited, that cis women need to put aside their gut responses and listen and learn from trans women's experiences and knowledge, and that cis women can learn something from trans women about womanhood. That position of undermining cis women's experience-based knowledge and instructing cis women so precisely overlaps with male privilege and patterns of men's relating to women at a moment when trans women need to be perceived as women rather than men. It is easy to see why that very attitude of instruction, no matter how justified and necessary, might feel masculine and threatening to cis women no matter how 'passing' the instructor is in every other way.

This is a really well expressed version of some things that have been percolating in my head a bit.

One of the things that I can most count on from other women is the "circling the wagons" sort of thing - that if you have been assaulted or in danger, you can always run to another woman and they will ultimately help you - they will keep you safe, protect you if they can, clean you up, give sympathy and resources to the best of their ability.

The swiftest road towards passing as a woman, I think, is an understanding of what women actually go through and live like and their fears and concerns - and an understanding of solidarity.

When people say things like, "You're not assaulted as much as you think you are/you're not in as much danger as you think you are" going around, that aligns most nearly with things men say, not women. This is the case with both trans and cisgendered women - it is the content of the statements and the thoughts behind those statements to read, at least partially, like a man, or a woman who is trying to appropriate male privilege.

When that happens with transwomen, it tends to reinforce the impression that some transwomen - not all, but some - are not quite women yet - they're lacking in a fundamental piece of what it means to be a woman for a lot of us, which is that sense of solidarity and mutual aid. That they're still hanging on to the forceful woman-denying ways of the male socialization, just as some still hang on to the male gaze. (Not the person-who-has-sex-with-women gaze, the male gaze)

And I think it does get some of our backs up, because it's exactly what the men that we are fighting against are doing. And if you're using the language of the enemy, it's hard to see you as an ally and sister.
posted by corb at 2:08 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been reading this thread with much dismay, largely because I felt like the question that started it, as to whether bigotry on trans* issues would be allowed to stand, has been answered with a "yes." I would indeed like to see metafilter as a whole move a few steps further away from that position, and towards one that sees intentional misgendering and similar comments as not the sort of thing we encourage. I've been saddened to read comments here from people I generally thought of as thoughtful and feminist, repeating the worst kind of transphobic tropes. That they are doing that because they are concern trolls, have honestly never ever thought about the topic before and are struggling to understand, or are reacting because of personal anxiety doesn't actually make a huge amount of difference to me. I realize that people have very different intents in making some of the comments that they have here; I assume good faith by most of them. That doesn't make any of it feel any better to me, and I think it does have a cumulative effect of making the culture here one in which trans* lives and trans* experiences are not believed, and in which people do not feel the need to educate themselves before rolling out really tired and often hurtful sterotypes.

So yes, I would really like to see the mods shift the site culture here a bit. And, for my part, I will be more active at flagging stuff that reads as offensive to me. For me, that includes intentional misgendering or deliberating on "real" gender identity, bathroom panic tropes, stereotyping trans* people as predators and offenders, and discounting the lived experiences of trans* mefites as they share them here.

I love this place and I believe we can do better.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


And biffa, the climate here of tacit support for TG issues creates an environment where people in my situation are left to wonder why there is a dearth of ask me's here, when elsewhere there is so much more to be found.

That leads a person think this place while very inclusive in so many other ways is not so inclusive in this regard.

I'm saying mefi is a pretty safe place for lgb, not so much for t. I'd like to help change that, but that requires willingness and prioritization.

So there's always a ton of things to tinker on and work out and for the most part thats okay, everyone is busy and has a ton of shit to do, and here i am, in most peoples eyes some queer boy on the internet telling everyone he's actually a girl and what the fuck how do you consume that?

So yeah, if I need to build the trans* support on this site, I will. I am, right now.
posted by roboton666 at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


ask.metafilter.com is a resource.

Yes it is, its a resource where members of the community ask questions they are looking for help with and the community as a whole responds, voluntarily, to try to give that help. So I am confused as to what you are asking for when you suggest it is "lacking in the transgender support and information arena". The mods don't salt the questions to make the place more interesting or relevant (afaik). Now I can see you might argue that no-one asks questions in the green relating to transgender issues or problems because the community is not seen as sufficiently welcoming but that doesn't sound like what you are saying. AskMe is simply not a site which acts as an organised clearing house/database for information.
posted by biffa at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, for my part, I will be more active at flagging stuff that reads as offensive to me. For me, that includes intentional misgendering or deliberating on "real" gender identity, bathroom panic tropes, stereotyping trans* people as predators and offenders, and discounting the lived experiences of trans* mefites as they share them here.

This is what we as mods need, and what I'm talking about when I'm referring to community norms. There's tension between "flag it and move on" and "call that shit out," I know, and the usual caveats re: fast-moving threads always apply (there were some heavily-flagged comments early in that thread that had multiple substantive replies within minutes, and without digging I can't determine when the flags came in, exactly) but more flags + fewer responses = cleaner threads.

And I would love to see some lists, without calling out specific people or necessarily debating, what people think are the top things that are unacceptable bigotry vs. eyeroll-worthy tedious ignorance. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on that when it comes to, say, sexism or homophobia, but I'm less well-educated on trans issues.

This is not a fast or easy process for a site this big. We're talking about many different people saying things of varying degrees of not-awesomeness, and most of them have (or at least had) no conception of how those things would be heard. This is a community problem as much or more than it is a moderation problem, and as much as these MeTas suck for everyone who cares about these issues, they really are fundamental to the way the site changes tone over time.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want you to know, before I start typing this comment, that my first response to your comment would best be expressed with bold, italic type, in capitals, possibly with the blink tag on. Because holy hell.

The swiftest road towards passing as a woman, I think, is an understanding of what women actually go through and live like and their fears and concerns - and an understanding of solidarity.

Trans women know. As soon as we start to "pass" we are subject to the exact same patriarchal bullshit as you. And you know who doesn't have our backs? Who we can't rely on for sympathy? Who turn us away, commit violence against us, push us out of their spaces? Cis women.

We have solidarity. We stand together. We huddle up and we talk about what makes us hurt and who hurts us. We stand on the streets together and demand our rights and our equality. We fight against feminist groups and LGB groups and every other group that's supposed to understand us but who reject us for the sake of political expediency or on grounds that would be obviously, instantly recognised as shockingly prejudiced if targeted at another minority group.

We know what women "actually" go through because we go through it.

When people say things like, "You're not assaulted as much as you think you are/you're not in as much danger as you think you are" going around, that aligns most nearly with things men say, not women. This is the case with both trans and cisgendered women - it is the content of the statements and the thoughts behind those statements to read, at least partially, like a man, or a woman who is trying to appropriate male privilege.

No. One. Is. Saying. This. Or at least, the majority of trans people are not saying this. What we are saying is: you are not assaulted by us; you are not in danger from us. The statistics back this up: we are in fact in more danger from you! Much more!

But because we are trans women we cannot say word fucking one without something about it -- the words we choose, the way we say them, even the fact that we're saying anything at all -- being connected to male privilege. Please.

When that happens with transwomen, it tends to reinforce the impression that some transwomen - not all, but some - are not quite women yet - they're lacking in a fundamental piece of what it means to be a woman for a lot of us, which is that sense of solidarity and mutual aid. That they're still hanging on to the forceful woman-denying ways of the male socialization, just as some still hang on to the male gaze. (Not the person-who-has-sex-with-women gaze, the male gaze)

Who here is telling who how to be a woman?

(And if you think all pre-transition lesbian trans women have "male gaze" then I may have to make an entirely separate comment demolishing that in five or six years once I have finished flashing back to the pain just being around cis women could cause me before I transitioned.)

And I think it does get some of our backs up, because it's exactly what the men that we are fighting against are doing. And if you're using the language of the enemy, it's hard to see you as an ally and sister.

Back at you.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2013 [55 favorites]


Another mistake men sometimes make in discussions of women's issues is thinking their own issues must be discussed and validated on an equal footing with issues the less privileged face at all times, even if the discussion is aiming to be more focused. That isn't to say men don't face significant and serious issues, just that sometimes you have to seek a different time and place in the name of letting other very serious issues be focused on and worked through. When you hold more privilege, you can afford to sacrifice sometimes for the greater good.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, no. See above.

My point is this: if Reddit can create moderated sub-communities where 1) transphobic garbage is not tolerated and 2) honest, thoughtful discussion of trans issues can occur (and I'll take the word of the folks who hang out in those sub-communities, since I don't) then MeFi should be able to do the same thing. In fact I think it has, generally and increasingly, but also think the current discussion is very much worthwhile. That's all.
posted by mediareport at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Biffa: the flaccid TG moderation on this site creates a climate where TG people feel compelled to go elsewhere.
posted by roboton666 at 2:34 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


roboton (and mediarerport, on preview), what Hat meant (I think) was the more specific point that Metafilter's structure and culture is not the same as Reddit's, and Mefites don't want Metafilter to be Reddit. Thus, the "will and priorization" roboton was asking for verges on the will and priority to make Metafilter into a different site, a site with heavily moderated subcommunity oriented sub-sites rather than a constantly evolving group conversation. If that's what you require, then perhaps you should focus on sites that offer that mode of interaction.

Although I hope you don't, because I'd much rather you continued to help make Metafilter into a better place for trans people, and so all of us (in the way MeFites have been doing for a long time now, on various issues) -- rather than demanding that a fundmental aspect of Metafilter's culture (which I would suggest is a big part of why you expect from it what you do) change because you find it more perilous that some other site's. Which it may indeed be, at times.

Biffa: the flaccid TG moderation on this site creates a climate where TG people feel compelled to go elsewhere.
To the extent that mods might need to step in more to support that process and maintain Metafilter's standards, I'm all for it. On preview, restless_nomad's guidance is good!

So yeah, if I need to build the trans* support on this site, I will. I am, right now.
Right on! That's what I mean.

in most peoples eyes some queer boy on the internet telling everyone he's actually a girl and what the fuck how do you consume that?
I undertand this is what you are feeling, but I can't help but think the level of discussion on MeFi and the awareness of the average MeFite deserve to be credited with a better baseline than this. Not that there aren't dramatic exceptions. As we've seen.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:35 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


And let me clarify moderation includes FIAMO by the community.
posted by roboton666 at 2:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm saying mefi is a pretty safe place for lgb, not so much for t.

Agreed. Statements in a thread about, say, a gay youth group suing its public school so that they're allowed to use school facilities for meeting would not be met with a chorus of comments about well, how do those kids know they're gay; they're too young; have their parents had them evaluated by properly licensed medical personnel; they can't be considered officially gay if they haven't even had sex with anyone yet; etc. - without those comments being shut down right quick. Not that we don't still have arguments and heated discussions in threads about lgb issues, but if anyone said "Well, but what if someone is nervous about sharing a bathroom with a gay person" I can't help but think that that comment would either be deleted or there would be a strongly worded mod note heading off the nuclear fight at the pass.

Part of this is a function of education: many more mefites are much more familiar, both intellectually and personally, with gay people and issues that pertain specifically to us. This is less true of trans* issues. But that does not excuse the kind of doubling-down insistent repetition of odious opinions as if they were fact, and I would love to see a stronger mod response in cases like this. I will also be using the flags and the contact form more consistently when I see things like this.
posted by rtha at 2:39 PM on March 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


...some transwomen - not all, but some - are not quite women yet - they're lacking in a fundamental piece of what it means to be a woman for a lot of us, which is that sense of solidarity and mutual aid.

In which a MetaTalk poster creates a definition of woman the vast majority of cis women don't qualify for.
posted by emmtee at 2:40 PM on March 3, 2013 [28 favorites]


that does not excuse the kind of doubling-down insistent repetition of odious opinions as if they were fact

This was basically how I read the main thread as well. Misgendering Coy once is one thing, repeatedly doing it in the face of several cogent and respectful explanations of why that is a problem is another. Similarly, asking how a 6 year old can know they are trans is one thing, but repeatedly arguing that it is impossible is another.

I was quite surprised to see just how long a few* commenters could effectively hijack the whole damn thread with the same idiotic points repeated over and over again. I don't know what was going on behind the scenes and if these users got spoken to in backchannels by the mods, but I reckon a tougher stance by the mods would not have gone amiss.

* I do think it was just a few, and that the vast majority of users participating in that thread were supportive and trans positive, but I can easily understand how it only takes a few users spouting bullshit to make an atmosphere toxic... and that's really the problem we're talking about here, isn't it?
posted by knapah at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


When that happens with transwomen, it tends to reinforce the impression that some transwomen - not all, but some - are not quite women yet -

I have tried to approach these comments civilly, but Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ: TRANSWOMEN ARE WOMEN. LATHER, RINSE, AND FUCKING REPEAT. You are not the arbiter of who is "enough" of a woman, for the love of all that is holy.

Your comment saying that transwomen need to listen to ciswomen smacks of so many comments in feminism threads by men saying that women just don't understand how hard it is for THEM. *You* are the one speaking from privilege and it would behoove you to stand back and listen.

Women are at risk for assault by men. Transwomen more so. Ciswomen are NOT at risk from assault by transwomen. Please allow this information to absorb into your brain.
posted by sonika at 3:46 PM on March 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


...some transwomen - not all, but some - are not quite women yet - they're lacking in a fundamental piece of what it means to be a woman for a lot of us, which is that sense of solidarity and mutual aid.


That's the most abstract bar I've seen a trans person asked to clear yet.

Unless... is the proposition that women can and should also disqualify assigned-female women from the status of women if they do not show sufficient solidarity and mutual aid to other women? Because that could be interesting, although it would get very messy very quickly.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:47 PM on March 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


they're lacking in a fundamental piece of what it means to be a woman for a lot of us, which is that sense of solidarity and mutual aid.

Er....cis woman here. I wish I could say that "a sense of solidarity and mutual aid" characterized all of my interactions throughout life with all other women, but I'm afraid that we all already know that that right there is some bullshit.
posted by Miko at 3:49 PM on March 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


Snuffleupagus: up until very recently that's how I looked at myself, lol!
posted by roboton666 at 3:51 PM on March 3, 2013


Er....cis woman here. I wish I could say that "a sense of solidarity and mutual aid" characterized all of my interactions throughout life with all other women, but I'm afraid that we all already know that that right there is some bullshit.

Really? In terms of sexual assault/sexual harassment? I would indeed be very surprised, and am really sorry you've had that experience, that has not been mine.

I mean, I would never say that other women help all the time about everything, but...I'm reminded really forcefully of once, when I was absolutely being followed by a guy - he had followed me from subway car to subway car and off the train. I sped up, he sped up, I slowed down, he slowed down. I looked around and saw another woman, timed my pace so that I would meet up with her, and in a low breath explained the situation and asked if I could walk with her. Immediately she said yes, she would be happy to, and asked if I wanted her to call her boyfriend who lived nearby if I thought the guy was still going to be a threat.

I've helped women that I straight up hated if it was a question of harassment or assault, and vice versa. It has been my experience that that is the one thing that breaks through all barriers.
posted by corb at 3:54 PM on March 3, 2013


I know this MeTa and the thread that preceded it were very painful for a lot of members, both trans* and cis*, and that is awful and unacceptable. Although I didn't participate in either, I'm really sorry all of that happened.

But I will say this: in a weird way, I am grateful for that ugliness, if for no other reason than it brought out a lot of passionate, thoughtful, and eloquent response from both trans* members and their cis* allies. As has already been said by a number of other people, the one positive aspect of letting the bigoted statements stand is that they are so thoroughly repudiated in the intelligent manner that is part of the Metafilter culture that I love so much.

I have not always been a cis* ally. I used to share all the backwards opinions and baseless fears that were voiced in these threads. The only thing that has changed for me in the years since I held those views is my participation here on Metafilter. In the other trans* threads that have happened over the last couple of years I've been able to read all these first-hand experiences and have had my mind changed dramatically, so much so that those views that were once my own now seem utterly foreign and awful.

So, as a perennial lurker in the trans* threads, I just want to thank each of you who has spoken so passionately about this basic human rights issue, because my mind is one of the ones that has been changed.
posted by shiu mai baby at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


There was an interesting piece in the op-ed section of today's NYT about how the effects of uncivil comments on an article can influence readers' interpretation of the article and the issue being reported on.

In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.


Link to (don't faint) full, non-paywalled version of published study.
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, corb, if you went up to a transwoman they would probably do exactly the same. If they passed then you would never know they were trans, and would continue to think so positively about the solidarity of cisterhood. If they didn't, well I guess you wouldn't ask...
posted by knapah at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've helped other women and other women have helped me. I've also helped men and men have helped me. But if you're trying to say there's some universal code in which all women have pledged solidarity and mutual aid, you know that's nuts. For generations women turned away knowing that their peers were being abused. Women willingly protest against other women's rights to seek redress for harassment, for reproductive rights. Women encouraged one another to stifle their self-expression and deny their sexuality to prevent rape. Just a few quick examples on women not being universally supportive of one another - but you know it happens daily.

And if there is such a code, why would you want to exclude transwomen - your potential allies in solidarity - from it?

It would be really nice to get away from the focus on gender as an imagined driver of behavior and put it back on the behavior itself.
posted by Miko at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


As an "in the closet" repressed trans woman I said and did some fairly reprehensible things to my wife. I'm just going to put that out there. Repressed Trans women trying to be men can, as in my case equal a pretty sad and volatile combo.
posted by roboton666 at 4:00 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The point being by the time a trans woman is using the ladies room, the treat window has probably passed.
posted by roboton666 at 4:02 PM on March 3, 2013


I have been struggling for days to put this into words, and I don't know if I'm going to succeed. I identify with what Too-Ticky has been saying, about not feeling a gender, and I understand completely that it may well just be a matter of privilege. But some of what tangles up in my head is the sense that, as a true-blue feminist and Fighter Against Patriarchy, I need to examine every aspect of my performance of gender, and reject those things which are used to keep women down. I understand, although I do not condone, the suspicion with which some cis women (corb and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival board) treat trans* women, because I am actually reflexively angry whenever a trans* woman reaches out, eagerly, for the trappings of womanhood that I'm trying to shed to win my equality.
For what it's worth, I am angry when Kardashians reach for those trappings, too, and when they are worshipped for their performance of femininity, but they are idiots who have never seriously contemplated their participation in the patriarchy, and trans* women don't have that luxury.
One important thing to recognize, though, is that this particular emotional response is mine to contend with, not trans* women's to fix. But I wanted to tell you that sometimes what looks like transphobia is actually heightened expectations. Trans* people are the most advanced, most objective, and most motivated thinkers we have about gender, because they are forced to live outside it. It drives me fucking crazy when a trans* woman calls herself, a grown woman, "a girl", because she should know better than to infantilize and diminish herself. I need to get over it, because it is more important that every woman have the agency to decide what aspects of gender to perform and what to subvert than that other women agree with me in what needs to be rejected. That's a lesson I keep having to teach myself over and over when I'm trying to make my feminism intersectional - the priorities of a woman who isn't me are unlikely to be my priorities, mine are no better than hers, and I need to remember that my perspective, not only as Me, but as a middle-class overeducated white cis woman, is not the be-all and end-all even when I'm in an echo chamber.
posted by gingerest at 4:03 PM on March 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Really? In terms of sexual assault/sexual harassment? I would indeed be very surprised, and am really sorry you've had that experience, that has not been mine.

And that's why it's not really a good idea to assume that what's normal for you in your experience is also what's normal for other people or that it sets some standard that they should have to meet.

Other than in a few specifically "safe-zone" corners of the internet, and among close friends, I have never had this experience. I've been told by other women about sexual harassment, "he didn't mean anything by it," or "don't you feel flattered when men think you're attractive?" About sexual assault, I have heard from other women, "Well, I would never go home with a guy I didn't know," and "she was dressed like a slut, so what did she expect?" And if you're paying attention at all, you'll find those comments and others like them or worse all over the web, made by both men and women, and you'll likely hear them in real life too. There is no universal sisterhood in which all women help one another and give sympathetic support to one another's experiences. The fact that you have never felt that way, to me, seems to be a sign that you have been very lucky, not a sign that you are a real woman in a way that other women are not.

I'm a cis woman, and I'm very surprised to hear that you've had a universally positive experience of being helped and supported by other women. But I draw no conclusions about whether you're really a woman just because your experience is different from mine, nor would I ever claim that you have to have the same experience of the world that I've had in order to qualify as female.
posted by decathecting at 4:04 PM on March 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


Gingerest: you have officially blown my mind open even more. Thanks for that. I guess in a way, my development ceased when I was a girl, and I'm having to go back and re-learn from about 7-8 years old when the repression began (getting beat up, yelled at, made fun of, etc.)
posted by roboton666 at 4:09 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


sexual abuse doesn't continue in families for generations because the women keep all the other girls/women safe. at some point the victim becomes the enabler - at least that's the pattern my family has repeated.

i've also never had a person who is trans, specifically women who are trans, react with anything besides love and support and comfort when i've shared my history of abuse.

by that metric, i'd count trans women as more womanly than my grandmothers.
posted by nadawi at 4:10 PM on March 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


As an "in the closet" repressed trans woman I said and did some fairly reprehensible things to my wife. I'm just going to put that out there. Repressed Trans women trying to be men can, as in my case equal a pretty sad and volatile combo.

I really appreciate you being honest about this. I know that is not an easy thing to admit, especially in this thread, and I appreciate you being up front about this.

I think that one of the things I'm having a problem with is that people are saying "No transwoman would ever hurt a ciswoman" or "No transwoman would ever assault a ciswoman." And it's categorically not true - absolutely categorically not true. Transwomen have harmed ciswomen. And sometimes in women-only spaces.

What they may mean is "It's a low chance." But what they're saying is "It never happens." And because that it not true, it causes the rest of the statement to be viewed with extreme suspicion.

I know that you have already been brave and maybe this is not the thread for it, but I would be really interested in how the process of your transition caused your understanding of women themselves to change such that you once hurt women but now no longer do.
posted by corb at 4:11 PM on March 3, 2013


people are saying "No transwoman would ever hurt a ciswoman" or "No transwoman would ever assault a ciswoman."

Literally no one has said that. What people have said or implied is that a cis woman is more likely to hurt a trans woman than a trans woman is to hurt a cis woman. People have also said that a trans woman is no more likely to hurt a cis woman than a cis woman is to hurt another cis woman. Please don't create straw men in an attempt to avoid having to respond to people's actual arguments.
posted by decathecting at 4:14 PM on March 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


What about the ciswomen who have assaulted women in women-only spaces? That happens too. In women's rooms, I may not usually fear sexual assault. But I've certainly seen, in my lifetime, some weird interactions involving drugs/alcohol, jealousy, spillover violence, turf activity, and thievery.

I just don't see enough evidence that anyone can argue that allowing transwomen into women 's restrooms - where they already are - is going to result in an overall increase in violence in restrooms above the existing nonzero rate.

Maybe I've missed some stats, but I'm not seeing them.
posted by Miko at 4:16 PM on March 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


from my viewpoint what is being said is that trans women are less likely to assault cis women than cis women are like to assault cis women, and also that cis women are more likely to assault trans women especially in bathrooms. yet, cis women still share the bathroom together even with the slim danger of assault from each other, so why is the same not extended to women who are trans?

think of it like stranger danger - there's a school of that that says that overemphasizing stranger danger puts people, especially women, at risk for assault (and less likely to report it) since most sexual assault is done by people known to the victim. similarly, an over blown sense of fear about women who are trans in women's restrooms keeps women who are trans in more danger all around.
posted by nadawi at 4:17 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need to get over it, because it is more important that every woman have the agency to decide what aspects of gender to perform and what to subvert than that other women agree with me in what needs to be rejected.

Absolutely. Every woman is her own woman, and there is no aspect of the disparate collection of gender identities known as "woman" that is untouched by patriarchy, including the girly-girl and those who would consider themselves her opposite.

(Deleted the second half of my comment. I'm swearing off responding to corb for now.)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:17 PM on March 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


And overblown sense of safety in women's rooms puts people at greater risk. Really, considering any public restroom a place of safety, gender divisions regardless, is a mistake.
posted by Miko at 4:18 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plenty of grown women of all backgrounds speak of "doing things with the girls", or being "girls". I just don't see why there would be a dividing line in terms of the standards invented by you for women dealing with trans* issues specifically.

Some women are seeking a "counter to" "dudes", for which there isn't really a woman centric alternative to; "a colloquial phrase of youthful friendship, perhaps over-exagerating the youth of the participants". Like you say, this is something that is not the problem of someone else (no offence intended towards you for speaking up, I just think you are right when you say it is something to consider, the holding of internal, different standards for behaviour). Not to disagree that "girls" can be diminutive. But to judge someone claiming it for their own, (and not judging across the board) seems not the best way to approach it.

ex. guys and gals, dudes and _ folks, pals... bros, what, sorors?
Me and the guys are going to chill, sounds contemporary enough, "The gals"... sounds like 19xx awkward, while less than ideal, girls/the girls, particularly for women living in the absurd youth obsessed culture we have, to joke about/extend/play with the youth thing, I am pretty sure someone wrote a book about this absence of terminology for women to use regarding friendship between women. I love to you.

Some women hate pornography, and despise participants, some do not. There just is no platonic woman, or woman's behavior like some would suggest.
posted by infinite intimation at 4:22 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, maybe we can walk a historical example through, and see where that gets us.

In a fairly celebrated case in Vancouver, a trans woman - who had been beaten and sexually assaulted by a male ex-partner while living as a woman - received support from a battered women's shelter. Seeking to give something back to the community, she then sought to train to be a peer counsellor at a rape relief center.

So, seeking to provide mutual aid and solidarity there, and thus a woman by corb's logic. So far so good.

However. One of the (assigned-female, living as a woman) members of that center - making a guess based on her physical appearance - asked her if she had been assigned female gender at birth, and upon discovering that she had not told her she was ineligible to be a peer counselor.

Is that a lack of solidarity with a woman who had experienced assault? If so... that means that the woman from the center is no longer a woman - or possibly was never a woman to start with. If that's how it works.

Certainly, the radical feminist who then wrote an article mocking this female survivor of sexual assault as "a man in a dress" (trigger warnings for hateful language, pretty much inevitably) is pretty categorically not a woman, by this logic. I'm not sure what the terminology is, though. Post-woman? Ex-woman? And is this a permanent condition, or is there some way to get back to being a woman? Like, some sort of ... transition?

tl;dr This seems to be a problematic way of drawing lines.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:23 PM on March 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Well, abused children abuse as adults. It's the pattern.

I'm nowhere near even beginning to transition "on the outside" I'm coming out to people and saying "this is my awareness".

I recognize I earned passage unfairly to the men's club, just because I have a penis, and I'm really trying to understand how I've been socialized to act like a "man" and trying like hell not to do it.

It's so new and crazy to me I really need to rely on others to call me out when I'm doing the "male privilege" thing, and this whole experience has handed my ass to me so wonderfully hard, I just hope I can remember this feeling and NOT slide back into the repressed life.

It's really emotional and hard, and I feel really bad about some of the things I have done, so in a way, I don't mind the anger and mistrust, but I'm also trying to explain it in a way that shows once we come out to ourselves, the door opens to becoming a better human being.

It's rambling, you've asked the question that's at the heart of my deepest struggles right now.
posted by roboton666 at 4:24 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plenty of grown women of all backgrounds speak of "doing things with the girls", or being "girls". I just don't see why there would be a dividing line in terms of the standards invented by you for women dealing with trans* issues specifically.

And yet, I do find I respond differently to the use of the term depending on what I think the intent and degree of understanding of it is. I bristle when a man at work, for instance, says "the girls will handle this part of the project," when we're talking about professional women in their 20s through 60s. There's a long history of the word being misapplied to grown women in an attempt to demean, belittle, or just not take women seriously. Having grown up to insist on "woman," it's fair to say that I don't consider "girl" an unloaded word to use even when I use it colloquially, with friends, which is pretty rarely. I'm actually a big fan of "gals," though that's not a lot different, I recognize.

Anyway, just noting that the word "girl" is actually somewhat politicized even though it's in wide and varied use.
posted by Miko at 4:26 PM on March 3, 2013


decathing: yes, they have, most recently sonika ("Ciswomen are NOT at risk from assault by transwomen.") and ArmyOfKittens ("What we are saying is: you are not assaulted by us; you are not in danger from us.")

Really, considering any public restroom a place of safety, gender divisions regardless, is a mistake.

True, and I certainly don't consider any public restroom a place of absolute safety. I do consider it a place of relative safety when there are other women present, but not absolute.

I think though that even though I am sympathetic to a need for bathroom safety - I do want everyone to be able to feel safe, trans or otherwise - the idea that someone can force their way into self-declared safe spaces that are not about a definitive human need /is/ one that I particularly have a problem with. Like, yes, I want people to be able to pee in safety. I have never said, anywhere, ever, that I think people should be forced into mens rooms, because I think that sounds like a special form of hell. I support gender-neutral restrooms, I just want floor-to-ceiling stalls on them. (I saw this while I was in Europe, in train stations, it's kind of awesome)

But I think that this is bigger than bathrooms. This is, as expressed earlier, about things like women-only saunas and locker rooms and playspaces - places where people /are/ naked and absolutely vulnerable. These are not places that are necessary for human needs. And what do we do about that?
posted by corb at 4:29 PM on March 3, 2013


If so... that means that the woman from the center is no longer a woman - or possibly was never a woman to start with. If that's how it works.

It's not "how it works." The way you've chosen to frame and present a nasty interaction that happened in 2004 as a way of drawing lines about who is and isn't a woman is part of the whole problem with these discussions.

There are a lot of people doing a lot of processing out loud who may not be aware that the things they are saying are not only possibly well-worn tropes in trans* and trans-ally communities but are actually problematically hateful and bigoted (whether intended that way or not) and it's difficult in the spirit of open inquiry, either to shut down these discussions entirely (how do people learn otherwise?) but also to see them go on (STOP talking about who is an isn't a woman in some academic way as if you have a say).
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:33 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And what do we do about that?

We teach people that gender is not about genitalia, and that women don't all look and act exactly the same. (And men, too, of course.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:34 PM on March 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


decathing: yes, they have, most recently sonika ("Ciswomen are NOT at risk from assault by transwomen.") and ArmyOfKittens ("What we are saying is: you are not assaulted by us; you are not in danger from us.")

Surely you should be reading that as "Cis[]women are not at [any greater] risk from assault by trans[]women [than by cis women]" and so on. I mean, you're proceeding from the assumption that (cis) women never assault women, which is also clearly false.
posted by hoyland at 4:35 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Water fountains, the front seat of buses, the front entrance to hotels, and the lunch counter at Woolworth's aren't necessary for human needs either. Women have the right to safe spaces; trans* women do not interfere with that safety in a statistically significant way. Corb, I love ya, but you've done some fairly significant mental gymnastics around this point in this thread and I think it's on you now to recognize that your reasoning is somewhat nonlinear.
posted by KathrynT at 4:35 PM on March 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


decathing: yes, they have, most recently sonika ("Ciswomen are NOT at risk from assault by transwomen.") and ArmyOfKittens ("What we are saying is: you are not assaulted by us; you are not in danger from us.")

Okay, actually pay attention for a second.

Category: woman.
Subcategories: trans women, cis women.

Women are at a small risk of being assaulted by other women. There is no subcategory of women that I am aware of that is a bigger assault risk. This includes trans women. This is what people are saying: assault risks do not change when trans women are included in the category of "woman".

I'm taking a break from this thread now, as the callousness of the rest of your comment is actually in danger of making me cry or possibly scream, and I've been dealing with this shit for over a decade. Fucking hell.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


We teach people that gender is not about genitalia, and that women don't all look and act exactly the same. (And men, too, of course.)

Yeah, I don't see it as any more complicated than this. I've seen some people in the locker room or sauna at the gym who are a lot not like me - who are pregnant, or had cancer and have scars and chunks missing, or who have stretch marks, or who have a handicap, or birthmarks, or no hair, or a whole lot of hair, or really different breasts or whatever - and sometimes you just need to shrug and say "humanity, it comes in a lot of styles."

I don't perceive the threat of encountering the nakedess of someone who looks different from you. Really don't. Especially when it just doesn't seem statistically supported even a little. I think there's probably an adjustment curve as we all get more used to this, but in theory I can't find any rational reason to object.

Again, I'm all for a behavior standard. The problem is not what someone looks like with their clothes off. Any problem, if there even is one, is one of behavior. Assault is not carried on the genitals - it's a behavior. Let's be clear about what the negatives are we want to avoid - it's not "being around different genitals."
posted by Miko at 4:38 PM on March 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I actually would not consider the statement "[cis women] are not in danger from [trans women]," or any of the other statements you've quoted, to be the same as the statement "no trans woman would ever hurt a cis woman." But I am willing to accept that you believe those statements to be the same thing, and that you honestly read them that way. I'll let sonika and ArmyofKittens speak for themselves, but I suspect that they did not mean those statements to say that no trans woman could ever commit a crime against a cis woman, but rather to mean that trans women pose no unique danger to cis women. And in any case, as you said yourself, "it's a low chance." So at the point where you grant that, I think you have to drop the idea that this entire issue is about empirical statistics about safety and engage with the rest of the argument.

This is, as expressed earlier, about things like women-only saunas and locker rooms and playspaces - places where people /are/ naked and absolutely vulnerable. These are not places that are necessary for human needs. And what do we do about that?

Again, you said it yourself. It's not necessary for anyone's human needs that they be in a space such as a women-only locker room. So, any woman who does not want to share such a space with other women for any reason--be it because she feels unsafe undressing in public or because she doesn't like the looks of the other women's secondary sex characteristics or because of any other thought or feeling she has--is welcome to simply avoid such spaces. That's what we do about that.
posted by decathecting at 4:42 PM on March 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Frankly, floor to ceiling stalls sounds like a *terrifying* space in regards to the issues corb suggests that they will solve; the potential for "privacy" goes several ways.

Remove the issues of people who are trans* completely from the whole discussion (because bathrooms are potentially unsafe to begin with, for all women, for many varied reasons, so bringing that into discussions of young folks and cases like the situation faced by Coy is really a red herring)... men already can and do walk in, sneak in, hide in, any place they want... and women can abuse women also, as the case linked earlier, in this comment shows, so, I don't know... extreme privacy is perhaps overrated for *stopping* the potential for abuse or violence.
posted by infinite intimation at 4:50 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


corb: Really? In terms of sexual assault/sexual harassment? I would indeed be very surprised, and am really sorry you've had that experience, that has not been mine.

I mean, I would never say that other women help all the time about everything, but...I'm reminded really forcefully of once, when I was absolutely being followed by a guy - he had followed me from subway car to subway car and off the train. I sped up, he sped up, I slowed down, he slowed down. I looked around and saw another woman, timed my pace so that I would meet up with her, and in a low breath explained the situation and asked if I could walk with her. Immediately she said yes, she would be happy to, and asked if I wanted her to call her boyfriend who lived nearby if I thought the guy was still going to be a threat.

I've helped women that I straight up hated if it was a question of harassment or assault, and vice versa. It has been my experience that that is the one thing that breaks through all barriers.


It may shock you to hear this, but cis women sometimes assault and harass other women, even sexually. Like, not often or anything, but it has happened. Are those cis women not women now? I mean, you're literally doing precisely what this whole MeTa was created to call out, here.

corb: What they may mean is "It's a low chance." But what they're saying is "It never happens." And because that it not true, it causes the rest of the statement to be viewed with extreme suspicion.

Hell, even if there are one or two comments to this effect? To characterise that as anything but an outlier, but rather as a downright trend? That'd be disingenuous or projecting somehow (or both!).

corb: But I think that this is bigger than bathrooms. This is, as expressed earlier, about things like women-only saunas and locker rooms and playspaces - places where people /are/ naked and absolutely vulnerable. These are not places that are necessary for human needs. And what do we do about that?

What do we do about that? Exactly the same damn thing we do about bathrooms - equal access. Why is that a problem?

In a perfect world, I too would want everyone to feel safe. However, this world is far from perfect, and the extent to which I will be apologetic about prioritising actually BEING safe over feeling safe is limited.

Imperfect analogy time: end of race segregation, some white women just don't feel safe with black women around (maybe even for entirely valid reasons, like they were raped by a black man - and I don't mean to imply this was something that was or is commonplace, far from it, but it is expedient for this example - and this somehow triggered an aversion by race rather than gender)... Would this make it fair to exclude some women from women's spaces on the grounds that their presence would make some other women feel less safe (even when there is no greater risk)? Why does this logic change if you replace 'black' with 'trans'?

gingerest: It drives me fucking crazy when a trans* woman calls herself, a grown woman, "a girl", because she should know better than to infantilize and diminish herself. I need to get over it, because it is more important that every woman have the agency to decide what aspects of gender to perform and what to subvert than that other women agree with me in what needs to be rejected.

Well, I can't speak for everyone, but a lot of trans women will do it because in some ways, we are girls. I mean sure, in a sense I am a grown-ass woman, but in another sense, I am not - I'm still going through puberty (albeit my second one) and decidedly do not have fully-grown boobs, for example, but rather growing ones. I'm in this weird place of having aspects of being both a woman, and a girl, in spite of my years.*

gingerest: I understand, although I do not condone, the suspicion with which some cis women (corb and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival board) treat trans* women, because I am actually reflexively angry whenever a trans* woman reaches out, eagerly, for the trappings of womanhood that I'm trying to shed to win my equality.
For what it's worth, I am angry when Kardashians reach for those trappings, too, and when they are worshipped for their performance of femininity, but they are idiots who have never seriously contemplated their participation in the patriarchy, and trans* women don't have that luxury.
One important thing to recognize, though, is that this particular emotional response is mine to contend with, not trans* women's to fix. But I wanted to tell you that sometimes what looks like transphobia is actually heightened expectations. Trans* people are the most advanced, most objective, and most motivated thinkers we have about gender, because they are forced to live outside it.


Trans women absolutely can have the luxury of not contemplating their place in the patriarchy. Some trans women may never have given but a single thought to the idea of binary gender, or gender essentialism, or even the notion of patriarchy at all - you can know that you're a woman, and that that means you're expected to behave a certain way on precisely the same level as Kardashians, even if you're trans. All of what you've HAD to think about is intensely personal, and doesn't NECESSARILY have to relate to anything in any way political. Sure, it irks me too, but I don't think the bar is any higher for trans people. If anything, they're under MORE pressure to conform, merely to be recognised and accepted as a woman. Cis women can often be in a position of having more freedom to challenge and extend what being a woman means, since their claim to womanhood is not contentious in the same way.



*(okay, so I'm not really that old, but still!)
posted by Dysk at 4:51 PM on March 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are a lot of people doing a lot of processing out loud who may not be aware that the things they are saying are not only possibly well-worn tropes in trans* and trans-ally communities but are actually problematically hateful and bigoted (whether intended that way or not) and it's difficult in the spirit of open inquiry, either to shut down these discussions entirely (how do people learn otherwise?) but also to see them go on (STOP talking about who is an isn't a woman in some academic way as if you have a say).

I was thinking about this - the processing out loud part especially - earlier today, as part of my thinking about how I got to where I am from where I was. Like a lot of people in my age/political cohort, I began really thinking about trans* issues when the Michigan Womyn's Festival panty-check thing blew up. I had a lot of questions and misconceptions and poorly reasoned, uneducated thinking. I also didn't really have anything like the internet or metafilter. I did all of my arguing in small groups with people I knew, face-to-face. I read books and articles (dead trees!). I went to lectures and talks in church basements. I really didn't have anyplace like this one where I could process out loud in potentially if unintentionally really hurtful or bigoted ways with actual people there listening to me hurt them. I guess I could have done this during Q&A at the lectures and talks, but I didn't - I just listened and thought about stuff a lot. And, too, I was pretty socially active and I kept meeting these cool people who were not like the stereotypes of predatory menz pretending to be wimmin, which, while I'd never believed that stereotype, was widespread enough to be unignorable.

I guess the tl;dr version is that when it comes to subjects I don't know much about and haven't ever really even thought about beyond knowing they exist, I've usually been best served by listening/reading more and talking/writing less.
posted by rtha at 4:55 PM on March 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Absolutely. Every woman is her own woman, and there is no aspect of the disparate collection of gender identities known as "woman" that is untouched by patriarchy, including the girly-girl and those who would consider themselves her opposite.

Yeah. I am perpetually amazed how hard it is to decide how to live my life without judging how other women use the limited agency we're granted (including what we've won in hard battles.) And on preview, Dysk is absolutely right - of course if you haven't been able to live as a girl, you should get a grace period of girlhood.

Also, because everything I've thought about all of this has been in my head instead of written out (except one incoherently squawked "of course we're vulnerable in bathrooms but that doesn't mean anyone has malicious intent" and one earnest thanks) - several people have pointed out that this is an issue of civil rights and human rights, and as such everyone has skin in the game. That's completely right and another piece of what I've been struggling with - it is really hard (for me, anyway) to remember that fighting oppression benefits nearly everyone, in the long run, even many of the people who, because of their social roles, are on top (but who didn't choose those roles and who don't have agency, either.) Agency for everyone! (Or freedom or liberty or human rights or whatever you like to call it. Same thing.)
posted by gingerest at 4:59 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Assault is not carried on the genitals - it's a behavior.

To try to clarify this in its simplest form:

Assault is not carried on the genitals in its broadest sense. A ciswoman can punch me in the face, stab me, beat my head against a toilet.

The one thing she cannot, however, do, is stick a fucking penis into me. There is no possible way she can do it - it is a physical impossibility. She can stick a variety of things into me, sure - but nothing, absolutely nothing, that carries the mental or physical baggage of a penis.

So yes, in the physical sense, pre-op transwomen do carry a higher risk than ciswomen of attacking me with a penis.

And in the behavioral sense - if someone has carried a specific behavior - of being a man in a society where men can and do abuse women in a variety of ways, yes, even the good ones - for twenty or thirty years, at what point does it become unreasonable to suggest that they are in many ways shaped by that behavior and take time to unlearn it? That Day 1 that they declare womanhood does not automatically erase all of those learned behaviors? Why is it somehow bigoted to suggest that someone who has had a higher risk for a longer time might possibly fall back to behavior of habit?
posted by corb at 5:02 PM on March 3, 2013


Like a lot of people in my age/political cohort, I began really thinking about trans* issues when the Michigan Womyn's Festival panty-check thing blew up.

I actually volunteered at Michigan in 2000, the year after Camp Trans started back up, and I worked security. I was a wee ignorant baby dyke who didn't know anything about the politics of the issue, but, somewhat ironically, my position on trans folks was greatly shaped by the leaders of the security crew, who said flatly, "We don't do panty checks. Someone tells you she's a woman, then she's a woman."

That was very much not the organizational policy, nor do I absolve the festival of any of its appalling behavior, but I am grimly amused that being the actual boots-on-the-ground gate guard that year made me more trans-friendly than any other experience in my life til then.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:04 PM on March 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


The one thing she cannot, however, do, is stick a fucking penis into me. There is no possible way she can do it - it is a physical impossibility. She can stick a variety of things into me, sure - but nothing, absolutely nothing, that carries the mental or physical baggage of a penis.

Unless you meant to add "In my experience," especially to the part about nothing "carries the mental or physical baggage of a penis", then it sounds a lot here like you're saying that anyone who hasn't been penetrated by a penis and only a penis against her will has not actually been raped. I don't think you meant to say that.
posted by rtha at 5:07 PM on March 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


corb: "Assault is not carried on the genitals - it's a behavior.

To try to clarify this in its simplest form:

Assault is not carried on the genitals in its broadest sense. A ciswoman can punch me in the face, stab me, beat my head against a toilet.

The one thing she cannot, however, do, is stick a fucking penis into me. There is no possible way she can do it - it is a physical impossibility. She can stick a variety of things into me, sure - but nothing, absolutely nothing, that carries the mental or physical baggage of a penis.

So yes, in the physical sense, pre-op transwomen do carry a higher risk than ciswomen of attacking me with a penis.

And in the behavioral sense - if someone has carried a specific behavior - of being a man in a society where men can and do abuse women in a variety of ways, yes, even the good ones - for twenty or thirty years, at what point does it become unreasonable to suggest that they are in many ways shaped by that behavior and take time to unlearn it? That Day 1 that they declare womanhood does not automatically erase all of those learned behaviors? Why is it somehow bigoted to suggest that someone who has had a higher risk for a longer time might possibly fall back to behavior of habit?
"

Also, what if that person had laser eyes and x-ray vision?
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:07 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So yes, in the physical sense, pre-op transwomen do carry a higher risk than ciswomen of attacking me with a penis.

So... remember when it was argued no one was actually making this about penises and I went through 108 instances of 'penis'?
posted by hoyland at 5:07 PM on March 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


The swiftest road towards passing as a woman, I think, is an understanding of what women actually go through and live like and their fears and concerns - and an understanding of solidarity.

This is pretty fucking... wow. Yeah. Quick, trans women, gather round! A cis woman, wise in the ways of struggling to pass as a woman, is going to tell us the best way to do it!

A huge, absolutely phenomenally huge portion of passing is appearance (not purely in terms of looks, but things like gait and voice, too). An understanding of what women actually go through? All trans women have that. They ARE WOMEN. They know what they themselves go through. Thus, they will be pretty intimately familiar with what at least one woman goes through. To suggest that the route to passing is to live like you, and have your fears and concerns? Just wow. If this were even remotely true, there'd be a lot more cis women who didn't pass.

And in the behavioral sense - if someone has carried a specific behavior - of being a man in a society where men can and do abuse women in a variety of ways, yes, even the good ones - for twenty or thirty years, at what point does it become unreasonable to suggest that they are in many ways shaped by that behavior and take time to unlearn it? That Day 1 that they declare womanhood does not automatically erase all of those learned behaviors? Why is it somehow bigoted to suggest that someone who has had a higher risk for a longer time might possibly fall back to behavior of habit?

Trans women are women even before they go public about that. So the reason it's bigoted to suggest that a trans women might 'fall back to being a man again' is that they weren't a man to begin with.

So yes, in the physical sense, pre-op transwomen do carry a higher risk than ciswomen of attacking me with a penis.

If you don't want your position to be characterised as "OMG penis!1", then it might make sense to adopt a position that can't be fairly accurately summarised as such.
posted by Dysk at 5:10 PM on March 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


Why is it somehow bigoted to suggest that someone who has had a higher risk for a longer time might possibly fall back to behavior of habit?

When there is no actual evidence to suggest that this is in fact the case. You are making an argument out of your personal fears and assumptions and giving it more weight than any facts. That is pretty much what bigotry is.

corb, I appreciate that you have been wrestling with this honestly, but we're getting to the point where no one is going to change your mind and you aren't going to change anyone else's, and I think it's probably time for you to step back from this thread for a while.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:11 PM on March 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


Trans women are women even before they go public about that. So the reason it's bigoted to suggest that a trans women might 'fall back to being a man again' is that they weren't a man to begin with.

Adding on to this, it's a decent bet that a woman who hasn't realised she's a woman is going to experience living as man differently than a man does.
posted by hoyland at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


So yes, in the physical sense, pre-op transwomen do carry a higher risk than ciswomen of attacking me with a penis.

Hypothetically, yes. In practice, is there even a scrap of evidence that this is true?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


> what Hat meant (I think) was the more specific point that Metafilter's structure and culture is not the same as Reddit's, and Mefites don't want Metafilter to be Reddit. Thus, the "will and priorization" roboton was asking for verges on the will and priority to make Metafilter into a different site

Exactly right.

Also, the idea that women are some kind of mass solidarity group is so ludicrous I don't know how it can be expressed with a straight face. I'd have my wife give you her rant on the subject but she wisely refuses to have anything to do with this place, though she enjoys hearing about some of its wackier aspects.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


corb, I appreciate that you have been wrestling with this honestly, but we're getting to the point where no one is going to change your mind and you aren't going to change anyone else's, and I think it's probably time for you to step back from this thread for a while.

Yeah, I appreciate that. I'm out - but I just want to say that I'm going to remember this the next time someone is all "Hey corb, talk from your experience rather than making generalizations, it'll be awesome, we'll have tea and cake." Because fuck that. And the best part is I'm sure it will consistently be brought up elsewhere in the site. Lols, corb, has fears about rape, hahahahah! Fucking metal.
posted by corb at 5:14 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not "how it works." The way you've chosen to frame and present a nasty interaction that happened in 2004 as a way of drawing lines about who is and isn't a woman is part of the whole problem with these discussions.

As an aside, the interaction happened in 1995 IIRC - it just took a very long time to come to court, and was then appealed.

Notwithstanding, and with respect, I would say that the problem here, in this discussion (rather than a wider set of discussions of this kind) is that corb has chosen to set an abstract qualifier which enables her to determine which trans women are and are not women:
...some transwomen - not all, but some - are not quite women yet - they're lacking in a fundamental piece of what it means to be a woman for a lot of us, which is that sense of solidarity and mutual aid.
So... I didn't create that qualifier, but was responding to it. And then we get into this tricky question of whether it is right to assume that people sincerely mean the terrible things they are saying, and to what extent they understand what they are doing, how to respond and how they will respond in turn.

A further problem, with this specific discussion rather than discussions of trans issues in general (although the two are by no means mutually exclusive) is that corb is not responding to the accounts of the lived experience of women, where those experiences contradict her thesis ("real" women show solidarity and mutual aid, and this is a way to exclude (some) trans women from the set of women).

This kind of comes back to the "humor as a middle ground between acquiescence and fury when confronted with dehumanizing worldviews" - which I mentioned up here. Corb's idea that it is correct to exclude trans women from the set of women, or allow them into it, based on whether they possess certain abstract qualities which she values and of which she is the judge, is terrible, obviously - in the sense of being an unpleasant idea, but also in the sense of being a poorly-made idea. It's both terrible like a terrible insult and terrible like a terrible soufflé.

As such, attempting to apply it to a real-life case is a useful way, I think, of demonstrating that it is not fit for purpose. In fact, that as soon as it is applied to the real world it completely collapses - very much like a bad soufflé - because, among other things, it wholly ignores the fact that trans women are women - and thus also requiring of solidarity and mutual support, and at risk from the same threats as cisgender women. So, it depends on a fundamental inequality to have any coherence - that cis women get to be women always and forever, and trans women's woman-ness is conferred or witheld by cis women, depending on certain qualities they value in trans women.

Now, in this case corb, I would suggest, has started from a personal feeling ("I do not feel comfortable/secure about trans women sharing a space with me, because I do not believe them to be sufficiently women not to pose a threat to me") and sought to universalise that ("trans women - not all, but some - are not women if they do not show solidarity with feelings of lack of comfort/security such as mine"). The excluded middle here being "if you disagree with me, you are not a woman".

Like I said in my tl;dr, that seems to me problematic.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:15 PM on March 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Like I said in my tl;dr, that seems to me problematic.

As I said very far above, do not say the most offensive thing possible in an attempt to make a point via sarcasm. You will just offend people, and your point will likely be lost - or you'll make your point but also look like an asshole.

Stick to the tl;dr.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:18 PM on March 3, 2013


corb has long lost the benefit of the doubt for discussing in good faith, for me. I'm tired of the number of threads that get derailed by her intolerance and ongoing inaccuracies. It makes me enjoy the rest of the site less, and want to not read anymore because she consistently makes MetaFilter a worse place.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:27 PM on March 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


corb: If someone isn't trying to be an ass, but just genuinely thinks the wrong thing, then the approach needs to be different than to someone who is trying to be an ass. Because the first person can change, as long as you don't start yelling at them and calling them an ass. The second person needs to be smacked. There is a functional difference.

[...]

Yeah, I appreciate that. I'm out - but I just want to say that I'm going to remember this the next time someone is all "Hey corb, talk from your experience rather than making generalizations, it'll be awesome, we'll have tea and cake." Because fuck that. And the best part is I'm sure it will consistently be brought up elsewhere in the site. Lols, corb, has fears about rape, hahahahah! Fucking metal.

Guess I might as well have been yelling all along, then. Would've been a lot less challenging in so many ways than this excruciatingly frustrating explaining, again and again.
posted by Dysk at 5:30 PM on March 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Uh, anecdotally I guess, I've only been on hormones for a year, and my penis basically doesn't even work anymore. I have extreme difficulty obtaining and maintaining an erection. It basically doesn't happen anymore.

(sometimes I wish mefi had spoiler tags)
posted by yeoz at 5:31 PM on March 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just want to say that I'm going to remember this the next time someone is all "Hey corb, talk from your experience rather than making generalizations, it'll be awesome, we'll have tea and cake."

If you're still reading, Corb, I'd like to say two things to you. First, as one of the people who explicitly endorsed talking from experience rather than making generalizations, and who commended you for doing so, I'd like to clarify that I never promised tea or cake. To the contrary, you'll note the word I used to describe sharing your feelings was "brave," and that's because indeed, sometimes tea and cake ain't what you get in return.

Second, I don't think you should have been shushed out of this thread. Whatever anyone thinks of your comments, I saw no indication you were participating in bad faith. I think "We're not going to resolve this disagreement, so you should take a break" is not a good reason to discourage somebody from participating. Somebody else dropped the N-word for shock value, but you're the one who got waved out of the thread. I personally find it offensive and I think your encouraged departure was a poor moderation decision.

That said, I think that you walking away from this conversation (individually, sans encouragement) at this point is probably a good call. Thanks for sharing what you did.
posted by cribcage at 5:35 PM on March 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


As I said very far above, do not say the most offensive thing possible in an attempt to make a point via sarcasm. You will just offend people, and your point will likely be lost - or you'll make your point but also look like an asshole.

FWIW the point of running order squabble fest's posts was entirely clear to me; it's a reductio ad absurdum argument and not sarcasm.
posted by Pyry at 5:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


FWIW the point of running order squabble fest's posts was entirely clear to me; it's a reductio ad absurdum argument and not sarcasm.

Saying offensive things you don't mean ends the same way pretty much however you frame it. Text is not a sufficiently information-rich channel to handle it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:39 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Second, I don't think you should have been shushed out of this thread. Whatever anyone thinks of your comments, I saw no indication you were participating in bad faith. I think "We're not going to resolve this disagreement, so you should take a break" is not a good reason to discourage somebody from participating. Somebody else dropped the N-word for shock value, but you're the one who got waved out of the thread. I personally find it offensive and I think your encouraged departure was a poor moderation decision.

I cannot disagree more strongly with this. I think a demonstrable unwillingness to engage with the actual arguments being put to you, yet persisting in loudly declaring your viewpoint does indeed constitute bad faith.
posted by Dysk at 5:41 PM on March 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


Saying offensive things you don't mean ends the same way pretty much however you frame it.

Discussing a proposition and endorsing it are completely different things. I'm not sure how you're supposed to refute a position if you can't even mention it for fear that someone will misinterpret you.
posted by Pyry at 5:51 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Guess I might as well have been yelling all along, then. Would've been a lot less challenging in so many ways than this excruciatingly frustrating explaining, again and again.

Would have been cathartic instead of upsetting, too.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:51 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would have been cathartic instead of upsetting, too.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I meant.
posted by Dysk at 5:58 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the best part is I'm sure it will consistently be brought up elsewhere in the site. Lols, corb, has fears about rape, hahahahah! Fucking metal.

To me, this right here constitutes bad faith in and of itself.
posted by Dysk at 6:02 PM on March 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Stick to the tl;dr.

No doubt good advice, restless_nomad, which I will keep in mind: I hope the reductio ad absurdum was clear to those following the arguments, but you can't control that.

Incidentally, and relatedly, going back to your comment above re: the usefulness of steers on bigotry versus eyeroll material...

I'm no kind of expert at this stuff. But thinking back, that statement constructed as "[minority subset] [type of person] are not quite [type of person], because..." feels like an alert light, especially when people belonging to that subset were clearly engaged in the conversation. I am trying to think of a similar construction where "trans woman" has been replaced by another minority subset and another type of person and it is not a four-alarm crash, and really struggling. Dangerous to compare, of course, but just something that struck me.

So ... I don't tend to flag things in MetaTalk, because I understood it to be essentially purposeless (MeTa being where people talk about the stuff that was flagged in MeFi) but that is sort of jumping out at me as maybe a point where things took a turn for the worse.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:02 PM on March 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am trying to think of a similar construction where "trans woman" has been replaced by another minority subset and another type of person

I would really prefer people not do this. If we want to talk about the topic, let's talk about the topic. But saying, "let's replace 'trans' with 'black'" is as productive as "let's replace 'men' with 'blacks'" in sexism threads.
posted by sweetkid at 6:15 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree up to a point, sweetkid, but I think useful comparisons can be drawn against the attitude of reasonable people towards LGB people.

Comparing X with race is usually a terrible idea, though.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:18 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would really prefer people not do this. If we want to talk about the topic, let's talk about the topic. But saying, "let's replace 'trans' with 'black'" is as productive as "let's replace 'men' with 'blacks'" in sexism threads.

A better meta-analogy would probably be women/black rather than men/black, wouldn't it? Because the dynamic of replacing 'oppressed group label' with 'other oppressed group label' is - while still imperfect and problematic - not at all equivalent to replacing 'dominant group label' with 'oppressed group label'. Both have issues, but they're very different issues.
posted by Dysk at 6:19 PM on March 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes, Dysk I agree women/black is a better analogy, but in sexism threads it's men saying things like "replace 'men' with 'black'" when people talk about rape culture" which is so off to me.

Yes "replace 'black' with 'trans' is a very different context, but it's still problematic as ArmyofKittens notes. I understand the intention but it's generally discouraged on Metafilter and I think rightly so. Also it kind of weirdly implies without meaning to that 1) everyone agrees black people cannot be/are not an acceptably maligned group and 2) black and trans don't intersect on the Venn diagram.
posted by sweetkid at 6:34 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think pretty much anytime someone in the dominant culture starts trying to define who is or is not in an oppressed or minority group it is a) going to go badly and b) be offensive as hell to said group. So thinking you can define who is and is not a "real" woman isn't going to go over well. The analogies of who is "the right kind of xxxx" or a "real" xxx are all conversations that do not go very well, as much as they take up people's time and thoughts, especially when dominant culture starts to weigh in on them.

Setting oneself up as the arbiter of other people's gender -- these people are real women; those are not, or not "yet" -- is offensive to me, and I flagged it as such. It's a good example of the behavior that I would like to see on the far side of what's acceptable on metafilter.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


That's exactly what got my comment (rightfully) deleted from this thread.

I'm still kind if proud that I managed to find that line all by myself.
posted by roboton666 at 6:37 PM on March 3, 2013



Setting oneself up as the arbiter of other people's gender -- these people are real women; those are not, or not "yet" -- is offensive to me


ugh, yes, me too.
posted by sweetkid at 6:41 PM on March 3, 2013


That's exactly what got my comment (rightfully) deleted from this thread.

Not exactly. We're happy to talk more about that but just as happy to leave it alone as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:44 PM on March 3, 2013


Also it kind of weirdly implies without meaning to that 1) everyone agrees black people cannot be/are not an acceptably maligned group and 2) black and trans don't intersect on the Venn diagram.

I mean, I don't want to argue that it's unproblematic (I don't think it is) but I'm not quite sure what 1) even means ('acceptably maligned'? what?), and I don't really see how it implies 2), as such, any more than the men/black analogy implies men and black can't coincide.

but in sexism threads it's men saying things like "replace 'men' with 'black'" when people talk about rape culture" which is so off to me.

But my point is that this is off in a different way to an oppressed/oppressed analogy, as it is a dominant/oppressed analogy, which means it reverses entirely the relative power disparity, rather than just distorting it.
posted by Dysk at 6:44 PM on March 3, 2013


Jessamyn: My deleted comment was wrong on many levels. I'm content to leave it be and work to bring more light and less heat to metafilter as a whole.
posted by roboton666 at 6:54 PM on March 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


1) even means ('acceptably maligned'? what?),

What I mean is that it implies that everyone accepts that you're not 'allowed' to say anything negative about black people - "What if we replaced 'black' with 'x'?" But that's not true. Black people are maligned constantly, all the time. It makes it sound like "black people" are this PC third rail rather than actual people with real lives and a real, unique history and it's not right or fair to just sub them in for any other minority/oppressed group.
posted by sweetkid at 6:55 PM on March 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


The one thing she cannot, however, do, is stick a fucking penis into me. There is no possible way she can do it - it is a physical impossibility. She can stick a variety of things into me, sure - but nothing, absolutely nothing, that carries the mental or physical baggage of a penis.

Speaking as a cisgendered woman who has survived sexual abuse perpetrated by both men and women, I just want to say this simply is not true for everyone. It's difficult not to read that and feel like the assaults I've suffered are being rated and ranked based on the weapons used against me.

I've really learned from both this as well as the original metafilter thread about Coy. Thank you, everyone, for participating.
posted by nuala at 6:57 PM on March 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ah, okay sweetkid, that totally makes sense.
posted by Dysk at 7:02 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also it kind of weirdly implies without meaning to that 1) everyone agrees black people cannot be/are not an acceptably maligned group and 2) black and trans don't intersect on the Venn diagram.

I agree, Sweetkid. That situation you imagined, where I implied that black people were never maligned, and that trans people could not be black, is totally weird. I am very glad it didn't happen in reality, because I would be very confused and worried that I had apparently experienced some sort of fugue state.

What I said, reassuringly, was:
... that statement constructed as "[minority subset] [type of person] are not quite [type of person], because..." feels like an alert light, especially when people belonging to that subset were clearly engaged in the conversation. I am trying to think of a similar construction where "trans woman" has been replaced by another minority subset and another type of person and it is not a four-alarm crash, and really struggling.
Emphasis mine. That's a linguistic structure. It specifically resists only one element being swapped out, which seems to be what you are trying to do, hence your confusion.

There is then an extrinsic element to that relating to power and status - how far a group can be said to define who is and is not in the in-group.

So, an American saying "male Americans are not quite Americans, because...", for example, sounds absurd, whereas a white American saying "[Ethnic or religious minority] Americans are not quite Americans, because..." is a tiresomely familiar construction. Hence [minority subset] rather than [dominant group].

One response to this kind of bigotry is the reductio ad absurdum - confronting the maker of the statement with its inconsistencies.

This was my aim in my response to corb, in this case, although I didn't wholly understand my own motivation at the time. I aimed to extend the logic, specifically by pointing out that her structure - where some trans women were not quite women because they had not shown solidarity and mutual aid - depended on the idea that this was one-way traffic. Whereas if you posited that showing solidarity and mutual aid was what defined a woman, independent of trans status, then clearly some assigned-female women were ejecting themselves from the set of women by not showing solidarity with trans women.

With hindsight, I should have responded to the alarm-bell-ringing elements of corb's construction not with a reductio ad absurdum, but by flagging that it was a problematic construction. I am doing so now in the hope that it might be a useful input into restless_nomad's question about the line between "unacceptable bigotry vs. eyeroll-worthy tedious ignorance". This feels to me like a construction that is often used to promulgate the former - although quite possibly as a result of the latter - and thus worth being wary of.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:14 PM on March 3, 2013


> And it's really a shitty feeling when a woman days to me "get over it, you're a male, and you are part of the reason I am afraid of men" and I'm sitting here, after a lifetime of abuse from men feeling the same way. Is that really hard to accept and understand?

I don't think that's hard to understand at all.
posted by desuetude at 7:19 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am doing so now in the hope that it might be a useful input into restless_nomad's question about the line between "unacceptable bigotry vs. eyeroll-worthy tedious ignorance".

Doing this in MetaFilter threads is helpful. Doing it in MetaTalk threads (that we're all reading, not just r_n) is not actually that useful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:22 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that one of the things I'm having a problem with is that people are saying "No transwoman would ever hurt a ciswoman" or "No transwoman would ever assault a ciswoman." And it's categorically not true - absolutely categorically not true. Transwomen have harmed ciswomen. And sometimes in women-only spaces.

OH FOR THE LOVE OF.

I have a lot of comments to catch up on, but in case that doesn't happen before I have to attend to Coughing Tot...

Others have clarified what I meant: that ciswomen are no more at risk from transwomen than from other ciswomen. The overall risk of assault does not rise when transwomen are included in the population of women. Your masking your transphobia in concern for "women" is flat out disgusting.

I am a sexual assault survivor as well, but I don't talk about it much. And why is that, you ask? Because most of those conversations are about men and my assaulter was a (cis)woman. So much for your code of solidarity! Oh yes, ciswomen help each other avoid sexual assault! Excuse me if I disagree.
posted by sonika at 7:37 PM on March 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


sonika, know you have catching up to do but corb was gently asked to leave the thread for the time being and did so, so it's probably better that you not rail against her comments at least for the next little while.
posted by sweetkid at 7:44 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, if part of the purpose of this MeTa is to provide some of that education that the community apparently needs, I think pointing out the logical fallacies and implications of problematic statements and comments - regardless of who made them - has value, even if not to corb herself.
posted by Dysk at 7:46 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


yea I guess you're right Dysk. Just seems a bit unfair to me.
posted by sweetkid at 7:47 PM on March 3, 2013


Yeah, there's nothing else I can even say. My assault wasn't even real because there was no penis!
posted by sonika at 7:48 PM on March 3, 2013


I'm afraid I don't understand what "doing this" means in this context, Jessamyn. I was responding to this statement to the thread in general by r_n:
And I would love to see some lists, without calling out specific people or necessarily debating, what people think are the top things that are unacceptable bigotry vs. eyeroll-worthy tedious ignorance. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on that when it comes to, say, sexism or homophobia, but I'm less well-educated on trans issues.
That looked like an invitation to mention problematic statements wrt trans issues.

So... "A number of trans women are not yet women, because... [reason]" seems to me to fit onto that list. The horse of not calling out or debating had sort of bolted by the time this struck me, admittedly. And this also seemed to fit more broadly into a thread about what constitutes unacceptable behavior in discussion of trans issues on MetaFilter.

However, I am clearly doing something wrong here, so I'll drop out.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:52 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe Jess was referring to flagging things in MetaTalk, which, in a thread like this, is close to useless.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:55 PM on March 3, 2013


We use the flags for temporary moderation assessments only, not for helping us assemble lists or anything else. So flagging stuff is basically only saying to us "Act on this" in some way, it's not saying "here's a comment you should read and learn something from it" so flagging stuff in MetaTalk a part of the site where we delete almost nothing, in order to achieve a goal that flagging is not designed to achieve, does not do that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:56 PM on March 3, 2013


yea sorry I sorta feel like I'm in bizarro world Metafilter defending corb.
posted by sweetkid at 7:56 PM on March 3, 2013


Whoa whoa whoa.

I appreciate that you have been wrestling with this honestly, but we're getting to the point where no one is going to change your mind and you aren't going to change anyone else's, and I think it's probably time for you to step back from this thread for a while.

In MetaTalk? How long has it been the policy that if one person is arguing with a bunch of other people in MetaTalk, that person will be asked to leave the thread if nobody's mind is changing?

I've been directly called curse words before in MetaTalk by people who were not then asked to leave the thread, nor even reprimanded for it.

Has this "one person cannot argue with several people" policy always been in effect and I just didn't realize it until now?
posted by cairdeas at 9:48 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


We will generally step in when a conversation becomes totally circular, it just takes a lot longer in MetaTalk. It has nothing to do with the number of participants.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:51 PM on March 3, 2013


What determines which side of a conversation judged to be circular will be asked to leave the thread?
posted by cairdeas at 9:55 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea sorry I sorta feel like I'm in bizarro world Metafilter defending corb.

I dunno, I've just re-read every one of her contributions currently in this thread, and when I skip all the ways her comments were recontextualized to make other points (often good ones, albeit framed antagonistically for maximal rhetorical effect), they're non-radical but fine until I get to the sisterhood/penis essentialism pretty late in the game, which, you know, I guess maybe I'm old, but that kind of stuff once passed for progressive (even radical) and, although it wrecked on the shores of intersectionality / queer theory and left a pretty vile old guard trying to defend it, in this thread I don't see that it amounted to the level of awful of that Guardian op-ed linked above, suggesting what you had here was quite an ordinary, educable, but out-moded second-wave feminist getting her ass handed to her perhaps more out of pride, anger, old grudges, grand-standing, self-righteousness, etc. than as a simple matter of making MeFi a better place.

I'm not saying the "full-throated" approach others took was wrong--I'm a great fan of vigorous discourse--but I can certainly understand it inspiring some sympathy toward someone taking the brunt of it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:59 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


What determines which side of a conversation judged to be circular will be asked to leave the thread?

Generally the side that doesn't seem to be responding to input any more. And there is a distinct difference from "it's probably time for you to step back for a while" and "you are not welcome in this thread any more" - the latter happens much less often, and is a different set of circumstances. The former is just a suggestion that someone who has become enmeshed enough that they've lost all traction get some space to regroup. It's not a mod command. I phrase mod commands much more commandingly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:02 PM on March 3, 2013


r_n, that really doesn't make sense because at first you said "where no one is going to change your mind and you aren't going to change anyone else's" which sounds like a scenario where nobody is responding to input.

I am just going to drop this here because even though I feel like we are on a creep to "safe zone," I would rather object to it in a thread where people are saying sexist male comments shouldn't be allowed, rather than in this thread.
posted by cairdeas at 10:09 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, which bathroom do I use again?

(I jest, people, I jest!)

But in all seriousness, is there anything actionable anticipated coming from this thread?

I've written and deleted three comments thus far, trying to state what changes or additions could be adopted within community regarding a slightly brighter line, but I'm still feeling that a) I am really to new at this and b) I am afraid I'll suggest something really stupid, so I don't suggest anything in the end.

is FIAMO the best course of action moving forward?
posted by roboton666 at 10:13 PM on March 3, 2013


I phrase mod commands much more commandingly.

If I misinterpreted it, then I apologize. In my experience here, "I think it's probably time for you to step back from this thread for a while" reads like a mod command. Recently in another thread, a moderator discouraged a conversational tack but added, "This is just me-as-member talking, not me-as-mod."
posted by cribcage at 10:20 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


My personal feeling is that while we can use Metatalk to tease out a lot of information from any snarls that we as a community are dealing with on the site, and while that may often involve delving rather deeply into an issue, the primary purpose of this space is still to determine how the site operates, and not so much to ultimately focus on one person's ideas about the broader social issue itself, especially when those ideas prove to be relatively fixed (at least in terms of what can be resolved here and now).

In other words, in the process of figuring out how Metafilter handles trans* topics and discussions, a lot of material may be brought up for discussion, but it is not the ultimate goal here to settle the broader issue (are transgender women/men "real" women/men) with one specific person. If there is back and forth and explanation and debate to some degree, okay, but when it becomes the backbone of the entire conversation, we are not doing what needs to done, which is to come to as much resolution as possible over time about how *we all* will discuss and interact on this site, and not what one person believes or does not believe.

If the discussion shapes that way, we can ask that people stop responding to one person, or ask the one person to maybe take it down a notch. Neither one is very palatable to us, to be honest, but at some point I feel like we need to get back on track. In aid of that, I'll amend restless_nomad's request to just ask everyone to open up things up rather focusing on changing a single person's opinion once that's been broached and explored as much as is reasonable in the space/time/place we have.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:44 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can understand how some people become bigots. Life deals a losing hand sometimes, and the outcomes can be brutal. Some people take adversity and somehow grow in spirit and power. Others are broken and become hateful and angry. Bigotry can be a coping mechanism, albeit one that's ultimately more harmful than helpful.

A great many people have, though a variety of means, attempted to de-bigot the bigot in this thread. It is not going to work. Text will not work. The hurt was too much, the wall is too high.

The real risk of continuing to host an angry, aggressive bigot is the loss of other valued members. In this particular case, these will be members who in the face of adversity – the challenges of being trans – have come out stronger and happier.

I suggest that the calculus on this falls on the side of retaining the trans members and losing the bigot.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


My personal feeling is that FIAMO is the best course for me moving forward. I was hoping for some kind of succinct wrapping up of something from all this talk, but it seems given the constraints of metafilter there are too many intersections to draw the TG lines any cleaner than they already are.

...I'm bowing out for now...
posted by roboton666 at 12:52 AM on March 4, 2013


Or in other words: the sensitivity dial wrt trans bigotry could be dialed up a fair bit, because this went on way the hell too long. You don't tolerate other types of bigots to nearly the same degree. That is a big lack of equality.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:56 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just worked my way through the whole thread. It's not super-relevant anymore, but one example of some these issues getting resolved in the real world that came to mind for me is the case of trans women at the Lesbian Sex Mafia, a NYC based group that hosts women-only play parties. (Their scope includes trans men, which is a different sort of problem, but that's a topic for another time.)

They previously had a policy of "trans women keep your junk hidden", which got changed. The page I linked in a collection of arguments put together by trans women and their allies for why that changed needed to happen. They're good arguments, and they won.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:01 AM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


FFF: Because making snide references to someone's sexual assault as the reason the poor thing ended up being such a bad person who you are much more enlightened than, bless their poor heart, is a great way to show what a superior human you are who should dictate who should stay in a community and who should go. That was a really gross display of your own.
posted by cairdeas at 1:07 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can we hear your thoughts again on how creepy autistic people are and how Christians are mentally ill?
posted by cairdeas at 1:24 AM on March 4, 2013


Yeah, shame on me for not tolerating a loud, destructive bigot!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:25 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cut this shit out now.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:27 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


The issue with corb in this thread was that she was not responding to basically any of the arguments put to her, at all. Despite wanting to shout, scream, and fucking pummel everything in sight, I took a (for me, at least) incredibly calm approach and tone, and explained as politely as I was able (at least until the "penises are evil!" bit) why the things she was saying were problematic. She did not respond to any of these points even once. And I'm not the only person who was doing so.
posted by Dysk at 4:33 AM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Obviously I agree with everybody that her concerns are misplaced, but I have to say: somebody expressing concern about their safety is probably not going to be dissuaded by people responding that her comments made them want to become physically violent.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:52 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


People who want to discuss privately with corb, if she's interested in that, can go ahead, but the rest of this conversation cannot continue to be all about one person. If people feel like were done talking about site issues here, we can close it up.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:58 AM on March 4, 2013


What, the fact that I wanted to hit my keyboard in frustration means that I'm clearly a violent person, capable of hurting other people on a whim? Come on now...
posted by Dysk at 4:59 AM on March 4, 2013


taz, have we reached any sort of conclusion on this issue? I mean, I'm not petitioning for the thread to stay open, I'd just like some sort of summary of what the mods are taking away from this, with regard to site norms and so on.
posted by Dysk at 5:00 AM on March 4, 2013


We're listening and we're talking. We're not at a point where we are saying that we've formulated X specific guidelines, though I feel it's pretty loud and clear that we need to be very clear that intentional misuse of pronouns to prove a point is out of bounds, for example, and not something we will be patient with. Basically, as with the complaints about "cis," it's helpful to have hashed things out in Metatalk, for one, to be able to direct people to... and maybe a Wiki info thing would be useful. A directory of site threads and other info resources?

We want to know what people want, and though it may not all perfectly align with how the site operates, we want to work with that information.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:15 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seconding Dysk- I don't know exactly what the result here is... what I have, I think, is something like "MetaFilter's moderation team is tasked, among other things, with helping to create a balance between fluid and fearless discussion and preventing egregiously hateful interactions. At the same time, moderation is not necessarily as confident about trans issues as other, more commonly-policed issues, and so relies to a greater extent on people flagging comments (in MetaFilter discussions)."

One problem with that being that trans issues are probably less generally well understood, and of concern to, a smaller section of the readership in any case, so that is likely to lead to less flagging, and possibly less sense of why things are being flagged...

I have been helped to understand by the discussion here that my responses to hateful speech (or rather, speech which seemed to me hateful) in the original thread were colored by a sense that hateful speech directed against trans people is not well-understood or well-policed by the Internet in general (The Bindel article I linked above is a good example of a piece that no editor would have allowed through if it had been about any other minority, and although that was back in the dark days of the early 21st century, the Observer, a part of the same media group as the Guardian, published a more offensive iteration of basically the same article by by a different writer earlier this year)... and what that means for interactions here is possibly interesting.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:17 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


What, the fact that I wanted to hit my keyboard in frustration means that I'm clearly a violent person, capable of hurting other people on a whim? Come on now...

It seems to me there is a difference between saying that and saying that you wanted "shout, scream, and fucking pummel everything in sight." That was a far broader expression of violence.

I would suggest violent rhetoric in general, although coming from a place of understandable frustration, might be counterproductive in any discussion on this site.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:19 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


'Violence' against things and actual violence against, you know, PEOPLE are pretty different in my mind.
posted by Dysk at 5:21 AM on March 4, 2013


Of course. But we cannot know what you mean in your mind, Dysk.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:22 AM on March 4, 2013


But at no point did I express any desire for violence against people. I said I wanted to hit things.
posted by Dysk at 5:24 AM on March 4, 2013


Fine. I find it problematic. It's the mods call.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:24 AM on March 4, 2013


I think that it would be very helpful to us if we could go ahead with this discussion in a way that allows folks to discuss how we as a site want to approach this, and try not to let frustrations on all sides and personal stuff mire us down. Maybe folks can't do that right now, and if so, this may just be a conversation that we'll have to have another time.

We're not here to force you to discuss how to make things better on the site, but we're here to listen if you guys want to do that.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:37 AM on March 4, 2013


We're listening and we're talking. We're not at a point where we are saying that we've formulated X specific guidelines, though I feel it's pretty loud and clear that we need to be very clear that intentional misuse of pronouns to prove a point is out of bounds, for example, and not something we will be patient with.

That would be a wonderful start, thank you.

Personally, I'd like to see this impatience extend to characterisations of trans people as 'really' men/women as opposed to their chosen gender, something there was a lot of in both the thread on the blue, and here, ranging from the outright statement of that position, to the slightly more insidious oblique statement that necessarily implies it.
posted by Dysk at 5:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


As someone who has had little to no experience with transpeople (to my knowledge, and that in itself is something worth thinking about) this thread, along with all the ones we've had before, has been enormously productive.

I know that there are people out there who are hurt and angry about some of the content and I really don't want anyone who's just trying to live an authentic life to feel like they are constantly being questioned and that they have to justify themselves to strangers. I acknowledge that what to me is an education is also a source of pain and yet another example of how they are sometimes considered to be some kind of 'other'.

But just so you know, this whole discussion has made me think about things I've not really paid much attention to before and it's concreted my belief that people should be accepted for who they are and not who we expect them to be, based on all kinds pre-conceived notions. So thanks for that.
posted by h00py at 5:52 AM on March 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


I acknowledge that what to me is an education is also a source of pain and yet another example of how they are sometimes considered to be some kind of 'other'.

Education is great! While not everyone feels the same way (and there's nowt wrong with that) I have no issue with educating people who are receptive to it. I'd much much rather this be prompted by questions than accusations and assumptions, though. If you don't know much about something, ask, don't tell.
posted by Dysk at 5:54 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


taz, I think that super-explicit modly notes about why a comment/responses have been deleted can be helpful. I know that in well-worn subjects here with the same-old-same-old participants, shorthand often works, but in a newer-to-a-lot-of-mefites subject, something like "We do not misgender people here. Please use the contact form or meTa if you are unclear on something," would be helpful in letting people really know exactly what a not-okay-don't-do-this thing is. Likewise, reminders about what helps things go better rather than worse (and this of course can apply to threads other than those explicitly about trans* issues) - like, "If you are speaking from your own experience, please say so."
posted by rtha at 6:05 AM on March 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


Personally, I'd like to see this impatience extend to characterisations of trans people as 'really' men/women as opposed to their chosen gender,

Agreed. The first time it could be a mistake, the second time it might not have sunk in... the fifth time... It definitely becomes clear that this isn't an "Oops, I didn't know" problem at some point after plenty of people have refuted the point.

Also, alleging that trans* people pose a threat of assault to cis people is both really insulting and flat out wrong. There is nothing to be gained from allowing that to continue in the vein of "It's a legitimate concern" because it's not. Trans* people face violence from cis people several orders of magnitude more than the reverse. Continuing to allege a trans* person in a bathroom is a physical threat is transphobia at its core.
posted by sonika at 6:14 AM on March 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


Maybe folks can't do that right now, and if so, this may just be a conversation that we'll have to have another time.

Considering that all the folk with more conservative views have pretty much been driven out of the thread at this point, I think that would be the best idea, yes.

It's sort of a total dick move to make aggressive comments until members you don't like leave a thread, and then say "Well, now that they're gone and don't have a voice in this anymore... let's formulate policy!"

(I popped back in just to say this, so please no tiresome logically-recursive comments about how I haven't been driven from the thread since I'm still here posting this, etc)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:15 AM on March 4, 2013


trans issues are probably less generally well understood, and of concern to, a smaller section of the readership in any case, so that is likely to lead to less flagging, and possibly less sense of why things are being flagged...

Yeah, I think it makes sense to understand this asymmetry right off the bat and consider the flags with a little bit of weight instead of as raw numbers. I'm highly alert to things that give of 'sexist' vibes and pretty alert to 'racist/homophobic' vibes and codewords, but my antenna are not tuned as well to the tropes that trans people have identified as bigotry signals.
posted by Miko at 6:19 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


What are those "conservative" views, exactly? Because that is a weird word to use to describe anybody's comments in this thread.
posted by rtha at 6:19 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, alleging that trans* people pose a threat of assault to cis people is both really insulting and flat out wrong. There is nothing to be gained from allowing that to continue in the vein of "It's a legitimate concern" because it's not. Trans* people face violence from cis people several orders of magnitude more than the reverse.

Firmly seconded, and beyond that, I'll add that it's not even about the relative threat to cis people from trans people and to trans people from cis people: it's about the relative threat to cis people of trans people and other cis people. It's not even "but you're more likely to hit ME!", it's "EVERYONE ELSE is more likely to hit you, and you're calling ME the threat?".
posted by Dysk at 6:22 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


The people who are being questioned and talked about and dissected in this thread are people, not political constructs. Conservative or liberal opinions are irrelevant. Respect for people is being called for. Does that have to be political?
posted by h00py at 6:22 AM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


IANAmod, but I feel like trying to have the "driving out the conservatives" conversation is not going to be profitable.

On aggressive language: I think we have to extend a degree of good faith, here, and assume that sometimes emotive phrasing has unintended consequences, and the best thing to do when that happens is to retract or clarify as quickly as possible. In this case, nobody's planning to stab anyone - although corb talked earlier about her combat training and how she always carries at least a knife - and nobody wants to pummel anyone else.

Does that seem reasonable?

Back on the initial subject of the thread...

There were a couple of posts in the referenced thread which seemed immediately pretty hateful, although couched in the language of down-home common sense or SCIENCE! The most egregious misgendering, although the most visually obvious piece of transphobia, felt different probably because it felt far more about the user's personal drama than anything directed at trans people as other than props in that drama.

So, that left a couple of posts which essentially came down to "biology = destiny!", admixed with more or less concern trolling about how the parents are manipulating their child to advance the transexual agenda. Which is pretty clearly denying the lived experience of other members of MetaFilter. However, it's interesting to me that my instinct was to mock those, rather than to flag them - which I only really started thinking about when MeMailed with a note that this was not helpful.

So, I guess from my perspective I'm curious about why that was my instinct, and why I fell into it. And I think it's at least partly because I am habituated to expect no support from moderating/editorial/professional authorities in the face of transphobia at all in general-interest Internet communities. And, of course, by not flagging posts I'm depriving the mods of a chance to demonstrate that they are interested in providing support. So, arguably, that was a failed test, and a highlight of a behavior of mine that needs work.

But then, that's also where the dog-whistle element I mentioned earlier comes in. "I worry about this child, and whether s/he is being used to advance the political agenda of her parents, because, clearly, 6 is too young to be gender non-conforming" is a dog-whistle, I suspect, which hurts the ears of people who are aware that their own trans status (or their raising of a non-conforming child) are used regularly to question their suitability or competence as parents. And I guess there's that concern about when dog whistles are heard or not heard, and by whom. Again, Wolfdreams01 is not at a level of interpersonal subtlety where he could manage that sort of dogwhistling, so I guess the misgendering felt like something that was visible (or audible, to extend the metaphor) and thus felt less problematic.

Oddly enough, this reminds me of something someone (possibly cortex? Or Jessamyn?) said about Israel/Palestine threads - that you get a mix of people on every side of the issue who are making points informed by intense study and subject knowledge, and other people who may not even have followed the link, but who nonetheless have an opinion that they feel is worth sharing - and a continuum in between, of course.

The closer-reading implications of the language being used by the first group may be inaccessible to the second, and the implications to the first group in the language used by the second may be wholly inaccessible to that second group - they literally do not know what the words they are using mean, or rather what they have been used to mean in previous discussions.

So... the mods have a near-impossible job, and can't be expected to know everything about everything, and we as members should probably be trying to make that job as non-impossible as possible. In this case, does that mean flagging? Or MeMailing when we think a flag might be "inaudible"?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:24 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Right, which is why I think it's the *repeated* claims that are what's really damaging in trans* threads and seem to have been protected a bit more than similar claims in, for instance, sexism threads. It's obvious when someone who is having an "opposing view" on LGB rights isn't going to back down and is coming from a place of homophobia rather than "concern." In trans* threads it's harder to tell that a lot of the "legitimate concerns" actually are complete crap as most people haven't had those conversations very often.

Which is why I think stronger moderation would be helpful to enforce "this isn't a helpful discussion" as right now, trans* members of the community are exhausted and angry and stay away from the threads as it's a space where they get a lot of people devaluing their experience in light of "concerns" and little support from the mods. Ally support is what it is, but it would have a greater weight for the MeFi staff to really say (and enforce) "we're not a safe space, but MetaFilter isn't going to allow transphobic speech any more than sexist or racist speech" and we are so not there yet.
posted by sonika at 6:35 AM on March 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


running order squabble fest, yeah, both. We have to navigate a course between those who are less informed (and see it as a thought exercise, or just "here's my opinion"), and those who are both extremely well informed and also have lived experience, and we can't just say, look you have to know "this much" to enter this conversation, but we can be more proactive in keeping the discussion from bogging down into first principles, I think. This becomes less possible when it seems like the will of the thread participants to turn all energy and focus on that one person, though, so if people do not help us with that, we cannot force the discussion to proceed at a higher level.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:36 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This becomes less possible when it seems like the will of the thread participants to turn all energy and focus on that one person, though, so if people do not help us with that, we cannot force the discussion to proceed at a higher level.

What do you mean by "help you with that?" Flagging? Email? I get that circular arguments aren't helpful for anyone, but what do you want us to DO instead of engaging? Because right now, "walking away" isn't working for those of us who would like to see the site more welcoming to trans* people/allies.
posted by sonika at 6:49 AM on March 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I mean that if someone says something that people find unenlightened/uninformed, the tendency is often for everyone in the thread to turn all attention to that person/comment and stick there. We can ask that people not make it all about them if they continue to keep repeating the same thing over and over, and we can ask that everyone else not make it all about them, and we can ask that a certain line of discussion be dropped so that the main conversation can continue, but we can't force people. If the goal is to discuss at an intelligent level without get bogged down in the most basic stuff, we can help, and if the goal is to discourage transphobic lines of conversation from developing, we can help, but if people decide that the goal is that they want to change X person's mind, or just tell them off about how wrong they are, and that's what everyone focuses on, we can't force people to have a better conversation than that.

We can and will delete transphobic hate speech, and enforce certain standards, but we can't ensure that people will not say things that are uninformed or insensitive, and this is where the difficulty is.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:05 AM on March 4, 2013


although corb talked earlier about her combat training and how she always carries at least a knife

I'm not popping back in to engage overall. But I will say that I think it is really unfair to bring up my self-protective measures against assault as a potential indicator that I might intend violence to anyone else.

In terms of moderation, I also think that it would be problematic if people were kept from expressing their fears or concerns by mods. It seems like some people in this thread would like for mods to remove every comment talking about concern about assault as "transphobia," or every time someone has concerns about shared spaces as the same. And I think that is not going to contribute to an honest conversation - it is forcibly shutting up a lot of people.

Making sure no one is using terms that are insulting sounds like a good use of mod prerogative, as would making sure no one is using aggressive language towards or about each other. Maybe more vigorous mod intervention early when tempers start flaring would be helpful as well.
posted by corb at 7:07 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


This becomes less possible when it seems like the will of the thread participants to turn all energy and focus on that one person, though, so if people do not help us with that, we cannot force the discussion to proceed at a higher level.

Looking back trough the original thread, I think one thing that might've helped would be a mod note along the lines of "[this idea]/[this person]/[this comment] has been dealt with now, it isn't acceptable here, let's move on" coupled with deletions of further comment on the issue of what one particular person said, and further comments to the effect of what was said.
posted by Dysk at 7:08 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems like some people in this thread would like for mods to remove every comment talking about concern about assault as "transphobia," or every time someone has concerns about shared spaces as the same. And I think that is not going to contribute to an honest conversation - it is forcibly shutting up a lot of people.

If you could go ahead and actually prove that anyone said this, that'd be great. Otherwise we're back to the usual tactics of unmentioned hypotheticals, vanishingly rare examples, and seemingly willful misinterpretations being broadly applied to the community at general that makes threads shitty.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:14 AM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


taz: "Basically, as with the complaints about "cis," it's helpful to have hashed things out in Metatalk, for one, to be able to direct people to... and maybe a Wiki info thing would be useful. A directory of site threads and other info resources?"

I would be happy to help compile a reference page on the mefi wiki with links to comments, relevant threads and external source material. However, it would need a focus. What do you envision the page's function? General education on transgender issues? Statement of etiquette and site policy? Both?
posted by zarq at 7:15 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems like some people in this thread would like for mods to remove every comment talking about concern about assault as "transphobia," or every time someone has concerns about shared spaces as the same. And I think that is not going to contribute to an honest conversation - it is forcibly shutting up a lot of people.

I did not see anyone else saying this. You certainly have not stopped as you are continuing to make the same allegations while you simultaneously claim to have been silenced.
posted by sonika at 7:19 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


zarq, I don't really have a vision, and hope other people have good ideas, but I'm thinking yeah, good comments that clarify certain issues, off-site informational resources that are more introductory and accessible so that people have something to link to and say, "hey, here's a good way to get up to speed on some of this stuff," or "X-thing in particular."
posted by taz (staff) at 7:25 AM on March 4, 2013


But I will say that I think it is really unfair to bring up my self-protective measures against assault as a potential indicator that I might intend violence to anyone else.

Which is precisely what I didn't do. I said that you stated earlier that you were combat-trained and always carried at least a knife. You also said that you (carrying that knife) would freak out under certain circumstances involving the presence of a trans woman. Nobody took that to mean that you were planning to stab any other members of MetaFilter. I am suggesting we extend that courtesy universally.

Anyway, to avoid making this all about one person, I'd echo sonika - the process was something I was wondering about. So, for example, there are some nasty comments in the "Privilege to pee" thread - ones that deny the lived experience not only of the Mathises but of other members of MetaFilter, or demand that parents of a gender non-conforming child be investigated, or argue that the only motivation the parents of a gender non-conforming child could have to allow that child to express their gender identity must be to advance their own political agenda - either that they are compelling their child to cross-dress or irresponsibly allowing her to do so.

That's a series of dog-whistles - but they don't misgender, they don't use abusive language. On the Burchill scale, they barely quiver the needle. So, I guess a question is... what happens with comments like those? They are intentionally or unintentionally designed to provoke an angry response from those directly affected by transphobia - they are harmful to a good thread - but would they read as such if they popped up in the flag stream? It seems from this discussion like they were not flagged - is that a community norm, or a failure of the community norm?

(I don't know how heavily flagged the deleted posts were, incidentally, or the flagged posts r_n mentioned that were answered too quickly to be deleted - so, that's another gap in the picture.)

If they were flagged (probably by a relatively small number of people, because inaudible to many), what would happen? Would the mods appreciate a supplementary contact providing perspectives on why they were being flagged, for example, or would that read as "armchair moderating"? (This being based on the idea that trans issues are generally less well covered than e.g. racism or homophobia).
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:38 AM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hate to do this, but I do feel like the reactions to transgender and to LGB groups in intolerant people are rooted in the same place, in the same fears, and presenting them side-by-side is my last-ditch attempt to illuminate things, since arguing only on the merits and reality of trans life seems to be failing, so:

In terms of moderation, I also think that it would be problematic if people were kept from expressing their fears or concerns by mods. It seems like some people in this thread would like for mods to remove every comment talking about concern about assault as "transphobia," "homophobia," or every time someone has concerns about shared spaces as the same. And I think that is not going to contribute to an honest conversation - it is forcibly shutting up a lot of people.

It was never true and never a valid concern that straight people (or their children) were under threat of assault from gay people, and harping on on that subject is seen -- as least on this website -- as clearly homophobic. These fears are flat wrong, insulting, dehumanising, and have no place in respectful conversation.

It has never been true and has never been a valid concern that cis people are under threat of assault from trans people. Harping on on this subject should be seen as clearly transphobic. These fears are flat wrong, insulting, dehumanising, and have no place in respectful conversation.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:42 AM on March 4, 2013 [22 favorites]


(And, now that I think about it, it occurs that deletion is at one end of a line of possible responses - I was MeMailed encouraging me to abandon a particular line of behavior, and found that useful. Did/would/could the same thing happen to people intransigently stating without evidence that e.g. parents of gender non-conforming children are more interested in publicity than the welfare of their child, or indeed that trans women are not women, either absolutely or conditionally?)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:42 AM on March 4, 2013


corb: "In terms of moderation, I also think that it would be problematic if people were kept from expressing their fears or concerns by mods. It seems like some people in this thread would like for mods to remove every comment talking about concern about assault as "transphobia," or every time someone has concerns about shared spaces as the same. And I think that is not going to contribute to an honest conversation - it is forcibly shutting up a lot of people. "

I could be wrong about this, but my personal sense is that you've raised very few realistic concerns. The mods cannot reasonably be expected to treat all voiced concerns equally. At some point, they're going to need to favor those perspectives that are grounded in facts, and not unlikely hypotheticals.

Worse, you're trying to define the discussion so it favors your arguments, but doing so in a way that reveals a bit of lack of understanding of the issues involved. For example: the CPS discussion in the main thread. Also, sexual assault and penetrative rape does not require a penis to be defined as such. Nor should either be considered non-rape, or less traumatic or awful for the victim if a penis is not involved. I can't speak for anyone else but myself here, but as a sexual assault survivor I disagree with you strenuously about that. In all cases, if you are talking ONLY about your own experience and perceptions, then you really need to make that crystal clear, especially since you're also casting all men as potential abusers of women and rapists.

You should have a right to talk about your lived experiences, I agree. But they do not give you the right to diminish or dismiss those of other survivors. They certainly do not give you the right to condemn an entire gender. Nor should they give you the right to expect your hypothetical, unsourced examples will go unchallenged. Especially when there are transgender men and women in this thread who can and are speaking about their own lived experiences which run counter to your assumptions.
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on March 4, 2013 [23 favorites]


Did/would/could the same thing happen to people intransigently stating without evidence that e.g. parents of gender non-conforming children are more interested in publicity

Please assume that we are doing this most of the time. I know it's frustrating to not have access to the discussions mods are having with other members in a non-public fashion but it's definitely one of the many things in our toolkit.

What do you envision the page's function? General education on transgender issues? Statement of etiquette and site policy? Both?

The wiki pretty much needs to be for user-generated stuff. We have the FAQ if we need to nail down or expand on actual policies.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:46 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ughhh.. I'm unable to sleep, so I have just read this entire thread (and the one on the blue). This hits close to home for me (and my wifeboi, and my friends) but as usual, there is nothing I can add to the conversation that hasn't already been said more eloquently or forcefully.

However, as a large creature with good circulation, I give the kind of hugs you wish would never end, like a mug of hot cocoa after a mile in the snow. So here is me offering a huge bearhug to anyone who has read this far down and is, like me, in need of one. And to transfolk in particular: please never forget that you are dearly loved, and you have allies who will unconditionally fight alongside you until the last bigot on Earth has stopped caring about the style or contents of your undergarments.
posted by jake at 7:51 AM on March 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


Please assume that we are doing this most of the time. I know it's frustrating to not have access to the discussions mods are having with other members in a non-public fashion but it's definitely one of the many things in our toolkit.

Good to know, thanks.
posted by sonika at 7:53 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


However, as a large creature with good circulation, I give the kind of hugs you wish would never end, like a mug of hot cocoa after a mile in the snow. So here is me offering a huge bearhug to anyone who has read this far down and is, like me, in need of one.

Not only would this be lovely, but I extend my own offer in return: I give hugely satisfying high-fives, of the sort that make a pleasing soft clap sound, and I can top gun them; I may also be able to lay my hands on a slow-motion video camera and some Creative Commons-licensed 80s-style music. Come at me, arms raised.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:01 AM on March 4, 2013 [24 favorites]


You know, this thread was not so great on a lot of levels, but it still feels like it's a lot better than trans* issues usually go on Metafilter, simply because at some point it discussed an issue that wasn't (a) whether trans* people exist (though there was some of that going around as well) and (b) whether they should be able to talk about their issues on equal footing with cis people. That's already doing better than the big long Meta from last year. Hell, it's doing better than the FPP, where wolfdreams01 and clavdivs were allowed to spend an inexplicably long time playing moot court with the rest of the thread about at what point we can accept a trans* person's gender identity.

Quite frankly, I'd like to see both of those as base-level requirements for participating in trans* related threads on Metafilter, as in mods saying "Do not persist in directing the thread in this direction". Too often, the thread gets totally derailed by misgenderings or "well why can you call me a cis person but I can't call you by the pronouns I want". This is not even Trans Issues 101; it's fucking remedial. It prevents anyone else from being able to have a conversation, because everyone spends the thread trying to get one or two people to acknowledge that there is a conversation to be had, and that trans* people should be equal participants in it.
posted by kagredon at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


taz: "zarq, I don't really have a vision, and hope other people have good ideas, but I'm thinking yeah, good comments that clarify certain issues, off-site informational resources that are more introductory and accessible so that people have something to link to and say, "hey, here's a good way to get up to speed on some of this stuff," or "X-thing in particular.""

jessamyn: " The wiki pretty much needs to be for user-generated stuff. We have the FAQ if we need to nail down or expand on actual policies."

Okie doke. I created a page. The text is just a placeholder. Please, everyone, feel free modify what's there to your heart's content.

I will put a framework together over the next week by finding and highlighting some of the discussions we've had on the site, and add whatever relevant external links I can find in previous threads.

If anyone can provide links to comprehensive resources and explanations, that would be fantastic. The wiki is open to anyone to edit, so PLEASE feel free to jump in! But, if you don't feel comfortable with wiki markup language, I'm happy to add stuff to the page for anyone who would like to send it to me via memail.
posted by zarq at 8:13 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, what Jess said. Much of the behind-the-scenes work we do is invisible specifically because it's an attempt to guide things a bit behind the scenes where that kind of approach may be taken by the folks we're talking to less as an attempt to like publicly put them on the spot. The maybe sometimes counter-intuitive thing is that the folks most seeming like they could use some mod guidance are also the folks who it's most likely are already getting that; people don't just flip like switches, so this stuff can take time and effort and isn't guaranteed to monotonically improve or whatever.

Which is not to say don't let us know if you feel like something's going on where someone could use a little guidance; we can't be everywhere and don't see everything so a heads up about a potential "this needs attention" pattern of behavior or whatnot is totally welcome. Just keep in mind that there's a fair amount of that going on already; the problems that persist on the site have more to do with the complicated and at times intractable-feeling nature of human group interaction than they do with us not thinking there's a problem, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


IMO the problem is that certain types of bigots are allowed to continue spewing their bigotry looooong after other types of bigots have been removed from Mefi.

The mods do not tolerate naked racism. The mods do tolerate naked trans bigotry. This inequality is wrong.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


It was never true and never a valid concern that straight people (or their children) were under threat of assault from gay people, and harping on on that subject is seen -- as least on this website -- as clearly homophobic.

Yes, totally - it is essentially the "gay men shouldn't be allowed to shower or change with straight men" argument all over again.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:25 AM on March 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


i'm going to try to do my part to flag/alert mods instead of responding until it seems like a bigoted comment will stay. i think if all of us, trans* and allies a like, commit to this when we can, the mods will see clearer where we'd like the line drawn and they can go from there.

part of the problem of the FPP is that there was at least one user who was showing such awful, naked hatred that maybe the gaslighting/dog whistling didn't seem as bad by comparison. i'm glad that person was removed from the thread all together, but i hope in the future the wordier comments with less overtly offensive words but still holding the same position will also be discouraged.
posted by nadawi at 8:27 AM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


You know, this thread was not so great on a lot of levels, but it still feels like it's a lot better than trans* issues usually go on Metafilter, simply because at some point it discussed an issue that wasn't (a) whether trans* people exist (though there was some of that going around as well) and (b) whether they should be able to talk about their issues on equal footing with cis people.

Okay, so the context was a little different, but here is an example of a recent thread about trans issues that I thought went rather well, if not perfectly. Certainly there was a lot less dismissal and hatred going on there than in either this thread, or the one on the blue that spawned it.

I don't think what's happened here represents a step in the right direction. Yes it's better than it has sometimes been, but no, I don't think it's better than Metafilter has proven it can be, particularly of late.
posted by Dysk at 8:29 AM on March 4, 2013


Yeah, and the fpp about the trans* Samoan soccer player seems to be going fine, and the thread about the frat raising funds to help one of their pledges transition (FTM) also seemed to be going fine (it got deleted because it was a still-open fundraising thing).

Neither of those has people insisting repeatedly on misgendering the subject of the thread, neither of them seems to have anyone expressing "But what about the children??!" concerns, and neither of them has people going "Well, I wouldn't want to share a bathroom with them for reasons."
posted by rtha at 8:40 AM on March 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


i think it depends on what people have seen on the site. there have been some great posts about trans* issues that have gone well (although the frat pledge one i closed after the first comment because of a joke about the snl character pat - i mean, come on. how are we not past that?). but, if you missed those or are only thinking about things that have become big sprawling metatalk issues, then you're probably thinking of the cis- clusterfuck. by one metric, comparing to recent trans* threads, this is a low spot - by another metric, comparing to other trans* related blowouts, this is an improvement.
posted by nadawi at 9:06 AM on March 4, 2013


with the addendum, it's still not good enough, but i don't think we should despair. i think we can be better.
posted by nadawi at 9:07 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It drives me fucking crazy when a trans* woman calls herself, a grown woman, "a girl", because she should know better than to infantilize and diminish herself.

Apologies if I'm dredging up something that's too old in thread-time, and I know gingerest wasn't endorsing this view, just acknowledging it. But I wanted to throw out there that maybe she (the trans woman) does know better, and is making the wisest decision for her.

I mean, if you're a cis woman trying to reject infantilizing gender roles, you can experiment with rejecting them to the extent you feel comfortable or safe, and then back away from that line if you want. If you're transitioning to presenting as a woman, and can no longer totally pass as a man for one reason or another, you have no safe zone to retreat to. You might decide that your safest and healthiest course is to adopt the girliest, even the most infantilizing and diminishing signifiers, if it helps you get across the gap to the point where you present enough as a woman to be nonthreatening or ease your gender dysphoria.

Or you might not. I sure don't know what the best strategy for any given person might be. I'm just saying that there's a good chance that people who are working hard on gender performance have thought their strategy through and are doing it for good reasons.

It would be supercool if, somewhere in that process, they could use their perspective to undercut some of the infantilizing gender roles foisted on women. But if they can't manage to work that part into their schedule, I think it's forgivable to put it on the back burner.

--

Regarding site moderation, more in the realm of "is" than "ought" -- I think it might be useful to think of moderation here as intended to generate a productive discussion for wherever the overall userbase happens to be. (What follows is of course just my read on a dynamic that the mods understand 1000x better than I do.) The same way the front page is moderated in terms of "what mix of content is likely to be interesting to this particular group of people," the comments are moderated for "what ground is still interesting to cover and what ground are we thoroughly done with?" By design, that means otherwise-similar situations are treated differently.

So if someone were to write a comment like (forgive me) "I don't care what you say, we all know that black people are born inferior to white people," it would be deleted not only because it's odious and wrong, but it's not a point that any significant fraction of the userbase can learn anything from discussing. (You wouldn't see people saying their views had totally flipped as a result of the discussion, for example.) A comment like "we all know that trans women are just men wearing dresses" might be equally odious and wrong, but is more likely to stand, if there's any chance it's sincere, because at this moment in history it's more likely to lead to a discussion some of us can learn something from. This approach is unlikely to change, because a core value of the site is to primarily moderate for interestingness and let the commenters sort out the good/evil right/wrong side of things.

The downside is, when we have those threads where we're talking about something where a lot of people still sincerely hold odious and wrong beliefs, they suck.suck.suck for the people with the most personal investment, who we depend on to bring insight and learn something from. So we kind of take advantage of you all sharing personal stories in this thread, and though we're tremendously grateful (seriously, profoundly grateful) it's a lot to ask.

So I think the question the mods are asking is, how can the site preserve its basic character, and shift the line a little in this particular area? That might be a goal of the wiki, for example -- to shift more of the conversation into "boring and settled" territory rather than "we can still learn something by talking about this" territory. If someone says something really uninformed/thoughtless and you can say, hey, here's a link to the last three times someone raised that point and it was dealt with, maybe it becomes clear more quickly whether they're acting in good faith and whether the conversation is worth having again.
posted by jhc at 9:17 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


A comment like "we all know that trans women are just men wearing dresses" might be equally odious and wrong, but is more likely to stand, if there's any chance it's sincere, because at this moment in history it's more likely to lead to a discussion some of us can learn something from. This approach is unlikely to change, because a core value of the site is to primarily moderate for interestingness and let the commenters sort out the good/evil right/wrong side of things.

Thing is, once it's been said and refuted in a thread once, it doesn't need to come up again - any additional comments along the lines of "trans women are men in dresses" should be deleted, since the potentially useful discussion it could generate is already right there, further up the page.
posted by Dysk at 9:22 AM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


In case anyone is curious, these are all the posts that have been made to the Blue and tagged with 'transgender.' I'm skimming them (very) slowly to gather comments and links, and finding a number of comments by members talking about their own experiences as a transgender man or woman. Still other folks have posted links to their own personal pages about transgender issues.

I just want to note (publicly) that I won't link on the wiki to anyone's personal page or story without asking them first via memail. I don't want anyone to be concerned that they might be outed or have a sensitive story linked to on an external site without their permission.

Hopefully this isn't too forward or presumptive of me, but can I suggest that anyone else working on the wiki page do the same?
posted by zarq at 9:25 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"we all know that trans women are just men wearing dresses" might be equally odious and wrong, but is more likely to stand

It is around the reaction of the commenter to those who challenge this view that I think is the place for moderation. So if the commenter is told by others: "Here are x,y,z reasons that is wrong" and they react with "Those sources are invalid. [repeats original comment]" then we either need to have a mod comment ([engage with discussions in good faith.] or similar) / memails from mods / or even deletions.
posted by knapah at 9:40 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to make one more effort, and then withdraw entirely. This is in regards to misgendering - which I did, until the man of twists and turns made this comment, which caused me to reevaluate because it directly addressed the concerns that I had expressed, instead of making irrelevant accusations of bigotry.

This thread was about a court case, and gender is directly at the heart of the case - in fact, the central issue in terms of the legality of the bathroom ban is whether Coy is a boy or a girl. In that context, gendering her as a girl (in defiance of every single dictionary definition out there) means that you are giving the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt here. Furthermore, if "using the exact dictionary definition" of gender is bigotry, you're setting the bar pretty low. In fact, if you decide that it's a good idea to start redefining dictionary terms simply to accommodate people's liberal sensitivities, then surely it would be appropriate to include a list of those terms in the FAQ, so that potential new users who believe in using precision and logic in their arguments can see what Metafilter is really about and steer clear.

Coy seems like a nice kid, and if she had been there, I would have used the gender that she wanted in order to avoid hurting her feelings. Likewise, if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread, I would have done likewise to avoid hurting their feelings - because I believe in being nice to nice people. But there were no nice people in that thread. Nobody politely asked "Hey, I know you think of Coy as a boy, but I'm trans/have a trans child/etc and when you say that it really hurts my feelings." If somebody had approached me in this manner, my response would have been "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you - I disagree with you on her gender, but I'll refer to her as a girl from now on." Instead, people chose to assume that I was arguing in bad faith, and immediately became insulting and started making claims of bigotry. This is the reason I was so stubborn about calling Coy a boy until proven otherwise - it was not because of any transphobia, but simply because most of the alledged "trans allies" acted like bullying assholes in that thread, and giving in to this kind of behavior only encourages it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:51 AM on March 4, 2013


Please just stop. First of all, Coy is entitled to the benefit of the doubt regarding her self-understanding, which is not the same thing as the burden of proof. And even if it were, official recognition of her gender is not the issue in this lawsuit, because she has already received official recognition. At issue is her right to use the restroom.

Moreover, it's been pretty clearly articulated in this very thread that MeFi's standards with regard to misgendering is going to be based on acceptance and respect for individual's identity as they understand it, first and foremost. So your position has been overruled, for the purposes of discussions on MeFi. Please stop trying to rehabilitate it, and use the correct pronouns in the future without any form of "papers please!"
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:57 AM on March 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


wolfdreams01, you have misunderstood the court case very badly. Her gender is not part of the court case at all -- the court has no power to rule on her gender. The issue in the court case is whether the school has appropriately accommodated her gender identity, not what her gender identity is.
posted by KathrynT at 10:00 AM on March 4, 2013 [28 favorites]


wolfsie: which I did, until the man of twists and turns made this comment, which caused me to reevaluate because it directly addressed the concerns that I had expressed, instead of making irrelevant accusations of bigotry

It took me about 60 seconds, including writing that comment, to address your "concerns." For someone who insists on being "rational" and "intelligent," Google seems like a really high hurdle for you. Since you clearly refuse to do your own research, your position is not distinguishable from concern trolling at the very best. People looked at your statements and behaviors, compared them with previous statements and behaviors, and have come to a rational conclusion of your engagment with this subject ("bad faith").

For someone who constantly proclaims how "rational" you are, you don't demonstrate it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:01 AM on March 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


This is the reason I was so stubborn about calling Coy a boy until proven otherwise - it was not because of any transphobia, but simply because most of the alledged "trans allies" acted like bullying assholes in that thread, and giving in to this kind of behavior only encourages it.

You're a peach, you know that?
posted by kagredon at 10:01 AM on March 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


In fact, if you decide that it's a good idea to start redefining dictionary terms simply to accommodate people's liberal sensitivities, then surely it would be appropriate to include a list of those terms in the FAQ, so that potential new users who believe in using precision and logic in their arguments can see what Metafilter is really about and steer clear.

Your hostile and aggressive attitude towards both this community and other commenters is making discussions of difficult topics veer from merely difficult to outright toxic.

if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread, I would have done likewise to avoid hurting their feelings - because I believe in being nice to nice people.

Stop this. This is not a tit for tat situation. People do not have any obligation to be nice to you for you to treat them as people whose opinions are worthy of respect.

We've spoken to you privately and are now speaking to you publicly. I am past caring if you are or are not operating in good faith at this point. Your own personal principles which you repeatedly outline seem to make it impossible for you to interact here with any visible regard for the feelings of other community members. You need to handle this, or you need to leave. If you can do neither, we will have to handle this and we would prefer not to have to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:02 AM on March 4, 2013 [47 favorites]


If somebody had approached me in this manner, my response would have been "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you - I disagree with you on her gender, but I'll refer to her as a girl from now on."

The thing you can do that will make things not turn into giant shitstorms is to take that tack anyway. Taking the high road and being conciliatory is just about always the right way to go, even if in your mind they started it. Blaming your own assholery on other people being assholes makes the whole world assholes, and you specifically have seemed to struggle with and even reject outright the idea that this place is a community so at this point it's way incumbent on you to make the effort.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:02 AM on March 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


Anyway, wolfdreams01, since you care so much about precision: people who are trans women are women. They are female. There is abundant objective, documented psychiatric, scientific, medical, sociological evidence that being trans is a real thing, not something that someone invented just to confuse you. People like Coy are female whether or not you know them, whether or not you like them, whether or not they have earned enough Wolfdreams01 Social Coins to earn your consideration.

It's not very rational of you to continue hammering on a point that people repeatedly poked gaping logical holes in, even if you don't like the tone some of them took when they did.
posted by kagredon at 10:15 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


This thread was about a court case, and gender is directly at the heart of the case - in fact, the central issue in terms of the legality of the bathroom ban is whether Coy is a boy or a girl. In that context, gendering her as a girl (in defiance of every single dictionary definition out there) means that you are giving the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt here. Furthermore, if "using the exact dictionary definition" of gender is bigotry, you're setting the bar pretty low. In fact, if you decide that it's a good idea to start redefining dictionary terms simply to accommodate people's liberal sensitivities, then surely it would be appropriate to include a list of those terms in the FAQ, so that potential new users who believe in using precision and logic in their arguments can see what Metafilter is really about and steer clear.

I don't know what dictionaries you have been reading, but the claim that we're flying the face of dictionary definitions here? Patently false. And the notion that being trans is a "liberal sensibility" is equally laughable. Trans people, like any other group of people, can and do have a variety of political inclinations.

Coy seems like a nice kid, and if she had been there, I would have used the gender that she wanted in order to avoid hurting her feelings. Likewise, if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread, I would have done likewise to avoid hurting their feelings - because I believe in being nice to nice people.

First off, please do not use 'transsexuals' as a noun - it's odious in the same way using 'gays' or 'blacks' is. Secondly, it is not anybody's job to pass your bar for being a 'nice transsexual' to be worthy of basic human dignity.

But there were no nice people in that thread.

Didn't you JUST SAY that the man of twists and turns acted nicely?

Nobody politely asked "Hey, I know you think of Coy as a boy, but I'm trans/have a trans child/etc and when you say that it really hurts my feelings." If somebody had approached me in this manner, my response would have been "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you - I disagree with you on her gender, but I'll refer to her as a girl from now on." Instead, people chose to assume that I was arguing in bad faith, and immediately became insulting and started making claims of bigotry. This is the reason I was so stubborn about calling Coy a boy until proven otherwise - it was not because of any transphobia, but simply because most of the alledged "trans allies" acted like bullying assholes in that thread, and giving in to this kind of behavior only encourages it.

The bit I highlighted? That IS transphobia. And what was your experience of the thread - did "not giving in" to "bullying assholes" in any way discourage them? All signs point to 'no'...
posted by Dysk at 10:16 AM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


People like Coy are female whether or not you know them, whether or not you like them, whether or not they have earned enough of Wolfdreams01 Social Coins to earn your consideration.

This, a thousand times this, and with the addition of "whether or not they have a specific bit of paperwork".
posted by Dysk at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


First off, please do not use 'transsexuals' as a noun - it's odious in the same way using 'gays' or 'blacks' is.

That's good to know. I had no idea any of those were bad form.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:26 AM on March 4, 2013


Yeah, and the fpp about the trans* Samoan soccer player seems to be going fine

Frankly, I think it's going fine because she's playing with men, so there's nothing to upset the bigots. Even then, there is at least one comment where I was tempted to say "It is abundantly apparent you don't have even the vaguest knowledge of this subject, so stop pretending like you do in order to be an asshole."
posted by hoyland at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2013


Sometimes, our own view of ourselves - the primacy of our own experience over any other, the assumption that we know more than we actually do - really gets in the way of our own efforts to be better educated about things. Assuming that the knowledge I have about [thing] is not only all-encompassing but always correct is a barrier to me actually gaining knowledge. Assuming that my thought process is without question logical and rational is also a barrier to me gaining knowledge. One thing I am going to try very hard to do from now on here is to ask questions rather than make statements, unless the statement is very specifically about my own personal experience in relation to the subject under discussion. I will also try very hard to remember that my experience is normal for me but not necessarily universal. If any of y'all catch me making grandiose statements about How Thing Work in general (especially in heated threads, probably not so much in kitten video fpps!), I would very much appreciate a gentle reminder.

These threads have taught me all kinds of things, including things I thought I'd learned but apparently not so much!
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


so that potential new users who believe in using precision and logic in their arguments can see what Metafilter is really about and steer clear.

I'd like to address this, here, finally: I know you like to state that you approach things with Logic and Precision and Math and whatever, and that you like to state such a thing in terms that pretty well imply that everyone who disagrees with you is a maroon because they're illogical and imprecise and whatever. But here's the thing: Basing your ideas about the world in Logic and Precision is not very useful if you are bad at those things.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:35 AM on March 4, 2013 [22 favorites]


Likewise, if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread ...

/face palm/
posted by ericb at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams01: "Coy seems like a nice kid, and if she had been there, I would have used the gender that she wanted in order to avoid hurting her feelings. Likewise, if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread, I would have done likewise to avoid hurting their feelings - because I believe in being nice to nice people. But there were no nice people in that thread. "

The idea that you should only have to respect other people if they are present in your company, meet your specific personal litmus test, and/or kowtow to your desires that they not get uppity, is the very definition of privilege.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on March 4, 2013 [35 favorites]


No one is saying we need to delete the 'bathroom panic' type talk correct? Because it's going to keep happening and to me it seems equivalent to men in sexism threads saying q"How can a guy get a date if we can't catcall woment in the street? And then everyone has to talk about how socially awkward men can meet women." I hate this and rather we didn't have to do it, but I would feel odd if they were just consistently deleted. Somqetimqes we just have to accept that people have crappy opinions about things and need to be challenged.
posted by sweetkid at 10:40 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


No one is saying we need to delete the 'bathroom panic' type talk correct? Because it's going to keep happening and to me it seems equivalent to men in sexism threads saying q"How can a guy get a date if we can't catcall woment in the street? And then everyone has to talk about how socially awkward men can meet women." I hate this and rather we didn't have to do it, but I would feel odd if they were just consistently deleted. Somqetimqes we just have to accept that people have crappy opinions about things and need to be challenged.

I'd like to see those things not detail threads, and I think deletions are useful tool to that end. I do not necessarily want to see whole-sale deletion of any and all comments to that effect, but comments to that effect made in a thread where it has already been pointed out just how and why it is problematic? I have no issue whatsoever with seeing them go, to enable a thread to actually move on, rather than be a constant rehash of the same argument, again and again.
posted by Dysk at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Likewise, if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread, I would have done likewise to avoid hurting their feelings

This is what it comes down to in the end, isn't it? You're clearly less concerned with being accurate or rational or comprehending some sort of truth in whatever you're discussing than you are with applying some twisted-up, self-referential system of rewarding and punishing the world based on how good it makes you feel about yourself.

However, please don't ever stop appealing to the authority of some imaginary, monolithic The Dictionary above all legal definition, all common usage and all argument to the contrary. It's somehow perfectly you.

...if you decide that it's a good idea to start redefining dictionary terms simply to accommodate people's liberal sensitivities...

As we all know, no The Dictionary definition has ever changed. It's still inscribed in hundred-foot slabs of meteoric iron on the Moon.
posted by emmtee at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


sweetkid - it's my reading that it's being suggested that repeated comments that don't engage with the community and keep overstating the danger should be curtailed in a variety of ways - mod note, email, and yes, up to deletion. i don't think anyone is saying if someone once says "i'm not comfortable sharing the bathroom with anyone who has a penis" that the comment should be immediately deleted. in the future, once we get to "these women don't count as real women under these conditions that i've just made up and the only important rape happens with a penis" i hope we're well into deleting that strain of conversation.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Somqetimqes we just have to accept that people have crappy opinions about things and need to be challenged.

Totally, and sometimes they're the sort of thing that totally derail a thread and need to come to MetaTalk if they have to be discussed. We often do that with the "why is x sexist thing bad?" lines of discussion - it's not an instant delete, but we're going to nip the derail pretty quickly if it threatens to turn the thread into a "let's all educate one user on this subject." It's not a change of policy to extend that to trans issues too.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your own personal principles which you repeatedly outline seem to make it impossible for you to interact here with any visible regard for the feelings of other community members. You need to handle this, or you need to leave.

Jessamyn, I wanted to express my gratitude for your statement.

I've been sitting here pondering why I and my spouse have spent the past several days unable to tear our eyes away from this MeTa and the OP on Coy. Why have we been persistently reading discussions that make us so distraught? Why are we so distraught, when there are worse trainwrecks we could be eyeing--say the comments on the CNN story on Coy's situation?

What it boils down to, for me, is that Metafilter has a sense of home for me. I turn to it all the time for intelligent and thoughtful conversation, and I really do feel a sense of community here. When it comes to trans* topics, my sense has been that while I'm often disappointed, there has been a general upward trend. So I expected that there would be some broken things said in the comments on Coy's situation--I can accept that people need to have their consciousnesses raised. But the level of transphobic venom spread around was way more than I had braced for, and it was so depressing and painful. And I knew that within the first hours of the conversation on the Blue, someone close to me had written to a mod to ask that something be done to address wolfdreams01, as one of the most egregious sources of transphobic comments, and had gotten a "well, we'll wait and see" response. And I know that the job of modding a site like this is a balancing act performed on the backs of a herd of stampeding cats who are not easy to wrangle. And I understand that a lot of it goes on behind the scenes.

But I have to honestly say that I felt not only hurt by the conversations, but let down at what felt to me, as others too have mentioned, like a greater willingness to tolerate transphobia than, say, homophobia. So for me, it's a relief to see an overt and public rebuke to an outrageous statement. "There are no nice trans people I need to respect on Metafilter," sheesh.
posted by DrMew at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [28 favorites]


that makes sense. I mean, as much as I hate that crap (both bathroom panic style transphobia and the "can't get a date" stuff) I feel like deleting it would be too Television Without Pity ish for here.
posted by sweetkid at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess it shouldn't need to be said, and I know that the niceness of others really shouldn't be a condition we demand before we're willing to be nice ourselves, but there are a huge number of very nice people of various genders and statuses in that thread. I think sometimes when a person feels attacked it's easy for them to look at a thread and see nothing but negativity. Especially in cases like this, it seems like it's generally a good idea to take at least a second look and try to see if you can find comments that aren't actually taking the tone you think they are.
posted by koeselitz at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and the fpp about the trans* Samoan soccer player seems to be going fine

hoyland: Frankly, I think it's going fine because she's playing with men, so there's nothing to upset the bigots


hoyland, people who care about all women being able to compete at the highest levels in sports are not "bigots" for caring about and wanting to talk that, and for wanting to talk about how different people's different bodies impact that.

Unlike the topic of this thread (the bathroom) where nobody else's body affects you, athletic competition is ALL ABOUT which kinds of bodies have advantages over others. The "women in sports" conversation is one that requires acknowledgment that it is as complex topic, and a gigantic amount of good faith. Coming out of the gate with "if you are concerned about all women having the opportunity to play at the highest levels in sports then you are a BIGOT!!!!!!" that is ensuring an unproductive and stupid conversation off the bat.

I would like to repeat what I say when people talk about how men need to STFU about their opinions on various topics. People speaking their opinions should be in-bounds even if you disagree or don't like them, calling people names should be out of bounds.
posted by cairdeas at 11:12 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, athletic competition is perhaps a little more complicated, but it's kinda weird how some people want to police trans women's bodies, but not the bodies of cis women in that context. Tall women (cis OR trans) out-compete short women when it comes to basketball, for example, but we only ever hear complaints about the tall trans women.
posted by Dysk at 11:19 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


cairdeas - i could be wrong, but i thought hoyland was making reference to the fact that the efforts to keep trans women out of spaces for women are greater than the efforts to keep trans men out of spaces for men (not at all saying that men who are trans have an easy go of it - just that some of the efforts by bigots seem decidedly slanted). i didn't seem them saying anything that could be described as " Coming out of the gate with "if you are concerned about all women having the opportunity to play at the highest levels in sports then you are a BIGOT!!!!!!"" did i miss something?
posted by nadawi at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


People speaking their opinions should be in-bounds even if you disagree or don't like them, calling people names should be out of bounds.

Agreed.
posted by cribcage at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2013


Dysk, cis women's bodies DO get "policed" in the sense that you are not allowed to compete with different groups of other women based on what your body is like. I can't compete with women in different age brackets than me. When I wrestle or compete in weight lifting, I can't compete with women who are in a lower weight class than I am. I couldn't join the womens rowing or volleyball teams in college because there was a height cutoff that I didn't make. Those are all examples involving mostly or all cis women. You are spliced into who you can compete against based on every possible aspect of your physical body.
posted by cairdeas at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2013


Dysk, cis women's bodies DO get "policed" in the sense that you are not allowed to compete with different groups of other women based on what your body is like. I can't compete with women in different age brackets than me. When I wrestle or compete in weight lifting, I can't compete with women who are in a lower weight class than I am. I couldn't join the womens rowing or volleyball teams in college because there was a height cutoff that I didn't make. Those are all examples involving mostly or all cis women. You are spliced into who you can compete against based on every possible aspect of your physical body.

And all of these restrictions and so on apply to trans women already, as-is. I still don't really see why we need special rules of any kind for trans women.

This a complete derail, anyway.
posted by Dysk at 11:25 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, wolfdreams, here's the situation broken down into logic: the reason no trans* people/allies were being "nice" to you is that you (repeatedly) hurt them with your claims that they didn't meet your own burden of proof for being gendered.

So, YOU hurt someone, they react. Then you refuse to change your position because they weren't "nice" - but the thing is, they absolutely would have been if what you had said wasn't hateful. That's the disconnect. They didn't start it. You did. You may not have intended to hurt anyone, but when that happens the way out is to say "Wow, I seem to have hurt your feelings and that wasn't my intent." (which is even a logical statement of fact!) rather than waiting for them to come and apologize to you.
posted by sonika at 11:31 AM on March 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


yea also disagreeing with someone about what gender they are isn't the sort of mild aside wolfdreams01 seemed to want to make it out to be.
posted by sweetkid at 11:35 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just personally, I am as disinterested in somebody else's characterization of Wolfdreams01's comments as "hateful" as I am disinterested in his characterization of other people as "nice," and I would propose again that these characterizations are exactly the problem.
posted by cribcage at 11:39 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


To me, it IS hateful for someone to refuse to use a preferred pronoun because they haven't met the burden of proof for being gendered - and to write many, many paragraphs explaining exactly how they have failed. Perhaps you don't find that hateful, but I do and I stand by my choice of words in characterizing these comments.
posted by sonika at 11:43 AM on March 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


Dysk if you see this as a derail then we don't have to talk about it here. But the reason we split people into an endless number of different sports categories based on their physical characteristics is because we recognize some of them give an absolutely dominating advantage to the people who have them, to the point where nobody without them would be able to seriously compete if everyone had to compete together. There is already a principle that people with dominating physical advantages play in higher, more prestigious, and in professional sports more lucrative brackets than folks without those advantages. Testosterone production is one of those things (though it's not the only sports advantage the average male body has over the average female body - there is a different cellular makeup of the upper body giving a destroying advantage to male bodies). It is so much of a dominating advantage that you will be banned for life if you take it artificially. So if you have spent 20 or 30 years of your life building up your body with an immense amount of natural testosterone, and then compete against people who don't and can't produce it in anything even approaching that way, you will have a dominating advantage. It is nothing more than another physical advantage just like all the other ones people are currently separated into different competition brackets by.
posted by cairdeas at 11:43 AM on March 4, 2013


Cribcage, isn't that the pretty well-established difference between calling out people's comments versus calling out the people themselves?

Besides, while Metafilter guidelines do not require people to be nice while commenting, they do specifically forbid hateful comments, and a lot of people here are pointing out why comments that willfully denying someone's gender identity qualify as such.
posted by kagredon at 11:45 AM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


nadawi, you could be right, but i don't see how that changes anything? speaking strictly about sports, some people talk about this more in female sports because of hatred and bigotry. but others talk about it more in female-body sports because having a female body gives you a sports disadvantage in most areas and having a male gives you an advantage. Jumping to "NO, the only reason there could be a difference there is because of bigotry" (which doesn't even make sense) is what I think is not conducive to productive and civil discussion of the topic.
posted by cairdeas at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2013


I don't question your sincerity in labeling those comments "hateful," Sonika. Nor do I question Wolfdreams01's sincerity, such as it is, in constructing his own personal naughty/nice list. I question their constructive value.
posted by cribcage at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just personally, I am as disinterested in somebody else's characterization of Wolfdreams01's comments as "hateful" as I am disinterested in his characterization of other people as "nice," and I would propose again that these characterizations are exactly the problem.

Would that be disinterested or uninterested? And if the former, is that an example of..


[Sunglasses]


"dis" privilege?


[YEEEEEAAHHHHHHH!!!!]
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:52 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


cairdeas, do you know anything about trans women in sport? At all? Or about the effects of hormone therapy on trans women? You lose muscle mass, for god's sake. As I said in the other thread, the IOC, which is not so long removed from inspecting women's genitals before letting them compete, allows trans people to compete after two years of hormones and genital surgery. We can have a long conversation about why the surgery requirement is fucked up, but you appear to not even be aware that trans people are ever allowed to compete in high level sport. Or, well, you think they shouldn't. Which I'm perfectly okay calling bigoted. (nadawi had the correct reading of my original comment.)
posted by hoyland at 11:53 AM on March 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


And, yes, I am livid right now, by the way. Five days of this crap and I've apparently hit my limit.
posted by hoyland at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


cairdeas - i just feel like you jumped straight to the middle of a conversation that wasn't happening and only ever so slightly referenced, and you did so with guns blazing. i'm sure the opportunity to discuss women who are trans (or intersex or atypical in hormone development) in sport will come up again around here, maybe save your passionate defenses until then?
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on March 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


On The Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes:
In addition, even transgender girls who do not access hormone blockers or cross-gender hormones display a great deal of physical variation, just as there is a great deal of natural variation in physical size and ability among non-transgender girls and boys. Many people may have a stereotype that all transgender girls and women are unusually tall and have large bones and muscles. But that is not true. A male-to-female transgender girl may be small and slight, even if she is not on hormone blockers or taking estrogen. It is important not to over generalize. The assumption that all malebodied people are taller, stronger, and more highly skilled in a sport than all female-bodied people is not accurate. This assumption is especially inaccurate when applied to youth who are still developing physically and who therefore display a significantly broader range of variation in size, strength, and skill than older youth and adults.

It is also important to know that any athletic advantages a transgender girl or woman arguably may have as a result of her prior testosterone levels dissipate after about one year of estrogen therapy. According to medical experts on this issue, the assumption that a transgender girl or woman competing on a women’s team would have a competitive advantage outside the range of performance and competitive advantage or disadvantage that already exists among female athletes is not supported by evidence. As one survey of the existing research concludes, “the data available does not appear to suggest that transitioned athletes would compete at an advantage or disadvantage as compared with physically born men and women.”
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:56 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


hoyland, I actually know a HUGE amount of information about this topic. Now you've gone from "if you disagree you are a bigot!!!!!" to "if you disagree you clearly must be an ill-informed idiot compared to me!!!!!" This is most decidedly not a way to have a constructive conversation about this or any other topic. The next time women in sports comes up as a topic on its own, I will be quite happy to discuss it there.
posted by cairdeas at 11:57 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The value in calling out hateful comments is saying "This type of comment in a discussion isn't ok." If you disagree with the word "hateful," fine, but the value in calling it out and labeling it is pointing out that the comment isn't something that leads to healthy discourse.

And also that in a discussion of trans* issues, calling out transphobic comments helps raise awareness of what transphobia looks like and hopefully will lead to less of it on the site and thus, hopefully, make MeFi more welcoming to trans* people.

Note, it's the comments I'm taking issue with. I am not calling any person hateful and sometimes people say hateful things out if ignorance, not malice, and I'm not claiming to know anyone's intent, merely that the result was hateful in a very transphobic way.
posted by sonika at 11:59 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Testosterone production is one of those things (though it's not the only sports advantage the average male body has over the average female body - there is a different cellular makeup of the upper body giving a destroying advantage to male bodies). It is so much of a dominating advantage that you will be banned for life if you take it artificially. So if you have spent 20 or 30 years of your life building up your body with an immense amount of natural testosterone, and then compete against people who don't and can't produce it in anything even approaching that way, you will have a dominating advantage. It is nothing more than another physical advantage just like all the other ones people are currently separated into different competition brackets by.

So, should we also split off female-assigned, female-identified, XX-chromosomed women with PCOS, which tends to cause higher levels of androgen secretion? What about cis women with high testosterone from another cause? What about cis men with low testosterone? Or trans women with the same? What about people with androgen insensitivity syndrome, who are XY-chromosomed, but by definition do not respond in the same way to testosterone and usually are assigned as female?

The division is not, and has never been, "low testosterone" vs. "high testosterone". It's women and men.
posted by kagredon at 11:59 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


In this emotionally-charged thread filled with weary trans people who've been arguing for basic respect on this website for days, this was clearly exactly the right time to move onto this topic.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2013 [33 favorites]


So, should we also split off female-assigned, female-identified, XX-chromosomed women with PCOS, which tends to cause higher levels of androgen secretion?

It is really no longer appropriate to talk about who is or isn't a woman or arguing about that nuance vis-a-vis sports. Take that into an appropriate thread in the future and don't have that argument here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:03 PM on March 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


I just want to throw this out here, as something I've learned from these massive threads -- I don't have to fully understand a thing to accept it.

My sense of gender could fit in a matchbox with the matches still inside it. It's not easy for me to put myself in the mindset of a trans person, because that is so unlike my own lived experience. That's not a judgment, not by any means: just realizing that my life is very, very unlike the experiences being shared here.

But here's the cool thing I learned: I don't need a gut-level understanding. All I have to do is accept the realness and validity, which is actually pretty easy. I can respect a thing even if I have an imperfect understanding of it.

So whenever I encounter a human experience that is totally outside my own little sphere of Things I Get, I mostly stay quiet and read and learn, so that my understanding can get better. It hurts nothing to know where my understanding is patchy, and then (and this is the important bit) listen when people who live those things tell the world what it's like, so that I can understand it better, and fuck up less.
posted by cmyk at 12:20 PM on March 4, 2013 [42 favorites]


Maybe I am really weird and completely off base here, but the way I currently see it is that everyone is "trans" to one degree or another.

I think of the 4 categories of Sexual Assignment, Gender Identity, Gender Role and Sexual Attraction as "sliders". Now maybe, just maybe it is possible to be at 100% of one end of the spectrum or the other, but there's always something about yourself that doesn't match up 100% with what your personal idea of perfection is and there will always be someone who will place a judgement about your choice of gender role that you either accept within yourself, or cannot change, which, is basically, discrimination. The real painful part is when that judgement turns to violence, abuse and a denial of privilege to entire classes of people, which is something everyone is subjected to in one degree or another. In my mind, that is another "sub-slider" under the "Gender Role" slider. Your ability to perform a gender role is directly attributable to the amount of abuse you are going to take in life. This is where EVERYTHING intersects for me.

What I think I am seeing is that these Trans* discussions are a flashpoint between underprivileged groups because one underprivileged group feels the other underprivileged group is asking them to give up a piece of privilege they have fought and sacrificed for, and to make matters worse, the abuse and social conditioning that happens to all underprivileged groups creates all kind fear and anxieties that are hard to talk about and unpack in a social forum.

The lifelong abuse and shame cuts across the entire gender spectrum. That "abuse, lack of agency and under-privilege" sub-slider under the gender role slider in my mind is either way low or way high, depending on all kinds of social expectations and behaviors that are way beyond fucked up and I truly believe the Trans* movement has a great opportunity to help the world grow past that a little more (Insert the arc of justice and our kairos moment inspirational speech here!)

I think, but I am wiling to be proved wrong, that if we try to begin the discussion with gender roles and behavior, the abuse meted out to everyone across the entire gender spectrum and how that abuse creates all kinds of triggers, denials of rights, lack of agency and privilege, etc, we may have a better chance at understanding each other and truly begin a productive public conversation.

I hope someday these silly labels can go away, because for me the Trans* label itself is an implicit acknowledgement that genderphobia exists...
posted by roboton666 at 12:23 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"hoyland, I actually know a HUGE amount of information about this topic."

Sigh, is that more than we could possibly imagine?
posted by Blasdelb at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


cmyk, I loved your earlier comments in this thread and I'm loving this one too. Also, you sound like we have a thing or two in common. I just wish eloquency was one of those things, because whoa. Kudos!
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope my comment didn't minimize the pain we as trans* people go through. Crap.

This is hard.
posted by roboton666 at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2013


roboton666, I for one reject the idea gender roles - not in the sense that they don't exist (because well clearly, our society has them) but in the sense that they shouldn't, and I do my utmost to ignore them utterly. Gender to me is about who a person is, not what they do or how they behave.
posted by Dysk at 12:59 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dysk: That's a really elegant way to put it.
posted by roboton666 at 1:09 PM on March 4, 2013


Can we have a ball pit full of sleepy kittens now?
posted by Betafae at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


If you disagree with the word "hateful," fine, but the value in calling it out and labeling it is pointing out that the comment isn't something that leads to healthy discourse.

FWIW, I do think something more specific than "hateful" will work better in call-outs. I've seen the word "hateful" make conversations more difficult in MeTa threads when applied to other Mefites, because it doesn't say who's doing the hating. So it can mean a range of things:

- "Your comment encourages hate toward [whoever]."
- "Your comment is typical of people who hate [whoever]."
- "Your comment shows that you personally hate [whoever]."
- "Your comment is hate-worthy."
- "You personally are hate-worthy."

Only the first couple really leave room for discussion. And it's slippery -- not only do readers tend to interpret it differently than intended, but sometimes it seems like the commenter themselves (who's likely to be pretty upset about the underlying hateful comment) isn't quite clear on which meaning they intend.

Come to think of it, this might apply to any word that has a complex meaning in a difficult discussion. Like if I can't easily define what I mean by "that's a sexist comment" or "that's a bigoted comment," I might throw out the word and rework the thought until I can clearly define all the words I'm using, and think that the person I'm criticizing will more or less be working with the same definitions.

I really really don't want to silence anyone here -- better to say what you have to say however you can than not at all. Just thinking things through.
posted by jhc at 1:25 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]




roboton666, I for one reject the idea gender roles...Gender to me is about who a person is, not what they do or how they behave.

I think roboton666 described something that's pretty well accepted in that those four variables are not collapsible. I tend to reject the "roles" society assigns to my gender, but they do exist, as you note, and you can choose to play within them or not. And some people really value playing within them, so I try not to tell them they shouldn't (this underlies the big 90s feminist discussion about whether it's OK to "just" want to be a wife and mother, or should make yourself do things you don't really want to do just to avoid fulfilling a stereotype).

Without including some category such as "gender roles" there's nothing left that covers behavior and choices you make about being in society. You can still accept or reject assigned roles, but you do have behavior choices and this seems important to me to recognize. So in short, "sexual assignment" talks about which category you fall into in human physical typology. "Gender identity" talks about what you feel like on the inside - which gender, if any, you "identifty" with. "Sexual attraction" tells you who you want to get with. Only something such as "gender roles," or if you prefer "gendered behavior" talks about how you might want to act in society, making choices for yourself about gendered behavior. I think it's a very legitimate construct and one which has pretty significant variability. For instance, on the sliders I'm on the pretty extremely classic "female" end of everything except for "gender roles/gendered behavior" - I pretty much think they're stupid and have particularly enjoyed flouting a lot of them throughout my life, but I recognize that I can make choices within a range here, and sometimes might want to play in a more traditionally "feminine" realm for a specific interaction or special occasion. However, our society typically punishes men for making the choice to play in that realm. Even if a man rejects that punishment, he's still make a choice about participating, or not, in a kind of gendered behavior.
posted by Miko at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2013


I think roboton666 described something that's pretty well accepted in that those four variables are not collapsible. I tend to reject the "roles" society assigns to my gender, but they do exist, as you note, and you can choose to play within them or not. And some people really value playing within them, so I try not to tell them they shouldn't (this underlies the big 90s feminist discussion about whether it's OK to "just" want to be a wife and mother, or should make yourself do things you don't really want to do just to avoid fulfilling a stereotype).

I mean, I don't think anyone should do anything other than what they want - I'm not saying that your choices are somehow wrong or lesser if they happen to coincide with traditional gender roles. I just think people should do what they want, and that freeing us all from 'roles' we're expected to play based on our gender makes that easier, not harder, and that considering certain behaviours gendered in one way or another helps stifle the breadth of human expression and variability.
posted by Dysk at 2:04 PM on March 4, 2013


Freeing us all from roles would be really nice, I totally agree. In the meantime, though, we do live in a society that's heavily gendered, and gendered expression is something a lot of people want to do, or not do. precisely because it says something to them about their own gender identity. And sometimes that expression interacts in complex ways with the other three variables and has a lot to do with how you are 'read' by other people and how you want to be read. So I just think that at this stage of social development, it's still an important thing, and something that should remain part of discussions about how see ourselves in relation to gender. In an ideal world, you're right that probably roles would disappear, but we are a long way from that, and gender-as-performance really means that there's a big behavioral component that is part of negotiating gender for everyone, still.
posted by Miko at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2013


Put it this way: I'll be upset if anyone refers to any of my behaviour as 'male' or 'female', because it isn't, to me. I think considering things this way is so inherently bound up in policing behaviour based on it, whether that's framed in terms of 'traditional gender roles good' or 'traditional gender roles bad' - the more we're willing to try and conceive of behaviour as just human behaviour rather than 'male' behaviour or 'female' behaviour, the less power it has over us generally.

At the same time, I'm not going to be upset if someone refers to their actions as 'girly' or their pursuits as 'manly' or whatever - I just read it as a convenient shorthand for 'coincides with traditional norms and expectations of [gender]'.
posted by Dysk at 2:15 PM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Likewise, if there had been any other nice transexuals in the thread, I would have done likewise to avoid hurting their feelings - because I believe in being nice to nice people. But there were no nice people in that thread.

If you are nice (considerate and civil) to other people before you begin to collect data to assess whether they are nice, you are likely to discover that the world has many more nice people in it than you thought.
posted by gingerest at 3:02 PM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


I follow the golden rule, treat everybody as if they were a nice transsexual.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:17 PM on March 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


Coy seems like a nice kid, and if she had been there, I would have used the gender that she wanted in order to avoid hurting her feelings.

HEY, WOLFDREAMS01!!!

*I* know Coy's mother.

And you hurt MY feelings by referring to her as a him in that thread.

Misgendering Coy like that doesn't just hurt Coy --- it hurts her, her family, and people who know and care for her family. This is issue is about Coy, yes, but no one lives in a vacuum. It's also about the people who want Coy to be safe and happy as well.

So, no, Coy isn't here. But I am here. And I was hurt by you.
posted by zizzle at 3:26 PM on March 4, 2013 [37 favorites]


I've watched this train-wreck with a horrified fascination, feeling like I had little to contribute as a contentedly cis woman - fully appreciative of the privilege in that state. That said, I am appalled by the mean-spirited judging that has been doubled, tripled and quadrupled down by multiple people. Concern trolling or one's own fears of un-related assaults don't make bigotry acceptable. I would be surprised if any of these folks would feel comfortable saying to someone's face that they aren't entitled to their gender or gender presentation. Just because it's an online discussion where most people don't use their real-life names doesn't make it ok to be an asshole to someone. Being uncomfortable with someone else's gender doesn't make one the arbiter of who's rights should be enforced. I'm sure our mods have had emails flying trying to deal with this mess and I for one support them being more assertive still in trying to reign this crap in the next time we have such a thread.


I guess all I can usefully add to this is that I am wholeheartedly an ally and support people's rights to be who they are without censure or fear. I think there has been a lot of good information and discussion in this thread in the midst of the crappy behavior and I hope those who feel hurt and threatened by the latter will take heart in the former.
posted by leslies at 3:42 PM on March 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


the way I currently see it is that everyone is "trans" to one degree or another. ... I hope someday these silly labels can go away, because for me the Trans* label itself is an implicit acknowledgement that genderphobia exists...

Be the change you want to see. (This is not snark.)

I would be surprised if any of these folks would feel comfortable saying to someone's face

While I agree with you about this point, and I think MetaFilter would be a spectacularly better place if people would limit themselves to saying things they would say face-to-face...I also think that principle works both ways, and I suspect words like "bigot" or "concern trolling," which have been all over this thread, would largely disappear if we were all sitting together in a cafe.
posted by cribcage at 4:05 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]



While I agree with you about this point, and I think MetaFilter would be a spectacularly better place if people would limit themselves to saying things they would say face-to-face...I also think that principle works both ways, and I suspect words like "bigot" or "concern trolling," which have been all over this thread, would largely disappear if we were all sitting together in a cafe.


Yeah I feel like there is an alternate judgement in some of these pronouncements about how horrible people are being in the thread, going both ways sort of.

I understand it, it's just not the greatest thing.
posted by sweetkid at 4:08 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mefi is not friends at a Cafe. That's one of the many problems with demanding the subject of your comments be nice before you respond in kind. You are talking to an auditorium full of people that can talk back, you don't know enough to personalize your message.

Any of my friends who spouted the kind of BS that went on in that thread would receive a serious argument in return, the specific words used would depend on the conversation.
posted by Drinky Die at