Thanks for the education October 28, 2013 12:22 PM   Subscribe

The current post on trans* kids/gender identity has a really positive conversation going on. I've seen enough fighty trans*-issue threads here for that to be a real sign of progress. But mostly, I want to thank the mefites who've made it that way for assisting with my own education.

Ten years ago, I was one of the cis-jerks who was at least thinking (if not actively commenting) dumb prejudiced comments. MetaFilter's been a big part of my education around the issue (getting the differences between gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and physical plumbing; using a person's preferred pronoun; trusting other people's experiences equally to one's own; etc.). Thanks for putting up with what was not an enlightened community and helping turn on the lights. These days I help teach a comprehensive sex-ed class at my UU church, and getting these issues right is a BIG DEAL. I wouldn't have got this far without reading those fighty threads and taking in the wisdom of very patient (and sometimes rightfully angry) trans* people and cis-allies who bothered to educate people like me.
posted by rikschell to MetaFilter-Related at 12:22 PM (61 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

[+]
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:29 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now, will this thread make it past 4 comments?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:45 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hear ya, rikschell. As much as fraught topics can be a lot of work around here (both for mods and for folks invested in the topics), I do very much appreciate all the shit I'd never have otherwise understood nearly as well or as quickly if not for the effort a whole lot of mefites have made over the years to explain or discuss in a patient, civil way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:48 PM on October 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Yeah, count me in as somebody who has benefited a lot from this. Thank you all for your patience.
posted by gauche at 1:00 PM on October 28, 2013


Now, will this thread make it past 4 comments?

Yes, it totally will.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:02 PM on October 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


http://metatalk.metafilter.com/22716/
http://metatalk.metafilter.com/22747/

How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?
posted by thylacine at 1:08 PM on October 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pickles!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 PM on October 28, 2013


what i'd appreciate as a next step in handling trans threads - any thread, really - is for people to stop posting in the thread specifically to say that they're not going to post in the thread because they're afraid we're going to snap their heads off because we're really mean when people make mistakes

like if you're not going to participate then don't participate
please don't drive through to point out your lack of participation
posted by titus n. owl at 1:12 PM on October 28, 2013 [33 favorites]


How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?

MetaTalk is 100% optional for everyone but the mods. We can have as many "Thanks" posts as we can fit, in my opinion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [38 favorites]


thylacine: " How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?"

Considering how many Metatalk posts are about ways the community isn't handling a particular topic well, it's nice to have a few show up when we do.
posted by zarq at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I had a bit of a different read on those comments, Titus - I saw them as more of a sideways comment to the other cisfolk that "maybe it's best to hold our tongues and listen because that's a smart and wise thing to do". Or even "I used to be the kind of person who talked without thinking in these threads but then I wised up and everyone else should".

Still unnecessary, mind, but maybe for a different reason.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?


some suggest a 5:1 positive to negative ratio to comments is required for healthy relationships.


But I guess the real answer is a hell of a lot more then we need stab-in-the-back-and-pretend-it's-some-sort-of-truth contributions.
posted by edgeways at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?

Until fairly recently, trans*-related MeFi posts frequently led to some rather ugly and contentious MeTas. There's been a recent spate of "hey, Metafilter did this well!" threads about trans*-related FPPs because until recently, it was kind of rare for Metafilter to Do This Well.

On non-preview: or what zarq said.
posted by kagredon at 1:23 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


titus n. owl: "what i'd appreciate as a next step in handling trans threads - any thread, really - is for people to stop posting in the thread specifically to say that they're not going to post in the thread because they're afraid we're going to snap their heads off because we're really mean when people make mistakes"

I am sure I must have missed it (or them,) but I'm not seeing any comments that fit this description. Could I trouble you to please point to the comment(s) in question in that thread where you saw this happen?
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on October 28, 2013


How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?

We need 12.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can't fit 12, not unless the back wall is extended about 12 feet and the liquor license isupgraded.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


it was 12 until steven moffat was made a mod, now who know how many he'll accept!
posted by nadawi at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


zarq, no i cannot, because it appears to have been deleted.
posted by titus n. owl at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2013


How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?

As many as it takes to move these issues forward into more positive spaces. It is incredibly nice to be able to come into that kind of thread and actually learn from the comments for once rather than be thwarted by vitriol or cattiness, so count me in as being thankful for its present productive state.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


actually my last comment is completely wrong and i retract it - the one about "it must have been deleted" - i just failed to read

the specific comment in that specific thread did not specifically say "because all you people are mean" anyway
posted by titus n. owl at 1:49 PM on October 28, 2013


YES YES YES thank you for posting this -- it is super true! In the book World of Wonders Robertson Davies mentions the old-fashioned medical idea of "laudable pus". This is basically a gross, negative thing that, while it appears to be problematic, actually shows that healing is taking place under the surface. It's unpleasant and yucky but it's a sign that things are getting better.

I think there is often a lot of laudable pus in our efforts to understand and respect each other; I know there has been a lot in my understanding of trans* people, for which I apologize. I look back on things I've thought or said that were problematic or make me feel squicky and uncomfortable now BUT I also realize that at least some of them were me working my way towards a better, fuller understanding (which I still don't have as comprehensively as I'd like but I'm working on it). I had some gross, pus-filled thoughts but some of them were a sign that there was actually healing going on under the surface. I really, REALLY appreciate MetaFilter for helping me get through my laudable pus phase as quickly and thoughtfully as possible. There are issues I never would have considered and there were definitely times I was (at least mentally) disrespectful that I didn't even consider were problematic.

When people wonder whether fighting on the internet actually matters or changes anything or whatever, I think about Metafilter and I know that I definitely have changed my perspective and become a more respectful and understanding person, especially on trans* issues. God knows I still have a long way to go, but I really want to second rikschell's thanks to everyone here who has taken the time to talk about these issues and bring about additional understanding.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:50 PM on October 28, 2013 [20 favorites]


Now can we bottle this and somehow apply it to I/P threads and other fighty issues? Is this a Metafilter-only thing, or is trans* education gaining traction outside the site too?
posted by rikschell at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2013


titus n. owl, ok.

I was actually a little concerned that you might have been referring to my comment. I said what I did not because I thought people might be mean in their responses, but rather because I am capable of saying stupid things inadvertently. Not so much worried about being called out. Just don't want to derail a thread by being an idiot.
posted by zarq at 2:09 PM on October 28, 2013


How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?

I'm pretty sure mods get paid commission for these threads, and get deducted for the "hey, lets open this up to criticism or something" meta threads.

Truth be told, people need to stop doing drugs and putting up love threads on meta.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:13 PM on October 28, 2013


thylacine: How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are good progressives" posts on Metatalk do we actually need?

Wait, did you read what was written beyond the first sentence? Because this is one person saying "thank you for educating me," not "hey, we're awesome for supporting people who live in contentious realities of gender and identity." Gender and identity are getting more recognition as a range of possibilities instead of the relatively simple male/female, gay/straight/bi set of options, and not everyone grasps (and accepts) this reality.

Would this have been better/different if the poster said "thanks for helping me understand organic chemistry"?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:15 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Truth be told, people need to stop doing drugs and putting up love threads on meta.

Yes. It should always just be one or the other.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, could y'all help me understand organic chemistry? That shit's HARD.
posted by rikschell at 2:24 PM on October 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Carbon.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:26 PM on October 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have learned more about trans issues and politics from Metafilter than any other source. Thank you, Mefites who keep educating and rehashing the 101 and not giving up.
posted by cmyk at 2:28 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Truth. I feel like my own ignorance on this subject has been seriously eroded. Thanks to all.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:31 PM on October 28, 2013


Carbon.

Jeez, IRFH. How many "let's pat each other on the back because we are made out of carbon" comments on Metatalk do we actually need?
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:34 PM on October 28, 2013 [19 favorites]


These days I help teach a comprehensive sex-ed class at my UU church

One of my closest friends in high school was a UU and did peer education using YRUU (I probably spelled that wrong). So...go UUs!
posted by rtha at 2:35 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


These days I help teach a comprehensive sex-ed class at my UU church

Rikschell, major kudos to you for being an OWL facilitator! I try not to think about the current session at my congregation, because I knew some of them when they were babies, and I refuse to acknowledge how long ago that was... ;)
posted by booksherpa at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm also glad a thread about a topic that can get fighty is going well, but don't we also have a long-running tendency for I'm-glad-this-FPP-is-going-so-well! MeTas to turn out to be awful jinxes?

(crosses fingers)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:58 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


You knock on that wood till it splinters, DOT.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:01 PM on October 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


What are you, some John Kreese?
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2013


brb writing cortex/Kreese slashfic
posted by zombieflanders at 3:06 PM on October 28, 2013


I'll keep knocking for sure, cortex. But I'm weirdly superstitious about these things. Saying "This thread sure is going well!" feels a bit like saying, "Hey team, did everybody notice we have a no-hitter going?" Shutupshutupshutup.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:10 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, could y'all help me understand organic chemistry?

Well, the cis- prefix designates when two functional groups are aligned on the same side, and the trans- prefix is when they're on opposite sides....
posted by kagredon at 3:37 PM on October 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


And if you have more than two functional groups on your double bond you'll need to use E/Z nomenclature instead of trans/cis nomenclature, because organic chemistry totally needed more gratuitous German words in it. If, however, you'd rather learn about the stereochemistry of alkanes you can do it with cats! (note: link goes to my own FPP. it is however a useful one!) But seriously, I would be delighted to talk about organic chemistry with anyone who would like to. It is the best thing and electrophiles and nucleophiles are adorable!

That's also wonderful that you're teaching Our Whole Lives--it's a great curriculum and I got a lot out of it as a young teen (plus, the facilitators were awesome people and they brought in delicious snacks, which is an important part of RE class when you are in middle school).

As always I am grateful to all the people who are trans in this community for sharing their stories, identities, and knowledge, and for everyone working to make this a place where those stories can be heard and honored.
posted by beryllium at 5:13 PM on October 28, 2013


It's not just about one thread going well, it's more about the gradual improvement of the site in general and my education in particular.
posted by rikschell at 5:14 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


"laudable pus"

wassup sockpuppet
posted by klangklangston at 5:16 PM on October 28, 2013


Oh, and the 7th-9th grade OWL has been field testing some great new updated sessions the last 2 years, including social media and improved gender identity & gender expression sessions. Make sure your congregation buys the new curriculum when it comes out (I think by the end of the year).
posted by rikschell at 5:17 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks to metafilter for my education on this also.
I am now the only person in my little clinic who knows both what pronoun to use AND how to not make stupid jokes that show my own ingnorance.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:36 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


the 7th-9th grade OWL

Uh, not to tell you your own business but I'm pretty sure OWLs are administered in Year 5.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:06 PM on October 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


In E/Z nomenclature, if it's Z, ze highest-priority groups are on ze zame zide of ze molecule. Otherwise it is E.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:23 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, could y'all help me understand organic chemistry?

Have you seen understanding organic chemistry through cats?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:25 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


the wisdom of very patient (and sometimes rightfully angry) trans* people and cis-allies who bothered to educate people like me.

This. So much this. I'll say I found the patient education easier to take, but I'm trying not to be defensive about the rightfully angry education that I've also received. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my very 101 questions.

Truth be told, people need to stop doing drugs and putting up love threads on meta.

What the hell man that's terrible advice.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:41 AM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


:)
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:24 AM on October 29, 2013


I love OWL. It's really one of the best curricula out there for teaching sex ed. FLASH out of King County Health Department (Seattle) is the other one I like.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:16 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me among those who are learning a lot, and feel grateful for being given the opportunities to do so.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:44 AM on October 29, 2013


the thread on the blue has gone great - sadly, in askme we have someone saying that because of their conservative upbringing they're pretty sure trans people don't exist. ugh.
posted by nadawi at 6:42 AM on October 29, 2013


Yeah, that made me feel icky.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:48 AM on October 29, 2013


yeah - i don't blame you at all. you have been totally awesome in both conversations. just, i hope that we as a society, and certainly we as a site, some day move past "well i know this'll hurt some feelings but i just don't believe your lived experience, hukkahukka."
posted by nadawi at 7:04 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


But I'm weirdly superstitious about these things. Saying "This thread sure is going well!" feels a bit like saying, "Hey team, did everybody notice we have a no-hitter going?" Shutupshutupshutup.

Nah, I think it's only if someone says that they're only one day away from retirement that we need to worry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm getting too old for this shit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:27 AM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


/movie voice
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:27 AM on October 29, 2013


I have also learned a lot about trans* issues through metafilter and it does matter in the real world -- last year I chaired the committee to review and update my school district's harassment and bullying policy, and I made very sure that our list of "things you can't harass people for" included not just race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, but also gender identity. Luckily we have good lawyers and they had language for that on hand, and my fellow board members were easy to convince that it was necessary, so I wasn't like One Woman Against The Cruel World. But it was reading people's comments about their personal experiences as trans* students that made me really aware of how students suffer for that, how school administrations don't do enough to stop it, and how we really need to make school as safe a place as possible for trans* kids who might not be very safe at home, and I made sure it was firmly and clearly in our policy.

Our policy is considered very comprehensive and up-to-date -- we worked with bullying experts on a comprehensive definition, and we explicitly addressed cyberbullying, updates to state law where children can get in trouble at school for bullying done out of school, problems with reporting, and issues around retaliation -- so our policy has been getting a fair amount of attention from other districts who are bringing theirs up-to-date to deal with cyberbullying. So a lot of other districts will look at ours as a model and go, "Oh, they specifically address gender identity, we should make sure to do that, and it must not be controversial, other bigger districts have already done it, so if parents complain, we can just point out that the big districts have that language and we need it too." So that's my tiny little contribution to making trans* kids safer at school, and hopefully it ripples out in that quiet way, and that's basically all due to what I've learned on metafilter.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:56 AM on October 29, 2013 [33 favorites]


I was briefly worried that I would be called out of retirement for one last thread. Then jessamyn would yell at me that I am a loose cannon and demand my badge.

But yeah, the trans* discussions on the blue and grey have really focused my thinking (and been very timely in my non-electronic life, too). Always learning something, that's MetaFilter.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2013


On behalf of me, You're welcome.

Also, apologies for not being present more in trans-related threads lately. Life has had me ultra-busy, with not much time for posting.
posted by jiawen at 9:02 PM on October 29, 2013


I know I'm not mature enough to take the comprehensive sex ed class at the UU church because the first thing I thought of when I read about it was how much "UU" looks like boobs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:43 PM on October 31, 2013


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