Deletion for minor issues January 10, 2014 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Everyone here is pretty big on some of the serious words not to use, but I think there has been some serious creep: when entire comments are being deleted because of the lack of a space between two words, which is not only far from being universal, but far from being common even in social justice spaces, I think there's a problem. It's one thing to delete comments for offensive words, but another thing entirely to delete them for offensive spacing.

The words in question are "transwomen" vs "trans woman" and "transfolk" versus "trans folk." As far as I am aware, there are people on both sides of the aisle who use one and the other.

For disclosure, the impetus to this was my comment about Stephen Fry in that thread which was deleted - I had used the term "transwoman" but also included a caveat, since there'd been some discussion upthread, that I wasn't using it to be a dick, but it's the usage that's common with my (trans) friends. To save about twenty comments, yes, I am perfectly willing for it to be replicated in thread by mods if anyone so desires, but I don't have it myself because I don't save my comments.
posted by corb to Etiquette/Policy at 8:13 AM (876 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

The comment was deleted not because of the lack of space but because of you, specifically, going out of your way to once again combine a habit of ignoring what people actually on this site are saying about their preferences with making a point of declaring that you're doing so. You don't want the rest of your comment deleted, don't add a goddam footnote to your comment declaring that you'll do what you like after it's already repeatedly been a point of discussion in a thread where we've had to leave like four mod notes previously.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on January 10, 2014 [98 favorites]


when entire comments are being deleted because of the lack of a space between two words

This is a gross misrepresentation of why that comment was deleted. You went on a rant about how you weren't going to respect the wishes of trans people in that thread because there 'wasn't consensus' among trans people.

I don't know your friends. It's possible they're the handful of people who are very strident about having no space (though if I'm being snarky, frankly I doubt it). It would have been possible to say "In my community, there's a very strong feeling that the space shouldn't be there so I'm not using it here, but I'm disclaiming it because I realise that's not the prevailing feeling here." I don't know that that would have been the right choice, but I think it would have resulted in the comment standing.
posted by hoyland at 8:18 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am perfectly willing for it to be replicated in thread by mods if anyone so desires

I do.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:23 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


for a fuller disclosure, this has been a repeated sticking point with you specifically, corb, and you're smart enough to know you were throwing a bomb in that thread.
posted by nadawi at 8:25 AM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I had used the term "transwoman" but also included a caveat, since there'd been some discussion upthread, that I wasn't using it to be a dick, but it's the usage that's common with my (trans) friends.

When in Rome. Bringing your own experience into the discussion is one thing, and a valuable contribution, but make sure you're doing it in a way that's adapted to the milieu and respectful of the other participants.
posted by carsonb at 8:29 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


The handful of times I've been deleted, I was able to tamp down my initial flush of WTF by remembering MeTas like this one, reassessing the comment in question and realizing that maybe the problem was just me being an asshole. Many basically decent people are assholes occasionally.

We'll probably have "why is moderation out of control?!?!?1?!?" MeTas forever, but really, the answer is almost always, "It's not. You were kinda being an asshole." It doesn't necessarily mean you are an asshole. Though the knee jerk MeTas don't help a person's case.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [63 favorites]


So, it's easier for you to get indignant and start a MeTa than put a space between words when you KNOW it's the preference in the community you're currently interacting with?

If that's the kind of free time you have, I envy you.
posted by sonika at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [27 favorites]


I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:37 AM on January 10, 2014 [269 favorites]


DirtyOldTown, you just changed my life. Boom. Thank you.
posted by mochapickle at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Assholism is a spectrum disorder, and everyone is on the spectrum. The only treatment is mindfulness. Cheers, DirtyOldTown.
posted by gilrain at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2014 [48 favorites]


Seriously, what a ridiculous thing to question. You were all 'oh how can be people be so obtuse?' in that thread below but when given the opportunity to learn how to be less obtuse you're all don't question me! It's unnecessary. Sometimes you just have to stop talking and start listening.
posted by h00py at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."

That. If there's something good that comes out of this Meta, it's that. Thanks, DirtyOldTown.
posted by Wordshore at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


This post had 478 potential spaces that could have been used.
posted by edgeways at 8:44 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's so difficult about using the space here and not using it with your friends? It's got to be a hell of a lot easier than typing out some ridiculous footnote in which you tell people that you are going to ignore their perfectly reasonable wishes.

How often do you even use these terms in written conversation with your friends anyway? Virtually never I'm willing to bet.
posted by jonnyploy at 8:45 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


=|
posted by kavasa at 8:49 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Personally, for me, it's actually ridiculously hard to change actual words to that degree - it's like remembering to deliberately misspell a word every time. Because the change is so small is what weirdly makes it harder - it's easier to remember to substitute a different word than to alter an existing word.

However, if mods are not in fact deciding to delete transwoman/folk/whathaveyou, and the deletion was instead because I tried to include a footnote-disclaimer so people would realize I wasn't trying to be a jerk, then...I guess I'll include disclaimers less? My concern was really that if deletions were getting to that level then they were getting way too heavy. If the issue is just that mods are irritated by disclaimer-footnotes, then that's still weird, but less of an Issue.
posted by corb at 9:01 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


DirtyOldTown, that is one of the best things I've ever heard, both for online and meatspace use.

A corollary: I view Mefi as being like a bar (with a sweet, sweet $5 cover and no drink minimum!)... everybody's allowed in, but NOBODY is necessarily ENTITLED to anything. By entering, you're being given an opportunity to participate in the culture that exists therein, within the rules that the culture (NOT YOU) establishes. Whenever I've had a comment deleted, I've kinda viewed it as the bartender saying, "Yo... c'mon, knock it off," and after an initial blush of shame/anger, I... knock it off. Because I'm a guest, damn it.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:01 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you're aware enough of it to remember to put in a disclaimer, you're aware enough of it to remember to put in a space.
posted by Dysk at 9:03 AM on January 10, 2014 [92 favorites]


Personally, for me, it's actually ridiculously hard to change actual words to that degree - it's like remembering to deliberately misspell a word every time. Because the change is so small is what weirdly makes it harder - it's easier to remember to substitute a different word than to alter an existing word.

You remembered well enough to put a disclaimer that required several times as many keystrokes as just inserting the spaces in the first place.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:03 AM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


it's hard for you to remember to put the space but you included a footnote explaining your lack of space in a thread where we were all just having a conversation about the space? that makes absolutely no sense. you remembered and you chose not to and then you told us all why you chose that. that's going to ruffle some feathers especially coming from you who has repeatedly been involved with conversations over this.
posted by nadawi at 9:03 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you can remember to include a disclaimer, why can't you remember to use a space? And if the issue is that you WANT to be respectful but you just can't remember to, then I would think you would welcome the deletions when your memory fails you, rather than arguing with them.
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can DirtyOldTown's comment be bannered at the top of the "Post a Thread on MetaTalk" page?
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:04 AM on January 10, 2014 [33 favorites]


It's easy to include a disclaimer one time, when I'm thinking about it. What is not easy is to remember to keep it going for the multiple times in the conversation when I'm /not/ thinking about it.
posted by corb at 9:04 AM on January 10, 2014


So you see, consensus is a thing.
posted by h00py at 9:05 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Thus, the thought behind a disclaimer is: I will put a disclaimer that I'm not deliberately trying to fuck with people, so that they won't assume I'm deliberately trying to fuck with them and see my usage of this word in other contexts as a deliberate provocation. Obviously, it had a weirdly reverse effect.
posted by corb at 9:06 AM on January 10, 2014


Right, but now that you've gone and written those disclaimers and then also opened up a MeTa where it was made abundantly clear that the space is preferable here, surely this won't be an issue again, yeah?
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe this MeTa will help you remember.
posted by futz at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it means you remembered "oh, these people would rather I didn't talk about them in the way I'm doing" and then decided to do it anyway.
posted by Dysk at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2014 [28 favorites]


Maybe the fact that you are one person asking lots of other people to accept your idiosyncracies rather than the reverse is the issue?
posted by h00py at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


That seems weirdly grade-school rules-lawyerly to me. "I'm not actually touching him, see, if you look, my hand is merely a centimeter away from the back of his head."
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Obviously, it had a weirdly reverse effect.

Yeah, because you essentially said "I am unable to remember to do this, and I expect a free pass as a result." Which, no. If you're unable to remember to do this, then you shouldn't be surprised when comments where you forget get deleted. That's not punitive, it's helpful.
posted by KathrynT at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Personally, for me, it's actually ridiculously hard to change actual words to that degree

You noticed that you were writing it that way, and wrote a footnote noting that you were writing that way even though you knew it's not what people in the actual thread were stating as a preference. I have sympathy for the difficulty of changing unconscious habits, but in the actual instance here it is bullshit to switch tacks to "it's hard to change a habit" because this is not you being dinged for a slip of the keyboard, it's you pointedly defending your decision, upon review, to stick with the thing you noticed yourself doing.

However, if mods are not in fact deciding to delete transwoman/folk/whathaveyou, and the deletion was instead because I tried to include a footnote-disclaimer so people would realize I wasn't trying to be a jerk, then...I guess I'll include disclaimers less?

You know what would be better? Every time you find yourself discussing trans issues, just slow the fuck down and reread your comments and avoid the thing you know you might do accidentally that pisses off the people on the site you're actually interacting on. Take responsibility for your own shit and stop making it other people's problem. It's hard to change what your fingers do, it's not so hard to build up a basic "oh shit, I'm in a thread about this thing that I know I do a bad job on sometimes, I'd better proceed with more caution" rule for yourself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2014 [78 favorites]


if this metatalk conversation wasn't enough to make it stick, i don't have faith that this thread will be any different. it's hard to see it as anything other than bad faith when you repeatedly get told the same thing and repeatedly push back in exactly the same way. feigning ignorance doesn't suit you, corb.
posted by nadawi at 9:11 AM on January 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


corb, life must be hard for you if it takes you more than 10+ reminders to actually grok something.
posted by futz at 9:11 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I didn't know, it's hard to remember to know, or sometimes I forget to know, but at least I always remember to point out that I am forgetting to know on purpose.
posted by gilrain at 9:18 AM on January 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


This is an issue I know just little enough about to know that I should just watch videos of Laverne Cox being awesome and not actively participate in threads, but the last time this particular issue was discussed, GenjiandProust had this great comment:
I don't love that asterisk, but I use it because it's not for me, and it's a small enough effort to make. I have some friends who prefer transman over trans man or trans*man, and, yeah, it's a little complicated to keep it all in mind, but then I have friends who prefer Mike and friends who prefer Michael, and I manage to remember to use the right one with the right guy, so, really, it's not like I am making a terrible terrible effort to refer to my friends the way they want.
That seems straightforward enough to me. If you pretend like people on metafilter are your friends, maybe that would help you.
posted by phunniemee at 9:19 AM on January 10, 2014 [50 favorites]


I cannot imagine that someone who is trans* who self-identifies as a transman or transwoman would object to being referred to as a trans man or trans woman (or trans*, you get the idea). I don't believe the converse of that statement is true. Opting for the term that some people you know may prefer, which actively works to other trans* people who want to be seen as women and men – who ARE women and men – I can't understand why you'd select the option which actively places controls and caveats on their gender identity.

However, if I'm wrong in making that assumption, I'd appreciate hearing it. I know my comments don't apply to nonbinary trans* folks.
posted by avocet at 9:26 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess, after what seems like a zillion FPPs and MeTas on trans* issues, what jumps out at me is the title of this post "Deletion for Minor Issues." Because it's clearly not a minor issue, not for the people who really really care about that space or asterisk, and not for corb who evidently chose to write a lengthy appendix to a comment rather than just editing that comment to match the requested style. Which suggests strongly to me that corb knows it's a significant issue out of it and wants to make an even more significant issue out of it.

Which means, what? corb, are you expecting for the community to say "OK, sorry, we will do it your way?" To establish martyrdom? To set up a future "gotcha?" To resurrect your deleted comment? What would a positive outcome be?

Because, as I see it, what you are achieving is setting yourself up as a MeFite who is kind of hostile to trans*people and their expressed wishes for naming, and a MeFite who wants this position to be especially notable. Which honestly seems like like no kind of positive outcome at all, for anybody.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:27 AM on January 10, 2014 [47 favorites]


It's easy to include a disclaimer one time, when I'm thinking about it. What is not easy is to remember to keep it going for the multiple times in the conversation when I'm /not/ thinking about it.

So, don't get defensive when someone says "Hey, you forgot" be all "Oh, wow. Yeah. Sorry. I really didn't mean to offend you, I will keep trying." Sometimes we make mistakes. But the answer isn't saying "I'm gonna make mistakes, and I acknowledge this and refuse to try to do anything about it other than making sure you know I'm not gonna do anything." Which is what this reads like. And maybe that's not your intent, but it's worth understanding how you're actually coming across.

It's fine to make mistakes when you are genuinely trying to get it right. It's not so fine not to try because you're worried about not getting it right.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


My six-year-old wrote a letter to his birth mother the other day. He wrote, "Dear Kimberly I am a boy I would like you to call me a boy I have a cat." He also drew her a picture and wrote "I luv you" on the outside of the envelope, even though he's never met her.

I have been kind of bemused that he was writing his first coming out letter at such a young age. It seems to me that no one could resist any request from such an adorable child (his picture is in my profile if you want to confirm this). Perhaps I could offer his services in letter-writing to other people with needs.

"Dear corb I am a boy if you want to call me trans I like trans boy more than transboy my hamster died"

"Dear Katie Couric I am a boy please do not ask about my penis I have $123 I am saving up for a dog"

(Note: I do not actually know his preference on the transboy/trans boy question. We haven't gotten into theory much.)
posted by not that girl at 9:29 AM on January 10, 2014 [109 favorites]


The whole "but I can't because memory issues" totally reminds me of the "I'm not racist but..." or the "but I have gay friends!" defenses. Okay, so you've justified to yourself that you're personally allowed to say bigoted things. News flash: YOU ARE STILL SAYING BIGOTED THINGS.
posted by Conspire at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


To be clear: I am not saying "I meant and intend to say trans woman, but accidentally said transwoman". I said that it is, in fact, more difficult than people think to deliberately misspell words, because a question about the difficulty was raised. When I personally talk, I use transwomen/transfolk, because that is the way that the people I care about and most frequently speak with use it, so that is essentially, "how I learned the word is spelled." I don't think using the word transwomen, a word many people who identify as trans use, should be considered being "bad job on trans issues."

Also, for all the "hahah you forgot that we talked about this before X times" comments - I have also, before, mentioned that I actually have a disability that is memory related. I assume, when people make fun of memory issues anyway, that they are just trying to be funny, and not actually mocking said disability. I may, of course, be incorrect, but it's certainly a better starting place.

What would a positive outcome be?

A positive outcome would be not deleting posts for usage of words about trans-identified folks that do not use the space between words, because it is a preference issue and not an offense issue. If that outcome has been reached, then great, and everyone can keep getting their jollies out.
posted by corb at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2014


this constant and neverending flow of frankly disingenuous bullshit from you is fucking exhausting, corb. i know for an absolute fucking fact that you are not actually the utterly clueless bigot that half your comments make you appear, because the other half show that you are fully aware of how to step up for the rights of minorities. i can't figure out what your deal is and i can no longer force myself to care.
posted by elizardbits at 9:32 AM on January 10, 2014 [102 favorites]


Although they are both two words long, "I'm sorry" is more powerful than "Yeah, but..."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:33 AM on January 10, 2014 [37 favorites]


corb: "It's easy to include a disclaimer one time, when I'm thinking about it. What is not easy is to remember to keep it going for the multiple times in the conversation when I'm /not/ thinking about it."

So? There's nothing forcing you to post on this topic. If you can't be bothered to put in the effort required to participate in good faith, the solution is not to participate in bad faith instead.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 9:34 AM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


A positive outcome would be not deleting posts for usage of words about trans-identified folks that do not use the space between words, because it is a preference issue and not an offense issue.

literally the first comment in this thread explains that this is not what happened
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:35 AM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Corb, it is an offense issue for people here, regardless of what your IRL friends do, so that is only a positive outcome for you that amounts to "corb's feelings take precedence over everyone else's".
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


A positive outcome would be not deleting posts for usage of words about trans-identified folks that do not use the space between words, because it is a preference issue and not an offense issue.

You are aware that the only place that this occurred was in your own mind, yes?

The mods have been clear that it's your insistence on being obtuse, and not the spaces or lack thereof between words, that lead them to delete your comment.
posted by sonika at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I said that it is, in fact, more difficult than people think to deliberately misspell words, because a question about the difficulty was raised. When I personally talk, I use transwomen/transfolk, because that is the way that the people I care about and most frequently speak with use it, so that is essentially, "how I learned the word is spelled." I don't think using the word transwomen, a word many people who identify as trans use, should be considered being "bad job on trans issues."

But -- look, OK. You've never misspelled my name once, not in all the times we've talked, and my name has a spelling which, while standard, is probably the least common of the Katherine / Catherine / Kathryn trifecta. And if you DID, and I said "Actually, it's Kathryn," you'd probably say "Oh shit, sorry, I had a friend named Catherine and my fingers slip sometimes." You wouldn't say "Well yep that's gonna happen, you're gonna need to learn to live with it and never even remind me that I fucked up or else I'm going to make a giant deal out of it."

Some of your friends prefer no space. OK, great. Your friends here prefer a space, and have made it abundantly clear that this is not a "minor issue" for them. It's on you to manage the code-switching and your reactions to it, not to claim that everyone else is overreacting.
posted by KathrynT at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [55 favorites]


The thing that really baffles me about you, corb, is whenever I see your answers on AskMe they are the comments of a thoughtful, sensible person with a nuanced view of human relationships. They're great! I favorite your AskMe comments all the time!

Maybe try writing on the rest of the site like you do there?
posted by winna at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


literally the first comment in this thread explains that this is not what happened

Yes, and I acknowledged it a few comments in and said things were good then.
posted by corb at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2014


> I have also, before, mentioned that I actually have a disability that is memory related. I assume, when people make fun of memory issues anyway, that they are just trying to be funny, and not actually mocking said disability.

I wasn't aware of this, and I apologize for my comment. I should have criticized your stance on trans issues without bringing up memory.
posted by gilrain at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Are there any transcripts of what was said yet? I'd be interested to see the actual breakdown, but can't watch videos right now.
posted by corb at 1:17 PM on January 9 [3 favorites +] [!]


FLAGGED, NO SPACE.
posted by Kabanos at 9:37 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Seconding the man of twists and turns on having the comment replicated in this Meta.
posted by kagredon at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wasn't participating in that thread and legitimately didn't know that lots of people prefer trans woman or trans man, so, thanks for giving me the heads-up, Mefi! Always happy to learn something new.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


That whole "some of my best friends are transsexuals" is starkly reminiscent of other sentiments with similar verbiage. Maybe just realize that you've poisoned the well pretty much irrevocably and move on.
posted by planetesimal at 9:42 AM on January 10, 2014


I have also, before, mentioned that I actually have a disability that is memory related.

Which, again, total sympathies on a personal level. That must be a frustrating part of your life. But this is not people giving you a hard time for forgetting where your keys are or who was in Pulp Fiction or anything like that. This is people reacting badly to you repeatedly making heedless or button-pushing comments on this site, and fundamentally it is on you to find a way to get along here and that means finding some way to manage the way your memory issues intersect with the site, not abdicating responsibility for your behavior.

So, I dunno. Post-it notes on your monitor. Install a script that monitors for keywords related to issues that have come up. Talk to other folks who have similar disability issues on how they practically cope with this stuff. I don't want this to be a referendum on the specific nature of your memory issues, but you also need to not use that as some aegis when discussing why your behavior here needs to be different than what it is.

FLAGGED, NO SPACE.

Not helping.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Corb, there are plenty of mefites with severe physical and mental disabilities on this site, myself included. It is absolutely bizarre that you are the only one who seems to be insisting that you get a unique exception to site culture and to trample on the dignity of other human beings because of your disability. Accommodation and advocacy is a two way street, and there is a reason why we call it "reasonable accommodation." I don't reasonably get to declare that just because I'm Deaf the site should shut down its podcast; instead, I ignore it or read the transcripts as part of my side of the accommodation transaction even though it's not as great as live speech. In this circumstance, you do not get to declare that the site should allow you to freely act bigoted when on your side of the transaction all you literally have to do is stick a sticky note to your monitor reminding you of this issue.
posted by Conspire at 9:46 AM on January 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


Also, for all the "hahah you forgot that we talked about this before X times" comments - I have also, before, mentioned that I actually have a disability that is memory related.

I remember you discussing or mentioning this in another thread (the topic of which I've long forgotten), and what I can't remember is if I said out loud then what I am now thinking, which is: At what point is it the job of everyone else here to take responsibility for *your* issue?

Maybe, given that you like to read and comment in threads about trans* issues, you can keep notes someplace of stuff that's gotten you flack repeatedly. I am not joking or being snarky about this. For instance, there is stuff that I continually forget about/forget where it is (that's mefi related) and I keep those links in my profile. Can you think of a place/way to keep reminders for yourself, so that everyone else here doesn't have to remember your stuff in addition to their own?
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


And on failure to preview, what cortex and Conspire said.
posted by rtha at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2014


i was not aware of your memory issues, but i don't think they are germane to this conversation. your history has a search bar and if you're confused at people being upset with you and them saying you've gone down this road before, you're fully capable of looking those things up. if you're confused at your reception on this issue, maybe reread all of your participation in trans threads and it might become clearer to you that this isn't about a space.
posted by nadawi at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2014


I don't know your friends. It's possible they're the handful of people who are very strident about having no space (though if I'm being snarky, frankly I doubt it). It would have been possible to say "In my community, there's a very strong feeling that the space shouldn't be there so I'm not using it here, but I'm disclaiming it because I realise that's not the prevailing feeling here."

Not defending the comment or not (which I didn't see as I've decided to get out of the conversation over there), but I will chime in to say that corb and I both have lived in New York, where (at least a couple years ago when I was involved with the trans* community there) the lack of a space is common.

Again, no idea if corb's assessment of her deleted comment is valid or not as I didn't see it, and I agree that stridently refusing to do what people in the conversation are asking is obnoxious. But, yeah, trans as a prefix rather than a standalone word is preferred where corb lives, and it is a little frustrating to be told in a preachy "well then you clearly are not an ally" manner that the way you've been writing it is wrong. When it's not. It's just not what's used in the lecturer's community.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


If you had been called out for forgetting a space, your memory issue would be germane and a totally valid reason to say "oh shit, sorry."

But you REMEMBERED that people didn't like what you were doing! So you can't reasonably say "I have a memory issue that means I don't remember certain details except for when I do and ignore them anyway but that's not my fault because I put in a disclaimer saying that I don't care."

Which is precisely how you're coming off and it is not at all reasonable.
posted by sonika at 9:54 AM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Talk to other folks who have similar disability issues on how they practically cope with this stuff.

I'm missing large portions (on the order of months, plural) of memory from age 16 to about 20 owing to the large number of medications I was taking in trying to control the symptoms of a health problem I have. It's very frustrating because otherwise I have an excellent long-term memory. I remember--vividly--things that happened when I was younger than that and things that have happened since, but I have these huge blank spaces where memories should be. I had a friend during that time who I literally do not remember being friends with except that there are pictures of the two of us together where it looked like we were having fun and people tell me that we were good friends. I don't know, I don't remember it. It's frustrating.

One of the things I really like about metafilter is that it's allowed me to catalog a lot of the things that have happened in my life. Journaling has never really suited me, but over the years I've textdumped a lot of my life experiences onto this site. I go back and read old comments of mine a lot to make sure I'm not forgetting things again. I like being able to keep checks on myself like that.

So corb, if this is a recurring problem with you, and you are unable to recall discussions you have had on this site before, I feel you. I really do. But you are in luck. Before you start writing, check back and see if it has come up before. Perhaps you will find it as useful as I have.
posted by phunniemee at 9:54 AM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


people suggesting that corb at least doesn't act like an ally for trans issue on metafilter have formed that opinion on a lot more than her lack of space and shitty footnote in a single comment. no one here has said if you forget the space/don't know it's preferred here you're clearly not an ally in a preachy tone or otherwise.
posted by nadawi at 10:02 AM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


This feels familiar: pick a fight, start (or take over) a MetaTalk thread. Ugh.
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


A positive outcome would be not deleting posts for usage of words about trans-identified folks that do not use the space between words, because it is a preference issue and not an offense issue. If that outcome has been reached, then great, and everyone can keep getting their jollies out.

You are more than welcome to learn from the comment deletion and just repost and do it the way that is not likely to piss everyone off. Sorry you have a memory issue. That is your issue to manage. This is you not managing it but making it the community's issue. That's basically not how we do things here. We have every reason to believe that you know this. We'd like you to act on that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:03 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


it is a little frustrating to be told in a preachy "well then you clearly are not an ally" manner that the way you've been writing it is wrong

This seems like a pretty uncharitable reading of hoyland and Corinth's comments. Am I missing something here?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


cortex: "You know what would be better? Every time you find yourself discussing trans issues, just slow the fuck down and reread your comments and avoid the thing you know you might do accidentally that pisses off the people on the site you're actually interacting on."

This is actually extremely good advice that is worth re-reading. And studying. And integrating into the way you interact on this site. Not just you, for many of us including myself. When commenting, we can all afford to take our time and not click "post" so quickly. To comment thoughtfully, paying attention to the words we are using if the topic is fraught or sensitive. When in doubt, we can easily ask questions of other members, too. Then listen to the answers and assess them, and when appropriate take them to heart.

It's worth taking an extra beat to make sure your comments are communicating your points most effectively.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Take responsibility for your own shit and stop making it other people's problem.

You know, rugged individualism and all that happy crap
posted by octobersurprise at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


corb, you know I like and respect you. We've had some great conversations over on MeFi Chat, and I know that you're a person who thinks about shit and who is capable of self-reflection. I know you care about being a good person. We disagree on a lot of issues, but on my end anyway it's always been a respectful disagreement and I've always gotten the strong impression that that's what it's been on your end as well. I know you're a good person, who cares about living a good life.

You're getting a lot of harsh feedback in this thread, and I'm sorry for that because harsh words rarely help solve problems. I have to say though, and I'm saying this from a place of love and respect, that I'm not surprised that it's so harsh. I wish it wasn't, but I think I understand where it's coming from.

With sincere respect, one thing I've noticed is that you have a habit of taking things a little personally on this site (not so much in Chat – perhaps it's just the dynamics of the medium) when you could instead save yourself and others a lot of grief by being a little more flexible. It's not that I'm following all your comments with a judgmental eye or anything, but you've posted quite a few MeTas in the recent past and I've noticed a bit of a pattern.

You've got a real unbending streak, corb. I realize that that's probably part of your character, and maybe it's even something you're proud of, and that pride is probably even justified. Being able to be unbending and stick up for yourself in this world takes guts and willpower. However, I personally don't see MeFi as a place where that really works well all the time, at least not when it's carried as far as you carry it.

We're a community, here. Standards of acceptable behavior go beyond the preferences or even the principles of any one member. Sure, people disagree; it's generally OK to express disagreement, as long as it's done carefully. A comment about how your personal experience with trans folk and their preferences differs from those of the general community here would probably go down fine, if it was made in a calm and non-snarky manner. I haven't read your deleted comment, but I've noticed that you (and not only you of course, but that's irrelevant at the moment) have a tendency to get a bit defensive and snarky, and nit-picky, when people tell you that the way you are talking or acting is bothering them. There's quite a bit of that in this MeTa, even.

It pays to be flexible around here. It makes things go more smoothly, and it makes people more willing to listen to what you have to say. It doesn't pay to disregard people's expressed wishes, explicitly say that you're intentionally disregarding them, and then take it as a personal attack when people react badly and your comment gets deleted.

People slip up sometimes – everybody does, and nobody is expecting you to make a complete and perfect 180 on this particular bit of language. You're absolutely right that ingrained habits of language are hard to change. However, I think people are expecting you (and everyone else) to do their best to speak in ways that are sensitive to the expressed wishes of this community – regardless of what the wishes of other communities may be – and to graciously apologize when you slip up and are called on it. That's a reasonable expectation, I think. It doesn't mean that you can't acknowledge that other communities and other people have different expectations, and it doesn't mean that you can't point out that you know some trans people who prefer not to use the space, or even argue (if it's done civilly and thoughtfully) that not using the space should be the new community norm. However, if after all of that (and I think we're at that point now) the community feeling is that people should continue to use the space whenever they can remember to, and try to use it all the time around here by default, then I think the wise thing to do is to go with that.

It saves everyone a lot of grief. It'll save you a lot of grief, it'll save the rest of the community a lot of grief, and discussions will be more productive and less fighty. People will be more open to what you have to say, and your views will be read more thoughtfully and charitably. Life will be that much more pleasant.

Remember, I like you. I know you're a good and thoughtful person. I think this is something you can do, and something you should try to do. I don't know if you agree with me, but that's my position here and I hope you'll at least give it some thought. I think, if you reflect on it, you might come to see the value in it.
posted by Scientist at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm off to the pub everyone! Have a good weekend!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


I'm pretty sure getting comments deleted is less like a friend saying " Dude, be cool," and more like a friend putting a hand over your mouth in public. Which has happened to me, more or less. There was a guy who liked to correct me in public. Once, he insisted that I can't use "to repair to" as a verb of motion, because it shows that I probably don't speak English well. Another time he stopped me to say that I'm wrong about alpha particles being helium nuclei, that I got alpha and beta particles backwards. And each of those things is small and stupid, but the fact that he was doing it at all to basically belittle me in public while keeping a sanctimonious tone made my blood fucking boil.

But back to that show where we line up to tell corb wheat a bad person she is. She must hear from everybody.
posted by Nomyte at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


no one here has said if you forget the space/don't know it's preferred here you're clearly not an ally in a preachy tone or otherwise.

That's what actually happened in the thread which is why I got out because I realized there was no way for me to not be a total ass.

I appreciate the correction on the correct orthography per the metafilter trans* community, and am sorry that I wrote transperson when I should have written trans person.

But the tone was of the sort that often raises my hackles in threads like this. I try, personally, to recognize when I'm being an ass about this stuff and just step back rather than dig deeper. And I wish corb also had, and I wish she hadn't started a MeTa thread instead of just calling it a night and thinking pretty seriously about social justice movements and privilege and talking when you should be listening, as I did last night when I realized I was being a dick.

But I'll still stick up for the fact that at least part of her behavior, on a certain level, was in good faith, since her initial reaction was identical to mine, and we likely have experience with the same trans* community, where the space is not used. And it really does feel crappy to be told in a snide tone that your spelling of a word makes you a bad person, when as far as you knew up to that moment, you were spelling it correctly and being respectful of others' wishes.
posted by Sara C. at 10:12 AM on January 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


It pays to be flexible around here.

Right.

Unless you need to demonstrate how righteous you are by correcting other people. In which case there is one and only one way to do things.
posted by GuyZero at 10:13 AM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Sara C. - i dunno, i think we just have to disagree that this was preachy, snide or calling people not allies -

"PSA (for everyone): Spaces in 'trans woman', 'trans people' and so on, please. Also 'transgender' (as an adjective only!) rather than 'transgendered'."
posted by nadawi at 10:18 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nomyte the situations you described are terrible and obnoxious and I am sorry an alleged friend treated you that way. However that is pretty much the opposite of what it is like to have a comment deleted from an internets forum. No mod has by virtue of comment deletions disrespected your language ability or your intellect. Nor has that happened to corb.
posted by elizardbits at 10:20 AM on January 10, 2014 [29 favorites]


That's what actually happened in the thread which is why I got out because I realized there was no way for me to not be a total ass.

Again, where? The only point where I saw it get anything near what was lecture-y was after you accused people of being passive-aggressive out of nowhere about what was, until then, a reasonable back-and-forth. Seriously, anyone is free go back and read the entire exchange between hoyland, Corinth, and MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch, and I doubt many people would see what you were talking about. Including you, apparently, after a second look.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:25 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I get that most people prefer the two-word spelling because "trans" is an adjective, short for transsexual or transgender. I can see how something like this can be an ingroup-outgroup shibboleth for some people. I cannot understand how writing "transwoman" instead "trans woman" or vice versa can be interpreted as a slur or an insult. This seems like a pretty clear case of inventing pretexts to attack people.
posted by nangar at 10:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


no one here has said if you forget the space/don't know it's preferred here you're clearly not an ally in a preachy tone or otherwise.

That's what actually happened in the thread


I did not follow that thread, and I am on a mobile device which makes searching and rereading difficult. Could you link to these comments?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:34 AM on January 10, 2014


I cannot understand how writing "transwoman" instead "trans woman" or vice versa can be interpreted as a slur or an insult. This seems like a pretty clear case of inventing pretexts to attack people.

Did you read the other thread, with all the discussion about the space and the preferred use by mefites here on metafilter, and corb's response? Because your comment makes it sound like you didn't.
posted by rtha at 10:35 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


For the record, I'm making a choice not to comment now. The PSA comment was, well, a PSA. I added the '(for everyone)' to make it clear I wasn't going after MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch, even though I was quoting their comment earlier in the comment where the PSA appeared. I've made a variation on the same statement at least once before in another thread. I can go dig it up if anyone really cares.
posted by hoyland at 10:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I cannot understand how writing "transwoman" instead "trans woman" or vice versa can be interpreted as a slur or an insult.

This comment clarifies that enough for me.
posted by phunniemee at 10:36 AM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


I cannot understand how writing "transwoman" instead "trans woman" or vice versa can be interpreted as a slur or an insult. This seems like a pretty clear case of inventing pretexts to attack people.

From what I can gather, it's not a big deal if you don't know the preferences of the community, but if you still refuse to do it after it's been articulated in the thread, then you are being purposefully obstinate. And for a community that is basically constantly told they are wrong and have their self-identities constantly objected to, that's kind of a big deal.
posted by Think_Long at 10:37 AM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


Re the "not really an ally" thing, I was referring to this comment, specifically "There's a lot of shit attempts at trans allyship out there, where people feel like using the right pronouns (even if they're internally rolling their eyes) or not using slurs* is being an ally and it's simply not."

However I totally agree I was being a butt in the thread, shouldn't have called out the "PSA" comment when it was clearly meant in good faith, and regret my behavior in the thread in general. But if you want to know, that was the thing that really got my hackles up and led me to take a walk.

Though the walk resulted in lots of thinking about how I behave as an ally vs. what I like to see from others who want to be allies to me. And I definitely have found my behavior wanting.

I'm sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 10:40 AM on January 10, 2014 [28 favorites]


I cannot understand how writing "transwoman" instead "trans woman" or vice versa can be interpreted as a slur or an insult.

Perhaps reading the thread in question would have helped.

This seems like a pretty clear case of inventing pretexts to attack people.

I see we've reached the oh-so-meta (or is it MeTa?) part of the conversation where people come up with things that nobody's said to paint a picture of other people coming up with things that nobody's said.

*Archer sotto voce* Yaaaay.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:40 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


cortex: "You know what would be better? Every time you find yourself discussing trans issues, just slow the fuck down and reread your comments and avoid the thing you know you might do accidentally that pisses off the people on the site you're actually interacting on."

This is actually extremely good advice that is worth re-reading.


Not just for corb. In contentious threads, I could probably stand to remember this, and others might benefit from it well.

Hell, probably just good advice for life in general.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:44 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, when people are caught up in the throes of righteousness the need to pause and reflect is about as non-existent as a drunk's ability to realize they're too sloshed to have any business driving a car.
posted by planetesimal at 10:45 AM on January 10, 2014


Hell, probably just good advice for life in general.

If the mods could drop by and delete my ill-considered comments in meetings, that would be awesome.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2014 [23 favorites]


I've used "transwoman" or "transman" at least once out of ignorance (it was months ago, I think) and all I received was a rather gentle correction.

I'm not sure what I think about this particular instance with corb because I haven't got time to read the underlying thread right now. However, my personal experience doesn't fit with the theory that there is some general practice here on MetaFilter of people being angrily attacked just because they've said "transwoman" rather than "trans woman".
posted by Area Man at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"this constant and neverending flow of frankly disingenuous bullshit from you is fucking exhausting, corb. i know for an absolute fucking fact that you are not actually the utterly clueless bigot that half your comments make you appear, because the other half show that you are fully aware of how to step up for the rights of minorities. i can't figure out what your deal is and i can no longer force myself to care."

Yes.

My "don't jump to conclusions" and "be generous" side thinks that it's likely that corb has some sort of social/cognitive disorder that causes the kind conflicts we see here. My more skeptical and realistic side says that she's belligerent but puts a huge amount of effort into the attempt to convince people that she's not. That is, she a gaslighter.

The thing is, at this point it doesn't matter. The latter kind of person deserves the boot and wore out their welcome long ago. The former kind of person we can and should be sympathetic to, but that doesn't solve the problem that they're disruptive and, at some point, a community doesn't have and shouldn't have a responsibility to bend over backward for someone who makes trouble despite themselves. And, again, we don't even know that it's despite herself. There's reason to believe that it's exactly what she intends.

Seriously, the deleted comment with its footnote in the context of the preceding discussion, and then this MeTa post and the "oh, I have memory problems so I can't be expected to remember these things" ... well, I've advocated for a number of people here who are as productive as corb often is and yet my tolerance and generosity has been exceeded. By that deleted comment and this post right here. For me, that's the straw. But then, I'm not a mod.

"I try, personally, to recognize when I'm being an ass about this stuff and just step back rather than dig deeper."

I believe that you do. I mean, I really and truly believe that you do because I've struggled with the same kinds of vices and I know that it's possible to be self-aware about them and yet still struggle with them. It can take a long time to change how you interact. I understand this.

But just in case you aren't entirely aware, you should be aware that you have some of the same problem that corb has, which is that you absolutely will never back down, you're never, ever wrong. And you have strong opinions.

So in that thread, which I just read, yeah, the original comment from hoyland was really quite gentle and the thread didn't need to become all about how your feelings were a little hurt and trans* folk should be more forgiving and stuff. And then talking about that. I mean, c'mon, I know from the feminism threads that you'd blow a gasket with the typical male analog to this whole objection: "Feminists use different language and how am I supposed to know what's correct and because I used the wrong word then you don't think I'm really an ally? This is the problem with feminists, they're looking for reasons to get mad at men. Let me tell you how you should talk to men and also let me tell you at length about how I feel about you correcting me." That would never fly with you. So why do you react that way in that thread and why after lots of comments explaining some things were you not able to take a step back and say, oh, yeah, I understand? You just left the thread rather than accept any correction because you really fucking hate being corrected? Well, join the club. Everyone hates it. Sometimes we learn from it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:49 AM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


hey Sara C. thanks for that, for real and for true.
posted by nadawi at 10:49 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Though the walk resulted in lots of thinking about how I behave as an ally vs. what I like to see from others who want to be allies to me. And I definitely have found my behavior wanting."

Oh. Well, crap. I wished I'd seen that on preview.

That's an awesome comment and I'm very impressed. I'm sorry I was kind of harsh. You're good people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:51 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hm. I think maybe it's a good idea if someone popped in and tried to explain, in brief, what is potentially objectionable about "trans___" without a space. Unfortunately, at a skim, I'm seeing this thread take the same direction as its parent, with people going down a road of "things you can say to trans people" and "things you can't say to trans people" with no reflection or understanding why.

So, here: as noted above, "transgender," "transsexual," etc. are adjectives, not nouns (not verbs!). They qualify and inform the the noun. It's not always relevant to refer to someone as a "trans man" or "trans woman" all the time. In most contexts, just "man" or just "woman" is fine. Saying "transman" or "transwoman" without a space feels a bit third gendering, and that can be a problem because even for folks who fit in that box, third gender categories are often things the greater culture just slaps on all gender variant people, and that can result in Othering and limiting empathy even among fellow trans people.

Hope that's helpful!
posted by byanyothername at 10:53 AM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I understand the reasoning behind preferring "trans woman" to "transwoman", but is there a reason for the preference of "transgender" over "transgendered"? I see in the original thread that someone said (basically) it's just a preference. If that's all there is to it -- "it's just a preference" -- that's of course fine with me, but I'm just curious if maybe there's reasoning behind the preference, and if so what.

If, for example, there were (or are) people without gender, I think "nongendered people" and "gendered people" would be more natural terms than "nongender people" and "gender people". By "natural" I just mean more natural sounding to me as a native speaker of English, ignoring anything about the meaning of the words or social implications or so forth. "Gendered" is clearly an adjective, whereas "gender" is typically a noun and doesn't seem terribly suited to adjectival use to me. It seems to me like the difference between "I have met several Ugandan people over the past two months" and "I have met several Uganda people over the past two months", or something like that.

Again, I just want to state that it's fine with me whatever the reason or lack thereof; I'm just curious about it.
posted by Flunkie at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm glad for this MeTa because I have been trying to figure out the preferred nomenclature.

I've talked about how I've lived most of my life in a little blue, liberal bubble, and how I awful it must be to have to deal with -ist relatives and facebooks friends. So a few months ago I was driving through West Hollywood with a close friend, and he used the word "tranny." He wasn't making a joke or talking about a specific person, but it made me really uncomfortable, and I realized that was the moment my MeFi training had prepared me for. I hesitated, because I could have just ignored it, but I quietly said, "That's not a very nice word to use."

My friend got a little defensive, saying things like, "Well, how am I supposed to know?" And I told him, still quietly, that I didn't expect him to know, which is why I was telling him. "So I'm an asshole?" "No, you are not an asshole. That's why I'm telling you. I don't think you would ever deliberately say something that you knew was hurtful, so I assumed you didn't know." He was quiet for a minute and said, "But there's no one around." "There are lots of words you don't use even when "those people" aren't around." "..." "It's just hurtful." "..." "Okay, I get it." "Uh...what words should I use?" "..." "I'm not exactly sure, but I know where I can find out!"
posted by Room 641-A at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2014 [59 favorites]


Given how public awareness and education of these terms is still growing, that terminology shifts quickly, and that it's not necessarily the actual words that are important so much as the introspection and understanding of issues that lead up to the adoption of these words, I think there's absolutely a generous level of tolerance within the majority of communities I've worked with regarding missteps, slips and lack of awareness.

But to be repeatedly and patiently explained to, and then to only respond with self-centered reasons why one's identity cannot be acknowledged, is where the line gets drawn. Again, the words are not the issue; it is the mentality behind the words. And who can even call someone who prizes gaslighting and technicalities over actual human beings and their experiences an "ally"?
posted by Conspire at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool.""

julthumbscrew: "DirtyOldTown, that is one of the best things I've ever heard, both for online and meatspace use."

Oh man, if only I could have a friend literally delete things I say in real life sometimes!!
posted by Grither at 10:59 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, here: as noted above, "transgender," "transsexual," etc. are adjectives, not nouns (not verbs!).

Now, of course, I'm verbing them (and giggling in my office thank god I'm not in a cube any more).

"What are you up to this weekend?"

"Not much - have to do some shopping, and then some transgendering around the house, you know, the usual."
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yeah, Ivan, when I said "I try to [blah]", I actually meant that I try. I wasn't using the word "try" as a placeholder for "this is what I actually do". Though I hope that, every day, I get a little bit more successful at it.

FWIW, I'm often willing to hold a strong opinion and not back down on piddly threads about whatever the fuck (like who should play Wonder Woman), whereas I really work a lot harder to be better when it comes to something like trans* issues, where people's actual lives are on the line.

So there will probably be other threads I participate in where I'm like AMANDA PALMER IS THE WORRRRSSSSSTTTTT and am willing to die on that hill. Because, like, what does it even matter? That's not even something a person can be right or wrong about.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Flunkie - it's part of a broader conversation about how transgender is an adjective, not a verb or a noun, and here's some reading specifically on not using the -ed.
posted by nadawi at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Flunkie, it may be something along the lines of 'transgender person' identifying the person first and the gender second, whereas 'transgendered person' could be seen to identify the gender identity first and the person second.
posted by scrump at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2014


Regarding offensive spacing, I think you have to think about a moving zone offense especially when you have someone like lebron up in your face. Even if his defense isn't the best, you're dealing with one strong motherfucker who won't let you pass by him easily. You gotta keep the spacing between the players moving in a weird pattern so nobody knows what to expect on the defense.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:09 AM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Hm. I think maybe it's a good idea if someone popped in and tried to explain, in brief, what is potentially objectionable about "trans___" without a space.

This is a great explanation and so much more helpful than the nth iteration of the "you know what YOUR problem is?" comments threads like these breed.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:09 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


where I'm like AMANDA PALMER IS THE WORRRRSSSSSTTTTT

BUT SHE SEEMED SO NICE
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:10 AM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


You know who ELSE wasn't Matt Haughey?
posted by scrump at 11:11 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


beyonce prolly
posted by elizardbits at 11:13 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


but lbr she could pull it off if she wanted to
posted by elizardbits at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2014 [18 favorites]

Flunkie - it's part of a broader conversation about how transgender is an adjective, not a verb or a noun, and here's some reading specifically on not using the -ed.
Thanks, but the reasoning there doesn't really make sense to me. For example, the point that "colored people" is offensive does not imply that "color people" is a more natural English language term. And the claim that "-ed" can only be added to a verb is just flat out wrong. For example, I know my fair share of bigoted people, but I don't know of anyone who bigots.
posted by Flunkie at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2014


Oh man I can't believe Amanda Palmer still wears vintage slips with quotes sharpied onto them. That was my thing back in like 2004.

(Which, OMG, was a decade ago. I'm going to go die now.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2014


Flunkie - maybe do a google search for transgender vs transgendered, there's a lot of conversation out there about it. and, really, the objection is probably slanted more towards don't call trans people transgendered - as in, "there are those transgendereds" or "i was talking to becky and learned that she's transgendered." going back to your bigot example - bigotry is something that people do, it's not something they are, like male, female, tall, short, blond, etc - so if you call someone bigoted, you're describing an action, not an innate sense of being.
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Bigoted" does not describe doing an action. It describes having certain beliefs.

Upon further investigation, the OED informs me that there are, etymologically, two different "-ed" suffixes in English: (1) "The formative of the pa. pple. of wk. vbs", (2) "appended to ns. in order to form adjs. connoting the possession or the presence of the attribute or thing expressed by the n."

In the second case, it "is now added without restriction to any n. from which it is desired to form an adj. with the sense ‘possessing, provided with, characterized by’ (something); e.g. in toothed, booted, wooded, moneyed, cultured, diseased, jaundiced, etc., and in parasynthetic derivatives, as dark-eyed, seven-hilled, leather-aproned, etc. In bigoted, crabbed, dogged, the suffix has a vaguer meaning."

"Gendered" clearly means "having gender", no? But no one goes around gendering.

The OED goes on to say that "Groundless objections have been made to the use of such words by writers unfamiliar with the history of the language".
posted by Flunkie at 11:26 AM on January 10, 2014


I feel like we're not going to break new ground trying to reason up a defense or a critique of a preference for transgender vs. transgendered by arguing syntax and derivation from first principles. Fine if folks want to talk about linguistics for linguistics' sake but probably better to leave it at "oh, okay, that's the current general preference" as the primary response to the issue as a practical social thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:29 AM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


I thought I was clear in my very first comment that the preference is fine with me regardless of whether or not there's any reason behind it. So if it's fine if folks want to talk about linguistics for linguistics' sake... I thought that was what I was doing?
posted by Flunkie at 11:30 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is interesting and good to try to understand why some word or phrase is considered offensive to a person or group of people. It can provide valuable insight and help you avoid being offensive in other situations. However, at the end of the day what matters is the preferences of the people in question. One's agreement or disagreement with stated reasons for their preferences are not relevant to the question of whether or not to use the word or phrase.
posted by Area Man at 11:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Eh, like most language change in general, there's no logical rhyme or reason to this. Rapidly evolving terminology is just something that happens within identity-related movements. There are a lot of complicated socio-linguistic reasons it happens, but really, just try not to overthink it and use the preferred terms. It will make everyone happier and less exhausted.

In any event, the Oxford English Dictionary is going to be no help at all.

I, too, think "transgender" as an adjective sounds weird from a grammatical standpoint, but then so does "Did anyone forget their lunch?" and you know, just, whatever. It's not really about by-the-book prescriptivist grammar.
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


english is never going to be consistent. that's probably as complete of an answer as you're going to get, Flunkie. every style guide and trans 101 guide written includes the preference and most explain their reasoning for it. you're welcome to do that research on your own, but i'm not really interested in a "but the oed says...!!!" style conversation.
posted by nadawi at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not intended as criticism, Flunkie, just trying to keep things a little grounded since it feels from experience like it's easy for abstract "yes but the logic says" discussions about stuff tied to real, emotionally-laden issues to get into sort of muddy territory.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


If we were linguistic purists, our bottle of explosive liquids would be marked "inflammable" and people people would be accidentally setting fires all the time because sometimes language doesn't work like that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I was just having a conversation with another trans woman about this whole thing, and actually, compared to when we first both transitioned and started talking about it on the internet, I'm not sure the language standard is even all that fast-changing any more. There was a time almost any trans woman speaking about her experiences would call herself a transsexual, would say MTF or male-to-female and sex change* and so on, because they were kind of the only terms we had.

I think the shift from the acceptedness of that sort of language, largely popularised by people who weren't trans and often with prurient, gatekeeping or outright hostile intent as it was, to phrasing actually coined by trans women, was a hell of a lot broader and more sudden than anything since. For all the unwarranted demonisation it gets here, and the focus language is given there, I don't see the incredible level of trans networking and solidary Tumblr and Twitter provide having really produced a comparable sea change so much as finessing.

And I'm not saying this and implying 'it's not actually changing that fast, so you should know by now and you're the absolute worst person if you don't'! More like, I think if someone gets pretty much up to date on terms now, they don't need to feel like they're constantly on shifting ground. I'm pretty sure someone who was au fait with the preferred language five years ago, maybe more, could be talking about this stuff today in the same terms with not so much as a raised eyebrow, and the span of relevance of terms learned today will probably be a lot longer still.

I've got to admit, I was kind of resistant to 'transgender' myself just because I was so used to using 'transgendered' and I must have missed a lot of the discussion around it, so it felt as if it came from nowhere. And eventually I just asked myself, why the hell am I even committed to one over the other? Familiarity should be value-neutral. And bam, it was, and everything was glitter and horses.
posted by emmtee at 11:38 AM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


Well, I'll shut up after this I guess, but I haven't been attempting to engage in a "but the oed says...!!!" style conversation. I'm not trying to convince people to use or not use certain terms. As I said, I'm curious about the reasoning, if there is any. When I'm directed towards reasoning that is predicated upon flat out falsehoods, like the idea that "-ed" can only be added to a verb, I guess I don't really see why it's unreasonable to mention that.
posted by Flunkie at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Issues with people "forgetting" how to be civil to trans* people have been going on long enough that I started putting reminders into the FPP. Kind of sad to see its still an issue, and that the same names are popping up.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


So, just to make sure I know what I'm doing here:
  • 'Trans woman' to refer to nonspecific transgender individuals who identify as female.
  • 'Trans man' to refer to nonspecific transgender individuals who identify as male.
  • 'Transgender' as a category descriptor, not 'transgendered'.
  • Their actual name, for transgender individuals who are involved in the discussion.
Oh, and:
  • Their lived experience, for people involved in the discussion.
Is this accurate?
posted by scrump at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh man, glad I fell asleep after a brief look showed that thread to mostly be going pretty well.

I'm a little surprised that this boiled over the way it did, since I can be kinda sloppy about my orthography, but I guess I usually call trans women "women," though I also kinda understand the concept behind "transgendered," in that, say, a "transgendered woman" would be, to my mind, a woman who identifies as transgender (with woman as primary identity). But since transgender identity is often pretty idiosyncratic in terms of preferred nomenclature (at least in our office), I suppose I should finally get around to doing that style guide I keep putting off because there's no goddamned time.
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2014


Oh, and on transgender vs transgendered, it's maybe worth considering the use (especially in trans and queer spaces) of 'gendered' to mean a trait or behaviour with appropriateness to one gender or another assigned to it, or the coercive assignment of a person into a gender category.

In light of that redefinition or expanded usage or whatever, saying 'transgendered' implies a degree of externality or artificiality that's perhaps not accurate for most trans people.
posted by emmtee at 11:46 AM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Oh, that's a good point. I hadn't thought of that.
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


For example, the point that "colored people" is offensive does not imply that "color people" is a more natural English language term.

Well, what we DO say instead is "person of color", which to me sounds to be the exact same derivation you're looking for, just with a reversed word order.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Actually, I think going into the whys and wherefores of using particular terminology (including how preferences can vary) is exactly what we should be doing. The original thread was about a very articulate, intelligent trans woman explaining why The Question is not only rude, but is rooted in completely wrong understandings of what it means to be trans (it's not just that it's impolite to ask someone about their genitals out of the blue, it's that there is no The Surgery; it's not even a thing, the reality is much more complex than that understanding even allows). Yet the discussion was largely framed in terms of "you can't say that anymore." I worry that people are internalizing, "Oh, okay; that phrase is something you can't say anymore" without understanding why. You see the same thing happening in other axes of civil rights, where someone may still have -ist opinions, but they keep quiet because "you can't say that anymore," and maybe that gets channeled into hate directed toward other groups.

It's important to understand why things are hurtful or wrong. Ideally, the Other Thread would have included multiple links to other discussions on The Question & Other Transphobias, with explanations that go deeper than "you can't say that anymore," and the discussion would have been about that, or about the systemic discrimination trans people face, the rates of poverty and violence, Islan Nettles, etc. Instead, the discussion largely ignored the original topic (Laverne Cox's comments) in favor of "Katie Couric said something you can't say anymore," and that's just not a conversation worth having.
posted by byanyothername at 11:54 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Pony Request
If there are words and phrases that we should not use here, and according to the Mods in this thread there are, then why allow them to be posted at all? It would be trivial to send comment text through a filter when "Post Comment" is hit and put up a warning message.

Shall we start a list of forbidden words and spacing now?
posted by FreezBoy at 11:54 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


If there are words and phrases that we should not use here, and according to the Mods in this thread there are, then why allow them to be posted at all?

Which mod, where in this thread, said that? I think it's been all me except one comment from jessamyn. corb speculated incorrectly that she got a comment deleted for not putting a space in.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


*Arse, I forgot my footnote! What I was going to say about 'sex change' is that while it's a crap term in a lot of ways, for a long time it was replaced with 'gender reassignment surgery', which I think is actually even worse, partly because it's rather body-essentialist - gender can be 'reassigned' perfectly well without surgery, and surgery does not necessarily change anything about gender - and partly because like, what are they actually doing, giving me a trouserectomy and a skirt implant? It's even less helpful that seemingly every surgeon and national health body has it as a different acronym. Personally I am strongly in favour of GRS: genital reconstruction surgery, because that's exactly what it is, and it leaves any impact on gender to be discussed separately. Also because it's the same acronym, which is nice.
posted by emmtee at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2014 [18 favorites]


Shall we start a list of forbidden words and spacing now?

N o p e .
posted by box at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Shall we start a list of forbidden words and spacing now?

There's already a robust word filter in place, so this seems redundant to me. I guess I figured it's been common knowledge that the site filters out the words , , and also and . I don't really agree with that last one since it's also a perfectly fine word for a piece of sporting equipment, and in fact I'm pretty sure that this use predates its additional definition as an obscene term.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I got a comment deleted, rightly, for saying someone was "trolling" in a Metafilter thread. Other than that I haven't seen specific words "not allowed" or whatever here.
posted by sweetkid at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2014


My ex and the mother of our son puts it like this, "I am not a trans man; I am a man."
posted by Ardiril at 12:06 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, we can clearly still write the word "trolling," we just can't use it (or any other word) to attack another Mefite.
posted by muddgirl at 12:07 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


yeah, totally.
posted by sweetkid at 12:10 PM on January 10, 2014


When I'm directed towards reasoning that is predicated upon flat out falsehoods, like the idea that "-ed" can only be added to a verb, I guess I don't really see why it's unreasonable to mention that.

It isn't unreasonable, but that sort of objection or comment can trigger some warning signs, because arguments from dictionary/logic have so often been abused by assholes wanting to justify their obnoxious behaviour.

Another problem with trying to tease out why using certain words to refer to certain groups of people through logic or the rules of English (other languages are available) is that a lot of this is dependent on historical usages of certain words as well as socio-economic-political context. If you're attuned to it it's easy to recognise that using "the coloureds" or "the transgendered" is a warning sign that the person using it may be a bigot, but it's hard to explain why without resorting to having to explain a long, historical context. There are no hard and fast rules, other than look at what people are using to talk about themselves and follow their lead.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:11 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


There ought to be more questions about fishing in AskMe.
posted by box at 12:12 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I cannot understand how writing "transwoman" instead "trans woman" or vice versa can be interpreted as a slur or an insult.

Neither could I until today. Today I learned something.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:13 PM on January 10, 2014 [26 favorites]


but I guess I usually call trans women "women," though I also kinda understand the concept behind "transgendered," in that, say, a "transgendered woman" would be, to my mind, a woman who identifies as transgender (with woman as primary identity).

Everyone was mostly calling the two transgender subjects of the FPP women. The issue wasn't transwomen vs. women, it was transwomen vs. trans women.
posted by Sara C. at 12:15 PM on January 10, 2014


Oh jeez. I swore I would stay out of fights like this. I deleted my account so I'd stay out of fights like this. I clearly don't know when to quit. Please don't make me regret speaking up.


1) There aren't universal rules about terminology. Language in general is pretty illogical, and usage varies a lot from place to place. There is no master list of forbidden words and spaces. There is no set of first principles from which you can deduce with perfect soundness what someone will want to be called.


2) Instead of universal rules, what actually happens is a rough local consensus will form. Here on MetaFilter, among the actual trans people who participate regularly on the site, there seems to be a rough consensus that we should gently encourage people to avoid "transman" and "transgendered." I mean, we didn't take a vote or anything. But a lot of us have spoken up and said "I don't like those words," and the rest of us have heard that and said "Personally I don't mind them, but if you don't like them then I'll back you up on that," and none of us (that I know of) has said "Wait! 'Transman' is my preferred terminology and I'll be really upset if we quit using it!"

You can think of this like ordering a pizza. A few people in this room voted strongly against anchovies. Nobody was so vigorously pro-anchovy that they wanted to make a big deal about it. So right now right here the consensus is "we're not gonna order it with anchovies," and that consensus is likely to hold at least in the short term.


3) Local consensuses aren't meant to be universally binding. We haven't deluded ourselves into thinking that we've BANNED ANCHOVIES FROM THE UNIVERSE. We've just decided that we as a local group don't like them. We haven't deluded ourselves into thinking that we've BANNED 'TRANSMAN' FROM THE UNIVERSE. We've just decided that we as a local group prefer if y'all don't use it.

This means that, yes, there are other trans communities with other consensus preferences. We understand that. We aren't stupid. We've just reached a different consensus here, and we're informing you about it as calmly and politely as we know how.


4) Sometimes a local consensus comes with reasons attached. These reasons aren't meant to be globally binding. They represent personal preferences within the group. Someone might say "We aren't ordering it with anchovies because they're too salty." They don't mean "too salty for anyone ever," they mean "too salty for some of us." Someone might say "We don't say 'transgendered' because that -ed suffix has some undesirable connotations." We don't mean "universally undesirable," we mean "undesirable for some of us."

This means that, yes, there have been other minority communities that didn't have any problem with (e.g.) the connotations of the -ed suffix. We understand that. We aren't stupid. We just have members with different preferences than they do, and we sometimes mention those preferences to help you understand why the consensus here formed the way it did.


5) Local consensus can change over time. If someone shows up who loves anchovies, we might have to renegotiate our Usual Order down at the pizza place. If a lot of actual trans people showed up on MetaFilter who were strongly attached to 'transgendered' or 'transman,' we'd have to sort that out too. But if you're not eating the pizza you don't get a vote on our toppings, and if you're not part of the trans community you don't get a vote on what we call ourselves.


6) Violating a local consensus by accident isn't a big deal. Seriously. Really. We promise. We will remind you as often as we need to. We are not trying to pull some sort of 'gotcha' shit. There is no punishment for making mistakes. Nobody is getting sent to reeducation camps. No matter how often we say this, there seem to be people who will continue assuming that we are lying and this is secretly an exercise in public humiliation for out-group members who slip up and use politically incorrect words on today's top-secret forbidden word list. But I swear on my mother's grave I am telling the truth. If I could sugar-coat this message any more than I already am, I would do it. If I could spare you any of the negative feelings it causes you, I would. If it's any consolation, I find it just as humiliating to speak up about this stuff as you do to be corrected.

So okay, just trust me for a minute: screwing up by accident is totally fine. But doing it on purpose is rude as hell, and doing it with a note that makes it clear you're doing it on purpose is just asking for a fight. That's the only thing corb did wrong here. Even still, nobody's calling for punishment. We're just saying it was probably for the best that her comment got deleted.

If the pizza place fucks up our toppings once, we aren't gonna be mad. If they fuck them up every week, and start putting notes on the box saying "Hey, we know you don't like anchovies, but we're putting them on anyway ON PURPOSE," we're gonna think that's kind of shitty and start wondering why they're being so aggressive and weird about it. And even still we're not going to denounce them to The Authorities — but we might hand the pizza back and say "Sorry, we're not paying for this one."


7) Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.
posted by this is a thing at 12:18 PM on January 10, 2014 [142 favorites]


I am grateful that corb posted this MeTa because before this I had no idea about the space or the -ed and I have probably been doing it wrong. The discussion here and the links nadawi posted were enormously helpful.

I do wish there could be some more discussion of the questions Flunkie raised. Personally, I like to know more about *why* particular terms and spellings are preferred not because I think anyone needs to justify the way they should be referred to but because a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind which terms are correct and which terms are offensive helps me remember to use the correct terms whereas trying to memorize something that could otherwise seem to be an arbitrary style choice is much more difficult. But if this thread is not an appropriate space to address those questions, I think nadawi and others have provided sufficient keywords for me to search for more information on my own. Thank you for that.

Again, thank you to all the trans* MeFites and knowledgeable ally MeFites for all the continuing education you have provided to clueless n00bs like me. Everything I know about trans* issues I learned from MetaFilter, which over the past few years has transformed me from a person who used to joke about "tranny crack whores" into a person who is now ashamed I ever said such bigoted things and who is sincerely trying to learn to be a good ally myself.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:21 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


"the transgendered"

This is another phrase that has not really been used/discussed in the conversation we are all MeTa-ing about here.

The debate is about whether one should use "transgender" or "transgendered" as the preferred adjective. For example "The transgendered activist Laverne Cox" vs. "The transgender activist Laverne Cox".

(And, typing out both alternatives in context there, I actually do see a case for getting rid of the -ed. "Transgendered" sounds like something that was done to you, and feels a little victim-ish or poster-child-esque.)

Nobody in the FPP was referring to all transgender people as "the transgendered" a la "the Jews" or "the gays" or "the illegals".
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


My experience with the trans community here in the Metafilter community has been positive and educational. I've been in the midst of discussions where I've been completely over my head, and the patience and understanding shown to me as an ignorant cis person--well, it's been great and I appreciate everyone who has helped me "get it"!

I know there is a lot of crap trans folk have to put up with on a daily basis just because of, basically, ignorance like mine. It has to wear you down. So I understand why stuff like this is said: "There's a lot of shit attempts at trans allyship out there, where people feel like using the right pronouns (even if they're internally rolling their eyes) or not using slurs* is being an ally and it's simply not."

I live in the South, but my particular county down here in Florida is a tech corridor with a lot of college-educated people from STEM backgrounds; several universities exist nearby with young, liberal students from all over the country majoring in science and technology related fields. This county is probably one of the most liberal in the state, voted overwhelmingly for Obama, etc.

I have had several discussions with college kids (I'm very involved in talking about depression, etc., with young people, which is my own form of activism) who I absolutely believe would be allies to the transgender community but have very little knowledge of the terminology because we are here rather than, say, New York or San Francisco or I guess a more metropolitan(?) collegiate area. As far as they knew, for example, transsexual = transgender. They just have no idea at all.

While it is clearly no one's responsibility but their own to educate themselves on this stuff, people don't know that they are ignorant until their ignorance is pointed out to them. I try to do this when I can, of course. But I see Mefites who assume that the issues we are discussing here are common knowledge, and I think there is is some cultural privilege behind that.

People really can, in this day and age, not know the right words to respectfully converse with trans folk and yet still not be bigoted assholes with their heads in the sand. They simply do not have the same exposure to diverse populations that you may have had.

Again, it is not up to the trans community to educate them! But I feel like it is something that should be put out there, because if we are going to stop the intolerance and othering that goes on in this country, we have to understand the scope of the problems we face and the work that needs to be done to get there.
posted by misha at 12:25 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


While it is clearly no one's responsibility but their own to educate themselves on this stuff, people don't know that they are ignorant until their ignorance is pointed out to them. I try to do this when I can, of course. But I see Mefites who assume that the issues we are discussing here are common knowledge, and I think there is is some cultural privilege behind that

Many people who have gotten the terms wrong the first time have expressed, in this thread, how gentle and polite others have been in correcting them and guiding them to using the appropriate language. The member who is using incorrect terminology has been gently and politely educated numerous times and refuses, for obscure reasons of her own, to change her behavior.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:31 PM on January 10, 2014 [23 favorites]


The trans members of Mefi are stellar at gently educating the ignorant. They do it, patiently and kindly, over and over again in every thread. It's how I and many other people here have learned to be more mindful about trans issues.

However, their patience is understandably thin with certain members whom they have gently educated, re-educated, and re-re-educated, ad infinitum, every single thread, and who simply, sometimes explicitly, refuse to learn from or respect their educators.
posted by gilrain at 12:34 PM on January 10, 2014 [37 favorites]


Also, just to be clear, I recognize that I will spend the rest of my life reminding people of my preferences. I recognize that even still, there are people who will forget my preferences, or not have heard them at all. I do not automatically assume that those people are bigoted assholes. Neither do any other trans people I know.

There are some corners of the internet where the whole Callout thing has reached toxic levels of hostility. My experience is that MetaFilter really isn't like that. I've never seen someone say "Hey, you used the spelling 'transman' in a comment last year, so I'm still not listening to you." I've never seen someone say "Hey, you used the spelling 'transman' in your comment, so I didn't bother to read the rest of it." I've never seen someone say "Hey, you used the spelling 'transman,' and that is proof that you hate me." All that is part of why I continue to participate here.

I remind my mother-in-law about once a week that she should call me 'she' rather than 'he.' I will remind her of this about once a week until one of us dies. That doesn't make her a bad person in my eyes. She still flinches every time I bring it up, and beats herself up over the mistake. I reassure her every time that it was an honest mistake and I won't hold it against her. I wish she didn't flinch at all. Maybe eventually she'll start believing me that I'm not angry. That would be really nice.

I feel the same way about everyone here. I'll keep reminding you as long as I need to. I'll keep reassuring you as long as I need to that I'm not mad, not passing judgment, not calling for punishment.

I'm sure that even that is a stance with a certain amount of privilege behind it. For instance: I'm privileged to be in an online community where speaking up doesn't get me death threats or rape threats. I'm privileged to be a speaker of a high-status "white" variety of English, because some people listen to me who would ignore me if I sounded poorer or blacker. If you feel that I am wielding this privilege in an unjust way, and that you are suffering unnecessary hardship because nobody's ignoring me or threatening to kill me, please let me know.
posted by this is a thing at 12:36 PM on January 10, 2014 [54 favorites]


> Did you read the other thread, with all the discussion about the space and the preferred use by mefites here on metafilter, and corb's response? Because your comment makes it sound like you didn't.

I took a look at it. A couple of people were pointing out that the two-word spelling has been gaining traction lately and explaining their reasons for preferring it – nothing different from what people have said in previous threads when the subject has come up. No one was suggesting that the one-word spellings were slurs, or that they had any history of being used as such.

This is pretty obviously just the latest iteration of 'corb's a libertarian and she made a comment, let's get her.' This pile-on is bullshit.
posted by nangar at 12:52 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm a libertarian too. I don't see what this has to do with libertarianism.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


The pile-on may be unnecessary but it ain't because of libertarianism.
posted by planetesimal at 12:57 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


This is pretty obviously just the latest iteration of 'corb's a libertarian and she made a comment, let's get her.' This pile-on is bullshit.

I genuinely did not know that corb was a libertarian. I pay zero attention to threads about electoral politics here.

The problem with corb's comment — quoting hoyland right at the beginning of this thread — was that "[she] went on a rant about how [she wasn't] going to respect the wishes of trans people in that thread because there 'wasn't consensus' among trans people." In other words, our complaint is not that she used a Forbidden Word, and not that she has Forbidden Thoughts about politics. It is simply that she made a point of disrespecting our preferences, and announcing that she was doing it knowingly and deliberately. That complaint was clearly announced at the beginning of this thread, it has been consistently reiterated throughout, and it has been corroborated by the mods as the actual deletion reason.

Frankly, a knowing and deliberate transgression-of-preferences like that is aggressive no matter what sort of preference you're talking about. If I know you prefer ABC, and it costs me nothing to do ABC, then telling you "I'm aware of all that and I'm doing XYZ anyway" is a slap in the face regardless of the actual content of ABC and XYZ.
posted by this is a thing at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


> I think maybe it's a good idea if someone popped in and tried to explain, in brief, what is potentially objectionable about "trans___" without a space.

It didn't click with me at first why the space was now preferred, it seemed awkward to have a sort of abbreviation hanging out there as its own word, after all, it's a prefix, right?

Lightbulb! It's not a prefix.

I thought about reading the word transwoman or transman to describe someone in the context of a newspaper article, etc., and realized why we need to spell trans woman and trans man with a space. All one word creates a new noun -- transwomen or transmen who exist in addition to women or men -- and this is completely at cross-purposes with the very thing that trans folk are patiently explaining about themselves.
posted by desuetude at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


A data point. I had no idea that a space or lack thereof was an issue and I try to keep up in order to avoid giving offense.
posted by vapidave at 1:01 PM on January 10, 2014


Re: the linguistic side-discussion here, I think sometimes groups (consciously or unsconsciously) choose new preferred nomenclature, in a way that externally seems arbitrary, in order to assert some agency and power. Some might bristle at that, but it's ok. It's ok to let disenfranchised people claim agency. Already-powerful people get to frame the way we talk all the rest of the time.
posted by threeants at 1:02 PM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


(I'm not saying there's no syntactic reason afoot here; I totally get the space thing on a grammatical level. But in other cases.)
posted by threeants at 1:04 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is nothing at all to do with corb being a libertarian.*

To reiteratre: corb showed up in the initial conversation and expressed horror at one type of mistreatment (crotch grabbing) and then carried on to perpetuate a language use that was specifically and repeatedly explained as being considered hostile to specific members of the specific community she was engaging with at that time. She made it a point to note that her useage was intentionally disregarding the stated wishes of members engaging in the discussion at hand.

And then corb continued to defend her disrespect because, she explained, other members of another community she has previously engaged with did not find those words to be hurtful.

There are lots of libertarians who behave this way. But let's be clear, there are also lots of communists, democrats, and well, any other political belief holders who behave this way.

This conversation has sprung up as a result of her behavior, and we would be seeing the same conversation if she were telling us that she is voted for Obama and is married to a trans person.

*Except as far as libertarians profess to believe that one's actions have consequences and a community is not obligated to clothe/feed/medicate it's members. This belief ought, I believe, to extend to a community not protecting corb from the consequences of her telling a group of people that she has no intention of behaving respectfully toward them.
posted by bilabial at 1:07 PM on January 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


I know there is a lot of crap trans folk have to put up with on a daily basis just because of, basically, ignorance like mine. It has to wear you down. So I understand why stuff like this is said: "There's a lot of shit attempts at trans allyship out there, where people feel like using the right pronouns (even if they're internally rolling their eyes) or not using slurs* is being an ally and it's simply not."

So that comment of mine keeps getting mentioned a lot in this thread and I stand by that excerpt on its own, but I think people should also note the last sentence of that paragraph, which was "I'd go so far to say you can be operating in good faith using really terrible language, as long as you stop when it's pointed out and don't moan about it. [original emphasis]" That's way more slack than a lot of people would want to give, but I was specifically trying to set up vocabulary to not be a defining characteristic of a good faith effort to treat trans people appropriately. At the same time, using correct pronouns isn't enough to pat yourself on the back and declare yourself an awesome ally--it's a first step.
posted by hoyland at 1:11 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Sara C.: "it is a little frustrating to be told in a preachy "well then you clearly are not an ally" manner that the way you've been writing it is wrong."

THIS IS NOT HAPPENING HOLY SHIT
posted by Corinth at 1:13 PM on January 10, 2014


THIS IS NOT HAPPENING HOLY SHIT

Yeah and then this happened.
posted by payoto at 1:14 PM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'd like to start by appreciating a lot of the thoughtful comments here, many of which came from a really compassionate place. I initially was not going to return to the thread because it was messing with my head a bit, but on consideration, decided it was important to do so.

I'd like to start by saying that I do want to be an ally to people who identify as trans. I think that's actually why I initially got so angry at having my comment deleted. It felt like while I was trying to be thoughtful and compassionate, that what I considered at best a regionalism was being interpreted as signs of bigotry. And I do think it's very important not to be a bigot. I think bigotry is a really awful thing that destroys people and lives. That is also why I tried to add a disclaimer - a probably wrong-headed, rushed one, but I wanted to make sure people knew that I wasn't trying to be hurtful in using the language that I use because I've been asked (admittedly more in local circles) to use.

I still don't understand why the lack of a space hurts - but I do also understand that I am not going to understand everything, and that some things are going to be hurtful to some people whether or not I understand them. And that is not an outcome I want - though I do understand why it might appear so to people who are used to being hurt in many interactions. I do not want to hurt people, especially people who have been hurt before, who are hurt in many ways in our society, and who, even when they succeed beyond the wildest dreams of most, even when they are beautiful and fabulous and wealthy and famous, are still discriminated against in very painful ways.

It has been brought up that I often fail to apologize when I have caused these hurts - that I say something that hurts people, and then leave the conversation, leaving the hurtful things to continue hurting, and no apology to heal. After some reflection, I have realized that this is true, which is why I am back in the thread, and why I would like to offer an apology to anyone who has been hurt by my words. I have been caught in a cycle, and I am trying to break out of it.

I really appreciate this is a thing's well-written comment on local consensuses, which was extremely helpful. With that in mind, I have put a sticky on my monitor reminding me of this issue -- it actually says 'no anchovies' because we have trans people in my office and I don't want to accidentally cause offense, but it is there -- to help me remember. That was a good tip. It doesn't mean I'll get it right every time, because my brain is exceptionally talented at fucking this up, but I will at least try, on Metafilter, to use the wording that the local consensus prefers.

Scientist is right, that in the immediacy of commenting, I have often not behaved at my best. I am defensive, and sometimes, though I try to prevent it, snarky. There is a reason for this - though I would prefer not to get into its cause, I suffer from severe PTSD, which causes me to have strong physical reactions to anything my hindbrain identifies as an attack - which can include genuine criticism that happens to be on the harsh side. My body shoots adrenaline and feels tense, and I feel nearly exactly as I do in a life-and-death situation. On Metafilter, it often causes me to double down, and defend not just my comment, but my integrity as a human being, which I often tend to feel, in that moment, are inextricably linked.

This is a thing that I know I have to work on, and that I try to work on, every day - not just on Metafilter. It is a thing I have to work on at work. It is a thing I have to work on in my personal life. It is a thing I have to work on in every corner of the internet. This is a thing I have to work on if I want my life and the lives of those who impact my life to be better.

One of the reasons why this can feel so intense and dangerous is because I do value this community very much. I, like many others, came here to comment on the internet, and found people that I could respect and care for, near and far away. Many of you are not just strangers, but friends. You helped me get through some tough times, get rid of my books, alleviate my fear and keep drama out of my wedding. When I have had rough moments I have been touched and humbled by the many people who have taken their time to comfort and support me. I hope to be a part of this community for many years to come; and so I would like to additionally apologize for assuming understanding without giving the means, tools, and information necessary for it.
posted by corb at 1:22 PM on January 10, 2014 [106 favorites]


"I still don't understand why the lack of a space hurts"

Desuetude upthread helped me with that simple explanation: "transwomen" are some new (possibly robot) things; "trans women" are women who identify as trans*." (Normally don't do the asterisk thing, but it seems worthwhile to get that whole umbrella in there).

A lot of the shit that trans women complain about to me is the tremendous effort required to just be taken seriously as women, and so it would make sense that they'd want to be seen as women, not transwomen.

(Also, if we're being grammatical sticklers, "trans women" would make it clear that it's a separate "trans" adjective in connotation, rather than "across women," but that's just me being a little pedantic.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was going to say that it has been interesting to read this thread and see how many people are going "Hey, I learned something and I am going to be a better person," because I am trying to be the person who says that sort of thing, and having that behaviour modeled is very very helpful. So, thank you.

And I was going to say that the sad part is none of the people saying that were the person who started this thread and really needed to say that.

Then I saw 16 new comments, show and clicked before hitting post.

And now I am not sad at all.

Kudos to you, corb. You and I are pretty similar, inasmuch as we pick hills to die on and we won't back down. It is incredibly hard for people like us to admit when we're wrong, and nearly impossible for us to do so in such a public way.

I don't know how to say this in a way that won't come across as snarky or patronizing or otherwise negative, so please please read this as nothing but glowingly positive: you grew today, you learned something, and you're a better person for it, and that makes this community and the world a better place.

Thank you. You've given me, at least, an ideal to strive for.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:39 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


hugs time now?
posted by Jacqueline at 1:44 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


it is can be hugs tiem nao
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:44 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


So until next time then?
posted by cjorgensen at 1:47 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


byanyothername: "Actually, I think going into the whys and wherefores of using particular terminology (including how preferences can vary) is exactly what we should be doing. ... It's important to understand why things are hurtful or wrong."

I agree and it has been really helpful. I was sort-of aware there were better and worse ways to refer to trans persons, but I am not very knowledgeable about trans* issues so I generally just try to use whatever term other people who seem knowledgeable are using and hope that's right, and then sometimes I hesitate to speak or I don't speak fluently because I don't know which words to use and I don't want to inadvertently be hurtful. (Don't get me wrong, this is not stifling my ability to participate in discourse, it's just that awkward feeling you get when you don't know the graceful way to do something and are afraid of putting your foot in your mouth.)

Seeing Corinth's explanation about "trans person" being "person modified by trans" rather than "transperson" as a different category of noun, I was like "OHHHHHHHHHHH" and now I will actually REMEMBER that's the preferred way to spell it, because I know WHY and it's not just a random language rule to memorize.

(I'm not totally sure I understand the difference between gender and gendered -- nobody has to go over it again, I'm still just digesting it -- but I will at least remember there's a preferred term and if I get it wrong in casual conversation and someone corrects me, I will say, "Whoops, sorry, thanks!" and if it's something IMPORTANT like at work I will know to look it up to be sure I get it right.)

Anyway, my "real life" experience with trans persons has been extremely limited, so the fact is that I am ignorant and a lot of these issues are hard for me to understand because I don't have a scaffolding of personal experience to hang my understanding on. But I would like to be less ignorant (ideally not-at-all ignorant!) and, for me, explanations really help me build that scaffolding of knowledge from which to start hanging my understanding. Not that anybody's required to give any 101 classes to ignorant people! Just that as a mostly-lurker in these threads who's trying to learn, I do appreciate it when people discuss the explanations, because it really helps me learn.

I've said before but I will repeat, most of my knowledge of trans* issues comes from people being really generous and patient in talking about their lives and experiences here on MetaFilter, and it is appreciated, and it makes a difference not just in my personal life, but when I go out into the world it's something I can speak up about and make sure isn't ignored when doing, like, diversity policies at work or something, because of the hard and patient work a lot of MeFites have done in helping me and others understand.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:47 PM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


No! It can't be hugs time! We won't have a bountiful harvest of good FPPs in the new year unless somebody ritually flames out!
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:48 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Good job, Corb.

I don't comment in threads about trans and LGBT issues, but I am learning a LOT from all of them. Thanks MetaFilter!
posted by SLC Mom at 1:48 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


O wow another irritating corb MeTa that doesn't need to exist.

Why did this need to be a MeTa? why not just use the contact form? How is this any different than this piece of shit thread from yesterday that also didn't need to exist?

I suffer from severe PTSD, which causes me to have strong physical reactions to anything my hindbrain identifies as an attack - which can include genuine criticism that happens to be on the harsh side. My body shoots adrenaline and feels tense, and I feel nearly exactly as I do in a life-and-death situation. On Metafilter, it often causes me to double down, and defend not just my comment, but my integrity as a human being, which I often tend to feel, in that moment, are inextricably linked.


I myself can have moments like this. Get up from the computer, and walk away. Go do something else. Go for a stroll down the block and back around the other side of the neighborhood. Hell, take a walk in the park if it isn't too muddy and rainy like it often is here. This, or some misguided sense of "no i'm being attacked i must defend my honor!" isn't a good reason to not just remove yourself from the situation.

And jesus, for the first few replies it was really hard to take this thread in good faith.

Your entire most recent reply strikes me as one of those bad kinds of apologies that doesn't just apologize, but goes into a huge justification and explanation to try and ameliorate the whole thing and add a bunch of mitigating circumstances and potential blast shields to any criticism. I used to suffer from this disorder because i thought people gave a fuck, but it really just comes off as "sorry, i fucked up, but i really didn't fuck up as bad as you think because of X Y and Z". Leaving it at the first part is a far more powerful and valuable statement.

I honestly completely disagree with FFFM, and am more on the side of elizardbits with this. I would think that some kind of progress had been made if i hadn't seen this exact scenario play out with you. You may have learned your lesson on this one topic, but you'll be back in a week or two having pulled the same routine on something else. It's not that you play the devils advocate game, but that you can just been needlessly contrary in almost bizarre performance art ways.

I guess it just bugs me that people are slapping each other on the back and figuring this is pretty much case closed when you posted something people had asked you not to with a frankly slightly bizarre and fighty "and i'll do it the way people don't like on here if i want to" slapped on the end, made this meta and gave a somewhat disingenuous little kid playing ball in the house and the lamp broke but it was in no way their fault not-the-full-story explanation, then posted some weird shit when it was clarified what you actually did, and then after a bunch of proddy fight provoking crap and needless slapfighting between other members essentially tendered your letter of resignation for the engagement and offered one of those aforementioned overshare attempted mitigation apologies.

Good comments came out of the thread here and there i guess, but this thread shouldn't have existed. The original comment was some weirdly teenage contrarian crap too.

I don't know, i'm just annoyed. I gave this thread more than a chance too. I probably wouldn't be annoyed if this was just some random person and first time offender on this type of thing, but this is representative behavior.
posted by emptythought at 1:50 PM on January 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


I get where you're coming from, emptythought, but I'm personally trying to apply this concept in my life. Maybe I'll be proven wrong about corb. I hope not.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:53 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Your entire most recent reply strikes me as one of those bad kinds of apologies that doesn't just apologize, but goes into a huge justification and explanation to try and ameliorate the whole thing and add a bunch of mitigating circumstances and potential blast shields to any criticism. I used to suffer from this disorder because i thought people gave a fuck, but it really just comes off as "sorry, i fucked up, but i really didn't fuck up as bad as you think because of X Y and Z". Leaving it at the first part is a far more powerful and valuable statement.

Yeah this. When you are as wrong as you were in this instance, just say "I'm sorry" and leave it and that rather than tacking on a bunch of stuff about why you really weren't that much at fault and on and on and on.

If I had been in charge of an apology it would have been something like. "On reflection I acted really intemperately. It was the wrong thnig to do. I'm sorry."

And I guess we should be happy when progress is made, if we want to call this progress, so whatever, but I'm not in line to pat corb's back on this one. This was a shitty, bad-faith MeTa.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:54 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mods, please register a vote for closing this one up. Thank you.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:56 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is sort of a tangent, but I'm not in love with the trend towards closing up MeTas.
posted by lalex at 2:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [23 favorites]


I myself can have moments like this. Get up from the computer, and walk away.

Probably should have taken your own advice there, homie. Different people apologise in different ways. Better to end the thread on a better, more constructive note I think; tomorrow is another day and Corb will have lots of opportunities I'm sure to demonstrate the sincerity of the apology.
posted by smoke at 2:05 PM on January 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I suffer from severe PTSD, which causes me to have strong physical reactions to anything my hindbrain identifies as an attack - which can include genuine criticism that happens to be on the harsh side. My body shoots adrenaline and feels tense, and I feel nearly exactly as I do in a life-and-death situation. On Metafilter, it often causes me to double down, and defend not just my comment, but my integrity as a human being, which I often tend to feel, in that moment, are inextricably linked.

I just took a month off because some threads were making me literally physically dizzy with frustration and anger. It's definitely not a fun site to read if you get that way. I probably would have stayed off longer if it was possible to turn off titles when logged out. They are so bad. /facepalm

You might want to consider that. Reading threads when you can't respond makes it easier to understand you don't always have to.

I knew there was some discussion of to space or not to space out there but I didn't realize people found it offensive to skip the space. I'll try and keep that in mind but it does seem like it's going to be something that is difficult to remember. Feel free to call me out if I forget.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:06 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


FFFM: I get where you're coming from, emptythought, but I'm personally trying to apply this concept in my life. Maybe I'll be proven wrong about corb. I hope not.

I'm willing to assume that a couple times for anyone, and i'm also willing to still believe that from the operators station over at corb HQ it may still seem like it is in some convoluted way. But good faith is kind of a finite resource that you only get so many shots at. It's like a first impression.

I don't want my post to come off as saying, or even implying that i think corb is a career shitposter or anything. Just that we've been here before and they don't seem to handle frustration well and then we're here. As i said before, but to expand on it a bit, as someone with aspergers i get it. I've been there too.

It's just that i think there's some kind of stubbornness/pride/something in the way here because after a while i realized that i kept painting myself in to corners like this, and ending up in situations exactly like this thread. And i realized that hey, sometimes i just need to shut the fuck up and go "Sorry, i boned it up". The pattern of not, while as i remember also being a lot older and having a lot more life experience than me(and likely also having the advantage of being at least more neurotypical) is a bit colon-backslash and generally damages my good-faith credit rating because it's like, this incredible stubbornness to admit that "hey, maybe if so many people keep telling me over and over that i'm just banging my head against the wall and obstinately refusing to admit i'm wrong without a massively conditional surrender that is practically a zip-lipped out of court settlement then maybe the problem is me" that reminds me of some of my REALLY stubborn older family members.

I don't know, i'll hang up the phone on this one. I do feel that a lot of people who replied to this either acted like, or didn't realize that this is a recurring phenomenon though.

Smoke: Different people apologise in different ways.

I used to tell myself this too, until someone older and wiser slapped some sense into me and explained why the resignation speech method is weasely and crap.
posted by emptythought at 2:07 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess what I'm saying, emptythought, is that a Big Grand Apologia might be a step on the road to "Sorry, i boned it up."

Baby steps, I guess. I dunno.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:09 PM on January 10, 2014


I guess it just bugs me that people are slapping each other on the back and figuring this is pretty much case closed when you posted something people had asked you not to with a frankly slightly bizarre and fighty "and i'll do it the way people don't like on here if i want to" slapped on the end, made this meta and gave a somewhat disingenuous little kid playing ball in the house and the lamp broke but it was in no way their fault not-the-full-story explanation, then posted some weird shit when it was clarified what you actually did, and then after a bunch of proddy fight provoking crap and needless slapfighting between other members essentially tendered your letter of resignation for the engagement and offered one of those aforementioned overshare attempted mitigation apologies.

I have to stand in agreement. Honestly, I'm really, really not a huge fan of how acceptable and "heart-warming" the phenomenon where people stand up on self-congratulatory soapbox and talk about how much they've learned and how they're now an "ally" has become. First of all, it feels bizarrely self-centered. Trans* people - and for that matter, any marginalized person - are not plot devices to further the character development of cis/het/white/male/etc people. Secondly, it completely halts, distracts, and re-frames discussion of the issues trans* people face to focus on their cis allies instead since now we have to focus the spotlight on this wonderful ally who has just done SO much and give them a round of applause before we can sit back down and give the mic back to trans* people again.

Really, people, if you want to demonstrate allyship, do so in your actions and not your words. This especially goes for you corb, and at this stage, given this cycle of correction-argument-epiphany has happened like, ten times already, I'm kind of dubious. I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and keep watching, but you're not automatically absolved in my eyes just because you gave a heartfelt speech about your character development.
posted by Conspire at 2:10 PM on January 10, 2014 [27 favorites]


Honestly, I don't think anyone is really even asking problematic users to become "allies"; they're just asking them to stop making every thread into a massive derail about themselves and their fighty opinions.
posted by threeants at 2:15 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?
posted by Sara C. at 2:16 PM on January 10, 2014


In so many ways no, Sara.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:16 PM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


No.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:16 PM on January 10, 2014


Sara C.: "Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?"

No. Where in the hell would you get that idea? How hard is it to understand "when in Rome"?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:17 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Corb: thanks for the apology. I'll admit that, like a lot of the other trans users in this thread, I'm not 100% sure I trust it. But I'm still grateful for it, and tentatively optimistic that things will start going better.

Here's the thing. From my point of view, it's not a huge problem that sometimes people use terms I don't like. What is a problem is that threads about trans people on this site consistently lead to tense, angry shitstorms. I can't go on participating in a community where there's a fistfight every time someone who looks like me is mentioned.

So it is okay with me that you sometimes make mistakes on terminology. (I don't speak for all of us; but it's okay with me.) But it's really really not okay that you dig your heels in and escalate the situation the way you do when someone points a mistake out to you.

I'm really happy to see that you're aware of that problem. If you can actually do better, that will be awesome. I hope you can. If there's anything I can do to support that, let me know.
posted by this is a thing at 2:19 PM on January 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


I floated that question in 100% good faith.

It's something I've thought very seriously about, and in general I find myself sort of beating myself up anytime I post in a trans* oriented thread. Not because it's wrong to ever do, but because, I don't know, am I really adding anything to the discussion? And is there a critical mass at which the conversation is likely to derail into more ally-centered talk?
posted by Sara C. at 2:19 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jesus mods close it up now before the glow completely fades!
posted by smoke at 2:20 PM on January 10, 2014


Jesus mods close it up now before the glow completely fades!

Don't close it up, because people clearly still have more to discuss.
posted by lalex at 2:21 PM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm actually curious to know what transgender mefites think about it. I feel like every time these threads come up there is a lot of "you should listen more than you talk". Which, yes. So it follows that, well, is it better for cis people to read more than we comment?
posted by Sara C. at 2:21 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


What glow? The self congratulatory glow you get from repeatedly throwing shit in a person's face then standing up and saying "I've learned my lesson, I won't throw shit anymore" meanwhile, they're over there, still covered in shit.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:22 PM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think it's just like men posting in threads about women's issues: namely, post away, but don't be an asshole, dominate the conversation, or try to explain to trans people why they just totally haven't thought of some super obvious solution to their problems.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:22 PM on January 10, 2014 [29 favorites]


So it follows that, well, is it better for cis people to read more than we comment?

That is not the same as "cis people shouldn't comment at all," which no one has said.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:23 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


And all of metafilter, here's how I feel: As a trans woman I don't want to have anything to do with transgender topics on this site.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:24 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


As far as I can tell, 98% of contributions by cis people (of which I am one, for purposes of disclosure) in threads about trans* people's lives are accepted just fine by the community. The reason this issue is so irritating is because it is the same tiny handful of people who make things contentious again and again.
posted by threeants at 2:25 PM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Glad that was sorted out.

All right-thinking people: continue to crack open your eggs at the pointy end.
posted by Pinback at 2:25 PM on January 10, 2014


It's something I've thought very seriously about, and in general I find myself sort of beating myself up anytime I post in a trans* oriented thread. Not because it's wrong to ever do, but because, I don't know, am I really adding anything to the discussion? And is there a critical mass at which the conversation is likely to derail into more ally-centered talk?

Yeah, I wouldn't want you to stop participating in trans-related threads.

I do think that if you participate, you're occasionally going to find yourself getting corrected by a trans person: "Actually, I prefer to be called X" or "Hey, you said such-and-such about the trans experience, but I find that it's a bit more complicated" or whatever.

If those corrections seriously hurt your feelings, you might be happier staying away.

If those corrections cause you such pain that you cannot stop yourself from lashing out or telling us off, then we'd probably be happier if you stayed away too.

But the ideal, for me, would be "Just accept that you're sometimes gonna be corrected and it's not the end of the world, and go on participating."
posted by this is a thing at 2:26 PM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


MeFi is a general interest site with a diverse audience. If a thread can't handle comments from a diverse audience, it is probably more appropriate on a different site. However, you won't keep that diversity if you are unwelcoming to various groups. That means we all have to be polite and get along and be sensitive to diverse group concerns, not that people shouldn't comment. People should be nicer to corb and other conservative commentators in political threads so more of them will show up, corb needs to continue her efforts to be more sensitive to trans folks because their perspective is valuable but often under represented on general interest sites. Nobody should stop commenting unless they really can't handle that effort.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:28 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


For me it's not that I can't handle it, it's like Laverne Cox says, there's so much more to discuss and I'm getting bored with the transgender conversation Metafilter insists on having.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:32 PM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


People should be nicer to corb and other conservative commentators in political threads so more of them will show up

Since you put it that way, hell no.
posted by bleep-blop at 2:32 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?

In general, I have been trending toward the idea that every trans* thread and women's issues thread and racial issues thread and youth culture thread is another opportunity for me to not make the thread about me. So I try to comment less and read more. But I'm not a fan of blanket proscriptions, either. Others may have more insightful things to add than I do. This is supposed to be a conversation, after all.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:32 PM on January 10, 2014 [20 favorites]


Really all I'd like is an acknowledgement that trans people actually are experts on our own lives. If someone says, "actually, SCIENCE says that sex gender anteaters blah blah blah," and a trans person or two says, "that's not true and also not relevant to the thread, let's move on?" the appropriate response is not to start an argument. If that stuff could be deleted as a derail, that'd be extra nice.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:33 PM on January 10, 2014 [61 favorites]


I 100% concur with ArmyOfKittens, FWIW.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


It must just be thoroughly exhausting to be a trans user and know that anything posted here that touches on the experience of being trans will almost inevitably turn into someone's weird quibble crusade. Like if you wanted to post about an awesome band you just discovered and you got 10% germane discussion and 90% "is music real?" "why do people insist on listening to music?" "why can't I just call it air wave farts?"
posted by threeants at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2014 [61 favorites]


Like if you wanted to post about an awesome band you just discovered and you got 10% germane discussion and 90% "is music real?" "why do people insist on listening to music?" "why can't I just call it air wave farts?"

Actually, that's more or less how a lot of threads about contemporary art go here...but that's another issue, one of less significance than this one.
posted by neroli at 2:39 PM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


And I will pop in to day that Social Science (well, many practitioners of sociology and anthropology, anyway) agree with ArmyOfKittens as well.

When people tell you why they do things, or how they experience things, believe them. There might also be additional things going on, but those additional things do not invalidate the experiences and beliefs and expectations and needs of the people in the conversation.

And the best science can currently do is say "We think it might be like this, but there's a lot of information missing. We'll keep looking." Journalism doesn't really behave responsibly with science, and makes really bold attempts to say "We found a gay/trans/whatever gene!!!" So if you are ever tempted to to claim that "science says" something about the lives of real people (whether you are engaging in conversation with those people or not at the moment) just...stop right there and do not pass go.
posted by bilabial at 2:40 PM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Here's my own personal reactions to shit that happens in trans threads:
Someone talks about their experience as a trans ally: 100% totally okay.

Someone (in good faith) says something factually incorrect: 100% totally okay.

Someone (in good faith) uses terminology I don't like: very slightly annoying, but I'll be fine, and anyway I can't prevent it.

Someone feels inwardly angry or hurt when I correct them: really frustrating, actually, but I'll be fine, and anyway I can't prevent it.

Someone lashes out at me for correcting them: infuriating and preventable.

Someone tells me I can't correct them because they're an ally: infuriating and preventable.

Someone tells me that this thing they read once trumps my own lived experience: infuriating and preventable.
What that means for cis people participating in trans threads is, yes, please participate, and please feel free to mention your own concerns as an ally if you think they're relevant.

But! Sometimes you're going to get corrected. You do not know everything there is to know about us. We are a diverse community, and sometimes you'll hear X from one trans person and then hear another trans person say "actually in my experience Y." Occasionally you'll discover that an honest question you're genuinely wondering about is sort of a sensitive topic and someone will say "Hey, not right now." And depending on how everyone else is feeling and what sort of shit has gone down in our personal lives recently and the phase of the moon and who knows what else, some of those corrections are going to be kinda pissy in tone — which is not ideal, but let's face it, it's going to happen.

If corrections like that are hurtful to you, then maybe you're not going to enjoy participating in those threads. And if corrections like that are so hurtful that you can't help lashing out, then please stay away until you're better at controlling your temper.
posted by this is a thing at 2:40 PM on January 10, 2014 [32 favorites]


For me it's not that I can't handle it, it's like Laverne Cox says, there's so much more to discuss and I'm getting bored with the transgender conversation Metafilter insists on having.

And (for me, at least), the finger-wagging from certain MeFites in any social issues thread that consists of accusing anybody they disagree with on all of the toxic behaviors they hate (often wrongly), invariably followed by vigorous and repeated used of every behavior they've just denounced. The past 9 months or so have just been chock-full of that horseshit, and it would be nice if it got shut down more often.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:42 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


bilabial: "And I will pop in to day that Social Science ... agree with ArmyOfKittens as well. "

Holy shit, the power! Does this mean social science agrees with me about my Homestuck headcanons?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:42 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


payoto: Yeah and then this happened."

You're right. I had just gotten halfway through this thread and a lot of people were still pulling the same stunts they were pulling on the blue and I just kind of had to punch something so I punched those keys.

Let me try to explain a bit the progression that occurred that has led to me being worked up and frustrated.

A) We are having okay discussion about the substance of Laverne Cox's appearance on Couric's show.
B) Someone gently points out some preferred terms.
C) Someone else notes this and asks if there's reasoning behind they preferred terms they should know about.
D) I provide the reasoning (also quite gently I think).
E-G) Other people start complaining about how hard this is and how picky trans people are and how we shouldn't be so hung up on spaces and how mean we are when we educate.
H) I (and probably another person or two) am baffled as to what in the thread prompted this pushback and try to address it.
I) Now the thread looks fighty so jenfullmoon pops in and assumes all the fightiness is because trans people are so catty and irrational and setting up minefields and at this point the thread is all about how how trans people have petty hangups and cis people just don't understand.
J) Someone then wants to bring slurs into a discussion that is already awful.
K) what the fuck please stop

I don't care overly much if you omit the space. I will probably tell you why a lot of us think it will be there. But it's not offensive to omit it, unless you're doing it purposefully to offend us. We aren't "worried" about this stuff to the exclusion of things these oh-so-caring-cis-allies think we should be more worried about. We just gently mentioned them so people could know! And look at the shitstorm cis people kicked up about it!

The cycle only needs to go from A to D. Everything else is just terrible. I was left sitting there unable to defend my people from completely hyperbolic and unfair accusations because any sticking up for myself plays into the narrative they've set up. It just sucked!
posted by Corinth at 2:44 PM on January 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


My secret pipe dream for trans posts on Metafilter is that the FPPs improve. In my not so humble opinion, there's a decided trend towards FPPs of the form 'Oh, look, a trans person did something!' without background information or context and lo and behold, it turns into a shitstorm born of people lacking context. (It seems like posts about trans issues and sports are notorious for this. They usually open the door to everyone's favourite transmisogynist claptrap to begin with, but they're all framed as if it's the first time a trans person ever participated in sport.)
posted by hoyland at 2:44 PM on January 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


SCIENCE sex gender anteater blah blah blah is the name of my new band.
posted by Conspire at 2:45 PM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


threeants: "air wave farts"

Air Wave Farts is my postmodern post-punk band.
posted by Corinth at 2:47 PM on January 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


(I strongly agree with lalex that closing up threads as a matter of process turns MeTas into this weird sort of contrition theater. I was ticked off [in general, not at the mods] about that thread where flapjax at midnight was called out for racist comments; he gave a smug half-apology; people poured praise on him; then minutes before the thread was closed up he dropped a giant deuce of a "sorry I'm not sorry".)
posted by threeants at 2:48 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


If that stuff could be deleted as a derail, that'd be extra nice.

I would be happy to flag it that way, personally.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:54 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel like apologies like this one and flapjax's should be treated like a suspended sentence where all of the hugs and congratultions and thank yous are held in abeyance until we see that the behavior actually changes instead of it just being the same old bullshit again next time the topic comes up.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:55 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Closing a MeTa thread before it dues or on its own seems to guarantee that there will be a new thread within days that is just a continuation of the old fight, with some added ill will to boot. It's not like anything is resolved just because the thread is closed to new comments.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:59 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


People should be nicer to corb and other conservative commentators in political threads so more of them will show up

People should refrain from being assholes to people right out of the gate, but I don't think there's any need to "be nicer." I would not expect people to "be nicer" to me if I kept going into threads about programming (about which I know very little) and picking fights about How Things Really Are with people who actually know how things really are. I would expect people to correct me, to link me to other resources, even to maybe get impatient with me if I kept doubling-down with my wrongness. I would not expect people to be nice to me just so I can feel comfortable being publicly ignorant in a deliberate and repeated fashion.
posted by rtha at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2014 [28 favorites]


(And the problem in that instance was not so much the poster's initial use of offensive nomenclature as his tireless defense of it in the face of relevant community members repeatedly expressing their discomfort. Anyone seeing some history repeating here?)
posted by threeants at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


(rtha, I am not saying be nice to corb in regards to trans issues where she has an unfortunate history, but in regards to politics in general people can sometimes say some pretty unnecessary stuff to conservative posters and about conservatives in general.)
posted by Drinky Die at 3:06 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Corinth said more clearly succinctly a lot of what I've been trying to say here. The problem is the pattern of escalation that leads inexorably from "So this trans person was in the news this week" to "OH MY GOD YOU TRANS PEOPLE ARE SO OVERSENSITIVE." That needs to get nipped in the bud, and I think that's going to call for (a) a big change in community standards here and (b) some tighter moderation.

Look: at this point, every single thread about trans people leads to a fight about terminology in which we are publicly excoriated. That is the sort of derailing that makes the site unusable for an entire community. I am genuinely afraid to talk about my own life, or to make posts about people who look like me, because I know in advance that it's going to cause a shitstorm which will be really painful for all of us.

It used to be that saying the words "Israel" or "Palestine," or mentioning an Israeli or Palestinian citizen by name, led to a flame war about the conflict there. The mods, quite sensibly, recognized that as a problem, and started clamping down on it. Now, if you go "Oh hey it looks like you're talking about someone Jewish, let's talk about Zionism instead" your shit gets deleted. It's not that the conflict there is a permanently forbidden subject. It's just that we recognize now that if we let people bring it up every single time a person from the region is mentioned, it leads to trouble.

It used to be that mentioning any sort of body modification, or anything about female genital mutilation, or anything about medical consent, led to a fight about circumcision. The mods clamped down on that. Now if you go "Oh hey, it looks like you're talking about clit piercings, let's talk about circumcision instead" your shit gets deleted. It's not that our cultural norms about penis maintenance are a permanently forbidden subject. It's just that we recognize now that if we let people bring it up every single time body mods or genitals or consent are mentioned, it leads to trouble.

We're having the same problem now with fights about trans identity. Moderation needs to be a hell of a lot tighter here too. If you go "Oh hey, it looks like you're talking about a trans person, let's talk about XYZ instead" — where XYZ ranges over "Whether trans women are real women," "Whether I should use people's preferred terminology," "Whether 'social justice warriors' are all assholes," and probably a lot of other stuff I'm not thinking about — your shit needs to get deleted. Right away.

Not because you're necessarily a bad person for raising the question. Not because the questions should be forbidden from all public discourse forever. But because the current status quo, in which we have nasty fights every single time a trans person is mentioned, is completely fucking excruciating for those of us who happen to be trans.
posted by this is a thing at 3:11 PM on January 10, 2014 [53 favorites]


Drinky Die, I am really confused on how you managed to turn a discussion on the shit our trans* members face into an analogy on how people aren't nice enough to conservative members on this website.

What.
posted by Conspire at 3:14 PM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


I really prefer the closing of threads as opposed to the WE MUST EXTRACT ALL OOZING INFECTION FROM EVERY BOIL EVERYONE SQUEEZE AGAIN thing that happens at the end of these threads. Every time it seems like there is a new issue or new angle brought up as things wind down and suddenly the brawl must start anew.

furthermore everyone must do as i say because i am sick and there is no soup
posted by elizardbits at 3:16 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


if you're worried about having no soup then maybe you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss extracting everything from every boil

goes great with some chard
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:20 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Drinky Die, I am really confused on how you managed to turn a discussion on the shit our trans* members face into an analogy on how people aren't nice enough to conservative members on this website.

I was discussing the value of diversity in viewpoints and how I think we can foster it on the site, it was a throwaway example to illustrate how diversity can be reduced and why it is important not to do that to other groups, like trans folks. If I have miscommunicated something here let me be clear: Conservatives are in no way oppressed and do not face social challenges that are in any way similar to those trans folks face.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:20 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really prefer the closing of threads as opposed to the WE MUST EXTRACT ALL OOZING INFECTION FROM EVERY BOIL EVERYONE SQUEEZE AGAIN thing that happens at the end of these threads. Every time it seems like there is a new issue or new angle brought up as things wind down and suddenly the brawl must start anew.

furthermore everyone must do as i say because i am sick and there is no soup


i bet u could make a pretty good soup from all the SCHMALTZ U R SPOUTING!!
posted by threeants at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2014


i dont like either one of you anymore bie
posted by elizardbits at 3:26 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was discussing the value of diversity in viewpoints and how I think we can foster it on the site, it was a throwaway example to illustrate how diversity can be reduced and why it is important not to do that to other groups, like trans folks. If I have miscommunicated something here let me be clear: Conservatives are in no way oppressed and do not face social challenges that are in any way similar to those trans folks face.

Okay, first of all, we treat trans* people on this website with respect because they are human beings, not because we're trying to fill a diversity quota. Second of all, it feels ridiculously tasteless to try to ride this hobbyhorse on the coat-tails of a marginalized group, and I would suggest as a fellow community member that if you really wanted to discuss this productively without invoking that implication you should be making your own MeTa. Third of all, unless you're implying that corb's actions of repeatedly insisting that she should be allowed to say bigoted things about trans* people as an example of what being a "conservative" is like - which even seems to me to be dreadfully uncharitable - I have no idea how any of the discussion in this thread is related to treatment of conservatism on Metafilter, and feels like a massive derail.
posted by Conspire at 3:26 PM on January 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


i dont like either one of you anymore bie

I think it's about time to close this up
posted by threeants at 3:27 PM on January 10, 2014


extracting everything from every boil

goes great with some chard


Oh, man. Why did I have to watch that mega zit popping video earlier? Such unfortunate associations...
posted by planetesimal at 3:27 PM on January 10, 2014


I have been trying for more than a week now to compose a MeTa thread about how every thread about trans issues turns into a shitstorm, how some seriously horrible (offensive, noisy, derailing - oh for multi-flag!) comments are allowed to stand while it feels like we trans people are expected to continue educating cis people with infinite cheerful patience, how so many FPPs about trans issues are so horribly constructed (starting with a debate about whether or not we deserve rights - how could a thread go anywhere good if it starts with that?), how... Well, how Metafilter feels really hostile to me, as a trans person, lately. I haven't had the emotional reserves to start a MeTa thread. My sense of dread has just been slowly rising.

this is a thing just hit all the points I wanted to hit. Thank you for saying what I've been trying, and wanting, to say.
posted by jiawen at 3:29 PM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


"if you're worried about having no soup then maybe you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss extracting everything from every boil

goes great with some chard"


So we're back to wrapping up MeTa threads with a recipe exchange?
posted by Jacqueline at 3:30 PM on January 10, 2014


Okay, first of all, we treat trans* people on this website with respect because they are human beings

I am aware of this.

not because we're trying to fill a diversity quota.

Promoting diversity is an additional reason, not the only one. The quality of discussion in most cases improves with more of it.

Second of all, it feels ridiculously tasteless to try to ride this hobbyhorse on the coat-tails of a marginalized group

It was a throwaway example I have clarified because you asked me what I was saying and I felt rtha slightly misread it. I don't think any more needs to be said about it.

Third of all, unless you're implying that corb's actions of repeatedly insisting that she should be allowed to say bigoted things about trans* people as an example of what being a "conservative" is like

I am not intending to imply that, no.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:33 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


O wow another irritating corb MeTa that doesn't need to exist.

This was my take. The original premise was incorrect. Something that could have been solved with the contact form. If unhappy with the mod answer, sure, bring it. The whole problem was one individual not even trying.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:34 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


i dont like either one of you anymore bie

overruled, i am a delight
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:38 PM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Sara C: Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?

Jeeze, you're one of my favorite level headed posters on here, but try as i might this reads like a young sibling yelling at mom "So does jake ALWAYS get to use the TV when we get home? is it never my turn?"

Like, no. I believe you that you asked this in good faith hoping for clarifying responses, but what an extremist hyperbolic way to bring it up. It could have just as easily been framed something like "So what would be the most productive way for cis people to participate in FPPs about trans* issues?"

It may just seem like semantics, but the approach and tone of that were really news commentator talking over someone in an interview tiresome.

It's like, defer to the people with personal experience and assume they've already thought of any brilliant solutions that they personally could undertake.

My flow chart in threads about womens, trans, GSM, etc issues type threads is that i essentially try and address other people in my group and not the people the thread is about, or just engage with the general discussion operating under the assumption i don't know what the hell i'm talking about in a lot of senses.

Any time i've fucked up and regretted a post in a thread like that it was because i didn't follow that rule. It's a more recent rule for me to, but it seems like a pretty failsafe "3 laws" type of rule to prevent shitposting on the part of most people.
posted by emptythought at 3:40 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


i dont like either one of you anymore bie

I'm on emotional roller-coaster trying to figure out if this should be bye or die.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:41 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I want to thank this is a thing about ten ways from Sunday for the illuminating comments. Seriously.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:41 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm on emotional roller-coaster trying to figure out if this should be bye or die.

Yes.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:46 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not in love with the trend towards closing up MeTas.

I'm not in love, so don't forget it. It's just a silly phase I'm going through.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:49 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


We're having the same problem now with fights about trans identity. Moderation needs to be a hell of a lot tighter here too. If you go "Oh hey, it looks like you're talking about a trans person, let's talk about XYZ instead" — where XYZ ranges over "Whether trans women are real women," "Whether I should use people's preferred terminology," "Whether 'social justice warriors' are all assholes," and probably a lot of other stuff I'm not thinking about — your shit needs to get deleted. Right away.

I am sincerely hoping this won't be offensive to anyone:

I think tighter moderation might be wiser, but am not sure that aggressive deletions are the answer. If you're talking about the same people grinding the same axes from thread to thread and refusing to listen to the requests of our transgender members, then yes, I think that sort of disruptive behavior should be deleted.

But unfortunately, I think it's unlikely that most people who initially participate in these threads will be anything other than passingly familiar with trans issues and concerns. They may not have seen previous threads. They may never have even known someone personally who is trans. Those folks are likely to have questions, and from their perspective, those questions or assumptions might be reasonable to ask simply because the subject has come up. We all know they're sure as hell not getting answers from the mainstream media, or from 99% of fictional depictions of trans men and women. So people are probably going to say things out of ignorance, too.

I am concerned that if the mods begin aggressively deleting questions (not people being assholes, but respectful requests for knowledge and understanding raised in posts whose focus is something related to a transgender person or issue) that we will inadvertently prevent people from learning. I've learned a hell about what life is like for people who are not like me on this site over the years, mostly by asking stupid, ignorant questions and relying on the kindness of strangers in this community to patiently provide answers.

And yet, from participating and observing threads about various gender and race-related issues over the years, I'm painfully aware that it can be really frustrating, depressing and draining to have to explain _____ Issue 101 every time a subject comes up.

Is it possible to find a workable balance between helping people learn and "there's a time and place for respectful questions and perhaps this thread isn't it?" and "Don't be an asshole"?
posted by zarq at 3:49 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Sara C.: Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?

Sara C.: It's something I've thought very seriously about, and in general I find myself sort of beating myself up anytime I post in a trans* oriented thread. Not because it's wrong to ever do, but because, I don't know, am I really adding anything to the discussion?

That's the motivation for your question? You seriously posited that perhaps EVERYONE who is cis should refrain from participating in FPPs about trans* issues...because you've been thinking about the value of your participation in such threads?

What the hell is wrong with you?
posted by desuetude at 3:57 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think, though, zarq, that respectful questions aren't what derail these threads. I'm going to pick on MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch for an example again--I said "spaces please", they said "Sounds good. Can someone explain why?" and got an answer. It was other people's reaction to that answer that set things off. Sometimes someone starts off with a decent, fairly relevant question and then kills the thread by being unhappy with the answer they get, but usually it's a third party that is put out by the answer.
posted by hoyland at 3:57 PM on January 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


I'm on emotional roller-coaster trying to figure out if this should be bye or die.

I heard it as "bieee" in Alaska Thunderfuck's voice.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:03 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not in love with the trend towards closing up MeTas.

People ask for it a lot but we rarely do it unless we feel like the thread is going to turn into an out of control conflagration and.or it is Christmas day. I hear you that you think leaving them open is a community good and while we've definitely had some times when we've learned more towards closing up MeTas (when things were dicier sitewide generally) I don't think this is one of those times.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:03 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


But unfortunately, I think it's unlikely that most people who initially participate in these threads will be anything other than passingly familiar with trans issues and concerns. They may not have seen previous threads. They may never have even known someone personally who is trans. Those folks are likely to have questions, and from their perspective, those questions or assumptions might be reasonable to ask simply because the subject has come up.

I know that back when I used to comment on feminist blogs, there was an easy solution for this. Someone made a Feminism 101 website with answers to the same FAQs that came up all the time, and anytime somebody came along and was like "but really like what is wrong with jokes about rape?", we'd just be like TO THE FEMINISM 101 BLOG! and the discussion would get shut down.

I'm not sure how something like that would work for metafilter, though.
posted by Sara C. at 4:06 PM on January 10, 2014


You seriously posited that perhaps EVERYONE who is cis should refrain from participating in FPPs about trans* issues...because you've been thinking about the value of your participation in such threads?

No.

I asked.

I didn't posit shit.
posted by Sara C. at 4:07 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how something like that would work for metafilter, though.

There's been a wiki page mooted repeatedly. zarq put together the beginnings of one at some point. This issue is that people don't really have the capacity to finish it, never mind maintain it.
posted by hoyland at 4:09 PM on January 10, 2014


I posit: shit.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:10 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or, rather, I posit: sheeeeeeeeeit.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:11 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I didn't posit shit.

But you again made it all about you, so good job there.
posted by planetesimal at 4:11 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how something like that would work for metafilter, though.

the way i try to work it (which admittedly didn't work today) is when someone says, "hey i have a 101 question" i respond with "here are a few pages you could read and here's some search terms you can use."

i admit that i basically don't have a lot of patience when they want to use that to be like "well i don't agree with that link!" because, i mean, i didn't write it and it's not all the writing on the topic. that person now has the tools of education at their fingertips and if they don't want to use that but instead use it as a jumping off point for an argument i'm not really interested. if they come back and say, "i've read this and then googled this that and the other but i still have this once sticking point" i might get into it with them or i might not depending on my mood.

overall for 101 stuff in non 101 threads i do favor a sort of "here is the information elsewhere, it's not really the topic of the thread" kind of approach, especially on things generally fraught in the community.
posted by nadawi at 4:14 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I heard it as "bieee" in Alaska Thunderfuck's voice.

WRONG it was gina linetti
posted by elizardbits at 4:15 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


No I didn't I said it's a thought I've had before.

Which I only said because somebody took offense at the fact that the question was even floated.

I just... I mean??????????????

There's a really serious possibility that most trans* mefites would prefer cis mefites to stay out of it.

I absolutely didn't intend to nudge an answer in any particular direction and don't at all have feelings about it one way or the other.

Cripes.
posted by Sara C. at 4:16 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


And I think that if "posting in a thread" = "making it all about you" (which is the only analysis I can read from the assumption that me floating the question amounts to making it all about me), then that would represent really solid evidence that it is better for cis mefites to generally stay out of discussions about trans* issues.
posted by Sara C. at 4:17 PM on January 10, 2014


Juliet Banana's FPP was a good model, I thought, for how to include 101-type stuff up front when posting about trans* topics.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:19 PM on January 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


I completely see what Sara is saying – I've followed many discussions on twitter where white/cis/straight/etc people have been asked to step back, as their input on [insert topic here], typically not derived from personal lived experience, really isn't going to be super-productive in telling the participants of the conversation what they already know, and know far more intimately than someone who has a black friend might. I'm not sure that same kind of community dynamic could fly on MeFi, as this site is not the same kind of platform where communities and coalitions can use it as a space to have conversations of their own. Anyways, I certainly see what she's saying, and it's the total opposite of selfish. I just don't think the sentiment can play out in the same way here.

And I have learned so much from sitting back and listening to such conversations, I suggest giving it a shot if you, for example, haven't met a trans* person in your life, and may not know what to call them.
posted by avocet at 4:21 PM on January 10, 2014


There's a really serious possibility that most trans* mefites would prefer cis mefites to stay out of it.

When people (trans and cis) have been talking about their hopes for what might change in posts about trans issues, no one has mentioned cis people keeping their mouths shut, though. (Well, I suppose there's a theme of wishing people would know when to keep their mouths shut, but that's different.) For that reason, I'd be inclined to discount the 'cis people stay out' position as a potentially popular one.

On the other hand, you could argue that the trans people are thinking that and don't have the nerve to say it.
posted by hoyland at 4:22 PM on January 10, 2014


Also, yeah, Juliet Banana's 101 is tremendous. I wish we didn't have a need for such a boilerplate, but it is an incredibly good one.
posted by avocet at 4:23 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


hoyland: "I think, though, zarq, that respectful questions aren't what derail these threads. I'm going to pick on MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch for an example again--I said "spaces please", they said "Sounds good. Can someone explain why?" and got an answer. It was other people's reaction to that answer that set things off. Sometimes someone starts off with a decent, fairly relevant question and then kills the thread by being unhappy with the answer they get, but usually it's a third party that is put out by the answer."

hoyland, I understand. Thank you for explaining. I didn't realize that was how the threads normally degraded.

So of course, in this particular case, one of those third parties questioning the answer was someone who has brought up the subject multiple times before: corb. I actually remember seeing someone say in one of those previous threads, "I have explained this to you already."

Once it's happened several times, we're way into auto-delete territory, I think.
posted by zarq at 4:24 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't say anyone had.

I JUST ASKED.

It was seriously a 100% in good faith question with no loaded secret intent.

I didn't write, "Well then what do you want us to do, just NOT EVER PARTICIPATE??? Huh? Yeah? Is that what you want? You just want us to butt out?"

I wrote "Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?"

I asked this question in the spirit of "so should we get anchovies on our pizza or not, or would you guys rather order Chinese instead, what do folks think?"
posted by Sara C. at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


hoyland: " There's been a wiki page mooted repeatedly. zarq put together the beginnings of one at some point. This issue is that people don't really have the capacity to finish it, never mind maintain it."

I'm very sorry. I will move it to the top of my wiki to-do list, and ask for help if or when I get stuck. I think I have enough materials, I just need to figure out how to put them all together.
posted by zarq at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or maybe I misinterpreted! Heh
posted by avocet at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2014


So of course, in this particular case, one of those third parties questioning the answer was someone who has brought up the subject multiple times before: corb. I actually remember seeing someone say in one of those previous threads, "I have explained this to you already."

Once it's happened several times, we're way into auto-delete territory, I think.


At this point, I think it might be worthwhile to start adding to the FAQ lists of bullshit questions like the one divined by radio did for gender threads some months ago.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:29 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


> Also, yeah, Juliet Banana's 101 is tremendous. I wish we didn't have a need for such a boilerplate, but it is an incredibly good one.

Agreed that I wish it weren't needed, but that does seem to be one of the less-derailed trans* threads that we've had in a while. If nothing else, it pre-empts some of the lazier (and to me, at least, more annoying) derails about what language to use.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:29 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


zombieflanders, I hadn't seen that list. It's excellent. Thanks for pointing it out.
posted by zarq at 4:31 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I asked this question in the spirit of "so should we get anchovies on our pizza or not, or would you guys rather order Chinese instead, what do folks think?"

I'm afraid I don't understand the analogy here.

I'm trying to say that I don't think there's a significant feeling that there shouldn't be cis participation in threads on trans issues. Something's gone wrong if you're feeling like there's a good chance such a significant feeling might exist.

Personally, I do think the standard of cis participation in threads on trans issues could be raised--I think the standard of participation overall should be raised and the burden of doing that basically falls on cis people. Forget talk about privilege and whatnot--cis people outnumber trans people by a significant margin and are going to have to do an at least somewhat proportional amount of the heavy lifting. I don't know that there's any person in this thread, myself included, who would say with a straight face that their participation in trans-related threads has always been exemplary--some of us do better than others, but we all screw up. (There totally are people I would nominate, but I also suspect they'd go "No, no, remember that time I said something totally boneheaded or that time I went off at someone?" I said something totally boneheaded in a meeting yesterday and no one called me out--I don't know if anyone else noticed, but I did.)
posted by hoyland at 4:40 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "I wrote "Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?"

I asked this question in the spirit of "so should we get anchovies on our pizza or not, or would you guys rather order Chinese instead, what do folks think?"
"

You're asking if we should assume that an extreme option is the only acceptable one. Which, frankly, doesn't feel like a good faith question. It's not innocuous, when phrased that way.

It would be like someone asking if only African Americans should be allowed to comment in topics about African American issues.
posted by zarq at 4:41 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I mean, you're asking if an unprecedented, drastic exception should be carved out for a minority group. One which no one has asked for and that doesn't seem warranted given the circumstances. Plus, we all know it would never happen, because that's not how Metafilter works.
posted by zarq at 4:45 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


hoyland, I understand. Thank you for explaining. I didn't realize that was how the threads normally degraded.

I mean, people might disagree with me. I'm very pro-respectful questions in threads--I'll sit there and answer until the cows come home (because I apparently still have a workshop-presenting mode like seven years since I last did a workshop)--but I think there are people who think respectful questions should be gently nudged out of threads on the grounds they're derails. (Which they often are, but I tend to view them as the lesser of two evils and I'd be totally happy if we had some education going on in the middle of a bigger discussion, though we've reached that ideal in only one or two posts I can remember without someone coming in and killing the thread.)
posted by hoyland at 4:46 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid I don't understand the analogy here.

Someone upthread framed the trans* terminology issue as an analogy of what kind of pizza to order, specifically talking about "let's not get anchovies" meaning, like, let us, in this particular pizza party, not order a pizza that happens to have anchovies on it, rather than BAN ALL ANCHOVIES.

It would be like someone asking if only African Americans should be allowed to comment in topics about African American issues.

If we had repeated horrible threads about African American issues, it might be worth asking.

And, again, I asked as an actual question, not with an agenda.

The answer can be no. It's fine.
posted by Sara C. at 4:49 PM on January 10, 2014


"I really prefer the closing of threads as opposed to the WE MUST EXTRACT ALL OOZING INFECTION FROM EVERY BOIL EVERYONE SQUEEZE AGAIN"

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT RECIPES
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


it's anyway compacted earwax and cockroaches that are being extracted this week, so, no fears.
posted by Namlit at 5:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


im a straight white cis middle-class male I HAVE OPINIONS ON EVERYTHING
posted by klangklangston at 5:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Sara C.: "Should we at this point be making a blanket assumption that cis people shouldn't be participating in FPPs about trans* issues?"

Posit means "to put forth." You put forth a question. About what "we," the Metafilter community, "should" possibly assume. I was kinda flabbergasted by it.

So then, I said, "You seriously posited that perhaps EVERYONE who is cis should refrain from participating in FPPs about trans* issues...because you've been thinking about the value of your participation in such threads?"

See, I acknowledged that your suggestion was a question, not actually directly issuing a proclamation or whatever the hell you think "posit" means.
posted by desuetude at 5:03 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Preach on, cister.
posted by planetesimal at 5:04 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Someone upthread framed the trans* terminology issue as an analogy of what kind of pizza to order, specifically talking about "let's not get anchovies" meaning, like, let us, in this particular pizza party, not order a pizza that happens to have anchovies on it, rather than BAN ALL ANCHOVIES.

Aha. Caught up now. I either missed that or totally forgot.
posted by hoyland at 5:04 PM on January 10, 2014


*wipes klang's opinions off counter*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:04 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: " If we had repeated horrible threads about African American issues, it might be worth asking."

1) That's not how MeFi works. You know this.
2) It's not unreasonable for people to think that by asking something so patently unlikely you're begging the question.
posted by zarq at 5:17 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I didn't posit that we ought to do anything. I asked if we ought to.

The answer was pretty clearly No.

So, OK.

I mean we've already compared trans* discussion on MetaFilter to the Israel/Palestine awfulness, where I think there is a pretty unique agreement on the site about the way we can or can't talk about I/P stuff.

That's not how MeFi works. You know this.

No. I don't. We have all kinds of shared community standards about how to handle topics that Metafilter generally doesn't do well. In my experience we have more standards about things like that than pretty much any site on the internet.

And, again, I'm happy for the answer to my question to be "No." I didn't have an agenda in either direction.
posted by Sara C. at 5:21 PM on January 10, 2014


Sara C.: " I mean we've already compared trans* discussion on MetaFilter to the Israel/Palestine awfulness, where I think there is a pretty unique agreement on the site about the way we can or can't talk about I/P stuff. "

Yeah, the bar is set higher for I/P discussions. So people don't get to be assholes to each other in those threads, or call each other names, or Godwin every thread, or post things that are going to result in complete flamewars.

The mods have not banned an entire category of people from participating in them. The very idea is ludicrous.

Sara C.: "No. I don't. "

I find that hard to believe, but okay.

You are seriously saying that you think it in any way likely (or possible!) that the mods would enforce a blanket ban on all but self-identifying trans people from participating in threads related to transgender issues? Something that has no precedent on the site whatsoever and actually goes against the mods' repeatedly stated vision of the site (and its philosophy) of "no safe spaces" and "light-handed moderation."

You're not simply suggesting that the bar be set higher. You're suggesting that the mods literally segregate everyone who is not in a minority group from participating in those threads.
posted by zarq at 5:29 PM on January 10, 2014


Either that or I have massively misinterpreted pretty much everything I understand about the Mefi community and site moderation policies.
posted by zarq at 5:31 PM on January 10, 2014


Yeah, no, of course people who don't identify as trans* should not be, by fiat, kept from commenting in threads about trans* topics or people or etc. There's absolutely no precedent for that on this site, and there shouldn't be.

People should be mindful when they're commenting in a thread about something they don't know much about that they, you know, don't know much about it. Questions are fine - there were some folks who asked questions in the first Coy Mathis fpp and they were not burned at the stake, because their questions were not AHA GOTCHA questions, and they didn't come back to refute the answers with sudden expertise gained by skimming a Wikipedia article.

I think we would all do well to remember that some posts are really much more about *people*, and so arguing about it the way one might in a thread about open source vs. walled garden tech is really not going to go the way you think it might or should. As soon as you find yourself wanting to refute someone's actual lived experience, you should probably step back. That doesn't mean shut up, to be clear. It just means step back.
posted by rtha at 5:45 PM on January 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I took Sara C.'s question as being "Should cis people keep away from trans* related FPPs?" aimed towards the MeFi trans* community, not a "Should the moderators keep cis people out of any trans* related FPPs?", which is a little different. It would be asking for the opinion of the trans* community on MeFi, not asking for a policy precedent. Unlikely to work, but still not a 'Shall we ban all people not in x group from participating in topics relating to x group?" type of deal.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 5:48 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


You are seriously saying that you think it in any way likely (or possible!) that the mods would enforce a blanket ban on all but self-identifying trans people from participating in threads related to transgender issues? Something that has no precedent on the site whatsoever and actually goes against the mods' repeatedly stated vision of the site (and its philosophy) of "no safe spaces" and "light-handed moderation."

To be honest I hadn't thought it through that much.

Also, whatever I was envisioning if the consensus was "Yes", I didn't imagine the mods getting involved. I figured it would be more of an in-community "OK so trans* users are generally not comfortable with cis users' participation in FPPs about trans* issues." Which would be OK by me.

But, really, since I wasn't proposing any particular course of action, I hadn't given serious thought to how such a thing would play out or whether it would be "enforceable" at all.
posted by Sara C. at 5:49 PM on January 10, 2014


Yeah, no, of course people who don't identify as trans* should not be, by fiat, kept from commenting in threads about trans* topics or people or etc.

nobody by fiat should be restricted from commenting. warts and all, it is part of the mf fabric.

however, many of us wish that some of those same commenters would consider more closely what keys they are tapping their fingers on before hitting ENTER.
posted by lampshade at 5:51 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


To be honest I hadn't thought it through that much.

As someone who frequently speaks first and thinks later, I can sympathize. At the same time, the middle of what is, for many, a trying conversation is perhaps not the ideal place for a "Hey guys, I was wondering...." meander.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:58 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't have any problems with people asking respectful 101 questions in threads, as long as it's quick and doesn't become the thread. I didn't have a problem with providing the reasoning behind the space. But after we handled that (nicely!), I think I flagged one (maybe two?) of the follow-ups as off-topic, because I know what happens when we stay on that too long. So: no problem with allies who don't know about the space thing or the adjective thing, no problem fielding quick questions. But I have a HUGE PROBLEM with the fact that once we had addressed questions nicely, the entire thread almost became a repeat of recent anti-"SJW" threads. People were patting themselves on the back for being allies in their first sentence and then going on about how trans people are too focused on language (the stuff we don't even want to talk about!) or how we're laying minefields or whatever. Here are some examples of some of the made-up stuff that could only have been referencing hoyland's simple PSA note and my follow-up reasoning:


feckless fecal fear mongering
A small note about preferred terminology in a space where this is supposed to be okay = insistence on precious details. (Also feckless seems to love putting awful stuff in quotes but I mean it's still awful stuff and he isn't making any novel or useful points with it so ugh.)

Sara C.
A small note about preferred terminology = passive aggressive value judgments. Also we shouldn't give small notes about preferred terminology because nobody in thread is using hateful language and that is enough. (Yet! Just wait for it, we'll get a few slurs before this is over.)

feckless fecal fear mongering
A small note about preferred terminology = an absurd obsession with trees that I will go along with even though it's stupid because I am such a great ally.

Sara C.
"Irritating" and "snotty!" "2014's preferred orthography" like this is something brand new. (Granted, she apologized, which is great.)

jenfullmoon
A driveby pearl-clutching about how hoyland's small note about preferred terminology makes it really scary for cis people to navigate trans stuff, including ridiculous hyperbolizing of things that have not even been said.

feckless fecal fear mongering
More landmine woes and righteous self-flagellation combined with righteous self-backpatting. Plus continued claims that he totally "gets it" and is totally on our side. I know! That's great! So maybe quit freaking out about a small note about preferred terminology!

taz
I admit I was really disappointed with taz's assessment that people were taking offense "on all sides." None of the trans people in the thread (I feel pretty confident speaking for them, but they are free to correct me) were taking offense with the terms being used. We just provided a small note about what we prefer. taz's post really made me feel like the narrative that hoyland's small note and my small addition constituted reactionary histrionics was the prevalent view of the thread, which is just so ridiculous. What we were taking offense to was the weird pushback that tiny note elicited.

feckless fecal fear mongering
More patronizing nonsense about how feckless is on the high ground trying to help the poor trans people who are worrying too much about semantics (again - this "worry" is really just hoyland's small note and my small addition), with the bonus of wanting to talk about slurs. (I do thank taz for stopping that.)

feckless fecal fear mongering
More of the patronizing stuff, more trans-people-are-too-hung-up-on-words-and-I-am-trying-to-save-them plus the self-righteous backpatting, plus a new discussion of a different slur which is apparently "not fucking okay at all anywhere ever" (unlike the other one).


Sorry for the specific callouts. I'm just really miffed at the reception to a really innocuous terminology pro-tip. To repeat: no problems with quick questions or forgetting a space. Big problems with stuff like that, and especially with a mod buying in to the "trans people taking offense" fiction that the cis posters were spreading.
posted by Corinth at 6:23 PM on January 10, 2014 [18 favorites]


I read Sara C.'s comment as struggling with the mutual pulls of wanting to be supportive but also knowing that well-meaning allies can also go wrong (coupled with the clueless questions, aggressive ignorance, and linguistic nitpicking that seem to characterize trans* themed threads lately). Maybe I'm wrong.

More importantly, though, I am dismayed by the weary voices of trans* people in this thread. There are at least a few regular posters whose opinions and insights I value who sound ready to give it up because every time their existence comes up, a fairly small number of members get to turn the thread into a referendum on whether trans* people really exist and whether/how far they get to define themselves. And that really pisses me off, partly because hectoring and bullying is really nasty and partly because there are a lot of conversations we could be having rather than grinding our way through the same polluted terrain, again.

Could we try to make 2014 The Year MetaFilter Started to Not Suck Completely on Trans* Issues?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:23 PM on January 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


Corinth: "I admit I was really disappointed with taz's assessment that people were taking offense "on all sides." None of the trans people in the thread (I feel pretty confident speaking for them, but they are free to correct me) were taking offense with the terms being used. We just provided a small note about what we prefer. taz's post really made me feel like the narrative that hoyland's small note and my small addition constituted reactionary histrionics was the prevalent view of the thread, which is just so ridiculous. What we were taking offense to was the weird pushback that tiny note elicited."

I have to admit it bums me out that what's clearly and obviously an attack on my personhood and on my gender to me doesn't apparently read that way to the mods a lot of the time? So it feels like I am perpetually dialling back the appropriate anger in any response I might make because calling someone a jerk is more visible to cis people than calmly and civilly (but repeatedly) attacking the underpinnings of my identity on the basis of playing devil's advocate or exploring all the options.

One of the reasons I don't post much here any more.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:32 PM on January 10, 2014 [27 favorites]


Please keep posting here, ArmyOfKittens. You're good people.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:34 PM on January 10, 2014 [46 favorites]


Yeah like many have said AOK or anyone else certainly does not HAVE to do any sort of education, but I personally have learned a lot through Army of Kittens' comments that I would not have learned anywhere else. I remember a table full of people screaming at me about this stuff once, when I felt like I was just talking about how I felt. I also felt like I was probably wrong, but just didn't know enough.
posted by sweetkid at 6:47 PM on January 10, 2014


I have no particular desire to be involved in this particular subject or type of thread...but I have to ask..it really is that big a deal whether or not one leaves a space or not with that particular term? Can someone point me to an explanation on here or elsewhere? I'm seriously curious.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:47 PM on January 10, 2014


St. Alia, that subject is covered above and in the linked thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:49 PM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


read the thread?
posted by Drinky Die at 6:49 PM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Personally, I'm getting quite fond of "air wave farts" and may start using it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


RAHHH WHY U ASK QUESTION THAT IS ENTIRE THREAD FOR INFORMATIONS OF

NO DO THIS THING IT BAD

READ THRED WE WAIT HERE
posted by elizardbits at 6:50 PM on January 10, 2014 [52 favorites]


Here's one comment with a brief explanation and links, this is just the first comment I found but there are many others if you read this thread, the linked thread, or one of the previous threads on this topic.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:51 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have no particular desire to be involved in this particular subject or type of thread...but I have to ask..it really is that big a deal whether or not one leaves a space or not with that particular term? Can someone point me to an explanation on here or elsewhere? I'm seriously curious.

You are not serious, your entire comment is disingenuous.
posted by OmieWise at 6:57 PM on January 10, 2014 [27 favorites]


I have no particular desire to be involved in this particular subject or type of thread...but I have to ask..it really is that big a deal whether or not one leaves a space or not with that particular term? Can someone point me to an explanation on here or elsewhere? I'm seriously curious.

Come on. Please.
posted by rtha at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


Or just lazy, no need to presume motivation even if the hunch is strong.
posted by planetesimal at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]



I have no particular desire to be involved in this particular subject or type of thread...but I have to ask..it really is that big a deal whether or not one leaves a space or not with that particular term? Can someone point me to an explanation on here or elsewhere? I'm seriously curious.


This comment is seriously silly.
posted by sweetkid at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


So yeah, that's what every trans thread feels like to the trans folks who have to answer the same questions or refute the same things over and over again.
posted by yeoz at 7:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [34 favorites]


That was indeed a bullshit comment, but it illustrates the pile-on issue: you don't all need to line up to point out what a bullshit comment it was.
posted by cribcage at 7:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Or just lazy, no need to presume motivation even if the hunch is strong .

No. St. Alia has serious history on queer issues.
posted by OmieWise at 7:02 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


planetesimal: "Or just lazy, no need to presume motivation even if the hunch is strong ."

I think even mere laziness suggests bad faith. This MeTa is obviously a discussion of a complex, nuanced issue. Coming in starting off with "I have no particular desire to be involved in this particular subject" and then using "is it really that big a deal" does not come off as a good faith question, and if you really are just curious and not trying to do be hostile, you kind of have a duty to read the thread to see if your question's been answered, as it has many times.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:03 PM on January 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


Eh, people are strange. Drop a link to the explanation and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:03 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just to head off a further derail here, we've asked St Alia to leave queer topics alone, and she has for a long time, so let's not get into a thing about her views please. She asked a question and it was answered, fine.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:06 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


That was indeed a bullshit comment, but it illustrates the pile-on issue: you don't all need to line up to point out what a bullshit comment it was.

Until we implement some sort of ticket system, I don't really see an effective way to actually prevent this. From the inside, most "pile-ons" are individuals exercising their individual freedom to comment. But that is a discussion for a different Metatalk (and one we've had many times before).
posted by muddgirl at 7:30 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


(I mean honestly, no one is "lining up" to comment. That's why "pile-ons" occur in the first place.)
posted by muddgirl at 7:31 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


She wouldn't have needed to even ask the question if she'd slightly more than skimmed this thread, and certainly not if she'd clicked through to the fpp. She's not a n00b and she knows how this place works - especially this meTa place.

As a comment, it really does perfectly encapsulate what happens in so many threads that touch on trans* people and topics, as yeoz said. That's really discouraging.
posted by rtha at 7:32 PM on January 10, 2014 [26 favorites]


It seemed like she wanted to make a point of having no "particular desire to be involved in this particular subject."

It was totally disingenuous and pissed me off so I wanted to respond.
posted by sweetkid at 7:58 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


We're having the same problem now with fights about trans identity. Moderation needs to be a hell of a lot tighter here too. If you go "Oh hey, it looks like you're talking about a trans person, let's talk about XYZ instead" — where XYZ ranges over "Whether trans women are real women," "Whether I should use people's preferred terminology," "Whether 'social justice warriors' are all assholes," and probably a lot of other stuff I'm not thinking about — your shit needs to get deleted. Right away.
I am sincerely hoping this won't be offensive to anyone:

I think tighter moderation might be wiser, but am not sure that aggressive deletions are the answer. If you're talking about the same people grinding the same axes from thread to thread and refusing to listen to the requests of our transgender members, then yes, I think that sort of disruptive behavior should be deleted.

But unfortunately, I think it's unlikely that most people who initially participate in these threads will be anything other than passingly familiar with trans issues and concerns. They may not have seen previous threads. They may never have even known someone personally who is trans. Those folks are likely to have questions, and from their perspective, those questions or assumptions might be reasonable to ask simply because the subject has come up. We all know they're sure as hell not getting answers from the mainstream media, or from 99% of fictional depictions of trans men and women. So people are probably going to say things out of ignorance, too.


I am perfectly okay with people asking questions. I do not want to see good-faith questions deleted, and I'm happy to be pretty generous in assuming good faith. If someone wants to know what terms I prefer, they should feel free to ask. If someone wants to know something else about what being trans is all about, they should feel free to ask. None of that needs to be deleted.

Here's what needs not to happen:

[In a hypothetical thread about how utterly fucking awesome Merrit Kopas is...]
Cis User #1: Wait, so this is a bit off topic, but you prefer to be called a transwoman?
Trans User: Actually I prefer the spelling "trans woman."
Cis User #2: I disagree! / You're being unreasonable! / You can't just dictate usage like that! / You're going to alienate people if you keep being that demanding! / But my one friend doesn't spell it that way so one of you must be wrong!

In this scenario, I'm proposing that C.U. #2's comment be deleted as a derail. I'm proposing this because, as I see it, the only alternatives are
  • Forbid honest questions like C.U. #1's — which, as you point out, would be a terrible mistake.
  • Forbid trans people from answering those questions — also clearly a mistake.
  • Perpetuate the current double bind, in which we're encouraged to answer questions, but then consistently find ourselves at the center of a shitstorm whenever we do so.
posted by this is a thing at 7:59 PM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


As someone who frequently speaks first and thinks later, I can sympathize.

No, no, no. Again you guys are deeply misunderstanding.

When I asked the "should cis mefites participate" question, I wasn't proposing any particular course of action. It's not that I hit enter before I really thought about it.

It's that I wasn't asking the question with any particular answer in mind. I didn't sit around formulating a moderation strategy for keeping all trans* threads a safe space and then float a pretend question with a specific answer in mind. I just ASKED A QUESTION.

And got an answer, from the very people I was asking it of.

So it's not that I didn't think through my proposal that cis people never comment on trans* FPPs, it's that I NEVER PROPOSED THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE GAAAAAHHHHHHH SERIOUSLY.
posted by Sara C. at 8:39 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C. it might be time for you to step away from this particular back and forth for a bit or at least try to keep the allcapsing to a minimum? I get that you are frustrated and feel misunderstood but the hollering about this somewhat minute issue is sort of obscuring the larger discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:45 PM on January 10, 2014 [27 favorites]


Thank you, Lobstermitten, that post explained it.

As for the pile on, give me a break. I am tired, I had a loong day at work, I am not in the mood to read or be involved with a contentious thread where if you put the slightest foot wrong you get blasted, and I just wanted to know why on earth anyone would get offended at a space. The comment Lobstermitten posted answered the question for me, I get it, I understand now and I appreciate it.

But as a general thing-not just this topic, but any particularly sensitive one-I think these threads would go so much better if people would dial back the grar and quit imputing motives to people. I had a question, someone answered it, thank you, the end.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:46 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


More importantly, though, I am dismayed by the weary voices of trans* people in this thread. There are at least a few regular posters whose opinions and insights I value who sound ready to give it up

Yes, this really dismays me, too. I have learned more about trans issues on Metafilter than probably anywhere else in my life, and I really respect and appreciate the Mefites who have the patience, grace, and persistence to keep answering questions and educating people on these issues.

For anyone who feels like they need to take a break from this, because it just gets to be Too Damn Much, I totally understand... but I hope you know that there are many folks here who really value your participation, and who hope you stick around (or who will be happy to welcome you back after you take a break!).
posted by scody at 8:47 PM on January 10, 2014 [46 favorites]


a contentious thread where if you put the slightest foot wrong you get blasted, and I just wanted to know why on earth anyone would get offended at a space

Both of these things continue to not happen.
posted by Corinth at 8:48 PM on January 10, 2014 [32 favorites]


I am tired, I had a loong day at work, I am not in the mood to read or be involved with a contentious thread where if you put the slightest foot wrong you get blasted, and I just wanted to know why on earth anyone would get offended at a space.

I'm glad you got the answer you wanted, but in all honesty, I fail to see why it would be so hard for you to even skim the thread instead of scrolling all the way down to the end of it to post a comment about how you could care less about the subject of the thread and that you're in no way interested in participating, but you still really need to know what got people all riled up. I feel like, if you want to call people out and tell them to "dial back the grar", you need to not contribute to it. Try harder. You're not the only one here who had a long day and is tired.
posted by palomar at 8:52 PM on January 10, 2014 [54 favorites]


I am tired, I had a loong day at work, I am not in the mood to read or be involved with a contentious thread where if you put the slightest foot wrong you get blasted

No one is required to participate in any thread (except mods). No one checks your name off an attendance list.
posted by sweetkid at 8:54 PM on January 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


I think these threads would go so much better if people would dial back the grar and quit imputing motives to people.

I think these threads would go so much better if you did not participate in them.
posted by grouse at 8:55 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I am not in the mood to read or be involved with a contentious thread

Honestly, then, why did you get involved? I'm not meaning to pile on, but I don't understand why you wouldn't just bookmark and read later, skim, ignore, read some and not post, etc. There were lots of options available.
posted by smoke at 9:04 PM on January 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


And I have learned so much from sitting back and listening to such conversations

Me too, and it's one reason I am so glad we have threads like the one on the Blue, even though it led to this MetaTalk. I read that thread through without commenting because I enjoyed the interview and the conversation in the thread (well, right up until it became all about terminology). Those two women are gorgeous and amazing under pressure and somebody needs to tell Katie Couric we are not all as obsessed with genitals as she apparently is (fun fact; I have actually met Katie Couric, and she is indeed very short--no way she is 5'4" unless she is wearing 3 inch heels).

ArmyofKittens, and anyone else who is also tired of threads about transgender men or women constantly devolving and MetaTalks forever spawning, I am so sorry you have to deal with that happening over and over. Please know, though, that some of us are learning to shut up and listen to what you all have to say instead of continuously fussing about the way someone is saying it (does that make sense? Hope so).

TL; DR: I am really glad you're here, and I hope we don't screw that up.
posted by misha at 9:08 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Honestly, then, why did you get involved? I'm not meaning to pile on, but I don't understand why you wouldn't just bookmark and read later, skim, ignore, read some and not post, etc. There were lots of options available.

Oh, this is classic old school St. Alia/previous usernames, where she drops a disingenuous bomb in a thread and then shows up later to lecture everyone on proper civility and complain about being victimized by other site members. It's been a while!
posted by lalex at 9:11 PM on January 10, 2014 [40 favorites]


Grouse, the whole point is I DIDN'T want to participate in this thread, but look, I learned something today and at some point in my life it might come in handy so I don't hurt someone's feelings unnecessarily. Which, isn't this the whole point of the discussion, discussing how to be respectful of people's feelings? Which is why from my perspective all the grar in this thread is totally inappropriate. You may not agree with me, but I think I have a point.

At this point I am deciding not to care if someone thinks this is disingenuous. I don't think it is, I think I simply wanted information. People are free to think whatever they would like. And I am not going to let a misplaced fear of other's opinions stop me from asking a question if I have one. I live in a world with all kinds of people, to include trans people, and if putting a gap in a word shows respect, I will do that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:15 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


See?
posted by lalex at 9:19 PM on January 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


Considering the matter before us, I think it's safe to say that Sun Ra's famous quote applies: space is the place.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:19 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I sort of like the idea of a MetaFilter where all information has to for no apparent reason be mediated through other users

"HEY GUYS CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT'S CONTAINED IN THE OP?? JUST CURIOUS THX"
posted by threeants at 9:19 PM on January 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


Amazing. And more than a little gross.
posted by palomar at 9:20 PM on January 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


One thing that was particularly frustrating in the FPP was some people saying that trans people should focus on more important things than terminology and "pick their battles". It's patronizing to dictate to other people what's truly important to them. Do you really honestly think that trans people participating in that thread have given zero thought to which of the many, constant examples of transphobia that occur daily are most worth discussing in the thread? And even if trans people and allies did decide to discuss every trivial thing, this is the internet, where we have infinite space and time. We don't have to pick our battles. We can have all the battles.
posted by medusa at 9:30 PM on January 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Ok, I take back my charitable read of St. Alia's comment. Dude, read the thread and don't make inane excuses.

Now say "I will read the thread from now on rather than asking people to spoonfeed me information that is plainly posted for everyone to review prior to participation" three times, and then live it.
posted by planetesimal at 9:32 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Grouse, the whole point is I DIDN'T want to participate in this thread

Oh, please, no one has a gun to your head. You could have just read the thread and absorbed the many articulate and thorough answers to your "question". Instead you decided to make a disingenuous comment.
posted by lalex at 9:46 PM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hey guys. The thing that trans people have been complaining about? Where every conversation about us is overwhelmed by a screaming fight, and it's exhausting and demoralizing and we can't take it any more?

You are doing it again right now.

Yes, St. Alia started it. But if you're drowning out the discussion of trans issues that we're patiently trying to have, just because it's more fun to have yet another round of the ongoing shouting match you've been having with her since 2005, then you're not exactly part of the solution either.
posted by this is a thing at 9:48 PM on January 10, 2014 [43 favorites]


No, St. Alia, you're still missing the point. By posting your question, you ARE participating, as obnoxiously as possible.

If you really and truly, simply and only, wanted to get an answer to your question, you could have read this thread, or the original linked thread. You could have MeMailed someone you know, or used MetaChat or any of the other outlets you're very familiar with. Should any of those options have failed you in some way, I'm sure the long-suffering mods would have responded to your request via contact form. And there's always Google.

You did none of those things, and you announced that you had no intention of doing so, because... why? Lots of people have loong days at work.

That is rude. Rude and bossy, on the order of barging into a Southern Baptist wedding reception and demanding that someone explain to you why they're not serving alcohol. The question is both fundamental and beside the point.

So now you've gotten an answer you're happy with, and you're willing to press the space bar when appropriate. Go, you.
posted by dogrose at 9:49 PM on January 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


But if you're drowning out the discussion of trans issues that we're patiently trying to have, just because it's more fun to have yet another round of the ongoing shouting match you've been having with her since 2005, then you're not exactly part of the solution either.

That's quite fair, and I apologize. Stepping out now.
posted by lalex at 9:49 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, medusa. We weren't even saying that the terminology stuff was super critical or anything, we just mentioned it. Like, that's it. We mentioned it. But mentioning it was apparently focusing on terminology too much and to the exclusion of all the more important stuff we're supposed to be focusing on instead and so it wasn't just patronizing it was completely baffling because all we did was mention it once and give a one-sentence follow-up.

The space between trans and person isn't even "truly important" to me - there are way bigger trans-related things that I have to worry about on a daily basis! But people were pretty sure that because we spent an initial three sentences on pointing it out that our priorities were all wrong and this was some kind of grievous tactical error and a self-inflicted wound to the movement.
posted by Corinth at 9:50 PM on January 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


You are doing it again right now.

You're right. I apologize and I'll keep this in mind.
posted by dogrose at 9:57 PM on January 10, 2014


What's the point of this? That trans people on mefi having preferences gets to serve as the backdrop for cis people to trot out some self-absorbed defensive narrative? That is wholesale transphobia, full stop, end of story, deal with it.

Cis People of metafilter, you do this over and over and it is tiresome. Cut it the fuck out. Mods: use your brains better and nip this shit in the bud please. I'm done being nice to a bunch of internet non-friends while simultaneously dealing with my wife screaming at me that's she's not transphobic for pulling the same shit on me that you all do. You all have a part in moderating yourselves into better people, and every.single.time. a trans person stands up for themselves there's a cis person waiting to get offended.

I'll gladly entertain questions about my girlpenis if that would negate this cycle.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:26 PM on January 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


Minor suggestion: when answering basic trans (or feminism or whatever) questions include "101" in the comment. That way it'll allow people to simply type "just search for '101'" without having to make a thread all about repeating the basic info or having newcomers search large threads. WIN WIN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:33 PM on January 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Brandon: that's an interesting method of folksonomy categorization. Kind of a localized Google bomb, if you will. Have we done that before? I wonder what others think about that.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:37 PM on January 10, 2014


Don't think, but the overriding problem has been around for a while. Might be generally helpful to the point where someone could make such a comment early in any complicated thread. Something like "hey, for those looking for basic info on this subject, check out this 101 link"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"For anyone who feels like they need to take a break from this, because it just gets to be Too Damn Much, I totally understand... but I hope you know that there are many folks here who really value your participation, and who hope you stick around (or who will be happy to welcome you back after you take a break!)."

I want to say this differently, or something different.

While it's certainly true that I (and many others) have learned an enormous amount about trans* issues and have greatly increased sensitivity about them because of all the difficult participation of trans* folk here, what I care about more is that I and the rest of MeFi be a place where trans* folk can be welcome, comfortable, listened to, and respected when, in contrast, within the larger society this is so sadly rarely the case.

I mean, we've made a good start on changing MeFi into a place that's more comfortable for trans* people, it's happened because of the difficult participation of the trans* folk here, and your continued presence will continue to help make it a better place.

I want trans* folk to stick around for yourselves, because you've been working at making MeFi a better place, there's many of us who want to be partners in this endeavor, and I think that if we continue we can really make a big change. I watched it happen with sexism stuff and mefite women, it can happen with trans* issues and trans* mefites.

So please stay! Not primarily for the rest of us — it's not your job to educate us (though I'm deeply grateful that you have). But for yourselves, because you've made a start on making this a better place and I deeply and wholeheartedly promise that you have eager and hardworking partners here who want to continue this project. This can be a good, comfortable place for you, at least relative to the rest of the internet.

Also, speaking selfishly, an unusually large portion of trans* mefites are people I really, really like.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:27 PM on January 10, 2014 [33 favorites]


I'm beginning to think the need for some members isn't to actually stir shit up in a blue thread, but to see how many other users they can get to comment in a gray thread with some form of "look, I know you. You're a good person. You are so sensitive in some ways, but in this way I don't get it". It's some weird combination of attention seeking and praise and it is gross.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:35 PM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


To trot out a MeFi cliché, the majority of us know well by now that "your favourite band sucks"-type comments criticizing matters of taste, frequently written from a place of unfamiliarity or ignorance with the creator's works, are typically deleted pretty quickly. Why aren't the comments that come from a similar place in trans* threads, which tend to be threadshitty or transphobic or both, similarly moderated? Sure, it's more challenging (if impossible) to offer a flippant critique of a cultural work while claiming it came from a place of good faith. However, as we have seen in both of these threads (and many others), the comments contributed by users who may not have as much experience with trans* folk – while framing it that way and claiming to act in good faith – have had damaging results. If crappy cultural criticism gets nixed, why not comments that work to negate the identities of others? I don't really think "good faith" is an appropriate bar anymore – especially after the last chunk of comments in this thread.

When I was first getting into learning more about social justice issues online, some of my education came through feminist blogs with stringent comment policies (I no longer read them as I came to realize how problematic some of these publications were, but that's another story). Anyways, in threads regarding trans* issues, racism, disability, etc. – basically, anywhere where the diverse lived experiences of marginalized communities ended up being a focus – the bar for deletion was set higher, and comments that acted to negate these experiences offered up tended to be deleted, even if they were supposedly coming from a place of good faith. To me, these deletions said "Sit back. Listen. Do better." That kind of moderation was tremendously powerful in my process of learning about what kind of issues people in marginalized communities face, as well as giving me a sense of how the intersections of oppression faced by individuals impacted their daily lives.

Of course, that requires a great amount of trust in the mod team – one of the reasons I stopped reading one of these sites is when voices that really should have been participating in these discussions were kept out by one of the tone-policing mods whose politics were pretty entrenched in whiteness. I know what I am saying here likely wouldn't fly on MeFi, as it would lead to a ton of "why did you delete my good-faith comment" questions and MeTas like this one, but I'd love to see a stance against tolerating such dehumanizing remarks against really incredible members of our community.

Sit back, listen, do better. Please?
posted by avocet at 12:07 AM on January 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Sorry, don't mean to imply that all comments from people who may not know any trans* folks get nixed, because it seems like some people who fit into that category are doing a fine job of not being offensive, just by listening!
posted by avocet at 12:12 AM on January 11, 2014


If crappy cultural criticism gets nixed, why not comments that work to negate the identities of others?

This, but the collorary of this is that, like this is a thing says above, we cis folk should be better at not engaging known thread shitters and flag more. It's pointless to delete a fighty comment if we've already taken the bait.

And the onus for this should be on cis folk, because there's always the temptation of showing your support by engaging known arseholes without realising you're helping them reach their goal of making any trans* thread a fight thread. If only because it's easy.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:34 AM on January 11, 2014 [15 favorites]


I think it's safe to say that Sun Ra's famous quote applies: space is the place.

Fun fact all humans are cis lunar.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:36 AM on January 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yup, you are absolutely right, MartinWisse. I don't comment much, but I spend ungodly amounts of time reading the site (like right now! Can't sleep!) and frequently forget to flag. Sometimes it is much too late for the cleanup, but thanks for the reminder.
posted by avocet at 12:43 AM on January 11, 2014


I'm beginning to think the need for some members isn't to actually stir shit up in a blue thread, but to see how many other users they can get to comment in a gray thread...

Speaking solely for myself, I find my happiness with the site and its community increases when I assume good faith with respect to individuals, even in cases where it may be challenging or unwarranted.

It certainly doesn't hurt, I don't think.
posted by smoke at 12:57 AM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yes, early flagging absolutely helps, and about "If crappy cultural criticism gets nixed, why not comments that work to negate the identities of others?" Well, this is certainly the goal, but these are not analog situations (and we delete way more from trans threads than cultural topics already) and not everyone agrees about where the goalposts are positioned for every comment, so the purpose of discussion here is to a) find some community consensus as much as possible, and b) establish our baseline information so that the next time problem topic "X" is raised, we can say, as we have in the past, something like, "we're not going to have another derail about 'cis'; go read this comment, this Metatalk thread, this Wiki entry to get your background on the word/usage you are bringing up, because this has been well-covered on the site." Likewise with assertions of biology = "real" man/woman, and misgendering.

So, it's good to work through the questions that regularly arise, but it's also painful, and for a lot of people participating it can be incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. The problem will always be that a good number of people participating in any sensitive or difficult thread will have a more developed understanding of the subject, and will also have either read or been directly involved in most previous discussions of that topic on the site, so for them each new discussion is an extension of earlier threads to some degree, while some other people will be entering the conversation for the first time, often without much background at all.

This means that in terms of moderation, we need to be able to offer some latitude for people who are making an effort to participate in good faith, but we can also refer them to previous discussion to get up to speed on something they find puzzling. Judging whether someone is participating in good faith is a dicier affair, obviously. If people have been involved in earlier discussions and bring up the same derailing behavior they have demonstrated consistently, it's more obviously delete than someone who stumbles around a bit because they are unaware of some 101 concepts.

I think it's going to be more helpful to consider moderation in regard to trans threads in relation to moderation for sexism/feminism threads, because guidelines and conventions will end up looking similar, I think. It took time and community discussion for those standards to evolve, and as much as it would be a relief for all of us to have a sort of easier/faster set of standards we can apply that are consistent with the site culture and that folks can understand and absorb, this is pretty much how the sausage is made, right here in Metatalk.

So, in terms of going forward, I feel like we can point out specific helpful comments when the question of the trans person "space" comes up, and this Metatalk, or the Wiki, and ask people not to derail with more of that. We won't delete comments that don't conform to that preference (nor have we been asked to), but if it seems that people are specifically tweaking noses with their usage in a trolling way, we'll be likely to delete and have a word with them.

Regarding the problem with expressions of "my feelings are hurt / you are unkind because you offered a correction to my usage," I feel I should have deleted that and asked people to bring it to Metatalk to hash out instead, because it was focusing on the person instead of the topic, and rolled into a big derail. I'm not even sure why I didn't, except that it wasn't flagged, and happened about four minutes after I came on shift, during the time when I was still getting up to speed on all that had happened (my) overnight sitewide, checking the mail and reading different threads to catch up with what was happening. I typically hesitate to delete a bunch of comments that have gone off on a tangent, hoping to re-route instead, but that was the wrong decision.

Finally, I agree that "my friend who is _______ disagrees with you _____ people who are discussing this here" needs to not be a thing. It's okay to ask about something because the friend has told you / taught you something different, or even just offer the info neutrally, but we need to not have proxy debates between people who are actual participating members here, and the second-hand reported opinion of someone's feminist / woman / black / trans friend.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:36 AM on January 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


But, really, since I wasn't proposing any particular course of action, I hadn't given serious thought to how such a thing would play out or whether it would be "enforceable" at all.

O.K.

The way you phrased it, it seemed apparent that you were positing a specific course of action. I sympathize if that wasn't your intention, because lord knows I'm not always the best communicator myself.
posted by zarq at 5:46 AM on January 11, 2014


Well, this is certainly the goal, but these are not analog situations (and we delete way more from trans threads than cultural topics already) and not everyone agrees about where the goalposts are positioned for every comment

I think people understand that not everyone agrees where the goalposts are, but I'm not sure that there are many people who get put through the wringer in these threads time and time again who think the goalposts are anywhere near where current moderation policy seems to place them. No one's going to moan about killing the cis derail with fire. Or repeated misgendering as automatic deletion.

Likewise with assertions of biology = "real" man/woman, and misgendering.

The "biology = 'real' man/woman' shit is pervasive in threads about sports particularly and doesn't get deleted. Why? Because it doesn't show up as 'TRANS WOMEN ARE REALLY MEN!!!@!!@!!', it shows up as 'I think we need to seriously consider whether the participation of trans women is fair to women'. See what that's doing? That's declaring trans women not women. That's the stuff that doesn't get deleted, often at all, never mind consistently, where instead trans people risk get told to stop arguing when they're defending their existence.

I think 'kill transmisogyny with fire' ought to be the moderation policy. Personally, I'd settle for 'noticing transmisogyny at least once in a while' or 'stopping to think about why this comment trans folks are really upset about might be deeply offensive even if it isn't riddled with slurs'.
posted by hoyland at 6:12 AM on January 11, 2014 [38 favorites]


If y'all wanna come over to my house tonight, we can hash this all out over some cocktails and air wave farts.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:31 AM on January 11, 2014


hoyland: "The "biology = 'real' man/woman' shit is pervasive in threads about sports particularly and doesn't get deleted. Why? Because it doesn't show up as 'TRANS WOMEN ARE REALLY MEN!!!@!!@!!', it shows up as 'I think we need to seriously consider whether the participation of trans women is fair to women'. See what that's doing? That's declaring trans women not women. That's the stuff that doesn't get deleted, often at all, never mind consistently, where instead trans people risk get told to stop arguing when they're defending their existence."

This exactly. I was astonished, infuriated, and depressed by which comments stood and which were deleted in that thread, and very nearly hit the button right there and then.

The overall effect on me was as if a bunch of people I'd rather respected for many years turned out to have considered me a fraud all along.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:37 AM on January 11, 2014 [25 favorites]


Hey guys. The thing that trans people have been complaining about? Where every conversation about us is overwhelmed by a screaming fight, and it's exhausting and demoralizing and we can't take it any more?

I think the usual advice to read to the end before commenting is also important when dealing with crappy comments. There is a natural urge to a blistering response, but no thread needs more than a couple in most cases. In the first few moments, simultaneous responses are unavoidable, but after that I try to flag and/or favorite rather than adding my 2 cents (unless there is a useful unaddressed angle), with the hopes of getting the thread back on a useful track. Don't know if I'm good at it, but....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:52 AM on January 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


…..sort of off topic while sort of on topic…..

sometimes these mt threads make me crazy and this one has all the hallmarks of a "make me crazy" thread, but I have learned some really good stuff this time round.

just sayin’....
thanks....
that is all....
posted by lampshade at 7:05 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


"There is a natural urge to a blistering response, but no thread needs more than a couple in most cases. In the first few moments, simultaneous responses are unavoidable, but after that I try to flag and/or favorite rather than adding my 2 cents..."

I just had an experience where this worked, providing me with some positive feedback to get me over my aversion to flagging.

There'd been a really provocative comment posted in a thread and it hugely pissed me off, but as I considered it, I noted that ten minutes had gone by and no one had responded but also it hadn't been deleted, and then I thought, well, maybe through some miracle everyone will ignore it, and then I thought, nah, it's too provocative for that to happen, and so then I thought, okay, I'll flag it and maybe it still might be deleted.

And it was!

The thing is, if me and presumably other people who were pissed-off about it had responded the way we were inclined to respond to it, then those comments would have been there, other people might have responded to those, and it would have made it less likely that the mods would delete it, and much more likely that the thread would turn into being all about the provocative things that this one person had written. But that didn't happen, the comment was deleted, and for now, at least, an unpleasant shitstorm was averted.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:28 AM on January 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Fun fact all humans are cis lunar.

Sure, way to marginalize the lycanthropes.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:42 AM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's a good point about not responding to a thread until you have read all the comments. I was busy at work yesterday and saw the thread developing, but asked myself if I just wanted to drop a drive by comment in or wait until I had time to read properly.

I really hope our trans membership sticks around. I've learnt more from their contributions here on MetaFilter than anywhere else. By building our understanding here on the site, it informs our actions and behaviours IRL, and in turn this informs the understanding of those around us. Progress is being made, in fits and starts at times, but progress nonetheless.

Thank you all, and hugs to everyone.
posted by arcticseal at 8:10 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think Brandon Blatcher's idea rocks, and I hope we can implement it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:41 AM on January 11, 2014


Going waaaay back:

I'm pretty sure getting comments deleted is less like a friend saying " Dude, be cool," and more like a friend putting a hand over your mouth in public.

I think it might feel like that, but that's not the same as it being like that. Generally, when I've had a comment deleted, it's usually because I've been getting too far into it with someone whose attitude or behavior is in my opinion problematic (which is a nice way of saying fucked up), but not expressed in a way that triggers immediate mod intervention. That's generally a useful heads-up, in the "wrestling a pig" sense. So, you know, it's useful for me not to think of that as a judgment on me personally, but rather on the needs of the thread. It's a process with which issue can be taken, but I understand the mechanics.

That said, it does seem to me that this is a thing makes a good point here. Maybe this is the last time corb derails a thread on a trans issue, and if that is the case that's a good thing. However, more broadly it does seem like there is a regular derail pattern on trans threads, and it involves misgendering or some other form of (intentional or unintentional) misuse of language in a way that is experienced by trans people as an attack, followed by a whole lot of "but why"s - "but why should I avoid this usage?", "but why are trans people so mean to me when I make a simple mistake", "but why are people who need support alienating allies like me by correcting their spacing?".

And so on.

If we're lucky, we end up here, and if were unlucky the thread is totally killed and we end up here. And, it seems from first-hand accounts, trans people on Metafilter experience that as painful, tedious and an argument against visiting or participating in Metafilter. Which kind of sucks.

I wasn't around for the events this is a thing described, so I can't speak to the accuracy of the recollection, but if there is a precedent for repetitive and unrelated derails on side issues to be moderated out, is there a reason why this wouldn't work in this context?
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:05 AM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think Brandon Blatcher's idea rocks, and I hope we can implement it.

I think Brandon's idea is a little condescending and exclusionary.

It reminds me of the "Have you even bothered to read the FAQ? I don't see how you can hope to be a productive member of alt.gothic if you haven't even read the FAQ poseur! Every vampire song ever recorded is mentioned there. The one you are looking for is by Tones on Tail. Come back when you're ready to abide by community standards!" days.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2014


I'd like to articulate a "me, too" to scody's comment about how valuable the voices of trans people (and others) are around here. I don't know that I know no-one who is transgendered. If I have an acquaintance or colleague who is, I do not know them well enough to be aware that they are transitioning or have transitioned or would like to transition. So the issues, the experiences, the needs and the casual insults of daily life for transgendered (transgender? i don't actually know) people are very vague to me. Reading about them here has been the best incidental education I've seen about it. Like the comment phunnimee linked above about how removing the space between "trans" and "woman" changes the phrase from a neutral description to a dehumanizing slur. It would never have occurred to me, despite how obvious it seems once it's described.

It would be a real loss to this community if we drove our trans members away.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:16 AM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


cjorgensen: " It reminds me of the "Have you even bothered to read the FAQ? I don't see how you can hope to be a productive member of alt.gothic if you haven't even read the FAQ poseur! Every vampire song ever recorded is mentioned there. The one you are looking for is by Tones on Tail. Come back when you're ready to abide by community standards!" days."

FAQs exist because some Qs are FA. Pointing people to a curated rundown of some of the more repetitive questions that clog up discussions has been a boon to every online community I've ever participated in since my 1200 baud dialup BBS days.

Yes, it can be upsetting to be told that the answer to the question you just asked was right under your nose, but it doesn't have to be done in a snarky, "Read The Fucking FAQ" way. Just because some people are jerks when they point to a FAQ doesn't mean that the existence of a FAQ turns people into jerks.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:21 AM on January 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


Problem Exists Between The Inaccurate But Pervasive Social Understanding Of Gender And Keyboard
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:23 AM on January 11, 2014 [30 favorites]


rosf, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to emphasize again that at least in this case trans people weren't experiencing unintentional misuse of language as an attack. That was what some cis people were saying was happening, and then criticising, but it wasn't happening in this case.

I just really want the record straight on this point because that particular progression of events is what I found frustrating/attacky, not any lack of spaces. The fact that some cis people were spinning this false narrative about how trans people were acting, and it is still to some degree persisting, is weird! Your construction is absolutely widely applicable, but it doesn't fit the thread that spawned this MeTa. Otherwise, yeah, definitely.
posted by Corinth at 9:26 AM on January 11, 2014 [12 favorites]


This one time the mods deleted one of my comments because I used ... instead of …

True story.
posted by odinsdream at 9:34 AM on January 11, 2014


It reminds me of the "Have you even bothered to read the FAQ? I don't see how you can hope to be a productive member of alt.gothic if you haven't even read the FAQ poseur!

That's not much better than the current "that subject is covered above and in the linked thread".

Ideally, if leaving a comment with the "101" in it were to become a thing, then people would realize it's there and then do search for it, rather than posting the question that St. Alia did. It wouldn't completely prevent such questions from popping up, but would lessen the derails and keep others from getting angry that such questions repeatedly pop up.

Ideally.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:36 AM on January 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Honestly, there are a lot of people who I wish would just sit down and read the freaking FAQ before they start commenting. How long does it take to read this Trans 101 primer, seriously? It's a pretty quick read, and honestly I wish I had the power to make it mandatory for people with a shitty participating in trans* threads to read it every single time they rush to turn yet another discussion into a contentious clown rodeo on cis education on the basics.

I'm pretty bad at remembering Metafilter usernames, but it's gotten to the point that the only people who I recognize and ascribe personalities to are people I follow on Twitter or have met in real life, trans* Mefites and people who work hard at allyship (hi guys i love you), and peope who work overtime to be transphobic jerkfaces.

I mad a joke on Twitter earlier that I'm going to just start posting so many trans* FPPs that people don't have time to turn every single one into something awful. I swear, if any of you come into the post about House of Ladosha I'm planning and turn it into a debate about terminology instead of a slumber party discussion on how amazing of a goddess Juliana Huxtable is, I'll....I'll....continue to be very disappointed at how poorly this website full of intelligent people handles an issue that just isn't that hard.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:46 AM on January 11, 2014 [25 favorites]


"It reminds me of the "Have you even bothered to read the FAQ? I don't see how you can hope to be a productive member of alt.gothic if you haven't even read the FAQ poseur! Every vampire song ever recorded is mentioned there. The one you are looking for is by Tones on Tail. Come back when you're ready to abide by community standards!" days."

Look, if it'll keep you from arguing about Christian Says again, read the fuckin' FAQ.
   ,   #                                                     _
  (\\_(^>                            _.                    >(')__,
  (_(__)           ||          _.||~~ {^--^}.-._._.---.__.-;(_~_/
     ||   (\../)   ||  (\(__)/)  ||   {6 6 }.')' (. )' ).-`  ||
   __||____(oo)____||___`(QQ)'___||___( v  )._('.) ( .' )____||__
    --||----"- "----||----)  (----||----`-.''(.' .( ' ) .)----||--
   __||__@(    )___||___(o  o)___||______#`(.'( . ( (',)_____||__
   --||----"--"----||----`--'----||-------'\_.).(_.). )------||--
     ||            ||       `||~|||~~|""||  `W W    W W      ||
   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
yours in christ
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


How about a pony request to have FPP tags linked to complex topics with easily-FAQable answers automatically give the poster the option to include some boilerplate content with links to those answers? The logistics of this might be a bit complex -- who maintains said content, which tags should be linked, etc. -- but a workflow where someone making a post with the "trans" tag automatically gets back a "hey, I see you're posting in the 'trans' tag -- do you want to include the Trans 101 footnote content after the body of your post?" prompt might go a long way to making this easier on everyone involved.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:50 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ideally.

I just foresee the law of unintended consequences looming large on that idea.

The ironings of this thread:
  1. Corb was incorrect on the deletion reason.
  2. The trans folk didn't really seem to give much of a rat's ass about the space (they have a preference, but no one was getting bent out of shape).
  3. The people least invested made the most effort to insure the thread was about them.

posted by cjorgensen at 9:50 AM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'll....I'll....continue to be very disappointed at how poorly this website full of intelligent people

This website is not more full of intelligent people than any other. Rather, the people here have better grammar and spelling.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:55 AM on January 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


rosf, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to emphasize again that at least in this case trans people weren't experiencing unintentional misuse of language as an attack. That was what some cis people were saying was happening, and then criticising, but it wasn't happening in this case.

Apologies, Corinth - I was unclear about that. I guess that a situation like this one (as I understand it) - where someone explicitly states that they know that a particular form of speech is going to cause problems, but that they are going to carry on doing it for reasons they feel are convincing and/or compelling - is relatively rare. It seems to pan out about the same way, though, in the sense that corb's contribution was part of a multi-person derail on terminology.

(Thinking about it, I seem to recall that someone was banned, ultimately, for saying that he was going to misgender trans people - in general discussion and in addressing and referencing other members of Metafilter - because he felt they had, as a group, been insufficiently polite to him. That was the final straw rather than a bolt from the blue, but it was refreshingly clear as an "if you don't kick me out of the bar, I am going to keep throwing bottles" statement...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2014


I get what Brandon is proposing and why it bothers people who feel comments about 101 stuff might get patronizing.

Maybe it shouldn't be a comment, but perhaps just a 101 tag the poster puts on the FPP as a general heads-up? The idea being that if one oerson comes into a thread with one question it is considered asked in good faith, but the questioner is reminded that there's a 101 tag they can refer to. After that, the same question gets flagged and askers can just take it to MetaTalk if they still have an issue so the real discussion can go on in the original thread. Because some people do get introduced to stuff on Metafilter, and threads shouldn't turn into derails because of that but in the real world we know these things get derailed all the time.

This takes some discipline, especially from those who enjoy debating, and a LOT of patience from everyone involved, because everyone has to refrain from pile-ons, use the flags and, on the either side, trust to the system and/or go to Metatalk right away rather than fight it out on the Blue. But that also means we get less frustrated with repetition, whether it is BUT WE'VE ALREADY GONE OVER THIS... or BUT WHAT I REALLY MEANT WAS....

And I say that as someone who has been on both sides of those situations in various threads before and recognizes how exhausting it is for everyone involved.
posted by misha at 10:06 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe it bears explicit emphasis that I didn't say being deleted was like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool." I said it was helpful for me to think of it that way.

There must certainly be cases where a mod who does not know you or might not like you is giving you a slap.

The reason why it is helpful to think of being deleted as a nudge from a friend that you've gone too far is that it encourages you to check yourself, to take a look at your own actions and comments and see if maybe you are being an asshole. And also, because it bypasses the kind of silenced all my life! rage and feelings of persecution that lead to getting puffed up and starting some shit in a FPP or starting a semi-poisonous MeTa.

So no, I don't necessarily literally think all deletions are a gentle tug on the sleeve from a friend. But if you approach them that way, I think it can speed up your cognizance of how you might better conduct yourself, and in a way that decreases animosity and reinforces a sense of community.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:45 AM on January 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


So no, I don't necessarily literally think all deletions are a gentle tug on the sleeve from a friend. But if you approach them that way, I think it can speed up your cognizance of how you might better conduct yourself, and in a way that decreases animosity and reinforces a sense of community.

It's also a better place to start than assuming a worst case scenario from the get-go. If I'm going to take a position, assuming the good will of others as a start and then investigating from there tends to keep the ire down a bit.

I think a lot of the discord we see in life is that we filter our interpretation through ways that we've been hurt by others in community. Sometimes this is justified, but sometimes it also blinds us to the intentions of others, either by misunderstanding them via projection or by putting more weight on smaller infractions than is otherwise justified.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:59 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Possibly relevant: Cisgender 101
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:20 AM on January 11, 2014 [19 favorites]


It would be a real loss to this community if we drove our trans members away.

Yes, it would, and let's be clear about this: it would be a terrible loss to the community, and not because MeFi's trans members are seen as an educational resource (though certainly some or many trans MeFites have taken time and trouble to share their experiences, and thank you for that).

It would be a loss because a more diverse community is a stronger, healthier community, a more vibrant community, and because community members are Metafilter. We as a community don't value trans community members because they're trans; we value them because they're community members.

No community member should feel they have even a tacit responsibility to educate others on their life experience, though I certainly hope and expect MeFi to be a community where any member feels safe sharing their experience if they so desire.

If trans MeFites are willing to talk about experiences relevant to their gender, I'll listen with interest. If trans MeFites want to talk about manga or knitting or gubernatorial races or soccer or grammar or the Fast and Furious franchise, I'll listen with interest. (Well, probably not to the soccer talk, but that's just me.)
posted by Elsa at 11:32 AM on January 11, 2014 [57 favorites]


I think a lot of the cis people in this thread are still worrying about things that aren't major problems for us, and overlooking the things that are major problems for us. For instance, it looks like a lot of y'all are really concerned with:
  • How to save cis people the embarrassment of looking ignorant in public.
  • How to prevent cis people from raising questions that have been raised before.
  • How to make sure that nobody uses "forbidden" language ever.
The FAQ and #101 hashtag ideas are great ways of addressing some of these concerns. And to be clear, I would be totally in favor of a FAQ, and at least tentatively in favor of a #101 hashtag.

But: we can take care of those things ourselves. If some of us feel the need for a FAQ about us, we can start writing one. (Spoiler: there might just be a chance that this already happened a while before you started debating whether it was a good idea or not.) We don't need y'all to decide how we ought to disseminate information about ourselves. We don't mind suggestions and input, but ultimately we're gonna take care of that one ourselves.

And more importantly: As we keep saying, a lot of those concerns listed above really aren't high up on our list. I'm sure that they seem like pressing problems to you guys. They don't seem like pressing problems to me, or to most of the other trans people who I see posting in this thread, or to most of the other trans MeFites who I'm in touch with elsewhere. We keep saying that it is not actually a crisis if someone slips up on terminology, or if a question comes up twice, as long as it doesn't then lead to a massive derailing clusterfuck for which we end up getting scapegoated.

There are some issues on which we actually do need your help, because they involve ongoing problems with site moderation or cis people doing shit that has (possibly unintended) harmful consequences for us.
  • Threads about us tend to derail into fights, even when we ourselves are perfectly civil, and the moderators do not do enough to prevent the derailing.
    • One derailing tactic is for cis people to try to strike up "an honest philosophical discussion" about our existence, sanity, right to participate in society as members of our actual gender, or other such bullshit. The moderators fail to recognize these "discussions" as hurtful or derailing, and allow them to stand.
    • Another one is for cis people to berate us for our "tone" when we (calmly, reasonably) ask for support or correct misconceptions. Again, the moderators fail to recognize this move as hurtful or derailing.
    • Yet another one is for cis people to use threads about us as a backdrop for fights among themselves. That's what happened with St. Alia last night.
  • We are blamed for those fights, explicitly or implicitly, by a depressingly large number of users, even when we were not involved in the fight at all.

  • As a result, we are mischaracterized as oversensitive, hysterical, fragile, demanding and unreasonable.
  • That mischaracterization prevents people from listening to us when we actually talk about our lives and preferences. When the concerns that society thinks we have are portrayed as SJW attention-seeking or politically-correct one-upsmanship, it makes it even less likely that anyone will hear our actual concerns.
A FAQ will not solve these problems. A #101 hashtag will not solve these problems. Frustratingly, we cannot solve these problems ourselves just by communicating better or picking better strategies — no matter how well we communicate, someone takes offense or wants to pick a fight. We actually really do need you guys to think about these things and consider whether you can be part of the solution on any of them.
posted by this is a thing at 11:42 AM on January 11, 2014 [83 favorites]


(Yes of course "Not all cis people." There are over six billion of you. You aren't all the same. I know. But there is a striking disconnect here where at least the majority of trans participants in this discussion are saying "X and Y are a massive problem" and at least the majority of cis participants are worrying about fixing Z and W. If you're an outlier, congratulations.)
posted by this is a thing at 11:45 AM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


No community member should feel they have even a tacit responsibility to educate others on their life experience, though I certainly hope and expect MeFi to be a community where any member feels safe sharing their experience if they so desire.

Yes, this, absolutely. I hope my previous comment didn't imply that I feel the value of trans people here is primarily as an educational resource. No one at MeFi (whether trans people or feminists or people with disabilities, et al.) should feel that they're mainly here on consciousness-raising duty rather than as more generalized participants.

It's a hard balance to strike, though; I know, as a feminist, that I've spent a lot of time doing 101 work here as part of a larger effort to make MeFi a welcoming place for women. And sometimes that 101 work is very satisfying, and sometimes it's exhausting. Sometimes it seems to reap immediate rewards, and sometimes it's an exercise in frustration and derailment.

One of the things that I've been doing recently, though, is encouraging men to take on some of the feminist 101 burden for themselves -- that is, to encourage men who don't grok feminist issues to turn their questions to men who do grok such issues, and (on a related note) to ask feminist men to speak up more (both here and in their own lives) when they see the same 101 issues cropping up. (This is not to suggest that there aren't feminist men who weren't doing this already, of course.)

What this thread has made me see is that, as a cis ally of trans people, I haven't necessarily been doing the same thing. Part of that stemmed from the fact that a lot of discussions on MeFi made me confront the limits of my own knowledge/understanding of trans issues. I mean, I've long counted myself as a strong LGBT ally (even before I was aware of the term), but I came to see just how much more I knew about the "LGB" side of that, and how little I knew about the "T"!

So being educated on trans issues here has been really eye-opening. But now I feel like, okay, my eyes are opened. Now, as an ally, I have a responsibility to take on trans issues where I can, exactly the same way I think feminist men have a responsibility to take on women's issues where they can. Which is precisely why this...

There are some issues on which we actually do need your help, because they involve ongoing problems with site moderation or cis people doing shit that has (possibly unintended) harmful consequences for us.

...is incredibly valuable, and I really appreciate it being put out there so clearly. Thanks.
posted by scody at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2014 [14 favorites]


lazaruslong: I'm beginning to think the need for some members isn't to actually stir shit up in a blue thread, but to see how many other users they can get to comment in a gray thread with some form of "look, I know you. You're a good person. You are so sensitive in some ways, but in this way I don't get it". It's some weird combination of attention seeking and praise and it is gross.

Honestly, I said what I said way up above because I genuinely do like and respect corb, and think she's a good person who just, like everyone, has some things that she should maybe consider working on for the sake of her own happiness and that of the MeFi community in general. It was a sincere comment. I wasn't trying to score points, I just happen to think that people are more receptive to criticism when it is framed constructively and comes from a place of mutual respect and positive regard. I thought that since corb and I know each other reasonably well (i.e. we've had more than a few conversations and respectful debates over on Chat) I might be in a position to explain to her why I thought her behavior was causing problems and what she might choose to do about it in a way that might reach her better than the way that people had been doing up til then.

It was, again, a sincere comment coming from a desire to see a friend be happier and a community I love run more smoothly and with less ill-feeling. I'm not sure why your impression was that I was somehow trying to score Good Person points or troll for favorites; that seems to me like a needlessly uncharitable reading, and in any case an incorrect one. If I didn't like and respect corb, and if I hadn't thought that I could maybe do some good and mend some fences, I wouldn't have made that comment. When I am reading a fighty MeTa (which I do all the time, as a guilty pleasure) and I don't think I have anything to contribute that will improve the situation, I generally (these days) refrain from commenting. I may enjoy spectating a good flame war, but I like MeFi too much to be happy about fanning the fire.

I spoke from the heart. If you find it hard to believe that my sentiments could have been genuine, I submit that that is your own problem to work on.
posted by Scientist at 12:06 PM on January 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm kind of curious if there's any sort of mod consensus about the moderation of trans-related threads in the future? It seems like there's dissatisfaction with how they're currently being moderated, and this dissatisfaction seems persistent. Do the mods feel like this is a mod problem, an expectation problem, a combination of both, other things?

I'm not sure that I have any suggestions or anything. I've skimmed the original thread that spawned this meta, and even looking back with hindsight it's tough to find a spot where like... the mods could have jumped in with both feet and done... I'm not sure what? I mean I assume that there were private messages sent in addition to the mod notes left in the thread, and at least the one comment deletion.
posted by kavasa at 12:14 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would never presume to tell anyone trans or cis how to feel about any of this.

But is there any one of the MeFi-related matters discussed above that cannot be improved in large part or in whole by application of the following three step process?

1) Don't be an asshole.
2) When people/fellow MeFites/friends tell you en masse that behavior X is asshole behavior, take note.
3) If you having been committing behavior X, stop fucking doing that.

There are things we cis people may need education on where item 2 is concerned. But it really seems like that work has been done and is being done over and over to the point of exhaustion by our trans friends here. There is very little enumerated above that should be news to us. And the trans people here are patient to the point of heroic with educating those of us behind the curve on these matters.

To a certain point, aren't we just othering people even further to pretend that the trans people on MeFi are like unicorns that need special care and feeding or something, when honestly, they just need people to try not to be assholes?

If I'm speaking out of turn, I apologize.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would have expected this is a thing to mention it in the great previous comment (please correct me if I'm wrong), but I think that what I earlier wrote and emphasized and which Elsa rightly repeated, because I don't think it "clicked", is also pretty representative of something that's not quite right, an example of misplaced priorities that points to unexamined privilege.

And that's the emphasis in repeated comments on how important the presence of trans* folk has been for educating we cis folk about trans* issues and how unfortunate it would be were trans* folk to leave.

That makes it all about we cis folk. And it's not all about us. It's about making MeFi a welcoming place for trans* folk. Education helps, but there shouldn't be a presumption that only trans* folk can facilitate education nor that it's the main point. The main point is altering the culture here so that it's inclusive in a way that it hasn't been. Pushing trans* folk into the role (or just expecting it of them) of being ambassadors and educators is really unfair and inappropriate.

For example, I want people here to be more sensitive to disability issues, and I'll write about them from time to time, but I'm going to resent it if people think I'm the disability guy who is appreciated on MeFi because I educate people about disability. I just want to not experience being othered because of being disabled, I want to be comfortable here in that regard. Slotting me into a box as a representative of my class who's repeatedly told I'm valued here because I act as a representative of my class is really sort of reinforcing the othering, not reducing it.

That's not to say that I don't feel good about helping people understand these issues that are personal and important to me, or that I resent anyone thanking me for making the effort to explain them! Not at all. But I'd like to think that I'm valued for who I am within this community in the larger sense, for who I am as a whole person, and not primarily by virtue of how I provide value to others by acting as a representative of my class, and most especially when I sort of would like people who aren't disabled to be more pro-active in making the effort to learn these things on their own and not wait for someone to show up and present it in an especially accessible manner.

But, that said, as a cis person I totally understand the motivation for expressing appreciation for our trans* mefites because of their discussion of these difficult things, putting themselves out there as part of a process that does, in fact, educate me and other cis folk. Because I've learned so much! And I hugely value what I've learned! I deeply appreciate it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:17 PM on January 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think the more that we can flag and NOT RESPOND to shitty comments in trans threads, which makes it easier for the mods to do their job and delete the shitty comments without screwing up the flow of the thread, the better. I will commit to doing that.

I think the more cis people can respond intelligently to good-faith 101 questions in trans threads, which takes the burden off trans members to be the always-patient-educators, the better. I will commit to doing that.

I hope that both those actions will help center trans threads around trans people and their experiences, rather than around cis people and their ignorance.
posted by jaguar at 12:23 PM on January 11, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm kind of curious if there's any sort of mod consensus about the moderation of trans-related threads in the future?

It's something we have talked about and are still talking about, for sure.

This being the weekend and some people are traveling, I don't want to issue any blanket statement or anything. I just wanted to reply to this question to note that yes, we are thinking about this stuff, and reading what people have to say here is useful.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:35 PM on January 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Scientist at 2:06 PM : Honestly, I said what I said way up above because I genuinely do like and respect corb

Ok, honestly, I will say something I have always felt: I don't like Corb. I am tired of the baiting and other BS (while feigning clueness-less as to the topic) that Corb always seems to be at the center of.

On a slightly different note, this episode of the Corb Show seems to be slightly different and slightly more entertaining. So at least there is that. Woot!

/eyeroll.gif
posted by lampshade at 12:45 PM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


There are a handful of users that as soon and I see the meta byline I know how the thread will go. Corb is one of these people. There are others. This thread progression didn't surprise me at all.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:56 PM on January 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


One derailing tactic is for cis people to try to strike up "an honest philosophical discussion" about our existence, sanity, right to participate in society as members of our actual gender, or other such bullshit. The moderators fail to recognize these "discussions" as hurtful or derailing, and allow them to stand.

On the one hand, I agree that people who are asking/doing these things are just looking for a derail (at best), but on the other hand, I'm not sure that a mod (rather than another user) cutting off that derail attempt with "we're not having that conversation here, refer to Trans* 101" and culling comments as necessary wouldn't be a good tactic at stopping those derails anyway? To me, that seems like it would be a good way of calling the derail-er's bluff that she's engaging with the thread in good faith. However, I think this would require mods stepping in and doing the "trans* 101" redirect, because it just doesn't seem to work when other users try to do it (see: this past thread and the devolution into a fight ostensibly about terminology). Has this already been attempted and shown to fail (honestly asking, I haven't been on the site that long)?

Another one is for cis people to berate us for our "tone" when we (calmly, reasonably) ask for support or correct misconceptions. Again, the moderators fail to recognize this move as hurtful or derailing.

I'm surprised at the apparent difficulty of moderating the trans*-related threads in a way that keeps the "tone argument" at bay, considering that feminism-related threads present (what seems to me to be) the same challenge, and yet the moderation in those threads seems (to me) to be pretty much up to the task there. I've been in feminism-related threads where mods stop this specific derail by leaving a note saying "we're not going to have yet another tone argument derail" and sometimes deleting the related comments, and to me, that seems like a completely applicable solution to the similar tone argument problem in trans*-related threads. What is it that makes keeping people from getting into tone arguments in trans* threads more difficult or even different than keeping people from getting into tone arguments in feminism threads? Would the methods used in feminism-related threads already be applicable to trans*-related threads to resolve this issue (or have they been attempted and failed?)?

As for whether it needs to be the mods tackling this problem, though: considering that once someone introduces the "I don't like your tone" thing into feminism threads even now there are always some users who respond (out of justified anger, I don't think that they should need to feel the need to hold their tongues, honestly), and it almost always starts an argument if moderators don't step in, I do think that the problem requires moderation to solve and won't be solved by people just "not being assholes."

Yet another one is for cis people to use threads about us as a backdrop for fights among themselves. That's what happened with St. Alia last night.

I do think this issue is up to individual users to solve rather than the mods, because I think this is more about everyone trying to foster respectful discourse as a community, and not so much about any specific, enforceable rules. I also think that relates Sara C's question about what the bar should be for entering the discussion on a trans* thread (and I think is applicable to any thread about a specific group of people's lived experiences). Personally, I try not to enter discussions about particular groups' lived experiences if I'm not a member of that group, regardless of how personally familiar or knowledgeable I feel with the issues being discussed. Part of my reasoning behind that is, I don't want to overstep, because not only is it disrespectful, but also because I feel that it's "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." Part of my reasoning is that, when it comes to some of those issues, I'm quite emotionally invested and I don't think that I can add to the discussion without getting carried away and getting upset, which is counterproductive at best. I'm not sure if that's the best approach to the issue of whether or not to contribute.

Frankly, however, I do think that the bar for entering into the discussion in trans*-related threads could be higher, though I think it would have to be largely via self-check rather than fiat. The odds of someone having anything meaningful to contribute to a discussion between knowledgeable people when she only has passing knowledge of the field herself is slim to none, so I think in the interest of discussions being deeper and more interesting, it would be great if ignorant people would consciously self-select out to a greater degree. Everyone's ignorant about some things, there's no shame in that. I'm not sure how to encourage that kind of self-check, however, or how to address the issue that everyone is still going to have a different bar for herself. For all I know, most/all people are already applying that kind of self-check.

For what it's worth, I'm appalled that trans* people are being driven out of discussions about trans* people. If this MeTa means that the moderation and some aspects of site culture change to make this place less discriminatory toward trans* people then I think it was well worth it and it sounds like it's overdue.
posted by rue72 at 2:00 PM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


St. Alia just blatantly violated one of the most basic netiquette guidelines so I don't know if the subject matter determined how that played out any more than it would for other topics.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:05 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


It felt like while I was trying to be thoughtful and compassionate, that what I considered at best a regionalism was being interpreted as signs of bigotry.

I still don't understand why the lack of a space hurts - but I do also understand that I am not going to understand everything ...


This comes off as disingenuous me. It is obvious to anyone who has read corb that she is highly intelligent (and an outstanding writer), and I have a hard time believing she still doesn't understand the core identity issue behind her intentional omission of the "space" - that trans women wish to be seen as a women and not some new (possibly robot) things - after it was explained several times. corb's apology about "a space" and "consensus" doesn't acknowledge the actual hurtfulness of her comments - the intentional dismissal of the gender identity of others.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:07 PM on January 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Thanks, this is a thing. That's a really great framing of the issue and some solutions and I will keep your comments in mind.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:22 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's something we have talked about and are still talking about, for sure.
Haha, yeah, I figured it's been an ongoing subject of mod discussion, was mildly curious if any sort of tentative conclusions had been come to. But I totally understand it being the weekend and an inherently difficult question to answer.
posted by kavasa at 2:23 PM on January 11, 2014


the mods could have jumped in with both feet and done... I'm not sure what?

I think this is where a little extra communication between mods and trans MeFites can be potentially beneficial. As it stands, a lot of trans threads that don't include Trans 101 links go sideways. Encouraging the inclusion of 101 links, and helping someone build a post there, could go a long way.

Often, the reason why 101-less threads go sideways, and why 101 inclusion is helpful, is because someone will become exposed to some aspect of trans lives or rights that they had absolutely no idea was a thing. That's a good thing! But often I think there's a lot of digging in of heels and wanting to hold on to prior concepts and that creates sort of a bad dynamic. There's also transphobia, which I think the mods and the site as a whole are still very much struggling in recognizing beyond the level of overt slurs.

I'm also starting to feel like there are sometimes misunderstandings by mods regarding trans issues. In the parent thread, I got a bit of a feeling that even the mods were under the impression that Katie Couric was the topic. Couric was tangential to the topic at best, but it felt like comments that spoke to the substance of what Cox was saying were sort of a little bit off-topic. From what I could tell, no one ever really got around to discussing Cox's comments beyond scattered "this is awesome" (and it is! I agree!) posts; it felt like the usual priorities for staying on topic were upside down there. In this thread, I think some of what I and this is a thing and other trans posters have been discussing is considered a little off-topic, not just by members but also by mods. This deletion, too, kind of strikes me as having a backwards looking view of trans threads. Where, yeah, I can see how it comes across as fighty but in context really is pretty much...accurate. I don't disagree with the deletion, but I do disagree with the reason for it. It shouldn't have stood because it needs more context, but it is discussing something that's unfortunately really that real.

We've had several MeTas about this before. It'll take time. What would make me happier, personally, is seeing a higher standard enforced. I think mods and other users on the site are still having trouble seeing transphobia and trans issues that are more immediately obvious to us that have to deal with them all the time when those things go beyond the introductory level. That contributes in part to an environment where, as this is a thing was saying, you have a handful of trans people trying to discuss at cross purposes with scads of cis people who are discussing weird, sideways non-issues they've branched off of from the introductory level.

Hopefully, trans issues are just another topic on the site that needs to evolve and spend a little more time baking. I've watched MetaFilter go through several of those by now, and it's something I try to keep in mind when threads get stressful.
posted by byanyothername at 2:53 PM on January 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


Moderators sometimes have to make calls based on how much work a thread might create for them. The FPP there is just fact, but the conversation is instantly going to the direction of:

Penises are not inherently male just as vaginas are not inherently female. Our bodies are not objective pieces of matter that pre-exist the inscription of social meaning; rather, our “beliefs about gender” inform the very notion that a penis is a male sex organ

I don't think this is true.
posted by Diablevert at 9:37 AM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites +] [!]


And we are heading deep into 101 territory. I think it might be possible this played a role in nixing the thread. It's an old, contentious debate and we are going to do it all over again and learn nothing new, really.

Take a look at why I/P threads might have a higher standard. The conversation is old, and you can go anywhere else online and hear it, but it's always emotional and contentious and and hard to talk about. Lots of moderator work for little unique, valuable content.

I don't think we should treat trans threads like that when it's avoidable, because it's rare to have a general interest site with many contributors with a lot of insight on the topic who will not be driven away by assholes. I/P, you can find those perspectives everywhere. Trans topics, not so much. The moderator effort pays off here, in ideal circumstances, with great content you can't get in less respectful forums.

/and since it needed to be clarified before, again: You should not need extra motivation to treat other human beings with respect, but in regards to the question of increasing the quality of unique and interesting perspectives here our trans posters deliver boatloads more than dime a dozen straight white male blowhards like myself.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:13 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


As far as transphobia goes and calling it out, maybe it would be helpful to point out that I am trans and I have to face my own internalized transphobic behavior all the time. It's a thing that happens. Maybe if we could be less defensive when being called out on acting in a transphobic way it would help. We're all going to do something that is transphobic at some point or another, what really gets old are the same typical defensive reactions and counterarguments in response. Transphobia is actually kinda funny to me, like pointing out someone has a booger on their face. It happens, big deal, let's face the issues as they come up, get past them and move onto better discussions.

Then again maybe the defensive response will never go away? I dunno.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm wondering how we could do automatic 101 type stuff, do you think any thread that gets a tag with the word "trans" in it would have a link to 101 explanations? I'm trying to think of a way that wouldn't require mod input, that users could self-apply when making a post that might get derailed by it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:34 PM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Is there a way that a sort of sidebar or pull quote area could be triggered by the use of the "trans" tag, perhaps?

(on preview/re-read, more or less as you were saying, yeah.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:37 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hell, that might be nice for various contentious topics. There could be a few links and perhaps even a word or two from the mods over pitfalls that are to be avoided.

(People still need to make an effort even if such a thing can be worked out, but still... couldn't hurt.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:39 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hell, that might be nice for various contentious topics. There could be a few links and perhaps even a word or two from the mods over pitfalls that are to be avoided.

I think it would only be nice if we had a couple 101s going (harassment would be another good candidate). I'd rather not see trans* issues singled out as "difficult." But there are other contentious issues.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:54 PM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


mathowie, that is how the site I posted about here handled it – I don't know if it was automatic, but it was consistent. The preamble to posts on trans* issues made it clear that 101-type questions wouldn't be tolerated in such threads, and referred users to resources that would explain such concepts for them. However, instead of entirely redirecting such conversations outside the site, they had one dedicated trans* 101 post where their readers could post good-faith questions, giving their trans* users who wished to provide answers the opportunity to decide whether or not to read and respond there.
posted by avocet at 4:11 PM on January 11, 2014


I'm wondering how we could do automatic 101 type stuff, do you think any thread that gets a tag with the word "trans" in it would have a link to 101 explanations?

Thinking out loud, first stablish a list of 101 topics, like "Feminism101", "Trans101", "Cilantroisawesome101" etc.

Have the system scan post tags when a post is first posted, then if any of the 101 topics are in the tags, then the system automatically links to the 101subject.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:12 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The preamble to posts on trans* issues made it clear that 101-type questions wouldn't be tolerated in such threads, and referred users to resources that would explain such concepts for them.

I think that banning 101-level questions is actually a bad idea. It positions trans stuff as this big scary thing where one ought not to comment without a certain level of background, which is a terrible way to encourage education. The problem isn't people not having background, it's people failing to recognise their lack of background means they aren't positioned to pontificate about other people's lives.

On the other hand, I do think better, more detailed posts (this is my hobby horse of the weekend), that perhaps include a link to some trans 101 resource. (Well, 201. I've spent quite a bit of time in the last week and a half looking at what's available on the internet, and the 101 stuff is overwhelmingly 'use proper pronouns' and cis people believing that that counts as being knowledgeable enough to pontificate is the problem we're having.) Every post on a trans-related issue shouldn't turn into 'Let me walk you through some basic Q&A' with no discussion of the actual post, but we can have (and have had) discussions of the actual post with basic Q&A rolled in.
posted by hoyland at 4:24 PM on January 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think that banning 101-level questions is actually a bad idea. It positions trans stuff as this big scary thing where one ought not to comment without a certain level of background, which is a terrible way to encourage education. The problem isn't people not having background, it's people failing to recognise their lack of background means they aren't positioned to pontificate about other people's lives.

I am not trans, but it seems to me that people feeling free to pontificate without knowing anything is in fact a reason to encourage the idea that one ought not to comment without a certain level of background.
posted by winna at 4:57 PM on January 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I am a big believer in the notion that the way a post is framed can have a huge impact on the way trans discussions turn out.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:14 PM on January 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


winna, for me (not trans, but on the genderqueer continuum) i feel like there's a difference between "i don't understand this point, can someone answer or point me to a resource" and "[even though i'm uneducated on giant swaths of trans issues] here is my statement of fact about gender/chromosomes/muscle mass/etc and here is my easy solution that i can't believe no one thought of or i find this idea problematic to cis people or here's a comment suggesting that trans people don't exist or aren't real." there's a lot of grey area between those points and sometimes it can look like one and be the other.

i do think there's value in trans threads being welcoming to all who want to act respectfully, no matter their level of knowledge. i hope that one day threads can be unwelcoming to those who won't be respectful of trans issues in general and trans mefites in specific.
posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on January 11, 2014 [14 favorites]


Honestly, if people would just read the comments in a thread before posting their own thoughts, it would pretty much eliminate the need for any sort of policy or modly proactive anything.
posted by desuetude at 5:34 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why do you say that?
posted by this is a thing at 5:36 PM on January 11, 2014


Honestly, if people would just read the comments in a thread before posting their own thoughts, it would pretty much eliminate the need for any sort of policy or modly proactive anything.

And the articles...
posted by jaguar at 5:37 PM on January 11, 2014


Thanks for all of your clear feedback, this is a thing.

We are blamed for those fights, explicitly or implicitly, by a depressingly large number of users, even when we were not involved in the fight at all.

This is a thing. That is, this is something that seems to happen a lot - not just on MetaFilter but elsewhere, and a few times I've caught myself being in the second or third ring of outrage, where things have become hyperbolic and hurtful. It's a bit of a derail, as well as complicated, but I wondered if anyone had any thoughts on how to track or mark or SOMETHING this persistent pattern of:

Ring One:
Party A says something
Party B comments on / corrects / disagrees in a nuanced way with Party A

Ring Two:
Party C backs up Party A, but with insults / less nuanced
Party D defends Party B from Party C and blames it all on Party A, and more nuance is lost.

Ring Three:
Party E defends Party C from Parties D and B, and speaks for Party A who kind of wants everyone to shut up now.
Party F defends Party D and B, and blames everything on Party A

Ring Four:
Party G throws in something completely hyperbolic, like Godwin's Law
Party H thinks we should all get along without fighting, and why couldn't Parties A and B be more polite (ignoring that they were polite)
Party I thinks this proves that either Party A or Party B don't deserve the support they get (ignoring that they really didn't get much)
And depending on how people earlier in the Rings of Discussion react, things can simply explode into a giant ball of awful.

It seems like, in ring one and two there are chances for discussion because the discussion is still on the specific topic, but each layer out becomes less about the topic and more about indicating sides and turning specifics into dictates, until everything's a mess and people with non-topic specific beefs (Free Speech, Politics, This Place Isn't Cool, etc...) come out and little fights spark out based on those.

This obviously isn't referring to situations where people go from Zero to Godwin in a post, but in this case in particular the initial posts were so incredibly innocuous and polite - hoyland couldn't have been more gracious and clear, and the initial back and forth between Corinth and MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch was also exactly what everyone involved seemed to want.

It was after that when the idea "terminology changes too quickly for us to keep up" was introduced, which is where things seemed to start to go off of the rails. After that, the "just a space not a matter of identity" was introduced, which directly contradicted the initial responses to the initial question about why a space between trans* and person - that is, the first overt falsehood negating what a trans person said about their preferences - and eventually the first of many sidelining trans people in the discussion and blaming them for the disagreements when they were simply being clear. And polite. And correct.

It seems like there should be a solution to this, but most of my ideas are fighty ones, not helpful ones, so honestly I'm at a loss.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:43 PM on January 11, 2014 [14 favorites]


I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."

another word for it is "gas-lighting"(sp?)
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:48 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


No. Having a comment deleted is not gaslighting.
posted by palomar at 9:52 PM on January 11, 2014 [40 favorites]


No, that's really not what gaslighting is at all.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:52 PM on January 11, 2014 [23 favorites]


here's how it's the same:

like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."

which is saying "shut up. you're crazy."
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:09 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The mods are not trying to manipulate us into questioning reality by deleting comments.

That's what hellbans are for! (Or sitewide April Fools Day pranks)
posted by zarq at 10:11 PM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


You seem kind of bound and determined to grind an axe that doesn't really have anything to do with this thread.

Or, maybe you have some real assholes for friends.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:11 PM on January 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Computer, End Program."
Just checking.
posted by zarq at 10:12 PM on January 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


cupcake1337, go ahead and open your own Metatalk if you want to discuss that further. Everyone else, this thread has been going in a good productive direction, and it would be great if it weren't totally derailed.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:12 PM on January 11, 2014 [21 favorites]


Maybe this is a distinction without a difference, but I think I like the idea of "community principles" more than "101s". I feel that attempting to establish objective truths through a 101 is sort of inviting the exact same types of quibblers who constantly come ruin these threads in the first place. Whereas saying something like "we as a community have decided that discussing X issue in Y and Z ways is most constructive and respectful" is unimpeachable. Or rather, I think it's more within our aegis to determine how we speak to and treat one another than to get into the business of collectively inscribing truths about the world.
posted by threeants at 10:26 PM on January 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


When community members repeatedly ignore obvious-yet-tacit norms, making those norms explicit (e.g. with "101s") will just give those problematic community members something more substantial to quibble about.

That being said, I really learn a lot from these threads, so I do support marking them somehow as "Classic" or "Recommended Reading for Beginners" or "DEEP MEFI CATHARSIS". "101" works too.

A major caveat, though: I suspect some users already enjoy causing shitstorms. If these shitstorms have the potential to get canonized as "101", I would expect more "tempests in a toilet", so to speak. Maybe the mods can take a page from the Catholic handbook and only canonize threads whose OPs have deceased, and even then after a long period of time?
posted by serif at 3:22 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


"101 Trans" could work as a cultural stage play.
posted by buzzman at 4:05 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


it seems to me that people feeling free to pontificate without knowing anything is in fact a reason to encourage the idea that one ought not to comment without a certain level of background

I'm pretty sure that people who are actually aware of their lack of background are not the problem.

The problem is people who already think they are an expert on gender because they have one.
posted by emilyw at 4:10 AM on January 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Redirecting basic questions to the 101 would address the problem of thread derailment from people who think they're entitled to having their uninformed opinions respected as well as the people who do it as a passive aggressive attack on trans people. I don't think those are always two distinct groups, so I'm not all that concerned about the former's feelings when a significant number of them seem to be the latter.

I think it would be nice if a set of the most disingenuous/lazy questions in threads about some issues could be collated and when they appeared in a thread they were automatically deleted and the deletion comment referred to the 101, but I know that would probably not work under our current model.
posted by winna at 7:47 AM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


In essence I think that the 'people won't change their minds if no one is nice about it!' is just a retread of the tone argument.
posted by winna at 7:48 AM on January 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


The problem with declaring community norms is that the community will change, sometimes in ways that upset/alter the norms. (Not a specific reference to trans issues, just a general observation.)
posted by immlass at 8:21 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


immlass, that'd surely be solved by starting another MeTa down the line, being all "hey so we've changed and the old norms are a bad fit now". I see this more as an ongoing process than a fire-and-forget 'right, norms are now set in stone until forever!' sort of thing.
posted by Dysk at 9:07 AM on January 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


So while we're still on a language policing tip, I've just been reading the fat/crack joke thread and it strikes me curious that nobody in that thread bothered to point out that the words like addict and addiction are now generally acknowledged as stigmatizing, and the preferred nomenclature is substance use disorder.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:40 AM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


A point I would have actually made in that thread but can't because it's now closed.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:40 AM on January 12, 2014


We can set all the norms we'd like but until we change the culture of assuming the worst about someone else's motives and/or deciding to hound people for their opinions instead of either flagging and moving on or engaging the conversation with respect-yeah, it may not matter.

That choice-the choice to post with respect-has to be made by each individual. And it is up to every other individual to decide that it really is okay to assume the best and not the worst about someone's motives until proven otherwise.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:51 AM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Once upon a time not very long ago, comments like "I'd hit it!" were normal. Then we had a lot of meTas, and now it is outside the accepted norm to go into a thread about a woman doing a thing and say that.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on January 12, 2014 [39 favorites]


And it is up to every other individual to decide that it really is okay to assume the best and not the worst about someone's motives until proven otherwise.

Until proven otherwise. You have amply proven otherwise in your more than 11 years here, in various guises. It doesn't matter how many new usernames you make or Brand New Days you get or how many of your most vile comments are deleted. It's ridiculous to act as if you have earned some sort of blank slate where we should just forget all your bad behavior, ignore our reasoned judgment, try to find a reason to treat your latest comments as if they might have been made in good faith. Because you've proven otherwise.
posted by grouse at 10:07 AM on January 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Thread is not about St Alia, let's not get sucked into that derail?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2014 [22 favorites]


Reading charitably has - or should have - a corollary, which is that before you (general you) post a comment or question (especially in threads that can get heated, are controversial, etc.), read the links and read the other comments. One is much more likely to be read and treated charitably if one says (for instance) "So, I saw [this question] and [this answer] further up the thread, but I don't quite understand [aspect] - can someone explain or link to resources?"

I also feel like there's this kind of fucked-up framing that happens in discussions like these where the "Assume the best" directives get pointed waaaaay more at (in this case) trans* participants, and that that very pointing at them makes it sound like they don't and aren't assuming the best. It's like in discussions about sexual harassment, when someone comes in to remind everyone that maybe that guy is just awkward, like it's never occurred to us before, and like we're incapable of telling the difference between awkward and asshole. I am pretty sure that ArmyofKittens and Corinth and other mefites who are trans* and who participate in threads about trans* stuff are actually pretty experienced at telling the difference between someone who awkwardly words a genuine question and someone who questions their identity and existence.
posted by rtha at 11:59 AM on January 12, 2014 [45 favorites]


I for one am not in favor of having an automated or policy-mandated link to a Trans 101 document (or any similar document for other types of difficult topics) in threads about trans issues. I think the idea is coming from a good place and would never mind if people wanted to take it upon themselves to link to a good introductory resource in a comment or in the post, but automating or mandating it strikes me as the kind of technical solution to a social problem that MetaFilter has generally (and rightly, in my opinion) avoided. I don't like the idea of automatic discussion moderation -- it's the human touch that makes moderation on MeFi so great, and I feel like this move, if implemented, would erode that.

I also don't think it would really work. There's no way that it would be relevant for every possible type of tans thread, and it would probably be impossible to find a single resource that everyone agreed was acceptable. Trans issues are also an evolving front, so a great resource today might seem dated and even problematic two years from now. Additionally, there's no way most people would read that link -- people often don't even RTFA before commenting, and discussions often diverge from TFA over time anyway, and I can't see an automated resource getting read consistently. So then when someone made a shitty or thoughtless comment there would be two problems instead of one; not only would someone have made a crappy comment, but also they would've skipped the intro document. That means there's more ways that a fight could start. I don't see it adding to the overall peacefulness of contentious threads.

Lastly, and perhaps least significantly, where would it stop? Once we set the precedent of having automated links for one type of thread, it seems natural that at least a handful of other thread types should have them too. It would make the site feel a bit inconsistent; automated disclaimer links are not part of the way most threads work, and having them show up occasionally would feel weird to me. Maybe just me, though.

I agree that the wide spread of knowledge and opinion about trans issues is a problem in trans-related threads. I recognize that the Sisyphan task of bringing everyone up to speed in each thread is exhausting for those who do that work. I don't know what a better solution is (other than perhaps more aggressive moderation of the traditional sort) but I don't think this is it. And I think it's important to recognize that over the last few years significant progress has been made here on this issue. MeFi is already a much better place for trans people and trans-related discussion than it used to be. Site culture is changing. If it can be changed faster and easier then I'm all for it, but I don't know if there's a way to do that that really fits with the way the site as a whole works.
posted by Scientist at 12:43 PM on January 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


There is talk above of an automatically-triggered-by-tags 101 link, as well as talk about a similarly-triggered brief bit on relevant "community standards" that could be auto-included. We've had people in favor of one or the other and wary of one or the other.

I'm curious where folks come down here:
1) 101 links
2) brief recap of applicable community standards
3) both
4) neither
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:00 PM on January 12, 2014


I think rather than the auto-included 101 link I'd probably just like to see mods step in with a "[thing] is off topic, please keep discussion on the topic of [link in FPP] and we're going to start deleting comments after this one" message. And maybe if it's relevant mods can include the 101 link in a comment like that. That still seems to me to say Metafilter is a community that encourages people to become more informed but doesn't put the burden of educating on trans people who just want to have interesting discussions about stuff on the internet.
posted by capricorn at 1:30 PM on January 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I.e. in this case "trans woman vs transwoman is off topic, see this 101 link for explanation but this thread is not the place to have that conversation". Maybe I'm off base here, I don't know?
posted by capricorn at 1:31 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think I'm in the neither camp, but I'm much more receptive to the community standards idea than I am to the 101 link (my opposition to that detailed above). I basically think that if this thread is going to reach some sort of resolution to take a specific action, it needs to be stronger moderation. I do think one part of that stronger moderation can be some sort of boilerplate about community standards that can be dropped in in a mod comment if it looks like things are threatening to go awry (for reasons I can't really articulate I prefer this to an automated message). I think there's room for improved moderator awareness in trans-related threads (see my ranty comment previously), but we're always going to be a bit limited by the number of moderators and someone taking over as mod mid-thread may really just have a hard time figuring out what's going on if things are already spinning out of control.
posted by hoyland at 1:32 PM on January 12, 2014


I.e. in this case "trans woman vs transwoman is off topic, see this 101 link for explanation but this thread is not the place to have that conversation". Maybe I'm off base here, I don't know?

This falls back into the thing about the question itself not being the issue, but the people (who hadn't asked the question!) who had to strenuously object to the idea they might be expected to modify their behaviour at the behest of trans people.
posted by hoyland at 1:34 PM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


But, even then, it could be potentially tricky to distinguish some cis person being a jerk from someone (trans or cis) legitimately disagreeing. We don't seem to have anyone who's hard core in the no space camp (at least not in good faith), so it wasn't going to happen in this case, but we did, for instance, get differing answers on whether the asterisk in trans/trans* was appearing or disappearing.
posted by hoyland at 1:41 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd like to be able to contribute, state preferences and share understanding without the knee jerk "here's why I disagree with you and think you are wrong, now please kindly continue to hurdle over my ever higher bar" responses. As if you're the somehow going to be the first person on earth to magically answer all the hard questions. After 55 years of social and scientific research. On metafilter. On a transgender Comment thread. Literally out of the blue (unless you are using the professional white background).

Please, stop doing that metafilter.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:51 PM on January 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think a lot of the cis people in this thread are still worrying about things that aren't major problems for us, and overlooking the things that are major problems for us. For instance, it looks like a lot of y'all are really concerned with:

  • How to save cis people the embarrassment of looking ignorant in public.
  • How to prevent cis people from raising questions that have been raised before.
  • How to make sure that nobody uses "forbidden" language ever.

That was an extremely good comment (not just the bit I quoted), and I think accurately describes what happens when any in-group discusses an out-group or discussion of any group that exists outside the commentor's experience. Understanding and absorbing new information and concepts is secondary to fighting over social status within the commentor's tribe and how best to display that social status to the rest of their tribe. In this case the questions in your bullet points are concerned with how to properly signal status. If you get into threads on Israel / Palestine, what to do about poverty, etc, a large chunk of the comments will follow the same pattern.
posted by MillMan at 3:04 PM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm curious where folks come down here:
1) 101 links
2) brief recap of applicable community standards
3) both
4) neither


I'm in favor of both.

I'm in favor of the 101 links not because I think they'll necessarily be genuinely useful in terms of "education" but because I think they'd be useful in calling the "I'm asking in good faith!" bluff and the "but I'm just confused!" bluff and the other related bluffs usually made by people who are trying to derail threads into a debate over the legitimacy over an identity/rights movement/etc. If someone actually is asking a basic question in good faith or really is just confused and needs further clarification than can be given in-thread without derailing the discussion as a whole, then great, their questions might get answered, too. In my mind, however, that wouldn't be the central purpose of a 101 link, it would be about bluff-calling and efficiently ending the usual derailments. I think it would only be useful in conjunction with stronger moderation, but I do think that it might be a useful tool in the arsenal of stronger (and more effective moderation.

I'm also in favor of the applicable community standards for people who do honestly want to engage in a respectful way but aren't sure which terms/language to use or which things it's OK to start a discussion about and want a quick run-down because I do see possible rewards (better discussions) and few risks (any?). I see the primary purpose as to facilitate good communication on the site, in the same way that the AskMe "What makes a good question?" FAQ facilitates good communication. I don't think that a "community standards" FAQ would have to be trans* centric to be applicable or useful to trans*-related threads, though. It could be about debate tactics that aren't acceptable here (such as derailing a thread by claiming "but I'm just confused!" or "but I just didn't have time to ready anything anyone else wrote!" or "but you have to say 'some' men and not just men or else I'm so upset I can't read further!" or whatever).

Neither of these links would have to be written in stone, they could just be wikis or something, if that would make people more comfortable.
posted by rue72 at 3:23 PM on January 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


After 55 years of social and scientific research.

Longer than that! I'm not sure I want to know what the state of the art thought on trans people at the time was, but Hirschfeld was working on medical transition in the 1920s.
posted by hoyland at 3:56 PM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm catching up on this thread (I'm out of town at the moment) but I have a few minor remarks. These are just me processing, not Official Statements from the Mod Team.

- I like the idea of a 101-type page on the wiki or wherever. I do *not* think that rolling it in to any sort of automated or top-down process is a good fit for the site. Good resources are good resources, but it is futile to expect people to read anything in particular before they comment, and it's completely unenforceable. Unenforceable standards give me hives.

- I do think that better FPPs lead to better threads. This isn't just framing, although that's important. I think that people who are sick of the basic conversations should flag posts that aren't bringing anything new to the table, and personally I think "Trans person exists; controversy ensues" posts are actively counterproductive to both furthering education on trans issues and making Metafilter a nice place to be. The recent MMA-related thread was frustrating to moderate, because it was a post *about* how trans women fit into a binary categorization, so it was not possible to forbid that line of discussion, nor was it possible to ensure that it didn't make anyone feel bad. But the thread was not flagged *once*. At all, by anyone. So the only conclusion I could draw was that it was a conversation no one was opposed to having.

- Community guidelines don't get written down here the way people are talking about. It would be a *really* big shift of the moderation style to have a written rulebook. I don't think it's going to do anything beyond giving folks an inaccurate expectation of how moderation works here - namely, time-sensitive, context-sensitive, done by several different people with incompletely overlapping perspectives, and aimed at fostering a healthy community rather than preserving an ideology.

- I read this excellent piece recently on online activism and some of the pitfalls, and I've been musing on it. This bit in particular, on the subject of righteous anger and the idea of the tone argument, stood out:
"The individual catharsis, then, comes to matter more than the collective, and responsibility to a wider community is blurred, if not quite lost.

It's gotten me thinking about how to moderate discussions on subjects where people are genuinely, righteously angry. I see, both here and elseweb, people who deserve to be angry, and own their anger, who are still behaving really badly to other people. It sucks to have to manage totally justified emotions, and in some cases PTSD-like (or actual PTSD-caused) triggered reactions, but the community can't absorb that kind of thing easily. This is just as true of people in the minority group as it is of, say, corb, who has discussed in this thread how her PTSD sometimes interacts badly with her conversational style here, and we need to - and will continue to - moderate both in similar ways.

So there's no real conclusion here, just a couple of things I've been thinking about as I've followed these last few trans-issue-related threads as a mod and as a reader. Anything that changes here is going to change slowly. It's going to change too slowly for some people, and that sucks, and too fast for others, and that sucks too.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:59 PM on January 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


Wow, restless_nomad, that linked piece is great. I love this:

I would now take this one step further to say that while sheltering our community members must always take priority, we must also challenge ourselves to be merciful to those who make themselves our enemies, and keep their humanity in sight even as they denude themselves of it with petty hatred. We can do more than simply meet their cruelty with ineffectual rage, and we can do more than simply shelter in place from their privilege. It is time that we took our convictions to their logical conclusion and set our sights higher than the call outs of particular points of failure evinced by some hapless individual; it is time we took the next step so many in our communities are already taking, to a social justice activism recommitted to changing social structures and not just creating echo chambers to declaim against what we have. In Mattie Brice’s words we “need to keep in mind that we’re fighting the system that uses people to marginalise others, not the people themselves.”
posted by jaguar at 4:20 PM on January 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's gotten me thinking about how to moderate discussions on subjects where people are genuinely, righteously angry. I see, both here and elseweb, people who deserve to be angry, and own their anger, who are still behaving really badly to other people. It sucks to have to manage totally justified emotions, and in some cases PTSD-like (or actual PTSD-caused) triggered reactions, but the community can't absorb that kind of thing easily. This is just as true of people in the minority group as it is of, say, corb, who has discussed in this thread how her PTSD sometimes interacts badly with her conversational style here, and we need to - and will continue to - moderate both in similar ways.

I am cis. I am only speaking for myself right now. I understand that the mods see things I don't (deleted comments, contact form, etc). I understand that this paragraph is not official policy and is just something you have been thinking about.

I feel very frustrated and sad about this paragraph. No trans person, in this thread or the original thread on the blue, has behaved badly or been publicly angry or shouty or whatever in either of the threads. corb is cis. She started this Meta. SaraC and St. Alia are cis and they got kind of grumpy in here about their various issues, and bickered a little with other cis members. The trans members of the community have been relentlessly, almost obsequiously, polite. They have followed every community guideline. They have reiterated their points kindly and politely. I really do not agree that explosive unproductive anger is "just as true" of trans people on Metafilter in these two threads. The anger is coming from cis people.

A related issue is that trans community members have specifically told us that the 101 tag thing is not really a huge concern to them and that what IS a concern to them is trans members being blamed for bad behavior by cis members. this is a thing laid it out pretty clearly in this comment. And yet we are still talking about people "in the minority group" "behaving really badly to other people" when that is just not happening.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:23 PM on January 12, 2014 [41 favorites]


I'm not talking about just on Metafilter, or just on trans issues, and it is definitely something that happens. It is something that I-as-mod will see more than other people, yes.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:27 PM on January 12, 2014


I really do not agree that explosive unproductive anger is "just as true" of trans people on Metafilter in these two threads.

Agreed. However in the long arc of years worth of trans* threads and discussions here, things have not been so clear cut. Which is just to say that we're responsible to the immediate issue and the overall history of the issue which I think is what r_n was speaking to. This is not to start some side discussion about this, only to respond to a specifically raised issue and our mod take on it. We're fine discussing this privately so as not to derail the larger discussion here if anyone wants.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2014


> I think rather than the auto-included 101 link I'd probably just like to see mods step in with a "[thing] is off topic, please keep discussion on the topic of [link in FPP] and we're going to start deleting comments after this one" message. And maybe if it's relevant mods can include the 101 link in a comment like that.

This makes sense to me. I don't like the automation idea.
posted by languagehat at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


jessamyn, restless_nomad, taz, mathowie and all the mods: how great would it be if, say 25% of the users who think these noisy, stupid repetitive derails are a problem actually took the time to flag them? Would more flags than the 0 in the thread mentioned by taz and the 0 in the thread mentioned by restless_nomad have an effect on moderation?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:46 PM on January 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


/me makes note to self (again) to remember to FIAMO...I know it's a very helpful thing to do and I could be better at it.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:53 PM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I suspect this is a specific-to-me issue (and I know jessamyn has broken the flags down for me at least once and I fail to retain this information), but I have a lot of trouble knowing how to flag things. Take the Fallon Fox thread from a week and a half ago. There is no 'this post is shit and will end badly' flag. Is that 'other'? I did send a ranty 'this post is shit' message through the contact form about a post once about a thread that actually turned out quite well in the end (I really wasn't helping the first half of the thread to go well, to be honest), but I think that was despite the post itself.
posted by hoyland at 4:54 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Oh, and the reply to my 'this post is shit and will end badly' rant was 'Yeah, it might get killed, but it's not gone south yet', which was fair enough.)
posted by hoyland at 4:56 PM on January 12, 2014


My understanding is that what flag you pick doesn't actually matter all that much, as they look at trends more than individual flags.

I sort of see it as three flags: (1) This is good ("fantastic comment"); (2) There is a formatting issue ("double comment", "HTML/display error"); and (3) I don't think this is appropriate for metafilter (all the other ones.)
posted by muddgirl at 5:01 PM on January 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Personally I think I rely pretty heavily on the "noise" flag to signify "This isn't offensive but it's otherwise not a good fit." But "other" seems OK as well.
posted by muddgirl at 5:02 PM on January 12, 2014


Muddgirl's summation is correct. If you feel a nuance needs to be expressed, feel free to hit up the contact form. We check all flags, so the different categories have some but only limited utility.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:03 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


However (as I apparently can't write just one comment), I'm somewhat reticent about declaring other people's posts to be shit. After all, what makes me right? There are definitely posts where I think 'Oh god, why on earth did you post this, don't you know better?' where other people clearly aren't having the same reaction. At what point am I firm enough in my convictions that the mods get to read a hopefully not too ranty email from me if there's no obvious flag?

I made what is seriously my third 'gay footballer comes out' FPP this morning, after complaining repeatedly in this thread about 'oh look a trans person did something' posts. I could write you a paragraph for each of those three posts explaining why I think it had more substance than that, but I have no idea how many other people picked up on that substance.
posted by hoyland at 5:03 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would more flags than the 0 in the thread mentioned by taz and the 0 in the thread mentioned by restless_nomad have an effect on moderation?

Of course. Especially as far as posts are concerned (even moreso than comments). Except in rare cases, a post with zero flags will not get deleted unless it breaks a pretty hard-and-fast rule. We got some feedback over email that people didn't like that post but there was an active discussion starting that was going okay and it didn't seem at all cool to delete it by mod prerogative as "These conversations always wind up sucking so even though this one isn't sucking now, we'll just jump in"

Any flag is better than not flagging. Emailing us about it if you literally can't decide is also fine providing you do it early. We got feedback after the MMA thread had been open for quite some time that it was a shitty post anyhow. We can't do anything about that except note it for the future and point out that it's a community website and to a certain extent we rely on people to give us feedback early and often.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:04 PM on January 12, 2014


I'm somewhat reticent about declaring other people's posts to be shit.

I don't get the impression that mods look at flags this way.
posted by muddgirl at 5:13 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


it didn't seem at all cool to delete it by mod prerogative as "These conversations always wind up sucking so even though this one isn't sucking now, we'll just jump in"

I think this is what I'm trying to say above, but for me. In the middle of the Coy Mathis MeTa, there was a post about gender non-conforming footballer playing for maybe American Samoa that didn't really get noticed at first, so it wasn't immediately going badly, but it had at least all the ingredients to (and did eventually and it spilled into the MeTa, IIRC (I'm sure I didn't help a whole lot--I was pretty fighty that week)). I shouldn't be flagging that when it goes up, should I? Or should I be, as a way of saying 'Hey, keep an eye on this?'
posted by hoyland at 5:15 PM on January 12, 2014


"This is not to start some side discussion about this, only to respond to a specifically raised issue and our mod take on it."

Okay, I understand, thank you for elaborating so quickly. I definitely don't want to derail the thread.

"We're fine discussing this privately so as not to derail the larger discussion here if anyone wants."

I'm okay personally, thank you.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:16 PM on January 12, 2014


I shouldn't be flagging that when it goes up, should I? Or should I be, as a way of saying 'Hey, keep an eye on this?'

You certainly could! It would put it on our radar, at least. Posts with zero flags are posts I often don't even read in any detail unless they turn weird and people start flagging stuff in them.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:06 PM on January 12, 2014


I don't think of the act of flagging as declaratory because it only goes to the mods and it requires their take on it in order for something to happen. It's more like saying "I just wanted you to know I think there's something going on with this post." Then the mods can decide. Also I almost always flag posts I think should be deleted with "it breaks the guidelines" and I've not yet been told that doesn't work.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:53 PM on January 12, 2014


restless_nomad: I really appreciate the response. I think most of it is fantastic. There's one thing in there that I think is a bit off, though.

So okay, we keep having these debates about basic rights and respect for trans people. So far, the mods have basically acted as referees in those debates.

And what I hear you saying here...
It's gotten me thinking about how to moderate discussions on subjects where people are genuinely, righteously angry. I see, both here and elseweb, people who deserve to be angry, and own their anger, who are still behaving really badly to other people. It sucks to have to manage totally justified emotions, and in some cases PTSD-like (or actual PTSD-caused) triggered reactions, but the community can't absorb that kind of thing easily. This is just as true of people in the minority group as it is of, say, corb, who has discussed in this thread how her PTSD sometimes interacts badly with her conversational style here, and we need to - and will continue to - moderate both in similar ways.
...is "Hey guys, the important thing is that we've been impartial referees. We're going to keep being impartial referees whenever these debates happen. We are absolutely not going to be biased towards trans people just because they're trans. We are not going to give minorities any leeway to be assholes just because they're 'righteously angry'."

That's awesome. But it's sort of a non-sequitur from my point of view. Because I'm not accusing you of bias as a referee, and I'm not asking you to start being biased as a referee. For me, the problem is that the debates happen so often in the first place.

Whenever trans people come up in an FPP, it turns into this sort of back-and-forth about whether we're crazy or liars or too demanding or too weird or whatever. No matter how fairly you moderate that, it's exhausting for us. Maybe we play nice and win the debate fairly; maybe we lose our shit and start yelling obscenities; whatever. It's just galling that the debate has to happen every single time. Frankly, even if you were totally biased in our favor whenever the debate came up, I'd still be frustrated at having to go through it again.

We've definitely had intense political debates on this site before. There have been some massive debates about feminism, for instance. But even at the worst of it, there were always a good percentage of threads about women that didn't turn nasty. "Why can't I say 'cunt'?" and "What's wrong with calling her fuckable?" and "Being afraid of rapists is misandry!" were occasional worst-case outcomes for an FPP with a woman's name in it, not inevitable results. (Imagine how much it would suck to be a woman on this site if that stuff did happen every single time an FPP had a woman's name in it. Imagine if your heart fell every time you saw a post about a woman, even if it was a post about a woman doing something cool and positive and inspiring, because you knew the thread was going to spawn a bunch of garbage anyway and there wasn't going to be anything you could do to stop it.)

Right now, that's basically how I feel about trans posts here — it feels like it's inevitable every time there's a post about us. Like, yes, okay, I get it, we are currently a Controversial Topic In The News. But I feel like that's all we get to be around here: if we're mentioned at all, there is just necessarily gonna be a fight. That sucks; and telling me that both sides have been fighting equally dirty doesn't make it suck any less.

I don't know — am I overreacting? Have there been awesome posts about trans people that stayed calm and casual and pleasant, and I've just missed them?
posted by this is a thing at 7:00 PM on January 12, 2014 [28 favorites]


Well, there was this one, which, skimming it just now, I think went well for two reasons: a) it was about masculine folks and b) it intimidated the hell out of people who don't think about gender much.
posted by hoyland at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


You'll note, though, that the inclusion of 101 links there actually pulled the first ten or so comments away from the actual topic of the thread and there's some random stuff dropped in at the end on the grounds it has the word 'trans' in it, I think.
posted by hoyland at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2014


(Er, sorry, that might have sounded more gauntlet-throwing-down than I meant it to. Please take that as an attempt at helpful clarification, and not a demand or accusation or whatever.)
posted by this is a thing at 7:14 PM on January 12, 2014


I definitely have flagged things that I don't think break the rules but that I'm like, Whoa, this is the kind of thread that goes rapidly off the rails, I hope the mods have noticed it so they can jump on early threadshitting. I've also emailed the mods basically the same thing: "Hey, I think this post is fine but given how fighty people were in a semi-related thread last week, I'm concerned it will get fighty fast." Every time mods have been like, hey, thanks, we'll keep an eye to make sure it doesn't go crazy. Sometimes it's nothing but sometimes it does go sideways and the mod on duty is already looking at it and able to head off derails much faster.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:34 PM on January 12, 2014


Scientist, for the record, my comment had nothing at all to do with you. I was speculating out loud on the potential motives of the poster, not the commenters. I can tell you are highly offended, so let me defuse that by repeating: not about you.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:43 PM on January 12, 2014


Well, I'm skimming the transgender tag to see what looks like it's gone well. If there are more than 100 comments, I'm not clicking through in the interests of my sanity. Basically, it looks like the greatest predictor of success (defined by not turning into a shit show) is the poster being someone I know to be trans. Things that go well with on topic discussion tend to be fairly niche (jiawen's Wandering Son post, Charlemagne in Sweatpants's post when Laura Jane Grace came out (though it has a 101-level discussion about voice, which is kind of on topic), the Juliet Banana post I linked above once it got going, etc.). Then there's a bunch of posts that didn't turn into disasters (or were successfully reined in by the mods quickly), where there's a lot of education going on, but not a lot of actual discussion. (Though some lent themselves to education much more easily than discussion, so maybe those should be bumped into the 'successful, on topic' category.) Then there posts with, uh, fighty education going on but don't devolve totally. (Included here are some where someone is telling trans people what they should care about.) Then there are the disasters.

Topics that seem to have success:
- anything fairly niche, where the non-trans aspects aren't necessarily of interest to a big chunk of the general population (e.g. the Laura Jane Grace post--it's largely people who care about music and people who care about trans stuff)
- posts primarily about masculine-identified/presenting people (though I only found two; I remember a third that did not go that well and I think was deleted, and a fourth that was deleted*)

Topics that seem to go badly:
- anything involving children
- almost anything involving trans women**
- doubly so for trans women in "women's spaces" (sports and bathrooms, mostly)
- trans people and feminism is probably not a good plan, either
- probably anything involving non-binary identities, but I'm not sure I spotted one (I remember one that was also about male privilege and thus a total disaster)

In other words, we have a transmisogyny problem. Quelle surprise.

*It was about the fraternity raising money for a member's top surgery and was deleted for being an open kickstarter type thing, though I kind of question the motivations of whoever raised that point strenuously fairly late (but they may have an ax to grind about kickstarter, not trans people).
**I've said 'trans women' here but not 'trans men' above because I think we need a distinction between trans women and gender non-conformity by cis men, which tends to go better. I think we've had posts that are hazy when it comes to gender non-conformity on the part of AFAB people that went okay.

posted by hoyland at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


Or perhaps one of the reasons that some of those threads go badly is declaring that if someone disagrees or is upset in a conversation about a topic that is important to them, they must be a misogynist. Namecalling others and declaring that others must have the absolute worst motivations does not help in any way.

Cis men, as such, aren't under attack by anyone in any way, whereas all kinds of women are, on every front that there is. Ignoring or denying that reality is very upsetting. You brought up sports. Cis men aren't concerned about trans men in sports, because trans men are completely shut out of high level competitive sports. Cis men never have had to, and never will have to, fight tooth and claw for just the opportunity to play sports competitively, unlike trans men, trans women, and cis women. Perhaps that is one reason those threads go differently; I think is is more likely than the idea that unlike every other topic, cis men are just magically 100% unbigoted on topics relating to trans people.
posted by cairdeas at 12:04 AM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's a little simplistic to put the blame for threads about trans women going badly entirely on the shoulders of cis men, though. Cis women are hardly immune to transmisogyny.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:25 AM on January 13, 2014 [19 favorites]


Can't we all just follow the IUPAC nomenclature?
posted by HFSH at 4:12 AM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think is is more likely than the idea that unlike every other topic, cis men are just magically 100% unbigoted on topics relating to trans people.

I have no idea where you're getting the idea I've said anything about cis men in comparison to cis women.

You could argue that posts about women's sports also don't in general go particularly well, and that's what's driving the pattern of posts about trans women in sport going badly. You'd be right about posts about cis women in sports often being full of unexamined sexism (that people then vigorously deny exists), but I think those posts play out along different lines than those about trans women in sports.
posted by hoyland at 4:29 AM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


hoyland: "- anything involving children
- almost anything involving trans women**
- doubly so for trans women in "women's spaces" (sports and bathrooms, mostly)
- trans people and feminism is probably not a good plan, either
- probably anything involving non-binary identities, but I'm not sure I spotted one (I remember one that was also about male privilege and thus a total disaster)

In other words, we have a transmisogyny problem. Quelle surprise.
"

I had to look up this term because I was unfamiliar with it, and did not understand from your comment's context how transmisogyny differs from standard misogyny. (Not your fault. Just my own ignorance.)

In case references might be of help to anyone else needing to understand the term:
"Trans-misogyny is a term that was invented by author Julia Serano in the book, Serano, Julia (2007). Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. ISBN 1580051545. OCLC 81252738. to describe how "traditional sexism - the belief that maleness and masculinity are superior to femaleness and femininity" are applied to transsexual women in the attempt to enforce the traditional patriarchy. This sort of discrimination can be seen when a trans woman is ridiculed or otherwise sanctioned for expressing her femaleness or femininity.

One theory to this is that gender variant anatomical males "threaten" the (personal) masculinity or dominance of males in a patriarchal social structure. This is often tied to misogyny on the belief that women are "lesser" then men.

Trans-misogyny can be discerned from transphobia by examining if the female to male transsexual is subjected to the same discrimination. Therefore, when jokes are made about "men in dresses" or "men who want their dicks cut off" it can be seen that trans-misogyny is the driving force behind them. Obviously, the same jokes wouldn't work if they were aimed at trans men."
Also: What Transmisogyny Looks Like.

So as an example, the Coy Mathis thread gives us examples of transmisogyny in the comments: people arguing that a trans woman (or in Coy's case, a trans girl) should not use a woman's bathroom, because others see them as male, and their needs are considered less important than the hypothetical discomfort their presence might cause for others.
posted by zarq at 7:04 AM on January 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm skeptical that labels are helpful at keeping discussions civil or productive. In an academic setting or on MeTa, it's fine to invent a new term like "transmisogyny" or to talk about whether trans people can be transphobic. In MetaFilter threads, however, I think it provokes unproductive reactions and invites derailment. To some extent maybe this depends what you hope to get out of any MetaFilter thread, but in general, I think difficult topics—say, topics where our personal experiences differ in ways that we find fundamental to identity—work best on this site when people talk about themselves and not each other. The more difficult the topic has been, the more helpful it is to anchor the discussion at a non-conceptual level of, "Here's what I have actually experienced and how it felt." And I think that's borne out by many of the threads and comments that have proved seminal.
posted by cribcage at 7:49 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


> I'm skeptical that labels are helpful at keeping discussions civil or productive.

That isn't the purpose of "labels", or more properly, new words. The purpose is to make it easier to talk about things which are not easily defined by existing words. We could instead say "misogyny which is specifically targeted at women whose gender was incorrectly assigned at birth", but that'd get cumbersome pretty quickly, right? Thus, transmisogyny.
posted by gilrain at 8:10 AM on January 13, 2014 [25 favorites]


To some extent maybe this depends what you hope to get out of any MetaFilter thread, but in general, I think difficult topics—say, topics where our personal experiences differ in ways that we find fundamental to identity—work best on this site when people talk about themselves and not each other. The more difficult the topic has been, the more helpful it is to anchor the discussion at a non-conceptual level of, "Here's what I have actually experienced and how it felt." And I think that's borne out by many of the threads and comments that have proved seminal.

I'd like to believe that this was true, but even this tactic still gets shitty responses, and it's not just in trans discussions either. Women's experiences and definitions of rape and harassment (or safety in general) get marginalized on a depressingly regular basis (that's what prompted divined by radio's list that I linked to above), as do gay and lesbian MeFites' perceptions of homophobia. Some MeFites have done this repeatedly, and yet they're usually the ones that complain about toxic language and tone and name-calling. Plus, this still puts the onus on MeFites who are trans, women (cis and trans), gay or lesbian, etc. As several commentors in this thread have noted, it can get on one's last nerve having to refute that kind of stuff in nearly every single discussion, so telling them that they're the ones that have to maintain composure in the face of being insulted seems pretty unfair.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:14 AM on January 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


That isn't the purpose of "labels", or rather, new words. The purpose is to make it easier to talk about things which are not easily defined by existing words.

I'd say say so - people use new terms all the time on Metafilter. AES was pretty new in 2002 - newer than "transmisogyny" in 2014 - but it's being used here with relatively little explanation. If there is something particularly difficult about new words created to describe the experience of trans people, we should probably get that out in the open, but I don't think they are intrinsically disturbing (just check out the discussion of the neologistic "iPad" in 2010; it gets emotional).

Probably worth noting, also, that this is a MetaTalk thread. And indeed that there was a whole MeTa basically around the transmisogyny in that thread - that is, this is all taking place in the appropriate venue.

There is a problem there, of course, around letting various forms of miso- or -phobic speech stand in MetaFilter because the protest has been raised instead in MetaTalk, which a minority of users look at. I imagine that is part of the ongoing moderator discussion lobstermitten referenced above.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:39 AM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


(That thread = the Coy Mathis thread zarq cited.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:40 AM on January 13, 2014


You know, I was going to respond to cribcage's comment, but I have to say I don't get their motivations here. We're in a MeTa that started because someone complained about expectations around language and now someone's complaining about the language we use to discuss the problem?

People quite specifically avoid using the word 'transmisogyny' on the blue. I generally avoid it in metatalk until we get quite far down in a thread and only interested parties remain. It's not like we don't know most people aren't zarq and can't be expected to take themselves off to google if they need to.
posted by hoyland at 8:43 AM on January 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


My post on resources/media for/about transmasculine dudes has been linked a couple of times as an example of rolling 101-type links into a FPP. I kind of want to point out a few things about it, in case anyone else is wondering about how to frame a FPP so that it has less likelihood of turning into a fighty mess.

-I don't think an automated "TRANS = 101 LINKS" capability necessarily needs to be built into the site; but until mods declare otherwise, you are always welcome to opt to put them in yourself. I talked a bit about why I included 101 links in my comment here; basically, my very rare FPPs are my babies and I love seeing comments on them and seeing transphobia show up in response to a topic that is very close to my heart feels personally hurtful to me.

-I didn't just say "here are some 101 links;" I said "If you need to brush up on Trans 101 before participating in this thread, this covers the basics. This is a good resource for vocabulary. There was an expectation that, if you needed to brush up on Trans 101, you did it BEFORE commenting in the thread. You didn't shoot off a question and research later. Now, if you still have a respectful question? I think it's been proven over, and over, and over in this thread and elsewhere that no one is going to bite off your head if you ask it. You're going to get a respectful, knowledgeable answer.

I don't think that "you should have a basic working knowledge of trans* issues before you start participating in a trans* thread" is too high of a bar to set, seeing how hurtful willful ignorance has been in the past. I don't think my particular framing needs to be mandatory; but I do want to let people know that it's an option, and I don't think it would hurt if more OPs opted to use something like it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:47 AM on January 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Maybe this is a distinction without a difference, but I think I like the idea of "community principles" more than "101s"

I realize that I may not necessarily be the person people are looking to for answers here, but speaking for self, the idea of "community principles" rather than "overarching rules that apply to all situations" helps me engage in a better way.

As someone who has a bit of education, especially in certain subjects, I tend to be reflexively upset when people try to refer me specifically to a 101 (rather than including it at the top, which can be useful). This is because I feel that I'm beyond the 101 level - even if I'm coming at things from a different perspective or practice, it feels that my differences are not the results of a lack of education, but of education in a different community which has different ideas and rules.

Thus, I would probably be unlikely to read a "Trans 101", because I would assume it would be for people who have never encountered the concept of trans identities before and have very basic questions. But a "Trans Topics On Metafilter" community standards document would be very valuable. It also allows people to understand that different standards are a norm here, while acknowledging that people in other areas may have other standards, and that these are not universal rules.
posted by corb at 8:54 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel that I'm beyond the 101 level - even if I'm coming at things from a different perspective or practice, it feels that my differences are not the results of a lack of education, but of education in a different community which has different ideas and rules.

In the nicest possible way, that sounds to me like a little bit of intellectual snobbery. Or at the very least laziness in wanting to 'skip to the hard bit' without due diligence. Reading between the lines there, you consider yourself educated so you can't be educated about something unless it is at an advanced level, which is um, pretty snobbish. I've been guilty of the same thing myself on occasion.

It never hurts anyone to read a 101. Especially if they are coming at something 'from a different perspective or viewpoint'. I think that's probably something you (and them/me/people in general) need to get over pretty quickly if people want to be considered as educated as they feel they are themselves. It is entirely possible to have advanced knowledge of any subject yet be blissfully unaware of basics that can make someone look dumb. Better to read the 101's than have that happen, no?
posted by Brockles at 9:06 AM on January 13, 2014 [26 favorites]


It also allows people to understand that different standards are a norm here, while acknowledging that people in other areas may have other standards, and that these are not universal rules.

I personally would expect anyone who is sophisticated enough to engage with Metafilter on an intellectual level to be aware that different online communities have different standards of conduct and engage accordingly. For those who are not yet aware of community standards, as expressed in discussion, the traditional internet stance is to read and observe to determine the local norms before posting.
posted by immlass at 9:17 AM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


corb, isn't better to take a minute to read a 101 whatever than to cause hurt by making statements that are at odds with a group of people's philosophy?

'cause that's the choice you're are making, it kind of seems. you can argue about tone, I suppose, but it seems like you're kicking up sand so that you can say what you want, when you want, and that's kind of asshole behavior. That's the bottom line, to me: you don't seem to realize that no, saying what you want when you want is not the ethos around here. Or perhaps you realize it and wish it to be otherwise.
posted by angrycat at 9:20 AM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thus, I would probably be unlikely to read a "Trans 101", because I would assume it would be for people who have never encountered the concept of trans identities before and have very basic questions.

Well, you do have very basic questions, as evidenced by the existence of the thread. Perhaps it would help you to cultivate more of a beginner's mind?
posted by Miko at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


even if I'm coming at things from a different perspective or practice, it feels that my differences are not the results of a lack of education, but of education in a different community which has different ideas and rules.

It can be both. Things change, and there's no memo that goes out to everyone alerting them to the change, and so it can be pretty easy to miss something (a change in preferred terminology, a new discussion about use of a term, etc.). A general 101 is not supposed to nor can it be the be-all and end-all, and of course it can't cover "This is how things work in THISPLACE but not THATPLACE." For that, you (we) really just need to pay attention to what mefites right here say is preferred. And arguing that we don't have to pay attention to that because OTHERPLACE does it differently is not all that helpful.

And, honestly? If one has memory glitches, and one knows one has memory glitches (which we all do about different stuff!), why would it be a bridge too far to click through to a 101 link or a mefi wiki link to give quick skim in order to refresh the memory?
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think corb is hitting on part of the general problem, which is the absence of the right 101 material. Certainly, I think there's a need to rein in one's own self-confidence and pay attention to a 101 link and not just skip it or skim it, thinking you know everything. I've been working on something that will need a 101 link somewhere, so I've been reading a lot of them lately and a lot of them won't really equip people very well.

I'll be up front and say I find corb frustrating fairly frequently and I've argued with her about a whole bunch of things. But I really do think she's being genuine when she says she has experience with trans issues and that that experience is way out of step with the majority here. It's really not that corb just needs to read a trans 101 link. There's the part where there's stuff corb needs to work on personally and there's the part where corb (or someone in her position) really needs a 201 link and there aren't any good ones.
posted by hoyland at 9:28 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, in this case, you know what would have solved this problem? Instead of insisting on not separating the word with a space, you could have just said, "Oh, thanks. Trans people I know don't use the space" and leave it at that. corb, your issues aren't really something a #101 type of thing could solve because your issues deal with your insistence on imposing your norms and your vocabulary on the community at large even in the face of resistance.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:29 AM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


The GLAAD one seems to be the best of the lot, coincidentally. I'm not a fan of the long lists of definitions (of which there are a lot out there) because a) they're often not that useful, b) they're out of date and c) some of the definitions are totally cringeworthy.
posted by hoyland at 9:30 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thus, I would probably be unlikely to read a "Trans 101", because I would assume it would be for people who have never encountered the concept of trans identities before and have very basic questions.

Looking at you as someone who has been involved with of a number of trans-discussions-gone-wrong, I think this is a bad assumption/decision on your part. At some point you have to look outside yourself and your own self-assessment to see if it's actually in practice the same as others' outside assessments of you. If there is a disconnect, it's worth understanding where and why that sort of thing is happening and not just presuming that there's some consistent, repeatable and ununderstandable misunderstanding happening entirely external to your participation. Your assessment of your own approach to many of these topics often does not match the way you are interpreted to be talking about them in threads here on MetaFilter, in other words.

So, the the larger issue, I think one of the problems is going to be that people will self-identify their way out of this sort of thing which will become its own community issue. Not pooh-poohing the idea by any stretch, but we've definitely seen other touchy topics have similar issues because the people who are most deeply involved (either by personal experience, education, extensive activism, whathaveyou) don't think they need to understand first principles. I've learned a lot about trans* issues generally just by being willing to listen and accept things that may not have initially felt "right" to me for whatever reason but were clearly what people who knew better than me were telling me (without resorting to discussing my trans-friend-not-in-evidence) were worth understanding, possibly just on someone else's terms at first, until I understood better. That's been helpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:30 AM on January 13, 2014 [27 favorites]


I also want to say something else - something about corb's note about PTSD.

I appreciate that individual psychological makeup is the single largest driving force behind the nature, content, frequency and style of any one person's participation, and I understand that by mentioning it corb was trying to contextualize her response patterns, characterize a struggle, and make an apology or at least extend an olive branch.

At the same time, the risk I see in offering that as part of an apology is that corb is not the only person who is operating here in the specific context of psychological or personal issues of one kind of another. She's not the only person with PTSD. Not the only person who has defensive communication patterns. Not the only person who feels a rush of adrenaline when engaged in a combative discussion. These pieces of information provide some help in understanding where corb individually may be coming from at any given point, but they don't serve as fully explanatory, nor as excuses for behavior.

The truth is that a lot of people here have difficult behaviors that interact badly, sometimes, with their expression on this website. I include myself. Recognizing the behaviors is a good step toward self-mastery, but it's not something that should exempt someone from consequences. Part of participating within the guidelines is riding herd on one's own negative tendencies when they threaten to overstep those guidelines. It's a requirement of participation. There are users here with all forms of personal challenge, from diagnosable ones like depression and psychotic episodes and anxiety to poorly received personality quirks like a tendency to be inappropriately jokey or the enjoyment of trollishness. We are all balancing our own desire to express ourselves with the understanding that we are doing so as members of a community, and participation in a community comes with certain kinds of agreements. And communities can set guidelines and enforce consequences.

I don't say this to be heartless and refrained from posting about it last night when I would not have phrased it as charitably. But at the very least, corb, I think you should spend a moment considering that many other people in this community also struggle with PTSD and many other kinds of psychological or personal challenges, and most manage to be able to have a positive kind of participation here, sometimes with check-ins like this one playing a major facilitating role. It doesn't make you a lost cause or intractable, it doesn't mean you will be written off forever, it doesn't mean you have special permission to act out, it doesn't come with a different set of standards. It is something useful for you know about yourself to work on your participation patterns, but not something the community must make a specialized adaptation to, more than setting a general standard of discourse applying to all.

It's regrettable that our society involves so much trauma. It is the worst thing about human existence. But it definitely does, and remembering that you are one of many who have had difficult experiences which created reaction patterns we no longer find completely adaptive, and that others whose struggles are also difficult are here and also doing their best to control themselves, to learn, to listen, to walk away, to pause, to breathe, to apologize, to soften, to wait, to be more honest, whatever our challenge (admittedly with imperfect success; we are human) may help you see that you are more than the victim of your circumstances, as difficult as they may be. And to know that others have as complex a time with some of their own interactions here as you sometimes do with yours.

And I am sorry for your suffering and hope that you continue to seek peace, and find it.
posted by Miko at 9:38 AM on January 13, 2014 [29 favorites]


As someone who has a bit of education, especially in certain subjects, I tend to be reflexively upset when people try to refer me specifically to a 101 (rather than including it at the top, which can be useful).

One of the most important lessons I've learned since crossing the over 40 threshold is that most people, myself definitely included, are still 101 on pretty much everything and that's ok as long 1) you realize it and 2) are willing to be quiet and learn, rather than injecting what you think is right into everything.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:39 AM on January 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


I think one of the problems is going to be that people will self-identify their way out of this sort of thing which will become its own community issue

Yeah, I think this is a structural problem with the idea - it rests on the assumption of goodwill and teachability. But it can't really hurt. I think a tag with a link to a wiki page of good resources would not be a bad thing. It will inevitable get out of date now and then, too - there's the maintenance issue.
posted by Miko at 9:40 AM on January 13, 2014


corb: " As someone who has a bit of education, especially in certain subjects, I tend to be reflexively upset when people try to refer me specifically to a 101 (rather than including it at the top, which can be useful). This is because I feel that I'm beyond the 101 level - even if I'm coming at things from a different perspective or practice, it feels that my differences are not the results of a lack of education, but of education in a different community which has different ideas and rules.

I don't know how old you are. I'm 41. Compared to most of the other members of this site, I'm probably older than dirt. :D

When I was a kid, I was taught that gender was immutable and unchanging, and that people could ONLY be male or female and that's it. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or trans was at best a rare aberration and was definitely something wrong, to be shunned or feared. This idea was reinforced by the news reports I watched on tv, heard on the radio and read in newspapers and magazines. It was reinforced by tv shows, too. That knowledge was everywhere and it was accepted as absolute fact. In some areas of the world it still is.

And then I got older. I learned that everything I had been taught was wrong, and that our understanding of the way gender and sexuality works is evolving over time (biologically and sociologically,) as we study and learn new things about ourselves and others. Gender, sexual attraction and sexuality don't exist the way I was taught they do, and no one should ever be shunned or feared for their gender or sexual preference.

This sort of deeper understanding can happen as we grow up. We mature and learn more about... well, everything. Sometimes, our understanding of certain things changes. Sometimes not. The important thing (in my opinion) is to listen, learn, ask questions, analyze, keep an open mind and then come to our own conclusions. And not be afraid of things we don't know.

Corb, we live in an age that is truly unprecedented. In the past, access to information, to the collective knowledge of mankind, was limited. It took work to learn new things. Now we have google and wikipedia and hundreds of other resources literally at our fingertips. Our great grandparents would be blown away by the volume of knowledge we have at our immediate disposal. We don't even have to crack open a book! It's amazing.

Don't ever be afraid to review the basics because you think you know them. You might find that while you weren't looking, what we know about those basics has changed. The great joy of living here, at this moment in time, is that there's always something new we can learn. A "Eureka!" moment might be just around the corner. But we have to look for it.
posted by zarq at 9:43 AM on January 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


I tend to be reflexively upset

This is understandable, but it's less understandable to force the rest of the community to deal with your hurt feelings because you don't want to control your reflexes.
posted by palomar at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


One more thing... I collect old history books. Crack open a US history book from say, 1850 and you'll find superb details about all sorts of little battles and territorial wars that we never hear about today. That the average American doesn't even know existed! With the benefit of 160 years of hindsight, we know now that they weren't all that important in the greater scheme of things. Even though they were no doubt very important to the people fighting them.

Re-learning what we know can help us put it into better perspective.
posted by zarq at 9:49 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Mostly what jessamyn said just above, but I think it's really important(speaking for me) to go slowly in threads on topics that are likely to be contentious (rightly or wrongly). I edit a lot, I delete comments rather than hit post, and I try and read everything (and with as much charity as I can managed). I don't always do this, especially in fast-moving threads, but it's my goal.

And I dunno if you can every be "too advanced for 101." Even in my discipline, I find myself going back to foundational things all the time because the gap between what is foundation and what I imagine is foundation seems to drift over time. Finding myself reacting to people's lived experience with disbelief is a sign to go back and check my assumptions for that drift.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:49 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Don't ever be afraid to review the basics because you think you know them. You might find that while you weren't looking, what we know about those basics has changed. The great joy of living here, at this moment in time, is that there's always something new we can learn

To clarify, I was trying to take something from my own experience and broaden it - I agree that you're right, and often things that we know have changed - particularly with age. Even things that seem like they would be completely uncontroversial - how many planets are there? What did the dinosaurs look like?

My point was more that I think a response of "You look like you need to read the 101 discussion" might well increase the contentiousness of a discussion that seems to already have a lot of points wherein it can go wrong. I mentioned my own feelings when approached in that way to show how others might have similar feelings - I don't think it's that strange, really. If the goal is to have discussions without that sort of reaction, then even small points such as how things are worded in order to draw people into reading them may well have value - because difficult conversations often get there from a series of small missteps.
posted by corb at 9:50 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think a response of "You look like you need to read the 101 discussion" might well increase the contentiousness of a discussion

It's your choice whether to view that as contentious. If you posted something that's discussed in the 101 discussion, then it does look like you didn't read it, and would benefit from it. Between "it would help you to read this so as not to continue derailing this discussion with an elementary point" and "I am being attacked" is a lot of real estate.
posted by Miko at 9:57 AM on January 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


And also, even if you are more aggressively called out, it's your choice whether to escalate. A "series of small missteps" is not just something that happens. You can choose your reaction to what you see before you - you can decide the whole thing is not worth it, and walk away. You can decide the small point is not worth it, and move on, paying attention to your larger and more significant thoughts about the issue. You can decide the person calling you out always has a snippy attitude and it's probably nothing to do with you. A vast realm of choice lies before you in such situations.
posted by Miko at 10:01 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


And also, even if you are more aggressively called out, it's your choice whether to escalate. A "series of small missteps" is not just something that happens. You can choose your reaction to what you see before you - you can decide the whole thing is not worth it, and walk away. You can decide the small point is not worth it, and move on, paying attention to your larger and more significant thoughts about the issue. You can decide the person calling you out always has a snippy attitude and it's probably nothing to do with you. A vast realm of choice lies before you in such situations.

This is something that it took a long time for me to learn, but which has made my life immeasurably better. I used to react to fightiness by just hopping into the ring with my fists up, it was like springing a mousetrap. My life is much calmer and more pleasant now, and I spend a lot less time shaking with adrenaline.
posted by KathrynT at 10:10 AM on January 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


corb, if approaching you nicely and explaining the issue to you without mentioning 101 was all it took for you to understand and change your hurtful behavior we wouldn't be here because those things have been done multiple times on this exact topic. your repeated actions do not match your portrayal of them.
posted by nadawi at 10:12 AM on January 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


If the goal is to have discussions without that sort of reaction, then even small points such as how things are worded in order to draw people into reading them may well have value…

No. It is not my job to "draw you into" learning anything. It is not my job to make this fun, effortless or pleasurable for you. It is not my job to contort myself into the position you find least threatening.

You're unwilling to read a link with the label "101" on it? You're complaining that that label doesn't flatter you enough, doesn't pander to your image of yourself as an expert? You know what? Tough shit. We are not here to flatter you.

You've got two choices here: listen to people and learn things, or stay ignorant. You can pick either one as far as I'm concerned. But if you choose ignorance, take responsibility for that choice — don't blame us because we didn't sugarcoat the truth in precisely the right way.
posted by this is a thing at 10:14 AM on January 13, 2014 [43 favorites]


For what it's worth, though I recognize it may be difficult to separate it at this point - I'm not talking about things specifically for me, but things that may also apply to other people and discussions for the future.
posted by corb at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2014


you might consider that your specific history makes it almost impossible to separate it from what you're suggesting since this is something you've repeatedly asked for, received, and claimed you didn't get.
posted by nadawi at 10:19 AM on January 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


things that may also apply to other people and discussions for the future.

We can worry about hypothetical other people if and when they decide to make their concerns known to this community. I do not think that you are intentionally doing this, but this is a classic concern trolling tactic and not helpful to this discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2014 [26 favorites]


I'm not talking about things specifically for me

Considering that you've had an awful lot of trouble figuring out how stuff that is specific to you plays out on the site, I think it would really, really make sense for you to recuse yourself from offering to solve everybody else's hypothetical problems re: discourse on the site. Focus on your stuff, let other folks focus on other folks' stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 AM on January 13, 2014 [36 favorites]


As someone who has a bit of education, especially in certain subjects, I tend to be reflexively upset when people try to refer me specifically to a 101 (rather than including it at the top, which can be useful). This is because I feel that I'm beyond the 101 level - even if I'm coming at things from a different perspective or practice, it feels that my differences are not the results of a lack of education, but of education in a different community which has different ideas and rules.

See, the fact that we all are coming from different communities with different ideas is exactly why people may refer each other to the "101" on a topic. Of course you weren't exposed to this - none of us gets exposed to every last bit of knowledge about everything on the planet.

That's why when people suggest that maybe I should educate myself about something, I try to remember that hey, maybe they're right, maybe I don't know about this and should study up before shooting my mouth off. I don't take it as an assessment of my mental state and sniff about how "I consider myself beyond the 101 level" - because hell, I had a great education too, but only in some certain topics. If we're talking about theater history and Celtic myth I can lay some knowledge on you like a boss, but I don't know thing 1 about trigonometry.

And to paraphrase G.I. Joe - admitting that you don't know is half the battle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 AM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ooh. Socrates/G.I. Joe crossover.
posted by this is a thing at 10:33 AM on January 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


Spot of good news in a sea of shit: CeCe McDonald was released today.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:35 AM on January 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Socrates/G.I. Joe crossover.

I credit a misspent youth reading lots of fanfiction.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Many years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn aikido. I wanted to learn it in large part because it seemed like a practice that mentally, I was already attuned to (defend yourself by A) running away when possible, and when not possible, by B) using your opponent's offense as your defense). There was a dojo near where I lived that people seemed to like.

So I went, and my first day, I walked into the practice space and greeted the people who were beginning to gather. I asked one woman how long she had been practicing. "I am just a beginner," she replied.

She was our sensei.
posted by rtha at 10:42 AM on January 13, 2014 [39 favorites]


I think metafilter synthesizes unique interactions between people that in many ways are not readily experienced elsewhere. Because of the unique aspects of metafilter trans people experience the same ol crap in new ways here on Mefi. This means that a "101" cribbed off the internet is not likely to cover the unique ways cis and trans people interact here and will not address specific cultural issues that are present here due to the unique "social network for non-friends" nature of mefi.

That's a long intro to my point being that some of the things I as a trans person have discovered about myself have been a direct result of how people interact here, with the resulting frames and language I use being unique to metafilter culture but still fairly useful in the world at large.

ramble ramble...I guess that's something to consider when trying to understand why it's not unreasonable for frames, language and terms on mefi to differ from elsewhere.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:53 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


If the goal is to have discussions without that sort of reaction, then even small points such as how things are worded in order to draw people into reading them may well have value - because difficult conversations often get there from a series of small missteps.

This is pretty much the definition of a tone argument.
posted by talitha_kumi at 11:07 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


If the goal is to have discussions without that sort of reaction, then even small points such as how things are worded in order to draw people into reading them may well have value - because difficult conversations often get there from a series of small missteps."

Quoting you out of order here. :)

I would be fine referring to as a something other than "Trans 101." Getting people to read and absorb it is a win as far as I'm concerned.

corb: "My point was more that I think a response of "You look like you need to read the 101 discussion" might well increase the contentiousness of a discussion that seems to already have a lot of points wherein it can go wrong.

One of the reasons we have a FAQ and the wiki is so that we don't have to re-explain the same stuff over and over again when someone brings up a topic.

People in trans threads are explaining the same points repeatedly to folks who aren't familiar them. This keeps happening and really needs a solution because many of the 'explainers' are finding it really frustrating and disheartening to have to explain themselves over and over again.

Gently asking members of this community to take the initiative and do a little light reading so they have background on what's being discussed would solve that problem. I think it's worth the risk that someone would get their nose out of joint over the question.
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Annika Cicada: "This means that a "101" cribbed off the internet is not likely to cover the unique ways cis and trans people interact here and will not address specific cultural issues that are present here due to the unique "social network for non-friends" nature of mefi. "

I am having trouble adding to the wiki page for this reason.

A couple of people have sent me fantastic essays (thank you!) which should be incorporated. Right now it links to some MetaTalk threads. It links to the GLAAD FAQ. But GLAAD's Transgender 101 page isn't going to help someone interact well on MeFi. The media reference guide is a better resource. I'm going to crib and rewrite sections from it so it's briefer and more mefi-appropriate.

When I have a basic framework done, is anyone interested in refining it over memail before it goes live? (Might be 2-3 days.) This is different than anything I've done before on the wiki, and because of my unfamiliarity with the topic, I'm nervous about doing it wrong.
posted by zarq at 11:20 AM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't even know where to begin, other than to link to thousand comment meta's with the comment "That uhh, thing, there, yeah, don't do that type of thing again, because due to the subsequent thread where we uhh, learned a bohonkus about that other thing we did, and uhh, yeah. So there's a space now"
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:24 AM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ha! Yeah, exactly!

There's another downside to doing it that way. We'd be calling someone out for something they did in the past on a non-Metafilter site. Wouldn't be fair to them to have that enshrined in the wiki.
posted by zarq at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I'm skeptical that labels are helpful at keeping discussions civil or productive. In an academic setting or on MeTa, it's fine to invent a new term like "transmisogyny" or to talk about whether trans people can be transphobic. In MetaFilter threads, however, I think it provokes unproductive reactions and invites derailment."

I understand that, but I learn new words all the time, usually a couple a day. Not only is it fun, they're pretty useful (though I do catch myself overusing new words as they sink in). So I guess I don't have a ton of sympathy for the idea that new words are inherently hard — I'd like to think that MetaFilter's pretty decent with neologisms and context and even just dictionaries and google.

To some extent maybe this depends what you hope to get out of any MetaFilter thread, but in general, I think difficult topics—say, topics where our personal experiences differ in ways that we find fundamental to identity—work best on this site when people talk about themselves and not each other. The more difficult the topic has been, the more helpful it is to anchor the discussion at a non-conceptual level of, "Here's what I have actually experienced and how it felt." And I think that's borne out by many of the threads and comments that have proved seminal.

Well, yeah, that's pretty much the gold standard of how to talk about stuff like this. However, if we were always able to beatifically speak from a place of subjective kindness and openness, we wouldn't need MeTa except for formatting. So, I think you're right, but I still think that it's worth noting that many of these discussions still derail in pretty predictable ways, so we can still be well-served by talking about what to do when things aren't living up to that ideal.
posted by klangklangston at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know how old you are. I'm 41. Compared to most of the other members of this site, I'm probably older than dirt. :D

Most people look about 40 in the meetup pictures I've seen.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:38 AM on January 13, 2014


I learned a new word just last week, right here on metafilter: grooble.

Now, for all that hushpuppies is a potentially contentious topic (corn kernels vs no corn kernels, mainly, I think), nobody freaked out when someone introduced a new (and perhaps just-invented!) word into the thread. Maybe in future threads on topics concerning trans* people, we can assume the best of someone who introduces a term that may be unfamiliar to many other people, rather than leaping in immediately to object to jargon or whatever. Maybe we can just ask "I'm unfamiliar with that term - can someone explain it, or link me to an explanation?"

Just because a term is new to mefi does not mean it's new everywhere, and just because it's most often used elsewhere in an academic or technical context doesn't automatically make it inappropriate to use here. It shouldn't be solely up to people who use the term to refrain from using it just because it might be unfamiliar (for one thing, you cannot possibly always know when a term is unfamiliar, and to whom), and the vast majority of mefites are capable of googling or otherwise non-disruptively finding or figuring out the new term. I don't know that I've ever seen someone jump into a thread about software design to object to use of technical terms and demand that people *not* use those specialized terms in a thread about that thing. I'd like to see a similar amount of not-jumping-in-to-object-to-terms in threads about trans*, gender, sexism, racism, etc. things.
posted by rtha at 11:53 AM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't believe the issues raised were about words that were new, more that they were about words that were considered inappropriate by this community. It may certainly be different in other on-line or real-space communities, but we were being told, in a very clear and polite way, that many of the trans folks who participate here would like certain words used and certain others not used. It's easy enough to take that kind of gentle correction and incorporate it into the way one interacts with this community.

And, for the record, I am not for an automatic addition of a 101 for sensitive topics, although having them added to the post if the OP believes they would be helpful, as Juliet Banana did here, is a great idea, and would not offend me in any way, even if I were the world's primary expert on that topic.
posted by blurker at 12:08 PM on January 13, 2014


Animosity towards new terminology is in my experience hilariously focused on the words trans people coin to describe their experiences. As I noted earlier elsewhere, I've received more pushback for using the word transmisogyny than for moirail, despite the latter term being coined by a bloody webcomic.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:12 PM on January 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


I know, as a feminist, that I've spent a lot of time doing 101 work here as part of a larger effort to make MeFi a welcoming place for women.

There's bound to be blowback against this. It's unavoidable. Because by doing this, by "teaching 101", you're placing yourself in the position of "I'm the teacher, I know what I'm talking about, now shut up and listen to me and learn this by rote". Metafilter is a place for discussion, not lecturing. Everyone benefits from information and personal perspective, but simply saying "Shut up, don't talk about that because There Is Established Received Wisdom You Should Know" is going to get on some people's goat.

Diversity is a great thing for Metafilter to have; but this includes thought and opinion, not just identity.
posted by Jimbob at 12:15 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


zarq, I'm memailing you.
posted by hoyland at 12:16 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


(That "Cisgender 101" is bloody fantastic, however...)
posted by Jimbob at 12:16 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't want to beat a drum, especially since Klang's response was fair and I agree. But just for clarity's sake, and speaking only for myself and no one else, my point wasn't about whether a word is new or whether a term of art is substituted for a fourteen-word phrase. My point was about what altitude of conversation tends to help threads to go well.

Of course, talking about whether a thread is "going well" is vulnerable to the same problem. It's a characterization we might disagree about and I don't intend to derail into that conversation, fundamental though it may be.
posted by cribcage at 12:30 PM on January 13, 2014


Socrates/G.I. Joe crossover.

In addition to the elenchus, Socrates also had a kung-fu grip.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:32 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's bound to be blowback against this. It's unavoidable. Because by doing this, by "teaching 101", you're placing yourself in the position of "I'm the teacher, I know what I'm talking about, now shut up and listen to me and learn this by rote".

This wasn't what I meant, and I don't really appreciate this characterization. (Thanks for managing not to call me "strident" or "shrill," though.)

I've done a lot of feminism 101 on MetaFilter, as have many other women and men here, precisely because it's been a topic that has required 101 work -- indeed, often because it's a topic where participants in various threads have specifically asked for 101-level information. In threads about sexual harassment of women, for example, there is almost invariably a question/derail about what "really" constitutes harassment, and if women "really" are targeted differently than men, or if women "really" have different experiences on this score than men, etc. etc. All of these require responses that are essentially 101 work -- not because I am telling anyone to shut up and not because I am demanding anyone learn anything by rote, but because they are essential elements to the discussion at hand.
posted by scody at 12:35 PM on January 13, 2014 [31 favorites]


Oh, and of course, the irony of being called out for being a teacher here is delicious. After all, when women decline to educate men about these issues, we get blamed for not communicating well enough, a la "well, how are men supposed to magically know about all this unless you teach us?" So we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.
posted by scody at 12:37 PM on January 13, 2014 [46 favorites]


Everyone benefits from information and personal perspective, but simply saying "Shut up, don't talk about that because There Is Established Received Wisdom You Should Know" is going to get on some people's goat.

Its true.

There, that got some people's goat. Something will always get someone's goat, no matter one's best intentions. So you might as well try to be helpful and leave it up to the person if they want to get their goat got.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


scody: "Oh, and of course, the irony of being called out for being a teacher here is delicious. After all, when women decline to educate men about these issues, we get blamed for not communicating well enough, a la "well, how are men supposed to magically know about all this unless you teach us?" So we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't."

A couple of trans thread ago I was told I was behaving in a matter ill-befitting an educator. There are still tooth-marks on the arm of my chair.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2014 [34 favorites]


Jimbob: "Because by doing this, by "teaching 101", you're placing yourself in the position of "I'm the teacher, I know what I'm talking about, now shut up and listen to me and learn this by rote"."

IMHO, a standard wiki page would be a good fit for this. Am envisioning one that would link to things people have said about the topic on and off MeFi, define terms and present first person perspectives. A collaborative effort to explain trans issues by people who understand them.
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is this goat being got with a kung-fu grip?

I've got high hopes for the FAQ/101 link idea, myself.

Like, if someone in a thread dealing with trans issues asks "why transgender rather than transgendered?", for example, they could be sent a link. And then if they go, come back and say "OK, I get that, and I now have this further question", then great. If they go and have their question answered to their satisfaction and are able to continue to follow the discussion, also great. If they refuse to go to the page and instead demand that the thread be derailed to address their 101 question, we can at least stop assuming good faith and proceed accordingly.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:47 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Clicked over here to see how the thread is churning, same old, same old, huh? Then clicked over to the blue, clicked on the very first FPP, saw this comment. Life is complicated!
posted by Nomyte at 1:34 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Good work, hombre. I see you're right on top of things.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:37 PM on January 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


In addition to the elenchus, Socrates also had a kung-fu grip.

For only 15.99, you can get the "All-Night Alcibiades Play Set," too!

I feel that a 101 page won't stop all problems in trans* threads, but it should stop some, and that's worth trying. It's better than the current situation.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:40 PM on January 13, 2014


Yeah I'm (a tiny, teensy bit) confused now.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:42 PM on January 13, 2014


Wait, why are we confused?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:44 PM on January 13, 2014


Life is complicated!

It kind of is, yeah. But then, reading what people have actually been saying in here—not least that there's no assumption of a universality of preference about a lot of this stuff and the general stated preference by a bunch of trans folks in a discussion here doesn't equate to "no one can ever have or express a different preference here"—is probably a better plan than drive-by dismissiveness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:45 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait, why are we confused?

Because I get the impression that some people are more interested in developing a set of rules that they can then use to rules-lawyer themselves into "see, not transphobic!" rather than respecting individual identities and understanding that community consensuses can change from community to community and have a certain degree of flexibility.

Or is that too uncharitable?
posted by Conspire at 1:45 PM on January 13, 2014 [20 favorites]


Wait, why are we confused?

In this thread, a user self-identifies as a transwoman. One user's vocabulary doesn't invalidate a larger consensus, but, yeah, color me just a bit concerned/confused -- raises the question that if we're going to have a Trans 101 document (which I think is a good idea, actually) that establishes "trans woman" as the preferred nomenclature, does that mean people who self-identify as "transwoman" will have their comments deleted/altered? Maybe this was covered extensively upthread; I've read most but not all of the comments.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:48 PM on January 13, 2014


moirail

Now I'd like to coin a term! I propose we henceforth call the kinds of derails that are really all about one user "merails." As in, "this MeTa was a result of corb's merail."
posted by MoonOrb at 1:48 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


if we're going to have a Trans 101 document (which I think is a good idea, actually) that establishes "trans woman" as the preferred nomenclature, does that mean people who self-identify as "transwoman" will have their comments deleted/altered?

No.
posted by Area Man at 1:51 PM on January 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


ok
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:51 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Clicked over here to see how the thread is churning, same old, same old, huh?

Can I ask what exactly you're finding same old same old? I mean, this discussion is, in part, what meTa is for: hashing out community norms. What would you have preferred?
posted by rtha at 1:53 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


does that mean people who self-identify as "transwoman" will have their comments deleted/altered?

No, it doesn't. People can self-identify however they like, and a general preference doesn't overrule that and anybody not actually being a jerk or willfully stubborn about violating people's stated preferences in context doesn't have anything to worry about. Doing otherwise would be a pretty seismic change in how this place works, and as a general rule the answer to "is thing x that would be a seismic change to mefi going to happen" is no for just about any value of x.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:53 PM on January 13, 2014


What would you have preferred?

For this thread to have petered out before St. Alia commented in it?
posted by Nomyte at 1:56 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


we can at least stop assuming good faith and proceed accordingly.

I feel like the "proceed accordingly" that follows the cessation of good-faith assumptions is what leads most often to thread-derailing noise and sideshows, and if "proceed accordingly" could involve more flagging and MeMails and fewer public callouts and rekindlings of ancient and storied hostilities in the future, it'd be a better thing for everyone involved.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:57 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Nomyte: " For this thread to have petered out before St. Alia commented in it?"

What is it about the thread that bothers you?
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


does that mean people who self-identify as "transwoman" will have their comments deleted/altered?

I know that my view of the site is different from the views of people who are not moderators, but I am having a hard time understanding how this would even be likely, much less desired by anyone. There is a huge difference between people self-identifying and people trying to argue from some sort of mathlogic that this is how people should self-identify or to start arguing with people's self-identification "because of reasons"

Even a 101 document is, I am sure, going to have some parts of it that are likely going to be "reasonable people disagree on this aspect" areas (spaces, maybe?) whereas other parts are going to be less up in the air (misgendering = not okay, don't do it). More to the point, and what I think would be expressly helpful, is some "When in doubt, this is a good way to proceed..." advice which is either helping well-intentioned people form good non- or less-offensive questions or indicating what words are less problematic than others.

I think MeFi can be better than other sites sometimes in that we have reflective people that ask a lot of questions in order to learn more. However, as people have been saying above, we now need to maybe get to the 201 aspect of this "Okay, glad you are asking questions in order to learn more, but let's talk about the problematic aspects of the whole "interrogating people about their beliefs and/or the conditions of their genitalia" thing, and how that could go a lot better if you are trying to be an ally/helpful/non-offensive"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:03 PM on January 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


For this thread to have petered out before St. Alia commented in it?

Coy, opaque comments like this are unhelpful. Just say what you want to say rather than play some bullshit guessing game with the community. When you do it this way it's easy to assume you're not making any kind of good faith effort.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:04 PM on January 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


Because I get the impression that some people are more interested in developing a set of rules that they can then use to rules-lawyer themselves into "see, not transphobic!" rather than respecting individual identities and understanding that community consensuses can change from community to community and have a certain degree of flexibility.

To be honest, yes! I want rules! I want etiquette! For example, some older black people refer to themselves and others as "Negro." And I know that it is not a term that is socially acceptable for me to use. I would face anything from helpful suggestions not to use that word to outraged censure for using that word, from people of all racial identities. So regardless of how I feel about the issues blacks face in American society and how inoffensively I mean that word, on a purely practical level I know that me using it is rhetorical poison.

Also on a purely practical level, I don't have the resources to get to know everyone before I talk to them. I probably don't know whether someone prefers trans-with-a-space, trans-with-no-space, trans-with-an-asterisk, etc., among lots and lots of other strong preferences someone can express. I think my interest in a set of neutral, inoffensive, go-to terms is reasonable.
posted by Nomyte at 2:09 PM on January 13, 2014


To be honest, yes! I want rules! For example, some older black people refer to themselves and others as "Negro." And I know that it is not a term that is socially acceptable for me to use.

Which has nothing to do with someone who self-identifies as trans versus those who are describing them, nor does it have any applicability to the way that the conversation went in the thread the FPP was about, nor with the ongoing conversation we're now having. This comes across as blatant shit-stirring, and the accusation of rules-lawyering was spot on. If you're wondering why so many MeFites think that there's a lot of people commenting in bad faith on trans and other issues, it's because of users playing games like you are here.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:14 PM on January 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


> To be honest, yes! I want rules!

And yet you're not going to get them. This thread is the best set of explanations and caveats you are likely to find, so I suggest reading it and thinking about it rather than babbling provocatively in it.

> For example, some older black people refer to themselves and others as "Negro." And I know that it is not a term that is socially acceptable for me to use.

Seriously? You want to revive "Negro"? Or are you just waving it as a red flag to improve the discussion?
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on January 13, 2014 [23 favorites]


For example, some older black people refer to themselves and others as "Negro." And I know that it is not a term that is socially acceptable for me to use.

See, you're able to deal with ambiguities and gray areas perfectly well. You don't actually need a strict code of rules. You contain multitudes.
posted by scody at 2:18 PM on January 13, 2014 [38 favorites]


Wait wait, the shit stirring isn't about the space, remember? It was about getting all pissy about the space or no space argument. Which we are...doing? really? again?
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:22 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


You're going to be very unhappy here if you want rules for things. There are very few rules here, and a great many guidelines.

Also on a purely practical level, I don't have the resources to get to know everyone before I talk to them. I probably don't know whether someone prefers trans-with-a-space, trans-with-no-space, trans-with-an-asterisk, etc., among lots and lots of other strong preferences someone can express. I think my interest in a set of neutral, inoffensive, go-to terms is reasonable.

Specifically about this issue, if you use a term that people *in that thread* mostly prefer you not use, then they will likely let you know, and likely do it in a not-head-biting-off fashion. For further lack of head-biting-off, all you need to do then is go "Okay, thanks, didn't know." If you go "Yahbutt...." then there might be some head-biting.

I went to a school with a fair number of Native American students. Some were fine with being called Native American; others preferred American Indian; others preferred Indian; still others preferred the name of their tribe. If I was talking to Stacey and said something about Native American in reference to her in particular, and she said, I prefer Shinnecock - well, okay! Then I knew.
posted by rtha at 2:22 PM on January 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


Oh god, I'm making this worse now aren't I? I'm sorry...
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:23 PM on January 13, 2014


tl;dr: It is not the job of a diverse group of people to come up with One True Name for themselves in order to provide comfort and reassurance to people who are not in that group. People in that diverse group are going to prefer different things. It is okay to ask; it is okay to make a mistake; it is (really, really) okay to listen to the person who is talking to you.
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on January 13, 2014 [77 favorites]


I wish I could mark that as "best answer," rtha. Great summary.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:28 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who would correct people using 'trans woman' or 'trans man', with a space, to the no-space version; it's most often encountered from people who don't think the distinction matters (which is a whole conversation in itself, but the point is their position is on that issue rather than the superiority of either form), and/or are more familiar with a construction which at one point was pretty much universal.
posted by emmtee at 2:31 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nomyte: "To be honest, yes! I want rules! I want etiquette! For example, some older black people refer to themselves and others as "Negro." And I know that it is not a term that is socially acceptable for me to use."

MeFi has only a very few hard and fast rules, and the only ones that exist regarding etiquette are really aimed at making the site function more smoothly, not to cater to the preferences of the majority. i.e., the mods will delete comments from people calling each other assholes and saying "fuck you" to each other, not because the terms will offend people's sensibilities, but because when an argument has degraded to a point where people are calling each other assholes, it's very likely to escalate and suck in more people until you've got a good ol' fashioned flamewar.

So for example, the word "bitch" is frowned upon by a lot of people around here. But if someone uses it, it's doubtful that anyone will bite their head off. There's no rule against using it.

A 101 page is not going to dictate to people what they can and can't say on metafilter. But it can define terms and segregate them into 'offensive to many people' and 'inoffensive' while explaining why. Another purpose of such a page would be to prevent people from having to explain something basic for the nth time, and keep conversations flowing.
posted by zarq at 2:34 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


It is okay to ask; it is okay to make a mistake; it is (really, really) okay to listen to the person who is talking to you.

Exactly.

For anyone still honestly confused, the difference between Nomyte's approach to the situation versus (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates' (and that of MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch in the original thread) is a wonderful contrast. One comes across as playing snarky and meaningless gotcha games, the other two as honest misunderstandings and questions looking to have a meaningful dialog.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Seriously? You want to revive "Negro"? Or are you just waving it as a red flag to improve the discussion?"

Only time it's totally cool for a white person to say, "Negro," is when it's part of the sentence, "I just made a big contribution to the United Negro College Fund."
posted by klangklangston at 2:38 PM on January 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


Or when it's the sentence: "I was excited when The Negro Problem came out with a new album a few years back after their long hiatus." Because it's true!
posted by scody at 2:42 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you live in the Midwest, it's one of the words you say when you order an exotic beer from Mexico.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:45 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Another one (Nomyte) bites the dust.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2014


A derail about the word Negro is really not what this thread needs right now.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I hope I didn't cause that...sheesh.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2014


Nobody "caused" that except the person who chose to close their account. Let's not derail the thread over it.
posted by palomar at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2014 [32 favorites]


Please come back when you're ready, Nomyte.
posted by 0 at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2014


This is tipping me from "Hey, a 101/FAQ/standards doc couldn't hurt" towards "Actually, that could backfire really badly."
posted by this is a thing at 3:36 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, just to backtrack a little: "Also on a purely practical level, I don't have the resources to get to know everyone before I talk to them. I probably don't know whether someone prefers trans-with-a-space, trans-with-no-space, trans-with-an-asterisk, etc., among lots and lots of other strong preferences someone can express. I think my interest in a set of neutral, inoffensive, go-to terms is reasonable."

The thing is, in the vast, vast majority of cases, two things work there: First, if you don't know, you can ask respectfully. The analogy I'd give is names — if I don't know someone's name, I don't get all super angsty about what to call them, I just ask them what they like to be called. And then it doesn't really matter to me if they say "Bartholomew" or "Bart," or, and this should make more sense here, "Lord Fartingbottom of Farthingshropshire." I'm used to screen names; we all are too (my mother didn't name me Klang). The second point is that there simply isn't a universal list of simple, inoffensive go-to terms. Different people identify in different ways, and you're going to have to contend with that in pretty much every sphere of your life forever, to the extent that I'd wager human cognition is pretty optimized for learning this sort of stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a thing, I don't think so. More like the straw that broke the camel's back.
posted by futz at 3:54 PM on January 13, 2014


Oh, sorry, that got kinda muddled as I got interrupted. What I was going to say was that two things work: One, asking. Two, making an educated guess then not sweating it if someone corrects you. Make a reasonable effort, and you'll generally be treated reasonably in it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:55 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, futz, probably that feeling is more of a pissy last-straw-type reaction than anything else.

But each trip around the "no the space is not the issue"/"what do you mean I have to type a space?" tilt-a-whirl is reminding me that if you give people things that look like arbitrary rules, you're just inviting them to act like rules lawyers.
posted by this is a thing at 3:59 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is tipping me from "Hey, a 101/FAQ/standards doc couldn't hurt" towards "Actually, that could backfire really badly."

Actually, I think a FAQ or "community preferences" (or whatever) link would have been useful in exactly this sort of pile-on/flame-out situation, in that, instead of people getting het up and personal in-thread, someone could have just posted a link to a relevant portion of the FAQ in reply to Nomyte and we could all have been done with it.

For what it's worth, I do think that Nomyte usually engages in good faith, dunno what went down just now altogether.
posted by rue72 at 4:01 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


....I was under the impression that this wasn't even necessarily about "what do we call [foo]" anyway. I thought it was about someone flat-out saying "I know some people like me to call them [foo] but I'm going to use [baz] because that's just what I'm used to so there", and then getting upset when people didn't like that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:02 PM on January 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


Yes, precisely.
posted by this is a thing at 4:05 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Even a 101 document is, I am sure, going to have some parts of it that are likely going to be "reasonable people disagree on this aspect" areas (spaces, maybe?)

There's even a well-known solution to that problem: the footnote! There's nothing I can think of offhand where we have serious disagreement among trans and gender non-conforming users, so we can use spaces and have a footnote saying 'Yes, you might meet someone who really prefers no space. You should respect their preference, but generally, you won't go wrong with a space.' (This totally came up in the news story only I am following: Hitzlsperger expressed a preference for 'homosexuell' over 'schwul'. I would default to 'schwul'. If, for some bizarre reason, I'm writing about him, I'd use 'homosexuell', no skin off my teeth, even though I'd call myself 'schwul'.)

To be honest, though, I'm not even sure orthography is worth covering in a trans 101, despite the widespread assumption among cis people here that it would be. 'trans' as an adjective only, yes, no to 'transgendered', no to 'transsexual' for arbitrary trans people, yes*. Spaces, maybe not, to my mind (because, despite my PSA starting this mess, an FAQ could model that). Asterisks get asked about, so they should be mentioned, but not because they're a major point of etiquette.

*Though that's really culturally bound.
posted by hoyland at 4:09 PM on January 13, 2014


But each trip around the "no the space is not the issue"/"what do you mean I have to type a space?" tilt-a-whirl is reminding me that if you give people things that look like arbitrary rules, you're just inviting them to act like rules lawyers.

Or, conversely, the only people who are going to complain are the type that only want to do so for the sake of complaining. Most people seem quite content in just rolling with it, anyway. The space wasn't the issue here, it was how people reacted to being gently told about a preference and the reasoning behind it. That some people took it upon themselves to feign ignorance just to try to make a point is their problem, not anyone else's.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:09 PM on January 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yup. Many many people are reading these threads and being educated. I have learned a lot myself. To worry about the few outspoken people who raise a big stink misses the point that there are hundreds or thousands of silent folks out there following along who are absorbing and learning. Not sure that I phrased that as eloquently as I wanted...
posted by futz at 4:20 PM on January 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


In this thread, a user self-identifies as a transwoman.

Generally, you're less likely to offend someone who identifies as such by calling them a
'trans woman' (though it's entirely appropriate and correct to change to 'transwoman' - or anything else, whatever it may be - should they request it) whereas there is a reasonable likelihood of offending someone who prefers 'trans woman' by calling them a 'transwoman'.

Someone may call themselves a fag. They may even personally prefer that in many contexts to being called homosexual or gay. That doesn't in any way mean that homosexual or gay are not better generic terms when you don't know someone's specific preference. This is similar.
posted by Dysk at 4:25 PM on January 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


Is it worth noting that we now have another thread where people are varying degrees of ill-equipped to talk about trans people vocabulary-wise and I'm now gun shy about giving them a push in the right direction?

(There's also part of me that's all "We just spent 500 comments on the last time I mentioned that fucking space and you read none of it!!!!!!' but I realise not everyone reads Metatalk, never mind past the pile-on at the beginning of this thread.)
posted by hoyland at 4:31 PM on January 13, 2014


One of the things that now occurs to me to share that has been really helpful in my thinking about terminology is that we tend to use the word "offend" a lot. Like, in the sense of, this word offends that person so you shouldn't use it. I've never really been a big fan of the word; to me, it implies some kind of snobby etiquette breach - you offend someone by resting your elbows on the table. More-over, to me it implies that your transgression was purely personal. You, as a single agent, offended some sensitive third party, as a singular agent, who exhibited some kind of overblown irrational emotional outrage over being offended.

So what's been helpful to me is looking at the reasons why we avoid certain vocabulary in reference to marginalized groups. You may or may not provoke a negative personal emotional reaction to the person you're referencing - that is besides the point, and again, the reason why I don't really like the word "offend". What's important is that the word is a weapon abused by a society to dehumanizes the group the person belongs to and strip them of rights and that the word has been used a dozen times that day to de-legitimize and dismiss that person you're talking to. So what's important is that you're taking a slice of that and whether wittingly or not, evoking the powers that the word carries as a cudgel to abuse and perpetuate a power imbalance between you and the other person.

But obviously that doesn't roll off the tongue as well. So ultimately, I think we use "offend" as a shorthand for that - and I've been mentally exchanging the two whenever I encounter the word "offend" in reference to slurs against marginalized groups. And when you start thinking about it like that, it becomes less of a "let's walk on touchy eggshells around this person, sheesh", and more of a "how can we demonstrate good faith?" issue. So if you're already coming from a place of good faith and committed to engaging people on an equal power level - then there's no problem in saying "that word" out of not being informed or not knowing about the other person's self identifications. By demonstrating a commitment to equality in power dynamics - and of course that means correcting yourself by ceding the power of self-identification to the less privileged party - you temporarily mitigate the word of its dehumanizing aspects in that exchange only. But if you're using it as a way to abuse power dynamics as these words frequently go - and that includes exhausting a person's emotional resourses by getting into a lengthy argument over whether we should be using this word or not and insisting that the person explain all the reasons why etc regardless of whether you personally benefit positively from "the learning experience" or not - that's when the word becomes abusive.
posted by Conspire at 4:59 PM on January 13, 2014 [22 favorites]


I am one of the people who has read the entire thread and learned a great deal. I really did not understand what cisgender meant until this afternoon when someone up thread mentioned cisgender 101. I googled it and finally understood the meaning. It is not a word I would use in describing myself in every day language but I will now know what someone else is talking about when they use it.

I now need to go look up what the * means. Thanks everyone.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:46 PM on January 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


The star is just kind of a wild card; some people like it, some don't (I don't). It's not mandatory.

Suggested usage: trans* people, to indicate that you're talking about binary trans men and women, genderqueer people, bigender people, etc.

Avoid: trans* men and trans* women; there's nothing for the wildcard to do there! Use trans men and trans women instead, unless someone has specifically asked for the * for themselves.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:46 PM on January 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


thanks AOK!!!!

Still, I want to see corb's deleted comment, and a marginally intense search of the thread came up with nothing. Can someone repost so that I know what we are talking about? And, is the quidunc kid still at the pub? Coz maybe someone should go and get him, it's been a while...
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:05 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


As someone who has a bit of education, especially in certain subjects, I tend to be reflexively upset when people try to refer me specifically to a 101 (rather than including it at the top, which can be useful). This is because I feel that I'm beyond the 101 level - even if I'm coming at things from a different perspective or practice, it feels that my differences are not the results of a lack of education, but of education in a different community which has different ideas and rules.

Despite how you feel about your 101 exposure, to me, this still reads like the Dunning-Kruger effect considering the feelings you've ignored by opening this thread and continuing this type of argumentative discourse.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:12 PM on January 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


Thanks AOK.
posted by cairnoflore at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2014


I remember the first time I saw a URL as part of an advertisement. It was so weird that something I thought of as extremely technical was becoming part of common language.

ArmyOfKittens' remark is officially the moment, for me, when the free monoid construction (a.k.a. *) broke out.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


The star has actually been a thing in trans circles since the 90s at least. It wanders in and out of favour. I wouldn't get to attached to it.

(References to STAR, the activist group, are not, as far as I know, intentional.)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:41 PM on January 13, 2014


prize bull oktorok:I feel like the "proceed accordingly" that follows the cessation of good-faith assumptions is what leads most often to thread-derailing noise and sideshows, and if "proceed accordingly" could involve more flagging and MeMails and fewer public callouts and rekindlings of ancient and storied hostilities in the future, it'd be a better thing for everyone involved.

Well, public callouts are intended to go to MeTa, as I understand it, as (if not by intention then in practice) do rekindlings of ancient and storied hostilities. Fewer of both would probably be a good thing, but as long as they stay in MeTa that's probably a decent achievement.

I think you're missing part of the point, though - I also meant that it would be useful for the mods to have better information on how to proceed, because they and members would have a relatively easy first line signal about whether someone was likely to be a problem, if they reacted with hostility to the idea of a resource that would answer their question without taking up space in a thread dedicated to a different issue.

It seems to me that that would be a useful thing to have. Especially given the current situation, where there seems to be a large amount of static in these threads, but very rarely can anyone be said beyond a reasonable doubt to be operating in bad faith.

I think that is helping to contribute to the sense expressed by this is a thing and jiawen, above, that moderation is not doing enough in these instances - because from a trans* user's perspective this just happens again and again and again, but from a moderator's perspective those users around whom it is happening are generally staying on the right side of the line of acceptable behavior - at least, they are not beyond a reasonable doubt trolling or otherwise acting with malice.

Which I think risks creating a sort of circularity: moderators don't intervene in trans-related threads (until they break) because people don't flag comments, and people don't flag comments because they don't think the moderators would act if they did.

(And instead people often snark, which is a common next step from "I don't have faith in the efficacy of official channels to help me".)

Whether that perception is accurate or not is probably a data question, but it seems to be part of the dynamic at least for some people here. Which, incidentally, is why it was heartening to hear r_n say that there is an ongoing internal discussion about how to moderate trans-related threads.

So, yeah - the intention would not be to paint a target on someone for in-thread attacks. It would be (ideally) to provide an easy source of information interested, good-faith participants could be pointed to to get some basic info without derailing the thread, and (in a minority of cases) to give a signal to the moderators that there was a possible problem here, and to the good-faith participants that this was something that the moderators would take seriously if flagged.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:51 PM on January 13, 2014


Animosity towards new terminology is in my experience hilariously focused on the words trans people coin to describe their experiences. As I noted earlier elsewhere, I've received more pushback for using the word transmisogyny than for moirail, despite the latter term being coined by a bloody webcomic.

This is an important point. Metafilter is absolutely littered with new words that come from the tech industry - names of new programming languages, gadgets, protocols, algorithms, software. Sometimes I try to read a tech thread and have no idea what's going on because everyone's all "I tried developing a QT251 and found that it didn't work in the Blorb on Nails pod so I had to throggle a new Snipblof." I've never seen a fighty metatalk thread about those annoying tech types, why the hell do they have to make up all these new words? Yet bringing up new trans-related words like cis or transmisogyny will cause a litany of complaints.
posted by medusa at 7:53 PM on January 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


My canned history: In the 90s, we used to write out "transgender, transsexual, transexual, transvestite, crossdresser, genderqueer, genderfuck, etc. etc. etc." Someone hit on using the wildcard star, so they wrote "trans*". This saved so much time, and served so well to not exclude people, that it caught on really fast. Eventually, folks started dropping the *, so it became just "trans". "Trans" started to take on its own specific meaning, but that's a whole other story. Eventually, folks realized that "trans*" and "trans" were becoming separate things, so the asterisk started getting reemphasized. That's how it's seemed from my perspective.
posted by jiawen at 7:53 PM on January 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


I've never seen a fighty metatalk thread about those annoying tech types, why the hell do they have to make up all these new words?

The MetaTalk thread came about because people went out of their way to correct corb when she used the wrong word. I assume corb responded in-thread, but it was deleted.

You wouldn't get a comment like this if somebody misspelled Ruby on Rails or whatever:

PSA (for everyone): Spaces in 'trans woman', 'trans people' and so on, please. Also 'transgender' (as an adjective only!) rather than 'transgendered'.

PSA, people!
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:05 PM on January 13, 2014


You wouldn't get a comment like this if somebody misspelled Ruby on Rails or whatever:

PSA (for everyone): Spaces in 'trans woman', 'trans people' and so on, please. Also 'transgender' (as an adjective only!) rather than 'transgendered'.


Huh? I see spelling/grammar call outs on MeFi all the time. I also fail to see what you mean by "comment like this" - a polite note in thread pointing out preferred useage, not directed at any specific user? Why would that be a problem in other contexts?
posted by sonika at 8:10 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens' remark is officially the moment, for me, when the free monoid construction (a.k.a. *) broke out.

Nice! But alas, this isn't that. If you interpret * as the Kleene star, trans* = {"t", "tt", "ttt", ... "tr", "trt", ... }, i.e. the set of all strings constructible from the letters T, R, A, N and S, which doesn't really get you anything useful.

It's meant to be interpreted more like the Unix wildcard or the wildcard character used by prehistoric search engines, so that trans* matches "transsexual," "transgender," "transvestite," etc. (Also "transportation," "transient" and "Transylvania," but disregard that.)

Anyway, it's definitely got hella nerdy origins. Trans terminology is a bit like poly and BDSM terminology: some of it is Very Serious Technical Language defined by lawyers and psychologists, and some of it is cuddly playful neologisms that probably started as a joke on Usenet.

posted by this is a thing at 8:18 PM on January 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I want to see corb's deleted comment,

I'm sorry you missed it the first time around, but we're not going to post it in this thread at this late point in the thread. People have explained the basic gist and corb's assessment of why her comment was deleted were not accurate.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:18 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, while I think a 101/FAQ/whatever would be very valuable, my greatest wish out of this is for the mods to begin taking a stronger stance along the lines of "we've had this argument before, this horse is flogged, the community has moved on, this thread (/comment/whatever) is not appropriate for Metafilter" with regards to trans discussion.

I (again) really like this is a thing's comment above, with the Israel/Palestine parallel. Is it possible for threads about Israel & Palestine to go well on Metafilter? Yes, but (as I understand it -- I don't follow Middle East posts closely here) if a post starts with fighty language, zero-sum framing or otherwise starts off tending towards nasty, horrible discussions that we've had a million times, the mods quash it. Are there people who still could learn a lot from passionate, in-depth discussions of Palestine and Israel? Totally (I'm one of them), but at some point, the community has to say: this topic needs to be handled really carefully, and we will look very dimly on any move, intentional or not, towards setting off that fight again.

If a statement on MeFi implicitly sets trans people's rights against cis people's rights, or depicts us trans women as deceitful/loathsome/fake/'really men', or is in any case framed such that it will inevitably lead to us trans people having to defend our existence with infinite cheerful patience for the Nth time, I'd like the MeFi community, and the mods in particular, to adopt the stance that, hey, you know what? While trans issues are still controversial (much like Palestine and Israel still are), and while not everyone is well informed about them (like I am about Palestine and Israel), and while it's good for education to happen, we just aren't going to keep dragging ourselves through those particular nettles in that particular way.
posted by jiawen at 8:21 PM on January 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


The MetaTalk thread came about because people went out of their way to correct corb when she used the wrong word. I assume corb responded in-thread, but it was deleted.

This is a more detailed description of what caused the deletion and then this meTa.
posted by rtha at 8:21 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


<nerdy>Well, see, you decided to use a regular expression, and now see how many problems you've got.</nerdy>

Sorry for the interruption. Back to the real discussion ...
posted by benito.strauss at 8:31 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm another person who wouldn't have read the original thread if it hadn't been for this MeTa and yet I'm glad I did, because I have learned a lot. My knowledge of how trans* issues are being talked about and how trans people are talking about themselves is a bit rusty, as I haven't been greatly involved in those kinds of discussions (mostly as a listener) for the past 10 years or so.

What I really want to ask about, without meaning to cause offense but just as a way of broadening my understanding, I don't think has come up in either the original post or this one. Apologies if this isn't the right place for it, but I really would like to know!

People here are saying that "tranny" is an offensive term and I would like to understand why. I am also curious to know whether there is much regional variation in this, because last I knew (again, about 15-10 years ago) in Melbourne, Australia, there were plenty of trans people who did call themselves "tranny" (or possibly spelt "trannie") and it was a sort of generic term for people in the trans community that wasn't considered offensive.

Mind you, Aussies do tend to be a bit liberal with adding vowel suffixes to words as a sign of affection/intimacy/irreverence, hence "bikkie" (biscuit), "prezzies" (presents), "Shazza" (and Dazza and Kezza etc; Sharon, Darren, Kerry respectively), lezzo (lesbian), etc. Like many things, the offense is often in the intent or the way the epithet is delivered.

More than happy not to use the term here, but I figure if it has also moved into offensive territory in the Australian trans* community as well, it would be good to know!
posted by Athanassiel at 8:59 PM on January 13, 2014


Just as a quick answer, my sense is that that term varies a lot in its offensiveness between countries. In the US, my sense is it's quite offensive.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:01 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's also growing more offensive with time.
posted by jaguar at 9:09 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's also important to remember that terms can be used to identify one's self that are still offensive - or at least suspect - if used by an outsider. I call myself a big ol' dyke all the time - that doesn't mean I'm going to take it kindly if a random stranger calls me that.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:09 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


From her article: “a quick way to see why ‘tranny’ is a slur is to perform a few quick Google Image searches. First, search ‘transgender woman.’ Next, search ‘tranny.’ Notice the difference? Yeah, that’s why I’m not thrilled when someone calls a trans woman a ‘tranny.’”
posted by jaguar at 9:21 PM on January 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Tranny" used to get thrown around a lot in the US too. In the community I was part of ten years ago, there were a lot of teenage trans men who used it as a playful self-description — and thought of themselves as "reclaiming" the word the same way "dyke" and "queer" and so on have been reclaimed.

I'm fuzzy on the details, but as I understand it some prominent trans women activists said "Look, guys, it's not really your place to be 'reclaiming' that word, because us trans women are the ones who have to hear it all the time as a slur." That argument got good traction, at least in that particular community. Within maybe a year or two, "tranny" went from something I was hearing all the time, to something that some of my more progressive friends were calling people out for, to something that was really widely acknowledged as Not Cool To Say even among guys who were basically apolitical.

(At that point in time, I didn't know any trans women — and definitely wasn't admitting to anyone that I was one — so I really don't know what the norms were in trans women's communities. I imagine there was probably some amount of "reclaiming" by trans women too, but it apparently didn't get off the ground.)
posted by this is a thing at 9:23 PM on January 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


From her article: “a quick way to see why ‘tranny’ is a slur is to perform a few quick Google Image searches. First, search ‘transgender woman.’ Next, search ‘tranny.’ Notice the difference? Yeah, that’s why I’m not thrilled when someone calls a trans woman a ‘tranny.’”

Um, note to the curious, don't do that second image search at work.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:28 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


But yeah at this point in the US it's pretty much always a slur or a porn keyword or both.
posted by this is a thing at 9:38 PM on January 13, 2014


You wouldn't get a comment like this if somebody misspelled Ruby on Rails or whatever:

You do get people typing stuff like Micro$oft thinking they're being pretty cool.

You can probably imagine a forum where people are asked not to do that because it makes conversations suck. You can probably imagine that someone who kept doing it, despite warnings, might get banned.

I think you'd understand that situation pretty well. You'd probably roll your eyes at someone whining about getting banned for the simple act of typing a dollar sign. OMG CEN$ORED!! You'd understand no, it wasn't the dollar sign, it was some mix of being a jerk and a dumb.

But we're actually talking about terms used to apply to people. It's not something you get to be objectively correct about and the people you're talking about just have to live with it.

There was a MetaFilter user who just had this brain problem where they couldn't stop using "Moslem". I forget how the community handled it in that case? I don't remember... I wonder if the mods had a big private policy talk about that.
posted by bleep-blop at 9:39 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank you, especially jaguar and this_is_a_thing! I think that after reading that article, I shall personally stop using it (not that I really do) even if others around me are self-identifying that way. I will continue to refer to myself as a big scary dyke on occasion though :)
posted by Athanassiel at 9:46 PM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Um, note to the curious, don't do that second image search at work.

I did that search after posting, and seriously. It's quite possible the most powerful intervention I've ever experienced. Don't do it at work, but if you're at all on the fence or dubious about the difference in terminology, do it.
posted by jaguar at 9:49 PM on January 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


There was a MetaFilter user who just had this brain problem where they couldn't stop using "Moslem". I forget how the community handled it in that case? I don't remember... I wonder if the mods had a big private policy talk about that.

I certainly hope not. It's an older spelling, but certainly not indicative of a "brain problem" or something the mods would need to have "a big private policy talk about".
posted by nangar at 11:11 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's also important to remember that terms can be used to identify one's self that are still offensive - or at least suspect - if used by an outsider. I call myself a big ol' dyke all the time - that doesn't mean I'm going to take it kindly if a random stranger calls me that.

HEY! Who you calling "random", huh? And I'm no stranger, neither!

jus kiddin
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:54 AM on January 14, 2014


From her article: “a quick way to see why ‘tranny’ is a slur

30 years ago, before 'tranny' took on a different meaning, there was a popular strip in UK weekly comic The Topper called 'Danny's Tranny' (1, 2).

It was all about a kid with a magic transistor radio (hence: tranny). The same comic also had strips called 'Desert Island Dick' and 'Fred the Flop.' Oh, what larks we did have, Pip.

Not that remembering this ages me in any way.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:21 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


- anything fairly niche, where the non-trans aspects aren't necessarily of interest to a big chunk of the general population (e.g. the Laura Jane Grace post--it's largely people who care about music and people who care about trans stuff)

Hey, this is apropos of almost nothing except the above, but Against Me!'s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, is streaming at NPR now. I quite like it.

And as a bonus, there's a terminology argument in the comments, if you want another one, yay.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:33 AM on January 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Pruitt-Igoe: "The MetaTalk thread came about because people went out of their way to correct corb when she used the wrong word. I assume corb responded in-thread, but it was deleted."

This isn't actually accurate; and while several people have responded quite nicely above, giving and linking to good descriptions of why, I kind of wanted to say this, if only because it's my takeaway here:

It's not really about a word or its graphology or spelling. The word itself is potentially completely arbitrary. One may say: "the space in the middle means nothing, and isn't really necessary" - and in many quarters one will be correct. In fact, we could say that in most situations, that distinction doesn't matter much. Although it's important to try to call people what they wish to be called, in accord with their identity, small mistakes or accidents aren't a big deal, and what people wish to be called will vary widely.

What is a big deal is when it isn't an accident, and when people outright refuse such requests. If I tell you that I really dislike being called "foo bar," and you insist on calling me that, that's disrespect. "But it's a nonsense word!" you might respond. "It doesn't mean anything objectively!" Nonetheless, it apparently means something to me, and it has taken on meaning when I ask you not to call me that. Even if there is no other meaning, no other distinction between what you'd normally call me and "foo bar," my request made a distinction there, and it's your choice either to respect it or not. And we're dealing here with words that are not nonsense; they're words whose variants have been used as slurs.

It's less important to be exact and follow a guideline than it is to show by our effort to use the names they prefer that we respect the identities of others.
posted by koeselitz at 1:52 AM on January 14, 2014 [21 favorites]


And as a bonus, there's a terminology argument in the comments, if you want another one, yay.

I'm full, thanks.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:22 AM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


The MetaTalk thread came about because people went out of their way to correct corb when she used the wrong word. I assume corb responded in-thread, but it was deleted.

Like koeselitz just said, that's very much not what happened and I'd kind of appreciate it is people stopped inventing timelines and motivation behind my comments in that thread. My PSA comment (which people are reading oh so much into) was before corb's deleted comment. IIRC, corb made a comment very early on asking if there was a transcript as she couldn't watch the video a the moment (I said, 'not that I know of, but here's a more detailed summary I saw elsewhere') and then she didn't comment for quite a while, perhaps not until the deleted comment. There are two things going on in this MeTa: a) corb making the mistake of thinking making the MeTa was a good idea for whatever reason and b) large numbers of people inventing things that didn't happen and motivation behind the things that didn't happen and then expressing righteous indignation, as if people were being chased after with pitchforks.
posted by hoyland at 5:54 AM on January 14, 2014 [22 favorites]


Despite how you feel about your 101 exposure, to me, this still reads like the Dunning-Kruger effect considering the feelings you've ignored by opening this thread and continuing this type of argumentative discourse.

The problem with lobbing this as a label is there's no way to defend against an accusation of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It's a catch 22. If you know your shit and know you know it, then you're probably inept and wrong. If you doubt yourself and are one of those people who feels in over their heads all the time then you're probably a genius and wrong. You're not going to change the mind of the first party and the second already agrees with you.

I read some paper once on the percentages of people who believe they aren't qualified to do their jobs. I don't remember a lot of detail, but I do remember it resonating.

In the end I think invoking the Dunning-Kruger effect is a clever way of calling a person an idiot without using that word. In fact it's actually worse than calling someone an idiot, since it doesn't allow for the fact that the person may even be aware they are an idiot. Or, more accurately, if your don't think you are an idiot then you probably are.

Dunning and Kruger were assholes.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:03 AM on January 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


For those interested in the whole reclamation-of-'tranny' issue, you might want to go back and look at ArmyOfKittens's My Transsexual Summer post, where it was discussed a bit because it got used in a reclaimed fashion in the first episode, but the ensuing discussion was cut, and then (presumably quite intentionally) doesn't get used again. (I want to say there's a reclaimed use of 'trans' as a noun as well somewhere in the series.)

(Speaking of documentaries, anyone remember Transgeneration? I don't think I've heard it mentioned in like five years. I wonder how cringeworthy it'd be now. Anyway, that was form roughly the time this is a thing alluded to, with the attempt by men/masculine people to reclaim 'tranny'.)
posted by hoyland at 6:26 AM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nobody "caused" that except the person who chose to close their account.

I'm sorry to see that Nomyte closed their account. I think it's really unfortunate - I was hoping (and certainly thinking early on) that this would be a MeTa with no closings/quittings. Please come back, Nomyte, when you feel you can. I think the comments in return to your comment were already heated from the discussion and not caused specifically by you.
posted by corb at 6:45 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


hoyland: "(Speaking of documentaries, anyone remember Transgeneration?"

I've never heard of it, but it's apparently on youtube. Here's a playlist.
posted by zarq at 8:21 AM on January 14, 2014


I've never heard of it, but it's apparently on youtube. Here's a playlist. yt

As a heads up, if anyone's going to watch it, there's some stuff in there that's false. I remember the notorious one being that it makes taking hormones (especially testosterone) sound fairly dangerous. Basically, what they're not conveying very well is that there seem to be health advantages to not having a testosterone-dominant body and and, well, taking testosterone gives you a testosterone-dominant body. Of course, whether those advantages translate from a population level to an individual level is another question entirely. But I think we're at the point where if hormone therapy had really deleterious long term effects, someone probably would have noticed (even without many/any long term studies--there are doctors/clinics who have seen a lot of people at this point).
posted by hoyland at 8:43 AM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm at the point where I think the "dangers" of HRT are overstated because even the doctors who deal with us everyday are still pretty clueless about us, and their generic arse-covering warnings get echoed out among the trans community, to cis allies, and back again.

It's just like any other long-term medication. You get blood tests every so often and you're sorted.

The other part of it is that trans health care is so marginalised--and is being defunded the world over, including in progressive countries like the Netherlands--that many of us have to turn to other channels for our medical care and then it can get a little trickier. This also plays in to the supposed dangers but this isn't anything wrong with the medication, this is just cis people failing us again.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:38 AM on January 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


My feeling is that language being used as an axis of power and control feels icky even when the cause is good and the people doing it are understandably keen to exert that control. I know I bristle against it.

But I'd be hesitant to say threads like this are a bad idea, because you're not going to change the minds of the bristlers by fiat.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:21 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Asking people to call you what you wish to be called is on a totally different axis from exerting control over the naming of people who are not you, you know? I guess I don't understand what's to bristle about when someone says, by way of personal example, to please refer to me as a lesbian and not a bulldyke.
posted by rtha at 3:30 PM on January 14, 2014 [24 favorites]


"My feeling is that language being used as an axis of power and control feels icky even when the cause is good and the people doing it are understandably keen to exert that control. I know I bristle against it."

Language is always used as an axis of power and control. It just feels icky and one bristles when it pushes against, rather than reinforces, one's privilege.

In every aspect of my life, in every social context, there's "correct" and "incorrect" language and pretty much invariably what is "correct" is defined by those who have the most power and influence in that context.

If you're someone who tends to be in the groups that are those usually with the power and influence in most social contexts, then you'll not notice this coercion very much because the usage is part of how you display your power and influence as part of the privileged group.

If you're not someone who tends to be in those groups, then you'll notice that you're very often being coerced into using language that reinforces your lower status. You'll find this icky and you'll bristle at it, but you'll also have dealt with this most of your life.

If you're usually in the privileged groups, then when you find yourself expected in a social context to use language that doesn't reinforce your higher status, and in so doing makes it clear that in this context you don't have a higher status, then you're likely to find this most unusual, very onerous, and a deep insult to justice.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:36 PM on January 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Dunning and Kruger were assholes."

What their study actually says is that people who were bad at cognitive tests were more likely to 1) expect everyone else to do worse, and 2) predict a much higher performance for themselves than they actually achieve. Conversely, people who got better scores on the cognitive tests were 1) more likely to predict other people to do better and rate the test as easier, and 2) more likely to doubt their own performance.

So, really, a lot of the criticism that the Dunning-Kruger study gets is from people who don't know what they're talking about, attacking with overconfidence.
posted by klangklangston at 4:11 PM on January 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


There you go. Proving my point. I'm a fucking genius because I know I am an idiot!

Seriously though, maybe I wrote my comment poorly, or maybe I am misreading yours, but seems you are writing what I wrote. Dumb people don't think they are dumb. Smart people don't think they are smart. Both are probably wrong.

I miss it?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:20 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


AskMetafilter should really be assigned reading for freshman psych/phil students learning about things such as Dunning-Kruger effects.
posted by planetesimal at 4:37 PM on January 14, 2014


If you're usually in the privileged groups, then when you find yourself expected in a social context to use language that doesn't reinforce your higher status, and in so doing makes it clear that in this context you don't have a higher status, then you're likely to find this most unusual, very onerous, and a deep insult to justice.

That's not what I said, though

Making people refer to you in the very precise way you wish to be referred to is an exercise of power, however important/petty it might feel or seem. Exercises of power is how you go from low status to high status. And obviously this is something that needs to happen, as it did with women, gays, black people, etc.

Language policing eventually becomes a dead-end, though, because it trends towards either blandness or zealotry, neither of which are creatively interesting, and it creates a climate where you can only fail, never succeed.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:38 PM on January 14, 2014


But for the nine hundredth time, there wasn't language policing going on!
posted by hoyland at 4:41 PM on January 14, 2014 [17 favorites]


The ignorant person lives in a small world and thinks himself knowledgeable because he knows 80% of it. The knowledgeable person lives in a large world and thinks himself knowledgeable because he knows 1% of it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:41 PM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


The following is well trodden:
- trans people on this site generally prefer 'trans woman' and 'trans man' over 'transwoman' and 'transman' for reasons they have articulated
- trans people on this site generally do not mind if someone is not aware of that preference and omits the space
- lots of people, trans and cis, on this site object to people loudly proclaiming they will refuse to honor that preference
- many cis people somehow thing that trans people are greatly offended by any omission of the space
- many cis people somehow think that we will eliminate transphobia from the site if only we obeyed orthographic rules
- many other cis people vociferously object to being told they should listen to trans people once in a while
- a minority of people are aware that the problem is transphobia (and particularly transmisogyny), not orthography
posted by hoyland at 4:48 PM on January 14, 2014 [34 favorites]


Welp, there it is.

Days since marginalized MeFites who very calmly stated their preferences and supported their positions in a polite manner were accused of language policing: 0
posted by zombieflanders at 4:53 PM on January 14, 2014 [22 favorites]


> That's not what I said, though

It doesn't really matter (unless you want to engage in some language policing of your own). The effect of your comment was to toss another stinkbomb into an area that was still being cleared of the last few blasts. Why exactly was it so important to talk about eventual dead-ends that might occur if trans people get all uppity and trend towards blandness or zealotry and aren't creatively interesting and create some sort of unfortunate climate? Isn't that both premature and, more to the point, counterproductive in this thread?
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on January 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


If my name is Jenny (it is) and someone kept referring to me as Jennifer (which isn't my name) and I asked them to please refer to me as Jenny (because Jennifer is not my name) and they were like "but I have friends who are named Jenny who are totally okay with being called Jennifer so I know you said your name is Jenny but I'm going to call you Jennifer because it's too hard to remember who prefers Jenny and who prefers Jen and who prefers Jennifer", and I get pissed at them because they refuse to fucking respect my personal identity, that is a far cry from me engaging in language policing and "asserting my power". It's "you are being an asshat, please stop being an asshat, it's really not that hard". Someone does not need to be higher than you in the social pecking order for them to expect basic decency from you, and trying to pretend like someone asking for that respect is some sort of power grab is bullshit and disingenuous.
posted by Phire at 5:07 PM on January 14, 2014 [47 favorites]


Language policing eventually becomes a dead-end, though, because it trends towards either blandness or zealotry, neither of which are creatively interesting, and it creates a climate where you can only fail, never succeed.

"Language policing" is among the least value neutral terms you could have chosen. And your framing makes it sound like this terrible thing that some people are asking other people to do, which is to not go out of their way to say they are not going to respect the wishes of people *here* to be referred to in [this way] rather than [that way].

To me, it's an issue of respect, both for the people whom I am not, as well as for emerging site guidelines. Do you not see it that way? Do you really bristle if I say "hey mefites, please call me [foo] and not [baz]"? Why? Seriously, this is weird to me and I don't understand it. I would like to try to understand it.
posted by rtha at 5:33 PM on January 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


As has been mentioned numerous times in this thread, it's both infuriating and revealing that someone gently saying, hey, a lot of trans* people prefer such-and-such terminology has been mischaracterized as freaking out or being combative or policing.

But the wrongness of resisting this isn't dependent on those things. If a trans* person were angry and combative about insisting upon a usage, that wouldn't weaken the case for that usage.

Anyway, I don't really understand the disavowal of policing. The whole point is that cisnormative society has in the past literally defined the language used to describe trans* people and their experiences and so, yes, trans* folk defining the language for themselves is empowering and insisting that such language be used is empowered policing. There's not a damn thing wrong with that.

The only people whose feelings are hurt by this are the folk who previously were making the decisions about language usage and now have to accommodate someone else's sensibilities. Boo-hoo. Screw them. I see zero reason to be sensitive to their concerns or to reassure them that there's no "policing" going on.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:39 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


One of the things I've noticed that's peculiar with regards to how people engage with my (albeit limited) lived experience as a trans woman is how some people think it's okay to pontificate on a transgender subject with no regard as to what came before them or how the "room" is going to take it, as if their presence is of such importance that their mere powers of immediate pontification should be something that I must unequivocally accept as a maxim.

Is it just me taking it way too personally?
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:39 PM on January 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


> Is it just me taking it way too personally?

If I were a trans person I would never read MetaTalk posts.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:43 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not just you.
posted by rtha at 5:43 PM on January 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


(Which, I just realized, could be misconstrued. I'm not saying "You shouldn't be reading this.". I'm saying "I would find it so infuriating I couldn't stand it.")
posted by benito.strauss at 5:45 PM on January 14, 2014


I am increasingly wary of 101-style framing, faqs, and language. I used to think they were super important "required reading" type things that people should pretty much always do before getting involved. I still think there are some very basic things, largely only definitional in scope, that one should probably be familiar with before engaging, and I think that in other spaces, more especially focused on complex justice issues, where those kinds of instructional or preliminary materials are useful.

But here and increasingly elsewhere, I'm made uncomfortable by them as "required" or as "question deleted, it's in the faq". This isn't a pedagogical community, even though a great deal of welcome pedagogy occurs, and I don't like the lecture-hall feel of it. Discouraging frequent questions not only minimizes the interpersonal mode of education, it also, by providing standard answers, discourages new or newer people from providing their own answers, which may be different and which differences may be important. Even though I engage on race issues a fair amount, I would not want to, for example, discourage or deny my sister from signing up and providing her own insight into even basic terminology and questions, or to make her feel like any differing experience of hers is heterodox and requires substantiation in a way that the "accepted" answers have already demonstrated.

I don't think that links to 101-type materials are bad, and I certainly have no problem if a poster wishes to include such links in their FPP. What I wouldn't like to see is a discouraging of basic questioning, and I say that as a person who is both very frequently exhausted by some of those types of questions and can see the exhaustion other types produce in other people.

My issues in this regard do not refer to the types of things that jiawen is referring to, questioning or denying the basic rights and identities of people here. Those things should be assumed on the principle of good faith, if nothing else, and divergence from those assumptions should be held in contempt of the community, regardless of one's personal viewpoint. I also hope this does not appear to be concern trolling, and if it does come off that way I apologize. I don't have any issues with the idea that there are fairly basic things people ought to know, just with the implication that good-faith ignorance of those things should invalidate participation or connote a kind of neophyte status. It's willful disingenuity (many examples of which are in this thread and have been noted) that we should, I think, try to cut out of the conversation. That requires much more "feel", and thus much more effort and energy, than a more stratified system, but the obvious presence and influence of that "feel" from the moderators and community is one of the things that makes this place worth revisiting.
posted by Errant at 5:46 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Nobody "caused" that except the person who chose to close their account.

I'm sorry to see that Nomyte closed their account.

Nomyte may very well have closed his account, but as far as I can see, we don't know that.

He's taken it upon himself lately to act as a bit of a gadfly however, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn he'd been swatted.
posted by jamjam at 5:47 PM on January 14, 2014


The mods are very transparent about saying explicitly in-thread when someone has been given a time-out or banned, and not just when asked.
posted by Phire at 5:48 PM on January 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


Also, lately?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:00 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the things I've noticed that's peculiar with regards to how people engage with my (albeit limited) lived experience as a trans woman is how some people think it's okay to pontificate on a transgender subject with no regard as to what came before them or how the "room" is going to take it, as if their presence is of such importance that their mere powers of immediate pontification should be something that I must unequivocally accept as a maxim.

Is it just me taking it way too personally?


No. Rather, an example of a larger pattern I've noticed. You have direct, personal, relevant and significant knowledge of a subject - knowledge gained through sacrifice and study. On any subject that I have a similar level of knowledge in (though not transgender subjects), I have ceased to be amazed at the willingness with which people who flatly don't know what the fuck they are talking about opine and pontificate, blissful in their ignorance.

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:07 PM on January 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's a kind of weird and shitty pedantic thing to say "well actually the user may have been banned in the complete absence of any meaningful reason to think so.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nomyte may very well have closed his account, but as far as I can see, we don't know that.

Nomyte closed his own account. We'd have clarified otherwise, considering it was an out of the blue thing that came up in conversation in here. I'd rather you ask if you're not sure rather than speculate that we're being like pointedly silent about it; it's fairly insulting considering how much work we do to be transparent about how this place operates.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:14 PM on January 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


Am I bad person that I can't think of anyone that has flamed out that I miss?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:49 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Am I one for being irked by pseudo self-effacing scattershot digs at people who aren't here?
posted by cairdeas at 6:56 PM on January 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Once again I would like to bring up GraphFi, which is a really wonderful tool for skimming extremely long threads to see if anyone's said anything interesting. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, rad peeps in this thread!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:08 PM on January 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


Discouraging frequent questions not only minimizes the interpersonal mode of education, it also, by providing standard answers, discourages new or newer people from providing their own answers, which may be different and which differences may be important.

I think the major advantage to limiting the 101 questions is that it allows the conversation to move into 201, 301, etc. spaces. It's not just about keeping marginalized groups from having to answer questions, but allowing the thread to develop into more complex conversations without getting dragged down to basics every other post.
posted by jaguar at 8:36 PM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't think that links to 101-type materials are bad, and I certainly have no problem if a poster wishes to include such links in their FPP. What I wouldn't like to see is a discouraging of basic questioning, and I say that as a person who is both very frequently exhausted by some of those types of questions and can see the exhaustion other types produce in other people.

For the record, trans people have been really consistent in this thread about their openness answering to basic questions, given that they are asked in good faith by people who are interested in the answers. I was going to say that I wasn't sure anyone (trans or cis) was really arguing that basic questions be pushed out, but, on preview, someone did. (And now I'm going to disagree with them in a different comment. And then go to bed.)
posted by hoyland at 8:40 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the major advantage to limiting the 101 questions is that it allows the conversation to move into 201, 301, etc. spaces. It's not just about keeping marginalized groups from having to answer questions, but allowing the thread to develop into more complex conversations without getting dragged down to basics every other post.

This isn't the pattern what's killing trans threads thought. At some distant point in the future, too many 101 questions might be an issue. Right now, our problem is essentially too few people asking questions. We do periodically have a complex conversation going involving someone who entered the thread asking basic questions. The shitstorms are usually caused by people who know just enough to be dangerous and, moreover, won't accept any attempts at education.
posted by hoyland at 8:47 PM on January 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Sorry, yeah, I phrased my comment badly. I was responding to the concern that new people wouldn't get to answer 101 questions, which (1) I think misses the major concern about 101 questions, which is not that nobody wants to answer them but that nobody wants threads to be only 101 questions, and (2) is unlikely to be the case, given that good-faith 101 questions are not going to be banned.
posted by jaguar at 8:50 PM on January 14, 2014


Ah got it. (The bed thing is also in this utopian future.)

I can think of an argument against encouraging FAQ links (rather than questions in thread), though, namely that they risk creating the impression that barrier to entry is higher than it is. This seems like it might be a risk, given people's orthography obsession, but I'm too tired to really evaluate it as an argument.
posted by hoyland at 8:54 PM on January 14, 2014


Again, whether or not to have a FAQ isn't the issue. The constant message given to trans people is: whatever you are doing, you are doing it wrong. The whole concept of having a gender different from that decided for you by the rest of the world is considered so wrong that it's immoral. If you don't know a lot about trans experiences, it's hard to fathom the constant victim-blaming that trans people experience about literally every fucking thing they do. Trans kids are blamed for being bullied and told they wouldn't have a problem if they would just dress more like the gender they are not. Trans people using the bathroom of their gender can get them arrested. Of course it's fine to grope a trans person, they have it coming with their confusing and mysterious genitals. Get kicked out of the house by your parents? Have a doctor deny you emergency medical care? Get fired from your job? Get murdered? If you're trans, it's all your fault.

It would be helpful if people on metafilter could think about this context before telling trans mefites that...they're doing it wrong. Or at least, when a trans person points out that it's happening again, see how in this thread trans people are being taken to task for doing it wrong, don't deny that's what is happening.
posted by medusa at 9:05 PM on January 14, 2014 [20 favorites]


I went back, found and re-read my "coming out" post on Metafilter (posted in the Coy Mathis meta, of all the places to come out to you people) where I use the word transgendered:

"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."


I mean come on, we are all in this place together. Back then, I needed a 101 link. I didn't know much about anything on what the hell I was. Dysk, AoK, Yeoz, rtha, Hoyland, Jiawen, Nowtherearetwo, Betafae and many more helped me find my way. There's a ton of knowing here that needs to be captured, so yeah, a 101 link would be really great, and maybe for reasons we don't yet fully understand.

Hugs for everyone.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:34 PM on January 14, 2014 [24 favorites]


And Corinth. Damn. I forgot Corinth. Sigh.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:41 PM on January 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


Am I one for being irked by pseudo self-effacing scattershot digs at people who aren't here?

My comments was self-effacing? The people who flame out aren't here by choice. In nearly every instance I agree with that choice. They are generally contentious individuals. They're the people who take their balls and go home. It's not a dig. When these folk pull this crap inevitably there's community hand wringing and in-thread mourning. You'll be missed, and Come back when you're ready, or I hope you come back soon. It's a play for drama and I find it tiresome.

I say the place is better without them and I don't miss them. YMMV.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:46 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


cjorgensen, rather than a "play for drama" try thinking of it as a tool that's been provided by the people running this site which people make use of when they need. Scroll back to Nomyte's last comment ... there's no dramatic flame-out contained within. He just quietly used the tool. The little drama regarding it that ensued was not Nomyte's doing and, seriously, was orders of magnitude less hand-wringy that all the other drama over a fucking space.

And, yeah, MetaFilter is a poorer place for his absence. YMMV.
posted by 0 at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


the drama isn't over a fucking space.
posted by nadawi at 6:23 AM on January 15, 2014 [22 favorites]


all the other drama over a fucking space.

At this point, this just looks like willful fucking bullshit blindness. Fuck that.
posted by rtha at 6:28 AM on January 15, 2014 [25 favorites]


Yes, of course, there is only one valid interpretation of this thread. You mileage may not vary. How could I forget?
posted by 0 at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2014


At this point, this just looks like willful fucking bullshit blindness. Fuck that.

It's not blindness, it's a deliberate provocation, meant to derail a discussion, insultingly misstate what has been said, and tends to get the desired response. (There's a "T" word that applies, but is hot-button here, so...)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:34 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


0. So persecuted. Much misunderstanding. Best intentions "misconstrued" as transmisogyny. Wow.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:37 AM on January 15, 2014 [24 favorites]


You can interpret this thread any way you like, but even a cursory scan of this page will lead to the conclusion that it's explicitly not about the space. This has been explained with heroic amounts of patience and grace.

So with respect, if this is the best you can contribute at this point I'd kindly suggest you take a break from this thread.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:44 AM on January 15, 2014 [15 favorites]


0, did you just decide that all the people here who have said flat-out that it's not the lack of space but the intentional "I know you prefer [thing] but other people who are not you and who aren't here don't prefer that so I'm just gonna go ahead and do the thing you are asking me to not do because why should I listen to people who are talking to me?" are wrong, or invisible, or don't count? I mean, feel free to disagree with someone's opinion, but it's really fucking obnoxious to insist that what people here have said is the thing that bothers them is *not* the thing that bothers them.
posted by rtha at 6:45 AM on January 15, 2014


(I think it's worth noting that there was another comment by 0 here which was deleted, that pretty much made it utterly clear that they were straight-up textbook trolling - this is definitively not some poor sap getting on the wrong end of a misunderstanding and being piled on by those oh-so-evil trannies as a result. Just to make that pretty clear before we get accused of things we haven't done again.)
posted by Dysk at 6:50 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, rtha, I did not decide that. I was trying to make the point that the drama-making of a user pushing the button was small compared to the drama of the larger issue, so complaining that one cause of drama is tiresome while ignoring the other seemed misplaced to me. The 'space' thing was shorthand and entirely orthogonal to the meat of my comment.

Going away now as requested.
posted by 0 at 6:52 AM on January 15, 2014


Yeah don't use us to make your points.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:57 AM on January 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


If you want a preview of the talking points for the next GLBT/feminism/etc MeTa, there it is: a complete rewrite of the timeline, narrative, and tone of the original thread and this one. It is frustrating, painful, maddening, and saddening...and by now utterly predictable down to the users involved and the point of the conversation where it comes into play.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:05 AM on January 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


0 does make one good point, though: closing your account is a trivially simple process to reverse. I do it when I'm going through a busy period or feel like I'm not in the right headspace, and I think moderators are OK with the effort it takes to reactivate it (which I think is to read an email and change a value from 0 to 1, or 1 to 0). Nomyte taking this very minor, two-click step led to a derail from the actual topic of discussion, which is the way trans people experience MetaFilter.

Where 0 went wrong, I think, was the idea that the derail was "orders of magnitude less hand-wringy" than the main discussion, however that main discussion was characterized. In relative terms, it was massively more hand-wringy, because the stakes are so incredibly low. I mean, how often do people disable their accounts and then come back, either with new accounts or just by re-enabling their old ones? It's like having an inquest every time someone goes on holiday, whether or not they return.

I think it would be really useful to distinguish people disabling their accounts without giving a reason from people disabling their accounts in a fit of rage (an actual, according-to-Hoyle flame-out) from people disabling their accounts (or just ceasing to post) because of a regular, ongoing feeling over time that they are in a space hostile to them because of their $essentialquality (in this case, trans* status), and possibly spend less time on the first two and focus on the third, which is the situation people are engaging with above.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:21 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would it be useful?
posted by h00py at 7:24 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: "My comments was self-effacing? The people who flame out aren't here by choice. In nearly every instance I agree with that choice. They are generally contentious individuals. They're the people who take their balls and go home. It's not a dig. When these folk pull this crap inevitably there's community hand wringing and in-thread mourning. You'll be missed, and Come back when you're ready, or I hope you come back soon. It's a play for drama and I find it tiresome."

I've flamed out and closed my account before, and people have said the same thing about me every single time. "It's a play for drama/attention." It wasn't ever that -- every single time I was simply furious and wanted to leave.

I closed my account once fully expecting to leave this place for good, and I was so mad I did stupid things. The other times I hit the button, I was getting so over-the-top infuriated that I was afraid that if I didn't literally block myself from commenting, I would say things that I'd regret down the road. Needed a breather and took one.

People close their accounts for all sorts of reasons.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


Would it be useful?

I'd like to think so! In the sense that one of the issues mentioned, above, was that the voices of trans people, and conversations about trans issues, got sidelined by interpersonal arguments and history unrelated to those issues.

If a contentious personality can train-wreck a discussion of trans issues just by turning up and being themself, or if that doesn't work by then disabling their account (once again, a trivially simple process that is trivially simple to reverse), that feels like a bug rather than a feature, if the MetaTalk machine is meant to be set up to hear those voices and their concerns, rather than to provide an arena for a kind of topic-independent emotional thunderdome.

(I realise MetaTalk is also a bleed valve for toxic discussions to be vented out of the front-line product - but its positive utility is as a place to talk about policy and moderation, so separating out those functions into different threads seems like a good idea.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:47 AM on January 15, 2014


If you announce you're leaving, that's trolling for attention and sympathy. If you just close your account, it just means you've closed your account.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:50 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Knowing why people have left would do nothing more than feed the gossips and whilst gossip can be fun it should never be encouraged by people who are looking for less drama.
posted by h00py at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Nomyte taking this very minor, two-click step led to a derail from the actual topic of discussion, which is the way trans people experience MetaFilter.

To be fair this is what the discussion evolved into. The actual topic of discussion was corb's belief she'd been censored for a trivial reason. It was pointed out this wasn't the case, and people moved on. To state that this thread was created so we could have a space to discuss trans issues is inaccurate to my reading.

People close their accounts for all sorts of reasons.

Absolutely. And to me they should go without note or comment. (I'm now a hypocrite, since I commented.) I'm also guilty of escalating here, since I have no idea what Nomyte's motivation for leaving was.

I close my account on occasion. I see no stigma with either leaving or coming back. People should be able to come and go when they like. I just don't think it needs to be an occasion marked with sack cloth and ashes.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:00 AM on January 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


h00py: "Knowing why people have left would do nothing more than feed the gossips and whilst gossip can be fun it should never be encouraged by people who are looking for less drama."

Depends on the reason, no? Some people tell their reasons to the mods in the "why are you leaving?" field at the "close account" page. If it's something to the effect of "I just need a break. Will be back at some point" then if the question is raised the mods can say so in thread. This could defuse speculation and possibly keep hand-wringing to a minimum.
posted by zarq at 8:01 AM on January 15, 2014


cjorgenson, agreed!
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on January 15, 2014


for me, the drama is rarely in the closing (unless the closer brought that to the table), it's the reaction afterwards (which can range from distress to glee), especially if it's a silent closing. it's the guessing at motives and reasons, if it's a ban or not, who exactly should be blamed or thanked for driving them out. that's the drama i wish we could do without. i realize humans are inclined to gossip and when emotions run high a closed account can feel like a stick of dynamite, but i think we can do better in this regard.
posted by nadawi at 8:10 AM on January 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


To be fair this is what the discussion evolved into. The actual topic of discussion was corb's belief she'd been censored for a trivial reason. It was pointed out this wasn't the case, and people moved on. To state that this thread was created so we could have a space to discuss trans issues is inaccurate to my reading.

While that's true, this thread was actually kind of going somewhere perhaps slightly productive for a while, even if that productivity was totally tangential to corb's original post. It got derailed by Nomyte leaving for a bit, kind of recovered, then people kept showing up and derailing it by acting as if no discussion had actually happened and now it seems to kind of be going nowhere. (I think it's okay for it to be going nowhere in the abstract. MeTa threads all die a death sooner or later. I'm kind of sad that we've lost the at least slightly productive discussion, though.)
posted by hoyland at 8:16 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Knowing why people have left would do nothing more than feed the gossips and whilst gossip can be fun it should never be encouraged by people who are looking for less drama.

I don't totally get the use of "would" there, I guess. We already have mechanisms people can use to say why they're leaving. Sometimes they do it in-thread, which is sometimes described as a flame-out. Sometimes they amend their profile pages to explain their reasons for leaving. And sometimes (on preview) as zarq says they give a reason in their "why are you leaving" box and if people ask the mods share that information (I guess after getting permission? I don't know how that works, but that seems to be what happens in the "What happened to [user]" threads on MeTa sometimes).

I don't think that's a system that needs to change, particularly, but that's not very relevant to the discussion here, which is about the way trans issues (and trans people) are treated on MetaFilter. And one of the things said during that discussion, by this is a thing, and agreed on by others was that attempts to talk about trans issues are often derailed:
Threads about us tend to derail into fights, even when we ourselves are perfectly civil, and the moderators do not do enough to prevent the derailing.

- One derailing tactic is for cis people to try to strike up "an honest philosophical discussion" about our existence, sanity, right to participate in society as members of our actual gender, or other such bullshit. The moderators fail to recognize these "discussions" as hurtful or derailing, and allow them to stand.
- Another one is for cis people to berate us for our "tone" when we (calmly, reasonably) ask for support or correct misconceptions. Again, the moderators fail to recognize this move as hurtful or derailing.
- Yet another one is for cis people to use threads about us as a backdrop for fights among themselves. That's what happened with St. Alia last night.
- We are blamed for those fights, explicitly or implicitly, by a depressingly large number of users, even when we were not involved in the fight at all.
Emphasis mine - that's what I was talking about. So, it's not that anyone should be compelled to give a reason for their leaving. It's that people should not, as Nadawi says, then make the thread about somebody involved in it closing their account, unless it is clearly connected to the discussion.

So, I think there's a difference between one person coming into a thread cold, saying some combative things and then disabling their account, with or without an explicit statement of why they are doing so, and several people saying that the way an issue which affects them as people, and is being discussed in the thread, is handled makes them feel like leaving MetaFilter. And we should be paying attention to the latter of those things, not the former.

Anyway, derail of a derail about a derail, so I'll shut up.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:20 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, in my professional life as a copyeditor I changed "transgendered" to "transgender" in the book I'm editing based on the education MeFi has given me. The system works!
posted by languagehat at 8:31 AM on January 15, 2014 [58 favorites]


I think it would be really useful to distinguish people disabling their accounts without giving a reason from people disabling their accounts in a fit of rage (an actual, according-to-Hoyle flame-out) from people disabling their accounts (or just ceasing to post) because of a regular, ongoing feeling over time that they are in a space hostile to them because of their $essentialquality (in this case, trans* status), and possibly spend less time on the first two and focus on the third, which is the situation people are engaging with above.

I may be crazy, but I thought I saw a really great comment about how essentialism can be problematic - it'd be great if people were considered if they were feeling a hostile space just because of their $identity, rather than whether it is an essential quality or not. But I'd point out that if someone closes their account with no reason, you don't actually know whether or not they closed their account because of feeling the site is hostile to them - because they didn't say either way.
posted by corb at 8:43 AM on January 15, 2014


I may be crazy, but I thought I saw a really great comment about how essentialism can be problematic - it'd be great if people were considered if they were feeling a hostile space just because of their $identity, rather than whether it is an essential quality or not.

Corb, I'm not sure what you mean here, but this reads really kind of badly. As an example, I think both of us have parents who were born outside the US and it's true that sometimes that makes me (and probably you too) really touchy about things around immigration. And, yeah, sometimes I need to say to myself "This conversation is wandering right into one of my hangups and I need to recognise that that's what's happening." but an awful lot of the time (in life, moreso than Metafilter), someone's just being a xenophobic asshole and it doesn't matter that they happen to also be wandering into something I'm sensitive about. It's the same thing here--I'm sure someone could supply an example of when they got upset about something someone else said about trans people because they'd had a bad day full of transphobia that made the comment seem way worse than it was*, but overwhelmingly, someone's being a transphobic asshole.

*Actually, I think I did it once in the Coy Mathis thread, where I'd come back from watching some documentary and made some sort of weird non sequitur, someone went 'Huh?' and I said 'Oh sorry, wrung out from this documentary, that didn't make a lot of sense, did it?.'
posted by hoyland at 8:58 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I wish I could link to the comment I was reading - I don't know if it got deleted or was just in a different thread and I keep thinking it's in this one from just blur - so I'm recalling fuzzily. I think it was from Ivan Fyodorovitch? I think it was about how defining people only by essential qualities left bigots free rein to be prejudiced in other areas. (Immigration's a great one, like, if people have a different citizenship that's not necessarily an essential quality, but it's totally one that people are bigoted jerks about) I could be misremembering, my memory is super fuzzy.

Sorry if it read badly - that was definitely not my intention.
posted by corb at 9:05 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sure, the boundaries of what is or is not an essential quality are fuzzy. It's a fuzzy term. However, if this is part of a move towards an equivalence between transphobia and being mean about libertarians, say, to be followed a complaint about the hypocrisy of MetaFilter caring more about one of those than the other, I think it's probably not a move that takes us to anywhere even visible from a position of good faith, and maybe it were better to stay focused.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:18 AM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Again, whether or not to have a FAQ isn't the issue.

Whether or not to have a FAQ is not the issue with regards to trans conversations generally, I agree. But with a substantial portion of this thread given over to discussion of a more substantive wiki, semi- or fully-automated FAQ appending to social justice threads, and the influence of 101-level commentary on the tone of the conversation, I respectfully submit that whether or not to have a FAQ has been an issue in this specific thread, and not necessarily specifically with reference to trans conversations alone.

The term "101" has, on cursory inspection, been used over 150 times in this thread. I don't think talking about the usage or application of that terminology is a derail. I understand that you think differently.

I was responding to the concern that new people wouldn't get to answer 101 questions, which (1) I think misses the major concern about 101 questions, which is not that nobody wants to answer them but that nobody wants threads to be only 101 questions, and (2) is unlikely to be the case, given that good-faith 101 questions are not going to be banned.

Banned, no. Discouraged, certainly. They're already discouraged. That "101" framework creates an educational hierarchy of thresholds wherein some questions are adjudged to be too "basic" for the current conversation. Community policing means precisely that what to ban or not ban is only a small part of how we create norms around here, and I have some problems with how this framework creates an artificial sense of advancement and complexity.

Also, it doesn't make sense. You don't put 101 and 401 students in the same class unless one of them is teaching the other one. A conversational framework that perceives some participants as being more novice and others as more advanced/enlightened can only piss people off, either through implication of remedial status or immersion in a level of conversation one believes to be beneath them.

The presence of questions considered to be basic isn't what turns threads into shitstorms, and the paucity of them isn't what turns threads into gold. "Asked and answered" isn't an effective model for any interchange outside of courtroom stenography. Again, I don't think having FAQ links is a problem, per se. I think adhering to a hierarchical model of social education is an enormous problem.
posted by Errant at 11:45 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


A conversational framework that perceives some participants as being more novice and others as more advanced/enlightened can only piss people off,

But what are the risks of a conversational framework that pretends these distinctions don't exist? That all points of view, however ignorant or erudite, are of equal merit and seriousness?
posted by Miko at 11:47 AM on January 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


I think adhering to a hierarchical model of social education is an enormous problem.

I don't know about adhering, but I think the hierarchical model is perfectly appropriate in some contexts, and there are many threads where it happens and it doesn't go sideways, mostly because those are threads where there are, for most participants, pretty bright lines about what they know or don't know. Like, there was a recent (last couple days) thread about some hack someone had done in a video game that made them able to create *another* game inside that video game! I didn't really understand any of the particulars, but I thought the result was pretty neat. And the last time I looked, there was no shitstorm created by people who think they know everything about hacking the game arguing with people who actually know about hacking the game. (Of course, I could be wrong, and a shitstorm could since have developed. I try to never underestimate the willingness of mefites to be fighty about stuff!)

As you know, cuz we've both been in those threads, what happens in threads about race or gender can be pretty different, because everyone thinks they're an expert because they *have* a race or gender. In that sense, they are totally an expert - but only in their own experience. Some people flip out when confronted by the reality that their expertise is really limited to their experience, and that their experience is not universal. Then they want to fight about someone else's experience, about which they are absolutely not an expert. And it goes so far south so much faster than an argument about whether the best way to hack the game is [foo] or [baz], because it's about who you are rather than what you know or what you can do.

So, yeah, I think it's totally okay for users or mods to step in when someone is like "I just read a review of a book about trans kids and I now know more than the parent of the trans kid who is right here, and also more than the trans mefites who used to be kids" to remind them that they don't actually have the amount of knowledge they think they do.

I think we agree that the 101 links like the ones Juliet Banana includes in some of her posts are awesome; people who might be too nervous to say anything at all at first can go read a little and then come say stuff, and people who are determined to be all NO I AM THE EXPERT OF YOUR LIFE YO can be told to go read the 101, and then come back or not.
posted by rtha at 12:20 PM on January 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also, it doesn't make sense. You don't put 101 and 401 students in the same class unless one of them is teaching the other one. A conversational framework that perceives some participants as being more novice and others as more advanced/enlightened can only piss people off, either through implication of remedial status or immersion in a level of conversation one believes to be beneath them.

Hmm. This analogy seems to me like it breaks down in an interesting way here. Because the stuff we describe as "trans 101" usually isn't a prerequisite for understanding the "trans 401" stuff, the way an academic 101 class would be a prerequisite for understanding a 401 class.

I mean, someone who's skipped algebra and geometry isn't gonna get much out of a calculus class. Someone who's skipped basic bio and chem isn't going to get much out of organic chemistry. But someone who's missed "101-level" information about some minority community (which usually consists of preferred terminology, maybe a few other social norms, maybe some basic trivia about the community's history) can still be in a position to get something out of a more advanced conversation, as long as the other people in the conversation are willing to tolerate and gently correct occasional faux pas.

This is something I've seen a lot recently from trans people who didn't really have much contact with the queer community before they came out. Someone will show up on /r/asktransgender and ask a really interesting and deep question about how to conceptualize their own experience of gender — but in the process they'll commit (what that community considers to be) a basic tacky error, like using the word "trap" or "tranny" and not knowing that those words are widely considered hostile. On the one hand, they've been thinking about this shit their whole life, and have complicated and nuanced concerns about it. On the other hand, they've never actually been in a space where they were permitted to talk about it before, and so when they open their mouth those concerns come out in some problematic and socially awkward ways.

So the upshot is they end up getting the 101 and the 401 all at once. Because they're ready for both — they need to hear "hold on, most of us prefer 'trans woman' to 'trap'," but at the same time they're ready to understand and appreciate something like "internalized transphobia can lead us to eroticize feelings of shame and submission in a lot of different complicated ways, none of which invalidate our basic experience of our own gender." (And maybe they'll need some of the words in that sentence unpacked or explained a bit; but the concepts won't be over their head, because they'll have been grappling with those concepts for a while already, and just lacking words for them.)

I don't know if that sort of 101-and-401-all-at-once situation is quite so common for cis people. But I do know it happens. Recently I had a really wonderful conversation with a chronically ill cis relative of mine about social roles and personal identity. She was talking about roles like "patient"/"caretaker" and "sick"/"well," and I was talking about roles like "man"/"woman" and "straight"/"queer," and even still we found a startling amount of common ground and both learned a hell of a lot about each other. And yet she also had no idea about some really basic "trans 101" type stuff, and I was equally clueless about some basic facts about life with a chronic health problem. So the upshot was that we were discussing some really deep and difficult ideas that we'd both been grappling with for a long time, but simultaneously giving each other 101-level facts when needed.

Anyway, tl;dr, I think this is an area where we really can do 101 and 401 at once, as long as everyone is open to receiving both sorts of information. If someone says "Screw you, I'm an Advanced-Level Thinker here, I don't need to listen to that 101 shit," then the conversation starts to fall apart pretty quick.
posted by this is a thing at 1:19 PM on January 15, 2014 [41 favorites]


Banned, no. Discouraged, certainly. They're already discouraged. That "101" framework creates an educational hierarchy of thresholds wherein some questions are adjudged to be too "basic" for the current conversation.

Like I said last night, I don't actually think anyone is advocating discouraging basic questions. Moreover, they are not, as far as I know, discouraged currently. There are threads that end up being all basic education on trans issues rather than actual discussion of the post. No, I don't think that is always ideal. However, at this point, where the big issue in trans threads is peope turning them into shitstorms with their transphobia, those threads that are mostly trans 101 are not even a blip on my radar in terms of 'undesirable things happening in trans threads'. I mean, I'd like "too many basic questions" to be the issue, but it very much isn't.

(I also think you may be reading a bit too much into people's usage of '101'. It's coming over from all those workshops, leaflets and blog posts called 'trans 101', rather than some sort of explicit ranking of how sophisticated a question is. Or do you want to argue that inclusion of trans 101 links in posts creates the impression of a barrier to entry?)
posted by hoyland at 1:22 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ignore me, this is a thing's comment is genius.
posted by hoyland at 1:25 PM on January 15, 2014


But what are the risks of a conversational framework that pretends these distinctions don't exist? That all points of view, however ignorant or erudite, are of equal merit and seriousness?

There are many risks to that kind of framework, so it is fortunate that no one is suggesting we adopt anything like it. Certainly, I'm not.

And the last time I looked, there was no shitstorm created by people who think they know everything about hacking the game arguing with people who actually know about hacking the game.

I take your point, but I think the shitstorm, were it to develop, would be because of people who either claim that they don't need to know anything about video games because they don't play video games, which is fairly classic thread-shitting regardless of the subject, or people who deny basic, factual knowledge of video games as being factual or basic. Neither of those shit-stirrers will be moved by 101-style frameworks, because they deny there's anything to learn in the first instance or that the things considered to be 101-level knowledge are true.

You make a good point with the annoyance of universalizing one's personal experience, but I'd argue that the issue there is the attempt to apply an inapplicable experience, not that one's experience can't be universalized in some way. The Schroedinger's rapist thread goes to shit when dudes start talking about how they don't get harassed so it must not happen that often, right? What is the FAQ that is going to inform them that men and women are treated differently?

The difference between "I just read this book, and this is how things are" and "I just read this book; is this how things are?" is the difference between threads going haywire and threads having informed and developing discussion, but the only 101-level thing going on there is not assuming that you already know everything. Talking about 101, 201, 401-level knowledge doesn't help, because I don't think it exists. To adopt your aikido analogy, we are all beginners. I'm never going to know so much about race that there will be a person who has nothing to teach me, or sexism and genderism, or sexual orientation, or anything else. If that's the case, when should I consider myself to be a 201-level student?

The FAQ links that are useful, in my mind and as I've said, are the ones that present glossaries or definitions. Fighting about the definition of rape culture totally sucks, because it is a term that means something and that's not really a subject for debate. Fighting about whether something is an example of rape culture, however, may be profoundly annoying or painful, but at least you know you're both starting from the same spot. Fighting about what cisgender privilege is or whether it exists totally sucks, because denying basic facts about people's realities is the worst. Fighting about whether something is an example of that privilege may also totally suck, but there may be a legitimate subject for debate there.

People want to fight about other people's experience because they deny that other personhood and integrity. I've said from the beginning that that needs to be addressed here by members and mods both. But the only 101, the only basic, I see needing to be learned there is "other people's lives are different than yours and they know stuff you don't". It's not a bad FAQ to have, but it's pretty short.

on preview:

Hmm. This analogy seems to me like it breaks down in an interesting way here. Because the stuff we describe as "trans 101" usually isn't a prerequisite for understanding the "trans 401" stuff, the way an academic 101 class would be a prerequisite for understanding a 401 class.

Anyway, tl;dr, I think this is an area where we really can do 101 and 401 at once, as long as everyone is open to receiving both sorts of information. If someone says "Screw you, I'm an Advanced-Level Thinker here, I don't need to listen to that 101 shit," then the conversation starts to break down pretty quick.


You've captured the essence of my difficulty with this formulation. Social education and social justice are non-hierarchical in important ways. You're teaching and learning at the same time. If the goal is to obliterate unequal power structures, you can't do that while simultaneously creating an arbitrary system of elitism. The thing I see most often isn't, "screw you, I don't have to listen to that 101 shit", but "you don't know this 101 shit, so nothing else you say is worth considering". As you point out from your anecdote, that's simply not true and instantiates an unwelcome ignorance and barrier to understanding, not to mention the barrier to participation that hoyland describes.
posted by Errant at 1:36 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Errant: "The difference between "I just read this book, and this is how things are" and "I just read this book; is this how things are?" is the difference between threads going haywire and threads having informed and developing discussion"

Especially because writing books about your terrible, inaccurate and harmful opinions on trans women is such a successful career move it can get your bullshit into the DSM. With a very few exceptions, when it comes to trans issues, the answer to that question is going to be, "No, but I'm glad you asked because x, y, z."

Which hopefully also explains why the response to the former statement can be so aggrieved. It's not just people who've Read A Book extrapolating from a little knowledge, it's that the books they are extrapolating from are 90% lies and guesswork.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:10 PM on January 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


The thing I see most often isn't, "screw you, I don't have to listen to that 101 shit", but "you don't know this 101 shit, so nothing else you say is worth considering".

But is this what's happening here? I would suggest the answer is no. I'm sure we have "I'm not going to engage in this discussion if you continue to pointedly refuse to honor requests for respectful language." on occasion (probably most directed at one particular user who is no loner around), but that's something different.
posted by hoyland at 2:10 PM on January 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


The thing I see most often isn't, "screw you, I don't have to listen to that 101 shit", but "you don't know this 101 shit, so nothing else you say is worth considering".

I think you are misunderstanding the problem.

I don't think is "you don't know this 101 shit" IMO I see it as "You are lording over me with your amazing powers of loose riffing as if you are going to somehow solve in this very comment thread an an amazingly complicated issue that our best minds are currently stumbling over." I'd argue that type of conversational response is best flagged and modded away and that we need to in a 101-type frame explain why this conversational style and particular attitude is detrimental when discussing trans people and how they are allowed to live and interact in the world.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:14 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


they, we, I don't know how to phrase that. I'm trying not to over-personalize it.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:17 PM on January 15, 2014


I'm kind of confused with where you're going with this, Errant. Are you worried about how people might be told they need to learn something before pontificating? Because, depending on your perspective, that's either currently a non-issue (because we already have language to gently prod people without going "Read this link, you idiot!" and there's no reason to switch to calling people idiots) or it's insisting that trans people and allies are the problem because we're not being obsequious enough or something.
posted by hoyland at 2:26 PM on January 15, 2014


The thing I see most often isn't, "screw you, I don't have to listen to that 101 shit", but "you don't know this 101 shit, so nothing else you say is worth considering".

But is this what's happening here?


It is not at all what's happening here, at least to the best of my knowledge and experience. I think that is excellent. I should have been clearer that that is a thing I see most often elsewhere and not here; I apologize for the confusion. I would like to see that continue to not happen here. I think there are norms and expectations that we could adopt in this community that would incrementally encourage things that happen elsewhere and that are not happening here to start happening here. I would not like us to do that.

I am just and only talking about the ideas proposed in this thread of a more automatic FAQ linking or 101-level "read before participating" suggestions or requirements. There are communities that use those tools and strategies; Shakesville is the one that comes most immediately to mind. It works very well for them and for what they want to do with their community. I would have a problem with a similar community expectation here, for reasons I am hopefully making somewhat clear (and if not, the fault is most likely mine). I am not reacting to the thread that was the subject of this MeTa, which I haven't read, or to general participations in trans conversations on this site, about which I don't think I have a great deal of authority to speak or summarize except to say that I am as grateful as many others for the energy and patience on display.

Those communities which have more enforced educational requirements, which are real communities and not hypothetical ones invented by me for strawman arguments, also seem to me to have a heightened level of elitist ranking and member hierarchy. I'm not saying one causes the other, but I do think they influence each other. I think this is by design in those communities, which is fine for them. I'm reacting to the idea of something similar coming into place here, which has been suggested and discussed in this thread. I am registering my disapproval of those suggestions.

I think (but am not sure and welcome clarification) that I have restricted my comments to that discussion, and I am not commenting on anything that I am seeing happening here currently, nor am I suggesting that trans people and allies are the problem, especially since I consider myself under that umbrella.

It's fine if people want to put 101-style links in their posts. They're often useful, I can't stop them, and anyway it's not that big a deal. It would be a bigger deal if the site included "automatic 101 type stuff", as mathowie described it earlier in this thread. I would not be in favor of that, because of reasons which I will be happy to explore in even greater detail, although I am currently somewhat concerned about how much air I have already taken up.
posted by Errant at 2:47 PM on January 15, 2014


Errant, I'm also confused.Are you perhaps reacting to "101" the shorthand term, and not to the kinds of content people are actually proposing as the 101-type links? Because I don't think anyone is suggesting hierarchical education. That isn't even possible in this type of community, with web links. This is, or would be, a networked, interpersonal, community-curated kind of education: teaching and learning at the same time, in your formulation. Or not even "education," in my estimation, but shared foundation for discussion.
posted by Miko at 2:47 PM on January 15, 2014


What do you all think about customizable little italicized reminders under the comment box that are tied to tags? Like, "Did you check the transgender FAQ?" or something like that. It could work for a number of different contentious scenarios here on Mefi

"Everyone needs a hug" does more to help me than anything else on mefi.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


What do you all think about customizable little italicized reminders under the comment box that are tied to tags? Like, "Did you check the transgender FAQ?" or something like that. It could work for a number of different contentious scenarios here on Mefi

I want to say I argued against automated solutions way up thread because it kind of casts the trans issue as a problem child (even if it is, but whatever). Or not, I've now forgotten. Someone argued that, at any rate, and I'll agree with them for at least the remainder of this comment.

However, I think you've touched on a question that relates to what it sounds like Errant was maybe going for: given the existence of a formalised FAQ (i.e. the forthcoming wiki page), how do we make use of it? For me, the wiki barely exists. I'm never going to remember to check it. The option that's appealing to me at the moment is:
Person A: [some totally reasonable basic question]
Person B: [answer] and, by the way, we have this wiki page that covers some other stuff that might be of interest.
Or is that kind of patronising?
posted by hoyland at 3:16 PM on January 15, 2014


Or is that kind of patronising?

Even if it is no way intended to be patronising, if people get their hackles up at a "PSA" type reminder, wouldn't this type of thing be likely to elicit a similar response?
posted by MoonOrb at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not at all. It may be even better make the answer a link to the wiki.

I would like to think that we've reached the point that merely answering a question with a link to a quick explanation shouldn't be considered patronising. Of course, as made plain by this thread (and previous ones), some still do. However, that's a problem on their end, which hopefully means they'll either find MeFi isn't really their cup of tea and leave, or if they want to be dicks, be removed from it.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


zombieflanders: "Not at all. It may be even better make the answer a link to the wiki."

I do worry that that's more likely to come off as patronising. But for something that's directly addressed in the wiki, giving a short answer and then a link probably wouldn't hurt.

MoonOrb: "Even if it is no way intended to be patronising, if people get their hackles up at a "PSA" type reminder, wouldn't this type of thing be likely to elicit a similar response?"

I'm not feeling very charitable at the moment, but, at this point, I'm tempted to say that's their own damn problem and they shouldn't expect sympathy when they complain (but, of course, they'll get it).
posted by hoyland at 4:42 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not feeling very charitable at the moment, but, at this point, I'm tempted to say that's their own damn problem and they shouldn't expect sympathy when they complain (but, of course, they'll get it).

Oh, no doubt. No disagreement. I only meant to give you feedback on how it might be perceived, and I could see the parallel between suggesting the wiki link and mentioning a PSA. I generally think people are inclined to feel corrected and get defensive as a result, but as you say, that's really their problem, not yours.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:53 PM on January 15, 2014


I generally think people are inclined to feel corrected

I suspect this is liable to happen no matter what we do. And I don't know what to do about that.
posted by hoyland at 5:15 PM on January 15, 2014


I think if people are going to raise hackles over suggested further reading, and want to argue in the thread about whether or not they need to read that, that that merits flagging for derailing, and then mods come and delete things if necessary and leave a note about not derailing take it to meTa etc. Basically, how it works now, only more better.
posted by rtha at 5:48 PM on January 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


And, I will try to be better about not leaping in to say something that furthers the derail, and to use flags/contact form instead. I know that is a problem I have. If you see me doing it, please feel free to memail me to go "Dude! Flag!" Or something.
posted by rtha at 6:39 PM on January 15, 2014


The thing I see most often isn't, "screw you, I don't have to listen to that 101 shit", but "you don't know this 101 shit, so nothing else you say is worth considering".

Ah, now that you've clarified that you mean you see it on other websites, yes, I agree that that interaction happens and is undesirable. But I think that what's mostly been happening on Metafilter is a trans member saying "Hey, no big deal, but I'd generally prefer [101 request]" and cis members saying, "Screw you, I don't have to list to that 101 shit, and if you're going to be so rude, then nothing else you say is worth considering."

Which I actually think is the much more common pattern of events in most parts of the internet, and world at large; Shakesville, in my opinion, overcorrected. I doubt, just because of the diversity of the user base here, that Metafilter would overcorrect, and I hope that fear doesn't keep us from plain ol' correcting the inequity of discourse that tends to happen here.
posted by jaguar at 7:03 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


- trans people on this site generally prefer 'trans woman' and 'trans man' over 'transwoman' and 'transman' for reasons they have articulated

And since the thread began, we've had one post that uses "transman" repeatedly in the post, and another thread where "transman" and "transwoman" are used without objection in the comments. Suggesting that "generally prefer" is perhaps a little overstated.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:57 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's exactly accurate, actually. That is what the people in this thread who are described by the term generally prefer. If you are a person that cares about this sort of thing, you can choose the words that are the preferred terms.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:00 PM on January 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


I think we've pretty much covered that, yeah. Not sure where the confusion is still coming from there.
posted by Corinth at 10:04 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


The "Mr Transman" thread has the word 'transman' four times - three of them referencing the name of the event (so reflective of nobody's preference but the organisers') and once in the tags (likely a reflection of the spelling chosen by the organisers again). The transplant thread has the word 'transmen' once, used by a cis person (ie not as self-description) and precisely three uses of the word 'transwoman' or 'transwomen' - once as part of the comment I just talked about, and twice by people likely self-describing.

That hardly seems like an awful lot of data points for challenging the consensus established in this and many other trans-related threads. Also, see one of my previous comments.
posted by Dysk at 12:32 AM on January 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


(Also, I'm not convinced that "but you don't always complain about it!" is that compelling an argument...)
posted by Dysk at 12:33 AM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


*imagines TFB going back to his Wile E. Coyote -esque drawing board*
posted by bleep-blop at 5:19 AM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


He's read the thread, including the most recent comment that accused people of starting drama over the space (which was rebutted by several MeFites including a mod). He knows it's not about the space.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:28 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Actually, ThatFuzzyBastard, if you've read this thread in its entirety, you'll note that I already pointed out the less-than-optimal language in the transplant thread (and no, not just the lack of the space) and said this MeTa was deterring me from commenting on it.

But, frankly, I'm going to come out and say it: you're killed multiple threads on trans issues with your concern trolling and 'Oh if only trans people were more reasonable' crap. It's not like we don't remember. That's not to say no one will engage with you if you showed up in one of these threads to participate in good faith. But being all 'Look! I caught you people out!' (while ignoring what the word 'generally' means, for some reason) isn't the way to signal that good faith is what you're aiming for.
posted by hoyland at 5:39 AM on January 16, 2014 [23 favorites]


Maybe he was just helpfully providing another example of why so many of us trans people are so tired of the way conversations here tend to go.
posted by jiawen at 6:09 AM on January 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I find this thread emotionally wearing and I don't have any specific personal connections to the issues. I'm particularly sick of people coming in and re-raising issues that have already been the subject of lengthy and sometimes difficult conversations often without any apparent awareness of what has been said earlier in the thread.

At this point, if people disagree with the rough consensus expressed by trans people here (or think they do) maybe the best solution is to be silent for now and discuss their points of view at some other appropriate time and place. Imagine some friends of yours stayed up all night talking about something difficult. Would you come in at 7am when they are exhausted and try to re-start the discussion?
posted by Area Man at 6:20 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you thought it was cool to pick on your friends until they finally got upset and yelled at you, just so you could go "AHA! Hey everyone, I told you they like to yell at everyone over every little thing!" and then complain about it every time someone brought up the issue, then yes.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:28 AM on January 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


I find this thread emotionally wearing and I don't have any specific personal connections to the issues. I'm particularly sick of people coming in and re-raising issues that have already been the subject of lengthy and sometimes difficult conversations often without any apparent awareness of what has been said earlier in the thread.

I occasionally get the feeling that there is a phone tree to ensure that someone drops by to lob a "provocative bomb" every 12-18 hours. It's kind of eerie.

By the way, I'd like to say how much I appreciate the hard work that a bunch of people are doing in this thread. I've been too busy to participate much, but, honestly, it's going way better than it might, despite a lot of provocation.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


But, frankly, I'm going to come out and say it: you're killed multiple threads on trans issues with your concern trolling and 'Oh if only trans people were more reasonable' crap. It's not like we don't remember.

Thank god somebody finally said this out loud.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:36 AM on January 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Can I nominate hoyland for a "Patient and Calm Repeated Explanation" Award?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:54 AM on January 16, 2014 [24 favorites]


Can I nominate hoyland for a "Patient and Calm Repeated Explanation" Award?

No kidding. I think it's worth emphasizing that this kind of patience and calm in the face of repeated mistaken assertions and tired arguments (at best) and deliberate baiting (at worst) is truly above and beyond what we should expect from folks in these situations. It's important to acknowledge that way hoyland (and many others here) have responded in this thread might be some kind of aspirational model of how to handle these exhausting conversations, but only because this kind of grace really shouldn't be expected. I worry--just a little--that sometimes people might see this kind of patience and think, "well why can't you just be a little more like hoyland" instead of thinking "well maybe I should be a little less of an asshole" or "well maybe I should question my own behavior a little more."
posted by MoonOrb at 12:21 PM on January 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


I worry--just a little--that sometimes people might see this kind of patience and think, "well why can't you just be a little more like hoyland" instead of thinking "well maybe I should be a little less of an asshole" or "well maybe I should question my own behavior a little more."

IMO, it's a well-founded worry, seeing as how patient and calm became "stirring up drama" and "language policing" and "why must you make it so difficult?"
posted by zombieflanders at 12:59 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]




No.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


(via)
posted by en forme de poire at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Learn to let it go, TFB.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


There are lots of comments above in which it is recognized that this isn't a unanimous preference; that some trans people choose not to use the space. You can go back and read those comments. Also, the space or non-space wasn't really what set off this thread in the first place.

Should this thread be shut down?
posted by Area Man at 2:18 PM on January 16, 2014


Should this thread be shut down?

I'm not a fan of letting the spoilsports dictate the length or breadth of the conversation, especially when we're coming up with some workable community standards and they're trying to rewrite site history.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know why none of your links are going anywhere TFB, but they aren't. But, nonetheless, think of it as an in-group/out-group thing. You are not in a position to name an event either 'Mr Transman' or 'Mr Trans Man'. If people who are somewhat more likely to find themselves in such a position suggest that you should err on the side of the space, you should err on the side of the space until someone says "I'd really prefer if you didn't use a space when talking about me." This is pretty straightforward.

(Want to have your mind blown? Not everyone participating in that event is necessarily going to call themselves a man, yet there they are in something with 'man' in the title!)

Also, while I like people saying nice things about me, you've all confused an inability to walk away with infinite patience.
posted by hoyland at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2014 [13 favorites]


Well, that was a short-lived moment of good feelings.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:44 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: Well, that was a short-lived moment of good feelings
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:53 PM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I get the feeling we've been here before, but I don't think shutting the thread down would be the right response. It feels like most people involved are having a worthwhile discussion...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


TFB is acting as he always acts in these threads - ignoring him as much as possible is probably the best way to not let him shit it all up.
posted by nadawi at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Stepping in really late to say that if someone wants me to call them Rick instead of Ricky (or Ricki), then that's what I'm going to do. If trans* people want a space, then that's pretty easy to do and doesn't cost me a thing. One moment of listening to what people want and then going along with what they ask for. Why does this have to be such a complicated issue? (I know, I know...)

I've gone through this whole thread and reads lots of stuff and learned stuff (and I'm really impressed by the sheer strength it's taken for people to be so patient) but I really think it just boils down to calling people by what they want to be called by, and that's that. Have I missed any important lessons other than that?
posted by disclaimer at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


If trans* people want a space, then that's pretty easy to do and doesn't cost me a thing. One moment of listening to what people want and then going along with what they ask for. Why does this have to be such a complicated issue?

Because as demonstrated (and even stated) above, "trans* people" don't unanimously "want" anything. It will always be case by case, and a question of individual preference. And therefore, it is wrong to say "Omitting the space is disrespectful/wrong/implies that trans* people are robots," when the truth is closer to "I prefer to write it with a space."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:10 PM on January 16, 2014


But what if I think the consensus name is Richard based on all of the Ric*'s that i know? Isn't it okay to just to use Richard in all cases to save myself confusion? As long as I explain that this is what I'm doing.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2014


TFB, what is it that's led you believe trans people are going to give you an in-depth exploration of transgender politics, community and history when you've repeatedly shown no willingness to engage in good faith?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


therefore, it is wrong to say "Omitting the space is disrespectful/wrong/implies that trans* people are robots,"

NOBODY

HAS

SAID

THIS
posted by KathrynT at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


I wonder if I stumbled into some useful phrasing in the last comment, namely 'to err on the side of [whatever]'. Because when we're talking about something like this damn space, that's what we're saying. Or are we? I feel like there are maybe two statements happening in parallel: 'If you talking about a specific person/people and you don't know their preference, err on the side of the space', but also 'If you're speaking generally, use the damn space.' (because it signals you (hopefully, anyway) understand that trans people are people and not space aliens).*

In any case, I think it might be a good idea to be intentional about what's presented in this forthcoming revised wiki page (I'm pretty sure it has moved into 'forthcoming' rather than 'hypothetical' territory) as 'rules' and as 'guidelines', where 'guidelines' are things where people's mileage tends to vary (these are the 'err on the side of [x]' instructions). There are still things where we'd have to disclaim rules (I have the feeling 'no to transsexual' (for generic people) is a rule in the US but maybe a little less cut and dry in the UK), but it might nip some of the rules lawyering in the bud a bit.

*And contrary to what some people keep on trying to argue, I feel like there's fairly strong consensus that when speaking about generic trans people, space is preferable.
posted by hoyland at 3:15 PM on January 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Fuzzy, just go and sit yourself down for a minute and think about the wider ramifications of absolute unanimity being required in situations like this. Go on. I'm sure there's no way a single dissenting voice will prevent change of any kind ever occurring under this rule!

Or is this yet another rule of yours which only applies to trans people?
posted by emmtee at 3:27 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: "He's read the thread, including the most recent comment that accused people of starting drama over the space (which was rebutted by several MeFites including a mod). He knows it's not about the space."

This doesn't seem fair to me. I don't think ThatFuzzyBastard is trolling here. If he is, he's doing a relatively bad job of it; willfully ignoring what's been said here will only get you so far, and isn't likely to start a very frothy kerfuffle; it just sparks general annoyance, as we see here now.

I think ThatFuzzyBastard is genuinely annoyed about "political correctness" conversations on Metafilter, and therefore has a tendency to see threads like this and roll his eyes and say "oh no, it's the neoliberal word police again." That kind of exasperation tends to lead people to ignore most of the thread and just post a few dismissive and derisive comments at the end. I know because I've had that experience myself about other subjects sometimes.

My sense is that that's usually a bad idea, because (as is now obvious) it's easy to miss the central fact at hand if it wasn't mentioned in the first three or four comments. ThatFuzzyBastard clearly didn't catch what's going on.
posted by koeselitz at 3:38 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


"That kind of exasperation tends to lead people to ignore most of the thread and just post a few dismissive and derisive comments at the end."

Oh, that makes it okay then.

I know that's not what you meant, but as far as I'm concerned if it's not actually worse than whatever else we might have thought TFB was doing, it's still the sort of thing that deserves being poked with a sharp stick. In the eye.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


neoliberal? I thought the word police were communists.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:44 PM on January 16, 2014


I don't think ThatFuzzyBastard is trolling here.

How is choosing to "ignore most of the thread and just post a few dismissive and derisive comments at the end" not trolling?
posted by zombieflanders at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


How is choosing to "ignore most of the thread and just post a few dismissive and derisive comments at the end" not trolling?

Doesn't "trolling" suggest amusement rather than axe-grinding as a motive?

Although I am beginning to think that there should be a test to make sure someone has read the whole thread before being allowed to comment. Heck, it would have done me a world of good.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:02 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


ThatFuzzyBastard, just how dumb are you? It's been spelled out and you persist?
posted by Dysk at 4:04 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have the feeling 'no to transsexual' (for generic people) is a rule in the US but maybe a little less cut and dry in the UK

It tends to denote a certain political affiliation here in the UK, I've found. It's hardly definitive, but people who prefer the term transsexual are generally HBSers (or 'huns' if you're being less charitable and more punny).
posted by Dysk at 4:07 PM on January 16, 2014


At the very least, I'd say that here in the UK someone who self-describes as "a transsexual" is likely either to be at the very start of an extremely medicalised transition--i.e. no community access, doctors as their primary source of information about being trans (me at the start of my transition, for example)--or to have transitioned a long time ago (>10-15 years) with little to no community access since; often that means HBSer, but sometimes just "extreme stealth."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:15 PM on January 16, 2014 [13 favorites]


AoK makes some good points that I missed - my experience is entirely from talking to people who are in contact with the trans community to some extent (otherwise I wouldn't be talking to them!)
posted by Dysk at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2014


I do think we're being trolled in effect if not in intent. Even if TheFuzzyBastard was completely sincere, the effect was to take a conversation that was starting to turn productive and derail it all over again.

And I think the only useful response is the same one we'd use on a genuine troll: sigh and shrug and ignore.
posted by this is a thing at 4:24 PM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Woah. I just remembered why this seems so familiar. It's the mansplain thread all over again. It's like I haven't been away at all.

With that in mind, I'd agree with this is a thing, with the further suggestion that if TFB continues it be flagged for the attention of a moderator. TFB trying to make threads about gender issues into the TFB show is a known issue, and it didn't end very prettily that time. I don't know if anything changed while I was away, but it doesn't seem so...

Circling round and back, there's a suggestion elsewhere in MeTa that people (like, any user who is so minded) put a link to resources like the GLAAD advice on their profile page - saying something like "some trans threads have come up lately - I found this useful as a way to get myself up to speed on how to participate in those". Like some people have advice on how to virus check a PC, or links to the wiki. I don't know how often people look at profiles, but that might be a low-impact way to start seeding that information...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:10 PM on January 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm curious how much the ROBOTS thing was just, like, the unfortunate xerox effects of offhand humor, where trying to repeat a quip in a different, antagonistic context makes it more likely it's taken as a serious representation of a viewpoint.

That said, I'd go less, "ARE TRANS PEOPLE ROBOTS? FILM AT 11" and more, "Remember that time Data transported Lal's positronic matrix and lived as female for half a season?"
posted by klangklangston at 5:29 PM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's hardly definitive, but people who prefer the term transsexual are generally HBSers.

They ALL went to Harvard Business School?!

(KIDDING. Actually what happened is I didn't know what that acronym meant so I googled it and the first search result explained it well enough to give me the basics. We have the technology.)
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:30 PM on January 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I didn't know what that acronym meant so I googled it
I had to look up PSA.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:37 PM on January 16, 2014


I had to look up PSA.

No shame in that.

I find googling stuff I don't know pretty satisfying, honestly. Mmmmm instant gratification.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:52 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


therefore, it is wrong to say "Omitting the space is disrespectful/wrong/implies that trans* people are robots,"

NOBODY

HAS

SAID

THIS


No, they did. I linked above (though apparently the links didn't work for everyone. Here, I'll try again: one and two).

I did read the whole thread. I'll be really sad if Nomtye is gone for good. People who are deeply invested in unanimous praise for themselves continue to confuse "trolling" with "thinking that you're wrong."

If your name is Richard, you can of course ask to be called Rick, or Ricky, or Big R, or whatever. The problem comes when you insist that no one named Richard can be called "Dick" and that to do so is hideously disrespectful. Then you're insisting that you're preferred nomenclature for yourself must outweight others' preferred nomenclature for themselves, and at that point you're just getting off on the exercise of power.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:24 PM on January 16, 2014


They're explaining why they prefer the nomenclature they prefer. That you can find examples of other people who prefer a different nomenclature means fuck-all for MeFi given that the majority of trans* folk on MeFi who have expressed a preference have said they prefer the space, and they've explained why.

This isn't fucking rocket science.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:29 PM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Except the situation that kicked this off was more like someone insisting on calling all Richards Dick even after someone had said "hey I'd rather you not" because they had a friend who liked Dick and why the fuck am I even bothering it's not like you actually care
posted by kagredon at 6:30 PM on January 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


FIAMO, guys.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:32 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


The problem comes when you insist that no one named Richard can be called "Dick" and that to do so is hideously disrespectful.

That would be a problem, yes. If that's what was happening, it would be very much uncool.

I do believe that it has been said that if someone self identifies as a... Dick... that's what you should call them when asked to do so, even if Richard is the more commonly agreed upon term.
posted by sonika at 6:32 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't want to FIAMO in this case because TFB has a consistent derail-with-rules-lawyering bullshit thing that he does a lot.

He doesn't care that that the point of this discussion is not actually "only ever use this term or you suck" but rather "do no argue when someone says please call me [foo] that you will call them [baz] because someone somewhere else wants to be called [baz]."

He's not actually stupid. He just cares more about making sure everyone knows his opinion, and in driving the discussion to talk about what he wants to talk about. That the discussion we have been trying to have - about respecting people enough to at least not argue with them about what they want you to call them - is not something he is interested in.
posted by rtha at 6:44 PM on January 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


FIAMO, guys.

Flagging in MetaTalk is unhelpful.
posted by bleep-blop at 7:00 PM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


From bleep-blop's link, which is a mod talking about when flagging is unhelpful; one of the times is:

- Flagging in MetaTalk unless something really egregious is going on, ask yourself what you are expecting us to do

I don't expect 99.9% of comments to get deleted in Meta the way I might on other subsites AND my first course of action on Meta comments I don't like would not be to flag (it's more like the...seventh? And it's notably after "close the window and ignore it."), but mods definitely tell people to knock stuff off, which is all I would expect. And I don't expect that would happen just because I flagged.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 7:07 PM on January 16, 2014


He just cares more about making sure everyone knows his opinion, and in driving the discussion to talk about what he wants to talk about. That the discussion we have been trying to have - about respecting people enough to at least not argue with them about what they want you to call them - is not something he is interested in.

Right - and the mods I think have already taken a view on whether he should be able to vent his spleen against insufficiently deferential women on MetaFilter freely, including on MetaTalk. My understanding is that they know this is a problem, and they want him to stop doing it. Last time I saw this wind-up, it ended with TFB dropping a C-bomb and getting a time-out. I hope this remarkably similar situation will be addressed this time before we reach that point, as we otherwise probably will.

So, regarding the inefficacy of:
- Flagging in MetaTalk unless something really egregious is going on, ask yourself what you are expecting us to do
I think Snarl's right. TFB's behavior in similar situations has, I think, been demonstrably egregious - he got a time-out for it - so flagging is simply to draw attention to the fact that he's starting to reach boiling point, and it might be good to head that off (e.g. with a "knock it off") before he hits encopretic critical mass.

If this is not the case - if he can fury-poop sine fine - then that would be useful to know also, of course. But that is not what's happened previously: the mods, when they have seen this happening, have asked him to knock it off.

TFB wants to derail the thread into a thread about him and his heroic stand against the social justice warriors, and he clearly gets something out of being driven into these rage spirals. Which really just goes back to this is a thing's point about trans threads getting constantly derailed by cisgender MeFites' drama. It would be good if that could be headed off here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:27 PM on January 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


Flagging in MetaTalk is unhelpful.

But moving on is totally helpful. Or, at least it helps me. I've never regretted moving on.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:35 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Honestly I could have quoted way juicier posts (where people weren't specifically making sure they covered their asses in terms of defending against rules lawyer bullshit) than TFB just did if I were trying to do what he's trying to do, so at the very least maybe he's wearing himself out.
posted by Corinth at 7:36 PM on January 16, 2014


"No, they did. I linked above (though apparently the links didn't work for everyone. Here, I'll try again: one and two)."

Since you linked to my comment, and then doubled down, apparently I have to clarify that no one actually believes trans people are robots, nor that eliding a space seriously implies that they are robots. Arguing that this was the serious, natural reading of my comment would imply a sort of cognitive difficulty well outside the scope of MeTa's ability to address. You should tell your doctor if you've had any closed-head injuries lately.

I have made you a button to wear.
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 PM on January 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


That would also work if you substituted "robots" for "fats".
posted by planetesimal at 7:55 PM on January 16, 2014


But but but but but some trans people totally identify as robots!
posted by this is a thing at 8:01 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nooooooooo! You have disproven me! We have no choice but to ignore all contrary preferences, regardless of their proximity or proportion, and treat every trans person as a robot!


CURSE YOU!
posted by klangklangston at 8:04 PM on January 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


BLEEP BOOP SQUOGRP ZING BLAAAAAARP!
posted by this is a thing at 8:04 PM on January 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, TFB, since you like linking to comments, here is a comment I made that maybe you missed, and that you might find useful.
posted by rtha at 8:05 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


New button.
posted by klangklangston at 8:16 PM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


I apologize if I have misread the room, but I hope we will all enjoy a break in this serious and important discussion to watch the Old Glory Robot Insurance commercial.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:42 PM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Gotta say, this is not just about TFB. There's a lot more crap going on in trans-related threads than just his trolling. Arguments that imply we trans women aren't women; arguing that trans women are somehow threatening to cis women; arguing from a standpoint of pretending to respect who we say we are, but somehow knowing who we 'really' are; ninety quadrillion arguments against the language we're choosing for ourselves; all that stuff. It feels at times like there really is a group of trolls waiting somewhere to guarantee that all MeFi threads about trans issues go bad.
posted by jiawen at 8:50 PM on January 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


therefore, it is wrong to say "Omitting the space is disrespectful/wrong/implies that trans* people are robots,"

NOBODY

HAS

SAID

THIS

No, they did.


No, they didn't. They were explaining why a PSA was made asking metafilter to use "the space" in a particular FPP. Perhaps corinth's original clarification, "it's to emphasize that a trans person is a person modified by an adjective, not a completely separate thing," did not need any further embellishment here. It makes sense to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn how this word choice can make a difference to some people. Nobody said that all trans* people everywhere have the same feelings about it. I guess there is some nuance to this.

You seem to have missed the many, many comments clearly stating that the problem (if there is one) is not about "the space," it is mostly about cis people like you and me making a mess of threads about trans people and communities (like I'm doing now, sorry) and about a mefite purposely dismissing the PSA with a dubious explanation and starting a MetaTalk when that comment was deleted.

The problem comes when you insist that no one named Richard can be called "Dick" and that to do so is hideously disrespectful.


I don't see that anything like this has happened. In my mind a closer analogy is someone asked to be called Ricki (perhaps feminine) and then being purposely called Ricky by someone who thought they knew better and with an explained as to why. Obviously, this analogy isn't very fair to corb and breaks down as we are talking about a community of individuals who have different preferences, but that community has made their general preference clear as far as I can tell.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:51 PM on January 16, 2014


The problem comes when you insist that no one named Richard can be called "Dick" and that to do so is hideously disrespectful.

That's a beautiful example, actually. There are a few Richards I know who go by "Dick", but if a non-American asked me what the deal was with this Richard/Dick thing, I'd tell them that people whose official name is "Richard" sometimes like to be called "Dick" as a nickname, but (and I'd raise my voice and talk slowly here) YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T DO THAT, because in American English the word "dick" is also sometimes used as a pretty serious insult, and you, as a foreigner, probably aren't tuned in to all the subtleties and there's a very high risk of causing offense.

So now the hard part for me, (and possibly for you as well), is to realize that when it comes to the lives of many trans people, I'm that foreigner who really doesn't know what's going on, and what all the terms mean, and how they are currently used, and what baggage they may carry. That's kind of difficult, because I'm a pretty smart guy, and I'm generally good at understanding things, but I'm just too far out of my element here.

So in this analogy, the trans people in this thread are saying "Y'know, you should probably just always say 'Richard'. Maybe when you get to know people better, or someone says 'Hey, everyone calls me Dick.', but until then, I'd stick with 'Richard'." And most people are saying "Okay, 'Richard'. I can do that." But some people just won't stop with the "But why can't I call people dick???".
posted by benito.strauss at 9:55 PM on January 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


(MetaTalk: But why can't I call people dick?)
posted by this is a thing at 10:03 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "While the above comments were well-liked, the preferences of the organizers of the Mr Transman event and several self-describers on this site, would suggest that they should be at least presented with less self-assurance."

Hi, that was my comment you linked to first. I'll quote it again for reference.

I thought about reading the word transwoman or transman to describe someone in the context of a newspaper article, etc., and realized why we need to spell trans woman and trans man with a space. All one word creates a new noun -- transwomen or transmen who exist in addition to women or men -- and this is completely at cross-purposes with the very thing that trans folk are patiently explaining about themselves.

There had been some genuine ongoing confusion over the logic behind preferring trans woman or trans man to be spelled as two words. I felt maybe it seemed arbitrary to some and that the explanations of "it's an adjective" were perhaps not hitting the mark. So, I shared how I came to understand why the spelling difference can be meaningful.

I think I made it quite clear that I was sharing my thoughts when I started out the sentence with "I thought about..." And, yes, I am self-assured as to my own thoughts, thanks. It is now a meaningful difference to me because I listened to thoughtful comments made by trans* folks in this thread and in other venues.

But come ON, the spelling isn't the issue. Respect is the issue. How many times do people need to say that over and over in this thread?
posted by desuetude at 10:34 PM on January 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


I mean... does anyone really think they're going to successfully use patience, or empathy, or logic to overcome TFB's insatiable need to score points against queer people and their (apparently) power-mad SJW allies? At this point, I think the only thing that would stem the tide is for everyone who disagrees with TFB to say that we have all realized we were terribly mistaken about everything and that he is undeniably the moral and intellectual superior of us all.

At least he's providing a rather clear example of how trans related threads here seem to attract the same old hostile actors spoiling for the same old meaningless fights, as jiawen pointed out upthread. I realize this is MetaTalk and so the guidelines are looser, and I hope this kind of behavior wouldn't fly on the blue (assuming if it got flagged).
posted by en forme de poire at 11:28 PM on January 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


ERROR: I DON'T EVEN COMPUTE OF MYSELF AS >50% ROBOT #shitcisrobotssay
posted by bleep-blop at 11:49 PM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oi bastard, nobody is saying that it is always wrong to call people with the name 'Richard' 'Dick'. Some people are saying that they, the Richards of MeFi, generally prefer something like Richard to Dick, because Dick sounds a bit like you're calling someone a cock, and you're unlikely to offend a Richard who prefers Dick by calling him Richard, whereas the reverse is not true. You know this perfectly well. That one person elsewhere might prefer Dick? No impact. That several people elsewhere might prefer Dick? Irrelevant. That a few people here might prefer Dick (but not the point where anyone has ever complained about being called Richard)? Not a problem. Call those individuals Dick if you want to, but use Richard for everyone else, and Richard when talking in general terms.

I made a comment spelling this out pretty fucking damn clearly earlier, which I linked to call to your attention several times, and you have addressed this in absolutely no way whatsoever.

Frankly, this would be a good point for the mods to step in - people have been asked to stay out of threads for far far less.
posted by Dysk at 2:36 AM on January 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


A one strike policy for people who have derailed trans threads in the past would be pretty helpful to be honest.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:39 AM on January 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean, not for the site as a whole. Not one strike and your account is disabled. Just, get out of this thread forever.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:40 AM on January 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


A one strike policy for people who have derailed trans threads in the past would be pretty helpful to be honest.

I am... kind of behind this and not just for trans* threads. There are a bunch of posters who have shown pretty consistent inability to interact in a positive way in threads on all sorts of topics. I see the mods are on top of this a lot of the time, but maybe it could be tightened up some.

The downside is, of course, all the shouting about censorship that will ensue, but I'm not sure that is worse than the current situation where certain topics are apparently targeted for trouble just by existing. Is there a better way?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:30 AM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


A one strike policy is not something we're ever likely to institute for Metatalk, since this is literally where people are asked to go to hash out things that are derails on the blue and discuss the things that are causing overriding conflict there. We ask people not to hijack a Metatalk thread that's about one thing to make it about their (different) pet peeve thing, and we ask people to dial it back if they are insulting people or acting in some over the top way, but for the most part, if we are at the point of banning people from a Metatalk thread, we are at the point of banning them from the site.

That said, if it seems like people are specifically abusing the purpose of Metatalk and the fact that we have very light moderation here, that is something that will definitely be part of the evaluation of whether someone should be banned, so it's not a consequence-free zone.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:44 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Right, that makes sense - it's why St Alia has been asked/told to keep out of queer-issues threads on the Blue but can get into queer-issues stuff in this Grey thread, for example.

So, I guess as users the only thing to do is to be aware that discussion of gender/sexuality-related stuff on the Grey is going to be a target-rich environment for TFB, probably even more so if he is reined in on the Blue by flagging, and we just have to try to deal that until he either wanders off or oversteps even MetaTalk's far-placed mark and gets a time out.

Or, you know, there's always the possibility of rehabilitation through positive engagement!

What? It happens!
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:22 AM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, at this point he has been told that his interpretation of comments comes across as either mean or willfully ignorant by both the mods and the commenters themselves, and has put lie to koeslitz's rather generous assumption that he hadn't read the thread, so I don't see what else he could do that doesn't cross a line into either acting over-the-top or abusing MetaTalk. Best not to let his persecution complex and/or attempt to play the victim card continue to derail the conversation, no?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:53 AM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders: “Well, at this point he has been told that his interpretation of comments comes across as either mean or willfully ignorant by both the mods and the commenters themselves, and has put lie to koeslitz's rather generous assumption that he hadn't read the thread, so I don't see what else he could do that doesn't cross a line into either acting over-the-top or abusing MetaTalk. Best not to let his persecution complex and/or attempt to play the victim card continue to derail the conversation, no?”

I think there are often a number of different interpretations of the word "trolling" floating about; I don't think ThatFuzzyBastard is "trolling" in the narrow sense of stirring up shit purely and solely for his own pleasure and amusement, although for other senses of the word he may be. And strictly he hasn't put the lie to my claim that he simply hasn't read the thread. Every other comment he's posted since says pretty much the same thing, and doesn't respond to anybody with any real depth or thoroughness. As far as I can tell, he still hasn't read anything anybody has written here.

Also, let me be clear: I was being a bit sardonic when I said you weren't being "fair" to him. Between this and trolling, I'm not sure which is worse. This is pretty bad. It's impossible to have a conversation at all with somebody who won't read what you've written.
posted by koeselitz at 9:16 AM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


koeslitz: And strictly he hasn't put the lie to my claim that he simply hasn't read the thread. Every other comment he's posted since says pretty much the same thing, and doesn't respond to anybody with any real depth or thoroughness. As far as I can tell, he still hasn't read anything anybody has written here.

ThatFuzzyBastard: I did read the whole thread.

So, in the most literal sense, he has read the thread.

Also, let me be clear: I was being a bit sardonic when I said you weren't being "fair" to him. Between this and trolling, I'm not sure which is worse. This is pretty bad. It's impossible to have a conversation at all with somebody who won't read what you've written.

Which is why maybe we shouldn't be having a conversation with him. What he wants now is to be able to say "they started it!" and claim that people are being forced to say things, neither of which is true. So why scratch his itch?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:29 AM on January 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


IT is worth noting that he's made a very few comments and yet everyone seems perfectly happy to discuss him, specifically and at length. Which is fine and a valid choice here, but it's worth considering what you think you and everyone else is getting out of it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


To be clear: I was asking for a one strike policy in FPPs, not metatalk.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Which is fine and a valid choice here, but it's worth considering what you think you and everyone else is getting out of it."

I think we're expressing how fed-up we are. That has value independent of whether it feeds the "it's all about TFB" black hole.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:47 AM on January 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Not one strike and your account is disabled. Just, get out of this thread forever.

Yep. We like the idea in a general sense and have discussed it in the past but it's a serious thing to kick someone out of a MeTa thread and not something we take lightly. Access to a place for redressing grievances is important, even if annoying.

THAT said, TFB hasn't commented in this thread since last night and if he shows up with more "But I really want to talk about how what people are saying doesn't make sense to me personally" we'll step in and say this has to basically end here.

I get how these nitpicky language pecadillos are appealing to internet people (for whom they may be abstract and not deeply personal) to try to untangle, but not on this topic and not in this place. People are free to read up on stuff on their own time, here on MetaFilter people have made their preferences clear and other folks will have to make their peace with the fact that this may not be 100% consistent but that doesn't obviate the responsibility they have to make an effort and not just nitpick the completely reasonable request to death.

To be clear: I was asking for a one strike policy in FPPs, not metatalk.

On preview, won't happen unless it's someone who has been warned previously and very specifically. We have no thread-specific banning at the moment and implementing it is a sort of giant social change and we haven't really settled on it being a good solution to this particular problem. A one strike policy very much changes how we do things here and how the site is moderated and it's not really one of the solutions we're considering at this point.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:49 AM on January 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


So we're okay with asking trans women to extend the benefit of the doubt beyond breaking point in FPPs that don't have to be stressful but really really are, but not okay with asking known threadshitters to take a walk from an FPP after their first threadshit?

That seems... lopsided.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:02 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think we're talking about a couple different things here, is the issue.

As a thing-that-can-happen-in-context, telling someone who is being a dingus to cut it out or take a walk is totally fine and is a thing we do semi-regularly in some form or another when needed, usually in the form of a mod note and deleting any immediate WELL I'M JUST GONNA KEEP GOING ANYWAY followup comments. That's in our toolset.

Formalizing that in terms of policy and mechanical implementation is a whole other thing, and that's what we're not looking at: building a custom toolset to do per-thread bans and implementing a formal one-comment-and-you're-threadbanned policy of some sort to define enforcement and use of that thread-ban tool. That's what we're not looking at. That's a big change. Maybe that's not what folks were thinking of here, but it's the thing that would actually be different (and it'd be really different) than the system as it exists right now where we can actively and contextually enforce as "seriously, give this thread a miss" situation when we need to.

Asking us to be mindful of inviting someone to take a hike from a thread they're not contributing to or interacting well with is totally fine, and it's something we already do, and letting us know with flags and the contact form when something like that is just starting to happen is a great way to help us get on top of that. Canonizing it as formal one-strike policy is more problematic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think your rephrasing of what I said reflects what I am trying to get across or what I or the mod team are "okay with" but we're trying to clearly set expectations of what we're likely to do. There's a difference between saying "Hey this person deserves the benefit of the doubt" (which we will do with new users often but not usually with longtime users who just coincidentally seem to be stirring up shit in predictable ways) and saying "Flag it and move on" or "Hey we didn't delete a comment we probably should have deleted. We're sorry about that. We will try to do better next time. This is an ongoing conversation."

But yes, generally, banning someone from a thread (a tool we don't currently have and would have to build special) after they make a "this is not something we would ban you for otherwise" comment is not something we are considering implementing. Telling them to take a walk? Absolutely. What if they don't? Well then we can escalate and deal with it, but banning as a first step? Not happening.

If I'm misunderstanding what you're asking for, feel free to clarify, but to me this is lopsided in the way most interactions here are: we don't moderate much, on any topic, and people are going to have to accept that sometimes crap gets through (or even gets through and is deleted later) and that's how a lightly moderated site works. People who appear to be commenting to stir up shit get dealt with, but nearly always after-the-fact and we have a pretty high bar for what you have to do to get banned here, and it's always been that way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:17 AM on January 17, 2014


I think part of what is so frustrating about this is that we as trans women are very capable of seeing what a subtle attack on us looks like, but actually explaining it to someone not used to spotting them takes time. So I'm not sure we have much faith that flagging something as "offensive/sexism/racism" that is as plain to us as the noses on our faces is actually going to get it deleted, and composing a lengthy contact form email explaining why it's so awful takes enough time for the original comment to steer the discussion in an incredibly toxic direction.

Multiply that by the fact that there are usually multiple of these comments per thread from different people...

Should note here that I'm not positing a technological solution or even anything particularly formalised, just a swift comment deletion and a "quit it, last chance for this thread" note. The trans woman MMA fighter thread is large in my mind here, where repeated and constant attacks on our lives and identities stayed up because they were phrased somewhat politely.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:20 AM on January 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've found the mod team to be really responsive to even sorta short "Hey, this comment is offensive for [being XYZ]" to the contact form. I don't think I've ever included more than one or two sentences, and they've been on top of deleting comments. I would send them more often for Trans related subjects, but I never seem to be on when they first get posted and by the time I see them the thread is already 40 comments moved on.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:27 AM on January 17, 2014


explaining it to someone not used to spotting them takes time

I thought about how I would phrase this briefly, and came up with "Flagged as microaggressive."
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


AoK, I didn't reply to what you and hoyland said to me here and here since the thread had gone somewhere completely different by the time I got back to it, so it was clearly best for me to leave it alone.

But now that you are mentioning women in sports threads again, particularly what should and shouldn't be allowed to be said in them, and especially banning people from the entire thread or topic (!) after ONE comment you deem to be thread-shitting or off-topic or a subtle attack, I will discuss this too at this point.

Hoyland mentioned, and if I am understanding correctly, you agreed -- that threads involving trans women go badly, and doubly for trans women in "women's" spaces and trans women and feminism. Hoyland's conclusion, as I understand it, is that this happens as a result of transmisogyny.

If we take that as a given, then disagreement or even argument on these topics, should be considered transmisogyny and under the one-strike idea, the user should not be allowed to talk about the topic anymore.

This goes right to the heart of one very prominent reason why these discussions about women's spaces and women's sports and feminism go so badly, which has been completely ignored and not talked about at all.

Many people act as if trans and cis women can be divided into this clear-cut separation where, in every interaction between the two groups, cis women hold a position of privilege and power, and they are just the transmisogynist bigots who just want to shut out and oppress non-privileged, powerless trans women in order to satisfy their bigotry.

I never say this in such strong terms because I have to fight enough people in life, I am worn down, and the last thing I want to do is argue with trans women on top of it.

But in these threads, there is a total lack of acknowledgment that cis women also have an endless parade of people standing on their backs trying to grind them into the mud. That there is an absolutely relentless grind of powerful people doing making it their life's mission to take away our resources, our rights, and even our personhood. Let me be clear. I am not saying it is trans women doing this. I am simply saying that is the context of feminist topics and women's topics. That women (of all configurations) are under a relentless assault that is both literally and metaphorically violent to take everything away from us.

So for someone to come into that and go, well, if you pipe up about your disagreement on this topic, you are just a spoiled and privileged princess who is only concerned about preserving your bigoted privilege, you have absolutely no idea how enraging it is. But more importantly, you have no idea how wrong you are. And that is when these things start to go badly because, just like you, we are so exhausted by the need to explain again and again. Especially to other women, who should know better.

And it is particularly enraging, in certain instances, for someone who has been a woman all her life, but has lived as and been treated by society as a man until like a couple years ago, or six months ago, or last week, to come in and start saying what women should and should not be concerned about. That she can speak for all women, and women who have spent their entire lives fending off an absolute onslaught of gendered shit are just bigots if they disagree with her. That their perspectives don't matter, don't count, and at most they should either phrase them in the most tentative, apologetic way, but better yet just STFU about them. In fact that they are the real misogynists if they do not so.

You have brought up women's sports a few times, so let's talk about women's sports. When you spend your entire life being shut out of sport after sport because magically, there only ever seems to be enough funding in the budget for men's sports, when you try to play sports with men and end up deliberately shut out of play, or deliberately physically injured, when you deal with sports where you are FORCED to play half-naked by the rules where men can wear whatever, when you, in general, deal with a cascade of shit on this topic for decades, and then you say, "hey, it's important for people with a "female-sexed" body (in quotes because this is its own complex topic), which is an utterly destroying disadvantage in most sports, to have a fair chance to play" and then someone turns around and tells you that you are a misogynistic bigot for saying so, that is enraging. Should I be banned from women's sports threads as a thread-shitting bigot for saying it's important for "female-sexed" people to have a fair chance to play? I don't think anyone, if they really considered that, would say yes... I hope. The reality is that "male-sexed" and "female-sexed" bodies have very different athletic ability on many fronts for a great number of reasons, and it is decidedly not just current levels of sex hormone. That is something we must talk about. And we need to talk about how trans women, cis women, and especially trans men (who IMO have it the worst because they are currently shut out of competitive sports almost entirely) can all have a fair chance to play sports. Acting like cis women who care about fairness of opportunity to play sports are just bigots is sheer bullying in my opinion. Calling us misogynists for that is sheer bullying to me. The reason cis men don't give a shit about trans men in sports is because trans men are effectively shut out of sports and as I said before, cis men have never had to and WILL never have to FIGHT just for the chance to play.

The bathroom thing comes up. It is clear to any reasonable person that trans people need to use the correct bathroom and be safe.

It is also the sheer reality that millions of cis men take every fucking opportunity that they have to rape, sexually assault, and sexually harass people. When you have spent an entire lifetime being targeted by cis men for sexual harassment and attempted assault, you have a very deep-seated awareness of times when you will have to worry about them and the things they will try to do. Saying, trans people need to use the correct bathroom AND now that we are moving towards progress on that, we're going to have to start watching out for cis men who abuse this, how can we deal with that? Is not bigoted and has nothing to do with wanting to shut out trans women. It is just people who are worried, AS USUAL, about being raped and murdered by cis men, as cis men are wont to do. It is a legitimate fear and it's not bigotry to need to talk about it.

The "female brain" thing comes up. That is the one that makes me want to tear my motherfucking hair out more than anything else. I grew up, I'm talking from the age when I was barely out of diapers. being told I had a female brain and that's what made me illogical and confused and in need of a man to lead me. I went to school with a bunch of assholes who continually emphasized how women sucked at math because of our female brains, even as we were all like 3 years ahead of our grade level in math. We deal with people like the president of Harvard who really and truly believe, and state publicly, that the reason women are severely underrepresented in STEM fields is because of our ladybrains. Do you know when the last time was that someone told me how women were inferior because of our female brains? Or I'm sorry, gave me a long mansplain on why that made men and women different. Do you know? It was this morning. THIS MORNING!!!!! I am not a motherfucking bigot for being deeply and seriously offended at many of the conversations about "female brains" and saying so.

There. Now if that's my "one strike" for this thread, and you want me to be banned from women's issues threads from now on, I would be happy to never, ever come back.
posted by cairdeas at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


stoneweaver: "I never seem to be on when they first get posted and by the time I see them the thread is already 40 comments moved on."

Yeah, I, too, have timezone issues.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what else there is to do about that, except for to encourage more people to use the contact form when these sorts of weird and bad comments need quick attention.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:07 PM on January 17, 2014


You have brought up women's sports a few times, so let's talk about women's sports.

could we really please not? that goes double for the bathroom panic part.
posted by nadawi at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2014 [25 favorites]


Refuting that post is a) an entire evening's work and b) all stuff that trans people on Mefi have done before. Not planning on going there.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:14 PM on January 17, 2014 [23 favorites]


My impression is that the majority of female feminists here (not to mention the male feminists like myself, but let's set that group aside for now) do not lean toward the radfem direction which sees trans women as patriarchal male encroachment. Because, bottom line, that's the core of cairdeas's argument. Given that, I'd prefer that those views in trans* threads be seen as disruptive in the way that other things are.

I say this as someone who was first introduced to feminism by an erstwhile separatist radical feminist and who finds within himself, even now, a fair amount of sympathy to such views. I don't think that cairdeas's concerns are trivial. But I think that, ultimately, they're mistaken insofar as they don't integrate intersectionality, which I think creates a framework where such concerns can be addressed outside of the oppositional and monolithic framework implicit in cairdeas's objections.

It's true, this is the elephant in the room. I absolutely hate to have to acknowledge it because feelings are going to be hurt among people who ought to all be allies, but it's undeniably a serious point of conflict for some. But I know where I've decided to stand on this.

Maybe it's easy for me as a man; that well could be the case. But as someone who absolutely feels that sexism and misogyny is the biggest, most important human rights issue in the world today, that it's the one issue at the very top of my list and which I've been outspoken about for decades, I nevertheless feel very strongly that trans* rights are a critically pressing issue and that the problems that cairdeas discusses are manageable, of limited scope, and less severe than fundamental issues of very basic dignity that trans* folk should be guaranteed in anything remotely resembling a just society.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


cairdeas: "if you pipe up about your disagreement on this topic, you are just a spoiled and privileged princess who is only concerned about preserving your bigoted privilege"

I'm a cisgender woman and to the best of my memory have never seen an interaction like that on MeFi. I also don't remember seeing trans women telling cis women "what women should and should not be concerned about". Talking about what trans women are and are not concerned about, yes; what cis women or women in general should and should not be concerned about, no.

It's strange to me that you apparently blame trans* people for the ongoing cutting of women's sports (which usually gets falsely blamed on Title IX, not trans* people) and the bogosity that is the idea of the "female brain" (as far as I know, the person responsible for most recently popularizing the idea is a cis woman). I don't see the connection, and dumping them all into the same bucket makes it seem as though there's more going on here than whether we address trans* people with respect for who they say they are and what they say about their experiences.
posted by Lexica at 12:37 PM on January 17, 2014 [24 favorites]


Lexica: the bogosity that is the idea of the "female brain"

Because I'm not actually sure if this has come up on Mefi before, I want to add to this. The idea that trans women say we have "female brains" and that that means something essentialist about gender, gender roles, etc., is both a common misconception and a TERF talking point/dogwhistle.

If it's ever said at all it's either by non-politicised trans women who have the luxury of not being surrounded by cis women who will jump on every word they use to describe themselves in an attempt to discredit them, or by people in the know as shorthand for something much more complex, which is basically whatever innate sense of body integrity that is the motivating factor for many trans women to perceive themselves and their bodies the way they do. It's not been pinned down, it's perhaps in a few bits and pieces deep inside the structure of the brain, but whatever it is it has nothing to do with being bad at maths or liking dresses or whatthehellever.

I would also remind the thread that the English language, which is what we are using to talk about trans people here, is inherently cisnormative and transmisogynist, and when we describe ourselves we are using language that is not particularly fit for this purpose.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:52 PM on January 17, 2014 [19 favorites]


"It's not been pinned down, it's perhaps in a few bits and pieces deep inside the structure of the brain, but whatever it is it has nothing to do with being bad at maths or liking dresses or whatthehellever."

The only way in which I'm heretical with regard to contemporary feminism is my belief that there is most likely some inherent cognitive sexual differentiation, but that relative to all the cultural stuff it's not very important (although even if in some respect it was significant, that wouldn't mean that we can't have a social structure that is nevertheless just), and similarly brain differentiation isn't required to validate trans* subjective experience because what's most important is that people's identities as they experience them be respected, full stop.

Precisely in the same way that gay rights shouldn't be predicated upon some presumed genetically determined base, trans* rights should similarly not be predicated upon some naturist essentialism. Penises and vaginas aren't male or female and neither are brains.

We shouldn't have to argue about this because if someone says "this is who I am and this is how I want to live my life", that should be good enough.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


But in these threads, there is a total lack of acknowledgment that cis women also have an endless parade of people standing on their backs trying to grind them into the mud. That there is an absolutely relentless grind of powerful people doing making it their life's mission to take away our resources, our rights, and even our personhood. Let me be clear. I am not saying it is trans women doing this. I am simply saying that is the context of feminist topics and women's topics. That women (of all configurations) are under a relentless assault that is both literally and metaphorically violent to take everything away from us.

Trans women are women. As such, we have to deal with all that shit too, as well as all the transphobic and transmisogynist bullshit. We aren't overlooking all the bullshit sexism and patriarchy that exists and that you have to deal with - you seem to be overlooking that we have to deal with all of that too.

The "female brain" thing comes up. That is the one that makes me want to tear my motherfucking hair out more than anything else. I grew up, I'm talking from the age when I was barely out of diapers. being told I had a female brain and that's what made me illogical and confused and in need of a man to lead me. I went to school with a bunch of assholes who continually emphasized how women sucked at math because of our female brains, even as we were all like 3 years ahead of our grade level in math. We deal with people like the president of Harvard who really and truly believe, and state publicly, that the reason women are severely underrepresented in STEM fields is because of our ladybrains. Do you know when the last time was that someone told me how women were inferior because of our female brains? Or I'm sorry, gave me a long mansplain on why that made men and women different. Do you know? It was this morning. THIS MORNING!!!!! I am not a motherfucking bigot for being deeply and seriously offended at many of the conversations about "female brains" and saying so.

This is a VERY different conception of what a 'female brain' is to what every trans person I've ever discussed it with understand by the term. This is not what is being referenced when a trans person talks about a 'female brain'. That idiots and bigots have used the notion of minor structural differences in the physical brain to make all sorts of daft "points" about personalities, maths abilities, outdated bullshit about illogical emotions and all that bollocks does not discount the fact that there are physically measurable differences between the brains of men and women. Maybe your associations are clouding your judgement on how people are using the term?
posted by Dysk at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's strange to me that you apparently blame trans* people for the ongoing cutting of women's sports

? I clearly said "Let me be clear. I am not saying it is trans women doing this. I am simply saying that is the context of feminist topics and women's topics."

Not planning on going there.

Not two hours ago you brought up women's sports and what should be prohibited from them again, for at least the second time in this thread, when nobody else was talking about it. You don't have to read or reply to what I say, but I'm not the one who is taking us there.
posted by cairdeas at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2014


Hoyland mentioned, and if I am understanding correctly, you agreed -- that threads involving trans women go badly, and doubly for trans women in "women's" spaces and trans women and feminism. Hoyland's conclusion, as I understand it, is that this happens as a result of transmisogyny.

If we take that as a given, then disagreement or even argument on these topics, should be considered transmisogyny and under the one-strike idea, the user should not be allowed to talk about the topic anymore.

This goes right to the heart of one very prominent reason why these discussions about women's spaces and women's sports and feminism go so badly, which has been completely ignored and not talked about at all.

Many people act as if trans and cis women can be divided into this clear-cut separation where, in every interaction between the two groups, cis women hold a position of privilege and power, and they are just the transmisogynist bigots who just want to shut out and oppress non-privileged, powerless trans women in order to satisfy their bigotry.


The problem is that these arguments tend to start from the principle that cis women have a greater right to women's spaces than trans women. That is itself a transmisogynistic argument.

But in these threads, there is a total lack of acknowledgment that cis women also have an endless parade of people standing on their backs trying to grind them into the mud. That there is an absolutely relentless grind of powerful people doing making it their life's mission to take away our resources, our rights, and even our personhood. Let me be clear. I am not saying it is trans women doing this. I am simply saying that is the context of feminist topics and women's topics. That women (of all configurations) are under a relentless assault that is both literally and metaphorically violent to take everything away from us.

So for someone to come into that and go, well, if you pipe up about your disagreement on this topic, you are just a spoiled and privileged princess who is only concerned about preserving your bigoted privilege, you have absolutely no idea how enraging it is. But more importantly, you have no idea how wrong you are. And that is when these things start to go badly because, just like you, we are so exhausted by the need to explain again and again. Especially to other women, who should know better.


I mean, this is what the whole concept of intersectionality is meant to engage with, no? People can be oppressed on one axis, but that doesn't erase their privilege on other axes, nor is it a reason not to call out bigoted or privileged behavior.

And it is particularly enraging, in certain instances, for someone who has been a woman all her life, but has lived as and been treated by society as a man until like a couple years ago, or six months ago, or last week, to come in and start saying what women should and should not be concerned about. That she can speak for all women, and women who have spent their entire lives fending off an absolute onslaught of gendered shit are just bigots if they disagree with her. That their perspectives don't matter, don't count, and at most they should either phrase them in the most tentative, apologetic way, but better yet just STFU about them. In fact that they are the real misogynists if they do not so.

Leaving aside the very loaded assumption that trans women are socialized and treated exactly like cis men, I have to agree with Lexica that I have not seen this dynamic on Metafilter. I have seen trans women coming into threads and speaking from their experience as trans women, but that is very different from claiming to speak for all women.

You have brought up women's sports a few times, so let's talk about women's sports. When you spend your entire life being shut out of sport after sport because magically, there only ever seems to be enough funding in the budget for men's sports, when you try to play sports with men and end up deliberately shut out of play, or deliberately physically injured, when you deal with sports where you are FORCED to play half-naked by the rules where men can wear whatever, when you, in general, deal with a cascade of shit on this topic for decades,

This is an issue that affects all women, not only cis women.

and then you say, "hey, it's important for people with a "female-sexed" body (in quotes because this is its own complex topic), which is an utterly destroying disadvantage in most sports, to have a fair chance to play" and then someone turns around and tells you that you are a misogynistic bigot for saying so, that is enraging.

I have never seen this happen on Metafilter. Do you have a link?

The reality is that "male-sexed" and "female-sexed" bodies have very different athletic ability on many fronts for a great number of reasons, and it is decidedly not just current levels of sex hormone. That is something we must talk about.

Okay. Let's talk about that. Let's talk about what those "great number of reasons" are, and how they interact. Let us not ignore the fact that there are a "great number of reasons" why anyone's body can have different athetic ability on many fronts, and that even differences that have to do with sex hormones do not cleanly fall along AFAB or AMAB lines.

It is also the sheer reality that millions of cis men take every fucking opportunity that they have to rape, sexually assault, and sexually harass people. When you have spent an entire lifetime being targeted by cis men for sexual harassment and attempted assault,

As many trans women have.

you have a very deep-seated awareness of times when you will have to worry about them and the things they will try to do. Saying, trans people need to use the correct bathroom AND now that we are moving towards progress on that, we're going to have to start watching out for cis men who abuse this, how can we deal with that? Is not bigoted and has nothing to do with wanting to shut out trans women

Is this a thing that is actually happening? Has there been a surge in public bathroom assaults by cis men due to bathroom safety campaigns? Because otherwise, connecting two things that have no causative significance is bigoted, frankly.

The "female brain" thing comes up. That is the one that makes me want to tear my motherfucking hair out more than anything else.

I agree. Biological essentialism is bullshit that needs to die. Which is part of the reason I object to uncritically dividing women based on whether they have "male-sexed" or "female-sexed" bodies.
posted by kagredon at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


cairdeas: "Not two hours ago you brought up women's sports and what should be prohibited from them again, for at least the second time in this thread, when nobody else was talking about it. You don't have to read or reply to what I say, but I'm not the one who is taking us there."

Oh my goodness someone mentioned one of the recent FPPs about a trans person in a thread about trans people sound the doofus alarm.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:23 PM on January 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Kagredon, do you also object to uncritically dividing women based on whether they weigh 125 vs 126 lbs, or are 35 vs 36 years old?
posted by cairdeas at 1:23 PM on January 17, 2014


This is a VERY different conception of what a 'female brain' is to what every trans person I've ever discussed it with understand by the term.

For many feminists, there is a problem with the very concept of a "female brain" being different from a "male brain" at all.

You are right that trans people talking about how they feel about gender, and utilizing the term "female brain", are not trying to be sexist - at least, I've never seen it to be so. It often seems, admittedly from an outsider, that they're simply trying to get a basic modicum of respect from people who do not respect them, and are trying to break it down Barney-style for those who don't comprehend. Because the concept of choice in gender identity is not respected (like with sexual preference), it kind of forces and reinforces biological one-organ essentialism, where some people feel that if there is one organ of the correct gender they can point to as always have possessed, it will make bigoted people more understanding or okay with the whole concept of trans people. I don't know if this is tactically sound or not - I don't know if it works or not, and can understand wanting to use it if it does work.

But it is still an adaptation of language that was primarily used to discredit ciswomen - partially because yes, language is inherently created by the dominant groups in the first place and so there is a lack of commonly understood language that isn't coming from that place.
posted by corb at 1:23 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kagredon, do you also object to uncritically dividing women based on whether they weigh 125 vs 126 lbs, or are 35 vs 36 years old?

I object to uncritically dividing women, full stop. I feel like this is supposed to be a gotcha of some kind, but I'm not really sure how?
posted by kagredon at 1:25 PM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh my goodness someone mentioned one of the recent FPPs about a trans person in a thread about trans people sound the doofus alarm.

No, AoK. That charactarization is disingenuous. You specifically brought up a women in sports thread as an example of a thread containing many comments you would like to see people prohibited from the topic for. I directly responded to the topic and the idea of prohibiting people for their disagreement on the issue. Whatever you think of my response, it wasn't just someone freaking out on you for being a trans person bringing up a trans thread.
posted by cairdeas at 1:26 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


If your argument against trans rights boils down to "but trans women are really cis men!" then good news! Trans women are not really cis men. Trans women are women and often do have different socialization than cis women but are not always or necessarily often "socialized as men." Many trans women are receptive to female socialization, and receive heightened negative social messages for it because of transmisogyny (it's worth relinking to this even though it's already been linked to in-thread). Trans women understand the systemic issues facing all women as well as cis women. Trans women in women's restrooms seriously I promise you swear to whatever saint or deity will convince you just want to pee and leave like anyone else.

The reality is, trans women in bathrooms are at a much higher risk of violence than cis women. Trans women are assaulted all the time--if they fight back, they often go to (men's) prison. If they don't, they often die. In light of that, worrying about wholly imaginary scenarios that will again I promise you never happen in real life is insultingly oblivious.

Trans women in sports just want to compete like anyone else. Looking at differences in ability is fine. The problem is, in discussions about trans women in sports, people project a lot of differences and "advantages" that actually don't exist (look at muscle/bone mass). Humans are just not as sexually dimorphic as we'd culturally like to think. Acknowledging that and letting go would be the logical response, but people dig themselves deeper into "but really a man" arguments because of transmisogyny.

As noted above, "male/female brain" is imperfect language used to describe emerging research into neurology and gender identity and has nothing to do with gender roles or stereotypes.
posted by byanyothername at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2014 [25 favorites]


It's not a gotcha, kagredon. Women are divided in sports in innumerable ways, in an attempt to give the maximum number of people a fair attempt to play. They are divided at points which are incredibly arbitrary. This is already the practice in place to give as many people as possible a fair shot to play based on the relative advantages or disadvantages of their bodies.
posted by cairdeas at 1:28 PM on January 17, 2014


If your argument against trans rights boils down to "but trans women are really cis men!" then good news! Trans women are not really cis men.

Good thing I never said anything even remotely approaching that, then.
posted by cairdeas at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2014


Cairdeas, you said "when no-one else is talking about it".

This entire thread has been about discussions about trans women on the site, of which that was a very recent example.

I can't believe you thought your big-ass comment was appropriate, by the way.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


And we need to talk about how trans women, cis women, and especially trans men (who IMO have it the worst because they are currently shut out of competitive sports almost entirely) can all have a fair chance to play sports.

I am not sure it would be productive, at this point in a hugely contentious thread, to talk about this particular issue because as a cis woman who has worked in sports, been involved in developing policy to include transgender athletes in my own recreational leagues, and played sports with both trans women and cis men, it is clear to me that you are not well-versed in sport policy regarding inclusion for transgender athletes. Speaking broadly, trans men (see for example Kye Allums and Keelin Godsey) have many more opportunities to participate in elite amateur sport than do trans women due to sport regulations that require trans men to refrain from hormonal therapy while requiring trans women to undergo hormonal therapy for a specified period of time.

I don't want to derail the thread, so if you would like to better understand sport policy, please MeMail me and I will send you some links in the next few days.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Perhaps I'm missing something here cairdeas, but you've brought up a number of things that didn't happen in that thread, and as far as several people here can tell, on MeFi or any of the subsites. This thread has been about discussing what happens over and over again in threads about trans issues (and feminism, racism, etc), especially from repeat offenders. Debating hypotheticals in the world at large seems out of this thread's scope. And if it is happening, it seems substantial enough material for a separate MeTa at this point.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:32 PM on January 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


This entire thread has been about discussions about trans women on the site, of which that was a very recent example.

I can't believe you thought your big-ass comment was appropriate, by the way.


Absolutely. And you repeatedly brought up the subtopic of sports. If you don't think it's appropriate for anyone to respond to a subtopic that you bring up, in the context of limiting what other users can say on the site, I'm not sure what to tell you.
posted by cairdeas at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Absolutely. And you repeatedly brought up the subtopic of sports. If you don't think it's appropriate for anyone to respond to a subtopic that you bring up, in the context of limiting what other users can say on the site, I'm not sure what to tell you.

Umm... what was brought up was the inevitable transphobic shit that shows up in posts about trans people and sport. Though thanks for giving us a shining example of that transphobic shit. As usual.
posted by hoyland at 1:34 PM on January 17, 2014 [19 favorites]


zombieflanders: " This thread has been about discussing what happens over and over again in threads about trans issues (and feminism, racism, etc), especially from repeat offenders."

You have to admit, she provides a sterling example, though.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:36 PM on January 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I did not say, nor think, a single motherfucking transphobic thing hoyland. I did my best to give a forthright response to what you and AOK said, on the subtopics that the two of you broached. In response is nothing but more name calling and twisting of what has been said. This is so stupid and a total waste of time.
posted by cairdeas at 1:38 PM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Note: Everyone needs a hug.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:39 PM on January 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


You have to admit, she provides a sterling example, though.

Truly, if anyone asked me to provide one and only one example of what transmisogyny looks like when expressed by a cis woman, that comment has it all in a nutshell.
posted by sonika at 1:40 PM on January 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Weight and age are clearly definable cutoffs that have a relatively clear-cut effect on performance in some sports (and you'll note that these are not distinctions that are used at all sports and all levels.) "Male-sexed" and "female-sexed" are not. The key phrase in my sentence was "uncritical".
posted by kagredon at 1:40 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm going to be brief because I have to get back to work and byanyothername has generously provided a lot of specific information relevant to the specific claims made. cairdeas, I think you have valuable contributions and I am happy that you rejoined the site. But in my opinion you have an unfortunate history of co-opting threads about gay men and trans women and then aggressively refocusing them on the concerns of cis women. I don't think it's always wrong to raise these concerns, but you often phrase it in a way that suggests that they are always the "real," "forgotten" victims and that not wanting every thread to be about them is equivalent to patriarchal bullying. This hostility and overzealous redirecting of the conversation is, I think, what is making people look at your contributions to these topics with more suspicion, because it starts to feel as if cis women should only accept us as allies if we subordinate our needs to theirs.

Even this latest large post of yours suggests that the needs of gay men and cis women must be filtered through unanimous acceptance by cis women first before they can be accepted under a feminist framework. For example, in the way you're talking about bathroom access here, you say, oh, well, of course trans people need to feel safe in bathrooms - but then you have an entire paragraph about how obviously cis men will take advantage of expanded access to rape cis women and how this needs to be addressed before we can talk about bathroom access for trans people. Completely absent in this is, for example, an acknowledgement that both trans men and trans women are already significantly more likely to be victims of sexual violence than cis women. This is the type of thing that people are objecting to here.

Regarding the male and female brain business, I do want to address this a little because not as many people have in this thread. It is a very different hypothesis that 1. male and female brains are radically different and that pace Larry Summers women are programmed to like horses and men are programmed to like fire trucks, and 2. male and female brains are mostly very similar except for the specific parts of the brain that govern sexual identity and sexual behavior and that these may generally vary by gender and sexual orientation. In fact, the "gender similarities hypothesis" with respect to cognition has actually been influential in cognitive psychology (>1200 citations since publication in 2005). However, there are some very small regions that statistically vary with gender and sexual orientation (Joan Roughgarden has talked some about this, I believe): importantly, these do not appear to have any link to cognition beyond these specific areas. So bringing up brain differences between straight and gay, trans and cis, male and female does not in the least imply any kind of Steve Sailer-esque fundamentalism about ladybrains, and can in fact be done without assuming there's anything true about all that sexist pop-psych bullshit.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:41 PM on January 17, 2014 [38 favorites]


This is so stupid and a total waste of time.

On that I think we all can agree.
posted by kagredon at 1:41 PM on January 17, 2014


Snarl Furillo: " I don't want to derail the thread, so if you would like to better understand sport policy, please MeMail me and I will send you some links in the next few days."

If you wind up putting together those links for someone else, I'd love to see them, if you don't mind. (If not, please don't bother to do it only for me.)
posted by zarq at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Goodness bless you, en forme de poire.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:43 PM on January 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'd love to see them too, Snarl.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:43 PM on January 17, 2014


I did not say, nor think, a single motherfucking transphobic thing

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Except for the but where trans* women can't understand what cis women deal with everyday... or the bit about being "safe" in a bathroom... or most of the other words in your comment.

You may be truly blind to your own transphobia and honestly, genuinely feel like you're coming from an inclusive place, but that is not how your comment *actually* reads from the perspective of someone who is not in your head.
posted by sonika at 1:44 PM on January 17, 2014 [23 favorites]


discussing threads generally that someone thought went poorly does not mean that this metatalk thread has to then turn into a discussion of the issues in those threads. it's generally seen as bad form to try to argue fpp topics in metatalk because this is supposed to be about site issues. i also found your comment inappropriate, cairdeas and not just because i disagree with you, but because you're not discussing site issues, you're discussing your opinions on biology and risk.
posted by nadawi at 1:46 PM on January 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


I did not say, nor think, a single motherfucking transphobic thing hoyland.

cairdeas, I respect you and agree with you a lot. Hell, I was really angry when you felt driven to leave the site the last time, because that was some bullshit. But that comment was one of the most openly transphobic things I've read on this site (the bathroom thing alone would do it), and I'm kind of speechless.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:47 PM on January 17, 2014 [26 favorites]


Speaking broadly, trans men (see for example Kye Allums and Keelin Godsey) have many more opportunities to participate in elite amateur sport than do trans women due to sport regulations that require trans men to refrain from hormonal therapy while requiring trans women to undergo hormonal therapy for a specified period of time.

I feel like this is kind of a misstatement--everyone gets forced out by hormone therapy (if gender policing hasn't got them already). However, as a result of some combination of male privilege and of how the genders of people perceived to be men and women are policed differently, it's generally more feasible to be out as a trans man on a women's team than vice versa.
posted by hoyland at 1:48 PM on January 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Saying, trans people need to use the correct bathroom AND now that we are moving towards progress on that, we're going to have to start watching out for cis men who abuse this, how can we deal with that? Is not bigoted and has nothing to do with wanting to shut out trans women. It is just people who are worried, AS USUAL, about being raped and murdered by cis men, as cis men are wont to do. It is a legitimate fear and it's not bigotry to need to talk about it. "

Two points:

At best, saying that cis men will abuse facilities access (e.g. locker rooms or rest rooms) to assault women is ignorant; not only are there essentially zero cases of this happening, it can already be addressed under laws/rules against assault. Being scared is not a defense for prejudice and bigotry; you could make the same formulation about keeping black people out of clubs for fear of violence.

Second, as a cis man, no, cis men as a rule are not in the habit of raping and murdering women. Saying so is pretty fucking offensive.

So, in that little paragraph, you were both wildly ignorant and exceedingly offensive. I don't agree with the idea of the one-strike; however, your comment is not a great example of something that would be missed from conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


hoyland, I totally agree. I knew I was phrasing that badly and I was really struggling with getting it around; I apologize. You put it much better.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


And the California Interscholastic Federation, which governs interscholastic sports, has updated its policy (as of last year) allowing transgender students to participate, noting that there's no evidence of significant performance differences (for trans women, after a year of hormones; trans men can compete as soon as they desire barring the same medical concerns any other student would face).
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 PM on January 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


klangklangston: "for trans women, after a year of hormones"

Worth noting, for all that we're discussing stuff about trans people again, that trans women routinely have significantly less testosterone than cis women.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


You may be truly blind to your own transphobia and honestly, genuinely feel like you're coming from an inclusive place, but that is not how your comment *actually* reads from the perspective of someone who is not in your head.

Thus far, a bunch of people have said how transphobic I was for a variety of things that appeared nowhere in my comment and I don't think. So yes, I suppose I'm blind to my transphobia for transphobia that I don't have.

We're talking about site policy and what should be allowed to be said on what topics, and that is what my comment was about.

If the site consensus is that me talking about these topics is offensive and not to be permitted, so be it. Let me know, mods.
posted by cairdeas at 2:10 PM on January 17, 2014


Let me know, mods.

I think nadawi was pretty clear, and correct.

discussing threads generally that someone thought went poorly does not mean that this metatalk thread has to then turn into a discussion of the issues in those threads. it's generally seen as bad form to try to argue fpp topics in metatalk because this is supposed to be about site issues.

This is an important point. I'm really not sure what is going on exactly cairdeas, but this thread very much needs to not become about arguments from other threads that are not the topic of this thread and I'm not even sure why you thought this was an appropriate place to restart these arguments. It's very much not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:11 PM on January 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


Okay. You want someone to say it? I'll be the bad guy.

Cairdeas: I do not want to participate in a community where views like yours are voiced regularly. For all I know you are a wonderful person. But if your opinions about trans women are going to be within the norms for this community, then this isn't an okay place for me to be right now.
posted by this is a thing at 2:13 PM on January 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


More generally: Yes, if we do what it takes to shut down derails in trans-related threads, then some people will have to keep their mouths shut about some of their opinions. I'm okay with that.
posted by this is a thing at 2:19 PM on January 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


Thus far, a bunch of people have said how transphobic I was for a variety of things that appeared nowhere in my comment and I don't think. So yes, I suppose I'm blind to my transphobia for transphobia that I don't have.

Again, as a person who isn't you, all of the comments I've seen addressing you are indeed addressing the content of your comment quite clearly and I have not noticed anything that others are refuting that *isn't* in your comment. So, again, it's not clear what you THINK you are saying, but it is obviously not matching up to what the rest of us are reading.

Since everyone but you seems to see some mega whopping red TRANSPHOBIA flags on your comment, you might want to go back and see if you can why your comment doesn't read the way you apparently intended rather than claiming that none of the rest of us possess any kind of reading comprehension.
posted by sonika at 2:23 PM on January 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


I don't think you are a bad guy for saying that, this is a thing. MeFi is for what its users, and Matt, want it to be. It obviously can't be everything for all people, and if the consensus is for it to be a certain way, I think that is perfectly valid.
posted by cairdeas at 2:24 PM on January 17, 2014


this is a thing: "shut down derails in trans-related threads"

I think it's worth reminding the thread at this point that the motivation of many of the trans people speaking up in this thread is not necessarily just to avoid derails in trans FPPs, but to avoid said FPPs from becoming hostile, toxic soups that drive many of us to avoid the site altogether, because that is a thing that keeps happening.

It'd be nice to avoid derails. But to actually keep trans people commenting here, it's essential to fix the toxic transmisogyny and transphobia problems.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:38 PM on January 17, 2014 [26 favorites]


Good point, yes.
posted by this is a thing at 2:47 PM on January 17, 2014


I agree, that's a great way of stating the problem.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:48 PM on January 17, 2014


"It'd be nice to avoid derails. But to actually keep trans people commenting here, it's essential to fix the toxic transmisogyny and transphobia problems."

Yeah, and I disagree that cairdeas's comment was off-topic. Well, its surface layer was off-topic and it was rehashing an argument from several other threads, but those are arguments about trans* issues and feminist issues and that is the one area where there is any real discord in the community's evolving standards.

The people that are most disruptive to sexism/feminism threads and most disruptive to trans* threads are a small group of people who are clearly in the minority on MeFi. But cairdeas is an example of a small group of people who are in the majority with regard to sexism/feminism on MeFi, but in the minority with regard to (some) trans* issues on MeFi, and I think that while this minority opinion status means that their perspective shouldn't set the community standards, it's also the case that their unique intersection points to what I think is a problem that we might want to ignore or wish away, but that we cannot. We have to decide about this.

The trans* folk here have mentioned the sports threads because they have attested to feeling that what they experience as transphobia there is allowed, both by the community and by the mods, when other varieties of transphobia elsewhere are not (or less now than in the past). This is an ongoing problem and while we may wish that it didn't exist, according to the people who we ought to believe, it does exist.

So, yeah, I think we have to make a choice. It's that simple. We can decide that feminist and cis woman defensive transphobic comments are "acceptable" because for some reason we think they're reasonable (but for some reason other kinds of transphobic combativeness are not), and thus pretty much explicitly be saying, well, MeFi will be welcoming and respectful of trans* folk part of the time, but in some particular subjects their concerns are subordinate to these few other people, or we can decide that those comments in those threads are not acceptable because we're welcoming and respectful of trans* folk, full stop. In the former case, we'd likely lose many of our trans* members, and justifiably. In the latter case, we'd like lose a few people like cairdeas, arguably also justifiably.

I don't want to see cairdeas and those others go, but if I have to choose, I'll chose the latter case.

Ultimately, I don't think that cairdeas is correct about this; many people above have written informative, cogent, and persuasive rebuttals to her comment. It is entirely possible to be a feminist and oppose the patriarchy and rape culture and support opportunities for women without excluding trans women. It's possible in practice, and there's also a bunch of scholarship that provides many ways to productively engage with these apparent complications. A refusal to do so is, in fact, an example of transphobia and transmisogyny.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:54 PM on January 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


"It'd be nice to avoid derails. But to actually keep trans people commenting here, it's essential to fix the toxic transmisogyny and transphobia problems."

Preach it, sister.
posted by jiawen at 4:18 PM on January 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm a cisgender woman and to the best of my memory have never seen an interaction like that on MeFi. I also don't remember seeing trans women telling cis women "what women should and should not be concerned about". Talking about what trans women are and are not concerned about, yes; what cis women or women in general should and should not be concerned about, no.

I'm not a trans woman, but I have certainly told cis women what we should and should not be concerned about in terms of public bathroom safety, and it ain't trans women. Cis men who are going to assault women in bathrooms are going to be ones who will do it regardless of who gets to use which bathroom (ask me how many of my college women friends were assaulted in strictly gender-segregated bathrooms, and by whom!). And as a cis but gender-nonconforming woman, I'm at greater risk of being at minimum shouted at by cis women than I am being assaulted by a random cis dude in that bathroom. So. Yes, cis women have been told here what they should and should not be concerned about in threads about trans* issues and it's probably been by me.

I have seen cis women on this site argue that we need to address the safety concerns of hypothetical edge cases before we can talk about the reality of trans women being assaulted (by women!) in bathrooms. Sets my head on fire.
posted by rtha at 4:23 PM on January 17, 2014 [32 favorites]


cairdeas, in applying the absolute best faith reading to your comment that I can I see why you feel it was not, as a whole, transphobic. But no matter how generously I look at it there is still content there that I must at least label with that ever popular word "problematic."

Anytime a group feels their own position may in some ways be compromised by efforts to correct injustice a different group faces, there can be a tendency to follow a few common patterns in discussions. These patterns are very familiar to you if you follow the backlash feminist discussions can sometimes face.

They include things like shifting the focus away from the group facing injustice to point out that the situation for the other group isn't rosy either. Even when this is true, it can be derailing the conversation. If it is something not true, like perhaps the idea that allowing trans women into bathrooms will increase the risk of rape from cis men, then even if the intentions are good you are really mucking up the conversation. Fear of cis male rapists is real and obviously a valid emotion, but it has no place in a discussion that is not about letting cis men into the bathroom.

Trans bathroom panic is also a well known transphobic trope. You have to be aware of that context. My good faith reading has to assume you weren't or I would have to call the mention transphobic. You heard the backlash as people responding to something you didn't say. In a way yeah, but what they were reacting to is the dog whistle there.

This goes right to the heart of one very prominent reason why these discussions about women's spaces and women's sports and feminism go so badly, which has been completely ignored and not talked about at all.

Many people act as if trans and cis women can be divided into this clear-cut separation where, in every interaction between the two groups, cis women hold a position of privilege and power, and they are just the transmisogynist bigots who just want to shut out and oppress non-privileged, powerless trans women in order to satisfy their bigotry.


I've found that in social justice circles people are more concerned with the results of actions than true hearted genuine inner feelings. It's weird because they are often lampooned as "feels before reals" types, but the reality is if you frame discussions about issues a group faces based on impact on your own group, you are acting in a way that implies you feel your issues are more important. People have no obligation really to figure out why you are doing it, they just want you to stop and keep the discussion focused. Part of being a group that has more privilege, and yes cis folks do have more in most all situations, is that you have more opportunities elsewhere to have your voice heard. That doesn't deny your group faces a million different crappy situations otherwise, it's a relative judgement. Be thankful for what you have.

So don't focus on your intentions and the precise meaning of your wording when you evaluate what went wrong in this thread, consider the feelings you evoked in others and why they would feel that way and how you can work on your own concerns without stepping on their toes in the process. And you can, transgender folks will not prevent you from addressing all feminist concerns in the appropriate venues.

And it is particularly enraging, in certain instances, for someone who has been a woman all her life, but has lived as and been treated by society as a man until like a couple years ago, or six months ago, or last week, to come in and start saying what women should and should not be concerned about.

Here's one where I can't find any way out for you, even reading generous. You are saying you are enraged that trans women are saying what women should be concerned about. Yes, they have a different experience from other women, but no experience is universal. Their perspective being part of the conversation should definitely not enrage you. If you mean to say they are insisting their perspective is the only valid perspective on womanhood, I think you have misread them.

That she can speak for all women, and women who have spent their entire lives fending off an absolute onslaught of gendered shit are just bigots if they disagree with her. That their perspectives don't matter, don't count, and at most they should either phrase them in the most tentative, apologetic way, but better yet just STFU about them. In fact that they are the real misogynists if they do not so.

Now, you are alleging basically the laundry list of anti-SJW stuff. As a dude who sometimes disagrees with feminists, I've been there with being accused of acting bigoted. Once or twice when I was actually right, but mostly by a large margin when I was being a complete dumbass. The odds are you have made some major mistakes if people are calling you a bigot.

I can't speak to other places where you discuss this stuff, but on MeFi I don't see people on hair triggers to call people bigots. I see a lot of patience. I do see a lot of frustration though. If someone is quick to react with you there may be a reason why, like you might have brought up an ignorant point they have refuted ten billion times and it's not their obligation to figure you out and educate you so they take the quicker, more emotionally satisfying route of reacting less carefully and more angrily.

When you spend your entire life being shut out of sport after sport because magically, there only ever seems to be enough funding in the budget for men's sports, when you try to play sports with men and end up deliberately shut out of play, or deliberately physically injured, when you deal with sports where you are FORCED to play half-naked by the rules where men can wear whatever, when you, in general, deal with a cascade of shit on this topic for decades, and then you say, "hey, it's important for people with a "female-sexed" body (in quotes because this is its own complex topic), which is an utterly destroying disadvantage in most sports, to have a fair chance to play" and then someone turns around and tells you that you are a misogynistic bigot for saying so, that is enraging.

Why do you think it is that they might call you a bigot over it? It could be because they have a worse time gaining access to sports than other women and you are seeking to continue that via exclusionary policy? And also that they believe that science suggests that you would be wrong about having a need to do this?

So you have two problems there, you are shifting the focus from the less privileged group and on to your group and also you might be doing it unnecessarily because you might not be at risk by including them.

But the real question is, is your rage relevant to the thread? Must it be expressed? I've found out over the years that it turns out the answer to that question is no. No matter how blindingly stupid the thread is, my anger is not a vital part of it especially when it might make a tough thread even harder to moderate.

So honestly, you sound like people always sound like when they are on the wrong side of social justice conversations. You said a lot of problematic stuff that people are sick of talking about and a couple things that probably should be read as transphobic. But, you are likely not a transphobic person. So how do you avoid this reaction in the future? Approach the topic with a focus on empathy rather than a focus on potential secondary impacts for trans rights on other groups. Keep in mind that if people read your comment without being generous in assuming good faith and see it as offensive, it may not be because they enjoy twisting your words for recreational outrage. It's probably not because they think they have the one true perspective. It's probably not just a rhetorical tactic to beat you down... It's probably because they have used up all their generosity and good faith ten times over already and you are unintentionally blowing a very ugly dog whistle.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:04 PM on January 17, 2014 [20 favorites]


A dog whistle about which you have been told many, many times already.
posted by Dysk at 5:11 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is an important point. I'm really not sure what is going on exactly cairdeas, but this thread very much needs to not become about arguments from other threads that are not the topic of this thread and I'm not even sure why you thought this was an appropriate place to restart these arguments.

I think the answer to that is probably "because Metatalk is a place where you can deliver off-topic ragegasms about whatever it is about $minority that is really pissing you off right now and not have them deleted".

I don't really know what one does about that - the arguments about Metatalk being a place where people can take derails and generally wash their heads are compelling. On the other hand, I think there's a bunch of stuff that, as well as being head-washy, is more or less hate speech, and that feels like not a good thing to be kept around anywhere.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:13 PM on January 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I appreciate people are trying to talk through cairdeas's comment in a calm way, but at this point maybe we can leave that whole thing as an aside, since we've asked her to drop it and digging back through it is the same painful stuff that people don't want to have to go through.

If people feel like we've canvassed the main issues, I am somewhat inclined to close this up and give everyone some time away from it to think things over.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:21 PM on January 17, 2014


Ok, going to close up.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:37 PM on January 17, 2014


« Older Do you have resolutions? MeFites can help!   |   MeFi Marginalia discussion/signup Newer »

This thread is closed to new comments.