Assuming genders in responses - why? September 27, 2017 3:16 PM   Subscribe

The asker of this post used "child" and "spouse" in their question, but some answerers changed those to "daughter" and "dad" or used she/he pronouns. Why?

What's going on with these answerers - did they alter the nouns in their heads without noticing because of discomfort with gender neutrality? Or because they assume that the asker is female because of some "tell," and so the spouse must be male? How did they decide that the teenager is female and not male - was it because the asker described an emotional response? What does it mean for an answerer to potentially misgender the family members involved?

This is not the first question that has demonstrated this kind of dynamic, just the most recent that I've noticed. Seems really odd and problematic, especially when the askers are extremely careful not to divulge gender.
posted by sockpuppetryarts to Etiquette/Policy at 3:16 PM (313 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Skimming through that thread, I can't tell you why the very first answer refers to a daughter, but I suspect that's why subsequent answers did.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:17 PM on September 27 [17 favorites]


Often people read back through past questions when answering, so sometimes it seems like weird information is being assumed, but sometimes it's information from a previous question.

For example, that question refers to "my spouse", but previous questions from the Asker refer to "my wife". So people using "she" to refer to the spouse may have been referencing that.
posted by corb at 3:24 PM on September 27 [18 favorites]


Also, sometimes answerers make dumb assumptions. Or mistakes. I've sometimes referred to single kids in askme answers as "they" or "both of them" because I have two. It's a weird dumbness on my part that I try to fix in the edit window if I notice.
posted by zarq at 3:27 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


I agree with corb. I often look at the history when people ask Human Relations questions to see if there is a pattern (e.g. extreme relationship anxiety), and that often discloses their gender and/or their spouse's gender.

It's hard to use they and them when you are talking about multiple people individually (the child, the spouse, the asker, the teenager) and still make sense. Using the noun every time sounds clunky, so people pick a pronoun. Probably not at random - if the asker has a wife, it's extremely likely he's male.
posted by AFABulous at 4:38 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


also agreeing with corb, and in this particular case the OP had mentioned their own gender and the gender of their child in previous activity.
posted by lalex at 4:42 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I just get an idea in my head of genders when I'm reading the question and if there's nothing in the question that specifically disabuses me of that notion, then I'm probably not going to read back over the question to make sure I have it right before I answer, because nothing has caused me to think I might not. Writing in English without gender is slightly more difficult and not particularly natural, so I don't tend to do it unless I'm actively thinking about it, and sometimes the lack of gender in a question is not sufficient to make me do so.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:44 PM on September 27


I once deliberately used a gender neutral name in a question, avoiding all personal pronouns, and responses defaulted to 'he'. I chose the name because I had read it had about a 50/50 gender split and was roughly equal in terms of overall name popularity for both genders. I suppose in hindsight people thought of John Lennon, were older and so grew up when it was more commonly a male name, or perhaps knew I was male.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:16 PM on September 27


Looking through the poster's history, people were correct to assume the soon-to-be-ex is a woman and he has a daughter. I don't know what it was but reading through the linked post, for some reason I also (correctly) assumed the same too even before checking the history.
posted by floam at 5:22 PM on September 27


When it's clear that the asker is avoiding gender in a question I really try not to project my own assumptions in the question, and try to make sure I don't accidentally default to specifics in my answer. I agree that it can be hard to write that way, so I figure if someone has gone through the (sometimes tortured!) trouble it must be important to them to get as neutral an answer as possible.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:32 PM on September 27 [15 favorites]


Why did these people do this questionable thing, group? Perhaps we should shame them? What do you think? By the way I am a sock puppet.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:35 PM on September 27 [9 favorites]


Why did these people do this questionable thing, group? Perhaps we should shame them? What do you think? By the way I am a sock puppet.

That is the least charitable possible reading of the question, and isn't helping.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:37 PM on September 27 [34 favorites]


I suppose in hindsight people thought of John Lennon, were older and so grew up when it was more commonly a male name, or perhaps knew I was male.

I think so? Lennon is a relatively new first name and still pretty rare; how many people have met a Lennon?

A more interesting example might be "Sam" or "Pat", although with specific names I think you're always going to hit up on people's personal associations. For example, when I clicked through to your question I assumed woman because of Lennon Parham!
posted by lalex at 5:40 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


I agree that it can be hard to write that way, so I figure if someone has gone through the (sometimes tortured!) trouble it must be important to them to get as neutral an answer as possible.

Because so many people write with the singular 'they' for a variety of reasons, it doesn't always make enough of an impression on me that I notice they've done it, so I just write in whatever gender my lizard brain has decided on. I'm not deliberately flouting their wishes, I'm just not noticing that they have them.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:51 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


That is the least charitable possible reading of the question, and isn't helping.

It kind of seemed (and is explicitly placed in the tags) like the poster is putting forward as a basis for argument that such commenters are sexist, which many would consider shameful/problematic: not merely idle curiosity. And it definitely is a sock puppet account.
posted by floam at 8:04 PM on September 27 [11 favorites]


I try to be careful to use gender-neutral language when the Asker hasn't specified gender. I sometimes catch myself using gendered pronouns (often picked up while reading the pre-existing answers) and have to go up to the original question to check whether or not that is appropriate or whether I'm making an assumption. I actually think it's sort of poor form to mine an Asker's history for gender when they have carefully avoided bringing it into the question (it feels like sort of a "gotcha," and can influence the answers of later Answerers by activating implicit biases that the Asker was probably deliberately trying to minimize) but maybe I'm the only one who thinks so.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:05 PM on September 27 [11 favorites]


It kind of seemed (and is explicitly placed in the tags) like the poster is putting forward as a basis for argument that such commenters are sexist

Or maybe they were suggesting that perhaps, given that we are all definitely sexist (not because we are evil but because we are products of a sexist society and cannot help but be shaped by that regardless of how hard we work at transcending our biases) maybe it's worth taking a moment to examine this way in which our biases might be affecting our discourse. I know I've mulled these issues privately before, both in terms of my own writing and AskMe's behavior as a community. I don't mind doing it again in this venue. I think it's a worthwhile question, and that the (to me surprising) defensiveness of the community is rather telling.

Of course we are sexist. At least, I certainly am. I try to examine that, to understand it and mitigate it as best I can. This is how people and communities grow.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:15 PM on September 27 [39 favorites]


I'm guessing the part about "I have young child with me and teen is home with spouse" brought to many people's minds a female asker, on the assumption that young kids belong with mom and teens who are mostly independent can be handled by dad. Looking over the OP's past history, this appears to be an incorrect assumption.
posted by Knowyournuts at 8:25 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


I am pretty forward-thinking and pretty sensitive about gender...and just a few hours ago caught myself having assumed heteronormative pronouns on a post in which not all associated genders were identified, so I had to fix it before I posted my comment. My brain had simply "helpfully" filled in the gaps for me.

I grew up in a heteronormative culture, studying heteronormative writing, steeped in sexism. I am sexist and heteronormative in the same way that I am racist - not proud, trying to do better at every opportunity. I struggle with it every day, even as my own relationship to gender becomes ever more nuanced.

Do not assume malice when indoctrination is the simpler explanation.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:27 PM on September 27 [40 favorites]


Yes, I think the "why" is basically "socialization". I am a queer person with an extremely weak sense of gender identity and even I do it, like slipping into female pronouns for a nonbinary friend who prefers 'they' because they still use the word 'mom' (because that's what their kids still use) and whenever I'm talking about them in a mom context particularly my irrational brain is just like, "no, no, you don't understand, moms are 'she'." Rational brain knows better, rational brain does not always have a chance to remember to reread what I'm typing before I hit enter.

But we should all try to be better about this kind of thing. Knowing why we do it isn't the same thing as it being fine. It's good to have the reminder to be more careful. I don't want to speak for the MeTa poster, but at least usually, suggesting that such a thing is sexism does not mean that anybody's suggesting that the offenders be flogged. I really appreciate reminders to try harder.
posted by Sequence at 8:38 PM on September 27 [8 favorites]


it's because if you don't assume the poster is a he with a wife, you can't skip ahead to assuming the spouse is a conniving hysteric. it saves time. and that is not at all restricted to this particular example. pretty much all gender-unspecified marriage questions get this treatment for this reason.

it is also really fucking rude to regender the parties in your answer. there is a lot about contemporary language norms I don't care for, but I thought it was universal etiquette not to decide you know better than someone else about how to refer to their spouse, children, and self. no matter how they did it in the past.

I definitely got the man-divorcing-woman vibe from the question, but if I left any gendered words in my answer it was a careless error for which I apologize, and not deliberate. I'm sure sometimes people other than me do it without meaning to. but as an overall trend, it is because people are spectacularly sexist, and if they think they have spotted an archetypal manipulative woman or emotionally challenged man, they want to talk about the archetypal story in their heads instead of about individuals.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:46 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


Looking through the poster's history, people were correct to assume the soon-to-be-ex is a woman and he has a daughter.

I see the old question about the OP having a wife, but where does the OP talk about the OP's gender or the child's gender?
posted by John Cohen at 12:54 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


John Cohen: here. I simply did a search for "wife" and "daughter" on their activity. The same comment quotes the daughter as speaking of other moms and other dads, implying he's a dad.
posted by floam at 1:00 AM on September 28


(And, "only man in the room".)
posted by floam at 1:06 AM on September 28


Floam, I definitely say only man in the room as a cis female to mean I'm alone.

Maybe that's just a wierd language quirk of mine though.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:20 AM on September 28


Fair enough. It's not impossible I got the wrong read.
posted by floam at 1:23 AM on September 28


Reading over my comments here, I think I appear to be the tone-deaf "well, actually..." guy to perhaps a less than helpful degree. I think I'm mostly correct on bare facts, but I'm sorry.
posted by floam at 1:29 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


Going back through someone's posting history for information kind of explicitly not given in a particular post or question doesn't strike me as a very nice thing to do. If they wanted this question to be about their daughter and wife, but child and spouse, they'd use that language. It's just kind of not cool to just up and decide that you know which pronouns are appropriate when they're different to what the person in question is using in that moment. "But you said she before in a past question!" is bullshit, and potentially the sort of thing that could make life very hard indeed for trans people. I don't care if Bob has been your man for thirty years, if a question turns up where they avoid names and use gender neutral pronouns, you fucking call them "they" and don't don't their name into it. To do otherwise is at best rude.
posted by Dysk at 2:09 AM on September 28 [18 favorites]


queenofbythinia, not only is that a seriously uncharitable reading, it's also factually wrong in this case. It would appear that "spouse" is the asker's husband, not wife. People certainly sometimes employ gendered stereotyping when answering questions, but if anything the ask that precipitated this MeTa is a counterexample of that. Although I personally I don't get much of a "your spouse is hysterical" vibe from the answers to begin with; they mostly seem focused on what the asker should do in the moment and how they can be there for their child while still honoring their commitments and not doing long-term damage to their career. Some folks do question the spouse's timing, but that seems like a pretty minor theme in the overall thread.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:55 AM on September 28


I often subconsciously make an assumption about gender when reading a question. I'm not sure what leads me to assume one gender or another. Often I am surprised when partway through the question, the gender is actually mentioned. "Hmmm, why did I assume the OP was male? Weird."

My subconscious assumption on the Ask in question was that the Asker was female, the spouse was male and that the teen child was male. It was a bit jarring to me when the first person referred to the teen as "daughter" and that was when I re-read to see if gender had been mentioned or signaled and realized it had not.

Usually before I post an answer I will re-skim the question to double-check for pronouns, and if I find none I am comfortable using gender neutral nouns and pronouns in my response. I'm not sure if I have ever messed up, but I can see how it might happen if I were so overcome with a brilliant answer that I immediately set to typing without double-checking first.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:27 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


The asker has two children, which is mentioned in the question, so assuming that the child focused on in this question is the same child as mentioned in any previous question is still a lot of assuming.
posted by lazuli at 5:53 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I suppose in hindsight people thought of John Lennon, were older and so grew up when it was more commonly a male name, or perhaps knew I was male.

Also your stats are American, e.g. Lennon is really only a boy's name in the UK. 273rd most popular for boys, outside the 1000 for girls.
posted by biffa at 5:57 AM on September 28


when you post about how difficult it is to use they/them pronouns, you're actively normalizing this idea that gender-neutral pronoun are a level 17 SJW skill and we need to console fragile straight people that the queers won't break into their house and steal their gendered children's precious gendered toys
posted by yaymukund at 6:01 AM on September 28 [24 favorites]


Going back through someone's posting history for information kind of explicitly not given in a particular post or question doesn't strike me as a very nice thing to do.

The thing is, sometimes the Asker is not a reliable narrator of their current situation, and if you just take information from the current question and no other questions, you're not going to be able to give them good advice. This question in particular seemed like it was avoiding some really, really pertinent information, that matters on how to answer the question. Ie, if the "irreconciliable differences" sprang up after the Asker or his spouse did something that the other one can't live with, that's going to affect the "should I come home to sort this out" a lot more.
posted by corb at 6:16 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I suppose in hindsight people thought of John Lennon, were older and so grew up when it was more commonly a male name, or perhaps knew I was male.

Fwiw, even though I'm of the age and fan group thAt should have thought of John Lennon I actually thought of Lennon Parham. These days, I guess I watch way more comedy than listen to The Beatles.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:25 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


i would like to always & forever assume that (transphobia aside) ask mefi posters are reliable narrators of the pronouns in their life
posted by yaymukund at 6:28 AM on September 28 [11 favorites]


Gender-neutral writing is a skill with broad application beyond just answering AskMes. Even setting aside the increasing visibility and normalization of non-binary gender identities (an awesome thing in and of itself) there are myriad situations in which we as writers don't know the genders of our subjects and/or audiences. Assuming gender at such times is not just rude, it's also potentially inaccurate and risks excluding large swaths of our potential audience. When we don't know what gender to use, assuming it is simply bad writing, period.

And honestly, it's not difficult to write in a gender-neutral way. You just use a different pronoun and maybe use the noun a little more often to avoid ambiguity when writing about multiple subjects. That is literally all there is to it. In my experience, it stops feeling forced very quickly. At this point, inappropriately-gendered wtiting is what feels weird to me—like I'm reading something from the middle of last century, when everything was "he" and "him." It feels anachronistic and sexist.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:33 AM on September 28 [23 favorites]


The thing is, sometimes the Asker is not a reliable narrator of their current situation, and if you just take information from the current question and no other questions, you're not going to be able to give them good advice.

That's kinda on the asker, though? Like, they might not want all the stuff you can find by digging through their posting history, googling them, or following them around in your car to be part of the conversation. If you think that something that hasn't ven mentioned might be relevant, you could find a way to ask about it, rather than just being all "well you said you [x] but I know that [y] so..." It's rude to just bring shit up in public, same way it would be to loudly announce "well since you're going to the movies with your mistress tonight" when someone mentions to a group they're busy with something important and can't do [x], even if that changes how reasonable the request to be excused from whatever is. You might be right, what you're saying might be true, but it's up to the asker to set the boundaries of the conversation, not you. If you feel like that means you can't give a good answer, then just move on.
posted by Dysk at 6:33 AM on September 28 [12 favorites]


The thing is, sometimes the Asker is not a reliable narrator of their current situation, and if you just take information from the current question and no other questions, you're not going to be able to give them good advice.

That's kind of on them though, no? Often such askers are really seeking affirmation rather than advice in any case, so anything that isn't what they wanted to hear is going to get ignored. I still think it's rude and presumptuous to mine an asker's history for information they deliberately left out of their question. If the asker feels that more information would improve the relevance of advice given, they can add a clarifying comment. Otherwise, I feel like answerers should answer the question as presented or else just give it a pass. I don't find super-sleuth answers to be particularly impressive.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:41 AM on September 28 [8 favorites]


I think restless_nomad is right. The first answer referred to the asker's "daughter", so many of the people responding subsequently picked this up from the first answer without realizing that nothing in the question implies anything one way or another about the gender of the asker's teenage child.

The only post or comment by the asker referring to a daughter was back in 2015 and on MeFi, not AskMe, so it's unlikely jadepearl, who made first reply, remembered this. It more likely that they were thinking about a similar situation in their own life and filled in "daughter" from there. This happens a lot on AskMe, especially in human relations questions. In this case, there was no harm done. The gender of the asker's older child is irrelevant, and it looks like they guessed correctly (but it's probably pure coincidence that they did).

Only one reply explicitly referred to the gender of the asker's spouse. I can see where they may have been getting this from in the question, but this assumption seems to have been wrong.
posted by nangar at 6:57 AM on September 28


when you post about how difficult it is to use they/them pronouns, you're actively normalizing this idea that gender-neutral pronoun are a level 17 SJW skill and we need to console fragile straight people that the queers won't break into their house and steal their gendered children's precious gendered toys

This made me laugh out loud until I realized you might be serious (about the pearl-clutching and fragility).

As an editor, I have to say that, AP style notwithstanding, using they/them is still not generally grammatically acceptable as a singular gender-neutral pronoun in most academic styles, and I have to mark it and suggest alternatives wherever necessary. "He or she" is not the only possible replacement.

I don't have any children, but I do have a box of gender-neutral toys at the ready to give as gifts; if you must break in and steal them, please don't let the (neutered, but gendered) cats out when you leave.
posted by tully_monster at 7:14 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I've noticed that something similar can happen with nationality and location - people assume a question comes from the U.S. unless explicitly stated otherwise.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 7:21 AM on September 28 [8 favorites]


As an editor, I have to say that, AP style notwithstanding, using they/them is still not generally grammatically acceptable as a singular gender-neutral pronoun in most academic styles, and I have to mark it and suggest alternatives wherever necessary.

As an editor, I have to say that this is a load of irrelevant bullshit.

As somebody who is constantly misgendered, I have to say that the cissexist justifications in this thread are disheartening.
posted by Shmuel510 at 7:31 AM on September 28 [42 favorites]


The singular vs. plural confusion can be mitigated with a gender neutral pronoun that is explicitly singular. Unless an asker says "my spouse uses the pronoun 'they'," I propose this as an alternative. Ze/hir is the most common in my trans/queer circles. Here is how to conjugate it (as well as other pronouns).
posted by AFABulous at 7:37 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I think the whole "it's hetero/cisnormative habit, it happens to all of us sometimes" explanation is most often the correct one. I've asked a few questions about or otherwise discussed my spouse here, who is nonbinary, identifies as neither male nor female, thanks, and prefers singular they as far as pronouns go. Since MeFi is a space in which I don't feel like I must uncomplicate the situation for straight/cis people, I usually describe my spouse in the gender-neutral terms we use between ourselves.

It is very, very common, I have noticed, for people to just assume one gender or another applies to my partner and use that in their response. The actual gender they roll with doesn't necessarily follow a set pattern, but unless I go "my nonbinary partner" or something to twig, I think many people mentally just fill in "they" with "unknown binary gender" and make an assumption without even thinking about it. This is pretty useful for me because I can use singular they as opposed to certain other nonbinary pronouns (like 'xie') without people freaking out and demanding a great big thing, but on the other hand it can also require slightly awkward "so no, actually, gender's a touch more complicated here..." things to bring up.

(Checking past posting history isn't always a great habit either; I've referred to my partner as 'she' in at least one Ask, because I was asking a fairly legalistic immigration question where our legal genders were more important than our identified ones at the time. But ymmv; I haven't checked this particular ask for context.)

And then I wind up pronoun-switching according to explicitly requested context for friends--and my partner!--who I know and interact with a preferred pronoun in purely social situations and a binary pronoun in nonsocial situations like work where stakes are higher. Hoo boy is that a recipe for tripping over your tongue and using the wrong pronoun at the wrong time in the lower-stakes social situtations. Pronouns, especially changing pronouns, can be complicated.

That being said, I make a definite effort to get my pronouns right or use singular they if I'm not sure. Sometimes I still mispronoun people that way, and sometimes I mess things up because, well--it's habit, and maintaining a proper situation by identity list of pronouns without referring to specific cues can require a bit of cognitive load I don't always have available without making mistakes, especially for new people. But if I fuck it up and notice, well, the only thing there to do is to apologize and try to do better next time.
posted by sciatrix at 7:37 AM on September 28 [7 favorites]


Dysk, sometimes the asker's location is relevant the question, and it's not too uncommon for people to omit this information in their question. Taking a look at the asker's previous questions can sometimes provide a quick answer to where they're located, so you can provide a list of state / city / country specific resources in response to their question, or at least realize that a response assuming the asker lives in the US would be unhelpful.

I don't see any evidence that people did that in the AskMe thread in question. The person who referred the asker's spouse as the kid's "dad" definitely didn't. The gender of the asker's spouse and kids aren't really relevant to their question.
posted by nangar at 7:42 AM on September 28


And tully_monster, you're incorrect. The history and validity of singular "they" has been covered extensively in linguistic circles.
posted by AFABulous at 7:42 AM on September 28 [14 favorites]


AP style is pretty ossified and, well, stylized. Outside of contexts where using it is mandatory, it really should not be taken as a general guide to good writing practices. It as likely to be misleading as it is to be helpful.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:52 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Nthing the reckoning for this specific situation that it reads like (a) someone pulling "daughter" out of the ether without thinking about it and then (b) people taking the preceding thread contents as givens for their own answers. Likewise the Dad comment which looks like a one-off. For the most part on review it looks like folks stuck to the provided "spouse" and "teen" framing, at least.

So, yeah, I think there's an element of casual laziness/carelessness that creeps through on this stuff—as someone else mentioned, there's location-based fill-in-the-blank issues with this stuff on Ask too sometimes—which is likely to be there even when there's no actual deliberate attempt to cast binary gender or push back on gender neutral framing. People just mad lib that shit and forget about it. Which is not great, and I appreciate that folks on MetaFilter have gotten better over time at not doing that.

The enormous social momentum of this common framework of socialization about gender binaries means it's gonna keep being a thing for a while, and the acting with malice is a lot easier to stamp out than the just careless/thoughtless reinforcing of socialized language habits so I think we're gonna be actively navigating situations like this over time. It's a good thing to talk about and prompt people to think harder about; that's pretty much the way it has to work here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:08 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


using they/them is still not generally grammatically acceptable as a singular gender-neutral pronoun in most academic styles

Sure it is. Also MetaFilter is not an academic journal, thank jehu. I did not answer that question but read along with it (and the answers) and checked past questions to see if there were more details to the situation since the question as presented left me with more questions than answers along the lines of some of the questions asked in-thread by commenters.

Trawling through a user's question history for facts is something people should do mindfully but it's totally something that is okay to do. Frowned upon when it's just digging for zinger/gotcha fodder but realistically we're all humans here and people care about things like gender. The issue, of course, is that they don't all care about it in the same way. Some people wish for more gender neutral ability, pronoun usage, honorifics and etc. Some wish for more gender cues, normative expectations and I don't know what else. It's a site of many different kinds of people.

So I think it's a little facile to jump to "people are lazy" or "people are heteronormative" or "people are sexist" as the singular wtf answer in all of this. Asking why seems fine, people can talk about why. Presuming there is only one narrowband allowable why to very complicated issues of gender, pronoun usage, and cultural expectations gets us into a less community-minded place here on MeFi.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:11 AM on September 28 [32 favorites]


If you want to know why, you can memail the member to ask. If you want to encourage gender non-specifity, maybe post best practice, update the wiki, and encourage members who employ best practice.
posted by theora55 at 8:26 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Hey NB person here. Please don't rehash the style guide to non-gendered pronouns. Friendly reminder that we are in this community with you. It's frustrating to have my gender erased by people in a rush to defend language. Also, I'm so tired of cis people being tired or forgetting. Like fuck, most people automatically correct themselves with they misgendered my dog but suddenly some rules about language get people clutching at their pearls. We just want mostly to be left the fuck alone. So can we please not do this again.

As for the question, I believe a)most people don't read the entire question b) a lot of people have real hot takes on a question when really they are just discussing themselves b)it's a result of sexism or preconceived ideas. I get frustrated when so many people don't read the question or launch off on one detail (thinking of a question where I was talking about numbing self with approved doctor prescribed medication being offered to me for that exact reason which leads to it being assumed I was in denial for my addiction???). Unfortunately, unless they change the banner on Ask me to READ THE QUESTION AND NOT THE ONE IN YOUR HEAD OR YOU THINK THEY ARE ASKING it won't change. And if you think the asker is not actually asking what they should be or how to do it right there are ways to put that in there without dismissing all the other details they've put in.
posted by kanata at 8:41 AM on September 28 [29 favorites]


I tend to assume posters are "she" and everyone else they're talking about is "he" because I am a hetero mom with sons so that's my perspective. I usually edit myself before posting but don't always remember to.

I appreciate when posters make it clear they don't want genders assumed.

But even if we don't want it to, gender matters. The type of relationship matters. If the teen in that OP has parents who are same-gender or trans then he/she might not have a strong peer support network and his/her issues related to a split might be more complicated than in a traditional family. Even if they're hetero it makes a difference whether it's mom or dad who is overseas. If the teen is a daughter and the mom is the one away, that complicates puberty. And even if it doesn't make a difference within the family, it does at the teen's school and other places where he/she interacts with other adults.
posted by headnsouth at 8:47 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


And what's wrong with asking instead of just assuming? Or trusting that a questioner would know if that applied??
posted by kanata at 8:56 AM on September 28 [9 favorites]


I respect the asker's desire to obfuscate, but I agree with headnsouth that gender does matter. If the asker is female, she likely faces harsher consequences for abandoning her work project to focus on her family. It's not sexist to acknowledge sexism in our society.
posted by AFABulous at 9:25 AM on September 28 [19 favorites]


I appreciate when posters make it clear they don't want genders assumed.

When someone writes a long human relations question about themselves, their spouse, and their two kids with nary a gendered pronoun to be found anywhere in it, I think that's pretty damn clear.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:32 AM on September 28 [22 favorites]


AFABulous/headnsouth, you could bring up that potential dynamic exactly how you just said it in your comments. I don't think defaulting to gender neutral pronouns prevents you from talking about sexism unless your discussion is predicated on gendering people without their consent.
posted by yaymukund at 9:44 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


And come off it with the "but gender is important to my answer!" concern trolling. Lots of stuff is important, but we'll never have every detail. If you really think it matters that much you can ask in the question (though you might not get an answer). But people have good reasons for masking their gender, and if you really can't give a useful answer without that bit of info then tough noogies. Don't answer the question if it's such an insurmountable stumbling block. Lots of other folks seem to be perfectly capable of answering human relations questions while treating people as people, rather than males or females.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:45 AM on September 28 [12 favorites]


Sorry, that was a bit harsh. My point stands, though: we always are answering questions based on incomplete information. If you can't answer without a particular bit of info, you can either ask and hope for clarification, or move on. What isn't reasonable or helpful is to just make an assumption, especially when the poster was clearly trying to avoid such assumptions.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:51 AM on September 28 [5 favorites]


This is an exceptional situation/example where the OP masked the gender of their spouse in their current question but not their previous ones. MeFi doesn't have a real hard and fast "Don't bring in known gender from other questions" guideline and people went with what worked for them. I do not at all think it's concern trolling to point out that sometimes gender can be relevant to answers. There are better and worse ways of working with that in your answer.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:57 AM on September 28 [7 favorites]


Last one and I'm done (recognizing I have had no sleep because of these damn ovaries that don't belong in my body). But when it comes to a poster who is *using* they the most supportive thing you could do is *NOT ASSUME THEIR GENDER*? Yes, gender matters. But there's more than 2 genders. All my life people have been assuming my gender. If the poster was NB then that assumption is just erasing their experience and sorry but "we have to assume because of sexism" while well meaning and there are some questions that applies to doesn't apply to everyone. I'm done on this subject cause I've noticed that this is a thing cis people will never ever get. And I'm crampy and stuck with these ovaries that are trying to kill me because multiple doctors assumed my gender was a woman and this is what I should just suck up. Oh, and when I found my gender *ON MY OWN* (via this lovely site) I still was told by well meaning people that I'm not that! Fuck, most of us are out there killing ourselves but go ahead and assume when you see a they. That'll really help the world. Again, frustrated that has nothing to do with individual people here but it feels like I literally have to beg people I love to call me who I am and then to come here and people be all "well, actually I looked it up..." "well, actually...sexism". Just stop assuming things CIS people! People love to joke about this gay queer space future in the Trump threads. Unless cis people start actually listening to people to people who this matters to you all aren't invited!!

And yes, I'm being irrationally angry due to lack of sleep but if you haven't been rageful or felt like you should cut off your chest or genitals when someone assumes your gender then maybe you'll never get it. I'm done. End of rant. Apologies. Going to go brood in pit of hormones and hell with these slabs of meat on my chest.
posted by kanata at 10:15 AM on September 28 [17 favorites]


Just as past performance is no guarantee of future success, so past preferences are no guarantee of current gender identity. They gendered their spouse in another ask three years, six months, or even two weeks ago does not mean that that necessarily applies now. Best practice would be to not make those assumptions
posted by Dysk at 10:38 AM on September 28 [9 favorites]


Yes, I should not have accused people of concern trolling. That was inappropriate, and I apologize. I don't think anyone here is acting in bad faith, though we may disagree.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:12 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


John Cohen: here. I simply did a search for "wife" and "daughter" on their activity. The same comment quotes the daughter as speaking of other moms and other dads, implying he's a dad.

OK, you're right. I only looked at all of the OP's previous questions, and didn't think to go searching through his comments on posts by other people. I suppose some of the people responding to his latest question could have done that kind of search for the words "daughter" and "son." But while jessamyn is right that there's no per se rule against bringing up an AskMe OP's past questions, that kind of scouring of all the OP's posts and comments seems excessive when they clearly chose to keep their question gender-neutral.
posted by John Cohen at 11:19 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


I am not saying that I assign gender when the poster is clear about not wanting gender assigned. In fact I said my brain naturally goes to certain genders because of my perspective and I try to take care to edit gender out before posting a response.

My additional comment about genders mattering and being clear about preferences in one's Ask stands. In a non-anon Ask, I would ask the OP to clarify if I felt my response would vary that widely depending on gender(s). But this is not an Ask; this is MetaTalk.

And no, the use of "they" in an Ask does not make it clear that no genders are to be assumed or considered or used in responses. Preferences should be explicit, not implicit. Using "they" as a singular no longer signifies anything in particular; even AP style uses it now.
posted by headnsouth at 11:27 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


That's a much bigger burden to place on non binary people than you're putting on everyone else. You should be able to have the pronouns you choose to use respected, even without explicitly shouting "hey I'm non binary", even if they aren't the same as they might be in other contexts. If someone uses "they" in a question, it's not hard to use it in the answer.
posted by Dysk at 11:43 AM on September 28 [16 favorites]


I've appreciated in the past when mods have put a little note in these kinds of questions that says something like [Reminder: Asker has not identified gender of the people in the question]. I realized I was automatically assuming heteronormativity in couples when I shouldn't have. Now I'm wondering- mods, did you get requests from the poster to add that note in those cases, or was it just something to raise awareness when the responses tended to be gendered?
posted by Mouse Army at 12:51 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


Seems really odd and problematic, especially when the askers are extremely careful not to divulge gender

Everyone exists in their own world and almost everyone on Mefi has been living on said world for decades. A single question or comment isn't going to automatically override their personal world views and experiences. Most of us are operating on some sort of auto pilot and not carefully evaluating every interaction, even if would be good idea to do so.

Chalk it up to simple human blindness, with no malice meant.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:56 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


Expecting people to be clear about what they want is not placing a burden on them; in fact that's what a good portion of relationshipfilter responses suggest to Askers. All kinds of Asks say "I'm 24F, he's 29M" or "I'm cis M, partners are non binary" etc.

On the contrary I think being unclear and expecting people to know how to respond the way an Asker wants them to is placing a burden on responders to do the emotional labor of trying to infer what they might want.

On Ask, the general advice is to take what works for you and leave the rest. If an Asker disregards an otherwise thoughtful response because it has a gendered pronoun in it, that's the Asker's prerogative, and more power to them.
posted by headnsouth at 12:56 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


It would be really, really nice if cis people would refrain from telling trans and nonbinary people that being misgendered doesn't really matter and it's the cis person's good intentions that are important. We've heard it before. It's not helpful, it's a reminder that some people can't be bothered to give a damn about an issue that other people have repeatedly said is important.

This is one of the reasons I'm still using "she/her" pronouns. Shifting to "they/them" would be an exhausting uphill slog trying to get people to use them, and since "she/her" doesn't chafe that much (it's like a lumpy seam in a sock, rather than the want-to-claw-my-skin-off experience I've heard others describe) it doesn't yet seem worth making a shift.

Discussions like this just reinforce the feeling that I should grit my teeth and keep putting up with it.
posted by Lexica at 1:14 PM on September 28 [29 favorites]


I feel that sticking with they/them, if that is what the poster uses in the question, is a simple extension of the generally good habit of addressing people in the same way that they have introduced themselves to you. It's not exactly the same thing but it seems to be a point on the same line, if you catch my drift, and as such it seems both respectful and not all that hard.

Sure, people make mistakes. It happens. Let's try and see if we can avoid this one more often, though.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:35 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


If an Asker disregards an otherwise thoughtful response because it has a gendered pronoun in it, that's the Asker's prerogative, and more power to them.

I mean, this isn't remotely what's under discussion, but nice straw person you got there!

It's really not hard to apply the principle of addressing and discussing people how they identify themselves. It's not an issue of answers being disregarded. It's a question of not being rude and hurtful unnecessarily.
posted by Dysk at 1:53 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Now that I ate (low blood sugar makes me tasty) I just want to say I already know cis people have good intensions because that is all cis people tell us. Yet actions are few and far between. Misgendering me is a knife to the gut every single time. Especially from those with good intensions. I'm so so very tired of trying to get anyone in my real life to acknowledge who I am. I've had the same thoughts as Lexica. That I should have never came out. That my existence is too hard for people to get (oddly enough I have barely a high school diploma and countless mental illnesses but yet can grasp it easily). I'm really disheartened by the answers in here. I guess I have to put a big NON-BINARY on every single comment I make and then maybe people will think I'm worthy of acknowledging basic human respect. Somehow if I found the perfect pronoun I'd still hear ooh but that's so hard, but language! I guess I just want to be clear that when you expect us to forgive your errors (or worse make us responsible for your emotions for making an error) time after time on top of all the times we are ignored, erased, called crazy it's a thing that can cost people's lives. Not hyperbole. After hearing yet another family member value language over me I've come really close to just giving up. What's the point if this is going to be a reaction? Why bother putting myself through this so I can deal with the stares, assaults, denial of medical treatment . But then I lived as a woman for 39 fucking years and that was killing me too. So when I hear all these arguement over and over all I can take away from it is society really thinks I'm nothing. We are all so so so tired of waiting and apologizing and laughing off a 1000 cuts a day. So feel free to say they means nothing but realise that you are directly contributing to the atmosphere that causes us to die. Make your peace with that yourselves. I'm at the point where I'm opting out of all trans threads here and starting to think they should be banned. Because we are all Mefites here and being shown me and my kind don't qualify for basic respect hurts a lot you guys. It just really fucking hurts.
posted by kanata at 2:03 PM on September 28 [18 favorites]


It's not even only a matter of misgendering nonbinary people, though it's fucking shitty, headnsouth, to hear that you just can't be arsed to care about that even though you've been repeatedly told that it's hurtful. It sucks that you (and presumably lots of other folks) aren't willing to extend your fellow community members the basic courtesy of addressing them the way they've introduced themselves unless they put an explicit "PLEASE TREAT ME LIKE A HUMAN BEING" sign on their posts, but that's not even the whole issue here.

Plenty of cishet people mask their gender in their Asks for perfectly valid reasons. Perhaps a woman doesn't want to be seen as a hysterical hypochondriac in a medical question. Perhaps a man doesn't want to be automatically cast as the villain in a relationship dispute. When genders are known, unconscious biases may be in play that can unduly color the answers that are given. Masking genders isn't a perfect solution to that, but it's super easy to see how it might sometimes be seen as a net positive to the asker. I mean, I have pretty much the most priviliged combination of gender, racial, and sexual identities that there is, and even I sometimes have trouble getting people to see me as a human rather than a straight white cisman.

Masking one's gender is a valid way of trying to get less bias-laden answers to an Ask. It's not without its problems, but it's an option people are entitled to employ if they wish. Saying, "whatevs, I'm just going to make up a gender for you in my head and answer based on that" is pretty lazy and unhelpful, even when it isn't actually harmful. Which, as many people have repeatedly said in many different ways, it often is.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:42 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


If you don't know someone's gender, don't refer to them with a gendered pronoun.

If you have to guess at someone's gender based on contextual clues, don't refer to them with a gendered pronoun.

If you look through someone's post history and you're like 95% sure that you know their gender, don't refer to them with a gendered pronoun.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:47 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


Come on, people. It's not AT ALL difficult to stick with the pronouns people use in a question. It's really not. It would never even occur to me to go looking in someone's post history for gender clues; the OP wrote the question in a specific way so why would I assume I knew better than they do? It really smacks of superiority in a way I don't think I can articulate.

Why is it so fucking hard to use the pronouns people clearly prefer? FWIW, I'm a cis-het woman and it is LITERALLY no skin off my nose to use another person's preferred pronouns. Seriously.
posted by cooker girl at 2:51 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


I think it's really important to use the pronouns that people prefer, but I also bristle at the idea that Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The was putting forth above - that an Asker might want to mask their gendered privilege to get a different answer. That strikes me honestly as an abuse of the good faith of the community. When somebody has the power in a relationship dynamic and conceals it so they get an answer as if they were the one without the power, that really bothers me.

It is important enough not to misgender that I think we should err on the side of good faith - I am reminded by above posters that someone may have identified a different way last year, and will try to do this less myself. But I feel like the situation of "I wanted to get an answer without being assumed to be a villain because I was a cis het man" is not really one to encourage pronoun switching. It feels like people with privilege hiding behind our members who aren't to get unearned sympathy.
posted by corb at 3:21 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Just because someone has privilege doesn't mean they aren't also subject to negative stereotypes, or that those negative stereotypes are OK.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:25 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


ok i said i would leave but i can't leave you all thinking I'm tasty with low blood sugar. I'm actually testy. I'm tasty all the time!
posted by kanata at 3:28 PM on September 28 [34 favorites]


I think it's really important to use the pronouns that people prefer, but I also bristle at the idea that Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The was putting forth above - that an Asker might want to mask their gendered privilege to get a different answer. That strikes me honestly as an abuse of the good faith of the community.

Recognizing that answerers's assumptions about relationships and interactions are affected by societal gender role expectations, and trying to mitigate that by obfuscating the gender of the people in a question, is not at all "an abuse of the good faith of the community". Please.
posted by Lexica at 3:50 PM on September 28 [12 favorites]


I feel like this discussion has morphed into something it's not. I haven't seen anyone say anything approaching "fuck you and the pronouns you rode in on." The asker didn't specify preferred pronouns. The asker didn't use any pronouns. The asker simply did not specify the genders of the spouse and children. There is no indication that any non-binary people were disrespected. What am I missing?
posted by AFABulous at 3:54 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


Well people said, "I don't really care if gender isn't specified, I just go with my gut and insert whatever pronouns feel right to me," and then a bunch of other people said, "Hey, that kind of thing actually hurts me, like, for real," and then the first people said that they still didn't care, so here we are.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:59 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]


I also bristle at the idea that Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The was putting forth above - that an Asker might want to mask their gendered privilege to get a different answer

Okay, so I'm a dude with all the privilege that dudeliness confers. I have, here on mefi, asked an anonymous question where I went out of my way to obscure genders - though in life I am, albeit not dripping in manliness quite definitively male. Why did I do this?

Because I was asking something personal and painful, and it involved my romantic relationship and family life. I have found that when asking about romantic relationships and family life here, many answerers assume very traditional gender norms - even cliches - and those stereotypes are/were not really relevant to my relationship/family life. These assumptions aren't just about gender but encompass everything from division of labour, to likelihood of having an affair and more. Additionally, the judgment that's often so helpfully served with those assumptions was like the last thing I needed or wanted when I was feeling super vulnerable and "stuck" about something.

As others mentioned here, a number of answers "filled in the blanks" with their own gender assumptions.

So yeah, I have masked my gender privilege - because I wanted to get answers from people who were thinking beyond gender archetypes.
posted by smoke at 4:16 PM on September 28 [19 favorites]


I guess I just want to point out that it's not all male privilege; when men cross over into to stereotypically feminine domains, responses to that can be quite negative too.
posted by smoke at 4:18 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


There is no indication that any non-binary people were disrespected. What am I missing?

That the discussion is bigger than the one example? That the policy followed here is going to erase or misgender someone based on a previous identity or bad inference when doing the kind of inserting of assumed genders into questions where they're unspecified, even if it didn't in this one instance? "Hey, nobody got hurt yet!" is hardly a convincing argument for policy.
posted by Dysk at 4:22 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone say anything approaching "fuck you and the pronouns you rode in on."

May I direct you to the latter part of this comment.
posted by Dysk at 4:26 PM on September 28


The asker didn't specify preferred pronouns. The asker didn't use any pronouns. The asker simply did not specify the genders of the spouse and children. There is no indication that any non-binary people were disrespected. What am I missing?

The asker didn't use gendered pronouns but people replying did. For all we know both partners in the marriage and both kids are nonbinary, but some people gendered them anyway. When the OP of this MeTa raised the issue, other people responded that it's not a big deal, people can't be expected to keep track of these things, it's hypersensitive to care about pronouns, it's reasonable to trawl somebody's comment activity in order to gender them and/or their partner, etc.

I paraphrase, but that's effectively what's been said.
posted by Lexica at 4:30 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


What kills me about a lot of this gender stuff is that it's not really that hard at all. Once you come to accept the fact that some people's genders don't match what they were assigned at birth, and that not everybody fits neatly into "male" and "female" categories, I feel like a lot of the rest of how we should behave around that just falls into place along the lines of common human decency. Like, would you walk up to a cismale and insist that he's a woman? If a cisman tells you his name is Jim, would you insist that it's actually Jane?

OK, so now that we know we're living in a world where lots of people are transgender and/or nonbinary, why wouldn't we extend them the same basic courtesy that we have been extending to everyone else all along? What's the excuse? What's so fucking complicated about it? When someone tells you who they are, take them at their word. If they haven't told you, don't assume. If you do assume and you make a mistake, apologize.

Why is that so difficult?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:58 PM on September 28 [10 favorites]


I use "they" to refer to anyone whose gender I do not know. It's not just about whether or not someone is nonbinary, it's about not making assumptions about them, period. That's the broader issue here.

I have noticed people referring to me as "they" on this site, and I appreciate it in spite of my fairly binary gender identification, because it means they're not making assumptions about me. Thank you. I had long hair as a kid, and my friend's mom had short hair; we used to bond over constantly being misgendered in public (all the people calling me a "pretty girl," and all the people calling her "sir"). It was frustrating, and I can only imagine what it's like for a nonbinary person. It was one thing for that to be happening 20 years ago, but in 2017, there is no excuse for making assumptions about someone's identity. There are a bunch of ways to refer to someone without using a gendered pronoun.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:09 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


I assumed the asker was a woman because women take care of small children much more frequently, and women give a fuck about balancing family and work much more frequently. I don't feel bad about that at all, although I didn't answer the question.

I didn't assume the kid was a daughter, though.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:35 PM on September 28


And in human relations questions, especially marriage questions, yes gender matters. People shouldn't assume, but let's be real: the way society genders you (and the way you gender yourself) makes a huge difference in the kind of advice that I would give you about your interactions with other people.

However, I think that if the asker of a question takes care not to specify, they might get less-good advice, but also it is probably rude for us to assume in order to fill that gap and attempt to give more contextually-relevant advice.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:38 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


usually when i ask people for advice I am looking for them to give me advice without considering my trans nonbinary status. you know why? because cis people (bless them) have little to no understanding of how nonbinary and trans people's gender or perceived gender affects our interactions with other people. their understanding of our experiences come from television.. if I wanted to watch a cis man regurgitate cliches about my life i'd go watch transparent
posted by yaymukund at 5:55 PM on September 28 [12 favorites]


yeah no I totally get that. And I think assuming and then opening your mouth/typing with that assumption is rude. To the extent that my comments don't adequately incorporate that, they are wrong and I take them back.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:59 PM on September 28


usually when i ask people for advice I am looking for them to give me advice without considering my trans nonbinary status.

also I 100% trust your judgment about this and feel bad for being careless enough to imply/state otherwise.

I am (ironically because I do not ID as cis) very much centering cis people who ask questions without revealing the genders of the people involved.

I'm maybe doing that because of internalized cissexism, but also perhaps in part because I just assume that, like me, trans, NB, GF, agender, and other non-cis ID'd people would just never bother (which I know is not a correct assumption)

I mean I basically gave up on that kind of thing after being misgendered repeatedly in an argument (and then having my corrections deleted by mods). but obviously I am not everyone
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:03 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I assumed the asker was a woman because women take care of small children much more frequently, and women give a fuck about balancing family and work much more frequently.

Hmm, this is a great example of why I obscured my gender. Metafilter in general seems comfortable with the idea that things that are true at a population level, are not necessarily very helpful at individual level. Discussions around BMI, or linkages between type 2 diabetes and weight, for example. I kind of feel if someone made that level of generalisation around those two topics here they would be slammed for it.

It seems harder to extend that same reasoning to things around gender, family and/or relationships.
posted by smoke at 6:11 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]


i wasn't specifically arguing against you, Rock em' Sock 'em, though i was trying to show how "gender is important" doesn't usually lead to "it's good to declare genders" in my specific experience.

i'm sorry you were misgendered and then your corrections were deleted. in my ideal world, people who used the wrong pronouns would have to apologize and both their mistake and the apology would remain
posted by yaymukund at 6:14 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


And no, the use of "they" in an Ask does not make it clear that no genders are to be assumed or considered or used in responses.

It really sorta does for me? I actually thought that was one of those AskMe things, like read the whole question and do your best to answer the question as asked.

I always make a scrunchy confused face when I read a question like the one in question here, that is carefully constructed to not use gender, and then all the answers are full of "he" or "she", rather than "your spouse." Not a confused face like, "oh what a cool mystery, who is the wife?", but more like, "why are these people assuming all this gender stuff in their answers? Why are they not respecting how the question was written?"
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:23 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


I'm sorry. It's clear that something I do because I can't be bothered to think carefully about pronouns before I post is hurtful to trans and non-binary people. I will make an effort to do better. No post I've ever made on AskMe has been so urgent that it couldn't wait a minute while I got the pronouns right or so important that I couldn't just not make it if I didn't have that extra minute.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:31 PM on September 28 [14 favorites]


Whoa, first answered on the question, I did not look at their history. I actually misread the wall of text and thought they were referencing two daughters. So, no gender subtext, just a misread.
posted by jadepearl at 11:27 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Given the care with which the question was constructed to avoid using pronouns at all, it's pretty difficult to believe that such a misread doesn't involve a set of gendered assumptions as subtext.
posted by Dysk at 12:28 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


Thinking about it, I believe that I conflated another FPP about an academic needing to care for their daughter to attend a NIH reverse site visit; the one with Joe DiMaggio. Was it an error to mention daughter? Yes. Was the response still valid? I believe so, since I ask, in essence, whether the older child can travel to the parent in Europe. Was this a honest mistake? Yes.
posted by jadepearl at 12:41 AM on September 29


Given the care with which the question was constructed to avoid using pronouns at all, it's pretty difficult to believe that such a misread doesn't involve a set of gendered assumptions as subtext.

It shouldn't be difficult to take a mefite at their word when they say they've made a mistake.
posted by zarq at 4:50 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


I speak on behalf of all trans people when I say we're so sorry for experiencing difficulty!
posted by yaymukund at 6:14 AM on September 29 [7 favorites]


It shouldn't be difficult to take a mefite at their word when they say they've made a mistake.

When the mefite in question also dismisses the entire point of this MeTa, then it's less Oops, I made a mistake than This thing you're worried about isn't really a thing.
posted by Etrigan at 6:25 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Etrigan, I am not dismissing this meta. I am actually answering a question asked about the intention of the first answerer by theora55, which was me. This is to confirm both Restless_Nomad and nangar's comments that I had made an error in using "daughter" in the reply and that I did not look at the poster's history to determine their gender.
posted by jadepearl at 7:03 AM on September 29


It shouldn't be difficult to take a mefite at their word when they say they've made a mistake.

A mistake can be based on a set of gendered assumptions. They're not mutually exclusive.
posted by Dysk at 7:03 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


A mistake can be based on a set of gendered assumptions. They're not mutually exclusive.

No, they're not. Yet jadepearl has said repeatedly that was not the case. So that's now been addressed.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on September 29


I'm so grateful for everyone's good intentions!! I am FILLED with GRATE
posted by yaymukund at 8:16 AM on September 29 [7 favorites]


Even if the error was the result of gendered assumptions, that's a type of mistake that everybody sometimes makes. Are we expecting perfection here, or is it OK if people just do their best and own up to their occasional errors? Because I try hard not to misgender people or to assume gender when it's not given, and if a mistake is pointed out to me then I will certainly apologize and try to do better, but if perfection is the standard we're requiring then I definitely don't belong here.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:23 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Even if the error was the result of gendered assumptions, that's a type of mistake that everybody sometimes makes. Are we expecting perfection here, or is it OK if people just do their best and own up to their occasional errors?

I read "So, no gender subtext" as different from owning up. I don't expect perfection. I do expect people not to dig in and insist that they didn't really do the thing.
posted by Etrigan at 8:31 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


How can there not be a gendered context to gendering someone?
posted by Dysk at 8:37 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Well, I guess I'm willing to cut jadepearl a little more slack than some others then. But I concede that the amount of slack that I personally am willing to cut is probably not particularly relevant in this case.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:37 AM on September 29


Also, jadepearl was far from the only person injecting genders into that thread. They used daughter, the assumptions about the parents, for example, came from elsewhere.
posted by Dysk at 8:46 AM on September 29


sorry but that's B.S. this whole "well, are you saying we should be perfect? if I make a mistake then I guess I don't belong here"... How is that different from someone saying "oh, i can't say ____slur? clutch my pearls and whine about the PC culture destroying everything"??? All I am saying is for cis people to try better and not fucking automatically go into making about you and how you aren't like that and how you feel about making a mistake. or that you don't see the problem so it can't really be a problem. Every single time someone misgenders me I then have to expend energy reassuring them they aren't like those bad bad bad cis people who want me dead. All I think I'm asking as a NB person is to realize that mefi is making all these assumptions all over the place and that the denials and digging in makes me feel not wanted here. But I guess I should wait til everyone's absolutely perfect before saying hey, sorry that kind of fucking really hurts... thanks. At least I know my existance will never be accepted until all CIS people are perfect.
posted by kanata at 8:58 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


I realize it's a problem, I try not to misgender people, and I know that it hurts people if I make a mistake. It's not a mistake I make often, and if I screw up I don't expect a free pass. But gendered assumptions are deeply indoctrinated, and I'm never going to be completely free of them. I will never be content with where I am, but always will be striving to improve. I try to gladly and graciously accept correction when it is given. I realize that the negative effects of my errors fall disproportionately on those who are most marginalized by the sexism and transphobia that exists within society and myself, and the injustice of that is galling. But I am not and never will be perfect, because I am a human being and I am a product of a sexist and transphobic society. I will sometimes hurt people, even without meaning to, even while trying not to, even while accepting that my lack of intent to do harm does not exculpate me. I am flawed, and my flaws do harm to those around me. We are all flawed, we all hurt people. If I hurt you, I am sorry.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:20 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


s'all good. it just triggered me this morning. because I've heard that all my post coming out life. and you know the world is just really really shitty right now and I'm letting it make me angry. apologies.
posted by kanata at 9:24 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


clutch my pearls

btw Metafilter thinks this is a sexist expression
posted by thelonius at 9:31 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


It's fine, I can understand why you would be angry. I would be surprised if you weren't. I'm sorry for triggering you, and for perpetuating the cliche of the cis person who thinks he can be the arbiter of what should be "good enough" for trans people to accept. I realize that my opinion about acceptable behavior, which is based around what I am willing to accept, is not very relevant. I should probably have just kept my mouth shut to begin with; that's something else that I'm continuing to work at.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:33 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


yes i'm aware of it as a sexist term. apologies for letting my anger trump (we can never use that word normally again can we?) my thinking. as i acknowledge we are all flawed but like how I'm working to rout out the internal misogyny I have for being forced into this gender all i'm asking for is cis people to realize that assuming our gender is also something that you need to rout out on your own without making it about how you have good intentions. The best thing about Metafilter is that I see all us coming with good intentions so that's a given. Now what are we going to do with those good intentions? change ourselves or make the same mistake over and over and over and then talk about how those we hurt should be more forgiving or that it isn't that important?
posted by kanata at 9:59 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


I'm so grateful for everyone's good intentions!! I am FILLED with GRATE

In the last 8 years that I've been a MetaTalk contributor, I've infrequently asked people to give each other the benefit of the doubt when possible, and to listen to each other when and if someone apologizes. Not necessarily to forgive them for something they've said but maybe perhaps not to beat them up endlessly if they do apologize and there's any glimmer of hope they might do better in the future.

I do it because I'd like to see us be kinder to one another. We're all members of a community here, and I'd like to think we can be good to each other if given half a chance.

I sincerely apologize if my instinct in that regard felt like an attack or a demand that trans folks on this site accept misgendering when it is directed at them. That was absolutely not my intention. I would never, ever, ever ask anyone -- especially not someone who is part of an oppressed group -- to accept further oppression or degradation. Not ever.

But I also don't see a point in beating the living hell out of someone who has acknowledged they screwed up. And I say that as someone who can be aggressive (or even overly / unnecessarily aggressive) about calling out certain sexist or bigoted behavior.

I am not trans and I have never really been misgendered. Not with malicious intent. I can't speak to your experience and would never presume to. But I have dealt with truckloads of bigotry, antisemitism and bullshit in my life. Feared for my life. By authority figures, my government, strangers and people I thought were friends. Got into fights and was beaten up as a kid and a teenager simply for existing as myself. I sincerely do understand that hell. I am fully aware that good intentions must be followed up by actions to be meaningful. Even if it's not to set things right -- but to refute past statements or acts.

When someone acknowledges they have made a mistake more than once, I do think that in general, we should at least consider whether doing so has any value.
posted by zarq at 12:12 PM on September 29 [14 favorites]


Well said, zarq.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Who is beating the hell out of who? What did jadepearl acknowledge? What behavior are they going to change in the future? I'm not asking jadepearl to do anything. I am so, so tired of people telling me to be satisfied with good intentions and glimmers of hope.
posted by yaymukund at 2:01 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


zarq, look, i don't think you intended to say that we should accept further oppression or degradation. i just think people can do a lot of harm and good intentions shouldn't protect anyone from further criticism. if anything, good intentions should make a person more open to criticism and self reflection

for example, when you use phrases that reference physical violence even though all we've been doing is writing and posting comments, it plays into the pernicious stereotype that trans people are unreasonable, hysterical, or violent when we're just asking to be treated with respect. this stereotype is then used to justify actual violence against us. now i'm absolutely sure you didn't intend it that way but does that mean I have to tiptoe my way around telling you how your words affect the world?
posted by yaymukund at 3:14 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


Yaymukund, I'm literally racing to synagogue for yom Kippur kol nidre services (we're late!) and will be offline for 25+ hours. I don't want you to think I'm ignoring you. But the Jewish holiday falls on the Sabbath this year so it's kind of the biggest set of services of the year. And I am "shomer Shabbat" on this one holiday because of it, which means I won't be using electronics or anything.

A dear friend pointed out to me privately earlier that the language I was using was problematic, because I was equating the words trans folks were using with violence. It never even occurred to me while I was writing those comments above that i was doing so, or that it even would be an issue.

I have no excuse and am not going to try and reach for one. I fucked up, and apologize to you and any other trans mefites for that. Will make damned sure I am more aware of the language I use in the future. And not do it again.

Will write more once the holiday is over. For anyone who is fasting, I wish you an easy fast and a gut yuntif.
posted by zarq at 3:37 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


Informally, I suppose it's fine to use "they" when the person's gender is unknown, but I consider it lazy and won't be doing it anytime soon. If someone requests a specific pronoun, I'll use that too, but that hasn't happened yet in the thousands of documents I've edited, oddly enough.

AP (which I hate for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because it turns its nose up at the Oxford comma and uses numerals for small quantities, which to me makes writers sound like second graders) recently gave its blessing to the use of "they" as a singular pronoun, just so you know:
In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze...
Anyway, from the Chicago Manual of Style, which is my professional grammar and usage bible:
Clumsy artifices such as s/he and (wo)man or artificial genderless pronouns have been tried—for many years—with no success. They won’t succeed. And those who use them invite credibility problems. Indefinite pronouns such as anybody and someone don’t always satisfy the need for a gender-neutral alternative because they are traditionally regarded as singular antecedents that call for a third-person singular pronoun. Many people substitute the plural they and their for the singular he or she. They and their have become common in informal usage, but neither is considered fully acceptable in formal writing, though they are steadily gaining ground. For now, unless you are given guidelines to the contrary, be wary of using these forms in a singular sense. This advice, like the techniques for achieving gender neutrality discussed in 5.255, applies mainly to generic references, where the identity of the person is unknown or unimportant. For references to a specific person, the choice of pronoun may depend on the individual.
If and when CMOS gives its unqualified blessing to general-context, singular third-person "they," I'll accept its decision, jarring as it seems to someone who has made certain all her life that her pronouns and nouns agree in number. Until then, I redline it.

Yes, yes, I know about the history of "they"--when people bring it up to me it's like those atheists who breathlessly and smugly inform me during Advent that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't born on Christmas and did I know that his whole story is stolen from the Mithras mythos, and isn't my world now absolutely SHATTERED?

But right now, I would be falling down on my job if I let third-person singular "they" pass without comment or correction.
posted by tully_monster at 4:08 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


But right now, I would be falling down on my job if I let third-person singular "they" pass without comment or correction.

We're... not going to be able to do much when half the site calls you "insensitive" and escalates from there for prioritizing your style guide over the explicit requests of the actual humans you are talking to. Nor do I, personally, particularly care to.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:22 PM on September 29 [44 favorites]


Tully, did you happen to read this thread before you came in here and decided to lay that little gem on us? Because yeesh.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:27 PM on September 29 [6 favorites]


Also, that's a crappy joke you have there in your profile. Is shitting on trans people like, a hobby of yours or something?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:30 PM on September 29 [11 favorites]


Also also, you'd think someone who claims to be an editor and a proud feminist would care about gender-based oppression as perpetuated by language gatekeepers. It wasn't so long ago that women were erased from writing in the same way that trans people are now. Feminists fought hard to have women recognized and included as part of the human race in formal writing, yet you choose to use your position as a professional editor to actively perpetuate the very same oppression when it's directed against trans people, and appear proud—even defiant, if I'm not misreading your tone—about doing so. For shame.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:38 PM on September 29 [24 favorites]


Informally, I suppose it's fine to use "they" when the person's gender is unknown, but I consider it lazy and won't be doing it anytime soon

Dude, you're being like, a massive douche about this. Massive. It's not your "job" to police grammar and terminology on metafilter, and get all "well actually" about this. I'd submit this is one of those cases where you adhere to community norms or GTFO.

In the Metafilter Style Guide, "they" is encouraged if people like it.
posted by smoke at 4:39 PM on September 29 [19 favorites]


But right now, I would be falling down on my job if I let third-person singular "they" pass without comment or correction.

So remind me, saying "fuck you" to another commenter is still off limits, right?
posted by Lexica at 4:40 PM on September 29 [22 favorites]


Yup.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:40 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


i can't believe this is the same person who offered me fictitious gender-neutral toys for the children i don't have... i feel betrayed.

just kidding, i saw it coming when her profile said she identified as a "proud second-wave feminist." who the hell identifies as a second-wave feminist in 2017? (don't answer that)
posted by yaymukund at 4:46 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


who breathlessly and smugly inform me

That's actually what you are doing. My preferred pronouns are she and they, but for you it's they. I've told you, now respect it.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 4:51 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


I mean, at first I wasn't sure if you were stirring up shit on purpose or if you're just monumentally tone deaf (and also a bigot, but a tone-deaf bigot rather than one who keeps it on the DL except when they're in like-minded company) but after looking at your profile I'm inclined to go with the former.

You're trolling. I don't know if you're sincere in your beliefs or not, but you're definitely doing this on purpose. I said earlier that I don't think anyone here is participating in bad faith, but I've changed my mind. I think you came in here and said that just to be hurtful and rile people up, because you think it's funny.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:56 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


So... There you have it. Your right to not be faced with language you don't like trumps my life. My lived experience. Who I am. Yeah, that's lovely. This person is obviously trolling. Why are they.. Oh sorry that's silly and weird...still allowed here? I'm tired of being used as a education experience for people here. You are saying that the style guide is more important to you that a human being. I'm sorry. But fuck that. I'm done on this site.
posted by kanata at 6:16 PM on September 29 [16 favorites]


Well, now this thread sucks. Good job, tully_monster. Can we make some kind of trade here to get kanata back? I mean, what the actual fuck?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:22 PM on September 29 [9 favorites]


Well, hell. Yet again another interesting, thoughtful person buttons due to this kind of bullshit.

Hey kanata, if you're still reading this I hope you'll contact me via any channel I've got on my profile. I'd like to stay in touch with you.
posted by Lexica at 6:23 PM on September 29 [8 favorites]


"If and when CMOS gives its unqualified blessing to general-context, singular third-person "they," I'll accept its decision"

It's funny you say that because literally the sentence before that one, you quote the CMOS: "For references to a specific person, the choice of pronoun may depend on the individual."

You are being faced with specific individuals making specific requests. CMOS invites you to suck less and follow the individual's preference. CMOS is also probably embarrassed to have its name used to justify bigotry, it's very unfair to drag a poor friendly style guide into your tantrum to use as a bludgeon.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:27 PM on September 29 [31 favorites]


Oh, for fuck's sake, I was a professional copy editor for more than a decade. No one's paying anyone to edit MetaFilter. You are not literally on the clock. Therefore, just shut the hell up.

In my professional opinion.
posted by rewil at 7:38 PM on September 29 [29 favorites]


Hey, I can refer to the Chicago Manual, too. Check out section 5.48:
Normally, a singular antecedent requires a singular pronoun. But because he is no longer universally accepted as a generic pronoun referring to a person of unspecified gender, people commonly (in speech and in informal writing) substitute the third-person-plural pronouns they, them, their, and themselves (or the nonstandard singular themself). While this usage is accepted in those spheres, it is only lately showing signs of gaining acceptance in formal writing (see 5.256), where Chicago recommends avoiding its use (see 5.255). When referring specifically to a person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun, however, they and its forms are often preferred. (They used in this sense was the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year for 2015.)
It's almost like the Chicago Manual reflects common usage, rather than dictating it.

I was going to mention the Chicago Manual earlier in the thread, but I figured it didn't actually matter what the Chicago Manual says, because this isn't formal writing, and only a total asshole would respond to this thread by demanding that everyone follow the strictest guidelines for formal writing. "No one on this site could be that much of an insensitive fuck," I thought to myself.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:00 PM on September 29 [24 favorites]


Also section 5.256:
Some people identify not with a gender-specific pronoun but instead with the pronoun they and its forms or some other gender-neutral singular pronoun; any such preference should generally be respected.
Interestingly, this appears at the end of the same section quoted by the user above. I guess they didn't see any need to include this in their excerpt.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:14 PM on September 29 [11 favorites]


This is completely unacceptable. I usually feel as though I have nothing new to contribute here to MetaTalk, but seeing kanata button over deliberate trolling on tully_monster’s part is just Too Damn Much for me today. If site members cannot do the bare minimum of not deliberately hurting people who are already part of a targeted minority, they should not be members here.
posted by epj at 8:21 PM on September 29 [25 favorites]


kanata, I get why you left, but I'm hoping you come back. I'm sorry people are being spectacularly shitty to you.
posted by lazuli at 8:22 PM on September 29 [12 favorites]


I’m sorry; I walked away but had to return.

Editors in particular should be aware of the fallibility of written communication, and of its power to both uplift and to injure. This isn’t a purely academic issue. There are humans feeling real hurt over this, right in front of you.

Style guides, no matter how pedigreed, are just that. Guides. Not an excuse to be doctrinaire and cruel. We are paid to employ our judgment. Tully_monster, yours has deserted you.
posted by rewil at 8:44 PM on September 29 [12 favorites]


We're not beholden to style guides here and iirc deliberately misgendering someone here is (correctly!) a bannable offense. Fair warning.
posted by lalex at 8:46 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


Driving them out with a verbose "la la la, I'm not touching you, but fuck your gender!" is apparently a-ok, though.
posted by Dysk at 3:11 AM on September 30 [12 favorites]


i've decided to close my account for the foreseeable future after a recent discussion with the mods which shows me they don't really understand how transphobia operates. i probably won't leave permanently but who knows? I closed my fb a few months ago and I don't miss it.

- yaymukund
posted by your hair smells like cheese! at 3:33 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


Well this thread has been a resounding success, hasn't it? Jolly good everyone, look forward to the next time a bunch of people want to shit on trans people for existing.
posted by Dysk at 3:37 AM on September 30 [16 favorites]


(oh one last thing: i realize my previous post sounds cryptic. i'm not trying to be cryptic. i would go into more detail but i've already had comments deleted for going into more detail. but i'm happy to share details over PM/email if anyone is curious, especially other trans members :))
posted by your hair smells like cheese! at 3:51 AM on September 30


That is an incredibly weak-sauce mod response to tully_monster's behavior. I am surprised, disappointed, and my opinion of the moderation on this site is lowered. This is something I will absolutely remember. The response to bullying a marginalized person over their gender until they feel forced to leave the site in despair is less than a slap on the wrist. Fuck that. Not good enough.

People are getting hurt. Do something about it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:38 AM on September 30 [16 favorites]


I would also like to point out that I contacted the mods about ten hours ago, privately, expressing similar (although less angry) incredulity over the weakness of the response to tully_monster's behavior, and have received zero response. This is the first time I have ever contacted the mods about anything and not received a prompt reply, even if the reply was "Hey, I get what you're saying but we don't see it like that" or even "Sorry, but that's not going to happen." Why is this something that the mods seem unwilling to touch? Why is it that a trans person being pushed out of the site merits less priority than a typo?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:46 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


I'm disappointed given the history here on mefi, and the seemingly infinite number of discussions, we have around this issue. Tully Monster should be banned or timed out at the least, and the bullshit in her profile should be removed as a condition of rejoining this community. It is offensive, and doesn't belong in this community, no ifs, no buts.

Mods, I feel like an opportunity to do better and demonstrate an official zero tolerance approach to transphobia has been missed. This wasn't a mistake made from unconscious ignorance, but was deliberate.
posted by smoke at 4:49 AM on September 30 [20 favorites]


Also, I kinda feel like pushing it back onto the user base to counter this stuff - whilst I can see how it might seem better to have impetus coming from mefites - pushes the burden of emotional labour onto mefites, especially trans members, and I don't think it's that fair. It's literally not their jobs, and I really don't want any of my fellow mefites to feel they are here as some kind of token or 'magical' trans person to educate people over, and over, and over again (and I say this as someone who has learnt _a lot_ from our trans mefites). I want them to be able to, and to expect to, participate in this site in exactly the same way I'm able to, whether they are out or not.

And I feel like that hasn't really happened here.
posted by smoke at 4:53 AM on September 30 [14 favorites]


That burden just broke two of our trans members. The mods need to step up. Too much damage has already been done.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:58 AM on September 30 [8 favorites]


This wasn't a mistake made from unconscious ignorance, but was deliberate.

Yes, this is very much the issue. There is a systematic pattern to how trans-exclusionary feminists antagonise transgender people online (e.g.), and tully_monster's behaviour in this thread matches it perfectly, even down to the "hiding transphobic dogwhistles in the profile" where they won't be noticed by most people reading the threads. While it's technically possible that this wasn't a deliberate act of trans-antagonism, I highly doubt it. Site moderators mischaracterising it as mere "insensitivity" fundamentally mistakes the nature of the behaviour. The purpose of saying these things isn't to argue over grammar, the purpose is to cause hurt and pain, and everyone knows it. There's really nothing to be gained by letting those kind of remarks stand. At best they're unkind, at worst they're straight up bigotry. Seems like such an obvious case for an immediate deletion that I'm kind of puzzled that it wasn't.
posted by saltbush and olive at 5:21 AM on September 30 [19 favorites]


I agree with the above. tully_monster’s comment was trolling bullshit and should have been deleted. Check that: it should BE DELETED. And the “I identify as qwertyuiop” or whatever bullshit in tully_monster’s profile shouldn’t be acceptable either.
posted by Etrigan at 5:29 AM on September 30 [12 favorites]


tully_monster, what IS up with that thing in your profile? To me, it reads like a joke that would be made by one of those people in the olden days objecting to "Ms."-- that is, like something that wasn't even funny one time, three or four decades years ago.
posted by BibiRose at 5:29 AM on September 30 [3 favorites]


Deletions in MeTa aren't really a thing except in a few specific, bright-line types of cases. I'm not surprised that the comment wasn't deleted. What I am surprised by is that the comment and subsequent fallout from it wasn't met with strong official condemnation followed by a time-out or possibly banning. That would have been in keeping with the moderation that I expect on this subsite. It didn't happen.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:40 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Anticipation, both r_n and I responded to your email within half an hour or so, before I went to bed last night. Check your spam folder?
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:12 AM on September 30


And just to reiterate here what I said in that e-mail, you objected that "very unfair" was far too mild a choice of language, and I pointed out that I also accused her of "bigotry" and having a "tantrum" in the same comment. But my larger point is that while my overall phrasing was fairly mild on the surface, that's actually my deadliest insult register and as tully_monster is an Illinoisian woman of about my age, she will understand just how nasty I was being.

I don't often pull out my inner passive-aggressive Midwesterner, partly because on an international site it doesn't come across properly, but this was a situation that I felt deserved harsh condemnation in my native register.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:23 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


I see your response now. That part of the problem was on my end.

However, I am definitely not sold on your explanation. "Passive agressive midwesterner" is not an appropriate tone to take given the seriousness of this situation. "Stern authority figure" would have been more in keeping with your role, under the circumstances. And r_n could also have been much more forceful up front, before kanata disabled their account, rather than just saying in essence "Well I'm not going to actually defend you, but that's as far as I'll go."
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:27 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: while my overall phrasing was fairly mild on the surface, that's actually my deadliest insult register and as tully_monster is an Illinoisian woman of about my age, she will understand just how nasty I was being.

The problem with that is that many others will not. And that includes those who need to feel that the mods have their back. You're not just writing for tully_monster, you're writing for the membership at large.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:28 AM on September 30 [25 favorites]


Basically, you responded like a user. You should have responded like a mod. You do not seem to grasp the seriousness of this situation, or that tully_monster's behavior has had real, lasting, damaging consequences to this community and its members. That lack of understanding extends to the whole mod team.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:30 AM on September 30 [18 favorites]


And that includes those who need to feel that the mods have their back.

yeeeeeeah I think get where you're coming from, Eyebrows, but on the public-facing part of this website it's maybe best to be clear about the severity of your remarks. Regional subtlety can be left for mod contact with the user.
posted by lalex at 6:36 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


I do understand that, and I think that in my desire to express my disgust I made the wrong decision there. I will say, I wasn't on shift so I was thinking more as a user and less as a mod. If I'd been on shift I'd probably have made a different choice, and I probably should have done anyway.

tully_monster's profile is gross but we have to discuss that on the mod side (and US Friday night is tough to catch anybody) -- historically we haven't intervened even when people have pretty offensive stuff in their profiles. Just because of the timing of when this occurred it may take a little while for that conversation to happen.

(And now I'm off to take children to weekend activities and so probably won't be around for several hours.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:39 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Maybe don't just casually stick your head into a MeTa then when shit has gone wrong and people are disabling their accounts. That "staff" tag doesn't go away when you're off the clock.

Also, you seem to be saying that there was no official mod response whatsoever beyond r_n's "Well, we're not going to be able to do much for you" statement, which happened before kanata and yaymukund left us.

And now you're off. Peachy. Who the fuck is in charge around here, then?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:48 AM on September 30 [14 favorites]


This is me showing my support for, at the very least, a time out for tully_monster.

What she did and directly caused is unacceptable.
posted by cooker girl at 7:52 AM on September 30 [11 favorites]


hey - I am an Illinois woman about your age, and that is a huge amount of bullshit. I grew up in the midwest, and would have used a LOT stronger language.

This is all bullshit, and I am INCREDIBLY disappointed in the mods and their TERF coddling.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:01 AM on September 30 [19 favorites]


Do we know that the sock puppet account which started this MeTa doesn't actually belong to tully_monster, by the way? Given the rest of her trolling in this thread it seems possible, albeit unlikely of course. I know that there are some behind-the-scenes checks that the mods can do when they feel it to be necessary. I think this is one of those times where it would be good to make sure.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:05 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


I was under the impression that the use of sockpuppet accounts was strongly discouraged in MeTa.
posted by lalex at 8:08 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


It's certainly a first in my memory, but the question being asked seemed genuine enough so it didn't bother me personally. Eyebrows were raised in the beginning, but those concerns were dismissed. They seem more valid now.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:09 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


I actually don't think the OP is tully_monster, but it's ironic that the big dustup I remember over sockpuppets in MeTa was also over TERF crappiness.
posted by lalex at 8:24 AM on September 30 [6 favorites]


I am buttoning and cancelling my monthly payment until this is better addressed.

I apologize to those hurt by this for not pushing back harder and earlier. MetaFilter should be better than this.
posted by Etrigan at 8:39 AM on September 30 [8 favorites]


This is me showing my support for, at the very least, a time out for tully_monster.

I saw all this happen in the middle of the night while I was half awake and didn't want to say anything until I'd gotten some sleep. I can't believe now that kanata and yaymukund have accounts that are disabled and tully_monster has an account that is active. This is backwards and should not stand. (Edit to change "can believe" typo to "can't believe.")
posted by Room 641-A at 8:39 AM on September 30 [5 favorites]


Also, you seem to be saying that there was no official mod response whatsoever beyond r_n's "Well, we're not going to be able to do much for you" statement, which happened before kanata and yaymukund left us.

It does seem as if the last mod statement was at 7:40pm EST last night, now we've lost Etrigan...is anyone around?
posted by lalex at 8:44 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Yes we're around and talking it over. More to come.

Do we know that the sock puppet account which started this MeTa doesn't actually belong to tully_monster, by the way?

It's not the same person, at least as far as we can see. Before posting this MeTa, I looked at the other account of the poster, and it wasn't anything that seemed fishy or weird at all, and we'd had another person ask about the pronoun mistakes in the answers so thought, ok this is something that's bugging people, better to put it through than to hold it up. In retrospect, I should've nudged the person about not putting this under a sock.

When the first person contacted us about that AskMe, they wanted to know if it would be worth leaving a note in there, and my reply was basically, we'd maybe add a note if it was anon, but here the OP isn't anon and they can add a note if they want in there. In retrospect I should probably have added a note.

People make a lot of mistakes in reading AskMes, and we don't generally leave notes for most things. We assume answerers are basically doing their best, and that mistakes are honest mistakes, and that the OP is able to kind of average out the careless-misreading ones with an eyeroll as the price of getting free advice; we occasionally delete or leave a note but usually only in more extreme cases.

My sense of why people made the errors in the original AskMe answers was, honest mistake, because we're all stewing in gender assumptions and people aren't always reading super carefully in AskMe. Obviously it's best practice to read carefully and use the pronouns the post uses, and if there seemed to be deliberate misgendering of someone who was affirmatively requesting a gender-neutral pronoun, I would've handled that very differently. This situation looked like an OP who was trying to do the equivalent of "person A and person B", trying to omit information either for privacy reasons or to avoid stereotypes, rather than like an OP trying to specify information about what pronouns to use.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:47 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


There were two different conversations happening in this thread, though. There was the "Why do people assume gender?" conversation and then the much more hurtful "Gender-neutral language is wrong" crap that tully_monster flamed. That second conversation should have been shut down much earlier by the mods, or at least addressed much more forcefully. It was obvious that it was causing harm, and it was obvious that it had the potential to cause a lot of harm from the start.
posted by lazuli at 8:56 AM on September 30 [19 favorites]


We are way, way beyond the original AskMe at this point. The only reason I have not also disabled my account and cancelled my monthly payment (something I've been thinking about doing all morning) is that I want to keep agitating for this to be dealt with properly. The response at this point needs to not only encompass an appropriate response to tully_monster's misbehavior, but also an awareness by the mod team that they fucked up on this one, and a concrete plan for how they will do better in the future. It's beyond the original AskMe, beyond the original intent behind the MeTa, and even beyond dealing with tully's shitty behavior and its results.

To me, this is now about Team Mod's lack of awareness and prioritization of trans issues, and their inability to deal effectively with situations where one user is causing real harm to other users and to the community as a whole. I have always had an extremely high regard for the moderation on this site, despite years of complaints by trans members that this is a huge blind spot for them. It seems very obvious to me now that this is an area where Team Mod has some major failings, and I want to see an awareness of that and a willingness to make real changes, or else fuck it.

If my trans siblings aren't welcome here, then neither am I. If the eventual response doesn't address the larger problem that has been revealed to me in this thread, then this isn't the place I thought it was and I don't want to be here anymore.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:59 AM on September 30 [17 favorites]


Right, I only meant to be addressing the original AskMe and the question about the poster of this MeTa being a sock. More to come, on how this actual MeTa has gone.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:00 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Actually at this point, given the literal years of history around this issue, it looks less like "inability" to deal with the problem and more like "unwillingness." Team Mod should have gotten serious about transphobia a long time ago already. Now is already too late, but better late than never.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:02 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


So, catching up. I've been plowing into this bleary, so I'm probably wordier than I would be if I had time to edit more.

1. tully_monster's big followup comment in here was some shitty, ill-advised bullshit. Nobody but nobody gives a fiddly fuck about style-guide kvetching on the formal acceptability of singular they in this context and it should have been clear enough to tully_monster from the appropriately tired reception in the earlier exchanges there that coming back to it again was a bad idea.

Deleting it immediately when it went up would have been the best outcome; I don't think deleting it now makes as much sense when this whole conversation is about it, but I'll be very clear that I think tully_monster shouldn't have made the comment in the first place and further should have known not to. That's me reading it generously (based partly on poking around further) as merely tone-deaf as hell and the product of bullheaded editorial pedantry. Even with that generosity it was a conspicuous fuckup I think, and I can understand why folks who are on edge with the longer deeper history of larger-world bullshit that that bit of Well Actually resonates with wouldn't be inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt.

It shouldn't have happened and something like that happening again is a straight ticket to being out of here, tully_monster. If it was just a colossal failure of situational awareness, that's still on you to sort out, not everybody else. I'm basically always uncomfortable with crowd calls for a demonstrative day off because I don't feel like that's the thing that's gonna make a difference here vs. us watching the behavioral issue long term going forward, but for the record I totally understand the sentiment here.

2. The poster of this thread has nothing to do with tully_monster and was as far as we can tell posting in earnest. I have complicated feelings about the intersection of spare/sock accounts and MetaTalk discussions even under ideal conditions (not least because of the just-mentioned past dustup thing) which is why we look hard, real early, at sock/MeTa stuff when we see even hints of it these days, from basically all involved. Using a spare account isn't inherently a problem, abusing it is. As pretty much always I'd prefer specific worries about that come to the contact form instead of being posited as open speculation in here, since. e.g. creating a public theory that the poster of this thread is secretly other disfavored person is a pretty bad idea for a variety of reasons and something we're far more equipped to deal with carefully mod-side.

3. I'm sorry this thread has been the cause of so much distress for some folks. I know kanata in particular has talked about having a hard time again recently and I know this discussion wasn't helping. Folks who decide the healthy thing for them to is close their account have every right to do so and they're likewise welcome back any time they feel like it; I hope its soon.

4. I think there is a long stretch of distance between where this thread started—basically, hey, try to pay attention to and respect gender-nonspecific framing in Ask questions—and the larger soup of difficult shit that we've been revisiting in here since then, and I think that's part of why it's been as difficult and bumpy a thread it has been. That's a sucky emergent property of conversational dynamics, is part of my take. Whenever there's that kind of crossing of streams, of mixing a relatively low-heat premise with other more high-heat stuff that are all tangent to a similar point of reference but not really the same discussion, we can end up really easily with sort of whiplash effects where different people are engaging at very different points of reference and folks can end up really easily put on edge.

It's like, why are you talking about X when people are understandably really upset about Y, but some people just thought X was the topic, because it had been earlier, or they misread, or there was a recent conversation about X elsewhere that slopped over. But the people upset about Y understandably don't have a ton of patience for that. It all gets tied up in mutually frustrating ways. There's nothing satisfying about this structural analysis because I'm just saying "sometimes conversations go lop-sided because conversations are lumpy and context gets stupid", but I think that's nonetheless unavoidably part of the whole thing. No conversation in MetaTalk is pretty much ever going to be the platonic ideal of what a conversation in MetaTalk could be. I think frustration with a thread not going as well as it could (sometimes by a long shot) is totally understandable but I also feel like sometimes that feeds back into a hard thread as a kind of negative feedback loop.

5. We are pretty serious mod-side at this point about monitoring stuff like deliberate misgendering on the site. I want to be clear that when we see that clearly happening we come down hard on it. We have nixed stuff and banned people for it, and will continue to do so as necessary; it's not okay. I want to be clear that, despite my now-enormous frustration about the blah blah style guide comment upthread I straight up don't have the read that that's what tully_monster was doing; I think they were just being really stupidly pedantic about editorial stuffiness in exactly the wrong place and time, which was still fucked up but is a different thing. I can totally understand looking at it, reading it the other way, and wanting sterner visible action taken, but I can't pretend to read it different than I do and take moderator action that I otherwise feel would be inappropriate. This for me is a "close watch going forward, ban if it turns out I'm extending the benefit of the doubt to someone who isn't carrying their weight there" thing.

I need more caffeine and will revisit this later today.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on September 30


I want to be clear that, despite my now-enormous frustration about the blah blah style guide comment upthread I straight up don't have the read that that's what tully_monster was doing; I think they were just being really stupidly pedantic about editorial stuffiness in exactly the wrong place and time, which was still fucked up but is a different thing.

cortex and/or whole mod team needs to do some research on TERFs. Tully_monster's "second-wave feminist" bit of her profile means that the assumption that she was being clueless is ridiculous.
posted by lazuli at 9:09 AM on September 30 [24 favorites]


I think you are giving tully_monster way too much benefit of the doubt, and that that is near the core of the problem with the way Team Mod handles transphobia on MetaFilter. One isolated incident, plausibly deniable and taken out of context? Sure, OK. Repeated incidents despite multiple super-explicit requests from members to "please stop, you're hurting us," combined with a transphobic joke right in the user's profile? Not plausibly deniable. Certainly not something that should have just been left to stew for twelve hours while user after user buttoned and left the community. That's something that should have been nipped in the bud, but wasn't, and then should have been come down hard on when it continued, but wasn't, and then should have been followed up promptly by a sincere apology and an expression of desire to do better, but hasn't been.

You are fucking up. We have been telling you that you are fucking up for years. When will you start to listen? Why do you do such a good job of listening to the community on literally every other issue, but not this one?

This is nothing new. This is the perpetuation of a pattern of moderator blindness that is harming this community. Please go have your coffee and think about it again.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:15 AM on September 30 [20 favorites]


cortex and/or whole mod team needs to do some research on TERFs.

wait yeah, for real, if we're being constructive this is a place for potential improvement. I'm hardly at any kind of academic level wrt strains of feminism as they relate to to the transgender community, but this is super obviously TERF-y.
posted by lalex at 9:17 AM on September 30 [13 favorites]


cortex and/or whole mod team needs to do some research on TERFs.

I have, and have had a bunch of conversations with trans friends and internet folks over the last few years on the subject. I feel a lot more tuned into the issue there than I was years back when we had that whole fucking thing in MetaTalk that prompted us to get better and look harder at how trans and transphobic stuff was playing out on the site.

So I get the "what the hell is that with the profile page" thing in context and again this is a close-watch thing for us now for that user. But there's also a shitload of people who have relationships with feminism of various sorts that don't necessarily have squat to do with the specific dog whistles and bullshit of TERFs. I know people who identify with second-wave feminism as a philosophical framework who don't have any of that bullshit going on; it's just where they landed, like some people land on Utilitarianism or so on.

So I get you on the idea that mentioning second-wave is an eyebrow-raiser. And, y'know, it could in fact be a sketchy hint at shitty personal politics on this. But it could also completely not be. That profile page bit is terse and ambiguous and isn't something I feel comfortable unilaterally declaring intent on as the basis for just banning someone who has pissed a bunch of people off and having done with it, much as that'd make my life simpler in some ways right now. So instead it's back to where I was already: watching close to see if there's any future bullshit from this account that confirms worries, or if it ends up looking more like just a spectacularly bad bit of judgement without the more worrying baggage attached.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:24 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


We are pretty serious mod-side at this point about monitoring stuff like deliberate misgendering on the site. I want to be clear that when we see that clearly happening we come down hard on it. We have nixed stuff and banned people for it, and will continue to do so as necessary; it's not okay. I want to be clear that, despite my now-enormous frustration about the blah blah style guide comment upthread I straight up don't have the read that that's what tully_monster was doing; I think they were just being really stupidly pedantic about editorial stuffiness in exactly the wrong place and time, which was still fucked up but is a different thing.

My fundamental frustration with the mods around trans issues is that this doesn't address even half the problem. Misgendering is an easy bright line to enforce and we should be enforcing it. But it feels like the mods have made very little progress on developing an ability to recognise transphobia that doesn't come with neon flashing lights. I'm sorry, cortex, but that read of the situation is 100% down to lack of education.
posted by hoyland at 9:27 AM on September 30 [20 favorites]


The mod team has had issues before in seeing out-and-out TERFs and give them way too much leeway. The entire way TERFs operate is perfect to take advantage of the giving nature of the mod team, however if the mod team cares about the trans people on this site, they have to figure out where their own biases are that keeps them from seeing very simple 101 level not even really hiding it TERFs.

There is zero chance that person was being sincere, pedantic, accidentally walking into something, tone-deaf, or any other 'ah shucks guys, she just didn't mean it probably!' deflections.

Trans people by and large don't feel understood, heard, or protected on this site. The mods might not care. The end result of not caring though will be a site filled with TERFs and absent of trans people. Think about the community you want.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 9:27 AM on September 30 [8 favorites]


That profile page bit is terse and ambiguous

Like, sorry, I'm sure you're not intentionally joking, but are you joking? Did you miss the part where the gender field amounts to "lol trans people and their pronouns, amirite?" I can't do this any more, I'm done.
posted by dorque at 9:29 AM on September 30 [11 favorites]


You can be a second-wave feminist and not be a TERF. You almost certainly can't make an offensive joke about pronouns and be a second-wave feminist and not be a TERF.
posted by hoyland at 9:30 AM on September 30 [13 favorites]


Did you miss the part where the gender field amounts to "lol trans people and their pronouns, amirite?"

I legitimately did. What the fuck. I apologize for the dissonance here if people were staring at that and wondering why it didn't seem like an issue; I thought we were talking only about the blurb.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:31 AM on September 30


Read the thread then, it's only come up like a dozen times.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:32 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


And, y'know, it could in fact be a sketchy hint at shitty personal politics on this. But it could also completely not be.

But isn't that the very nature of a dog whistle? That when a trans member of the site sees Tully Monster's comment and then visits their userpage, they get the message very loud and clear when others who aren't trans or aware of the language wouldn't?
posted by Mouse Army at 9:33 AM on September 30 [13 favorites]


The profile page is not ambiguous. A community that welcomes TERFs is not one I want to be a part of. That account needs to be closed.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:34 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


Also, that's four users who have now disabled their accounts due to your inadequate handling of this issue.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:35 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Four users.

I've already buttoned once, and this is already coming close to another red line.

For the foreseeable future, I'm killing the card I use to pay the monthly on this site.

Again.
posted by anem0ne at 9:39 AM on September 30 [3 favorites]


I get that Metafilter doesn't get the level of brigaded harassment that Twitter and Tumblr does, but maybe it's time that someone figures out how to keep an eye on the harassment activity there so you are educated by the time it gets here. Mentioning "second wave feminism" in a profile has become a calling card not just of opportunistic harassment but intent to harass, and the rest of the profile wasn't even dogwhistle. Which I see has now been observed, but yeah, given that disingenuity and line-toeing are how harassment works today, it is time to consider doing less "wellllll" and more proactivity even if it's technically possible that someone's just, I don't know, an asshole. Yes, that might mean occasionally catching a seal instead of a sea lion, but you might just be saving someone from going down a bad road, or getting them out of here before they do and a bunch of people leave.

Good people have been leaving here for *years* over this. I know this boat is slow to turn, but this has been one of the slowest turns I've seen.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:40 AM on September 30 [14 favorites]


Like I am really seriously bothered by the gender field bit and feel like an idiot for having not caught that people were saying there was bullshit up in that field. I straight up had not seen it. I understand how fundamentally that contributes to the sense of poor faith on this whole thing; I literally misunderstood the references to the profile page and had to search carefully now back through the thread to put together the bit I misinterpreted.

So, fuck it, yes, I'm off the benefit of the doubt train and am closing the tully_monster account at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:40 AM on September 30 [10 favorites]


I have, and have had a bunch of conversations with trans friends and internet folks over the last few years on the subject.

I really do not mean this in a snarky way, but I'm not sure this is good enough (and it certainly wasn't good enough in this thread).

I know folks in the past have asked that mods be offered some more formal research or training wrt how to identify forms of transphobia and related harassment that aren't blindingly obvious. Maybe it's time to consider that.
posted by lalex at 9:56 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Well, that's all to the good. Now how are you going to avoid having this situation come up again? Because without some kind of policy change that offers way less benefit of the doubt to perpetrators of transphobia, it will happen again. This is not the first or the tenth time that we've had a situation like this come up. MetaFilter has bled users for years over this. Trans people have repeatedly expressed that they don't feel heard or protected here under the current system. People had to jump up and down and shout for almost an entire day, over the course of multiple mod shifts, to get action on this incident.

You've banned a user. Great. She should have been banned. But where do we go from here? Banning the occasional user for egregious bad behavior is very much status quo. Status quo is not anywhere close to good enough; it allows transphobia to run rampant, makes trans users feel unwelcome and unsafe, and causes people to leave the site in disgust and despair over the continual inadequacy of official responses. This should never have gotten to this point. We've been at or near this point for years now. What are you going to do about it?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:00 AM on September 30 [3 favorites]


We've made a ton of changes in the last few years -- as a result of previous community discussions -- about how we handle moderation in general, moderation relating to trans issues in specific, deletion of comments in Metatalk, under what circumstances we ban people, etc. Moderation on the site is very very different now.

Even so, we'll continue to get it wrong sometimes on borderline stuff -- in this case the borderline thing being, when to delete wrongheaded comments in Metatalk, and when to let them stand and just say we think they're wrongheaded. In retrospect here the better call would've been just to delete, although I understand the in-the-moment call to leave it up and say why it's a bad comment instead. (Historically in MeTa we would leave everything, except one or two bright-line things, to be rebutted in thread. These days we delete more stuff straight-up, and it's more of a judgment call about which things.)

We got a few things wrong here. I'm sorry for that. For people who were hurt or felt unheard: I'm sorry we got this stuff wrong.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:17 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Even so, we'll continue to get it wrong sometimes on borderline stuff

In this particular instance, "is this user acting in good faith" was not a borderline issue.

I understand that you all don't agree with my thresholds for determining bad faith actions, but since you have systematically overestimated the "good faith" of repeated bad actors for many years, it may be worth reconsidering where you set those lines.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:22 AM on September 30 [5 favorites]


People had to jump up and down and shout for almost an entire day, over the course of multiple mod shifts, to get action on this incident.

A lot of which was the middle of the night, on a weekend, when mod availability to confer and catch up is at a minimum. I'm here on my day off because the team thought it was important enough to fuck up my morning with, on which point I agree but have had to get a running start through a lot of thread.

I know that in the moment when there's a problem hours feel like a long time but we're a human engine running on limited resources and the problem in this case wasn't someone actively running rampant. If I hadn't had one critical misread while getting caught up the response would have been a little faster at that.

But where do we go from here?

Where we've been going: trying to be better, and more consistently better, about responding promptly to the stuff we catch on the site and pushing people to assume from the word go that transphobic bullshit on the site isn't okay. And we fuck up sometimes at this but it's an active and ongoing effort and honestly it has been working pretty well. MetaFilter is far from perfect but it's a hell of a lot better than it used to be on this stuff and we're trying to push it along that way.

Transphobia is a problem on MeFi sometimes and will continue to be for a while I think because there is so much ugly cultural momentum to fight off. That sucks and I'm sorry we don't have the resources to more thoroughly or quickly root it out. But we are doing what we are able to, and sometimes not pulling it off but mostly getting there more promptly and preemptively than we used to. I don't disagree with you on what you want, it's just, utterly unsatisfyingly, going to be a bumpy work in progress.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 AM on September 30


Just for future reference for this sort of specific case. A good rule of thumb I've found is that when someone is being a shithead about pronouns, you can safely bet your gonads that they're probably going to make a piss-poor joke about pronouns (whatever the fuck that was with the silent e) and/or joke about how people identify (attack helicopters, for instance).

Anyone doing that should automatically be suspected of not acting in good faith.
posted by anem0ne at 10:23 AM on September 30 [12 favorites]


OK, but this wasn't "wrong-headed", it was transphobic, especially in the context of the user's profile, which was pointed out in thread by several people, and let's not forget this "joke" they made in the thread:
I don't have any children, but I do have a box of gender-neutral toys at the ready to give as gifts; if you must break in and steal them, please don't let the (neutered, but gendered) cats out when you leave.
posted by lalex at 10:25 AM on September 30 [8 favorites]


A good rule of thumb I've found is that when someone is being a shithead about pronouns, you can safely bet your gonads that they're probably going to make a piss-poor joke about pronouns (whatever the fuck that was with the silent e) and joke about how people identify (attack helicopters, for instance).

To be clear, I agree and if I'd seen that fucking gender field instead of being confused about which part of the profile people were talking about I'd have factored that into and simplified my thinking significantly this morning. I did, in fact, give somebody the boot earlier this week after they trotted out some Attack Helicopter bullshit amid their assorted assholery and I'm pretty done with that kind of thing. We fuck up and/or work slow sometimes but this stuff isn't not on our radar.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:27 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


The account should have been banned as soon as that comment was made. Yes it was the middle of the night on a weekend, but there were multiple mod comments responding to it so it's not like it was missed. It seems like in almost every MeTa that deals with trans issues, trans people button their accounts. This isn't because they/we're having issues in other parts of our lives - of course trans people are experiencing bullshit elsewhere, that's the status quo for this community - it's because too much benefit of the doubt is given to blatant transphobic ideas and people here.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:29 AM on September 30 [10 favorites]


So, no change then? You think that the systems you have in place, which led to this sorry fucking mess and will allow similar messes to occur in the future, are good enough?

This is not a "we got a few things wrong this one time but things are basically OK situation." This is a "we have a huge, systemic problem that users have been complaining about for years and which has created an unwelcoming atmosphere" problem.

You still don't see that this is not an isolated incident? You still don't see that this was the utterly predictable result of a system that has long failed to adequately prioritize protection for marginalized users? The current system has not been "working pretty well". That you think it has shows that you have not been paying attention.

This is not an isolated incident. This is a come-to-Jesus moment after a long history of poor performance has been capped off by a totally predictable incident that was allowed to occur as a result of systemic failings in the way the mods handle these types of issues. But you continue failing to see that.

I am cancelling my account and disabling my monthly payment. Maybe at some point things here will be better and I'll feel good about coming back. Not holding my breath, though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:31 AM on September 30 [7 favorites]


This is, like, the very definition of "too little, too late." You had multiple community members expressing direct hurt over transphobia on the site and instead of believing them, you just skimmed one comment and a small portion of the user's profile page and decided it was OK. And then when you finally saw the light and banned the transphobic user, you did so in the weakest of terms.

Seriously, "I understand how fundamentally that contributes to the sense of poor faith on this whole thing"? That's how you denounce transphobia on MeFi?

I'm not exactly a power user here. No one will miss me. But for what little it's worth, I'm done too. As AOANLA put it, "If my trans siblings aren't welcome here, then neither am I." Best of luck to you.
posted by mama casserole at 10:39 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


five users have now buttoned over this so idk it doesn't feel like it's going super-well?
posted by lalex at 10:39 AM on September 30


six users, sorry
posted by lalex at 10:41 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Seriously, "I understand how fundamentally that contributes to the sense of poor faith on this whole thing"? That's how you denounce transphobia on MeFi?

That wasn't my denouncement of transphobia, that was my apologizing for fucking up on a communication issue because I missed a detail in the thread. My whole point is once I caught up on that detail I understood why people wondered why I didn't think that detail was relevant. It was a fuckup on my part. I'm sorry I missed that, it complicated shit in a way that didn't help anything and it's on me.

My position on transphobia on MeFi is fuck transphobia on MeFi. That's my denouncement: fuck it, it is unwelcome, and we are doing what we can to make it unwelcome. Implementation is the hard part and, yeah, it's a work in progress and that includes it not going correctly sometimes. I know how fucking frustrating that is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:47 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I missed this while it was happening. Generally speaking trans people can smell TERF bs from 10 miles away. If we say "hey that over there has a whiff" you can probably be rest assured that you don't need to share publicly as you go in for a closer examine to verify the stench? i don't know. I do know placing the burden on the trans community to give you the level of proof you need to "see it" is a hell of a lot to ask a trans community.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:04 AM on September 30 [15 favorites]


Buried in the FAQ:
"Why was my MetaFilter comment deleted?
[...]
A few reasons comments may be removed are:
[...]

- Racist or otherwise hateful comments. This specifically includes misgendering and ironic racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia; people who sarcastically put on a racist voice to make a point about racism, or who make "She was asking for it" jokes (assuming everyone should know they are joking) cause thread derails and make discussion difficult."
I would like to see a mod-written MeTa post with a link in the site header, like you do for fundraisers, explicitly reminding people that XYZ will not be tolerated in posts, comments or profiles. It's not just that they "make discussion difficult" - as we've just seen, they actively hurt members and drive them off the site. I know you (cortex) well enough to know that you don't want this site to end up being full of cis white males. Let's rip the bandaid off and have a difficult discussion about it. Lay down the law to protect vulnerable members.
posted by AFABulous at 11:08 AM on September 30 [7 favorites]


And literally here we go again on a post that's a few hours old. Like Annika said, we can smell this garbage from a mile away.
posted by AFABulous at 11:12 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


I'm not trans and, as I said above, not particularly steeped in these discussions.

Between the actual gross stuff tully_monster was saying in this thread about not accepting people's preferred pronouns and the "joke" about gender-neutral toys, and the 2nd wave feminism blurb and the LOLPRONOUNS "joke" on her profile, this is like a giant screaming TERF alarm even for me.

idk this honestly feels like a giant blind spot
posted by lalex at 11:14 AM on September 30 [11 favorites]


lalex, I have to second that. I did not think "TERF" as that is not a term I use in my daily life, but I did see the remarks in different places about preferred (or correct, rather) pronouns, and I thought "... okay, you're one of THOSE, ugh."

It was pretty clear even to me and that's saying something.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:21 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Hi - I just wanted to respond to questions about my profile. I have only posted one time in this thread: the original post. I used this profile to post only because it reveals my identity as a queer woman, and I wanted anyone who looked at my profile to see that I am a member of the community for whom this stuff really matters. That is the only reason. I apologize for any confusion.

I was sincerely bringing this up because it has bothered me for awhile, and I thought it would be good to have a community discussion about it. It's important. I am sad to see that the discussion has led to people leaving the site and withdrawing their support, because I had hoped it would be more productive. I do think some positive changes could come out of all this, and I hope that they do, and that members who have left will come back and give this place another chance.
posted by sockpuppetryarts at 12:02 PM on September 30 [9 favorites]


Well this fucking sucks. :( Every time we have a discussion around trans issues in Metatalk we get multiple trans members buttoning.

Mods please do better. I've been visiting Mefi every day for over a decade and I love this site, but I'm getting to the stage where I'm questioning being a member of a place that doesn't protect trans members from even really obvious bigotry.

Our trans members are, to a one, valuable kickass members. They shouldn't need to slog through shit just to participate. They shouldn't have to feel unsafe and disrespected. They shouldn't have to co-mod and take that burden on. It's not okay. I selfishly hope the people who buttoned will come back but I would honestly understood if they didn't.
posted by supercrayon at 2:57 PM on September 30 [9 favorites]


In retrospect here the better call would've been just to delete, although I understand the in-the-moment call to leave it up and say why it's a bad comment instead.

There wasn't really any mod explanation of why it's a bad comment, either. cortex commented after tully_monster's first comment and didn't mention it; there are dozens of comments following with people getting more and more upset at nonbinary people being ignored, erased, and hurt; then restless_nomad answered tully_monster's second comment with:
We're... not going to be able to do much when half the site calls you "insensitive" and escalates from there for prioritizing your style guide over the explicit requests of the actual humans you are talking to. Nor do I, personally, particularly care to.
which is fine and all, but not anything close to an explanation of why arguing against singular "they" is a "bad comment" (let alone something completely inappropriate). It basically reads as suggesting that other trans MeFites and allies should continue to do the heavy lifting.
posted by lazuli at 3:02 PM on September 30 [4 favorites]


trying to omit information [...] rather than like an OP trying to specify information about what pronouns to used

If you're agender, for example, those are effectively indistinguishable. Unless you want non binary people walking round with big fucking neon signs saying "YOYOYO I'M TRANS OVER HERE" or something.

Respect the pronouns people use. Even if you think they might not have meant it, really. You can't make that call for them.
posted by Dysk at 3:17 PM on September 30 [10 favorites]


I learned most of what I know about trans issues here, so I'm honestly surprised that the mods are still missing things like this. Tully's comments set off big TERF-alerts for me, even before seeing her profile.

It's time to make changes in how the mods respond to comments like that. Stop giving the benefit of the doubt or assuming good faith and waiting to be proven wrong. People keep proving such generosity is misplaced. And, ultimately, intent matters less than effect. An accidentally transphobic comment is still harmful & should be deleted. Have a TERF/transphobia alert of some kind. A comment like Tully's sends up a red flag, and the mods on duty check out her profile & comment history. Her comment gets deleted and a note sent to her mefi mail. If it was an honest mistake, the poster's offensive comment is gone & maybe they learn something. I don't see any downside to deleting comments like Tully's quickly. They add no value to the site and have done lasting, ongoing harm. Finally, why did action in this case have to wait for cortex? That seems like a big problem & cause for delay. The shitty comments were there, the shitty profile was there, just delete the comment first and ask questions later.
posted by Mavri at 3:21 PM on September 30 [7 favorites]


Have a TERF/transphobia alert of some kind.

I think this would be really helpful, and should be separated from the sexist/racist option.

From a trans femme perspective, I used to flag transmisogynistic comments using the "sexist/racist/etc" option, but they're almost never deleted. So I stopped flagging and eventually closed my original account. A lot of transphobia flies under the radar of many well-intentioned cisgender folks, especially when the framing of the offensive comment doesn't refer to us specifically and uses some *other* pretext to sneak gross comments into the discussion. I mean, I can't count the sheer number of times I've flagged offensive mockery of the "haha men in dresses are HILARIOUS" kind, only to see those comments persist and -- worse -- start racking up favourites because of the misguided idea that these comments are punching up at cis men* rather than reminding trans women of how we are perceived by the world. My guess is that what happens when I've tried flagging these things as "sexism" it looks to the mods like I'm doing the "but what about the men!!" thing when I'm actually signalling "this is blatant transmisogyny". Then, when the offensive remark starts getting faves from cis women, it reinforces the view that I must have been an MRA or something, and the transmisogyny just sits there as a lingering reminder that we're not really welcome here.

The pattern is blatant, predictable and hurtful and there seems to be nothing we can do to stop it. Flagging doesn't work, talking to mods doesn't work, commenting in threads doesn't work, quitting the site doesn't work. Nothing works, and I don't understand why.

(*..and frankly even if it were just that I think it would be inadvisable to allow those sort of comments - feminine men are a vulnerable group too, and are themselves on the receiving end of a tonne of bigotry, but that's arguably a different topic to the current thread)
posted by saltbush and olive at 3:46 PM on September 30 [13 favorites]


I want to be clear that, despite my now-enormous frustration about the blah blah style guide comment upthread I straight up don't have the read that that's what tully_monster was doing; I think they were just being really stupidly pedantic about editorial stuffiness in exactly the wrong place and time, which was still fucked up but is a different thing.

I don't really see how that's a different thing. It's announcing an intent to misgender, arguing against the validity of correctness of people's choice of pronoun, through the medium of pedantry about editing.
posted by Dysk at 3:47 PM on September 30 [12 favorites]


I think this would be really helpful, and should be separated from the sexist/racist option.

My kingdom for the freeform text flagging option!
posted by lalex at 3:49 PM on September 30 [8 favorites]


I read this thread because I care about these issues, but I'm confused. Is the complaint about moderation here that the mods joined in the savaging of tully_monster rather than just deleting the comment? (I understand that the buttoners and others view the mods as having a history of not doing enough on trans issues, on top of how they handled this specific comment.)
posted by radicalawyer at 4:00 PM on September 30


I am so disappointed by the response here by Cortex, and well, pretty much all the mods sadly.

This is not a one-off, an occasional screw up etc. What is it going to take for the mods realise there is a pattern here with them under-reacting to transphobia? It's the middle of the night etc. I'm sorry, I thought mods were paid so everything was covered at all times pretty much? Also, there were multiple mod responses, to this, so the gap was filled. You were emailed about this, and the responses did not measure up - then, later, or now.

If a trans friend asked me if Metafilter was a trans-friendly place, I would say "No." I would say no. Is this what you want this site, this community to be? You should be ashamed about what's gone down here, and your roles in it, honestly. And I am not one to fly off the handle on metafilter, I'm usually the biggest supporter of the mods around here, but really.

Your apologies are not accepted (by me at least), because they are terrible. I wouldn't accept that kind of apology from my five year old kid! It's like a laundry list of excuses about why this wasn't a big fuck-up that is part of a repeated pattern of condoning transphobia. Let's not dress it up.

What you should have said: "Everyone we really fucked up on this, and I'm sorry. We should have responded to this sooner, more strongly, and made it clear that anything that remotely looks like transphobia will not be tolerated here, any more. Tully_Monster's account has been banned. I know that historically we haven't been as sensitive to trans issues as we should be; going forward we are going to be more vigilant and less permissive about this. I know you're frustrated and disappointed - we're disappointed in ourselves as well, and really disappointed that our mistake has driven off more members of this site. But, if we can, I'd ask for your help. Please let us know when you see transphobic comments, or comments that *could* be considered transphobic. To help address this blind spot, we're also working with Frimble to add a "transphobia" flag. Please use it early and often. We're trying to be better. Thank you."

^That is pretty far from the catalogue of excuses we got, including "I'll just let users string you up" (since when has that ever been the case around here?); "I was being super strict in secret midwestern code!" (wtf, come on Eyebrows, not cool); "We're already great at this, and super dooper serious about it!" (no, I mean, really. And now is the worst time to say that); "I can't do anything until the boss gets in", "No more extending charity, even though I totally extended a ridiculous amount of charity already" and "I missed arguably the most transphobic element of this even though it was referenced repeatedly".

I'm honestly considering my membership, and my monthly contributions. I don't want to give money to a place that supports transphobia - and that is what happened here, there is no dancing around that.

I'm feeling really sad about this, and how you handled it, this morning.

I can only imagine how sick our trans member feel, mind you they're probably used to this kind of bullshit and more.
posted by smoke at 4:02 PM on September 30 [30 favorites]


offensive mockery of the "haha men in dresses are HILARIOUS" kind, only to see those comments persist

In fact, now that I think of it, there was a great example of that in this very thread. The trans members immediately pointed out that tully_monster was being transphobic (towards nonbinary people) and the comments stood. Then out of what I can only assume was the exact same frustration I was feeling, yaymukund pointed out that tully_monster has a history of saying transphobic comments on the site (this time a transmisogynistic comment about the "privilege" of being a boy in a dress). Yaymukund's comment was immediately deleted from this thread, presumably because it's not okay to reference a user's past history. But then how the hell are we supposed to point out abusive behaviour to mods, when we can't flag the damn comments, our MeTa concerns are ignored, and our responses in thread are deleted?

Honestly, I regret returning to this site.
posted by saltbush and olive at 4:33 PM on September 30 [13 favorites]


mind you they're probably used to this kind of bullshit and more.

sadly my first thought was "at least it's better than Twitter" which is a pretty low bar to clear
posted by AFABulous at 4:45 PM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Thank you smoke for vocalizing almost exactly the comment I've been trying to write and then backspacing all afternoon. I'm profoundly disappointed but not at all surprised. Some of the folks who have buttoned because of this thread are extremely valuable contributors to AskMe, my primary haunt, and it will be drastically lessened in value due to their absence. I'd hope that they come back, but frankly I'm considering leaving as well. I know there isn't anywhere else online that's like Mefi, but if Mefi continues to condone transphobia as long as it isn't blatant to non-trans people I'm not sure I want to bother extending the benefit of the doubt.

The thing that's really sticking in my craw is that right now people are more likely to have comments deleted in AskMe for being chatfilter than for being actively harmful to trans and nonbinary members. If the rules are stricter about general structure than they are about interpersonal abuse there's something very wrong.
posted by Mizu at 4:50 PM on September 30 [10 favorites]


Is the complaint about moderation here that the mods joined in the savaging of tully_monster rather than just deleting the comment?


The complaint is that the staff took no positive action against a user engaging in a pattern of repeated bigoted behaviors targeting mefites.

I don't know where you're getting "savinging" though. It appears too big of a mischaraterization on your part to be accidental.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:52 PM on September 30 [5 favorites]


I don't know where you're getting "savinging" though. It seems to big of a mischaraterization to be accidental.

Yeah, I think that kind of mischaracterization is deserving of deletion, not another 'maybe they're just sincerely confused' benefit-of-the-doubt assumption.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:57 PM on September 30 [4 favorites]


Yaymukund's comment was immediately deleted from this thread, presumably because it's not okay to reference a user's past history.

Wait, so no bringing up of past posts in meta, but not a problem in ask? Eh?
posted by Dysk at 5:01 PM on September 30 [6 favorites]


I am saddened that so many of our wonderful transgender and nonbinary people have left the site. As a cis person, I am appalled at the way transphobia still persists on this site. I too wish we could have a separate flag for transphobia to easily draw mod's attentions to comments.

Mods, you screwed up.

I still can't believe that some people think a style guide is more important than people's lived experiences.
posted by daybeforetheday at 5:14 PM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Trying to catch up on few things real quick:

I mean, I can't count the sheer number of times I've flagged offensive mockery of the "haha men in dresses are HILARIOUS" kind, only to see those comments persist

For the record, I do consider that kind of knee-jerk lulzing problematic and take a heavier hand toward deleting anything in the "hurr hurr, dude in a dress" sort of neighborhood than we would have years back. Flagging that stuff is good and I'm not dumb enough to claim a 100% hit rate on such stuff but it is on our radar and is the sort of thing we want to know about. Contact form is also good for the extra explanatory aspect; on a busy day that can be the difference between missing something at a quick glance and knowing exactly what's going on.

If there's specific instances you know of that stood where you feel like they shouldn't have, totally okay to fire that our way so I can take a closer look. I totally accept there's shit that will fly over my head sometimes.

I don't really see how that's a different thing. It's announcing an intent to misgender, arguing against the validity of correctness of people's choice of pronoun, through the medium of pedantry about editing.

The complicating factor is that people being pedantic about editorial style and usage and style guides and basically being fussy pedants is something that is very very ingrained in MeFi's userbase in a way that stands independent of some of the specific problematic shit that it can touch on. Being a prick about pronouns because you're just being pedantic is a thing; it's not unusual at all to find people on the internet going on at tedious prescriptive length about the formal grammatical problems with singular they who have no idea at all that they're operating in tangent to transphobic bullshit. That's all; that community history of editorial nitpicking for its own sake colors my read on stuff here sometimes, and in this case unfortunately ended up obscuring my view of the situation for a while.

Doesn't make it okay to wrap shittiness up in that, and I'm sorry that it took us a while to get our full attention on the shittiness rather than the more commonplace pedantic tone deafness stuff. But if you're asking, that's the context.

My kingdom for the freeform text flagging option!

I really do want to roll that out at some point. It has been an endless set of Things Coming Up this year and we've gotten very little non-maintenance dev work done as a result, but it's still one of my main pony priorities.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:35 PM on September 30 [2 favorites]


Being a prick about pronouns because you're just being pedantic is a thing; it's not unusual at all to find people on the internet going on at tedious prescriptive length about the formal grammatical problems with singular they who have no idea at all that they're operating in tangent to transphobic bullshit.

Transphobia is transphobia whether the people perpetrating it know it or not. I'm not sure demonstrating enough tone deafness or ignorance should give you a pass, really. And in this case, it happened in the context of a thread in which it had been explained at length why avoiding the use of singular they when prompted to do so is a problem, so I can't really see how it could be ignorant, here.
posted by Dysk at 5:46 PM on September 30 [16 favorites]


I don't know where you're getting "savinging" though. It appears too big of a mischaraterization on your part to be accidental.

Yeah, I think that kind of mischaracterization is deserving of deletion, not another 'maybe they're just sincerely confused' benefit-of-the-doubt assumption.

wow

bye
posted by radicalawyer at 6:27 PM on September 30


Something I think dominent groups do to maligned groups is to restate arguments as violence. White people do it to black people, cis people do it to trans people. I don't think a lot of people mean to, but being disagreed with from a minority space feels weird and uncomfortable because people in the majority aren't used to hearing what those in minorities have to say, and they certainly aren't used to considering it when it comes forcefully, so they say they've gotten the hell beat out of them or that trans people were "savaging" someone. It is something people from a majority position should at least try to see and make note of, either from themselves or from others.

On another topic, if this were my perfect Metafilter, freeform flagging boxes would come in front of any other front end change. It has been discussed and then agreed upon for a long time. It is time that without going to mod mail we should be able to just quickly jot 100 words about a flag.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:01 PM on September 30 [6 favorites]


If I ever have to flag you, I'm going to call you Dante so I don't have to use 8 of my 100 words ;)
posted by AFABulous at 7:07 PM on September 30 [5 favorites]


HA! You have all sorts of things you can call me <3
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:28 PM on September 30


Hey mods, if you want to be paying better attention to these things, please note that radicalawyer has dropped into this thread very late with actively unhelpful — if not blatantly dishonest (people were "savaging" tully_monster? please) — comments/interpretation of previous comments, and has a profile actively mocking feminism. This seems like the kind of plausibly deniable, just-under-the-radar thing that keeps happening, which needs to be getting cut off much earlier.

In the course of this thread we've lost at least six interesting, thoughtful MeFites because they're so tired of the ongoing grind of anti-trans sentiment that keeps popping up in comments and doesn't get deleted. Maybe it would be useful to get a bit more deletion-happy for a while. If somebody gets a comment deleted because it accidentally sounded transphobic, they're welcome to repost it without the transphobic elements.
posted by Lexica at 7:39 PM on September 30 [13 favorites]


Hi - I just wanted to respond to questions about my profile. I have only posted one time in this thread: the original post. I used this profile to post only because it reveals my identity as a queer woman, and I wanted anyone who looked at my profile to see that I am a member of the community for whom this stuff really matters. That is the only reason. I apologize for any confusion.

I don't understand this justification. It was a drop the bomb and run meta which is fine, but it's disingenuous to disclaim responsibility.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:01 PM on September 30


the post seemed to me to be an invitation for us all to examine why we might be using or defaulting to gendered pronouns when no gender is specified. Certainly a useful exercise; hardly a bomb.
posted by lalex at 8:06 PM on September 30 [19 favorites]


It was a drop the bomb and run meta

It was nothing of the sort, which is clear if you bother to scroll to the top and read the actual post. The strongest term used was "problematic".

This is a perfect example of what INESTBT was talking about. It's not "violent" or "dropping a bomb" to suggest that something is problematic and maybe we could do better. This kind of "asking the question is an attack" false equivalence is part of the problem.

Yo, mods. This is an ongoing thing. Please pay attention.
posted by Lexica at 8:25 PM on September 30 [16 favorites]


Maybe I've spent too much time on Leftbook, but I'm surprised that impact vs. intent hasn't come up in this discussion. Six people have left because of the crappy way this has been dealt with...yeah, that may not have been the intent of the discussion, but the impact of MetaFilter's handling of transphobia is hugely detrimental.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:39 PM on September 30 [6 favorites]


Being a prick about pronouns because you're just being pedantic is a thing; it's not unusual at all to find people on the internet going on at tedious prescriptive length about the formal grammatical problems with singular they who have no idea at all that they're operating in tangent to transphobic bullshit.

I don't think that's true. I think most of the people going on a tedious prescriptive lenth about the formal grammatical problems with singular they are aware of the element of transphobia in this issue, and either they don't care or they are participating in it.

That's just an assumption on my part, but I suspect your conclusion otherwise is likely often an assumption as well.

I'm wondering how you would know, when you see people going on at tedious length, whether they have an idea of the transphobia involved or not. Because it certainly seems that it may be the case that your baseline assumption--that transphobia is not relevant to a particular comment unless there's something that makes it very obvious that it is--is very close to what many people have suggested led to the failure in moderation in this case. If, after all this discussion so far, you bring that up as an example without first asking yourself how you came to the conclusion that these grammatical discussions are usually free of conscious transphobia, it indicates that you still just might not get it.
posted by layceepee at 8:43 PM on September 30 [11 favorites]


It seems like someone invested enough in grammer and style to go around lecturing people on pronouns should be well aware of the trans/nonbinary issues at play as well. If they’re not aware then they lack the expertise in language to be lecturing anyone at all.

That would be like someone trying to condescend about using only him and mankind, or otherwise assuming the audience was male, but then saying they weren’t aware of the issues of sexism inherent to the discussion. It would not be convincing and I would assume they were trying to be cute and inflammatory in a “who me?” way.
posted by supercrayon at 10:51 PM on September 30 [3 favorites]


So mods, what are you going to do differently about this going forward?

Not:
  • what are you doing currently (cause clearly, that is not working)
  • what you want mefites to do
  • what you wish you could do
What concrete actions are you all - not just Cortex - going to take to change how things happen here around transphobia, right now?

I feel like a big fuck up happened in the last 24 hours, and it was a direct result of moderation decisions. I don't feel that has really been appreciated as responses thus far have not identified any actions, and have been frankly kinda defensive. I really want you to do better, and I know you can do better, so let's hear it.
posted by smoke at 12:13 AM on October 1 [15 favorites]


wow

bye
posted by radicalawyer


Of all the buttoning and flameouts I have ever seen, this has got to be the pettiest.
posted by Dysk at 2:07 AM on October 1 [10 favorites]


In Australia we'd say to them,"Don't let the door hit you on the arse on the way out." Radicalawyer was quite clearly not a member that improved this place. Also, for fucks sake. Trans, non binary and gender non conforming people are people. People. Human beings. Harassed and threatened everywhere on the internet and in person. Can't we just give them some kind of guarantee of safety here? As a duty of care? Jesus. Can't you create a bloody transphobia flag with a default to erase the comment till a mod can override if necessary?

In child protection or domestic violence or sexual assault, or most ghastly shit humans do to hurt others, we stop the behaviour, believe the victim and charge/arrest the perp. Then we go to court. Why the fuckety fuck can't we bloody well do that here?
posted by taff at 3:48 AM on October 1 [7 favorites]


Thinking about this for a while, it does seem like there's a degree to which a lot of the transphobia that doesn't come with its own klaxon is "given the benefit of the doubt" in a way that doesn't happen with a lot of other problematic shit. I think part is the reasoning behind this is that people just didn't know what they were doing, didn't mean to, weren't motivated by transphobia, etc.

Now personally, I don't think it's any more unreasonable to expect people to not be transphobic, even by accident, than it is to expect them not to be racist, sexist, etc. But even if you do think it's a newer thing or whatever (it isn't) and that people just aren't as familiar with it as other forms of marginalisation (if so it's on them), I still don't understand why that means letting it stand? Why is deleting a well intentioned transphobic comment a problem? If it really was unintended, they can repost the comment without the transphobia (in as far as that's possible), no harm, no foul. But leaving it up because what, it wasn't reasonable to expect them to know? Why? What does it help? Why does it matter whether it was reasonable to expect them to know? The effect is the same - more bullshit for trans folks to deal with. It isn't our job to educate them. And it certainly ain't gonna happen off the back of them being shitheads, intentional or not. I don't give two shits about Internet traditions of nit picking - in a context where it's transphobic, it needs to be treated the same as any other transphobia. The fact that there's a Venn diagram intersection doesn't take it out of the transphobia circle.

And as an almost separate issue to this, TERFs are very good at dog whistles, flying under the radar, and abusing assumptions of good faith. Good faith should be enough to not get you banned, should be enough to have your comment deleted but emailed to you so you can edit out the problematic parts and repost. It should not be enough to let your bullshit stand. Effect matters. Intent can get fucked.
posted by Dysk at 4:15 AM on October 1 [20 favorites]


I get that it was Saturday night but I’m disturbed that there has been no further response from the mods. Not even “hey we’re going to discuss this Monday and get back to you.” Should trans people just stop reading mefi on the weekends if there’s not going to be appropriate coverage?
posted by AFABulous at 6:16 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


I have been threatened with banning because of too much sarcasm so it's pretty crazy what TERFs manage to get away with here.
posted by beerperson at 6:25 AM on October 1 [10 favorites]


Cortex: But there's also a shitload of people who have relationships with feminism of various sorts that don't necessarily have squat to do with the specific dog whistles and bullshit of TERFs.

This has happened twice now and both times it did not work out the way the mod team expected.

You are giving people the benefit of the doubt who don't deserve it. We went through this in 2014 during the "medium blue stocking" sockpuppet incident where five people buttoned because the mods allowed someone to hide behind a sock to argue that there's no such thing as a TERF. Another six people have buttoned in the last 36 hours.

Once was a mistake. Twice is the beginning of a problematic pattern. There have been other incidents. As Dysk and others are noting, misgendering people coupled with adherence to second wave feminism is a dog whistle.

You need to recognize this, cortex. You should be coming down hard on it when it pops up. Instead we have trans members who say that the "don't bring up users' past histories" guideline is being used to delete comments when people note that someone has a pattern of being an asshole towards trans people.

We talk a lot about metafilter's moderation style in metatalk. That every case is handled individually. This allows for greater mod flexibility.

This tactic is failing you here. And all of us. People of value are being hurt by it and it is helping to perpetuate transphobia.

You are protecting the wrong people. And it has happened more than once.
posted by zarq at 6:32 AM on October 1 [17 favorites]


And for heaven's sake, a mod should not be offering an excuse of "Midwest" code as a reason for a passive aggressive response towards someone who is shit stirring towards a vulnerable minority in a thread. Eyebrows can be very direct and unambiguous when she wants to be. Her name had a "staff" icon next to it when she made that comment. It was an error in judgment that shouldn't happen again.
posted by zarq at 6:33 AM on October 1 [18 favorites]


I feel like a big fuck up happened in the last 24 hours, and it was a direct result of moderation decisions.

And I hear you, and I've acknowledged up thread what I think are some of the specific mistakes we made in the process of that, and I genuinely appreciate some of the stuff we've gotten from folks as guidance there. We looked harder at what had gone down, we talked about it, we banned a user based on what folks were noting, we asked for and have gotten some more input here and in email about specific not-this-situation stuff people feel like have gone wrong as well, and we're trying to process that too. That's how the site works; that's the kind of stuff we're able to do with the resources we have. Ideally, and usually, it happens more quickly. This time it's been more of a mess.

MetaFilter is going to continue to be imperfect on this shit, both because the mods aren't going to catch everything or catch it as promptly as we'd like and because the userbase—as much as we get the benefit of a lot of thoughtful high level discussion of e.g. trans and non-binary and genderqueer stuff from the subset of folks with personal/lived experience—is still a general audience with a general audience's slow uptake on social issues outside their direct experience. That isn't just but it is realistically where we are, and so it's a work in progress, and sometimes a slow and stumbling one, and I'm sorry that when we stumble it leaves people feeling hurt and unserved.

We fucked up, we were slow on this and stumbled with our handling of it. And I know there's nothing magically satisfying about saying as much, because it doesn't undo the fucked up thing. It doesn't make anyone who is frustrated un-frustrated. But I'll acknowledge again that, yes, we fucked it up with this, and leave that there for what it's worth. People being pricks about pronouns is one of the things we try to actively keep an eye out for on the site and we slipped hard on it in this case. We'll try harder to keep it brighter on the radar.

I'm pretty emotionally drained right now and am trying hard not to dig in on a bunch of details here that I think are worth unpacking because I know it's not going to go over well, so I'm gonna leave it at that for now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:09 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


Being a prick about pronouns because you're just being pedantic is a thing; it's not unusual at all to find people on the internet going on at tedious prescriptive length about the formal grammatical problems with singular they who have no idea at all that they're operating in tangent to transphobic bullshit.

NOT when they're doing it here. When they're doing it here, they know exactly how transphobic they're being and they're using plausible pedantry as a cover.

I've always been more cynical than the mod team here, but I think clinging to this kind of "blue skies" excuse for bad behavior, in the face of people telling you it's hurtful and damaging, is really a problem.

tully_monster started in early in lecturing about style guides here, and headnsouth was being pretty terrible as well and I think the degree to which many other members had to push back against them should've been an indicator that something was going very wrong.

I actually feel terrible about how the past few years have demonstrated that my cynicism is justified about how people get away with dog-whistling and all kinds of hate on the internet by hiding behind "plausible" covers, and I'm uncomfortable to not see the Metafilter mods catch up in this particular area.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:45 AM on October 1 [7 favorites]


I think they were just being really stupidly pedantic about editorial stuffiness in exactly the wrong place and time, which was still fucked up but is a different thing.

In today's climate, this type of pedantry about English involves pretty clear prejudice (class, race, gender) a huge percentage of the time. The plausible deniability is a really big part of the attraction. "Oh, I am totally just doing my pedant thing about this pronoun that looks awkward to me/nonstandard verb conjugation/name that sounds funny to me. Isn't it adorable?" tully-monster was doing this so incredibly obviously. It blows my mind when people jump in with protestations of innocence on behalf of people pulling shit like this.
posted by BibiRose at 8:05 AM on October 1 [7 favorites]


NOT when they're doing it here. When they're doing it here, they know exactly how transphobic they're being and they're using plausible pedantry as a cover.

And I've turned around on that point, and we took action because it's clear it was a problem here. But we don't moderate robotically here; there's gonna be context for our thinking, even if the context turns out to have been unhelpful or distracting, and that is part of the context on my thinking. Clueless blathering about the horrors of singular they in an academic vacuum really is a thing that happens a ton, and unfortunately that smokescreened me while I was hurrying to catch up with the thread yesterday morning.

I've always been more cynical than the mod team here, but I think clinging to this kind of "blue skies" excuse for bad behavior, in the face of people telling you it's hurtful and damaging, is really a problem.

I hear you, but also it's complicated.

Because people pretty universally agree that when something goes sideways and someone acting poorly incorrectly gets the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of the doubt wasn't deserved. I feel that; I feel burnt as fuck whenever that happens.

But the reason we end up give people who turn out not to deserve it the benefit of the doubt sometimes is that we try to give people here the benefit of the doubt pretty broadly, across the board. It's pretty fundamental to the MetaFilter approach to moderation and community management. And most of the time, it's a good thing; most of the time it's someone who is a solid member having a bad day, or stumbling, or melting down, or stepping in some shit they didn't mean to, or picking a fight because shit has been hard lately and that's the mood they're in.

And we try to manage that, try to slow things down or cut a bad dynamic off and let things cool down, or write them to say "hey, the thing you just did sucks but it doesn't seem like you, is stuff okay?" or "hey, you've been doing x a lot lately and it's a problem but you've got a lot of history here, can you sort this out?". People who I think are good, solid members of the site can also sometimes be tremendous assholes or abuse the guidelines, and the approach we try to take as much as possible is finding a way to talk that out and work that out and get shit back in okay working condition, instead of just banning them for what in less generous frameworks would be absolutely ban-worthy circumstances.

There are a lot of people who are on MetaFilter, and who I am on the balance glad are on MetaFilter, who are only still on MetaFilter because we default to extending the benefit of the doubt as much as we can. That's the flip side of the thing, and it's a very real aspect of the community that is also very hard to talk about at times like this because to go into detail puts folks on the spot in a way that I don't think basically ever goes well but certainly not when folks are steamed at the mods already.

So we're gonna make the mistake of overextending the benefit of the doubt sometimes. And it sucks when it happens because it means someone's getting away albeit temporarily with being shittier than they ought to. I feel that. And taking this specific situation as feedback for tuning our reactions if this comes up again is a good idea and we'll try to do so. But it's absolutely not something we could prevent from ever happening without doing tremendous damage to what I see as a fundamental good aspect of how the site operates. The benefit of the doubt is pretty core and important to the ethos of this place; I wouldn't want to work here otherwise.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 AM on October 1 [8 favorites]


because the mods allowed someone to hide behind a sock to argue that there's no such thing as a TERF.

One of the (more minor) reasons I stopped working here was because I literally, as a well-meaning but also sometimes clueless site employee, could find no way forward with the site after that thread. So, I appreciate that it feels like a pattern but the site now is also a different place that, unfortunately, reflects the very real shortcomings of very real people.

I know people are hurt. I think people have explained why very effectively and movingly. I think their concerns are eminently reasonable and should be addressed. I also think they will be addressed. The presumption of good faith and Brand New Day sort of optimism and second chances can have damaging consequences sometimes. That needs to be looked at and I think it will be looked at. But it's also a core feature of the site and that examination will be complicated.

No one on staff is asking anyone to accept "Hey I had a tough day, please just give me a pass on this" but finding ways to make amends and sort out a path forward, for everyone, in realtime takes real time. I appreciate and respect that for some people, that's time they can't spare.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:06 AM on October 1 [14 favorites]


cortex, you seem to be arguing as if "ban" or "say nothing" were the only two choices here. "The mods pushing back much earlier, much harder, and much more explicitly" was also an option, and one that didn't happen, and that bothers me more than whether tully_monster was banned quickly enough. I appreciate that you're not trying to talk for the entire mod team, but I also think that focusing on just what happened when you came into the thread is a really incomplete analysis. And some of that analyzing might be happening behind the scenes, which would make sense, but it would helpful to acknowledge that, too.
posted by lazuli at 8:27 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]


cortex, you seem to be arguing as if "ban" or "say nothing" were the only two choices here.

I really don't mean to be. We have a whole variety of tools. I mention the ban because the ban was a concrete outcome and something people had specifically been talking about prior. I've also explicitly acknowledged a couple times now that reacting slowly is primarily what I think went wrong here, and the specific things I wish we had done sooner. If anything I am kind of uncomfortable with the degree to which "if you haven't banned them you haven't done enough" sometimes becomes a theme in heated MetaTalk discussions because I think the everything-else in the toolset is generally a more important aspect of sorting shit out productively in a long-term way here. Banning is a very visible and concrete step in moderation but the whole deal is that it is not a nuanced or generalized tool for dealing with stuff and is a tiny subset of what we do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


Clueless blathering about the horrors of singular they in an academic vacuum really is a thing that happens a ton, and unfortunately that smokescreened me while I was hurrying to catch up with the thread yesterday morning.

Asking again, because you didn't answer previously and perhaps thought it was a rhetorical question: how do you know that "a ton" of the discussions of singular they is "clueless blathering" happening in an academic vacuum rather than transphobic hostility taking advantage of plausible deniability? Or, since it seems impossible that you would actually know that's the case, what is it that makes you think that it is the case?

Are you any less certain that it is the case now than you were before the discussion that this incident has prompted? Because I'm a little surprised to see you double down on a claim that you have now made twice without providing any evidence that it is true.
posted by layceepee at 10:38 AM on October 1 [4 favorites]


I can't speak for cortex, but I did my thesis project on singular they in college which involved a fair amount of research into how people choose, use, and express singular "they" pronouns. My informed impressions were that there was a lot of pedantry for pedantry's sake (i.e. just the usual prescriptivism vs. descriptivism) that didn't seem to be masking specific transphobic hostility, meaning that their pedantry was a wide-ranging sort of "The book is right, we must follow the rules!" type across many different language concerns not just surrounding gender.

This is not at all to say that that it did not also manifest itself in the usual crap we see where the very real fallout is transphobic usage, just that my feeling was that insistence on transphobic language was the fallout from the pedantry, not vice versa. Only raising this because you specifically brought it up and not making excuses for it in this specific case or in any more general cases.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:55 AM on October 1 [5 favorites]


Asking again, because you didn't answer previously and perhaps thought it was a rhetorical question: how do you know that "a ton" of the discussions of singular they is "clueless blathering" happening in an academic vacuum rather than transphobic hostility taking advantage of plausible deniability?

Because its a hoary old toad in prescriptive pedantry, which is similarly true for a lot of other dumb long-running bits of prescriptive pedantry in usage-for-its-own-sake discussions. I used to enthusiastically, nowadays mostly only grudgingly, mix it up in those sorts of discussions because it's a thing people do as a hobby. People really, really do get up to in-a-vacuum arguments about this stuff and have for a very long time; it's a bit of tediousness that runs through the entire modern history of English prescriptivism, to say nothing of all the more defensible but less popularly-accessible work that's been done over time in actual linguistics on pronominal forms and syntax.

I'm not remotely claiming that no one uses the aegis of academicese to be an transphobic asshole. I'm also not claiming that no one expresses unexamined casual transphobia through linguistic pedantry. I think both of those things very much can and do happen.

My claim is only that people fixating on singular they for its own sake, dumb as I think that and many other prescriptivist fixations are, have often happened in discussions that aren't tangent in any way to trans issues. I don't know how better to say it than to say that linguistic circlejerkery for its own sake is kinda the language of my people; it's a domain I have a sometimes-wearying amount of experience with.

I hesitated to even return to the point since I don't feel like it's really applicable in the actual situation we're wading through—my claim again is not that I see the comments in question in this thread as unproblematic or in-a-vacuum—and I only broached it originally to outline my initial foggy thinking as I was catching up yesterday. But if you're asking then yes, that's specifically where I was coming from.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:07 AM on October 1


I find this plausible deniability argument very unconvincing. I mean someone with a username ending in 1488 could technically claim they really liked leap years starting on Tuesdays but come the fuck on. I know you'd at least watch them extremely closely if not get rid of them right away.

You (cortex) are a benevolent dictator. You can just say that "'singular they' is a topic we've discussed already and this specific linguistic pedantry hurts transgender members, so any further comments on the word will be deleted." You do this with plenty of other topics, including ones that aren't often specifically targeted at marginalized groups (e.g. re-litigating the presidential primaries is banned from politics threads). I don't understand how this is any different.
posted by AFABulous at 11:38 AM on October 1 [15 favorites]


So, just to make sure we're all on the same page here: we realise that moderation on the grey is handled differently than it is on the blue, right?
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:49 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


AFABulous, I pretty much agree? We try to do that already; I literally deleted a dumb comment about pronoun shit earlier this week because it's something I agree is a problem and it's something we take action on already. We were slow and too benefit-of-the-doubt in this thread, more so than we usually are on that front. That sucked and I'm sorry. We watch for dumb pronoun shit in general; it's not welcome on MetaFilter.

Me getting wrapped up in that wrinkle of linguistic-wankery culture during my early-morning Oh Shit What Now catchup on a heated MetaTalk is just and only that, not the roadmap for our moderation policy on it in general. layceepee insisted on an answer to that specific detail; I wasn't personally interested in coming back because it's beside the point, but it gets pretty rock-and-hard-place when someone doubles down. I would far prefer to drop that bit entirely.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:53 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


My claim is only that people fixating on singular they for its own sake, dumb as I think that and many other prescriptivist fixations are, have often happened in discussions that aren't tangent in any way to trans issues. I don't know how better to say it than to say that linguistic circlejerkery for its own sake is kinda the language of my people; it's a domain I have a sometimes-wearying amount of experience with.

Actually, your claim went a little further than that. You also speculated that these prescriptivists-for-the-sake-of-it have no idea at all that they're operating in tangent to transphobic bullshit. It's a little hard to accept that these people are so obsessed with the idea of singular they to the degree that they would crusade against it but somehow missed any of the discussions of the issue that report on its impact on real, live people.

That's why I said I tended to think they either approved of the transphobic element of that they didn't care about it. They feel comfortable discussing it as a point of usage or style without acknowledging the clear connection to the lived experience of people who are affected. They believe that the the rules of grammar are more important than the lives of transgender people. That level of erasure reads as pretty abusive to me.
posted by layceepee at 12:15 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


It's a little hard to accept that these people are so obsessed with the idea of singular they to the degree that they would crusade against it but somehow missed any of the discussions of the issue that report on its impact on real, live people.

I can actually 100% believe this is true for some people. In this particular case, however, the prescriptivism was coupled with not one, but two "jokes" about gender neutrality and a reference to second-wave feminism. That the TERFiness wasn't obvious then is a problem.
posted by lalex at 12:37 PM on October 1 [4 favorites]


It's a little hard to accept that these people are so obsessed with the idea of singular they to the degree that they would crusade against it but somehow missed any of the discussions of the issue that report on its impact on real, live people.

Again, I don't know what to say other than hobbyist pedants can be really focusedly pedantic to a degree that is I guess surprising to people who haven't spent as much time around them. This isn't a flattering characterization I'm making, it's one of hobbyist tunnel-vision: it is 100% totally possible for someone to have a lengthy discussion about singular-they independent of any recognition or contemplation of trans issues, because they aren't thinking about it or haven't had enough exposure to know to think about it or are wrapped up (as with so much prescriptivist bullshit) in hundred-year-old Well But Strunk Said ritual debate. I'm not lauding it, I'm just saying that from long genuine personal experience it's a thing.

That's independent of whether it's a good idea to do so in random mixed company where the social ramifications of randomly blurting about But The Hallowed Pronouns! are more complex and potentially hurtful or alienating. I think doing so is a dumb idea. I wish people had the self-awareness or cultural awareness not to go there. To the extent that we can, we try and shut it down on the site when we see it, bumpiness with this thread notwithstanding.

But I think, much as MetaFilter has a ways to go here, it's easy for us to get accustomed to having complicated discussions about the details here and accustomed to the level of general awareness many folks on the site have about at least the basics of the issues, and lose track of just how much so many people in society at large are still existing in essentially pure cisnormative frameworks where, yeah, it's not on their mind. Where "hmm, but how does this intersect with gender identity and the use of non-binary personal pronouns?" is not in reach yet, let alone easy reach. Lots of people don't think for a second about trans/nb/gender issues in the course of any given month, or think of them in only very glancing, pop-culture-fed ways.

Like, that's a big part of the thing with recognizing cisnormativity as a systemic social thing, yeah? Not just that cis folks can be hostile or shitty or ignorant when confronted with trans issues, which they sure as fuck can, but that because the normative framework of cissexuality is so standardized and unmarked (if slowly becoming incrementally less so) that lots of people literally don't think to incorporate the possibility of intersections with trans/nb gender realities in their thinking about stuff. It's strange to me to find that at all implausible; it seems like a pretty fundamental part of why we as a society are as crap as we are about being thoughtful about gender identity issues. For every person who can have even a basic solid conceptual discussion about gender identity issues on the level MeFi folks would expect there are a lot more people out there who don't even have it on their radar. Because they haven't had to confront it at all.

But again, again, in any case: that's not my take about this thread. I think in this thread, despite my having fucked up by musing about that stuff yesterday morning as I caught up, this was pretty obviously a fucked up time to start nattering on about the editorial sacrosanctity of plural they and it shouldn't have happened and that we should have shut down more promptly and decisively. We're not talking about someone who I'm defending as being some misunderstood soul, we're talking about someone who has been banned from MetaFilter based on a preponderance of crappiness on the subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:04 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


Yeah, loudly proclaiming their views of how the language should be in complete obliviousness or indifference to its impact on actual people is the normal state for a lot of prescriptivists. I second cortex's "linguistic circlejerkery for its own sake is kinda the language of my people; it's a domain I have a sometimes-wearying amount of experience with," and on this narrow point, I see where he was coming from.

(Granting once again that [a] in this case this emphatically didn't apply, and [b] even when it does, a blanket ban on such peevery in these contexts is the way to go. I did flag tully_monster's first comment before I replied to it, and had hoped that both comments would be deleted swiftly. But I think we're now all on the same page about that...)
posted by Shmuel510 at 1:08 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


This isn't a flattering characterization I'm making, it's one of hobbyist tunnel-vision: it is 100% totally possible for someone to have a lengthy discussion about singular-they independent of any recognition or contemplation of trans issues, because they aren't thinking about it or haven't had enough exposure to know to think about it or are wrapped up (as with so much prescriptivist bullshit) in hundred-year-old Well But Strunk Said ritual debate.

My expectation is that the people that they're debating with might bring it up.
posted by layceepee at 1:54 PM on October 1


My claim is only that people fixating on singular they for its own sake, dumb as I think that and many other prescriptivist fixations are, have often happened in discussions that aren't tangent in any way to trans issues.

Whether intentionally or not, whether with any awareness of it or not, any discussion of gendered pronouns or singular they is inherently directly relevant to trans issues, not merely tangential to it.

Again, your whole argument seems to hinge on transphobia not being transphobia when it's unintended. Transphobia is transphobia regardless. Arguing against singular they is always transphobic, regardless of what vacuum the argument takes place in.
posted by Dysk at 1:55 PM on October 1 [15 favorites]


Again, your whole argument seems to hinge on transphobia not being transphobia when it's unintended.

I feel like cortex was literally trying to answer layceepee's narrowband question about the specific internal intentions of horrible internet pedants. I don't think anyone is arguing with the general point here.

My expectation is that the people that they're debating with might bring it up.

That has not been my experience.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:23 PM on October 1 [7 favorites]


I'm just reading, trying to learn things, so take this with a grain of salt if you like:

The mods are generally straight shooters and trying to do their best. They're human though, they've made mistakes before and will no doubt make some in the future. But they (and cortex in particular) have literal years experience of trying to do the right thing, listening to complaints, learning from any mistakes and generally making MeFi fair and more livable for traditionally maligned groups.

So maybe give'em a break for a moment and come back to this topic in a day or so. Everyone will have a chance to think things and come back to the table with cooler heads and ideas on how to move forward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:52 PM on October 1 [8 favorites]


There is a real circle-the-wagons tendency among the Metafilter employees. I think it's born of the admirable core philosophy of providing quality by paying for quality people and giving them a quality environment to work in. I can't really imagine that not resulting in a tight-knit group who pretty much have each other's backs 100%. This is one of the main things that make Metafilter so great!

I think it may be a contributing factor to this blind spot, though. And it may be difficult, because I think this somewhat defensive behavior has even been helpful in past Metafilter social justice advancements. This time, it's driving a wedge between the moderators and the community in a way that makes it difficult to work together. I'm not sure what to suggest, however.

Jessamyn arriving to back up the moderation philosophy is almost predictable. The hero of past victories here to speak to the troubled masses.
posted by gilrain at 2:53 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


I feel like cortex was literally trying to answer layceepee's narrowband question about the specific internal intentions of horrible internet pedants. I don't think anyone is arguing with the general point here.

Except cortex specifically said a contributing factor to the benefit of the doubt being given was that it might've been a case of grammar pedantry rather than motivated by transphobia. Like, that doesn't make sense except with the subtext that transphobia is somehow less bad or less unacceptable if it's arrived at from that route. And like, whether you get there by riding the hate train with the TERFs, or by some back path paved with prescriptivism, you're still arriving at the same position: that non gendered or non binary identities are somehow wrong, irrelevant, and/or invalid. And that's a problem however you got there.
posted by Dysk at 2:59 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


I feel like we've gone 'round and 'round with how cortex's mistake came to be. I'd personally like to hear from the mods that were here when it was going on and why they didn't recognize the immediate, obvious to most everyone, transphobia? Or why they recognized it and basically did nothing? This wasn't a case of no one being around.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:13 PM on October 1 [5 favorites]


Except cortex specifically said a contributing factor to the benefit of the doubt being given was that it might've been a case of grammar pedantry rather than motivated by transphobia.

Which I then pointedly moved away from after getting more caught up on the situation. I'm not going to go delete my own poor take from the thread, but there's only so many times I can say "that line of thinking was an addled distraction on my part and I wish I hadn't gone there". I wanted to drop it ages ago and will try again now to do so.

On the more general point, yes, I think passive transphobia is still transphobia and still problematic. I think people on the site learning to leave at the door stuff that stumbles, even unintentionally, into transphobic territory is important and we want to keep doing what we can to combat that tendency on the site and encourage incremental improvement in the general community awareness of this stuff.

I do think there's a difference as a community in how we tackle unintended offenses and microaggressions vs. active, intentional assholery, but that doesn't mean both aren't problems. But I think part of the takeaway here is that jumping reaaaaaal quick on the stuff up thread as soon as it started was the right way to go no matter what the "is this intentional or just clueless" take was, and sort the rest out later. I'm sorry that's not how it actually played out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on October 1 [5 favorites]


Jessamyn arriving to back up the moderation philosophy is almost predictable. The hero of past victories here to speak to the troubled masses.

As someone who has been here off and on since 2001, I think that’s deeply uncharitable. I’m not sure how to read this comment as anything other than an expression of bad faith.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:20 PM on October 1 [24 favorites]


The hero of past victories here to speak to the troubled masses.

Wow. Not anymore, I guess.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:21 PM on October 1


I was once ignored in a face to face meeting when I politely expressed that I didn't want to be called using a certain gendered word, and the fallout of that really affected my well-being. I was harmed and retraumatized by that experience. Of course, the other person simply wasn't clued in: my error was in expecting that someone in their role would have had the sensitivity training (in a professional setting) to understand my concern.

That's the thing with microaggressions, it's like a 2-sided looking glass, where someone says a thing "Where are you really from?" (a textbook example) which is common and nonmalicious, but negatively affects vulnerable groups in some ways, by invalidating and erasing. It would be nice to have a continuing conversation that recognizes this paradoxical conflict, that's if you think of it this way, are two sides of the same coin. That's what was meant by the idea that transphobia is "inherent" in such speech.

Implicit prejudice is hard to combat. I have a personal reason for knowing this, because when I get angry and upset by microaggressions, I have a tendency to make it about the person (or the nearest authority figure)--which is a dissonance because these are structural problems. It's not clear to me that structural problems are solved by individualizing the oppressor (I don't need racists or misogynists to apologize, I don't criticize people even if I feel they've harmed me), but that's my particular outlook that I'm working on now, specific to my needs, approaches and methods which may not apply to others.

I guess maybe there's a disconnect over how tolerant the moderation should be, questions about the process of weighing the costs of different policies. Or concerns about resources and scalability, or etiquette about using MetaFilter at night (I often read late past night but I know by now not to comment in problematic late-night threads, for example). It looks like this is an important conversation for the site to have and I hope it can be done in a supportive, constructive way. It'll be an ongoing one.
posted by polymodus at 3:28 PM on October 1 [3 favorites]


That attack against jessamyn is bullshit and can only result in more defensiveness. It certainly doesn't encourage more openness and honest discussion on this important topic.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:42 PM on October 1 [16 favorites]


Except cortex specifically said a contributing factor to the benefit of the doubt being given was that it might've been a case of grammar pedantry rather than motivated by transphobia. Like, that doesn't make sense except with the subtext that transphobia is somehow less bad or less unacceptable if it's arrived at from that route.

I actually think it makes a lot of sense in terms of how the mod team might approach it. I'd assign a grammar pedant a much higher probability of being able to learn and change that behavior after receiving a mod note than I would assign to someone expressing TERF sensibilities.

Either way I agree that the effect of the comment is transphobic and deletion is appropriate.
posted by lalex at 3:43 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


also yeah lol, I think I speak for an awful lot of people when I say that I am ALWAYS interested in what jessamyn has to say about moderation and the site.
posted by lalex at 3:44 PM on October 1 [12 favorites]


The hero of past victories here to speak to the troubled masses.

That seems weirdly and needlessly dickish and I'm surprised to see it.

I'd personally like to hear from the mods that were here when it was going on and why they didn't recognize the immediate, obvious to most everyone, transphobia? Or why they recognized it and basically did nothing? This wasn't a case of no one being around.

We've chatted a bunch about it as a team in the last couple days. Basically, slow recognition of how problematic it was and the choice to let something obnoxious stand and be pushed back on by the community vs. deleted. Part of the dynamic was the comment got a bunch of responses before anyone flagged it; it eventually picked up several but over a period of hours after folks had already dug in a bunch in the discussion.

Which there's a couple site dynamics there that came into it:

1. the balance between deletion and allowing community pushback

2. the balance between keeping something for reference after it's been a major topic of discussion vs. deleting it after the fact and leaving a gap

Both of those are things we've talked about in MetaTalk, and rebalanced on over the years as circumstances have changed; both are things where we go one way or the other situationally and wouldn't benefit from moving to a strict one-or-the-other policy. But one of the things that has come out of previous discussions is that, yeah, there is some value in being more willing to just delete and sort it out later vs. letting obnoxious stand, and in general we've moved more in that direction for a lot of stuff over time.

Nixing something hours later after a bunch of discussion is still a lot more unusual, and for me does feel counterproductive in significant ways when the discussion is really actively centered around the comment or comments in question, but it is something I've developed more tolerance for in odd cases and in this case I think we'd have been better to buck that tendency and just nix the damn thing later that evening once the flags had started to roll in. But that's more going against normal moderation practice than it is normal moderation practice, so it's the sort of thing that'd usually end up being a point of discussion with a couple team members. That's part of why weekends and the middle of the night matters—it's a harder time for someone to get a second set of eyes on stuff, so practically speaking weird calls can end up waiting till someone else is around to provide some backup.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:46 PM on October 1


Attack? I called her a hero and I meant it. It's just familiar to me now, her showing up after criticism of the mods, rather than before, when the hero-ing would've been pretty useful.
posted by gilrain at 3:46 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


gilrain - I've always found jessamyn very open to discuss the moderation both before and after (and both in the same thread) the current mods come in. I admit in this thread I am also remembering the "TERF is a slur" sockpuppet fuckery and I appreciate her perspective on how I can see that different, or take something else into account.



Part of the dynamic was the comment got a bunch of responses before anyone flagged it

cortex, I swear to whatever I hold holy that I'm not trying to needle a point or be an asshole, but this is my stumbling block - sure, earlier comments should have been deleted from tully. Mods should have just peeked at the profile when the question of "is this a pendant or purposeful transphobia" came up for them. That didn't happen and I fully understand it as "things that can be missed in a long fast moving weekend thread." But then we get to this comment and I'm confused by the need for flagging to realize it should have been deleted. I'm going to be specific so it's clear what I'm asking. I'm not trying to insult anyone or use specifics in a jerkish way - it really is just the thing I am failing to understand. It was 14 minutes before the first response which was made by restless_nomad. Then it was another 18 minutes for 5 comments to come in, with the sixth being by restless_nomad again. It takes 48 minutes for the 9th comment to come in and then over an hour for the next three, which is followed over three hours later by Eyebrows McGee. All of this happens by 9:30pm in CST.

I feel like the mods are quicker to act and willing to delete a few comments on obvious bigoted commentary that isn't directed at trans people without the need of flagging to light their way. What I, and I think others, are asking for is to recognize transphobia and treat it the same way. I don't think it happened here and I don't understand how the timeline is to blame. Either mod, within three hours, could have deleted the comment and the ones referencing it without a huge unexplainable hole in the thread.

I also admit that when I'm heated in MetaTalk I should do a better job of flagging than reacting. I also admit that is more difficult when I feel like my community is being attacked for existing. Finally I think it's unclear to a lot of the userbase still when things will be deleted from MetaTalk and so deleting things with a note of [Please flag that crap] or whatever could give us direction on where the moderation guidelines tend to sit.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 4:20 PM on October 1 [12 favorites]


the choice to let something obnoxious stand and be pushed back on by the community vs. deleted.

The problem is that there's a third choice, available even when you're the only mod awake and you're wavering on the "do I go and delete half the thread" question, and that's stepping in and saying forcefully ex cathedra, as it were, that what's going on isn't okay and someone needs to knock it off. There's a big difference between "Sorry we're getting to this late, but it needs to stop. Now." and "Shucks, we got to this late and too late now, I guess." There are always going to be cases when a mod doesn't see something "live" because flagging didn't start immediately or something was blowing up bigger elsewhere on the site. That's life. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways of showing that you have people's backs when you do get there.
posted by hoyland at 4:40 PM on October 1 [10 favorites]


But then we get to this comment and I'm confused by the need for flagging to realize it should have been deleted. I'm going to be specific so it's clear what I'm asking. I'm not trying to insult anyone or use specifics in a jerkish way - it really is just the thing I am failing to understand.

Prompt flagging helps us get where people are at on something a lot faster. Likewise prompt contact form notes. That can help us make a call that bends toward delete vs. in-thread pushback a lot of the time.

Which, that's just process stuff; my point is not "because people didn't flag quickly enough, we couldn't delete it" or anything and I'll reiterate that I think deleting it was the better choice and the one I wish we'd done. Just that those are parts of the modding process, the workflow we navigate on everything. In MetaTalk deleting's a less likely outcome in general (historically it was taken to be a Basically Never thing but we've tried to push expectations there a bit over time) so that worked against it a little too.

One of the things I talked with the team about yesterday was being willing to pull the trigger there sooner rather than lately after all. If it's a matter of being like "I can't tell immediately if people think this is just obnoxious and needs to be hollered at, or if it's noxious and just needs to go", erring on the side of deletion and sorting it out after is something we'd have been better off with.

Finally I think it's unclear to a lot of the userbase still when things will be deleted from MetaTalk and so deleting things with a note of [Please flag that crap] or whatever could give us direction on where the moderation guidelines tend to sit.

Yeah, I think that's worth us trying to communicate about a bit more regularly. It's a bit of a vicious cycle because the not-flagging leads to a greater likelihood of something sticking around and people being vocally grumpy about it, and that vocal grumpiness ends up catalyzing flagging only later after folks have already dug in.

I also admit that is more difficult when I feel like my community is being attacked for existing.

Utterly understandable. I have issues with how some MetaTalk dynamics play out in terms of the kind of ouroboros-of-heatedness that can happen when something goes sour, but I totally get where it comes from and why its not trivial to just say "hey everybody let's be chill and sort this out".
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:42 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


I'd assign a grammar pedant a much higher probability of being able to learn and change that behavior after receiving a mod note than I would assign to someone expressing TERF sensibilities.

My experience suggests that that's hopelessly naive. Internet pedants are no more receptive to any kind of argument than TERFs, creationists, or vi users.

It was actually one of the mod notes that really bugged me about this. It was the offhand comment almost trying to sic a mefite mob on tully monster. It both plays into the bullshit Internet harassment culture that's just everywhere these days (cf twitter, reddit brigading, pile-on culture, etc) and seems to expect trans mefites to once again do the dirty work of like, actually dealing with the TERFs. This is why a bunch of us don't feel like the mods necessarily have our backs. It's not really a good look to just shrug and say "hey, if somebody wants to deal with this, go for it. I'm not getting involved." It manages to be both ineffectual and cruelly ugly at the same time.
posted by Dysk at 4:46 PM on October 1 [14 favorites]


One of the things I talked with the team about yesterday was being willing to pull the trigger there sooner rather than lately after all. If it's a matter of being like "I can't tell immediately if people think this is just obnoxious and needs to be hollered at, or if it's noxious and just needs to go", erring on the side of deletion and sorting it out after is something we'd have been better off with.

Thank you very much for threading the needle between protecting your employees and being open with us about what sort of discussions are happening behind the scenes. It really helps us see that you hear us even as you understandably want to be discreet about moderator discussions. This sort of response shows just enough to let us know things are changing (instead of just discussing the timing/weekend/night time issues).
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:02 PM on October 1 [7 favorites]


This is why a bunch of us don't feel like the mods necessarily have our backs. It's not really a good look to just shrug and say "hey, if somebody wants to deal with this, go for it. I'm not getting involved." It manages to be both ineffectual and cruelly ugly at the same time.

I also very much agree with this. When it happened i sorta chuckled at the shadiness of it, but from someone with a staff tag instead of someone who is just a user it does make me feel like we were left high and dry to explain, again, why we are people deserving of respect.

So I don't make a million more comments, I want to tag on to the end of this that I really appreciate the trans people who stood up for nb/gq folx even if 'they' isn't their preferred pronoun. We're stronger when we see each other's struggles as our own. <3
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:06 PM on October 1 [13 favorites]


It was the offhand comment almost trying to sic a mefite mob on tully monster

I hear what you're getting out of it there but that wasn't the read I got off it. Working closely with r_n for years no doubt colors my read there, I realize. But part of this I think just goes back to older MetaTalk days, where deletion was so much more not a part of the normal routine that a mod responding with a comment to signal essentially "I'm not picking up what you're putting down, buddy" was pretty much the mod interaction for this kind of situation at that point. I still see value in community policing as an aspect of how this place operates but it used to be pretty much the primary mode in which MetaTalk discussions operated.

I don't miss those wild west days really at all, but that was where much of the staff, r_n included, cut our teeth on MetaTalk dynamics and some of these old habits die hard when we're dealing with exasperating behavior. I don't think it was the useful way to go and I get your discomfort, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:06 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I hear what you're getting out of it there but that wasn't the read I got off it.

It seems like part of the problem here is that the read you and other mods are getting off things is not the same as a sizeable proportion of the community - both in terms of how you read member comments, and also in how your own comments will be read (e.g. Eyebrows’ and r_n’s comments in this thread). I get that everyone has bad days, and tone is hard to convey in text, but perhaps the mod team need to actively spend some time recalibrating on this. Part of wanting us to assume good faith in your words is you recognising when your words aren’t being heard the way you intended, and adjusting accordingly.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 5:59 PM on October 1 [13 favorites]


"Mods should have just peeked at the profile when the question of "is this a pendant or purposeful transphobia" came up for them. "

Yeah, and I'll confess, I was out of the habit of looking at profiles -- I tend to click right through to the mod interface to see if they've been warned by mods in the past or whatever. And boy howdy will I be looking at profiles a lot more closely after this, especially when the flagged user isn't a known quantity.

"Part of wanting us to assume good faith in your words is you recognising when your words aren’t being heard the way you intended, and adjusting accordingly."

For me, at least, message heard and received and I'm going to be a lot more careful in the future. When I first started I struggled a lot with getting my modding tone right, and I think I've relaxed a bit lately because I've felt more comfortable, but clearly I need to tense back up and spend more time second-guessing my tone, because my first guess here was WRONG WRONG WRONG.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:08 PM on October 1 [16 favorites]


Thank you, Eyebrows McGee.
posted by lazuli at 7:45 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


So maybe give'em a break for a moment and come back to this topic in a day or so. Everyone will have a chance to think things and come back to the table with cooler heads and ideas on how to move forward.

This seems very patronising and rude. I don't think any of the people who have been hurt need 'cooler heads' nor should they take a break.

Non-oppressed people do not get to tell oppressed people how they should react and that they need a break from this thread.
posted by daybeforetheday at 8:49 PM on October 1 [9 favorites]


Non-oppressed people do not get to tell oppressed people how they should react and that they need a break from this thread.

This is precisely the kind of faux pas that could have been avoided by “lurking moar.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:09 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Dysk: > I'd assign a grammar pedant a much higher probability of being able to learn and change that behavior after receiving a mod note than I would assign to someone expressing TERF sensibilities.

My experience suggests that that's hopelessly naive. Internet pedants are no more receptive to any kind of argument than TERFs, creationists, or vi users.


And yet. A few years ago, singular they sounded wrong wrong wrong to me. Because it was different from the English I learned in school. (English is not my first language, so that may make a difference here.) Also I'm pretty stubborn, and a creature of habit.
And yet, mostly by interacting with people here on MetaFilter, I learned how to deal with it, got over myself in that regard and now I can handle it just fine. Some of us pedants can learn. Sometimes.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:33 PM on October 1 [3 favorites]


... I don't need to get a cookie for that, or anything. It's just that I feel that if I can learn it, it can't be all that hard.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:34 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


And yet. A few years ago, singular they sounded wrong wrong wrong to me. Because it was different from the English I learned in school.

There's a big difference between that, and being the sort of person who gets into lengthy arguments about how singular they is always wrong and unacceptable. One of those is being a pedant. What you describe is not.
posted by Dysk at 10:55 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


I feel like as a cisperson who up to now didn't pay enough attention to pronouns my voice shouldn't count, but I 100 % support what our trans members and their allies are saying.

Please, please listen to them. I want this place to be a good place for people pf any gender and orientation, and a bad place for trolls. We can't let this happen again.

I'm sorry I missed the thread in time and couldn't help.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:54 PM on October 1


Also, friendly reminder to everyone in the thread: cis and trans are adjectives. English doesn't really have compound nouns. Hence, "cis person", "trans man", etc, with spaces.
posted by Dysk at 2:44 AM on October 2 [7 favorites]


Thanks, and sorry.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:11 AM on October 2


For me, at least, message heard and received and I'm going to be a lot more careful in the future. When I first started I struggled a lot with getting my modding tone right, and I think I've relaxed a bit lately because I've felt more comfortable, but clearly I need to tense back up and spend more time second-guessing my tone, because my first guess here was WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on October 2 [3 favorites]


Only read a third of this thread, saw that yaymukund buttoned. I'm bummed. They are good people. I hope you find a better time outside of MeFi, yaymukund!

.
posted by ignignokt at 8:00 AM on October 2 [1 favorite]


Wow. And I was so excited about the thought of (eventually) coming out on MeFi. Guess it's going to be another few years.

. . . . . .
posted by Sean Probst at 5:21 AM on October 3 [3 favorites]


This thread is so far from about me that I really hesitated to post this, but I just wanted to extend a public apology to Jessamyn, Josh, and the rest of the Mefi crew, past and present, for this ugly comment. No justification.

The past year has taken an enormous toll on my mental health, and I'm sometimes doing a really poor job noticing and reigning myself in when it gets out of hand. I know that doesn't matter much; only my behavior does.

I'm still angry about this, but I'll do better.
posted by gilrain at 6:22 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I came out as trans on Mefi during the Coy Mathis megashitposts, so Sean Probst, I feel your frustration.

(my old username was an asshole and please if I said awful shit on mefi in boy mode I am truly sorry. I was kind of a broken piece of shit back then)
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:18 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


Wow, I'd forgotten about the Coy Mathis dustup. That was back before I'd come out to myself and it's kind of hilarious to see me ID myself as a cis woman in the metatalk post.
posted by AFABulous at 7:49 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Jesus, a bunch of us were super fucking unreasonably patient in that thread.
posted by Dysk at 8:22 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


if this were my perfect Metafilter, freeform flagging boxes would come in front of any other front end change.

I've been thinking about this for a couple of days and I agree with this.
posted by lalex at 11:18 AM on October 5 [8 favorites]


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