This whole fucking thing is so sad. It’s not my circus and these aren’t my monkeys, but since I’m in the audience anyway, I may as well throw my hat in the ring with an opinion attached to it.
I’m mixed-race, autistic and kinky – for much of my life I have felt ‘wrong’, brought up in a heavily religious, neurotypical, white-vanilla environment. I can’t literally know how it would feel to question my gender or physicality but I can empathise solidly with people who are Othered. It fucking sucks to feel different from the prevailing demographic around you, it hurts to be judged unkindly by strangers who don’t know or care about your interior life, it’s horrible to feel you have to choose between staying safe and being you.
To set the scene, in case you have been living under a rock for the past few years…
Trans people exist, and always have done. Non-binary people exist, and always have done. Throughout the history of human civilisation, some societies have embraced and supported these people, others have ostracised and Othered them.
We live in more enlightened times now, our science and understanding have evolved to show us how inaccurate and oversimplified our previous assumptions about gender identity always were. Sadly, some (usually older) people still cling to the outdated but familiar models in which they can see themselves as ‘normal’ and nonconforming folx as ‘wrong’.
And now, to recent events…
What if you read a blog post mocking your existence, aligning you with murderous fascism and ridiculing your feelings simply because you had asked to be seen and recognised for who you are? Wouldn’t that be upsetting? And to make matters worse, you then read supporting comments from people who enjoyed and agreed with the post. How could you feel safe, knowing there were people out there who would happily sacrifice your wellbeing for their entertainment? How would you feel, after a lifetime of encountering wilful ignorance and mean-spirited prejudice, to see even more of it in what you thought was a safe community?
Shitty AF, I bet.
What if you wrote a beautiful and sexy story for a supposedly inclusive writing competition, which was publicly criticised for featuring trans characters, because the pronouns are ‘confusing’. Your life, your experiences, your perspective trashed by someone who refuses to take the time and courtesy to even try to understand your perspective. To be reminded – yet again – that some people are more comfortable with invalidating you than accepting your perspective, must be so wearying.
What if then, the people who didn’t realise (or didn’t care to acknowledge) that their actions and attitudes were divisive, regressive and unwelcoming, are called out for it, and a storm of disapproval comes their way? They might feel attacked. They might feel like victims of ‘bullying’ and ‘cancel culture’. They may well cling even harder to their preconceptions and prejudices to avoid the ignominy of admitting they fucked up. Suddenly, they are the ones being Othered and judged harshly.
Sucks, doesn’t it? A horrible feeling. Now they know what it’s like, it’s awfully tempting to rub their noses in it and grind their faces beneath a hundred heels of righteousness. Only human, in fact. But is it constructive? Is it necessary? Is it even justice?
I have no answers or advice here, only observation. I observe bandwagon-jumping disguised as solidarity, solidarity mistaken for ‘ganging-up’, aggressors playing victim cards and lots of people pleading for everyone to just be nice to each other which angers those who are always being told to sit down, shut up and be grateful for the politeness of their persecution. I see escalation and division widening, and it’s all so fucking tribal. So human. Where to stand?
I’ll stay where I am most comfortable; advocating for human rights, wielding my own privilege on behalf of the marginalised, and biting my lip to remind myself that compassion is as important as conviction.