Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Trans Lives Matter.

Sometimes you learn something new about people, and it changes how you feel about them forever.
Back when I was in high school, I would have told you I didn't know any gay people. I did, of course, I just didn't know they were gay. At that time, and in that place, it was very difficult, if not unsafe, to be out as a gay person. I wish that weren't true, but it was.

When I was a freshman in college, a woman I was in the process of becoming friends with told me she was dating another woman. She started to cry as she told me, because she was afraid that admitting it would be the end of our friendship.

On one level I was shocked--an actual gay person! On another, much more important level, I didn't care. At all. I opened my mouth and the truth came out. You are who you've always been, and--I probably didn't say 'I love you,' which is what I'd say now, because I'm willing to go on record as loving more people now. I probably said something like, I'm glad we're friends.

As I recall, I didn't address the part where she thought I'd probably be homophobic. At that point in my life, I probably thought I'd be homophobic, too. But at least I was learning.

I don't know what it's like to be gay, or bisexual, or transgender. I've always been straight and cisgender. I've never had a gay, nonbinary, or trans person explain to me that, really, I probably was just confused--I was letting all those straight cis people influence me. All the gay and trans people I know have always accepted me for who I am. They've never tried to change me.

I will always do the same for them. I can't step inside their skin. I don't know how life is for them.

Which is why I'm so disappointed in J. K. Rowling. First she sends out ridiculous tweets mocking the phrase, "people who menstruate," used in an essay, because in her mind that should be changed to "women." Word choice can be important to writers, but I don't understand Rowling's insistence here. I'm a woman, and I haven't menstruated in several years. But whatever. People called her out, online, pointing out that trans people, like cis people, may or may not menstruate and that menstruation isn't a defining part of their gender identity. At which point, someone trying to be an ally would have a chance to say, "Whoops, sorry. I didn't think about that. I stand corrected." and move on. At that point it's all pretty small.

But Rowling followed up with more tweets expanding her original one, to make it clear she really is transphobic, and then she published a very long essay on her website defending her point of view, which is, as far as I can tell, that she has been a victim of sexual violence (which, though sad, has nothing to do with the topic), and that she feels people, particularly autistic people, are being tricked into calling themselves trans and that it's some sort of phase they'll grow out of, except that they might have their genitals mutilated first.

There's absolutely no evidence that anyone is being tricked into changing genders, or, especially, into having surgery. Very few trans people transition back. Regardless, Rowling's feelings here have no actual relevance to the lives of trans people, except, of course, for being deeply insulting. Rowling's essay also seems entirely unrelated to her tweets, except as a convoluted justification of her transphobia.

Here's what really gets me, though. Rowling understands that she has a platform. She had fourteen million twitter followers. She understands media; she knows what she's tweeting. She tweeted that IF trans people were experiencing discrimination, she'd march for their rights--and then she carefully wrote and posted a highly discriminatory essay. She should be marching in protest against herself, though I doubt we'll see that happen.

J. K. Rowling, I know more about you now. I'm so disappointed.

N and C and B and A and B and all the other trans and nonbinary people I know--and all of you I don't know--you don't need my validation any more than you need J. K. Rowling's. Continue to live your lives of honesty and valour. I see you. I love you.

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