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Hear Me Out

Amy Leibowitz bisexuality gender identity nonbinary own voices queer antagonism representation

Over the past week, I’ve shared multiple articles about the problems with J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans ranting. The most recent was this one, about a politician quoting Rowling’s vile kick at trans people in order to support his own hateful views.

It isn’t too surprising these posts were met with some degree of anti-trans sentiment, even in queer-friendly spaces. I have found, on the whole, that sharing things that are of interest or concern to the trans/nonbinary and/or bisexual communities are more likely to result in negativity and pushback than things related to cisgender gay or lesbian interests.

It would take a full-on research study to determine this with absolute certainty, of course. Outside of queer-friendly spaces, all bets are off, and any and all types of antagonism seem to be a given. But in my experience even in queer-welcoming spaces, I rarely see the type of disbelief and oh-come-on-ism that tend to be directed at trans and bisexual people.

 Responses on my posts were boringly predictable variants of things I’ve seen in the past:

  • You’re blaming a woman for a man’s problems
  • People are jumping on the trans bandwagon and unthinkingly supporting trans people
  • She’s correct but she should’ve also said to support trans people
  • Hateful words aren’t violence
  • We need to have “reasonable debate” about trans issues
  • Please explain to me what it feels like to be trans
  • JKR isn’t transphobic, just misinformed
  • Just ignore her
  • Telling people not to bother trying to discuss anything with the trans/nb people involved
  • Needing to insert themselves into the discussion even when giving uninformed opinions
  • Various versions of cisgender explaining

When trans/nonbinary folks objected, some of the commenters deleted their posts. Others dug their heels in. In this particular group, the mods attempted to curb the problem by requiring approval for posts and starting a specific thread for cisgender folks to ask questions. However, several people ignored all of that and continued to press on trans/nb people for emotional labor.

There was no way to “win” there for trans/nb people. When given resources, some of them complained that they didn’t like the attitude of the trans/nb content creators. When directed to the thread for asking questions, they tried to say we were “shutting them out.” When we tried to discuss things directly with them, they argued and showed their true colors with yet more antagonism.

 

It is endlessly frustrating. Look, if we say something is harmful to us, then the right response is not to give us grief. It should be a given, especially among our supposed allies and our fellow queer folks, that we’re to be supported. It would go a long way to have others simply ask how they can help.

I’m sure there are more alternatives to dismissal and scolding, but here are a few:

  • I’m sorry this is happening again. How can I support you?
  • It sucks to feel like your identity is misrepresented so often, doesn’t it?
  • What would you like to see in good representation?
  • Would you like to talk about this some more with me?

When we’re continually met with antagonism, dismissal, hostility, and disbelief, it leaves us with the impression we aren’t supposed to have feelings about it. As if we should just accept it because “people are still learning.” The only way to move beyond the “still learning” stage is to expect people to progress. And the only way to do that is to stop coddling them.

I have a feeling none of this was really about learning in the first place. This was more about not being able to handle the complexity of loving a series of books when the author has shown her ass multiple times.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to read or not read. It would be good if folks could sit with the fact that there are some vile tropes and horrifying implications in the books. But what we shouldn’t do is misplace our compassion. Listen to us when we say an author with a huge platform is a danger to trans/nb people.

I don’t have the patience at this point to argue or educate. So instead, my time is better spent on writing exactly what I wish I could see in media. Maybe in doing so, I can help others develop empathy.



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