gubbbywaters asked: Thank you for responding to my question respectfully. It makes me take your response very seriously and makes me agree with you on major points. a lot of people just get really angry on certain issues. You are very intelligent. Respect
It was just a compliment……………………………….
[Image: Tumblr ask screencap from same poster stating: I was complimenting your intelligent response. That is all. Everyone gets frustrated and angry by things they are passionate about, as they should. I was just saying I appreciate you not calling me any names or not telling me to go kill myself or something, but thank you for the ten page essay. Hahaha and that was also a very intelligent response even though “you can not accept my praise”]
(Thought I would tackle this reblog and your submitted ask at once… Though I briefly entertained the idea of just ignoring them as not really worth it.)
The reason why I wrote what seems to you like a ten page essay (it did eat up a bit of my fun time) was in hopes that maybe I could clearly communicate how when praised me, you invalidated other people and reinforced a damaging stereotype. Based on your response, I’m not sure you got it, but I’m willing to give it another shot.
"It’s just a compliment…" gets used a lot to defend backhanded compliments like these: ”Wow, you’re not like other girls.” “You’re a credit to your people.” “I’m so glad you’re not one of those angry minorities.”
You’ve clarified that to you, “respectful” and “not angry” discourse means “not calling me names” and “not telling me to go kill myself.” You’ve braced yourself against this idea that angry trans advocates will do this to you.
I’ve only been blogging on the Jared Leto “playing trans” issue for a few days (and from a privileged perspective, natch) and already I’ve been inundated with horrible transmisogynistic slurs, comparisons between trans people and slavery and deviance, rampant misgendering, and labeling of polite protest as heckling, disrespect, and discrimination against cis people.
If you want to discuss name calling? There aren’t even slurs for cis people. The “worst” one that even comes close is “cis scum” (which I haven’t seen used in these conversations about Jared Leto—most advocates seem more concerned about the impact the performance has on the trans community and less concerned about Leto’s character, and most of their critics more protective of Leto’s character and cis privilege and less concerned about trans representation.) That term in no way conveys the type of degradation and threat embedded in the slurs that we use to target trans people. Not even close.
If you want to discuss angry discourse where people are told explicitly or implicitly to go kill themselves, that their lives aren’t worth living, etc.? As far as I am aware, there are no incidents where a cis person has ever committed suicide because trans people told them they should go kill themselves. There are no incidents where a cis person has killed themselves because trans people have made their world unbearable to live in. In contrast, more than 50% of Transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday. But the concern is the possibility of trans advocates telling you to kill yourself.
We should take these issues seriously whether or not we feel the speaker is “respectful” or “intelligent” or “angry.” These issues are not merely “things people are passionate about” but issues that affect their livelihood and safety and the lives of people they care about.
As many advocates have pointed out, we have limited control over how people perceive us. To some people, my tone has been respectful. To this guy, I’m a “crazy bitch” no matter how I’ve expressed myself. (I guess refusing a backhanded compliment makes you one?)
When you call trans people who are—justifiably—frustrated with this casting decision “angry” you are reinforcing a damaging stereotype:
You’re the second person in two days to say this. You may not realize this and may feel you are offering me a well-intentioned compliment, but it is not flattering because it marginalizes other people.
I’m able to engage on the topic of trans representation in the way that I do because of my privilege as a cis person. I can talk about this issue at very little emotional cost or personal risk to myself based on my gender identity, and that is a privilege and luxury. Unfortunately, this is also a terrible side effect of allyship. Allies are applauded for being intelligent, respectful, and agreeable while the people who actually have to live with the consequences of being marginalized are stereotyped as angry, unintelligent, and not worth respecting.
I can’t accept your respect because by praising me you are dismissing the frustration (which you’ve handily labeled “anger”) expressed by members of the trans community.
I’ll take a raving bigot any day over an insidious purveyor of backhanded compliment-slinging “You’re not like those OTHER [marginalized group of people], you’re admirable and use facts and keep cool and caaaaalm.”
The main information conveyed to me by this message is:
1. That you have said or done things that have caused harm to marginalized people or witnessed such an incident
2. and instead of listening, being respectful, and starting to consider other people’s well-being, mental health, and physical survival and how you (yes, you!) can positively or negative affect that
3. You decided that [other advocates] are…angry, unfocused, not-calm, do not explain, do not use facts, are unworthy of admiration, and these things cause you to close your tender ears to their “ideas”….
If you really think that I’m so starved for approval that I would accept and become implicit in the dehumanizing insult you’ve just levied at countless other bloggers who you deem “social justice types”, you’ve got an entirely other thing coming.
As I’ve just said, diversity of perspectives is important to show, and now you’ve shown yours: that marginalized people are only worthy of your precious openness to their “ideas” if they behave toward you in the manner you feel entitled to.
If what I wrote helped you reconsider or think more deeply on the issue of trans representation in the media, that is wonderful, but I don’t want to hear that it came at the expense of your respect for other people.
“It’s a form of silencing to call people from a non-dominant group “angry”. It’s a way of dismissing them as irrational… Yes, we are angry, and that anger should be empathized with, not dismissed.”
The Angry T—— trope is a variation of the classic tone argument aimed specifically at trans women (it is used against trans men too, but as I suggest later I see the implication is specifically to de-gender trans women as angry men), a derail which suggests people would listen to you, if only you were nicer. This is never attainable, however, as the dominant groups retains the right to decide what is and isn’t acceptable tone, and dissenting ideas are inevitably considered impolite, rude, or angry. Angry Tranny takes this one step further, and beyond merely classifying arguments as angry trans women themselves are framed as threatening. [read more]