Don’t Let’s be Beastly to the Bigots!

Is now the time for trans people to open any sort of dialogue with those whose primary goal has always been our literal obliteration?

Le Massacre de Scio (“The Chios massacre”) by Eugène Delacroix (1824): public domain

Good to talk?

Because, in an entirely reasonable world, that is what reasonable people do. They talk. They debate. They discuss. In the end, those wielding the sword of Truth, not to mention the shield of Righteousness will prevail. That’s how things are.

You can kill me, grind my corpse to dust, bring me back as a fully-paid up member of the walking dead and…I still would not be up for talking to the hateful bigots […] who have actively campaigned to remove medical treatment that will lead to some trans folks dying early and in pain.

My response, I fear, as one once judged to be one of the more reasonable tranz, was a less than reasonable: not in this lifetime! Nor even the next. Or the one after that. You can kill me, grind my corpse to dust, bring me back as a fully-paid up member of the walking dead and…I still would not be up for talking to the hateful bigots who have not just made trans folks’ lives a misery but who have actively campaigned to remove medical treatment that will lead to some trans folks dying early and in pain.

But who is editing the conversations?

As for print media, just don’t. Work I carried out with Trans Media Watch highlighted how little space, ever, trans voices are allowed in anti-trans articles. In one national paper, over 15 months, just 5% of trans-related pieces included input from a trans person: 45% included “allies” who did their best, but were often just not up to the task. 75% included comment from the haters.

just 5% of trans-related pieces included input from a trans person: 45% included “allies” who did their best, but were often just not up to the task. 75% included comment from the haters.

Even when we are allowed that small courtesy of a “right to reply”, there are endless devices used by the mainstream to reduce and belittle trans input. Cutting it short. Sending it to the very bottom of the article, almost as afterthought. Or surrounding the response with language designed to reduce and belittle the speaker. But hey! They’re “balanced”.

Free speech is absolute — unless it is about ME-E-E!

Don’t even get me started on comment pieces. Because, of course, the start point for the exercise of free speech is that you should be allowed to say whatever you wish. All else is cancel culture and the end of civilisation as we know it. So we see endless pieces generalising about trans folk (other minorities, too). Yet those selfsame free speech absolutists throw a conniption fit at the merest suggestion that they, as individuals, are anything less than perfect. Because libel, doncha know!

Everyone talks in the end?

But, but, but…everyone talks in the end. The Brits and the IRA in Ireland. The apartheid regime and those they had oppressed for so long in South Africa. And that is true, but incomplete. In those — and similar situations — there was a war going on and the costs to both sides had become too great.

when it came to actual Nazis — and there is more than a whiff of overlap between modern-day trans exterminist views and the racial and other exterminations advocated by that group — they fought til the bitter, bitter end

Whereas when it came to actual Nazis — and there is more than a whiff of overlap between modern-day trans exterminist views and the racial and other exterminations advocated by that group — they fought til the bitter, bitter end. In ultimate defeat, they preferred the cyanide pill to talking: a task they left to “moderate” war criminals, like Dönitz.

Or we could just talk…like normal people

Still, the conversation — with my friend — was not without its positives. For a start it reminded me that there is a point to talking. There are circumstances where groups such as Trans Media Watch encourage talk ABOUT stuff. When, for example, issues are not stripped down to one extremist bigoted position set up to challenge trans people on all the supposed evil we are doing, but when discussion is subsumed in a wider forum.

No-one has the right to demand you talk…

It recalled to me, too, my father who, when I was young startled me with the view that “The only good German was a dead one!” (Likewise, Russians!). Then, in all the arrogance of youth, I was surprised, disappointed that one otherwise so gentle in life could espouse such violence.

it was not…was never…my place to preach to one who had survived such horror how he should respond now to “the other side”

…or forgive

I could never endorse my father’s sentiments. But later, there was time and room for both of us to understand better. He softened. He forgave. A little.

Feminist, writer, campaigner on political and sexual liberty who also knows a bit about IT, the law and policing. Not entirely serious…

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