The below formatting seemed the least complicated and most direct. Thank you for reading, if you do.
You state in your response: Because you never state what “premise” I’m required to “defend,” I really don’t understand your comment.
To which I reply from your article:
And I also feel that “mis-gendering” transgender people by intentionally referring to them using incorrect gender pronouns is a form of verbal violence akin to a hate crime.
I took that as your premise, or at least a major part of it. If I was wrong, I apologize, and please feel free to enlighten me. I have no wish to arguing the other side of a point no one was making in the first place.
You next state in your response: “Casual analogy” between WHAT, exactly? What, EXACTLY, am I to be more “sensitive” about?
Comparing a someone who may mean well when asking about gender pronouns, to someone who isn’t Black hurling the N-word, or someone who isn’t Jewish or Hispanic using the worst slurs to be hurled at those ethnic groups. My point is that those are unambiguous. The sheer weight of history makes it so, no matter what the perpetrator claims. If they know the N-word, they know who gets to say it and who doesn’t, and that no matter who they are, if someone says “DON’T” they shouldn’t.
When someone not of an ethnic group of which I’m a part hurls a slur at me, there’s no ambiguity. No one can say: “Oh, I didn’t know you wouldn’t like it if I, a non-Black person, called you the N-word.” (And I feel the same way with Black people who do that, as well. It’s not a thing I want anyone calling me. Beyond that, I don’t police its usage.)
When someone outside or inside of my group asks what gender pronouns I’d like them to use, I acknowledge there’s a GREAT possibility of it being hurtful, depending on how dysphoria is hitting me that day or hour. But for me, at least, and a lot of trans folk I know, when the person means well and just doesn’t have the vocab or etiquette or whatever they lack that’s making for na awkward communication. Effort DOES count. And anyone calling me the N-word IS NOT trying. Not for anything good. Someone asking for my pronoun could mean perfectly well, and just not know how to show it in a way that I prefer. I’ll cut leeway for “trying.” Not for slurs.
And even just a few years since coming out as agender, I can tell when people are sincere and trying, or just wielding a seemingly innocent question to wound.
TL;DR? Don’t compare being called ANYTHING to being called the N-word. Don’t compare any racial and ethnic slurs to each other and don’t compare them to being called a gender slur or a sexuality slur. These things are ALL BAD THINGS, but not the same kind of bad. Trying to make them match in degree is TRULY divisive, because you’re putting intangible pain up against intangible pain. In my experience, people who do that either don’t realize they’re doing it and just how HURTFUL it is — at least to those of us who get to circle “all of the above” in the “What Slurs Do You Get Called?” heading of life — or they straight-up mean to sow division. I was pointing that out in hopes that you’re the former.
You also replied: But, if you can’t answer these questions without making assumptions about my race or gender presentation or privilege (about which you know NOTHING),
I DID assume, based on your profile photo, that you were white/white-passing and masc-presenting. I shouldn’t have, especially considering the tenor of the article. I apologize for that sincerely. Like everyone, I have my blind-spots and places where I need to be shook a little (or a lot) woke-er. I realize, with the perfection of hindsight, that a lot of my hurt over your comparison of asking for gender pronouns to hurling a racial or ethnic slur at someone, was assuming that that photo represented you and your life experiences. That that life and experiences had (mis)informed your opinion and point.
Though, in acknowledging my possibly false assumption and leapt-to conclusions, I do ask that YOU recognize (no matter how you identify racially or ethnically), that when people who identify as non-Black make the comparison you made in your article, of gender slurs to racial slurs, it’s HURTFUL. HARMFUL. They’re each their own terrible thing and require no comparisons, no matter how well-meaning. Comparisons, in that case, are the sort of callously cruel statement that makes it difficult for me, and for other Black trans and queer folks to trust that ANY non-Black person means Black folks well. Comparisons like that seem to prove the opposite. And if they ARE well-meant, then . . . please, NEVER take it into your head (if you are, in fact, white) to purposely harm us.
You finally replied: “I’d prefer if you don’t comment at all….”
I have no interest in trolling or being a pointless nuisance in your blog. As I said, it seemed as if you had no understanding of how hurtful it is to see a writer whose profile photo is of a white and masc-presenting person, claiming that asking for pronouns was as bad as a physically violent hate-crime. That, and letting you know how that feels from the POV of someone who’s Black and trans — not just me, and though I don’t claim to speak for all, most, or even a large amount of folks who are Black and trans, I have other friends that are and we’ve talked about exactly this from the larger queer community. This dismissal of just what it means to be not just BLACK, but TRANS AND BLACK. Of what it means not just to be TRANS, but to be BLACK AND TRANS.
Seeing a professor ignore that very thing gives our fears so much more credence. And aside from being hurtful, it’s frightening. For reasons I shouldn’t even have to enumerate, all things considered. For reasons I’ve already mentioned, as well. And for reasons I shouldn’t have to say because they’re that obvious. Or should be, when communicating with a professor who has life experience and presumably friends (perhaps even some of color) in the queer and trans community.
I didn’t write my reply to anger or drive away, but to inform and spread around some understanding while getting some sent my way. Well, I suppose the latter happened, anyway. My understanding of several things, some not brought up in your article, has deepened or been initiated. Thank you for that, at least.
The TL;DR of this long, careful reply is: “This comparison is harmful. What you’re saying in pursuit of your point, or what seems like your point, is hurtful and offensive and wrong. You aren’t the first to use this argument for issues relating to the queer community, only the latest. So, please, PLEASE, stop doing it. It helps nothing and hurts ACTUAL PEOPLE, me included. It has to stop SOMEWHERE, at SOMETIME. So, please, stop.”
If an honest expression and explanation of why something you’ve said is causing me and probably others who read it pain — and has done so countless times before, from countless other sources —offends and disinterests you, that is what it is. I can’t and wouldn’t force you to care about what Black trans folks or (even just one of us) feel about such Oppression Olympics-comparisons. And if you have no interest in an honest rebuttal of my claims or a statement clarification for your own intentions in making such a comparison . . . I can’t force that either.
I can’t force a good faith discussion or debate that might lead to more clarity and less distance between us. Between two mostly agreeing opinions on this issue (no one is entitled to have someone’s pronouns, and even asking someone that can be a form of psychological violence depending on the person being asked and their state of mind) then I’ll respect your request and comment no further. No shade, no harm intended, and I apologize if I caused any. Thank you again, for reading. Good day and good luck.