No, I Don’t Have to Accept It When A Friend Spreads Transphobic Misinformation
So yes, this is about The Great Always Controversy of 2019, a “friend” spreading the misinformation a right-wing site posted, and my reaction to that post.
What actually happened: After Proctor and Gamble added a Venus symbol to the packaging for Always pads, a few trans men and non-binary people who menstruate pointed out to them that not everyone who uses their products identifies with it. Proctor and Gamble, a company that positions itself as an LGBTQ ally, understood their point of view and agreed to remove the symbol to better reflect their customers, the company’s values, and their marketing strategy.
It was a simple marketing suggestion, voiced firmly but politely, that the marketing division of the company found to be reasonable.
How it was portrayed in The Daily Caller: After P&G announced the change, The Daily Caller, a far-right website known for making up lies about the transgender community, started a misinformation campaign. Gone was the reasonable exchange between people in the trans community and an allied corporation. Instead, the Daily Caller published stories about angry tweets from unreasonable trans activists that the weak corporation caved in to. A suggestion about marketing their products from users of the products turned into threats of a boycott from insane people intent on destroying Western culture and the natural order.
To be clear, there were no angry tweets. The trans people didn’t force P&G into anything, and P&G certainly didn’t “cave” to their non-existent demands. There was a proposed boycott of Always, and #BoycottAlways did start to trend on Twitter. However, it wasn’t the trans activists who threatened this. It was transphobes who started the boycott campaign after P&G announced that they would remove the symbol. For people who read The Daily Caller, seeing trans people treated with dignity and respect is the worst possible outcome.
The Daily Caller’s readers don’t want to read about a civil exchange involving queer people. They want to have their prejudices about trans people confirmed, and the publishers are more than happy to provide that to them.
Honestly, I hadn’t heard anything about this until a “friend” of mine shared the Daily Caller post on Facebook. I’m a transfeminine person. I don’t menstruate, so I don’t need to use pads; therefore, I wasn’t paying attention.
The people paying attention to this are like the guys in the photo. These are all trans men hired by the fashion house Marco Marco to model their underwear. All these men were born female, so they all have needed sanitary pads at some point. I would hope that one could see that these men would not identify with the Venus symbol. These dudes are definitely from Mars.
What disturbed me or actually disappointed me was my “friend’s” comment.
“Oh, how stupid.”
In three little words, my “friend” dismissed the concerns of trans people without taking the time to try to understand the issue. In three little words, my “friend” denigrated the existence of trans people — all trans people.
I responded by saying goodbye. There was nothing else to do.
Now you might say that they weren’t attacking me in particular. However, I am trans, and when someone shares misinformation about trans people in general, they are indeed attacking me personally. If you say “That person is stupid,” you’re making a rude comment about just that person; however, when you say that an issue about a group of people is stupid, you’re insulting every person in that group.
The misinformation in that article gets trans people attacked and killed. These lies and the abuse inspired by them drive trans kids to suicide every day. The thought process behind articles like The Daily Caller’s is why we have Transgender Day of Remembrance. When you share that and agree with it, you’re taking part in the violence.
You may say that their concern was about biology, about people who menstruate unlike me. Well, yeah, I already covered that. However, people who spread these lies always frame their concerns around trans women. It’s like they don’t even understand that trans men or non-binary people exist. They would much rather target trans women than try to understand the complexity of gender. I should say that they want to target the stereotypes that they are fed by media outlets like The Daily Caller.
What bothers me the most is that if they had any doubts, all they had to do was ask me. If there was a trans issue that they had a question about, they could have come to me, and I would have explained the problem and helped them understand people like me. I teach LGBTQ+ diversity and sensitivity courses. I’m pretty good at explaining these things. I will help people understand trans issues, and I will work with someone for years if needs be.
Instead, my “friend” decided to share a post that lies about people like me and put it in a place where I, probably their only trans friend, would see it.
How can I not see this as their expression of what they really think of me?
Why would I want to see this kind of irresponsible crap on my timeline?
How could I not say goodbye?