Trans on facebook

Should I debate trans issues on facebook?

There are arguments for coming off it completely. I have given it data which show a detailed account of my personality and desires, and is used to manipulate me. There are trans support groups, but they often share things to be miserable about, which are followed by a dozen comments railing in misery. Yawn. Transphobe says something transphobic.

There’s a group discussing BBC radio. It can be fun. Recently, though, it’s infested with anti-trans campaigners. Should I disengage?

There was a programme where a self-described TERF talked to trans people. A post on that exploded to 775 comments, where few posts get more than a hundred. Word of Mouth, devoted to LGBT language, began with Michael Rosen’s moving confession and repentance of homophobia. These programmes are worth listening to, and I heard about them on that group. The thread’s at 240 comments and going strong.

There I am, trying to find agreement. I can find it in unexpected places. An anti-trans campaigner writes, “I’m a gender abolitionist; I think we’d all be better off if we were more free to behave in less stereotypical ways”.

I agree. “So the question is, how to get there when much of the anti-trans sentiment is conservative support of gender stereotypes and hatred of trans people for subverting them. The answer is to support everyone who is opposing assigned gender stereotypes, by whatever means they do it.”

I think she is too far gone for that to make a particular impression, but it might do some good.

I might hone my arguments. I now can state clearly and simply why the Equality Act assumes trans women will be in women’s spaces, despite passionate denial: “[The Act} doesn’t say that someone with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment must be treated as if they were the opposite sex and require them to be given access to facilities designated for the opposite sex. There is a lot of misinformation in circulation unfortunately.”

Easily answered. “Schedule 3. Paras 26-27 allow men to be excluded from women’s spaces. Para 28 allows trans women to be excluded. There would be no need for different provisions if it was as you say.” Well, that’s technical, and most people’s, even many trans people’s, eyes would glaze over long before that point- but I know what to say when that comes up.

Then there are the swivel-eyed obsessives. “Transwoman used to mean transsexual – a man with the distressing psychological condition of gender dysphoria. That has now exploded to include even part-time cross dressers and men who get their kicks dressing as women or being treated as women. Only those undergoing gender reassignment are covered by equality laws and even then there are exceptions where women need single-sex spaces. Stop with the power grab – women are aware of your tactics and we are standing up to them.”

Oh dear. Reading that is merely depressing, and I hope that anyone not wholly invested in the debate would be put off by it. I can answer it. Should I bother? Given that there are 36 replies to my original comment, no-one not obsessed would read the whole thread, and I could just leave it.

If I enjoy commenting, I should. I got in a top comment, 15 likes or loves, which may persuade some people. The poster objected to the phrase “gender assigned at birth” in Word of Mouth, so I commented, “Gender is assigned at birth. If you’re in a pink babygro, people goo-goo at you differently than if you’re in a blue one. Big strong boy! What a pretty girl! If your gender can’t be told from your clothes, people will want to know your name so they can assign you. The stereotypes are enforced from birth. I am amazed that “gender critical” people deny this. Surely they’ve noticed!”

Commenting like that, I might encourage a trans ally, discourage a hater, make someone think, but should not overestimate the effect I will have. Out of hundreds of comments, all having their incremental effect, mine will make little difference. If I drop out, there are plenty of others to argue in the same way. If anti-trans campaigners take over, their effort is not proportionate to any gain of persuading the unpersuaded.

Then one pulls one of the nastiest tricks in the transphobe armoury. You know they are filled with hate for every trans person when they do this. “Self-ID provides an obvious incentive for male sex offenders to identify as female. Some examples here:” and she gives a link.

So I said we’re not all sex offenders, and we have self declaration already. That’s enough, in her eyes, to make me an apologist for sex offenders at best. “We know that some men pose a risk to women… your cavalier dismissal of it… is very telling”. In the ellipses was even nastier stuff. Accusations of my selfishness and misogyny follow. There is nothing I could say to such people.

facebook is addictive. The system is designed to keep you coming back by getting you riled up. The notifications bell is a ping of dopamine. The hurt and frustration I feel from others’ anger is not worth it. I enjoy writing a well-crafted comment, but I would be better writing something less ephemeral.

7 thoughts on “Trans on facebook

    • 26-27 say when a service can be made for women only, which includes trans women. 28 says when trans women can be excluded from that women’s service. The grounds for exclusion are different. Because the grounds are different, and there is a separate rule, the assumption is that women’s services will include trans women unless 28 applies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. Will look it up. I can’t persuade my daughter to consider buying clothing anywhere but online and she can only use gender neutral toilets outside her flat and even then fears abuse when exiting, because she’s over 6ft, so rarely stays out long, unless at her father’s or a friend who knows house and that’s only 3 people in all!


  1. If you can reply repeatedly with a steady hand then do, but not to the point where it causes you severe mental anguish because that’s counter-productive. You are extremely eloquent, sharp as a pin and have a good heart, which makes you an ideal battler online, you will be making a huge difference without knowing it in many cases I’m sure of it. You are an integral force for what will one day be as accepted as the norm. This will happen, it’s just a case of when and that when is determined by those who stand up for Trans rights, and educate themselves regarding gender. The assumption regarding pedophiles is both disgusting and damaging, it shows a huge cavity filled with ignorance. Carry on, but be sure to look after yourself my dear Clare.

    Esme Cloud sending love x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Personally, I use Facebook exclusively for keeping in touch with friends I have met in real life. I don’t bother engaging in discussions in groups, and still less use Twitter and suchlike, as social media is a coward’s paradise that gives people a false interface with the rest of the world. The narcissistic, the bullying, the malign, people who would never dare speak or act in real life the way they write online, have much freer reign on social media, with few of the interpersonal, social, practical and legal sanctions that exist in reality. I notice no genuine debates, which in real life are discussions presided over by an arbiter, but merely niches in cyberspace in which all comers can say their bit at random. Engaging online can merely be playing the games of the manipulative and the abusive. Starve their egos of the oxygen of attention they need to thrive, is my policy. Going online has always been like travelling the Wild West – a land of opportunity, certainly, but full of dangers. I think democratic governments now need to get a grip on the parts of online life that are the preserve of the socially broken. Sue x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blogs are better for debate. Twitter is good for the sharp rhetorical jab, sometimes, but often has someone famous saying something reasonable about trans and loads of idiots replying transphobically. And facebook is the great recruiter for QAnon.


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