Avril and Alison moderate a facebook group. Alison has gone down the rabbit-hole, quoting hate group foul play by transphobes to argue Trans is the world’s greatest threat to women. Avril, however, only wants to be nice. I had an exchange on messenger with Avril for two weeks, testing the breadth of her transphobia.
Early in the conversation Avril told me she had two trans friends, and wanted to buy the book of poems one had written. She told me she is “trying to come with terms” with trans. “This may take decades.”
Society has changed out of all recognition in the last 50 years. It will continue to change. 50 years ago, homosexuality was illegal and gays had to live quietly, without drawing attention to themselves. Nowadays, no-one turns a hair. I was at a gay wedding, 5 years ago. It was a wonderful occasion.
Wow. So if I “live quietly”, everything will be alright after I’m dead. I don’t believe it. The arc of history has to be bent towards justice, and if not me, then who?
She has strange ideas about trans, claiming there are people who claim to be women, who are frauds. “All women know this.” She said the swivel-eyed transphobe Alison “has looked into the subject of trans in considerable depth”. I said that reading up the hate sites was like an anti-vaxxer memorising lists of ingredients of vaccines, and their alleged harms. She said I was “like Michael Gove decrying experts”.
Avril thinks the group, including those who rave about inclusive language, autogynephilia, “trans-identified males”, just because someone on the radio happened to use the word “cis”, has a lot of “nice people”. Avril is nice. She continued messaging me because she wanted to help me. She is “confident that Alison is well-intentioned”, “does not consider herself to be anti-trans,” and her views “are not stemming from hate”. She doesn’t know much about trans, she says, “but I wish trans people well”.
She agreed with me that there should be a moratorium on trans. Then she discussed it with Alison, and refused. They would keep an eye on trans discussions that arise. She wants “free speech,” but “hate speech, abuse, intolerance, etc, are not allowed”. Hurt feelings are unavoidable.
So I started a trans thread myself, and Avril closed it. She said there were complaints about me, and I was putting people’s backs up. She stopped me making further posts. “You must stop rocking the boat”, she wrote, and I am sure she thought herself loving and helpful at that moment. Then she changed the subject, pleased that the Queen’s Speech said something about “conversion therapy”.
All the time she was keen to point out how reasonable she was being. “We allow people to express their views, provided they are not extreme.” And how unreasonable I was being, to challenge anti-trans bigotry. “If something upsets you, don’t read it.” “Please don’t foment trouble.”
She wanted to seem friendly, and the high point of this was writing, “I’d like a moratorium on trans too. I don’t see ‘cis’ as a slur.” But it did not lead to anything.
And then she started trying to be “helpful” to me. She wanted to improve my mental health. “Please focus on the positives. Please think of how far you’ve come in a short time.” “You’re the one who sees this scenario of ‘win or lose’.” “Please stop obsessing”. She thinks I am unrealistic, as if I expect everyone to agree with me.
“As a trans woman, you have entered a very difficult and a very challenging world. However, some pioneers have made a success of it, and I hope you will too. Think of Jan Morris, Angela Morley, and others.” “There’s nothing wrong with seeing a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst or a counsellor. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. In fact, psycholanalysts have to go through analysis themselves as part of their training. It’s part of personal growth. No-one should be embarrassed about seeking counselling.”
I asked, “Should I be ejected from women’s spaces or not?” She proposed gender neutral space. That’s no use when there is no gender-neutral space, as in most places.
Her positive self-image is immovable. “I’ve done my absolute best for you.” “I have bent over backwards for you.” “The person spreading hate is yourself.” I was “spurn[ing her] decency and kindness”. “You’re determined to exhaust the patience of a saint.” The saint is her.
I referred her to that Ha’aretz article I cited before. The mad obsessives like Alison are in a tiny minority, but people who think they are nice, and tolerant, and reasonable are the real problem.
23 May, afternoon: the group is “not available at the moment,” fb says.