Nice people

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.

5 thoughts on “Nice people

  1. Haha. So true. People who think they are nice are the real problem. I am certainly not nice. And I dont consider so mane else either. Ask most people who know me… In many peoples eyes a introverted, more silent and ”mysterious” person is someone who is not free. That is so not understanding another sort of personality. Being older now I am more cool with being misunderstood. It gets lonely, sometimes, but also free and giving oneself permission to be whatever I want. And that is also what got me into so much trouble. Because to be a member in most groups one has to think like the group. Otherwise you are not considered nice. I stick to my right to think like I want and that is not always appreciated maybe. In the Orthodox church I was told a couple of times ” in the orthodox church we think like this”. I think that is like the worst thing one could say to me. Nothing more violent, more uninteresting, uncreative, more off turning. Now I laugh a little bit and hug myself, because it is rather funny in a way. What would I have expected from orthodox church? I just wanted to try, and see how deep the sacred went, how unconditional it was and I loved the sacred, beautiful space to bring my soul to and listen to the hymns, the chants and smell the incense and just empty myself and pray. But wanting all that is when I jumped up and bit myself. Because in the end I had to to get myself out of the place, because I felt strangled there. It was not deep in the way I tried to believe. And that is what most often happens to me.
    So many times I wanted to just adapt and be like expected in whatever group I was in, but that would be violent towards myself, so not nice to myself, my inner truth. I was on a workshop the other day about queerness, and I realise that according to that way of describing queerness I am queer myself. Queer described as permitting oneself to be more than one thing. I contain paradoxes, polarities and multitudes, and where I cannot be that I simply just cant be. There have not been many places for me. So I have to go within, because that is the only place where I am fully allowed to be me. And that is also where I always end up…that is also interesting, because all my life I was drawn to artists of all kinds. I start to understand more and more why. I am one myself. I am a writer. I perform and have a voice in my way. More silent way. Oftentimes that is perceived as rigid, or unable to express oneself, or fear and shyness and on and on. And though I for sure contain all of those traits it is also very far from truth. I just dont do debates, I dont argue, anylonger. Only with closest loved ones. With them it is sometimes unavoidable and necessary to stay true to love. With others I try to show my point of view in my way. Or just let it be. It is no longer a need I have to argue and debate. My way is most often not as fast, nor direct, as the ways of more extroverted people, but somehow I find my way. I might have to write a book or a poem about it. And sometimes I do roar. It happens still. Though years may pass in between…
    Thank you for being you. I love your way of being. You are cool. I wish I could learn to have such a strong sound voice like you, but I might be too violent on myself trying to pursue that. Or perhaps I just have to wait and let it appear one day, if it wants.


  2. “you have entered a very difficult and a very challenging world.” (!!!)
    You have ENTERED??? Was there a choice? You have been slung into this through an circumstance of birth, that is the truth of it. (Can you tell I’m fuming.)

    People who think they are nice are the pits.


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