The Three Habits of Highly Obnoxious Trolls

[Content note: transphobia]

On Wednesday, under the headline Heads Up, Trans Activists, Dan Savage, a cis gay man, decided to offer some advice to trans activists, writing:
Maybe it's time to turn your attentions away from policing the speech of drag queens with reality shows, drag queens with club nights, and retired drag queens with advice columns... and focus your attentions, your tweets, and your rage on the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention?
(The surprising premise here is that the Southern Baptist Convention is run by transphobic bigots.)

The whole post is A+ level trolling, even by Savage standards, so I think it's worth pointing out the three things that he absolutely nails.

1) Portraying Your Target as a Monolithic Entity

"Trans activists?" Which "trans activists" are you talking about, Dan? I can only assume that you're not naming names because you either don't care enough about trans people to know the names of folks involved, or you (correctly) realize that calling out individual trans activists would make you look like a colossal bully.

I don't recall policing the speech of drag queens with reality shows. Trans activist Kate Bornstein uses the very slur "trans activists" are condemning. You'd know this if you had read your own column from last Saturday.

I first came out in late 2004. Just to demonstrate how monolithic trans women aren't, here's an abbreviated list of topics that, during the last decade have been responsible for cataclysmic levels of vitriol within circles of trans women:

How do we feel about crossdressers?
How do you feel about using progesterone?
"I cycle my hormones" / "Why do you side with the patriarchy?"
Estrogen in pills / FUCK YOU NEEDLES
"I let my estrogen pills dissolve under my tongue."/"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Transamerica: What was that?
"Holy shit, you're one of the three people who actually thinks 'autogynephlia' is a thing?!?"
Electrolysis versus laser hair removal
"North American genital surgeons 4EVR!"/"I'd rather go to Thailand"/"Shut up, I can't afford surgery"/"Fuck you, I don't want surgery"
Nose jobs?
Gay sex? (Wait, what do you mean by "gay"?)
"Genital electrolysis!" / "genital. fucking. electrolysis."
I have a moustache. Deal with it.
When did you know?

Oh! In additional to being a partial list, those are all things that I've seen vicious debates about amongst relatively young, relatively affluent, white trans women. If you want to party, you should talk about intersecting oppressions. Racism. Ageism. Classism. Binaryism. Imagine dropping acid and sitting down with Nic Cage to watch an M Night Shyamalan film. That's the kind of horror I'm talking about here. Trans women (and let's be honest, Savage is talking about the ladies) make up diverse communities filled with seriously fucked up individuals. In short, we're like any other non-monolithic population. We're people.

2) Assuming Your Target Is Only Capable of Dealing with One Topic

I know and love a lot of the trans activists that have been, as Savage says, "policing" drag queens' language. I don't recall any of them ever say that we shouldn't be talking about other things. A lot of them have made the point that normalizing the use of transphobic slurs contributes to a larger system of violence against trans people. (Spoiler: They're right, Dan.)

A lot of trans activists have been talking about Jane Doe. I've been closely following all the developments around same sex marriage in Wisconsin. Oh, also: THE WORLD CUP STARTED YESTERDAY!!! (As did the protests. FIFA can suck a douche.) A lot of us have a lot of interests, is what I'm saying.

Let be honest here. When you say "How dare you talking about this thing in the face of this horrible injustice!" what you're really saying is "I believe that the said injustice is more important than the current topic of discussion. You're making a judgement about the relative merits of the topic at hand. It's a powerful way to prod people into discussing the very thing you're ostensibly asking them to push to the back burner. To that I say:
Fuck you, Dan Savage.
The recent discussion over the t-word has caused a tremendous amount of pain and suffering within the trans community.

I cried. (Some of us trans ladies have issues with expressing our emotions, so that's saying something.) It's caused me to reconsider how I use social media and how I define my community. It's caused me to do a lot of soul searching about how best to play a part in a beloved community.

I'm hoping that the result of these past few vicious months will be a stronger, more confident, and more loving trans community. I'm optimistic. That seems to be the pattern. I'll be damned if we don't have some incredible leaders these days. I count myself as lucky to be in the company of my trans siblings. Regardless of our differences, we're a pretty remarkable group.

You don't care about that, Dan Savage. You're interested in getting us to keep up the infighting for your own amusement. Fuck off-- most of us are better than that, asshole.

3) Deflecting!

It's always about someone else, isn't it? Andrew Sullivan isn't a Baptist yet is a gay guy. He thinks (or at least he thought, prior to some half-assed revelation) that Laverne Cox owes us all an explanation of her genitals. I get that there are folks in the Southern Baptist Convention who hate trans people (and conveniently enough, gay folks such as you, Dan). We're not talking about Baptists. We're talking about folks who use the t-word-- Baptist or not.


But honestly, why should anybody give a shit what Dan Savage thinks, what with global warming and all?

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