Being Mean isn’t Helpful

g_L0A7550My brilliant and wonderful younger sister lives in South Africa, and she sent me a link to nice article from a local website, The article is titled “15 ways to treat a transgender person” and it’s well-written and logical. I like it.

I’m a little shocked at how far South African culture has come, as such. This article could have been written by the best magazines in the US and I wouldn’t have noticed the difference.  At the time I left South Africa, the prevailing culture seemed to be a better fit with 1930s Germany than 2010s America.

Anyway, the “comments” section of the article includes a comment by a gentleman who wrote:

“Should we treat a person that believes they’re actually a transformer, walking about holding wheels and calling themselves “Optimus Prime”, like they’re no different from us… or should we find them the necessary help.

I can’t say I particularly care about someone that considers themselves transgender, but (like the transformer mentioned above), I’d prefer not to have to live in a society where we’re too concerned about being politically correct to point out the obvious.”

Although I dislike his condescending style, he raises a valid point — in the context of his apparently limited knowledge. The question of “Am I just imagining I’m a girl?” is certainly an early part of the cognitive journey of many, most or all t-girls – and he’s now taking that same step, albeit with an outsider’s perspective. He does, however, still have far to go.

It takes a wider perspective and much additional information to realize that, no, it’s not an imaginary thing — being a t-girl is as real as a dog being a dog, or a tree being a tree.

So, political correctness is not the best basis for respecting a t-girl’s decision to live as a girl. We can do better. We can rely on facts, and on reason — the sort of cold, hard facts and candid reasoning that this gentleman seems to value, as do I.

It seems to me that this gentleman seems to be simply be lacking information. This brings up the question of whether he’s prudent to be outspoken on a subject in which he seems to be … how do I say this nicely … fundamentally ignorant, and to do so in a forum that already takes these fundamentals for granted and proceeds beyond them, at a higher-yet level of functioning.

I’d say “no, he’s not prudent,” and for him to show his ignorance as such is a rather humbling thing to do. If he ever realizes that, then he’ll probably also realize how silly his choice of condescending tone is.

Secondary issues aside: assuming he’s a reasonable man and he’s simply missing some information, the most logical thing to do would seem to be: provide to him the missing pieces of the puzzle. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. In the “comments” section, transgender-friendly people heaped scorn on the man, while adding very little information that’s likely to help him understand.

So, I joined the fray, and I wrote the following comment:

g_L0A7530“I’m a t-girl. Some people are nice to me about my gender identity yet many of them basically humor me. If I put them on the spot then they probably don’t see any more of a factual basis for my claims than you do. At least you’re being candid and yours is not an unreasonable point in the absence of more information.

Absent better scientific evidence, the earth-is-flat premise isn’t all that silly. The earth certainly looks a lot more flat than it looks like a ball from the limited perspective of most people. Going beyond the obvious, by gathering facts and looking at things logically and scientifically, do we learn that the thing actually IS basically spherical, as peculiar a notion as that initially seems.

Going beyond the obvious, by gathering facts and looking at things logically and scientifically, we learn that transgender people aren’t imagining the condition: the cold, hard facts of marble-slab autopsies have show that some people have male genitals and a brain structure that’s fundamentally female. And, people who claimed to be t-girls were, in fact, later validated by such evidence. So, t-girls exist as a matter of proven, scientific fact. It’s a genetic anomaly, but it’s as real and factual as black panthers, albinos and four-leaf clovers.

Building on that, fact-based psychologically valid approaches have been developed to help an individual figure out whether he’s a male imagining he’s a girl, or a t-girl realizing she’s one such genetic anomaly.”

I hope this helps. It seems to be a better approach than simply being mean.

Big Planet, Many T-Girl Friendly Places

PLANETNow and then I look at my blog’s traffic stats and I am so happy to see how much (presumably benevolent) interest there is in t-girl culture as implied by the worldwide visitor stats. The map image is from today. (I added the “less / more” wording and blanked out the actual numbers).

It’s a big planet. Of course there are places that are hostile and dangerous to t-girls but then again for pretty much every human field of interest on the planet, there are also places hostile to that.

Fan of Islam? Don’t say that too loudly in a small town in the US Bible Belt. Fan of Christianity? Don’t say that too loudly in countries where Islam is the dominant idea set. Fan of atheism? Maybe avoid both of these places.  And so on.

So, yes, there are place where being a t-girl will get you beat up or worse but then again there are places where just being white, or being black, will have the same effect.

You can dwell on the negatives, and I suggest you do — but only long enough to avoid danger to a reasonable degree. Beyond that point, it’s probably more healthy to think of the positive places on the planet, and wow, there are many of them..

For t-girls, it’s getting better, too. I was in Germany a month ago, and I’m very obviously a t-girl. With one lone grumpy exception, the Germans were all super-nice to me (and some were even more nice than that, to where it became necessary to say, “wow, thank you, but no thank you, I don’t do that.”)

Somehow seventy years ago I don’t think people would have been quite as nice to me in Germany. For that matter, in the US seventy years ago, same thing. Or even twenty years ago. Or ten. Or five. Wow. It’s a good time to be alive.