Once again, I was asked by someone, who was offended not only by my existence but by my unwillingness to allow them to set the terms of my engaging with them, who the hell I think I am.
That is always a bad idea. It is akin to telling me that something can’t be done. It is like telling me that it isn’t possible to be white and black, that one can’t be three races, that race doesn’t matter, that trans people are just deluded, that women are really in charge.
These things set me off. These things trigger that part of me that is never bullied, bring to life the part of me that is the “trick” to why I can do the work I do.
I admittedly have a problem with authority. Any authority. Mostly because authority has spent its life telling me the above the things.
The point of asking someone that question — nearly always rhetorically, not wanting to hear an answer, not even caring about one — is to cow a person, to make them wonder about their personal experience.
I think I am Antonia Elle D’orsay. That’s the only answer one gets to that question, but that’s not really what is being asked. What is being asked is who the hell do I think I am to challenge to the status quo, to question them, the shine the light on them with the same ferocity they shine it on me.
I have been called a bully by those who bully me because I do not give in to them. I have been blamed for doing wrong when they engage in actions that harm. I have been told that I called them names when all the name calling was on their side.
All of that is long before I transitioned. All of that was just because I stood up for others.
I used to comment frequently on the Bilerico and PHB blogs. There are even a few comments by me on The Advocate, over at Queerty (where, oddly enough, I first commented because someone was saying that several other comments were by me), and a few other places.
In all the time I have been commenting and visiting sites, the only time I have ever been banned from this kind of site was when Autumn did it because I called her on silencing me for the use of Cis in a conversation (all of which is now long water under the bridge, but important for context). That didn’t last long (though I was reasonably well behaved) and there is a reason for this lack of banning:
I don’t break the rules.
There is a reason that I host my own blog, at my own expense. There is a reason why I host other websites, as well. I do not have the same limitations as many of the other sites — limitations in the form of a Terms of Service agreement or similar.
These are binding agreements that determine what you can and cannot do with the site. WordPress.com, blogger, Tumblr, and similar sites all have a specific set of rules about what content they do and do not allow.
Not all of them enforce these rules evenly, and most of them tend to be very, very lenient regarding such.
Cathy Brennan has used this very specific thing herself — and claimed that is was a key part of her personal way of ensuring her own safety. She has made several complaints and multiple efforts to have people’s tumblr’s closed down (including mine, I will note, as well as another that she is certain I am the writer for).
Janet Mock recently did the same thing, and got a bunch of us to follow suit. Regarding the blog of GallusMag, who I still find it wonderfully fascinating that she took the name of a trans person for her own.
Now Cathy Brennan is calling it silencing. So she silences people, and feels it is ok, but others cannot.
Nelson Garcia, the author of ngblog has also taken umbrage in this case (not unexpected given he has a history of not exactly paying attention to what the fuck he is saying ans steeped deeply in cis privilege and some deep, strong resentment towards trans people), and called it outright censorship.
Now, I have been personally attacked (though incredibly weakly) by all of these people. They have tried their damnedest to come after me. Cathy has claimed that I write some half dozen different sites. Gallus has featured me in posts.
Now let’s toss in an additional player here. Roseanne Barr. Who has been a decidedly nasty person for many, many years, but only recently has her intense transphobia become apparent.
These people are all now accusing Janet Mock of censorship.
That’s not possible.
Janet Mock does not control the content of their blogs. They do.
Julie Burchill was not censored, either (the defense of whom much of this ultimately surrounds), btw, even though she lives in a country that is not subject to the same specifics of the Right of Free Speech as we are here in the US.
They are all still very much able to spread their particular brand of vile speech, their insistent effort to dehumanize, destroy, and delegitmize Trans lives.
Censorship would stop them from doing so. So they are not being censored. That would be like saying that since a reporter’s story is not picked up by Paper Y, that they are being censored when they are quite able to submit to paper Z.
So bluntly, there is no censorship involved, and the suggestion that there is such a thing is asinine and literally untrue.
Literally untrue means that it is a lie.
Well, I suspect most of my regular readers are aware that I consider such actions a mark of incompetence.
So we have people who are incompetent but upset, because GallusMag broke the rules.
As a result she is now dealing with the consequence of breaking the rules.
She doesn’t like them, None of them do. If she can be penalized for her actions, then that means they all can be penalized for those actions. That idea is what upsets them, what bothers them, what strikes terror in their hearts.
Tumblr, blogger, wordpress.com, and so forth are all subject to very specific rules. AMong those rules is one that says you can’t pick on LGBT people. Which includes the T.
When a really great number of Trans people get together and make carefully explained descriptions and take the time to explain why these sites are harmful to Trans people without rancor, cussing, or saying terrible words, then suddenly these companies pay attention.
They may not do anything about it, but they pay attention, and when you get other organizations involved — such as GLAAD — then you have some leverage with them, as they really don’t need the HRC marking them down since a large number of the programmers they need to find to improve their “woman binder score” are trans women (which bothers the hell out of these people as well).
Granted, most trans programmers aren’t visible, but there really is a lot of them out there.
In any case, GallusMag was determined to have broken the rules — or, more accurately, that it appears she broke the rules enough that she was locked out of her site at least temporarily, while they review the complaints.
One can also go to the hosting company. The hosting company I use is me. So that means that people who have problems with the content on my site have to come to me to resolve them.
That is also how some of the other more astute people do things, including at least one of the people previously mentioned.
I’ve never really bothered to check, to be blunt.
Cathy Brennan @bugbrennan
@photomatt WordPress censored a feminist blogger. Why? http://bugbrennan.com/2013/01/19/for-every-one-of-us-you-silence-100-more-will-rise-to-take-her-place/ … @TheRealRoseanne
This was part of an exchange. Some interesting tidbits from it:
Oddly enough, um, yes, it is hate speech when it is said aloud. Enough to get you penalized for it should you say it while committing a violent crime against trans people in jurisdictions which include such code. However, note carefully how Brennan frames the language: it isn’t hate speech to “know”.
Of course it isn’t hate speech if it is merely known. It has to be written or uttered or expressed — you know, it has to be speech. Nifty little trick there, isn’t it?
Fortunately, it was hate speech for her to write the above out and tweet it. Just saying.
Roseanne BarrVerified @TheRealRoseanne
@bugbrennan @photomatt I am on wordpress and I am going to suggest that all women who care about rape drop them too-
16h Cathy Brennan @bugbrennan
@TheRealRoseanne @photomatt I am also on WP bc they stood for anti-censorship, but this is disappointing
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16h Roseanne BarrVerified @TheRealRoseanne
@bugbrennan @photomatt everyone has the right to their opinion and to speak without being censored in this country.
16h Cathy Brennan @bugbrennan
@TheRealRoseanne @photomatt unless, apparently, you are a lesbian.
Now the above exchange is basically demonstrating that they prefer to believe and accept the lie they are telling each other (that there was censorship involved, when there was none).
So they are going to move their blogs off wordpress.com.
Cool. That they are able to do so, of course, means that they are also, well, um, err…
Not being censored.
If they were, then they couldn’t move their stuff anywhere. Because no place would allow them. But that isn’t the case, even though now the fear is in them.
Now they are afraid.
Now they are dealing with tremendous anxiety about a class of people, that both of then claim to have friends in (because hey, if you have friends, then you can’t be wrong about a class of people they are part of).
That’s aversion, anxiety, and animus, in a nut shell.
Which is why the blog is being investigated.
The important thing, though, is that it be realized that the reason that such things happen is because people who do not understand trans issues (the folks who make the decisions at these companies about who is and who is not breaking their rules) have encountered a bunch of letters from people who take the time to explain why this is problematic without cussing, without calling the individuals names, and with rancor in general.
They also got a lot of letters from people who were not trans. Those letters count more than ours, to be blunt.
Janet is getting the slam on this, though, which is funny because she simply exercised her rights — rights that I already pointed out that all of us have when it comes to the use of our images on their sites.
when we exercise our rights and are told we are bullying, or censoring, or being disrespectful, that is when you realize that you are dealing with someone for whom rights mean nothing, and our humanity is ignored.