Is engaging with people online for the purpose of effecting a change in their views about trans people activism?
That’s the brunt of the question that lies behind the idea of someone being an online activist and whether or not that effort counts towards being an activist.
I did that. I did that for a mighty long time. I did it from a perspective that was definitely different, that came at things from an angle others would not have tried. And I did a lot of it — 12 plus hours a day for months, tens of thousands of posts, most of them between 500 and 1000 words.
Most of the time I didn’t cuss. I cuss more often here than I do elsewhere. I was not always nice about it — indeed, about half the time, nice wasn’t a part of the adjectival library one would assign to my efforts.
And I learned. I wrote more words in a single year on the topic of LGBT, with a focus on trans, than I have written on this blog in its entire history. I wrote, in a general estimation, some two million words on the topic — and I didn’t know as much as I know today on the stuff. I made a lot of mistakes. I used all of the common ways of making a point that I see out there.
I also had the benefit of being obsessive and not having much else to do at the time. I miss the obsessiveness quirk I used to have. I miss it a lot — I depended on it to help me get through things. But as I transitioned, and as I worked on the things that came from that, I healed the damage that led to my being that way. And somewhere along the way, I lost that obsessive quality. I could take that drive and turn it into the ability to stay on task even though I might lose 10 pounds and never see the light of day around me.
That allowed me, at one time, to take on a job that needed 250 hours of work — that’s 6 weeks of time for the usual shift person — and end up with a finished product in about a week and a half. After which I wasn’t able to be reached for three days.
Unhealthy thing to do, but it worked for years.
And that’s what I did when it came to the idea of online activism. It was easy, for one — the risk to me, personally, was fairly small (or at least I thought, until one rather impressive woman showed me that I wasn’t the only person who can find the proper motivation to drill down through someone’s life). The people I was engaging were anonymous, protected behind the same thin veneer of stuff. They used it as an excuse to say things they would never, ever say in public as themselves, because it would lead to recriminations and hardship for them.
and they knew it.
And it felt good to overcome them. There was adrenaline, and there were endorphin and there was that whole cool thing that happens when you find yourself in the zone, all your being afire with the joy and excitement of being enveloped by the pure abstract nature of the argument the challenge, the ebb and flow of words and the adversarial experience.
And when you come down from the high that produces, like any other drug experience, the crash is horrible. You feel like shit. Everything around you, all your problems, they are ever so much larger and that makes them even more weighty, and you long for that great feeling that you had when you were there, digitally face to face with the person who comes to represent everything you are fighting against, everything that is wrong, and you were mopping the floor up with them.
So you found yourself doing it again, and again, and again, until suddenly that is all you are doing and you need to justify that and so you say you are engaging in online activism.
And that’s not what activism is about.
Because those online encounters are fights. They are battles. They are part of a war. They are waged on what is, ultimately, an emotional battlefield, a psychosocial playground turned into some sort of arcane gladiatorial arena where you find yourself having to armor up against the lions and the tigers and the bears, oh my.
It is a battlefield. These are fights. They are no less real for the fights being digital, an electronic version of fight club where you follow whatever hero or heroine has grasped your attention, where you have the weapons that are spelled out in obscure terms and training consists of reading papers and theses and dissertations that are so obscure that most people stumbling across whatever war you are engaged in and dropping into their chairs with popcorn and soda at the ready will never have any reason or care to bother to look them up.
And it is a spectator sport. Of the sort that once was fought here, in the US, and of the sort that is still fought elsewhere, all ove rthe world, with families having picnics to watch the dressed up toy soldiers kill each other so they can celebrate the heroism of one of them.
I know that.
I have fought there. I have worn that armor and I have armed myself with all the tools, and in all that time, in all those fights, I discovered the single most powerful weapon of all.
It is a weapon that everyone in Government knows would end the support of terrorism — because it would. It would destroy the very idea of it, trigger across cultures and throughout time the absolute certainty that such an idea as terrorism would only bring misery and grief on those who would call for it.
But there is a price for that weapon. It is a dark one, and one that all the so called social justice warriors I can think of would never have thought about, even as they slowly and inexorably march toward that very same realization.
You have to surrender your humanity, and you have to attack them the way they attack you. You have to create terrorists that do the same things to other innocent people. You have to throw away the very thing that makes you a victim of terrorists — the principles and ideas that guide you. The beliefs and hopes and dreams you have, and you have to get down to the business of murdering them because that’s what they will understand ever so well, and ensuing conflagration would literally destroy one or the other, and the winner will always be the one that has more people to throw into that cauldron of fucked up misery and death.
You have to become a person who lashes out in anger first, who says mean things before the point is made, who wields emotional attacks like spears and fires off ad hominems like precision aimed 7.62mm shells.
When you do that, you lose. The tone argument is effective because it relies on the same emotional basis — you are being mean so you won’t be heard — and here’s the dark truth there: yes, it is wrong. But when you push those you fight to raise their shields, you aren’t going to hurt them without sacrificing yourself.
Me, I’m sorta stupid that way — I charge against those things. And on more than one occasion, I’ve been broken there, but managed to pull out a reprieve. I can still put on my armor and wade into the fray. On more than a few occasions I am called on to do so, and when I do, I make sure that it is against someone who is worthy of the challenge in some way. I seek out some sort of good reason, some kind of justification for doing so.
And, sometimes, that comes down to just needing to feel the rush again. To taste a bit of that sweet adrenaline, feel that zone wash over me.
Before I dive once more into the darkness and the death and the sadness that is war, always, no matter if the weapon is words flung across the network or metal hurled by gunpowder on a small island that no one has heard of.
May religions recognize the concept of hell — the word changes but the meaning is still there. A place where those who did wrong in their lives suffer in the afterlife.
That concept exists to make people stop for a moment and think about their actions in this life, in this world. It doesn’t matter if there really is a hell or not in the afterlife, it is the idea that suffering and hardship and misery and oppression will bear down on you with all the force of the cosmos.
Because it is hell.
War is hell.
And I see it claiming my beautiful brothers and sisters.
And then she used me as the example of that.
Well, here is the sword saying to you that you do not need to be forged. Forging changes you. It takes what you were and makes it into something else –something that the blacksmith desires. Something that will be wielded by some other person.
It creates you as a tool, as an object, as a thing. It is the act of objectification in and of itself, and that raises the question of who is the blacksmith, and who is the weilder.
And the answer to that question is those in power. Because only someone in power can shape something against its will and place it in fire. Only those in power can wield a tool. The otter is in power over the rock, not the other way around. Tools are used things.
And trans people are not in power here.
So when a trans person is thrown into that fire, forged by the battles of war and armored against the emotional pain, what comes out is not the person they would have been, but rather the person that someone else decided they should be. Usually many different someone else’s. All those they fought.
There is a song that was popular in my youth. Well, at least among the people I knew. In part because it was written by Michael Moorcock, who wrote the Elric novels and who had a tremendous impact on the way that Dungeons and Dragons was developed and much of the stuff that has since become part of popular culture — from video games and Magic the gathering to even some elements of the Lord of the Rings film and Avatar.
I mean, you can see that shit everywhere (confirmation bias notwithstanding).
BOC took an element form the Eternal Champion and the song has since been covered by many (including a group I once was a part of the road crew for, but only on stage).
That was 1981. Moorcock has seen much of the computerized future in many ways, reducing it to a minor element until his later works, but the foreshadowing of what the internet would become today was pretty evident.
IT is a place filled with many, many screaming voices.
And trans people don’t have to scream. We have a power to be heard that is far better. We have a power to be seen, to be touched, to be present, and instead of using that pwoer, so many of us seek to spend our days screamung among the rest.
Myself included, because there are times when screaming is useful. But I’m watched carefully by many because I scream at both sides — at trans people and at cis people. But most of the time I whisper. Most of the time I just sit back and smaile and I laugh a little, play a little, love a little, live a lot.
And I can do that thee days because I took off my armor, and I looked hard and long at the battle scars I’d left myself.
We’ve been living in the flames
We’ve been eating up our brains
Oh, please don’t let theses shakes go on
I’d lived in those flames, and they had been eating at my brains. All I saw when I went out was a need for burn these fuckers saying horrible things.
And that’s Not what I had been fighting for. I had been fighting, or so I thought, for a chance to look at these people and see them as human as they saw me.
And the problem was they didn’t see me as human.
And I’d solved the problem all right — now I wasn’t seeing them as human either.
Made things pretty equal, all right.
But I hadn’t wanted that.
And so I had to learn again. And I took what I had learned in those battle sand I began, for the first time, to shape myself.
And it went really fast.
You see me now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars
My energy’s spent at last
And my armor is destroyed
I have used up all my weapons and I’m helpless and bereaved
Wounds are all I’m made of
Did I hear you say that this is victory?
The point of this line was that’s not what we are supposed to be in the end. Made up of all wounds, all hurt, only the pain, bleeding and damaged and broken.
That isn’t victory.
That is letting them push us into what they want. A silent, unseen, destroyed mass. A broken people who scowl at the masters that wander around us, unimportant, uncivilized, barbarous and beneath them.
second and third and fourth class.
not even citizens.
morally mandated out of existence because they represent a threat to our way of life, they would say.
To our freedom.
I still get that.
I stopped before I was all wounds. I had become, in my mind, invulnerable. I’m not. I’ve made it known since those days, in the years that have passed by after I fought that fight, that each blow to me is a wound. And each time I banage it, because I did fight once, and it is not so easy to knock me down any longer.
And instead I worked at being vulnerable. At being open instead of closed, at being unarmed instead of armored. At being seen instead of being heard.
And an amazing thing happened.
I became invulnerable. I was seen and heard. I found greater weapons and no need for armor. I became closed and open at the same time.
And I became an activist.