This is a nice, short article showing up supposed trans “ally” Victoria Brownworth as the liar and fraud she (ALLEGEDLY) really is.
So here’s why I’m not “nice”.
Do you know what “nice” gets you? Nice gets you harassed on the street by guys who refuse to acknowledge that you are clearly uncomfortable with them hitting on you as you wait for the bus. Nice gets you passed over for promotions because you were the weakling who didn’t put herself forward. Nice means that when you’re raped, people will say it was your fault because you didn’t say “no” loudly enough, often enough or quickly enough to your rapist (who wouldn’t have listened anyway, but who cares about that?). Nice gets you not taken seriously. Nice is the inch you give that leads to a mile being taken.
Nice gets you a whole lot of nothing.
You may take issue with my anger. I’m here to tell you that I could not give less of a damn about your hurt feelings if I tried. I’m angry for a reason. I’m angry because nice has gotten me and other women like me and other women who aren’t like me at all absolutely nowhere, no matter how many times we’ve tried it. I’m angry because that is the only way people will sit up and take notice.
I’m angry because I have a right to be, and if you want to come into my spaces and try to police that anger, try to make me act nice because it’ll make my message more palatable for you, then I kindly invite you to take a rusty farm implement and fuck yourself with it, because you have colossally missed a point that I am getting very, very tired of explaining.
There is nothing militant or radical about anger. Anger is an entirely logical and reasonable response to decades upon decades of oppression, marginalisation, silencing and dehumanisation at the hands of the privileged. Anger is what keeps us going in the face of man after man after man telling us that we do not deserve the fundamental human rights we are being denied. Anger is confronting, yes. It’s meant to be. You know why? Because the facts we’re dealing with here are pretty confronting things, and sugar-coating them so that you’ll find them easier to swallow is counter-productive.
It is a fact that women are raped and sexually assaulted in horrifyingly high numbers across the globe. It is a fact that women are being denied access to healthcare by men who think they are the best arbiters of what a woman should be allowed to do with her body. It is a fact that trans women, sex workers and women of colour are disproportionate targets of violence and other hate crimes. It is a fact that the system, such as it is, is so firmly rigged against women that compared to us, Sisyphus had it easy. It is a fact that women are paid seventy-five cents on the dollar to what men are paid in comparable positions. It is a fact that rape culture exists. It is a fact that women of colour are hyper-sexualised and fetishised, their bodies reduced to props on a white woman’s stage. It is a fact that female genital mutilation leads to morbidity and mortality of thousands upon thousands of women across the globe, even in the so-called developed world. These are confronting facts. They’re worth getting angry about.
You want to tell women to tone it down, to be less emotional, but the fact is that this is not a matter for abstract academic debate. These are our lived experiences. This is the metric fuckton of bullshit that we are forced to wade through every day in an effort to live our lives the same way the other fifty percent of the population are allowed to without impediment. What function would be served by being nice? Do you honestly think that if we piped down, stopped yelling, stopped marching and protesting and refusing to back down, that men would suddenly realise that we had a point and we needed to be listened to? Is that how you think the way the world works? If so, that’s a spectacularly huge rock you’re living under, because you are so out of touch that I have to question whether or not you’ve ever come into contact with any semblance of reality at all.
Nice gets us nothing. Nice gets us ignored, pushed aside, relegated to abstract academic arguments that can be debated by people in ivory towers who do not have to live what we live, who have never had to experience what we experience, who have never had their identities and humanity denied by a society that considers them second-best. Nice gets us no further to breaking the glass ceiling, no closer to liberation. Nice gets us crumbs from a man’s table and a pat on the head. Nice is useless.
Anger gets us heard. Anger is confrontational and in-your-face and impossible to ignore, and because of that, anger makes men uncomfortable. It makes them want to turn away because having the truth pushed repeatedly and persistently in your face by someone who won’t just shut up when you tell them to is not how men are used to experiencing the world. Anger got women the right to vote, the right to work, the right to have sex with who we choose, when we choose. Anger makes you listen, and just because you don’t like what you’re hearing, that doesn’t make the anger less valid or less justified or less necessary, because without that anger, you’d never have listened in the first place.
There is no room for nice in feminism. There is no room for nice in any movement for equality, because all nice does is uphold the status quo. It’s anger that gets us places. The fact that so many men feel the need to police it, to silence it however they can, is testament to its effectiveness. Anger works. And you’re damn right, it’s unpleasant and uncomfortable. That’s because “unpleasant and uncomfortable” is the reality of female existence in this society. It’s unpleasant and uncomfortable to hear the truth because the truth is nasty and violent and shameful. It’s a truth you helped build and maintain. Don’t be so surprised that you’re finally being made to face it.
I could have written this non-confrontationally, and it would have made no difference, because when people say, “you need to be nicer,” what they actually mean is, “you need to stop talking about these things I don’t want to hear.” And that’s not going to happen. This is the truth of the world that we live in and I am not going to stop shouting and marching and protesting just because you don’t want to face the facts. This anger is the result of every catcall, every man who thought my sexuality existed for him and turned nasty when he was proven wrong, every friend I know who was raped and never saw their rapist brought to justice, every trans woman who has contemplated or carried out self-harm or suicide, every sex worker who has been dehumanised and degraded and treated like trash, every woman of colour who has seen her sexuality turned into a sick parody of itself for the entertainment of white people. This anger is because of you.
You can’t stop it. You can’t silence it. I’m damn well not going to let you police it. So you might as well listen, because I’m not going to stop being angry until you do.
Like a lot of people, I was transphobic when I was younger. Society had conditioned me to be. There were men and there were women, and anyone who didn’t fit into the narrow definitions of one of those categories was abnormal, abhorrent, a freak. I remember (much to my shame) pointing at people I saw on the bus who didn’t look like what I thought a man or a woman should look like and laughing at them. I remember whispering rude comments to my friends, not really caring if the targets of my scorn heard me or not. I remember judging women with facial hair, men with effeminate faces, or people whose genders I couldn’t readily discern with one glance.
I cannot tell you how ashamed I feel as I write this. I wish I had never been that person. I would give anything to go back in time and undo all the damage I undoubtedly caused to the people I mocked and shunned out of the misguided belief that they deserved it for not looking the way I expected them to look. I want to tell them I’m sorry. I want to tell them I know better now.
But I can’t, can I? And anyway, this isn’t about my guilt or my shame. This isn’t about me at all, in fact, though like all privileged people, I like to act as though it is. No – this is about a group of people to whom we as a society have done many a grave disservice, and what we can do to right those wrongs.
In the United States, a hate-related murder of a transgender person is reported once every three days. Often, the bodies are found with their genitals mutilated. Sometimes the bodies bear signs of the victim having been raped before they were killed. These are just the murders that are reported – around the world, transgender people are murdered daily by people who cannot – no, will not – accept that not everyone fits into the neat, binary definitions of “male” and “female” that society has constructed. Many more trans* people – binary, non-binary, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming, bigender, agender, androgynous and more – are forced out of homes and jobs if they’re outed or if they dare to out themselves. They lose family, friends, partners. They lose everything – or more accurately, everything is taken from them by a society that deems them undeserving.
I have trans* and genderqueer friends. They’re people, just like me. They’re straight, homosexual, bi, pansexual, asexual, mono, poly, single, in relationships, looking for love, sometimes finding it, sometimes not. They’re not normal – but that’s because “normal” is a fiction designed to keep anyone who doesn’t tick a certain set of boxes from ever being granted their birthrights. My trans* friends are game developers, writers, photographers, designers, sex workers, literature students. They live and love and laugh and cry and bleed just like I do. They’re not any more different from me than my cis friends are – in fact, I have a lot more in common with most of them than I do with most people, because we share an understanding of what it’s like to live in a society that has designated you Other and will use any means necessary, including violence, to keep you from rising above your place.
That said, I cannot tell you what it is like to be trans*. I can only relate the stories they’ve told me – about losing jobs when they decided to out themselves, about threats of violence as they walk down the street to get groceries, about contemplating suicide as a means of escaping a world that doesn’t want them. I can only tell you that they are human and they are hurting in a way that nobody deserves to hurt. I can only tell you that I love them and I want their pain to stop.
They do not deserve the way they are treated – living in fear for their lives, knowing that each time they dare to leave the house, they’re exposing themselves to people who will mock and ridicule them if they don’t “pass”, or who might fly into a violent rage and beat or kill them if they “pass” too well and are deemed deceptive tricksters. I cannot tell you what it is like to live that way, but I can tell you something you should already know: that it is wrong. I can tell you that nobody should have to live every single day fearing for their lives because they were born a little different – not abnormal, just a little different. I can tell you that you need to stop thinking of them as freaks. I can tell you that nobody deserves to be denied dignity, humanity and compassion based on their gender.
I could write – self-indulgently, appropriatively – about trans* identities, but the truth is, I’m no expert. I’m just someone who has seen too many of her friends go through too much pain. I’m just someone who wants the world to stop and think before they dismiss an entire group of people as subhuman just because they don’t fit a couple of very arbitrarily defined boxes. I’m someone who doesn’t want to hear you use the t-word any more – no, not even if you “didn’t mean it as an insult”. I’m someone who wants you to stop thinking you have the right to ask someone about their surgical history just because you feel like knowing. I’m someone who wants you to treat human beings like goddamn human beings.
I am not qualified to tell you how to be a trans* ally, but I have friends who are. I urge you to read what they have to say and take it to heart. Read this Trans* 101 by @transstingray. Read “How to be a Trans Ally” by Metamorpho-sis. Read Samantha Allen’s excellent Thought Catalog piece, “7 Ways To Be A Trans Ally”. Learn it. Live it. Internalise it like you once internalised those messages about what made a man a man or a woman a woman. Remember that there are people whose lives depend on you taking this seriously.
I cannot undo the harm I once did, but I can try not to do any more. And I can try to make things better. So can you. Erase transphobic slurs from your vocabulary. Stop thinking people need to fit into arbitrary boxes. You don’t need to declare yourself an ally – you just need to be a decent human being. I’m begging you on behalf of every friend of mine who has to live in fear because they exist in a society built on fear and hatred of difference. We have done so much harm. It is time for us to begin to make amends.