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Trans issues

Discussion in 'Empty Closets Help and Feedback' started by Fugs, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Fugs

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    It keeps happening, it's a trend on EC. Threads like
    http://emptyclosets.com/forum/chit-...t-debates-about-trans-people-restrooms-2.html
    pop up to discuss a valid issue within the transgender community and someone is allowed to attack other trans members by both invalidating their identity AND get away with it. At most the threads get locked without another word to even attempt to set it straight.

    If I set up a post ranting about how gay men shouldn't be able to marry I can GUARANTEE you that there will be both plenty of posts from mods and members about supporting gay marriage.

    But one damned thread about using the fucking toilet is such a difficult issue that we just HAVE to let ignorant trash invalidate trans people's identities.

    Ban me, demote me, do whatever. But I'm definitely not the only trans person that feels EC only caters to the LGB group.
     
    #1 Fugs, Feb 21, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  2. Hot Pink

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    I feel that this is a LGBT community, but sometimes people forget about the T. Sometimes it feels like they forget that we're people too. The things that are sometimes said publicly in threads on this forum--blatant transphobia--are not addressed. They're tolerated, even reinforced. And, yes, silence reinforces transphobia.

    As transgender members of this community, it is our job to be loud. LOUD! So they don't forget about us anymore.
     
  3. Martin

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    Well to start with nobody is going to ban you for having an opinion, but you won't help resolve any gaps in EC's support system by entering a discussion with such passive aggresive emotional barriers instantly raised. There's no doubt that there's issues to address when it comes to meeting the needs of members who have needs related to gender and sex identity rather than sexual orientation.

    The main problem with the current status quo is that our support system is simply accommodating too much within an area that is far too small for a site this active. As a result, it becomes very difficult to estbalish any sort of consistency within support themes for certain groups as they are significantly outweighed by the vast amount of topics that aren't related to their issues, so that will be contributing towards EC appearing to only accommodate those who fit into the LGB labels (or similar). However, there's also a role for trans members to play in developing a support network, and we should be mindful of the fact that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither were the resources we've developed for sexual orientation thus far. The main issue has been one of gender identity being under-represented historically within our membership base, and if we had still tried to develop resources anyway despite lacking qualified advice on the issue then the discussion we'd be having now is why you've got people with very little experience on trans issues being the pioneers of our resources.

    If I am familiar with the thread you are referring to, one of the things I would point out to you is that it was closed because of a co-ordinated effort by certain trans members to report the offensiveness of the posts within it and who weren't happy with the way it had headed. I even read wall messages from a member stating they had reported it, and encouraged the other member to also submit a report too, so I don't think you're being entirely fair by generalising an entire category of people, when the action taken was because those directly involved and were being directly attacked were the ones who took the initiative to reach out to staff for the intervention.

    Your example regarding the gay marriage issue is a fair point, but that too also ties into what experiences our membership base has on here. For example, I'm no more equipped to chime into a detailed debate on trans issues any more than I can do so on lesbian issues (whatever they may be) and that's purely because of the experiences I have within my own social identity. If you apply that same principle to everybody, then it's an unfortunate consequence that you have certai demographics who are left under-represented and often feel neglected from the membership base. That's not to say this shouldn't be challenged, as we've certainly taken steps in recent months and even on the verge of making a big leap in that direction (although proposals for that won't be announced until everything is finalised). The biggest problem we have had is that the staff have found it rather hard to make a position stick when looking to bring aboard somebody with excellent knowledge on trans issues, so you're essentially left with a team who may have individual areas of knowledge but on a whole know more about other areas of support that EC regularly tackles, hence why you'll see a larger staff presence tackling certain areas of oppression whilst tredding more carefully on other areas. Our lack of a presence in some themes isn't a sign of us wanting to discriminate, but a sad reflection on us, as of yet, being unable to solidify our outreach for trans people, hence why our interventions on such topics require a different tactic that don't make situations worse because of a lack of knowledge.

    All I will say at this stage is see how the site develops within this regard and offer constructive advice and criticisms along the way. That is something I can work with, whereas a rant signed off with a 'i don't care what punishment you give me' offers me nothing to consider for development, and it's the easiest thing in the world for people to ignore. You can't ignore facts and constructive criticism, and I do believe that our members who identify as trans have a key role to play in this area of development and would be able to work towards this goal a lot more harmoniously without having barriers placed around them in anger.

    There will be developments announced in the near-future regarding EC, of which trans issues will be involved. I'm not 100% certain when these will be announced, but I can say that the process is reaching the end of the staff consultation stage so it shouldn't be that long away. Beyond that then the issue is obviously a lot more complicated, but it's still not a challenge EC should shy away from, and all the staff will listen to any advice given to us from our trans members. At the end of the day we like to work in a way that develops support based on what our members need, rather than assuming we (the staff) know best and can develop the resources ourselves. There are some steps the staff can take, but the members can also play a very important role in this process too. :slight_smile:

    Martin.
     
  4. BudderMC

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    I'll just give my thoughts (not necessarily representative of the staff).

    Honestly, and it's sad to say, I think in most LGBT communities the T often does get forgotten. Of course, there are some people who will be malicious towards trans* people (as there are people malicious against any group), but more often than not I'd wager it's mostly because people just can't relate. Gay people can relate to lesbians, both can relate to bisexuals... because they're all talking about sexual orientation. But if you were to explain gender identity related issues to me, it's more likely than not over my head because I just can't relate. I'll be sympathetic, have no doubt... but it's difficult to expand beyond that.

    I wish I could, but I don't know what to say. And I think it varies from person to person, but more often than not I'd rather not say anything at all than risk accidentally saying something insensitive or even offensive.

    As for that thread in particular, I personally didn't enter it. Like any other thread on these forums, if it doesn't particularly interest me or I don't have anything to say, I probably won't look into it. As such, I didn't realize that such negative things were being said in the thread. I think the staff received one report from that thread, which led to it being closed.

    I might sound like a broken record saying this, but I can't emphasize enough the importance (this goes for everyone, btw) of reporting posts that need to be brought to the staff's attention. I have no issues with calling people on being disrespectful in any sense... but I can't do that if I don't see it happening.

    Anyways, I'm sorry to hear that you basically felt forgotten about. I will speak for the staff this time when I say I guarantee you nobody meant it that way.
     
  5. Fugs

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    I respect that you wrote all that out Martin; but you're telling us that because there are so few of us we need to fend for ourselves and that's kind of offensive.

    It's not terribly difficult to read up on transgender issues on Google. Find a good site and educate all the mods on it. That way they can at least offer some support instead of skipping over threads. I think it's completely unfair how 'not being interested in a thread' is a valid reason to ignore moderating it until enough people are offended that they open a ticket.
     
  6. Martin

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    That isn't what I'm saying at all. What I am saying is that the work we do (regardless of whether it's L, G, B or T) is heavily linked to our own social identity and the experiences that this brings us within everyday life, and it's for that reason that the organisation as a whole would be much better served if the driving force behind this resource development came from a mutual operation between staff and members, rather than being staff-led. You're right to say that there are many websites out there that can educate people, but the academic skeptic in me naturally distrusts these as my lack of knowledge on the issue means i can't necessarily differentiate the less-obvious bullshit from the facts, and the social worker in me much prefers to hear these experiences from the horses mouth rather than reading emotionless pieces of text.

    One of the great things about EC is that the community that operates within it isn't afraid to highlight its emotions within the story, and that's a crucial aspect of understanding peoples situations. Unfortunately you don't get that emotional empathic understanding of issues when you learn about stuff without that dynamic being factored into the learning, and the only reason my knowledge of sexual orientation has developed over the years is because I've listened to personal stories from people on here and I've contextualised their emotional state within that. In social work terms, it's pretty much like using a life story approach to help understand a situation and find solutions for it, and to be able to do that in a client-led capacity (or member-led as we do on here) is a vital tool of support. That's why our forums are so much more valuable than our resource section which just mostly consists of emotionless pages of text.

    If my post came across as if I was trying to minimise the importance of trans issues or even shift the responsibility onto other people then it wasn't my intention at all and probably means my wording fucked up somewhere within the post, but the point I was trying to make is that in this environment you need more than just information spoon-fed to you. Yes, we could go and read up on this and we could use this information to develop more inclusive resources, but I have to question how any of its target demographic would relate to that? After all, you could have read a trans-specific resource on here and then logged off never to be seen again, but instead you've stayed for a pretty lengthy period of time because you get something out of this site by being here. It's that connection that you can have with a support network that is a lot more valuable than taking the easy route and plastering our minds (and the site) with random pieces of generalised text on the internet, and that's why I think that the trans community (I hate talking in such segregated terms here) could play such a vital role in developing a resource network that actually meets your needs and is 'trans-led', rather than being at the mercy of whatever knowledge the staff can muster from external information resources and then put into practice.

    I think one option to consider may be for the staff to look into a project in which they can work with a group of trans-members to engage in dialogue on what the problems are, the steps that can be taken, and develop a plan of action for improving our moderation on these issues, as well as our resources both at a forum/site level and on a staff level too.

    Martin.
     
  7. BudderMC

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    The thing is, it isn't a case of "ignoring" it. If I knew about it, I would've moderated it, no questions asked. It's also not a trans*-specific thing; if there was someone who made a thread about "OMG I'm in love with my best friend?!" and I didn't really feel like reading it, I wouldn't.

    Things don't already need to have escalated to be worthy of being reported. People fill out reports for things as vague as "I feel this thread could turn badly very quickly, could you keep an eye on it?". And truthfully, that's all I really need to hear to keep an eye on it. Worse comes to worst, someone fills in a report needlessly, and we'll look at the thread and decide nothing needs to be done. It's a pretty no-harm, no-foul kind of situation.

    I do get what you're saying. To moderate effectively, we should collectively be checking all the threads. But the thing is, we're shorthanded enough in terms of sheer manpower; it simply isn't feasible to check all the threads all the time. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that you guys (particularly active members who are checking in on a lot of threads) double as extra eyes for us.
     
  8. Katelynn

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    While I havent been on EC as much as in the past & havent actually seen attacks on trans members, I certainly do agree that there is a lack of support for trans members. While I recognize that it is not easy for those who run EC to simply just find someone who can be a full time trans mod for EC, I do feel that there is a lack of effort to push forward even a little to at least try to support our trans members more. While I am sure some are aware, being transgender presents its own unique challenges & issues apart from being LGB, & while it is wonderful to see & hear both members & mods say support things such as 'it will get better' or 'give things time' or 'we are here for you' it isnt as helpful as actually support & advice that is kind of lacking. I know that, for me, I go to a PFLAG meeting once a month where I sometimes pour my heart out & receive blank stares & the aforementioned comments. People who are LGB or supportive just dont have any basis of reference for trans people, because living with something like gender dysphoria is such a misunderstood or completely foreign concept to people who are comfortable with their gender. While there can be some understanding that comes from a trans person explaining how they feel & what they go thru, it just cannot reach full understanding for cisgender people - its just something they cant relate to. This is not their fault either, & I certainly dont blame their lack of ability to empathize on certain levels, it is just reality. This is why it is so important for a community like EC to be able to find people who are more equipped to address these issues, so that no one gets left behind. I dont think that, if attacks on trans members here on EC do occur, any comments that can be construed as attacks on trans members by other members are malicious or hateful, I think that this occurs simply from a lack of frustration & understanding. I think it will only be in pushing forward in improving our EC community to the benefit of trans & gender-variant members that things will become better. A good place to start maybe looking at the health section, as there is much information for LGB people there, but no health or medical information for trans people. This is a serious gap that needs to be addressed, as trans people who wish to transition require much health & medical assistance for their transition to be successful. I know that, for me, this means that I take hormones, I see an endocrinologist, I will need to consult with therapists in order to successful seek GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery, aka SRS Sex Reassignment Surgery), and so on. Health, both medical & mental, is a big part of a person who wishes to transition's life. For example, black market or internet purchased hormones are very bad, as self-medicating is extremely dangerous without the supervision of an endocrinologist - this can actually shorten a trans person's life by decades, as well as damage their body irreparably (liver, etc.) So I propose that the first thing we start with to support our trans members is to look at our health section. As this is updated & expanded on, further ways to support our trans members on EC should definitely be discussed & brought forward in order to see how we can improve EC for everyone.

    Sorry for the huge long post, I hope some of this makes a bit of sense lol (*hug*) Love you all :grin:
     
  9. Just Jess

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    I want to chime in, I was not one of those people but it's only because I didn't read page 3. Just the same, I think the conversation was going in a good direction and a lot of people were making good points. It was a single person derailing the conversation. If it's possible I'd like to suggest reopening the thread and deleting everything after page 2.

    EDIT:

    I missed this before replying. This addresses everything I was going to say and I don't want to glorify the comment I was quoting by repeating it here.
     
    #9 Just Jess, Feb 21, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  10. J Snow

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    I apologize. I didn't realize the thread in question had already been closed and the comments I saw in there forced me to flag them. You can disregard them since I didn't realize that action had already been taken in advance, but still, the fact that a member of a site like this can get away with such horrendous transphobia is quite insulting to me.

    edit: Also, I'd like to apologize for not being as active as I have in the past (admittedly partially because of the low representation of trans* individuals which I would love to help correct). I don't feel as qualified to speak out on the trans* culture on this site as I once did simply because I haven't been as active. I hope to change that though.

    ---------- Post added 21st Feb 2013 at 03:27 PM ----------

    I would also kind of like to state that I don't know if not allowing the trans* members of the site to respond and dispute the transphobic claims in a thread is the right way to help the trans* community of this site. Censoring our ability to have a dialogue is only harming us. Especially when one transphobic user can get OUR threads shut down. Just stating my opinion though. I don't think the situation was handled very well.

    ---------- Post added 21st Feb 2013 at 03:29 PM ----------

    I just don't see how shutting down our threads about our issues when one person comes in and starts attacking us is fair.

    ---------- Post added 21st Feb 2013 at 03:30 PM ----------

    They should be reprimanded or have their posts deleted, but it shouldn't stop us from discussing issues relevant to trans* people.
     
    #10 J Snow, Feb 21, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  11. TestingitOut

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    :frowning2:
    Reading this thread made me feel sad. I didnt read the thread thats discussed or see the offensive comments, so I cant talk to any of that. But I do want to say that when I began to see how many trans people are on this website, I was really happy, because I dont have any trans friends, the only ones ive met have been out at bars and it was real casual conversation, nothing too deep or personal. Im calling myself out on my own ignorance, so I apologize if I ever do say something that bothers anyone, itd be the last of my intentions.
    All that being said, i dont want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, and even though I may not be able to 100% relate with trans issues, i am able to be a sympathetic ear to anyone who needs someone to talk to. Im interested in learning more about trans people and the struggles you face / the reasons you have to celebrate.
     
  12. Martin

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    The thread has been cleaned up and re-opened.

    One of the things people need to be aware of is that interventions and reprimands by staff are done privately rather than publicly. This applies to any situations in which staff need to intervene and/or issue sanctions, as we like to keep that strictly between the person in question and the staff team. I understand that may come across as frustrating at times, such as situations like this, but it's important that we apply this privacy principle fairly for everybody so that private information is kept on a need-to-know basis. You might not see what action is taken against a member, but that doesn't mean that nothing has happened. :slight_smile:
     
  13. Hot Pink

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    Sorry for raising a stink about this, Martin and BudderMC. I know people often don't like it when people get loud or draw attention to things, but this is important. This also isn't about just a single thread. It's about an ongoing dynamic between the LGB and T. The T on this site needs to be more vocal. It may be that people don't recognize transphobia when they see it. That isn't their fault, but turning a blind eye to education because "it doesn't interest you" isn't acceptable.

    The transgender community will no longer be accepting ignorance as an excuse. When something happens, we will draw attention to it. Like I said earlier in the thread, we have to get loud. We will get louder. I think the days of the submissive T are coming to an end.
     
  14. Martin

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    I agree, and I do think as a support organisation we are accountable to fulfil these expectations. However, I also think this does need to be a mutual effort on both sides, as being told to simply do a bit of research on such a complicated issue is just as unfeasible as turning a blind eye and allowing these types of ball drops to happen. I agree more needs to be done, but I think the staff (and our members) can learn a lot more from the experiences of our trans* community than it can by googling vague trans-related terms and hoping the information we get is reliable. I also don't mean any disrespect to Fugs when I raise this concern, as I hope the reasons i've outlined against doing this highlight the potential flaw in myself and others being unable to differentiate genuine information from the less-obvious bullshit that the internet often contains. That's why I proposed the following:
    And I do mean that as a genuine offer. :slight_smile:

    Martin.
     
  15. J Snow

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    I also apologize if I came off as rude, but I do appreciate the action taken. I think its just frustrating to be such a long time member of this site and seeing the frustrating things that can hurt the trans* community without always seeing the transparency in the staff's decision making process. I think this discussion has been helpful for all of us, and I appreciate you taking the time to hear our voices and follow up =)
     
  16. Just Jess

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    Thanks a lot!
     
  17. Hot Pink

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    I think something needs to be said here about transgender people being just as guilty of inaction as everyone else, though. Many of us have been noticing things here and there and we didn't do anything about it. It's unfortunate, but part of the transgender condition is not drawing attention to it. Like we're supposed to be ashamed of it or something.

    Being empowered or proud of being transgender seems like a contradiction to many of us in the transgender community. The hard truth is that so long as we see ourselves as something to be ashamed of, so will everyone else.
     
    #17 Hot Pink, Feb 21, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  18. BudderMC

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    Maybe I should clarify. I've been around EC for a fair while now and I volunteer with my school's LGBT group. I do know a fair bit about trans* issues. I can probably make educated guesses as to what people might be feeling with trans* issues. At the very least I can identify what's pretty blatantly transphobic. Some of the more subtle ones I might not be able to, just because I'm not trans*. Those ones in particular are the things we need brought to our attention (though we'd appreciate everything brought to our attention).

    When I said it didn't interest me, I just meant on that particular night that particular thread didn't seem interesting for me to browse through. Just like today I might not float around S&A as much because I don't feel like reading through (or chiming in on) a lot of problems, but I might hang around more in Chit Chat because I'm not thinking about anything serious. I can't reiterate this enough, but it definitely wasn't anything personal or specific to trans* people/issues/etc.

    That said, every thread that gets reported I will go check out without fail.

    I don't think any of you were being particularly rude - I think you were voicing your opinions. As with any group, we need feedback to make sure we're doing what's good for the community. Particularly for a group like trans* people who are already underrepresented both in the community and on staff, we rely on hearing feedback like this to make sure we're doing what's best. :slight_smile:

    Anyways, here's some final thoughts from me that I think are important for everyone to hear. When people come to these forums for support, they're usually looking for someone well-versed in the issue they're facing. That doesn't mean you need to be an expert, but relatability plays a huge role in making someone feel better. Particularly in the LGBT community (relative to all of society), we're often alone enough as it is. I know when I first joined, I was happy to hear stories from other gay guys who could even somewhat relate to what I was dealing with. I'm sure the same concept applies to trans* people. Nobody will be better able to relate to gender identity (dysphoria in particular) issues than those who have gone through it themselves since they are so complex.
     
  19. Martin

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    I understand why it is frustrating, but I also want to briefly offer a rationale outside of this situation to highlight the importance of it in a wider context.

    As everybody on EC will appreciate, privacy plays a crucial role in allowing members to feel comfortable within this environment, and this includes any interactions they have have with staff. By having a clear boundary on privacy the staff don't have to add any considerations into the way in which information is shared, and it's a vital safeguard in ensuring that the information of members isn't subjected to the personal whim of staff members. For example, let's say that you posted something against the rules and got a warning for it. The current privacy boundary we have dictates that the incident stays strictly between us (the staff) and yourself no matter what, whereas if we made exceptions to it (like we could easily do in this situation to ease the concerns of the thread) then you find that information regarding yourself gets shared without your permission and/or control, and that can be pretty dangerous and fragmenting if such a subjective principle could be influenced by any sort of mob mentality. Not that I am implying this thread is anything like a mob, but passionate responses shouldn't trump the individual right to privacy, and by maintaining a universal standard on this you find that you are always protected from having information about you shared, even if that standard happens to annoy us in other situations like this.

    As i've said, I get why the lack of transparency annoys people, but the moment we start factoring in exceptions to this principle is the moment nobody on here can be certain of when any incidences between them and staff could become public knowledge. The way we do it now may be frustrating, but it's a very good principle to have (imo) when it's our own information that could be jeaporadised without it.
     
  20. J Snow

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    I understand that its there for good reason. I wasn't suggesting the lack of transparency isn't the optimal situation, but merely explaining how it can sometimes get frustrating. I apologize for pointing it out when I don't really have a better solution in mind. Just thinking out loud I guess.