So, I got peeved at a post today. The following is a draft reply, not sent. Baiting bears is often not the best choice to keep a list inclusive
"You are either on my side or the other side, on the side of good or the side of evil. Come on, now, which is it? Speak up, or your position will be clear!"
When someone stoops to making false dichotomies, I know that they have a weak argument. They are wrapping themselves in some flag or another, and declaring that unless you are under here with me, you are the enemy. If you don't get how that works, watch Fox News Channel for a few hours.
But when someone stoops to making false dichotomies on a trans list, then I know they are abusers.
It is the false dichotomies that are the burden of transpeople, the burden we have to bear. "If you were born without a penis, you are X. If you were born with a penis you are Y. And any choice that isn't appropriate for that letter is grounds to shame and abuse you."
We all deal with that burden in different ways. We might say that yes, we are Y, but what we do is just free expression. We might say that we never really Y, just X that seemed like Y and now we had surgery we are X. Or we might say that that whole one or the other thing based on birth genetalia is just a false dichotomy, and we are more nuanced than that.
It's the people who try to stay within the dichotomies that are the ones who work to find ways to separate themselves from others, to deny their own ambiguity & complexity. Those are the people who beat others to prove their own standing inside the separations, to be effective separatists, dividing the world between our good side and their evil one.
"If you challenge me, you are on the side of the abusers. If you don't stand up and support me, you are on the side of the abusers. If you claim to be like me but disagree with me, you are abusing me by stealing my label and diminishing it."
This is the point of transgender, says me: Everyone is an indvidual, with some blend of humanity in them, and to support transgender is to support that nuanced and complex truth. The moment someone says "Which are you, good or evil?" they attempt to force a false dichotomy and end up abusing transgender people again.
If the only way to support transsexual women is to support the false dichotomies that lead to the stigma that abuses transgender people, then they can't have my support. I know, however, from decades of experience that isn't the only way to support transsexual women, and in fact, it only is the way to impose another set of stigma onto them.
Here's my suggestion: On this list, people speak for themselves. And if someone disagrees with you, you can't just claim that they are prejudiced against your class of people, and deserve to be pounded with the stick of false dichotomies until their conciousness is sufficently raised or until they go unconcious, whichever comes first. Anyone who does move from personal challenges to group separations, from indvidual work to false dichotomies, should be put on moderation.
It's my sense that this list is for indviduals exploring their own transnature, and as such we each speak for ourselves, not for a group we claim to represent and defend. That should cut down the amount of false dichotomies, and identity denials ("You are a man and as such don't understand we women!") that are used to silence discussion that some find challenging to their own choices.
It's about you and me and the choices we make, not about us and them and how one group is right and the other abusers. One person may be a rapist, but that doesn't turn the whole category into rapists, for example.
False dichotomies are the problem for transgender people, not the solution. And it's my personal opinion that they are the problem for the wider world, and not the solution for anyone. It is connection that empowers, not separation.
And people who claim that I just don't get it because I am one of them? They have scared me since I was old enough to understand them, and they scare me still.