Bil Browning

Let's rewind and start over

Filed By Bil Browning | March 04, 2008 5:25 PM | comments

Filed in: Site News
Tags: censorship, civil discourse, comments policy, hate speech, manners

We have a serious problem going on here at Bilerico and it's one I want to take the opportunity to address. Pretty much every post that has to do with trans issues garners a zillion hateful, nasty, bitchy, insulting comments. One post alone had 14% of its comments removed for Terms of Service violations recently. A commenter has been banned this week.

We've had numerous comments and e-mails from other readers about the issue. Here's a peek at what people are saying about these flame wars:

...I don't read much of the trans stuff because of the infighting and other drama. My concern is that is going to marginalize the site because of the rancor.

Lots more after the jump.

From the comments section:

  • I am so tired of this crap.
  • This blog is out of control.
  • OMG....all of this hatred.
  • I rarely comment here because... when I do I can count on a response such as yours that includes insults...
  • Shit. She's at it again. How often do we have to hear her hate speeches? Since I posted, she will attach me next. Just watch.

Since I'm in an e-mail sharing mood today, I thought I'd share parts of some of this week's e-mails. Names have been removed to protect the guilty.

I started reading Bilerico about three months ago and have found it to be a very useful source of news and comment on GLBT issues. However, of late I have been worn down by the outrageous personal attacks in the comments sections after trans news items made by XX, YY, and ZZ, and I may have to take a vacation for a while from the blog.

I am heartened a bit by your more aggressive approach of late in deleting certain comments made by these folks. Even so, the overall effect of their participation in Bilerico has been to present the trans community as a group of nasty and infantile raving maniacs. I see this as destructive to the movement to gain rights for transpeople as well as the overall GLBT.

Censorship is a last resort in situations like this. Sometimes there may be value in including provocative or even outrageous comments. These three have gone beyond, and I would be very content never to have to read another thing written by XX, YY or ZZ.

"The bad comments drive out the good."

Maybe this one will say it better?

The absolutely nutty ass comments... make me concerned that Bilerico is going to be marginalized as a bunch of fucking crazy trannies.

This is pushing the level of stupidity far past the point of even being laughed off... And, no I don't want to hear about fucking freedom of speech...

I haven't said much about my frustration with the level of trans lunacy on the site. It is reaching the boiling point for me.

This one sums it all up succinctly, I think. I'm really starting to feel the same way.

Bil, does it make me an awful person if I just can't care about half this trans stuff anymore?

So here's the skinny, folks. I'm sick of it. Readers are tired of wading through it. Contributors are too...

While Alex and I have tended to fall on the side of free speech and allowing folks to have their say, unfortunately some of you are abusing the privilege. Our first blog troll wasn't even a right winger, but a trans person!

Bottom line - I think before you hit that Enter key to leave another insult, please keep this in mind:

You are a guest here.

Think of the site as our home. We're a family here, so there's lots of room for lots of contributors and commenters. In fact, we don't mind if everyone and their friend drops by, we'll make room for you and give you a drink. But if you start going around attacking other guests and making a general ass of yourself, you're going to be shown the door. We wouldn't stand for it in our own homes, so we're not going to deal with it on our internet home either.

Not only is this discouraging readers, it's making the trans community look remarkably silly and turning off supporters. While I know that the entire trans community at large isn't responsible for the reprehensible behavior of a few blog commenters, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I'm less likely to read trans posts or take some people seriously. Other readers may not come back to the site at all if they're sufficiently perturbed. Still others may remember only the trannie wars we've been enduring and think "There's no way in hell I'm going anywhere near that subject."

We're a big site now and there are lots of opinions out there. I tend to be a fan of grassroots solutions, so I'm turning to you - our readers and contributors. What should the new comment policy be? Help us out with this one because it's going to affect us all.

Because that's what these things really boil down to. The nasty comments are affecting not only Bilerico readers, contributors, and editors, but the trans community at large. With so much at stake, we'd better come up with a solution. This isn't working anymore.

So what's the fix? What should we say is unacceptable? How much should we allow before the line is crossed? How are we going to police this? Let's stop complaining and fighting and get to work solving our problem.


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Bil and I have been talking about this for a little while now and I'm more interested in what others have to say than in saying what I think, but I want to say that those emails we get about people being turned off to the trans content on this site hurt the most.

If I'm participating in project that's actually hurting the movement to LGBTQ equality and freedom, then what am I wasting my time for? It sure ain't the money. I like to think that we're doing some good around here.

My experience on every transgender listserv since I came on the scene in the 1990s is that there is always a tremendous amount of flaming and nastiness, and it has kept me away from such sites generally. My feeling is that, in comments, any ad hominem attack against any person or group, or the use of any pejorative terminology, should result in a deletion of the comment. Anyone who does it several times should be banned. The First Amendment applies to the government, and doesn't prevent you, Bil, from taking any action you see fit. Even under the First Amendment, there are many exceptions to prevent harm to others when freedom of speech is abused. And there is harm happening here.

I think you all smell!

:)

Just doin my duty.

When personal attacks start flying , I shut off. And honestly when Micheal posts comments that are 15 pages long, I scroll past them. It just turns me off. I'm not sure what the answer is. As it is now, I just shut those people off by not paying attention to their comments.

eastsidekate | March 4, 2008 5:57 PM

I agree with the tighter monitoring of comments. In the last few months, there have been nasty, nasty feuds spilling out all over the trans (and LGBT blogosphere)... it's like some sort of Usenet flame war. I'm interested in discussing some of these issues (I'm a transsexual lesbian, FWIW, so these are my issues), but it's pointless when there are people out there just trolling for an argument. More to the point, it's the same handful of arguments, being made over and over again, even though nothing is resolved.

The even odder thing is that there is a fair amount of room for, uh, heated debate within various factions of the trans community, and particularly between trans people and LG people, but it's simply not happening, because the consensus is that nothing is going to be resolved by posting to a "trans thread."

I have no problem with people making pointed remarks, but when they're so clearly made in the spirit of trying to start and maintain an argument, it's poisonous, and drains everyone's energy. Maybe with a new policy in place, I'll eventually feel the energy to start reading some of these threads again.

I have no objection to any of Bil's observations, and in fact agree with most of them.

It occurs to me that part of the problem is the insularity and comparative smallness of the online trans community. There aren't that many trans people to begin with, and even fewer who are willing to be vocal... so the issues tend to be the same ones, because it appears to be the same people driving the same points and picking over the same old wounds over the long haul. In effect, Bilerico has become just another room in a long-standing family quarrel.

I'm glad that Bilerico gives space to new, dynamic trans voices with more on their mind than the last decade's turf wars, and I hope that things settle in a way that their work bears less of the burden of the background noise.

It really is like they're trying to speak while standing in a box of badgers.

I hesitate to share this, because I fear I will be attacked. But having spoken with at least three gay media editors on this topic, they report the same response. No matter what they write, they get viciously attacked. All confessed to me (off the record) that they've pretty much decided not to cover trans issues anymore, because of the vitriol.

I understand the frustration of the trans community. But for the last few years, it seems to be directed indescriminately at anyone who doesn't exactly the party line. By getting people to retreat from the debate, I think some folks think they've "won." But the reality is that they've just alienated another supporter, and moved another person from caring about their issue.

The whole point of media and blogs like this is to create a debate. Charges of bigotry and other invective should be used very, very seldomly, because that serves to absolutely shut down the debate.

I agree this is a very real issue on this blog. It keeps me from coming back, frankly.

Michael Bedwell | March 4, 2008 6:37 PM

Oh, please Marti! Disingenous much? It is not the length of my responses but the fact that you disagree with them. Why should solicited comments have a de facto limit less than the article on which they're commenting?

Brent.......that is exactly the point I have tried to make at Pam's........I only comment occasionally here because it feels like hostile territory to me. Since I tend to represent a minority opinion I get a lot of hate email myself since I find myself often at odds with the trans party line.

I've made the point before, but it bears repeating, if you come from the position I hold you are never allowed to forget you are not welcome at the table and have no community within the "T". Given that how is any actual discussion possible?

I started blogging recently and posting diaries at Pam's House Blend only to communicate to the wider LGB communities that there actually is a difference of opinion having long ago given up on the possibility of civil dialogue among the trans......and at this I probably already said too much.

Bil, I agree with Jessica Weiss. Delete the bad stuff and move on. I think you would lose a valuable component of your blog to exclude trans issues because some of them are controversial. It is true that virtually all trans forums, groups, listservs, you name it have this level of controversy and vitrol on them, and the only way the sane ones maintain order is with active moderation to delete posts with personal attacks and ban posters that do it repeatedly. Its really not a free speech issue as a civil speech one. Part of the problem is that trans as an umbrella is a lot like Yugoslavia was as a country, it kind of only stays together if you have a strong arm to enforce it.

On another note, I have really appreciated a lot of the trans-related posts you have put on Bilerico, and have posted links to them from other places as an educational opportunity for other transfolk. I would really miss having that component of Bilerico.

Brent said:

But having spoken with at least three gay media editors on this topic, they report the same response. No matter what they write, they get viciously attacked. All confessed to me (off the record) that they've pretty much decided not to cover trans issues anymore, because of the vitriol.

Yeah, seriously. Several contributors here have mentioned the same thing, they just don't want to post on trans issues anymore. I've even had to resort to posting addenda to my posts on trans issues asking for civility. I just posted a drag queen vid yesterday as a YGST and a commenter said I was worse than Joe S. and Barney F. because they didn't like it. (I'm totally open to criticism, but when suddenly we jump from a silly YouTuber video to an epic legislative battle, I think some people could use a little perspective.) I don't mean to say that it was objectively inoffensive, but the response seemed disproportionate to the relative tameness of the video and didn't seem all that interested in discussion.

I also wanted to repost a comment from Jillian T. Weiss from a thread back in January since it was pretty insightful:

I agree totally with your comments about these fringe feminists, Alex. I'd like to comment about the post-script reference to the Bilerico War of 2008, and to suggest that we need a post on this subject and a discussion.

I sympathize with the moderator of this and other discussions that have become "ugly." But the implication is that the flame wars are a failure of netiquette by some commentators. Rather than concentrating on individuals, however, I think it's more useful to look at this like a (radical) sociologist and think about what social forces have led to such anger.

The truth is that most trans people are treated terribly out in the world. I myself have been conscious of being looked at like Frankenstein everywhere I go, and lost friends, family and career, and been laughed at on the street. The consistent simmering of such treatment is almost like PTSD: flashbacks are a symptom. When I come home from a long day of being disrespected, and then have to see the disrespect for my views coming from my own community, it's like waving a red flag at a bull. This lack of respect from people in my own community is far worse than disrespect from outsiders. It means I am totally alone in the world, and misrepresented by my brothers and sisters. It is, perhaps, a little more understandable why my anger may get expressed in suboptimal ways when the subject of transgender comes up.

I support the idea of firm and fair moderation, but I also suggest that it may be useful to talk about why we feel the need to disrespect each other within the community. It may have something to do with how our identities are more threatened by differences within the community than without.

I agree with Marti.(not the smelling part, but love it anyway) I try to just shut off the nasty comments and scroll past them. But I also shake my head and feel very sad. We have enough people out there that HATE US and would rather see us all dead, lgbtqi each and every one of us. So why do we fight among ourselves. I guess that the editors of this blog will have to weed out the offenders. But let's not weed out the whole Trans community and the concerns of many in the community. Tred lightly there please as there are many voices that must be heard. Some of the comments above may be working towards a shut down of Trans voices, which I know would prove to be a real disaster. I always submit a moderated comment as many times I can go a little bit off and would be glad if someone toned me down so not to be offensive to my people.

diddlygrl | March 4, 2008 7:00 PM

I guess I have been coming in after the cleanup, because I have not noticed that many really bad comments, and I do read most all the trans posts on the blog. Most of the negative comments I do see, are more related to the current political race, rather than ad hominium attacks based on trans issues.

That being said, I have run across a few, running on the line of 'transbigotry' as Mercedes has called it. I agree that this type of thing is distracting and tends to fragment our voices into discordant choruses of 'I am More trans than you' sort of silliness that just shows grade school level thinking.

I didn't realize there was trans lunacy occurring and that LGB issues were being commented on in a more civilized manner. Frankly, I consider this site to be much saner than some of the blogs/forums I frequent, especially for the amount of traffic you get. Granted, I've only been coming here for a couple of months, I was actually surprised by the lack of comments. The majority of the comments posted seem very respectful, the ones I've read at least. (I don't mean to bruise anyone's ego, but I usually glaze over the comments)

The site might not be exactly what you strive for, and maybe this issue should be addressed. But I think a certain amount of lunacy is to be expected in a web forum. Overall, I've appreciated the intelligence conveyed by the majority of the bloggers/posters.

p.s. first post

I'm sure my name has been mentioned in the comments of who have caused problems. All of their comments were more than likely warranted. I'm not going to give any excuses. It's the dark side of my personality that I am working on. I just know that if I get punched, I don't turn the other cheek. It's a tough issue to be able to decide when to fight and when to walk away. As I said, I'm working on it.

Most of the time I have a lot of fun reading and commenting on some of the posts here. I look forward to things that make me laugh, or cause a tickle to my funny bone. That's what makes Bilerico so special.

There is one aspect of the personality of transsexuals that needs to be told, if you don't already know about it. We have a deep, deep selfish streak. In order to turn your back on your children, your wife (MtF) or husband (FtM), you family, your friends and your place of worship, you have to pull out the most selfish part of your personality. It is a survival technique. We have to block out all of the complaints and objections that everyone around us floods us with, or we will never make the change. No one will stop us from starting our transition. It is for us and us only. Being selfish is what gets you through the early years.

What happens with many transsexuals, me occasionally included, is that we never out grow that selfish attitude. The rest of the world now becomes our "enemies." We see hate behind every corner. People cannot even be nice to some transsexuals because their minds change it into "they are attacking me." I have seen it so often that it has become a common occurrence. A person will make a statement, another one says they agree with them, and then that person complains that they are now being attacked by the one who agreed with them. It has even happened here.

I am not making an excuse. This is just to provide an insight to why we fall into the attack mode. It took us a lot of becoming who we are that we feel we have to constantly protect ourselves from those who appear to hate us. Our life made us who we are, for good or bad. It is part of being a transsexual.

Censorship or skillful editing?

Clear and even not so clear arguements which respect other users are a great benefit to promoting community and growing readership.

Bitter, hateful stuff drives people away and destroys the community.

It's sad but the only way to keep a site going in a fair, equitable, respectful manor is to edit the comments. If someone posts stuff that constantly gets edited out, and t'ey don't like it. Let t'em put up their own blog.

A thick skin and a hard nose is needed at times to be an editor. Bil, this is your site, don't lose control of it.

The bickering makes me feel....tired. Intelligent opinions are invigorating. I don't have to agree with everything in entirety. We all need to respect one another. No brainer.

Just for the record, it's not just the insults and invective that bug me. It's the tone of some of the posts (and this includes non-trans posts) that if you disagree with someone's take, you are, therefore, a bigot, or stupid, or immoral. I can't tell you how off-putting that is! I mean, why participate in that debate? It IS possible to think, for example, that the best way to get rights for the entire GLBTQ community to first pass a gay-only ENDA bill...without being someone who wants to "throw trans people under the bus." This is a question of STRATEGY. You can argue, "Well, no, that strategy won't work because it didn't work HERE." And I can say, "Well, I think it will work, because it worked HERE." But to immediately make assumptions and accusations about someone's moral fitness based on their opinion of a STRATEGY, well, that seems insane to me, and deeply, PROFOUNDLY unfair.

I wish we could all assume that most of us are motivated by the same thing: equal rights for ALL folks. Then we can begin--yes, BEGIN--the debate we need to have about how to get there. Because as long as we're all committed to world-view that says only MY position is the "moral" one, the non-bigoted one, then the "debates" we're having will be just so much useless hot air, angels dancing on the head of a pin.

It's about working together folks, and knowing who the real enemy is.

Bil, no need to rewind and start over. You were on the right track to begin with, with your instinct to remove the inappropriate comments. The lessons of history are on your side.

Centuries ago, as democracy evolved in Western society, people saw that something called "parliamentary procedure" was needed. These rules made it possible to have a public meeting or debate where everyone could be heard without fear of being shouted down, insulted or attacked. When anyone in the room got out of control, the chair had the power to have the sergeant-at-arms escort that person to the door.

Parliamentary procedure is still around, in organizations, business and government. Why? Because it works. Because we can't have a democracy without it.

We desperately need some basic application of "parliamentary spirit" in Internet forums where comments are invited. The PC thing is to let everybody speak without restraints. But that doesn't work, because a few people will always take advantage. They delude themselves into believing that their "right speak" means that they have a "right to be nasty and mean, to insult others and shout them down."

Today it's the transgender issue. Tomorrow it will be some other issue. If Bilerico is to continue, the terms of service need to protect civilized and democratic debates for bloggers, commenters and readers alike.

So my recommendation is this: Bilerico should let comments continue, but bang the gavel on people who doesn't show that democratic respect for others. It's your forum, so you get to decide. Anybody who can't post or comment in a manner consistent with "parliamentary spirit" deserves to get the boot.

Bil, I want to first congratulate you for even being concerned with all of this. It's a lot easier to just start banning people without worrying about nuances or underlying issues.

Next, I do agree with your point, and am also concerned about the net result. My best advice comes from a support group with which I'm affiliated. At the beginning of each meeting, Guidelines for Conduct are read. The one that I think would be most apt here is, "When checking in or participating in the discussion, please tell your own story or experiences. Don't tell others what you think their life is - or should be about."

I think this is where many of the comments run afoul. People claim to know The Truth. That disregards and disrespects everyone else's reality. In addition, it's these same people who *insist* on being accorded the respect that they deny to anyone else.

I suspect that the main perpetrator of this (IMHO) has been now been banned. Otherwise, there would already be an extra dozen comments dripping with self-deference and vitriol. Instead there isn't a single entry from her. At least I can hope that she's be baned.

One other consideration. If someone keeps making the same point in post after post, without offering anything different or new, I think it's appropriate to say, 'enough'. It doesn't add anything to the discourse to repeat it. Similarly, anyone who posts north of 50 comments in a single day, seems to be abusing the privelege.

Michael, I don't read your posts either because of the length. That doesn't mean you shouldn't write at length; but you might want to keep that it mind if you want people to read your comments. Okay, keeping my own admonition in mind; I don't read it because of the length. It has nothing to do with your opinion. It has to do with the availabilty of my time, energy, and patience.

As far as "the trans party line", I think nothing can disprove that there is one as well as all of the differing opinions stated here.

battybattybats battybattybats | March 4, 2008 8:11 PM

As my feminist and at one point communist poet grandmother would often say 'It's not what you say but how you say it'. A lesson I regularly have to remind myself of.

Many of the conflicts I've been involved with elsewhere could have easily been civil but have involved unneccessarily incendary language.

Assuming of course that the people had the aim they stated they had rather than just attempting to control and dominate discussion which a few seem dedicated to. Considering the oft stated view of a few that they don't care about allies or other parts of the umbrella (or any sort of trans people at all) and whose only discernable motive to then regularly post amongst people who do seems to be to shut down, bog down and destroy any sort of quality dialogue on trans-related subjects involving ideas that they disagree with I am sure that some are fanning the flames of these conflicts with deliberate intent for the purpose of creating widespread schism and conflict or at least the appearance of such.

Some simply have a different point of view and inadvertantly touch off feelings with language that causes upset. Some are intolerant of alternative viewpoints. Others seem out to find pulpits for endlessly repeating the same view while some actually seem intent to harm the community outright.

I've seen examples of most of these on both sides of the conflict.

So while I often disagree with Cathryn I still insist she should be able to put forward, and for all to be able to discuss, her views. I'm sure if she was to modify her language a little to be less incendary on non-vital portions of her views she could get her point across undiluted yet with less resultant conflict and more acceptance even from those who disagree the most with her.

Those who appear to be following a deliberate course of actions intended to harm LGBT alliances and to fracture the T community (as opposed to those who just want to be self-representing and not be a part of the broader community) could and I believe should be identified as such and held accountable.

'It's not what you say but how you say it'.

I just want to be clear - I'm not saying that we should dump all of the trans coverage. I just want to establish some ground rules on commenting on the posts on the site - whether trans, political or funny. The lack of respect has been shocking.

Like Rory, I think a lot of this will resolve itself now that a certain someone has gotten the boot. However, that doesn't change what Alex touched on - why do we treat each other this way?

So if I can try to herd the cats... Here's our basic rules under the comment box:

Thanks for joining the discussion at The Bilerico Project! Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, uses excessive foul language, is exceptionally incoherent, includes a homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist or other slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

We're obviously going to start enforcing it more strictly, but what should be changed to make this more obvious while still reflecting the Bilerico personality? Is there a better, more clear way to say this?

Our Terms and Conditions page says:

You may not post or transmit any file which contains viruses, worms, "Trojan horses" or any other contaminating or destructive features. You may not post or transmit any message which is harmful, threatening, abusive or hateful. It is not the Service's intent to discourage you from taking controversial positions or expressing vigorously what may be unpopular views; however, Bil Browning and Jerame Davis reserve the right to take such action as it deems appropriate in cases where the Service is used to disseminate statements which are deeply and widely offensive and/or harmful.

Any ideas to make this clear, simple and still inclusive?

Janis Walters | March 4, 2008 8:21 PM

It really saddens me that it has come to this point. I have been reading Bilerico for about 6 months and have been impressed by the quality of the articles and the variety of contributors. There have been many informative articles on issues relevant to the transgender community. I am very appreciative of the contributions on Transgender History that Mercedes Allen has been writing.

Some of the articles regarding trans issues have been hot-button topics that have elicited some strong debate. As Jillian and Monica have pointed out, it ain't easy being trans! We have to develop some pretty thick skin to withstand all the hatred and bigotry we face on a daily basis. But that does not give us the right to vent our frustration in uncivil and inflammatory ways toward other commentors here. We will never gain the needed support to fight for our rights if we can't learn to get along with each other.

As Patrick Henry once declared, "United we stand, Divided we fall."

Love and Peace,
Janis

Sadly, the hateful language and nasty comments about Bil have spilled over to Monica Robert's blog. I won't post a link to it.

Benjamin Franklin is probably one of the Founding Fathers I admire the most. He has a few good sayings that cover this well.

"A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle."

"A small leak can sink a great ship."

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."

"Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

I think Brent's right to separate this into two issues. That's what I was thinking when I read the comments and emails that Bil pulled into this post, since I read them in full text and know all the context - they aren't all dealing with just the personal insulting going on around here. That's problem #1, the one that's getting the most attention around here.

I think that problem #2, that Brent mentions, that two of those emails quoted were about, is how if someone GLB posts on trans issues in a way that's disagreeable to some trans people, then they're called transphobic, bigots, etc. I'm not saying they're right, I'm just saying that I've heard complaints about that as well, and it's pretty different from the trans-infighting/personal attacks that we've been mostly talking about on this thread.

The first problem is more important to me and easier to draw brightlines around - we can tell what's a personal attack and what's not more easily than telling what's an over-the-top reaction and what's not. And to start modding the second problem would definitely fall into "silencing differing voices" territory for me - people might not "remembering who the real enemy" is, but who am I to decide for them who it is?

Although I would be a fan of people with less popular opinions on this site just posting them and then participating in the comments discussions instead of posting and running. Contributor participation in the comments tends to keep the discussions moving forward.

My earlier comment notwithstanding, I have to say that trans people are a group really shouldn't bear the entire burden for this, which is why I take the comment about "other gay media editors" with more than a pinch of salt. Editors and commenters throughout the queer blogs - and even some commenters here, at times, though no editors that I've seen so far - have a thinly veiled hostility toward trans identity and epistemology that they frame as "questioning" but which doesn't take much parsing to see as divisive and dismissive. The fact is that if your entire worldview were the subject of constant challenge by people you might have otherwise considered allies, you'd be pretty cranky, too.

As long as I was referred to in previous comments, I am open for discussion and I will make my own.

Yes, I am one of those who is perhaps too serious, and sees the pain and suffering of others as not trivial or an annoyance. It comes from personal pain and loss, and the experiences I have witnessed and at times shared with others who are transgender. Sometimes, those experiences are as benign as sitting in a café waiting to get a menu and water, while whole groups of people come and go, and I sit embarrassed and unserved. At other times it has been helping to stop the bleeding and getting a trans-sister back on the road home. It can even manifest itself in a phone call in the middle of the night, when a Trans-sister is trying to discover a reason not to commit suicide. At times the phone rings in the early morning hours and I am broken at the news of someone who found the pain too much, and could not face another day. I take all of this seriously, because I see the faces of those who are dead, who I knew, who found no relief, no answer. One, who I will call “Bright Eyes”, who sat across from me at a table in the back of a dingy café had just gotten out of prison. I sat and listened to all of her tears and horrors that she had suffered. I cried too, at her hell in the bull pen, men’s prison. She had been hungry and cold, and up North the winters are hard and deadly. No shelter would take her in, so she turned a trick or two and was arrested with a john who had a large stash of pharmaceuticals. She survived freezing to death, but as a 60 year old Tranny she was as good as dead. Another I know was arrested in a public woman’s toilet. Cross dressing got him a year in prison, and five years of aversion therapy. Aversion therapy was in the form of electrical shocks to the genitals. I take all of this very, very, seriously because not only those who I care about face these issues everyday of their lives, but so do I.

The other day I got very serious about a video “Loco Mama Sings”. As frivolous and meaningless as some people may feel this little YouTube comedy may be, its impact could be tragic. You see the HAG DRAG make up that Loco Mama was painted to portray looked just like “Bright Eyes”. It was as good as she would ever get to be. For what some here take as a joke, to be laughed at, is the reality that someone I know has to live with every waking moment of the rest of her lonely life. I remember so well how we hugged as we said good bye. She held on crying and did not want to let go. She was like a small child who was abandoned, and she was.

So, when I see someone using their position to demean and marginalize others, I get serious. It hurts. And how hurtful is it to those who are marginalized by it?

I tried to explain this, but instead saw nothing of compassion, nor here in this string of comments. Some time ago I recognized on Bilerico a flavor of elitism, which expressed the same callousness to the Transegender and those who are outside of the gay circle of cliquish politics. Yes, I am outraged at Barney Frank, Joe, and HRC with what has transpired and the insensitive character and bigotry they have displayed.

What I discovered here on Bilerico is that my comments have shaken some in their rosy little world. Others, well they could care less. Yes, it is bigotry. I do not know how else to say it.

Stellewriter@gmail.com

I agree with Marti....

comments should be concise...i scroll past anything longer than 4 paragraphs.


kisses and hugs to all

Respect.

All posts must show respect for others. An absence of malice. And only the moderators get to decide whether malice is present or not. You have to be a touch autocratic, and not worry too much about the letter if you are to follow the spirit of the law.

Come down like a tonne of bricks on those who violate this precept. A warning, then banning.

It gets a little difficult with Trans issues, as some people genuinely believe, without malice, that Trans people are all crazy. Putting that view across without disrespecting them is tricky. But it can be done.

I'm Trans, BTW.

Dustin Kight | March 4, 2008 9:56 PM

Well, Good Lord, I'm having a hard time not writing a book on this subject! Herein lies my attempt to break it down:

1. One of the things I MOST appreciate about Bilerico is the frequency of the trans posts and the intensity of the trans debate, which doesn't necessarily mean that I welcome erroneous, personal attacks.

2. That said, people REALLY, REALLY need to take a look at what Monica, Alex and Jillian have said about the cultures and the experiences that can push trans folks (and others) to engage in dialogue so personally and so viscerally.

3. I have to take a minute here to be ANNOYED with the (presumably LGB) people who have used this thread as an opportunity to whine about getting sh*t for their incrementalist approach to ENDA. If If I tell you you're throwing trans people under the bus for personal gain and you truly don't feel that way about yourself, what does my opinion matter to you? In my experience, it's usually the people with discomfort about a stance that need to push themselves a little harder on said stance.

4. As much as I love Bilerico, it is not one in the same as our community-at-large. As Bil said, it is a forum, a destination, a home, and therefore certain rules may apply. If this comment thread is a mini reader survey, more intensive moderating of comments is in order, but I DON'T want more moderating of comments to be read as a statement on the need for any oppressed people to express their frustrations as aggressively as they wish. LGB people, in particular, need to be called out by trans folks for the disproportionate power we hold in our community and for the irresponsible ways we often use that power vis a vis trans people. So to all the trans people and trans allies out there who have given hell to the Ls, Gs, Bs and Anyone Elses about the ENDA debacle, good for you and keep it coming!

(And that, seriously, is condensed. Should others now want to argue for a word limit on comments, I may not be happy about it, but I'll understand...)

SW~ Not to get too off topic here, but I did bring up the Loco Mama vid so I guess it's my fault, but I am still trying to understand why your vision for a trans/queer-friendly world necessarily excludes drag performance. I understand drag queens as pretty different in terms of gender ID than transsexuals, and I find drag performance (not that YouTube silliness) to generally be inspirational. I don't really know what it is, but watching a glamorous drag queen perform makes me feel excited and affirmed. And I love Zipster's stuff on YouTube, he's a quirky old queen, and I thought his performance of Loco Mama was done with the same intentions as most drag performance, just with less budget and glamor.

Buster Smith | March 4, 2008 10:54 PM

I appreciate this intervention. Sincerely. But I have an observation to share.

It really rubs me the wrong way to put this specifically upon the shoulders of trans folk. Bil, I am especially disappointed that you opted to share and agree with an email that flippantly used the pejorative trannies. I agree, the hijackers are crazy. But they're not crazy because they're "trannies". Nor does trans specific topics warrant more crazy than others.

There is an underlying problem here. Something that festers in many dark corners of our greater movement and communities.

We are at a moment where institutional support for trans folk is growing, but has yet to hit its stride. And I'm really tired of trans communities and voices being dismissed by tokenizing gestures towards our "complexities". Gay and lesbian identities are just as complex but are better recognized and reduced by a growing variation of accessible positive images and resources.

I recognize many of the posts that fueled these fires were written in defense of trans people, or as open attacks addressing deeply marginalized segments of our community based on a few bat sh*t crazy trolls. So really, what I'm saying is that much of this has been a waste of time. I'm through with trans leadership voices and visibilites wasting time focusing on honoring every teeny tiny segment of the population.

How about we start focusing on all those who couldn't give a sh*t about the impact of stealth identities or what 2nd wave feminists have to say? There are plenty of folks both trans and non-trans who can see the big picture.

And Bil, I'm going to single you out here. My stomach turns every time I see you comment with something like, "Oh wow! I had no I idea you people were so complex." The sentiment may be sincere, but as a frustrated and often isolated trans power player in the movement I read statements like these as a dismissal. To me, you are not yet an ally.

Allies are folks who get it.

Maybe I am too severe in my thinking, but I understand allies as people who can articulate the BIG PROBLEMS when I'm out of the room as effectively as I can.

Take United ENDA for example. Sure the majority of the organizations in our movement have joined in support, but how deep do those rivers run?

In the aftermath of the disastrous house vote, at the core, the message is loud and clear: trans folk are to blame. Collectively we failed to highlight the importance of including "gender identity and gender expression" (GIE). We just whined and stomped "HOW DARE YOU LEAVE THE UNPOPULAR KID OUT!" So, in part due to the lack of precision in our messaging, we fed monsters like John Aravosis their lines.

It's time that we start putting the coffee klatch aside and start filling in the gaps that prevent trans folk from having a seat at the table.

Who cares how deeply you or any other observer understand the minutae of my existence? I don't. And really, the nit picking carries a certain unnecessary voyeuristic violence. But I care, and I'm sure that you care, that I and others like me have access to basic things like housing, employment, and medical care.

In closing I would like to challenge Bilerico to identify and highlight trans leadership voices who are better willing to give space to things like legislative and legal battles that trans people are currently facing. I am deeply disappointed that so much space has been given to things like battles over feminism and minute trans-specificities.

How about locating someone who is willing to give us a play by play about the Massachusetts HB 1722? Any idea as to whats happening in Maryland?

If those trans voices who are already part of the project are unwilling or unable to give appropriate attention to these battles, may I suggest that it's time to find someone who will.

I'm happy to see trans issues welcomed at this site. Bil, do what you need to do.

Other than that, I think I'll just echo Jill Weiss's sentiments.

Bil~ I think the rules would just do better to go to list format. Clear, specific rules (in an nonparallel list):

1. No personal attacks - discuss other people's ideas, not their heritage, their culture, their past, or their mothers.

2. No racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise prejudiced slurs are allowed.

3. No messages soliciting money or advertising a product are allowed.

4. Comments that are off-topic may be removed.

5. No threatening, abusive, or excessively insulting comments are allowed.

6. Don't be insufferable.

I think that about covers it, and we should go to a "Three moderated comments = two-week/permanent ban" system, too.

Add a link to Blogger for people who don't like it, the following quotation from from POUND blog, and maybe an intro about how we want to encourage productive discussion, key word "productive."

Q. I’m trying to post my very angry comment on your blog using my totally fake name and email address, but you won’t let me! What are you, some kind of fascist?!

A. Yes. But maybe one day freedom will prevail, and not only will you be vindicated, but recognized as a martyr for free speech, and a statue will be built honoring you, FATCHICKSSUCK at lardbutt@yahoo.com, for everyone to see, right in the middle of the internet.

No matter how much we try to talk about it, to talk to people about it, etc., we do have to accept that there will always be some people who won't want to play by the rules.

And our blog has a pretty bizarre format for a group blog when you think about it - usually group-blogs are people of like politics and ideas coming to write together. Instead, we sought out people because they had differing opinions. It's going to cause some fights from time to time.

Michael Bedwell | March 4, 2008 11:34 PM

"I have to take a minute here to be ANNOYED with the (presumably LGB) people who have used this thread as an opportunity to whine about getting sh*t for their incrementalist approach to ENDA. If I tell you you're throwing trans people under the bus for personal gain and you truly don't feel that way about yourself, what does my opinion matter to you?"

- PERFECT example of one of the source problems: Dustin's RIGHT and anyone who disagrees with him can go fuck themselves; not even bother posting because he's had his hissy piss on the tree so just keep moving if you disagree or don't appreciate being dismissed by him.

As for the "clear" rules posited by Alex—

definitions of what is "racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise prejudiced slurs" aren't so clear as the different perspectives on the Loco Mama vid illustrate. How do you deal fairly when genuine differences arise?

What's the definition of "abusive," "excessively insulting," and "insufferable"? Just replying "You, Michael" is not enough. :- )

Ok, as a contributing editor (and therefore a moderator), as a transperson, and as someone who has found herself among the most frequently wading into these battles to try to restore and maintain some semblance of order, I've got a few thoughts here:

There's nothing wrong with transfolks and supporters speaking out and challenging others on issues that matter in our lives. It is, in fact, one of the great things about participating here. The problems most often start when things start getting personal, either when some attack others personally or when the targets respond equally personally. In my opinion, both are wrong, and both have no place here.

The key here, I believe, is keeping it about the issues. If you post something trans-relevant that's controversial and your opinions are attacked, that's part of the game. Not only that, but as long as it's within the guidelines as far as civility and being relevant goes, it's a good thing. If there's an attack on the issues, then defend, on the issues.

As far as the editors Brent speaks of, I frankly question their credibility. Clinton and Obama engender much the same level of heated, adversarial discussion as trans issues often do, yet I doubt you'll find any of those editors saying they plan to stop writing about the election. That tells you something about their priorities and their values.

Another thing: When one of us steps in and asks that a certain attack or display of attitude stop or we ask that the discussion get back on-point, we mean it. It's not optional. As Bil says, you are guests here, we editors serve as the hosts. When one of the hosts makes a request of you, the proper and polite thing to do is comply, not ignore it and continue attacking. That does nothing but escalate the problem and force us to take stronger measures. None of us want to do that....we've all got better things to do. A little bit of civility and common sense does go a long way.

It all boils down to the Golden Rule. While we may all forget at times to treat others as we wish to be treated, it's something all of us should keep in mind as we participate here, no matter what the topic or who's involved in the conversation. If we can all do that much, I think we'll find Bilerico not only a nicer place in general, but that the conversation is even better.

It's little enough to ask, isn't it?

Bil and others,

Okay, whew. But I'll jump in here.

With regard to the procedural issue: I'd recommend something that is least censorious, some combination of what Alex and Patricia have said. I especially agree with Alex about what bilerico is - it's specially designed not to have a group identity but to present conflicting opinions.

But this is, obviously, an issue that's specifically about the trans topics covered here. With regard to that, and this will not be popular with many, I can't help but wonder if some of what's going around is the need to establish some of trans-exceptionalism, an instinct that's pretty common in the LGBTQ community at large.

On the one hand: Like many of the commenters, I'm troubled by the implication that these inflammatory posts represent a trans characteristic and yeah, I agree with the poster who asked us to be sceptical of editors who whine about not covering trans issues because of the flaming that follows - that's just a cop-out on their part and probably a sign of greater trans-phobia.

On the other hand: I'm getting tired of what I see as this latent idea that somehow there is, no pun intended, a transcendent and perfect trans identity that's also perfectly homogenous and in need of protection. I have to wonder if part of what we think we need is to assert some kind of perfectly politically correct version of comments. I think when we consider what comments to flag or comment on, we might ask ourselves: Would this be a problem for us if this were not specifically trans-directed in some way? When people complain about inappropriateness, either about something in the pieces themselves or in the comments, are they complaining that the pieces or comments don't reflect how perfect/normative LGBTS are? Or do they actually have the force of questioning the power dynamics at play in, for instance, the law, or cultural representations? We're quick to jump on "transphobic" representations, for instance, if a trans people are represented as murderers. But we have our own ideas about what trans-people should look like and talk like - so someone who remains biologically female but claims FTM identity, or something even more fluid, or, gasp, is imperfectly trans, is likely to be berated or ignored as irrelevant.

The point I'm trying to make here, bleary-eyed and not very brightly as I listen to the primary results, is that there's a really fine line between what people WANT to see represented about community in entries/comments and what they THINK is a problem in the entries/comments.

I'll probably call you at some point to hash this out more, but I should say that I'm glad we're having this discussion in the open (and who's this slippery "we" I keep invoking anyway?). But I'm also really wary about the level of censorship we might engage in. I have no interest in feeling comfortable here, and have always liked having to defend my views and writings because that sharpens my own writing and thinking. By the same token, I have no interest in a bilerico where everyone is super polite and no-one causes offence.

As for people who are just rude and obnoxious, one trick is to ignore them - anyone who writes comments about "limp-wristed" "fags" on a queer site DEFINES "desperate for attention." I don't want to belittle very real hurt and wounded feelings, but I do think we sometimes make too much of the kinds of flamers who prey on listservs and blogs because, well, they just have a lot of time...

None of this is perfect, I know. I understand the concerns but I think the statements and policies in place do suffice. I also think we have to deal with things as they happen. This is the blogosphere, after all, and ignoring commenters who obviously are desperate to create turmoil might be the most effective way to deal with them.

Oh, just watch. I'll probably just ignore my own advice and be in some flame war TWO minutes after I hit "submit" here.

It's true, Becky. I've had the same conversations Brent has had. There's a reason you don't see trans coverage many places...

Going to bed now - will check in tomorrow.

Gang,

If you're posting on a blog like this to actually try and make a point and sway anyone's opinion, try to keep REALITY in mind:

We're all busy. I try to monitor several blogs as much/often as I can, but I ain't got all day to sit in front of the computer. So if you want most of us to bother to stop and read what you write, please do notice what people have been saying here--much over two or three paragraphs or so and the VAST majority of us skip right over your post. (And I HATE saying this, 'cause I tend to be long-winded, myself.) Same goes for posts that are, well, bitchy and contain personal attacks. They get immediately ignored.

So, OK, gang, you've been informed (in case you somehow couldn't have figured this out for yourself): if you're going to continue to generate windy and/or rancorous posts, that means you don't REALLY care about changing minds or actually having your posts read by anyone, all you're trying to accomplish is to whine in public and see yourself in print.

Dustin's RIGHT and anyone who disagrees with him can go fuck themselves; not even bother posting because he's had his hissy piss on the tree so just keep moving if you disagree or don't appreciate being dismissed by him.

Bedwell, in my opinion this comment represents exactly the kind of problem that we're trying to address here. It's unnecessarily sarcastic and insulting, which raises the level of hostility and makes pretty much everyone on this blog not want to engage in dialogue.

I personally think that comments like that have a silencing effect. Who wants to comment if they are going to put themselves up for sarcastic personal attacks? It’s really an issue of power. The sheer length of many of your comments alone (which numerous people have complained) is more about muscling people out of the conversation than about furthering it.

See, Dustin, you seem to think you've "won" the debate on your issue. But, in fact, you've just made me think, "Well, I have no interest in participating in this blog."

For the record, I've been doing GLBTQ activism for 25 years. I've co-founded three GLBTQ organizations, and I've worked with literally hundreds of GLBTQ youth (including many many trans youth). I think I've earned the right to have an opinion on a GLBTQ issue without having my integrity or my motivations questioned. I'd also think that would go without saying, but apparently not.

So fine, I'm the enemy. Good luck with that.

And those who say I'm making it up or exagerating when I talk about those editors who now decline to cover trans issues because of all the invective they receive? I'm not. These are folks who were sympathetic, but they're basically not any more, directly as a result of all the crap they received. (It goes without saying I'm not talking about all trans folks. But it is apparently a significant minority.)

Bil, I'll keep it short . . . I think you said it right when you said you wouldn't stand for this behavior in your home so why should we have to stand for it on the site? My friends over at Poponthepop.com have permanently turned off comments on their site because of a small minority of assholes. I hope we don't have to take it that far here at Bilerico, because I have a lot of spare change laying around and I personally like leaving my 2 cents. ;^)

Just replying "You, Michael" is not enough. :- )

Dammit, I'll have to be more creative, then. :)

You're right, they're all up in the air, those terms. In fact, that's specifically why the last one is there.

But that's why we have humans moderating. I don't really know how to get any clearer without simply listing no-no words, phrases, and sentences for pages and pages, and honestly I think people have a general idea and that's why 3 moderated comments and you're out works - it's two warnings for people who might be just a bit slow.

And ditto on what Nick said in 39 - you're misrepresenting Dustin's comment and just being mean. You might have a point, but I'm already turned off.


Yasmin~ First, this has turned into the trans discussion thread, but as Patricia pointed out above, it'll include other issues. It's happened on some of the presidential primary threads. But what we're talking about here isn't just about what we want to see represented or trans homogeny, I think what's standing out to most people are the "You were a dick when I met you 10 years ago and you're still a dick" comments, the "You have a neo-pussy/after-market vagina" comments, the "he" after being specifically asked to use "she" comments, etc.

We can say ignore them, but they're there to silence others and there are people who are more sensitive to being attacked than you or I are (I've gotten so used to it at this point, it took an ex-bf going psycho in a few threads and emails to shake me this year).

What I'm saying is, I share your concern with censorship, but I think that leaving a lot of these comments up meets the same goal as censorship. We have a surprisingly low comment rate for the hits we get on this site, and from the emails we get this seems to be at least part of the problem.

Normally, I try to keep my posts short (for the reasons JWSwift mentioned) and normally I hate "me too" posts. But tonight I'm bending both rules because this is a complex issue....

First off, while there's been a blood feud by a few folks that's taken over the trans thread, I think Rebecca's point is well taken: the comments Obama/Clinton-related posts seem to be problematically contentious as well, as well as other topics, such as the assimilationists vs. the "fuck assimilation"-ists. Take a look at DailyKos or any number of political/LGBT blogs and you'll find no shortage of flamefests. So kudos to Bil, Alex and others for trying to keep the discussions here on the same higher-level as the postings.

Second -- ...And yet I blame society, society brought us to this sorry fate... ;) Again I agree with Rebecca it's worth talking about the experiences of trans people that can leave some folks on permanent hair-trigger. That said, knowing the explanation for a behavior doesn't mean we have to accept it. Freedom of speech doesn't mean the freedom to act out -- particularly when one is a guest at someone's else house as it were.

Third -- As has been said, it's not just what you say, but how you say it. Might I note the irony that some of the posts in this very thread have been example of the sort of unnecessarily sarcastic, insulting and personal attacks that are inappropriate. Alex, I agree this is the sort of thing that can be addressed by the rules you've proposed. I'd suggest another addition:

7. People who routinely get into personal arguments with the same people about the same things (especially if they're off-topic) will get put on moderation.

Fourth -- There's no one way -- nor "right" way to be LGB and/or T. I agree with Brent, acting as if my position/way of being/way I'm LGBT is the One True Way is a source of a fair amount of conflict here. Similarly I agree Rory that another big source of conflict is when people disregard and disrespect other people's reality. I think the Guidelines for Conduct that Rory cited are important enough to be listed along with the rules. Admittedly it's not really enforceable as rule per se, but that's why over at MHB we've got both rules and etiquette. I think it's important enough that I'll repeat again here:

"When checking in or participating in the discussion, please tell your own story or experience. Don't tell other what you think their life is -- or should be about."

It's something we've tried to strongly encourage over at MHB and I think helped considerably in heading off potential acrimony.

A corollary is: it's not always about you (or the group that you're a member of). Just because someone expresses their LGB- or T-ness differently isn't a repudiation of you.

Fifth -- To paraphrase from the rules and etiquette at the My Husband Betty forum -- where I'm a moderator, and where we've worked have to keep things civil: Remember everyone posting is a person, and most of them are likeable, and being LGB and/or T can make life difficult and complicated for most of us from time to time. Sometimes, someone may just be having a bad day. Give people as much room as you'd like for yourself. And take a deep breath and wait at least a half day before you respond to a post that pisses you off.

Sixth -- That said, being civil to each other doesn't mean one can't disagree, even strongly, with someone or that you can't challenge someone. Over at MHB, we pride ourselves on being one of the few places that questions much of the accepted memes of the trans world. To paraphrase one of our frequent posters over there, being supportive doesn't always mean unquestioning acceptance. Sometimes it means calling someone on their shit. But we also pride ourselves on being able to do in a reasonably civil manner.

Alex: FWIW, my vision for a trans-/queer-friendly world definitely includes drag queens. It ought to be because I'm both a crossdresser and a drag queen. They're not mutually exclusive. In fact, I perform with several drag queens who also happen to be trans women -- one of whom took part in the Compton's Cafeteria riot. I didn't find Loco Mama's video particularly funny, but I agree it was done with the same intentions as most drag performances. (I didn't object to it, it just didn't tickle my funny bone.) But the issue of portrayals and humor is a whole separate discussion....

I help moderate a trans message board and the following 2 simple rules have kept things pretty pleasant...

1. The "It's Nothing Personal" rule
Do not judge a person. For example, "you're a Jerk", "You're a coward", "she's crazy", "He's irresponsible" are all forbidden types of statements. If you can't disagree with an idea without making statements about a person, then it's a personal attack. If someone posts in a thread something about the way they feel, and you say anyone who feels that way is an irresponsible jerk, it's a personal attack because it's obviously referring to a person and not to an idea.

If something falls into the grey area on this one, I'll err on the side of letting the post stand, but will delete the post if seems to be too personal or if someone complains.

2. The "Let me label you" rule
Avoid telling someone what kind of person they are. Especially with regards to gender, sex, and sexual orientation. From today onward, posting something like, "You're not really a transsexual" is forbidden. In the same fashion, if a post-op said, "I'm not a transsexual anymore" you couldn't disagree by saying "Yes you are". You could only say something about your own label like, "I'll still identify as a transsexual when I'm post-op". See the difference? Don't label someone else.

It still counts as labeling if you reinterpret someone's own labels to add meanings they did not intend. For exmaple, from now on, "I'm a non-op" can't then be responded with "Oh so you're a she-male" Or even as an extreme example, someone who says "I'm a crossdresser" can't be then told they are a transvestite. If they didn't say it about themselves exactly, you can't tell them it's what their label means. Label yourself and describe yourself as much as you want, but don't tell others what they are.

Ethan Pleshe | March 5, 2008 2:14 AM

I don't normally read the comments page. I usually don't have time to. I identify as a transman, that is a female to male transsexual.

I was excited to see so many trans stories in this blog because I feel the trans community gets left out a lot of time. So please don't stop blogging. Keep the conversation going. It's important to have dialogue.

As for comments about transfolk calling us "trannys" I do find that offensive. I think it's important to not degrade each other comming from any part of the spectrum. There will always be people we don't get along with or see eye-to-eye but we should be civil. When you hurt one person in the LGBT community you hurt us all regardless if you are part of the LGBT community or not. It's time for the infighting to stop and for community building to begin.

Alex, thanks for clarifying the type of comments we're talking about. Those should clearly just be deleted.

But I think there are a few broader issues that are being missed. In some of the earlier comments, there's this fear about how the "trans community" is being represented, and I think that particular fear is misplaced. First of all, what on earth is the trans community? Or LGBT community? Or bilerico community? I would say that there are certainly different communities that exist within and across these categories, but the idea of some overarching identity-based amoeba satisfying so many conflicting urges and explorations is, I believe, preposterous. And silencing.

Furthermore, rather than talking about how supposedl outsiders are viewing the "trans community," I think it would be useful to talk about whether we're satisfied with the range of issues, opinions, identities and explorations represented.

I agree with Jesster. Effective moderation is possible.

For example, I started and still moderate a transgendered group in Houston, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HoustonActiveTGs/.

In about four years in existence we've never had a problem with trolls, member arguments or other such issues. The guidelines of the group were designed to prevent these problems.

In addition to following Jesster's ideas I put a few additional touches in that I rarely see in trans groups. One being that we focus on having fun. Be honest now - how many of the gay or trans posters have you ever seen on the net that you'd enjoy spending five minutes in public with?

Friendships are the foundation of effective activism and I often see this forgotten particularly by the big "names" in the trans community. A second thing I did is make the rules apply to me and other moderators. Any of the three other moderators can kick me out of my own group if they see I'm showing my behind too much.

Edited versions of my group's rules:

http://www.geocities.com/karaleenee/WelcomeToHstnActivTGs.html

"...Every member of this group is valued! Do not get into the 'I’m better than you' discussions so typical of many TG groups. We could care less if you are a cross dresser or a transsexual on hormones; if you are straight, gay, or bisexual; if you are gorgeous or dog ugly. All we care about is if you are the type of person who enjoys spending time out in public.

...Nor do we need you to tell us how to dress or act. ..."

http://www.geocities.com/karaleenee/WelcomeToHstnActivTGs_MmbrshpPstng.html

Posting standards

...Excessively vulgar posts will be deleted. If in doubt, contact a moderator....

Show respect for other members. Please keep your posts on a positive note; negative comments about other members are not tolerated....

We are fairly liberal about what you can say, we value all views on a subject, just be adult about it.

If violated, you will get one warning. A second violation gets you banned. This rule applies to all members as well as moderators.


Nerissa

Bil, before you put too much store in what these "moderators" of various trans groups say please consider that "transier than thou" and "better than you" are code words for women of transsexual history are never to be allowed to point out they have little to nothing in common with these other groups and yet no say in being forced under a common umbrella term "transgender" against their will so these self same moderators can then claim to speak for them.........their lack of conflict stems from vicious silencing of opposing viewpoints, not unity.

In the time I've been coming here I have yet to see a single guest blogging from the WBT/women of transsexual history point of view, not a single one. Most of the commenters from this point of view have given up on this venue....

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | March 5, 2008 8:59 AM

Since receiving an E-Mail from Bil to all TPB contributors asking them to participate in this discussion I’ve periodically checked back in to see the ever-expanding comments, and have taken the time to read through all of them before weighing in.
There is a great deal of wisdom and merit to be found in what has already been said, and I am not at all sure that anything I could say would materially add to it. And, as is so often the case with these matters, I find myself a bit conflicted and frustrated. Being both an attorney and an engineer I admit to a near obsession with the idea that everything, including such things as “Terms and Conditions” statements on blogsites like this one can be precisely tailored to define every facet so as to put such things as moderating or editing on autopilot. Time and time again, that viewpoint and background has collided head-on with human reality, and isn’t made any better by the fact that I am not an “absolutist”, but see an infinite variety of “shades of gray” in virtually every topic under the sun.
So while refinement of language, definition of terms, and the like, is always a useful thing, it quickly reaches its limits, and I would advise not spending very much time in wordsmithing the “Rules for Guests”. Editing and moderating are human tasks, and to worry excessively over whether or not such activity is perceived as “fair” or not can quickly become counterproductive. What some folks reasonably consider to be a “personal attack”, others just as reasonably may perceive to be within the fair bounds of “robust discussion”.
You, Bil, and the others to whom you entrust to make those kinds of decisions, must make a fundamental choice concerning what you want this site to be, and then in pursuit of that, how much of your and their time and effort you/they want to devote in the editing and moderating process. If it’s 16 hours a day with the rest devoted to a good 8 hour sleep, fine. If it is 3 hours a day, with the same sleep parameters and the other 13 devoted to your own writing, sales promotion, and other aspects of life, fine, too. From time to time you might even adjust those allocations. But I’m sensing that a desire, commendable though it is, to make the site as comfortable and “all things to all people” within the vague thing we call the GLBT (plus however many more letters is currently in vogue) community, has the potential for becoming so engaged in trying to figure out what comment ought to stay in, who ought to be barred and for how long, etc., will end up becoming a continuing exercise in futility.
So chop the comments as you see fit according to what resources you want to allocate. You are going to make some mistakes, maybe many of them. In the end, go with your own gut feelings, make decisions, and live with the consequences. Some of those decisions will turn out to be right on….others will leave a big stink for quite a while. Running a blogsite that interacts with any quantity of other human beings more than zero is just like the rest of life. It can’t be reduced to a mechanical set of rules. If it could, it probably wouldn’t be worthwhile being a part of. Make decisions, and then move on. That isn’t at all being callous….you are not that kind of person. It is simply being realistic about human nature…..and blogsites operated by and for human beings aren’t somehow immune from that realism.

Your site contributes immeasurably to be the community (or communities) it serves. Don't let your desire to be conscientious and "fair" to a fault end up being a detractor from that continued contribution. One day at a time, my friend.

> It's true, Becky. I've had the same conversations Brent has had.

With whom? John Aravosis? I really don't care. His entries on this topic are exactly the kind of disingenuous framing I mentioned earlier.

Pam Spaulding? I respect and trust her a great deal and would welcome any thoughts she has on this subject.

There is a wide range of socio/political sensibility in the gay media. Many people here on Bilerico have denounced The Advocate, for instance... while some people here probably think Chris Crain is a paragon of forthright clarity.

The kinds of people one has these kinds of conversations with matters.

One of the things I remember learning in an employee workshop, was "always assume good intentions." To create an example from some of the comments above, suppose I post a comment using the word "tranny." There could be a variety of reasons why I used that word, but the most obvious and likely one is that I didn't realize it was offensive. The polite response would be, "BTW, you may not realize it, but that word is usually considered offensive because...." My reaction would be, "Wow, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that. What word would be better?"

Let me clarify something: I do not question that Brent heard these things from editors. On the contrary, I have no trouble believing it as it reflects a very common attitude within our community. What I question the credibility of is the editors themselves, complaining about the heated discussions taking place around trans issues, but accepting without question or complaint the same kind of commenting in regards to other hot button topics, such as the election.

It's much the same kind of double-standard we see in regards to ENDA from those who insist gay people need these rights now, but if they come at the expense of the same rights being denied to transpeople for who knows how long, that's perfectly ok with them. It's hypocrisy of the first order and completely biased journalism to the point where those editors should certainly not be using the acronym "LGBT" to describe their paper or site.

Let me begin by agreeing completely with comment number 35 from Rebecca.
When the dialogue becomes personal, it has absolutely no place in a blog. We can disagree without becoming disagreeable. No good can come to anyone from some of the vicious attacks I've seen here. By doing so, we play right into our enemies' hands.
But having said that, these personal attacks are not confined to attacks by gender variant people on other gender variant people, as one would conclude from the original article. I have felt personally insulted by attacks on my religious faith. While some so-called religious persons have perverted religion for their own purposes, some of us have deep spiritual needs that should not be denigrated.
It is so easy to prevent many of these mean-spirited and hurtful comments and articles by simply asking, "Am I hurting ANYONE by this post?", and if you are by self moderating.
A suggestion I would have would be some method of communicating with someone who posts a comment without going through the Bilerico comment process. This may be impossible, but I don't know. If attacks have to get personal, and they shouldn't, but if they do, take it off Bilerico.

Clear and even not so clear arguements which respect other users are a great benefit to promoting community and growing readership.

Bitter, hateful stuff drives people away and destroys the community.

I can't say any better than this which has already been said. It pains me to see the nasty commenting crap that's gone on 'round here lately, but as for you guys' posts themselves... rock ON with your bad selves. If you have to edit and delete the hell out of comments for a while to maintain a welcoming atmosphere and weed out the nasty hateful types, then you do so with my full support. It is YOUR space, we are the guests, and I say whoever doesn't behave with decorum earns whatever edits, deletions, warnings, and other such ire that comes upon them. Do what you gotta do to keep this place great.

There seems to be a nice consensus about what to do with personal attacks. But I want to toss in my two cents about a couple things.

First off, I'm a bit taken aback by the idea floating about that this is a problem with the trans community, or posts on trans issues. I can hardly count the number of trans communities, blogs, etc, that I'm a part of and the vast majority have virtually no fighting like this. I think it's because there's a strong value that everyone's self-identification is valid. Where there has been intense flame wars here, it seems to that value is lacking. And as has been pointed out, there are plenty of non-trans topics that get equally heated.

Secondly, I'm concerned about the way some arguments on the issues are getting portrayed as personal attacks. I know that calling people's behavior out as transphobic, racist, sexist, etc, can raise the intensity level and shut down discussion. So I try to hold that back as a last resort. But the reality is that saying something racist is not the same as being a racist, and these things are so pervasive in our society as to be everywhere. As a trans woman of color, I know that I've said racist things and transphobic things in my life. Calling this out ought not be a conversation stopper and certainly should not be censored as a personal attack.

Right here in this thread, Brent feels silenced by Dustin calling his perspective transphobic, and Nick feels silenced by Michael's chastising Dustin for calling Brent's perspective transphobic.

Could things have been said better? Probably. Instead of just saying "We can call the fake ENDA transphobic if we want [my paraphrasing]," I might have tossed in a substantive argument such as "It's different when trans people decide we need to step aside for strategy than it is when a group of non-trans people with no consultation from trans people, avoid talking to any trans people, lie about their intentions, and then remove trans people as a strategic issue." But should Dustin's comment be moderated? I don't think so.

There is a big difference between argument that gets heated or isn't your idea of enlightened, and something that's a personal attack. I don't like the idea of non-trans people deciding what's transphobic and what's not and then punishing trans people who disagree. Calling something transphobic, or racist, or abelist, or sexist, or whatever, is not a personal attack -- it's a substantive issue that usually requires (and rarely gets) much more conversation.

Some thoughts:

- Differences of opinion are fine, as long as they're expressed with respect.

- Even if you feel insulted by something somebody else has said, that does not give you the right to insult them back. You will get a lot further by stating "I feel insulted by what you said because I . . . " than by saying "Yeah, well you're a $%*^!!!"

- If you feel that your rights are not being respected, maybe you should look elsewhere for like-minded people. If you can't find any, even on the Internet, you might want to ask yourself why.

Dawn Storrud | March 5, 2008 4:01 PM

When I invented the weighted divisions used in settling intenational and divorce settlements of complex and emotion scrabbled issues, I kept one saying in mind, "Everyone tells the truth all of the time; our job is to discover what that truth concerns.
As Marti pointed out many transpeople have a well developed selfish streek. As others have said, the rehashing of a decade long debate has not produced any new results. Perhaps, the correct point to address is not what has been tried before, but what can we do that has not yet been tried.
When I hear you talking to your toaster, I shouldn't call you a nutcase, I should ask just what does your toaster say. Then I might be less afraid to say what I hear from my gold fish.

> Differences of opinion are fine, as long as they're expressed with respect.

Respect is more than a tone of voice, and it's quite easy to emit faux "respect" while telegraphing contempt.

> You will get a lot further by stating "I feel insulted by what you said ..."

My own experience is that on much of the internet - as opposed to in real life - a statement like that reveals weakness and implies a thin skin just aching to be scratched. It almost never invokes actual active listening, but instead earns just exactly your own third response.

Idr,
That's all well and good, but there are some who if your said, "I feel insulted by what you said," the response would be, "Good! I'm glad. That was my goal!" or "Too f---ing bad!" or even, "What's the matter, you can't handle the truth?" They use it as an invitation to kick you in the teeth harder.

The banned person and her cohorts live for moments like that. The wounded veterans of these flame tactics cringe when a newbee tries to play nice with some of them, knowing full well what they will get for their efforts.

Hi Bil and Alex -

First - thanks for The Bilerico Project. I appreciate the contributions and the opportunity to write timely posts.

Second - I agree with Jillian T, Weiss (#2) and Patricia Nell Warren (#18). Roberts Rules of Order or Standards and Practices are not censorship - and your "house rules" seem fine to me.

Third - I try to read all the transgender comments. As news editor of the largest LGBT publication in Los Angeles - which has a sizable and diverse transgender population - it is incumbent upon me to write about our entire LGBT community. However, I get distracted from the insight I'm trying to grasp when the comments become nasty and personal. I wind up skipping over comments from folks who regularly tend to shout rather than explain their point.

Fourth - I frown upon editors/journalists who refuse to cover an entire group or issue because of a few flakes.

That's it - just my four cents...
KO

Val said:

Respect is more than a tone of voice, and it's quite easy to emit faux "respect" while telegraphing contempt.

So, what's the difference between faux respect and genuine respect?

Actually, I almost think that even faux respect is better than no respect at all, because real trolls can't even manage the faux respect. They just go nuts.

MonicaHelms said:

They use it as an invitation to kick you in the teeth harder. . . . The wounded veterans of these flame tactics cringe when a newbee tries to play nice with some of them, knowing full well what they will get for their efforts.

Yeah, and people who enjoy kicking others in the teeth should be banned. It's up to the moderators to get rid of people like that, and ideally to stop flamewars before they start.

My suggestions were more along the lines of, "if you don't want to get banned, try this."

Ellen Andersen Ellen Andersen | March 6, 2008 2:46 AM

I'm late to this party, because the site had a hissy fit at me when I tried to sign in yesterday.

Bil, I think your initial impulse is spot on. You wouldn't allow trash talk and disrespectful behavior in your home. You shouldn't put up with it on Bilerico. You run a real class joint here. The prices are low and the liquor is quality. Don't let a few belligerent drunks spoil the atmosphere.

Cathryn, maybe you should see this as an opportunity to find other ways to talk about your views. The issue of people identifying or not identifying as transgender (or transsexual) is not just an issue for you. David Valentine recently wrote a book called Imagining Transgender where he talks about how people use or don't use transgender (among other identities) to describe themselves even though they may have very similar lives. It is possible to talk about being a woman-born-transsexual in a manner that is insightful and respectful. Rosalyne Blumenstein has been able to do that for years.

Monica Helms said:

There is one aspect of the personality of transsexuals that needs to be told, if you don't already know about it. We have a deep, deep selfish streak. In order to turn your back on your children, your wife (MtF) or husband (FtM), you family, your friends and your place of worship, you have to pull out the most selfish part of your personality. It is a survival technique. We have to block out all of the complaints and objections that everyone around us floods us with, or we will never make the change. No one will stop us from starting our transition. It is for us and us only. Being selfish is what gets you through the early years.

Now, this is the kind of hateful remark I expect from people on the religious right...not from someone who claims to be a transsexual. It shows a total lack of understanding of what being a transsexual is really like. And it is perfect example of the kind of stuff that leads to flame wars.

I faced just this sort of accusation from the wife of the pastor of a church I was attending. I was absolutely floored. It showed such a total lack of compassion, and it had not relationship to what I was actually experiencing. Selfish would have been trying to keep denying who and what I was in order to maintain some illusion of normalacy. Yes, it was hard to face the end of a relationship, but in the end, I came to realize that the relationship was more illusion than reality. What I was trying to hold onto was not real, and when I let go of it, I found a close friend. And I went through some rough times with my daughter, but now we are close again.

A lot of the problems here stem from people who have no concept of being transsexual, or as is increasingly preferred, HBS, trying to tell those of us who are, how we should feel. People who have no intention of ever having surgery try to tell people who have, that we are self-hating because we have successful lives.

Yes, some become abusive. And that includes people on both sides of the issue. But overall, a lot of us get tired of being attacked for not holding to the few of those who have no concept of what transsexuals or people with HBS go through, but who presume to insist that we be a part of their little club.

Post #64 reminds me of a point I forgot to make earlier.

One of the things that's worked well over at the My Husband Betty forums is that we strongly encourage folks to talk about their own experiences and avoid sweeping generalizations about other people's experiences.

Likewise, we strongly encourage people to be explicit in their disclaimers when talking about groups of people. I'm willing to assume that in Monica's quote she probably meant it was true of some (or even many) trans people, but probably not of every last one. The problem is that without saying explicitly, it can be taken as meaning everyone.

Yeah, there's the counter-argument -- in my experience often made on feminist sites about a similar issue of talking about "men" vs. "some/many men" -- that if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. But as others have said previously, if the way you phrase things causes a listener to stop listening, you're not likely to convince them to change their mind -- nor how brilliant you are. ;)

Donna Levinsohn | March 6, 2008 4:18 PM

Monica, you said:

"In order to turn your back on your children, your wife (MtF) or husband (FtM), your family, your friends and your place of worship you have to pull out the most selfish part of your personality . . . . No one will stop us from starting our transition. It is for us and us only. Being selfish is what gets you through the early years."

To me, this is a terrific example of precisely the kind of comment that causes offense, infuriates people, and leads to ridiculous arguments that ruin things for others. Because it generalizes, and attempts to universalize, your personal experience, and to claim that it applies to "us" -- i.e., all trans people. Any time anyone does that, in my opinion, watch out. Because the generalization is rarely, if ever, justified.

I didn't turn my back on anybody when I transitioned, and the same is true of a lot of people. The MHB boards are full of trans people -- and, often, their partners -- doing their best to transition without losing spouses, children, family, friends, place of worship, job, etc. Or *not* transitioning, or delaying transition, despite being as "trans as anyone," *because* of ties to other people -- challenging, by their very existence, the "transition is unstoppable" meme.

Another example of provocative generalization and overreaching in this very thread: no, of course "HBS" isn't "increasingly preferred," except among the tiny fraction of transsexual women who call themselves "HBS" (and fill their websites with attacks on all those disgusting perverts and "men in dresses" they're terrified of being confused with!) Claims like this, of course, are usually made only to LGB people, because many trans people know how factually inaccurate they are.

So, my one practical suggestion would be: don't generalize, don't universalize, don't overreach. Try to avoid "we," "us," "all," and "most" when referring to trans people (or any subcategory thereof), and try not to make assertions about statistics that almost always, on examination, prove to be unreliable, based on small, self-selected samples, or essentially made up. Because: there are very few valid, reliable, statistics regarding trans people.

By the way, Lena, I wanted to thank you for your comment, as a fellow moderator of the MHB boards -- where we get about 60,000 posts per month but haven't had a real "flame war" for at least a couple of years, because we *do* moderate heavily by deleting insulting comments, warning people, etc., and do try to emphasize the importance of respectful discourse, even though controversial issues are often discussed. And that's very necessary, because we are, I believe, one of the very few Internet venues where the views of trans women (of all sorts), self-identified crossdressers, others on the trans spectrum, and partners/SO's, are valued equally. Mostly thanks, of course, to Helen and Betty.

So I definitely approve of any efforts to keep things a bit more civil around here in discussing trans issues. When I first started reading Bilerico (through the link on Helen's blog), and started looking at comments, my basic reaction was, oh s**t, it's the same old crap, by the same old people, that basically ruined the trans advocacy yahoo group and caused people to leave it in droves.

And, no, Cathryn (assuming you're the same Cathryn I think you are), we don't viciously silence opposing viewpoints. You weren't banned; you left. At least from our boards. But respectful discourse wasn't exactly your forte all the time, even though a lot of us felt your perspective was very valuable, and I, for one, miss your presence and hope the situation with your house, which you were writing about shortly before you left, has improved. However, as Emilia (hi, Emilia!) suggested, perhaps the way you express your viewpoints has something to do with your experiences. You may think you're just saying "different," but, in fact, it comes across most distinctly as "better." And I speak as someone who presently identifies as a woman of transsexual history (as pompous as that term sounds) more than as "trans," myself.

Donna


I read this site from time to time but are somewhat afraid to post here.
After what happened to sue i am somewhat reluctant to say much of anything. People who don't walk the tranny talk get shouted down here when the people who do the shouting don't represent the whole of the trans gender community. Like the woman in post #64 I am also an HBS woman.
Am i welcome to post here or will I be run off like sue. Someone in this thread asked why there are no HBS women as contributers here. I ask the same question. There are women who are still intact males here why not have some HBS women, postoperative HBS woman?

The people from the other side need to be heard for your readership to have a complete understanding of the issues involved.

Liz Whitecloud.

I'll do my best to keep this short.

First, I really like Jesster's "It Nothing Personal" and "Let Me Label" rules. I think they state very well the most hurtful types of personal attacks that occur here and elsewhere. Personally, I would rename them to "Don't Make It Personal" and "Don't Label Me", but Jesster's explanation makes their meaning clear.

Second, whether or not you make any changes to the terms of service, Bil, you and the other editors/moderators need to act sooner and more decisively to prevent things from getting out of hand. You will have to make some hard choices but you need to make clear what is acceptable here and what isn't.

Third, regarding that last point, I think it would be helpful, at least in some cases, when you edit or delete a comment to insert in the comment itself an explanation of what was wrong with it and why you took action. It may not always be clear to everyone what's objectionable about a particular comment, so a little education might help us all learn to "self-moderate" a bit.

Last, commenters who repeatedly make the same point simply to make everyone knows that they disagree with or object to a contrary opinion or point of view every time it is expressed are tedious and don't advance the debate in the least. Make your point and let it go. Not everyone will agree with you the first time and you certainly won't convince anyone by saying the same thing over and over and over .......... So, I for one would welcome editing or deletion of comments that add nothing new to the dialog.

Seems like Sue encouraged HBS people to attack, showing exactly why there is a need for more moderation. 3 out of the 4 last commentators are people who don't post here regularly and decided to attack me on an early entry on this string.

Bil, I was told by a person that you kept Sue here for your entertainment, based on a personal E-mail you sent to that person. You like watching trans people attacking each other? Sue was banned after she call you a hateful name, but the complaints of how she was calling others hateful names was somehow okay? It wasn't you, so you allowed it?

I hate to break it to Helms, but no, Sue has not encouraged me, or anyone I know of, to "attack." And by attack, I assume Helms means "have the unmitigated audacity to disagree with ME!!!"

Nope, I came here because I noticed something Helms (I assume) posted in the comments on another blog, where certain people WERE being attacked. There Helms was strutting and crowing about how someone had been banned from Bilerco. I dropped in to see what was going on.

And, ironically, we find this:

"Another example of provocative generalization and overreaching in this very thread: no, of course "HBS" isn't "increasingly preferred," except among the tiny fraction of transsexual women who call themselves "HBS" (and fill their websites with attacks on all those disgusting perverts and "men in dresses" they're terrified of being confused with!) Claims like this, of course, are usually made only to LGB people, because many trans people know how factually inaccurate they are."

Wow, talk about "provocative generalization and overreaching." Actually, I have made much the same comment everywhere, both in discussion with people who identify as trans, and those who do not. More and more people are finding HBS a preferable term. If you do not, feel free to call yourself whatever you wish. And please keep in mind that there are two different "HBS" web sites. One, admittedly, is operated by a very disturbed person from Spain, who has a reputation for vicious attacks. She was, at one time, a member of the other group, but was removed.

Oh well, and so it goes...

My Monica,
I did not know anybody was attacking anyone.
Could you site an example of such an attack.

You know there are a couple of downloaded threads of what apparently went on here and I noticed that many of the original comments are missing including one where you called Sue Male and another where Marti Abernathy did the very same thing.

From what i can see it is your usual behavior that got you banned from another group a month or so ago.

From what i can see Sue is only guilty of becoming angry with the one sided attitudes of the half trans gender and half homosexual management of this site. I could now believe that Bill did keep Sue around for his own personal entertainment. I would like to see some balance in both commenting and contributers here. As it is this site is truly one sided and supports some kind of false trans gender ideal.


Liz Whitecloud


SamanthaQ | March 6, 2008 7:29 PM

I smell like MaryKay's "Journey" Perfume and body wash. So yup! I smell.

This is the first time I've been back here in months.

Why? Because of the madness and what I saw as the site admins sponsoring and supporting one woman's assault on people she was angry with because she wasn't one of them. Someone else had pointed me to the story, post, whatever because the thought it well written. I'm sorry, but someone else's rage, no matter how well written is still rage.

Yes, being different hurts. Being different together, well that hurts less. Our community needs MORE solidarity, not less. I don't care where in the GLBTIQXYZ galaxy you fall, you NEVER directly post hate speech about someone else in you own community. NEVER, EVER. Why?

Because the people who are actively out to do us harm starts saying; "See, they are not ready, they still eat their own!" You know, they'd be right too!

Inflammatory comments, usually are the result of posts that never should have made it past the admins. Just because someone is a contributer to the site, doesn't mean they should have carte blanch to say utterly anything they want.

The one post in question that pushed me away from this site was one person, lashing out in anger and pain against people who not only did nothing to her, but by virtue of the life they lead wouldn't, couldn't, defend themselves.

So, Bil, Alex, whomever I submit it is not censorship when you prevent people from using your site, to kick puppies. Bashing people, GLBTIQXYZ from going into stealth because the poster has decided if she cannot have it no-one can or should? Sorry, madness, and the reason I have not been back in months.

I'll keep an eye out now and again and see if this new view of things brings some quality to the site.

Thank you...

There is no doubt that if one goes against the transgender grain, the insults, name calling, shout downs, and personal attacks will be legion...more often than not by many of the same people who are commenting on this very thread. If a transsexual (pre or post op) does not indentify as homosexual and does not identify as transgender there is no place for them.

The HRC has indicated they would like the support of the successful, working, voting, pre and post op TSs who don't care to be "out and proud" but admit it is doubtful they will get it.

Is there any wonder?

Why should we support either the GLB or the T agenda when there is not even so much as a passing acknowlegement that (1) we exist; and (2) we are different than transgender and do not identify as such. To even suggest either of those two premises instantly opens us up to being elitists and guilty of a whole host of bigotries...accusations which are simply untrue.

I for one am fed up with it. My frequency of comments on any blog over the past six weeks or so has gone to where is was pre-six months ago...to almost nothing. I don't need the grief of defending things I haven't said with regards to arguments I haven't made.

I know I am in the silent majority...but the majority nonetheless. A silent majority I am convinced feels exactly as I do. We are fed up with being associated with the GLBT "movement".

Until or unless the so-called activists draw a distinction between the run-of-the-mill transgender - complete with its gender spectrum - and those who have transitioned and don't identify and never have identified as anything other than female, I will bide my time...and if and when the opportunity presents itself, will do my dead level best to torpedo every single GLBT agenda item that comes along.

I agree with you Susan, as long as the trans genders won't treat those of us who do not identify as trans gender with some measure of respect for who we are and how we choose to represent ourselves I to shall sink every gay or trans gender effort for equality.

If HRC finds a successful pre operative and post operative woman i will be first in line to support their noninclusive employment nondiscrimination act. The personalities here in this very thread who spout their intolorance of man and women who don't toe the transgender line are living proof the trans gender community is not ready for real life in the real world.

Liz Whitecloud

Bil, I was told by a person that you kept Sue here for your entertainment, based on a personal E-mail you sent to that person. You like watching trans people attacking each other? Sue was banned after she call you a hateful name, but the complaints of how she was calling others hateful names was somehow okay? It wasn't you, so you allowed it?

Monica, I'm surprised that you would repeat such a baseless rumor on the blog without contacting me first privately. This is simply not true. If you knew how Alex and I had agonized over shutting Sue off for months... She got warned, like others. When she passed her warnings, she got the boot. The e-mail she sent came after she'd gotten the boot; that's why she sent it to me - for banning her.

Whoops, I meant 60,000 posts a year at MHB, not per month. Not a huge number, but enough to keep the moderators busy. At 60,000 posts a month, I would have given up a long time ago!

Idr,
You should be reading some of the examples I have been talking about. The conversation was not being hostile, but some now want to make it that way. These people didn't even commented until now, when the post is almost sucked up into the archives. Have you noticed what they have been saying?

It will not do any good to comment directly. These are the people who will make Bileraco an unsafe place to comment. These are the people who are pissing off a lot of not-trans people who come here. If they don't attack me, it will be Marti, or Becky or Monica Roberts, or someone else.

Try to do something good for the transgender community and have your name out in the public eye and you too can get these attacks. AND, if you order now, you can get stabbed in the heart with a genuine Ginsu knife, only $19.95. It slices, it dices and it makes julian fries. Operators are standing by.

[ED NOTE:] This comment has been deleted for TOS violation.

Thanks for joining the discussion at The Bilerico Project! Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, uses excessive foul language, is exceptionally incoherent, includes a homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist or other slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

I'd have to say while not completely, I do have to see Susan's point somewhat.

Transsexuals seem to be the red headed step children of the whole T part of things, but we are the ones who most need protections. Then off course, even within the so called transitioning portion of the community, there are elitists who insist that anyone who's transitioned and gone on with their lives are somehow less than useful. Worse that women (and men) who've gone on to live their lives and are not holding a sign that outs them are evil.

To give this kind of insulting, horrible, rage filled voice a place here is simply unbelievable. It makes everyone look bad, and says to the narrow minded folks in Washington a person to point at and say "See, they eat their own!"

The thought of these same people down in Washington making a stink, and drawing all the wrong kind of attention is revolting. They are not activists, but hate filled mongers of violence and anger. If your going to be an activist, leave the anger at home, in your diary.

Bil is right, there are too many Transgender folks who are angry and violent first, and people second. I agree with others here who've said there needs to be some kind of controls for the protection and betterment of the whole community. Bil and Alex have developed something good, with serious visibility, and to have the Transgender folks making a mess is bad for everyone.

At least one of the sponsored posters here is focused in Anger, and is dangerous, but not in a good way. Instead of kicking off people who don't always agree, maybe rein in the posters who start the whole thing in the first place.

[ED NOTE:] This comment has been deleted for TOS violation.

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[ED NOTE:] This comment has been deleted for TOS violation.

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Do you know how disappointed I am to see this thread wandering off topic? Who hates who or has slighted the other lately is something I couldn't give two shits about.

If you have a suggestion on comment moderation or what our comment policy should be, by all means leave it.

If not, take it elsewhere. I suggest your own site.

I think there's one key word that needs to be used more in this discussion: Respect.

It's what Sue lacked that caused her to be banned from this site. It's what has disappeared from the conversation when an editor needs to step in and say "Hey!", and it's what makes the difference between spirited debate and a shouting match.

I don't have to agree with the HBS folks (I don't) in order to respect them and their point of view, up to and including inviting Sue to call into my radio show and discuss the topic. Sue, regardless of defining herself as an HBS person, clearly did not respect pretty much anyone who disagreed with her. She demonstrated that on many occasions, not only to myself and Monica, but also to Marti and other transfolks and supporters. Her banning was richly deserved and had nothing whatsoever to do with her HSB definition. She was banned because she's an Internet troll, plain and simple.

Sue's banning and the treatment she has received are entirely the result of her own actions. She has no one to blame but herself.

As long as we can and do agree to disagree respectfully, there's plenty we can discuss and debate and plenty we probably come together on.

Honestly, threatening to try to sabotage legislation just to be mean, that's just beyond reprehensible, not to mention just plain dumb. We can make all the distinctions we want, but Congress and the courts almost certainly aren't going to make them. Laws that protect gender identity and expression protect all of us, no matter how we define, like it or not. To stand against that kind of a law is to stand against your own interests, no matter how you identify. Further, if doing so gains you nothing but satisfaction and costs you a chance at being protected against discrimination in the workplace, how is that good trade-off for anyone?

Let's hash it out on the issues, sure, but let's at least try to be realistic and respectful. Maybe it could even be a foundation we can build on.

I suppose on a good day I could appreciate how someone could call my position "reprehensible" and "mean" and "dumb" when I state I will not support their position because they will not even so much as address mine. (So much for respect)

Then again, others might see reprehensible defined as 25 years of activism that in every case has lead society to believe that transsexuals and crossdressers are not only the same, but homosexual as well.

As Katrina Rose said to me in an e-mail last October:

"I lay that at the feet of the gays and lesbians who used the power of their late-70s elitism to de-legitimize transsexualism, thereby, turning MTFs into de facto gay men and FTMs into de facto lesbians in the eyes (and policies) of all whom they came to influence.

Yes, there are wild and stupid gender libertines who want bearded men to be able to wear dresses to work and expect women who've never taken any step toward gender transition other than getting a haircut to be regarded as men if they say they're men."


It is lame to pretend its fruitless educating society to the contrary. I think you sell our legislators short is assuming they are not open enough to understand such distinctions. After all, long before there was much of a transgender or gay movement most of the states already had legislation recognizing the legitimacy of post op transsexuals by virtue of passing legislation allowing a birth certificate change...many 30 years ago or more.

To use your phrase..."like it or not" my interests will not be threatened one iota if there is never ever another transgender protectionist law passed. Thousands and tens of thousands of post op transsexuals are doing just fine without any legislative adjustment...and have been for years...and will be for years to come. No, Rebecca, standing against transgender issues because, "like it or not", those activists who claim to represent all of us (under an umbrella many, MANY transsexuals have never wanted anything to do with in the first place) instead advocate for an agenda that leads society to believe we are all homosexual and part of some silly gender spectrum is certainly not standing against my own interests.

I'm under no illusions. I know I am part of a silent majority. I thought it was admirable that you suggested perhaps these issues could be addressed...until you brought up being "realistic". That has all of the flavor of the HRC telling your transgender group to "wait their turn". As for a "foundation" that could be built upon? Also admirable, though in all of the blogs post I have ever read, never one time, not once have I seen this issue even addressed in a positive tone, much less emphasized. I'm not holding my breath for sure. For whatever reason I truthfully can't understand, to hold the position I have put forth seems to bring out every insecurity the mainstream transgender ever had...along with their venom. The truth is, Rebecca, we are ignored. And when we do try to bring it up we are branded homophobic... transphobic... elitists... bigots... separatists... fundamentalists... mean... and dumb...just to name a few.

"The truth is, Rebecca, we are ignored. And when we do try to bring it up we are branded homophobic... transphobic... elitists... bigots... separatists... fundamentalists... mean... and dumb...just to name a few."

Be careful Susan telling the truth is what had the last truly transsexual woman banned from this list.

They don't want to hear it.


LiZ