Bear with me on this – I came across a series of tweets today, admittedly not the whole conversation because my twitter app wouldn’t load the whole thing. However I did put in my two cents on what I had read. It’s kinda opened up a whole door now where I myself and also a lesbian YouTuber called Arielle Scarcella are being called transphobic.
Three ish months back Arielle teamed up with Jaclyn Glenn for a video titled “only two genders”.
This will be a long one…. get a cuppa.
Here’s the video for your viewing;
The short of it is that there are only two genders; Male and Female. Many of the people in the LGBTQ+ community were up in arms about this blanket statement, especially the non-binary and gender neutral folks, as you can imagine.
I’m sat blogging and re-watching the video to try and break it down a little and put in my thoughts. As regular readers will know my brain is all over the place and my thinking isn’t always as linear as it could be – I did try to do my best, however.
- “Scientifically there are only two genders.” As much as I hate to admit it, this is accurate. If we’re talking physically, you are either born a male or a female. However there are those who are born intersex which is defined as “not fitting the typical definitions of male or female. This can include genital ambiguity and a combination of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-Male and XX-Female.” The “old term” for intersex persons was hermaphrodite.
- “…Many trans* friends have agreed…” This is also true, many trans people do agree that either they were born in a male body with a “female brain” or vice versa, so they class themselves as being male or female. However many others trans people say they prefer to be referred to as Transexual/Transgendered and do not class themselves as “just” male or female. This is a case of preference and doesn’t erase the trans* gender.
- “Genderqueer means to me and what i think should mean is…” Let me stop you right there, you do not get to define what a gender term means. What it means to you could be and probably is vastly different to what it means to someone else.
- “To me it’s like the easy way out… like “oh, I’m not a man in a dress, I’m agender”…” This isn’t an easy way out in any way, shape or form. I don’t know how Arielle came to that conclusion and frankly nor do I care. No part of expressing your LGBTQ+ identity/gender/sexuality is easy. Arielle then goes on to say “…I feel like saying that is reinforcing the typical gender stereotypes…” It’s really not – likewise I don’t know how she came up with that idea.
- “It doesn’t mean a new label has been created for this person and I don’t think they would want that…” Jaclyn, you do not get to decide what labels a person should or shouldn’t use or why/not. You cannot speak for a gender, you cannot be their collective voice because (and this will also come in to play later, everyone is different.)
- “We’re not invalidating who you are.” By saying a lot of what you have already said, you are.
- “It seems like a thing people have created so they can get more offended.” HELL NO. I think I can say for sure that nobody created these various terms just so they could get offended – people want to belong; it’s completely natural. They want to be accepted and feel like they have a place in this world. What do you do when you can’t find anything to describe exactly how you’re feeling? New terms are created all the time, just for that such reason – it’s how language evolves.
- “It’s sort of like, if you look like a thing, people will call you like that thing” i.e. if you look like a female, people will call it that way. “…And don’t get offended if people don’t get it right, that’s so entitled!”
OK three things; 1- TBF yes, we do make those assumptions on a daily basis. I’m guilty of that – if I see a random person who looks female then I assume they’re female – we all do it. There is no harm in this, we don’t voice our opinions to each random person by saying “you look female, therefore you are..” it’s something we keep to ourselves because we do it unconsciously. 2- This changes if the person is a friend or acquaintance. When we get to know them and vice versa, when they feel they can trust you they may tell you “Actually I’m….” .. personally I then ask which pro-nouns they prefer and then try my hardest to use the correct pro-nouns for them. That’s not entitlement, that’s just being polite. 3- If I misgendered a “stranger”, someone I barely knew – I would hope they would tell me so I could make it right… if I then continued to get it wrong or not even try to correct my mistake, I would expect them to get pissy with me. This is their gender identity.
- “Why waste your time trying to correct someone who won’t even try…?” I’m in two minds about this one. On the one hand, if it’s some randomer that doesn’t know you etc, then yeah. Ignore their ass and walk away – they aren’t worth your time. If it’s someone who you know personally or who is supposed to be a friend then being misgendered can feel incredibly invalidating and insulting.
- “….if it’s not obvious…” Gender. Isn’t. Obvious. Ever.
- “We should just call everyone “They”….” // “No because then if you don’t identify as either….” I know many gender neutral, non binary peeps and have been reliably informed that “they” do actually prefer that term. He/Him and She/Her doesn’t feel comfortable for them and neither does a mix of them, therefore they prefer “They”. I also know many people in the LGBTQ+ community, really do not mind being referred to as “they”.
- “What if you don’t identify as human?” and then there is some short discourse about Otherkin. I’m not getting into Otherkin. This is about gender identity, not about identifying as an animal – which has nothing to do with gender expression.
- Arielle pointed out that most of the people who identify as gender queer, non binary, agender etc, are all under 25… “I’m not saying it’s a trend but it’s almost like you’re still discovering who you are as a person…” What’s wrong with that?
Story time; when I was young to mid teens not only did I struggle with my gender identity but also my sexual identity (as I got older). At 19 I came out as bisexual – this was the time when it seemed “fashionable” to do so, when in fact more people were just learning what exactly it meant and identified themselves with this term. When I was 26 I realised I was pansexual when I read about what it meant after hearing the term being referred to in a video. At 28 I finally realised my gender is fluid and cross all of them and none of them. There are day’s I do feel like neither; and those days are the most confusing because it feels like I don’t know who I am. I’m still dealing with this dysphoria.
There’s nothing wrong with changing your labels as you grow and mature and discover who you are within yourself. There is no harm in changing your own definitions of who YOU are. You know yourself better than anyone.
Of course, I must add to all this that if you don’t want to use labels and terms at all – that’s fine too. It doesn’t make you any less valid than someone who does use labels and terms. You are valid.
Now we’ve got through that video and I’ve made a few points (a few more than I initially thought I would – sorry), let’s move onto the apology from October 2016.
Arielle readily admits that the things she was saying were wrong and basically came from a place of lacking understanding of the subject. I’m not going to deny that she got A LOT of shit for the original video. There were many people who were extremely rude, bordering on violent at times. Meanwhile there were other people who only wanted to help Arielle understand why what she was saying was wrong, dangerous and damaging – I applaud those people and aspire to be like them. Let’s educate, not get irate.
The apology seems heartfelt and genuine to me. I know there was a lot of back and forth with certain twitter users and most likely from her friends too. Everyone makes mistakes – nobody is perfect; it’s what we do when we realise we made a mistake that defines the person we are. Arielle made a mistake, realised, apologised and has since done more to be more inclusive and educated on the different gender labels that people use. I see this as a very good thing and shows she’s trying her best.
Now we’ve had the background, onto the tweets. Arielle made a comment about sexual preference. I don’t know the entire conversation – so if you were involved in the convo or have read the entire thing/screenshotted please get in touch so I can correct any mistakes I make.
She said she, as a lesbian, isn’t attracted to/wouldn’t date/sleep with a trans female. Personally as far as I can see, this is just her preference. Everyone I know, regardless of gender or sexuality, has a preference. This incited many people to tweet at her that she is being transphobic. I put in my two cents that I didn’t see this as transphobic, it’s simply preference. Of course… the rules of the internet, I offended people with my own “transphobic comments”. Go figure.
I want to expand on what I said and get your points of view and opinions. 140 characters on twitter doesn’t ever get your point across without missing things out.
Below is a direct C+P of my twitlonger post.
The first video did make me angry and upset and I completely see exactly why you say what you did because that is exactly how it came across.
However the apology does seem very sincere; The first video’s thoughts come from a lack of understanding and she addresses that in the apology.
Everyone makes mistakes; I’ve made plenty in the past especially when it came to gender and sexuality… It’s seems Arielle has answered for those mistakes and is trying her best to understand and make amends.
However, this doesn’t stop her having a sexual/genital preference.
Would you say a gay man who won’t date/sleep with a FtM trans person who is pre-surgery is transphobic? No, they just don’t like vagina. This issue exactly the same.
Like I also said before; I don’t know if Arielle would date/sleep with a MtF trans person who is post-surgery…. The same way I don’t know if the hypothetical gay man would sleep with a FtM trans guy who is post-surgery.
Preference is a very specific and personal thing; calling it out as a blanket transphobic statement is unfair.
Everyone’s preference is different. Everyone is different. Through everything I read, nowhere did Arielle say she doesn’t like or accept trans people. I didn’t see if she was referring to pre or post surgical trans females, however I would still say that is personal preference.
I also wish to point out there nowhere that I could see, did ANYONE infer that trans women are not real women. That is not in question; trans women are real women and trans men are real men – whether you have not had, have had, will have or will not have surgery. The parts you have do not define your gender and nowhere was this ever inferred.
I am interested to know what my reader’s thoughts on the subject are (give the information in this blog). Please be respectful if you do decide to comment, this blog isn’t meant to offend in any way.
- List of LGBTQ+ Terms and Definitions
- Non-Binary Identities
- Trans, Genderqueer and Queer Terms Glossary
- The use of the asterisk
LGBTQIA+ Help & Support:
If you have any links you want me to add in (and eventually make a full resources page on my blog) please email me email@example.com or tweet me @KatVonHall.
UPDATE: 09 Feb 2017 – Arielle posted this video in response to the hateful comments being thrown her way.