For those who don’t know, Laci Green is best known for her youtube channel. It is more or less sex education. She recently had been the subject of a lot of controversy regarding her thoughts on feminism and gender issues along with potential misrepresentation of transgender youtube hosts. I’m not going to speak to the specifics of her situation. It would draw more attention to her than she warrants. It could also draw the ire of fellow cisgender atheists who sometimes ardently defend the worst behaviors of our public figures.
There are, however, some take home points for those of us who are cisgender to be mindful of as we watch this mess. So here are some tips for my fellow cis folk.
We Are Not Transgender
I know that this sounds obvious. But sometimes we forget that this is not our story. Some cisgender folk demand the spotlight, grab the mic, and speak on behalf of an entire demographic that we are not truly part of. End of the day, we may be parents, we may be friends, we may even be lovers with someone who is trans, but we are not trans and we do not have an intimate understanding of what it is to be trans.
We Need to be Invited to the Table
We often lead discussions that no one in the trans community is interested in having. There’s also a trend to start conversations that are harmful. It’s weird for us to speak on behalf of a community on issues that they don’t want to talk about in a manner that is harmful.
If You Don’t Understand Science, Shut Up
Quoting the dictionary terms of gender, holding up an “elementary bio book”, or referring to Bio 101 to defend positions when challenged is a bad idea. It will not stand up in an argument with a PhD in gender studies and it is not adequate to dismiss cutting edge peer reviewed materials on the matter. If you do not understand the science of gender, do not posit yourself as an expert on the matter. Ask questions to those who are experts in the field instead of “provocative” questions to your “fan base” that is likely even more ignorant than you are.
Gender Validity is Not a Spectator Sport
Lives are on the line here. Civil rights are on the line here. If you want to have a discussion on trans issues that matter, focus on that. If you want to question the validity of gender identity and call it an intellectually stimulating discussion, please stop. An intellectually stimulating discussion is one that asks if Star Wars is better than Star Trek. A discussion of cisgendered people pontificating on the validity of aspects of the trans experience without any real experts in the field and trans persons contains great potential to do harm.
Don’t Attack The Trans CommunityDon’t quote transgender people out of context. If they criticize something you say, don’t cisplain it to them, listen to them. A trans person may not be right because they are transgender, but for the most part, there is an experience and a greater understanding of the issues and the research because they live it. When you have skin in a game, you tend to understand the rules better than most.
If You Make a Mistake, Own It
Well intentioned allies and well educated allies will sometimes make mistakes. We are human. When our mistakes are brought to light, do not dig in and defend what is now indefensible. Listen, ask questions, apologize, and realize that you have just learned and grown. This is how we become better allies. There is a difference between real allies and self proclaimed ones.
Don’t Claim to Support While You Cause Harm
If you are saying things that questions the validity of someone else in a harmful manner, you cannot say you support them. That is just like the Christians who claim they love gay people and just want to correct them of their sin and love them into the kingdom of heaven. You cannot support a group of people while putting to question their validity.
In my very first blog I made it clear to the transgender community that if I ever misspeak on an issue, I want to hear about it. I need to know. This is how I become a better father who can love my child more truly and effectively. Before I write any blog, I consult with someone in the transgender community to ensure the topic is not harmful and how I position it isn’t either. I have scrapped about 3 entries so far because I was told there was the potential for harm. That is not something I want to have on my conscience for clicks.
One side bar in my closing thoughts. Besides fear of backlash for going too deeply into Laci Green’s current issues I have other reasons. I do not want to give her more publicity than she warrants. Frankly, I’m quite mad at her and my son has expressed hurt and disgust regarding her recent actions. For these reasons I know I could not write objectively on her. Finally, she has already received death threats, I will not be contributory to that.
I wish more cis folks would be more conscience about their privilege. Cis people need to also stop trying to lead the narrative and the charge for trans issues. If we are invited to the march, by all means we should attend. But let’s not become a Pat Boone archetype leading the Civil Rights March while telling Martin Luther King to sit in the back of the bus.