This video is going to have a more serious tone than the upbeat style I’ve typically gone for. It’s also going to be a lot more personal.
For the past year I’ve become entrenched in circles outside where transgender people generally occupy. We have a large group-think problem right now where people across political viewpoints are increasingly narrowing their social interactions to encompass only the perspectives of those whom they already agree with. This is not productive as it re-enforces what we already think and blinds us to counterpoints from alternative perspectives.
The LGBT space isn’t unique in forming a tightly controlled group-think environment—it’s something we’ve seen in religious circles for hundreds of years. But it does exist in LGBT circles and it’s incredibly rigid. Holding even one or two opinions outside of the accepted queer orthodoxy is enough to get you branded a hateful bigot and accused of holding homophobic or transphobic ideals.
Want an example: Look at me. I’ve had the local LGBT community up in arms for the past few months because I have expressed that I don’t believe allowing children to socially transition in schools without notifying their parents is appropriate. You can absolutely disagree with me on that point, but the fact that so many individuals have felt it appropriate to go after me personally for this opinion is illustrative of the consequences of stepping outside of LGBT orthodoxy.
Now, there’s a distinction I want to clarify before I go further: the difference between LGBT people and LGBT ideology. The first are the human beings who, like all humans, deserve unconditional respect and dignity. I am one of these people and also would like to be treated nicely. Separate from this there’s the ideology, or the ‘system of ideas or ideals’ surrounding how we conceive of LGBT matters within society.
Some people take the mention of ideology to be a ‘bad’ word. But an ‘ideology’ is just a way of thinking about sociological matters. Communism is an ideology, as is Conservatism, Environmentalism, Feminism, and Capitalism. When people mention Gender Ideology, this isn’t dehumanizing or dismissive of transgender people—it makes it clear we are talking about the theories, worldviews, and derivative policies of a particular way of thinking about sex and gender rather than discussing the individuals themselves.
So anyway: a year ago I’m this transgender person who believes in the importance of acceptance, but who also believes that some of the behaviours and thought patterns in LGBT spaces are a bit concerning. But I can’t say anything. That’s not what a good LGBT person does. That’s harmful to speak out. And then I finally had enough.
I wanted to expand my horizons to experience diverse perspectives. So I branched out and broadened my social circles. Compared to a year ago, I now spend much more time in center and center-right circles, including many rooted in a religious conservative vantage point.
When I started down this path, I didn’t really know what I’d encounter. The progressive narrative derides everyone on this portion of the political spectrum as hateful towards me. But having spent the first three decades of my life in an Evangelical Christian Church, I knew that wasn’t true, or at least it wasn’t the entire truth. So, I put myself into these situations, partly out of curiosity and partly because I wanted to find real relationships where I could be authentic about the concerns I held with the progression of LGBT ideology.
This has been a positive experience and I’ve made a number of really great friendships outside of the progressive LGBT bubble. In my attempt to emphasize that acceptance and love can be found within more gender critical leaning circles, I’ve spoken of my interactions in as rosy terms as possible. I’ve done this intentionally because the progressive pushback against me for even engaging with those outside the LGBT bubble has been intense and I’ve wanted to take a strong position to emphasize how wrong they’ve been.
But I’ve glossed over something else that happens in basically every group or circle I join—a division invariably forms within the group. See, the progressive talking points of bigoted individuals who hold contempt for my existence isn’t exactly wrong, it’s just not universally true either.
I’ve come to discover that in many of these circles, there are two conversations overlapping. One conversation concerns transgender ideology and policy, while the other is explicit hate and disdain towards transgender people’s existence.
Before someone like me shows up, it isn’t necessarily clear which individuals hold which viewpoint. Most groups are not even aware that there’s this difference between members. It’s easy for us to assume people share our believes, especially within our social circles. So what keeps happening is someone who has become friends with me and recognizes our alignment on ideological concerns invites me to join a group or friendship circle. I show up and suddenly a faction forms who are very upset and offended that someone transgender such as myself dare be given community within their trans-exclusionary sanctuary.
This has happened to me multiple times over the past year. I haven’t discussed them because these are private circles and I believe those should remain private. But last week this happened in a context that I can talk about: a Twitter Spaces.
For those of you who value your mental health enough not to engage with Twitter, Twitter Spaces are these audio chats where hundreds of people can get together for group discussions. One or two people host the space, and speakers are brought forward to carry discussion.
Last Tuesday I participated in a space hosted by my friends Chanel Pfahl and JuneBugSpitfire about Ontario Education. It was a really neat space with a bunch of well-known voices who hold concerns with Ontario Education.
Almost immediately after I spoke, an individual named Maureen raised her hand. Once given the floor, she—as politely as possible—expressed displeasure that a transgender person was allowed to participate in this conversation.
Now there’s a history with this individual—she’s been trolling my videos and posts for the past six months and as you might have noticed from the screenshot earlier, she’s one of the few people I’ve blocked on Twitter. She’s accused me of bad parenting with my child on no basis other than that I am transgender. And here she was, now publicly derailing a conversation about Ontario Education to explicitly call me out as someone who shouldn’t be allowed to participate.
I had plenty of friends in this Twitter Space and people including Carolyn Burjoski and Chanel Pfahl stepped up to defend why they considered my voice valuable in our ongoing conversations. In the moment, the conversation didn’t faze me at all.
But by the next day I realized I was bitter. My head was stuck in the night before. There’s something disheartening about knowing that your mere presence is enough to rip apart groups and friendships. Because yes, in other cases I’ve seen friendships end because someone decided to add me to a group chat.
This week I came to realize how frustrated I have become with the bar I must prove in order to be allowed community in these spaces. The bar of entrance has always been higher for me than others—and I get that—it’s not often that transgender people are willing to publicly say the things I am saying so it’s natural I’ll be met with a certain element of skepticism.
But that skepticism can often be insurmountable. In that same Twitter Space last week, towards the end of the conversation, an older man took the microphone and started yelling at me for ‘grooming children in schools’ and all the usual rhetoric. I’ll remind you that I have spent the last 12 months of my life publicly speaking against this behaviour in school boards across Ontario. The host ended up kicking him from the discussion when he wouldn’t stop.
And that’s what I want to be honest about in this video. These experiences have given me newfound appreciation for why the LGBT bubble has formed the way that it has. With so much intolerance towards transgender people, you need to be pretty thick skinned to withstand the hate. Given the choice between facing such abuse or staying in an LGBT space where you are affirmed, protected, and loved—it’s not very hard to understand why people choose the latter.
What I’ve come to learn is that most people in center and center-right leaning circles are kind, loving people who want to respect me as a person even if they disagree with my life choices. I can work with that. For myself, I am staying put right where I am because it’s authentic to my beliefs and because I think center and center-right spaces are better off when whatever internal bigotry might exist is brought to light. And as a reminder, by bigotry I mean actual disdain and contempt for transgender people themselves, not disagreements over ideology and policy. That’s always a discussion we should be having. But I do want to challenge those in center and center-right circles to ask ourselves what we can do to eradicate the hate that does exist. If there wasn’t transgender hate here, many of the talking points that the LGBT bubble uses to brand all conservatives as hateful would fall apart. I think that would be a wonderful thing!