How to not start a dialog

Posted: August 3, 2009 in Troll Wars

Recently, I published a critique of what I am calling ‘brain-sex activism’ yesterday as a polemic with the intention of stirring up controversy and starting a dialog. I am something of a newbie with discussion forums, and I did not understand the medium. I got a lot of people angry and a lot of people made me angry and the discussion ended more polarized than it began.

I have the feeling that in a face to face discussion, I could have have found common ground with most everyone, but this medium makes anger too easy. So, I take responsibility for setting up this dialog wrongly, and escalating the conflict when I got triggered. I am taking the following actions on I will not be publishing emotionally loaded comments from others, and I will be vigilant that I do not write ‘in anger’ either.

The point of my activism is to push for society to make room for all gender-variant and queer persons, not to privilege my identity group over another’s. Like abolition, the worker’s movement, feminism and gay liberation before, I think there are many competing vision on how to achieve trans and/or gender liberation. We can disagree on methods while agreeing on the goal.

  1. Daya Curley says:

    I can feel your deep breath from here…it’s a good thing…

    I am generally so confused and disturbed about how things get out of control with email and posts that I will probably need to blog my own post about it.

    I have avoided the blogging world for a long time. Things just flame out of control too easily. This medium allows people to interpret too many things filtered through our own insecurities and defenses.

    So…I think it’s good when we reach a point where we have to make an adjustment. It’s healthy.

    Thanks for sharing yourself with us. It’s not a small feat when done with the sincerity you obviously own.

  2. piny says:

    I know you want to have a productive, reasoned discussion here–and hey, go for it–but the way to do that is not by telling people that their strong feelings aren’t a valid part of the dialogue. You can’t talk about anything important without making room for anger.

  3. […] (ie. woman’s brain in a man’s body), which is rather ill-advised. (Ze has since posted a clarification/apology, the following of which is equally as […]

  4. Ariablue says:

    It’s disappointing to see you being bullied and backing down as a result. I think you should continue to question the dogma you hear that is setting off those alarms in your head. There is a reason that you feel the way you do, and you need to explore it. It is not for other people to decide those uneasy feelings they are giving you is inappropriate, and if they insist on bringing you into line that should tell you all you need to know about them.

    The problem you are experiencing is that you are blending two very different viewpoints in your critique. I doubt very much you will meet a “brain sex” activist, as activism is conducted, such as it is, purely by those social constructivists who tell us there is no such thing as brain sex.

    I am one of those people whom you are probably referring to when you say “brain sex activists”. That is because I know my own experience, and I know the work that has been done on the condition so far. Much as with you, it is not for the purveyors of the now-discredited social construction theory to tell the rest of us who we are. That is political grandstanding on their part. But I am not interested in policing the way others live as long as they do not set about dictating my life to me.

    I think you will see a clear difference between people like me, who were born different and respect that difference in others, and those who tell us we are all the same as them and have no voice in our own lives. Which viewpoint fits in with the genderqueer philosophy? Do not let the lies and obfuscations of those with political aspirations dictate your own mind to you.

    Please do continue to question, and study the issue. You may find yourself angry with things I and others are saying. But your life is your own, and you have every right to be who you are, to think what you want to think, and to come to your own conclusions. I may disagree with you, but I will not use the tools of guilt and shame to cow you into submission as others are wont to do in these “discussions”.

    You are onto something.

  5. g531 says:

    This raises interesting points with which I have been grappling and so, I hope I can link this to my blog. Thank you Jasper for, always, sparking my curiosity as well as my critical reflection.

  6. Jasper Gregory says:

    Please, please link it. I would love to reach your readers, because you have interesting politics. From what I have seen, you seem to take a pan-marginalized approach at politicsofbochinche rather than getting bogged down in the identity politics of a specific identity lobby.

  7. Jasper Gregory says:

    Thanks for stopping by. Your voice and opinion are welcome here. I want to encourage diversity. Please see my new video on non-reductionist brain science. We might end up meeting in the middle on this issue. The thing about these new theories on the neurology of sex is that it validates the lived experience of both an HBS-identified person and a genderqueer like me who has never really had an ‘innate’ gender identity.
    It is the old yogi/sufi/sikh story about the three blind men and the elephant. We now have a rather abstract model which can accommodate strong, weak, mixed and nonexistent gender identities.
    Drantz’s model is based on empirical data which is a big step.

  8. Jasper Gregory says:

    Hey Piny,
    This point comes up a lot when people discuss their marginalization. We all get angry, being marginalized is traumatic. That anger can produce very good writing as well. But, I hate angry online forums. The medium seems to polarize and trigger everyone. I have just chosen not to publish any comments that I feel are polarizing. In this way I create a safe (virtual) space for people from differing backgrounds to share their “live experience.”

  9. Jasper Gregory says:

    Hi Daya,
    Thanks for holding my hand through my dark night. I learned a lot about threaded discussion forums and emotion. As I write elsewhere. I am excited about youtube. I imagine video discussion forums becoming important soon.

  10. QueerJew says:

    emotionally loaded? really? your whole blog is emotionally loaded for many trans and genderqueer people. so how come you are choosing to silence people who challenge your privilege and ask you to expand your worldview rather than engaging us? that seems very cowardly to me.

  11. Jasper Gregory says:

    I deleted another comment. Basically, I could do a keyword search on appalled, shocked, disturbed and outraged.
    This is Valentine’s “politics of outrage”, which he sees flowing out of late twentieth century American identity politics. The tactic works by dehumanizing your opponent, polarizing issues into sharp black and white, and attacks on the moral character of your opponents.

  12. ariablue says:

    I think the core of the issue is that my birth condition is not a gender issue. I don’t “identify” as a man or woman. “Identify” is a euphemism for “fake” when transgender detractors apply it to a transsexual man or women: They attempt to own our personhood. It is a profound insult and also abusive. It claims that the other person has the power and the right to name me. I don’t accept that.

    People need to be very specific about how they are using the term gender, not purposefully vague to confuse the argument. That is a common tactic when I am arguing with people who deny my existence and claim I am “one of them”. Those who most egregiously violate the rights of others in the transgender debate often conflate sex and gender and use the resulting equivocation to grandstand and engage in histrionics.

    This is not a freedom of expression issue for me. I don’t care about gender roles and I’m not interested in discussing them. There is no choice involved in how I came to be, only in how I deal with it. It is underhanded and disgusting for some people to claim they have a birth condition such as mine in order to exploit the legal and medical systems. The “classically” intersexed would not stand for it, and neither will I.

    I don’t believe the brain research needs to be linked to theories about gender identity at all. The treatment of my condition was simple, and purely physical. There is no psychology involved whatsoever for people born the way I was and we who have lived with it know that, almost without exception.

    I don’t have a problem with people who challenge society’s norms. It makes us all freer. I do have a problem with people who concoct schemes that abuse me for the their own gain. It is MY reputation they are destroying.

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