Sometimes the things we debate on social media are all academic.

I was reminded of that twice in the past week, the first time in a discussion on Facebook about capital punishment. I had been, once again, lamenting the fact that Canada has abolished the death penalty, and how I wished an alleged serial killer, if convicted, could be marched out into the street and executed afterward. The alleged killer appears to be a monster: he is accused of preying on gay men and murdering them, chopping their bodies up into pieces and hiding them in flower pots etc. I figured he will pose a serious threat to a prison population of men, because he allegedly has a thing for having rough sex with guys and killing them afterward.

But my wish to see serial killers executed has no chance of ever being fulfilled. It’s a done deal in Canada: no death penalty, and no chance it will ever be brought back. I knew that before I made the post, but I needed to vent, anyway, and it generated a good, lengthy discussion, with my friend JoAnn ultimately reminding me that I had lost the debate before I began.

There has been a lot of that type of debate going on in social media recently, particularly about trans people after the much-publicized shouting match between actress Rose McGowan and a trans woman last week. McGowan, you’ll recall, is the woman who helped bring down Harvey Weinstein and who helped to launch the #MeToo movement that is sweeping parts of the world. She was on a book tour when she encountered a trans woman who berated her for what she feels is a lack of representation by McGowan and company on behalf of trans women, who face a lot of discrimination and sexual abuse. Both the trans woman and Rose lost their cool, and the incident got a lot of news coverage.

It is still the subject of much debate on social media, particularly Twitter, with some anti-trans types saying Rose was accosted by a biological man, citing the incident as yet another example of why transgenderism, particularly trans women, should be rejected completely, as in “biological males can never be females,” and though they seldom say it, the reverse: biological females can never be males.

It’s a sentiment that is often expressed by rad-fems and others on social media. And many of these folks were further angered Sunday by a report in a British paper that says an agency overseeing shelters for women is considering allowing “biological males” (the paper’s phrase) who have not had any sort of gender-reaffirming surgery to work in these places of refuge.

Women are expressing anger that they now have to call themselves “biological women,” they say, and that “men” will have access to their shelters, where women go to escape domestic abuse at the hands of men etc.

Another major point of transgender contention getting a lot of attention on social media is something called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). Parents are reporting that their children are suddenly, out of the blue, announcing they are trans and want to gender transition. The parents complain that the system is pushing kids through the transition process, and that parents are prohibited by law from trying to dissuade their children, who they feel might just be going through a phase — perhaps influenced by social media — that they will outgrow in time.

Again, it’s all academic. The anti-trans crowd can whine all they want. They can lash out and say all manner of hateful things — and many say things that would make even the toughest men blush. But they can’t change anything. Human rights laws to protect transgender people exist in Canada, parts of the U.S. and the U.K., as well as other nations.

In truth, I think some transgender legislation has gone too far, but it’s pointless for me to get into it here. It is what it is, and we all have to live with it.

But as I’ve studied the issues, one lesson I’ve come away with is that there is a lot of tolerance in this world, because people are generally law-abiding citizens and will be politically correct in the workplace and such, if not social media. But there is not a lot of true acceptance of trans women, and the hatred, disgust and revulsion shows up in places like Twitter, a universal hen house if ever there was one.

Though it’s not all bad. There are voices of reason in social settings as well. Like British MP Cat Smith, who is quoted on Twitter with this:

Cat Smith is right, of course. No man would go through all of the trials and tribulations faced by trans women — perhaps the most marginalized of all minority groups — for the sake of gaining access to a few women-only spaces. When biological males give up male privilege to gender transition, they face discrimination at almost every level of society along with vile verbal attacks from rad-fems and others, who condemm transwomen if they “stereotype” women by dressing too feminine, or if they look too masculine. Never mind that many butch women look very masculine or that many “biological women” dress ultra-femme and sexy. That’s OK. One can’t say anything negative about how a woman — “a biological woman” — dresses. But trans women are condemned no matter how they present themselves.

There are many like Cat out there who see trans women as allies, as in “if they want to give up their male privilege to join our side and fight alongside with us, they’re welcome.”

Objectively speaking, as a journalist, I think the media need to do more investigative reporting on ROGD to see how prevalent it is, and if children are being given the time and space to determine if it is just a phase. I would be horrified if I thought any kids were being rushed through the gender-transitioning process only to regret it later.

How about you? How might you react if your teenage or younger child announced that they were trans and wanted to live in the opposite gender?

— Jillian