I’ve been looking in on young trans people on Twitter this past week to get a sense of where their heads are at, and I’ve been sharing some of their thoughts on my Twitter feed.
In short: they are under seige. Big time.
Adults are attacking them there and on other social media settings. And worse, trans youth are under attack in mainstream media, which is platforming transphobia under the guise of two-sided journalism that isn’t fooling anyone. The raison d’etre is clearly to delegitimatize trans people young and old. I can see that as a long-time, super-objective editor for a mainstream newspaper: when you interview hateful transphobes for a piece on transgender issues, you are giving hate a platform. And don’t think for a moment that the editors and owners of such publications are so dumb that they don’t realize it.
They know exactly what they are doing: joining an anti-trans movement that, at its roots, is being fuelled by the same sorts of conservative fundamentalists who attack gay and lesbian people, too, with the aim to erase all LGBTQ people. Sadly, some of those gay and lesbian folks have fallen for the conservative lies and propaganda and are actually joining in on the assault on trans people — not understanding that the conservatives will come for them, too. And I have little doubt that some of the conservative transphobes are posing as trans people on social media and causing all sorts of havoc.
But it is mostly the young trans people who are responding to the co-ordinated assault and standing up to it, not so much the old guard of early trans advocates like me. And their responses, too often labelled as “toxic trans activism,” is cowing the likes of famous old writers and celebrities, who seem to have forgotten that young people are idealistic and vocal — just like we were back in the 1960s and 1970s when we were all going to change the world. You know how that turned out, eh?
True, not all the young trans people being attacked by older folks — i.e. the 40-80 crowd — are minors. Some are 20somethings, but they are still young people compared to aforementioned supposedly “mature” adults who should know better than to pick on youth.
It’s also true that some adults are concerned about the health decisions being made by some trans kids today, and worry those youth might have regret later. It’s OK for adults to care — if they are parents of trans kids or other family members or health-care workers. But for Joe Blow public not related to any trans people to be discussing on social media or mainstream media what trans youth should be doing with their private parts? That is downright creepy. That subject is not open for public debate. Period.
Earlier this week, I put together an opinion piece for my paper hooked to a Quebec government bill that would roll back trans rights in the province by a decade and would hurt young trans people the most. Yes, the bill takes direct aim at their private parts. Yech!
I spiked the piece because I didn’t want to see the transphobes attacking in the comments section to the article. It’s not a question of censorship. It’s simply about protecting young trans people from ruthless transphobia. It’s responsible journalism. It doesn’t matter these days whether you write a pro-trans piece for a mainstream publication: the transphobes will move in on it like piranha, and even if you close the comments section to the article, they’ll attack it in social media settings like Facebook and Twitter when it is shared there — and every media article these days is fed through those outlets, as well as on google and other platforms.
Sure, some of the responses to the transphobic attacks, which so often are sneaky and subtle, on trans people come across as toxic. With good reason, as so many of those young trans people will point out to you. As anyone who has rallied for causes from the 1960s onward could tell you, “confrontational activism is often the only way any rights for any group have been won,” to quote a young trans person’s tweet this week.
So, that’s where the kids are at these days, from my view, anyway. They are standing up to bullying adults the best way they know how. And ironically, it’s those adults who are behaving like cry babies.
I stand with today’s trans youth.
P.S. I am looking into the legal side of all of this, and welcome input from people in the legal community. Bullying is a crime in most countries.