While this post is a tad long, I hope you will lend me your ear,
because I think it is important that people understand why ‘Social Justice Warriors’, minorities and other Tumblrites can come across as overly angry or sensitive to some. I will give an example of what happens when minorities speak out against those who have power over them, in a non-anonymous, face-to-face setting. While this example is about trans people, it can easily be applied to most other minorities.
Today my brother came over for dinner. He brought up a trans woman who was not ‘passable’ and referred to her as “that man" and "he”. I’m a trans woman myself and couldn’t let him misgender a sister, so I politely corrected him. Instead of apologizing, he justified his mistake with “she looked like a man and didn’t put in enough effort”. I easily picked his words apart, having had these arguments countless times, and then asked whether he would call me a man if I were less conventionally female-looking? He answered negatively, but said the lady in question didn’t make any effort to make her voice sound more feminine. Wanting him to realize how difficult voice retraining is, I asked my brother to give me his best female voice right then and there…
He looked legitimately terrified, kind of the reaction you get when you ask a guy to hold your purse for a second. Then, the anger came. He unleashed a screaming tirade of excuses, red herrings and accusations. Trying to keep this from escalating, I carefully walked towards him with my hands in a calming gesture, hoping to calm him down. He placed his fist against my nose, yelling “one step closer, I dare you”, I froze and braced myself, having been there before. But, I got lucky, he stormed off with an angry “fine, I hate transgenders you’re all men!”.
This is why trans women are ok with you saying ‘tranny’ around them. This is why trans people don’t mind you calling them by their old name and pronouns. This is why the trans people you know personally, aren’t like those ‘crazy’ ones on Tumblr.
When we stand up for ourselves, confront people with the power and privilege they hold over us, bring to light their normally hidden prejudices, things can get ugly real fast. Again, this is not just restricted to trans people, the situation I had today can happen on any oppression axis.
For some, the internet is the only place we can speak freely without having to fear violence. Next time you think people here overreact, think about the hundreds of times they had to stay silent, clench their teeth and hold back their tears of frustration.