Self-involved egocentric bullshit
[ Originally posted in a private space, 2022-03-09; lightly edited. ]
My support worker is excellent. They're 26, a kinky enm nonbinary/transmasc dyke; i'll refer to them as ‘Z’. Z's been doing this sort of work for at least a few years now. They often have lived experience of the sort of issues i blab about, and i regularly find that i don't need to explain certain things because it's very clear to me that they get it, that they very much know what i'm talking about. i'm very grateful for this, given my decades of shitty experiences with various health and allied workers.
During our session today, Z mentioned a recent experience with one of their other clients (without, of course, giving any identifying information). The client is 19, and told Z that Z is ‘queerphobic’ and ‘transphobic’, and that they thus want to take a few weeks' break from seeing Z. Why? Because in the short period since their last session with Z, they'd changed and/or added identities and/or pronouns, and Z hadn't somehow automatically known this, and had thus got language wrong. According to the client, Z “should be able to keep up”.
What. The. Fuck.
More generally, Z and i have had discussions about the Oppression Olympics we keep observing in queer and/or tgd communities: people apparently trying to outcompete one another in terms who is The Most Oppressed. The importance of this is that The Most Oppressed can e.g. claim their behaviour can't possibly be racist, because as The Most Oppressed, they obviously can't be an oppressor. And more generally, as The Most Oppressed, the community has to cater to all their needs and wants of The Most Oppressed, or else the community itself is itself Oppressive.
Recently, in a community for neurodivergent queer/tgd people, i was called ‘transmisogynist’ because, as part of supporting a transmasc person in the group, i dared to disagree with the claim that trans men / transmasc people have always had male privilege, i.e. that they've never experienced not being given male privilege. i certainly think it's possible for a trans woman, such as myself, to be transmisogynist, just as i think it's possible for women to be sexist (although there's a slippery slope from there to ‘false consciousness’ theory, of which i've seen all too much in my three decades of activism). But i can't comprehend the idea that it's ‘transmisogynist’ to recognise that many, if not most, afab people have all-too-concrete experiences of being oppressed by patriarchy. Suffice it to say that i'm now much less inclined to participate in that group, just as i nowadays tend to avoid participating in many supposed ‘safe spaces’ for queer and/or tgd people in general.
Given my experiences, i assume many people will disagree with what i'm about to say, but: This is not intersectional politics. This is not how to fight kyriarchy. This is not the politics of solidarity. This is not sharing our stories and listening to the stories of others, to examine our own privileges even as we ask others to check theirs, to engage in self-reflection as we ask others to do the same, to find the common threads in the diversity of our experiences so we're better able to support each other as we try to change society for the better. This is, to me, self-involved egocentric bullshit.
i've been trying to be compassionate around this stuff. i've been trying to say to myself, “Alexis, remember, people are so wounded, in so much pain, have been so invalidated, are still struggling every day”. But i also need to have compassion for myself. And i need to have compassion for the many other people i talk to who have had really shitty lives due to their position within kyriarchy, who want to do as much as they can to support others, but who have nevertheless been driven away from the communities to which they've turned for support, due to the sort of behaviours i've described here. As a professional, Z might have more ability than the average queer+tgd person to absorb having terms like ‘queerphobic’ and ‘transphobic’ so quickly thrown at them, but i know from experience that many others don't. i recently wrote elsewhere: “There are many people willing to jump on their high horse, but far fewer willing to check their own assumptions and to engage in self-reflection. i'm regularly burned by people making incorrect assumptions about me and where i'm coming from.” But i also keep hearing from others about how they have been burnt by the groups and communities in which they thought they'd get some support.
Not happy, Jan.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same / We can't grow if we won't criticize ourselves” — Dead Kennedys, “Chickenshit Conformist”☙