I do not have to be nice to people who misgender me

A genderqueer person with green hair using a beauty blender. Photo.
Image from The Gender Spectrum Collection.

I said this earlier on Twitter, but I’m going to repeat it here: I do not have to be nice right now. I’ve tried being nice. Being nice right now makes me complicit in my own dehumanisation. I do not have to be nice to people who misgender me. Even knowing that, it is hard to give myself permission to be angry right now.

Content note for transphobia, assault, rape, and cissexism. 

Make no mistake, I am angry, and that anger is completely justified. I have been hurt and I’m allowed to be upset and angry. The trans and non-binary folks in the sex blogging community are allowed to be upset and angry right now. Yes, even after you’ve tweeted that you’re sorry. Because guess what? A token apology doesn’t make everything ok again.

And I’m calling you on it: an apology give only after you’ve been called out is a goddamn token apology.

You are not apologising because you think what you did was wrong, you are apologising because you feel pressured to, because you’re scared of the repercussions of what will happen if you don’t. You know what I’m scared of? I’m scared of being assaulted because I use the toilets that align with my gender presentation, or because I use the toilets that match my genitals when I’m presenting more masc. I’m scared of being raped because I’m queer, and surely the only thing “wrong” with me is that I have not had the right dick yet.

I’m scared every time I know my enboifriend is walking home alone in the evening, because they are unapologetic about their queerness and I am afraid that one day they will be assaulted because they dare to perform their gender in a way that is affirming for them.

Maybe you’re apologising now because you feel guilty, but why didn’t you feel guilty when you were laughing at trans and non-binary folks? Why didn’t you feel guilty when you were misgendering us and gaslighting us and mocking us? I can only guess that you didn’t think we’d ever see, or that you thought that you could get away with it.

But even if you don’t care about hurting trans folks, why didn’t you care when your cis friends and colleagues tried to educate you privately? Why was your response, when people told you that you were being shitty, to block them, shun them and vilify them? Why have you only realised now that you owe your trans and non-binary siblings an apology?Why did you try to justify the hurt you caused, saying that it was “just your opinion”?

Transphobia is not just an opinion, it’s an opinion that gets people killed, and your apology suggests that you don’t realise that. Your apology reads like you are sorry that your actions were found out and that we called you out on it.

Your apology isn’t good enough.

To me, a genuine apology isn’t just the words ‘I am sorry’ – though that is the first step and a great start. If you’re new to apologising for being transphobic, well done! No, you don’t get a cookie for doing the bare fucking minimum.

The second step is acknowledging that your actions have hurt people and – this bit is harder – accepting responsibility for those actions. No, I’m sure you didn’t mean to be transphobic, but you still were. I’m sure you didn’t mean to make me shake with fear and fury in the middle of the night, because the place I have seen as my home for the last two and a half years suddenly stopped being a safe space for me, but you did.

You did that. It might have been a mistake – I really fucking hope it was a mistake – but you still did that. And now you need to own it.

The third step is explaining what you’re going to do to be less of a dick in the future. It’s telling us how you’re going to educate yourself, how you’re going to be more inclusive, how you’re going to highlight and uplift trans and non-binary voices. You owe us more than just words: you owe us the actions of someone who wants to be a better ally. If you don’t tell us what those actions are going to be, I’m going to struggle to believe that you really give a damn about what you’ve done.

Now you’ve tweeted an apology that seems genuine rather than token, you can move on to the next step. This is where you need to do more than apologise in a public and performative way, but also speak directly to those you have hurt. DM the non-binary sex blogger who you repeatedly misgendered. Reach out to the trans sex writer who you gaslit about zir genitals. Say sorry not just where people can see you, but where you’ve actually caused harm.

Because if you think this is just about the comments on a blog post then you’re wrong. This is about months of misgendering and alienation and transphobia in the sex blogging community. This was just the tipping point for trans and non-binary bloggers who had bit their lips and shut up because when we dare to speak up about being hurt we’re told that we are ‘attacking’ people who don’t mean to hurt us, they just don’t understand.

I think the people who left comments on that transphobic trash-fire of a post understand perfectly well what they were saying. It was published just days after I came out as trans on my sex blog, and reading the comments a few days ago tore me apart. That’s why I will not apologise for calling people out. I don’t care if you call me a bully, or if my words on Twitter made you cry. You made me cry. You made me cry and apparently calling you out is the only way I can make you care.

I don’t have to be nice to people who misgender me, but if you genuinely want to apologise and ask ‘how can I do better?‘ I would love to help educate you on how to be more inclusive of trans folks. I’m still learning how to be inclusive, and I’m still fucking up. I know I’m going to make mistakes and have to apologise for being a dick, and I’m hoping when I do fuck up other people will help educate me.

If you want to learn, my DMs are open, my inbox is open. We need to have hard conversations right now, but I’m up for having those conversations if you understand one very simple thing: I don’t have to smile while you spit in my face. I do not have to be polite, or compassionate, or considerate when you have shown me none of these things. I do not have to take down the tweets where I called you out on your transphobia because you tweeted a token apology.

I don’t have to be nice to people who misgender me -and if you don’t understand that I don’t think I can accept your apology.

Once again I’m plugging the Gender Reveal trans survival fund, which is run by Molly Woodstock – so far they’ve sent over $68,000 to trans folks who are struggling. Trans folks in need of immediate financial assistance can apply here. If you’re in a position of privilege and can help out, please consider donating money via PayPal. 

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5 Comments

  1. You’re right, you needn’t be nice, in fact I applaud your generosity to even consider helping to educate (ex?) community members who have targeted and betrayed you. You’re a far bigger/ better person than me, in that regard.


  2. You absolutely don’t need to be nice and, quite honestly, I applaud you for still offering education. To me, being open to discuss and educate IS nice. So even though you don’t need to be, you clearly are.
    I’m sorry you’re going through this


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