When they go low, we monetise our pain. I said it a friend back in November: when they go low, we invest in ourselves and get paid to write about the things they hate about us. I meant it as a joke, but for all else 2020 has been it’s been the year when I stepped into my trans identity and I’m really fucking proud of that.
Content note for suicide, hate speech and sexual harassment.
I debated whether it was even worth trying to write a wrap-up for 2020 while dancing around my kitchen listening to Taylor Swift’s new album. It’s been A Fucking Year and there’s no way to neatly tie it up with a bow, so I’m going to quote from long story short instead:
I wanna tell you not to get lost in these petty things
Will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing
In 2020 I was told that I’m abusive, controlling and a bigot. I was compared to a nazi and called a fascist. In 2020 I was cat-called and called a misogynist in the span of four days. I was told that I only “think” I’m trans because of internalised misogyny, and I was blamed for destroying the sex blogging community because I refused to shut up and be complicit in my own dehumanisation.
I spent 24 hours getting trolled on Twitter because I dared to suggest that we need to stop using the term “women’s health” when we talk about gynaecological conditions like endometriosis. I genuinely considered killing myself because I felt like people would prefer that than me forcing them confront their internalised transphobia.
(I’m already very suicidal, I should point that out, but being told that you’re the reason why people don’t feel comfortable using social media anymore because you call out cisnormative bullshit does tend to trigger it.)
I’ve performed my pain over and over, along with other trans sex bloggers, waiting for people to actually believe us. I’ve watched cis sex bloggers write posts on how to be a better allies to trans people only for them to not step up when we were being hurt. I’ve had people misgender my friends to my face just to get under my skin, and I’ve been blocked by people who I called out only for them to tweet out bullshit ‘I support the LGBTQIA+ community!’ non-apologies.
I’ve been told by people I trust and respect that no, that person isn’t being transphobic, they just don’t understand and I need to give them a chance. I’ve had friends make choices that actively hurt me and make me feel unsafe. I’ve been expected to give emotional labour without compensation because “if you had explained quietly and polietly then I might have listened!”
When I say that I monetised my pain, this is what I’m talking about. It’s not that these things don’t hurt me anymore, but instead of hate-reading people’s blog posts about me until I felt sick – or taking a screen-shot of every single terf-y tweet in my mentions until I couldn’t feel anything at all – I did something with that hurt. I wrote and I pitched and I channeled my anger into creating really fucking good content.
Being unapologetically trans is how I scored bylines with Huffing Post and Refinery 29. I wrote about being trans for female-health-and-sustainable-tampon-company Daye and feminist-clothing-company LAPP’s magazine. I got to write a cathartic essay about my vaginismus for The Femedic and have created educational content for sex toy companies Self & More and Godemiche. I’ve pitched pieces that were rejected, but I’m still proud because I was brave enough to pitch them in the first place.
It doesn’t stop it hurting every time I get misgendered, but it sure as hell helps.
Although I’m using the word ‘we’ here, I should acknowledge that I’m talking about my experiences. I’m not speaking for all trans people, or even all trans sex bloggers. Celebrating how I monetised my pain isn’t me saying that I think everyone should do this: in fact I’m sick of trans people having to perform our pain over and over again for it to be believed. Thee burden of educating cis folks on their harmful cisnormativity to should not keep falling to trans people.
However, this is what I’ve done to get through the year and I am proud of the work I’ve produced. I’m proud that I turned the thing that other people hated about me into content and money and confidence and self-love.
And he’s passing by
Rare as the glimmer of a comet in the sky
And he feels like home
If the shoe fits, walk in it everywhere you go
If I’m singing these lyrics into a dildo, the ‘he’ in them is me, ready for me to step into my transness and fucking own it. I have so much still to learn about myself and my gender, but you can bet your arse that I’m going to monetise that as well as the pain of moving through the world as a trans person. Getting paid to write about gender and help other people understand trans shit is the best, especially when it pisses other people off.
In 2020 I learned how to stand tall and solid in my gender, and it feels so good.