I was musing about writing about this publicly. For the first time in all these years of writing pretty personal stuff about my feelings, my way of becoming more honest with myself and a more authentic person through that I was thinking about letting you in on this is a good idea.
You see, people have used information from my personal blog in the past, and tried to use it against me. Needless to say they failed with it, and it only showed their true face. So why does it feel different this time?
Thing is, I'm in the midst of my second puberty, and the hormones are kicking in in complete hardcore mode. And it doesn't help at all that there is trans antagonist crap from the past and also from the present popping up left and right at a pace and a concentrated amount that is hard to swallow on its own without the puberty.
Yes, I used to be able to take those things with a much more stable state. But every. Single. Of. These. Issues is draining all the energy out of myself. And even though I'm aware that I'm not the only one trying to fix all of those, even though for some spots I'm the only one doing the work, it's easier said than done that I don't have to fix the world, when the areas involved mean the world to me. Are areas that support me in so many ways. Are places that I need. And on top of that, the hormones are multiplying the energy drain of those.
So ... I know it's not that common. I know you are not used to a grown up person to go through puberty. But for god's sake. Don't make it harder than it has to be. I know it's hard to deal with a 46 year old teenager, so to say, I'm just trying to survive in this world of systematic oppression of trans people.
It would be nice to go for a week without having to cry your eyes out because another hostile event happened that directly affects your existence. The existence of trans lives aren't a matter of different opinions or different points of view, so don't treat it like that, if you want me to believe that you are a person able of empathy and basic respect.
Sidenote: Finishing to write this at this year's #36c3 is quite interesting because of the conference title: Resource Exhaution. Oh the irony.
Recently I thought a lot about group building. There had been some dynamics going on in way to many communities that I am involved with, and it always came down to the same structural thing:
Is the group welcoming participation of everyone?
Is the group actively excluding people?
When put this way, I guess most people will quite directly swing towards the first option and outrule the second. Thing though is, it's not that easy. And I'd like to explain why.
Passive vs. Active Exclusion
The story about passive exclusion
Exclusion always happens, it even has to happen, regardless how you try to form a group. Let me explain it by an example, that recently happened at an event in Germany. It was an event called "Hanse inter nichtbinär trans Tagung (HINT)", conference for inter, non-binary and trans folks. A doctor was invited who performs genital "corrective" operations on babies, something that inter people suffer a lot and unfortunately is still legal and a huge practise around the globe while there is no medical need for any of this. In turn inter people didn't feel safe to attend a conference anymore that was specifically set out for them as part of the target audience.
And that's just one example. I could come up with a fair amount of others, like having sexual abusive people at polyamory meetups, and there is a fair amount of free software related discussions going on too, having abusive people in the community actively invalidating others, ridiculing them, belittling them, or software that specifically enables access to hate-speech sites on free software portals, all with the reasoning that it's about free software after all.
All these things lead to passive exclusion. It leads to an environment that suddenly doesn't feel safe for a fair amount of people to get involved in in the first place. People that are claimed to be wanted within the community. People who are told to grow a thicker skin. People who are criticized for pointing out the discrimination and being rightfully emotionally wound up, also about the silent bystanders, having to do the emotional labour themselves. And as organizers and group leads, it's definitely the less energy consuming approach.
When you understand this, and start to engage with abusive people that make other feel unsafe, you might realize: That's actually hell of a work! And an unthankful one on top of that. You suddenly have to justify your actions. You will receive abusive messages about how could you exclude that person because they never have been abusive to them so it can't be true, you are splitting the community, and whatsnot. It's an unthankful job to stand up for the mistreated, because in the end it will always feel like mistreating someone else. Holding people accountable for their actions never feels good, and I totally get that. That's also likely the reason why most communities don't do it (or, only in over-the-top extreme cases way too late), and this is a recurring pattern, because of that.
But there are these questions you always have to ask yourself when you want to create a community:
"Whom do I want to create a community for, whom do I want to have in there - and what kind of behavior works against that? What am I willing to do to create the space?"
When you have a clear view on those questions, it still might be needed to revisit it from time to time when things pop up that you haven't thought about before. And if you mean it honest, for a change, start to listen to the oppressed and don't add the hurt by calling them out for their reaction of fighting for their sheer existence and survival. Being able to talk calmly about an issue is a huge privilege and in general shows that you aren't affected by it, at all. And doesn't contribute to solving the discrimination, rather just distracts from it.
One last note: Active exclusion doesn't necessarily have to happen all the time. Please check in with the abused about what their needs are. Sometimes they can deal with in a different way. Sometimes the abusers start to realize their mistake and healing can happen. Sometimes discussions are needed, mediation, with or without the abused.
But ultimately, if you want to build any inclusive environment, you have to face the fact that you very likely will have to exclude people and be ready to do so. Because as Paula said in her toot above:
"If you give oppressors a platform, then guess what, marginalized people will leave your platform and you'll soon have a platform of dicks!"
It's been a while. And to be honest, I'm overdue with a few things that I want to get out. One of those things is … Brazil doesn't let me go. I'm watching this country since over a year now, hopefully understandable with the political changes last year and this year's debconf being there, and I promise to go into more details with that in the future because there is more and more to it …
Because one of those things that showed me that Brazil doesn't want to let me go was stumbling upon this artist. They were shared by some friends, and I instantly fell for them. This is about Oxa, but see for yourself:
Toy: Their first performance at the show »The Voice of Germany«, where they also stated that they are non-binary. And the song is lovely.
Born This Way: With this one, the spoken word interlude gave me goosebumps and I'm astonished that this was possible to get into the show. Big respect!
I'm Still Standing: The lyrics in this song are also just as powerful as the other chosen ones. Extremely fine selection!
I'm absolute in love with the person on so many levels–and yes, they are from Brazil originally. Multo brigado, Brazil!