DJ Grothe, not content with his reputation and desperately lacking a communications director through which he can vet his random personal thoughts (any takers on that job?), posted to Facebook a terribly transphobic thought. Or, at least, so we Outrage Brigaders interpreted it!
No hyperbole: I just saw the worst-passing transsexual I’ve ever seen in the lounge here. It was so disruptive that I am forced to believe it was an intentional way to protest against rigid gender binaries. Or so I’d like to think.
A huge number of folks were upset by this. The usual suspects rushed to his defense and called these folks “The Outrage Brigade”. Rather than actually accepting that possibly the people whose toes he just stepped on might have a point, and he did wrong, he’s just sitting back and letting the terrible human beings that inhabit the skeptical and secular communities run roughshod over the critics — the people who have a grudge-on for “FtBullies” and Skepchick and Atheism Plus, and some strange idea that anyone criticizing anyone else for shitty behaviour are somehow associated with these entities. And he’s Liking some pretty terrible things, including Sara Mayhew posting shitty “fan art” of some of the bigger names on our side of the divide.
Some time thereafter, he changed the post’s security settings such that I can no longer see it while logged in. Chances are he actually blocked me, or added me to a “rage bloggers” list, or something. I’m not sure. I don’t really care, honestly. It just means he knows people are going to criticize him, and he knows which people specifically. It means he knows he did wrong, but doesn’t care to actually take the criticism for it.
The Twitter version still exists publicly, and cuts off at an unfortunate point that makes it even more transphobic-sounding than it already was, as it cuts off the last little sentence that attempts to temper the transphobic nature of the thought. Not that on Facebook it was much better, since DJ had his own first response:
I know it would have been especially insulting to take a picture but I was tempted to ask. The world or at least my little world would have appreciated that disruption.
Giving DJ the benefit of the doubt for a brief moment here — let’s assume that yes, he was celebrating that a person wanted to protest the gender binary, like he later protested (and like he apparently tried to imply with his last sentence). Let’s assume that he didn’t mean offense, that he didn’t mean insult — which he clearly tried to avoid with the person in the flesh, but wasn’t ashamed enough to not post about his insulting inclinations on Facebook. Here’s how he could do so without contributing to the mockery — especially by all the people who agreed with him and later posted anti-trans stuff.
“I just saw someone who I think might be protesting the gender binary in a context where people aren’t accustomed to seeing such things, and good on them for it.”
That’s still not perfect, but that’s at least BETTER. Less insulting. No value judgments, no “worst-passing” as though “passing” is a laudable quality, no “disruptive” as though that was certainly their aim, no “transsexual” with its loaded connotations and assumption of correct identification. And no implication that he’d “like to believe” that the person was protesting the gender binary because the alternative, that they just DON’T pass despite TRYING, was a less realistic proposition.
And if he actually cared that people considered that bullshit bullshit, he might have said “I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant, and what I said instead was kind of shitty.”
Because it was.