Why are queer people so mean to each other?
August 18, 2019 12:24 PM   Subscribe

How brain science explains queer trauma, conflict and call-out culture "Scholars of the brain are fond of saying “what fires together, wires together,” which refers to the brain’s tendency to form neural networks (pathways in the brain that form certain thought, feeling and behavioural responses) that become stronger and stronger every time they are used. Trauma theory holds that traumatized inviduals — and, I would hypothesis, queer and trans community as a whole — have well-worn neural networks shaped around the deeply held physical sensation that we are constantly in danger, that we are bad and unloveable, that others are untrustworthy and violent. Every time we are abused, discriminated against or neglected, those neural networks become stronger, while our neural networks associated with safety and loving relationships atrophy. We become physically less capable of imagining a world where being with others is not synonymous with being unsafe.

Sociological research tells us that queer and trans people are disproportionately likely to experience abuse, sexual violence, homelessness and bullying in childhood and adolescence [...]. Even those of us who somehow manage to escape outright abuse and neglect still grew up in a world where we needed to keep secrets — where, at any moment, we might come across someone who hated us or wished us harm because of who we are. Where our basic rights and dignity might be taken away at the whim of the next politician to take office. The result of all this exposure to trauma — to the very real threat of violence and ostracization from our family, friends and entire society — is that queers as a collective sustain serious trauma to our internal sense of ourselves and others.


This, I believe, is why traumatized communities struggle so profoundly with loving one another. We have been hard-wired for suspicion and terror of betrayal, which in turn feeds into the logics of disposability and incarceration: we come to believe that making a mistake — any mistake, whether big or small — makes someone bad and dangerous. We believe that we need to punish people who are bad and dangerous, that some people are simply too bad and too dangerous to keep among us.


Change begins with the belief that change is possible, when we invite our bodies to entertain the possibility that connection is possible. We are capable of creating a culture that is committed to healing on a cellular level, that encourages us to experiment with reaching out, making contact both physically and emotionally. Loving contact releases oxytocin and other hormones that relax our bodies and prime our brains for relational thinking, awakening our imaginations and allowing us to envision new and better ways of dealing with conflict. What fires together wires together. Loving contact breeds loving contact. Mercy and forgiveness breed mercy and forgiveness."
posted by stoneweaver (40 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
I have pretty much since it debuted, and became somehow "a tool to mainstream LGBT people", railed against Will & Grace. Those four people weren't friends. They were constantly cruel to each other for no reason other than that other person was in their presence.

The whole "catty gay" culture thing is so harmful and full of bullshit, and it's THAT which got mainstreamed. Gays are expected to tear each other down, always for a laugh of course. The gay stereotype characters in 80s movies were always the ones standing on the outside making snarky remarks about everyone else. This whole trope runs deep.

I'm not being very literary with this comment, but I'm trying to organize things I've felt for nearly 3 decades at this point.

Queer As Folk? Pure poison in our culture.

The whole soap opera mentality, or the whole "make the joke to get the laugh, damn the expense to the other person" culture.. I've always hated that about certain gay cliques I've encountered or how it's become to be expected in the culture at large. It's destructive and horrible, and I wish it would die.

When I've found a place that feels like home amongst the queer folk, it's always been places that feel like refuge, not like battle arenas. I don't understand the mindset that wants things to be that way. It seems some find that useful, but I think it's because they're lonely and hurting and they appreciate the mild applause they get when they score a point even while the point scored placed a brick in a wall between them and someone else.

Gaaah. I'm not communicating clearly enough for my own satisfaction. But yeah, my anger and frustration about this run deep. It's not just that the entire rest of the world hates us for merely existing, it's that we role-play hate with each other because somehow that earns status points and might be "funny".

I wish it would all stop.
posted by hippybear at 12:42 PM on August 18, 2019 [85 favorites]

The psychology may well be right, but I don’t think it has anything particularly to do with Hebbian reinforcement of neural connections.
posted by Segundus at 12:44 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure oldschool gay cattiness and current queer callout culture have a ton to do with each other. But maybe that's the point — trauma could predispose us to prickliness and harsh self-defense, but leave lots of underspecified details, leaving culture to determine whether those traits will show up as bitchy snark or righteous overzealousness or what.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:20 PM on August 18, 2019 [13 favorites]

Yeah, the pullquote is a long textbook example of the kinds of ridiculously unsupportable structure/function arguments that still somehow get traction in the truthier corners of 'neuroscience' and still somehow dominate public communication of psychology. Its referencing neurological structures and implicitly referencing scientific methodology to justify arguments from the humanities side of psychology, without ever bothering to even consider the validity of the connection. There do seem to be compelling thoughts underneath this and the bullshit evopsych that I don't think need any neurobiological support, bullshit or otherwise, but that its there makes the rest a lot harder to take seriously.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2019 [25 favorites]

Think there might be a parallel to the whole "women hate each other" Mean Girls trope?
posted by Autumnheart at 1:28 PM on August 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

That's just what I was thinking. So now, suddenly, abuse is a reason for queer people to be mean to each other (who knew they were??) and therefore also the reason why women are catty (we aren't) - what's the excuse for the abuse and hatred that straight white rich cis men heap on the rest of the world, then? Nobody's abusing them, right?

IDK, call me old fashioned, but I don't think human beings need a reason to be mean and I don't think we need a reason to pull each other down. It's just one of our baser instincts, or perhaps a legacy of habit we haven't shaken off yet due to sheer lack of a better example.
posted by MiraK at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

I guess what I mean to say is, gay people didn't invent cattiness, and all of these overcomplicated reasoning to explain callout culture's meanness kinda sounds like people are coming from the assumption that marginalized people are inherently "above" petty, hurtful behavior, and therefore if we are behaving in that way then Something Mysterious must be the cause of it. But actually it's just that marginalized people are also human just like mean white guys.
posted by MiraK at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2019 [16 favorites]

Seconding nebulawindphone -- "catty gay man" stuff is super-mainstream compared to call-out culture, which is decidedly left and anti-mainstream, a thing that happens on Twitter and in activist/activist-adjacent circles. The behaviors may or may not come from similar places: maybe the catty put-down thing is gay men dealing with hatred from the homophobic culture and, like a fat or short guy learning to be funny in grade school to avoid bullying, cattiness involves learning to be a specific (and subculturally-sanctioned, and mainstream-culture-sanctioned) kind of funny to, if not avoid bullying, create an armor to deal with the trauma that came from it.

Whereas call-out culture is not individual, it's a group dynamic, it's the whole left-eating-its-own thing that has existed as long as any kind of organized left has existed. Second wave feminists called it "trashing". For all I know, maybe it exists on the right as well; we've heard about neo-nazi groups online tearing each other apart for insufficient purity. It's just that no one on the left, including myself, wants to wade into those hellholes to get familiar enough with right-wingers, fundiegelicals & fascists to find out how or if they tear each other apart similarly.

It might not even be an activist thing so much as a human thing. How many times have I seen nerd groups online tear into each other over the stupidest shit? It's just that in activist groups, the shit might not be stupid, and the stakes are, or at least feel, a lot higher.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 1:51 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't know, I think there's something to this, appeals to pop neuroscience aside. It reminds me of porpentine's Hot Allostatic Load essay (link goes to "previously on MeFi" discussion). It's not about making excuses for patterns of real abusiveness or predation, or about just being catty (which also, I think isn't really what the article is about, and is maybe kind of a derail). The phenomenon the author is describing is more about queer people not being given the same latitude to make mistakes or to exercise bad judgement while figuring out how to be in relationships with one another, or being held to much higher, black-and-white standards of ethics and "accountability" that are not ultimately productive. I think sometimes this strictness is internalized, where it mutually feeds anxiety/depression, and sometimes it's externalized onto the community. Certainly in my own, um, therapeutic journey, I've had a lot of parallels pointed out between how I was treated as a developing gay person and the way I treat myself (or assume others will treat me) in the present. Of course straight cis people can also have harsh super-egos or hair triggers for betrayal, and the same toxic dynamics can play out in cis-het communities, but I agree with the author that it's worth considering that the specific stressors queer people tend to confront can make us more susceptible.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2019 [22 favorites]

I think that the further along I get in healing from trauma and the more the people around me heal, the more we see how so much of our thinking and group dynamics have been formed by our early (and ongoing) trauma. I think cattiness, in that it is a mechanism for distancing and not being vulnerable, can certainly be part of that trauma soup, but like en forme de poire, I think it's a little orthogonal to what's being talked about here.

I'm frankly a little surprised to see people calling this evopsych? Maybe I selected a poor pull quote, but there's nothing in the article that is digging in on that front. It's from a former therapist talking about the ways that we reproduce trauma in our relationships with others because that's how we're used to feeling and interacting. That's pretty bog standard as far as talking about emotional addiction and trauma. Letting go of reproducing harmful situations and dynamics is a major part of therapy.

I'm happy for anyone that hasn't experienced this in their queer circles, but it rings very true for me. Being around a lot of people working through and undoing their trauma responses is something my friends and I talk about as being a big part of what it means to be queer.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:14 PM on August 18, 2019 [29 favorites]

And thank you for linking that thread about Hot Allostatic Load. It's short and powerful, and it intersects so completely with this.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:19 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

what's the excuse for the abuse and hatred that straight white rich cis men heap on the rest of the world, then? Nobody's abusing them, right?

Not to either gainsay your point or justify their actions, but usually it's their parents, and they usually pass that right down to their own kids. If it's not a parent, it's an older male relative, or for certain type of abuse, their pastors and priests.

Abuse is endemic, and it just turns out that the people with the privilege of class, race, and social stature have the power to pass on and magnify that abuse to all of society rather than just their family.
posted by tclark at 3:06 PM on August 18, 2019 [11 favorites]

I think there's maybe a useful distinction to be made between (a) self-serving shittiness at others' expense and (b) the thing where people genuinely love each other and want to be kind to each other and still can't stop going off on each other, even when they don't in any way benefit from it.

There are lots of reasons (a) happens, including simple greed and selfishness. But that doesn't take away from the possibility that (b) is connected to trauma.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:16 PM on August 18, 2019 [11 favorites]

(And, like, just to be clear, both (a) and (b) happen in queer communities all the fucking time, some queers are definitely self-serving shitheads who deliberately pull themselves up at others expense. But my feeling is that queer communities have no more or less of (a) than the rest of the world, and a lot more of (b) than I'm used to seeing elsewhere.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:21 PM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

There's a LOT going on in that essay, and it gives me panic attacks, but in this comment thread let's let go of 'cattiness.' It's a part of old gay poison-culture that's nearly gone now. Cattiness was a needed defense mech that's not used so much any more and will go away soon.
posted by Sterros at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

From your lips to God's ears.
posted by hippybear at 3:38 PM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

As a gay victim of serious crap, in my youth, I find this trivializes real trauma.

I've been locked up for being gay. When I was a young teenager.

And let me tell you, "the system" is what saved me. The court was on my side. (I worked there for years, when I was in town).

Gay attitude? Dahling, let me explain. I'm OLD SCHOOL

That SWISH? That shake of my ass? It's simply a way of saying, "I'm gay. Too bad if you don't like it".

Catiness? Oh, I'm so sorry, we all just desperately wanted to be Mae West. Try to understand.
posted by Goofyy at 4:04 PM on August 18, 2019 [11 favorites]

I'm sorry that happened to you. I don't think it does anyone any good to presume that young people today aren't going through serious crap of their own. There is pretty good evidence to the contrary, in fact: if older generations of queer folk were really the only ones who experienced trauma, the continuing crisis of mental health in queer youth compared to their modern cis-het counterparts would be very hard to explain.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:28 PM on August 18, 2019 [12 favorites]

(a) self-serving shittiness at others' expense and (b) the thing where people genuinely love each other and want to be kind to each other and still can't stop going off on each other,

You’re ignoring the vast landscape of “the thing where previous trauma makes you perceive a threat where there is none, and you react to that threat with aggression,” which is where the entirety of this argument lives

Blasdelb, your comment makes it sound like you don’t know much about PTSD
posted by schadenfrau at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Clearly I didn't express myself well — by (b) I meant exactly that landscape you're talking about.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:54 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am willing to believe this. It maps appropriately onto my experience, and the trauma many, many, MANY queer folks have described. I'm not sure I know any queer people who haven't had significant trauma in their lives?

But I think--and maybe this is covered later in the piece, I simply wasn't able to finish it tonight--there's an opposite effect too, in that an expectation of cattiness can change how we (or let me limit that to me and say I) judge other people. I have let go of intensely caring, warm, good people in my life, because I didn't know how to process their goodness. Their lack of sarcasm seemed like a lack of humor, like something huge was missing from their psyche, even as my own psyche had been finely shaped into this bloody jagged buzzsaw that kicked back and hurt me as much as it hurt anyone else. Good people seemed to have something wrong with them...and what an awful cycle to get into, where the very people who could help you, who could care, who could even just model how to handle stress better, had to be cast out in favor of another buzzsaw that seemed more your type.

Old age and exhaustion and a lot of work have led to a dulling of those edges, and now I feel wide-open to goodness. Well, maybe not wide-open, but not actively hostile, at least? Somewhat accepting of warmth and love? Sorta? But in any case, has given me enough perspective that when I see it happening to other people I just want to say waaaaaait, I know what you're doing, you're giddily destroying everyone around you and people are treating you like it's charming, but it's not.

Many thanks to hippybear for bringing up Will & Grace, a show that felt deeply hateful at its core. I used to describe it as the most homophobic show on TV, but the way hippybear puts it above, I see I wasn't quite right about that...it's not that it was homophobic, it was that it was using the tools of charming gay hatred to lay waste to everything for laughs.

And even more thanks to en forme de poire for reminding me of hot allostatic load. Boy, THAT was an experience in facing your pain.
posted by mittens at 6:14 PM on August 18, 2019 [23 favorites]

As a person with a severe anxiety disorder that basically gives me PTSD without the trauma, this essay speaks to me very strongly, as did Porpentine's essay back then. This is a very well written piece that anyone with anxiety should probably read, and from my research it matches well with the current understanding about the brain chemistry behind PTSD.

I tend to hang out in internet communities that have a lot of anxiety/depression without explicitly being queer, and in my experience a lot of these issues seem to apply there as well. The rate of depression and anxiety seems to be about 2x to 5x higher in queer individuals so there might be some threshold where when 4% (national average) of a community suffers from PTSD-like symptoms norms will evolve one way, but when 20% suffer from PTSD things will develop a very different way. And once those norms develop they can be hard to change
posted by JZig at 7:27 PM on August 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

(I strongly encourage anyone who didn't make it to the end to make a little time. One of the nice things about this essay is that it does touch on some methods and ways of actually undoing some of this. Instead of just describing the shape of the problem, it gives some ways forward, too.)
posted by stoneweaver at 9:47 PM on August 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

stoneweaver: "I'm frankly a little surprised to see people calling this evopsych? Maybe I selected a poor pull quote, but there's nothing in the article that is digging in on that front. It's from a former therapist talking about the ways that we reproduce trauma in our relationships with others because that's how we're used to feeling and interacting. That's pretty bog standard as far as talking about emotional addiction and trauma. Letting go of reproducing harmful situations and dynamics is a major part of therapy."
It was me who called part of the article bullshit evopsych and this is what I was referencing:
Kai Cheng Thom: "The tricky thing about the body’s trauma survival strategies is that they were developed over the course of millions of years of evolution. They are meant for pure, animalistic survival, and are not capable of distinguishing social or moral nuances in the behaviour of others (that is what the prefrontal cortex, the more recently developed front part of the brain, is for)."
This paragraph is referencing evolution to provide a just so explaination of a physchiatric phenomenon using a fundamentally unfalsifiable hypothesis that is unsupportably genetically deterministic and reeks of panadaptionism. It is bad science, contains within it most of the reasons why evopsych is generally considered to be an easily dismissed pseudoscience, and does make the whole thing ufortunately harder to take seriously. I do think is a shame particularly since even the point that it is being used to support, that the best path away from problematic ways we have adapted to problematic contexts involves forgiving ourselves for having done so to begin with, is incredibly wise even if it doesn't have the scientific rigor it pretends to have.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:13 AM on August 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

I agree that the neuroscience is one of the weaker parts of the essay, but it's also not the central focus of the essay. One of my big challenges is trying to not respond with my inner Grandma or my inner bully.

One thing that frustrates me regarding online LGBTQ discourse is that we have something of a "perpetual September" problem going on. And yes, I'm guilty of getting unreasonably snippy at encountering the same arguments about my life on a weekly basis.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:55 AM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Blasdelb: This paragraph is referencing evolution to provide a just so explaination of a physchiatric phenomenon using a fundamentally unfalsifiable hypothesis that is unsupportably genetically deterministic and reeks of panadaptionism. It is bad science, contains within it most of the reasons why evopsych is generally considered to be an easily dismissed pseudoscience, and does make the whole thing ufortunately harder to take seriously.

Does science provide any particular other story for how traumatized people deal with interpersonal stress in ways that differ from non-traumatized people? Or, what I really mean, does it offer a humanizing story for it that can make a traumatized person feel more connected to their social world, less like an alien, less like a monster, less like a bundle of ungovernable and unpredictable responses?

I ask, because just-so story or not, the idea of this being a story about evolution and survival is psychologically useful and comforting. To know that what you're feeling at a period of high stress is uncomfortable but would have been useful at some prior point, gives you a sense of continuity with the world around you, a sense of normalcy, a sense that the discomfort is survivable and has something to teach you.

I know "useful" and "true" are two separate things, but when queer people talk to other queer people about past or ongoing trauma and its effect on current behavior, how important is it that we only say things that have some kind of scientific validity? Do we need to dissect the useful away from the true, and only allow the true into our discussions?

All of which is to say that I see and believe your point, I'm just not sure what to do with that point, I'm not sure how to use that to guide either thinking or talking about this stuff.
posted by mittens at 6:15 AM on August 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Maybe we don't need to lean on scientific methods at all to tell the kinds of stories that would be most useful?

I think that there is a hell of a lot more utility in keeping the language of things like mechanistic explanations, hypothesis testing, and structure/function arguments sacred from attempts to co-opt it for things they do not fit, because both because these ways of thinking about the natural world can do such powerful things when done well and particularly because they lend so much weight to arguments as a result. It is pretty trivial to tell these kinds of just-so stories however you like, and treating them as if they are grounded in the weight of biology, as grounded in chemistry, as grounded in physics, as grounded in mathematics, treats them as having a foundation they absolutely do not have. In the context of this article though, it not only prevents a naive reader from being sufficiently critical, but I think also interferes with appreciating it as an interesting essay on what is ultimately the philosophy of trauma.

Maybe the real solution here isn't for humanities to amateurishly pretend to be science, but for us all to insist that the philosophical investigation of human problems is an inherently worthy endeavour on its own - as I think this essay demonstrates pretty well? Surely there must be a way to present clinical observations about how the black and white thinking and the fight or flight response that trauma appears to lead to can be usefully legitimized as defence mechanisms, so as to acknowledge them without shame and thus allow us to consciously choose more adaptive paths, with out the bullshit story. If anything, presenting the connection between trauma and these defence mechanisms as an evolutionary biotruth only gets in the way of understanding it as a useful way of describing things like black and white thinking right?

At best I think the microarray that whomever picked the header of the article clearly does not understand the purpose of, the evopsych nonsense, and the cargo-cult-style structure/function arguments only distract from the really neat things here that we should be taking seriously on their own merits.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:39 AM on August 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I agree — though it's not just this essay doing it. It's a trend I hate, but it sure is a trend. As someone in mental health recovery myself, I find it especially maddening in patient-focused writing. YOU DO NOT NEED TO TELL ME WHERE THE HIPPOCAMPUS IS. I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE IT OUT AND BLOW ON IT. ITS SHAPE, SIZE, AND LOCATION ARE NOT RELEVANT TO MY TREATMENT.

I wonder if it's as simple as "People want to believe they're rational, they hate admitting that they have feelings or that experiences have lingering effects, and you have to frame stuff as Brain Science to get past their resistance." Which doesn't justify the fake science, but which would explain why it's so incredibly prevalent in writing that tries to get people to take their feelings and memories seriously.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:56 AM on August 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

Cattiness was a needed defense mech that's not used so much any more and will go away soon.

Not while RuPaul's Drag Race is still on, it won't.
posted by dnash at 8:11 AM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

There’s something deliciously ironic about repeatedly harping on the imperfect way the author references science in an article about the trouble with taking slight imperfections and blowing them out of proportion.
posted by joedan at 9:00 AM on August 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

Why is the irony delicious?
posted by mittens at 9:26 AM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A sprinkle of irony goes great with a good vanilla ice cream, but I had to give it up because it causes heartburn.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

The idea that our thoughts and feelings are biological/part of our bodies -- that thoughts and feelings = electrical impulses and hormone squirts -- still hasn't really become mainstream. So if something's "all in our head" that doesn't mean there is no physical symptom or that it's not real or has no material effects, but that just hasn't become accepted yet.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 12:36 PM on August 19, 2019

It's a shame that instead of people getting to talk about themselves or the ways they've grown or dealt with trauma or learned to be more forgiving or any of the number of ways that this intersects with their personal life the discussion has been taken over and shut down by whether or not it's *scientific* as though that was even sort of the main point.

I get it that when something pushes our buttons it feels like it's super important to really draw it out and talk about the ways in which it doesn't match up with our personal sphere of expertise. It's an easy way to interact with the world. But when the topic is about vulnerable and delicate things, it takes up the space for people to speak openly and frankly about themselves.

I'm really disappointed that this is how this thread went. I know we're not supposed to say that out loud, but I am. I'm disappointed that people who are struggling through recovering from PTSD looked at how this conversation is going and noped out. I'm disappointed that instead of backing off and letting the thread take another direction, that it had to be doubled down! It's ok to make your point and then let people talk about other things.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2019 [18 favorites]

I don't think therapists have earned their expertise in this sphere. The accusations about science is that a piece like this is enacting scientism.

A constant pattern is people deciding what the main point is. The author gets to decide what is normal and what is abnormal reaction to "normal" conflict. That is pure scientism and inability to think critically. The piece itself literally proclaims themselves as a science nerd, or something. So we should take them to task for such an approach to the subject of trauma and social justice.
posted by polymodus at 1:51 PM on August 19, 2019

I think we owe each other courtesy, as long as we are met with courtesy. And yet so often when a queer person is treated not just with a lack of esteem, not just without kindness, but without even courtesy, we are expected to still give esteem, respect, kindness, and punished for not doing so.

My hot take as a queer person is that I want and try to be kind, and to spend time with kind people. At the same time, there are a lot of queer people and other disadvantaged people I know who's kindness gets taken advantage of, whose esteem and time and effort are expected as an inherent privilege of people who aren't minorities, as something owed, as something paid for, or as a cost of inclusion, instead of kindness being treated as the generous gift it is.

I think the framing of this as neuroscience doesn't do the article any favors. Nor do I think social shunning = rumor spreading = cancel culture. This seems to conflate a variety of behaviors together because they are "mean," without giving consideration to how they may have different purposes.

Learned behaviors tend to exist because they are, or at least were, reinforced, either with a reward or a reduction of discomfort. We model behaviors on others, but we stick with them because they have an effect.
posted by gryftir at 2:05 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

At best I think the microarray that whomever picked the header of the article clearly does not understand the purpose of

That's not a microarray. I don't think it even looks like one. It seems to be a glitch art collage made by this person, who is credited under the header.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:11 PM on August 19, 2019

I really liked this essay. Thank you for posting it, stoneweaver.
posted by lazuli at 4:17 PM on August 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes, this thread has gone in weird places.

Thank you for the article stoneweaver, I found it really interesting.

I think that my experiences at being forced over and over and over to wear women's clothing do in fact negatively impact my ability to trust those around me who I would otherwise hold dear. I think it makes those wisps of trust that do happen feel precarious and makes the experience of an interaction not withstanding that scrutiny crushing. I think this is an experience shared by many trans/agender/non-binary/... people, and makes it so that a whole community of such people will have a much higher incidence of this experience than the general public. I also think it's really interesting that I don't label that as trauma, even though I can see from the article how it has some similarities in repercussions.

There is a reason that 'chosen family' is a common phrase in the queer community, because many in the community don't belong in our families of origin, and so many of the community don't have a lived experience of belonging in family from our childhoods, and so have to work harder at figuring out how to have healthy relationships. I'm currently avoiding trans support groups because of some bad experiences, and this helps to frame why they can be hard to manage and gives me a framing to set my expectations appropriately.

I read to the end but felt like it was underwhelming. I want a magic wand already.

This is not to compare my experience to that of anyone's trauma, nor to care much about the exact biology, but to know that this is a struggle that affects this community disproportionately and so may impact our mutual interactions is interesting.

That abuse is also more prevalent in some communities that aren't distinguished by their sexual and gender identities is also important (and perhaps irrelevant for this thread).

(also, I was expecting the science framing in the article to be totally terrible (having read this thread first), but some of the biology was framed as xxx theory tells us that yyy, not xxx is TRUE, which is an improvement over many articles. Also, that is certainly not a microarray).
posted by lab.beetle at 5:56 PM on August 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

We've had such a strange little constellation of posts I'm following. Hannah Gasdby has given a talk explaining why Nanette is so deliberately difficult. Trump wants to let people be mean to LGBTQ people because of religious reasons. This thread right here, and then also an immense resource giving context to much of gay/trans/drag humor/references in a way I've never seen assembled before.

It's like there's some kind of zeitgeist moving right now. A call toward increased attention and understanding, somehow at a nexus at this moment.

Might be something worth paying attention to.
posted by hippybear at 9:42 PM on August 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

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