‘A Panorama of Toxicity’: On Being a Trans Woman Online

From RH Reality Check:   http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/02/04/panorama-toxicity-trans-woman-online/

by Katherine Cross
February 4, 2014

“If I were sixteen or seventeen years old and had to listen to that, or read things like that I would want to give up listening and reading. I would begin thinking up new kinds of sounds, different from any music heard before, and I would be twisting and turning to rid myself of human language.” —Lewis Thomas

Courtesy of a new story in The Nation magazine by Michelle Goldberg, the issue of the “toxicity” in online feminism, specifically on Twitter, has been thrust into the glaring lights of public scrutiny. Yet the paradigmatic examples its author chose have ensured that discussion has already devolved into a fixation on the most privileged participants in feminist activism.

When I wrote recently on the subject of activist rage, my chief interest was not in assuaging the feelings of the already privileged, but rather to elucidate one sector of a much wider, abusive culture that encompasses the entire Internet and the whole political spectrum therein. My big fear with the way the term “toxicity” is now being bandied about is that it will be understood as a shorthand dog-whistle to stigmatize marginalized peoples’ forthright efforts to talk back to the powerful. This would be a mistake.

Not only would that be tragic from the perspective of advocacy, but it would be a downright Orwellian misrepresentation of the phenomenon’s actual dimensions.

The realities of trans women’s experience with social media remain instructive, and remind us that this discussion cannot be contained by the artificial boundaries of “Twitter feminism.” The problem is much larger than Twitter or any number of internal activist flare-ups. It encompasses the entire online world.

Much ink, including some of my own, has been spilled on the ways that online culture is especially abusive to women as a whole. For trans women in particular, our transgender status refracts the misogyny directed at us in a particularly odious way that often leaves us unrecognizable to ourselves.

For us, the Internet is a panorama of toxicity.

Continue reading at:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/02/04/panorama-toxicity-trans-woman-online/

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