Mar 01 2012

The Abridged “Sincerely, Natalie Reed”

Sorry, I’m a bit busy with some important stuff for tomorrow (that will probably alienate whichever readers I didn’t already alienate by linking “Die Cis Scum”) and don’t quite have time for the post I’d had planned for this afternoon. So instead I’m going to offer a little something for all the “tl:dr” folks who can’t be bothered to slog through my prose.







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  1. 1

    Intriguing. No, if I can stand you saying it’s morally okay to want to kill babies as long as they’re cisbabies, I think my fanboy status is fairly well entrenched.

    1. 1.1

      For crying out loud, Anders, hyperbole much? Are you claiming that you are entirely unable to see the difference between retaliatory aggression towards a potential aggressor based on past violence and attacks on the unequivocally harmless and uninvolved? Did it never occur to you that a certain degree of preemptive aggression is in fact a potential deterrent to would be aggressors? This is particularly the case when the ordinary apparatus of dealing with interpersonal aggression (the state) is unlikely to involve itself due to one’s membership in a defined out group. When there’s not enough people on your side to make a credible deterrent, and no third party who will intervene, an enormous chip on the shoulder is the only rational behavior strategy.

      1. Anders

        Retaliatory aggression is ok, as long as it’s retaliatory. “Die cis scum” is not. I don’t know what else to say. There are people who are cis who are not potential aggressors.

        I assumed you condoned the message in the post you linked to. If you do not, in fact, condone it then I apologize. But if you do condone it, you are stuck in a simple syllogism.

        X wants to kill cis persons.
        This baby is a cis person.
        Therefore X wants to kill this baby.

        If you can point out the flaw in this logic, I would be most obliged.

        1. Anders

          I should not have started this. It’s not worth risking a friendship for. I can understand that other people think this way, and I can agree to keep my mouth shut. Just don’t ask me to condone it.

          1. secha

            You do know that on a pure factual basis you can’t consider any babies ‘cis’ right? Because you can’t tell from that age what they are whether its gay, straight, cis, trans, asexual ect.

            Like, there are other reasons that you’re mistaken here, but lets go with the obvious.

          2. Anders

            I have said I will not discuss this further, secha. You are of course free to continue posting in this thread but if you want a response from me then you are wasting your time. I will have to ask you to respect this.

        2. Natalie Reed

          Flaw in the logic, again, is that infants can’t be known to be either cis or trans.

          And they CERTAINLY aren’t the oppressor towards whom that anger is directed.

          My position on the original link notwithstanding, that’s an emotionally manipulative strawman.

          I’m not going to entertain this any longer. Think it through for your own selves.

    2. 1.2
      Natalie Reed

      And where the hell did I fucking say that?! Hm?

      1. Ace of Sevens

        I think you said it to Loftus at at some point.

    3. 1.3
      Xanthë, Amy of my threads

      Way. Out. Of. Line.

    4. 1.4

      Barging in after most of the argument here, but after going back and reading it all, I find it highly ironic that there’s one post that is linked to another that itself simply states that one thing that a trans person must not do if they don’t want cis people mad at them is to link to this one other post, and that the result of that is that a cis person… gets mad at the first trans person not linking to that post, but being another whole step removed and just linking to someone else who is stating that cis people would get mad at them for linking to this other post. I mean, really. If you wanted to prove their point, Anders, you couldn’t have done it any better.

      1. hall-of-rage

        I’m still reading, I bet others are, I don’t know if that’s evident without commenting. As L (ish), it will be interesting to see a post where I actually disagree (about things more important than whether Star Trek is actually hard sci-fi).

    5. 1.5
      HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

      Infants cannot be cis or trans.

      Go salve your poor wounded ego with some reading comprehension.

    6. 1.6

      I’ve made an ass out of myself and I apologize for that. I was out of line, I should not have brought in spillover from an earlier thread. My behavior was inexcusable.

      1. Natalie Reed

        Thank you for apologizing.

    7. 1.7
      Ace of Sevens

      I was wondering how this thread got so many comments. I guess if you are going to derail, this sort of thread is the best place. Maybe we need a weekend derail tradition since weekend posts tend not to be about new topics anyway?

  2. 2

    I consider myself a feminist but I can’t shoot lasers from my nipples. I feel misled.

    1. 2.1

      You’re just not high enough level yet.

      1. SallyStrange

        You’re just not high enough level yet.


    2. 2.2

      Have you tried wishing really hard? I’ve heard that tends to work, but then you end up learning some moral about respecting other people’s views or how crime doesn’t pay or how lasernipples aren’t totally awesome. And then everything goes back to normal and the credits roll.

    3. 2.3

      Seriously. My tits didn’t come with lasers, can I exchange them?

    4. 2.4
      Ace of Sevens

      Her tits don’t quite match in terms of the direction they’re pointing. I understand that’s normal, but it’s a lot more noticeable with frikkin laser beams.

    5. 2.5
      'Tis Himself

      I’m more interested in the bicycle in that picture than the laser equipped breasts. Anyone can get lasers implanted in their bodies (ninjas are notorious for having lasers in their eyes) but that bike is cool!

    6. 2.6

      You obviously don’t know your bible:

      “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to your breasts, ‘Shoot lasers’ and they will shoot.”

      Matthew 17:20

  3. 3

    Um, I really don’t see the “die cis scum die” as alienating (being cis myself), in fact it was rather eye opening, I had never before grasped the meaning of a microaggresion before, nor their consequences.

    So good luck on the next thing.

    1. 3.1

      Another cisperson here who doesn’t have issues with the tattoo, in fact I like it. But, my girlfriend is transsexual so I might have a different view on this sort of thing.

  4. 4

    Ah, one of the myriad reasons I love the Fourth Doctor so much. And dare I mention how much I’m looking forward to reading the post that you think will alienate all the cis people that “Die Cis Scum” hasn’t managed to alienate yet?

    1. 4.1
      Natalie Reed

      No, these two going to alienate all the trans people and LGB people, respectively. Thus I won’t have any audience left by Saturday! :P

      1. Xanthë, Amy of my threads

        Have at it, I’m already tuning out… :P

      2. Nentuaby

        Well, you haven’t chased off this cis reader yet, but I’m pan, so you do get one more shot apparently. ;)

      3. Emily

        You’re going to try to chase us off? Give me your worst.

      4. HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

        Okay, now I’m just extra wanting to read.

      5. SallyStrange

        Well, given that trans people are considered totally imaginary by a great many people, I think a nonexistent audience is a perfect match for your blog!

      6. Anders

        The LGB one – is that when you tell people you don’t like Schlager and Disco? Because that would alienate all Swedish LGB people. :)

        1. Natalie Reed

          I actually am a pretty big ABBA fan.

          I may have to go listen to “Chiquita”…

      7. Ace of Sevens

        You still have the trans fetishists and ponies.

  5. 5

    Wait, where did the “Die cis scum” come from?

    All I got from the images was that feminism leads to high energy lasers coming out of breasts (argon(?) on the right, sodium on the left), and that Trans batteries contain lead (Pb), and shouldn’t be disposed of in conventional receptacles.

    And I’m sorry, but despite the awesome quote, the Ninth doctor beats the fourth, hands down.

    *runs away*

    1. 5.1

      The link that Natalie posted in Oh, and about that Bechdel test contains another link to a photo of someone’s arm with a a tattoo reading “Die Cis Scum,” along with some explanatory text.

    2. 5.2

      And I’m sorry, but despite the awesome quote, the Ninth doctor beats the fourth, hands down.

      Don’t get me wrong – I do like the Ninth Doctor – but is there a concept like heresy that doesn’t have any religious overtones to it? Because if there is, this right here would be a prime example of it! ;)

  6. 6

    Another Cis person (white, hetersexual, young, male, cis person) who wants to say that they understood the die cis scum link and completely agreed with it. It is one of those things that are easy to take out of context and some people, even those who claim to be “allies” are looking for opportunities to do that.

    1. 6.1
      James K

      Same here. I would be shocked if there weren’t trans people who were royally pissed off at how they’ve been treated. In fact it would be perverse is no trans people were angry with the status quo. The status quo sucks!

      The thing to remember about social change is that Ghandi was wrong. Pure pacifism won’t get you anywhere, Ghandi was just lucky enough to try it when the British Empire had run out of steam. If he’d tried it 50 years earlier his famous aphorism would have been: first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they stick your head on a pike.

      That’s not to say that I think actually trying to implement “die cis scum” would be a good idea – never engage a foe that outnumbers you in a frontal assault. But trans people are being routinely denied basic rights – they should be angry, and angry enough to at least contemplate violence.

      1. Sour Tomato Sand

        If he’d tried it 50 years earlier his famous aphorism would have been: first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they stick your head on a pike.

        This. Absolutely. The irony behind Ghandi is that his pacifist resistance is credited with India’s independence, while the reality is that the the most brutal war in history probably did more to that end than anything, simply by crippling the British Empire.

    2. 6.2

      Having thought about it some more, I definitely overreacted. I’m sorry for derailing your thread, Natalie.

  7. 7

    “I’ve been wondering lately if one of the reasons people react so strongly to “die cis scum” is because it fundamentally changes the way they can perceive us and react to us. Suddenly we’re no longer the sad, poor, defenseless and harmless victims who need their help, but instead we’re empowered and a potential threat, potentially willing and able to fight back. Suddenly how much power and understanding and rights and compassion we’re offered stops being in control of cis people, and starts being something we may just be willing to take. Then our anger, and how much we’ve been mistreated, starts looking very very scary. “What if they start treating us the way we’ve been treating them?””
    -Natalie Reed

    This is useful to me, because I’ve been trying to analyze my reaction to it. My initial reaction is just that the person expressing that sentiment, while not necessarily making me feel unsafe, does make me feel that they would never seek my company or friendship; that the accident of my being born in a body I’m comfortable with and a sexual orientation society approves of, makes me an enemy to a complete stranger, and it makes me sad that there’s somebody I’ll never have the opportunity to know, through no fault of my own (that I’m aware of, anyway).

    It reminds me of how I feel about the default suspiciousness many women have of me as a large male. People who look just like me are very, very dangerous, and so the smart thing to do is to assume that I’M dangerous until I prove otherwise.

    There was a little while where that offended me, but now it just makes me angry at the people who made that brand of self-defense a necessity.

    I’m honestly not sure, though, to what degree I can know whether the reason Natalie gave is or is not a part of my reaction. I don’t CONSCIOUSLY see trans/gay/other groups like that, but I think it’s quite clear that people – especially those of us in privilege – hold a lot of beliefs and prejudices that aren’t conscious until we’re forced to inspect them.

    That’s part of why I am so grateful for this blog. I don’t want to hurt people through ignorance, and it’s impossible for any of us to see our own ignorance for what it is without help – we need somebody to point at it at least once.

    I’ll need to spend some time thinking about it.

  8. 8

    At the risk of stepping in it again: my concern with “Die cis scum” is that it could, in the eyes of cis people, dehumanize the person with the tattoo. They become the tattoo, not a person. And that retaliatory violence justifies retaliation in turn, makes the cis scum right to feel threatened, to act out. It is, of course, more than likely I’m full of shit, but learning about the issues of privilege dynamics is one of the reasons I’m here.

    In a completely unrelated note, it took me four tries to read “Die cis scum” as English, and not German for some reason.

    1. 8.1

      On the subject of privilege and learning, could anyone recommend some books on the subject, or even a reading list?

      1. Natalie Reed

        Do you mean privilege in relation to education, or just privilege in general?

        Probably the best sort of “101″ introduction to the concept of privilege is “Privilege, Power and Difference”. I forget who wrote it, but that’s the title. *shrug*

        You know, funny story, that was actually the VERY FIRST BOOK I read for college!

        1. Shaun

          Any books at all on privilege would probably contain more information than I currently have, so whatever you’d care to recommend I’d eagerly read. I’ve added “Privilege, Power and Difference” to my Amazon shopping cart, since it appears not to be available for my Kindle. :(

        2. Anders

          I will look it up. Money is short and likely to remain so, but I will definitely try to find it.

  9. 9
    Natalie Reed

    Edited for greater accuracy.

  10. 10

    Okay, I think I understand the underlying message of “Die Cis Scum”, but I don’t see how anything that comes across (at first) as purely vitriolic and hateful could possibly help our movement, especially since the people most likely to irrationally hate trans people aren’t going to be intelligent enough to understand the meaning behind it, or at least unwilling.

    What audience is it intended for?

    1. 10.1
      Natalie Reed

      The post seemed intended for trans people. It was a post on a trans-space, as that particular person’s feelings surrounding Transgender Day Of Remembrance. The tattoo and jacket itself, I suppose, are intended for as a warning for anyone who may give hir shit. A message saying “Back the fuck off. I am NOT going to passively accept your bigotry and discrimination.” Like a growling dog, a cat arching its back, or a rattlesnake’s rattle.

      The people who irrationally hate trans people don’t go around reading trans blogs.

      1. Anders

        It’s not going to alienate very many. Most people who see it will think something along the lines of “Cis? Is that a football team?”

        1. 'Tis Himself

          Yeah, what do you have against Cissy Spacek?

    2. 10.2

      Other trans people, as I see it. But honestly some things are just done for emotional catharsis. There needs to be some room for that just so we can get through our lives, even if they’re tactical mistakes in the light of the movement.

    3. 10.3

      Also, context matters.

      As in, just linking to a picture like that is one thing on its own. But when there’s also other text explaining it and modifying it and all that, the intention/reason behind it should become much clearer.

      As in, linking to that picture then going and banning half the commentariat would probably alienate a lot of readers.

      One of the concepts I’ve been trying to use to filter the world as of late is the idea of moral force. That is, how much pressure (social, political, cultural or otherwise) one is willing to exert on others in order to facilitate change. The interesting thing about moral force, is that to look how others use it, it’s largely relative. I’ll give an off-topic example, look at the complaints at “accommodationalists”. The big issue people have, when it comes down to it, is while yes they probably have complaints about religion, the moral force they put towards that is much less than the moral force they use against gnus.

      Or look at the Catholic church. Sure, they have as official policy a whole lot of charitable values. But how much moral force do they put towards those as compared to sex and gender based issues? Virtually none.

      In any case, the reason I love this blog is that while the moral force is certainly here, it’s wielded like a lightsaber and not like a bomber. So because of that, knowing that context, no, that picture wouldn’t bother me. But yes, if it came from a source that routinely engaged in moral carpet bombing, then it would bother me more. If that makes any sense. (A good example of moral carpet bombers is PETA.)

      1. Shaun

        That’s a very interesting idea. Do you distinguish between degrees of visibility of moral force? For instance, how much Catholics spend on charity (generally less visible) versus how much Catholics spend on oppressive political campaigns (generally much more visible)?

  11. 11

    This post is the sixth result if you google “Die Cis Scum.”

    Also, on an unrelated note, I always thought the image behind the text on your banner was a rack of women’s clothes but I just realized it is not. It appears to be a random assortment of colours.

    1. 11.1
      Natalie Reed

      It’s dandelions. The fact that you thought it was women’s clothes is kind of interesting, though. Observer expectancy event?

      1. Alt+3

        Maybe. I almost exclusively read this blog on my phone so the image itself is very small to me and I only get a split second glance before I resize the page for easier reading. Those might be conditions that lend the image properties that make it a tiny Rorschach test. Also, even upon closer inspection I don’t think I ever would have guessed dandelions.

      2. Anders

        Did anyone say “dandelion”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Urzxg3IAWNE

        Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailors lives
        Rich man, poor man, beautiful, daughters wives
        Dandelion don’t tell no lies
        Dandelion will make you wise
        Tell me if she laughs or cries
        Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion

  12. 12

    I think this may be my first comment here.

    Not certain, as I’ve been reading a while – I really enjoyed your posts over on skepchick, and was sad when I stopped seeing new ones.

    And then I heard you got an account over here, and was quite happy with having another blog worth checking out, and glad that you had found a new home.

    As to the ‘Die Cis Scum’ bit, *shrugs* I dunno, I’m a gynophyllic, cis, white, male, so I’m not exactly in a privilege-free position, and it’s not really my place to interpret/represent other people’s statements.

    but I can also remember that countless times I’ve seen “die scum” tattoos/t-shirts/bumper-stickers or similar slogans presented in regards to other descriptors that (at the time/place) were deemed completely acceptable (not quite the same, but pretty damned similar – I grew up in a really conservative area in the 80′s, still full-blown cold-war attitudes. I think it took me going to a liberal school to realize communism/Russian =/= evil… anyways, a kid came into school wearing a t-shirt that had a tattoo-style logo (I don’t know, this was, like, 30 years ago…) you know, some crap with hearts and knives and bleeding or something, and a slogan/banner that said: “kill a commie for mommy”. So, despite being a little kid in full thrall of cold-war propaganda, I still found something really wrong about a kid wearing that t-shirt to school.

    and… back to the original subject. maybe this is me speaking from a position of privilege, but I can’t imagine someone wearing that tattoo/jacket would actually feel that all cis people should die, or be actively pursuing that end themselves (mostly because cis people are an overwhelming numerical majority, and it would make it hard to walk to the post office without assaulting numerous people). I took it more as a statement on the amount of violence that is perpetuated against trans people, and excused/ignored solely on the basis that the victims are trans.

    *shrugs* again, I realize that I’m speaking from a position of privilege, but if I seen someone sporting this tattoo/jacket, I’d be strongly tempted to initiate conversation with them. despite being all kinds of privileged, I imagine my views on society, rights, and what not are much more in line with this person’s views then most others.

    and, if I’m wrong, I still have to give them credit for displaying a pretty ‘in-your-face’ attitude/tat, in a society that finds such a thing unacceptable.

    and, keep writing Natalie, you are great at it (srsly, I only check skepchick ~2x a week since you’ve left, but I check this place pretty frequently.), and while I may not get everything, most of your posts are usually educational and entertaining, and I think you do provide a really unique (and needed) perspective on a lot of issues, for various reasons ;)

    1. 12.1
      Ace of Sevens

      Maybe I’ve spent too much time around stereotypical gay people, but I took the tattoo as camp.

  13. 13

    So, yes. Chris Eccleston. It must be a Lancashire thing – his voice always makes me feel comfortable. Go ahead and burn me for being a heretic. Pour me ashes on th’Ribble.

    And, as a cis person, I TOTALLY support the message behind the “DIE CIS SCUM” tattoo. I don’t find it the least offensive or alienating after reading Asher’s post on it. It made me angry – in that sort of righteous indignation type of anger on behalf of the tattooee.

    And the laser thing – I now find myself trying not to stand directly in front of women, just in case the lasers go off. It’s made me more agoraphobic than usual.

  14. 14

    I wanted to reply to this but the point I want to make is too complex for a simple reply so I posted it on Google+: https://plus.google.com/118323832837812764128/posts/c7PCbkcrWay?tab=XX

    I don’t address the tattoo there mostly because I can’t see why it is a problem. It may not be a nice way to make the point but it is a fair point and quite possibly deserved.

    1. 14.1
      Xanthë, Amy of my threads

      I don’t see any special reason you couldn’t have posted it here; yes it is articulating some complexity but it’s not overly long (I’ve probably ranted at greater length on occasion and with less insight; and by the way one small nitpick, transgender is not a noun, it’s an adjective).

      Since “DIE CIS SCUM” has been a topic of a couple of posts prior to this, I have two other minor points I hadn’t mentioned before, so I hope it’s not too irrelevant to bring them up here.

      First, I made the mistake of attributing the tattoo, jacket, and blog post to Asher Bauer; but in the three months intervening from when I read it back in December, I forgot that it was his anonymous friend who wrote the guest post, and had the tattoo and jacket. A minor slip on my part, it doesn’t really change the issues at hand.

      Second, people have tacitly assumed “CIS SCUM” applies to all cis people, so that the imperative “DIE” is being addressed to all men, women, and children. Do the second and third words mean that all cis = scum? Or is it better interpreted as, the cis oppressors who cause violence to transgender people that are scum? I would be tempted to think the latter, as the “all cis people are scum and must die” interpretation is quite apart from any other logical objection, patently absurd.

      1. Natalie Reed

        Yeah, I kind of interpret it as being “die cis scum“, not “die cis everyone”. And I don’t take the “die” literally anyway. As I mentioned earlier, I read the whole thing as being like a dog’s growl, a cat arching it’s back, or a snake’s rattle. It’s a threat, but mostly a preemptive warning, a posture of defense: “don’t fuck with me, because I’ll fuck back”. And also an unadulterated expression of anger. The kind of anger that needs somewhere to go, needs to be screamed. It’s not the kind of circumstance where subtlety and niceness and tactical considerations come into play. You just need to make your anger heard, in its purest form.

        (I’m now up to 12 uses of the word “fuck” today!)

        1. Fickle Ibis

          That is exactly how I read that post. Not as an immediate threat to me as a cisgendered person, but as a threat display to anyone who wanted to start shit with the tattoo’s owner.

          I’ll definitely be checking your blog more often from now on.

  15. 15

    I still say I don’t like it. I guess I mostly fault him for making the threat without ….

    really meaning it?

    I don’t feel threatened by it. I have plenty of privilege to protect me and I will extend privilege to others. But I feel disrespected in a really big way because I am not expected to truly see it is an existential threat.

    Gah. hard to explain here. Like, I would feel less disdain and ridicule, and more fear, if I had an actual expectation that this guy would murder someone.

    “scum” is clearly an appropriation of how slurs conflate the descriptor and the derogatory. I don’t think you can really say ‘privilege changes it all’ in this specific case.

  1. 16
    Sugarday and Weekly Recap! | Sincerely, Natalie Reed

    [...] The Abridged “Sincerely, Natalie Reed” [...]

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