Equal Rights For Transgender Canadians – Bill C-279 »« Being The Pejorative

Pie Is Scrumptious

The difference between “die cis scum” and “die trans scum” is one side has managed to make it happen.

– Nicholas Kiddle

I’ve noticed lately that Asher’s “Die Cis Scum” post, although it was originally posted way back on Transgender Day Of Remembrance in November, has over the past couple weeks suddenly developed an intense amount of heat. It is is being widely and intensely discussed, with a great deal of thought being put into it, from a variety of positions, perspectives and voices.

This is lovely. This is perfect. People are talking, and thinking, about trans violence, the fear, helplessness and anger it generates, the form that trans-advocacy should take, how we ought empower ourselves, what it means (potentially negatively) to reclaim violence as a means of asserting our autonomy and empowerment, how context modifies what violence or threats thereof mean, and all kinds of other super-duper brainy and important things.

It’s beautiful. This could not, or at least would not, have happened a couple years ago. But as Patience Newbury said to me the other night, we’ve recently “woken up”. Over the past year or so, the trans community has stirred to life. We are awake. We are angry. We are now making our voices known. We’re organizing and acting and demanding our rights. It’s an amazing, exciting and at times a bit scary time to be a trans person. And it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of this.

Seeing this conversation developing around “Die Cis Scum”, I’ve suddenly felt like I didn’t give the issue its due consideration when it first popped up on my blog. I had only referenced Die Cis Scum tangentially, by linking Lisa Millibanks list of things trans people are expected to do in return for cis people not hating us, and a conversation simmered in the comment threads, but I didn’t tackle it head on.

Perhaps I was a bit scared to. While I was prepared to adamantly defend Asher’s right to have made the post, and feel it was an extremely important post to make, I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable putting myself on the line by making a definitive statement of my own. And perhaps also I hadn’t had time to really collect my thoughts.

But I’d feel like a bit of a wimp if I let this entire discourse pass me by without at least throwing in at least a little something. Some small contribution.

After all, like I said, I deeply enjoy being a part of this community and movement, at this particularly crucial moment in our history.

A great deal has been said about the idea of the context to Asher’s post. A threat expressed by a minority in a context of constant risk of violence, effectively rendering it a conceptual act of self-defense, has markedly different ethical, social and political implications than a threat expressed by a powerful and privileged majority with the full capacity to act upon it towards a vulnerable minority (especially when such threats have indeed been carried out), and even stands in stark contrast to a threat expressed between peers on a relatively level playing field. I don’t have much to add to this dimension of the conversation, thoroughly explored as it has been, but feel it’s necessary to include to pre-emptively deal with suggestions that “it’s the same as when cis people threaten to kill trans people!”.

It would indeed be hypocritically selective, and discriminatory, to say an action undertaken by one group is unethical while the same action undertaken by another is completely fine- but in this circumstance, as is almost always the case when looking at language and symbolic gestures, context plays a significant enough role to render it a different action. It’s not “cis people making threats is bad, trans people making threats is good”, and therefore basing the moral judgment on the group in question. It’s saying “actionable threats against the vulnerable are bad, symbolic threats against an intimidating, oppressive force are not”. It’s basing the moral judgment on what is actually happening.

But what I’d perhaps rather comment on here is the emotional and symbolic weight of the threat. What it means for us, and from where it’s coming, and what the consequences are.

As mentioned, trans people, particularly trans women, particularly particularly trans women of colour, particularly particularly particularly trans women of colour in economically depressed communities, face a constant and inescapable threat of real, physical violence. Trans women of colour, in fact, are statistically more likely be victims of murder or attempted murder than any other demographic. Trans women in general face similarly escalated risk even at that level of eased demographic specificity, far more likely to be be the victim of a hate crime than any other comparably broad group, such as gay men, trans men, people of colour, etc. Risk is compounded along all kinds of intersecting axes- race (as noted), involvement in the sex trade, poverty, addiction, location, etc.

Being trans, and being a trans woman specifically, means living with awareness that you may be the next point in the statistics, the next tally mark, the next name to be added to the TDoR website. It means living with risk, with violence, with fear. Every single person you meet could end up being your murderer. The psychological implications are profound. In every trans woman’s eyes you’ll read alongside the sadness, depth and survivor’s strength an underlying hesitation and guardedness- hurt, yes, but resignation to being hurt again. And emotional preparation for the really, really bad day that lies perpetually around the corner. Sometimes we feel helpless. Often we feel scared. Usually we feel cautious.

And sometimes we feel angry.

There are lots of ways of coping, and in order to survive we all need to negotiate our own. Whatever works for us, individually. I learned very early in transition how stupid it is to judge whatever decisions a trans person has made in order to manage and get by. We have to deal with A LOT OF SHIT. Not everyone is going to be able to cope with it the same way, or do so in a nice, happy, nice-nice, smiley-smile way. Some of is will find our strength in remembering our good fortune, focusing on those aspects of our lives that are actually rather nice. Some of us is will cut out whatever aspects of our lives, or whomever within them, are causing us pain. Some of us will make compromises to our own transitions so we can continue to find strength and comfort through our loved ones, our love of them, and making things as easy on them as we can. Some of us draw strength by investing ourselves in helping others through transition, some of us by becoming activists and campaigning on behalf of our community as a whole, some of us by withdrawing from the community and simply doing our best to live our lives the way we would have if we hadn’t been burdened with this. Every single one of those approaches, and of the uncountable others someone may take, is valid, and it isn’t anyone’s place to condemn the means they find to survive. To do so is to add oneself to the oppression they are trying to cope with.

Sometimes, we cope through anger. Through screaming about how incredibly fucked up and wrong it is that we are treated the way we are. That we have to be scared, that we are constantly invalidated, belittled, ridiculed. That our basic human rights are not respected. That we’re treated as a joke. That we have to live at the bottom of the social ladder. That there even is such a social ladder. That we can’t go through a single day without some kind of reminder of just how fucked-up and hard it is to be trans. That all you cisholes carry on with your privilege and entitlement, complacent to our oppression, whistling a happy tune as you tie the shoelaces of the boot you’ve got on our necks.

And given that threat of violence? That fear we have to live with? Yeah, sometimes that is the shape our anger is going to take. Sometimes we want you to feel the way you all, collectively, have made us feel.

When I see a “Die Cis Scum” tattoo or jacket, I don’t see an act of violence. I see a “back off, motherfucker”. I see “I am not going to let you fuck with me”. I see “I am prepared to assert and defend myself”. I see a defense against violence, discrimination, ridicule and harassment. I see a rattlesnake shaking its tail, a cat arching its back, a dog growling (they’ll only bite if you don’t take the hint). And I see someone coping with what ze has to face, in a very, very effective way.

And you know the thing about anger? Unlike sadness, fear, resignation, or pragmatism, it is empowering. It makes us feel strong. It makes us feel capable of determining our own lives, our own rights, even in a world that has conspired to make us vulnerable and wholly dependent on the mercies of those who would condescend to tolerate us. It allows us to reframe things such that we’re not asking for our rights, we’re demanding them. We’re not suggesting you reframe your understanding of gender to accommodate us, and treat our identities with respect, we’re telling you to. It lets us feel less helpless. It lets us feel like we don’t have to wait for the rest of the world to decide we’re worthy of equality and respect. It lets us feel like we don’t have to wait for you to “get around” to trans rights. It lets us frame things for ourselves. It lets us say that NOW, this is the time, this is when this happens. We’re not going to wait anymore, we’re not going to be quiet anymore, we’re not going to hope and pray for your mercies. We’re not going to wait for you to give us our rights, we’re going to take them.

That is really fucking important. Because as history has taught us repeatedly, power does not simply decide to share. It holds on to its position until it absolutely MUST adapt. It won’t do anything until it has to. If we build our movement on gently suggesting that trans rights are kinda sorta something we’d like people to someday help us out with, if it’s not too inconvenient, nothing will ever happen. It’s only in letting you know that we’re angry, and only in being willing to shift the balance of fear in the other direction, that we can ensure change and progress.

It is not necessary to have an uprising in order for power to concede its position. But it at least needs to be scared of one.

“Die Cis Scum” has allowed this. It’s re-framed and re-contextualized the trans rights movement. It’s shifted our rights from being something we’re politely waiting for to being something we’re fighting for.

It has us talking. It has us thinking. It has us angry. It has us empowered. It has us no longer waiting, but ready to act.

It has us awake.

Comments

  1. says

    Urg…I hate to be this guy, but it should be “it lets us” not “it let’s us”. “let’s” is short for “let us” as in “let’s go to the mall!”

    One of the arguments I’ve seen in support of the die cis scum (and you touch on it here) is that “well, it’s only about the cis people who are scum, so it’s okay.” I DON’T think that’s what it means. I think part of that statement is to strongly assert that cis people ARE scum. This statement IS a blanket statement meant to provoke and attack a group, not to single out individuals.

    But, as a cis man, I’m okay with that. Because I -am- cis scum. I have absolutely no doubt that at some point or another (likely several points) my assumptions about gender and other people have made life for someone else a little bit more difficult. I can understand that someone saying “die cis scum” could be interpreted as a personal attack, and yeah, it sucks that someone might think I’m scum.

    But part of my efforts to make the world a better place is to accept responsibility, my responsibility, for why things are the way they are. I’ve made jokes in poor taste, I’ve stumbled over pronouns, I’ve made assumptions and comments that reinforced the gender binary, and I will probably continue to do these things throughout my life no matter what my intentions are.

    So, I get why trans people are angry, they’re right to be angry, and while I am in no hurry to start dying right away, I will try to do better.

    Cis folks who are upset about this sentiment? Get over yourselves. There isn’t an objection strong enough to not make you look like a self-absorbed asshole.

    • says

      Oops! Sorry about the “let’s”. I have absolutely no idea why my brain told me that was the correct usage, and had me focus on doing it repeatedly to avoid “making a mistake”. My sleep schedule has been all kinds of fucked up since last night, and my brain is all “BRZZT-error 404″

      • says

        Haha, I wouldn’t have said anything if it was once, but since it got heavy use in that one paragraph I…I just had to say something. But then, I have nightmares about the capslock key, so…..

        Also, because it’s an internet law or something, I’m doomed to make at least three foolish grammar or spelling errors in public, now that I’ve pointed out someone else’s.

  2. says

    Just beautiful.

    When a group burns a symbol in effigy we don’t typically assume they mean actual harm (what would be the purpose of effigy then). Instead we assume symbolic harm, imagined harm, as a coping/defense strategy against the real harm caused to them.

    Perceiving it as an actual threat (on the part of most people) seems to be just a way to try and further silence victims.

  3. Sebor says

    I couldn’t agree more. A threat of violence that is meant to provoke thought is almost the exact opposite of a threat of violence meant to silence people.
    Intent and context really shape the consequences in this particular case.

    For those of you who are still on the fence, maybe it would help to consider a similar threat from a different context. I suppose quite a few of the cis readers here are atheists/secularists, so is it ok if its about Youth against christ as it says on the back of the shirt?
    Considering the acts of christian fundamentalists , a little implied church burning doesn’t seem to be out of line and I might just decide to wear the shirt as a visible “Fuck you” to those people even though I don’t approve of actual church burnings.

    • Leni says

      I am an atheist and I find that shirt intensely offensive. It’s not up to me what other people wear and in some respects I don’t care, but I would not think highly of anyone I saw wearing that shirt.

      • Miri says

        You would not think highly of someone who is fighting the institutionalised and largely unquestioned oppression of themself and others like them? I think you may have missed the point…

        • Leni says

          You would not think highly of someone who is fighting the institutionalised and largely unquestioned oppression of themself and others like them? I think you may have missed the point…

          No, I think I get the point, I just thought it was an incredibly thoughtless and disturbing way to make it and one that plays right into the already very bad public image that atheists have. It doesn’t look badass to me, it doesn’t make me feel empowered. It makes me feel sad and irritated and only serves to remind me that most victims of religious violence are themselves religious and that as much as I hate religion, I empathize with those people and have zero desire to emulate their abusers.

          There are any number of religious groups that have been terrorized in ways too similar to this shirt to make me feel anything but revulsion when I see it.

          I understand that isn’t the intent behind the image, but that image is already a reality, and it’s a reality I want to end, not perpetuate by causing religious people to fear us more than they already do.

          • Miri says

            Then you have missed the point: this is not about religion. Not all of those that wish to do us violence are religious, nor do they wish to do so for religious reasons. The guy who beats a trans girl to death for disclosing after sex is not thinking about his god. The employer who refuses us a job, or the people who stare, or make jokes as we walk by, or threaten us in public places, or the families and friends who reject us, attack us, and throw us out on the street do not necessarily do so for religious reasons. They do so because they are cis, and they can. This is not meant to be empowering, or not, or offensive, or not, or anything at all, to atheists, as a group. “Die Cis Scum” is for trans people, whoever they might be.

        • says

          Then you have missed the point: this is not about religion. Not all of those that wish to do us violence are religious, nor do they wish to do so for religious reasons.

          Well the t-shirt with the burning church is about religion. That’s what I was referring to.

          I really don’t think the shirt and the tattoo are very comparable. I don’t fear for my life and safety as an atheist. For me, this “response” to discrimination against atheists (which is very real but rarely violent) seems wildly out of proportion to the problem. As such it comes across more as a death threat than a slap in the face.

          That’s not true of the “Die cis scum” tattoo because unprovoked violence is a feature of the discrimination trans people face, not a rare event. A tattoo that’s a slap in the face is probably actually a milder response than is warranted.

          So I get the point of it, I just don’t think that the t-shirt is the right response for Western atheists who, for the most part, really aren’t facing the kind of violence that the shirt depicts.

          And I would reconsider if circumstance changed. I guess it’s all context, really.

          They do so because they are cis, and they can.

          And because they are violent assholes ;)

          Don’t forget that part.

      • Sebor says

        I agree that it is offensive. My point is maybe it has to be.
        Considering that there are people who equate atheists with child-eating arsonists, maybe we should reappropriate it.

        “We can, but we don’t, think about it!”

        The issue is different for trans people because no one can see that we are atheists unless we point it out but the question whether we have to offend to claim our rights is still similar enough.

  4. embertine says

    When I first read the “Die cis scum” post, it made me intensely uncomfortable. And then I thought, good, that’s exactly what it should do. I should feel uncomfortable about how much hate someone has to endure to get them that murderously angry. I should feel uncomfortable about being identified with those who are propagating that hatred. And I damn well should be uncomfortable about the times when I’ve been that person, whether through ignorance or malice.

    I liked it.

  5. Miri says

    Yeah, damn right. When I read Asher’s post, I thought exactly this (although, perhaps not as articulately). My (unwilling and unconscious) response to the tacit threat of violence from cis society has been the development of my already severe social anxiety into panic disorder and agoraphobia… I can’t be in public places alone, and even then, in some instances, I can’t even do that without being drugged out on valium. And now, given that I am full time, and yet unquestionably visibly trans, it’s not exactly getting better. But things like “die cis scum” are extremely empowering, and say “we can fight back, motherfuckers. Watch the fuck out”. And that’s awesome.

    • Miri says

      How do you get that you are unwelcome? You are extremely welcome.

      This supposed threat is mainly symbolic. What likelihood is there that any trans person here (or most anywhere, for that matter) advocates the actual murder and vilification of cis people. It’s a symbolic reversal of a threat that hangs over our heads every day. It’s supposed to make cis people feel uncomfortable, so they can know, if only a little, how this feels. To be threatened with death simply for who you are. But really, it’s a toothless threat. We are a very small, and very vulnerable minority. “Die cis scum” is supposed to show you something, to help you understand, to make you a better ally, not drive you away.

    • Sebor says

      Dammit, I had several awesome criptic replies to this one, but the risk of making it worse seemed to big.
      So my take on “Die cis scum” is, that it is not about you unless you choose to make it so.
      I may be ill-equipped to judge this, but I did not feel offended by it, even though I’m cis scum. Well, at least I’m cis I’ll let others judge the scum part. And maybe that’s what it should be to cis people, a reminder to try not to act like scum.

    • says

      Really? This is the final straw? Geez. I bet there’s a lot of trans people who wish they could opt out of the world the way you’re opting out of this conversation.

      • Miri says

        Inorite? I don’t want to stay somewhere I’m not welcome… I better start working on building that spaceship…

        • embertine says

          Miri, let’s build that spaceship and fire all the crappy people off into space so that those of us, cis and trans, who want to live in peace can have this beautiful world to ourselves and live in biomes and build hydrogen drives and all that groovy shit.

          *sigh* Would be nice.

          • Aliasalpha says

            Why would you want to stay on dull familiar old Earth when you could be exploring a cool new planet? Thats just bonkers. Think of the fun you could have discovering and naming all the new geographic features. That alone was a major reason I so reguarly played Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (that and to nuke sister miriam)

      • Anders says

        Passing by to sign the C-279 petition.

        My main concern is that this abandons what is a central moral principle for me – that you should judge people by their actions and opinions, not by what group they’re in. That moral principle is a major factor in what makes me support LGBTA rights in the first place. Abandoning it seems suicidal for a small majority. I’m not such a privilege-grasping bastard that I may seem.

        Or maybe I am. Cognitive dissonance is a frightful thing and a person can go to extreme lengths to reduce it. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned understand it. Maybe, when my own situation has stabilized I will come around to your side. Or maybe you will come around to mine. Stranger things have happened.

        I leave because there is a conflict between my moral principles and this phrase. The alternatives I see are to tell the trans world how they should run their show – which is grossly inappropriate – or work against my moral principles. And if you thought I was emo before, just wait until I’ve betrayed my own morality. The site would collapse in a black hole from which no positive emotions could emerge.

        So try to understand my side. I hope I’m not a bad person – I try not to be a bad person – but there’s a collision of world views going on here. And keep a seat for me, because I may yet come back.

        I wish you all luck in the fight. I really do.

        • says

          Well, I personally would rather not see you go. I find your comments by turns interesting, informative, and/or amusing.

          I think you are still missing the point though, and reading the phrase too literally. No one is judging you, or the group you are. Well, not exactly. There is actually no judgement being passed here at all. Nor is there really a moral dilemma, because there is no true threat of violence (oh, Asher did say he is not at all opposed to violence, but that’s his personal view, based on his experiences, and nothing he said suggests he advocates people going out and perpetrating violence of their own).

          It’s supposed to do one thing, and one thing only: make cis people uncomfortable. Clearly it’s done this to you. What you’re supposed to do is think about why it makes you uncomfortable. Not as an ally, feeling that you are expected to support this sentiment. But as a cis person, targeted by this. It’s a wish for your death, that’s why. No one wants to be told that someone else wants you dead, simply because of who and what you are. It’s horrible. This phrase “die cis scum”, is supposed to make cis people feel this, this threat that is there, every day, for trans people. A threat that is not idle and symbolic, like the symbolic one we’re discussing, but rather a very real and very serious threat that has been carried out on numerous occasions, to no great outcry from most anyone beyond our community.

          It’s supposed to put you in our world for a moment. To make it real. To make it hurt.

          I understand your side here. Unfortunately, I think you’ll find, we’re not on the opposing side. You’re against the wrong thing, and illusion, an incorrect perception of the issues. However, you’re right in one thing, and that world views are colliding, but I think they’re different from the one’s you’re thinking of. The collision is between the worlds of privileged safety and of privilege deprived vulnerability. Recognise that you have your privilege, recognise that this shields you, and recognise that there are those of us without this luxury.

          I imagine your seat will be waiting if and when you return, but I hope you can see that there’s really no need for you to leave in the first place…

          • Anders says

            I’m still battling depression and I’m definitely not stable by now. So I can’t really trust my reactions – including my logic.

            I’ll still lurk around. And like Ramirez, if you call my name I might just turn up. (God, that was a shitty movie.)

        • Eris says

          I hope you start feeling/doing better soon. As someone who has suffered from severe clinical depression. I absolutely know what it’s like to be on the edge, barely able to keep yourself up, to say nothing of trying to help other people up. It’s rough, feeling that you need to be stronger than you are, able to deal with more than you are. And I, too, had an extreme emotional reaction to the tattoo. I never get through a day feeling safe, and the tattoo reminded me of that fact. It reminds me that I feel unsafe waking up, eating breakfast, going to school/work, eating lunch, returning to school/work, going out for social events, eating dinner, and going to sleep. I wept after I saw this tattoo from being reminded of that exhausting fear. At first, the tattoo felt like a blow even though I knew I’d probably never even see the person who had it.

          I don’t know if it will help any, but it helped me to alter the way I view this tattoo. This tattoo isn’t about me or you, not really. It’s about a person who is suffering, who is trying to deal with the pain our world inflicts. That tattoo isn’t a sword to strike against us, it’s a shield, a suit of armor meant to defend the wearer. The person who got that tattoo isn’t trying to crush other suffering people (like you or I with our depression); said person is trying to ward off the same kind of blows that has robbed you and I of our strength.

          I don’t know if that’s accurate or helpful to you, but it helps me.

        • Eris says

          Oh, and I also meant to say that if what you need to do to deal with your depression is to take a step back, then do that. Depression is a terrible thing, and when dealing with it, you need to do what they tell you to do on airplanes: put on your own air mask before assisting others. I know this all too well. It’s hard to help people when you’re in the mental ward on a suicide watch.

          • Anders says

            Thanks to everyone who would say kind words to me. It means more than you may be able to imagine.

            And I found a quote by Benjamin Franklin that sums up my feelings about trans struggle: “It is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”

            Unfortunately, it is not a common observation but apart from that it fits your struggle to a T.

            I will now step aside so as to not derail the thread. Again. Thank you.

        • says

          I apologize for my snarkiness Anders, and completely understand the depression thing (having been in that battle more than once). I hope you are doing better, and everyone pretty much said what I would have said, only better. It’s really tough to deal with the outside world’s issues when our inside world is under siege.

          When you’re ready, I hope you’ll come back to this post, and, if you still don’t agree with it, hopefully you’ll decide to stick around for the discussion.

    • Happiestsadist says

      Wow, it must be really nice to just be able to flounce out of situations that might make you think uncomfortable thoughts. Way to make it about you.

    • Sas says

      I cannot believe that was what you got out of everything she wrote. After all the time you spent here talking and getting to know everyone, you still had this kind of knee-jerk reaction.

    • says

      I’ve read enough of your comments in the past that I honestly can’t tell if you’re serious, trying to make a joke, or trying to make this about you and get a personal plea for you to come back.

      If it’s the latter one, then yes, we want you here (here being every discussion from which you or others would benefit), but you missed the point of this post.

      If you’re making a joke, the I guess we’ll see you around in the future.

      If you’re serious, and you happen to be reading this, then again, I think you missed the point of the post. Natalie made the analogy of a growling dog – what you are doing is rather like swearing off the company of dogs altogether because of a discussion about the reasons they growl, many of which are sound.

      Basically, you’re overreacting. You really are. It is completely absurd to insist that somebody who is in danger of assault simply because of what they are be friendly by default to everybody who looks like the people who attack them.

      It’s like asking a woman to be open and friendly to all men after she’s been raped.

      It’s like asking a holocaust survivor to trust people with toothbrush mustaches.

      It’s like asking a black person to hang out with white folk who happen to have a white sheet with a pointy hood and eyeholes.

      As long as being trans is all it takes to put one’s life in danger, self protection is not only reasonable, it’s needed, and you know what’s also needed? The willingness, in people like you and me, to respect that, and to keep being supportive, and working toward a common goal.

      It’s very clear, from your posting history, that you want to be an ally. The only way to do that is to prove your allegiance through action. Bearing the discomfort of looking like a threat is a hell of a lot easier than knowing that everybody around you might be dangerous.

      Here endeth my rant.

    • says

      Anders,

      I am at a loss as to why you consider Natalie’s words on this matter imply that you are not welcome here. Multiple people have attempted to show that “Die Cis Scum” is symbolic of someone attempting to overcome the fear of real threats to their safety. No one here has remotely advocated actual violence against cis or trans people. Instead we would much rather live in a world where someone doesn’t need to tattoo, “Die Cis Scum” on their arm as a means for coping.

      You are free to disagree with the coping mechanism. You are free to consider all forms of implied violence to be distasteful and denounce them. There is nothing here that says agree with us on every issue or you are not welcome. I personally feel that you have contributed thoughtful and interesting responses much in the past and I would hate to see you leave because you think that you are unwelcome.

      It is possible that Natalie’s stance on this matter is so antithetical to your position that the utility of this blog has decreased to the point you no longer wish to come here. If that is the case, I really cannot help but to say that sometimes we overlook even extreme differences in methods to reach a common goal. For me that goal is ridding the world of bigotry.

      Do I see aspects of bigotry in Asher’s post? Hells yes, I see them. Am I more accommodating of them based on the experiences of the author as a person? Also yes. You don’t have to be so accommodating. You can take a hardline stance on this and still be with us as a movement toward improving the world.

      I hope you consider my words and realize that even in disagreement you have much to contribute here.

    • says

      Anders,
      please rethink your irrational reaction here. This has been discussed before, and to the extent this message is directed at any cis people at all (rather than an empowering rallying cry for angry trans folk), it’s really a case of, “if the shoe fits, wear it”. It is a blatant, naked challenge to the violent cis-sexists. It is not about slaying infants or random depredations of humanity at large.
      If you’re not one of them, it doesn’t apply to you. Full stop.
      You’re also rather worriedly hung up that you can’t be an ally all the time – it’s fine to take a breather. Don’t go through with the flounce. You can respectfully disagree if you wish, without turning it into “I’m taking my bat and ball, going now.”

      • Anders says

        Like I said, maybe I will. At the moment I have other issues and I fear that spending too much time here will cause me to make a fool of myself again. And I really think someone else should have a chance at the dunce cap.

        *wan smile*

        Take care of yourself, y’all. And if you have another ponathon, I’m in. That’s something that can unite people from everywhere over the world.

  6. says

    Trans women of colour, in fact, are statistically more likely be victims of murder or attempted murder than any other demographic

    and their murderers often get away with it, as you noted in a previous post… all the while, should a trans woman successfully defend herself when she’s attacked in an obvious hate crime, she can face murder charges should her attacker end up dead: CeCe McDonald’s Story (TW for descriptions of physical violence against a trans woman)

    :-(

    And you know the thing about anger? Unlike sadness, fear, resignation, or pragmatism, it is empowering. It makes us feel strong. It makes us feel capable of determining our own lives, our own rights, even in a world that has conspired to make us vulnerable and wholly dependent on the mercies of those who would condescend to tolerate us. It allows us to reframe things such that we’re not asking for our rights, we’re demanding them.

    this is one of the main reasons why I despise the common (especially in the skeptics community, where apparently every d00d is trying to be either Spock or House) dismissal of people’s arguments when they express any emotion, especially anger. As if being dispassionate about a great injustice was somehow better. As if they had anything right at all to be telling other people how to feel. As if anger was inherently a bad, negative, wrong thing, invalidating any and all arguments and demands for justice.

    It’s an ad hominem (you’re angry, therefore you’re wrong on everything), but it is also a means of controlling and oppressing, of maintaining the status quo.

  7. Sebor says

    It’s an ad hominem (you’re angry, therefore you’re wrong on everything)

    You are right. It’s also an ad hominem that is easy to turn around “The reason I am angry is because it is true!”

    • Dalillama says

      Exactly. My favored response is along the lines of: “Of course I’m angry about it, why the hell aren’t you?”

  8. Leni says

    I had a “Wow. Death threat tattoo? Really? Well that’s just rude!” reaction to it.

    But then I thought about it and read people’s different takes on it, and realized that if I were trans and if I wanted tattoos, I’d probably have one like it.

    And it reminded me of a female trans acquaintance who is possibly the most acid-tonged person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She’s Navajo, grew up poor and on a reservation, and is pretty visibly trans. I can’t even imagine the crap she has to put with, but it really is a joy to see her in action. She is so smart, and so funny, and so deliciously evil and fearless that I think her friends worry more about her safety than she does.

    Her anger does have a downside for sure- it’s not always healthy or productive (she calls it “The Navajo Rage”). But when it is, watching her cut people down to size really is gratifying. Especially when the jaw drops and they stand there in mute, stunned silence while the realization that they’ve just been utterly schooled by a lowly trans in public sinks in… it’s just priceless.

  9. Dalillama says

    I took Asher’s piece pretty much the way I take the angry, violent imagery I often see in stuff written by ethnic minorities: It makes me very depressed that there’s still so much abuse and oppression in our society to make such reactions necessary. That said, as I’ve noted in previous discussions, ‘Die Cis Scum’ types of reactions are utterly inevitable, given how badly trans* people are treated. I make no particular moral judgment either way on the matter, because it’s only marginally a matter of morality or ethics at all in my mind. The ethical dimension that exists is one of how trans people are treated, not how trans people respond, essentially. Given that we know that certain circumstances will cause people to behave in certain ways, it’s pointless to vilify it unless some demonstrable harm is done, and then only to the extent that such harm occurs.

  10. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Awesome. The dog-growling analogy clicked for me. The paragraph that explained that these are substantially different actions was great too, because that’s something I feel like a lot of people struggle to explain clearly.

    I was on board with that tattoo pretty much the instant I saw it. I face nothing like the threat trans women do, and I feel that way about straight men sometimes. With the violence against you (including the individual acts of physical violence and the systemic violence and the psychological violence) being that constant and that oppressive? Damn right, you should get a tattoo. And a jacket. And a freaking billboard. (Okay, maybe not a billboard.) I don’t want to be the kind of cis scum who would provoke a specific “die cis scum” reaction, but I know damn well I have been, and I probably still am sometimes. And when I am, I deserve to be growled at, quite frankly. Yes, I would feel bad, but it’s not trans people’s job to make me feel accommodated and welcomed and trusted all the time.

  11. Rasmus says

    Minor point: It doesn’t actually say “kill cis scum”, which is how I read it when I saw the picture of the tattoo. I don’t know why I read it that way. I think it’s the difference between saying “I think someone ought to kill you” and “I wish you would die”.

    Aside from that minor point, it reminds me of the SCUM manifesto. I wouldn’t mind living in a world where something like that would seem threatening, but in the world as it is it’s not threatening at all. I wouldn’t feel the slightest bit threatened even if the tattoo actually said “kill”.

    • says

      I think you probably read it as such because immediately the author sates that the tattoo is a threat which sets the audience up for a “kill” scenario rather than a “die” scenario.

    • says

      In the case of “kill”, it’s getting a little too close for comfort to actual advocacy of violence. As a matter of practical concern, I would definitely discourage that. It is very clear from history that any amount of perceived or actual violence from a persecuted minority will lead to a grossly disproportionate and bloody response.

      Though I’m pretty sure I don’t need to teach anyone here about that.

    • Miri says

      I could point you to my response to Anders (but if you read Natalie’s post, it should be unnecessary), but I’ll just respond, “I don’t wasn’t to be part of a society that actively disempowers me, for being myself, through hatred and violence.

      • Qaera says

        So… Hatred and violence are the best way to fight hatred and violence? That sounds like a lovely way for everyone to get along and society moving to a more accepting, unified state.
        Maybe instead of blindly raging at the society you could strive to improve it.

        I’m saying this as a genderqueer person that doesn’t want to be associated with a “die cis scum” trans community.

        • says

          Except “Die Cis Scum” isn’t actual hatred and violence. It’s an expression of anger and empowerment that is symbolically framed in the language of violence.

          As has been repeated countless times, NOBODY HERE IS ADVOCATING ACTUAL RETALIATORY VIOLENCE AGAINST CIS PEOPLE, nor do we indiscriminately hate all cis people.

          (though I do certainly condone violence as a measure of self-defense).

          Again: “die cis scum” is not “kill all cis people”.

          The latter would entail wishing death upon my entire family and 95% of all the friends I’ve ever had. And I’m not a sociopath.

          • Qaera says

            It would be lovely if everyone understood symbols and oh it’s language of empowerment that’s wonderful… But I know trans* people that legitimately and seriously believe “die cis scum” literally. And they believe many in the community feel the same way because they don’t understand the symbolic empowerment but just the raw anger that you mentioned.

            So yeah, in an academic sense… It feels good to say. We can’t take action, so the words are meaningless. Except the words are an action, a violent action. So by saying it you not only are advocating violence, but you’re engaging in it.

            In a real world sense… There are trans* people that really believe this. And that makes it not okay- to me. Maybe being nice to people, even those that are horrible and want you to die. How else can we improve?

          • says

            On the level that it is violence simply to say it, the linguistic level, it is clearly self-defense, against the much more ubiquitous linguistic violence enacted against us.

          • Qaera says

            Thinking about it as “us vs. them” is really dividing and sad. People are people, and the sooner “we” start not caring about cis vs. trans, the sooner “they” will too.

          • says

            It’s only an “us vs. them” in so far as that situation was forced on us. Pretending that we’re all a big happy human family, and ignoring the social inequities and dynamics of power, is NOT magically going to make everything better.

          • says

            Thinking about it as “us vs. them” is really dividing and sad. People are people, and the sooner “we” start not caring about cis vs. trans, the sooner “they” will too.

            Are you really serious? This is a very naive love and rainbows view of the world. Do you think it was us who came up with the “trans” prefixed terms in the first place? It was a label imposed upon us, to make us the oddities, the Other. It was not us who created the us/them dichotomy. I would be happy to simply live my life as any other person and not be regarded as something different and apart. The label cis was a reaction to this, to the idea that people who were not trans were “normal”. If we stopped caring, it would do nothing. Cis people have always been the ones who made the biggest deal about our existence, studying and cataloguing us like some kind of strange mutant life form…

          • Dalillama says

            Bear with us a little longer on that one, he’s still finishing our friend’s wedding dress and accessories.

          • Lena says

            Well, that is sorta an iffy point about the phrase; it requires a lot of nuancing to get it’s point across.

        • Miri says

          I think it’s very clear that it is not about actually advocating violence and hate. It’s about turning the threat, that we live with daily, around to show cis people a measure of the hostility we face. It’s purpose is to open people’s eyes.

          • says

            I’ve been thinking I would indeed love to have a jacket with the message. I wouldn’t wear it often, only on days where I really don’t want to be fucked with.

            But if anyone expressed dissatisfaction, I could ask them if it made them feel anxious, uncomfortable, intimidated and like they’re being unfairly threatened simply for their gender identity. If they answer yes, I could then point out that they now know how we have to feel all the time.

          • says

            Oh! That’s a great idea! There’s a bunch of places in town here that do custom shirts. Dallilama said his boyfriend might be able to make me a jacket for my birthday, but if that doesn’t end up happening I may just go have a shirt done up instead!

        • says

          I am going to reply here but I will cover some stuff in your last comment.

          Just to reiterate what others have tried to convey. No one here is advocating actual violence. The violence here is that of desired “karmic” sort of violence as a means for coping with the real threat of violence that trans people deal with every day.

          It isn’t a perfect coping strategy(as if there is a perfect coping strategy). It probably isn’t the most effective. However, in the context of the life of the author, the lives that most trans people live, it is certainly more excusable, more understandable than in many other situations.

          Take it back to Crommunist’s Shuffling Feet post (I think it was there). One commenter describes her reaction to a stranger surprising her some time after she had experienced a traumatic assault. The startle reaction was one that she almost hurt the innocent person. Would have it been “moral” for her to hit that person? No. Is it more understandable based on the context of her recent assault? Absolutely.

          I am not arguing violence is an appropriate tool to effect social change. I am arguing that the implication that the under-privileged may stand up and fight back if the over-privileged take it too far is absolutely an appropriate tool. Sometimes that implication takes the form of effigies. Sometimes it takes the from of “die cis scum.” Symbols, even violent (maybe especially violent ones) are sometimes the only tools we have to effect change on a large scale.

          That is one part that I want to say. The next deals with your trans friends who somehow take Asher’s post seriously.

          I could post on the wall of my blog stating that I hope my rapist gets what is coming to him and it will never be my fault if someone takes that expressed desire and makes it real. It isn’t my fault because me hoping is in no way coercing a person to break the law. The decision to break the law and vigilante punish my rapist is solely on the person who committed the crime.

          The author of Asher’s post is not at fault if a trans person takes it upon themselves to enact justice on all cis people. Whether Asher’s post acts as an catalyst causal factor is actually unrelated to fault.

          That being said. We criticize people all the time for promoting rape/sexist/transphobic/racist/homophobic cultures by implying violence is ok toward any marginalized group. While the implication of violence by privileged toward unprivileged people is still not technically at fault for the actual violence committed, it is a stronger causal factor because it only needs to support systemic structures already in place. It is more likely to be a causal factor because we already have other structures that further support violence against marginalized groups. The whole of culture basically says yep it is ok to demean/hurt/kill these people because they do not fit into our privileged normative definition of people.

          That is the difference in context. Is the violence I am about to promote more or less likely to be a causal factor in realized actual violence? In the case of Asher’s post it is extremely unlikely. Not only is the suggestion of killing cis people at random by mere virtue of being cis completely ridiculous, but also there is not social support structure in place that encourages trans on cis violence. The likelihood of a trans person getting away with harming a cis person (especially as a hate crime) is effectively nil. So if somehow trans on cis violence becomes common (all directly related to “die cis scum”) it wouldn’t last long. Soon even more laws would be enacted to marginalize one of the most marginalized groups in society. So no, trans people will not come out in force and fight their oppressors with violence. There is no reason to think they will.

          I imagine you might think they will based on your trans friends that take Asher’s post seriously. My question is though: Have any of these friends actually committed a hate crime themselves? Have they committed any sort of violence on a cis person because they are cis? Have they even committed violence on a cis person because said cis person was harassing them in some way? My guess would be no but correct me if I am wrong. So just because a person identifies strongly with the sentiment expressed in “die cis scum” doesn’t mean they will go out and commit the violence they may desire to be committed. They are just coping. Just coping in the only way they know how. My suggestion is that you have a little more empathy for the fact that their coping may not always be the smoothest, most moral form of coping in the world.

          And if their coping is to extreme for you, their desire for retribution too strong, then cease to be their friend and move on. It is that simple. If you cannot perceive how the context can possibly make the expressed desire for violence ok, then that is ok. However, most of us can perceive that and it does not make us any less moral that we can identify with that coping strategy.

    • julian says

      Do you Catholic priests who molest children? Do you hate the Bishops that bounce them around different churches allowing them to prey on more and more victims? Do feel contempt for those who survived such abuse andnow direct. Their hate at the Church?

      • Qaera says

        Do I catholic priests?

        I hate most organized religion. I’m probably not the right person to ask. How about this parallel? Should people molested by officials of the church start molesting religious people in revenge? Should they say “rape religious scum”?

        No.

        • nats says

          This is the sort of logic (“I totally know people who actually want to kill cis people, LOL”) that would have you dismiss and entire movement because of some radical element (like the black masks in the Seattle WTO protests, the militaristic elements in the ANC under Apartheid, etc.)

          • Jason says

            BTW, relevant to note that Asher’s website directly links to a Black Mask protestor talking about how non-violent OWS protestors shouldn’t report Black Maskers to the police from the VERY page that “Die Cis Scum” is posted on.

        • julian says

          The parallel doesn’t hold, at least from where I’m standing. It wasn’t “Rape cis scum” (despite the number of trans* people who are raped an killed) it was “Die cis scum.” That the anger is expressed through the generic kill and is directed against the community suggests, to me, that it isn’t about ‘revenging the act’ (raping your attacker) and more about avenging yourself against the system and people who failed you (rioting).

          Besides, rape and die are two entirely different threats of violence. Die is what you will say to an enemy. Rape is what you will say to a person who posses you no threat but you are looking to hurt, maim and damage.

      • Lena says

        I’m pretty disappointed on how people are even shitting over trans* people who have issues with this. And who made you spokesperson? Who made you capable of deciding whether someone is part of a community or not?

      • says

        It is about cissexism and trans reactions. Making it about religion, or how this reflects on atheism, is a strong misreading on Leni’s part. Many, but not all, transphobes are religious. And many, but not all, trans people are atheists. But it is DEFINITELY not the case that the trans community is some kind of subsection of the atheist community, or that cissexism and transphobia are just some branch of religious intolerance. Believe me, there are PLENTY of atheists who happen to be raging cis-supremacist bigots. And there are PLENTY of religious-apologists and evangelically theistic believers who happen to be trans. I come in to conflict with both on a rather consistent basis.

        • Sebor says

          Oh, I believe you. I would like to believe that is was different, but I’m not blind.
          I was trying to make fun of something else but that obviously backfired. Sorry about that.

      • Rieux says

        The Simpsons original of that is gendered, actually.

        Thugh I suppose (hope) that Sideshow Bob is not really about gender identity.

    • Sebor says

      Cis actually means C# in German (the note, not the programming language). Which is doubly awesome because “gender” is “Geschlecht” which can also refer to the musical mode, so if someone uses the term “cis gendered” I usually think “C#, but what mode to use?” followed by “Minor, of course” which leads to Rachmaninov’s prelude in C# minor very quickly.
      Is that what you mean when you talk about Cis priviledge?

  12. Rieux says

    I don’t feel like I have standing to comment on almost any of this, but I do think the two paragraphs in the OP here beginning with “And you know the thing about anger?” are simply outstanding.

  13. Nowhere Man says

    negative: “die cis scum” sounds like the last desperate threat of someone under attack
    positive: trans people are claiming their rightful share of violence against all enemies that is their birthright in Western culture

    • Vitreous Humour says

      Showing the desperation is the entire point of it, to give the viewer a momentary taste of the aggression directed against trans* people on a continual basis. The sort of people apt to commit violence against trans* people likely do not know what the word ‘cis’ means in the first place, and thus would not interpret it as a threat against them in particular, though hopefully they would be intimidated by the “Die Scum” part of “Die Cis Scum”. “Die Cis Scum” makes more sense as a message to shock would-be cis-allies out of ignorance and complacency than it does as a call for trans* people to claim our “rightful share of violence”.

  14. Lena says

    I’m very iffy about the phrase itself; I don’t judge you for your anger; and I think you have every right to express it, but I don’t think the things the phrase tries to educate can’t be expressed in manners that aren’t basically a threat.

    (And the fact that now even trans people are told that they’re not part of the community if they have issues with the phrase in this very comment section renders me deeply uncomfortable.)

    • Josh, Official SpokesGay says

      Oh for goodness’ sake Lena. I’m just a guy commenting sarcastically at posters who sniffily disdain Nat’s point without engaging with the substance. I have no power to do anything to anyone here, I’m not some Community Gatekeeper (TM). Find something more worthwhile to get deeply uncomfortable about.

    • says

      That’s not what happened. It was a person in the comment section saying they didn’t want to be a part of the community, and others simply saying they don’t mind if they split.

      • says

        Deep rifts.

        (It’s not as if there’s unity of purpose across the trans* community anyway, so pretending everyone can get along singing “Kumbaya” is a hopelessly naïve viewpoint: I prefer not to condemn others even if I disagree with them.)

  15. folytopo says

    I think that Die Cis Scum is a very good forum post and would be useful in certain social situations. The main problem would be that if the tattoo or jacket was very visible there would be many times where it would contribute to isolation. An example would be if there was a university class where people are forming groups. The anger is isolating in many social situations where people might not be as aware of the problem as you are. It also is very easy to be turned around into a silencing tactic. So maybe somebody could wear the jacket selectively because although it is a useful message it has a narrow audience.

    • danah gaz says

      ” the tattoo or jacket was very visible there would be many times where it would contribute to isolation”

      Ummm, because being trans* isn’t, and doesn’t?

      You haven’t thought this through. Being trans is extremely visible, and tends to upset cis-people immensely as it is. A tattoo, even an “offensive” one doesn’t actually add to that.

  16. Eris says

    I have very mixed feelings about this tattoo. On the one hand, I wonder if this intended blow will hit the people who it is targeted at. Is it really going to teach people who have never lived in fear to understand what it is like to be afraid, or is it going to strike at people who already know how to be afraid?

    If a white trans person has such a tattoo and a black cis person sees it, will the black cis person feel that they are safe from the threat because they are cis and the tattooed person is trans? Or will the black cis person feel really, truly threatened because they are black and the white trans person is white?

    In other words, do we have a white trans person striking out against a black cis person, or do we have a white trans person striking out against a black cis person?

    This kind of issue spans all kinds of categories. Trans man, cis woman. Able bodied trans person, disabled cis person. Heterosexual trans person, homosexual cis person. Economically advantaged trans person, economically disadvantaged cis person. When people lash out against other people, it can never be that we will only have a disadvantaged, powerless class lashing out against an advantaged, powerful class because people span the categories of advantaged and disadvantaged depending on what we’re talking about.

    On the other hand, ZenPoseur is right; this lone, hostile tattoo by a trans person has managed to create a level of discussion that often isn’t matched when a cis person actually goes out and kills a trans person. If a cis person went out and actually killed a trans person and Natalie made a post about it, would we have 90 posts in the discussion part of the thread (which is the number of posts we have at the time of this posting, including mine)? Probably not. Oh, sure, we might have a few people saying, “Wow, that’s so terrible!” but that would probably be the extent of it. Most people would spend a moment tut tuting, but then they would forget and go back to their own lives.

    In the end, the tattoo is an expression of hostility by a trans person that doesn’t actually pose a real danger to anyone, but it generates more energy than an expression of hostility by a cis person that ends with a trans person dead. And when there is that kind of disparity in response, I can’t help but think that maybe the tattoo is good. It can’t be that the trans community’s response to all this is to simply go on dying quietly. Something has to be done, and maybe this is it.

    I don’t know.

  17. Jason says

    This blog entry really only pays attention to the context that makes what Asher echoed defensible, but when you examine all of the relevant comments surrounding it I just can’t see how “Die Cis Scum” is only a symbolic sentiment. Here’s some quotes from the comments section of that very post from Asher:

    “Look. You read this blog, presumably. I would hope that anyone reading this blog could see why I believe in self defense, bashing back, and revolutionary violence.”

    “This site is not pacifist. Absolutely 100 percent not. In fact it is anti-pacifist. As a survivor of violence I am utterly uncomfortable with pacifism and think it is an extremely privileged position.” And in reference to this, “I mean that not only do I not espouse the philosophy, I oppose it.”

    Peruse the links that Asher gives on the right side of the blog. Read the definitions of revolutionary violence and the glorification of non-peaceful methods. After doing so, I feel relatively certain that there is a much more to that guest blogger’s post (and Asher’s intent in highlighting it) than a mere thought exercise.

    Now, I don’t reject the idea that “Die Cis Scum” can be a thought exercise and a teachable experience that can generate sympathy, but I don’t think that’s how it’s framed in the source material at all.

    Trans* activists who want to echo that sentiment without divorcing themselves from Asher’s malicious intent aren’t getting any of my mindshare. There are plenty of people out there who can enlighten me on transgendered perspectives without glorifying hate and violence.

    • says

      Nice cherry picking of Asher’s views. Did you also read,

      “No, I do not oppose a personal avoidance of violence. Where the fuck did I say that? I have a personal avoidance of violence. I have post traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features, of course I avoid violence. I also carry weapons at all times, for those times when violence can’t be avoided.”

      That is a clear statement of self-defence and unwillingness to use violence except when it is forced upon him by duress.

      Your fair-weather support and concern is noted.

      • Jason says

        Revolutionary violence is not personal avoidance of violence, please read more to see what Asher advocates.

        On Asher’s blog there are words of opposition to police (who would be the target of such revolutionary violence) and even non-profit organizations.

        You aren’t dealing with sane, sober, peaceful person in this instance. You’re just not.

        • says

          Oh I see, Jason, the project of trans rights is now completely off the agenda, because there are some trans people whose views overlap with anarchism?

          Anyway, I have read what Asher has said. Self-defence is not pacifism; nation states that subscribe to pacifism in practice are invaded and do not survive. Asher has articulated a desire not to be cowed by violence and will respond in kind. He would not be stating that if there were not already fundamental problems with the way trans people are treated by society.

          If you wish this conversation to continue, you will kindly produce evidence of mass, unprovoked violence committed by trans people against cis people.

          • Anders says

            If I understand things correctly, you could just search the Daily Mail. If any trans person ever has been violent to a cis person the Daily Mail would have reported it.

          • says

            I was looking to avoid the single-instance refutation “gotcha”. Ed Gein exists, therefore all cis people should run for the hills. If revolutionary trans anarchy is a real thing then it ought to be possible to find ample quantities of trans on cis violence, rather than what we actually find, which is the reverse.

          • says

            Ed Gein exists, but whether or not that qualified as trans on cis violence is VERY debateable. And it’s plain as day that it wasn’t trans revolutionary violence, or violence based on anti-cis attitudes. The victims HAPPENED to be cis, they weren’t killed BECAUSE they were cis. And Ed Gein only falls under the transgender umbrella in the loosest possible interpretation. AND it completely preceded the point at which there was a trans rights movement AT ALL.

          • says

            I seriously tried not to throw my phone when you asked if Ed Gein counts as trans on cis violence.

            First there is no evidence that Gein was transgender. Even Harris who based much of the Buffalo Bill character on Gein in Silence of the Lambs (where many people get the impression that Gein was trans) distanced the character from people who are trans. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of transgenderism to think that there is a high likelihood that Gein was trans.

            Gein was criminally insane. Period. End. Of. Story.

            Even if Gein was transgender, his violence toward cis people was a result from his criminal insanity and not because they were cis. It was not the violence being discussed at all. It is not revolutionary violence or anything remotely resembling revolutionary violence.

          • says

            Dammit Natalie posted it first. Slow phone typing. Anywhose i just about killed the bagtery keeping up with this thread today.

          • Anders says

            I agree. Ed Geins is a another discussion. And if we find trans people working as hitmen for the mob, that would also be something entirely different.

            Trans people are being targeted for being trans people. They are targeted because they belong to a certain group. The mirror image that the OP would have to find is a trans person who targets cis people qua cis people.

          • says

            Restoring my opinions of you. Sometimes we make statements or questions without fully thinking them through. That is ok so long as we don’t double down when people call out our mistakes.

          • Rasmus says

            I was able to dig up news reports of two cases with two different trans women defendants in Philadelphia in 2010/2011, but keep in mind that the devil is in the details.

            It’s not meaningful to discuss individual cases unless you’ve read the police report and the court sentence, or if you have read a good article by someone who has. Journalists rarely have time to read those, so it’s usually no use reading about crime cases in the media except to find out what the general public thinks about them. (I think I’m paraphrasing Hitchens here BTW. :))

          • says

            Obviously my weird version of sarcasm did not come across, apologies Nat and WilloNyx. My point was that even if Ed Gein had been a trans serial killer of cis people, it would still not alter my challenge for evidence of revolutionary trans anarchist pogroms.

            The whole argument here is based on asking trans people to side with oppressors because inflammatory political rhetoric makes some cis people feel uncomfortable.

            But the precise purpose of the rhetoric is to make cis people feel uncomfortable. As Asher put it: Mission Accomplished.

            This does not imply that Asher’s framing of “Die Cis Scum” is the only admissible interpretation, or that other reframings must adhere to all of Asher’s philosophy.

            Here’s my DSC-ish response to this divide and conquer strategy: I am not going to assist oppressors to divide the trans community by allowing people I disagree with to be thrown to the wolves.

          • Anders says

            Incidentally, I think Ed Geins would not have been given the diagnosis GID today because DSM strongly discourages more than one diagnosis per case. I would argue that his method of becoming a woman was sufficiently bizarre that it likely was completely the product of his schizophrenia. (I think he said he wanted to become a woman because they had such power over men… proof positive that he was living in another world.)

            Yeah, I like to think that while I make more mistakes than others, I’m also quicker to admit them. I hope it sort of balances itself out in the end. ;)

          • Anders says

            Here’s my DSC-ish response to this divide and conquer strategy: I am not going to assist oppressors to divide the trans community by allowing people I disagree with to be thrown to the wolves.

            Fine. I would like to know, though, what the role of allies are in conjunction with that community. Are we wolf chow? :)

            More seriously, in your opinion, should we:

            1) confine ourselves to do what you say

            2) come with our ideas and proposals, but really just put them forth for debate in the trans community

            3) as 2), but also take an active role in debating?

            Because I’ve seen all three during my excursions on the net. And I think you could plausibly argue for all three of them (OTOH, the fourth, that we should take an active role in leadership, is hardly worthy of discussion.) 1 and 2 leaves all the decisions in the hands of those who know what the hell they’re talking about. 2 and 3 allows the trans community to draw upon a larger idea pool, maybe making up for the fact that many ideas will miss the point or be impossible to put into practice. 3 allows for a larger pool of arguments, but also the risk of drowning out the trans voices.

          • says

            I can’t spaek for Natalie but my stuff was directed mostly at Anders. I got your sarcasm and intent Xanthe. I still agree that simply showing “one case” where a trans person enacted revolutionary anti cis violence would add some substance to the straw argument that “die cis scum” is a call to violence against cis people. It wouldn’t add much and the argument would still be terribly flammible but one might mean something.

            Fear of trans on cis violence because of “die cis scum” is at best a straw argument and at worst a silencing tactic. So yes Xanthe your intent is not lost on me. I doubt Natalie either.

          • says

            Allies, almost by definition, have the ability to back away from a fight if they don’t want to get involved, whereas the targets of aggression are obliged by force to engage. If you were to end up as wolf chow during the glorious struggle, it would be a mighty sacrifice to make, Comrade.

            My views are my own. I don’t see why I should have to apologise for asserting that Asher is entitled to his views, even if I disagree with them. I refuse to play the game of divide and marginalise a community which is already quite divided and appallingly marginalised.

          • Anders says

            Ok, not wolf chow. What I mean is this: You refuse to ostracize Asher because of his views. And you would refuse to ostracize other trans people because of their views (presumably there’s some line but we don’t have to bother with that discussion). Would you similarly defend an ally’s right to hir views – regardless of whether you agreed with them or not – or are allies easier to ostracize?

          • says

            I’d say it’s easier, since it’s hard to cast someone completely from the community when membership is determined by a single common feature, one which allies don’t share. However, it depends on the opinion. If you were to say, for example, that as a community, we, trans folk and allies, should take up arms against the rest of cis society, you would piss a lot of people off, but you’d endear others. It would be different if you expressed an opinion on the validity of gender… so, it depends…

        • Anders says

          I did a quick Google search for “trans people violence against cis people”, and the first five pages were all about cis violence against trans people. Either trans violence against cis is extremely rare or the Illuminati are actually trans people and deliberately suppress all information about the massacre of cis people that goes on daily.

        • says

          Anders my reply to your last question will come when I have a computer rather than a phone in front of me. That is a difficult question and my short answer would be that it all begins with listening and ends with doing the most right thing with the tools you have at your disposal.

          • Anders says

            Maybe even a blog post of its own, when Natalie’s gift bag begins to empty. Somewhere around next century… :)

    • Eris says

      Now, I don’t reject the idea that “Die Cis Scum” can be a thought exercise and a teachable experience that can generate sympathy, but I don’t think that’s how it’s framed in the source material at all.

      You know, I don’t think the “Die Cis Scum” tattoo is meant to generate sympathy, either. I think that the person with the tattoo (and Asher, and maybe Natalie) is really tired of trying to rely on the sympathy of cis people.

      I’ll share a story with you. Back when I was, oh, 16ish, and my sister was 13ish, she and I were trying to convince the courts not to make us have visitation with our father (who had sexually abused us). A chunk of that part of my life was trying to convince people who had more power than I did to be sympathetic enough to me that they wouldn’t enter a judgement in my father’s favor. And it was terrible. I learned that year that if you are depending on the sympathy of others to safeguard your rights, you are in dire straights; no matter how much you need someone’s sympathy, some people won’t get it.

      You see, there are various ways people respond to my abuse. Some people do what I want, which is to stand behind me and support me. Others do not; they may (for example) agree that what my father did was horrible, but also insist that I should have a relationship with him anyway because he is my father and I’m old enough to (presumably) keep him from abusing me again. Or they insist that what he did wasn’t that bad. Or they insist that because I didn’t stop it earlier (and initiated some of it), that it wasn’t really abuse. Or they decide that my sexual abuse invalidates my opinions on some unrelated topic.

      In the end, it was less damaging to me to say, “I won’t go” than it was to say “please don’t make me go because . . . ” This was both because it empowered me more than because people actually listened more.

      I think that’s what this post is about. I think the posters have learned full well that there isn’t anything trans people can do to make cis people sympathetic enough to produce change. Trans people can be beaten to death and cis people still won’t be sympathetic enough to make it stop.

      So, what is a person supposed to do when they can’t suffer enough to make people care, when even their death will barely stir the waters? I don’t know about you, but I can’t bring myself to tell Asher or Asher’s friend or anyone else that a hostile tattoo is unacceptable in face of this fact.

      In short: When even your death isn’t enough to make cis people care, what the fuck are you supposed to do?

  18. Steve Schuler says

    For a viscerally rich alternate view of the Die Cis Scum tattoo go here:

    [deleted]

    But I do agree with Natalie, pie is scrumptious.

      • Eris says

        Found it. Apparently it means Female Assigned At Birth. I thought maybe it meant that, but I figured that would need two A’s (FAAB), so I wasn’t sure.

        Anyway, this part of the quote

        because a few men experience a minuscule fraction of the patriarchal violence dished out to born women daily by men

        makes me want to cry.

        A few men? Miniscule fraction? I don’t even, I just don’t . . . Arg!

        Violence against trans people is not confined to a few men*, and being beaten to death is not a miniscule fraction of violence. And I hate it when people start going on with the “I’m more oppressed than you are” game.

        I also wonder who this person is talking to in reference to “men.” Trans men? or “MAAB” trans women?

        • says

          I am on my phone so I can’t type much but that whole thing was dripping with cissexism. It made me shudder. The instant I saw “a few men” i screamed at my phone, “These aren’t men you fuckwit.” Doubt she heard me. There ought to be a warning before heading there.

          • says

            Indeed there most certainly should have been a warning. See my comment below. I gather Steve would not be so stupid as to, say, post a comment on the Black Skeptics’ blog linking to a Stormfront-like site without mentioning it… so why should we put up with similar antics here.

      • Eris says

        Well, fuck. After poking around some more, it seems that “fab” may be a term that has been coined/used by women who are anti-trans.

        See this link for an example:

        [deleted]

        I’m going to go take a shower. I’m feeling very down now.

        • says

          Well, that was delightful. And, as usual, followed up by the usual chorus of sheeplike agreement (since I imagine all dissenting posts are deleted). I particularly enjoyed this one:

          thats interesting, isnt it? your illustration kind of sums up the whole problem: we have group “women” that includes women and transwomen, and then another group “FAB women” that what….arent women?

          This opening could easily be introducing an argument about how “FAB women” are women, and that positing them as a separate group from trans women and other women (of some unspecified variety) is just meaningless. At least, this is how a reasonable person would read this, but that commenter decided to give up reason for madness:

          FAB women (women) are marginalized even more than they were before. thanks to…men. gee, thanks, men! you hadnt spread your shit into all the corners yet, until you came up with this one. its pretty ingenious actually. they should be given medals.

          Apparently, women are a male invention, and FAB women are the exception to this, unlike trans women and… um, women… wait, what?.

          *sigh* These people live in some kind of mystical cuckoo land…

        • says

          It’s a second-wave feminism thing to use womon/womyn to get away from the inclusion of man/men in the usual spellings of woman/women; so you also see terms like womyn-born-womyn used by transphobic feminists to explicitly exclude non-FAAB women. (FAAB trans people still count as women because they did not experience male privilege by being socialised as boys and then living as men, so they still count as womyn. See? Perfectly logical. :/ )

    • says

      OMFG. I don’t even. Just fuck. Words fail currently. Of course no comments are allowed on that post.

      Yep once your eyes are open to transphobia, it can’t be unseen.

    • says

      Steve,

      I know you’ve described yourself as anti-social, but linking to a site like rancom with the minimal warning you gave is not a friendly thing to do. Think about that the next time you get the urge to link to a transphobic rad fem site, will you?

    • says

      Ummm… I think it was mentioned on another comment thread, but posting direct links to transphobic sites is the internet equivalent to putting on the One Ring while in Mordor… it’s not such a good idea, since their attention is never really a good thing…

    • Steve Schuler says

      My bad, folks.

      I didn’t realize how emotionally disturbing some people would find Rancom’s perspective and mini-rant associated with the photograph of Asher’s tattoo. I thought that the photograph that I tried to provide a link to very effectively communicated something of the sentiment behind the tattoo that some people might find interesting to see. Again, I didn’t anticipate the outrage that linking to a Radfem blog might create. Sorry.

      • says

        Look at it this way, Steve. On the adjacent thread, Pteryxx linked to an analysis of hate crimes committed against LGBT people; 44% of victims were trans women; 70% of victims were people of colour.

        Now I’m sure you would know better than to link to a white supremacist hate site merely to antagonise people of colour by offering them a different “perspective”; so maybe by following the parallel reasoning, you might begin to have an appreciation why linking to trans women hating radical feminists is not a good idea, when trans women are a highly victimised target of violence?

      • says

        It’s not so much a trigger thing or emotional disturbing-ness. It’s that these blogs use pingbacks and incoming traffic to locate trans blogs and forums, and attack them. As said, it’s like putting on The One Ring in Mordor: it lets Sauron know where you are.

        • says

          That is really good to know as I want to be careful in places that act as safety zones for various types of bigotry. I won’t directly link without keeping that in mind. I wouldn’t have linked withoyut warning but it wouldn’t have automatically occured to me that they use hits generated from that link to find trans friendly environments and terrorize them.

          I am unsure of what the best method in writing up my own posts pointing out bigotry in the interwebs should be. I want to be trans race etc friendly but my skeptic side feels the need to link for posterity. I can do no follows but that doesn’t stop trackback traffic.

          • says

            Well, that’s your site. You’re free to do whatever you feel is best. Just be warned that it’s exposing yourself to risk to link them. But as a cis woman, you wouldn’t be in nearly as much danger of attack / slander / harassment / being-outed / etc. as I would.

          • Anders says

            Is there any way to set up a dummy site so that the pings come from that site? Have the links pass through an intervening site? Then we could post pics of goatse there.

          • says

            It is more the commenters that I am attempting to be considerate of. Mostly thinking out loud. I guess I would just need to be stringent about moderation if I link to a place.

  19. Eris says

    You know, I really need to put this out there:

    All of this, “Well, you’d better not do X*, or we won’t pay attention to your words when you speak on the plight of an oppressed group” really upsets me.

    I’ve been reading a lot about Trayvon Martin recently, and it’s been driving home to me the false promises that We-The-Majority make to minorities. We-The-Majority assure minorities that if they are just good enough, if they just act the way they are supposed to, they will be safe from the violence of We-The-Majority. We-The-Majority will listen to minorities, be on their side, and protect them if only they leap through We-The-Majority’s hoops. And it’s a fucking lie; the hoops are impossible to reach, and even if someone does manage to meet them, We-The-Majority will just ratchet said hoops higher and point out that the minorities didn’t hit THOSE hoops.

    Minorities don’t get to say, “I’ll listen to the majority if they stop killing us,” because We-The-Majority kill them regardless, yet We-The-Majority have no qualms about exercising the privilege of refusing to listen to minorities when they don’t act “right.” Ah, the power of being able to say, “I won’t let you educate me on how you are being oppressed if you don’t do what I want.” “Walk this tightrope just right, or I won’t listen to your cries when someone moves to push you off it.” It slices like a knife. Can you imagine what that’s like, to know that people will refuse to hear your dying screams if you don’t meet their standards?

    I remember reading about Gwen Araujo’s story and how the prosecutor (the person who was supposed to speak on her behalf!) said, “However, I would not further ignore the reality that Gwen made some decisions in her relation with these defendants that were impossible to defend. I don’t think most jurors are going to think it’s OK to engage someone in sexual activity knowing they assume you have one sexual anatomy when you don’t.”

    Ai, god, the fury that rose in my veins! How dare he, how dare he, how dare he. Gwen didn’t die because she wasn’t good, because she didn’t do what she was supposed to do, she didn’t die because of her actions, she died because a bunch of powerful, entitled bigots took a shovel to her head an strangled her. But no, we cannot “further ignore” Gwen’s “impossible to defend” actions.

    Please excuse me while I froth.

    *X in this case being “get a tattoo that says “Die Cis Scum.”

    • says

      Excellent post: this dynamic plays across all oppressions, incidentally, because if the victim was doing something that they can be blamed for, or some other blame-worthy attribute exists, it can and will be used to invalidate the sense of an unjustifiable wrong having been committed against them, and the oppression-tolerating majority can breath a sigh of relief and go back to their slumber, content that they do not have to do any work to address the bigotry that continues to fester in society. “Didn’t you know you shouldn’t wear clothing like that when you go out? You were asking for it.” “He should have known not to confront his stalker.” “I only told him he would go to hell for all eternity as an unrepentant sinner, how was I to know he was chronically depressed? I did not drive him to suicide.” etc. etc. etc. It’s particularly aggravating to see that a heartbreaking injustice like the murder of Trayvon Martin already has demonstrated the trope (and the blaming tactics were seen as the transparent ruses that they are).

      • Anders says

        At the same time, actions have consequences. And I, as an ally, have a duty to stay true to my values. At some point, every ally, has to ask hirself two questions “Does this ring true with who I am? Do I believe this will further the greater goal?” And if the answer to either of these questions is “No”, then a person has a duty to say “Of course you may do this, but you’ll have to do it without me.” Otherwise the trans movement (in this case) does not want allies, but automatons.

      • Eris says

        Anders,

        I don’t understand what you post has to do with either my post or the post you directly responded to, so I’m puzzled by what you are trying to say. You say that if the actions of a minority group don’t meet your goals, don’t ring true with who you are, or both, said minority will need “to do it without [you].” There are two ways I could figure that you mean this.

        The first way could be that you are saying you won’t do X (whether X be get a tattoo, confront a stalker, wear “those” clothing, or whatever). If that is the case, then I don’t think anyone is interested in requiring that you do X. People are already choosing to do or not do those things without you, and they don’t need your participation to continue on. I know that for me, the fact that you think that these things either don’t ring true with who you are, don’t further your goals, or both, isn’t an issue. I’m perfectly fine with you not doing X.

        If, however, you mean that they/we will have to defend ourselves from We-The-Majority without you if our actions don’t serve your goals and aren’t true to you, or that you will cite their/our actions as justification when we are in need of such defense, (and I’m hoping this isn’t what you’re saying), then we do have a problem, and my post would be something that would apply to you. My point isn’t that We-The-Majority needs to do X, it’s that We-The-Majority needs to stop demanding that minorities don’t do X to make themselves safe from We-The-Majority, and then changing what X is when doing X doesn’t keep minorities safe from We-The-Majority.

        So, I was hoping you could clarify what you mean in that statement.

        Also, I’m going to do a little nitpick here: in your post, you talk about “the greater goal.” This is on thin ice for me, because I’m not okay with majority allies trying to define the “greater goals” of minority movements. You may have your own personal goals that you want for trans people, and those goals may generally be good and they may generally align with the trans people’s goals for themselves, but they are not necessarily trans people’s goals. This will be evidenced every time a trans person wants to do something you don’t want them to do; when this happens, you really need to be aware that it isn’t that they aren’t meeting The Greater Goal, it’s that they aren’t meeting your goal for them.

        • Anders says

          I misread your statement. I meant the first reading. Sorry for the confusion. I’m supposedly not posting here and there’s a reason for that. :)

          As for the ‘greater goal’ – I’m perfectly fine with letting the trans movement define the greater goal. What is the community’s greater goal anyway? Is the community so cohesive that one can talk of one goal? IIRC, Natalie spoke of some members of the community as ‘quislings’, i.e. traitors. Are there more such divisions out there?

  20. Anders says

    What does the trans movement want from the allies. I can see three areas where we can make a difference:

    1) Boots on the ground. We can march in demonstrations, vote in elections and send angry e-mails to the Daily Mail. We can show that trans people do not stand alone, and that they will be challenged on their bigotry by a hopefully much larger crowd than the 1:1000 that are trans people.

    2) We can act as a buffer zone between trans people and the clueless cis. There are many questions we’ll never be able to answer, but that mustn’t blind us to the fact that we can answer a lot of questions. We can answer these questions, relieve the trans people from the burden of always having to answer the same questions over and over again, and if someone asks a question we can’t answer – that’s when we call in the experts.

    3) We can show that it’s possible to be cis and still care about trans people. This is important for other cis people because it debunks the myth that this is unimportant or just a special interest group out for what they can grab. It’s also important to trans people, showing that you’re not as alone as you may feel in your darker moments. That you are not without friends. To give hope.

    That’s the most basic things as I see it, consistent with a very minimal cis participation in determening goals and methods. Anything else?

  21. says

    I hear a lot of pushback from comments like this, and I generally have two reactions.

    The first is to take the empathetic position to those making these threats. A white male, cis-gendered, thumping a bible, and shouting “Fags go to hell!”? This definitely has a different connotation than a transperson of color wearing a jacket that says “Die Cis Scum!”

    But this point has been expertly demonstrated by Natalie, and I would like to add only this message to the cis community.

    Most of the individuals who I see upset about the phrase “Die Cis Scum!” see it as a threat. They are personally afraid that some transperson will attack them simply for being cis.

    Disregarding the beautiful irony there, I think they miss the forest for the trees. The warning, as it were, is extremely specific.

    “Die Cis Scum!”

    Are you cis scum? Then maybe you should die.

    However, are you cis, and not scum? Well then, carry on!

    In short, “Die Cis Scum” is not just a rallying cry for the trans community- it can be a rallying cry for the cis community as well.

    There are a lot of cis scum out there, and transpeople could use all the help they can get in defeating their oppression.

    Don’t be cis scum. Die cis scum.

  22. Jaye says

    I know I’m days late to the party but I was just linked to this blog post from a discussion elsewhere about “Die cis scum”. I commented there and then I though it would be good to share my appreciation here…

    That was a pretty amazing blog post, it totally changed my thinking about that phrase. I’m not likely to start using it (regularly) but I understand much more clearly the intent behind it from an oppressed activist’s view point.

  23. Doobidoob says

    I wish people will stop telling Anders what to feel or how he should react.

    How is ‘Die Cis Scum’ symbolic to a cis person? They’re going to read it and say ‘Well, that person is an asshole’. They’re not going to have a reasoned discussion or try to challenge transphobia because if you attack someone’s ego or act in a confrontational manner, people shut down. It’s psychology 101, guys.

    This is why skepticism and critical thinking is so important.

    • says

      Well, it would’ve been nice if Anders had, at some point, stopped holding himself hostage so as to manipulate people into only ever reacting, speaking or openly feeling in ways that he considered appropriate.

    • says

      Wow, you just invalidated all the cis people who do react positively to it. I guess we don’t exist. No Anders did not react the way he did to it because he is cis. There are other causes which I am sure if you think really hard about you can figure out.

      • says

        Yeah, good point. For future reference, Doobidoob, it’s kind of shitty to assume that absolutely all cis people will react to something the same way YOU do, or that your reaction is simply the “natural” one of someone in your position. Applying one’s own experiences and reactions as universals even when counter-examples are readily available? NOT a good example of critical thinking.

  24. ragdoll says

    Why would I want to help someone who considers me scum?

    As a white cis person who has a view on privilege much closer to the people you need to get through to, as opposed to forward thinking internet allies, I can honestly say that this makes me less interested in trans* issues.

    I treat everyone on an individual basis, but I’m not going to stick up for a group whose collective slogan is a call for my death.

    So good job, I guess. The only reason your internet battle cry isn’t causing /more/ trans* deaths when moved to real life is because most cis people don’t even know what that term means.

    • says

      I’ll just answer your first question, and HOPEFULLY you’ll have the moral sense to figure out the rest for yourself:

      Because doing the right thing is more important than what people think of you.

      If your help is conditional on getting cookies and roses for it, you never really gave a fuck in the first place, did you? Scum.

    • danah gaz says

      Because cis people need excuses to murdering trans people, amirite?

      There’s so much wrong with your post that it’s simply amazing that you could pack so much un-examined privilege and ignorance into such a tiny space.

  25. Rasmus says

    […] a group whose collective slogan is a call for my death.

    What gave you the idea that “Die cis scum” is a collective slogan of a trans group, or of the trans community as a whole? Citation needed.

    The only reason your internet battle cry isn’t causing /more/ trans* deaths when moved to real life is because most cis people don’t even know what that term means.

    Even if that were true to some minor extent, which I don’t think it is, you bringing it up (the alleged connection between what trans people say and what cis people do to them) as if it’s a normal thing is increasing the chance that a hateful person will feel encouraged to lash out against a trans person after listening to you. Hate crimes against minorities happen because of widespread dehumanization and vilification and not because of anything that the members of the minority say or do. Every little bit adds to the climate of hatred against the minority.

    If you immediately derail into verbal aggression and micro aggression when you talk about trans issues, or any other minority issue, you’re probably part of the problem.

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