05 March 2014

Worse Than Transphobes

Dealing with ignorant, hateful, violent transphobes is bad enough.  But there are people among us who are even worse, I think.

When I say "among us," I mean our own community:  trans people and, by extension, LGBT people.  I don't mean to sound paranoid or sanctimonious, but we really can afford thoughtless behavior less than heterosexual and cisgender people can.

That point became all the more apparent when I read about the Hercules (CA) High School student who recanted his story about being attacked in a school bathroom.  

The student, whose name has not been released, is chromosomally female but identifies as male.  He claims that three other teenagers cornered him in the bathroom, where they beat and taunted him.

One reason why stories like his are so damaging to us is that people believe them, and feel sympathy for the victim (and, by extension, the rest of the community) upon hearing them.  Such stories seem convincing because they--like the Duke lacrosse case of 2006-- fit into the patterns of similar narratives. There have been similar attacks at Hercules and other schools and Hercules has had a reputation for violence that sparked a no-confidence vote against the principal.

Upon finding out that stories like the ones from Duke and Hercules High are fabrications, people feel even more rage than they do in other cases because their sympathies have been played upon.  Nothing can be more damaging to any group of people who are disproportionately victimized than for potential allies to feel that they have been duped.

If the young man who just recanted his story did indeed make it up, I hope that he will mature enough to understand how much damage he has done to the rest of us.

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