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2:24 AM
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A: How can we resolve the current drama without causing any more harm to vulnerable groups?

XiremaBottom line up front (BLUF): Those of you reading this post: if you genuinely care about being respectful towards this issue, to the people affected by it, you would do well to stop for a second and just try to consider whether these things are as "irrelevant" as a lot of you seem to feel it is....

@Xirema This answer is in direct opposition to the sentiments I've seen of many LGBTQ users on this site. I've seen plenty of them state point blank that Stack Exchange, Inc., not Monica, had made them feel unsafe, and that Stack Exchange, Inc. had not included them or engaged with them sufficiently for either her dismissal or the updates. Her query was whether or not a literary stylistic gender-neutral approach, which is supported by Code Of Conduct's line "When in doubt, don't use language that might offend or alienate", is fine. Based on the defenses that I've seen of her, it is fine.
@Xirema Your interpretation may vary, and I would in no way dismiss your own personal experiences. I'm not, and I can't account for all variations in experience with millions of users. However, "assume good faith" has been the prevailing sentiment of this site. I've never been around so many polite people, and based on what I've witnessed, you may be pleasantly surprised to know that sentiments or other queries you've seen are likely more innocent than you believe. I feel strongly that you, as a person, would be happier with that assumption. After all, Codes of Conduct are meant to be precise.
@Xirema The "When in doubt and when known" portion of the Code Of Conduct matters here. With those qualifications, her query is acceptable and benevolent prima facie, and her dismissal ought to be reversed. Without those qualifications, nevermind compelled speech, it is factually and logically incoherent based on the laws of reality and epistemology itself. Based on my experiences with the LGBTQ community, I don't know a single one who would have unreasonable expectations, or believes that a discussion of reasonable expectations is incongruent with the dignity and respect people deserve.
@TheAnathema I don't really care much for this kind of response, because frankly, I don't get the sense you actually read my post. I didn't blame Monica once in my whole post, and I did call out SE for their own mistakes in this mess. You might have noticed Tim's comment on this post. He is understating. This post got a very large number of responses, a small minority of which were kind and supportive, and a vast, vast, vast majority of which were ungodly transphobic, and led to the user who wrote the above post asking to have their name removed from their post.
@TheAnathema I don't really care about Monica in a positive or negative sense at this point. Frankly, the only regret I have in seeing those comments deleted is that they were much better evidence of the transphobic culture that runs rampant at this site than anything I wrote above. None of those responses were operating in Good Faith, and it took little effort to expose the deep-seated transphobia that underlied their "just asking questions" facade.
@Xirema I did read it. Your answer wasn't edited to include comments now deleted, so I'm not referring to those. I'm referring to the general sentiments listed throughout the site, some of which you quoted in your answer. I believe that my comments here don't convey the idea that malevolent, trolling speech is covered or protected, which includes the deleted comments I didn't see.
@TheAnathema Well I'm telling you here that the general sentiments I've observed have been overwhelmingly transphobic. I doubt most of those sentiments were coming from genuinely toxic bad actors, but in the absence of genuine malice, they were coming from places of profound ignorance. "Assuming Good Faith" is an unworkable covenant when the people reading my concerns are unable to actually believe what I'm saying—to extend that "Good Faith" to me.
@TheAnathema I apologize if I sound terse, but I cannot express the sheer depths of how bad the comments that were removed got. So I'm not really interested in interrogating any kind of response to the effect of "well, it's not that bad, is it?"
@Xirema I think you're an intelligent person by the rather eloquent way you write and express yourself. If I say "OP" or "You" or "They," I am thinking about C++ and how to best answer your query, not "I can't wait to ruin her day with this bombshell that I've been using for a decade." I believe you know this. That is the mutual respect that I think is healthy and promotes happiness, an idea not easily conveyed by Cesar. I'm not trying to say "it's not that bad is it?" - I apologize if that's what you believe I think. I'm just trying to share a more positive outlook that I use myself.
2:25 AM
@TheAnathema So laying my cards out on the table: I'm not here to venerate Stack Exchange. SE messed up big time in the way they handled this whole situation, and I'm not convinced they've really learned their lesson yet. Time will tell, I suppose.
Based on what I know, I think Monica made serious mistakes, engaging in transphobic rhetoric—but I also think removing her from her modship was an overreaction, at least based on the accounts of the people, especially transgender people, who witnessed her behavior firsthand. And at this point, I think she knows that, so I'm not here to vilify her. If she decides to seek modship again, and if SE gives it back to her.... They can hash that out.
So I'm wiping my hands clean of all that. I don't really care.
The problem that I'm trying to convey is that SE are not the only actors who made mistakes in this controversy. Their mistakes are the most publicly visible, and the easiest to understand, but I need to stress that the SE community, especially the users who have been most active in the last few weeks, share some culpability of blame.
Because, full stop? Monica getting dismissed as Moderator doesn't justify the level of vitriol that's been thrown around. It doesn't justify moderators stepping down for cagey reasons, citing "differences in values" and users protesting on the basis of dogwhistles like "Compelled Speech".
...... I suppose I should explain that.
"Compelled Speech" has a history of being a Transphobic Dogwhistle. In essence, it claims that transgender people are "demanding" that people see them as the gender they are, on the basis of using correct pronouns when referring to them, and the "compelled speech" is the act of doing so.
The problem is that people are pretty good about using correct pronouns in normal, everyday speech. It's not something that people have to consciously think about.... unless they're engaging with a transgender person, and they don't genuinely see that person as the gender they claim to be.
So calling it "Compelled Speech" is a way of framing the discussion as saying "you want me to call you 'he', but I don't think you're a man; you're forcing me to say and believe something I don't believe", which is an essentially transphobic argument.
So I wrote that post because a lot of people keep using that phrase, including [in some cases ex-] moderators who probably think they're making a salient argument.
So when I see users showing up to my post (or more precisely, the OP's post) saying "I've never seen transphobic rhetoric, you're blaming the whole community for the actions of a fringe minority!", well, funny story: I believe them. But here's the trick: it's not because they haven't been seeing it, it's because they haven't been recognizing it.
Hence the thesis of my post.
This is why I get a bit... "bothered" when people show up saying "why can't we just show mutual respect in this issue". Because that's a very lovely sentiment, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what the actual problem is.
Which is that a lot of users here, especially the Cisgender users, aren't seeing it. Because they don't recognize it, and because a lot of transphobic users have gotten very good at making their arguments sound perfectly logical and tolerant, when they aren't.
And again, because I cannot say it enough: I don't absolve SE of anything in this matter. Their inability to stop and give a straightforward answer caused a lot of the problem. They refused to explain their decisions, which left open the capacity for bad faith actors on this network, and on Alt-Right sites visiting, to interpret their own version of events.
To spin a false narrative about how "Monica was sacked because SE is cowing to the tyrants in the trans community!"
And a lot of users here, whether they realize it or not, are swallowing those arguments and unthinkingly regurgitating them.
And, in case you're wondering: that's the "Good Faith" argument here. That these users don't mean harm, they just don't realize what they're doing.
Because I know for a fact that some of these users are not acting in good faith. I caught one of them trying to play the "I'm just trying to have a reasonable debate!" card before, barely twenty minutes later, it turned into full-blown transphobic "I shouldn't have to call a trans woman a woman because he's a man!" rhetoric.
(That was multiple of the comments that got removed, FYI)
And a friend of mine on the network caught another bad-faith actor who was trying to leverage the LGB parts of the community against the T, trying to make the TERF-y argument that Trans people were trying to take over, or some nonsense.
This isn't coming from the moderators.
It's not coming from SE's staff.
It's coming from users.
So I've love to show the mutual respect that you think is valuable, and if we get to a point where that's possible, that'll be a great and noble thing.
But today, right now, it's not. Because there are too many people in the Transgender community getting attacked over this.
I'll be fine. I'm a particular breed of stubborn, self-righteous, and egotistical that I can weather pretty much any kind of insult leveled at me by idiots on the internet.
.... I can't say the same for the people I've been helping deal with panic attacks at the hands of this conflict, brought on by the users I've been complaining about.
They're going to be fine as well, in my estimation, but the harm caused to them didn't need to happen, and it wouldn't have happened if the users here were willing to take me, or them, or the other trans users seriously when we say that these problems aren't just about SE "mishandling a policy about how to deal with moderators".
That this isn't just a problem of "people being unable to show mutual respect".
That this isn't just a problem of "well, we're talking about programming, why do you need to inject gender into the situation"
Last Thoughts.
The CoC changes, as far as I'm aware—and I have tried to solicit the opinions of other trans users to make sure I'm not only reflecting my own sense—are pretty much fine. And they boil down to two easily followed rules.
1. If someone specifies their pronouns, use them.
2. If you don't know how someone identifies, neutral pronouns like they/them are fine; and if you get it wrong, just admit your mistake, and promise to get it right.
Those rules are easy to follow, and if people follow them in good faith, I promise there's not a single trans user here who's going to raise a stink against them.
And if the people here would figure out that that's all the rules are, we could have resolved all this weeks ago.
Monica would have made her mistake, because lots of people are going to make mistakes, because for a lot of people dealing with these topics is a new thing and they don't understand it yet, which is fine, because everyone has to learn eventually, we aren't born as hyper-woke activists ready to smash the patriarchy, or whatever.
But maybe we could also deal with this without resorting to the transphobic rhetoric as well.
That's all.

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