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MNHQ: Mumsnet and transphobia - our thoughts

(170 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Jul-14 10:23:08

Hey everyone,

Thanks to all for your posts on this issue - we appreciate them, and have read through them all in order to take everyone’s views into account. We’ve had a lengthy discussion - several, in fact - at MNHQ on how to move forward re transphobia on Mumsnet, and this is where we’ve landed.

Firstly: we need to hold up our hands. Mumsnet is a general interest site; we moderate across a wide host of issues on a daily basis, and can’t claim to be experts in any one field. As a result, our policy in terms of Talk Guidelines and what we deem deletable has always been inclusive rather than exclusive: we find it more sustainable to operate under broad principles of mutual respect and courtesy, rather than specifying what users can and can’t say on any given topic.

Having thought about it, therefore, we’ve decided we want to apply those same broad principles when it comes to transphobia, rather than coming up with a “Mumsnet” definition of what transphobia is, or with a list of specific deletable transgressions. We realise that several of you have asked for just such a list, on the very reasonable grounds that transgenderism is, for some, an area about which they know little, and it would therefore be helpful to have a clear set of “you can say this/you can’t say that” guidelines. Our reasons for not wanting to go down that route are as follows:

1) we don’t do this for any other type of deletable offence - racism, sexism, homophobia, disabilism or ageism

2) we’re poorly placed to do it. We can’t claim to be experts in transgenderism; therefore, for us to come up with a definition of what we believe it to be would, we feel, be presumptuous

3) part of the reason we haven’t done so for any other “ism” is because it’s impossible to make such a list definitive. For every ruling we make (“it’s transphobic to say X”) 3/10/a thousand more questions will arise (“what about if you say Y?”)

4) such a list wouldn’t take any account of context. As I said above, many of the people who suggested a definition/list would be useful did so because of the lack of knowledge and clarity around the issue. Having given this some thought, and in particular, having read the recent thread on the subject in Chat, it seems to us that folk might very reasonably ask questions around transgenderism that are purely in the spirit of enquiry and in no way intended to give offence but which might, under specific guidelines on wording, be construed as transphobic. We’ve no wish at all to stifle discussion of an issue that is, rightly, gaining visibility - in fact, we think it’d be counterproductive.

Currently, we don’t specifically mention transphobia in the list of offences we delete for in the Talk Guidelines. We’ll amend that now, so it’s spelled out to anyone using the website that transphobia is not welcome on Mumsnet. We’ll also change the Lesbian and Gay Parents topic to LGBT Parents, as suggested, to make it consistent with our LGBT Children topic.

Ultimately, we think one of the real strengths of MN is that it allows users to have robust disagreements about difficult topics, but without hate speech, and without comments that are just plain mean or personally directed at other posters. If there are any posts that you think we need to look at please flag them up by hitting the 'Report' button and we'll always take a look.

Apols for the essay. Hope all of this makes sense, and you can follow our reasoning on it. Please let us know what you think and as ever, thanks for the input. flowers


LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jul-14 10:45:15

Thanks MNHQ.

BeyondTheLimitsOfAcceptability Thu 03-Jul-14 10:46:12

Sounds sensible to me brew

kim147 Thu 03-Jul-14 10:48:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 03-Jul-14 10:49:52

Seems reasonable to me.
Thank you for taking the time to think about this.
Now go and have a cup of tea grin

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Jul-14 10:52:08

Why thank you, Tunip - I do believe we will grin <pops kettle on>

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 03-Jul-14 10:53:31

Seems very reasonable. I would recomend that anyone read the two threads in chat discussing this. Very reasoned, some brilliant articulate posts on trans/feminist/women's issues. <wishes she was as clever as some of the posters on there>

TheXxed Thu 03-Jul-14 11:13:34

The thread on chat is so valuable, it seems a shame for it to vanish. Is there anyway you could make the thread permanent?

AnyaKnowIt Thu 03-Jul-14 11:49:08

So it was a no to include sexism into talk guidelines but transphobia made it?

Are the words terf and cis against talk guidelines too?

DoctorHfuhruhurr Thu 03-Jul-14 12:00:33

I don't know if you're referring to part of the debate, Anya, but sexism is already in the talk guidelines:

"we'll remove posts we consider to contain personal attacks, to break the law and/or to be obscene, racist, sexist, disablist, ageist or homophobic"

Thanks MNHQ

AnyaKnowIt Thu 03-Jul-14 12:06:27

Ah, thanks Dr, I asked about sexism the other and was told there was no need.

Thanks for pointing it out

CoteDAzur Thu 03-Jul-14 12:18:16

Good choice. Thanks MNHQ.

allhailqueenmab Thu 03-Jul-14 12:18:58

great stuff

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Thu 03-Jul-14 12:20:42

Nice one MNHQ

ICanHearYou Thu 03-Jul-14 12:22:39


ICanHearYou Thu 03-Jul-14 12:56:11

I just wanted to say, that I think there needs to be more focus in the Talk Guidelines on people who continually attempt to make a conversation into a personal one, I realise personal attacks are not accepted and this is definitely a good thing but it needs to be two-sided rather than the focus being entirely on the person who has 'attacked'

If someone puts themselves in the center of a robust debate and refuses to acknowledge that the conversation is not about them, it is only a matter of time before something deemed 'personal' will happen. This is not good for debate and I think we run the risk of isolating people who perhaps in the heat of debate find it difficult not to be blindsided by such attempts at derailment.

kim147 Thu 03-Jul-14 12:58:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

post Thu 03-Jul-14 13:03:40

I'd agree that the discussion on the chat threads is worth keeping; can it be put into another topic?

gertiegusset Thu 03-Jul-14 13:04:40

Good response I think, I was wondering how you'd come up with guidelines without taking outside advice.
I also think you should carry on posting Kim, I disagree with some posters who maintain you make it 'all about you' and often find your posts interesting as I have only ever known one person who was trans and that was ftm and many years ago.

gertiegusset Thu 03-Jul-14 13:05:39

Agree with post too, can those threads be kept?

ICanHearYou Thu 03-Jul-14 13:26:22

I wasn't just talking about the recent discussions Kim, it happens alot. Once again there is no need to make it a personal thing.

That is exactly what I mean though, so thank you for that.

deadwitchproject Thu 03-Jul-14 13:28:00

thank you, makes sense to me.

Beachcomber Thu 03-Jul-14 13:32:37

Thanks for the update MNHQ.

Another one asking if the threads can be moved to a place where they won't go poof! It seems wrong for all that hard thinking and women's testimony to disappear.

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Jul-14 13:37:25

Everyone who's asked for the chat threads to be moved - absolutely, will look into it pronto

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 03-Jul-14 13:41:48

Can we keep them in chat until they are full? It's so nice to have these conversations front and centre, and have people who wouldn't post in FWR see them and add their own thoughts.

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