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Explaining my gender criticalness to recently out trans friend

(69 Posts)
Albadross Wed 25-Oct-17 19:37:30

A colleague emailed me today to say he’d seen my recent tweets that are critical of trans activism and was nervous to tell me something because he didn’t want it to affect our friendship. I’ve never actually met him, but we’ve spoken on the phone so it is a little odd that he phrased it like that. He says he needs to learn more and I don’t think he’s part of the trans lobby so how do I explain things in a way that won’t make him feel like I’m questioning his feelings about himself?

Argh! confused

SharkSkinThing Wed 25-Oct-17 19:45:11

Maybe listen to what your friend has to say before giving whatever opinion you think he is seeking? Be open minded? How do you even know he's transgender?

GardenGeek Wed 25-Oct-17 19:59:32

Tbh it could be quite an eye opener if your both open and want to get along.

We have more in common than we think. You both believe that born sex has no bearing on your personality/likes (gender).

Thing is he feels that he has a female gender in a mans body.
You believe you have no gender in a female body.

You don't want the gender definition of 'women/ female personality' to replace 'female/ women sex'. Your happy for both to stand as equal but not one replaced with the other.

Because otherwise you are the stereotyped and boxed when for centuries the whole fight of women has been to step away from our sex determining our personalities/likes/roles etc.

I think both causes can live side by side but we don't have enough words in the dictionary so its getting conflated and so we are opposed fighting for the meanings of the words.

It could obviously also go awfully wrong, because the words you use to write have different meanings to him so they could be offensive.

Albadross Wed 25-Oct-17 20:07:56

Shark obviously I will listen - I know because he told me today! I’m not just making some wild assumption based on nothing. I’m extremely open minded and have trans friends already, but they’re also gender critical and supportive of the idea that they’re not changing sex in a biological sense or wanting to access female-only spaces.

Gardengeek I think it definitely will be a good thing because I want to understand why he feels as he does and hear from someone who isn’t in the trans lobby for once. I genuinely also think he’ll listen to what I say open-mindedly, but like you say because the definitions have been so blurred I’m worried anything I say might seem offensive. I want to ask whether he’s had any support with exploring why he maybe doesn’t identify with being male, but of course that might come across as patronising in itself.

Albadross Wed 25-Oct-17 20:09:52

Sorry there’s a few words missing (I’m on a very busy train so typing isn’t easy) - he was nervous to tell me something and then said he’s just come out as trans

deckoff Wed 25-Oct-17 20:52:57

Be very careful. Very very careful.

He’s a colleague, this is a work situation, he could very easily get you in massive trouble. And that might be his goal.

PricklyBall Wed 25-Oct-17 21:37:38

Seconding deckoff's comment, if you don't know him well and he's only a work colleague, I'd play the "no sex, politics or religion in the officers' mess" card and say you just like to keep your personal views and your professional life separate.

Bombardier25966 Wed 25-Oct-17 21:48:07

Are you friends with your colleague on social media, or have they randomly come across your tweets? You need to be aware that what you post on social media can get you in trouble if your personal opinions reflect badly on your employer. The line between personal and professional is very much blurred nowadays. People have been dismissed for this (although I'm not aware of any cases in regard to trans issues, the same principles apply), but such cases would be judged on the individual circumstances, and whether the comments might be judged as discriminatory or not.

How long have you worked there?

As for what to say to your colleague? "I respect your decision."

SharkSkinThing Wed 25-Oct-17 22:04:55

With all due respect, deckoff, that's a big conclusion to jump to. Why would that be his intention?

I agree with what Garden has posted. Biology is not destiny, and there's a long way to go still with the acceptance of our transgender friends and colleagues.

If you are owning the identity of 'gender critical' on social media, then I think it's understandable that you may have to defend it to others with differing views. Not all transgender individuals will hold the same views as each other, obviously.

If you already have trans friends, perhaps he's hoping for an ally, not an enemy?

deckoff Wed 25-Oct-17 22:25:52

I didn't say it was his intention, I said it could be and to be careful. I stand by that.

He's openly said he's scared of a reaction.

Even if he's a complete living saint who just wants to pleasantly chit-chat, this stuff is inflammatory and it's a workplace.

And only one of you will look like the bad guy to HR.

Creamswirls Wed 25-Oct-17 22:32:20

Unfortunately I would be putting your Twitter onto private and taking a step back from this guy; certainly not having a discussion with him about your views - because unfortunately they will never agree with his. It’s a shame but I’d be very wary about disciplinaries etc. Sad but true.

Creamswirls Wed 25-Oct-17 22:33:09

I spent so long writing that, that I cross posted with others saying the same thing. blush

DJBaggySmalls Wed 25-Oct-17 22:35:15

Its not a big leap, dont discuss it with him, not even outside of work. Its a protected characteristic and you could lose your job.
Follow the advice Pricklyball gave and dont enter into any more correspondence.

Albadross Wed 25-Oct-17 22:57:17

I should’ve made it clear - I’m employed elsewhere and I work on a consultancy basis for the company he works for, so we’re colleagues but the worst I stand to lose is a very infrequent bit of work I do on the side.

I don’t think he wants to have an argument, I’ve not said anything that isn’t factual on social media but I think it’s clear I am gender critical. I hate that even declaring facts could ever lose someone a job!

Branleuse Wed 25-Oct-17 23:08:28

You can be gender critical AND still have trans friends. Theyre not all trans activists and they're not the enemy.

Albadross Wed 25-Oct-17 23:15:03

I know @branleuse - I've already told him explicitly that I accept him however he wants to present/identify. That's kind of the whole issue - how do I explain that this isn't an anti-trans thing at all, it's just a pro-women thing. I have trans friends aside from him but they're older transsexuals who are also gender-critical. He sounded like he wanted to know more so I thought maybe if I explained articulately why some women have issues, it would be a positive thing.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 25-Oct-17 23:54:56

Be very careful. Very very careful

He’s a colleague, this is a work situation, he could very easily get you in massive trouble. And that might be his goal

Thirding it. Not because I think they are out to get you. This person is not a friend. They are a work colleague whom you have never met in person.

What is the point of this? You are looking to set this up from the point of view of a political discourse, albeit it is sexual and gender politics rather than politics politics.

As an employer there is something about this which makes me feel uncomfortable. I can imagine this going horribly wrong.

Albadross Thu 26-Oct-17 00:29:47

Hmmm, this is so tough, I want to be able to stand up and be counted to make trans people who are not like the Activists aware of what’s being said and done in their name. I don’t like to hide.

Albadross Thu 26-Oct-17 00:30:57

Lass he just said he needed to learn more and thought may we could discuss it. Not my suggestion.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Thu 26-Oct-17 00:43:07

I'd play the "no sex, politics or religion in the officers' mess" card and say you just like to keep your personal views and your professional life separate

Wise words from Prickly

Regardless of who initiated it you are making an issue of it I want to be able to stand up and be counted to make trans people who are not like the Activists aware of what’s being said and done in their name. I don’t like to hide.

GardenGeek Thu 26-Oct-17 01:00:37

The more I think about it the more I think its dangerous. If you were friends in person it would be different because you could talk more casually and gauge their intentions.

In writing your one misconstrued sentence away from a train wreck.

Slimthistime Thu 26-Oct-17 10:13:12

A colleague is not the person with whom you have this conversation, especially in writing.

Is it too late to say to him that you don't want cross over between work and personal life? I think this would be a dangerous road to go down.

Even on here, I'm so tired of having the same conversation when everyone has a different definition of women's toilet etc. You'd have to set down a bunch of Terms of Reference to even start explaining what you meant in order to avoid being miscontrued.

also, at the end of it, you might simply end up looking anti man - when I've been accused of that, I kind of have to agree, yes, I do think dodgy men will try anything to access women only spaces. So there's that risk too.

Avoid this conversation at all costs. I would imagine he is trying to get something from you anyway - he's seen your view and wants to convert you or might cause trouble at work. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

newtlover Thu 26-Oct-17 10:28:39

agree with pp, he isn't your friend, he's a colleague and you need to maintain professional boundaries. I would be stregthening privacy features on social media and drawing a very clear line around what is personal (and political). If social media is important professionaly then set up different accounts for professional use only.
You can respond to him honestly and say you respect all your collagues and want to keep personal issues out of your professional relationship. He should understand that.

Albadross Thu 26-Oct-17 11:17:24

It would never be in writing, he wanted to meet for coffee. I’ve learned my lesson from constantly being misconstrued via email! I have autism so all of this is harder for me, this whole debacle with the GRA has become a special interest for me blush

My FB is completely locked down and on Twitter I don’t use my real name and it isn’t linked to my employer in any way. Most of my tweets have been links to other articles on this subject or retweets/feminism stuff so I’ve never said anything that could be offensive. The biggest struggle I have with this is that everything feminists have an issue with is true, so it makes me really angry that we’re silenced, I don’t feel I should have to be ashamed to want to protect my sex - especially given my history of being targeted by males, abused etc. I’m not talking about pie in the sky imaginary situations but ones that have happened to me more than once.

It’s not too late to just skirt around meeting up and if I were to do it I’d keep conversation as supportive and focused on his experiences as possible rather than going into too much about my views I guess. Just seems like having these conversations honestly might actually be the only way RadFems and trans people could become allies.

I’m freaking out about losing my job over biology now! sad

Albadross Thu 26-Oct-17 11:24:36

Actually I did think it was odd that he said he didn’t want to risk our friendship because of the fact we’ve never even met but because the work I do for his organisation is around things that do affect people personally and emotionally (hard to explain without saying it outright) perhaps he feels he knows me more than he does if that makes sense?

He obviously felt comfortable enough to come out to me when only his family and work knows, and his tone has always been more relaxed and non-professional. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the kind of honesty and openness that encourages others to confide in me, that’s just the nature of the subject. Sorry if that sounds obtuse!

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