The Complicity of Silence and The Haters Who Threaten My Transgender Child
I opened my Instagram last night and found a comment telling me that I should kill my child because she’s transgender.
My body went cold as if someone has said this to my face. Before I could fully process anything (because Instagram is the fluffy baby kitten of social media sites and nothing bad happens there) another threatening comment appeared.
I mumbled to my husband that someone was being hateful on Instagram about our daughter and he immediately took my phone and sprung into action. Which is good because this internet stranger either had numerous accounts or was working with someone else. The comments kept coming as fast as we could report them, like a fire jumping from place to place before you can get the last one out. My husband tagged Instagram because of the threatening and sexual nature of the comments.
This person isn’t someone who knows us or our family. They didn’t want to have a conversation or learn something. They weren’t willing to meet anyone halfway or even let us live our lives in peace. He sought us out to instill fear and threaten our safety so he’d have a place to lay his hatred. This person made death threats and sexual references to my child only because they do not like her pronouns or how she dresses.
I refuse to give my debate time or my energy to ignorance and hatred anymore. And I do not waste time convincing unreasonable people for the same exact reason that I do not argue with my cats. I have more important things to do with my time.
The comments were gone in minutes, either thanks to the efficiency of Instagram or the fact this person knew their account was in jeopardy and no longer wanted the risk. Regardless, they were gone as quick as they came.
But in their wake was the realization that hatred from strangers can attack us from anywhere. Even pleasant little Instagram.
And it could make me want to sit down and shut up. And hide. But that’s exactly what they want — for every damn one of us to fit in so perfectly that they are never made even uncomfortable again. (And this goes for ALL of us. Because we all have our stuff that makes us different. Not a single one of us is above the haters finding reasons to hate us. Because that’s what haters do.)
And if we give in and try to act like they want us to act and dress and be, WE also end up broken. Because living a lie and pretending to be someone you are not will eat you up from the inside out. And I refuse to raise my daughter in the shadows of secrets and fear. The risks to her life are too high to not support my child exactly as she is. And because she has nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m not writing this for your sympathy. I’m writing this so you all know how hateful and terrible a certain percentage of the population is towards transgender and gender-creative individuals. And because I need your help if we are going to make the world safer for them.
I don’t believe that there are more haters in the world than good guys who love and support us, but I will say that the hateful group is louder and bolder in their mission. And their hatred and ignorance spreads like a wildfire.
As the parent of a transgender child receiving death threats, I see the people who fan the flames.
And I see those who try to put the flames out, regardless of backlash.
And I see all those who stand by idly and watch without a word.
I see all the reasons and justifications and none of it changes the dangers my child faces for being herself.
I have lots of friends who only feel able to support us privately, but aren’t comfortable using their voices out loud or online to stop discrimination and hatred towards trans folks.
And you don’t have to.
But again, the bad guys have no problem being loud and hateful. They take pride in it.
Equally notable is the silence about all this hatred in the name of “not being divisive.”
The question I wish you’d ask all yourselves is if are you feeding that fire or putting it out? Or just standing there watching it burn?
Are you laughing at their transgender jokes? Posting your own? Ignoring their hateful comments? Spreading false information and refusing to listen to transgender individuals and those educated on the subject? Or are you justifying it all- including your silence- because it simply isn’t your problem?
If you have it in your heart, if you feel strong and brave, help us out and stand up to the bullies. Educate yourselves and post about transgender awareness. And if you hear something or you see something, say something. Silence in the face of hatred is complicity.
And we clearly need all the help we can get. This world won’t save itself.