Fuck you and your tone policing

Fuck you and your tone policing. Fuck you and your fucking tone policing. You do not get to tell me how I react to someone misgendering me or call out transphobia. You do not get to tell me to be polite when when you’re only listening to me because I’m angry and loud.

Ok, let’s add some context here. 

At the start of May I posted about ways I wanted to see cis allies holding the Smut Marathon organiser responsible for her transphobia – though I didn’t include “actually apologise” on that list, which apparently wasn’t a given. Neither I nor any other trans and non-binary sex bloggers who were hurt by their actions, have yet received a genuine apology from people who we called out for transphobic behaviour in April. These people included the Smut Marathon organiser, Marie Rebel, and Smut Marathon judge, May More. 

Since calling out the transphobic behaviour by them and a number of other cis sex bloggers, I have been clear that I am happy to help educate folks who acknowledge that they have things to learn. I have spent hours doing trans sensitivity readings and answering questions on inclusivity. If the Smut Marathon organiser had reached out for help with doing any of the things I suggested were needed to show a change in behaviour and a commitment to being inclusive of trans people, I would have helped her. 

One of the things I said that cis allies should demand from the Smut Marathon are updated rules that forbid transphobia in both entries and feedback. Well, we did get that… six weeks after being called out – but you’re right, the writers getting their results and the Smut Marathon organiser posting on her personal blog every single day are far more important than apologising for making trans people feel unsafe in the sex blogging community.

Kind of. 

I have a few issues with it. Firstly, the new feedback rules stressing the importance of being aware of “the other genders” isn’t exactly how I would have phrased a reminder to be inclusive of trans and non-binary folks, but then again – who would have helped the Smut Marathon organiser come up with more inclusive wording if she’d asked? (Me. I would have.) Next, let’s have a look at the updated competition rules, to see if we think they really show that the Smut Marathon is a welcoming place for trans and non-binary people…

Firstly, 2.1: Everyone is welcome to participate, no matter your level of writing experience, your age, your gender, your race, your background. Everyone’s welcome!

Saying that everyone is welcome isn’t enough – your actions need to show it. Blocking people from the (admittedly no longer in use) Smut Marathon twitter account doesn’t do that. Not apologising to the trans and non-binary sex bloggers you have hurt doesn’t do that. 

5.3: We will not post stories which contain sex with minors, incest, sex with animals, (non-consensual) violent sex, or any sexual orientation phobic posts (biphopic, homophobic, transphobic) or stories shaming any group of people.

Ok, this is better, but I fail to see how this wasn’t in the rules to begin with. If you don’t explicitly include trans and non-binary folks in these things, then we’re going to assume that you’ve forgotten about us. (Spoiler: it’s because you have.) It also shows a lack of understanding of the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, which is worrying when someone is claiming to have created an inclusive space for LGBTQIA+ folks. 

6.2 All stories are judged anonymously by the jury and the public.

I understand that being judged anonymously means that the jury and public cannot actively discriminate against trans and non-binary writers participating in the Smut Marathon. I don’t understand how this is a rule update, or how it should make trans people feel safe when transphobic feedback has already been left on entries. (It has now been removed, but I still remember how it made me feel.) This rule also does nothing to deal with the discrimination against trans content – trans writers need to feel safe writing smut that includes trans characters. 

Then, of course, there’s the utter lack of apology. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in asking for a genuine apology – I understand it’s hard to admit that you fucked up, but people have fucked up and been rightly called out on it. It’s what you do now that matters, and what you’re doing now is saying that there have been remarks made that the Smut Marathon isn’t a safe place for trans and non-binary writers, but not even acknowledging that transphobic behaviour has happened. That wasn’t an apology – that wasn’t even an acknowledgement that you fucked up. 

However, my main issue came on the page with the new ‘Feedback Rules’, where whoever wrote these (I assume Marie) decided that not only that they didn’t need to apologise to trans and non-binary people, but that they should tone police us as well. There is an emphasis on trans and non-binary people (“the different genders”) in these feedback rules, which makes this next bit especially awful: we are told that we should give “polite corrections” when mistakes are made. 

Fuck that. 

An exert of the text from the updated Smut Marathon feedback rules, with the words "polite correction" circled.

This is tone policing. You’re telling us not to get angry when we are misgendered. In fact, you have spent more time in these updated feedback guidelines telling us that we should be polite when we’re misgendered than you have telling cis people that they shouldn’t misgender us. If this is what you’re doing to show that the Smut Marathon is inclusive of trans and non-binary people, you probably shouldn’t be telling us how we react to transphobia. I can’t believe you thought the correct way to respond to your own transphobic behaviour was by telling me and other trans people to be polite when we tell you that you hurt us. 

People are going to make mistakes; I’m not expecting anyone to be perfect. But I don’t think I’m unreasonable here when I say that I do not have to be polite right now – and these changes are a direct response to what’s been happening in the sex blogging community lately, so please don’t try and tell me that you mean that in general people should be polite. You’re talking about me, and the other trans sex bloggers who have called you out, and telling us to be polite and be complicit in our own dehumanisation. 

Polite correction has been given. Polite correction was given – privately, in DMs – by trans people and by your cis friends. You chose ignore it. You only started to take notice when we started calling you out, and yet we still haven’t had a genuine apology. We have asked – completely reasonably – to see actions that show that transphobia will not be tolerated, and instead we get told that we need to be polite when we tell you about the transphobia we experience. The transphobia you gaslight us about, telling us that you weren’t talking about us and we needed to lighten up and take a joke. 

I am not talking only to the Smut Marathon organiser here, I am talking to every person who is still supporting the Smut Marathon. I’m talking to every cis sex blogger who supports us with blog post on trans allyship but not by putting their money where their mouth is and refusing to work with people who haven’t apologised for their transphobic behaviour. To Marie Rebel directly, I say this: I don’t care if what I’ve written here makes you look bad. Your behaviour is transphobic – you should look bad right now. The posts you commented on, shared, liked, and retweeted were making fun of trans people, implying that we do not deserve basic human rights, or comparing us to Nazis because we called out cissexism. That’s not ok. 

Maybe this seems trivial compared to everything that is going on with trans rights at this moment, but it’s connected. Right now Hungary are preparing to end legal recognition of trans people, and in the UK we have a Minister for Women and Equalities who has spoken about “checks and balances” for trans people using single-sex services. I am worried for my partner’s safety every time the go outside, because they do not conform to society’s norms in their presentation – they shouldn’t have to, and I shouldn’t have to worry for my own safety in my own community. 

I have not torn the community apart: I have spoken up for the sex blogging community that I want to be part of, one that is inclusive of trans folks. The people dividing the community right now are those who don’t feel they should have to change their behaviour even when that behaviour has hurt trans and non-binary people. I do not have to stop being angry that my existence is treated as a point for political debate just because that anger makes you uncomfortable. I’m allowed to be angry when the issue of whether I deserve respect is dismissed in favour of urgings that we “all need to get along”. I do not have to get along with people who do not understand that transphobia is incompatible with sex-positivity and the sex blogging community.

I’m not saying that any of the people who have been called out over the last two months are transphobes, but their behaviour has been transphobic. Continuing to support them when they have made no effort to educate themselves, change their behaviour or apologise to the people they have hurt is unacceptable. If you’re still supporting people who will mock my gender identity and gaslight me about it, then you’re hurting me. It’s that simple. 

I want the sex blogging community to be a place where people feel comfortable speaking up if they are being harmed. I want people to be willing to listen and hear where their actions might have been harmful – including me, because I’m far from perfect. But right now, none of you are listening to me, or the other trans and non-binary sex bloggers. I feel uncomfortable that people who I consider close friends are still supporting the Smut Marathon. You’re still showing people that transphobic behaviour doesn’t bring any actual repercussions. 

And thus I reserve the right to respond to your utterly token words by calling you out. Fuck you and your fucking tone policing. 

This post was originally shared on my Patreon on 31st May 2020. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to help me keep creating advice on how not to be a dick to trans and non-binary people.

What I want cis allies to do: Smut Marathon edition

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