Trans Talk: Keeping the Lines Open With Those Who Disagree With You Can Be Trying

partnersDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

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When trans talk, or any other, turn into big problems

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
I have been observing various trans friends on Facebook and how they deal with those who have differing viewpoints from their own. Some answer politely with their response, often backed up by facts, some fire back with anger, fear, and frankly, hate, while others just let it go with no response. All three responses, or non-response, do have their merits.

I realize that some subjects, such as religion and politics, can evoke strong emotions, so I can’t say that I am surprised that would drive someone to anger, fear, and hate. These situations may lead to someone blocking another person. Now, I can’t possibly know every situation and why the blocking was done, but it does break my heart a little when a friend blocks someone and then posts that they just booted someone off their Facebook wall and are proud of doing so. Others may comment that the blocking was merited, but I look at the whole situation and it still makes me feel a little sad.

Now, I am not saying to stop paying attention to differing viewpoints. As a matter of fact, I think we should always note differing viewpoints. To let the differing viewpoints upset us and lead us to anger, fear, and hate, though, I’m not so sure is such a good idea. This behavior can solidify a partisanship and cement a hard divide between people with different viewpoints and a wall may come up. Maybe that’s what some folks want and, in some cases, that’s the way it probably should be, but in any case, it does close the communication line.

I like to keep my lines open even with people who hold different viewpoints from myself. No, I may not agree with what they say, sometimes not at all, but I like to keep the doors open in hopes that there might be some kind of understanding in the future.

On my Facebook page, I like to post a “Throwback Thursday” and write about the feelings, fears, issues, and triumphs that I have experienced from being a trans person. Occasionally I even post about the anger and hate that I have encountered along the way. I like to show that I am who I am and that it is not at all easy to be a trans person. As trans people, we face many, many difficulties, and I like to let folks know what situations I have personally experienced.

Sometimes, I may reach someone on a post, and they suddenly begin to understand what I must go through in my life as a trans person. Sometimes I can reach some of these folks and they just might begin to understand me better and realize that my gender is truly female and that I have obstacles that I must face every day. If I block someone, then they won’t see my stories and I might miss an opportunity to bring them to better understand me and trans people in general.

Another reason I like to keep the lines open is to monitor what these folks with different viewpoints say. Sometimes, I may somewhat understand their point as I read their explanations. If I blocked or deleted them, I would not have this, possibly valuable, opportunity.

Keeping the lines open can maintain communication rather than shut it out. You have an opportunity to reach and teach people, people have an opportunity to reach and teach you, and you both have an opportunity to meet on middle ground. That’s the way I see it anyway. I do realize that everyone is different and that they do have their own reasons for blocking or not blocking someone, but maybe they should question if they really want to shut out some people? Something to further consider is sage advice from the movie, “The Godfather,” “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has three children and two grandchildren.

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