Important article by Arthur Chu:
[Content Note: discusses harassment, family rejection of transgender teens, suicide, trans* erasure, and silencing tactics commonly used to stifle discussion of these matters ]
Cover-Ups and Concern Trolls: Actually, It’s About Ethics in Suicide Journalism
Leelah Alcorn’s message was sent, and heard, and things started changing. Until concern trolls like Sarah Ditum came along trying to cover it up again.
Summary: Sarah Ditum wrote a widely shared article expressing her concern that talking about Leelah’s suicide and the reasons she gave for killing herself are going to lead to copycat suicides so we should really stop with the criticism of her parents for sending her to conversion therapy and misgendering her in death. Chu notes that the way Ditum structures her argument mirrors exactly the same way that women and minorities who are harassed online are told to stop talking about it “for your own safety” because the attention will just encourage copycats. He points out that both forms of silencing arguments are eliding some key elements in their assumptions which are so counterfactual that their advice ends up absurdly ineffective, so much so that it appears wilfully obtuse at best and premeditated gaslighting at worst (an observation that reminded me of this post by Stephanie Zvan on how “Don’t Feed The Trolls” is Bad Science). Chu also links to previous writings from Ditum that have been notably trans-negative. Chu’s post is long and meaty and ranges from small details to a very big picture, so this summary doesn’t nearly do it justice. Read the whole thing.
The #RealLiveTransAdult hashtag for trans* visibility and outreach/hope for trans* teens was one of the positive responses to Leelah’s suicide note on Tumblr that asked the rest of us to #FixSociety so that future “transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights”. There is also a change.org petition campaigning to finally have the long-discredited “conversion therapy” banned.
I riffed off Chu’s article with a longer post about #StandUpForLeelah and silencing tactics over at Hoyden About Town, too.
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