What Can We Do?
Yesterday was a rough day in the Blewis house. With so many deciding to weigh in on a swimmer’s success publicly, it was hurtful to watch people invalidate the identities of people I love. It was hard to see people who know my family post things that promote limiting what we can and can’t participate in because of our various identities. It’s not the stuff that makes up the Sacred Act of Neighboring.
People post stupid, hurtful things on the internet. Heck, I’ve had the same fake news ad trying to convince me that Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik was peddling CBD gummies popping up for the past two weeks. It’s not that Mayim Bialik is beyond reproach. Her anti-vaccination stances are undoubtedly harmful and problematic. But this ad that keeps popping up is just blatantly false. (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/mayim-bialik-cbd-allegations/)
Fake news is one thing, but it’s something else entirely when people decide they should be allowed to dictate how someone else lives out their identity. And I’m not here to argue why someone should be allowed to participate in their sport. The point is that we should stop making a spectacle out of people’s lives. We are talking about a real, human person with real, human emotions, trying to live her life. Not to mention that, rather than celebrate her accomplishments that should be open for public comment, people have chosen to focus on things that should not be open for public comment.
We’re so bold on the internet. We don’t have to sit down with people face to face and talk through things. We don’t see the hurt in people’s eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the pain they carry. And, the insensitive things that people post on the internet appear to be entirely out of my control, which is maybe the most challenging part. No one will have their mind changed from my post about their post. No one will stop posting on social media because I think they are being mean. (Although I do think it matters that we let people know when they’ve said something hurtful, whether on the internet or in-person.)
So if I’m not able to alter people’s behavior, what can I do?
- I can reach out to my trans friends and ask what they need from me. I can let them know that I see them and affirm them.
- I can continue to work in the public and private sectors to advocate for trans rights.
- I can promote inclusion in every space I am in.
- I can learn. I have so much to learn. So much to read. So many people to listen to. And this matters.
So, it’s not a solution. But it is a start. Will you start with me?