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Why So Sensitive?

Published: Jan 08 2020

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What Did I Do?

Here is a sentence you might have seen: Why are people so sensitive and quick to think the worst?

Let's explore that through some crappy thought experimentation.
Imagine if you had to defend yourself for everything you do at any time.

Imagine if you were an adoptive parent. You are that child's mom (or dad). Then every day when you drop them off at school another parent approaches and asks some form of: "You say your are their mom/dad but you aren't really their parent are you?". What!? Oh, did I mention that in this case the child you adopted has a different complexion or hair type or you are a known gay couple?

People with accents or just dark skin might have heard: "But where are you really from?".

It's not quite the same. Nothing ever is a perfect analogy. Maybe this happens to you and you immediately know what I mean. If you don't understand yet just imagine it. No matter where you go people will take it upon themselves to come up to you and say something. You are at the gym, at the store, at your work as a bank teller or cashier. Someone will come up to you and say something. Maybe ask one of those questions above: "You say you are ____ but what are you really?". Maybe it just sounds slightly off but perhaps a misunderstanding. It's never something relevant to what was just happening though. Strange, right?

They could be asking because they are curious. Or maybe to try to get you to defend yourself. Trying to "catch" you in a lie. If you don't answer or play along they may get angry and cause a scene. If you do there is a sliver of a chance that they are actually just misguided and you're the first person who corrected them. But, that isn't your job. You don't have to educate everyone. You don't have to defend yourself to everyone. Just because you exist doesn't mean you have to defend your existence. Even if did it one time doesn't mean you are required to indefinitely.

There may be times where you do need to provide an explanation. Maybe you have to prove that you are the parents of the child you adopted when enrolling them to school or maybe you need to prove citizenship for a job or maybe you need to tell your doctor about medical history that might be important. Sometimes that information might be relevant.

In none of those cases should the school say: "You say this is your child but you didn't actually give birth to this child so you aren't really their parent are you?'. The hiring manager isn't going to say: "You were born in New York but where are you really from?". The doctor shouldn't say: "You say you aren't sexually active but you're trans so that means you must be a sex worker trying to trick men?". For the most part these are insanely hyperbolic but that's the point. They shouldn't happen at all regardless of context. Sometimes they do or have happened, and sometimes it's the implied subtext. There are tons of horror stories that sound just as exaggerated but are entirely true.

Maybe you can't relate though. Let's do a thought experiment. Really try to envision this. While somewhat exaggerated there is at least a little grounding in reality or plausibility to get you through it.

You are a nurse or doctor. Every time someone finds out, because you told them, or they saw you in scrubs, or they see your pin on your jacket that says "nurses rock!" or whatever, they ask you to diagnose them on the spot. They have a weird rash, or a bump, or a strange feeling. Maybe it's your cousin and they want to know if they need stitches for this cut or their kid seems to have a fever that's high and they need to know what to do or they need to know if it's poison ivy or Lyme disease. They are family that you care about so of course you can offer a little advice for their situation.

For that random person who just stopped you at the grocery store, the house party, the parking lot after work. Maybe you see the rash and know it's an immediate threat and help them. Maybe you don't want to touch a strangers lump while you are out shopping or having a drink. If you say that you can't help they reply: "BUT it's your job!" or "Well, you do this for work so why aren't you helping me!?" or "You helped X, why not me!?"

It doesn't matter how many times you explain that your job is when you are at work. You aren't out to help every person who might need it in any context. Eventually they walk away. Then the next person walks up and asks you to look at this weird discoloration on their foot and you have to do it all over again. Maybe 10% of those people accept or realize that they were totally out of line for asking you to do that. The other 90% leave upset with you and talk about how you aren't a real nurse/doctor and tell their friends about how you ignored their cries for help and wouldn't see reason and help them and you're an awful person. People might ask you if it's true and a few won't believe it but you are trying to counter stories that spread faster than you can hope to handle.

Maybe some days it doesn't happen at all. Nobody comes up to you. Then the next day it happens 3 times. Then just as you start your weekend off and are out shopping it happens again. Now you just want to go home and get away from people. By Sunday it's kind of out of your mind so you go out and have a drink with your friends at the bar and it happens again! Imagine how frustrated you'd be. Like really imagine it. Do people think you are a 24/7 worker at their beck and call whenever they want you? The person who asked thinks they are just asking a tiny request but you have to deal with this every week, randomly, whenever it comes up, without knowing how they will react when you respond. What the hell!? At what point to you get fed up and say "ENOUGH"? At some point you will stop explaining the specifics of why you are not their medical help line and be short with people. Then they will spread the rumors even faster and with even more ammunition about how you were rude while you refused to help them.

That's kind of what it feels like for me being trans. Maybe not as much in person. Most people don't have the courage to be assholes to your face. But online, it's the wild west. Why can't I just read the article about the new show that has a trans actor without having to have a debate about whether they really deserve the part or if it's just pandering to the "LGBT Agenda™"? Whether they took the place of some "real" actor? Whether they can believably play this fictional wizard, because somehow wizards couldn't be trans?

These are the "nice" versions of the arguments. They sound ridiculous and they are. People still use them and think that if you don't defend yourself they "won" and you are admitting you aren't: "really a ___" or "really qualified" or whatever fits in their "got you now" box.

There is a lot of debate online. There are places to have debate. When I'm reading the news I am not there to debate. It doesn't matter if you try to debate there either because they will ignore you or claim your sources are biased and invalid. They aren't really there for information. They are there to spread hate. The people who try to have debates and educate in comments or forums aren't doing so to change that person's mind. It's already made up. It would be like trying to convince your local priest that their religion isn't real, can't they just see it? The people arguing back are giving their time to make sure that the small amount of people who haven't made up their mind, or haven't seen the counter arguments and just assumed everything the other person said was accurate, will maybe realize just because the haters are loud doesn't mean they are correct.

Next time you see someone saying "trans is everywhere!" or "LGBT are pushing it in our face all the time!" take a look at it a little closer. Was that what happened or was it an innocent article about how to make bread that someone had to bring up trans people in the comments? For how small (percentage-wise) the LGBTQIA+ community is, is it really that likely that they are the ones "pushing" everything? Maybe in places where they intentionally advocate for things, but everywhere? Really? Are you properly differentiating between going to the political rally and going to the grocery store? If you see a trans person at the store are they advocating for anything or are they buying a loaf of bread? Very few LGBTQIA+ people, possibly none, have the power to steer the discourse in the way that the majority (or even the minority of haters within the majority) does.

Maybe the reason you see so much of this discourse (especially online) is that there is a never-ending line of people are constantly coming up to to the LGBTQIA+ community to ask the next question. One by one, ignoring everything that was said to the last person. Once in a while to get understanding. Most of the time trying to get that angry response so they can point and say: "See! They are unreasonable and wouldn't answer a simple question!".

Just think about how every time their is a lesbian kissing in the background of a movie their is uproar but none when the man and woman leads kiss. Why is one "pushing homosexuality in our faces" and the other not "pushing heterosexuality in our faces"? Wouldn't equality mean you would be upset about both? Better yet, maybe not upset at either?

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