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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » (violence and language warning) This is probably old news, but...

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Author Topic: (violence and language warning) This is probably old news, but...
mizchastain
Activist
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... what do people here think of that photo that's circulating on Tumblr of the trans activist with the tattoo reading "Die Cis Scum"? I've seen people argue that because it says "die" instead of "kill" it's not advocating actual violence, that it only refers to that portion of cisgender people who can be described as "scum", and that the culture of violence against trans people makes it okay. I think that people who see it will automatically assume it's advocating violence and that it refers to cis people in general, and that's hurting the cause. I'd like to know others' opinions.
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Molias
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There's certainly a huge difference in my mind between "I hope [x group] dies off and new generations are less shitty" vs. "I want to kill [members of x group]." And what the tattoo-haver means by "cis scum" is open to interpretation as well. I think only the person who has that tattoo can really explain what it means to them. Perhaps they've done so somewhere public; I'm not sure.

Honestly, I think this is one of those things that maybe cis folks might want to step back from a bit. Anger - especially when it's really intense and violent - from an oppressed group against abusive/oppressive forces is pretty scary and disruptive. And I think that might be ok. I think a lot of cis people should feel uncomfortable about how they treat trans and other gender-non-conforming people. My hackles often go up when folks outside a marginalized group start criticizing what people in that group do to cope with their oppression.

I'm not into violence at all, but a lot of trans folks have suffered enough violence at the hands of cis people that I can understand why they might feel that impulse, even though I find it upsetting. Do I like that tattoo? No, not particularly. It makes me uncomfortable, and I'm a fairly angry trans person when it comes to a lot of issues (especially on behalf of others, as I'm quick to admit that I have a lot of privilege many trans people don't). But I don't want to tell that person that they're causing problems by choosing to get it.

Also, in terms of "hurting the cause," even if this person IS a terrible cis-person-murderer, I think if anyone says "oh, because of that person I now know all trans people are terrible, I won't support their rights any more" then they were a pretty bad ally to begin with. If you interpret one person's negative actions to reflect poorly on a group as a whole, that's a problem.

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mizchastain
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I wasn't really talking of how it'd affect people who already support trans rights, because you're right. To provide an analogy, I was bullied seriously by a black girl in school, but that didn't make me stop supporting rights for women and/or persons of colour, so yeah, seeing a person of this group doing something that could be offensive shouldn't stop anyone from supporting their group. I was thinking that one point of activism was to get the support of people who don't already agree and work with you, and seeing this is likely to be a bit offputting for people who could be persuaded to join. If I was your average unenlightened person and saw someone with a tattoo apparently calling me "scum" and telling me to "die" for something I had no control over, I would want as little to do with that person as possible.

The person in question (I can't remember their preferred pronouns) actually stated on their blog that they did intend it as violent. Honestly I think if I'd known that person I would be avoiding them now even if I wasn't cis. Fantasising about violence against people who've harmed you is one thing, I think most people do that at some point to some extent if only in secret, but declaring that you approve of real violence strikes me as a bad thing.

[ 05-21-2013, 05:48 AM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Molias
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Yeah, your bullying analogy was the sort of thing I was thinking of. The people who are going to generalize one scarily violent tattoo to an entire population probably weren't going to be that on board with trans rights in the first place. It's a tough lesson to learn, but if people are really going to support rights for marginalized groups, that has to include people who they don't personally like or who make them uncomfortable.

I wonder if this tattoo isn't more of a personal thing than an Official Activist Thing, you know? Clearly it's been posted on tumblr and talked about by a bunch of activist-minded people, and the person whose tattoo it is has at least written one post describing their feelings about it, but it's not really clear that their intention was to make some sort of grand statement in relation to their community. It sounds like it's a very personal response to a lot of violence and abuse.

The post does make it very clear that they're just fine with cis folks seeing/reading that and feeling uncomfortable. And if they want to be that aggressive, that's their choice for sure. Whether I personally am ok with it or not, I realize that there are various ways that trans people can deal with constant abuse, and this is one of them.

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Jill2000Plus
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It's not their choice to make to commit acts of violence against people for being ignorant or prejudiced though. I hate it when thin men call me a hambeast but I don't actually advocate for violence against them for saying those things.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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