Friday, 13 December 2013

The Hand Mirror and Trans People

On another thread Lash of Thantos said "Speaking of keeping up momentum, I see according to your comments policy this site is still not a safe space for trans people."  At Lash's request I've opened up a thread to discuss these issues.

Unfortunately I'm under rather a ridiculous amount of stress at the moment - and so may not be able to participate in the conversation until things get a little bit easier at the end of next week, although I will try to (I don't know about other THM bloggers - although this is often a difficult time of year for people).
I do want to respond just briefly on the structure of our comments policy - I don't believe it's up to us to declare that THM is a safe-space. So THM comment policy is not supposed to in anyway be a commentary about whether this site is or is not a safe-space - it is a statement of our intentions and an acknowledgement of ways which we have failed those intentions in the past.  I welcome any discussion on experiences of trans people at THM, and thank those who are willing to give feedback for their generosity. 

28 comments:

Lash of Thanatos said...

Thanks for starting this thread Maia.

I hope to hear more from Trans people today.

Acid Queen said...

Well I must say I have been waiting a long time for a thread like this.

I was obviously one of the people mixed up in all of this to begin with. After the various pledges to do better on trans issues on this blog I have watched and waited to see some signs. To my eye there don't seem to have been any.

This blog still has no trans moderator, no trans commenters, and the comments policy has remained unchanged. I can only assume trans commenters are staying away because of the legacy of events of a couple of years ago.

Also the commenters whose offensive comments were endorsed and promoted by THM moderators are still commenting here.

I'm sorry, there is one change that seems relevant - I am now partly banned from commenting on this blog.

Can I ask, why has there been no action? Could the mods not agree? Was it too hard? Did you reach out to the trans community for a trans mod? Did nobody respond?

Scuba Nurse said...

In this note I dont speak for everyone at THM, we are not the borg, but I do want to reassure people that this isn't an issue that is going away, and Please dont think that because there isn't a person you identify as trans in a writing capacity at THM, that it is becauase we don't care.
Significant discussion has occured on this topic among the team. There has been no disagreement on the fact that a trans woman would be as welcome as a cis woman on the writing panel, and we moderate our own posts, so would of course be a moderator.

Points that have been barriers to having a writer who identifies as a trans woman so far: As of yet, no one is willing to take up this role that I know of.

This is quite an important barrier.

I'm loath to be the person who gets into this further, because I think that two cis women taking over the comments thread on an issue that directly effects trans women is defeating the point, or perhaps proving that we havent learnt anything.

Thanks to Maia for raising this.

Acid Queen said...

Scuba, I think the reason no trans woman is willing to be a mod here is partly because of this blog's well deserved reputation as not being friendly to trans people. Perhaps the question you should be asking yourselves is, what can we do to make writing for this blog a more pleasant proposal for a trans woman?

Also, your internal mod discussions are I'm sure very useful and productive but for us readers it's hard to take anything from them. We only see what you do.

Trianon said...

I am reluctant to post here but... I see that no other trans voices are being heard, so here I am.

I am an sometime reader, never commented before. I used to read THM a lot but when the whole trans fail thing went off I stopped. I have checked back sometimes but it seems like things haven't changed. I don't see a lot of posts making an effort to discuss trans issues in an inclusive way or welcome trans people.

Maybe I've missed some, I'm not sure.

But I think I am not the onlkly person who was burned back then.

ChundaMars said...

Ok, I'm intrigued. Can anyone point me to the "whole trans fail thing"? I'm thinking it must have been before I added this blog to my Feedly, as I can't think of anything that's happened in the short time I've been reading...

Acid Queen said...

@Chunda: I can point you to the post, but the comments section (which is where the real fail happened) has been deleted for unspecified reasons.

ChundaMars said...

Thanks Acid Queen, I'd be interested in reading the post anyway, even without the comments

Acid Queen said...

It's this:

http://thehandmirror.blogspot.com/2011/06/guest-post-queer-night-wlg-one-week.html

ChundaMars said...

Thanks AQ. That confirms that was well before I started reading here, and the problem must have come in the now-inaccessible comments. Cheers for pointing me to it anyway.

Maia said...

Thanks for the feedback.

Trinion - I'm sorry that you felt driven away - thanks for your comment. I agree that posting more about trans* issues is an important way of improving THM.

Lash of Thantos & Acid Queen - you both mentioned the moderation policy. I'm sorry maybe I'm missing something really obvious - but I'd really appreciate your feedback on what you see as the problem. We amended the comment policy directly in response to the previous discussion. I'm totally happy to revisit it - but hadn't realised the policy was a problem.

Acid Queen - I don't know much more about what people post here than what they tell us - and I absolutely understand as Trianon said that we have driven away many from the trans* community. But to say we have no trans commenters - is first of all not true - and second of all assumes everyone who doesn't identify themselves as trans is cis - I'm uncomfortable letting that comment stand.

In terms of commenters whose transphobic comments sparked this are you talking about Psycho Milt (I've been reviewing the discussion in response to this thread)? I do think having a discussion about who should be unwelcome commenting here was possibly somethin we didn't do two years ago - so I will try and revisit that.

ScubaNurse - I think it's disengenuous to suggest that the reason that we don't have a transwoman blogger is because none have come forward - we have shoulder tapped all our other bloggers.

ChundaMars: I think this post http://thehandmirror.blogspot.co.nz/2011/06/all-apology.html gives a better sense of the discussion and the issue.

ChundaMars said...

Thanks Maia, appreciated.

ideologicallyimpure said...

Trianon suggested I might want to give feedback on this.

I am not in a position to comment on the previous issues with transphobia in comments here, but I can suggest that if Blogger literally doesn't allow pre-moderation of comments, one step towards creating a safeR space might be to move platforms.

I'm on Wordpress and I am able to pre-screen comments containing specific words, phrases, usernames, email addresses and URLs, as well as required that new commenters have at least one comment approved before subsequent comments are automatically published.

This could give the moderating team a better sense of control over what gets posted.

Trianon said...

Thanks for talking QoT

I will post some more here later, but holidays are proving emotionally draining so it might have to wait until the new year.

Sarah said...
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Acid Queen said...

@Sarah: The problem is, people here are not respectful to transpeople. Including many of the moderators.

See the linked posts if you disagree.

"Start your own blog" is not at all helpful advice in trying to make this a safe space.

Sarah said...
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Acid Queen said...
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Trianon said...

Sarah, I am finding your comments... wait a moment... what's the word... oh yes... TRANSPHOBIC

You are saying that trans people should simply be excluded from this space until they are 'ready for the wider world', whatever that means.

The implication I'm getting is that if transwomen are offended by what is said here, they're somehow naive and sheltered. It cpouldn't possibly be the fault of the peoiple who are saying the things that are offensive now, could it?

It's very frustrating that a comment thread about how to deal with transphobia turned transphobic so quick. But not all that surprising.

Anonymous said...
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Acid Queen said...
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Sarah said...
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CJ said...
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Maia said...

Sorry everyone for not being around to moderate. I have deleted all of CJ's and Sarah's comments - I have also deleted one of AQ's comments which quoted the most offensive thing Sarah said - because people don't need to read that. Those sort of statements are not acceptable here.

Trianon - especial apologies to you that you had to read that.

In terms of improving our capacity to moderate installing Discus would be infinitely preferable to moving platforms (moving platforms means changing URLs - and that has obvious drawbacks). I will re-raise the issue with fellow posters.

Trianon said...

Thank you for that, Maia.

After that experience it seems like a lot of your readers and commenters simply don't seem to think that this is intended to be a trans inclusive space.

Maybe there is something the mods can do to address this.

Psycho Milt said...

In terms of commenters whose transphobic comments sparked this are you talking about Psycho Milt (I've been reviewing the discussion in response to this thread)? I do think having a discussion about who should be unwelcome commenting here was possibly somethin we didn't do two years ago - so I will try and revisit that.

Gee, thanks. If you do, also revisit the question of whether an editorial policy that requires deleting a significant proportion of your site's comments and getting together for discussions on who should be unwelcome for expressing an opinion someone didn't like, is really worth it.

Anonymous said...

I dont know why my comment was deleted when it was in support of trans women.

madhousewife

Hugh said...

I'm sorry if this is a derail, but absent general discussion of moderation, I have to ask... is the email address thehandmirror@gmail.com active? Because I emailed you guys to complain about a comment I felt violated the comments policy, oh, it must have been at least six months ago, and never received a response. Not a "we've decided this comment is OK", not even a "LOL fuck off troll". It kind of gave me the impression that doing something about potentially problematic comments was not a priority for the bloggers here.