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The First And (So Far) Only Time Being Proved Right Didn’t Make Me Happy

A bit of rambling after a harsh rejection

I sort of knew what I was getting into, but I’m stubborn and for some inexplicable reason I felt the urge to do it even though the discourse doesn’t impact me directly. And so last week I wrote a post on a whim and submitted it to a publication on Medium.

I know the topic was controversial and my position as a person not directly involved and harmed could lead to some misunderstanding. I expecting some kind of backlash because of it, or because I used some insensitive argument or said something bad against a marginalised community while clumsily trying to show support.

The rejection was quick and didn’t come as too much of a surprise. Given the sensitive topic, I replied right away to the editor asking if it was something I said that could be perceived as offensive. As a non-native speaker, there are still some nuances of the English language I don’t have a full grasp on, and I wanted to clarify the misunderstanding to the reviewer, if that was the case.

Imagine my bewilderment and feeling of being let down when I was told that it was because they fully disagreed with me. And not on the end: I’m sure we both support the community that’s being targeted in this specific case. Problem was, they disagreed with me on the means. As if my opinion on what I think is a better way to fight this fight wasn’t strong enough or, even worse, complicit to the oppressors.

One thing I want to make clear, and I’m going to write in bold to highlight it, is that I have no hard feelings against the reviewer whatsoever. I still think the publication and the person behind it do a hell of a job on Medium, providing in deep and thoughtful analysis about various aspects of pop culture. It’s the reason why I hoped my article could be accepted there, maybe flooded with harsh criticism for some sides of the question I failed to address, but accepted. Instead it didn’t happen, and as much as I’m sorry about how things went, I accept the decision and insist no further. It’s their space, they ultimately decide what to publish and what not.

But in a certain sense, this confirms a good part of the point I was trying to make in my article. And for the first time ever, it doesn’t make me feel any better.

Road paved with good intentions still end up in hell

I wrote an article advocating for dialogue and a rational approach with people who know little to nothing about the topic and the controversy to convince them about the goodness of the cause. To show how certain comments made by certain people, especially people in a position of power, are harmful to oppressed communities. To show them that society is not in danger if more people are considered, well, people.

I wrote that the people asking for recognition are desperately in need to be understood, and that they’re not the pitchfork waving mob like conservatives continuously try to paint them. That instead of targeting the people spreading lies, a strategy that can easily backfire (and I think it’s happening right now), we should show WHY those ideas are false and dangerous. Otherwise it will all remain empty virtue signalling, no matter how well-meaning.

I realised that many people outside my Twitter bubble are for the most part unaware about the controversy I was talking about. I tried to imagine, to explain how the entire thing looked from the outside, and why a little bit more of diplomacy could be, in my opinion, a better strategy.

Of course I can imagine where all that anger and fear come from. It’s always bad to see those in power beat down against the powerless, especially if they paint the oppressed community as a cabal of oppressors. But this is exactly the reason why going straight the neck of who’s making harmful statements is not as helpful as they think it is. There is too much power and visibility unbalance.

Rejection stings, but it’s not the worst part of it

I though about it a lot for the past couple of weeks, about how the way my article was rejected could, if viewed from the outside, lead someone else to think that they’re being censored by an irrational cult. If they can’t take the minimum amount of dissent, if they’re not open to explain their point in a civil way to people genuinely interested in helping, what is the point of talking to them?

This is why the rejection still upset me. Not because of its effect on me specifically (I’ve got broad shoulders), but because of the bad rep the movement gets as a consequence of such stubbornness. I understand when it comes from, but there’s no guarantee everyone else will.

I’ll delete the draft and move on, but I can’t finish this post without another bit of bold font.

Trans men are men, trans women are women. Non-binary identities exist, no matter how much the concept confuses you. It’s not your own business. And their existence doesn’t pose a threat to anyone in any way. (If you haven’t been spending the last couple of years under a rock, you already understood that’s what the rejected article was about). Play the games you want to play, read the books you want to read, but please don’t forget this and that they are, same as us cis folks, people.

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