Oppressed and Oppressor, How Pain and Anger Manifest

I’ve received a lot of feedback from people on my last post, and it’s interesting the diversity, or lack thereof, of the responses.  Basically, there have been three responses: that I was being too confrontational and shouldn’t have put any of it online, that it was good and helpful information, and that I wasn’t confrontational enough, especially not at the initial instance of stuff happening.  It’s the two extremes I feel like addressing today.

All of those who said I was being too confrontational were cis, and all who said I wasn’t confrontational enough were trans.  This is a good representation of how trans/cis relations often end up being.  One look over at Dear Cis People shows a number of trans people venting frustrations at interactions they’ve had with cis people, and cis people attacking the blog as being hateful.

See, this is the thing that many cis people, even some of our cis allies, don’t understand. When a group is oppressed, they feel the need to lash out back at their oppressors, out of pain, anguish, and anger. Likewise, we tend to want to create safe places, places where those who are oppressors aren’t welcome, for fear of them taking control of the place or the group. This is not to say that there aren’t those who take it to extremes. Throughout history, we see people taking the fighting back to extremes.

In the second wave of feminism, a form of feminism known as Radical Feminism arose, and these are the individuals brought to mind when people use terms like “feminazi”: overtly butch women who hate men and want to flip the balance of oppression around so that men become the oppressed and women the oppressors. Looking also at groups like the Black Panthers (and their illegitimate black supremacist offshoot the New Black Panther Party), one can see ethnic examples of those who take things too far. Whether or not the original Black panthers were actually responsible for killing anyone as claimed, they [i]did[/i] openly carry weapons and point them towards law enforcement officials to make a point.

My point here is that both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. Oppressed groups, in this case we trans folk, have a right to stand up for ourselves, and we have a right to have a place to vent our frustrations and anger. However, we must also restrain our anger so that it remains righteous, not going out of control.

On the flip side, cis people (and by extension, members of any oppressor group) need to take a step back and listen when we do lash out in anger. There’s a reason behind our anger. Telling us to “not be so confrontational,” that we “have no right to be angry,” or anything similar, is just continuing the oppression. If you don’t think there is oppression of trans people, then take a closer look at the Dear Cis People site. It’s only about 3 months old at the time of this writing, but there are 47 pages (each with 10 posts) on it, most of which are messages from trans people to cis people. That many messages (nearly 470), in that short of a time, it’s sad. Now go look at the sister site Dear Trans People and try not to get offended or feel nauseous at some of the things people say there.

It’s a thin line we must walk, but until oppression ends, there will always be those lashing out in anger, and even those of us trying to educate will be seen by the oppressors as being too angry or confrontational. It is up to each of us to do our part to make this a better world, even through something as small and simple as listening to others.

And now I turn it over to you, my readers. What are your thoughts? Where is the balance? Can there be that balance? Do trans people tend to overreact, or do cis people need to listen more?

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3 responses to “Oppressed and Oppressor, How Pain and Anger Manifest

  1. i don’t want to get into a debate that becomes us vs. them. i feel that when anyone is placed in an adversarial position, someone is going to lose and in this instance, the goal is for both sides to win. mutual harmony and growth. there is a lot of damage and pain in this world, it’s sad that in order to cope with their own trials, some chose to put one another on trial. as if tearing someone else down will somehow lift them up. it’s also sad that people do inconsiderate things to one another in an off-handed manner, probably never considering the consequences. i’m not sure all the blogs in the world could stop this. people have to want to change.

  2. Exactly. Both sides are defensive right now. Cis people do or say something, often unintentionally, that hurts a trans person. The trans person calls them out on it. The cis person gets defensive. Conflict ensues. I’ve seen it happen a number of times, not just with other trans folk I know, but also with my relationships with cis friends. We need to have people open their hearts and truly listen.

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