A few years ago, I answered a question on Quora about whether there is “any truth at all in this 4chan Copypasta about transgender surgery?” The question had an image attached – a screenshot from 4chan with a lot of transphobic disinformation. My answer was to dispel the myths from the 4chan screenshot, as they are startlingly common misperceptions.
Almost 23 months later, someone commented on my answer with the following:
I immediately reported this to Quora’s moderation as harassment, and over two weeks later, no action has been taken. As the author of the answer, I do have the ability to delete this comment, but considering the age and the relative obscurity of the question and answer (as a contributor, I have access to see how often my answers are viewed), I’m leaving it up to see how long Quora takes to respond. [Update: Quora notified me on July 12 that they took action on my report – the comment was deleted.]
I have not replied to the comment on Quora, but I will reply here, to show how horrible this comment really is:
You say I will never be a “real woman“. You are wrong – I have always been a woman. You then tell me that I will never have a uterus or ovaries (which entails the inability to produce eggs, so pointing out I don’t have eggs is redundant). Those things are true – I don’t have a uterus or ovaries; but neither do hundreds of thousands of cisgender women who were born without them or had them removed due to problems they were causing (endometriosis, PCOS, etc.) – are they not women because they don’t have a uterus or ovaries? Defining women by their body parts is not only callous and distasteful, it is distinctly anti-feminist. Women are not defined by their body parts or their potential to give birth.
You say that I am “a homosexual man“. You’ve created a paradox: I am married to a woman, and am only able to experience romantic/sexual attraction for women; if I were indeed a man, this would make me straight, not homosexual. If I am married to a woman and am homosexual, that would make me woman. So which is it? You can’t have it both ways.
You say I am “twisted by drugs and surgery into a crude mockery of nature’s perfection.” You know what “drugs” I’m on? Bioidentical estradiol. The “drug” I take is the same “drug” which billions of women’s ovaries produce naturally. That doesn’t sound much like a “drug”. The other “drug” I’m on is bioidentical progesterone, the same as is naturally produced by billions of women’s uteruses. Ooh, these are scary “drugs”! And that surgery you mention – the results of that surgery is not a “crude mockery” of anything. There is a fantastic project which published their results at gynodiversity.com where they document the diversity of vulvas. My vulva easily falls into the norms for every anatomical aspect they measured (there are many more than I even knew existed!). But we agree on one thing: women are “nature’s perfection.”
“All the ‘validation’ you get is two-faced and half-hearted. Behind your back people mock you.” Okay, suppose this is true (it isn’t) — so what? If people are telling me what I “want to hear” and don’t mean it, so what? If people are mocking me behind my back, so what? I’ve been through all of that before, but for different reasons. I used to be validated for things which weren’t even true – people would praise me for masculine traits which I was engaging in a misguided attempt to prove that I was someone that I was not. I’d rather get half-hearted praise for things which are true than full-hearted praise for things which aren’t.
“Your parents are disgusted and ashamed of you,” Oh, you know them? If you did, you’d know they are proud of me for stepping into my truth and living authentically. You’d know they are working towards gender equality and full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. I love my parents and they love me – unconditionally. “Disgust” is incompatible with unconditional love. And I don’t deal in shame anymore.
“your ‘friends’ laugh at your ghoulish appearance behind closed doors.” I’m glad you had the presence of mind to place “friends” in quotes, because any “friend” who would laugh at my appearance is not my friend. Let’s get real – I had precious few close friends before my transition – I’d call most of the people I knew back then “acquaintances”. They might have considered me a friend, but even when I didn’t know the truth about myself (because I was working too hard to embody the lies I’d been fed since birth), I wasn’t bringing my whole self to the relationship. I’m gratified that nearly everyone who was in my life before I began transition has chosen to remain in my life, and I’m happy to report that I now know what it means to have friends – because I can (and do) bring my whole self to every relationship I have, and people still like and love me for who I am. And insulting my appearance? That’s once again distinctly anti-feminist. My value is not in my appearance.
“Men are utterly repulsed by you.” If so, then good! I’m a lesbian, and I don’t want to have to worry about men pursuing me. But the times I’ve been approached by and catcalled by men would tend to show that you are incorrect. What’s up with catcalling anyways – has that ever worked?
“Thousands of years of evolution have allowed men to sniff out frauds with incredible efficiency. Even trannies who “pass” look uncanny and unnatural to a man. Your bone structure is a dead giveaway.” Oh really? This is a variation on the “I can always tell” trope. The reality is, no, you can’t always tell. You can’t even tell most of the time. I’m under no illusions about the damage testosterone has done to my body – it’s part of the reason I advocate for transgender youth as much as I do… so that they don’t have to suffer the wrong, unwanted puberty the way I did. And come on – “trannies?” Get better material.
“And even if you manage to get a drunk guy home with you,” If a drunk guy is in my home, call the police! He’s an intruder!
“he’ll turn tail and bolt the second he gets a whiff of your diseased, infected axe wound.” This is the misconception I was combatting in my answer. My vagina and vulva are quite healthy – I’ve never even had a yeast infection. You see, part of being a trans woman is that I studied how to take care of my body parts, and I keep them properly cleaned and healthy. And “axe wound?” Puh-leaze! Go read my answer again.
“You will never be happy.” You have this backwards – I was unable to be truly happy until I transitioned. Until I transitioned, I didn’t know what it really meant to be completely happy. I found happiness outside of myself – in my wife and family, in some of the activities I engaged in – but I was never happy with myself. Since transition, I know what it means to be happy with myself, too.
“You wrench out a fake smile every single morning and tell yourself it’s going to be ok,” No, when I wake up in the morning, I usually let out a big yawn. Then I go to the bathroom. It’s when I’m washing my hands and look up into the mirror and see the woman I’ve always been meant to be that I smile – a genuine smile – and tell myself how lucky I am that I get to be the person I am supposed to be!
“… but deep inside you feel the depression creeping up like a weed, ready to crush you under the unbearable weight.” I’ve dealt with depression. I’m dealing with depression. I will probably be dealing with depression for the rest of my life. But I’m getting help. I’m working with doctors to treat the depression medically, so that I have the ability to work with my therapists to uncover the roots of the depression and deal with them. Hint: my depression has more to do with the trauma of living for 40+ years trying to be someone that I wasn’t.
“Eventually it’ll be too much to bear – you’ll buy a rope, tie a noose, put it around your neck, and plunge into the cold abyss.” Ok, real talk now: I’ve been to that abyss. I looked in. Not only did it look back, it smiled, and I found it charming – inviting, even. And then I thought about my family, and about what it would mean to them if I ever took that plunge. *That* was the final straw. *That* was what shattered my egg. I could never do that to them. And I made a decision that day that I wanted to live. I will never return to that abyss. And what kind of person tells someone else to go kill themselves?
“Your parents will find you, heartbroken but relieved that they no longer have to live with the unbearable shame and disappointment.” No, they won’t because it won’t happen. And no, they won’t because I don’t live with my parents. And no they won’t because they are not ashamed nor disappointed with me. But nice try.
“They’ll bury you with a headstone marked with your birth name, and every passerby for the rest of eternity will know a man is buried there. Your body will decay and go back to the dust, and all that will remain of your legacy is a skeleton that is unmistakably male.” No, actually, I wouldn’t ask anyone to waste the money and land on a cemetery plot. Cremate me if that’s all you can afford, but I’d actually be really pleased if I knew my body would go to science – perhaps into research into transgender people and our health. I’d love for my death to mean something and carry science forward. But if that doesn’t work out, bury me under a fruit tree and let the tree use my body for nutrients. Then come and eat the fruit from that tree and think of me. As far as a headstone goes – what do I care? At that point, I’m dead!
“This is your fate. This is what you chose.” You’re damn right this is what I chose, and I’d choose this again and again, if I had to. Choosing between living someone else’s life and living my own authentic life? That’s hardly even a choice!
“There is no turning back.” I’m glad! I wouldn’t turn back if I could. I love myself in ways I couldn’t even comprehend before my transition. Turning back would mean returning to that abyss and flinging myself over the edge, and I won’t do that. I choose to live.
This person’s comments are by no means the worst I’ve seen/heard, but they are among the more vile examples I’ve encountered recently. Earlier in transition, these words might have hurt me, but now I look at them with pity. This is a person who is so caught up in something dark within himself that the only way he knows how to respond to people who aren’t as miserable as himself is to try to pull them down so they become just as miserable. I hope he is able to find his way out of that hole and see that he’s really hurting himself more than anyone else.