Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

When they come for you

I largely try to stay out of "discourse" on social media these days, and coming out is not going to change that. But for the record…

Thank you to everyone who has reached out asking how I’m doing. I’m doing just fine. I have a nice filter bubble on Twitter that lets me avoid the riptide of discourse and play, mostly carefree, in the shallows.

Thank you to everyone who has spoken up. Instead of hate, I just see people celebrating trans people on my timeline, making me feel loved and welcomed. I continue to see the calls for justice, the calls for reform, the calls for change that are so much more urgent and important than a white woman misbehaving and then doubling down on her misbehaviour. Black lives matter, Black trans lives matter, and let us not be drawn into digression because someone with a little fame wants to throw a public tantrum.

Let’s just deplatform her already and get it over with.

People asked me if I’m ok, and I say I am, because I’m not sitting here staring at my screen late at night, yelling at eggs and TERFs. Except here I am, sitting, staring at my screen late at night, weighed down by … something. Am I ok? I don’t know. I’m still processing a lot.

You need to understand that, for me, I am still shaking off the position of presenting myself online as a cisgender man, because for a long time I was in denial and that’s what I told myself and the world I was. And as a cis man, it was so very easy for me to ride the rescue in my trans friends’ mentions. (I still tried to stay out of the larger fray, because I personally believe Twitter is not a place for constructive debate.) Now, of course … it’s personal. I was curious, when I came out, when and how this shift would occur. When would I notice people treating me differently because my name and avatar are female? Or click through on my profile, see that I’m trans, and treat me even worse?

There are countless stories of men pretending to be women online for a week and being shocked and overwhelmed by the difference. But that hasn’t happened to me, and I attribute that simply to the fact that I’ve already curated for myself a nice group of followers and people I follow who … actually have empathy for other humans. Strange, right?

That’s what I need you to understand. I don’t need you to understand how this latest eruption of unpalatable and undercooked bile from Wizard Mommy, or the ensuing reactions and counterreactions, has made me feel (because like I said, I’m still trying to understand that). I do need you to understand that this is about empathy, who has it, and who does not.

Wizard Mommy would have you believe her latest ride on the merry-go-round of tendentious hot takes comes from a place of concern for the wellbeing of women and children (and maybe even trans people themselves, depending how generously you read her selective scrawls). But beneath the paper mask with its rictus smile beats the heart of an ice queen all-too-calculated in her words and delivery.

It’s simple: Wizard Mommy, IT Daddy, and all the other celebrity transphobes are coming for us, trans people. Their words are words of hate. Their words deliberately mobilize their armies of followers who read and believe what these people say, who give them every benefit of a doubt, who absorb these thoughts as if they are gospel. Because … for some people … these celebrities wrote a gospel.

They know what they are doing. They are not ignorant of their effect. They are not dogwhistling. They are knowingly and deliberately using their influence to spread hatred of trans people, to make people fear us, to make people misunderstand us, to make people think we are sick for being who we are. This will lead to more violence against trans people. More murders. More suicide. More fear.

I need you to understand that’s what is at stake here. This is not academic for trans people. This is not a fun (or unfun, depending on your mood) debate on Twitter and other platforms. These words on a screen translate into actions in the offline realm that result in people losing their lives.

I'm ok, and I'm going to continue to be ok, because I have a wonderfully robust support network. My friends catch me when I stumble. People bake me unsolicited desserts. I have parents and grandparents who love me unconditionally. I'm golden. No, my concern is as it always was even before I considered transitioning: those trans people who lack such supports. The young people lying in bed who sign on to Twitter, see all this going down, and what they hear is that they don’t belong here. Just another day of being reminded that people would rather see you as sick, as mentally ill, as a predator rather than a person. That’s what happens when they come for us.

Transphobic people have lost their empathy, somewhere, and now they refuse to see us as human beings. For that, I pity them. But that is not the same as excusing them or forgiving them.

If you make excuses for them or forgive them, if you stretch the thin film of cognitive dissonance that until now might have made it possible to hold any of these people in any kind of regard, now is the time to let go. It’s not the best time—that time has past—but it is the time.

An if, unlike me, you yearn to muster arguments, marshal evidence, and wade into the debates and discourse that surround this issue … you do you. But I urge you to remember that this is not about facts, not about convincing people who don’t care to be convinced, not about “winning.”

This is about carefully wrapping our hands around the precious, cooling embers of empathy and blowing on them, strongly enough to keep them alive yet not too strongly, lest we extinguish them entirely. We owe it to ourselves, to each other, and to the next generations to carry those embers, to keep the fire going.