Making Fun of Teenagers on the Internet Because I Need Something Right Now

Or: Bi/Pan Lesbians are Good, Actually

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Hello everyone! It’s me, Lexi, back again to make content on the internet about content on the internet about content on the internet. I’m happy to see you all! You see, the idea that I could accomplish something as small as writing this is a boost that I desperately need right now — by which I mean, of course, I will be doing Important and Powerful work here today. Because I need to. I’m doing it for me; I’m doing it for me.

See, I don’t really like to wade into the sphere of social media discourse a lot on this platform, despite being tempted to a number of times. It doesn’t exactly do a whole lot of good at the end of the day to just yell at some asshole’s half-formed takes I found on twitter, and unless I can synthesize some broader point to make, I’d rather not invest the energy. I’d like to think I’m better than that, you know?

But … honestly when you get down to it sometimes you have to just crank something out to feel like you can make things again. Eventually you get so sick of patiently chipping away at some potential thing in the distant future that you want more than words can express, especially when no matter how hard you try it just seems impossible to live up to your own standards and no one believes you when you say you’re doing all you can manage and what I’m trying to say is that today’s essay will be about how it’s really obviously fine for people to call themselves bi/pan lesbians couldn’t you tell?

So let’s do that! Let’s make fun of weird assholes online! Important to note: if you do not act like a weird asshole about this, then good news! I will not be making fun of you at this time. As for the weird assholes, well … this may not be the nicest thing in the world but it’ll probably be nicer than gatekeeping the sexuality of random strangers on the internet.

Before we begin, it would be best to review some basic background. The background is that some queer people, and especially a lot of trans women, choose to label themselves as bisexual or pansexual lesbians, and that some other queer people, often teenagers, get extremely mad about this because they consider the label to be harmful for various reasons. Naturally, this ends up at the center of a number of other perennial discourses, such as discussions of respectability politics, transmisogyny, and who can and can’t use certain slurs, just to name a few.

Because the entire thing is litigated on social media platforms whose profits come from people being in a perpetual state of furious argument and never receiving closure, each instance of one of these discourses amounts to a bunch of queer people repeatedly traumatizing themselves and making the open, prideful celebration of things like being a trans lesbian far more exhausting than it should be. That’s basically the jist.

Of course, when it came time for me to write something simple just for the sake of feeling like a person again all this seemed to be a good place to start. Because it’s simple, and extremely didn’t end up leading me to write about a bunch of more complicated stuff anyway. Simple. Also my girlfriend said it’d be a good idea. Simple.

Again, I’m mostly focused here on the particular kind of weird asshole who constantly pops up in the mentions of bi/pan lesbians and their supporters with a long list of arguments and an unparalleled sense of self-righteousness — if that isn’t you, then good. When that kind of weird asshole needs to send their long list of arguments to every single bi/pan lesbian ever, it naturally gets a bit exhausting trying to type it over and over. Instead, they’ll save all the arguments for later using carrd — a one-page website tool that is made for virtual business carrrds but can just as easily be used for bad takes online.

So, in preparation for writing this I went and looked through a few anti-bi/pan-lesbian carrrrds to try and synthesize the argument. Turns out they all basically make the same arguments, which makes my job a lot easier. So what I’ll do here is give the template for a standard-issue anti-bi-lesbian carrrrrd, and then I’ll explain why I think the whole thing doesn’t really work. Does that sound fun? Are you excited?

The Standard-Issue Anti-Bi-Lesbian Carrrrrrd:

Step One: Attempt to list every reason that anyone could possibly consider themselves a bi/pan lesbian and then liken all of them to erasure or whatever. This list usually consists of:

  • You are attempting to express a preference and that implies people can’t just be bisexual without being exactly 50/50. This is also the only reason bisexual lesbians are a significant part of queer history.
  • You are expressing an attraction to nonbinary people, but nonbinary people are already included in lesbian attraction so long as [insert the writer’s perception of how being nonbinary works], therefore you are implying being nonbinary is just a single third gender.
  • You are trying to express an attraction to trans women (?) and that means you aren’t considering them to be real women.
  • You are saying you’re homosexual and biromantic or vice versa and that doesn’t count because lesbian means no men allowed.

Step Two: Argue that lesbianism must only refer to women who are exclusively attracted to other women because if it didn’t then there’d be no shared term for that experience and therefore no capacity to create safe spaces for them.

Step Three: Offer some alternative terminology that you should use instead such as “sapphic”, “bisaph”, or “pink bisexual”.

Step Four: Something about CompHet

These steps can be in just about any order or distributed throughout, but they’re always all there. I’ve also heard it argued that the existence of bi/pan lesbians somehow vindicates men who are convinced that lesbians all secretly want to have sex with them, but strangely enough I didn’t see that argument in any of these. Either way, that’s also a prominent thing people say.

I’m sure it’s clear from my tone that none of this is compelling to me in any of the carrrrrrrds I researched, but it’s failed to be compelling in a very compelling way. Let’s break it down.

The thing about the first step is that it’s an immediate failure to understand why people use labels in the first place. It’s the kind of argument that only makes sense if you think words are all perfectly sectioned-off pieces of semantic idea space, never colliding or contradicting themselves. That understanding of how words work is being applied to the term “lesbian”, and as such it is assumed that people must be using that term alongside “bisexual” or “pansexual” for some specific mechanical reason directly related to the literal definition of the word lesbian — or at least, the literal definition they’ve decided to use.

To help understand this, let’s look at the word “drive”. We all know exactly what that word means, right? It’s like that thing you do with a car. And with computer storage. And with yourself, when you’re miserable and desperately want to put something into the world to feel like you deserve to exist. The word “drive” has a number of literal definitions which attempt to describe every sense of the word, but it isn’t until you’ve seen people use it for a while that you truly understand the deeper concept it expresses.

Language isn’t a perfectly logical process — it’s fundamentally steeped in history and culture, and its rules are determined primarily by vibes.

There’s no reason a flash drive should be any kind of drive. Driving is an act of motion, and in a hard drive it references the spinning of a physical disk inside. But flash drives don’t have that kind of motion built into them. They have an entirely different mechanism of storage, but they’re still called drives due to the historical association with spinning disks. It sounds contradictory, but language isn’t a perfectly logical process — it’s fundamentally steeped in history and culture, and its rules are determined primarily by vibes.

The labels queer people use work the same way. They all have definitions, but their true meaning goes beyond what can be described by words. “Lesbian” is a descriptor of a woman attracted to other women, but it is also a cultural signifier, and a community, and a history. In the multi-dimensional space of semantics, the word “Lesbian” is a single dot, but its “vibe space” stretches through tons of seemingly unrelated concepts. Bi/Pan lesbians are, generally speaking, entirely aware they could also just be described as bisexual, or pansexual, or bisaph, but they choose the lesbian label because of how its vibes help with self-expression and understanding.

That isn’t to say that there’s no one out there who uses the term exclusively as an indication that they like trans women or whatever (and obviously I wouldn’t really be okay with that bizarre situation) but it’s not the prevailing tendency as far as I’ve seen.

If you have a problem with that, I encourage you to tell me why we park on a driveway but drive on a parkway, o holy arbiter of what words mean.

Queer labels get used in contradictory ways all the time — much hay has been made over the distinction between bisexual and pansexual people, but you can explain things very easily with the model of vibe space. Bi and Pan have their particular literal definitions which place them as two semantic points, but their vibe spaces have a lot of overlap, such that even someone who precisely fits the exact definition of one could easily identify themselves as the other. Or, as a more personal example, I’m a nonbinary trans woman. I call myself that because I’m a nonbinary person and also a woman. Those vibes are both important to me, and so I claim them both. If you have a problem with that, I encourage you to tell me why we park on a driveway but drive on a parkway, o holy arbiter of what words mean.

Then again, I suppose I’m burying the lede a bit here. It’s not as if it’s impossible for terminology to ever become harmful, or for terms to have particular definitions that are useful to hold more rigid. I mean, like I said, I would find it at least a bit transphobic to use mspec lesbian language as a way of separating me from womanhood, even if I doubt that actually happens much. I can talk all day about how the labels other people use don’t define me, and it’d be true most of the time, but it’s impossible to say that’s always the case without also arguing for the right of cis people to call themselves “super straight” or whatever.

Let’s use another contentious bit of terminology to explore this. The term “transmisogyny”, was coined by Julia Serano in Whipping Girl to describe a particular intersection of transphobia and misogyny experienced by trans women and other transfeminine people — the experience of being denied womanhood while at the same time being abused and fetishized via that womanhood. The book’s discussion and analysis fundamentally relies on the use of that term to reference an experience exclusive to trans people who were assigned male at birth, which means that it’s useful to socially restrict the usage of that term to some extent. It allows us, as transfeminine people, to more easily talk about that oppression which specifically targets us and the forms it tends to take, creating spaces for ourselves in the process.

In some sense, this leaves the vibe space of transmisogyny fundamentally bound to being AMAB, but not everyone sees it that way.

In some sense, this leaves the vibe space of transmisogyny fundamentally bound to being AMAB, but not everyone sees it that way. If you don’t have the historical background and just happen to stumble across someone using “transmisogyny-exempt” as a descriptor of other trans people, you might get the wrong idea. You might assume that they’re claiming trans men literally just aren’t affected by transphobia, or misogyny, or both. You might see someone venting about TME people online because of how prevalent transmisogyny can be in real-world trans spaces and, lacking important context, assume they’re lumping trans men together with cis women as a uniformly privileged class. And, if you happen to be using some sort of, digital hell of our own creation that profits off your misery and the misery of those around you (hypothetically), there will be no incentive to back down from the initial misunderstanding. Especially if you don’t actually know any transmisogyny-affected people, like if all your interactions with trans people happen in real-life spaces with no trans women in them. You might assert, all that in mind, that you’re not wrong, that the term can mean whatever it comes to mean, that it’s no one’s right to tell you how you’re allowed to label yourself, and in my opinion, you’d be … wrong.

You’d be inhibiting trans women’s capacity to describe our unique experiences, and you’d be failing to understand how the term is being used by the people who use it. But we were just saying that all that talk about unique experiences and leashing terms to definitions was nonsense! How can it be okay to gatekeep terminology in one case but not in the other? Why is it right to say a trans man can’t call themselves transmisogyny-affected, but wrong to say that bisexual people can’t be lesbians? Does it make sense to talk about unique experiences and safe spaces for TMA people but not for lesbians?

Short answer: Yes. The long answer will require us to take a step back.

Have you ever noticed how when people make callout posts they always seem to open with the weakest arguments? Like, you could be calling someone out for literal murder and you’d open by discussing how they kinned outside their race five years ago. It doesn’t really make any sense if you’re trying to construct a coherent argument, but I don’t think that’s the point.

I’ll ask another question: have you ever had a serious falling out with someone? Like a really serious one. The kind where years of your life, all the struggles you endured, all the doubts you quashed, all that brings you meaning is finally on the verge of culmination and they just … change their mind. For reasons you don’t understand, it’s all over in an instant. And when you can’t accept that, when there’s too much pain, too much confusion, when it doesn’t make any sense, when despite it all you only want to do whatever it takes to make up for what you now know you did, whatever it takes to hear them out and understand … they just get rid of you. Forever. The time you spent, the friends you made, the community you were prepared to join, all gone. The instant passes, and you are alone. Hypothetically.

In the absence of closure, you start … looking. You try to find something to prove that it’s okay to be upset, that your pain means something. You get more and more angry and you build up this furious hive of tiny things that never bothered you before in your head, all weaving together into a heroic tapestry that exonerates you and proves once and for all that it’s all their fault. Then, you show it around. You’re fully aware that it’s only a narrative in your own head, and as such it requires the agreement of others to feel true. You become desperate to get everyone on your “side”. Your pain ceases to heal and instead bursts into flames, determined to know that you. were. right. And yet, the only thing it can actually destroy is a phantom of someone you once loved.

THAT IS TO SAY the lesbian-centered arguments expressed in step two of my template carrrrrrrrd are the only ones I believe that people against mspec lesbians actually care about. If it was true that expressing a preference implied bisexual people must always be 50/50, then the solutions of calling yourself a “bisaph” or a “pink bisexual” or whatever would do nothing to solve the problem. The same goes for using a separate word to describe attraction to trans women, or to certain nonbinary people. I mean what, am I gonna be totally cool with someone calling themself “bi-sapphic” to denote that they like both women and trans women? Hell, the only time I’ve actually seen someone use “sapphic” was to specify that they didn’t like men, which is the opposite of the usage being proposed here. The problem is, a picture of a bi/pan lesbian as just … someone who is using a term in a way you don’t like really doesn’t feel evil enough.

When you’re arguing with someone, you often want them to be evil.

When you’re arguing with someone, you often want them to be evil. We all know the voice people do when they’re complaining about that guy who cut the line at Tesco or whatever. “Oh I’m Mr. Fast Man, I have more important places to be, I’m a busy man with an important schedule and I have sooooooo many places to be I’ve got no time to wait or to come back from going out for some smokes 30 years ago”. This kind of “argument brain” feels very vindicating, but it’s fundamentally unsustainable, dependent as it is on the validation of others. It also inhibits your healing, because it blocks out the empathy and regret you feel in favor of making yourself a pure, perfect victim exempt from any reaction but bitter rage. Anger is valuable, but repeating your anger to yourself over and over only retraumatizes you, because you know deep down that the target isn’t listening.

I say your misery is profitable to social media companies because they benefit from keeping you in argument brain for as long as possible. You consume more Content when you’re scared and desperate for validation, and all these weird and tangential arguments are a perfect fit for that mindset. Not only are bi/pan lesbians using “lesbian” in a way that you don’t like, they’re also biphobic, lesbophobic, transphobic, and so on — something you can really get mad about. Not that terms like that are never appropriate, just that in this case they’re basically extra flavor on top of the real argument the people writing these carrrrrrrrrds are trying to sell: that mspec lesbian terminology complicates the gatekeeping and creation of purely no-men-allowed monosexual lesbian spaces and the discussion of experiences related to that.

So, now that we’ve established that everything up until now was basically a mediocre appetizer, let’s get into the real meat and potatoes.

CompHet. Compulsory Heterosexuality. I didn’t really explain what I meant by that earlier. It’s basically just the idea that lesbians can be compelled by a broader heteronormative society to internalize a facsimile of attraction to men and repress or write off their deeper attraction to women. It’s primarily helpful for convincing insecure teenagers to embrace their lesbianism when they might otherwise feel held back by prior straight relationships. You might compare it to ideas of “hatching eggs” in trans communities — deeply flawed but still quite personally affecting for the people it manages to help.

Overall, I don’t totally mind CompHet as a concept. I could complain that despite the extremely broad range of the name it only seems to be describing the experiences of cis lesbians, but I suppose if transmisogyny is not simply any intersection of transphobia and misogyny then this doesn’t have to be any heterosexuality which is compelled by society, either. I’ve even found some value in the framework as a way of thinking through my own relationship with men, and how often the idea of having sex with one feels more validating to my identity than titillating to my penis. What I will say, though, is that the most common usage of CompHet isn’t something that should have to exist in the first place.

If there is anything to gatekeep on entry to lesbian communities, it’s whether you think there should be anything to gatekeep on entry to lesbian communities.

Lesbianism has long had a gatekeeping problem that by all accounts I think it should be above. If there is anything to gatekeep on entry to lesbian communities, it’s whether you think there should be anything to gatekeep on entry to lesbian communities. Because lesbians are better than that. Or at least, we should be. But alas, there is a significant contingent of lesbians out there who are obsessed with making sure that only people with the exact same experiences, backgrounds, and opinions as them may be accepted. And in that environment, countless young lesbians stake their very identity on the assurance that CompHet can provide. Here, CompHet isn’t something that helps you explore yourself, but something that allows you to wipe the slate clean such that you may be slotted into new boundaries. And with that proof in mind, it makes sense you wouldn’t be amicable to anyone claiming to be your kin without undergoing that initiation themselves.

Maybe that’s a bit unnecessarily sinister? The point is, lesbian gatekeepers are fixated on maintaining an absence of manhood in lesbianism, and CompHet is an effective tool for sieving it out. A common justification for hatred of mspec lesbians is that their existence validates assumptions from homophobic men that the lesbian they’re hitting on “secretly wants it” somehow. It’s somewhat understandable — after all, men love to be really weird about lesbians, what with all the assault. However, in classic fashion, precisely none of this gatekeeping actually targets any of the people or groups responsible for oppressing lesbians. Requiring a lesbian to forsake her prior straight relationships does nothing to, like, stop sexual assault? Nor is it a particularly healthy reaction to experiencing one. It’s not like when you go to court they check the LGBT wiki to determine whether or not the victim was hypothetically capable of being attracted to the perpetrator. It amounts to victim blaming on a communal scale.

And, uh, this may be a bit of a shocker, but this kind of gatekeeping doesn’t stop at mspec lesbians. I said the goal was to eliminate all trace of manhood from lesbianism — where do you think that impulse goes next? If lesbians are all connected exclusively by their shared experience of a cis woman’s CompHet, where exactly does that leave someone like me? When I read all of these carrrrrrrrrrds and see them go on and on about “shared experience”, I’m forced to wonder if it’s actually virtuous to strive so specifically for this idea of a homogeneous queer space. The experience of growing up as a trans lesbian is very different in ways that are worth talking about, and frankly I don’t see any argument against mspec lesbianism that cannot easily be adapted to target me and mine! Add that to the sheer proportion of mspec lesbians who are TMA versus their detractors being overwhelmingly TME and I become just a little bit disgusted that accusations of transphobia were even used as a part of this.

When I read all of these carrrrrrrrrrrds and see them go on and on about “shared experience”, I’m forced to wonder if it’s actually virtuous to strive so specifically for this idea of a homogeneous queer space.

Because, if we’re being really real, the whole backlash against mspec lesbians is, broadly speaking, transmisogynistic as hell. It’s not necessarily a direct attack on transfemmes per se — after all, it’s not like these are homogeneous groups, and I honestly doubt that every TME 15-year-old who participates in this is just deliberately using it as some kind of front — but it does end up amounting to transmisogyny. The proponents on the ground have been made to feel threatened by the presence of people they don’t understand, and for SOME STRANGE REASON there are queer spaces that bring people up to view manhood, however abstracted, however removed, as some sort of infection that seeks to attack them and destroy their pure lesbian spaces. You know, because TERFs are a thing. And not because every TERF leadership role or anti-trans policy is somehow the result of annoying teenagers on the internet — it’s not — but because TERFs are prominent in some queer spaces and tend to be older cis women with a lot of tenure, power, and privilege.

The full extent of the mindset behind transphobic radical feminism is outside the scope of this essay, but the connection here is clear. The problem is, it’s only clear after knowing a ton of background and really diving in-depth on what people want, what they prioritize, and how language itself ultimately works. As a result, it’s not actually a point that’s possible to argue on social media, or at least not on twitter. I mean, how many times have you been in a shouting match with someone and been ready to read their elaborate writings on exactly why you’re wrong in good faith? And hell, how often would you actually be able to write something like that in the middle of the argument? Would it be a calm, respectful treatise or a glorified YouTube comment where you call them an idiot for not already knowing everything? These aren’t things that argument brain lends itself to, and so just like your usual debate on climate change or whatever, whoever shouts the loudest “wins”.

Same as it ever was, right? Like, you try so hard, you explain yourself over and over, you think everyone’s listening, but then someone hits you with something you didn’t think of and as you desperately try to process what happened but there’s no space and you don’t know how to ask for it and they keep hitting you with more and more and you don’t know how to defend yourself and you don’t even want to defend yourself because you don’t want to fight but your whole life will fall apart around you if you don’t. Y’know, like the, uh, Ben Shapiro thing. Yeah.

Either way, I’m on team “obsessively examining entrants to your community for an excess of man-stink lends itself to transmisogyny”. The teenagers are wrong, on this one. They ultimately just don’t want anyone to be a lesbian if they’re not sufficiently pure, and the other arguments here are basically just a way to make that position feel like standing up against bigotry instead of harassing some trans woman who added “pan” to the lesbian label she’s been using for years. And that’s all it is, really. Every mspec lesbian I’ve ever known was basically just a lesbian who wanted to acknowledge that they’re a bit into men sometimes. But they’re still lesbians. It’s not that complicated, Christ.

Well, I think we have everything we need to finally answer that question from earlier. Why is it okay to gatekeep Transmisogyny but not to gatekeep Lesbianism? Well, there’s a bunch of other little half-thought-out gripes I could throw out there, but let’s be better than who we’re making fun of and keep things focused on our core ideas.

For one, it’s a matter of goals. Hypocrisy isn’t as broad of a thing as it’s often made out to be — it’s not really morally inconsistent to think that it’s okay to lie in some situations but not others, for example. One lie does not endorse the act of lying in general, just in that particular situation. Keeping that in mind, then, it makes sense to take less of a general stand against any and all definitional gatekeeping and more of a specific stand about the gatekeeping of lesbianism. Because while the definition of transmisogyny is normally restricted for the sake of keeping it useful for its theoretical purpose, the gatekeeping of lesbianism along these lines just sacrifices the self-actualization of tons of queer people for the sake of a fantasy of feminine purity. The use of either term to create an evil, aggressive out-group that’s Coming To Get You isn’t something I’d support in any case, but only one of them is generally being used that way.

I’d liken transmisogyny less to the broader idea of lesbianism and more to the idea of comphet itself.

Besides that, though, I’d liken transmisogyny less to the broader idea of lesbianism and more to the idea of comphet itself. The terminology is slightly unintuitive, but accepting that unintuitive definition creates a powerful tool for describing a common yet complex experience with patriarchy. That could go for comphet too, in the right hands. Lesbian, on the other hand, is one of the most broad queer terms out there, and it rightly deserves to be. If lesbian ceases to mean anything but “no men allowed”, it becomes, at best, a mediocre synonym for “comphet-affected”. We’re better than that. If it’s really so important to establish safe spaces specifically for people to talk about their experiences with comphet, then you can just create that and call it that. My girlfriend adding “bi” to her lesbianism to describe her complex and conditional sexuality isn’t gonna stop you.

That more or less resolves the contradiction. It’s about different goals and different kinds of terms. There’s no real utility to gatekeeping lesbianism and it plainly lends itself to bigotry, whereas a term like transmisogyny expresses a useful idea in such a way that both requires some insistence on its theoretical definition and doesn’t cause serious harm. As such, anti-mspec lesbian arguments amount to little more than insisting you’re the only person who knows how to read a dictionary, to the benefit of no one.

But why? Why are they wasting their time litigating terminology on the internet? Well, the answer is actually surprisingly simple — it’s about control, and about being heard. The world is a mess, and when you’re marginalized, it can feel like everything’s constantly on the verge of falling apart. People who know nothing about you will determine the rules you must follow, and they won’t care what you have to say about it. Especially when you’re a teenager.

There’s an old twitter thread I can’t find about the bathrooms in homeless shelters getting trashed for no apparent reason. The author posits that this isn’t an act of malice, but an act of asserting your agency in the one domain where that’s possible for you. It’s almost understandable that you’d want to cling on to what you think you can control, regardless of who you hurt in the process. I don’t bring that up to exonerate anyone, obviously, but you can find actions understandable without finding them righteous.

It may be absurd, but I think some amount of people who obsessively gatekeep lesbianism like this really have bought into the idea that a dictionary definition is the end-all-be-all and left it at that. It’s a really weak argument, but it doesn’t have to be strong, it just has to make you feel like you’re the smartest person in the room. It lets you feel in control, like there’s some greater authority behind you, like everyone going to have to listen to you whether they like it or not. When you don’t have power in the rest of society, punching sideways really lets you feel like people care how you feel. Hell, a lot of posts stating the definition of transmisogyny have this vibe as well — it sometimes feels like people insist on that definition more to feel authoritative than to really engage in academic discussion — but even if it’s not the most healthy way to post, at least those people are right and should say it. I can’t say the same for people who want lesbianism to only include them.

It lets you feel in control, like there’s some greater authority behind you, like everyone going to have to listen to you whether they like it or not.

Of course, if you follow the transmisogyny train (choo choo) up the tree (or I guess down the … into the roots? the sun?), you’ll find the TERFs, who seem to be handling the generalized trauma of patriarchy by making it miserable to enthusiastically be a lesbian. I mean, why do you think they keep saying “adult human female” so much? Their sense of control comes from the idea that womanhood is authoritatively, definitionally a miserable curse that they must bear as sisters. Ironically, though, it then becomes something to be fiercely protected — after all, if TERFs can’t celebrate womanhood, the only remaining option is to orient themselves entirely around resisting manhood. TERFs are generally a lot more privileged than they believe themselves to be, too, so they have the power to impress that defense mechanism onto new generations of queer people and extend the radius of its effect to basically everywhere. It’s not that they want their villains dead or buried per se, just that they don’t want to know about our existence or encounter us ever.

Depressingly, that just results in a sense of control that can only be achieved in rooms of lesbians who hate being lesbians, and more broadly women who hate being women. What began as something of a trauma response mutates into a bizarre form of self-denial where you’re constantly hiding from all things queer and subversive and avoiding any joy that may come from your own identity. The mere existence of enthusiastic or free lesbianism becomes a threat and has to be stomped out — its labels must be stigmatized and its expression must be silenced. It’s a failure to heal on a ideological scale. By comparison the worst I can say about the term “transmisogyny” is that sometimes people use to to be a bit mean on twitter.

So, yeah, that’s basically it. I’ve done it. My empathy has been rewarded with victory and the contradictions in my soul have been put to rest. Stay tuned for a sponsor segment where I pretend Raytheon saved my children or something

You know something interesting I’ve learned by writing these essays? Approaching a bad idea with a calm, open-minded demeanor and earnestly taking in what its proponents are saying is really satisfying. When you look past all the auxiliary points that go nowhere and really get into the core of it, you get a new appreciation for them. A new appreciation for HOW EASY IT IS TO CRUSH THEIR ARGUMENTS INTO THE GROUND!!!

THAT’S RIGHT BABY!!! I’M FINALLY AT THE END!!! I’VE FINALLY PROVEN ME RIGHT HUN!!! THOSE TEENAGERS PARROTING BAD ARGUMENTS AND GETTING SUCKED INTO A TRANSMISOGYNISTIC CULT THAT PROPAGATES ITSELF ON OBSESSIVE SELF-SATISFIED PRESCRIPTIVISM WON’T KNOW WHAT HIT THEM!!! I HAVE FINALLY PROVEN THAT I AM NOT ONLINE, THAT I AM SMART, THAT I KNEW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT ALL ALONG. I AM RIGHT; I AM RIGHT. AND NOW, MY CORRECTNESS AND BRAIN SMARTS WILL SHINE THE WAY TO A BRIGHT AND PERFECT FUTURE! THIS WAS BUT A STEPPING STONE … AND NOW THAT I AM DONE EVERYONE WILL KNOW ME AND LOVE ME AND LISTEN TO WHAT I HAVE TO SAY INCLUDING HER

.

.

.

Yep. Guess I’m doing it too.

I mean, I am correct here. All my arguments were solid, or at least I assume they will be after a few draft revisions. I have enough confidence to assume I know exactly what I’m doing. I cleared up all the contradictions, explored questions of meaning, and left a lot of interesting ideas to chew on. I’ve finished stating everything I wanted to talk about and yet something feels … unsaid.

It’s just … maybe I’m punching at people who deserve it, and I don’t think this is exactly punching down, but are my intentions really noble? It’s not like I’m writing this out of pure righteous furor — I’m writing it because it’s easy. Because it’s in my power.

It’s not like I’m writing this out of pure righteous furor — I’m writing it because it’s easy.

I don’t know how to solve anything broader. I barely know how to hold down a stable job. But I certainly know how to trash bad arguments and make it funny and inject just a little of my own pain in there so it feels important. I can certainly make some fantastic Content when I stop being such a perfectionist.

And I guess that’s fine, right? I’m not really hurting anyone here. If I have hurt anyone, I guess I apologize ... it’s not like intent nullifies harm, anyway. I just … thought this might be a fun thing to do, today. And more than that, I thought it might be fun if the essay wasn’t just an article where I make fun of teenagers on the internet because I need something right now, but also an essay about making fun of teenagers on the internet (because I need something right now). Was that a bad idea?

Eh, probably not.

Sometimes you just have to find a way to exist. Sometimes you have to do what you want and not think so much about what other people are calling themselves or who has a bad take online. I’ve learned that much in ways both easy and hard these past few years, and I consider myself a stronger person for it. It can be unbearable trying to work through your anxieties, loosen your nerves, and resist the urge to push everything away, and I still have a long way to go, but it truly is worth it. The secret to getting respect is to respect yourself.

I had a lot of fun writing this, and regardless of popularity, regardless of pain, it’s all a whole lot better as a real thing I made than it was as an association of unrealized thoughts in my head. This whole “video-essayist” shtick is just my way of trying to feel like my feelings matter, same as anyone else, but I guess if I can make something I’m proud of that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And hey, at least my goal here isn’t to control and abuse people. At the end of the day, I do really care about understanding it all.

This whole “video-essayist” thing is just my way of trying to feel like my feelings matter, same as anyone else …

As for all of you, I don’t know. If you took an Inspiring Message from this, go with that one. Otherwise, let’s think about terminology. The power it has, the flexibility, the feedback loop between words and vibes. If you’re using it to gatekeep, to gaslight, and yes, indeed, to girlboss, then you’re using it wrong. Or at least in a way I don’t like. I think terminology is best used for earnest understanding — understanding of your experiences, your world, and your self. It’s deeply personal, so to the extent that we agree on definitions, we ought to do so purely to make common understanding easier and prevent serious harm rather than as a contest of who can shout the dictionary faster. Oh, and listen to TMA people so you don’t become a TERF. That’s the secondary moral.

If you’re satisfied with that ending, then I am too. Now it’s time to talk a little bit about another TMA very close to my heart — Texas Maritime Academy, the sponsor of this essay! At Texas Murder University you can just, you can, you can learn how to do so many things that just about qualify as jokes for the end of your, you know like when you, when it’s, um, I’m going now bye

¡Hola mis tarrrrrrrrrrrrjetas! It’s Lexi! First things first: I talked about some pretty intense emotional stuff in this article, so before any of you try anything please note that this was not caused by any particular person, group, or idea. If I find out you’ve sent threats or some nonsense to whoever you figure made your parasocial friend sad online then not only did you miss the ENTIRE POINT OF THE ESSAY, but you’re also dead to me. I do not tolerate that kind of garbage.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the article. If you did, give me money. Patreon dot com slash xtravisage. I don’t know when I’ll be back but don’t worry, I only bill for each time I actually make something big like this, so there’ll be no wasted money here. And hey, It only takes one dollar per Content to exert control over my credits by adding your name! My video credits. You gotta pay more to get listed here. Mizake Da Mizan and Vincent Poe: thank you for paying more. Thank you

Besides that, I do have a ko-fi page for one-time donations, or you can just support me by following me on Twitter or subscribing on YouTube. Tell someone about this! Send it to them! That’s the best thing in the world you can do! But also like for the love of god don’t harass anyone about it

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alexis

Alexis

Trans Internet Creator with an engineering degree. She/they.