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Hi! I have a few thoughts about this.

When I read Lewis’s piece about being trans at work, I thought of it as a frankly generous attempt to let other people see the routine struggles that come with being a visibly trans person in the world, and as a way to let people know how they could learn from his experience — that they could think twice before assuming what pronoun to use to refer to a person, for instance, based just upon their appearance or the sound of their voice. It didn’t seem like it would be easy or pleasant to put all those experiences into words, and I thought Lewis doing so was brave and admirable. We hear a lot of talk about allyship — particularly from folks who think of themselves as allies — and this seemed like a document with some concrete, helpful ways that one could be an ally.

But one of the frustrating things about people who think of themselves as allies to oppressed people — whether oppressed on the basis of gender or race or sexuality or whatever — is when they reveal how short their limits are, or how shallow their commitment is, and how quickly they turn to defensiveness when confronted with even minimally uncomfortable information. I think that’s what’s happening here. In his piece Lewis mentions a couple instances when he disabused people of their idea that he was a woman — flatly but politely, as he wrote, several times. The fact that you thought a “flat, but polite” correction somehow equaled a “lambasting” — “intolerant,” even! — says a lot more about you than it does about him, I think.

People asking to be treated with respect is not an act of aggression. But for too many oppressed people it’s treated as such; not only that but it’s often a request that somehow invites aggression, as we see here. As far as I can tell you’ve made one post on Medium. The issue you’re going to bat for here is telling a trans person that his own life experience is … fictional? Imaginary? Somehow annoying to you?

(And if I can offer a thought on your response to Micah, I’d just suggest that nobody’s criticizing you rather than other commenters because you’re a woman; rather, it’s because it’d be nice for Lewis to be able to expect to be treated more kindly by his purported in-real-life friends than by random Internet trolls and racists.)

Is there a tone in which you think it would be appropriate for Lewis to discuss his life, or would you prefer that he just stay silent? Is there some language he could use that might make you feel more comfortable? Have we really come to the point where we’re discussing your feelings about the fact of Lewis being himself, Renee, and experiencing the world as he does every day? I think the fact that you think somebody publicly discussing the quotidian experiences of being trans is somehow “pontificating” says much more about how far non-trans people have to go in recognizing the humanity of trans people than it does about what was, again, the mild, helpful, and honest article that you’re responding to.

Anyways. The callousness and mean-heartedness on display here is astonishing.

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