Remedial Level Gender

Remedial Level Gender

One of the most prominent vehicles of transphobia is selective skepticism. Let me put it to you this way.

Once upon a time, being gay was a lot harder than it is now. Ten years ago, me, a gay person in college, I would have to watch straight people hold hands, kiss each other goodbye at the bus stop, and, in one very memorable instance, had to hear a dude exclaim in the middle of a large lecture hall that he was going to be a father, followed by him bolting out of the nearest exit, screaming profanities. Every movie that played on the big screens included a hetero romance subplot, if it wasn’t the main plot. Straight people just loved each other, which is great. But when I told people I was gay, or introduced someone I was dating… suddenly, it was okay to place love under scrutiny.

Read by same voice as traditional familyist. “Oh, so you made that choice?”

Narrator: “What? No, it’s not a choice to be gay.”

Traditional familyist “Prove it.”

And if you don’t know why that’s homophobic, then allow me to explain by asking you to consider:

Why does gay love need to be proven, but straight love was taken as a granted? Nobody was ever asked to prove that being straight wasn’t a choice. The double standard, in this case, selective skepticism, was the symptom of homophobia.

Heteronormativity is the ecosystem of attitudes and beliefs that treats heterosexuality as the default, and exclusive heterosexuality as the way that people can and should be. And when us queer people came forward and said, “Actually, we have these meaningful experiences that are dramatically different from what you’re describing,” we were told that we were making it up. Or that we were choosing, somehow, to have fundamentally different feelings and reactions.

Read by Traditional Familyist:

So, what is gender? And is it transphobic to question the existence of gender in the first place?


Let’s start by clarifying what we’re talking about. On this channel, when I’m talking about gender, I’m referring to this:

  • The sum total of how a person feels about and meshes with the sex of their body.

  • The sexes expressed in humans.

  • The culture that has emerged from sexes and sex differences in humans.

Gender identity is condensation of those things into a self-assessed concept of oneself,

A gender label or gender identity label is a summary of that which someone uses to communicate their experiences, sense of self, and persistent patterns of feelings.

That all seems pretty reasonable to me, but I can’t wait for your thousand word essay in the comments arguing that it’s somehow a poisonous fiction to point out that some people have vaginas and most but not all of those people like having vaginas.

That’s a relatively simplified overview of what we’re talking about here on this channel when we talk about Gender, but I think it’s a workable definition. I think that, from that starting point, we can expand to talk about what we really want to talk about.

I also feel that it is pretty hard to deny that any of these parts are real. People who have penises often feel very strongly about their possession of their own penises, usually really liking that they have penises. Similarly, most people who have vaginas feel very strongly about their possession of a vagina, usually really liking that they have vaginas except for a few specific days each month. Do we need to cite a source for that? Is anyone going to contest that?

*TV twitch*

So, I’m going to proceed as if we all acknowledge that it’s perfectly human, reasonable, and acknowledged as fact that our bodies are important to us. That nobody picked out what sex they were born as, and sometimes, people feel that the sex they are born as isn’t the one they would pick out for themselves if given the choice.

I mean, these are all perfectly reasonable observations about people. And accepting these very basic, simple, and reasonable premises should mean that you acknowledge that trans people are real and that their feelings and their transness are valid. And when I say valid, I mean that they are real, and meaningful, and not a delusion.

This seems pretty open and shut. I don’t get why- *abrupt cut-off*


*TV twitch transition to a clip of a slightly younger CritFacts, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, in high school*

“Welcome to Senior year High School Social Studies. This week, we’re focusing on teaching about how to debate controversial issues civilly and amicably. CritFacts, you’ll be talking with Traditional Familyist about gay marriage.”

CritFacts: “Obviously, we should allow any consenting adults to get married, because it’s a legal practice to make it easier for people to share their lives materially. And often people will want to have that same stability with people who happen to have-”

TF: “Then maybe they just shouldn’t have chosen to be gay.”

CF: “Excuse you? What? Hi, I’m gay, and I didn’t choose to be gay,”

TF: “Yes, you did. At some point, you decided that you preferred members of your own sex.”

CF: “What are you talking about?”

TF: “Do you call yourself gay.”

CF: “Yes?”

TF: “Then you chose to call yourself gay.”

CF: “Because I *AM* gay, it’s a part of me that I didn’t choose to have or not, it’s just there.”

TF: “Then don’t act on it, that’s a choice.”

CF: “You’re telling me that I should go without a relationship to someone I’m attracted to… why?”

TF: “Because it’s unnatural.”

CF: “How the fuck are my own feelings unnatural?”

TF: “You chose to have them.”

CF: “No, I didn’t! And even if I could, why would I? Why would I choose to feel a way that will make society target me and make me have to deal with asinine bullshit from people like you? Wouldn’t everyone choose ts o take the path of least resistance?”

TF: “Maybe some people choose to like the same sex out of-”

CF: “In what other area of anyone’s life to they *choose* what they like? I didn’t choose to like Nightwish or Bonking Benjamin, I just do. That’s the music that makes the happy brain chemicals bounce between my synapses, so I listen to that. So why would that dynamic be any different in what people like in bed?”

TF: “Look, I just think that you chose this lifestyle.”

CF: “WHAT LIFESTYLE? I haven’t said ANYTHING about what I DO, only about what I FEEL, and it’s those feelings that are what make me gay. And I didn’t choose to have those feelings, ergo, I did not choose to be gay,”

TF: “Do you think you were *born* gay?”

CF: “I don’t think that’s how that works, I don’t think I was ‘gay’ until I started to be attracted to people, and I wasn’t attracted to people that way until puberty.”

TF: “So if you weren’t gay at birth, then you must have chosen to become gay-”

CF: “NO! There was never any conscious decision for me to decide who I did or didn’t like. Did you decide who you do and don’t like?”

TF: “What do you mean?”

CF: “Think of someone you find attractive. Anyone.”

TF: “Okay,”

CF: “Did you choose to find them attractive.”

TF: “No, I just do.”

CF: “So why do you think I’m choosing who I find attractive?”

TF: “Because you chose to be gay.”


Teacher: “Critfacts! CIVIL!”

CF: “This person is accusing me and every gay person on the planet of LYING and you’re asking ME to chill?”

TF: “Because he’s trying to take away my religious right for Christians to define Christian marriage!”

CF: “You have every right to define your own marriage, what I’m asking is for the right for me to define my own!”

TF: “You have every right to get an opposite-sex marriage just like everyone else-”


*abrupt, jarring transition to CritFacts, looking unsettled*

Image and Identity

As I was saying,

It seems pretty self-evident that people have feelings about their own bodies. And that different aspects of our bodies fit us more or less to different degrees.

I remember at the end of my high school days, a very specific kind of thing frequently went viral online… and it was parents, families, and entire high schools shaving their heads to show support for a cancer patient who, as a side effect of their lifesaving or life extending treatment, lost their hair.

But…why did anyone care? Why did the parents or siblings or classmates find that an occasion to buzz their heads? The answer is pretty obvious - such a drastic change to that person’s appearance was pretty impactful to how they felt about themselves. Most people like having hair on their heads. And America’s cultural norms dictate hair being better than no hair, at least on your head.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? When men start having male pattern baldness, we empathize with their distress at their body changing in a way that they don’t feel fits who they are, and how they see themselves. We don’t tell them they’re putting poison on their scalps when they get maximum strength rogaine off of the shelves, we take it as a given that it’s their body, their choice, and they’re making a choice on the perceived risks measured reasonably accurately and weighed against how distressed they are at losing their hair. And though, on some level, I think we all know that virtually all of the hair restoration treatments on the market are either impractical, ineffective, or both, we don’t tell people seeking them that they’re delusionally believing in something impossible, that they’re chasing rainbows or that they’ll grow out of wanting to have hair.

And even among those who aren’t losing their hair, we see people with curly hair straightening their hair, and we see people with straight hair curling and rolling their own. But, strangely, I’ve yet to see anyone tell someone with their hair in a flat iron that they’re “denying biology” or that “it’ll never grow out straight, you’ve been sold a lie.”

So why is it that whenever a trans person talks about dysphoria or how they really wish they could alter their sexual characteristics, they’re met with so much skepticism and hostility?

Why is it reacted to as if it's such an unnatural desire to have? I mean, most *cisgender* people I know have entertained the fantasy of becoming the sex complimenting theirs. But suddenly

*TV glitch*

Trans Friend: “Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong body.”

TradFam: “See? They’re trying to say that they literally believe that their dysphoria was caused by some sort of body-snatching-”

Trans Friend: “No, I don’t. That’s not what I said.”

Teacher: “They said that’s what you said.”

Trans Friend: “But that’s not what I said, and I’m clarifying. I said, very clearly, that’s what it can FEEL like. It’s complicated, and I’m just trying to put into words something that’s extremely hard to do that with.”

Teacher: “They said that you said-”

Trans Friend: “Why are you more willing to listen to THEM misrepresenting my words than you are me clarifying my own words?!”

*tv glitch*

Pink and Blue Brains

“And the culture that has emerged from sex and sex differences.”

This is the part that is a little bit harder to articulate, but bear with me. And, perhaps ‘culture’ isn’t even the right word here. Now that I examine it…it feels…incomplete.

Most cultures have a distinct, but ultimately arbitrary idea of masculine and feminine. What is masculine and what is feminine varies from place to place and from time to time, but it seems pretty common for there to be a set of value-assigned traits, certain aesthetics, expressions, and so on that are considered distinctly “male” and distinctly “female” for that culture. And often third genders, things between or outside of those two that get recognized and celebrated by the culture at large.

Sometimes these come in the form of signifiers. Clothes that are culturally coded as “men’s clothes” or “women’s clothes” - according to bathroom signage, capes and onesies. Sometimes it’s demeanor or their genuine affectation, whether someone’s posture, tone, overall presentation and expression is “masculine” or “feminine” or something else entirely. As the French would call it, a certain, you know, vibe or something. The French don’t have a phrase for “je ne sais quoi”

Now, this is where it gets complicated. Because masculinity and femininity both can be perfectly healthy and great. But they can also be unhealthy when they motivate unhealthy behaviors or there’s an external expectation placed on someone, some pressure by society to be or act a certain way.

And if you’re being descriptive - it’s perfectly reasonable to note that males and men are more likely to exhibit masculinity and to exhibit it more pronouncedly, and females and women more likely to exhibit femininity and to exhibit it more pronouncedly.

But… why? I struggle to think of any parallel to other ways in which we’re bio-diverse in a way that exhibits such a pronounced correlation to our personalities or tastes. There isn’t a certain music that appeals to blood types. I don’t see a “short people’s interests” aisle in the toy section.

Well, except maybe being g-*flicker*

But as I said earlier, these are tendencies. And there’s lots of overlap and crossover between masculinity and femininity, men and women. There are feminine men, masculine women, people who are androgynous in their presentation and nature. So, we could say that male and female are physical sex, and that masculinity and femininity are gender, the software to the hardware.

But there’s nothing male-specific about masculinity, nothing male-exclusive. Nothing female-specific about femininity, nothing female-exclusive.

And that’s all fine. But what is a man, and what is a woman? What makes someone decide that ‘woman’ is the right word for who they are, or ‘man’ or ‘nonbinary’? If not their sex, and not their presentation… well, sex and presentation are linked, but what are they linked *by*? It’s something… but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s… if we visualize someone’s body as a projector, and the image on a screen as their gender *expression*, then gender itself, the thing that’s being expressed, is the… the lens? The thing that processes the images to be projected? Kind of? And that’s something that other people can’t see, but that we’re trying to describe when we-


TradFam: “But how would I know if I have a gender? I just have a sex. What does a gender feel like?”

Well, it feels different for everyone. Just like love. If I asked you to prove what love was, prove that your love was genuine… how could you even begin to approach that? Everyone feels love differently, but there’s a common understanding of what we mean when we say love.

But all you have to do is be selectively skeptical - Love doesn’t need to be examined, but gender does. We can’t prove love, but we need to prove, empirically, what gender is, how to measure it, or else is it really there?

And that’s where we get the gender critical talking point that gender is fake, and that while patriarchy demands the appropriate expression for the body, they think trans people and allies are demanding the right body for the expression.

And therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable to assert that maleness is man-ness, femaleness is woman-ness. And to call anyone delusional if they don’t agree to this framework. If they demand that the inner mechanism of the projector, not the chassis of the projector, is what determines if they’re a man or a woman. They’ll ask to see the inside, for you to prove your own thoughts and feelings. Which, obviously, is impossible to do, because they’re inside your head. Just like your sexual orientation, or whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, and the rest of your personality-

GC: “No such thing as gender, just personality.”

The assumption is that gender can’t be real because it’s a social construct. We had ideas about what a man and a woman are supposed to be, and expectations purely foisted artificially upon us by the patriarchy.

GC: “There are no pink and blue brains, it’s impossible to be a pink brain in a blue body or vice versa. There is only biological sex, no such thing as ‘gender’.”


Documentary clip of David Reimer, talking about how he never wanted to live as a girl:



You see, when a cis woman feels emotionally, psychologically, sometimes even spiritually, like a woman, in touch with her femininity… wait, that’s fine.

But when a trans man feels emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes even spiritually, like a man, or a trans woman feels emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually, like a woman,

“Woman isn’t a feeling.”

“Sex, not gender.”

“Those are just stereotypes”

They demand you tell them, “What is gender? How would I know if I had one? What does womanhood feel like? What makes someone a woman, if not her biology?”

*TV Flicker to 2008*

TF: “How do you know you’re gay?”

CF: “I just have feelings for people of my own gender.”

TF: “Yeah, and how would I know if I had those feelings?”

CF: “What? How would you know if you had feelings for someone?”

TF: “If I had gay feelings.”

CF: “You just… know. You want to be with them-”

TF: “I want to be hanging out with my friend, am I gay for them?”

CF: “The feelings that people are showing when you see prince and princess in Disney movies. The kind that we all take for granted people are feeling when it’s a straight couple.”

TF: “Because there’s no such thing as sexual orientation. Just biology. Biological urges to make babies. Male and female.”

CF: “But how do you explain all of the things straight people like to do that don’t make babies? Why do people like to kiss or hold hands? Why do straight people have protected sex if it’s-”


TF: “No sexual orientation. Only binary biological sex.”

*Glitch, flash to CritFacts, who looks slightly disoriented.*

As I was saying… I think... Why is it that whenever a cisgender woman - sorry, “natal female” feels that special feeling for wearing a nice dress, for exploring femininity, it’s healthy and feminist, but whenever a trans woman has that same joy, it’s some how “stereotypes” or “a man’s idea of womanhood”

I mean, cis - I’m sorry, “People who aren’t trans” - speak up about their gender, just… not calling it gender. They talk about gendered things all the time. Talk about girls night out or throwing back some cold ones with the boys. Cishet parents celebrate the gender roles they anticipate putting on their children before they’re even born, with gender reveal parties that start forest fires, and yet it’s trans people and their allies who are told they’re evil and destructive when they let their kid decide for themselves what boyhood and girlhood mean to themselves. And they’ve been arguing for a “separate sphere” for centuries. And yet they accuse trans people, people who reject those roles being prescribed by birth sex, for reinforcing stereotypes-


“Hey look, I have this cartoon from Stonetoss that points out how Gender Identity was coined in the 60s by a pedophile-”

“Stonetoss is a nazi, how do you call yourself a feminist but uncritically buy his lies?”

“But is he wrong?”

“Yes, you’re talking about John Money, but the term was actually coined by Robert Stoller. And before that, people were talking about it, but in different words - the Nazis burned down the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, which included the first formal Western research on trans people, gender, and trans identities.

“Yeah but the gender ideology was pushed real hard by Money and he-”

“John Money wanted to prove, as you believe now, that there is no innate component to gender identity*

*Flicker to reading from Rowling’s Letter*

Lisa Littman had dared challenge one of the central tenets of trans activism, which is that a person’s gender identity is innate, like sexual orientation. Nobody, the activists insisted, could ever be persuaded into being trans.

*flicker back*

When David Reimer, one of two twin boys, had his penis destroyed by a botched circumcision, Money thought that he could condition David into living as a woman, because he believed that David would have a better life if he believed himself to have never had a penis, and that without a penis, he couldn’t ever truly be a man. So he might as well be a woman. Money tried to prove that gender identity isn’t real, that it’s entirely socialization, which is what you believe. YOU. He was trying to prove YOU right.

David was abused, horrifically, in many ways. He was subjected to surgery without his consent, many times, before he could even walk. He was forcefully administered hormones and drugs. He was lied to by his family, his doctors. He was by far not the first person to suffer through this - this same treatment is given to intersex people even today - but he was the first documented case of an endosex person to endure it. The first person to be subjected to nonconsentual surgical sex reassignment who wasn’t intersex.

David grew up to experience symptoms that mirror almost exactly what we now call gender dysphoria, a sense that the sex of his body, and the gender expression expected of that sex, wasn’t right for him. He continually rejected socialization given to him by his parents and the doctors to try to make him feminine, ‘girly’, and instead, had interests far more typical of boys his age.

Finally, when he was discovered peeing standing up while attending an all-girls school, and ejected from that school for it, his parents finally confessed to him. And he sought medical treatment to reverse the procedures that tried to give him a female anatomy, procedures that were convincing enough to fool both him and everyone around him for so many years.

He couldn’t be a woman, no matter what his body was. He was a man.

GC: “Of course he was. He was born a male.”

He wanted to live as a man. He got a double mastectomy and a phalloplasty, a prosthetic.

GC: “Of course he didn’t want to have breasts or a vagina, of course he wanted to have a penis.”

So why is it so absurd that a trans man might feel the same way as Reimer did?

GC: “No such thing as gender, only sex. There are no pink brains or blue brains.”

Then why did Reimer want to be a man? He truly believed himself to have been born female. He had what he thought was a pink body and didn’t know any other kind - why did he not want to be in that body? Why did he reject the sex he was given by surgeons? And why do you reject that trans people might just naturally have similar dissonance with the sex they were born into?”

GC: “No such thing as gender, only sex, and sex is binary,”

And Money got his start mutilating and abusing intersex children, children with ambiguous genitalia. How many of them were given configurations that they didn’t want? And do you have the same sympathy for them that you had for David?”

GC: “Only two sexes, no gender. Gender is stereotypes and roles.”

How is it a stereotype for the sex of your body to feel wrong for you?

GC: “No gender, only sex. Sex is binary, absolute.”

But if there is no gender, how come some people want to be male and some people don’t? How come some people want to be female and some don’t?

Isn’t it evident from all of this that there’s some innate gender? Something there?

What about the desire to carry a child? Are only certain brains allowed to feel that yearning?

GC: “Stop fetishizing our biology!”

Do you say the same of people who are otherwise completely typically female, but born without a uterus? Is it fetishizing biology for them too, or is their brain pink enough to be allowed-

GC: “No gender only-”



“I identify As”


*Clip from “Define Woman” breaking down ‘woman’ as a gender identity*

*cut back to CritFacts, at a desk, as if nothing had happened*

When someone says the phrase, “I identify as,” what they’re doing is they’re reporting a self-assessment. They’re self describing a part of themselves only they could know I identify as gay, generally. If I have to be more precise, *flicker* (apologies, we are having technical difficulties)

For example, someone might say, “I identify as an introvert” or an extrovert. They’re saying that they’ve reflected on their experiences, and they’ve assessed themselves to be this certain way about how they socialize.

And I identify as nonbinary,


TF: “But you’re either male or female”


So, we have biological sex, which is the sum total of many features of a person’s body. Hormones, gonads, genitals. All of them.

And, we have manhood and womanhood and nonbinary, which are the expressions that have emerged from those. The signifiers, the affects, the presentations.

But how do we get from one to the other? And are they real? Femininity doesn’t make someone a woman, nor vice versa. Being masculine doesn’t make someone a man, nor vice versa. They’re correlated, but… are they even real?

There was a story that’s stuck with me for some time, told to me by a very prominent bisexual activist, when she was giving workshops and speeches

She was talking to another friend of hers, a bisexual man.

And she said to him, “Y’know, us bisexual people, we don’t care about gender, and that’s really cool.”

And the man she was talking to turned, “What are you talking about? It’s all *about* gender.”

“What do you mean?”

“I go for football players and cheerleaders.”

She told us that she introspected and realized that the people she liked were all androgynous. Butch women, feminine men. Probably enbies, but she didn’t specify.

And almost everyone I talk to who’s comfortable telling me about it has strong preferences about the masculinity or femininity of their partners. Some gay men prefer femboys, some gay men prefer studs. So clearly, there’s something there, on some level, that we react to on a visceral level. Something almost primal that we react and respond to that.


GC: “You’re trying to trans away the gay.”

What? What are you talking about?

GC: “Gender nonconforming kids. You’re trying to make them stop being gay.”

What the hell do you mean? There are plenty of gay trans men, trans lesbians, bisexual, pansexual, and even asexual trans people-

GC: “You try to transition them so they don’t grow up to be gay.”

How would that even work? You can’t tell if someone will grow up to be a certain orientation by-

GC: “Gender nonconforming children grow up to be gay”


Hold on, wait,

First of all, it’s a stereotype that gender nonconformity is linked to being gay or bi or even asexual.

But also, if gender isn’t real, how can gender nonconformity be a sign of something?

And how do you account for that most trans people, when they come out to their families, they most frequently hear “Why couldn’t you just be gay?”

Even from HOMOPHOBIC families.

That’s right - even in families where the parents thought having a gay child was bad, they thought having a trans child was even worse. So the idea that supporting trans kids in their identities is motivated by homophobia is so absurd.

And even in some absurd hypothetical where there was some goal to reduce incidence of people being gay by getting them to be trans, then people would have stopped doing it because most trans people are NOT straight relative to the gender they transition to. Most trans men are attracted to men, most trans women are attracted to other women.

GC: “See? Now you’re trying to force lesbians to sleep with biological males-”

I’m not trying to force anyone to sleep with anyone! Plenty of people are perfectly comfortable dating trans people, and even if you’re uncomfortable dating a trans person because of unpacked transphobia in your system, you shouldn’t ever be pressured to date anyone you’re uncomfortable dating. Just say no, go home, and unpack your transphobia for the sake of unpacking your transphobia.

GC: “You’re trying to redefine homosexuality.”

What? What the fuck are you talking about? Being gay never did have a rigid, inflexible definition. It should be a voluntary self-description. I’m gay, and I’m attracted to cis people of my birth sex and trans people of the associated gender idenity-

GC: “Then you’re not gay, you’re bisexual.”

CF: You aren’t listening to me.

GC and TF overlaid: “You’re not really what you say you are, there’s only biology. Biology. Biology.

*visual distortion, GC/TF chanting get louder while 2008 and 2021 critfacts overlaid visually, then abrupt silence*

CF: “I’ve… been here before…”

*the two images slowly separate. The image of the TERF is frozen in place*

2008 CF: “I love who I love. And I’ve looked carefully at who I love, and I’ve determined that I’m gay. I identify myself as gay.”

2021 CF: “And I… am reliving all of those times that I wasn’t believed. That I was told that I wasn’t feeling what I was feeling. That I’m wrong in my own self-assessment, or that I should use someone else’s framework to describe myself when it’s not a framework I agree with at all.”

I see it happen constantly with my trans friends.

Trans people were always there for me, through every step of my journey. As a demographic, they were standing up for my rights as a gay person before I was even born. And on a personal level, trans people have been among my closest emotional supports. Who have been the most ready to accept me for who I am without asking me to reconsider or “maybe you’re just confused”.

And now, transphobes are trying to tell me that I just…imagined all of that. That despite everything I’ve seen, all of that solidarity and kinship I’ve felt, that trans people are somehow my enemy, that I’m being hurt by them when I know they’ve been part of me healing so many wounds that bigots have given me.

And now, they’re trying to tell me how to assess my own goddamn sexuality. Again.

Transphobia is cooked in the same kitchen as homophobia, and with the same ingredients. It relies predominantly on dismissing people as unreliable narrators of their own experiences. It relies on seeing certain feelings or desires as unnatural, pathologies in need of explaining away or fixing instead of acknowledging them as healthy human diversity.

It gave me a kind of deja vu, because transphobia and homophobia are so consistently similar. And though, for me, homophobia started trailing off about five years ago - it’s not gone but it’s not omnipresent like it was - dealing with transphobia as it is now feels like I’m in some sort of time warp. Like there’s some bizarre glitch in reality. It’s uncanny how similar it is. And it’s even bringing back homophobia, because when gay people like myself speak up and say “hey, this is how we were treated, it’s the same rhetoric”, then suddenly, we gay people are treated as unreliable narrators once again, by people telling us that they’re doing it for our own good. The same “doing it for your own good” used by the people trying to convert us away from being gay.

And it can be disorienting. But I’ll keep fighting. Because if we keep fighting, refuse to be drowned out with gaslighting, if we’re loud enough for long enough, they’ll have to acknowledge that we’re not deluded, that we’re not making it up, that we are who we say we are, and we feel what we say we feel. And then we’ll have a world where people are believed, where even if how someone describes themselves doesn’t fit with your framework of how things work, you give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re describing their own experiences.

*slow fade out, fade back in to CritFacts, sitting at a table next to several others, including 2008 TF, who has a different posture*

TF: “What’s gay?”

Guy 1: “I’m a dude, and I’m attracted to other dudes.”

TF: “What about them attracts you?”

Guy 1: “Well, I usually like masculine men. It just… manly guys are just thrilling to me, especially if they’re assertive but respectful, they make all of the moves…. Gosh, I just melt.”

TF: “Oh, I can relate. I like manly guys that way too, but gosh, sensitive nerdy types are so cute. Some of them get SO bashful when you flirt with them and it just….”

*Flicker, TF and CritFacts both age 12 years, other two people replaced*

Guy 2: “I’m a trans man.”

TF: “What’s that?”

Guy 2: “So, I’m a man, but I was assigned female at birth. The doctors looked at me when I was born, saw VEGETABLE and declared me a girl. But… living as a girl just wasn’t right. I kept wishing I could have a male body and just be one of the boys.”

TF: “Oh, wow. Yeah, I never really thought much about how I felt about being female, you know? I just sort of… I mean, men are hot and all, but I’d never want to be one, and I never really asked myself that.”

Guy 2: “Heh, yeah. It honestly felt so much better when my mom let me change my name to David. And then in 7th grade I got invited to a guys-only camping trip and… like, I knew my body hadn’t changed at all, I hadn’t started hormones or even blockers, but… I felt so seen for who I was. I felt so… real. It felt right in a way that girl’s slumber parties never did. It was like… imagine being called the wrong name for years, and then a surprise birthday party where your right name is on a giant banner….”

*fade out*