The Four Responses

Subject: The Four Responses
Date: Mon 15 Jun 1998 - 03:56:17 BST

Ok, here is a theory.

When someone looks at a transgendered person funny, challenges them, there
seem to be four possible models of response.

1) "I didn't hear anything!"

This model uses the power of denial to ignore challenges. It's very effective
with people who like to live in their own world, their own closet, but has the
consquences of not being open to anyone, to never really be open to connection
or constructive comments. We ignore.

2) "I'm sorry."

This model plays on the shame of transgender, on an innate sense of trying to
fit in and be "appropriate." It drives people back into the closet by keeping
an eye on the walls that other people claim, keeping them down by letting
others define the walls. We flee.

3) "Screw you! What are you looking at?"

This model is a confrontational model of independance, an "in your face" idea
of how to put the challenge on other people. It builds walls by blaming other
people, staying in a defensive posture couched as an offensive posture. By
being offensive, it moves ground but does not create connection. We fight.

4) "Thank you for sharing, but I have another view."

This attitude is the hardest, because it demands we not have a strong
emotional response to people's comments, that we unwire the buttons that are
easier to cover up with denial, respond to by fleeing or by fighting. We are
open to what other people are saying without taking it personally, confident
enough in our own choices, our own moral authority, to be open to others.

This is the model that lets us connect by adressing other people's fears
without triggering our own, but it demands that we have addressed our own
fears, come to our own answers and our own maturity.

- - - - - -

One of the hardest things I find in my dealings with transpeople are the
people who assume that everyone is like them, erasing parts of other people's
stories that represent challenges they haven't yet faced in their own life and
therefore cannot yet see or engage. It's not fun to press other people's
buttons, but even less fun to have them erase you so you won't be able to.

- - - - - - - -

What do you all think? Are these the responses that you have seen when people
are confronted about their trans? What did I miss -- maybe the "Let me
explain it to you" model where one wants to have long debates with everyone in
order to change their behavior, which I see as either a mellow form of the
"screw you" -- it's screw you with grace, an attempt to control other people's
thoughts -- or a form of "thank you for sharing," when the discussion is
entered into to ind common ground rather than just demand changed opinions.

Comments? Questions? Opinions?



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