Christyn Rey Brewer, October 15, 2022
Activism has had better days… Have we have entered a dangerous path of indifference that could eventually kill activism’s effectiveness?
On October 14th, 2022, actor Robbie Coltrane (most famous for his depiction of the keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) died. It didn’t matter much how he died, who was hurt by his passing, or what his death may mean to millions of fans when Twitter opened up and told us what it really felt…
“Fuck Robbie Coltrane, I’m glad he’s dead.”
Don’t get me wrong, there is the exact opposite sentiment being considered by many, even some trans people and activists are beside themselves with the news of his passing. There is no single group that all share the same demographics that all wanted Coltrane happily departed, it’s a select non-group of other-wise unassociated people who have come forth with this negative and sort of creepy take. As a trans activist I want the world to listen to marginal folks and learn to grow to a place of acceptance on their own terms that also allows me the inalienable right to live my entire life on my own terms, as we all strive to do regardless what group we are part of. I don’t want any given one of them dead, so where does the negativity and hatred come from?
I’ve written about it before, but I cannot emphasize enough that productive, effective activism is not hateful… that it actually takes a rather non-hateful person to take up the cause of demeaning the oppressive power of hate. We fight systems of hate and indifference. I want JK Rowling to suffer as much as I want my own children to suffer: none at all. To wish her ill is to perpetuate every stereotype that TERF’s have devised to “prove” that trans women are men, which are that:
- Trans women have entitlement
- We express anger in any degree
- We are misogynists
- Are prone to violence and violent thought
Not that activism should consist solely of us suppressing the urge to do an expected thing that we actually want to do. I think the idea is that as activists we should not offer the opposition fuel for their torches. At minimum, we should offer the world the kindness we ourselves seek when things are at their unpredictable worst. So, Robbie Coltrane stood up for JK Rowling and said that people were “ready to be offended,” implying (possibly) that trans people aren’t really in a position to be offended, it’s just that they want or choose to be… Does that mean I should be glad he died? To celebrate the passing of anyone is questionable. Demeaning to the humanity we fight for. And… sort of goddamn creepy, right?
Does his adjacency to a well-known and now infamous TERF make him worthy of this indifference? Anyone who perpetuates the ideology that gender is sex-determined or that trans people specifically are a danger to women is engaging in oppression. Anyone who stands up for TERF’s or their beliefs are complicit in the exact harm that TERF’s administer to trans people. But laughing when they die might be the beginning of a time of indifference to life that might put us at the edge of the humane… leaving us only adjacent to decency and equity amongst people that we once fought for.
Rebellion is not this, and the future of transgender activism must be based in true rebellion, against all oppressive forces, and the opposite of indifferent if we are to advance to a place of acceptance. I, for one, had to condemn the people engaging in this if for no other reason than to show others that there are people, many people in this rebellion with our focus on the right things. And that laughing at the death of other humans is what the other side does, we are above this. Conservatives laughed at the Mexican man and his child who drowned at the border during Trump’s presidency and amidst his campaign to “build a wall…” Republicans laughed at George Floyd’s murder and said he got what he deserved… TERF’s are on Twitter daily laughing at the fallen trans women who get murdered every year, calling them men, and ridiculing “not a hate crime for men to kill other men.” We cannot be the same as them if we are to beat them.
Audre Lorde said, “We cannot dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools,” and I urge all of you to listen to her… she’s a much wiser woman than I and this applies to all oppression.
Be kind and face your enemies with a focus on what you need that they stand in the way of, solely. Be effective in your activist efforts by NOT being the entitled, laughing rage-ball they expect. Remember what we’re fighting for and how important that is, and how these sorts of efforts only stand to take us backward, to discredit us before we’ve even gotten started. Then, maybe we can face our enemies with dignity and humanity fully embraced.
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