I have been mulling over the whole question of social media. I regularly look at and read all sorts of information on various platforms and in the course of my transition it has been a really useful tool. In many ways a support network. By having insights into other peoples’ lives enabled me to gain perspectives and exposure to many different views of what being trans was and how different people went about transitioning, part time, full time and what difficulties I might expect to face.
Being trans can be very isolating, especially for someone of my age, so it was also a way of becoming part of a community, a way to make contact with other people in the trans people. Although, particularly with the onset of the Covid difficulties, I have not been able to arrange many meets there are possibilities and a willingness with contacts to meet up.
So why am I even thinking about it? There seems to me to be two diametrically opposed views. I suppose the main social media platform that has mainly sparked these thought is Twitter. I feel it is a positive influence to be able to follow twitter accounts of, in my case particularly trans women, to share their experiences of how they have fared through their transition how they have dealt with issues, their take on passing, not passing etc, etc. A sharing of a common experience.
The other side which I am beginning to feel is a negative experience is the constant reporting and ongoing battle of transphobia and gender critical animosity. This is not an occasional phenomenon, it is incessant virtually on an hourly basis. In some ways I take no notice, or at least try to take no notice. There is no reasoning with the transphobes or gender critical they are set in their view. Recently there have been several articles linking the organisations with far right extreme movements with very substantial financial support. This it appears is a deliberate attempt to undermine minority groups and is not just limited to transgender issues. It feeds into the Woke Wars, the politicising of “taking the knee” etc. Perversely, the racial abuse following the Euro Cup finals appears to have triggered a reaction from the decent majority of people that enough is enough and such racial abuse is not to be tolerated in a decent society. I can only hope it may be a turning point.
I have said that the key to a successful transition has its basis in confidence. This is something that you build. It does not come with the flick of a switch. It comes with experience, finding that the earth didn’t open up and swallow you when you first went out of the door dressed, that most shop assistants are friendly or at the least couldn’t care less. It is discovering that the deliberate mis-gendering is just spiteful and not life threatening. It took some time for me to reduce the anxiety of such fears. To not be terrified at every step that something awful was about to happen.
I am finding that the constant negativity in social media is raising my anxiety. Because it is so “in your face”, reporting every violent attack it feels that this is a majority view. This is how everyone thinks and will treat you, whereas my actual lived experience is different. I have many discussions, arguments, over the whole issue of being trans with people set in their ways (mainly older people) and we agree to differ. They cannot experience what I have felt, how it feels to come home to living your truth. It isn’t something of which they can conceive being at one with the gender they were assigned at birth.
So I need to consider whether I can find a way to live with the social media, stopping the constant negativity from impacting on me and keeping the benefits of being informed. I do not want to lose the hard earned confidence of being able to get on with living day to day because of the heightened anxiety. This is not to close one’s eyes to what is going on, just a need to keep a balance and perspective.