According to posters on a 135+ page thread dedicated to hating transgender people, I have: autism; narcissistic personality disorder; borderline personality disorder; and –worst of all– not-funny-itis.
"Don’t feed the trolls" is a saying that implicitly enables bigotry, so I joined their forum and went in and calmly stated the case for humanity. It went as well as one could expect, but I feel good about it.
In instances like this, sunlight is important. If you feel like taking a look at this cesspit (starting with my post, but you can head a few pages back to see the disgusting, vile language they use to talk about me and other transgender people), click here.
Since my latest piece for the Bygone Bureau was published, I’ve been getting some attention in the worst parts of the internet - your 4chan, your Something Awful-offshoots, your YouTube comments. And it’s all been uniformly disgusting. There’ve been horrible comments about transgender people in general, about me in specific, and there’s been misgendering aplenty.
None of that is shocking, of course. And sure, it’s weird to see people so obsessed with hating me (for the few minutes they focus on me before moving onto something else), but then, there are things I really hate, too, and I get super into talking about them and even blogging about them, so I understand the impulse.
What I don’t understand are the absolutes that people on these cesspits keep throwing around. “She is not funny”, “nobody could ever like this”, “she is the worst comedian”. Like, just from a logic standpoint… that doesn’t make sense. People laugh when I perform, as evidenced in the same YouTube videos these guys are talking about. So I’m funny to somebody, right? There just seems to be this complete obliviousness to the concept of humour being subjective.
I know that my comedy isn’t for everybody. In fact, only a very, very small segment of the population finds me funny. That’s okay. I think it’s a large enough niche that I’ll be able to keep doing this (whatever “this” is right now). I don’t need to be loved by everyone, and it would be insane if I did.
They’re also saying things like “it’s hella awesomely obvious that dude is a dude.” Which, yuck. A year ago, hell - a month ago that would’ve made me feel awful. But coming back to England and having absolutely zero problems walking around has made me much more confident in my appearance. I like the way I look, most days. Some stupid Internet comment from an anonymous asshole can’t do anything to change that.
“How does anyone not look at that video and not immediately get hit with the impression that this person has a serious mental or emotional illness? There’s no way the crowd goers went, ‘yup, perfectly well adjusted person here,’. Transgender aside, this person’s stance, lack of eye contact, way of carrying themselves, body language, wavering voice…everything about this video reeks of social ineptitude and it’s sad. This person is sad. Jesus Christ. Get off the stage, get off tumblr, and get some fucking help.”—A super fun forum full of cool people found my stand-up videos.
Texts from Richard Dawkins (with apologies to Mallory Ortberg and The-Toast.net) (and no apologies whatsoever to RDawks)
hi I’ve got you a present, a gift.
omg, really? i can’t believe it! What?
nothing, what did you get me? You can believe it, you know.
yes, yes, i shouldn’t have mentioned it You can believe it because I will present you with the gift, a tangible good, and you will be able to empirically observe it.
i know, you’re right. i was just excited. what’s the gift? One of my many best-selling books.
I think I may be delayed in getting home tonight, darling.
oh sure. what’s up? I’ve stumbled on a rather disturbing event happening in a building close to my workplace.
disturbing? There appear to be a large number of people worshipping an imaginary, vastly powerful creature despite their having absolutely no proof that he is even real.
okayyy, i get it, you walked by a church They are singing to him now. I gather this omniscient being enjoys hearing some of the creatures he created serenade him with songs of praise? That seems a bit vainglorious, no?
lol, you’re funny. when are you gonna be home? Rather later than planned.
You know what I utterly detest?
um i dunno, lots of things really richard Islam.
oh yeah, you mentioned that Islam is the worst.
fine I’m not a racist, though. I like moslems individually.
i think it’s “muslim” I’ll call them what I want to call them and they’ll consider themselves lucky I call them anything at all.
so you don’t want to borrow my cat stevens cds then? lol Is that a joke? I told you I only listen to Wagner.
rich, you’ve had a lot of late nights recently. do we need to talk? Strictly speaking, from an evolutionary point of view, monogamous relationships aren’t exactly beneficial to a species survival.
sorry? I’m just noting that, in terms of diversification and abundance, perhaps it’s not wise for us to hold ourselves to standards of mating which aren’t really reflected in nature.
“ourselves” humans, or “ourselves” you-and-me, richard? Both. You and I are humans.
have you been seeing someone else, rich? No. Why do you ask?
ugh, whatever You believe me, don’t you?
yeah sure You are a fool, belief is for the uneducated.
trust me i’m getting quite the education
richard, you can come pick up your stuff this evening. i’ll be out but my roommate can let you in. I imagine that in your life, you’ve had many relationships, no?
i told you i didn’t want to talk about this stuff any more And yet, you viewed our relationship as singular in some way? Deserving of some pedestal?
no, i just didn’t think it was particularly cool for you to fuck around on me But you yourself just agreed that you’ve had many partners. I simply went one partner further.
oh my god No, not your god. Nobody’s god.
you know what? don’t worry about my roommate buzzing you up, your stuff will be in a box out front By the way, I’m going to require that book back.
(Seriously the “texts from…” series at The Toast is the best thing, you guys. Read them all now.)
So I saw your post and I find myself to be conflicted. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the fact that the trans phobic joke has been overdone, but at the same time I think people should be able to laugh at themselves. Not to say you don't have every right to be offended, but when I hear a joke about gay men on Family Guy I find it to be hilarious. However, the only ones that come to mind only play with gay stereotypes so perhaps it is a bit off kilter. I don't know, I keep going back and forth
Yeah, I do laugh at myself. I’m a professional comedian and most of my act is made up of jokes about being transgender. But there’s a difference between laughing at myself and watching scores of rich, white, straight, cis-men make the same joke over and over. A joke that denies my status as a woman.
Also, here is your permission to stop watching Family Guy. Don’t do that to yourself, dude.
Quick note: all I’ve done today is share my opinion on a joke. At no point did I prescribe courses of action, agitate for a boycott, ask for an apology… Nothing. I just said what I was thinking. But that’s still too much for some folks - I’m getting messages that I’m “going about this the wrong way”, “not furthering the cause”, and “alienating instead of educating”. One dude straight-up told me that it’s not time for our society to move past transphobic jokes, so I should just let it go.
Again, I was just sharing my thoughts on a platform designed for the sharing of thoughts. But even that is too much, apparently.
You’d think some of these prices would learn about the “unfollow” button if I’m annoying them so much.
A retweet by a radical feminist of a tweet by another radical feminist linking to an @reply from another feminist claiming my joke made light of transwomen, and the whole thing seen and responded to by Roseanne Barr.
“The things you have come up with in such a short time while under such stress; the charming and clever and funny words and graphics and videos - what you produce is so affecting. I try to imagine what you’re going to be able to create when you’re living somewhere with resources that allow you to stay safe and healthy, and the potential is staggering. I think about you not having to scramble for meds, and being able to work, and I see you flourishing.”—
A lovely comedy friend reminded me why people care about me.
If you share her vision, consider donating? If you haven’t already, I mean. Don’t double-donate (unless you’re rich).
I need more rich friends. Apologies to you, my poor friends. (No offence intended by that - I think the past few days have demonstrated that I’m way poor too.)
Jesus: How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?
Judas: Dude, dude - be quiet. People are staring.
Jesus: They should be staring! What would my Father say if he could see what a den of inequity His house has been turned into?
Judas: You are drunk.
Jesus: I can be drunk if I want. It’s my damn house.
Judas: I thought it was your Dad’s?
Jesus: I keep telling you, I… I am my Dad.
Judas: So that whole “my Father’s house” thing, you really meant “my house”?
Jesus: It belongs to… It’s both of our houses. Both ours house. We both have it.
Judas: Whatever. You wanna kick everyone out, then? I mean, if it’s your house, it would be weird to let a bunch of strangers sell stuff here, right?
Jesus: Maybe… Maybe they wouldn’t be strangers to me if they gave me a small portion of their profits?
Judas: You want to charge rent for temple space, even though you don’t officially own the structure? Don’t you think that might piss a few people off?
Jesus: Like who, the Pharisees? What are they gonna do, beat me up?
My friend Jay Frosting was kind enough to give me a platform on his podcast this week to goof off with one of my Internet heroes, comedian Avery Edison. You should go listen to it, because both Jay and Avery are hilarious, and I do a competent job of not getting in their way. But, once you’re done, pay a little bit more attention, because Avery’s a pretty great example of what you can do when your work is fearless.
To make something that’s funny, or serious, or tragic, or clever, you have to make something that risks complete incomprehensibility, and risks making you incomprehensible too. To make something that’s funny and serious and tragic and clever, you have to do that times a thousand. Avery does that over and over and over again. What comes out is a voice that’s whip-smart, utterly of our time and opinionated as hell.