[Note: a slightly modified version of this post is also available here]
Well, my friend, you got me again. Oh, was it the first time for you? I hope so. Sadly, it's far from the first time for me.
I'm talking about the bit of "humor" you posted on Facebook the other day, the one you captioned, "too true, but funny!" or something like that. I imagine you didn't even think much about it, you just chuckled and hit 'share'.
Since it came from you, someone I like and trust, (I thought you felt the same way about me) I checked it out.
To be honest the mean-spirited use of sexist stereotypes was a bit off putting. I didn't think you were someone who would accept jokes based on the notion that women are crazy, greedy, manipulating, and only to be valued for "hotness," and men are stupid, horny, and governed mainly by their crotches.
I suppose that should have stopped me, but I was curious as to why you thought it was funny - there had to be a twist coming up.
And that's how you got me - there was indeed a twist. Well played, my friend, well played. Just as I was thinking the piece wasn't very funny, as if reading my mind, the author deployed the comedic big guns.
Yes, if men and women treating each other like objects isn't funny enough, we all know what's really funny, right? Yes! A dude in a dress! Funnier still is a guy who's attracted that! OHMYGOD! A guy finds a f**king tr*nny attractive! Gross! Hahaha... that's too funny! Amirite?
I stopped reading at that point, stunned, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I considered the messages in your post.
One message is that the very notion that someone might be attracted to me is absurd, hilarious, and improbable. Another message is that I am a fraud. The overall message: my life is a joke. The post you find “too true but funny” gleefully asserts all that hurts trans people most.
This message isn't new to me, far from it - as a trans person I see messages like this every single day of my life. But those messages come from strangers, from haters, from trolls, and I have my armor up. I know the kinds of posts to avoid, I never read the comments, and I'm steeled for the hate.
You caught me with my guard down, because I thought you were a friend.
I am at a loss as to how to respond to your message. I know that while I might hope for you to realize what you did and apologize, that is not likely to happen since apparently you thought it was funny.
Can I even tell you how much this hurts? Do I have to say that this is one of the worst things you can tell a trans person?
If I do, will you sincerely apologize? Or will you make excuses and imply that I'm "too sensitive?" Will it become a back and forth where you don't believe I'm hurt, and I don't believe you're sorry?
Or should I tell someone else? Will that help?
I remember that on a similar occasion I vented to you, and together we bemoaned cruelty and ignorance of "some people," unaware of the future irony.
Most likely I'll do what I most often do - say nothing. I won't risk making things worse, and I won't spend the emotional energy a confrontation always takes. Instead, it will stay unspoken between us, something that will always come to mind when I think of you.
Some might say that my silence is cowardice, a lack of love, or a failure of forgiveness.
Perhaps it is.
But I've been here before, and I know that I will be here many times again, and I've learned to pick my battles.
So that's what your joke meant to me - another cut at who I am, another friendship diminished, another loss of a port in a storm. In other words, just another day in the life of a trans person.
NOTE: The situation described above is based on several different occurrences, and is not intended to identify any single, specific person.