The struggle to achieve civil rights for the transgender community has been an uphill battle. Having so many people with very little understanding, it’s really not that surprising. Over the years we have seen quite a few trans faces starting to really speak out against all the issues we are facing. This has been extremely helpful for a lot of the problems. However, one of the issues I am seeing that not many people talk about is hate speech over the Internet.
For many, this issue seems as though it’s “no big deal”, but in my eyes it’s a very important piece of the much larger picture. When I deal with hate speech I often have people telling me to just “ignore it”, or “they are a waste of your time”. This is where I disagree. We are expected to just let these people sit back and talk down on us and shrug it off like it doesn’t matter. That is easily done for a person such as myself, but what about those who are out there and are struggling to even make it through the day? All it can take is for one person who is at the end of his or her rope to log on and see someone blasting hate speech somewhere online and it can be the nail in their coffin.
It is understood that these people are usually considered a “troll”, but despite that they are still saying mean and hurtful things about a group of people because it’s still deemed “freedom of speech” to so many others. Anytime I see someone speaking their mind about transgender individuals and if it goes beyond them just saying what it is they believe, that’s when I step in. It is not okay for people to use discriminative terms when speaking their minds. This is where it becomes hate speech. This is often a grey area to some and I am willing to bet that about 99% of these people will hide behind their right to freedom of speech. When I see someone being called a “transvestite” you have gone beyond that freedom, you have entered the realm of hate speech.
Being a transgender rights activist I can’t just sit back knowing that even just one negative comment can mean the end for someone. We especially have to worry about the younger kids who seem to have a harder time ignoring these kinds of things. This is why I strive to be their voice and kindly debate with these people why what they are saying isn’t ok. I am always tactful and I will never stoop to the level of being hateful. Some find this hard to believe but I promise you that nine times out of ten it is effective. These people spreading hate want nothing more than to see us get riled up and when I come back at them with love they can’t stand it. I have always been this way with my defense even before I started fighting for trans equality. I would rarely give the haters what they want from me. It’s honestly quite rewarding to do this. Plus it shows those it may be affecting some form of relief.
Knowing the difference between speaking your mind and hate speech is crucial. Even some website’s standards still don’t include discriminative terms as hate speech for transgender people. I have even gone as far as to contact some websites about these issues to see how we can keep these sites as safe as possible. This sounds crazy, I know, it is the internet after all. But something needs to be done to show that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.