A punching bag named “Up”

by ARIA SALVATRICE

Every other male feminist has a skeleton in his closet. Sometimes, it’s his being a bona fide sexual predator, discovering the hard way that tweeting very hard about establishing and respecting boundaries won’t buy him enough woman-respecting offsets to purchase an indulgence once he neglects to practice what he preaches in his own relationships.

Before I decided whether I’d ever come out as a transgender woman, my closet was overflowing in bones.

The first skeleton was my evolving gender identity.
The second skeleton was my grandfather, who was a child rapist.
The third skeleton was my being a victim of child rape, perpetrated by an armed kidnapper (a separate person from my grandfather).

Skeletons, yes, but not the sort of skeletons I ought to apologize for hosting.

At no time was I more vulnerable than in the summer of 2014, when I slowly opened up this closet, and allowed people I thought were trustworthy friends to peer at the skeletal triumvirate that violently drafted me into allyship.

Those friends didn’t seem to be ideological caricatures. They seemed to understand nuance, competing access needs, personal boundaries, the problem of celebrities monetizing social justice discourse, social media turning everyday people without platforms into vulnerable public figures in the permanent record at risk of asymmetrical mobbing warfare, all that progressive jazz.
I had grown to trust them to a certain extent.

They seemed different from the sort of self-parodies I’d find in environments where I was asked whether I was raped into a better feminist.

“When we say ‘Kill all men’,” one of them explained, “that’s because we have a right, as a class, to hate our oppressors, to hate the class who rape women. I am mortified to see that those words hurt you as a person, because I see you as a survivor, as a friend, not as my oppressor.”

See, more nuanced people than ideology bots.

“The problem is that every kind of support network failed you. It shouldn’t happen like that,” she said when we last met.
Her gaze avoided mine. She struggled to finish her sentences. I messed up her pronouns once that day, because she hadn’t made visible progress in transition, and I still feel bad about my mistake. Her social anxiety is probably just as crippling as mine.

She then proceeded to discover the French Antifa on Twitter, and to gloat after the Charlie Hebdo murders the day they happened. A nuanced kind of gloating.

Another one of those friends visited me during his trip to France, back before I came out about my trans identity.
After losing my cool a few times too many when confronting him about using body-shaming and suicide baiting as a feminist praxis, his friendship simply turned into a “you are blocked” message.
His friends think nothing of doxxing political opponents.
He knows where I live.

They were friends worth losing, but not at a time you were also losing your mind.

Let’s retrace your steps. Let’s figure out where exactly you fucked up circa 2014.

You contemplate death. You can barely come to terms with your transgender identity. You’re too old for hormone replacement therapy to reverse the masculinization of your body. Your sexuality was too broken by child rape to make sense within the frameworks of hetero dating song and dance. Your social construct occupies too much space in your pants to make a feminine presentation anything more than a cruel approximation. Your family struggles with undiagnosed mental illnesses, and you are powerless to help them. All the people you called “friend” in the last 5 years were of the Internet persuasion, and the very few who didn’t give up on you could never be there for you in meatspace without someone buying a plane ticket.

You are trapped in a culture perceiving you as a punching bag named “Up”. Up should always be punched.

After pummelling you, the culture clarifies that it did not mean to punch you as a person, it only meant to punch up as a class.
While it’s unfortunate you felt hurt by being punched in the face, misandry is a coping mechanism for the oppressed who have to fear rape, and thus, does not constitute structural oppression.

How exactly do you communicate that you are hurt when your own community gleefully calls for your death, for the death of the class you wish you were not an instance of, that it is destroying your mental health, that being forced into an environment encouraging you to kill yourself obviously feeds into a suicidal ideation you struggle keeping under control?
How do you communicate that fact, trapped within a culture where it is common to see vigilante mobs sent against a single random person for daring to go against the grain ever so slightly?
To say you are hurt is to invite public abuse.

Masculinity so fragile closeted trans girls’ precious fee-fees are devastated when they get raped lmao.

You play this game of life on hard mode: you’re a nerd who’s just plain incapable of bottling up cognitive dissonance, who is incapable of compartmentalizing her identities, whose mental health depends on what little support you have in friends negotiating their own position within this culture. Demanding your boundaries be respected is a matter of life or death to someone in your state of distress. You are intimidated and emotionally broken from the daily beatings.

You will not be able to communicate.
You will lose almost all your friends.
And any sane observer would believe it’s for the best, in the long run.

But you will also lose the ability to trust new people, and the courage to forge friendships actually worth having.

The despair of raped trans women who no longer have the strength to fight or the biological ability to cry is what they put inside those Male Tears mugs.