Bigotry and Internalized Hatred

18 175
Avatar for lucas
Written by
3 years ago

We’re going to talk about homophobia and transphobia; We will look at identity and the ways that we interact with society. Hopefully, to decrease the suffering in the world.

First, though, a CONTENT WARNING!

I’m not transgender, but I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, and I'm certainly not comfortable with my sexuality. Sometimes I feel like the master of my own destiny, like I could achieve any dream and mount any obstacle. Other times, one word from a stranger on the internet can send me into a spiral of self-hate and isolation.

If you're depressed or suicidal, or if you think you might be gay / trans and are experiencing deep feelings of isolation as a result, the contents of this article might be distressing to you. I've had panic attacks all my life, and I know how small things can make your brain to go to completely unexpected places. The psychology term for this is a trigger, a reference to the mechanism on a gun which, through the relatively small expenditure of energy required to pull a trigger, you can fire a bullet with deadly speed and force.

I understand what it’s like to feel a desperate need to live up to what society expects of you. It’s reinforced every day in the people you see, or don’t see, in media. Your parents drop hints at the dinner table about ‘getting a wife’. Friends at school make fun of each other for breaking different norms and expectations. We isolate people who are different, leaving them stranded on an island of self-hate and doubt, and tell them “start building a bridge”.

Look, I don’t want this to be political. I don’t care about high school sports, except insofar as it facilitates a more enjoyable and worthwhile school experience – which, is debatable… on another day.

I want to talk about the people.

Every day, trans kids and adults are falling into deep depressions, isolated further from their friends and family. Every day, people end their own lives to avoid another day of torture. 

People are all about being aware of mental illness these days, right? They say to be yourself, to love you for you. You can find very good advice all around. But what happens when you try to have these conversations?

It’s really easy to tell someone “mind over matter” when you’re watching from the outside.

Like watching a nature documentary, you see the snake is about to go over the side of that nest and devour the eggs inside. You might jump and shout. You might even feel anger towards the snake, sensing some injustice in the snake’s search for food. It becomes the villain of a story, and it’s very easy for us to assign a narrative to something like that.

We want to identify a problem and hyper-focus on its utter annihilation, but social issues aren’t that simple. Life isn’t a story of heroes and villains. Humans aren't reptiles.

When your friend is depressed because he’s been suppressing romantic feelings for men, and you tell him to “man up”, this isn’t just utterly unhelpful. It actively plays into the feelings he has that whatever he’s been doing hasn’t lived up to the expectations that society has placed on him for being a “man”. With such a careless attempt to advise your friend, you’ve dragged his identity further into doubt and made it harder for him to communicate what he’s feeling. 


My experiences aren’t an illness, they’re my life. 

Trans people are often asked very invasive questions by well-meaning people struggling to understand. “Have you had the surgery yet?”

If you’ve ever tried to talk about mental health, you’ve probably gotten some extremely unhelpful advice. You want to open up, and you know that people love you, and they’re trying, but they just don’t really understand the depth of your feelings. It’s a barrier that can feel impossible to break.

This is actually something that many people don’t understand about suicide attempts. You’ve probably heard it’s a call for help, but that can be hard to wrap your head around - why would you kill yourself if you wanted help, right?

Well, imagine you tried talking to your parents about your anxiety, and they wouldn’t listen. When you realized you might be gay, you didn’t even consider telling your parents, because you’re already several layers removed from being comfortable sharing anything with them by that point. You grow apart from your friends as you get more and more depressed and unable to feel happy in daily life. Isolation just leads you further down the hole until you’re so completely shut off from the world that you can feel utterly alone, even in a room full of people. 

What do you do?

They don't understand that you're dying inside. Every little thing that happens in normal daily life is like a chore you suffer through. Their advice is useless because they can't see the depth of your pain, they don't know how serious the problem really is.

You don’t want to die, exactly, but when life is just a constant clown show, pretending and putting on smiles for the sake of others, what the hell is the point of it, right? If only they could understand that you're dying inside, every moment of every day.

People who attempt suicide often report that they didn't want anyone to worry about them. Every time they've tried to communicate their feelings in the past, it's led to further sadness and stress in their relationships as the people fail to understand. We learn to harden our hearts and avoid worrying others, but a part of us still knows a deep need to be understood. This is perhaps the most human feeling of all.

You need someone to know that you're dying inside. They don't understand, because they live in their own world with their own triggers and their own pain and their own biases. What they do understand, though, is death. You know they do. We all share this common fear of death, and just the thought makes us uncomfortable. Depressed people often pick up dark senses of humor. It's a common first attempt to call for help, expressing these fears in a common coping mechanism of jokes.

Others might lash out against authority in seemingly irrational ways. A lot of stereotypical "teenage drama" moments are really desperate attempts to be understood. They're also sometimes not entirely irrational, fueled by legitimate pain from racism, homophobia and other harmful aspects to their society. People's identities are often forced into a political context, further obfuscating the human aspect.

Return to our scenario. Kids at school bullied you for not living up to gender norms, and your suspicion that you might be gay has upset your identity. Your parents have failed to understand your feelings or what you've gone through with anxiety in the past. Your family has likely impressed on you the same set of gender stereotypes expected by your schoolmates. They expect you to get married and have kids, and they may even have explicitly homophobic religious beliefs.

They don't understand that your feelings are not an illness or a political issue for you. Every day of your life is like a prison, and they could be helping to make it better, but instead they're adding bricks to the wall. How do you tell them to get the sledgehammer? How long before you're sealed in so completely that there is no escape left?

I leave you with this video by youtuber Philosophy Tube which, in part, inspired my article. I love her explanation of identity and how you change your behavior and even your thoughts to suit other people.

31
$ 21.18
$ 20.68 from @TheRandomRewarder
$ 0.50 from @wakeupkitty
Sponsors of lucas
empty
empty
empty
Avatar for lucas
Written by
3 years ago

Comments

I feel you :(

$ 0.00
3 years ago

The power you hold sir Lucas. We need more awareness with regards to this. I salute!

$ 0.00
3 years ago

First let me apologize right from the get go as this may be extremely long winded and it will possibly go in tangents at times but that is often the way I write. I have a million things going on up top at once and I try to get them all down before I lose them, but alas, it's inevitable I'll lose some so I'll do my best to stay on point, and respond to the topics you are bringing up. But first, I need to give you my background so that you understand that I am not a racist, bigot, homophobe, etc. etc. It is sometimes easy to classify one in these terms when they disagree with you because they are challenging your way of thinking. But not everyone who disagrees with you feels that way. In fact my heart goes out to you and the pain you've had to endure. I've experienced many of these same things. I am not trans, but I am Jewish, and I grew up in a small town in Southern Indiana. I was the only Jewish kid anyone in this town ever knew and for the most part I'm the only Jewish kid they ever encountered. Yes, I'm white, but when you move to a town where Christmas dominates and you make it known you don't celebrate Christmas everyone knows almost immediately that you are different.

This led to a very lonely lifestyle growing up. My parents could never really empathize with me and they never really knew sympathy. They both understood a much harsher world than the one I grew up in and it took me a long time to understand this from my end. Sometimes we get too caught up in our own worlds and we forget that there is a world going on outside of our own that is influencing our world in so many different ways. It is extremely tough to have to endure what you have endured, and I'll admit, I was an asshole in school and I was a bully to some extent. I never picked on anyone for their sexuality, but I would attack in a psychological way and I would attack you at your point of vulnerability. I left a lot of scars and I've said had to say sorry many many times over. I'm probably not done with that yet, but maybe one day I will. Suffice it to say, I was a little jerk.

I was not without my own problems though. Mentally I've been a wreck most of my life. Battled major depression which went undiagnosed properly for 28+ years. I could never talk to my parents much like you, I couldn't talk to friends, family, or really anyone about a lot of things. I learned that I could really only count on myself and when I got into drugs, I couldn't do that anymore either. I went into some deep dark places, I have about 16 suicide attempts on my life, and for the most part I don't really let anyone know about them. They are part of my personal journey that I needed to experience and gather what knowledge I can out of them. I focused on pain and hate for so long that I really forgot how to love and be happy until recently. I have the scars from self harm, some of which are visible, but instead of focusing on all the negative I got out of all of these experiences I have started to focus on the positive.

One thing I was always able to do was bring a smile to people's faces. This is how I kept everyone at bay for most of my life. I knew what they wanted to hear, how I needed to say it, and how I needed to act and what I needed to do to be left alone. I found peace and happiness in my solitude. But I've also been finding answers to many of my problems in the peace and quiet. It all begins with the idea of happiness and knowing what to say when to say it, this had to come from somewhere, it wasn't always just an act. I didn't have to be depressed, but I first really had to believe that to have any chance of coming out of this funk. I am still working on it, and I know mental illness factors into some of my problems, but what I've been finding is that it is possible, but there are many realities you have to face before you can begin your own journey to happiness.

So with all that prefacing and my rambling, I'll begin first by acknowledging you have a lot going on in your life, none of it is easy, and sadly, no one ever said it was going to be easy. I understand your anger at the world, and the unfairness in it, but it is part of everyday life. I grew up my whole life hearing much the same, except from my father it was "Don't be a pussy." Those are words I've lived by even to the extent of breaking my ribs at work and working through the pain the same night. Why? Because I didn't want to be labeled as weak or having any weakness. Not this guy. So I understand the idea of having to live up to a certain set of imaginary ideals.

Your frustration and anger at the world is warranted and it is extremely valid. No one is saying it is not. However, for trans, etc. etc. etc. to have success in society they themselves have to normalize it. I grew up in the Midwest, which tries to act like the Southern States, so I understand hate and bigotry But a lot of that hate and bigotry comes from ignorance, pure and simple, nothing else. The joy I had in being Jewish is that people let their guard down around me, so I got to hear their real thoughts and feelings on things, I got to experience racism and prejudice first hand from behind their eyes. I soaked it all in. It's mostly a lack of understanding or an annoyance of making a big deal of something. What I found worked for myself and what I saw that worked for other minorities in my town and other small communities was making differences seem just like everyday things. Such as "Oh yeah, I'm Jewish" in a nonchalant way. It was important for others to see that I was flesh and blood just as they were and the only differences between us were just some words. We often get too caught up on labels, it's a very American thing to do. We have to have a label for everything it seems. To me if we are human we are human and I leave it at that, and I made sure to put that feeling out there. I'm just like you and you're just like me. For the most part it worked. Am I ignorant to the idea that some people disliked me because I was Jewish, hell no, the thought was always there, but by me not lending any merit to it, others saw that either directly or indirectly, and instead of being the Jewish kid, I was simply Andrew.

You will always have to deal with the self doubt, the criticism, the torture, and the hate, but why not use it against those that try to use it against you. Take it from them, embrace the names they call you and make a joke out of it. This is one of many strategies I implored through the years to tear down the walls of prejudice. You can't be fearful because in the end it's your life. You want happiness you have to make happiness. I know we want to just be, but sadly sometimes we can't just be and no one will make things right for us. I know the battle is hard, especially when you are in the throes of it, but life really does get better. It really is what you make of it. Just be you. Don't get hung up on feeling like you have to identify one way or another. I never once identified myself as "the Jewish kid" or anything of that ilk, I just let myself be who I was. It was how I survived. But looking back on it, it was me finding a way to find happiness in life in general. I make my own happiness, even when it seems impossible.

Life does get better. Life gets more reasonable, and life gets more tolerable. As you grow up you will have so many meaningful experiences and not all are good but not all are bad. Focus on what makes you happy and focus on what makes you, you. Enjoy yourself and ignore the noise around you. At the end of the day, it really is just all a bunch of noise. Life is what we make of it, regardless of what we have to deal with and regardless of how hard it may seem. We live our lives, no one else lives our life.

Again sorry if it's a bit off topic in places, I just needed you to understand there are a lot of parallels to our story and I do really empathize with you in a way. However, I also see the importance of sharing regardless how hard it may be.

$ 0.21
3 years ago

Your comment is very beautiful, and I think it could almost be an article of its own! Thank you very much for your answer. :) This part in particular stood out to me:

"Sometimes we get too caught up in our own worlds and we forget that there is a world going on outside of our own that is influencing our world in so many different ways."

I've been trying to make this point in my articles recently. We live in our own box with beliefs and strong feelings, things that feel like the end of the world. Sometimes we feel like our identity and our feelings are just this thing that remains a part of us forever, but really, they're a constantly changing net between you and those around you. This is why it's so important that people understand and empathize with one another, because they are building the figurative bridges or the walls between one another. It's a process of give and take, and if we take so much negativity in, eventually we will start to give out negativity as well.

Communities which tend to be more accepting of trans people and the like usually make the argument that someone in a poor emotional state, who is trying to work through their struggles, shouldn't be forced or expected to try to become a teacher for ignorant people who are in the process of belittling them. I understand where this comes from, and if a trans person is violently suicidal, they probably shouldn't be talking to a bigot trying to make them understand. But at the same time, I do feel it's kind of an unhelpful angle from which to approach the issue. Everyone is always struggling, this is the natural feature of life. I'm struggling, but I'm trying to share my thoughts and make things better, anyway. As are you. We can't just sit back and tacitly hope / pray / expect the change we want to come to the world as if by some force of nature. We have to change minds and hearts.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Well thank you for your kind words and thank you for taking the time to read this. Now that I am outside of the small insulated community I grew up in, I find myself defending a place I didn't think I liked very much. However, I see the so called bigots for what they are, they're people too, with their own lives, their own experiences, influences, and ideals and values. As we know those things are placed upon them by the families that they are raised in and the communities they grew up in. There are so many influences coming at people that it is hard to figure out things for oneself. What I have come to realize is a lot of bigotry is really just based on ignorance. People didn't like Mexicans in my town when they first arrived. Now 9/10 people rather work with someone who is Hispanic as opposed to someone who is white. Why? Because they're great workers and there's no bullshit nonsense to them. The reason they thought they didn't like them was because of ignorance pure and simple.

A lot of hate and bigotry can be torn down just by experiences. And I don't mean forced experiences, I just mean natural organic experiences. People need to see regardless of what gender, color, etc. you may be, you're still a person. Now the way to get through to these small town people is a bit more complicated though. You can't come at them attacking their belief systems like we see in the news etc. They just have to have regular everyday conversations with someone who is Trans and they will see that "oh they're just like whatever." But it is up to you to not come at them and make a big deal about that. I think that is the hard part about all of this stuff going on right now. Both sides aren't listening to one another and there is no one to mediate and translate to each side what the other side is trying to say. That is where I come in defending small towns all of a sudden. They're not all filled with hate, it's actually quite the opposite, I had an overall great experience growing up, even being the Token Jewish kid. Again I know there are bigots there, but the vast majority of people, really don't give a shit.

Just remember you are yourself and you live your own life. It's hard at times, and there will always be hate out there, but it's on you with what you do with it. I try to treat everyone equal and not make a big deal about anything. I honestly don't care what you are. If you're nice to me I'll be nice to you. That's the small town attitude in a nutshell. It doesn't need to be demonized. They're not without their problems though and some are worse than others and sometimes you will sadly have to move away because of problems, and that does suck, but it's just part of life. You live and you learn.

Stay upbeat and positive best you can. Don't let others get you down when you don't need to be down, there's never a reason for it. It's hard at times yes, but keep your head up. Show others their words hold no power over you and in the end you win. It may take some time but you can do it. It's hard I know, and it's torture too, but it can be overcome.

I actually have not had many conversations with anyone who is trans, but I've dealt with many other types of people. I just try to treat everyone equally and show respect. I wish you nothing but the best and I do hope some of my words helped.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Ultimately, I am a materialist. I don't believe in essentialist views of the world. People who are hateful of others are not evil villains. They are in their own world, their own box where they feel victimized by certain groups or political forces. By expressing hurtful ideas they ostracize themselves from society. Dissolving the biases involves bringing them into the world, not excluding then from it. However, as you imply, arguments usually don't do any good, but often trans people are expected to defend their existence in a debate format against stereotypes and false statistics. If you put a trans person and a fundamentalist in a room to debate, one is going to be making prescriptions and moral judgements while the primary demand of the other party is ultimately to be left alone. If such a debate is not productive and the trans person is getting uncomfortable, I would always support their right to leave without making progress, and I would be sadly unsurprised with this outcome.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Hi Lucas, with your interesting writing you made me remember the day my youngest son came to my desk and told me.... "father, I need to talk to you, I need to confess something to you and I hope you are not going to be upset." -bothered by what, sonny? father because I am gay! There was about 2 or 3 minutes of silence, like digesting something and I just answered.... -You are my son, the youngest of them and there is not and there will not be a cause to dissolve that situation. Assume with all the right and responsibility your sexual situation, you will always have my support and the great love I feel for you. We both got up from our seats and gave each other a big hug and kiss. That was 6 years ago, he is now 25, he is as free as the wind and I am very happy to have him by my side.

$ 0.25
3 years ago

Thank you very much for your comment! I'm really happy to hear of your healthy relationship with your son, that he was able to go to you. Even if they don't understand, I would be happy just to know that all parents would at least be able to tell their child they love them. This should always be the first and most strongly made point, showing love and support! You seem like a wonderful dad. :-)

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I only try to be the best friend of my children, that before resorting to a third person they come to me. Perfection is only in God, I am human and I have flaws and I make mistakes, but my parents instilled in me the respect for others, and my children are the best, the most loved by me and that love helps me to understand their virtues and defects. Of course, without considering any sexual tendency as a defect. He, being the youngest of my children, is my right hand, the one I talk to the most and the one who helps me the most when I need support. A hug my friend Lucas.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

It might depend on where you live, grow up but I doubt my parents (selfish and monsters) would have ever cared about gender. They never made a problem out of it or if their children would get married. They never asked for grandchildren at at my school no one cared. You were bullied for different reasons, all kind of reasons and each one of them is good for losing yourself, not knowing who you are.

I did at a young age and it was the main reason I arose and left. I cannot stand clowns, a clown show I hate and the reason I left and choose for me was that I felt I lost myself. I can't lie. I paid a high price for it, a very high one. Was it all worth it? No matter how bad I feel it was, is. It was the best thing I could do to me.

If it comes to my children, friends... we all have our problems, fears but gender never been an issue. It's true it's hard to imagine how someone else feels, you can not feel how one drowns and even if you have been there, go through exactly the same it's not the same. Depression is a good example for it. It seems to run in our family. It's real even if there's nothing that triggered it.

$ 0.35
3 years ago

Right. It looks different in our varied cultures, and even each person just has different worldviews and things that affect their lives. It can be hard to empathize sometimes, but I am trying to always understand other people and love them for who they are. :)

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I am sorry to say but you failed to discuss any human rights in this article. You also claim that this article will study transphobes but there is no analysis whatsoever. I've gained no insight about transphobe behavior by reading this.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

You're right. Like most of my posts, this was sort of a stream of thought written as I worked through some ideas, and by the end I had completely gone off away from the original topic. Well, KIND OF. I think all of this plays into an essential point about setting up an environment where people can exercise their rights and feelings appropriately. The way transphobic ideas propagate is through the small, everyday insistence on various levels of conformity. Anyway, it basically ended up addressing the identity crisis aspect rather than the reasons for transphobia. Maybe it can be another post in the future.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

For some reason my comments are marked as spam. Here's my reply to your post. https://read.cash/@ondoin/my-answer-to-lucas-post-290f536d

$ 0.00
3 years ago

you spoke beautifully. I too experienced some form of bullying for not conforming to gender norms as a kid. we need more people to understand how much they are hurting people

$ 0.00
3 years ago
$ 0.00
3 years ago

I respect and support human rights, sexualities and every single human, they're free to do what they want as long as they don't hurt anyone. But there's a point i want to discuss, i don't feel right to take animal as an example for human, did you know that paedophilia, zoophilia exist in nature with animals and there's many.. should we take that to normalize it for human? Human have morality now unlike animals, which make it more complicated.

$ 0.05
3 years ago

I added another line to try to make that part more clear. Your point is true, it's what I was trying to say - we can't treat humans like snakes we're watching on a nature documentary. Black-and-white judgements about people are usually very over-simplified, but still we do it.

$ 0.00
3 years ago