Discussion of trans people should be respectful

I knew Randi died. It makes me all the more frantic to find an RPG book with a character named Randi “The Amazing” James who tests psychics, that I had autographed by Randi when he gave a lecture at the Franklin Institute a few years ago. I was unaware the challenge did not continue.

The bottom line is that in a forum like Politics or Great Debates as soon as topics arise that are contentious at a fundamental or axiomatic level concepts and the tools used to express said concepts such as language are going to be problematic to fervent devotees. The solution is not to censor or prohibit discussion it’s to restrict discussion to those who have the emotional maturity to participate in said discussion in a civil manner. Not every thread need appeal to every poster and participation is voluntary. We don’t cater to the devout of the religious sort by prohibition of atheistic or agnostic language nor do the rules tolerate explicit religious bigotry. The space in between those boundaries still allow for almost the full range of debate on religion. This is becoming less true with secular issues.

What other issues? Please be specific and it would help if you could provide cites

Why keep asking that when I’ve made it perfectly clear?

If we’re talking about trans girls, whatever people’s opinions are on the controversial issues, they should have the basic human decency to call them trans girls, not “boy------->girl”, and most certainly not trans boys. And the use of the word “converted” seems like vocabulary more fitted to Transformers.

If that OP doesn’t fit the definition of “insulting” I don’t know what does. And since people are already trying to lawyer the rules, for the avoidance of doubt the prohibition on misgendering should explicitly encompass generic misgendering, referring to trans women as men or trans men.

The only two possibilities for an offensive OP like that are a level of ignorance that is unacceptable in civilized discourse, or deliberate antagonistic transphobia. I think an OP like that or any post written in such an offensive manner should attract much stricter moderator directions - not immediate warnings, but granting the benefit of the doubt on ignorance. Thus, thread closure if it’s an OP, and instructions not to post again on trans issues until the poster has the decency to spent a short time educating themselves on how to discuss trans folk respectfully. We could facilitate this by adding links to resources via the rules section, although it really shouldn’t be necessary - for anyone who actually wants to learn, it’s hardly difficult to find resources online to help understand what it means to be transgender, and to learn what is appropriate and respectful vocabulary.

And again, since somebody will inevitably straw man this yet again, I’m absolutely not suggesting any limitation on discussing the controversial issues. Just using language that treats people with basic respect for their human dignity.

Here, the moderators. In the real world, your government. Both have banned various forms of hate speech, and as time goes on will ban more.

Among the Guidelines for discussion of transgender issues on the SDMB is: “We do not mod posts based on inaccuracy, illogic, lack of cites, etc. We leave it to other posters to point out such defects.”

The question is, when is something like using incorrect terminology to refer to trans people considered “inaccuracy” in this sense, and when is it a more serious, moddable offense?

Yeah it stopped when he retired.

Randi was awesome.

Sorry all for the hijack. I was a big fan of his work.

I don’t really see a problem with the ‘boy → girl’ terminology or with ‘converted’. How is that worse than the standard ‘MtF’ and ‘transitioned’? Also, I think the mods already lock too many OPs for being badly expressed when they could have developed into interesting threads. Particularly with new posters it seems almost inevitable that they will break some rule or other; I’d like to see a better solution.

In this case, I think messaging the OP and getting their agreement to edit the post to use the correct terminology would be the best way to deal with it.

The problem is that using your idea of respectful language on this topic basically forces other people to endorse one side on those controversial issues; a position that may be exactly what they wanted to argue against.

To give an example, I think the phraseology of ‘sex assigned at birth’ is not only wrong but intentionally deceptive, and yet using this phrase is the only option considered respectful by the progressive posters on the board.

Converted means changed/altered. Being transgender does not require surgery or hormone treatment, it’s a declaration of identity.


The controversial issue is trans girls competing in high school sports. That’s a welcome debate.

But if you think that being respectful of people’s human dignity is a similarly “controversial issue”, then I don’t think you should be welcome here. That’s not a “problem”, it’s should be a fundamental standard that the board requires of everyone here.

A topic like this will have a lot of expected confusion for people new to the concept. Someone who is ignorant of the preferred terms or underlying concepts is very likely going to phrase things in ways which are going to seem insensitive. There’s even controversy by experienced people in things like whether the space is necessary in “transwoman” vs “trans woman” and whether one is offensive or not. If someone is using offensive terms with the deliberate intent to be offensive, then that is problematic. But if someone is coming from a place of ignorance and expresses things in a way that seems offensive, I think we just need to realize that’s going to come with the territory in topics like these and try to educate as best as possible.

Well then, you absolutely are advocating for a restriction on discussing controversial issues, on the pretext that those who disagree with you are not ‘respecting people’s human dignity’.

That’s why I think having the mods message the OP and ask for their agreement to modify the offending language would be the best solution. If the OP thinks the suggested edit would change the intended meaning, they could work out a solution together.

At the same time the mods can point them to resources to educate themself, to avoid it happening again.

Oh, nevermind

But the prefix “trans” implies a transformation or change. I can see why someone unfamiliar with the concept might think that being transgender simply meant changing from one gender to the other.

And even if there’s no surgery etc involved, they’re still “changing” how they present/would like to be perceived by the world.

I do agree “Converted” isn’t an optimal word, though.

Sure, so can I. I can also see how, if they had any good faith interest in the issue, that they could educate themselves with 10 minutes googling.

How many years do we plan to continue to allow people to use offensive language about trans people with this justification, when the collateral damage is to make this board intolerably hostile for trans people?

Again, I’m not suggesting anyone be banned, or even warned. I’m just suggesting that it’s about time that the mods act more decisively to eliminate pleas of ignorance as an excuse, and to place the clear burden on posters who wish to post about trans issues to educate themselves on how to do so respectfully.

If there’s a good, quick and simple resource, something like a FAQ on how to refer to trans people and trans issues without being offensive, perhaps you could link to it?

I don’t moderate great debates, so i only just noticed this thread. And i agree with DemonTree

i think the title of the thread is offensive, and titles are much more visible than posts, and in some sense represent the board. I think the title should be edited. Ideally, the mod who edits it would mention that they are changing it to the op, say why, and give the op a chance to refine the edit so it still reflects what they intended to say. But it should be changed.

That’s not the meaning, actually. It’s the same use of “trans” as in “trans fats”, and it means “across” or “opposite”

To quote WebMD, which actually has a very decent description

What Is Cisgender?

Cisgender, or cis, means that the gender you identify with matches the sex assigned to you at birth. Transgender is when your gender identity differs from the sex on your birth certificate. In Latin, “cis” means “on this side,” while “trans” means “on the other side.”

A transgender woman had male genitals at birth but identifies as female. A transgender man had female genitals at birth but identifies as male.

I first learned words “trans” and “cis” when studying biochemistry. Fats may be fully saturated (having single bonds) or unsaturated (having double bonds). Unsaturated fats may be cis (hydrogens in same plane) or trans (hydrogens in two different planes). The words mean pretty much the same with regards to gender. If your sex and gender match (are in the same plane) you are cis. If they don’t match you are trans.

But… I agree that the language is somewhat new and can be confusing. Rather than slamming the poster, I think it’s better to edit the language and explain why.