This post is part of the Weave of Tradition series. Please read the introductory post to that series to understand more about this post’s intent and context. This series deals with traditions, language, and symbols that mean very different things to different people.
This happened some time ago. I’ve only now been able to respond at all.
Someone requested of me that I stop using the word homophobia and transphobia and instead use the words heterosexism and cissexism.
The person was polite in their request.
They explained, clearly and in detail, why they were making such a request. I assume they figured I didn’t know. (I knew. In more detail than they explained, in fact.)
I didn’t answer.
I couldn’t answer.
I couldn’t explain.
But I can say this:
And I realize it’s important for me to say no.
Because you’re penalized for your inability to explain.
So too often if I can’t explain, I just don’t say anything.
I can’t justify myself. Oh — I know my justification. But I don’t know the words, I don’t know how to say it. Especially not in a way that’d make sense to anyone.
But no, I both won’t and can’t — both won’t and can’t — use those words instead.
And I shouldn’t have to.
And I shouldn’t have to have an explanation or justification. It’s dangerous to leave people without a means to describe our own oppression, no matter if that’s your intent or not. (And I know it was not this person’s intent. But that would be the result.)
So all I can say: