Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A moral issue: should I kill off my most popular post?

In the world of top-flight blogging my current viewing total of 440,000 is nothing much. But for a trans blog, it is a significant total, and although the topic coverage has increasingly moved away from 'my journey' and 'being a woman', it remains a trans blog, and frequently touches on aspects of trans life. I don't think it matters much that I do it from a post-op, integrated-into-normal-life point of view. The key issues never go away.

So the fact that I have generated a decent-sized audience is a Good Thing - if you believe that articulate trans bloggers ought to carry on writing, and put the Educational Message across to the general public. Or putting it another way, ten million silent transitioners are never going to make an impact, whereas a few thousand with something to say stand a much better chance of gradually changing attitudes.

In fact I do have lots to say about what happens after the surgery is done. Four years ago, when still pre-op, I got into trouble with some other bloggers because I suggested that transition never really ended, certainly not with the surgery, and that one might continue with it to the end of one's life. I meant that one can never learn enough about the female role. I was shot down in flames for this. There were even mumblings that if I felt like that, I clearly wasn't ready for transition. I'd got it so wrong. Well, phooey. I'm here. I'm living a very happy life. A normal life. And yet despite that, I still think I was right about transition being an ongoing thing, never quite complete. Situations will always arise. And because of that, I will always have something to write about.

Perhaps one day the difficulties will vanish. That will be when the general public accepts trans people as a normal part of society - not worthy of special remark, just people like anybody else. Like one nowadays might accept anyone in a wheelchair. Or think nothing of people with red hair, or those who are left-handed. When that day comes (who knows, maybe in my own lifetime!) I will be reduced to posts on My Holiday In Brazil. Why Brazil? Because it features hugely in the annual record of transphobic murders. I dare not go there. Nobody like me would be wise to risk it. But if things ever change, I'd dearly like to visit Brazil, and post about it.

Blogger keeps automatic statistics for my blog, and the top ten posts since 2009 have certainly been clicked on often enough. The second most popular post has been looked at 3,300 times. Even the tenth most popular has had 900 viewings. But the most popular, published in 2011, three years ago, is way out ahead. It has had 52,000 viewings. In fact, roughly speaking, one in seven viewings since 2011 have been of this particular post.

I don't want to identify it. It's about the crass attitude of certain young men to a person who has a voice that suggests she might be trans. Its purpose was to ridicule these silly people, and defend their victim. Whether she is, or is not, trans is hardly the point. The bad attitudes are the point.

I had no idea that this post would prove so popular. At first I was pleased when it began to attract viewings. Aha, I thought, a lot of other people feel like me, that this lady is being unfairly scrutinised. Some of the comments seemed to come from those silly young men. I deleted those. Other comments were mature, and supportive of her. I left those in. I amplified the educational message by commenting myself. It's one of those posts where the commentary (mostly not mine) is more telling than the post itself.

If the post had garnered 2,000 viewings in its three years, I wouldn't be concerned. But 52,000! What's going on? Have I (and those who made positive comments) together crafted the Perfect Post, that collectively puts across a persuasive point of view? One that has attracted mass support among the intelligent and discerning? Or has it become a standard Must-View Big Laugh For The Lads? In the latter case, I'd think about killing the post stone dead.

The trouble is, you cannot know who is looking, and why.

I read the post again, just the other day. It defends the lady victim stoutly. It roundly castigates the childish stupidity of those lads. (I am assuming most were college students. Surely none were grown men, who should have known better?) It drums home the message that trans people, male or female, are normal people and require respect. That no speculation is ever necessary. And that it's a very big So What, the question whether somebody might be trans.

If I deleted the post, that defence, that castigation, that urging to show respect and not probe, all these things would be lost. The education of the public would be that much weakened.

And it would not just be my words. Other people contributed. It was a joint effort. Should I extinguish the sensible comments that my co-authors made?

And yet, every fresh viewing subjects this lady to a scrutiny that I am sure she would rather not have. That's where the moral problem comes in. Her reputation versus the ongoing value of the post. It is undeniably educational. Anyone going to it for a salacious laugh might well come away chastened and thoughtful. I don't want to kill off a post that does that.

Perhaps one day it will not be read so much, and the moral problem (as I see it) will reduce. The lady herself has not emailed me, begging me to take it down. If she did, I would. Perhaps she tacitly approves of it, and wants it left up there. Whatever the truth of this, it shows how one can, almost by accident, and certainly not by calculation, create something that has a life of its own.

Thank goodness that six out of seven viewings since 2011 have been directed towards something else, such as my caravanning adventures, or my handbag collection...fascinating stuff!


  1. I strongly suspect that this refers to the same person as a post on my own blog that received more hits than any other. Recently I was faced with the task of restoring the photos on many of my older posts and took the decision that this one should be deleted. The lady in question never asked me to consign it to oblivion, even though she now holds down a very responsible job, but I felt that she should be allowed to put the past behind her and get on with her life.

  2. There are business folk who make much money using their skills in creating web pages that get lots of 'hits'. Certain key words attract attention when folk search. As you suggest however it isn't just about getting an audience, but rather getting the attention of the appropriate audience.
    You aren't asking for votes, but my feelings would lean toward leaving your post there, to educate all who stop by, no matter their motives.

  3. I think that posts about transgender issues should always be written in the third person, thereby protecting the identity of whomever it concerns. I therefore would not recommend anyone writing about their personal issues in a post that is open to anyone's sharp remarks. I have placed in my site's pages my own story but they are not open for discussion as they might be if I put them in my daily posts. I feel there is no need to enter into drawn out arguments and defences regarding personal issues. I once entered into such arguments myself but ceased doing that some time ago because it serves no real purpose as far as I can see. Yes, I totally agree that the masses should be educated so I would agree to the subject being posted out there but without the option of discussion. We cannot convince people of things they are not prepared to accept no matter how good our intentions and arguing a point often defeats the object by driving people further away. To get involved in someone else's argument isn't a wise thing to do. As Halle has just written it isn't about getting an audience per se but directing the information to an appropriate audience. People go to a library for information whether that library is in a building or on the Internet. They can learn about transgender issues from unbiased sources and thereby educate themselves. Often I feel many reject ideas because they have never before faced them and come into an argument with swords drawn. It is down to their own education but ultimately their own personality too. We cannot force our own views on anyone but all we can do is present the facts.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. Lucy, keep the post! I read it and you did a very good job getting your point across.

    And, speaking of posts, I featured this (the current post) on on T-Central.

    Calie xxx

  5. This issue is in the public domain and has been discussed in enough other places that you need not bother about your positive piece on the matter perpetuating any false information.

  6. Calie: What, a post of mine featured yet again? Thank you, of course, but you really must give other bloggers a fair crack of the whip!

    Jenny: I haven't looked. I don't want to heap another few pageviews of my own onto the lady under discussion. I dare say you are quite right, though, that taking the post down would make no difference.

    It's so sad that in the twenty-first century it's still possible for people to develop mocking views on the transgendered. They are presumably the same sort who, in the past, would have joked about severely disabled people - the blind, the speech-impaired, those with cerebral palsy, turning their misfortune into a running gag with fresh variants all the time to laugh at. Perhaps we should turn all this on its head, and pity them (the jokers) instead.



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Lucy Melford