Navratilova did not feel the need to back down

DOCTOR Rachel McKinnon wrote a piece explaining what people should do when they annoy DOCTOR Rachel McKinnon, with particular reference to Martina Navratilova.

Last month, tennis legend Martina Navratilova wrote some now-deleted, unfortunate tweets about trans-women athletes.

Her initial tweet was about trans women athletes competing as women while having a penis. It read:

Clearly that can’t be right. You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard…

Two days later, I weighed in by retweeting the offending tweet: “Welp, guess Navratilova is transphobic.” I also said, “No, you are not ‘pro- trans people’ if you say that trans women with a penis must not compete in women’s sport.” I made the points [sic] that her position is transphobic. Genitals do not play sports.

Saying her position is transphobic is not so much making a point as it is repeating a bit of stale jargon. What Navratilova said is not “transphobic” just because Rachel McKinnon says so. Saying that people with male bodies should not compete against women is not transphobic, it’s just an obviously reasonable claim about fairness in physical competition. Wear skirts, call yourself Jenny, giggle fetchingly all you like, but don’t force your way into women’s sport.

Many others confronted her, but Navratilova did not feel the need to back down from her position.

Imagine that! Some people disagreed with her, some people agreed with her, and she went ahead and felt entitled to think what she thought. She didn’t “feel the need to back down from her position” because no one had succeeded in convincing her her position was wrong. That happens sometimes.

What Navratilova failed to see was that her tweets, whether they were intentional or not, were doing harm to trans women. Her comments were immediately picked up by anti-trans publications and used as justification for their own positions.

What McKinnon fails to see is that much of the shit he talks is doing harm to women, to say nothing of the harm his competing against women in cycling does to those women.

The doc then gets to the instructions on what to do if you trip and say something transphobic. They’re predictable enough: cop to it, apologize, mean it, delete it all, listen to the abuse criticism and thank people for it, commit to doing better and do the work.

(Wouldn’t it be nice to see Rachel McKinnon do that? Ever? Isn’t it interesting that that apparently never happens? We have to nod in agreement at whatever “criticism” is flung, but Rachel can skip through life without being re-educated every five minutes.)

I still have hope for Navratilova.

Nobody is perfect. I’m not perfect. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect. But we should be held accountable for our actions, especially when we hurt people. When people say that something you said or did hurt them, believe them. Don’t try to minimize it or point to what you ‘intended.’

Again, this is a philosopher talking, making it a general and absolute rule that when people say that something you said or did hurt them, you have to believe them. No exceptions, no qualifications, no warnings – just believe them. But what if they are psychopaths, or narcissists, or whiny entitled brats, or con artists, or people who work for Trump, or people who want to do you harm?

Don’t try to minimize it or point to what you ‘intended.’

Here’s an analogy: suppose that you accidentally break my favorite coffee mug. Sure it’s worse if you intended to break it, but even if was an accident, you still broke my mug. You should acknowledge that you broke it, apologize, do something to fix the harm, and then promise to be more careful in the future.

And you should mean it.

Wow – don’t ever drop in at McKinnon’s place. But more to the point, don’t ever go near McKinnon at all. Guess what: that’s not how you treat people. If somebody breaks your favorite whatever, they already feel bad about it, and if you’re not an asshole you don’t want to make them feel even worse.

And I mean it.

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