Clarification From Yesterday

It appears that some people who read my post yesterday think I am accusing Paul Cornell of being transphobic. That’s what happens when I’m so angry that I write posts dripping in sarcasm rather than something plain and simple. Let’s see if we can get this clear.

From what I saw of the Hugo ceremony on UStream, including the bits about the Campbell Award being in denial about its desire to live as a Hugo, I did not think anything Paul said was transphobic.

Someone else did, and said so very loudly. He also thought that Paul was homophobic, SMOFphobic and probably a few other things as well.

I happen to know that the poster is an older cis male, but he wrote under a handle and some cis people were unwilling to counter the accusation because how would they know what a presumed trans person felt?

And, of course, humor is subjective. If a trans person had been offended by Paul’s jokes, we’d have a duty to listen as to why.

In this case, however, we don’t, at least not that I know of. Because cis men do not get to define what is transphobic and what isn’t. If an actual trans person has come forward and made a complaint, that’s different.

The main problem with such accusations is that stories can very quickly morph from “someone said something transphobic at the Hugos” to “Worldcon is institutionally transphobic and it isn’t safe for trans people to go there”. Because there are people who would delight in spreading that idea. So let me again talk from personal experience.

I’ve been involved in fandom for a long time, and my first Worldcon was in 1995 when I was just starting to transition. I have kept going back. I know lots of other trans people in fandom. I can’t speak for them, but the reason I am there is, in part, because I find fandom far more accepting of trans people than the general population. I should add that Paul is a good friend, and very supportive of me and of other trans people. He and Caroline have done their bit to argue the cause of trans people within the Church of England.

I note again that this is personal experience. It hasn’t been perfect. I remember one particularly obnoxious person at a con in Australia, and a few issues at WisCon (where gender issues are inevitably fraught). Other people may have had bad experiences. But if bad experiences were the norm I think I would have heard about it, and so would Roz Kaveney, who would not have been quiet about it.

7 thoughts on “Clarification From Yesterday

  1. I can’t speak to trans, but as to homophobia I saw Paul’s shtick more as anti-phobic and was laughing right along with him.

  2. Geez… that’s what the accusations of transphobia originated from? Granted, it’s my perspective, but I thought it was a fabulous riff on internalized homophobia, defensiveness and self-esteem problems.

  3. Hi Cheryl,

    Just to clear up any possible misunderstanding. If it was my post you are referring to, I am explicitly not accusing Paul Cornell of transphopbia or homophobia and I hope that the second paragraph of the post makes that clear.

    I was responding to the implicationthat people identified as smofs are exclusively older cis white males when they are not.

    There is a particularly toxic fan feud going on at the moment that has escalated to suggestions of bias against various minority groups. No part of this argument should have been repeated from the Hugo stage. It needs to be made clear that not only is this not true but often the people being accused are actually members of those groups themselves.


  4. I totally thought you were being sarcastic.
    Not because I know Paul – I don’t – it just seemed if you really meant it, you would not have just left it at that one line.

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