Hello again. I've missed you guys. But, there are things* happening in Real Life that have stopped me from spouting off here. And yet, I can't stop myself from commenting on events of the past week or two that, for me, demand comment. These events all share an "outing" quality that I think needs to be highlighted. I will not comment on any of the things that have happened specifically, but I want to talk about how hurtful "outing" is.
Outing someone is bullying. It is spiteful, hateful, and hurtful. It has consequences for the person that is outed - being outed can fuck with your career, your personal life, and your safety. There are reasons that folks are not out. There are good reasons to blog with a pseudonym. This is a topic that comes up over and over. I could spend the rest of the day finding the links for the many people who have written about this in the past. But you can google that shit yourself. There are good reasons to not be "out" about your gender identity, orientation, and about a million other things.
Outing someone doesn't just fuck with the person that is outed. It is a violation of an entire community. When a bully outs someone, it is a display of (real or perceived) control and power. It is a warning to everyone else that they, too, might be outed. It is an affront to a sense of safety in that community. It quiets those of us that may have very good reasons not to be out.
People should be able to define themselves. Full stop. The fact that someone is not out is not their problem. The biases and judgement and power structure of society makes it unsafe to be out. If everyone could trust that they were safe and accepted for who they are, then getting outed wouldn't be an issue. We aren't anywhere close to this. If someone doesn't feel comfortable being out then that is their decision. And I think it is up to all the rest of us - those of us that want the society to be better - to totally support them in this. We have to step up, because they can't. If you talk to someone and you learn they are female, then fucking believe them. Use fucking female pronouns. If someone wants to interact with the community psuedanonymously, then respect that. It's really not hard, I promise.
When someone threatens to out a member of our community, we need to stand up and make it clear that is wrong and it won't be tolerated. There need to be consequences. It needs to be clear that it is wrong and hateful when journalists out a trans* person for fun. Nature needs to hear that when their editors decide to maliciously out someone that they betray the trust of all of us. Everyone has to decide for themselves how they can respond. Maybe you can go on twitter and forcefully push back against the bully. Maybe you cut ties with the bullies, or boycott Nature. Do what you can, how you can. But don't sit by and pretend that nothing is going on.
Outing someone is stealing control over someone else's life. Stealing their ability to be safe and happy. Telling a story that isn't yours to share. It is the cowardly act of a bully. I know what it is like to be outed. I am, right now, IRL, dealing with threats of being outed, and even having people that I love be outed in some weird fucked up collateral damage scheme. It sucks. It hurts. It's scary. And its fucking wrong.