TW: Talk of genocide and mental health.
We need to talk about the trans activist community’s use of the word “genocide.”
It’s always bothered me. Classifying various laws concerning gender-affirming care for trans minors as “genocide” or condemning discussion about trans women athletes as “genocide apologism” seems like intellectual dishonesty.
More disturbingly, using such highly triggering language seems to be an attempt to shut down even mild critics of trans activism.
13 states have banned at least some forms of gender-affirming care for minors. These bills have been cloaked in misleading headlines by the media, like “Florida’s Decision to Refuse Life-Saving Care for Trans Youth.” It looks like Florida is planning to just let trans kids die of asthma attacks or making sure trans kids don’t get CPR or appendectomies. Which would indeed be an act of passive genocide.
But that’s not what’s happening.
The bills being introduced in red state legislature are restricted to ONLY gender transition care for kids under 18. This has been response to a lot of disturbing reports stating that minors receiving gender affirming care are NOT showing decreased levels of suicidality. Reports that say otherwise (like the misleading Dr. Tordoff report), have been quietly debunked. I have discussed this before in several articles.
And asking for doctors to pump the breaks on gender affirming care in minors and people with depression (like the AG of Missouri stating that 18 months of therapy ruling out alternative causes of gender dysphoria must be followed before a minor receives gender affirmation treatment) may be unjust or unconstitutional, but calling it “genocide” is dishonest. It appropriates from the actual victims of genocide throughout history, whether it be the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar or the Armenians by Turkish military.
As a feminist I am furious by the reversal of Roe v. Wade but I would not call this imposition against the medical rights of women a “genocide” against women.
So what is genocide exactly? According to the Oxford dictionary, genocide is “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.”
That’s not happening with trans people in the country, thank goodness. However I do consider the dictionary definition of genocide to be too narrow. The Uyghur genocide, American slavery and the kidnapping of indigenous children in America would not fit the dictionary definition of genocide.
So what is a good definition of genocide?
The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide currently defines genocide as only happening to “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” That in and of itself means that nothing happening to trans people meets the definition of “genocide” since trans people as a group meet none of those definitions.
I personally disagree with restricting genocide to only happening national, religious and racial groups. Genocide can also happen to disabled people and LGBTQ people.
The fact remains that none of the definitions of genocide as defined by the UN is occurring to trans people. Trans people are not being killed by the state. Trans people are not being mutilated. Trans people are not being herded into concentration camps or reeducation camps (which is what part “c” of the UN definition of genocide is referring to). Trans people are not being sterilized.
In fact, if you go to the more feverish parts of transphobic Twitter, a lot of transphobes are accusing trans rights activists of sterilizing autistic children or depressed teenagers by streamlining these children into gender transition treatments that can often render trans people infertile. “This is a genocide of autistic children and masc-presenting gay girls and femme-presenting gay boys!”
There are sloppy accusations of genocide on both sides.
When trans activists are pressed about where exactly the “genocide” is against trans people in the US, trans activists usually point to the second definition of genocide, specifically the “mental harm” part of “Causing seriously bodily or mental harm to members of the group.”
To me, however, the “mental harm” definition of “genocide” is being stretched far too broadly.
If you redefine criticism as causing “mental harm,” (and frankly all criticism causes the object of the criticism to feel bad in some capacity) … you could then simply smear the critics as causing “genocide.” I’ve seen this ploy used against JK Rowling and Riley Gaines (mostly women, interestingly) and it’s dishonest.
A few trans activists have said part “e” of “genocide” (“Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”) applies to Florida’s bill.
The bill mostly applies to noncustodial parents being able to sue for custody of kids if the custodial parent allows the kid to go through gender affirming medical care. There are a lot of arguments you can make against the Florida bill, but it’s not “genocide.”
The UN Convention defintion of genocide discussing the “forcibly transferring” of children refers to the US, Canada and Australia separating indigenous children from their families. Many of these children were kidnapped and sent to boarding schools, where hundreds of these children died.
Again, comparing to what happened to indigenous children (which was indeed genocide) to custody tussles over children receiving gender affirming care is dumb.
Stating that legislation putting some screening requirements on gender affirming care is “genocide” is sloppy at best and causing unnecessary mental harm at worst. In fact, reddit forums like r/transguns seem to encourage stockpiling guns among trans folks and allow commenters to talk about taking as many cis people with them as possible in the upcoming “genocide.”
If you think this won’t lead to a volatile situation, you’re a fool. Already there is a huge dispute about releasing the Nashville shooter’s manifesto to the public. I have no idea what is in that manifesto, but I fear that a lot of the language in the manifesto echoes so much of what I am already reading on Reddit forums for trans people. “Buy as many guns as possible and take as many of the bastards as you can with you when they come for you.”
People in this mind frame could end up doing something horrible, either to themselves or to others.
So I am begging you, please, stop saying the word “genocide.” That is not just a word to toss around for lazy emotional shock value.
Out of respect for the many victims of genocide throughout history, learn what genocide *actually* is.
And stop saying “genocide” unless it’s truly genocide.