The Shoe Doesn’t Fit: How Centrists Maintain Oppressive Power Dynamics

There is a theory that political beliefs are best arranged as a horseshoe rather than a straight line, where extremists are on the left and right sides of the horseshoe at the bottom, and moderates are at the top and middle. This theory says that extremists on both sides are more similar to each other than they are to moderates.

As a trans woman, the worst part about transition for me, so far, has been the horror of learning that most of the enemies of trans people are not extremists. It’s never pleasant when extremists show up to troll us anonymously or commit violent acts against us (I’ve personally been a victim of at least three physical assaults at their hands that were directly related to my being trans), but without the moderates who enable this, it would not be possible. Moderates enforce their oppressive agenda more subtly: splaining, tone policing, false equivalence, playing devil’s advocate, free speech fetishism, denial of our lived experience, etc..

Even worse, once the extremists have put the humanity of a marginalized group up for debate, our assertion that we are human becomes just one side of a “two-sided debate” in the eyes of moderates. And you can always depend on moderates to police us in any debate, telling us not to get angry, saying we’re being too emotional over the matter of whether we should be allowed in public, etc.. You can count on them to treat “the two sides” as being equivalent. Without moderates, the far right would have no real power.

Recently I learned that Esperanto-USA’s land congress would be held this year in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I found this to be a typical example of how the Esperanto movement makes no effort whatsoever to be accessible to marginalized people, preferring to pat itself on the back over its inherent righteousness and goodness for “la tuta homaro.” A “debate” over the exact same issue on Reddit originally led me to leave the UEA and Esperanto-USA. Still, I felt like I had to say something, and I don’t know why. Why allow the movement to occupy even more of my time as I’m worried about bigger things than constructed languages? But I thought that maybe I was the one being unreasonable, and maybe if I would just say something, they would immediately say “oh, we never thought about it that way!”

Instead I found myself once again being dismissed and tone-policed by a cisgender man, this time from North Carolina. As is almost always the case, if not always, the man who was dismissing me and tone-policing me claimed to be on my side. Despite my initial complaint pointing out that the pseudo-repeal of HB2 had no impact on trans people, and my follow-up showing that there was widespread consensus on this, he repeatedly insisted that HB2 had been repealed, as though a nominal repeal invalidates any practical complaint. When I said he could not possibly understand the situation of a trans person, he responded by telling me that I seriously underestimate the empathy of other people. The fact that this argument was happening at all shows, to me, that I was overestimating it by ever raising the issue to begin with.

At another point in the argument, he said that the fears of “both sides” were exaggerated. To me, it’s statements like this that are mainly responsible for our continued dehumanization. “Both sides” are not the least bit equivalent, and this false equivalence leads to our basic humanity becoming a legitimate “issue of political debate.” The fear of trans people being harassed in bathrooms is real and substantiated; trans people of color make up the vast majority of victims of hate crimes nationwide, and unlike “male sexual predators invading women’s restrooms,” many instances of violent crime against trans people in bathrooms have been reported:

Apart from these official reports, 1% of trans people reported being sexually assaulted in public restrooms in the 2015 U.S. Trangender Survey, which was taken before trans bathroom rights were in the news. 1% reported being physically assaulted and 12% reported being verbally harassed. Transphobia disproportionately affects people of color and disabled people. I doubt Raleigh is special in this regard.

The fear of “male sexual predators invading women’s restrooms” is scaremongering by so-called religious conservatives, a cynical way to get out the vote to elect the candidates they want, based on zero evidence, zero reports, nothing whatsoever except their hunger for power and the maintenance of their careers. Trans people in North Carolina, and elsewhere, are the prey of these psychopathic political predators.

But these politicians are never the ones who do the footwork of dismissing our concerns; they have no interest in our opinions. It’s always “moderates” who end up falsely equating them with us in order to pat themselves on the back for how reasonable and empathetic they are. And in doing this, they practically become the principal instrument in the maintenance of oppressive power dynamics. Their “supporting us” and “not being transphobic” is purely abstract, and its material consequence is the exact opposite of their alleged beliefs.

(Rachel edit: Changed the URLs to links and bulleted them to make it easier to read)

Kiel ne respondi al plendoj pri diskriminado en la Esperanto-movado

Kiam marĝenuloj plendas pri diskriminado, ĉu en la Esperanto-movado aŭ aliloke, la maniero kiel oni respondas al la plendo tre gravas. Iuj formoj de respondo nur plu doloras la plendanton, kiu evidente jam estas sufiĉe vundita pro la evento, kiu kaŭzis la plendon.

Alfronte de raporto pri diskriminado en la Esperanto-movado kontraŭ marĝenuloj, oni nepre:

1. Ne diru, ke “tio ne okazas en nia movado.” Farante tion, vi nomas la marĝenulon mensoganto, sed kial marĝenulo mensogus pri tio? Kia estus la profito? Ekzistas kruela kaj sufiĉe reakciema mito, ke iuj marĝenuloj serĉas ion por ofendi ilin. Tiu mito estas ne nur kruela sed ankaŭ absurda. Raporti diskriminadon estas ege maltrankvilige pro tio ke marĝenuloj, bedaŭrinde, jam alkutimis al nevalidigo, sarkasmo, kaj plua psika dolorado respondaj al raporto.

2. Ne citu la internan ideon, la Prag-Manifeston, aŭ alian Esperanto-literaturaĵon. Tiuj malvivaj abstraktaĵoj neniel tuŝas la viv-spertojn de marĝenuloj. Ili estas, maksimume, idealoj, kiuj evidente ankoraŭ ne realiĝis se ĉi tia plendo ĵus alvenis antaŭ vi.

3. Ne rimarku, ke vi konas alian anon de tiu marĝena grupo, kiu neniam plendis. Imagu, ke marĝenulino frapis vian kapon, vi diris “Ĉesu!” kaj ŝi respondis, “Sed mia amiko Joĉjo estas blanka, aliseksama, cisgenra, nehandikapa, maldika, riĉa viro, kaj li neniam plendas kiam mi faras tion!” Ĉu tio estus bona kialo plu frapadi vin?

4. Ne parolu pri “veraj Esperantistoj” kaj “malveraj Esperantistoj.” Tio ne nur estas logika misrezonaĵo, sed samkiel #2, ĝi estas tro abstrakta. Kiel la pureco de la atakinto ŝanĝas la sperton de la marĝenulo? Ĝi neniel tuŝas tiun sperton. Ĝi estas tute nerilata al la problemo.

5. Ne parolu pri libero de parolado. La disputo neniel temas pri rajtoj. Ankaŭ rajtoj estas malvivaj abstraktaĵoj; vi parolas al reala persono, kiu spertis realan doloron. Plue, la Esperanto-movado ne estas registaro, nek la marĝenulo argumentas, ke registaroj forĵetu liberon de parolado. Ĉiu movado havas la plenan liberon forigi aŭ korekti kiun ajn membron laŭplaĉe. Aldone, en la granda plimulto da landoj kun leĝoj, kiuj protektas liberan paroladon, malama parolado ne estas protektita, ĉar ĝi timigas marĝenulojn kaj, sekve, malplimultigas ilian liberon! Ĉu vi kredas, ke marĝenuloj povas libere paroli alfronte de timigado fare de reakciemuloj? Ĉu aktive aŭ pasive, vi faros elekton, ĉu malplifortigi la povon de potenculoj timigi marĝenulojn aŭ plifortigi tiun povon.

6. Ne diru, ke marĝenuloj pli facile konvinkus aliajn homojn se ili agus pli afable. Nu, bone pripensu tion dum momento. Vi parolas al senpotenculo, kiu koleras pro la malafableco de plipotenculoj. Potenculoj kutime plendas malpli ofte (kaj ofte neniam) pri tiu malafableco, ol la tiel nomata “malafabla respondo.” Kial malafableco nur gravas kiam ĝi venas el marĝenulo? Ĉu tio estas malfacila demando? Kiam vi klopodas “afabligi” marĝenulon, vi nur plifortigas hierarkiojn.

Kompreneble mi povas aldoni eĉ pliajn, sed tiuj sufiĉu por nun. Eble en la estonteco venos dua parto.

Esperanto Kansas City iras al la bestoĝardeno! — Paralela Universo 2016 (Esperanto)

Raye Chell Mahela

Nia loka grupo iris al la Kansas City Zoo por la Paralela Universo okazo!

Esperanto Kansas City:

Paralela Universo:

February – March: Skribu!

Raye Chell Mahela


Write stories in Esperanto during February & March!

December – January was Ludfesto, the event to make video games in Esperanto, and February – March is Skribu – an event for writing stories in Esperanto.

Lometha is organizing this one, and if you’re interested in participating, check out the /r/Skribu subreddit:

Video games… Stories… perhaps April – May will be the Movie Months! 😉

The Ludfesto webpage is LIVE!

Raye Chell Mahela

tcql and I have been working on organizing Ludfesto – an Esperanto-themed GameJam that will be running throughout the month of December.

The goal is to encourage people to learn how to make games, and hopefully see more Esperanto-language projects started!

Teams are definitely allowed, so even if you don’t want to tackle working with building the game itself, you could help out via translating, art, music, etc.!

And, even if you don’t have experience making games, if it sounds interesting to you, I definitely suggest you try it out! There are tons of tools and tons of tutorials out there, so stick with a small project and learn something new! (I’m also working on some Esperanto-language tutorials throughout November).

Rules and more information are on the webpage, if you have any questions let us know! 😀


November is “NaNoWriMo”!

Raye Chell Mahela

NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month”. Basically, you accept a challenge: to write 50,000 words for your novel, during November.

I suggest that you take part, and write a story in Esperanto! It’s not important whether you’re good or mediocre – it’s for fun and practice!

Afterwards, we can share our stories! :)

Check out the thread on Reddit for discussion!