Fear and Loathing in the Comments Section

Photo by Zengxiao Lin

A trans person faces the stresses of navigating through social media during a volatile time for the LGBT community

It's a situation I'm sure we've all been in, scrolling through social media when we're caught by a post regarding something that we are very passionate about. Maybe a friend posted it or maybe a trusted news source; either way, after you finish reading you have a choice to make… do you resume scrolling looking for the next interesting topic, or do you comment on this post? In most cases, the latter option is a relatively harmless one, such as commenting to a friend; but sadly, in this growing political drama that we call our lives, it's quite often that even just glancing at the previous comments may open a Pandora's box of hatred.

The comments section of most news outlets has become a growing cesspool over the last few years, and sadly, there seems to be no hint of that subsiding anytime soon. I personally find myself growing more and more curious every time something major happens that involves the LGBT community, and despite my instincts telling me not to click, I can't help but peak at almost every post. It's like some part of me almost feeds off of the disgusting nomenclature that is being spewed by these vicious people who likely don't even know the definition of the word nomenclature.

When word got out that Donald Trump was planning on setting strict definitions on gender identity, thereby essentially erasing the legal existence of transgender Americans, there was plenty to find across the web on the subject. On the very day that this news was spread, I found countless articles online, and even more posts on various social media pages by public figures who were standing up to support us. Journalists, actors, musicians, and even politicians were all jumping online to announce that Trans Lives Will Not Be Erased; and just as quickly as they were able to spread their support, the hatred began to flow like a portable toilet at a music festival.

"EVERY SO OFTEN, A BRAVE SOUL ATTEMPTS TO USE LOGIC AND ACTUAL FACTS TO EXPLAIN TO THESE PEOPLE WHAT MAKES US WHO WE ARE, JUST TO BE BERATED AND VERBALLY ABUSED."

Everywhere I looked, I found the words "freak," "basket case," "mentally ill," as well as quite a few more colorful words that I will not repeat. A couple of scrolls down a page and I find the latest "wiki doctor" trying to explain the science of genitalia and how our parts define our identities. Every so often, a brave soul attempts to use logic and actual facts to explain to these people what makes us who we are, just to be berated and verbally abused. Once in a while, you find somebody else who tries to stoop to their level of communication in order to get the idea passed, but of course, this does nothing because hatred and bigotry cannot be cured, especially on the world wide web.

My wife has often yelled at me for, what many have come to call, feeding the trolls. Sometimes it’s just too hard to keep silent while reading such hatred. I know that it’s the dumbest thing to do, that all I’m going to do is drive myself nuts as I go back and forth. Sometimes, it’s more about the slight satisfaction of calling somebody an idiot, but in the end, it really isn’t worth the headache. Ultimately, the best thing to do, if you absolutely have to click on the comments section, just keep in mind that while there will always be those who want to silence us, who want to diminish our existence, and antagonize us for their own amusement; in the end, we will not be silenced and our lives matter, we will continue to rise up and fight for our rights until the day comes when we have achieved everything that we strive for and no longer have to live in fear of losing our jobs, our homes, or our lives, just for wanting to be ourselves.

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