rosefox: A Victorian woman glares and says "Fuck's sake, what a cock"; someone out of the frame says "mm". (disapproval)
Rose Fox ([personal profile] rosefox) wrote2017-07-19 01:31 am

"You can't always get what you want"

Archiving some Twitter threads here regarding cons and congoing.

Thread 1: You are not entitled to be a panelist at a convention.

Spinning off of this thread from [twitter.com profile] HillaryMonahan:

"Authors, hi, hello. Let's talk about you, your participation at cons, and expectations/entitlement re: invites."

A good rule of thumb is to be less entitled than you would be about going to your niece's kid's first birthday party.

Let's quit the subtweeting and link: https://www.facebook.com/Readercon/posts/1512518405435466 (the comments, not the post)

1) A convention is not your home. It is a combination of party and business conference. No one is entitled to admission.

2) Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, especially if during your past performance you compared your skin tone to a napkin.

3) Touting your "two functioning legs" in response to a post inviting disabled people to volunteer is flat-out gross.

4) Painting white het abled older men as a vulnerable minority makes you no kind of authority on how "welcome for gays" cons are.

5) Readercon in particular has people banging down the door to get in. You have to earn your place on those panels.

When I was program chair, I created a grading system for new applicants. #1 important factor: "I've seen this person be great on panels." What that means is: I've seen this person be respectful, thoughtful, full of good ideas and connections, easy to panel with. Being a decent human being, in other words, matters more than the book you published 30 years ago. If you demand a spot on the program, you're demonstrating why you shouldn't get one.

That doesn't mean you have to grovel. Plenty of folks just fill out the application form and plenty are kept from last year with no fuss. But understand that every year the entire invitation list is reviewed, and be prepared for this to not be your year.

The default, as an aging human being, is to watch the world pass you by. You have to work to keep up or you will fall out of fashion. I just turned 39 and I can clearly see the timelines where that's my future. I want to stay in tune with the changing culture, and I will put in the time and effort to do that. But it does take time and effort! And if you have other priorities or just can't be bothered, expect an eventual seat by the fireside while other people go on without you.

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Thread 2: Cis People Please Don't Do This.

This post by [personal profile] yhlee makes it really clear how NOT to be a cis ally.

1) Trans people's personal lives are not public property.

2) Don't make us comfort you in your shock over how things are for us.

3) Don't mistake your trivial surface-level knowledge for a real understanding of trans lives or trans people's choices.

Now that I've had another day to get some distance, I will add my own story.

I was in the Readercon green room and someone I know pointed to my "They" button and said "What's that?" This is fine.

I said "It's my pronoun" and they said "Oh! Of course! You know, I always make sure to use it for you even when you're not in the room." This was said as though it was a tremendous favor they were doing for me and I should be grateful. I said "Thanks" in my best Sahara-dry tone, because I actually don't enjoy the threat implied by such statements—that threat being, "If I stop liking you, I will stop using the right words for you." (For more on the "misgendering as punishment" paradigm, see this thread from [twitter.com profile] TGStoneButch [TW: abuse].)

So that was less fine. Really not actually fine at all.

Then the person this person was talking with started telling me about how HARD it was to keep up with all the pronouns these days. He reads so many bios! It's so confusing! He spent 45 minutes researching the word "neutrois"!

I said to his face, "Wow, that sounds almost as hard as it is to be an actual trans person." And I turned and walked away.

Behind me I heard the first person go "oooh" like we were on the grade school playground, so I felt fairly certain my message had been received. BUT NO. Later that evening, the second person came up to me and said "I didn't get to finish my story about 'neutrois'!" I said flatly that I was not interested in hearing the story, and he said "Well... I thought it was interesting!"

We are well into 100% not-fine territory here.

So, continuing the earlier lessons learned:

4) Don't treat correct gendering as a reward for good behavior.

5) Don't tell trans people how hard it is for you to live in a world that has trans people in it.

6) Do not persist in trying to tell a trans person a story about you and gender/transness if the person has previously shut you down.

I have spent 39 years simmering in a cultural soup of what cis people think about gender and I would like the next 39 years to be free of it. I'm not going to get that, but I want to get as close as possible.

Just because my transness is interesting to you doesn't mean your thoughts on transness are interesting to me.

In conclusion, trans people go to Readercon to talk about books, so please talk to us about books. Thank you.

Comments are off because I'm on vacation and don't feel like moderating them. Feel free to share the link to this post.