Anger is often counterproductive for the promotion of an inclusive climate

Anger is often counterproductive for the promotion of an inclusive climate

Expert by experience and student Kyran Kuijpers on ‘women menstruate’

10-01-2022

Kyran Kuijpers, student of the research master’s of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience and female-to-male transgender, points out that not only women menstruate (but neither do all women). He feels it is such a pity that this substantive message is being overlooked because of the “demanding, threatening use of language” by Feminists of Maastricht. Go for dialogue, Kuijpers argues; it usually yields more than anger does.

I recently read about your concern about an e-mail from Feminists of Maastricht (FOM), which stated: “You have published a transphobic article and FOM expects that you change this immediately or we will mobilise our community against this.” You then wrote about the editorial decision to choose to leave the classic wording of “women menstruate” as it was.

I was also surprised and shocked by the demanding and threatening use of language by FOM. As a female-to-male transgender with a womb, this subject touches me personally. So, I see it as a fact that not all women menstruate and not only women menstruate. That is exactly why I feel it is such a pity that this substantive message is being overlooked because of the communication strategy that FOM has adopted. I fear that such statements will prove to be counterproductive for the promotion of an inclusive climate.

Anger or dialogue

As far as I am concerned, a minority group has roughly two tools to bring about social change. The first tool is anger, as implemented by FOM in this instance. The second tool is dialogue. In my opinion, opting for dialogue is often (but not always) more desirable as well as more effective. In addition to being a man who sometimes menstruates, I am also a pragmatist and I love people. Therefore, I would like to share my experiences on the Observant platform, in the interest of a more inclusive climate, free press and treating each other in a respectful manner.

Exam in MECC

The first experience was during an exam in the MECC. It was that time again: the monthly menstruation feast. I had to use the toilet, and the invigilator, with good intentions waved me through in the direction of the men’s toilet. I stood there with a dilemma: shall I go to the men’s toilet, where there is a lack of bins and I won’t have the possibility to change my pads discretely and in a sanitary manner? Or do I go to the women’s toilet, where I do have this possibility? But there I may be turned away aggressively or even ridiculed, as I have experienced numerous times. The gender-neutral disabled toilet was the best solution, but for that you have to request the key. “Why do you have to go there?”, the toilet gatekeeper asked. Apparently, this person’s job description included the task of leading the toilet user to The Correct Toilet, based on alleged gender and disability status. Another of those dilemmas. Do I or do I not explain the whole story, and run the risk of a nasty reaction? Fortunately, my answer “because this toilet is gender-neutral” was sufficient. All’s well that ends well, this time. I left, leaving behind a slightly bewildered toilet gatekeeper.

Discotheque

The second experience was when I went to a discotheque and the doorman checked my backpack. To his amazement, he found a menstruation product, which he held up for the onlookers’ amusement. “What do you need that for, do you have some kind of fetish?”, said gatekeeper number 2. In this case, I did prefer to share the specifics of my sexual genital organs and his paradox with my gender expression. And, let’s be honest; for a group that has absolutely nothing to do with this information!

I hope that these experiences illustrate the added value of people being aware that not everyone who menstruates is female, and not everyone who is female menstruates: safety, freedom, equality and privacy. Our language is of course the ultimate medium for spreading knowledge. It is up to the users of that language, and so also the editorial board, to decide whether they will take on the possibility of spreading this knowledge or to curb it. Because indeed, freedom of the press is a big thing. Even more wonderful, it can at the same time be used for other major things!

Kyran Kuijpers

 

Author: Redactie

Photo: Hafidz Alifuddin via Pexels

Tags: female-to-male transgender, woke, cancel culture, freedom of press, freedom of speech, feminists of maastricht

Responses

Agnes Varda

So as a researcher and member of this community you would rather publish an opinion on a newspaper that has factually discriminated against the existence and rights of trans/non-binary/intersex people to self-identify and would rather misdirect the public's opinion and publicly shame the ones who stand in solidarity. Is demanding fair treatment really threatening to this media company? And is then the observant's policy less threatening? Do you not realize that by saying "oh yes, of course not only women menstruate, BUT...", therefore openly admitting that the observant, a mainstream channel of "information", is 100% wrong in their childish refusal to change words and views that even you yourself fight for, you are then taking away all the importance of the very core of this conversation and putting the focus on how we choose to express and fight back against discrimination. Are you not aware of systems of violence that underly every-day use of language, the choices an editor in chief makes, the magic of cutting out words and emails, the very selective and very alarming obsession they have with this issue, the bombarding of a small team of students with their huge online platform? Is this not illegitimate? Is this not threatening to us and disgraceful? It is very disheartening to see this public siding with the people who are now gaslighting the audience into thinking they ever stood in freedom's favor. Seems like it's working. It's even more disappointing to see people from the same cause discredit others and invalidate their feelings and responses. We will exist how we see fit. This just proves that no matter where you stand, your stance on solidarity is still not a given, but something you must fight for and check yourself for every single day. I am proudly supporting our stance and the FoM actions. You see, we tried to be joyful feminists, but we were too angry. <3 <3 <3

Carien

Thank you for sharing such a personal story for the greater good of empathy and understanding!

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