In the past few days, I've gotten a lot of backlash for my gender neutrality article - and rightly so. As the author of that article, I apologize if I made you feel invalidated, uncomfortable, or angry. It was a poorly written, uninformed opinion. It was my opinion in its most undeveloped and empty form, and in the past few days, I've bolstered it with factual information and diverse perspective.
I do not support transphobia or hate of any kind in the LGBTQ+ community, or any community for that matter. I never meant for what I wrote to be transphobic or disrespectful in any way, and I certainly did not intend to cause harm or rally up transphobic people. But only after my article was read by the people that it was actually referring to was I able to see that my words could be twisted into hate speech. My uninformed outsider opinion did not convey what I was trying to say without also expressing entitlement and bigotry. What I was trying to say was nothing close to what it was interpreted as. I did not want to cause or spread harm, and for that, I apologize to anybody hurt by my words. SDSU is actually "among the best schools in the nation for LGBTQ students"(collegechoice.net), and I am so embarrassed to have taken that away from people. I would never want anybody to feel unsafe while on campus and I sincerely apologize if my article did just that.
I have always internalized the idea of inclusivity and being respectful to everybody, but thinking that it's best not to offend people with gender neutral or gender inclusive words completely unravels that internalization. I originally thought that it would be similar to misgendering someone by using they/them instead of using the pronoun that most people can fairly assume based off of physical looks and behavior. But, there is no harm in actively using and participating in gender neutral or gender inclusive language - it can only help people. It creates a safe space and lets the other person know that whichever pronouns they prefer that they will be respected and utilized. It doesn't hurt anybody to be inclusive. I have empathy for those who are misgendered and mistreated every day. I believe in treating everybody with the respect and inclusion that they deserve.
If you yourself want to continue considering yourself "open-minded" and "supportive of everybody", I suggest you heed these two pieces of advice:
1. You should aim to have meaningful interaction with the group of people that you claim you are supportive of. I have always considered myself supportive of anyone's choice to identify as whatever/whomever they want. I am happy to use the terms and pronouns that you prefer, and I would never think lesser of someone based on their identity. But after the backlash started and I had people calling me transphobic left and right, I had to step back and consider what it really meant to be an ally of this community.
Clearly, these people did not see me as an ally, they saw me as another bigot causing harm. Someone pointed out to me that in order to really be an ally of this community, you need to constantly take the time and energy to be gender inclusive and/or gender neutral. Simply not being against the community is not enough. We, as allies, need to be actively supportive and inclusive. I am not close to anybody who considers themselves part of this community. But I'm glad that I took the time to have a conversation with some of these people over the Internet. At first, most people just called me trash and transphobic and wanted to hate on me. But after they saw that I was reaching out to them not only to apologize but also to learn from them, some of them took the time to be helpful and educate me.
2. Unless you can be absolutely sure you've done your research, it probably isn't a good idea to express opinions on groups that you are not part of. I get annoyed when I see opinions published by Chinese people about Chinese topics and I myself am Chinese. So, I can't imagine how angry these people must have felt to see me expressing ill opinions about their community. And even if you have done your research, tread lightly. There's always going to be someone somewhere upset with something you've said. But at least you will be informed and learned about the opinions that you are expressing.