I haven't been able to avoid this video. You've probably already seen it, but if you haven't, I envy you. The video depicts a woman reacting to constant misgendering from a Gamestop employee by knocking down some Gamestop displays.
As someone whose gender identity falls underneath the transgender umbrella, I understand her feelings, 100%. It feels incredibly invalidating that I will probably never "pass," even with chest binding or possible hormone therapy. I will almost always be seen as a woman, even by my closest friends. The same friends that constantly invite me to "women-only" events, who tell me "you look so pretty in a dress though!" when I express discomfort informal outings due to dress codes.
This woman probably has had years of emotional torment, and purely based off of statistics, most likely years of physical torment as well. I feel her pain. I understand it, although I don't agree with the reaction towards it. But that's not the point. The point: People throw tantrums, yell at employees, etc. ALL THE TIME.
I've worked primarily in retail and hospitality positions, and I can assure you that this experience isn't exclusive to any single group of people. I have seen grown men lose their shit at a fast-food place because we ran out of cheese. I have seen old ladies rip apart their vocal chords to harass high-schoolers about expired coupons.
People are emotional. People are volatile. Emotionality is part of the human experience. No human being is 100% rational, even if they pretend to be. I can almost guarantee that you have had an emotionally inappropriate outburst in public before. I have.
I've had customers come into my place of work, curse me out, and act like complete demons. I've had customers start crying in the checkout line. These same customers apologize later and explain their outburst. "My kid's in the hospital." "My cancer is back." "I'm adjusting to new medication." "Someone I love just died."
I'll be blunt -- I don't know what the fuck goes on in other people's lives. I can know their reactions may be inappropriate for the situation, but I'm not so self-absorbed that I think my opinion on such reaction even matters. I've learned that most emotional reactions to any social interactions often have less to do with the present, but rather are reflections of their past experiences.
That recording easily could have been staged with the purpose of perpetuating transphobia. That goal is easy to understand -- "Look at this immature, irrational, delusional person! (It's pretty likely that we don't know the full story since the recording suspiciously started mid-interaction.) There's also a possibility that Gamestop employee could have been anxious about the situation and unsure of how to respond. (Fairly likely as well.)
It is important to recognize that a common tactic of oppression is emotional gaslighting. When you dismiss a group of people as "dramatic", "delusional", or "sensitive snowflakes", you are dismissing their legitimate concerns, as well as their entire existence.
What transpired in this video should not influence your opinions of transgender people. Even if the interaction involved discussions regarding her gender, that should have no bearing on your perceived legitimacy of her identity, or your overall perception regarding the validity of transgender people. Such generalization is incredibly harmful to marginalized communities and perpetuates the violence faced by transgender individuals, especially transgender women.
We all have bad days. We all do stupid shit sometimes. I have seen some of the most rational, emotionally stable people I know have meltdowns over football games and TV show finales. It is unfair to everyone uses an isolated experience to justify your transphobia.
Does any of this excuse any possible damage caused? Absolutely not. You can extend empathy for the intent, and still acknowledge the impact of actions taken. The two are not mutually exclusive (and should never be.)
Shifting the blame onto transgender individuals for their identity removes accountability instead of enforcing it. Bigotry does not open the door to personal accountability, but instead slams it shut, denouncing nuanced discussions regarding actions taken by individuals.
Before you share that video and denounce your closeted transgender friends, before you make a joke towards a community whose average life expectancy is 23 years, think about the impact of your words. The words that you use can cause significantly more damage than some random woman knocking stuff off a display shelf. The words that you use can contribute to the invalidation and fear transgender people -- people like her, people like me -- experience every day.