Regarding the firestorm that was Monica's firing, mods resigning, SE non-apologizing, then backpedaling, then apologizing, then putting out the wildly negatively received FAQ on the new CoC regarding pronouns, it's been pretty hard to follow, hard to understand, and frustrating to hear about.

What hasn't been hard to follow and identify, however, is the both explicit and subtle instances of homophobia, queerphobia, and transphobia that have emerged. I suppose, since most everyone is frustrated with the new pronoun CoC, LGBT-phobes have decided they can blend their bigotry in with the general and appropriate outrage that isn't directed at the LGBT+ users on SE, but rather SE's mishandling of an important issue.

As a queer woman, seeing comments with lots of upvotes criticizing queer and trans users and blaming this mess on them, lamenting political correctness that requires you refer to someone how they'd like you to, and anger at the fact that SE sort of, maybe, at the very beginning, wanted to protect LGBT users, is very troubling and uncomfortable for me to see.

I feel, right now, with all of this in mind, like I can't be open about my identity on SE. To my fellow LGBT+ users, do you feel the same way? If this is the case with others as well (and me hopefully not just being a snowflake), how can we fix this? Most importantly, can we fix this?

(My question is, is this issue fixable, not, is it an issue.)

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    Can you define what 'safe' means to you? Because, A: you can't fix it if you don't know what you're fixing. And B: comments/questions/answers aren't moderated before they're made publicly visible, they're moderated after via flags. We'll never get to a point where hurtful things can't be posted until nothing can be posted. If by safe you mean hurtful/abusive things get deleted in a timely manner, we had that up until this new CoC business happened. Now things are a bit slower.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:57
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    Why have so many comments been wiped from this question? They were not offensive to me (the OP) or in general. What's the deal?
    – user473022
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 14:25

5 Answers 5


I don't feel safe. Not at all. I have hidden all of my activity on the sites I am active on. I changed my username when the one I used to use got openly vilified in a public and transphobic post that felt like it was intentionally mischaracterizing me.

Since changing my username I have publicly stated that I am trying to distance myself from that name. Since doing that I also had someone intentionally use that name against me in what I can only describe as an effort to hurt me.

Then there are fears like this one over doxxing and targetted assault and murder. Is that likely to happen? Probably not. Is it fear-mongering? Almost certainly. Have I had panic attacks thinking about my safety and those around me over it? Oh, most certainly.

I am terrified and I don't feel safe. I also refuse to stop because I don't want to leave a community I have been apart of for years out of fear. I hate the idea of letting the bigots win.

I also don't feel as safe just amid the community. I am not talking about my physical safety. If I go into a chatroom now, people stop talking. I have had a lot of nasty things said to me both in chat and in comments to posts that are awful. I have to worry about how my posts will be received now because I admitted to being trans. (Are most people downvoting me or attacking me just because I exist? No. Don't say "Not All...". It's obnoxious. Pointing out the actual incidents of transphobia is not me accusing you of being a bigot.)

It's sad. And I'm tired. And I'm drained. I have cried. And I have seethed. And I have shaken in fear and anxiety.

But if I leave it will be for good and I don't want to do that.

How do we make it better? We Exist. If we leave they've won. The spike in tension is from a single cataclysmic event. So we ride it out. We hope that SE cleans up their mistakes so that those who are just angry with the company can walk away. Hopefully, the really bad bigots will isolate themselves and either learn to behave themselves are be cast out. (In that order.) We Survive. This is an extinction burst. It is pushback. It is an attempt to remind us that they don't want us to be comfortable. So just exhaust them by surviving.

That isn't enough and there will need to be more after all of that but that is for wiser people than me. We will keep building on this, or we will give up. Stay Strong.

  • 36
    Comments purged: There was a long thread here asking for 'evidence'. While I'm not going to repost deleted stuff (it's deleted for a reason), I can confirm that since I started handling flags again last Saturday, I've had to remove quite a bit of nasty, including what's described in broad terms here. Please don't doubt the validity of the statements made here, they're true.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:42
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    I'm locking this answer for a week, reinforcing what Tinkeringbell said previously.
    – user50049
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:54

You seem to be defining safety as "not being offended". Most of us, myself included (jewish atheist), are part of some grouping that a significant number of other people think are worthless, dishonest, vile, deserving of eradication from the earth, etc. Note that I'm not claiming that my experience is equal to yours, only that I have experienced very similar attacks when I identify myself as jewish (or atheist for that matter). I might even be hated by other jews for not capitalizing the word "jew". This is true for people of every nationality, every religion, every belief, every distinguishable feature (e.g "gingers are soulless").

I don't like comments that reflect these beliefs. I don't like to be told I'm subhuman, etc. Seriously, I often find them very upsetting. I don't want to be offended. I have a strong desire not to be offended. But I don't think I or anybody else has a right to not be offended.

Now, if the aim of a comment is to offend, or to dox, or to inflict terror or pain, with no other relevant aims, then it runs afoul of the "be nice" policy that we've always had and that I support. But it's possible that some people may believe that god only accepts binary genders. They may believe that acknowledging non-binary genders is committing a sin, going against god, putting their salvation at risk. I believe their (or anybody else's) right to choose how they speak and write is more import than my right not to be offended. Much more important.

  • 6
    So where should we draw the line on anti-semetic content, to use your example? I don't think you're arguing that we shouldn't discourage and remove such content, right? If someone believes, as many do, that all Jews are sinners against god and will go to hell, is that an ok thing to post about on SE? They have every right to believe it, but are you really arguing that that kind of content belongs on SE and should remain there?
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 17:59
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    Depending on the context it may be very important to a discussion to post exactly that. I can't see it ever being appropriate on SO, but there many be other SE sites now or in the future where it's not only allowed but critical to have them. Supposed there were an SE site exploring anti-Semitism? A contrived example I admit, but my point is that the context matters. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:02
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    "You know, I don't even know what 'misgender' means" - that's literally at the heart of this whole issue, I strongly suggest doing some reading before continuing to comment on it.
    – Em C
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:22
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    @EmC: Looking it up won't help as different people use different meanings of the word. Obviously intentionally using the wrong gender-specific pronoun would be misgendering, but some claim that using a non gender-specific pronoun when they've asked to be referred to with a gender-specific one, or somehow avoiding pronouns completely, is also misgendering. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:30
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    @JamesKPolk There's a lot of different issues here, so we should try to be precise with our arguments. The claim about avoiding pronouns is not that it is misgendering, but that doing so deliberately in order to show your opposition to using someone's requested pronouns is rude, not nice, and disrespectful – ie violations of the old CoC.
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:34
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    @ScottHannen: Indeed. With so many different philosophies of life around we must expect conflict, not fear it. We should resolve to first try to negotiate a solution to any conflict before taking unilateral action. In doing so we will learn about other belief systems and ideas, and we may may actually throw some of ours away and adapt theirs. It's the marketplace of ideas, don't cut yourself off from it. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:36
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    @divibisan: I don't completely agree. We cannot exclusively leave determinations of rudeness, niceness, and respectfullness in the eyes the aggrieved party. We must also consider the intent of the accused. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:40
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    @JamesKPolk Your point is spot on. A balance in rights and responsibilities of both parties is required in any given interaction between 2 people. And guess what ... the CoC does not provide this balance.
    – dfhwze
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:43
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    @ScottHannen I really feel like you're creating a strawman here by claiming that people who feel unsafe are doing it just because they don't like disagreement. There is real, respectful debate and disagreement going on here about how the CoC should be written, interpreted, and enforced. No one is claiming that that is making them feel unsafe. What makes people feel unsafe are (the tiny minority of) arguments that disagree with their right to exist. To return to James' example, it's the difference between disagreement on Israel's policy and disagreements on the right for Jews to exist.
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 18:46
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    @ScottHannen That seems like a bad faith interpretation of the post. The question mentions explicit homophobia, people blaming trans people for this situation, and anger at SE for trying to help trans people. It doesn't say that they feel unsafe because people won't use certain pronouns, they say they feel unsafe because of actual homophobia and personal attacks
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 19:05
  • 4
    @ScottHannen I think the problem is we're mixing 2 different issues. This question isn't about the new CoC – it's about some of the actual hostility and hate that have come up in the course of the debate over the CoC. It's a minority of comments, sure, but it's there.
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 19:08
  • 2
    @ScottHannen The question describes many different reasons they feel unsafe, and you've ignored them all to focus only on the one single example that supports your negative interpretation of the poster. That's what I mean by bad faith
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 19:11
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    @JamesKPolk My thinking on that is that if SE doesn’t earn back my trust, I wouldn’t trust them with “Be Nice” anymore than the new CoC. And if I trust that they can fairly enforce the rules, then I don’t see the new CoC as more dangerous than the old one. So I see them as separate but related issues, though obviously many disagree with this.
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 20:49
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    @SilencedTemporarily “They can, then, choose not to respond to a non-binary person’s question, rather than misgendering them.” Not if it’s because they’re non-binary. This is exactly the same selective disengagement that makes gender-neutral pronouns and even pronoun avoidance so problematic according to the CoC. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 22:56
  • 3
    @JamesReinstateMonicaPolk Definitley capitalize Jew. otherwise it's offensive (Orthodox Jew here). ;-)
    – TheAsh
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 7:05

I'd like to add to @James K Polk's great answer.

When one is a part of a minority, it's easy to focus on bigots ruining one's day. Belonging to one of the letters in the LGBTQ acronym, I do know the pain. What's more, I belong to minorities outside of LGBTQ+ spectrum, which are considered disorders by the current classifications, and I prefer not agreeing with that.

That's probably why I think putting everyone who disagrees with one's view into the bigots basket isn't very productive. People have different views on LGBTQ+ topics for many reasons ranging from science to religion, from lack of experience to fear of association. In case of the CoC issue, there're even more reasons, ranging from fighting for freedom of speech to desire to be listened to, linguistics even.

Of course, there're people who can't be taught to be more kind and understanding. However, most people don't mean harm when they disagree, even if some people find their opinion offensive for one reason or another. This is especially true for topics regarding transsexuality and everything else trans- — the social norms are changing here and now, the science is lagging behind, religions are adapting to the modern social norms, laws and rules are evolving, lawsuits that will define future laws are happening, language is changing.

At the time of such big, tectonic changes, it's very hard to adapt to the world evolving around us, so everyone, part of minority or not, should try to avoid blaming each other for bigotry even if it feels validated.

This is already happening here on MSE. Not only there're issues with moderating obviously offensive speech, but the opposing opinions are often silenced, a lot of discussions are removed, disregarding their value.

We all need to understand that if someone disagrees with us, it doesn't mean that they actively hate or target us or our group. When people aren't silenced and are listened to, they're more open to discussion and compromise. There will be less reason to act destructively or provoke if people believe that their opinion is considered. And as a result, those targeted by bigots will see less bigots.

I think this is the best way.

  • 12
    This isn't about people who disagree. This is about the overtly transphobic content being levied at us. Calling that bigotted is not hyperbole. We don't need more posts dismissing those attacks and the effect they cause as reasonable disagreement.
    – user384163
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 20:09
  • 9
    @AGirlHasNoName "Subtle instances [...] of homophobia, queerphobia, and transphobia" and "criticizing queer and trans users" are right there in the question. Also I don't dismiss microagressions and other issues — they do happen and being on the receiving end isn't nice — I just think they will naturally disappear over time as the society evolves, so focusing on them too much is damaging to both sides.
    – Athari
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 20:29
  • 4
    @Athari That is more specific than mere disagreement. For instance, as far as I can tell, "criticizing queer and trans users and blaming this mess on them" refers to suggestions that the LGBTQ+ community/users have caused problems here by imposing policies. Such views seem to be relatively common. While, in they milder forms, they aren't hateful, I do see how they can contribute to a feeling of lack of support.
    – duplode
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 22:22
  • 3
    @AGirlHasNoName While I don't get that impression from you, there are several people on MSE that state that anyone that doesn't agree with them is a bigot. Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 17:57

To my fellow LGBT+ users, do you feel the same way?

As a fellow trans user: no, I don't feel safe on MSE anymore.

The good news is, I do still feel safe on my other StackExchange favorite sites.

Here is a list of post related to how (some or many) people of the lavender community doesn't feel safe in here anymore:

Also related:

How can we fix this?

Here are some topic talking about how we could try to resolve all that:

Also related (probably):

Most importantly, can we fix this?

I don't really know. I hopefull that time will solve this. I'm also hopeful that positive humans actions could speed up the process.


Do I feel safe on this site as a trans woman? No.

But do I feel safe on any site as a trans woman? No.

Do I even feel safe on trans groups or sites as a trans woman? Definitely no, especially because I tend to get kicked out of the community faster than a drunk getting kicked out of a drag ball. (See: the 7 or so trans groups I'm banned from on Facebook)

But notice I do not hide away, I actively participate on sites. Someday things will change, I know it will - and activity, and being seen, and not hiding away will change it.

  • 4
    Could you elaborate on why you tend to get kicked out of trans groups? Is it a cause of intolerance towards non-conforming views (regardless of whose views they are)?
    – user437611
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 19:43
  • 10
    Basically, yes. I have views that go from very liberal to very conservative, and so some people don't like that. For example, I think cops should be at Pride events. Some people feel like this makes me a Nazi or a statist, and so they ban me from their group. Also I tend to see my trans-ness (lack of better word) differently than a lot of people, that some people feel like is inherently transphobic. Mind you, I say that these are the labels that I feel apply to me and only to me. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 20:00
  • 1
    Thanks for the response. Such intolerance is indeed appalling.
    – user437611
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 20:21
  • 2
    @OP thanks for being a voice of reason here... playing the "victim game" and "offense game" makes no sense IMVHO. I've had experiences similar to yours, and, with all honestly, IMVHO all the "trans activists" here on SE brass/MSE did was fuel a sh*tstorm that alienated (suspensions included) a bunch of great people (mods included), caused grief to a bunch of other people (including the less vocal & more hidden part of queer folk around here), invited some trolls, branded some people as ""trolls"", and made me, personally, sleep badly for a couple of days. I ask, was that really worth it?
    – user255942
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 0:06
  • 5
    BTW, today I feel actually oppressed by those people who should, in theory, act as the first line of defense for me... because, it seems, I'm not queer enough for them. I don't wave a rainbow banner. I don't care about preferred pronouns. I don't support PC police. I do, however (or at least try as hard as I can), respect a right of every person to act as they will, as long as they don't cause intended or direct damage to other people. I think that neither my sexuality or gendering really matter. Trans people can be bigots too, the same goes with the whole "equality alphabet".
    – user255942
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 0:11
  • 4
    mirroring your answer - Do I feel safe anywhere? No, not lately. I'm leaving my country because of that (one of the parties here proposed a "LGBT ban policy" this week), and will try to stay in places where people don't give a **** about who I ****. Like I said before - I don't care if I'm called "he", "she", "it", or "an attack helicopter". My identity is stronger than what people say about me. I won't break. I can honestly laugh from most of the jokes made from queer people the same way I laugh from jokes about IT people. I just don't want people accusing, screaming or hitting me anymore.
    – user255942
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 0:15
  • 2
    Hey @vaxquis, I hear you and wanted to let you know that you and your identity is valid and should be respected. Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 14:47