Someone invited me to answer here. For the record, due to the way the situation has escalated, I'll be leaving the network indefinitely on Friday, because I don't see any way the situation can be resolved in the near future with the current trajectory.
Do people feel they are, or will be, safer and/or more welcome, for example?
Hell no. After the initial issues with Monica started, things actually got worse. In my time here, I've only been targeted once for being a part of LGBTQ (and in retrospect, I kinda asked for that when there was a known troll in the room - long story, not important). SE has never been a safe space, and I'm actually glad it isn't. The fact that it's able to host a wide array of opinions and beliefs lets the entire community grow as a whole. I've learned a lot from people with different opinions than me. Some communities end up being slightly isolated, but anyone who's active in global concerns still interact with the massive amount of diversity - to some or another degree, most groups are represented. Religions, LGBTQ, women, and more I'm failing to think of.
There's always going to be a certain amount of clash between some different opinions, but provided the right environment, respect can still exist even if agreement doesn't. Unfortunately, the way SE handled it pushed an opinion for a highly polarized topic into a userbase disturbed by pre-existing issues, and the firing of a (from what I can tell) highly respected moderator over this.
SE firing Monica because of the (at the time) future CoC (and allegedly the current one) is one thing, but they've failed to justify their actions. This caused drama and pinned a lot of people against the CoC. I was against the version of the CoC the first leaving moderators (initially leaked here, which was followed by another explanation here - see the 1 in the post) presented, which I hoped was an early, unrefined variant. I instantly saw it would target certain opinions and beliefs, in addition to risking the exclusion of some LGBTQ members (including, but not limited to people who don't use pronouns and people who switch pronouns). To be clear, the version I'm referring to is one that was unofficially posted, without the full details (as in screenshots) by leaving moderators before the official release of the first FAQ.
Anyway, what do you think happens when there's a problem cause? Blame is assigned, and the heat is turned up. Pretty quickly, before the release of the CoC, rather nasty chat messages started appearing, along with comments, questions, and answers purely out to be rude or troll. Some LGBTQ members active in the discussions have been pressured to justify all kinds of things.
What bothers me with Monica's case is the inconsistency between what's been said and other cases. I've run into a couple of mods who said they wouldn't enforce it. I've run into one mod who was outright rude over valid chat flags on outright transphobic content.
Before I continue, I need to be abundantly clear: I'm not saying they should be suspended; I'm pointing out an inconsistency. These mods weren't suspended, but Monica was, from what I've understood, for behavior very similar to that of other mods (with the exception of the one involved in chat flags). I digress.
The way SE handled the situation caused:
- Many people to be angry
- Many people have left or gone on strike (or both, in reverse order)
- The exclusion of LGBTQ
- The exclusion of (some?) religious groups
- A split in the community, as well as causing the community to turn on itself
- Damage to real individuals (notably Monica)
- Damage to the community
- A massive increase in activity on MSE, with mods fired and suspending activity, causing flag handling times to skyrocket and giving enough time for situations to spiral entirely out of control.
- Caused debates around languages that build significantly more on gender than English
Moreover, some people have raised concerns about the effects on non-native speakers. Or, simply put: no one wins.
I'm going to expand on the third point, because this might not be obvious to everyone. SE's goal was to include LGBTQ, but it backfired. I've classified this drama as a perfect storm: General, preexisting dissatisfaction + (SO) HMP and front page paywallification + Twitter-driven development + licensing + (bad) ads + tracking + Monica + CoC = 🔥. LGBTQ ended up being targeted by some of the opposition (and I need to emphasize "some": there are lots of people opposed to the CoC who haven't acted in a bad manner that caused damage to any groups, regardless of what certain tweets may indicate).
Instead of being protective, the CoC caused hate, not against the CoC for being phrased in a bad way, but against the group it was intended to protect. The effective equivalent of this, for those of you who don't see the problem, is attacking a person instead of a change they made. There's been multiple attempts at targeting Sara, for instance.
I've talked to a couple of other trans people who've been in the direct line of fire more times than I have. I guess I've either gotten lucky, or presented the right arguments. There has been a lot of nasty stuff, and I think a lot of people, SE included, forget there are real people on the other side of that comment/message/question/answer. Not to forget the new external threat.
At the end of the day, SE didn't do anything to fight the components of the perfect storm, and more posts fueled it. Heat leads to anger, and a few angry discussions lead to hate. The tension is still there, and that's the primary reason I don't feel safe here anymore. People who previously could at least coexist before this started, in spite of disagreements, are now unlikely to. The split in the community is the worst part here, because it kills the initial diversity that made the site great. In some communities, it might not be a problem, while in others, it'll create a noticeable divide.
If you want to talk optimal given the current general world view on trans and non-binary people, amending the CoC on pronouns would've been better in the form of a subtle notice going for a considerably more open approach - one that makes it clear mistakes are accepted, that highlights the importance of gender-neutral language, and that makes communication run on a good-faith level based on mutual respect, but that still covers intentional misgendering as something that shouldn't happen.
On the other hand, I'm probably being naive, at least based on a lot of the opposition. I honestly don't see the problem with accepting in spite of disagreements. There's lots of people, things, and actions I disagree with but still accept. I guess that's not the general point of view.
Fewer new threads are being posted to meta.SE about these issues
I can't speak for everyone, but I've given up. The mountain SE isn't going to move, regardless of how much effort you throw at it. This is one of the reasons I'm leaving, but I'll have to get back to that later in a more appropriate place. A lot of the CoC opposition's arguments return to Monica or free speech, which deadlocks some discussions. The release being done the way it was made the community receive the change negatively before it was released. That alone was a warning sign SE should've taken seriously.
They've so far ignored the letters as well, and I can't believe they've taken over a month without coming up with a reply. Good faith only stretches so far, especially when status requests are ignored.
Do the changes made seem adequate from trans users' point of view, at least as a first step?
Sure, although they could still do with some modifications. SE has a lot of different opinions and beliefs from people from countries all over the world, but forget to factor that in. At its core, the CoC is a step in the right direction. As I mentioned earlier though, it's not optimally phrased and isn't phrased in a way that includes not just LGBTQ, but as large a part of the community as possible (some people will always leave over a change like that, but minimizing it should've been a goal, to preserve the existing community. 100% inclusion might not be practically possible).
My biggest issue with the CoC is the way it was weaponized and the way it was posted, but my biggest concern is the way SE didn't handle the situation. It led to the firing of a moderator, who from what I can tell doesn't seem nearly as bigoted as a certain article in The Register would have it. They went to the media instead of their own community. Meta is (incorrectly) cited to be 0.015% of the users, at least on SO, but they're more or less making meta entirely useless with their actions
But no, I'm not happy with the way the events went. For me personally, it's not exclusively about the CoC, but it's the entire situation: all the problems, the way SE handled it, and the way it's gotten out of control. I hate seeing the effects it's had on a community that I personally once saw as welcoming regardless of background. It's always had problems, but there's a lot of ways that could've been taken to mitigate those problems without causing more, and without directly touching controversial topics. The situation is a lot more complicated than some posts make it out to be, and that's mainly because some of the effects leading up to the triggering situation have been slightly ignored.
SE have hurt a lot of people along the way, including people they wanted to protect. They pushed away not just (at least some of us) LGBTQ members, but also other users with all kinds of backgrounds. The community, the primary reason I liked SE, is slowly dying instead.
I hate that the only way I see forward is by leaving, but I don't see another choice. Again, this is something I might get back to some time in the next three days, because it'll turn into another wall of text.
Edit 15.11.2019: I've expanded on my reasons for leaving here (disclaimer: my blog)
Sorry for the long post, here's a puppy.