Respect For Weird Identities

by Izaak

This has been an interesting week, for sure, and there has been a lot of talk about some of the “weirder” identities that exist on the internet, so I thought I’d write down my opinions on the subject.

This post has been in my head for a while, but what really made me decide to finally write it was this post on tumblr (the blog I reblogged it from is excellent, you should follow xer). Apparently some people identify as ecosexual, which means quite simply that they experience either sexual attraction to the earth, or perhaps are merely turned on by being in nature – the distinction isn’t quite clear, and it may in fact be both.

This shouldn’t be weird. Humans have so many sexual orientations and sexual kinks that this one shouldn’t be a huge outlier. These people aren’t bestiaphiles; their manifesto clearly states that “we are all part of, not separate from, nature”, and the extent of their sexual acts with nature involve skinny dipping, hugging trees, and talking to plants. So why is their such hatred and ridicule of these people?

Outside of the MOGAI (Marginalized Orientations, Genders, And Intersexes) and broader SJ (Social Justice) community, I would expect these people to be ridiculed. They are outside of the norm, and thus they are “weird” and should be punished for their weirdness. But the people who wrote the post on tumblr who ridiculed these people are part of the SJ community. Why has our community decided that we should start to deride people with weird sexual orientations? I mean, it’s the O in MOGAI. It’s the + in LGBT+.

We are still heavily prejudiced. Humans are really bad at accepting everyone, and when we manage to become accepting of the more traditional MOGAI, we haven’t actually become accepting of everyone. We’ve become accepting of a certain subset of people, not all people. This is why you often see massive hate directed at cisgendered heterosexual people, even though you can’t tell what orientation or gender someone is at a glance and therefore have no way of knowing if someone is actually cishet or perhaps in the closet. This is also why you see many feminists hate on trans women, LG activists hate on BT people, LGBT people exclude Asexuals, and the MOGAI community derides Ecosexuals and Otherkin. If they weren’t on your mind when you joined the movement, they seem like dangerous others who are about to invade your group.

These are all the same kind of discrimination; the discrimination of the other. Humans are really good at forming groups of people that we consider our ingroup, and to these people, they can do nothing wrong. And then there’s the outgroup, people who suck and are never right. This is why the wonderful woman at my school who I talked to about politics two months back refused to listen to any arguments in favor of Bernie Sanders because he was a man, and who wouldn’t hear anything against Hillary Clinton because she was a woman. (And yes, she admitted this stance – I’m not making a strawman out of her.)

But we can’t hate people because of their orientation. We can look at people and we can say, your orientation gives you privileges that my orientation doesn’t have, and we can say that certain genders suffer more than other genders, on average. But it’s immoral to condemn the members of a specific orientation because you think the orientation is stupid, or because you think they experience different difficulties than you do.

In regards specifically to otherkin; here are some good points to their defense. But even if none of those things are true – even if otherkin are making it up, even if they are crazy and stupid and trying to score oppression points, the correct action to take, the only moral action to take, is to leave them alone while protecting their rights.

When I was young and stupid, I used to believe that transgender was really, really dumb. That they were looking for attention or making it up or something along those lines.

Luckily, since I was a classical liberal, my reaction to this mistake was – to not bother them, and to get very very angry at people who did bother them. I got upset with people trying to fire Phil Robertson for being homophobic even though homophobia is stupid. You better bet I also got upset with people trying to fire transgender people back when I thought transgender was stupid.

And then I grew older and wiser and learned – hey, transgender isn’t stupid at all, they have very important reasons for what they do and go through and I was atrociously wrong. And I said a mea culpa.

But it could have been worse. I didn’t like transgender people, and so I left them alone while still standing up for their rights. My epistemic structure failed gracefully. For anyone who’s not overconfident, and so who expects massive epistemic failure on a variety of important issues all the time, graceful failure modes are a really important feature for an epistemic structure to have.

Civilization didn’t conquer the world by forbidding you to murder your enemies unless they are actually unrighteous in which case go ahead and kill them all. Liberals didn’t give their lives in the battle against tyranny to end discrimination against all religions except Jansenism because seriously fuck Jansenists.

(from In Favor Of Niceness, Community, and Civilization).