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An appeal to empathy on actual hurt caused by this thread

From: Christine Lemmer-Webber
Subject: An appeal to empathy on actual hurt caused by this thread
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2022 14:42:08 -0500
User-agent: mu4e 1.6.10; emacs 27.2

Taylan, I respect you and your work.  I don't think you realize how much
hurt you've caused here, and I want to take your contributions at good
faith.  But this has continued for days and it has definitely hurt a

I just got out of a presentation that I've been in crunchmode preparing
for all week.  It was a technically intense presentation with a demo
that required a lot of engineering effort to get there.  I was stressed
enough.  But the demo went well.  Everyone was excited, including me.

I got off the call, and normally what I would feel after something ended
like that was relief.  But I didn't feel relieved.  I felt... tired.

And then I started crying uncontrollably for over an hour.  Because the
pressure of the presentation was so great that I had to push down and
push down all the feelings I had about what was happening on this
thread, but when it was over, they overflowed.

And I don't believe, I don't want to believe, you meant to cause harm or
hurt.  You have several messages recently clearly indicating that you
feel you have been accused of things.  This is not an accusation.  This
is an appeal to empathy.

Normally I would have left this be quiet, or send an email one-on-one,
when things reached this stage.  But I tried to help this conversation
end in quiet, and it hasn't happened, and it's been days.  So I'm
relaying my experiences here.

Taylan Kammer <> writes:

> On 24.02.2022 14:21, Ekaitz Zarraga wrote:
>>> I suspect you haven't properly read any of my mails and jumped to 
>>> conclusions
>>> based on a quick skim, or something like that.
>> Well, I've been reading them and some people told you to stop and you still
>> continue. People already told you were bothering them.
> I haven't posted anything after Andy and Oliver asked to take it off-list,
> other than responding to Blake's accusation of course.
> Before that, nobody told me to stop or that I was bothering them, unless I
> missed it?

I did...

And maybe you missed it, but I definitely did.  I *definitely* did.
This was on Monday, it is now Friday.  Here's what I said across my
two emails:

 - I had already expressed that my very first reaction was wanting to
   support broader language but NOT to have a debate about trans experiences:

   > My first thought when looking at the top of this thread was,
   > 'well I would be okay with adding a word if it isn't an *entry point*
   > for debating trans experiences on list' but it looks like it's likely
   > to be so

 - And then I said that, as a person affected, I didn't feel comfortable
   debating these topics on a technical mailing list:

   > I'm a transwoman with intersex characteristics.  I've certainly
   > read a ton about sexual and gender therory, have read plenty of
   > books on it and I can say without a doubt that I really just don't
   > feel comfortable debating these topics on a technical mailing list.

 - And then, when I saw your email where you had pulled back, I tried
   to help everything close in a way that was friendly:
   > Ah okay, hadn't seen this post before I replied.
   > It seems the issue is closed then.  Look forward to everyone getting
   > back to hacking. :)

Shortly thereafter I stepped away from my computer and went downstairs
and went downstairs to prepare lunch.  Morgan, my wife (who is also a
Guix user, btw) said, "Are you okay?  You look stressed."

And I relayed what happened on this thread.

"Is *that* what's being debated on this list?  I'm not a Guix
*developer*, but I am a Guix *user*.  That kind of gender essentialism
makes me both really want to join the mailing list so I can weigh in
and really *not* want to have to weigh in because I don't want to have
to deal with all that.  That's not the kind of community I want to
participate in."

We co-presented at the FOSDEM room together in the "Lisp but Beautiful,
Lisp for Everyone" talk.  A major portion of the talk was about Guix.
Another major portion of the talk (since "who's representing feminism"
keeps coming up) was about Morgan's experiences *writing her
dissertation using a markup language which is secretly a lisp dialect*
on "Women and Wool Working in Ancient Rome".  Her PhD, Masters, Major,
and Minor were all embedded in gender and sexual analysis through the
lived experiences of women, primarily cisgender, throughout history.
No matter how many books you and I have read on gender and sexuality,
I can guarantee you Morgan has read more.

Anyway if there are any other cisgender women who have presented about
Guix in a video presentation I would be pleased, but as far as I know,
she's the only one I've seen do so.  Corrections extremely welcome.
Active steps to pull more women into our community, strongly encouraged.

But at the time I said, "Oh, I think it wrapped up.  The person who
raised it backpedaled and I tried to be friendly in softening the
closing by saying 'cool let's all get back to hacking!' so I don't think
we have to worry about it anymore.

And then we had lunch, and I thought it was over.

Imagine my surprise went I sent what I had thought were three very
clear, but polite, signals asking to not debate over the the experiences
of transgender people on this list, one of which was a friendly
acknowledgement that it was over from the person who raised it.  But the
most uncomfortable thing for me was that the reply first thanked me for
being polite about things, but used it as an *opening* for *another*
entry point about that.

Can you imagine how that feels?  How that looks?

And then it continued for an entire week.

Here I'll say something I haven't said previously: I did not come out as
transgender for a long time because I was *afraid* to come out as
transgender.  Maybe you know, it's a popular past-time on the internet
right now to bully prominent trans technologists into suicide as a kind
of game.  Here are two examples:

I currently consider suicide by online bullying to be my highest
mortality risk factor.  Having a community where I feel safe, it's not a
small thing.  The Guix community has felt like one of the nicest, safest
places in FOSS.

This week it felt a lot less so.  The first immediate gut drop I felt
when I thought "I hope this doesn't turn out to be a hidden entrypoint
for someone to begin debating my lived experiences" turned out to
absolutely be true, as far as I can tell.  That's how it felt to me.

On that note, just earlier today, you said:

> The inclusion of 'sex' in the CoC would be to recognize the issues
> faced by female-born people.  As far as I'm aware, no female-born
> person has taken part in the discussion at all, because none seem
> to exist in the community.  (What a coincidence.)

Well as said previously, there's at least one.  She's not on the
guix-devel list, so she's cc'ed, because I don't want anyone to think
I'm misrepresenting her.  She's not on the list but she read everything
I wrote on here before I sent it.  And that's one cisgender woman (with,
again, no small background in women and gender studies), who *is* a part
of this community and has even presented at a conference in a heavily
Guix-related talk, who has expressed that she wouldn't want to be taking
part or associating herself in this community if it takes a gender
essentialist turn.

At any rate, here's the thing.  Taylan, I really like your work, I would
like to think that you didn't mean to bring harm or hurt like this.  But
you asked for someone to point to it, and I decided to speak here
because, since this went on for a week, it must not have been known or

At any rate, the updated upstream CoC, seems great.  +1 from me.  As I
said, if it wasn't as an entry point for a debate of experiences, as
just talking about protecting *also* sexual characteristics, great.  But
if it's an entry point for a debate, and it *has been*, about
qutestioning the lived experiences of trans folk on the internet,
consider that it already sucks being a trans person on the internet and
for the most part we just want people to be nice to us so we can do our
damn work and live in peace.

And I would like for this thread to not, ironically, fork into exactly
the same thing I am asking to end.  Acknowledge maybe, and move on.
Or just move on.  Thank you.

Your hacker Guix friend,
 - Christine

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