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Re: An appeal to empathy on actual hurt caused by this thread

From: Taylan Kammer
Subject: Re: An appeal to empathy on actual hurt caused by this thread
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2022 05:03:26 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:91.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/91.6.1

Hi Christine,

Thank you for opening up.  It was definitely not apparent to me that you
had such a reaction to the thread.  As we know, text doesn't convey the
nuances of human communication very well, and I had read your initial
emails as rather relaxed, or at worst mildly annoyed.  Had I realized
that they were coming from such a stressful position, I would have
responded differently.

My heartfelt apologies in that regard.

For us to be able to build up better mutual understanding and empathy in
the future, perhaps it would be good for me to open up about some things
as well.


Frankly, I think we're more similar than anyone taking a glance at the
thread might ever think.  I've had experiences with gender dysphoria as
well, and my dis-identification with male peers has certainly played an
important role in the development of my severe chronic depression.

I'm a rather reserved person when it comes to personal matters, not as
open about my feelings as you are (and good on you -- it's not doing me
much good to be the way I am in that regard), so I don't want to go into
too much detail, but let's just say I've had multiple near-death moments
throughout the years in relation to my condition, and the latest bout of
severe suicidal thoughts was just a few months ago.

The partly hostile responses (from others, not you!) I've received in
the thread have been anything but pleasant, to say the least, but have
not led to a major breakdown, perhaps thanks to the medication I'm on,
which might be why I was able to respond a few more times...

I've packaged higan for Guix, back in 2015.  Near (then byuu) helped me
revitalize some of my fondest childhood memories with the emulator he's
built.  After taking some interest in the program's workings, I was also
briefly active on his web forum, and had positive interactions with him.
We weren't close personally, but I had built up a *lot* of fondness and
respect for him.  The news of his suicide was absolutely awful to me.

Moreover, a certain web forum that shall not be named which was behind
the bullying campaign against Near/byuu (and countless others) also has
a "profile" of sorts written up on me in one of their threads, as a
potential future bullying target or something.  So far I've been spared,
but they do have my home address, and my employer's details are a web
search away.

All of which is to say, I *deeply* empathize with your position, and at
no point would I ever wish to inflict this type of pain on anyone.

I would like to sincerely reassure you that the sole purpose in sending
the patch, and subsequent messages, was to pledge for another view to be
respected on equal regard to the one that's already correctly respected.

The reason I've felt strongly about that, pressing me to reiterate the
position in the subsequent thread by Zimoun, was of course not some
twisted wish to cause hurt.  Rather, it was because that perspective is
based on the experiences of countless AFAB people who have been hurt in
countless ways, just like the perspective that is currently rightfully
encoded in the CoC is based on the experiences of trans people.  (I've
also found the sex-based perspective to have strong explanatory power
w.r.t. my personal problems, although I've come to see that as almost
irrelevant in the face of everything else I've learned.)


There's one thing I've not been able to understand.  I don't know if you
wish to respond any further, but if so, please note that the following
is a completely genuine inquiry, and not meant in any confrontational
manner at all, just like the rest of this email.  I think it would be
very helpful for the future if you could help me with this:

The key reason the thread / my mails have caused hurt seems to be that
they've come across as an attempt to debate transgender experiences.
What I've not been able to understand is how that happened, since I
actually tried very hard from the beginning to make it as clear as
possible that I had no such intention.

For example, I had said things like:

  "I can assure you that I'm 100% fine with the CoC mentioning gender
  identity and, for example, if someone were to make inflammatory
  remarks towards the worldview of transgender people in this community,
  I wouldn't hesitate opposing that."

And in the summary:

  "I sincerely have no issue with the CoC protecting people based on
  gender identity or other transgender status, and am equally
  disinterested as others in having debates about that topic."

Yet something seems to have gone wrong.

There was one email, my response to Liliana, in which I've touched on
the debate itself, but that was even before your emails so I don't
think it was that...

Reading over my mails, I just don't understand why they might have been
misunderstood so badly.  If you could shed some light on that, I would be
very grateful!  It would certainly help me avoid mistakes in the future,
if I were to talk about these matters in a different place.

I hope this message reaches you in the empathetic way it's meant.  I've
decided to sacrifice about half a night's sleep to write it, because it
was certainly important enough for that.  Well, I probably wouldn't have
been able to sleep anyway. :-)



On 25.02.2022 20:42, Christine Lemmer-Webber wrote:
> 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
> lot.
> 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
> understood.
> 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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