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Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Forum!

When someone posts a comment to my blog site, I get an email notifying me that the comment was posted. I have had a policy of open posting on my blog since its inception and appreciated dissenting posts as much as those who agree with my position on the matters that I choose to write about. 

Last week I wrote about a close friend’s announcement of her divorce. I was quite surprised Tuesday to find an ad homonym attack on me based on where I am in the process of transitioning and whether I “conflated” changing secondary sexual characteristics, specifically my “genitals” with changing my “gender presentation”.  This person also hid behind the cloak of anonymity which is usually the way people with a malignant agenda make these remarks. They lack the courage of their conviction to list their name or email address. I replied that I found the inquiry to be crude and because it was intrusive to my privacy. I stated that I would not answer this verbal assault. I was quite taken aback by the inappropriateness of the comment on this particular article more than the insinuated challenge of my integrity. I wasn’t particularly surprised that someone would make such a comment. I’ve experienced people like that before. Generally, they tend to be angry people and are bitter.

I discussed this comment with my niece Allie. She advised me that I needed to set my blog to moderate comments and I took this advice. I don't like having to do it as I appreciate the exchange of ideas openly. After all, I do believe in the principle of free speech. That is one of the principles that the internet was said to founded on and it is the cornerstone of Democracy. However, free speech does not extend to personal attacks in my opinion.

On the next evening I got another post to my blog from this anonymous person, this time moderated and not allowed to post without  my review and approval. Anonymous asked why was I "unable to or unwilling" to answer the original question and further challenged my “inability and hence refusal” to answer. Anonymous further escalated the attack by challenging my professional integrity. After all, “In light of my representation as a therapist a bit of candor would be in order… is not trust the cornerstone of your alleged profession?”

At this point, Anonymous no longer had a public forum for this intrusion. I chose to respond to this person off the blog. I stated that Anonymous and I do not have a therapeutic relationship, therefore this line of questioning is moot. A patient of mine asking the question where I stand in my transition is due an answer, provided it is in a context that benefits the patient therapeutically, but an anonymous person does not enjoy the privileges due between patient and therapist.

Then I asked Anonymous some questions of my own: Because Anonymous wishes to intrude upon my privacy and it is my personal decision as to what I choose to disclose about myself and what I deem personal and not open for discussion with my readers, I queried Anonymous about this person’s need to hide behind the cloak of anonymity to challenge me? Why does this person have a right to avoid revealing who they are or their email address while demanding me to answer extremely personal and intimate questions in a public forum?

I also made the observation that when an attack such as this is made, there is usually a hidden agenda. I asked if Anonymous would share that agenda openly with me so that we might discuss what it was. Hidden agendas originate from people who are passive- aggressive. They aren’t able to address conflict in a forthright manner, preferring to attack with innuendo.

I closed in responding by saying that I would be happy to discuss this with Anonymous politely and perhaps we could both learn something from this exchange, but I would not give Anonymous a public forum for this dialogue. Predictably, Anonymous chose not to respond in the last 24 hours. I doubt if I will hear from Anonymous again or learn this person’s identity.

I do have a fair idea as to the identity of this person based on their writing style and the ideological stance that was indirectly expressed, though I’m not absolutely sure who this person is. I have extensive experience in forensic mental health and I have profiled professionally for law enforcement. I am qualified as an expert witness in the judicial system at the Federal courts as well as the Upper and Lower courts of Alabama and Virginia, as well as the Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts.

 I would like to add that anyone who has followed this blog, attended my workshops, or has actually been a patient of mine pretty well knows the answer to the questions Anonymous asked. I am transitioning. It isn’t complete, though I have every intention to complete my transition as circumstances allow. No woman of transsexual experience enjoys being in transition. She feels even worse without the opportunity to transition, something that takes more than courage, it takes a lot of resources.

Those of us who are of transsexual experience generally do the best we can to become who we are if we have the opportunity. Some of are blessed with that opportunity and some of us will never have that chance for intrinsic and/ or extrinsic reasons. Those of us who transition, whether completely, or remain suspended in their transition to one degree or another, and those of us who never have the opportunity to transition because of whatever circumstance are no less than those who are blessed to complete their transition. None of us are less than women who were born and raised as girls and women either. The biological evidence mounts that this is not something we choose to do merely because of psychosocial reasons.


  1. Sherri,
    How sad it is those of us who blog for whatever reason are subjected to attacks from haters on the net called "trolls".
    It's even sadder that you of all people are subjected to this trash. You are totally dedicated to helping others.
    You certainly don't need me to say keep up the good work and to hell with the idiots...but I had to say it anyhow!

  2. My name is Rachel King.
    I did not post those offensive replies but I am one who has to post anonymous here, simply through not having knowledge of access to one of the Google accounts.
    They are a mystery to me.

    I cannot join Chloe"s new TRUessence site for the same reason, therefore I have to post here as anonymous, although, unless I forget, I do add my name to the bottom of what I write.
    I have no knowing of what this troll wrote, or why and care even less.
    I have my own policy that if I am to be censored, I refuse to involve myself with that person, so I bid you farewell until reason returns.
    A simpler method is to not allow anonymous comment but then you will have to make the effort to educate myself and anyone else who hasn't a clue about these accounts and how they work.

    My apologies if I come across melodramatic, it is not my intention but I will not succumb to censorship.

  3. Hey Rachel, thank you for writing. And this is exactly why I did not choose to moderate the comments on my blog in the first place. I really don't like the idea of censoring comments, yet I don't feel like I should allow the blog to be a platform for mean spirited people who don't wish to engage in a discussion where we can all benefit from all points of view.
    You and I don't always agree on things. You are a wonderful big sister and have more than once given me some tough love, and we don't agree on the direction government should take, but never in my mind was there a time when I truly felt as if you had disrespected me. Moderating comments isn't aimed at you or others who post.
    Actually you have never posted anonymously, you always list your name, though the mechanism of posting with your name registered was not used for technical reasons.
    Perhaps you can help me come up.with a better solution to keep people such as the person I addressed in this article off the blog. The only solutions I can see is to allow everyone to post openly and then delete an offensive posting after the fact, giving that malcreant a window to be destructive for an undetermined length of time. Then as I become aware of the comment, delete it, which is also the censorship that I had originally wished to avoid. The other alternative is to moderate comments and post as I get them, with the caveat that abusive posts are screened out, but all other posts published. What do you think would work best?

  4. Sherri, Proverbs 26 starting with v.4 gives good advice for dealing with fools. In a nutshell it is saying: Don't argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.


  5. has left a new comment on your post "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Forum!":

    Sherri, All I can say on this matter of the the indiv making those comments is....consider the source and make allowances. I have run across a few people like that who claim to have a problem with my gender is exactly that their problem not mine. Some people just get their kicks by making others miserable. Dont let this indiv control you or your responses to his/her meaningless cant. True it is sad that one person has chosen to spoil the wonderful idea you had of a unmoderated blog (there is always the one who fouls it up for everyone else). I guess you best choice is to moderate the post the comments retaining the right to strike the abusive ones. I have several groups I am a moderator for and sadly I have to do that for everyone elses sake. Abusive persons are not welcomed. Good luck and I do think your blog here is a wonderful idea. JinianVictoria

  6. I wanted to comment on Rachel King's decision to no longer participate on my blog because it is now moderated. She sees this as a violation of free speech, which is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the United States of America Constitution. I suspect that the same is true with Australia's Constitution, though I am not familiar with Australia's constitution, though their great nation and ours is based on Great Britain's Magna Carta.

    When I joined Pink Essence and began a blot there,I set it to moderate comments. She protested that this was censorship, and being sympathetic to this position, I decided to allow open access to that blog and to this one. I had never regretted changing that policy until "Anonymous" had made an attack against my personal integrity. I feel that I have been put in a position that I must protect the freedom to post on the blog, whether a comment is in agreement with me or in dissent, as long as it does not amount to a personal attack on my person. That type of comment will not be allowed on the blog. All others will be. I don't think that violates Rachel's King belief, but she may feel differently and I respect her right to not contribute, though it does make me sad and disappoint. I will discuss this with her privately and see what can be done to bring our way of thinking to some place where she will feel that she can continue to contribute to this forum.
    Sherri Lynne

  7. This is an old discussion but one I must comment on. Moderation is NOT censorship, in my opinion. Moderation sifts out the garbage. Garbage being hateful and bigoted comments as well as spamming by promoting other sites that are not in line with the blog owner's values.

    I fully expect that if I post hateful, untrue, and unsubstantiated points that a blog owner will challenge me privately. And if I prove my argument has value I have no doubt the blog owner will post the exchange as adding value.

    I love this blog, Lauren does a wonderful job on it and the only problem with moderation is the extra work for her.