Tw: slurs and transphobia
An open letter to instagram (and affiliated sites):
Almost every day I am welcomed to instagram to this screen. No notice of which photo was removed– no way to protest, fight, or repeal the removal. Nowhere to even send a complaint. It’s a guessing game what part of my identity, anatomy, or life is offensive enough to warrant removal. Meanwhile I get death threats, slurs thrown at me, I’m called a faggot, a tranny, told i’ll never be a man, that I’ll burn in hell, it goes on and on. Instagram never flags those comments, and even when I personally flag them they’re often just hidden from my view not actually removed. Hell those accounts are left to operate and troll whoever they like.
And before you say it’s just social media and just get off it: I share my journey so that young trans people know they’re not alone. So that I can help some kid know there are people like them. So I can be a light in someone’s darkness, the way that some people online were for me. I also share my journey so I can see where I’ve come from. I don’t share my journey to be policed and told that trans men’s nipples aren’t held to the same standards that cis men’s are. I don’t share my journey so I can be treated like a picture of my body in boxers is more provocative than every teen idol in Calvin kleins. My body is not a bad body, my body is not overly sexual. Society has deemed and fetishized the bodies of trans individuals so much that we can’t even post censored progress photos without being told we are a violation.
There is something inherently wrong with a system/platform that takes over a week to take down a catfish using my photos (this has now happened about 5 times) but within an hour removes my pre-op photos because my trans body “violates community guidelines.” A platform that allows for cyber bullying and hate speech, but nipples are where we draw the line. Even if you censor what society deems unfit, you are still unfit to be as body positive as Justin Bieber, who can flaunt in his calvins all he wants, but a trans person– god forbid. Now, I understand that images are only removed when they are flagged by someone who deems them inappropriate, but the algorithm at the end of that flagging system should recognize that gender isn’t always inherently reflected in the size of ones nipples, and that if Zach galifinaks can go topless, why can’t I if I’m feeling particularly body positive. (Don’t worry though, I spent $6k to remove those socially offensive parts of my chest, and still received about 100+ violent comments on a video of my surgery reveal).
When you tell a person that their body, and in turn their identity, hell, their very existence is a violation to a community that allows white supremacist pages, porn pages, and catfishing like it’s a sport to run rampant you are telling people that they are unfit to be within a community that has morals so low it makes the Trump Political team look progressive.
Instagram, or as we should call it Cistagram, perpetuates society’s idea that only cis passing bodies are valid (and we could go into depth about which cis passing bodies are actually allowed, because I have seen (among other things) plus sized women’s photos removed for violating these guidelines, which is 7 shades of fucked up) and that we should be ashamed of what we are and what we look like. Can you imagine after a lifetime of being told otherwise, finally being confident to be yourself and show the world, or hell, just the 25k people who happen to follow your page, just to open your page to see this message of violating community guidelines over and over again?
By keeping the community “safe” you are endangering the lives of countless trans individuals. Letting other people (and some computer formula) dictate their worth. You are infringing on their right to express themselves, when they aren’t doing anything you’d remove a cis person’s photos for. You are emotionally harming people who have fought their entire lives to be seen, actually fucking seen, by keeping everyone else “safe.”
The next time I have a 12 year old come onto my page and tell me to burn in hell I’ll wonder who exactly we are keeping safe here. (Side note, why we allow minors to interact with adults is a problem in itself, that’s a real safety issue). The next time a mother tells me I’m a disgrace to my own parents I’ll wonder who is the problem here. The next time a 40 year old religious zealot tells me there’s only two genders I’ll wonder where my safety is then. The next time a young man with a confederate flag profile pic calls me a “faggot tranny dyke” (wouldn’t be the first time) I’ll wonder how many comments they’re allowed to make like that before they violate your supposed community guidelines and why their account remains unflagged (trust me, I’m reporting these people left and right yet they’re still going strong and my photos drop like flies).
This isn’t just about selfies, This is about representation. When your app and other apps flag trans bodies as inappropriate we become more taboo than we already are. We can’t even see ourselves reflected on shitty free social media applications in any capacity. When you tag our queer posts as NSFW and mature content you are othering us, and more importantly telling us that we are nothing more than a porn movie fetish.
Your slogan is “capture and share the world’s moments” but you’re excluding a world that accurately represents those of us outside the binary. And you’re leaving me guessing as to what part of my world I shared violated and offended this time.
My body is a good body and it doesn’t violate your community guidelines, trust me, I’ve read them more times than I can count.