A Generous Read of the ContraPoints ‘Pronoun Discourse’
Because the elusive conquest for untarnished tolerance has mostly been monolithic, it’s been quite hard to get a good grip on what best befits the experiences of individual persons with regards to how they identify, or how they would otherwise view the issue on the whole.
That’s what’s been bubbling up recently as Natalie ‘ContraPoints’ Wynn took a swing at one of the most preciously-held held tenets of trans acceptance in recent years— pronouns. In Wynn’s case, she made the observation that whenever she’s in spaces where she easily passes, the burden of having to announce to the world her pronouns presents itself as a courtesy, not a necessity. But in hyper-woke spaces, the pendulum swings so far in the other direction, that Wynn’s preference for she/her pronouns becomes practically moot because of how many times she has to invoke its usage. What essentially happens is, the space that is theoretically least-accepting of Wynn is most-accepting of her peculiar social expression sensibilities, and the space that is supposed to provide her uttermost comfort, ends up throwing a wrench in the gears of passing where they should’ve elsewise turned without issue.
There are three threads tangled within one here: The first is a matter of accomodating for non-binary individuals for whom gender expression does not constitute a perfect match for gender identity; the second is the conception of what is “Right or Wrong” as conjured up by the formation of a consensus that a majority largely had no control over; and the third is appointing Natalie Wynn as a spokesperson for the trans community when she neither asked for the responsibility, nor assumed it.
Natalie later made a clarification — albeit unneeded— that her initial remark did not mean to encroach upon non-binary and non-passing people’s pronoun sovereignty — the issue more was that Wynn was thrust into accepting that without being consulted on what works, and doesn’t work for her. In essence, it’s the eternal clash between wanting to spread practice of an easily digestible norm, and a situation where certain individuals feel like they’ve been signed up for an overt manifestation of a tolerance program that despite its best attempts, manages to exclude them — including Wynn — in a way that doesn’t entirely make sense within the framework of ideological diversity that the left is often a major touter of.
It’s often invoked at the sight of the slightest offense that reducing the “trans experience” to one single continuum, is inadvertently going to hurt some people. For Natalie Wynn, that perception was flipped on its ear because people were not totally happy with her venting about her own needs, calling her out among other things for using the word “Woke” because it’s AAVE — a critique that does not seem to apply bilaterally across the political spectrum — feeling entitled and just a general air of mistrust in how she’s wielding that large of a platform on Twitter. But what’s been felt largely missing from the conversation, is how Natalie’s critique is not only core to the backlash she’s been getting, but it’s also instructive of a general trend in promoting diversity where the only condition under which ideological tension loosens up, is when consensus is reached — basically dissenters’ way of saying that unless everyone universally agrees to their solutions, they won’t stop bickering about them.
I’m non-binary myself. I’ve grown to like pronoun introductions because they allow me greater liberty of how I want my gender to be perceived, but most-lately, I found myself drifting away from that perspective because I realized it’s not what I crave most out of the trans community, or people at large for that matter. What needs to be more of, is an all-encompassing dialogue where different perspectives are heard without being systematically discarded. One where the absence of consensus is a strength of the movement instead of its greatest weakness. It speaks to a particular efficiency on the right-wing that they’re able to conjure up a million different ways to strip minorities of rights, and yet, the farther left only sees a few avenues to achieve universal acceptance.
ContraPoints is at a particular crossroads in the trans community where her opinion is revered because of a lush intellectual passif on her YouTube channel, all-the-while incurring consistent disdain from her most outspoken critics. But some, take that to the extreme and try to force a reality where Wynn’s existence only seeks to serve their own ideological views. Even Kat Blaque faced similar backlash when she voiced approval of Wynn’s concerns. So this feels less like a genuine discontent with the status quo, and more of an ill-conceived patronage to an idea of normalizing pronoun-probing that encompasses a great majority, but leaves a minority struggling in its wake.
If that didn’t already sound familiar, it’s the argument conservatives consistently make to liberals when trying to bolster a sense of societal stability. Such as it were, to some, the entire foundation upon which trans acceptance is founded, is inseverable from public pronoun advertisement. On principle, I’m not opposed to such efforts, quite the contrary in fact — they’re a crucial part in our quest to quell cisnormative conventions of gender, into a more forthcoming and less rigid version of it. But in initiating conflict with those to whom we have a great deal of trans acceptance in the media to accredit for, we end up inadvertently making the case for why “wokeness” consensus is a bad thing in the first place. It views strictly its opposition as seeking much-valuable social capital — in this case, perceived as Natalie Wynn plotting to flip the dimensions of the debate in her favor — and doubly as an enormous amount of emotional labor that no one person can endure. Wynn might be a YouTube juggernaut and a Twitter celebrity in the grand scheme of things, but treating her as lesser-than or unworthy of respect ends up making the very point she’s cautioning against.