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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jaymes Purdy

The Courage to Name Hate

How Words Can Conceal and Enable Harm: Article 1

Instagram post of Dylan Mulvaney in a short black dress posing with Lady Gaga who is also wearing a black outfit. The post reads "dylanmulvaney - Happy international women's day"

As a queer transwoman, I appreciated Dylan Mulvaney's recent post celebrating National Women's Day with Lady Gaga. It was a beautiful display of solidarity and sisterhood. However, what struck me even more was the stark contrast between the love and positivity of their message and the venomous hate spewed in the comments section.

Reading through the vitriol directed at Dylan and Lady Gaga for simply affirming the womanhood of a trans woman was both heartbreaking and infuriating. But what troubled me further was seeing this hate being minimized and reframed as mere "backlash" or "disagreement" in some media coverage and online discourse.

That's why I was so grateful for Lady Gaga's powerful response calling out this minimizing language. She made it crystal clear that what Dylan faced was not just "backlash" from people who respectfully disagreed with her post. It was hate, plain and simple. Hate rooted in intolerance for and violence against trans people.

A s a transwoman having experienced my share of anti-trans hate and harassment cloaked in the language of "opinions," "jokes," and "free speech," Lady Gaga's words resonated with me deeply.  This use of minimizing words to discuss hate-fueled rhetoric serves to conceal the real harm being done. It gaslights trans people and our allies into thinking we are overreacting to "differing views" rather than being targeted by bigotry and abuse.

That's why I feel compelled to write this series of articles. I believe we must have the courage to name hate clearly when we see it, just as Lady Gaga did. Using precise, honest language matters immensely. It cuts through the smokescreen of minimization and enables us to recognize unacceptable conduct for what it is.

When we call hate "backlash," bigotry "opinions," harassment "free speech," and bullying "jokes" or "disagreements," we make the worst actions targeting marginalized people seem more reasonable and acceptable. We create a dangerous false equivalence between those perpetrating harm and those being harmed.

So, in this series, I am going to confront the use of minimizing language head on. And maybe in the process some of the bigotry as well. My aim is to outline the many contexts where minimizing language shows up, the harmful impacts it has, and why we must challenge it. As Lady Gaga said so powerfully, people deserve better. It's time we start using our words to illuminate the truth.

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