Self-care versus community care in sex blogging
I thought that this week’s post was going to be another listicle about the words you shouldn’t use when you’re talking about trans and non-binary folx. Instead, I’m going to count the episode where I guested on The Smutlancer podcast as this week’s helpful and educational content, so this post is going to be a rant. Specifically a rant about how the sex blogging community has let me (and other trans and non-binary sex bloggers) down over the last couple of months, examined through the lens of self-care versus community care.
Content note for suicide, self-harm, transphobia and hate speech.
Cis sex bloggers, your privilege is showing. Especially when you tell me that the solution to the fact that the transphobia in the sex blogging community is hurting me is self-care. You’re right that hate-reading instead of sleeping won’t help me… but nor will stepping away from my phone for a bubble bath if when I come back there are still people doing shitty, transphobic things and not acknowledging that their actions are hurting trans and non-binary sex bloggers.
What I need right now isn’t self-care, it is community care.
I discovered the idea of self-care versus community care very recently, while watching one of Shan Boody’s YouTube videos. It’s a concept that fascinated me, because it felt perfect to describe what I need from my cis allies in the sex blogging community right now. The basic premise, I think, sits around how self-care puts the onus on you to take care of yourself and do the hard things, while community care puts the onus on your community to step up for you and be there to support you in the ways that you need them to. To quote an Autostraddle article by Abeni Jones:
We’re taught that we have all we need, that the power for transformation and thriving is within us, just waiting to be harnessed. That we alone can beat back the demons plaguing us and come through to the other side refreshed and ready to fight again.
I know that most of you don’t mean that when you tell me to self-care, but it is still hard to hear your insistences that self-care will help me when my community is not stepping up for me.
Since reading That Post – and the comments on it by people who have blocked me when I tried to educate them and who so many of you are still supporting – I have considered killing myself. If you’re wondering why, you should read this Twitter thread by Mx Nillin, which details some of the hatred that they and other trans sex bloggers have faced since calling out the transphobia in the sex blogging community. My community has no longer felt safe for me, and it shouldn’t surprise you that this has triggered my suicidal ideation.
What surprises me is that cis sex bloggers are not doing more.
It is not on me and other trans and non-binary sex bloggers to solve the transphobia in our community – that is on the cis sex bloggers. It is on cis sex bloggers to call each other out and hold each other accountable. It is on cis sex bloggers to educate themselves, and it is definitely on cis bloggers not to turn away or delete their Twitter accounts when they’ve fucked up and are scared not of the harm they’ve caused but that their actions might have repercussions for them.
I am so tired of cis sex bloggers saying that they are being bullied or that Twitter has become toxic for them. I am so tired of cis sex bloggers saying that they have considered deleting their sex blogs because they don’t feel welcome anymore because they still work with people who haven’t apologised for their transphobia. I am so fucking tired of cis sex bloggers excusing their (and each other’s) transphobic behaviour because they struggle with trauma or mental illness.
I struggle with trauma and mental illness; this transphobia has made me want to kill myself. Am I supposed to have sympathy for you having to face accountability over your transphobic behaviour for the first time in your life?
Too often, when I talk about how much this has hurt me, I get people telling me that I need to self-care. I have been told that I need to close Twitter and step away, because hurting myself by keeping on top of all of the transphobia does not help anyone. They’re right that I need to prioritise self-care: I need to stop hate reading and get off Twitter and actually eat once in a while, but there is only so much self-care I can do. You know what self-care will not fix? The transphobia in our community.
Right now, cis sex bloggers are ignoring the transphobia in our community because they have the privilege to do so. You, dear cis reader, have the privilege to say that this issue doesn’t bother you, because you’re just here to write and you don’t care about all the drama and politics, you’re friends with everyone! Except by remaining ignorant and saying that you shouldn’t have to educate yourself because it will be stressful and make you feel unsafe, what you’re actually saying is that your comfort is my important than my human rights.
Ignoring the transphobia in our community is the same as saying that you’re ok with it.
I know that if I stop talking about this – stop tweeting and stop blogging and stop performing my pain over and over again so you can understand that I am human and your actions are hurting me – it will be easier for people to ignore it. That is why self-care is not what I need right now. I need to look after myself, but if every time I open Twitter again I find that someone I follow is making transphobic comments and no cis folks are calling them out on it, that won’t help. I need to self-care, but if every time I open Twitter there is someone in my DMs centring themselves in their apology for misgendering me, that won’t help.
If you’re not stepping up to educate yourselves, to educate each other, and to hold other people in the community accountable, you leave me no option but to keep reading and tweeting and throwing up because these conversations are so fucking hard. If you do not offer me community care, then self-care will not help me. Right now I don’t need you to tweet that you support trans and non-binary folx, I need you to take on some of the work, because you’re still putting way too much of it on us.
At the point where I can step away from Twitter for two days and know that cis sex bloggers will call out transphobia in our community, then I can self-care. Until now, you not stepping up to do more means that I cannot self-care. That’s what I mean by community care: you stepping up to take the burden off trans and non-binary sex bloggers so we can self-care.
Yes, I am happy to point you in the direction of resources, if you ask nicely – I now have a whole blog filled with posts full of actionable steps to use your cis privilege to stand up for trans rights and ways you can support trans folx without even getting out of bed. Yes, I’m happy to have discussions with my friends about gender and quietly ask folks to change their language to something more inclusive. Yes, I will talk to you about how hard it is to use ze/hir pronouns or try to explain to you why you should give a shit about trans and non-binary people, but only if you offer to pay me for my emotional labour.
But if you still think that I need to work to build you up before you’ll respect me? If you have repeatedly shown me that you are willing to ignore the harm your friends have caused me? Then you’re not doing enough. If you think that reading this post or listening to that podcast episode is hard, then I don’t want to hear about it. If your instinct is to say that you’re sorry I’ve considered killing myself over this rather than actually stepping up for me, I don’t want to hear it. And if me and other trans folx standing up against the transphobia that is pervasive in our community makes you feel like you can’t keep sex blogging, then I will not feel guilty if you stop.
I am not going to stop. I should not have to give up something I love because people cannot understand how their behaviour is hurting me. I’m also not going to stop calling y’all out on it. Even the people I know, even the people I love. If you are a cis sex blogger reading this, you have let me down and I need you to do more.
And your privilege is really showing when you tell me to self-care instead of offering me community care.
Do you want to start stepping up for me and other trans sex bloggers? Share this post. Read our work. Don’t tell us to self-care when you are not giving us the community care we need. Oh, and please consider supporting me on Patreon to help me keep creating advice on how not to be a dick to trans and non-binary people, because apparently y’all need that.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer. He’s a sex nerd with vaginismus who creates educational content about trans inclusivity. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots and figuring out what it means to be a feminist who’s also a trans guy. For more explicit writing about his adventures in learning to fuck without fucking up, check out onqueerstreet.com.