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Hi! Just a quick note that in the original email of this newsletter I made a truly nightmare typo - writing "'I am not *a* trans" instead of "I am not trans".

This comes down to me being my own editor, and missing very silly things.

It's frustrating, as I re-read this a lot making sure I got it right... and an "a" slips in. Which is just a really rude way of phrasing things.

In hindsight, I am not sure how this happened - I may have edited out "person" - that is my best bet, but regardless, it was a lame mistake to make.

One thing I would like to do if Webworm gets big enough is be able to bring on a paid editor, purely to get in there for grammar and spelling. One day. That is my aim with this project!

Much aroha

And thanks for all your beautiful feedback.

David

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I find that I catch more typos by printing the text and editing by pen. If you only edit digitally, you'll miss the same error regardless of how many passes you take.

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But I want to save trees!!!

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Man, Lexie's fucking awesome. I want to be as thick-skinned as her when reading those types of comments.

As a trans person myself, seeing how hard trans women have it absolutely breaks my heart. It's clear there are people out there who are simply misinformed about the trans experience, but there comes a certain point where it goes past ignorance. There are people who have such a vehement hatred for others who are just trying to be themselves, and it honestly scares me. Scares me enough that it's pushed me way back into the closet.

And to David, your self-reflection about your own prejudices was powerful. I too, had my own, joking about identifying as an attack helicopter when I was a naive pre-teen (surprise surprise, I now identify as a trans masculine person. Karma I guess.) It goes without being said that there is always hope for others to change, even if it takes longer than you want it to. So don't beat yourself up too much about it if you think you aren't as progressive as you thought you were. We're all still learning.

Anyone who reads this, please just have some basic human decency and respect trans people. It's not that fucking hard.

-Sincerely, a terrified trans teen xx

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Some of us have got your back and think you're incredibly brave x

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Many of us have heaps of respect for you, and are 100% willing to step in and help where we can. You're right -- it's not that fucking hard. As Aimee said, you're incredibly brave, and we are glad you're here!

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Thanks Indy. And a giant kudos to you - and I imagine you are more thick skinned than you imagine. Huge respect and thanks for being here and reading this. It's so strange looking back at the journeys we have all taken - from attack helicopter gags, to you now - strong, articulate, and with good peeps like Lexie around to help fight on.

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Hi Indy. I don't much about anything. Other than that more love and understanding is needed. I also have your back .

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

as a trans person i find it incredibly disheartening and honestly infuriating to see all this, and we see it all the time.

i’m in the US and they’ve been passing wave after wave of anti-trans legislation when it comes to trans folks competing in sports.

and this crap doesn’t just hurt us. Two cis women from Namibia have been disqualified from competing in the 400 meters race in the Olympics. This isn’t just an attack on trans folks, it’s deep rooted misogyny that punishes all women for not fitting some arbitrary ideal that some old, white, cis dudes came up with while patting each other on the back for being progressive.

it sucks and i’m over it.

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Hey Sam. I can't even imagine how it is seeing the daily dialogue around this stuff. Things move so, so slowly and sometimes move backwards. People also just hear what they want to hear - in response to this piece, I have received plenty of "I am not transphobic but - " before pages upon pages. The comments in this thread are pretty sane though, and that gives me heart.

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it really does feel like we are moving backwards sometimes, what a great way to put it.

folks like to think because they wouldn’t go out and commit a hate crime it absolves them of any chance of transphobia. They don’t understand their views are still harming us. Thanks for using your platform to bring light to this stuff and hopefully change some misled or ignorant minds. ♥️

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Great read. Thanks Lexie & David.

Here is my hot take:

We celebrate Olympic champions like Michael Phelps. He's the best swimmer. By the very nature of the Olympics, we consider being the best swimmer a Positive trait, something worth celebrating. However, in order to be the best, you've got to be given these favorable genetic features, like flipper feet and height. Couldn't one argue that by celebrating being the best swimmer, we are also celebrating ones genetics and these genetic traits? Is that not just another weird form of eugenics? Doesn't that bother people?? And if we are content with celebrating genetic advantages, then doesn't that get back to the classic Men are Objectively Better bullshit? Cause all it really is is just a handful of genetic advantages (Y chr. instead of X chr.), right?

Obviously there are also an infinite number of non-genetic circumstances that one must stumble upon to wind up The Best at anything too. Like, being in the right place and the right time and meeting the right people who encourage you to do the right things, ALL ontop of these genetic features.

But isn't that also silly to celebrate? I mean, why do we fucking care who is the best at these random actions anyway? Swimming? When is that even functionally useful?

So then when we get cases like the woman who naturally produced "prohibited" levels of testosterone, or we have a trans athlete, or any intersex individual, where are they supposed to compete? What should be our "binning" system to make sports "fair"? Cause it sure seems like sports can never be fair to me. Sports are about celebrating unfairness. Inequality.

Regardless, it's obvious that most of the discourse is not really about equality either, it's mostly just transphobia. But every time this debate comes along, I always think "Why are we caring about sports in the first place?"

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Yes, selection for high-level sports is by definition only available to those who have privilege. Genetic privilege,, the availability and affordability of coaches, access to optimal equipment, etc. I don't see any of these anti-trans people making the same arguments that it's not fair that short people can't make it onto the basketball team, or that Vanuatu doesn't have the latest in carbon fibre bicycle technology. They aren't fighting for fairness, they are demonstrating their prejudice.

I kind of hate the Olympics for a bunch of reasons, but I wish Laurel the best of luck in her competitions!

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Yes! Once you start digging into it I feel like it unravels very quickly. Sport is always unfair. Does it make sense to level the playing fields for one kind of person and not another? I’m not entirely ready to jettison women’s sport, but I also can’t quite agree with it either.

And second yes to people caring about sport in the first place, particularly women’s sport. What’s to bet any of these people have ever followed a single female athlete or watched a game of netball

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Thank you so much for writing this! I almost cried with relief to see someone standing up for trans humans. I am privileged enough to work with trans people at various stages of their transition and they are so vulnerable, and I just love them. They're the bravest people I know. I recently spoke up in the local paper and NOBODY else did. I just got chastised by old white men. And it made me sad for all the lovely trans rangatahi in Gisborne who might read it. I find it really upsetting. Here's a link if you want to read, but I understand if you can't take anymore https://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/column/20210630/who-are-the-deniers/

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

You’re fighting the good fight and are on the right side of history <3

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

You're an amazing ally! Please keep doing what you do :)

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Such a useful piece. Lexie is awesome :)

I think the most powerful part was your reflection David that this thinking used to be yours. And came from pain and confusion and fear. But you challenged it and still do challenge any thoughts that you suspect might come from reflexive bias rather than compassion and care. Its means that its possible to grow and change and learn and be better. And we need to be reminded of that a lot as it often feels hopeless when the sheer volume of arseholes with a platform gets overwhelming. Thank you ❤

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Thanks Beck. It's weird looking back at old versions of ourselves, and I did not want to equate my experience with a trans experience - but just hope it helped contextualise how views are formed, and how we all have a chance to change. It just takes a lot of time, eh.

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Please tell Lexie how wonderful this is. I just want to echo how impressive it is that she can persevere in just everyday life, but also withstand it enough to read things like this and not totally collapse. Not only does she not collapse, but she does quite the opposite and is an awesome, talented, person! I really appreciate your approach on this, similarly to the post on sex work from a bit ago -- glad you are talking to so many people and sharing their wisdom!

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I will. I will be sending some of this feedback onto her, in case she didn't read it all here. She is one of the busiest people I know! Thanks x

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

So many of these comments are vile. It grinds my gears to hear people who would have an aneurysm if somebody mis-gendered them deliberately referring to others by the wrong gender.

Not to in anyway legitimise these comments because they are all very clearly transphobic garbage, but I don’t think we should label all people who discuss the complexities of gender and sport transphobic. It’s a really important debate that I think actually helps us shape our understanding and definition of gender as a society.

I have complicated thoughts about it. Because the reason we have gender-based sport is due to a very real biological difference between men and women’s hormones and bodies. Without the division, women would largely be unable to participate in sport in the same way - and especially at higher levels.

If it was just about gender then there would really be no reason to separate men and women. Because gender really has nothing to do with hormones and bodies. Really this is about sex - the chromosomes and hormones and genitals etc etc.

The problem is sex isn’t binary either. There are many women with high levels of testosterone naturally - is it unfair if they compete? There are also people with irregular chromosomes. Where do they fit? Even if these things are less common in the general population, the higher level we rise with sport, the more we (probably) see these non-binary examples.

Ultimately though I agree 100% that these conversations need to happen between experts and people who know what they are talking about. Not from general members of the public who have no idea what they are talking about (like me).

So I just really don’t know and I’m fully open to being wrong. I especially would welcome a trans individual to tell me I’m an idiot if I am being an idiot. Not that it’s their job to do so but I will try my best to listen if somebody has the decency to teach me

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Don't worry, you're not being an idiot! I do agree that having a healthy conversation about the way we view gender in sport is important. Think about it - these binary systems put in place completely disregard those who do not fit. Not just trans people, but anyone they deem "biologically advantaged" to compete due to their own supposed advantages.

That also brings in this weird branch of misogyny where people think trans women can't compete in women's sport due to their biological "advantage" of going through a male puberty. Who said cis women can't match up to cis men? It all comes down to their ability really!

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Yes! I honestly struggle a lot with the concept of gendered sport because I hate any idea that men and women differ enough that we can’t exist in the same context. You can’t put people into binary boxes. We are too fluid. Within any group you create there will always be more variation than between the groups themselves.

Women’s sport also suffers terribly from being “women’s sport”. I’ve never heard a justification for it being less popular than male sport that made any sense. It’s very obviously our patriarchal history and culture that has created the gulf between viewership and interest in men and women’s sport.

I would be seriously interested in a bold debate on whether the division should exist at all. I think trans individuals are a good reason to remove it for one

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

One thing that blows my mind is the people out there that think a trans person would "jump ship", so to speak, purely for the competitive advantage they perceive the person will get. There isn't a person in the world that would sign up for the sort of garbage and hate trans people have to endure to win something.

At the risk of being vulnerable to strangers, I subscribed to a similar viewpoint to comment #7 in the past - that was because I didn't understand anything about the trans population and essentially thought they were making it up, not to mention the fact I horribly overstated my understanding of endocrinology. I was recommended Contrapoints (Natalie Wynn - check it out) for some philosophical stuff and she really opened my eyes to this and more.

I still don't know much about hormonal systems but I've grown to understand that it's bigger than that and it's about accepting people for who they are, how they see themselves and supporting people through all their endeavours. My journey continues and I hope Laurel kicks some serious ass in Tokyo!

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Hey Waldo - my 2 cents: you are all good being vulnerable here and it's important to track how we change the way we think, and why. It takes courage to do that and not just pretend we have held a certain point of view forever, like some wise sage! I have got a few "essay-esque" replies to this Webworm in my email, and it is very clear at some point they skimmed over Lexie's very clear points. Why did they skim Lexie's points? Well, they didn't wanna read it. And that's sad as fuck.

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Cis person here. Just feel compelled to say something about the Jo comment. Whilst I in no way blame Lexie or any trans person for reacting like that to what must be a deluge, I think Jo's comment doesn't deserve to be sandwiched with the rest.

I was Jo once, or rather I thought I was. I wasn't confident enough to espouse it, but I thought it. I was scientifically ignorant, I wasn't "mindless." To be clear I, 100% support inclusion now but it's really not intuitive that potentially decades of development physiologically as a male wouldn't offer a significant advantage. Ihad to educate myself, this stuff wasn't taught.

I hope it's in the curriculum now but scientific illiteracy as a defence is a relatively reasonable one I think (how much would you know about climate change or animal sentience would you know if you weren't taught it?)... Of course if the Jo's and Mes of the world push back against the science or don't want to listen then fuck em, the "mindless" charge stands.

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Hey Courtney - I am sure a lot of us have been at that point. I get you. But also - I really wanted to hand this one over to Lexie and make it hers, and I think the emotion she felt at times while writing it, that's hers to own and use - and I am OK with her calling someone mindless. It's kinda a Webworm philosophy I hold close (that sounds more pretentious than I meant!) - that when I hand a newsletter over to someone else for a bit, they can be as open and pure as they want and I won't edit then back. All or nothing. And then readers like you can parse it and agree or disagree, but we all know it's a pure unedited feed from that writer. If that makes sense? And it's good to reflect and comment on it like you have - I am into that. It's a police, safe space to share. Very rare for a comments section!

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Sorry to not being clear David. It was more a comment to the whole content. I sometimes forget that you're a publisher that engages lol (kudos.) Absolutely respect the lack of editing!

This may sound jumbled so forgive me. I worry that we're not tending to the majority of people who don't know what the fuck's going on. In terms of getting meaningful change we need to win hearts and minds in the middle. That's why the "mindless" charge made me cringe a little. Not that the feeling isn't valid! Just... you have the Malcolm Xs who's anger is totally justified and galvanise the community, but you need the Martin Luther Kings to actually achieve change. Of course writing that, I immediately realise why should I expect every trans person to be MLK? I'm struck by how few trans voices we really have platformed.

In summary, thanks for inspiring this self indulgent journey of mine David. Thanks for sharing your experience Lexie, and thank you for the work you do. I hope we get more voices appealing to the middle, but I'm glad we get to have yours too :)

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Fairly shocking to see the amount of hate that is being vented against trans gender people. The fact that it all comes from a hotbed of ignorance is all the more galling! That the same stuff is directed against gay people is just as bad. I sometimes take these haters on face to face, and am never surprised to find that they are in fact not very bright nor well socialised, and often of religious persuasion. They never seem to be aware of what they don't know, nor are keen to check the facts before taking a stand. The fact that Trans and gay men at least don't choose to be who they are because of biological things beyond anyone's control is not a good thing to say to these idiots as it can set them off! I must admit that I do enjoy this bit as they have no factual comeback, and tend to struggle to put a sentence together. I guess it's a little easier for me though as I am a straight 61YO pale stale male, and bigger than most.

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Kudos to you, you straight 61 year old pale stale male! Thanks for being here. This comment made me smile and laugh. For that sir - thanks!

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I've always thought that the a lot of the hatred of trans women lies in the fear straight, cis-men have of being attracted to a trans woman. It's incredible that they managed to sell this fear to cis-women who consider themselves feminists as a fear of trans women taking over sports. No one puts themselves through the life of a trans woman if it's not who they truly are. The number of women who make a living as athletes is so small that it's laughable, no one's living is really being threatened. I hate how gullible these TERFS are and how much hurt they are spreading to save some fragile dude from worrying that someday he's going to be "tricked" by a beautiful trans woman.

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Lexie is incredible!

I also read this amazing piece by MMA athlete Rosi Sexton who has reversed her opinion on trans women competing.

https://www.outsports.com/2021/6/16/22536714/rosi-sexton-mma-trans-athletes-fallon-fox

I am so mad about so much of the public discourse around trans rights at the moment. So much of it is ridiculous straw man arguments from people who don't give a crap about women's rights 364 days of the year but are suddenly feminists if it means they get to stick the boot in to transgender people. The rest seems to be from terfs and I honestly can't make any sense of their point of view at all.

Much love to all trans people at this time. I'm a sensitive soul and I can't do twitter or online comment sections that don't feel safe - and I'm aware that I have the privilege to avoid this and not have it seek me out, f**k that must suck!! But please know that there are ordinary (or delightfully wierd) New Zealanders that recognise your humanity, are horrified by how you are treated, and are having quiet conversations in private to increase acceptance and make your lives 🏳️‍⚧️

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

That should end with "a little easier" and a trans flag emoji not come off like some small town mama like me caring is the highlight of your life. Doh.

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You're cool Ash. Thanks for being here. And it means a lot you are in the comments here: it should be a safe space for all and I think that is a cool thing about all the Webworm peeps. It's like the old internet, before things went full feral!

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Jul 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

This was amazing. The way Lexie broke it all down, and the responses…and also your honesty. This is why I subscribe - to have access to intelligent information and responses, not the ignorance shared in social and mainstream media. I’m in awe, and I’m so much more enlightened now. I can’t even comprehend how it would feel to be celebrating your own effort and achievement for making it into something like the Olympics and to not have wholehearted support from your country.

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Thanks Shar. Lexie put a lot of work into this - I was not expecting such reasoned, fun, long answers. I feel super proud to have published it. This is an example on what I want Webworm to be, when I am not simply going down some weird internet rabbit hole!

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

This is great, absolutely the right thing to hand over the article to a trans woman, wish more people did that. Also agree that one of the best things we can do is constantly challenge how we react to people. And regarding that fear of our own prejudices and whether we can unlearn them - your follow-up thoughts, and self correction if necessary, matter much more and speak more to your character than your brain’s initial reflex reaction.

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Thanks Rachel. I thought about this piece *a lot* - so many re-reads to make sure I got it as right as I could - and apart from some silly spelling mistakes (duh!) I feel really happy where I ended up. All thanks and power to Lexie for it.

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Jul 4, 2021Liked by David Farrier

This was by far the most reasoned, light hearted and enlightening text on the discussion of trans rights that I've read. Despite the deeply seriousness nature of the topic. Like you David I grew up in a religious environment (a cult of sorts) and have worked my whole life to prise off the armour of fear I've worn since a child. Thank you David for providing the platform and thank you Lexie for taking the time to explain in succinct language the complexity yet pure clarity of your position as a Trans athlete. Your words opened doors and actually gave me the internal counter argument I needed to deflect the Trans hatred and ignorance.

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Thanks Tui, that means heaps. I tried to get the tone right, and think I did. The strangest bit of feedback I got (not on Webworm, but someone who had read it and emailed me) was someone angry that Lexie had sworn at people. I say - power to her. When you hear that shit for 20+ years, you are allowed to call someone an arsehole. I am not going to stop you!

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I'm actually surprised that Lexie was able to hold back a lot of the anger and frustration she rightly has. Though this is precisely one of the main aspects which set your's and her piece apart from others. There was a massive effort on Lexie's part to withhold her fury, transform it into humor and then respond to the messages with logic. A real testament to her.

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