I have labels. Lots of labels. I am a transgender woman, autistic, chronically ill, disabled, have depression and anxiety – and more. I used to have all that in my twitter bio because they made it easy for people with similar labels to find me and understand me. They’re not in my bio anymore, because of messages like this:
I have so many labels that a lot of people don’t believe they can all be real. Even when they do believe a label they don’t understand what it means.
In many parts of internet culture these words are a joke to be ridiculed. As a trans woman I am constantly erased and left out by people’s words. The people who make “triggered” jokes think it means to be annoyed or angry. As someone with mental health problems, triggered to me means to be left in a state of panic, heart racing, terrified, unable to move. (I have written about seeing a friend with ptsd be triggered if you want to a stronger example.)
Unfortunately thinking these things are funny isn’t limited to 4chan and other shock forums. It is common in internet culture and for gamers in particular to joke about sexually identifying as an attack helicopter or being triggered.
There seems to be fewer arseholes playing Overwatch than some games – probably because they are put off by the diversity represented in the game – but nevertheless jokes about such things aren’t uncommon. Sometimes I call them out, but more often it is safer to stay quiet and hope they shut up. Recently I’ve been playing Overwatch with one particular group of people and spending time in their Discord chat. One or two of them do make occasional jokes like this. I usually ignored them but a couple of days ago one such joke about trans women’s genitals sent me into a panic attack and in my panic I left the server. My departure was noticed, and they begged me to come back but the conversation did not go well. I pointed out that one of claims that I left because I was “triggered” was actually an accurate use of the word for once, and this was the reply:
Faced with such a failure to understand, I gave up. How could I even begin to explain what I went through? Instead, I left behind the community that I had found. I’m upset, but I can’t risk staying around where this can happen again. Trying to explain my mental state to people with no clue might as well be talking to aliens – where would I even start? They worried about not silencing jokes, but the price of that decision is excluding me.