Like all other communities, the DID/OSDD community has issues. Representation of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds is one of them. Race, ableism, classism and other issues run rampant in our community and we won’t pretend it’s perfect. Those issues each deserve their own blog to unpack and we do plan to write those – this one is about what we have to do as a community to foster an environment to make the changes we need to see so those issues can dissolve.
But there are more pressing issues that need to be discussed because the above mentioned issues will never get better if we don’t talk about it.
Now – before we get started – let us be frank.
We are intersex and identify as non-binary. We are also pansexual. We are not white but are in a white passing body. The things we say below about white passing people are ONLY for people who SELF-IDENTIFY as white passing, like us. It does not and will never apply to anyone JUDGED as white passing by someone else.
White passing means that as a person, we MUST NEVER speak over the voices of the more marginalized people in our community. This means that I, as a self-acknowledged white passing person, have NO right to speak about race issues with the tone or assertion that I am more informed than any POC. EVER.
Being white passing means that I have received privileges of my own because of the color of my skin. It means I can move through life without too much oppression – some people judged as white passing do not have this luxury, they are often criticized by both the communities they are not white enough for AND the communities they are not pigmented enough for. I must acknowledge this when I say that I, as a white passing person, can go into any store, any restaurant or walk on the street and don’t deal with micro-aggressions and discrimination (unless I’m in my wheelchair, using my cane, alone, or wearing shorts or a tank top) – but more on TRUE intersectionality later.
The point I’m making is not that I don’t have any place talking about this – because I do. It needs to be talked about and as white passing people it’s our duty to talk about it because we have the privilege of having our voices heard more often than POC.
But it is not our duty to act like an authority on it.
It is not our duty to show up in POC spaces and complain over and for them. It’s our duty to raise up THEIR voices to be heard and to combat racism when we see it from other WHITE PEOPLE. It’s our duty to share THEIR experiences, as told by them.
And above all – it is not our duty to be an ally by forcing our “wokeness” on their community.
White passing people can be accepted as allies – but they can not just BECOME one.
Read that last statement again. Now that’s in your head – let’s talk about one of the biggest issues in the community right now.
Abusive systems and the way they interact on the internet
There’s at least one white passing system talking over POCs in an antagonistic way.
The worst part of all of this is that the one system that I am referring to has continued to post antagonistic posts that have resulted in further division of our community. Sadly, this isn’t the first time a hate inciting post was written by this system and then deleted. In fact, it is a pattern with this system. One that has not gone un-noticed.
The problem with deleting posts after POCs have put in the labor to educate you in the comments is that you’re deleting the voice of the person you claim you’re trying to lift up.
And that sends a very clear message.
Even worse is when the white passing person speaks over POCs using inflammatory language and then claims that hearing their voice is taking too much time so they had to take down the post – saying it was keeping them from their day job.
Hayleigh (our angry and paranoid part) would like someone to send us the link to the app that grabs your hand and forces you to check notifications and type comments during the day – we could use it sometimes during a flare.
Another big point I’d like to make here is that when people attempt to talk down to you or use their knowledge or experience to claim they know more than you about something THEY NEVER LIVED – then run. That is abusive. And not an appropriate use of their privilege as a white passing person.
Actually, there is a name for these types of people – they call them “White Saviors” – these white passing people who think they can demonstrate their woke-ness and intersectionality by calling people they assume things about out. These white saviors have not been asked to help – in fact they have often been told by actual POCs that they are making things worse, as is the case here.
But you can’t convince them of that – these white saviors have a mission.
They need to use their wokeness to call out all the injustices in the world – except the one where they are the problem.
And when a white person brings up race issues and then continues to police what “white enough” is for them as a way to justify talking over the people they claim to protect – it’s a GIANT PROBLEM.
A bigger problem is when that policing is later deleted so not everyone can see the abuse that occurred as a result of POCs speaking out against the white passing person.
That’s actually how you know they are a “white savior.” They only care that their viewpoint is seen – they don’t care about the viewpoints of the marginalized they claim to protect. It’s only for their benefit. For their own good.
And you can tell too – because if anyone challenges their viewpoint – they are attacked with the “experience”, “knowledge,” and job title of the white passing person – the experience, knowledge and job title they had the PRIVILEDGE of getting because they are white passing.
Even if the people challenging their viewpoint are the people’s voices they claim to be raising up.
We can’t let systems keep abusing other systems in our community
We’re showing up to call this out. We won’t be silent anymore. We will no longer allow this to be swept under the rug. We will no longer let white passing systems, or any person, act this way in our community. We will no longer let people tell us they are just trying to help, police our words and gaslight.
WE HAVE ALL HAD ENOUGH OF THAT IN OUR LIFE.
We are guilty of scrolling past these posts and comments. We are guilty of not commenting because we need time to populate a comment and the posts get deleted before we get back to them. But we won’t be silent or scrolling past any longer. We will be vocal about these issues and we will make sure that systems who are treated poorly because they aren’t white enough, dissociated enough, disabled enough, and traumatized enough – will be lifted up.
We need to stand up as a community to systems who are abusive to others in the comments. We need to share it. We need to screenshot it. We need to blast far and wide who the abusers inside our community really are.
If we don’t protect each other in this way – what kind of community are we?
I’m not talking about only outright abuse either. I’m also talking about these condescending people that gaslight in comments, assume things about other people and show up with their personal judgements as if other people are supposed to take care of that for them. That’s abuse too.
This community must protect itself from abuse within its ranks above all else. If we don’t – we are no different than those who failed to protect us.
This means more than you may think. It means more than we could know right now. What it means will evolve with our community and the world outside it. But what won’t change is that how we show up in each other’s comments, DMs, and anonymous messages online doesn’t have to be cool, or snarky or funny, or cutting edge… It has to be compassionate.
How to do our part
Our way of doing our part is to help guide others on how to do their part. It’s been that way forever and we have made our living doing that our whole life. We have organized hundreds of corporately sponsored events and equally as many conferences led by non-profits on this very topic, which both can and do handpick their speakers in case you were wondering.
We have mediated between employees across different nationalities, sexualities and abilities for years – we know what kind of language is appropriate to use and we know how to teach others to use it. We were recruited for many jobs for this ability alone. We used our position of power to lift up the voices of POCs and LGBTQAI+ community members as an entry level manager, a district manager and an executive administrator, in more than one state across the US.
We are not claiming authority, we are telling you why we feel qualified to share what we know. Since we have been doing this with business owners for nearly 15 years – we’re going to share some tips here for the community on how to engage with one another in a compassionate and empathetic way.
The basics of compassionate communication
The key to communication is understanding the feelings behind your needs and learning to communicate your needs and request to have them met without implying your feelings are because of any other person’s (or magazine’s) actions.
Failure to do that will result in a denial of responsibility – which is what occurs when we blame the way we feel when something doesn’t meet our needs on someone or something other than our own needs and values. It’s ok to feel those things and request for what we need – that’s exactly what should be done. – forever or until we accept our request will not be met; whichever comes first.
There is no point in which we can begin to blame others for our feelings – no matter how they choose to respond (or not respond) to our requests or questions. And if we choose to punish them for not responding to our request with blame and ridicule, either internally or on Instagram – we’ve become abusive and reactionary.
These are often reactionary and abusive. They shift blame, call others names, and make broad generalized assumptions. These things are what therapists, social workers, and counselors typically call “emotion mind responses.” These kinds of responses often come with an anxious feeling behind them. It’s always in the best interest of everyone involved that no one responds with that anxious and emotional feeling behind something. The best course of action would be to look inward and uncover the needs and values you have that are the source of your feelings. Then return back to the conversation you’d like to have with a more compassionate approach to expressing the needs you have and asking to have them met. Please note that any accusatory requests or requests presented in a finger pointing way will likely not get the response you desire – keep that in mind when you choose how to request what you need.
Everyone’s needs matter and all feelings are valid
This does not mean that everyone’s needs will be met and that all feelings are based on what’s happening in the present. As the person who had the feeling, you are responsible for understanding where the feeling is coming from BEFORE expressing it. That’s the only way to make sure that your feelings and needs are expressed in a way other people can understand. No one can understand anyone who is accusing them of or blaming them for anything. Anyone can choose to meet someone’s needs or not. Their choice to meet any one person’s needs says very little about their character as a whole. No one should be forced to comply with anyone’s needs or answer anyone’s questions. That’s abusive. We don’t want abusive actions in our community. Please stop engaging until you have figured out your feelings and can speak about them in a compassionate way.
Intersectionality and privilege
Intersectionality is the idea that everyone has different amounts of privilege and oppression based on who they are and what they look like. This means that as white passing systems we should acknowledge that we have more privileges than POCs. Abled body systems that are POC have more privilege than systems with a disabled body that are white. Trans systems have less privilege than cis-appearing systems, Trans POC systems have even less. True intersectionality accounts for all of the intersects that a person has. Their identifiers, their job, their address, what they look like, who they love, whether or not they use a mobility aide – all of these things feed into how much privilege and oppression a person has. That’s intersectionality.
We believe that being mindful of intersectionality truly means not speaking over, questioning, or trying to combat any one person’s experience with any other person’s experience. And we also think it means that more privileged people should lift up the voices of those more oppressed than them. This does not mean that they should use their voice to shout the message of the oppressed. These are two very different things.
How to communicate with empathy and compassion
Avoid making judgments and assumptions. Don’t use words with connotations. Don’t compare any one system to any other system in size, make up, structure, or validity. Take ownership of your feelings. Use positive action language. Make requests not demands. Accept that not all of your needs will be met and that’s ok. Make your own choice based on your own feelings and needs. Communicate your choice, your needs, and your feelings without blaming other’s actions. Choose your words carefully so that you mean exactly what you say.
Recognize that this process takes a lot of time for systems and being able to identify feelings and needs inside ourselves is the first step (and likely the hardest) I ask that you please stop engaging and commenting on emotional topics until you have first uncovered your emotions and the needs you have behind those emotions around the topic.
We offer to help anyone use compassionate wording in their comments or posts. Just message us.
Acceptance of our diversity and the racism that influenced it
It’s true that white passing bodies often have parts that are of a different race and that is ok. However, it needs to be acknowledged that the reason our brains thought to make that particular type of protector that particular race is because of racial stereotypes we grew up around. We have to acknowledge that while our brain did create the part and we had no control over that – the racist environment we grew up in did. For that reason – no POC part in any white passing body should never have a voice in the POC space. Their voice belongs where their body’s privilege lies.
It does not mean that part isn’t valid in who they are, it doesn’t mean they should change their name or the way they dress. It does mean that they should consider their white passing body when using words and actions that culturally belong to differently pigmented bodies. Their choice is their own – and their choice should be respected but their voice or choice should never drown out those of POC.
Showing up to divide is dangerous in a community of trauma survivors. It’s important that our community remains a space where lamenting is allowed and received with empathy. Together we have the ability to make this community a place we can turn if we need validation in times of crisis – a safe space where we can learn to ask for help, to feel heard and understood. We can’t do that if people don’t act compassionately and empathetically in the posts, comments, their stories, and their tellonym (or whatever). We must do better to act with compassion in the face of all that we endure. That empathy will prevail and eventually push the abusers right out of the way.
We can use this space and this community to help us heal. We can feel understood and heard. We have the ability to create positive experiences within this community – experiences that can help us heal in real offline ways.
But we can not do that by tearing each other apart at every turn.
We can not do that if we continue to show up in emotional ways with hurt in our hearts that we project out into the world. Instead – let’s work toward turning inward to understand why we feel hurt, or whatever we feel, and then expressing it outwardly not from a place of emotional pain but instead from a place of compassion.