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The limits of tolerence

Natalie Reed is facing a problem that I’ve become more and more aware of in the last year or so. Natalie blogs about feminism, atheism, skepticism, and trans/queer rights (and may or may not be a magical unicorn) and she’s facing hostility, even outright bigotry, to each of these issues from people who are nominally her allies on one of the others. It’s almost as if they’re seen as “teams” and if not directly competing with each other, at least arguing over who gets to use the ball-park.

This bit jumped out at me:

A friend of mine once made the grim but terribly accurate observation (in the context of talking about trans women who dismiss the rights or genders of other trans women who are, say, non-op or lesbian) that people only tend to be exactly as tolerant as it takes to accept themselves, and maybe their immediate friends and family, but have a whole lot of trouble extending that principle beyond that circle, to people who they don’t understand, with whom they don’t share the same experiences or identities or priorities.

That feels very accurate to me, though still very confusing. I’m reminded that soon after I posted this I had an acquaintance discreetly ask me if I were intersex because it seemed so unlikely that someone who wasn’t would think to include them. Read the rest of this entry

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