There are times i despair of the trans “community”. Next to working with “teh tranz”, herding cats would be calm and orderly: a neatly regimented thing.
Yet, too, i am constantly surprised, over-awed even by how the community rises, when tragedy strikes: how it pulls together, as it has this week, despite the finger-wagging of outsiders.
This evening has highlighted, yet again, how that works.
I’m a journalist and, i shall be adding to my card in 2015, full-time nuisance (you think i’m joking?). Its my job to find out what’s up, wheedle out nasty establishment plots, and megaphone it back to those who care.
Today, i was interested in the impact of UK filtering on Leelah’s blog. UK.gov would rather block any sites related to suicide – and it struck me that a site headed “suicide note” might be an obvious target for censoring.
And so it was – though not the way i feared it might.
For about half way through the afternoon, i lost Leelah’s blog. That is, suddenly it wasn’t there any more.
Cue frantic efforts to contact Tumblr, who hosted it…and some trading of favours with US journalists in an attempt to get a comment out of Leelah’s family. But no luck. The family aren’t speaking: and Tumblr, like many hi-tech companies, appear to to be almost 100% insulated against press inquiry.
So a fairly bare piece, reporting on the disappearance of Leelah’s blog went up about 7pm. I still have no idea why Leelah’s blog is gone – though it seems logical that either the family or Tumblr are responsible. This, it seemed, would be the final erasure.
Only here’s where the community comes in. Because long-term activists like Zoe Brain and Sarah Brown reminded people of the internet archive/wayback machine, from where it might be possible to recover some of Leelah’s lost material.
And then one by one – much, i’d guess, like the boats at Dunkirk -the blogs began to come in. A procession of memorial statements, some small, some large, put up by people who believe Leelah deserves her online legacy, if no other is left her.
This, when faced with a hostile world, is how trans people pull together.
Now, i am looking forward to yet more pulling together in Trafalgar Square, at 1 pm tomorrow, when several hundred are expected to attend an impromptu vigil for Leelah.
Feline we may be, and nigh on unherdable. But we know what injustice looks like: and together we’ll go a long way to ending it.