By Jennifer Snook @SIRJID
The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. It is full of people who will love and hate you unconditionally. It has some version of anything you could want, whether legal or illegal. It has so, so much porn. And, at least according to popular culture, it is entirely filled with men pretending to be women.
I used to think I was one of those men. Sometimes, I still do.
I was a girl on the internet long before I came out in the physical world — before I even knew I was trans.
I didn’t understand why at the time, but I knew that I got a warm fuzzy feeling when someone, without prompting, called me a girl. I still get that feeling. But often, the only place I can is the internet, and that has its own problems. Everyone assumes you’re male until proven otherwise.
On multiple occasions, I have been confronted to show proof that I am a woman. Others have flat-out refused to believe it. Some have even refused to speak with me after I told them.
My only consolation is that cis women get this treatment too, but even that is still wrong.
I can’t be friends with someone for very long, or even interact with them regularly, without feeling obligated to tell them I’m trans. I feel like saying “I am a girl” without qualifications is a lie.
Everyone has some level of concealment on online. They may be hiding their age, their wealth, their education, or even their gender.
And I feel like none of that should matter, at least for those brief encounters that we have every day with strangers we will never meet again. Even if they are lying, it doesn’t hurt to take what they say at face value.
I’m not saying you should believe everything you read on the Internet — far from it. Some people will claim outlandish things, and I don’t expect anyone to believe them.
But if someone claims to be a fan of a sports team, or claims to be pretty good with cars, or just claims to be a girl, we don’t have to challenge them.
It might really help someone accept themselves.
And who knows? You may even become friends with “the top sniper in the entire US armed forces.”