LTE: Think before you tweet

Letter to the Editor

STOMP out Bullying. I Am a Witness. Stop Bullying Now.

Our culture loves to preach the ideas of anti-bullying. We want to defend our children, and some are even willing to give $50,000 for a child who was bullied and post it on Facebook.

However, this commitment to justice does not seem to apply to people in marginalized communities. A common theme online is to post the opinion that sex and gender are binary, and people who believe otherwise are stifling free speech and opinions.

I am not here to change anyone’s opinion about sex and gender. That’s a whole different column, but I want people to understand that their words have consequences, even if it just seems like an opinion.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, “LGBTQ youth are four times more likely, and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than straight people.”

The Trevor Project reports on a study that found 40 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide at some point during their lifetime.

On UNI’s campus, student Blair Hines said, “As someone who is trans, I have had multiple transphobic remarks, including someone asking if I was a hermaphrodite [and] someone attempting to know what exactly is in my pants. This has made me very nervous in regard to my dating life of revealing my identity to potential partners in fear of them doing something hateful to belittle my character.”

There is a difference between tweeting an opinion and dehumanizing an entire community. When people publicly decide that they believe identities are invalid, and that post receives favorites, retweets or shares, LGBTQ youth see that and internalize it.

They are being told by the world that their identity is not real, not accepted. This can lead to depression, dysphoria and ultimately self-harm or suicide.

I know that you want to share your opinion with the world, but I hope that you think about the real lives that are impacted by that opinion. The LGBTQ and specifically transgender community is highly vulnerable, and we should be supporting them, or at least, not actively invalidating their identities.

Is sharing your beliefs on social media worth the risk of making children and youths feel the need to kill themselves?

— Hannah Gregor