Gender nonconforming model and activist Rain Dove showed exactly how to respond to bigoted messaging in a way that could turn the tables on them. When Dove was faced with a parent in their DMs, angry at them as their child had requested to wear binders, instead of fighting or ignoring, Dove decided to defuse the situation, responding to the incendiary language with advice. In the exchange, which Dove later shared onto Instagram later, there seemed to be a genuine breakthrough.
In the exchange, the parent immediately begins on the attack. “My child is sick due to you,” they wrote, later clarifying that the child has “mental problems” influenced by Dove and “wants to be a boy.” The way the parent knows? The child asked for a binder for Christmas. Dove responded to the accusations with love and understanding right away.
“They may not be wanting to identify as male,” Dove responded, clarifying that some people who wear binders don’t do so to transition. They then turned the focus to the parent’s feelings. “How are you feeling about it? Does it feel a bit heavy?”
“I refuse supporting my child hating [their] body and I’m not a bad parent for that,” one message from the parent read. When Dove explained that without a binder, many young trans people turn to damaging techniques like Ace Bandages or tape. Slowly, the tenor of the exchange seems to change. The parent asks Dove why their child would do that to themselves.
Dove explains that when trans people don’t have access to the care and support they need, it can lead to self harm or even suicide. “Would you rather have your child in your life or gone forever? A little piece of medically approved fabric can literally save their life,” Dove said.
“It’s easier to love Ourselves when we feel loved as Ourselves no matter where we are on Our paths,” Dove continued. “You must have really created a space of open communication and safety for them to have asked you for a binder!”
In the end, Dove was able to give the parent some extremely valuable help and information and even sent a link to high-quality binder company gc2b, and said they’d be available for any other questions the parent had.
Now, being trans in public is an exhausting thing, and we don’t really owe it to anyone to do this kind of work for free, but what Dove has done here is truly special, and that has been pointed out by quite a number of people on social media.
“The compassion is palpable,” actor Johnny Sibilly wrote on Twitter, sharing the screenshots. Instead of ignoring the message or insulting the parent once the transphobia starts, Dove led with compassion and love which gave way for the parent to support their child. And while it is no one’s responsibility to do this work, for those who do take it on, the possibilities for change are endless.