Bullies And The Bullied
Crossposted from Women Born Transsexual with permission.
By Suzan Cooke
Bullies are bullies because they reflect the patriarchal paradigm.
Bullies are considered tough. Because being tough means being able to dish out pain, hurt and humiliation without feeling guilt.
Being able to take pain, hurt and humiliation without being destroyed by it is called celebrating one’s victimization. Even though surviving such abuse without committing suicide or killing one’s tormentor takes great strength.
Destroying the lives of others is rewarded while having one’s life destroyed by bullying is punished further by people who treat the victims of bullying as weak and cowardly, unworthy of decent opportunities in life.
Damages are rarely awarded to people whose childhoods were destroyed by bullies. Or to children who were deprived of their right to an education and the right to experience school as a safe place in which to grow and learn.
Bullies bully because bullying is the path to success. It is the path to alpha status whether in a wolf pack or in the corporate structure.
Refusal to join the bullies places one with the victims. Joining the bullies gains multiple rewards. That is the mentality of Tea Baggers and lynch mobs alike.
When I was 13, I played goalie on a junior hockey team (my father required me to play sports). They gave me the position because I wasn’t a good skater or an aggressive player. But I turned out to be a really good goalie, years of learning blocking of punches and flinching had paid off.
Because I was good at playing goalie the bullies gave me the opportunity to join them. All I had to do was beat up a kid who was a sissy like me. Physically it would have been easy, I was strong and toughened by the summers spent working on the farm. But I couldn’t do it. I hit this kid once and stopped.
The next day I went to the school’s office and told the Principal what had happened. I was put on a different bus because I would have been severely beaten by the bullies.
I made what I saw as a moral choice. My family raised me well. You do not join the thugs and beat up the oppressed just as you do not cross union picket lines.
[More below the fold.]I think a lot of people like Eddie Long and all the queer haters who look and sound so queer themselves also faced that ethical dilemma at some point or other in their lives and decided that it was more rewarding to be part of the bullies than the bullied.
I was already branded a teen age drag queen by my parents when I made my choice as to which side I was on. I went on to grow into a left wing radical who believes in human rights. Even when I tried to join the mob and the bullies about 10 years ago it never felt right.
As adults bullies have many glorified titles. CEO, CFO, General, Admiral… They are the ones who feel no guilt about the inflicting of pain upon others. Psychiatrists call that sociopathic behavior. Those who take pleasure in the inflicting of pain upon others are psychopaths.
But the reality is society rewards bullies. Society celebrates the conquering hero no matter how egregious and monstrous the actions.
Just as society blames the rape victim, the beaten wife, the murdered transsexual or transgender woman.
The victim is always seen as making the bully act in a monstrous manner. Society always offers up mitigating circumstances that the bully may have never thought of on his own.
The victim of bullying is told to suck it up, get over it.
I was a tough little transkid. I retaliated. Because bullies rarely act on their own and usually act as part of a mob, I would wait till one was alone and unaware and I would attack him without warning using what ever means were necessary to hurt him.
Oddly all those authority figures who never found a reason to punish the bullies always found a reason to punish me. But if I had to suck it up and take being punished it was better to take it for fighting back than for being abused. In the process bullies decided it was better to pick someone else to bully.
I never made the connection as a child but as I became a teenager, who listened to Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, I realized that if the bullied and intimidated got together, why there were more of us than there were of the bullies.
I also realized bullies do not stop being bullies when they grow up. They just become sadistic sociopathic adults. The sort who rape as an exercise of power. The sort who join the military not to defend the country but so they can murder people who do not have the same military might.
Bullies grow up to abuse their wives and children. Bullies don the robes of the KKK and the Republican Party. Bullies seek out positions that reward their sick desires to abuse. They join the police departments so that when the victimized, the raped and abused go to the police they are going to people more likely to side with the abuser than with the victim.
Suck it up. It is your own fault. If you would just not exist then the bullies wouldn’t be forced to treat you like the scum you are.
Look at what those who are bullied are called.
Sissy, nerd, freak, faggot, dyke, queer, whore, trannie, geek. Words that hurt. Words that scar.
Words that say we should just kill ourselves because we are such misfits.
A year and a half ago when I started this blog I laid down the law to the “HBS/Classic Transsexual” that their name calling wouldn’t be permitted on this blog. I had come to the conclusion that they were people who desperately wanted to join the non-trans bullies who abuse transsexual and transgender people, something I wanted no part of and that I would not permit in a space I controlled. Now this set of people seem to devote an inordinate amount of energy to denouncing me.
I don’t care.
I know which side I am on and that is the side of the oppressed.
While bullies have whole armies of friends, lynch mobs who laugh and cheer them on as they bully and abuse too often the bullied and abused are forced to suffer alone.
I remember what it was like to feel I was the only one in the world. I remember what it was like to feel that I was despised not only by the bullies but by institutions that either refused to intercede or who blamed me for provoking the abuse simply by being.
I knew I was different. The nugget of truth that kept me going was thinking, “Yeah, I’m different. So What!”
But I was near suicide on more than one occasion as a child. I thought how easy it would be to kill myself. I dwelt upon the ways I could kill myself. Sometimes the only thing that kept me alive was the will to deny the bullies the pleasure they would feel if I did kill myself.
I deliberately failed out of college after winning a New York State Regents Scholarship. The reasons were complex and included desire to just not be there when the 1960s were happening and there were others like myself out there making a life. But there was also a darker truth… The 12 years of being bullied had so damaged my education and my ability to focus that I needed time to regain my sense of self worth.
In the last couple of years of high school I actually had a few friends. We were hipper than the rest of the kids in school, listened to folk music and studied together. I was no longer a complete misfit.
In college I became a radical and part of the SDS/ hippie crowd.
When I left school I was sustained by the radical left and hippie movements.
When I met other transsexual and transgender people I realized we had all been abused. Drug and alcohol abuse was endemic to our crowd. So was sex work. Our lives had been shredded by that abuse.
It is okay for Dan Savage to say, “It gets better.”
It does but we need to tell the truth. Admit that we were bullied and abused. Admit that it destroyed our childhoods. Demand redress from the educational system that failed us while it rewarded the bullies who often captained sports teams and won awards.
We need to create space for bullied kids to get together and expand that space to the kids who avoid supporting bullied kids out of fear that the bullies will turn on them.
We Need To Make It Better For Bullied People who are Adults
The pain of having been bullied does not stop once one becomes an adult.
As a feminist I listened to women tell of the pain of having been sexually abused and I was silent about my own pain. I went home and poured a glass of wine and then another. Other friends took pills or shot heroin.
We trivialized our scars because having been the victim of bullying was even more shameful than having been victimized by incest or childhood sexual abuse.
We have a hard time talking about it. We go to AA or NA and keep silent about why we substance abuse. We wind up in abusive relationships and wonder why.
We are haunted by depression and take Prozac or other drugs and still do not name the reason.
It took me all week to write this, a dozen attempts. I asked myself if I should admit to having been one of the bullied.
The Day of Remembrance will soon be upon us. We will remember, as well we should those transsexual and transgender people who were murdered but we should also remember those who died of over doses and organ failure from years of substance abuse for they too are victims of a violent crime. Bullies with their torture and abuse are the ones who started so many on the path that finally takes their lives.
This year I celebrate my tenth year of sobriety. I have someone I love who loves me and I have learned to speak out. I tell her right away if I think her yelling at me is starting to be abusive. I’m touchy and trigger easily but I am in recovery not only from drinking but from my childhood of being abused.
To make life better we have to have the space to name the secret scars that cause the pain we drink or drug to numb away.
I know I have focused this mainly on TS/TG folks but I include gays and lesbians as well as straight folks. It just seems as though institutionalized misogyny means that assigned male at birth TS/TG kids get the worst along with feminine gay kids.
The freedom from bullies should be a basic human right and a matter of social justice.
Bullying is a part of misogyny, racism and classism. It says that one group of people are superior to another group and that one group should be permitted to abuse another group. That makes all bullying a form of hate crime.