I’ve seen a lot of posts about the safety pin as a symbol of allyship. Even the New York Times has been talking about it.
However, not everyone is okay with this, seeing it as more straight white allyship that amounts to little more than changing ones Facebook icon. These articles are written by people who have been written checks by white feminism that bounced, and I totally get why they are annoyed by it.
I guess it depends on where you stand. For me, I like it, and I’m going to tell you why.
When I see those folks with safety pins, I know they are not likely to take a swing at me when I enter a bathroom. I know that they are not likely to spit in my food when they realize I am a gay guy going to dinner with my husband. I know they are not likely to follow me out of a store to beat the hell out of me for being gay or transgender.
For me, and a lot of trans folks, we can’t ever tell how someone will react when they clock us. Even being gay, is not a sure bet for tolerance these days. I feel it’s like playing with a music box. You wind the crank, and you never know if you are going to get a harmless surprise toy when the box springs open upon finding out you are queer, or if you are going to get an angry bigot.
Hell, just today, one of my coworkers discovered I was transgender, and literally ran in a circle. They were so flummoxed, they ran in a circle. I’ve never had that happen before. That’s just how unpredictable people are when they find out you are transgender.
So these safety pins? That’s like shining a flashlight on who I can feel better about, and who is less likely to violently react to my existence.
I also think this is a bit different from armchair internet slactivism. If you wear a symbol on your shirt, you are letting the world know how you feel. There is a little bit of risk involved in that. The same people that want to beat the hell out of me, might want to broaden their target base.
You also risk having to put your money where your mouth is if a person that is being attacked reaches out to you for help. You might have to back that symbol up in a difficult situation.
I don’t think everyone is quite prepared to back that promise they made with that little safety pin, but I’m okay with that too. I’m just happy being able to put safety pin wearers in a box of people less likely to attack me. As a transgender gay man, that is actually a big deal.