Hey allies. I really appreciate your support. I honestly do. Just please be aware that you’re not part of our respective communities. And most importantly: Don’t take up space in our communities and exclude people who are actually part of them.

What’s this vague message about? Well, let me start at the very beginning: The German language has different words for male and female members of a group. While a male student would simply be called a “Student” a female one would be called a “Studentin”. Traditionally the male form has been used as a generic stand-in for any gender.

In order to increase the visibility of women different approaches have been tried. The earliest was to simply name both forms (“Studentinnen und Studenten”) which was succeeded by the Binnen-I (“StudentInnen”), which is essentially the female form with the I capitalized to make clear that people of both (problematic wording, I know) genders are meant. Apart from the occasional ambiguity between capital I and lowercase L in sans-serif fonts this is still easily readable.

A relatively new approach is the gender gap (stylized as “gender_gap”) which puts an underscore between the male/base form and the female part (“Student_innen”) and is mostly used in the queer/feminist scene. Now suddenly this becomes a lot harder to read. Using a character that is only on our keyboards because it was handy for forms and underlining things on typewriters and has found its way into programming languages mostly for practical reasons is used in a natural language. Not everyone’s brain can handle this and while it might slow neurotypical people down (which is bad enough to be perfectly honest) neurodivergent people might be frustrated enough by this hurdle to stop reading the text alltogether. (I for example need to pronounce the words in my mind in order to read a text efficiently which underscores don’t really make easier.) And if your activism throws disabled people under the bus you should really reevaluate what you’re doing.

Another thing about the gender gap is that the gap is supposed represent everyone “in between” male and female which not everyone is. I now doubly feel as if your activism is actively trying to exclude me.

So what’s this all got to do with allies? Simply put, the ones who most often complain about people complaining (this just got meta) about the gender gap are cis men trying to help. I really think they have good intentions but unfortunately they tend to mock people who criticize the gender gap which just makes disabled trans folk feel more out of place than they already do. So yeah, please stop ostracizing us from a community that is not yours, making us look like bigots in the process.

A disabled (and apparently transphobic) nonbinary trans person.