Eiji Ohashi aka 大橋英児 (Japanese, b. 1955, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan) – For years Eiji Ohashi has been capturing Japan through its lonely Vending Machines at Night and during Snowstorms.  Photography

They like the inflammatory language, don’t they? ‘Brainwashing autistic children’ into ‘cutting off parts of their body and sterilizing themselves.’


One thing that honestly really stands out to me about the TERFs I see on tumblr – and that might be a deeply unrepresentative sample, I don’t know if the kind of content that gets reblogged where I’m likely to see it is anything like the typical content people write on their own blogs – is how much of it is just describing other peoples’ bodies in terms that drip with as much disgust as possible. 

There’s a lot of sharing out-of-context surgical details to make them sound really nasty – yep, surgery is gross, that’s not actually an argument about whether people should have it. Like you observed, ‘brainwashing’ instead of ‘convincing’, ‘cutting off parts of their body and sterilizing themselves’ instead of ‘getting surgery’. There’s a lot of descriptions that seem targeted to produce as much disgust at trans people and trans peoples’ bodies as possible. 

It actually reminds me of an argument I witnessed on Facebook the other day, where a woman was arguing that gay male promiscuity was bad. My friends all said very patiently “hmm, why do you think gay male promiscuity was bad?” and she responded with ever-escalating descriptions that made it sound disgusting. And my friends kept saying “hmm, okay, yes, I’m aware that mechanically some gay sex involves that, but why do you think it’s bad?

And there was just this profound disconnect, because to the angry woman, the fact it was disgusting was obvious proof that it was bad – moral things aren’t disgusting. (Of course, straight sex, too, would sound gross if you described it in those terms, and cis bodies can be made to sound utterly disgusting just as easily as trans ones). 

I think it’s really important to not write about other peoples’ bodies and lives with the intent to convey “they are disgusting and therefore they are bad”, or even just “they are disgusting”. 

Tumblr is brainwashing a generation of autistic children into thinking they need to cut off parts of their bodies and sterilise themselves, though, which isn’t great either.


I’m going to pretend that someone chose to phrase your concern productively enough that people who disagreed with you could engage with it.

“I do have a concern about Tumblr,” this hypothetical person said, “which is that lots and lots of people here transition. One hypothesis is obviously that there have always been lots of people who’d be much happier and have their preferences better fulfilled if they transitioned, and now they’re able to hear about transition from other people like them, identify it as the thing they’ve always wanted, and go ahead with it. As a result, people are much happier and closer to living their best lives, and this is an enormous triumph of modernity and the power of communications to help young people in rare situations connect with the people like them.

But another hypothesis is that many people – not all of them, certainly there exist some people in the category described above – have complicated feelings about their gender and identity which are not best-for-them resolved by transition. But if transition is how everyone they know is solving it, they’ll go for that approach. In that case, a community that encourages people to identify certain kinds of discomfort with your own skin as gender dysphoria, and to address it with transition, might be hurting those people compared to an ideal community that exemplified a wider range of tools and tactics for solving that problem.”

Thanks for sending this thoughtful and productive ask, which avoids unproductive, dishonest and hostile framings even though its topic is sensitive and complex! I especially appreciate how you didn’t spread any misconceptions like that children are getting transition surgery (which is illegal almost everywhere) or that adults are children incapable of making decisions for themselves. I’d be delighted to answer it. 

The first thing that I think it’s important to say is that, yes, some people experiment with whether transition will make their life better and end up finding that it doesn’t make their life better. In many cases, this is pretty costless, and I don’t think we should try to discourage it; if someone cuts their hair, changes their clothes, and asks to try out a new name and pronouns, and then a year later concludes that actually this isn’t improving their life, then I am pretty inclined to call that a success of a society that lets people have more options and figure out what works for them. Almost every popular media article about an ‘outbreak of transgender kids’ at a school describes this – a group of people who decide through non-medical means to try different ways of relating to gender for a while, and then the ones for whom it’s an improvement stick with it, and others stop. 

So social transition being more common as people experiment seems great to me. Ideally people wouldn’t medically transition unless they’re pretty confident it’s the best call for them, and would find medical transition accessible, free and supported, and wouldn’t experience pressure to decide to medically transition early since they’ll ‘never be accepted otherwise’. I think the best way to achieve this is to accept peoples’ identification whether they’re medically transitioning or not, to affirm that medical transition is not the thing that makes you a real trans person, to talk about trans peoples’ bodies with affirmation and never with disgust or contempt if for some reason you need to be talking about other peoples’ bodies at all, and to share lots of stories of the effects of transition to produce informed consent.

There are forces making frictionless, supported social transition hard. One of them is transphobia, of course. If someone tries using they pronouns and a different presentation, and their parents treat them with unceasing hostility and no one ever gets their pronouns right and everyone calls them a liar and a trender and a stupid kid who has been sucked in by the transgender cult, then they’ll never really be able to evaluate whether this option would make their life better if not for all the bullies determined to hurt them for it. (And yes, the parallel idea is also true – if someone is viciously bullied for being a girl or for being a boy, and can escape bullying by opting out into something else, they’re also not getting to really evaluate whether this would make their life better without bullying.) We need to address this by accepting people in a way that is unconditional and not about their gender at all. Whether someone is trans or cis or unsure, they deserve spaces that are unconditionally supportive, allow them room to experiment, validate them in their ability to learn things about themself and choose the life that will reflect their best self, and assure them that a social circle doesn’t depend on choosing rightly.

No one, anywhere, has succeeded at that. But I’m more optimistic about achieving it on tumblr than anywhere else. There are lots of trans people of all ages on tumblr talking openly and honestly about their lives and experiences and what works for them. People trade expertise. Here is where I’ve first seen people articulate ideas like ‘it’s okay to not pursue any medical transition options while still not identifying with your asab’, ‘it’s okay to only transition online’, ‘it’s okay to have a fluctuating or complicated gender identity’, and ‘it’s okay to try stuff even if you’re not sure if it fits’. I’ve seen reasonably nuanced discussion of the risks and benefits of specific aspects of transition, here. I have friends here who have gone on hormones without identifying differently, or identified differently without hormones, or processed their dysphoria in lots of different ways and described their approach and how it helped them. 

I think tumblr can grow into a place that affirms peoples’ choices and offers them lots of choices and produces people who make the best possible choices for them. 

Of course, you’ll disagree with me if you think that it’s terrible for people to transition, ever, even if they’ve had the chance to witness lots of approaches to gender and they’ve identified that one as the one that makes them flourish. But where I’m coming from here is that people flourishing is really good, and people are exceptionally varied, such that the best we can do to promote the flourishing of other people is to give them more options, acceptance, and a picture of what their life can look like if they take those options. And while I don’t think anyone on the internet is doing that perfectly, I would rather be here, where there are lots of visions at least being voiced, than somewhere which is fundamentally not interested in admitting that some people will be happiest if they transition, or that this is a choice they have the right to make.

ok but my friend has her bf whip her ass when she wants to cut herself and how is that not abuse like hes taking advantage of her mental illness to get off with his sick rape fantasy at least if she was cutting herself he wouldnt be aroused by it even if shes still hurt yanno





Are you. Uh.

Are you saying that self harm and massive blood loss are. Healthier. Than being spanked by a partner in a controlled fashion because. I.


There’s so much happening here. Do you think mentally ill people can’t fuck? Do you think doms are rapists? Do you think hitting someone is rape? DO YOU THINK CONSENSUAL SEX IS RAPE????

I don’t even know where to. To begin so just.


Listen, okay.

Step one on the staircase of “stop trying to punish your body for being sick,” also known as “stop self harming,” is to replace high risk forms of self harm like trying to kill yourself with much lower risk ones that still provide you the sense of control, relief, or physical grounding that you are seeking.

This NECESSARY INTERIM MEASURE is what allows you to begin dealing with the extremely painful, difficult process of healing.

Also, did you just fucking say you would rather your friend RISK DEATH than do kink??????????????????????



I would rather risk death than deal with you right now, holy shit.

Hey, anon, here’s a quick guide to how to deal with being in your situation:

1) Evaluate your discomfort.  Are you uncomfortable with the situation because you’re worried that your friend is being taken advantage of, or because it’s something you don’t understand or have built up an irrational sense of righteousness about?  Hint: if you’d rather your friend risk extreme personal injury or death, it’s probably the latter, and you should probably just deal with that on your own.

2) If you are actually genuinely concerned about your friend, the first thing you should do is go talk to them, and let them have a say in how the situation gets handled.  I mean, if you really respected their agency, you would probably not be so willing to label a situation they’re in as “definitely rape” because you have some vague idea about what they can and cannot consent to, but hey, maybe shit is really bad and you just don’t know how to deal with it.  It’s possible.

3) Don’t drag your friend’s situation out in front of a bunch of strangers on the internet as a way to support your moral superiority.  That’s taking advantage of them and speaking over them and it’s gross and just don’t.  If you need support or advice, that’s one thing, but bringing it up as a talking point with someone you disagree with is not that.

Also notice the anon’s wording.

“my friend has her bf whip her ass”

That’s clearly someone who WANTS to be spanked, it’s not even a case of where the guy has a spanking fetish himself (which, y’know, is just as valid) but it’s clearly the woman who has the impact play kink, and her boyfriend is participating in it at her request, not the other way around. So how is it possible that he’s ‘taking advantage of her’ ?????


How is impact play ‘rape’? Not that there’s anything wrong with consensual noncon play either but ????? They’re two completely different things.

Anon, do you think that throwing out a million buzzwords and hoping that one will stick is any good way to create an argument? Because it’s pretty much the opposite of that. Please lay off the swerf kool-aid and pet a cat or something.

I feel like the anon’s friend should dump the anon as a friend because people don’t deserve to have such judgy friends who treat them like they’re incapable of consent, like they are very tiny children or animals who of course don’t understand how sick and wrong this is, and they can’t possibly be people with intelligence and the right to choose things the anon doesn’t understand.

should the focus of the “sex responsibility over sex positivity” conversation be “if a sex positive post is saying it’s okay to engage in activities without completely thinking them through, it’s a bad post” because how often does that happen? or “if a sex positive post says ‘your kinks are valid’ and your takeaway is that it’s encouraging people to have sex on the sidewalk, you read it wrong”



More the latter than the former.

Now, of course, shitty people exist in all political groups. There are undoubtedly posts out there, branded as sex positive, that engage in some weird, rapey shit.

However, the sex positivity movement is literally obsessed with consent (sometimes to the extent that they forget that just because sex is consensual doesn’t mean it’s actually fun). To portray it as otherwise is irreponsible bullshittery.

And to portray it as rapey encouraged people to perceive even perfectly reasonable, harmless statements as rapey.

For example, I once said that I, as a disabled person, quite enjoy having sex with my SO, also disabled.

And I was told that this was- and I quote- mutual rape, because neither of us are able to consent due to being disabled.

Please tell me that was a troll and not someone who seriously believed that bullshit.

I can’t even. What the fuck.