Updated on April 17, 2019.
After several helpful conversations, I have decided to that I am no longer willing to host the original content of this post (but you can still read an archive of it here). I am deleting it because I was intending to support and center people who are the target of misogyny, but instead I gave support to various transphobic ideas which I definitely disagree with. That’s my mistake, and I don’t want to host content that harms trans and/or non-binary people. I am sorry for the harm I caused to trans and non-binary people. In order to reduce harm going forward, I have decided to stop writing about any trans- or non-binary-related issue more complicated than using someone’s correct name and pronouns.
If you are reading this because you are trying to decide whether or not to work with me, I’ll just say up front: If you are looking for someone who has never done or said something transphobic, or racist, or sexist, I can’t meet that standard. I can share with you how I make decisions about who I work with: I look at the overall pattern of someone’s behavior. In the past, did they try hard to do the right thing, did they apologize when they made a mistake, and did their behavior improve over time?
If you want to use the same method to make a decision, here is some information about my past behavior. Starting in 2001, I co-founded or was a lead volunteer for the trans-inclusive feminist activist groups LinuxChix, Geek Feminism, Ada Initiative, and Double Union. I created and supported online communities, conferences, a hackerspace, and codes of conduct, and worked hard to follow current best practices for including and supporting trans and non-binary people (as well as other marginalized groups). When I made mistakes, I apologized, made amends, and changed my behavior moving forward.
When people ask me why I work with people who have made mistakes in the past, I explain that I don’t expect people to never make mistakes, I expect them to try their best and to learn from their mistakes. Other people may have different standards for the people they work with.
My work on ally skills is about helping people with privilege and power understand their impact on the world and avoid unforced errors, so that the world will be safer for everybody. I can’t take back my own mistakes, but I can serve as a coach and a buffer and hope that my work leaves the world better than I found it.