Me: Thank you.
Anon: You wrote a blog post about a gazebo.
Anon: Was it about me?
Me: Not specifically, no.
Anon: It's about me.
Me: It could apply to you.
Anon: It's hurtful.
Me: It shouldn't be.
Anon: Of course it should! You're calling me deluded. Who wouldn't be offended?
Me: First of all, it wasn't written about you specifically. But you went looking for it. You read it. You called me to ask if it was about you. It wasn't. You pressed it. You were looking for offense. People usually find what they're looking for.
Anon: I think you should apologize.
Anon: Because you said I was deluded!
Me: I already know why you're offended. I mean why do you think I should apologize for that?
Me: Look, the post isn't about you or even people like you. The post is about tolerance. It's about the fact that we don't have to agree with someone else to get along. Instead, we can accept that what someone else thinks is their world view, disagree with it, and continue to be civil and kind human beings anyway. I'm interested to know if you can give me any convincing reason I should apologize for that. It doesn't mean you'll get an apology, but I'm interested to hear your reason.
Anon: But you do think I'm deluded, don't you?
Anon: You're not qualified to say that. You're not a psychiatrist. I deserve an apology.
Me: I don't need to be, and no you don't. Look, you say you're a woman, and you're not. A delusion is a firmly held belief that contradicts the superior evidence of reality. That's pretty close to the clinical definition. Look it up. Now, if I were to accept what you say at face value, and if to be fair I do the same for others, then I would have to reject objectivity itself or be a hypocrite. No observation, no evidence would ever be enough to refute whatever wild statement somebody wants to say. Skepticism would be dead. Credibility would be dead. The very concept of proof would be dead.
Anon: Well, "Mr. Logic", you're using slippery slope, and that's a fallacy.
Me: Not if there's evidence. Understand your fallacies before you start claiming them. There's at least one adult out there who says he's a six year old girl. There are people who claim to be cats. They can only do that because no one challenges your claim. And if they can do that, why can't a pervert simply claim to identify as "not a pervert" and demand belief? It's more plausible than the cat-girl. What would perversion even mean? You stand there with a dick and you say you're a girl, and yet you laughed at Trump for saying he had the biggest inauguration crowd ever. Maybe he just "identifies" as being the most popular President ever. Personally, I think that's bullshit. So I demand proof.
Anon: So do I.
Me: Sorry, but you don't have the street cred to demand proof of anything from anybody. I DO. You're lucky you have me and people like me around you or you'd be hosed the minute somebody turned your own belief system against you.
Anon: I'm lucky to have you...?!
Me: You have one friend that you know for a fact isn't bullshitting you or just saying whatever you want to hear. I call that lucky. You call it what you want. So no, I'm not apologizing. I'm doing what I will always do. I let you think whatever you're going to think about yourself, I let you be what you want to be, and I don't chase you down to tell you up is down, left is right, and demand apologies for screwing with my sensibilities. I treat you like a human being... like a friend. I use one pronoun for you, and it's "you". And I'm not going to stop that. And I'm not going to change what I am just because you don't like it.
Anon: I didn't chase you down.
Me: Well, it sure felt like it.
Anon: I'm sorry.
Names and identifying information withheld. I almost feel guilty about posting it, but I'm not going to apologize..
Postscript: In response to some off-line feedback, I have to make something perfectly clear. First of all, this conversation wasn't nearly as adversarial as it looks in print. My friends have a sense of humor or they wouldn't be my friends. But thing you should understand above all others is that I don't berate "my friend the Gazebo" or any of my friends for any of the things that they ARE. Homosexual? No problem. Transgendered? No problem. Desirous of wearing dinosaur suits and grazing in vegetable gardens? Yeah, sure, whatever.
But I'll give you an example of something I'm not in favor of, so maybe you can frame this from my point of view: I can't condone, support, or enable stolen valor: the despicable (and now illegal) practice of (for instance) claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient when you would merely like to have been. You can't tell me that you "identify as" a military war hero and expect to be treated as though this were in fact the case.
Likewise, stating that you are "a man" or "a woman" when you are not has nothing to do with your gender. Tell me that you are homosexual, trans, gender-fluid... fine. But there's just enough feminist in me to be severely put off when you promote as fact such fantasies as that a privileged male athlete can put on a dress, take some hormones, keep his penis, and still be a better woman than 100% of the capable natural born women on the entire planet who might have been chosen "Woman of the Year". It is analogous to stolen valor, although not as deliberate or malicious. Nevertheless, your own struggles and accolades are sufficient. Take a look in the mirror, take a look at your genes, and find the courage to face the truth. I already accept you as you are; you should, too.