There are several ways I was originally thinking of breaking this question down in this piece. The easiest would be for me to bring up the classic Golden Rule “do unto others as you would want done unto you,” and to point out that in real life application we all have to live together on this tiny marble swirling around in the solar system; we are just like anyone else trying to live our lives, work our jobs, and feed our families (in forms of relatives or friendships). Just like you. We are all human, after all- or so I would naturally assume, as the realist I am.
Then come people into our spaces who try to say that who we are is invalid. Usually because they aren’t experiencing the same thing themselves; therefore, we can’t possibly feel this way about ourselves. They go on to tell us who we are-and if we say otherwise, we are wrong- forcing us to lash outwards and speak up personally or to protest in numbers to show we aren’t alone in our experiences. In most cases forcing us to lash inwards causing repression, depression, even suicide. To sum it up, that’s equivalent to them saying someone with Parkinson’s is just “making it up for attention” because they don’t have it themselves… therefore the medication and help they need is deemed “masochistic”, “self-mutilation”, or “cosmetic”. Pretty f*cking idiotic, am-I-right!? Pardon my German, just trying to stress that last point there.
Many strong public figures love to challenge the validity of 700,000 trans people’s personal experiences in America alone, all pretty much trying to say we are making it all up for whatever reasons. This is basically you calling us liars, and saying that it’s wrong for us to have these experiences.
For a good example, in a recent video in an interview with Germaine Greer, she challenges the existence of a transgender person’s reality in saying that we flip from one gender stereotype to another. Then goes off to say that women and men can do the same things “just with different pluming”. Keep in mind that it is extremely commonplace for a trans person to know they were trans as early as age 4 (I suggest watching this whole video but it’s right where I am talking about). I had to learn masculine social queues to save me from physical harassment in society, just as she seems to know how “tough” such thing could be for a person. Add the effects from testosterone till I was 29, and I now have personal experience in a body who’s been on natural steroids all her life… though still the same person mentally, still feeling like a woman in disguise to survive in the outside world, with society pushing me to repress who I am because it’s all a joke to them. Not only that, but the harassment I’ve seen, the smack talk I’ve heard behind backs, the jokes marginalizing who we are to the same stereotypical image of us being nothing but “men in dresses” which reinforces the toxic masculinity in people to assume we are just men trying to pose as women to sleep with other men leading to not only deaths, but leading to Trans Panic Defenses, meaning violent people getting off jail sentences of murdering someone in cold blood practically scot-free. Funny thing: she says it herself, that gender is a social construct… and this actually SUPPORTS everything I just said- especially with trans children coming out earlier in age, being socialized in their personal gender roles their whole lives, come adulthood.
Another popular figure who turns trans women into mentally ill perverts with his autoandrophilia myth will get his own post… but just wanted to point out how easy it is for people to hold onto false truths when trying to delegitimize us, and how much of a waste of time it is to have to disprove it over and over and over.
So I hope you can see that the title, “What is Civil Respect?”, is less of me trying to answer this question, and more of me asking YOU how you personally feel about it, then politely explaining how the actions of some have been pushing against the civil liberties of a marginalized group of people who are trying to fight for their rights to live their lives without fear of being verbally or physically attacked because of who they are.
Then again, if you want to be racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, or even a misanthropist, go ahead… that’s me letting you be who you are without abuse in any form. It’s when your actions cause disruptions of any form in other people’s lives that you are in the wrong morally if we all have to live together, and having to live together is the core essence of civil respect.
In the end I can make this all so very simple for anyone to understand… just be good to your fellow human despite any of our differences and stereotypes, and if you don’t know you are doing anything harmful, just ask or even listen to what people are saying, and be humble enough of a person to catch yourself doing so and to stop. We’re all in this together, ya know.