Mad Trans Dreams

Visions and Resistance from outside Norms of Gender and Mental Health


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After the election, I have found facebook both incredibly stressful and incredibly difficult to tear myself away from. One problem with tearing myself away was that facebook has served as my main source for news, and I have not been willing to go without news. But the other ways I typically got my news–like reading mainstream news feeds–upset me so much I would typically stop reading (that part was true even before the election.) Given that, and given everything people have been saying post-election about echo chambers, fake news, and suppression of freedom of press, I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful about how I consume news. That process has led me to consider what I’m actually (not) looking for in my news sources.
1. I don’t want news sources that are so blatantly hateful they diminish my humanity or the humanity of others. Whether it’s Breitbart or the NYTimes, if it’s publishing thought pieces on whether trans youth really deserve to use public bathrooms, or whether maybe women do belong in the kitchen after all, or whether all or only some Muslims are violent extremists, or whether trans women bring murder on themselves, or whether it’s a good thing to try to control autistic people by administering electric shocks, or whether it wouldn’t after all be best for everyone to involuntarily commit more people with mental illness…I’ll pass, unless I have some really specific research related reason motivating me to dive in. I’m not worried about it influencing my views in an insidious way, so much as I am worried about it devastating me emotionally while giving me no new or useful information. And I don’t want to support authors, editors, or publishers for doing horrible things.
2. I don’t want news sources that resonate perfectly with my politics, but that don’t bother with fact checking, skip entirely over complexity and nuance, or pack in so many advertisements that I can barely read the content. The political resonance makes me vulnerable to not looking at claims as skeptically as I should, so I’m actually somewhat less worried about reading sources like these when they do not match my views–although they still wouldn’t be my first choice.
3. I don’t want news sources that are written primarily by and for white U.S. urban progressive-liberal-moderate professionals with lots of investment in the status quo. For me, it’s too risky–these sources can subtly suggest collusion and complacency in ways that appeal to me a little too much, and pull me in directions I would rather not go.
4. I don’t want most of my news sources to be owned by massive corporate conglomerates or governments–and while I’m okay with reading a few that do fit this profile, I want them to be a minority of my sources, and I don’t want any of them to be owned by the same massive corporate conglomerate or government.
5. I do want news that tells me about things happening that I don’t already know. I want news from around the world; I want news that pushes me out of my U.S.-centric perspective and broadens my knowledge base. I also want hyper-local news; I want to know about proposed zoning changes in my neighborhood that could speed along gentrification, or about the local city council person accused of corruption. And I want national news–I want to learn about these cabinet appointees as if my life depended on it (maybe it does). I want news about issues that I rarely think about or have never even heard of, and I also want news about issues I care deeply about and am personally and professionally invested in.
7. I want news that pushes me to question and think, not just to feel fear, disgust, outrage, or hero-worship. I don’t want news that shows investment in “balance” (as in, acting obligated to share the views of someone who thinks Black lives don’t matter in a piece about Black Lives Matter or to dig up some obscure climate change denial person in a piece on global climate change) and “objectivity” (as in, pretending that the authors’ and editors’ culture, politics, experiences and biases could never influence their work).  I do want news that highlights at least some nuance; that provides context and history; that strives for transparency about relationships that may influence reporting; and that offers multiple informed perspectives on events, primarily from people directly affected by them.
8. As much as possible, I want news from sources that treat their workers well, that have leaders from various marginalized groups, that have some independence from those in positions of the greatest social power, that try hard to resist government or big business control of their content, that respect requests for anonymity from vulnerable people, and that try hard to verify the information they provide.
9. For better or worse, I also want news that is convenient for me to consume–ideally, that I can easily read on my phone in the train.
10. I want most of my news in English, because that is the only language I know at all well. I want a little of it in Spanish or French too, though, because I can at least read those languages a little and would like to learn them better.
I’m still trying to work out how to achieve as many of those goals as I can, but here’s where I am. With the help of many people’s suggestions and some of my own explorations, I have started reading the following pretty much every day:

Those are the ones I read most regularly, because I can read them very easily from my phone. But here are the others I am also trying to read at least somewhat regularly (originally, I had a plan of looking at a different three of these sources each day of the week, but it has not turned out that way):

I’ve only been trying my new approach for around a week, but it’s already a revelation. I think on some level I thought the changes to the news I consumed would be fairly minor–that my friends on facebook were probably posting roughly the same articles I would get through choosing my news sources and looking at them directly. Not so, not even remotely (or if so, the facebook algorithm changes all that). This new approach has also yielded very different material than I would get (and cringe about) through Google news.  I can’t claim to suddenly be calm and well-informed, but I am learning more about what is happening outside of the U.S. than I was learning before, and I’m not finding the news so unbearably upsetting to read.

I’m going to keep experimenting, probably shifting some sources out and others in. Once I’m more confident I can make an informed decision, I’ll choose at least a few to support financially.


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