Ad hominem (attacking the person) comments and hate/transphobic remarks

Rush Limbaugh calling college student Sandra Fluke a “slut” is an example of an ad hominem comment

Here are a few guidelines for proper decorum on public discussion boards:

1) Ad hominem comments — attacking the person rather than the argument — is not only forbidden, but invalidates one’s entire statement, even if parts are factually correct.

Condensed from wiki: “Abusive ad hominem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponents in order to attack their claims or invalidate their arguments, but can also involve pointing out true character flaws or actions that are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This is logically fallacious because it relates to the opponent’s personal character, which has nothing to do with the logical merit of the opponent’s argument.”

2) Also related to ad hominem comments are hate comments targeting a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Discussion or questioning of a person’s gender identity or “outing” is considered hate commentary and is a form of transphobia, even if the person doing the “outing” is LGBT themselves.

3) And finally, preaching is NEVER appropriate. Likewise with Bible quoting. One doesn’t get to be selfish and inflict their views on other people on public discussion boards.


I did an update here on March 2, 2014:

The contents:

Transgender discussions, ad hominem comments and Godwin’s Law

chaosanswers.comLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — Let me erase any doubt right off the bat — when it comes to all things transgender, it is important that everyone is heard. Whether its transgender colleagues or those trying to oppress us, an opportunity to be heard ought to be provided.

For the former, one never knows when colleagues holding different views could provide information that triggers one to reformulate an opinion, while for the latter, “knowing thy enemy” is usually a reliable source of ammunition for neutering them. Being heard though, comes with showing respect for the reader.

For the purpose of this article, I’m focusing on written discussion between our transgender colleagues and friends on social media and in the blogosphere.

Obviously, false claims and rhetoric can safely be ignored. If the writer did not take the time to ensure the statements being made are factual, readers are under no obligation to read further, comment or share the information.

Deleting the article and blocking the writer from sharing on your social media page or site is a perfectly acceptable course of action here. The internet will thank you for nipping misinformation in the bud.

Writers making ad hominem comments (attacking the person, not the argument), is also another cue to stop reading. This is true even if the point the writer is trying to make is valid. Writers don’t get to make their point by bullying. This is would be another great opportunity to delete the article and/or block the writer.

Likewise with violating any variation of Godwin’s Law. If writer attempts to make his point by bringing up the Nazis or Hitler, that’s your cue to stop reading. Another variation of Godwin’s Law says that the first person to bring up the Nazis in a discussion thread automatically loses the discussion and the thread is closed.

Discussion decorum for our community ought to be free of having to dodge loose cannons, wading through personal vilifying and witnessing the restructuring of the Third Reich.

As for the writers, they’ll soon shift their tactics if they want an audience. In the meantime, delete and block guilt-free.


Another update: March 23, 2015:

Transgender family squabbles? Lexie’s rules of engagement

rules of engagementLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — Two opposite sides within the transgender community going at each other with flamethrowers on social media with a differing point of view — how is one to choose a side? The most “authoritative?” The one with most friends? The one “winning” the current flame war? No, nope and no way.Here are two simple rules to remember (aka Lexie’s Rules of Engagement):

1) Any idea, claim, or proposal that requires checking inside one’s pants (or up one’s skirt, for that matter) is inherently flawed. We certainly don’t want cis people (ie: “bathroom cops”) doing this to us — nor should we be doing it among ourselves (ie: “post-SRS are the only true trans people”).

2) There is no such thing as a true authority (argument from authority fallacy). A layman with evidence is more factually correct than an authority without evidence (even if they are post-SRS with a PhD). There is virtually no point in quibbling over who is (or what makes one) an authority.  What only matters if they have evidence that supports their claims.

Whether it’s a statement by a widely recognized and respected leader of our community or someone who has stated a seemingly bizarro opinion, all we need to ask of either is for evidence that supports their claims. Once provided, we can make up our own minds based only on the evidence given (or lack of). We need not further respond to either party.

Engaging in an ad hominem (attack the person) flame war is destructive to the side with strongest evidence — a neutral observer isn’t going to care who is right or wrong here — hence the losing side “wins”. Instead, take the evidence (or lack of) to people that are in a position to actually make a difference (media, legislators, community leaders, lawyers, et. al.).

We’re never going to rid the trans community of family squabbles, after all, we’re a reflection of society as a whole, but the wise among us recognize that time spent in a squabble is better spent elsewhere making actual progress.

5 replies

  1. I am a cross-dresser & proud of it, although I have not seen the comment’s this person said, I can only imagine wat she said was very trans-phobic. We in the trans community don’t expect
    Every one to be agreable with us, we need to remember the hard work this country has put in to rid our fair land of narrow minded attitudes. Remember by gone decades when gay bashing was common place, & goths got treated like devil worshipers! We have moved on from this, so why start all this again with by whipping up transphobia just cus it may be britains last tabboo, that in boxing terms is a low blow.

  2. It was a series of personal attacks following one of my blogs on Blogger that resulted in moving my posts to WordPress. The people commenting were apparently unable to refute my arguments, so they attacked the messenger.

    • Weren’t you able to delete the ad hominem comments?

      • Didn’t seem to help. If I got rid of one, another would appear. My profile didn’t mention I was trans otherwise that would have no doubt been the target of the comments, so my intelligence was attacked instead (and between you and me, I’m pretty sure I could outsmart that turnip two times out three.) 🙂

        The posting was a comment on the fact that many people obtain Bachelor’s degrees, then do nothing with them other than bludgeon those around them with the fact they have that degree. From the comments, I appeared to have hit a nerve. Thanks. I love reading your postings.


  1. Transgender family squabbles? Lexie’s rules of engagement | LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS

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